« PreviousContinue »
a minute ; till these evil disposi- little negligences and sins. We tions have gained full possession should be afraid of all such lanof them. Waste of time may al- guage as the following: so be mentioned. We think it a surely, this is so trifling an inlittle matter to waste a few min- dulgence, it is so small a saving, utes, forgetting, that out of these it is so slight a departure from minutes, hours are made, that truth, it is such an insignificant hours constitute days, and that breach of the Sabbath, it is such of days, life itself consists. We an unimportant, diminutive matneglect minute after minute, be- ter, that it is not worthy of my cause each is but a minute. We attention. Great sins, indeed, I sit down only for a minute at abhor as much as any man ; but some idle employment, and in such little sins, if indeed they are some easy posture, and thus our sins, I never can attend to." Do idle habits grow upon us. you indeed hate great sins? Then
Want of economy is to be beware of little ones. This is the traced to the same negligence of great art of the devil. The consmall things. The bulk of our stant excuse with which he supexpense is made up of trifling plies us is that of saying, “ Is it sums, and as he that wastes his not a little one?" To move one minutes will be found to trifle step in sin beyond that which we away his life, so he that throws have already taken is all that he away his shillings will be found asks at present. When we have to trifle away bis substance. advanced this step, then another
What then is the way in will be taken. Now each of these which we must learn to avoid single steps is little. Every sin both sin in general, and every sin in this sense is small, for it is in particular? “ He that despis only a small addition to the sin eth smail things,” says an apoph- which went before. Each sin rical writer, “ shall fall by little seems therefore 'diminutive to and little.” It is by not despising the sinner. The plea of smallsmall things that we shall avoid ness is ever returning. It is both those greater and lesser de- the apology for all crimes. grees of iniquity.
Did you never find this answer What then is it to despise given you by one whom you resmall things? It is to make light proved for sin ? Or, rather, did of them it is to make light of you ever find any one who did them because they are small. not thus excuse himself? The We suppose a little matter to be fault in question is always a small a little evil, whereas a little one. Other men's sins seem matter may be a great evil ; it great sins., Past sins of our own may be a precedent for many seem perhaps to be great; or fuother evils. A little evil, many ture sins of our own, would, if times repeated, becomes great; described to us, appear great ; and the reason for committing but our own and our present sin this little evil the second time is always a little one. It will be will seem just as good as for said, perhaps, but is this the doccommitting it at the first. We trine of the gospel ? Does not should be afraid, therefore, of the gospel teach us to repent of
all sin at once, and to become On the first of these questions new creatures through the all- believers have their controversy powerful influence of the Holy with professed infidels ; the secSpirit? And should we not at- oud furnishes the ground of matend to the great work of our ny debates among Christians conversion, rather than to the themselves. But the matter little obliquities which have been which arises out of these ques. spoken of? I answer, that one tions, severally, ought never to proof of conversion to God is be mixed. If a man profess to our not making light of small receive the scripture as a divine sins. He who loves God as he revelation, he forecloses all conought, he who is redeemed by troversy about its authority; bethe precious blood of Christ, cause the word of God is a much may know his faith to be sincere, better security for truth than any chiefly by this test ; namely, that deductions of human reason. he will make much of those sins He may have difficulties in exwhich other men make so little plaining or vindicating some of; he will ever be magnifying truths which he receives under what they are ever excusing the sanction of a divine warAs it is the way of sinners to rant, but still he is not to deny plead in favour of sin, so it is his those truths. This appears in 10 plead against it.
fact to have been the understandI conclude with remarking, ing of almost every writer of that as the sinner falls by degrees, reputation on the subjects of so the servant of God rises step Christian controversy, iili lately. by step. Improvement in holi- Those who were supposed to ness, like improvement in sin, wish for a greater latitude did is gradual ; for the path of the not choose openly to avow it. just is as the shining light which Within a few years, however, shineth more and more unto the the Socinians, finding it impracperfect day.
