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| culation, law and expediency. And
they would appear to have been, until In the view of the present overture recently, ignorant of the truth, that for reformation, the great errors of men never will agree except in geneProtestant parties have been, first, rals. Each party has been constantly that in their zeal for doctrinal seeking to induce an exact conformity truth they have, in their confessions, to the minute peculiarities of its own gone too much into detail; and, se- creed, and no one has been willing to condly, that they have insensibly regard these as secondary to the great engrafted mere matters of opinion truths of Christianity. But it is a into these formularies of belief. The vain attempt, as experience has fully first error is a violation of the just shown, to endeavor to effect a perfect liberty of private judgment, being an agreement among men in matters of unauthorized prescription and dicta- opinion, or even in those minutiæ of tion in matters not essential to a Christian doctrine with which reason saving faith. The second error is has often as much to do as faith. directly incompatible with the other There may be unity in regard to the great truth, that there should be one simple gospel facts to the grand evangelical or gospel faith. It is to fundamental truth of Christianitythese departures from the two great to the divinely appointed means of truths of Protestantism, which, in salvation—to the one great object of their just relations with each other, worship—to the one source of spiritual can alone secure unity, by reconciling light and truth-to the one cementing law with liberty and faith with opin- principle of mutual love which perion, that we may refer the discord vades and animates the body of Christ. and dissension that have prevailed. But how preposterous it is to expect
No just distinction whatever would uniformity of opinion in a world like seem to have been drawn by the reli- this, where the minds of men are as gious world between fact and theory, diverse as the leaves of the forest ! faith and opinion, doctrine and spe- 1 a world in which no two states can
have the same political government; of human nature in all its varied no two families the same regulations ; relations. no two individuals the same tastes ! But while we thus dwell upon the and habits !
importance of the great truth that And how undesirable such an uni- there must be allowed in religion a formity if it could be even effected ! just liberty of opinion, let no one How evident it is, that the infinite suppose that we use the word opinion diversity of nature every where around in the confused or improper sense in us is the very source of beauty and which it is so often employed in relidelight! It is by the opposition of gious discussions, or that we would, things which have yet some common in any respect, compromise or underpoints of agreement, by those charm- value the true faith of the gospel. It ing contrasts constantly held in sub- is just as necessary that we should jection to one pervading principle, have an immovable basis of thought that variety is reconciled with order, as that we should have liberty to and diversity with unity. There think. It is as essential to unity could, indeed, be no beauty in nature that there should be a universal faith without these endless diversities; and as it is to diversity that there should nature, in this respect, is but a type be an individual opinion. The other of human society, whether political great truth is, therefore, that the or religious. Both have proceeded Christian community should be united from God, and both possess the same together by a common belief, which characteristics. As well might we shall fully embrace the gospel, and desire to have but a single note in secure a just conformity to the divine music as one opinion in religion. As will. well might we desire to see the whole To adopt this truth alone, and preearth and the heavens clothed in drab scribe a formula of faith to men, while as to have every one to conform to interdicting at the same time all the sentiments of any single party in liberty of thought, would be regarded Christendom. Where would be, then, as arbitrary dictation. To admit, on the free comparison of sentiment, and the other hand, an unlimited freedom the delightful interchange of thought? in matters of religion, would be latiWhere the charm of new discovery, tudinarianism. It is a nice matter and the progressive enlargement of to adjust the relations of these two mind? Where the doubt that, be- opposite principles, so that liberty traying the weakness of human judg- shall be consistent with law, and a ment, represses intellectual pride ? just latitude of opinion compatible and where the mutual forbearance with an unwavering faith. Yet it is which strengthens mutual love? He by this means alone we can secure who has ordained that no two human that unity in diversity from which faces shall be perfectly alike, and that harmony and happiness result. their features shall yet agree in general The difficulty, however, of the task character, has also instituted that appears much less when we consider diversity of mind which admits, in that, although man delights in freedom the same manner, of an essential of thought, its unrestricted wanderings unity. These differences must in become to him a torment and a curse; both cases be permitted, for we might and that, under such circumstances, as well try to make all faces alike as the very necessities of his nature all minds alike. They are also, in speedily demand that lawless license both cases, equally desirable, as the shall give place to lawful liberty. source of pleasing contrasts and varied When we reflect, indeed, upon the harmonies, and as both the means springs of human action, it will be and the occasion of the development found that voluntary subjection to
