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with the wrath of Heaven. We the grossest acts of cruelty to shall oppose to prevailing and This bigoted zeal has in fashionable vice our prayers, our fact shed torrents of Christian warnings, our admonitions, our blood, and inspired the fanatics entreaties, and the still more of the church of Rome with the persuasive influence of our ex- preposterous idea of “illuminaample-an example which will ting the minds of men with the at once frown vice out of counte- light of fires and faggots."nance, and powerfully allure to It is of the highest importance virtue.
then that our minds be well inThis branch of pious zeal has formed in the great articles of likewise those properties that truth and duty, and in the merdistinguish it from those things its or demerits of particular obwhich are either directly oppos- jects and characters, before we ed to it, or falsely assume its ap- permit them to be transported pearance.
with fervour. Nor should our It is founded on knowledge. zeal in any case be suffered to This characteristic alone can transcend our knowledge. Doubtrender our zeal truly acceptable less some honest and good men to God, or beneficial to mankind. have been faulty here.
Under A blind, ignorant, misguided the influence of a misguided fervour is a most pernicious zeal, they have condemned and thing. It frequently assumes all traduced characters, which, had the fierceness of bigotry, and all their eyes been open, they would the wildness and extravagance have loved and honoured. It is a of fanaticism. It was this rash melancholy fact, that the best and blind zeal which influenced things become, in their abuse, the Jews in their rejection of the worst and most pernicious. Christianity, and which stirred If light without heat is useless, them up to such a pitch of ha- it is no less true, that heat withtred and persecution against its out light is worse than useless. first preachers. I bear them rea It is hurtful and destructive. cord, says Paul, that they have a Farther, the zeal of which we zeal for God, but not according to speak, is prompted by a spirit of knowledge. The apostle was love. This is what principally bimself an instance of the same . distinguishes it from the false frenzy, before his conversion. fire of the bypocrite. The real He was very zealous, persecuting Christian, in all his fervour the church. He verily thought against error and wickedness, is with himself that he ought to do influenced, so far as he acts in many things contrary to the name character, by love to God and his of Jesus of Nazareth. Such an cause, by love to mankind and opinion palliated, indeed, but it their best interests, by love to the was far from justifying his con- persons, the souls of his eneduci: nor did he himself enter- mies, and the enemies of retain a thought of this kind. So ligion. This will infuse an we read of some who would air of tenderness into all his rethink they were doing God ser proofs of vice and licentiousness. vice, while in reality fighting This will mingle sentiments of against God, and perpetrating compassion for the souls of men, Vol. III. No. 1. B
with the strongest disapprobation When they consider how
sion, for the exhibition of such a
be donc decently and in order. Lord Lyttleton.
Doubtless, it is through the neg.
lệct of this rule, that religion who differ from them in some has not unfrequently been dis- small points of opinion, act a honoured by its friends ; while strangely inconsistent part. its foes have found occasion for Something must be wrong, eitriumph, and for hardening ther in the head or heart. That themselves in sin.
may be safely pronounced the Still further, our zeal should true zeal, which is sacredly and be proportioned to the importance inflexibly tenacious in all great of its particular object. It was points of faith and practice, and the fault of the Pharisees of old, generously candid in all those of and a striking evidence of their inconsiderable moment. insincerity, that they were ex- In fine, our zeal against sin tremely scrupulous respecting should manifest itself in such many observances of small mo- ways only, as are warrantable ment, and omitted those weightier and lawful. For a single ofmaiters of the law, judgment, fence in this point; for a rash mercy and faith, Nor is it uncom- and angry expression to a pro. mon for hypocrites to be super- voking people at the waters of stitiously tenacious of thingscom- Meribah, Moses, that eminent paratively uniinportant, while servant of God, was denied the the great essentials of religion honour and happiness, which his are neglected. All truth, in- heart so ardently wished, of deed, should be sacred with us. conducting the Israelites into So should all duty. But all the land of promise. Nor are truths and duties are not of equal any of us out of danger, while importance. Some are plain. conversant with erroneous Others are more difficult to be wicked men, of being transportdiscovered. Some lie at the ed by that wrath of man, which very foundation of religion. worketh not the righteousness of Others are not fundamental. In God. It is unhappily the case regard to some, all good men that zeal, being a strong emoare agreed. Respecting others, tion of the mind, and, like other the best of men have thought strong emotions, apt to magnify and practised variously. Now its object, naturally unfits us for it argues a strange narrowness judging accurately what methof mind, or perverseness of ods of its expression are right, heart, or both, io be equally te- and what are wrong.