N. Y. ticable fairly lo defend their
revelation, with which their op-
it, have sought arms and aid from THE TWO QUESTIONS IN RELIG
the camp of infidelity. They CONTROVERSY
have contended at one time like COXSIDERED BY CHRISTIANS.
Christians, and at another like CHRISTIANS may reduce all Deists, and often have alternately questions of controversy in re- taken the ground and used the gard to their religion, to the weapons of both parties in the two following, which they would same combat. This system they do well often to place distinctly did not adopt all at once, nor before them: First, Is the scrip. without some caution and adture the word of God ? Secondly, dress. At first they seemed Is any doctrine, fact, or proposi- only to be carrying to the point tion, which is made the subject of perfection a plan on which of inquiry or speculation, con- they had, in some measure, tained in that word ?
acted, from the days of Socinus Vol. III, No. 5.
himself. They employer much their followers, but inculcated art and assiduity to shew that falsehood as if it had been truth; the sacred writings had suffered and such a falsehood, they espegreatly by some important inter- cially insist, is the doctrine that. polations, and by numerous and there is a devil or evil spirit ; gross corruptions. Much like that the apostle Paul is frequentwise was said to inculcate the ly a very inconclusive reasoner, belief that a great part of the in- adopting principles that are unspired volume ought to be con- sound, and forming conclusions sidered merely as allegorical, or that are untenable : that we have so highly figurative, that no pre- no reason to believe that there cise intellectual truth, or well was any thing miraculous in the defined doctrine, can satisfacto- conception of our blessed Lord, rily be derived from it ; that it but that he ought rather to be admits of many interpretations, considered as the natural son of and may be made to consist with Joseph. We are too much that which is given by them, as shocked and disgusted to proceed well as with any other. These with this detail, though there are the limits to which some of are ample materials for the pur the corps still confine themselves. pose.
Others, however, among whom Thus, then, this class of sowe may reckon Dr. Priestley, cinians claim to bring the whole Bekker of Amsterdam," and a scripture before the bar of their host of German Socinians, havę own reason, and to pronounce been less scrupulous, and have the sentence of falsehood on as proceeded to far greater lengths. much of it as to them may seem They do not all exactly agree meet ; not because it is corrupte in the same representations, for ed or interpolated, not because they love to appear not to act in the writers are misrepresented, concert. Among them, how- but because they actually taught ever, they have not merely in. what is erroneous, and for that sinuated, but professedly main- reason ought to be corrected or tajned, that Jesus Christ and condemned. The only point in hi.. apostles, though they were which they differ from acknowihonest, good men, and at times edged infidels, is, in admitting much favoured of Heaven (Christ that the scripture, after all, conbeing the chief of the prophets ;) tains a revelation from God; yet were not only liable to err, though they will by no means but did actually err, and teach consent to specify what are the their errors to others; that particular parts which they will they quoted scripture from the recognize as such, and by which Old Testament very incorrectly, they will abide as the divine and applied it very fancifully and word, and the umpire of controabsurdiy; that they taught many versy. Frequently and earnestJewish dogmas that were utter- ly have they bcen pressed to do ly false, which they either re- this, but they never have done it. ceived as truths themselves, or Hence it is that controversy with else, knowing them not to be them becomes endless, because true, not only did not undeceive it is impossible to terminate it,
· while the parties have no com- us discover what revelation teachmon authority or principles to es, and then let us receive it which they may appeal. Hence, with docility, humility and thankalso, Deism, open and unreserv- fulness, as the word of life. Let ed, has been most extensively us not bring to the study of propagated, through the medium scripture a system already formof Socinianism. . For if the Bi- ed in our own minds and fortible be that interpolated, corrupt- fied by prejudice, but let us go ed, allegorical, and erroneous to it in the first instance and book, which these men would without prejudice, to learn what make it, common sense revolts at is the system which we ought to the idea of receiving it as a reve- receive. With the temper of lation from God, and a guide 10 children let us sit at the feet of future happiness. If all its the Saviour, imbibe his instrucdoctrines and principles are at tions, and obey his precepts. As last to be subjected to every far as we are able, let