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the mind of that man, who preaches frequently in this strain, will suffer no diminution, either of evangelical zeal, or of ministerial faithfulness, is certainly an unreasonable hope. I think there can be no doubt that the apostle Paul, with all the ardor of his zeal for the truth, and all the tenderness of his love to the souls of men, could not, without a miracle, have withstood the influence of such a habit; and that, if he had indulged in it for one or two years, he would have been found, at the end of that time, a less pointed, less faithful, and less successful preacher than before.
"You will perceive, then, my impression to be, that exchanging in ministerial services with the heterodox, is not only unfaithfulness to our Master and his cause ; but that it also tends to produce the most unhappy effects on the mind, and on the strain of preaching, of the orthodox themselves ; that it can scarcely fail, if habitually practised, to lower the evangelical tone of their ministrations ; to destroy that sacred unction from the Holy One which can only attend the simplicity that is in Christ; and to produce such an accommodation of their discourses, to the taste and feelings of their heretical hearers, as to render them, in fact, no longer preachers of the Gospel. I think it would not be difficult to point out living Eramples in confirmation of these remarks.
“The question has often been asked, what has led to that awful degeneracy of Boston, with respect to evangelical truth, which the friends of the faith once delivered to the saints, have so long observed and deplored ? Various reasons have been assigned for this phenomenon, a phenomenon nearly, if not entirely unparalleled in ecclesiastical history : but I acknowledge, none of these reasons have ever satisfied me. The licentiousness and derangements of the revolutionary war were known, and exerted an influence, in other places, as well as in Boston. The literary character, and inquiring spirit of the clergy, have been quite as much distinguished in some other places, as in that town. The same remark might be made with respect to several other considerations usually offered to assist in solving the difficulty. I have scarcely any remaining doubt, that a principal cause of the effect in question is to be sought in the subject of this letier, viz. indiscriminate erchanges with all classes of heretodox ministers. There probably never was a place in which this system has been carried to such a length as in Boston. I certainly know of none. These exchanges have, almost unavoidably, led to a strain of general, pointless, inoffensive preaching, in which all would be disposed to agree. This strain of preaching has, of course, banished the knowledge and the love of the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel from most of the churches. The greater part of the present race of clergy, bred up under such ministrations, and finding them most popular, have become their friends and advocates. And the great body of the people, as might have been expected, are distinguished, not so much by their adherence to any distinct, avowed form of heresy, as by a general belief of the innocence of error, and of the almost equal excellence of all modes of faith. The more I reflect on the subject, the more I am persuaded, that this has been the principal cause, and the natural course, of the Boston apostacy, and the stronger conviction do I feel, that wherever the same practice is admitted, similar effects will follow.
“Believe it, my friend, that practice, whatever it may be, which induces ministers to preach seldom or superficially on the peculiar doctrines of the blessed Gospel, which places the ambassadors of Christ in circumstances in which they consider delicacy as forbidding them to speak often, fully, and pointedly on the great, distinguishing truths of the Word of life, will never fail to have a most unhappy effect on their own souls, and to lay a foundation for irreparable mischief among the people of their charge. The man who feels willing, or allows himself to be compelled, in the composition of every discourse, and especially in those which he is preparing for exchanges, to inquire and balance, in his own mind, how far a gay and polite world will allow him to go in declaring his Master's message, degrades his character, dishonors his Master, is treacherous to his trust, and will soon find himself left to be filled with his own devices. I know that there may be a rash and indecorous mode of declaring the truth. I know that men may be rude, boisterous, and violent, in the sacred desk, and call it fidelity. For this I am no advocate. I consider it the duty of every minister to endeavor to find out acceptable words, by means of which to convey the truth as it is in Jesus; but I would not, for my life, put myself into a situation in which I should be habitually, or often, tempted to keep back or accommodate to human prejudice, those great and essential truthis which I dare not alter or modify to please any man. .
“Let every orthodox minister, then, in your region, form the purpose, and let him adhere to it with unalterable firmness, not to exchange pulpits with Unitarians. Let neither the frowns or smiles, the threats or persuasions of opponents move him. I know that it is a trying thing to reject the wishes of those whom we respect, and who respect us. But in this case, it really appears to me that the cause of truth and righteousness for generations to come, is involved. And in such a cause, a minister ought to be willing to make any sacrifice, rather than turn to the right hand or the left. It would afflict me more than I can express, to hear that my friend had become an Arian, or Socinian. But, believe me, it would be little less distressing to hear that you had consented to exchange with the advocates of fundamental error. I should consider you, in one sense, as having delivered your sword to the enemy.
