Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

tempts to pervert others from believing the truths of the gospel. Leave them, for God's sake, and for your own, in possession of those pleasures, and those hopes, which nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus can give them; and act not as if you were solicitous to add to the guilt of an infidel the tenfold dannation, which they who have been the perverters and destroyers of the souls of others, must expect to meet, if those divinę threatenings which they have so adventrously opposed, should prove, as they certainly will, the most serious, and to them the most dreadful truths. If I cannot prevail here, but the pride of displaying a superiority of understanding should bear on such readers, even in opposition to their own favorite maxims of the innocence of error, and the equality of all religions consistent with social virtue, to do their utmost to trample down the truths of the gospel with contempt; I would however dismiss them with one proposal, which I think the importance of the affair may fully justify. If you have done with your examination into the promises and threatenings of the gospel, and each of you determine to live and conduct himself as if they were as. suredly false, sit down then, and make a memorandum of that determination. “On such a day of such a year, I deliberately resolved, that I would live and die rejecting all experimental religion. This day I determined, not only to renounce all vital piety, but also to make it a serious part of the business of my life, to destroy, as far as I possibly can, all regard to it in the minds of others; in calm, steady defiance of that day, when the followers of Christ say, he shall appear in so much majesty and terror to execute the vengeance threatened to his enemies.” Dare you write this, and sign it? I firmly believe that many a man, who would be thought an Universalist, and endeavors to increase

a

may, aíter all

prove true.

the number, would not do it. And if you in particu. lar dare not do it, whence does that small remainder of caution arise? The cause is plain. There is in your conscience some secret apprehension, that these opposed, these rejected, these derided truths of the gospel

true. And if there be such an apprehension, then let conscience do its office, and convince you of the impious madness of acting as if they were most certainly and demonstrably false. Let it tell you at large, how possible it is that haply you may be found fighting against God: That, bold as you are in defying the terrors of the Lord, you may possibly fall into his hands; may chance to hear that despised sentence, which when you hear it from the mouth of the eternal Judge, you will not be able to despise: I will repeat it again, in spite of all your scorn, you may hear the King say to you, Depart accursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

If any thing farther needs to be added, it is by way of direction, how to shun the baneful influence of these dangerous opinions, which it is the business of some, at this day, to propagate with great apparent zeal.

And here the first thing that occurs is, to search the scriptures, which are the infallible standard of truth and error. We should carry every doctrine, which offers itself to our belief, “to the law and to the testimony," and abide that divine decision. The rule is perfect. The only danger lies in the misapplication, which indeed is too often the case. No corrupt principle of a religious nature, hath ever failed to press the bible into its service, and claim the sanction of divine authority. But though some disjointed sentences in the word of God may seem to countenance the most

absurd and licentious opinions, and their votaries may tly to this divine sanctuary for protection; yet the sacred oracles taken in their general connexion, fully reprobate every false scheme of religion that ever has been, or ever can be devised. They draw such a character of the Supreme Being, of Jesus Christ, of the Divine Spirit, of the human heart, and of the genuine nature and effects of pure and undefiled religion, that the doctrines according to godliness, may be clearly distinguished from all their counterfeits. The scriptures in general have a plain, determinate, consistent meaning, which may be clearly understood. Therefore no two opposite doctrines of religion can both be agreeable to the word of God; but one or the other must necessarily stand condemned by it. Hence, for instance, if the doctrine of eternal punishments be re. ally agreeable to the Bible, as we have endeavored to show, then the doctrine of universal salvation is entirely contrary to it, and not one text that can be found, does, in its true sense, give the least degree of evidence in its favor. This being the case, there is all encouragement to search the scriptures, to see which of these two diametrically opposite doctrines is true. It would be strange indeed if this could not be determined by every honest inquirer. If any are in doubt therefore, we would entreat them to take heed to this sure word of prophecy, which is able to make them wise unto salvation.

Io the next place, there is a caution to be used against the seduction of those who propagate corrupt and dangerous sentiments. Be not deceived by their pretensions to superior penetration and knowledge. Men of the strongest minds and most extensive literature have often committed the grossest blunders in their religious speculations, and then employed all their Occa,

67

learning and abilities to maintain and propagate them. Some of the enemies of divine revelation, and of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, have displayed shining talents and a profusion of learning, in pleading the cause of error, and attempting to shake the pillars of our holy religion. And many of their admirers appear to have been dazzled and allured into their snares by an implicit faith in their great abilities. But this betrays weakness. Great men are not always wise: They are liable to err; and therefore we should examine their opinions as well as those of other men, and admit them only upon the foot of real evidence.

Nor are we to be biassed in favor of men's licentious principles, on account of their amiable moral characters. It is a just observation of Dr. Brown, that men of strict morality have often disseminated the most licentious and pernicious doctrines. It is well known, that Epicurus, the father of doctrinal licentiousness, never lived up to his principles, but maintained a regular and exemplary life. Spinosa, the father of speculative Atheism, was a man of sobriety and apparent devotion. Lord Herbert, who was, if not the father, yet the principal advocate for Deism in the last century, appears to have had a serious mind, and a conscientious regard to duty. And we know that some of the advocates for universal salvation, are men of ami able natural dispositions and fair moral characters. But ought we hence to entertain a more favorable regard for atheism, deism, or any other licentious doctrines. By no means. Those principles are still to be shunned at the peril of our souls.

Nor again, are we to believe the propagators of error, though they throw out the most pompous and solemn asseverations of their sincerity, impartiality and uncommon intercourse with the Deity, and concern

a

for his glory. Though we scruple not their sincerity, yet we scruple the propriety of throwing cut the profession of it, which can have no tendency to en. lighten, but only prejudice the minds of the credulous. This, which we venture to call an artifice, is often em. ployed by the advocates for universal salvation. Mr. White, in his treatise on the universal restoration of all sinful creatures to the divine favor,* makes the most solemn asseverations of his sincerity and sacred regard for the divine glory. His expressions are these, “And here I do in the fear of God most humbly prostrate myself before his divine Majesty, and in the deepest sense of my own darkness and distance from him, do with all my might beg of that Infinite Goodness I am endeavoring to represent to others, that if something like this platform and prospect of things be not agreeable to that revealed and natural light he hath given to us, that my understanding may be interrupted and my design fall, and that the Lord would pardon my attempt: and I know he will do so, for he hath given me to have no further concern for this matter, than as I apprehend it to be a most glorious truth, witnessed to both by the scriptures of truth and by the mosi essential principles of our own reason, and which will be found at the last opening of the everlasting gospel, to recover in that opening a degenerate world.” Mr. Relly holds out the same lure to his readers, to place an implicit faith in the rectitude of his views, and the divinity of his doctrines. In a preface to one volume of his writings, he assures his readersthat his discourses were delivered extempore, without any previous study or forethought, and flowed from his lips as they were dictated by the divine Spirit. For says he, I followed that divine direction given to the apostles, “Take no thought beforehand what ye

shall * Page 6,7..

« ПредишнаНапред »