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Saviour is rejected either wholly or in part, so we reject, either in part or altogether, the most constraining motives to repentance and gratitude, obedience and purity.
An unholy course of conduct proceeds from two principal causes,-pride, and the rebellion of the senses : from the former arises the disorder of our irascible passions ; and from the latter proceed all our irregular desires. Now, before these evils can be perfectly remedied, or the unholy become truly virtuous, it is necessary to eradicate pride from the heart, and to subdue the irregular appetites of our degenerate nature. This is undoubtedly the most difficult task to be accomplished in life; but what is impracticable to the incredulous deist becomes actually possible to the sincere believer. By the example of his persecuted Master, he is animated to trample upon all the pride of life; and upon the cross of his dying Lord, he is crucified to the sensual delights of this present world. “ Take my yoke upon you,” says the blessed Jesus, “and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” Matt. xi. 29. “Christ hath suffered for us,” continues St. Peter, " leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps." 1 Peter ii. 21. “Let the same mind be in you,” adds St. Paul, “ which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God,” voluntarily “ took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto the death of the cross. Phil. ii. 5-8.
It is necessary to be well acquainted with the human heart, and to have accurately observed the influence that example has upon mankind, in order to understand the great advantage which Christians have over deists ; even allowing the morality of both parties to be equally pure. What is there of which those persons are not capable, who follow the King of kings, encouraged by his example, and supported by his power ? Thus supported, no command will appear too strict to be obeyed, no burden too heavy to be sustained; but we may joyfully triumph, like the first imitators of Jesus, over that innate pride, and those sensual desires, upon which the incredulous, continually striking, as upon dangerous rocks, make shipwreck of all their boasted morality.
The last article recounted in this part of our creed must be supposed to have a prodigious influence upon the minds
Take away the doctrine of a judgment-day, in which an infinitely holy and powerful God will render unto every man according to his works, you then take from the wicked those salutary fears which restrain them in the career of vice, and from the righteous those glorious hopes which are the strongest incentives to a life of godliness.
THE CONNEXION OF MORALITY WITU THE THIRD PART
OF THE APOSTLES' CREED.
The first article in the third part of this ancient confession of faith, respects the confidence which every believer indulges in the divine grace, or rather in that Holy Spirit which sanctifies the sinful and consoles the afflicted. If, by an obstinate incredulity, we reject this sacred Comforter, we refuse the wisdom and power which result from an intimate union with the Father of lights, and disclaim all fellowship with that divine Mediator, whose humanity is far removed from the sight of men. As we could derive no possible advantage from a sun whose rays, concentred in himself, should neither visit our eyes with their cheering light, nor our bodies with their kindly heat; so, if the Almighty neither illumines our minds by the Spirit of truth, nor animates our souls by the Spirit of charity, we may reasonably suppose him to have as little interest in the concerns of men as the statue of Olympian Jupiter,
The remainder of this creed respects the nature of the church, and the privileges of its members.
To destroy the doctrines which relate to the holiness of those who truly appertain to the church of God, the universality of that church, and the communion of those saints of whom it is composed ; this is to overthrow the barriers which form the pale of the church, confounding the holy with the profane, and the sincere with the hypocritical
Take away the doctrine that respects the remission of sins, and you leave us in a state of the most cruel uncertainty. You take away from penitents the expectation that sustains them, and from believers the gratitude that engages them to love much, because much has been forgiven them. Luke vii. 47. You destroy the most powerful motive we have to pardon the offences of our neighbour, Eph. iv. 32, and leave us in a state of solicitude incompatible with that internal peace which is the peculiar privilege of Christians. John xiv. 27.
Rob us of the doctrine of a future resurrection, and you leave us weak in times of danger, alarmed in times of sickness, and wholly in bondage to the fear of death. But while we remain in possession of this exhilarating truth, we can follow without fear the standard of the cross ; the most cruel torments are rendered tolerable; and we can submit without repining to a temporary death, looking forward to a glorious resurrection and a happy immortality.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE FOREGOING OBSERVATIONS.
