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 insinuated, 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 religious 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 men who are deeply imbued with it is the reverse of openness and sincerity. Since it is love to man which induces any one to point out the delusions of the Papish Apostasy, or the tendency of perverted doctrines to Antinomianism, or to self-righteousness; so is it real love to Evangelical men which urges these warnings against the errors into which they are most liable to fall; and there is no genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ who will not gratefully receive warning against the following of any other master than Him alone.

Another error, which prevails to a great extent, is the drawing a distinction between important and non-important parts of the revealed mind of God. This can only arise from the false notion, that men are saved in consequence, or in virtue, of their belief of certain doctrines, or of certain verses in the Bible in which those doctrines are contained. A man may be anxious to escape from hell, without having the smallest anxiety to be conformed to the image of God. Natural conscience is quite sufficient for the one, while the omnipotent power of the Holy Ghost

alone can effect the other. Any one, there* fore, who says, “I trust to Christ for salvation, and want to know no more of what is contained in the Bible," does virtually say, “ As long as I escape hell, the less I know of God the better." A doctrine, although the very truth of God, may thus be perverted into a mean of leading from God, instead of leading to God, as election and predestination are often made to do by Antinomians. Salvation consists in conformity to the whole revealed character of God; and whoever desires that conformity, must earnestly seek after and rejoice in every word of the book which has been written for the special purpose of making that character known. It is impossible to be acquainted, however slightly, with the Periodical Journals called Evangelical, without perceiving that there is quite as much discouragement given to the study of the larger portion of the Bible, as there is encouragement held out to attention to the smaller.

The subject of the following Essay is the performance of Social Duties; and whatever pre-eminence may be justly claimed by the Evangelical party on other grounds, it certainly cannot be granted to them here. If they who have still less religious principle,

« ElőzőTovább »