fixed principles is by far the most than the gospel of Christ; nothing powerful of them all. The mind of less transitory than the word of God, man is oppressed by the burden of an “ which lives and abides for ever;" unlimited and indefinite freedom, and nothing less unstable than the Chrisexults even in the most submissive tian confession — the great central obedience, if allowed to think that its truth of Christianity-that rock on subjection has been voluntary. It is which Jesus declared he would build when it has submitted to the mastery his church, and against which he of Truth, that it realizes and enjoys promised that the gates of Hades the precious freedom which Truth should not prevail ! The solemn alone can give. Liberty can find no sanctions even, which are thrown resting-place upon a shoreless ocean, around the gospel, indicate its chabut must return, like Noah's dove, to racter and its importance. It bethe hand that sent it forth, until it comes the savor of death, as well as shall be able to discover the terra that of life. “He that believeth not firma of truth. Settled and fixed shall be condemned.” Shall guilt principles are the true home of Free- attach to the disbelief of anything dom. It is License alone that spurns that is doubtful ? “ Vengeance" the just restraints of law, and becomes shall be taken upon those who “obey a criminal and a vagabond in the not the gospel.” Shall the Judge of earth. The very first annunciation, all the earth condemn for disobedience indeed, of freedom to mortals was by if the import of the command may be the law of Eden : “ Of every tree of lawfully disputed ? Most assuredly, the garden thou mayst freely eat,” for the divine truth upon which God has it is by law alone that liberty can be made to rest not merely the hopes of granted. And in proportion to the life, but the fears of everlasting death, excellency of the law will be that of is unchangeably certain, unmistakably the liberty it confers. Hence it is evident, and indubitably credible. that, under the law of Love, devoted The Protestant reformers, with all service is perfect freedom ; and that, their zeal for the right of private in the belief and voluntary obedience judgment, were not unaware, as we of the gospel alone, man can receive have already intimated, that man that emancipation of soul, that en- requires fixed principles of action. largement of thought, that make him | While denying the infallibility of the free indeed.
Pope, they proclaimed that of the word He who formed the human mind of God, and labored to unfold its knew well its character, and that it teachings so as to present them, as must have some haven of rest—some they supposed, in a clear and definite sure and stedfast anchorage, so as not form. In some respects, however, to be for ever tossed upon the billows they unfortunately confounded the of uncertainty. In giving to man the infallibility of the scriptures with the gospel, he has given to him, there- fallibility of their own understandings; fore, the very security he requires. and dogmatically affirmed doctrines We can imagine nothing more un- to be true, because they appeared to shaken or enduring. Immovable as them to be so. And, still more unthe throne of Deity, and indestructible fortunately, they were led by zeal for as his love, it can resist the fury of purity of doctrine, to transcend the its adversaries, and the ravages of just limits of the Christian faith, and time. God has laid in Sion a " tried not only to give to various minute stone,” a “sure foundation stone;" | particulars in divine revelation itself and he who believes in Him “shall an unnecessary conspicuity, but to add, never be confounded.” Surely, there as of equal authority, the deductions can be nothing less indeterminate of their own minds. Granting, in
theory, the right of private judgment, union. But is this the foundation on and insisting upon it as the very ground which the “ Evangelical Alliance" of their revolt against the Pope, they, proposes to unite the discordant parat the same time, delivered to their ties of Christendom? If it has acfollowers systems of religious belief, knowledged that there is a common in which they have gone so much into faith, and, to some extent, omitted in detail, as to touch upon almost every its proposed basis peculiar denominasubject of religious knowledge; em- tional opinions, has it embraced therein brace almost every speculative opin- the gospel as defined by Paul, (1 Cor. ion; and decide ex cathedra almost xv.) or the good confession made by every possible question. Hence it is, Peter, (Math. xvi. 16.)? If it has that, under these creeds and confes- stated some great truths, has it not, at sions, a man cannot think for himself the same time, employed expressions at all without becoming a heretic, and ambiguous and unscriptural ? And the right of individual judgment exists how greatly does it seem to have fallin name alone. Instead of the simple en short of those simple yet sublime facts, and general truths propounded conceptions of unity and diversity; as the subject matter of faith in the of law and liberty ; of principle and word of God, they have delivered practice, exhibited by Christ and his philosophic theories, and special tenets. Apostles! It is nevertheless a moveFor actions, they have substituted ment which indicates a change in the doctrines; and for faith, opinion. spirit of partyism ; and it is a concesThe gospel, which was designed as a sion to the true principles not only of haven of rest, yet ever open towards Protestantism but of Christianity itthe ocean of divine truth and love, self, in so far as it is an acknowledythey have changed into a creed-a ment of a common ground of union, dry-dock in which the vessel is im- and a common liberty of thought. movably fixed to undergo repairs In throwing aside the details of creeds for ever. That which was intended and confessions, and the opinions by the Divine Architect as a free and engrafted upon them, an approximahappy home for the Christian, they tion, at least, is made to the proper have converted into the close and joy- basis ; but this will never be reached, less prison of the sectary.
| until the passion for pure doctrine But by what right do men presume shall be moderated by a regard for to add to the conditions of salvation, true facts; and until the love of or restrict the privileges of Christian theory shall give place to the love of liberty ? Since He who created and Christ.
