תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

this intuitive word of grace in the soul of man; so plain and simple, that it would be difficult to misconstrue them; and they are entitled to consideration as the experience of pious and holy men.

Do they any where direct man to his fellowman to know his duty to God-to, study books or chronicles, to be taught what they should do? nay truly: their admonitions are of a totally different character; they direct to the light, to the grace of God, as a teacher which every one shall know for himself.

Were I to quote the very numerous passages which relate to the subject, which I forbear from their general familiarity; it would not be from a belief that any one, either could, or ought to believe in them, merely upon the authority of scripture; such an idea would tend to idolatry, by putting them in the place of God him. self. But as I may treat of the scriptures here. after, I will leave the subject at this time, only observing, that whatever language is used, whether speaking of Christ, the power and the wisdom of God, of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit, the Comforter, the Word, or the grace of God; it all has reference to that one universal princie ple, which shows man good and evil ; which has been the same in every age of the world ;

22

and which I have assumed to be, the only true and perfect guide of our lives, and rule of faith and practice. I well know that there are many persons

who draw distinctions between different eras of the world—the patriarchal—legal—and gospel dispensations. They have seen in the metaphori. cal language of scripture, the familiar intercourse which God held with the patriarchs, without any record of those forms and ordinances in religion, which have since been deemed so essential; that this state was succeeded by one of Law and Ordinances, which they believe were finally abrogated by the outward coming of Je. sus Christ.

Let us now leave the carnal views which man has drawn from an abuse of the scriptures, and retire to the contemplation of the universality of the love of God; and see whether we can for one moment believe, that the Father of mercies has been partial to his creature man. Who is there that is bold enough to declare that he is the object of this partiality? I believe there is none : on the contrary if left to himself, each would feel, that he was one of the children of a common father, whose mercy and justice extends alike to all; and would probably believe that the same principle of eternal truth that

spoke to the patriarchs, to the prophets and apostles, speaks as intelligibly to him: “ I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the moun. tains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth. Whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” Proverbs viii. 23, 24, 25, 35.

There are other persons, who, while they admit the truth of some of these remarks, yet say that revelation has ceased, or that man is the subject of but partial illuminations of the spi. rit. But if the end of its manifestation at all, is to save men from sin, “ if it is not sufficient for the end, why then has it been manifested at all ?” This is the language recorded of an Indian chief, said to have been delivered to a missionary, who was endeavouring to convert him to what he called christianity. “It is clear” he adds " that a revelation insufficient to save, cannot put us in a better condition than we should be in, without any revelation at all! We cannot conceive, that God should point out to us the end we ought to arrive at, without opening to us the way to arrive at that

end." These are the natural sentiments of an unbiassed mind.

Most assuredly there never has been any other change in dispensations than what we witness in the present day. The effect of a departure from that primeval simplicity, which is wholly dependant upon God, in which he is immediately the judge and lawgiver ; is the establishment of outward laws to restrain men and bind them together; and these are only certainly abrogated by the power of God in the soul, which blots out the hand writing of ordinances, and frees man from the law of sin and death.

The great object of life is salvation, and any view that is so contracted and partial, as to admit the idea that the situation of any one man or class of men, is more eligible for this end, than that of any other; is unworthy the consideration of a religious mind.

All mankind of every age, are alike the subjects of divine regard. In every nation," he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him."*

The leading divisions of men are, into what are called Pagans or Infidels, Jews, Mahomedans or Musselmen and Christians; these again

* Acts x 25.

are divided into thousands of various sects, but a man is no more a Christian or an Infidel, for being called by these names, than the Jew was formerly for being one outwardly.

No man is saved in his sins, it would be a contradiction in itself.

Does any one suppose that each of these dif . ferent sects are saved by a different salvation, merely because the forms of their religion are different? If they do not it will then follow, that there must be some universal principle of salvation that comes alike to all; without regard to the forms of their religion or the names by which they are called : or it is not true, that among every nation, those who fear God and work righteousness are accepted of Him.

Christians have generally agreed that there is but one means of salvation, and taking the literal meaning of scripture, they refer salvation to a happy existence beyond the grave; and say that the offering of Christ upon the cross, is the means appointed by the Almighty to accomplish this end; and they are puzzled exactly to know how all are saved by it, so few ever heard of it, in comparison to the great numbers born before and since him ; some have gone one length and some another, one, sect who have lately published their faith, affirm, that “as

« הקודםהמשך »