תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

far invincible ignorance may extend? Or (that comes to the same thing,) invincible prejudice ?—which is often so fixed in tender minds, that it is afterwards impossible to tear up what has taken so deep a root. And who can say, unless he knew every circumstance attending it, how far any mistake is culpable? Seeing all guilt must suppose some concurrence of the will; of which He only can judge who searcheth the heart.

6. Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking, which he desires they should allow him; and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions, than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He bears with those who differ from him, and only asks him, with whom he desires to unite in love, that single question, “ Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?”

7. We may, secondly, observe, that here is no inquiry made concerning Jehonadab's mode of worship; although it is bighly probable there was, in this respect also, a very wide difference between them. For we may well believe Jehonadab, as well as all his posterity, worshipped God at Jerusalem : whereas Jehu did not; he had more regard to state-policy than religion. And, therefore, although he slew the worshippers of Baal, and destroyed Baal out of Israel; yet from the convenient sin of Jeroboam, the worship of the golden calves, he departed not. (2 Kings x. 29.)

8. But even among men of an upright heart, men who desire to “have a conscience void of offence,” it must needs be, that, as long as there are various opinions, there will be various ways of worshipping God; seeing a variety of opinions necessarily implies a variety of practice. And as, in all ages, men have differed in nothing more than in their opinions concerning the Supreme Being, so in nothing have they more differed from each other, than in the manner of worshipping him. Had this been only in the heathen world, it would not have been at all surprising: For we know, these “by (their) wisdom knew not God;" nor, therefore, could they know how to worship him. But is it not strange, that even in the Christian world, although they all agree in the general, “ God is a Spirit, and they that worship bim must worship him in spirit and in truth,” yet the particular modes of worshipping God are almost as various as among the heathens ?

9. And how shall we choose among so much variety ? No man can choose for, or prescribe to, another. But every one must follow the dietates of his own conscience, in sim

plicity and godly sincerity. He must be fully persuaded in his own mind, and then act according to the best light he has. Nor has any creature power to constrain another to walk by his own rule. God has given no right to any of the children of men, thus to lord it over the conscience of his brethren ; but every man must judge for himself, as every man must give an account of himself to God.

10. Although, therefore, every follower of Christ is obliged, by the very nature of the Christian Institution, to be a member of some particular congregation or other, some Church, as it is usually termed; (which implies a particular manner of worshipping God; for “two cannot walk together unless they be agreed ;) yet none can be obliged by any power on earth, but that of his own conscience, to prefer this or that congregation to another, this or that particular manner of worship. I know it is commonly supposed, that the place of our birth fixes the Church to which we ought to belong; that one, for instance, who is born in England, ought to be a member of that which is styled the Church of England; and, consequently, to worship God in the particular manner which is prescribed by that Church. I was once a zealous maintainer of this; but I find many reasons to abate of this zeal. I fear it is attended with such difficulties, as no reasonable man can get over: Not the least of which is, that if this rule had took place, there could have been no Reformation from Popery; sceing it entirely destroys the right of private judgment, on which that whole Rcformation stands.

ll. I dare not, therefore, presume to impose my mode of worship on any other. I believe it is truly primitive and apostolical: But my belief is no rule for another. I ask not, therefore, of him with whom I would unite in love, Are you of my church? Of my congregation ? Do you receive the same form of church-government, and allow the same church-officers with me? Do you join in the same form of prayer, wherein I worship God? I inquire not, Do you receive the Supper of the Lord in the same posture and manner that I do? Nor, whether, in the administration of Baptism, you agree with me in admitting sureties for the baptized; in the manner of administering it; or the age of those to whom it should be administered ? Nay, I ask not of you, (as clear as I am in my own mind,) whether you allow Baptism and the Lord's Supper at all? Let all these things stand by; we will talk of them, if need be, at a more convenient season; my only question at present is this, “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?"

12. But what is properly implied in the question? I do not mean, What did Jehu imply therein ? But what should a follower of Christ understand thereby, when he proposes it to any of bis brethren ?

The first thing implied is this : Is thy heart right with God? Dost thou believe his being, and his perfections ? His eternity, immensity, wisdom, power; his justice, mercy, and truth? Dost thou believe, that he now “upholdeth all things by the word of his power ?” And that he governs even the most minute, even the most noxious, to his own glory, and the good of them that love him ? Hast thou a divine evidence, a supernatural conviction of the things of God? Dost thou “ walk by faith, not by sight ? ” Looking not at temporal things, but things eternal ?

13. Dost thou believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, “God over, all, blessed for ever ? ” Is he revealed in thy soul ? Dost thou know Jesus Christ and him ,crucified ? Does he dwell in thee, and thou in him ? Is he formed in thy heart by faith ? Having absolutely disclaimed all thy own works, thy own righteousness, hast thou “submitted thyself unto the righteousness of God,” which is by faith in Christ Jesus? Art thou “found in him, not having thy own righteousness, but the righteousness which is by faith?” And art thou, through him, “fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold of eternal life?”