us explain man's own decision, whether what is difficult; but when we they shall be received or rejected, can go no further, let us treat why not consult your reason the difficulties of revelation as we alone and at once? Why bring do those of the other works of the master to the scholar, when God; as we do the profound, obyou know beforehand that much scure, and contradictory things which he will say will be weak, which appear in creation and and empty, and erroneous ? It is providence, and in regard to easier, say infidels, to believe, which the best philosophers are not only all the mysteries, but all always the readiest frankly to the superstitions that Christians confess their ignorance. Let us ever received, than to believe be ashamed to acknowledge that that the infinitely wise and good there are certain things which, God has given mankind the for the present, we do not fully revelation of his will in such a understand ; and let us wait for form as this. And here, for more light in this world, or for once, we declare ourselves of stronger faculties in the world their opinion. But so far from to come. The maxims of sound rejecting revelation, as the con- reason and philosophy, not less sequence, we contend for re- than the injunctions of the gosceiving and maintaining it sim- pel, point out to us this course. ply and entirely, as we find it in
[Rees' Cyclo. Art. Angel. the Bible, in the originals of the Old and New Testaments. Let these originals be the subject of diligent study and of sound and reverend criticism. On the
YOUTH FOR THE GOSPEL MINscore of emendation let them be treated as respectfully at least, as
From the Evangelical Intelligencer, the copies of the best heathen MR. EDITOR, writers, than which they have It has given me pleasure to been much better guarded against observe that you have made it corruption. In this manner let an object of primary importance
in your miscellany, to endeavour ulation of these States, by actuto promote the education of pi- al experiment, is found to double ous youth for the gospel minis- in less than twenty-five years. It try. In my apprehension there is therefore evident that twenty. is no one thing that is half so five years hence, we shall need deeply concerned as this, I will eight thousand clergymen more not say merely in the extension than we now have, only to keep up of religion, but in the preserva- the half supply which now exists, tion of its very existence in our and on the supposition that none country: and I am persuaded of the present number will be that even the pious part of the removed. But in that space of community bave in general no time, at least one half of the presadequate views of the subject atent number will die. We must all. If they saw it in its true consequently educate and bring light, it would be impossible for forward twelve thousand clergy. them to remain so indifferent as men in twenty-five years, if we they appear to be. Allow me, would preserve the churches in then, to make a statement which as good a state as they are in at I think must be a very alarming present; and twenty-four thouone to all the real friends of true sand, to furnish a full supply ; piety, and which, not withstand that is, nearly a thousand year. ing, I believe to be incontrovert- I have with design made this ible.
statement as short and as plain The first thing to be noticed as I could, that it might not be is the present state of our church. tedious to examine it. I hope es in regard to a supply of min- that your religious readers will isters. Is it not a fact that there examine it curefully, and think are almost as many congrega
of it seriously.
It will, I am tions vacant, (taking our country persuaded, be found to contain no at large) as there are settled ? I exaggeration ; and if it does not, am afraid we must answer this it is certainly calculated to excite inquiry in the affirmative ; or, at much anxiety. Instead of a least, I think it will not admit of thousand ministers entering the a question, that if we had double gospel vineyard annually, I sosthe number of well qualified cler- pect that the whole number does gymen that we now have, there not equal the fourth part of a would not be a surplusage, when thousand. What then is likely our frontiers and missions are to be the state of our country in taken into the account.
a few years? There must be a then set it down, as I suppose we change, or heathenism will absosafely may, that, at present, we lutely overspread our land; for have but about one half the number this consequence always has, and of ministers that we want. What always will follow the extinc : then are our prospects for the tion of the gospel ministry. I. time to come ? My estimate is have no doubt at all that God that the present number of min- will preserve bis church in the jsters of the gospel in the United world ;-he has promised to do States, of all denominations, is it, and his promise he will fulfil, about eight thousand. The pop
The pop- let earth and hell withstand it as