Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

6

6

[ocr errors]

6

6

tians. And may such excellent dispositions prevail among us yet more and more.

Saith the venerable Dr. Sherlock, bishop of London, in the fourth volume of his Discourses, lately published, p. 321, 322, · From these things laid together it is evident,

that the apostles were witnesses and teachers of the faith, and had no authority to add any thing to the doctrine of • Christ, or to declare new articles of faith.

• Now if the apostles, commissioned directly by Christ • himself, and supported by miraculous gifts of the spirit, • had not this power, can any of their successors in the g'o

vernment of the church, without great impiety, pretend to • it ? Did the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries know the articles of the faith better than the apostles did ? Or were they more powerfully assisted by • the Holy Spirit ? No christian can think it, or say it. • Whence is it then that the church of Rome has received ' the power they pretend to, of making new articles of faith,

and dooming all to eternal destruction who receive them • not? Can any sober, serious christian trust himself to such • guides, and not tremble, when he reads the woe denounced • by St. Paul : “ Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel- let him be accursed ?" Gal. i. 8.

Certainly that is a noble declaration, and well deserving the regard of all christians.

His lordship here allows, or even asserts the rights of private judgment. He supposes, that common christians, who have no share in the government of the church, are able to understand the doctrine delivered by the apostles, and the determinations of bishops, and to compare them together, and to discern wherein they differ. And be allows us to reject new articles, not delivered and taught by Christ's apostles. And strongly represents to us the great hazard of trusting to such assuming guides, as make and impose new articles of faith.

if we may judge of articles, taught by the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries; we may for the same reason judge concerning those decreed by the bishops and clergy of the fourth and fifth centuries—For neither were they apostles, but at the utmost no more than successors of the apostles. And if it should appear, that they taugbt and recommended any articles, which are no part of “ the faith, once delivered to the saints” by Christ's apos. tles, such articles may be rejected by us.

" It is the twelfth discourse in that volume. The text is the epistle of St. Jude, ver. 3, latter part.

[ocr errors]

And since it is allowed, that the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries have assumed an authority to decide new articles, to which they had no right; should not this put christians upon their guard, and induce them to examine the doctrine proposed to them, and consider, whether it is the faith once delivered to the saints, or somewhat added to it? For what has been done, or attempted, in some ages, may have been attempted in others.

His lordship blames the church of Rome for making new articles of faith, and dooming all to eternal destruction, who receive them not.

We should be impartial. If any others do the like, are not they blameable also ? It is well known, that there is a creed, in great authority with many, beside the church of Rome, containing an abstruse doctrine, very hard to be believed. And it would be a very difficult undertaking to show, that it adds not any thing to the doctrine of Christ, as taught and testified by his faithful apostles. And yet it is there said : • This is the catholic faith, which except a man • believe faithfully he cannot be saved.' And, ' which faith,

except every man do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.' Can this be justified ? And does not the bishop's argument just recited, oblige me to add, though unwillingly, May it not deserve to be considered by every sober and serious christian, who solemnly recites that creed, on whom those anathemas may fall, if God should treat men according to strict justice !

But I forbear enlarging. For I have been desirous, if possible, not to say any thing offensive. Therefore I do not indulge myself in grievous complaints, and severe reprehensions of such thing's, as by many have been thought to

But, if I might be permitted to do it, I would take notice of one thing, because it has a connection with the subject of this postscript.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy • Ghost : as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall • be, world without end. Amen.'

Doubtless this is said by many very frequently, and with great devotion. But can it be said truly ? Does not that deserve consideration ? Is there any such doxology in the New Testament? If not, how can it be said to have been * in the beginning ? Are not the books of the New Testament the most ancient, and the most authentic christian writings in all the world ? It matters not much to inquire when this doxology was first used, or how long it has been

be wrong:

If we

in use, if it be not in the New Testament. And whether it is there, or not, may be known by those, who are pleased to read it with care; as all may, in Protestant countries, where the Bible lies open to be seen and read by all men.

I would therefore, after many others, recommend the diligent study of the scriptures, and the making use of all proper means for gaining the true sense of them. had the knowledge of the christian religion, as contained in the scriptures, the advantages would be great and manifold. Jesus would be unspeakably amiable ; and the gospel would appear to be a pearl of great price: christians would be no longer wavering and unsettled, but would be firmly established in a faith, that is throughout reasonable and excellent, and well attested to be of divine original. As our Lord says to the woman of Samaria, Johu iv. 14,

“ Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” He will be fully satisfied. He will desire no other instruction concerning the right way of worshipping and serving God, or obtaining true happiness.

* But the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life."