ALL crimes are founded upon those errors which are first embraced in theory, before they are adopted in practice. Overthrow these errors by opposing to them pure and incontrovertible doctrines, and you destroy sin in the bud. On the other hand, true virtue is produced by truth. Oppose a lie to this truth, and, if it be admitted, you destroy the seeds of virtue. So long as the first man had his heart penetrated with the certainty of this doctrine, “ If I am ungrateful enough to disobey my Creator, I shall die," so long he remained in a state of innocence. But to
this doctrine the tempter opposed his false promises : “ You shall not surely die,” said he : on the contrary,
you shall become” wise and happy as gods." No sooner were these delusive doctrines assented to on the part of Adam, but his understanding becoming necessarily clouded, his will was immediately beguiled; and thus, blindly following the temptation, he fell into an abyss of misery
Doctrines, whether they be good or bad, still continue to have the same influence upon the conduct of men ; and
l to suppose
contrary is to suppose, that light and dark
ever cease to produce their ordinary effects. The following doctrine, “ Out of the pale of the Romish church there is no salvation,” has filled Europe with fires, scaffolds, and massacres. Eradicate this doctrine from cvery prejudiced heart, and plant in its room the following scriptural truth, “God is no respecter of persons ; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him ;" and in the place of streaming blood we shall see streams of charity uninterruptedly flowing through every Christian kingdom.
The miser imagines, that riches are the sovereign good, and that the highest pleasure consists in counting over and over his splendid hoards. The debauched youth is confident, that the sovereign good consists in sensual gratification, and the highest gratification in the enjoyment of a frail beauty destined to be the prey of worms. Destroy these groundless persuasions by solid doctrines ; demonstrate to these infatuated creatures, that God himself is the sovereign good, and that this good is offered to us in Jesus Christ ; that the highest enjoyment consists in having the heart penetrated with divine love, and in looking forward with a lively hope of being one day eternally united to God; convince them of these momentous truths, and the charms by which they have been captivated so long will be immediately broken. Ah! how delightful is it to behold such sensual reasoners awaking from their deathful slumber, and crying out with St. Augustine, “O, eternal sweetness ! ineffable greatness !
! beauty for ever new! truth, whose charms have been
so long unnoticed! alas, how much time have I lost in not loving thee !"
Sound reason must unavoidably submit to the force of these observations, the truth of which is demonstrated by the general conduct of mankind. But, perhaps, the best method of reasoning with the incredulous is, to point out the consequences of their own system. Imagine a man who, instead of receiving the doctrines of the gospel, publicly presumes to make the following declaration : -“I believe not in God the Creator ; I trust not in any Mediator, nor acknowledge any sanctifying Spirit. And, as I believe not in God, so I believe not in what is called his church ; nor do I look upon the communion of those who worship him in any other light than that of a mere chimera. I believe not in the remission of sins. I look for no resurrection, nor indulge any hope of everlasting life. Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.” Was any man seriously to repeat in your hearing such a con fession of his faith, would you fix upon such a one for the management of your estate? Would you entrust him with the charge of your wife, or choose him for the guardian of your children? Would it be possible for you to depend upon his word, or confide in his honesty ? Now, imagine this very infidel, in some future season, convinced of his former errors, and firmly persuaded that he acts under the eye of an omniscient God, who will bring “every work into judgment with every secret thing;" Eccles. xii. 14;—suppose him smiting upon his breast with the penitent publican, and determining with St. Paul to know nothing
among men, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified ;” 1 Cor. ii. 2 ;-would you not indulge a better opinion of this man in his believing state, than when he rejected, with modern philosophers, the doctrines of Christianity? It could not possibly be otherwise. So true it is that, in certain cases, your conduct will give the lie to your arguments against the utility of evangelical doctrines.
J. J. Rousseau professes to have hated bad maxims less than evil actions; when, as a wise man, he should have detested the former as the cause of the latter. It is not