14. Is thy faith EvegybLLEVN di' ayatns,---filled with the energy of love? Dost thou love God, I do not say, “above all things ;” for it is both an unscriptural and an ambiguous expression ; but “with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength ?” Dost thou seek all thy happiness in Him alone ? And dost thou find what thou scekest ? Does thy soul continually “magnify the Lord, and thy spirit rejoice in God thy Saviour ? ” Having learned “in every thing to give thanks,” dost thou find, “it is a joyful and a pleasant thing to be thankful ? ” Is God the centre of thy soul ? The sum of all thy desires ? Art thou accordingly laying up thy treasure in heaven, and counting all things else dung and dross ? Hatb the love of God cast the love of the world out of thy soul? Then thou art “crucified to the world;" thou art dead to all below; and thy“ life is bid with Christ in God.” ,

15. Art thou employed in doing “not thy own will, but the will of Him that sent thee?” Of Him that sent thee down to sojourn here awhile, to spend a few days in a strange land, till, having finished the work he hath given thee to do, thou return to thy Father's house? Is it thy meat and drink “to do the will of thy Father which is in heaven?” Is thine eye single in all things ? Always fixed on him ? Always looking unto Jesus? Dost thou point at him in whatsoever thou doest ? In all thy labour, thy business, thy conversation ? Aiming only at the glory of God in all;—" whatsoever thou doest, either in word or deed, doing it all in the name of the Lord Jesus; giving thanks unto God, even the Father, through him ? ”

16. Does the love of God constrain thee to serve him with fear,—to“ rejoice unto him with reverence ?” Art thou more afraid of displeasing God, than cither of death or hell? Is nothing so terrible to thee as the thought of offending the eyes of his glory? Upon this ground, dost thou “hate all evil ways,” every transgression of liis holy and perfect law; and herein “exercise thyself, to have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man?”.

17. Is thy heart right toward thy neighbour ? Dost thou love, as thyself, all mankind without exception? “If you love those only that love you, what thank have ye? ” Do you « love your enemics ? ” Is your soul full of goodwill, of tender affection toward them ? Do you love even the enemies of God, the unthankful and unholy? Do your bowels yearn over them? Could you “wish yourself (temporally) accursed” for their sake? And do you show this, by“ blessing them that curse you, and praying for those that despitefully 11se you and persecute you?”

18. Do you show your love by your works? While you have time, as you have opportunity, do you in fact “ do good to all men,” neighbours or strangers, friends or enemies, good or bad? Do you do them all the good you can; endeavouring to supply all their wants; assisting them both in body and soul, to the uttermost of your power?-If thou art thus minded, may every Christian say, yea, if thou art but sincerely desirous of it, and following on till thou attain, then “thy heart is right, as my heart is with thy heart."

1. 1. "If it be, give me thy hand.” I do not mean, 'Be of my opinion. You need not: I do not expect or desire it. Neither do I mean, I will be of your opinion. I cannot: It does not depend on my choice : I can no more think, than I can see or hear, as I will. Keep you your opinion ; I mine ; and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavour to · come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Let all opinions alone on one side and the other: Only “ give me thine hand.”

2. I do not mean, Embrace my modes of worship: or, I will embrace yours.' This also is a thing which does not depend either on your choice or mine. We must both act, as each is fully persuaded in his own mind. Hold you fast that which you believe is most acceptable to God, and I will do the same. I believe the Episcopal Form of Church-government to be scriptural and apostolical. If you think the Presbyterian or Independent is better, think so still, and act accordingly. I believe Infants ought to be baptized; and that this may be done either by dipping or sprinkling. If you are otherwise persuaded, be so still, and follow your own persuasion. It appears to me, that forms of Prayer are of excellent use, particularly in the great congregation. If you judge extemporary prayer to be of more use, act suitably to your own judgment. My sentiment is, that I ought not to forbid water, wherein persons may be baptized; and, that I ought to eat bread and drink wine, as a memorial of my dying Master: However, if you are not convinced of this, act according to the light you have. I have no desire to dispute with you one moment, upon any of the preceding heads. Let all these smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into sight. “If thine heart is as my heart," if thou lovest God and all mankind, I ask no more : “Give me thine hand.”

3. I mean, first, Love me: And that not only as thou lovest all mankind; not only as thou lovest thine enemies, or the enemies of God, those that hate thee, that despitefully use thee and persecute thee;” not only as a stranger, as one of whom thou knowest neither good nor.evil ;-I am not satisfied with this ;-no; “ If thine heart be right, as mine with thy heart,” then love me with a very tender affection, as a friend that is closer than a brother; as a brother in Christ, a fellowcitizen of the New Jerusalem, a fellow-soldier engaged in the same warfare, under the same Captain of our salvation. Love me as a companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus, and a joint heir of his glory.

4. Love me (but in a higher degree than thou dost the bulk of mankind) with the love that is longsuffering and kind; that is patient; if I am ignorant or out of the way, bearing Vol. I, No. 11.

2 K

« הקודםהמשך »