« הקודםהמשך »
the length of that rebellion against God, which according to the Evangelical prophet proceeds to say to the uncompromising preacher, Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the holy one of Israel to cease from before us: the fatal result too often is, that thus prejudice becomes inveterate; and error on the most solemn of all subjects, is perpetuated. To what other cause can we, in this period of general advancement of the intellectual powers, ascribe the continuance of most of the various heresies and divisions which not only dismember the Church, but afflict and degrade mankind ? those“ erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's word,” which still require the incessant vigilance of the clergy," with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away
*" To what other source can we attribute the prevalence, in persons often of strict piety, of that unhappy error, which forms its gloomy creed, and derives its startling maxims, and exclusionary speculations on the mercies of God, from insulated
passages Writ, irreconcileable, while disjointed from the
* The Ordering of Priests.
context, with the general analogy of faith? To what other cause, the continuance, even among men of much moral worth, of the proud, yet soulenslaving heresy of those who deny the Divinity of the Redeemer? who heap to themselves teachers, and concede to them the right of altering and even mutilating the received version of the word of God, under the bold pretence of improv.. ing it? who rob the Saviour of his glory, and themselves, if not of the name of Christians, of all the brightest hopes, of all the best and purest consolations of the Christian faith.
If this be “philosophy,” it bears too strong a resemblance to that of the Chaldeans, so awfully denounced by the Prophet just referred to. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. May God avert the threatened vengeance !-- Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth ; and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off : And desolation shall come upon thee suddenly ; which thou shalt not know *
* Isaiah xlvii. 10, 11.
That this presumptuous self-confidence may not lead unlearned and unstable persons to such future results, it is our duty to proclaim, with frequency and earnestness, the danger, and, what it
may in many instances be called, the sin of Schism.
It is even asserted, by the votaries of this latitudinarian principle, that God is pleased with diversity of Creeds, is gratified by variety in the worship of his creatures. But if truth be uniform, all variation from it must be error. Now error, the unintentional error of the sincere worshipper, may be pardoned by the God of mercy, but can never be acceptable to the God of truth. Conscience may lead any man away from his appointed teacher, and from the Church into which he was admitted at his baptism, and he may
attach himself to other communions with perfeet sincerity of mind; but has he, before he separated himself, duly used all the means of grace afforded to him ? has he deeply studied the Scriptures? Have his inquiries been made without partiality, passion, or precipitancy? Has he prayed earnestly for the grace of the Holy Spirit to enlighten his understanding? If he has not, his conscience may lead him wrong: and sincerity is but a poor excuse to others, a still less satisfactory reason to his own mind, for his continuing in the path of error, which he has not taken the right means to avoid. -And he is violating the Unity of the Church.
Of the solemn prayer which Christ, after partaking the Passover with His disciples, addressed in their presence to his Heavenly Father, the most affecting characteristic is, the intensity of his supplication for the unity of his Church. The glory which thou gavest me, says our Saviour, I have given them ; that they may be one; even as we are one ; I in them, and thou in me ; that they may be made perfect in one In the awful hour of anticipation of his approaching agony and death, he had prayed that this unity, which was to make them perfect, might belong not only to the Apostles, but to his whole Church. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word : That they all may
be onet. And this unity is stated as the surest basis of universal faith in his Divine Mission. That the world may believe that thou hast sent
# John xvii. 22, 23.
+ Ibid. 20, 21.
me. St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, adds to his solemn and earnest entreaties some explanation of the nature of the unity which he so powerfully and authoritatively recommends. And here I would take occasion to observe, that they appear to err most dangerously in their interpretation of Christian unity, who suppose (however in accordance the supposition may be with what are called the liberal principles of the times,) that the occasional association of discordant sects, who cannot unite in the same prayers, can constitute the unity prayed for by Christ, and enjoined by the Apostle: that a lasting uniformity can ever be established by the compromise of conscientious scruples, or by the concealment, for a time and for a purpose, of individual tenets. This is the language of the Apostle ; Now I beseech
you, Brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing ; and that there be no divisions among you : but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment *. And how justly, and if I may so say, without desecrating the
* 1 Cor. i. 10.