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was needless to say that which had been well said already; and the object was not repetition, but to be strictly supplemental to what had been written before. This Essay, therefore, is only to fill up what was lacking in others ; nec fungar inani munere, if no other effect is produced by it, than that of causing them to be more read.
Something of the kind was required, for it is not uncommon to hear
every rank of life, speaking as if religion were a thing separate from duty; that is, as if it consisted in the belief of a proper creed, and in the performance of acts of mercy and charity ; but that all the business of life was a hindrance to the proper spiritual practice of a Christian man. So far, indeed, as religion consists in, or rather is to be acquired by, reading God's word, and meditation thereon, so far is the business of life an hindrance to religion ; but so equally is visiting the sick, or any other act of social intercourse with our fellow-creatures. We find a labourer hasting to get his daily task finished, in order that he may resume some other occupation
which he calls more religious; he fancies that his religion has been left when he quitted his home and his Bible, and that he is not a religious man until he returns to it. The lawyer hastens to get through his causes, because he thinks that a court of law is not a place in which it is possible to be religious : and the merchant leaves his counting-house to attend a committee of a society, supposing that the latter is in performance of a religious duty which the former is not. But digging a field, pleading a cause, and sitting behind a counter, are as much religious duties to persons in those respective classes, as any other employments can be. Religion means a system of obligations; of bindings of man to God, and
; of man to man: the bands which hold are the ordinances of God's appointment; and every individual is religious or otherwise, according as he sees God in the sphere in which he is moving, and fulfils to Him the purpose for which he is placed in it. The Bible or Word of God, gives indeed an account of God; and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded by the Evangelists, and his
operations detailed in the Apocalypse, show God in act; but it is only in his ordinances that the Christian can walk with Him-have fellowship with Him-live with Him. The Bible does not make the ordinances, but reveals them, in order that that servant of God may understand their meaning, and conduct himself in them as unto his Master which is in heaven.
Some friends, for whose judgment the utmost respect is entertained, have found fault with expressions in the following pages respecting the persons professing what is called Evangelical Religion. No one ought to be more offended at the use of this abstract term, than at the words Calvinism, Arminianism, Methodism, Protestantism, Papism, &c. If anything is blamed in either of these systems, it does not therefore follow that it is denied that really pious Christians exist in such communions, but simply that the system contains in it the error complained of. In like manner, by pointing out the deficiencies, if not the errors, of many who call themselves Evangelical, it is not asserted, nor even insinu. ated, that there are not many true Christians amongst them ; but it is asserted that certain opinions or views prevail, tending to the subversion of those principles which it is the object of this volume to uphold. The objection is, that if individuals of this class profess the opinions imputed to them, they do so in spite of, and not in consequence of, their Evangelicalism. But the answer to this is found in the fact, that amongst the three parties who call themselves religious, the Popish, the High Church, and the Evangelical, these opinions are found chiefly amongst the latter. It is quite common among such persons to hear inculcated the notion that religion is a purely selfish thing, the end of which is self-preservation, tending indeed to guide the conduct of a single man, but not the conduct of a body of men. Hence, that a king has nothing to do with religion, farther than to be reli. gious himself ; that he is not bound more than any other individual to promote the religious instruction of his people: that ministers of God's church are to be attended to only so far as the people whom God has appointed those ministers to instruct, judge them to be competent to perform such office: in short, setting aside in every case the ordinances of God, and paying no respect to those who bear rule in his name, as unto Him. Thus many of these persons maintain,
, that no connexion ought to exist between the State and the Church. It is owing to these opinions, that there has been established a sectarian system of societyship, in order to effect that which should be effected by God's appointed means of kingly and ecclesiastical government; a system supported by false representation of what is actually done; false expectations of what is to be attained ; and false professions of love and zeal in those who carry it on. It does not, however, follow that all who belong to these societies are hypocrites, or that any are so; but the system being one of duplicity, the characteristic of