If we would sincerely study, heartily embrace, and openly profess the christian doctrine in its purity, and would' diligently recommend it to others, upon the ground of that evidence, with which God hath clothed it, we should gain upon deists and infidels of all sorts. For a religion, reasonable and excellent in all its principles, promulged by a teacher of an unspotted character, with a commission from heaven, confirmed by many mighty works, which could be performed by God only, has an evidence, which cannot be easily withstood and gainsayed. But no authority can recommend falsehood and absurdity to rational beings, who think and consider. Every one therefore, who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, must be willing to reform abuses and corruptions, which have been introduced into the christian profession, and are matter of offence to heathens and infidels.

When the religion professed by christians shall be in all things agreeable to the scriptures, the only standard of religious truth; the advantages just mentioned, are very likely: as also divers others, wbich may be readily apprehended by every one. For then the papal power and tyranny, which for many ages has been a heavy weight upon Christendom, will sink, and fall to the ground : impositions upon conscience, which underinine religion at the very foundation, and prevail at present to a great degree in almost all christian countries, will be abolished. The consequence of which will be, that true piety and virtue will be more general in all ranks and orders of men. The great diversity of opinions, and fierce contentions among christians, which are now so great an offence and scaudal to by-standers, will cease; christians will live in harmony, and will love one another as brethren. And the church of Christ will be the joy and the praise of the whole earth.

As an unbiassed and disinterested love and pursuit of truth are of great importance, and would mightily conduce to the good ends and purposes which are so desirable; I cannot but wish, that we did all of us less mind our own things, the things of our own worldly wealth and credit, our own church and party, and more the things of Jesus Christ. To whom be glory and dominion now and ever. Amen.

THE

SECOND POSTSCRIPT.

CONTAINING REMARKS UPON THE THIRD PART OF THE LATE BISHOP OF CLOGHER'S VINDICATION OF THE HIS.

TORIES OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.

LETT. iv. p. 59, or 425.6 • But, my lord, supposing we • should allow, that there were more Gods than one con

• When I was preparing these remarks in March last, 1758, we received the tidings of the death of the Right Reverend Dr. Robert Clayton, Lord Bishop of Clogher, who departed this life the preceding month ; which gave me much concern upon divers accounts. In particular, I was in hopes, that these remarks, such as they are, might be perused by his lordship. I could wish likewise, that Mr. Whiston were still living. But they are both removed out of this world, as I likewise shall be in a short time. And certainly, it behoves us all to improve diligently the season of life whilst it lasts, and to serve God and man according to the ability which God has given us, and the station in which we have been placed, that we may give up an account of our stewardship with joy, and not with grief. Though those eminent and useful men are now no more in this world, their writings remain. It is with these I am concerned. If I have inadvertently misrepresented them, I presume, they have friends who are able to vindicate them. And, if my argument does not appear conclusive, I wish that they, or some others, may show wherein it fails. Jan. 25, 1759.

b. The author, in composing these remarks upon the third part of the bishop's Vindication, made use of that edition which was printed at London in 1758.

6

said ;

• cerned in the creation of the world, as manifestly appears that there were, from Gen, i. 26, and ch. iii. 22, where it is

“ Let us make man in our image.” And,“ behold, • the man is become as one of us.

Is then creative power a property communicable to many or several ? St. Paul speaks of one Creator only, Rom. i. 25, and blames the heathens," who worshipped, and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” What then would be the consequences, if christians should come to believe, that there are more creators than one ?

It is hard, that we should be put to prove, what is so very evident, as that there is one God creator. However, I shall here prove it from the Old and New Testament.

Ex. xx. 1,“ And God spake all these words, saying: Ver. 3, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Ver. 10, 11, “ But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God-For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.”

Ps. cxxxvi, “ O, give thanks to the Lord, to him, who alone doth great wonders, to him that by wisdom made the beavens, to biin tbat stretched out the earth above the waters; to him that made great lights, the sun to rule by day, the moon and stars to rule by night,” &c.

Isa. xlii. 5, « Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens and stretched them out; be that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it: he that giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”

Isa, xl, 28, “ Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, nor is weary

?" Ch. xliv. 24, " Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb; I am the Lord, that maketh all things, that stretcbeth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” See also ch. . xlv, 11, 12; ch. li. 12, 13; Jer. x. 12; ch. li. 15, and elsewhere.

Let us now consider the words of Gen. i. 26, “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."

Some christians have said that here is a proof of a trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead. The learned But another edition of the whole Vindication, with all the three parts, having been published here on the twenty-third day of this instant January, 1759, just as these sheets were going to the press, he has taken care to add the pages of this new edition to those of the former,

« ElőzőTovább »