Men are pacious and engaged upon all too prone to suppose, that if these points ; to be as ready to their general intentions be good, exclude another from our chari- they cannot mistake in the exety, to pronounce him a heretic, cution of them. Many have and no Christian, for a small er- been so far carried away by a ror in judgment, or practice, as torrent of zeal, as quite to forget for the greatest. And certainly or neglect the maxim, that we those Christians, if there be any must not do evil that good may such, who hope well of the
Yet this maxim lies at openly profligate, if, in their the very foundation of all moopinion, they are but orthodox, rality, and of all practical religwhile they can have no good ion. How absurd, not to say, opinion of the most exemplary, impious, to entertain the idea of
glorifying God, by violating his England for theological and biblaws! How absurd, to think of lical knowledge, for Christian benefiting our fellow-men, by piety and morality, for wisdom, trampling on the sacred princi- displayed in their religious, civil ples of love and humanity! and literary institutions, stands What a monstrous, unchristian, deservedly high in the estima, antichristian zeal is that which tion of the wise and good. Great has tormented and destroyed weight ought, therefore, to be men's bodies to save their souls! attached to their testimony in And if the character of a man is the cause of evangelical truth. his best earthly possession, those As early as 1648, a synod was surely are in no small mistake, holden, consisting of elders and who, under the pretext of relig. messengers* from all the church. ion, mangle and destroy the rep- es in New England. In their reutation of their fellow-creatures, sult they say ; " This synod by uncharitable censures and having perused and considered, bitter revilings. This warfare with much gladness of heart and and these weapons are not spirit. thankfulness to God, the confes, ual, but carnal. How surpris. sion of faith lately published by ing, how lamentable, that any the reverend assembly of divines should be bigots in the cause of in England, do judge it to be peace and love ! that malice and holy, orthodox and judicious slander should be employed in in all matters of faith, and do prosessed support of the benevo- therefore freely and fully conlent religion of Jesus.
sent thereunto for the subZ. stance." Accordingly they re
published it as “their confession
of faith, and as containing the OF THE FAITH OF THE
doctrine constantly taught and ENGLAND CHURCHES. professed in the New England
No. 1. churches” at that time. The successive numbers of It is worthy of remark, that Pastor, in his “Survey of the this confession, compiled by the New England churches," par- venerable and learned assembly, ticularly those on confessions of who composed the larger and faith, have imparted much
shorter catechisms, and containpleasure and instruction to my ing the same doctrines, was apown mind, and to the minds of proved and subscribed by every many other readers of the Pan-member of this synod. In doing oplist. Wishing to contribute this they declared, that they in. all in my power toward accom- tended to express their belief plishing an important object of and profession of the same this work, viz. a reform of the doctrines, which had been gene. churches of New England, I rally received in all the reformshall, for this purpose, presented churches in Europe." some historical facts, which This same confession was shew what was their faith in adopted by the General Assem: their early, and as I apprehend, their purest state. The • Elders, were ministers ; messen. character of the fathers of New gers, lay delegates.
bly of the Presbyterian church cognized as the essential and disin Scotland, the preceding year. tinguishing docrines of Chris
About this time, the Savoy tianity, in the articles of thechurch confession of faith, embracing of England, and in the confessions the same doctrines, was adopted of the great body of the Presbyby a synod of the Congregation- terian churches in Holland, Scotal churches, held at the Savoy in land and America. These docLondon. The same doctrines trines were embraced and main. were sanctioned afterward, in tained, as the truths of Scripture, 1690, by a general meeting of by the Reformers, and by the the Presbyterian and Congrega. Christian church, where it has tional churches in England. existed in its purity and simpli.
In 1680, the New England city, from the days of the apos. churches, by their elders and tles. In evidence of the truth delegates, assembled in synod, of this assertion, I adduce the renewed their assent to the West- following result of the laborious minster confession of faith. In inquiries of a very learned divine consequence, the General Court of our own country.* orderedit to be printed (to use their “ The doctrines contained in own words) " for the benefit of the Assembly's shorter cate. the churches in the present and chism and the Westminster con. after times." This public and fession of faith, particularly the solemn act of the churches, as- doctrine of the divinity and satissembled in synod, has not been faction of Jesus Christ, original annulled by any subsequent act; sin, the necessity of special nor has this confession been su- grace in regeneration, justificaperseded by the public adoption tion by faith, &c. have been uni. of any substitute. It must of versally received, taught and es. course now be considered, and, tablished in all ages of the Chris. taking into view the whole body tian church. After all the search of Christians in the common. I have been ableto make into antiwealth, belonging to the Congre- quity, I can find no single instance gational churches, I believe it of any public confession of faith, may correctly be considered, as drawn up by any council, or gen. the adopted public confession of erally received by any Christian the faith of the Congregational country in the world, wherein churches in Massachusetts. any of these doctrines have been
In 1708, all the churches in plainly and expressly denied. Connecticut, assembled by their For though there have been ministers and delegates at Say. some men scattered up and brook, unanimously approved down in the world, and someand adopted the Savoy con- times convened in assemblies, fession of faith. Their proceed who have not believed these docings received the sanction of the trines, and have sometimes enlegislature. And the churches deavoured covertly to disguise in this state have continued them and let them drop, and steadfast in this faith to the pres. thus by degrees to root them ent time.
out of the Christian church, yet These doctrines have been, and still are, acknowledged, and re
• Presidont Clap.