R. R. redeemed man, has give to him a basis of Christian faith and Christin union,
THE QUESTIONS OF THE adapted by infinite wisdom to the re
PRESENT AGE, quirements of his nature, by what authority do men presume to modify
CONSIDERED IN THEIR RELATION TO
DIVINE TRUTH. or change it? Surely the simple gospel which saves men has power to
NO. 111. — THE STATE CHURCH. unite them in Christian love. Cer
(Continued from page 410.) tainly no other foundation can be laid III.-Christianity contains the true for Christian union, than the great principles of civilization. We have fundamental truth for which Jesus already stated that Christianity has and all his martyrs suffered. 66 On an influence : it is now the character this rock,” he declares, “ I will build of that influence that must be demy church.” It is then a basis not lineated. The nature of its influence merely of individual salvation, but of over the mind and morals of mankind, church union, and this is Christian l is to be found in the history of the Christian ages--for the history of The propagators of the Christian any nation is the external evidence of system declared that every man had the morals and intellectual habits of an immortal soul, whether bond or that nation.
free-(a slave had been accounted We shall, in the first place, select soul-less): moreover, they declared Slavery as the institution over which that in Christ, barbarian, Scythian, Christianity has exerted an influence. bondman and free, were all equal At the time of the institution of they declared that “man-stealers," or Christianity, the number of slaves slave-merchants, (for the occupations was treble that of the freemen : the were always combined) were the most master had the power of inflicting infamous among mankind. And now capital punishment on his slave, and mark the power of the civilizing printhat, too, in the most inhuman manner. ciple of Christianity. The Scriptures The mere caprice of a master could had declared that mankind were condemn his slave to crucifixion, no “ sold under sin,” “ the bond-slave of cause being assigned for the act : in sin"_pepramenos upo amartian, refact, the law regarded them only as ferring to the custom of selling prisoanimals. They were also burnt alive. ners of war as slaves. As a natural Tertullian records that the punish consequence we find the Christian ment by fire was first used for slaves Fathers addressing the churches to alone, who were visited with all other the following effect :-Christ, by his imaginable cruelties. The satires of sufferings, redeemed your souls from Juvenal and Martial abound in allu- slavery ; are you not, therefore, bound sions to the infamous treatment of in gratitude to redeem the bodies of slaves. They mention such punish- your fellow-creatures from slavery ? ments as these : - scourging with you are not required to sacrifice chains of solid bronze, thumb-screws, your lives to effect it, you can easily and all those other amiable inven- | effect it out of the abundance of your tions by which slaveholders, inquisi- wealth. This was an analogy obrious tors, and despots, have shown the to every mind, and it produced the inevil of irresponsible power. But we tended effect : many, in their enthuhave not yet completed the catalogue. siasm, sold themselves to obtain money There were other punishments-cut-to ransom others. Passing over a ting off the nose, plucking out the few generations, we arrive at the eyes, striking out the teeth. And reign of Constantine, Christianity has there was another cruelty inflicted on had time to work, and now survey its the slave, whether he had offended effects on both morals and legislation. his master or not. The rich Romans Constantine enacts several laws, as were in the habit of keeping ponds follow:- 1. Any master murdering full of large conger eels, which they his slave, shall be punished the same were at great expense in feeding, be- as if he had murdered a freeman.-2. cause they often threw a live slave Any master having punished his slave into the pond, under the impression to such an extent as to cause ultimate that the fish grew fatter and more lively death, shall be accounted guilty of by tearing to pieces a living man. murder, and punished accordingly.
We shall draw a veil over the —3. No heathen master shall in any other atrocities of which slaves, espe- way interfere with the spiritual matcially females, were the subjects ; and ters of a Christian slave.-4. No we only disclose them now from the ne | member of the family of a slave shall cessity of showing the state of feeling- be sold away separately from the or rather, want of feeling-in regard to rest ; parents and children shall no slavery, and the power of Christianity longer be separated ; if sold at all, the in extinguishing that state of feeling. whole family shall be sold.-5. Any