“I am more and more convinced, that the friends of evangelical truth in Boston and its neighborhood, must consent, at least for a time, to be a little, and comparatively despised flock. They must form a little world of their own, and patiently bear all the contempt and ridicule of their proud and wealthy foes. If they do this,-if, instead of despising, or being impatient of, the day of small things,-if, like a band of brothers, they humbly wait on God, and, when he tries their faith and patience, instead of being discouraged, still trust in him,-if, in short, they take for their model, the example of the apostles, when all the wit, and learning, and wealth, and power of the world were leagued against them; they will as certainly triumph over the enemies of Christ, as there is a King on the holy hill of Zion. But if they suffer themselves to be distracted and divided,—if they are impatient under abuse and contumely,-if they are discouraged when difficulties arise,– and especially, if they suffer the desire of emulating their opponents in worldly wisdom, and worldly grandeur, to gain the ascendancy in their minds; it is as certain, that they will be scourged, and depressed, if not, as a body, ruined.”
THOUGHTS ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
(Continued from p. 77.) The preceding account concerning what religion does not do, may embolden some to hope that there is no such thing as a change of heart. Accustomed to regard those things which we have rejected, as the sole evidence of a moral renovation, they may be preparing to quiet their fears, and to settle down in the conclusion, that this experimental religion' is a vain thing; that love to God consists in doing good to men, and that it is not a man's doctrinal belief,' and certain peculiar feelings, but his óworks, his * good works,' by which his Christian character and future destiny will be decided.
The hypocrite, also, finding himself to agree with Christians, negatively, in so many particulars, may endeavor to cheer himself with the hope that all his coldness, and darkness, and stupidity, are only those defects of experience, which he possesses in common with all Christians, and thus continue to fatter himself, until his iniquity shall become hateful.
It is not impossible that some real Christians, while in a state of relative declension, may attempt to quiet their consciences by thinking, while they read the preceding account, “True, Christians do not feel alike at all times; religion does not make over our original nature, nor enable us to be always in the vigorous exercise of faith, or to be perfect in all things. We are indeed worldly, and our affections are low, and ou. exertions are languid; but
Christians are imperfect. By grace we are saved, not by works; God is a sovereign; we can do nothing of ourselves; we nust wait God's time, for quickening, which is always the best time.' Let such remember, that many of the things which religion does not do, are things which it fails to do from relative delect; and that, to be conformed to Christians in their imperfections, is no more to be regarded as evidence of grace, than conformity to great men in their failings, is evidence of talents. To be like Christians in their deficiences, and unlike them in the more prominent and positive evidences of piety, is poor consolation.
To prevent misapprehension from what has been said, we propose to show what change religion does accomplish; where its evidences are to be looked for; and what are some of its most prominent indications.
A change of heart consists in new affections. They are holy or benevolent, in opposition to their former limited and selfish nature. Once the subject loved himself more than God, and loved his fellow men relatively, through the medium of some relation they stood in to himself, and more or less as that relation was near or remote. But a change of heart produces a more comprehensive and impartial benevolence, which, while it does not overlook the family, extends to God, and pervades his kingdom. While it admits the claims of nationality, it does not shut out the claims of the world ; and while it feels for the interests of time, includes in its desires, and plans, and efforts, the welfare of eternity. It appreciates the importance of the soul, the rights of God, the evil of sin, and the interests of eternity, to which a heart of selfishness is cold, and hard, and blind.
Such is the general nature of that holy love, which he feels, in whom “old things have passed away, and all things have become new."
The evidence of a saving change is, therefore, to be looked sor, in the altered state of our affections towards God, his law, his Gospel, his providential government. It is the purpose of God to govern the intelligent universe, not by force, but by love. Benevolent affections, and holy complacency, are the spring of all holy activity, both in God himself, and in his subjects. It is the most blessed of all possible springs of voluntary movement. The blessedness of activity by compulsion, or by fear, is naught, to that of love. The family is happy just in proportion as love is the mainspring of all its movements; and nations, and worlds, are happy, as they are attracted and wielded by the glory of God, and the power of love. Hence “charity," or love, is called “the bond of perfectness.” The law of God prescribes the nature, the objects, and the degree of this holy love. And the works, and the word of God, disclose his existence, and his glory; which constitute the central source of being and of excellence, to attract all eyes, and hold in blessed allegiance all hearts. The law of God, concentrating the affections of the universe upon him, and uniting them, in the fellowship of impartial love, to one another, man has violated, and sunk down into the locality and darkness of selfish affections. It is the object of God, by the Gospel, to revive, in the heart, this extinguished benevolence, which has God and universal being for its object; and to restore again his erring creature man to his high allegiance, and to the holy fellowship of the universe.
We are, therefore, to look for evidence of an evangelical and saving change, to our views and affections towards God, his law, his Gospel, and the general principles and events of his providential government.
Some of the more prominent indications of a saving change in the affections may be looked for in the following particulars.
1. In clearer views of the being, presence, and agency of God, and of the reality of his eternal government. The universe was constructed to declare to his creatures his eternal power and Godhead. And the world we inhabit is a mirror, reflecting, from every object, the evidence of his being and glory. But this flood of light shines into darkness, and is not comprehended. Its concentrated power is thrown upon sightless eyeballs, by reason of the darkness of the heart. Aberration has made us inattentive to the evidence, and willingly ignorant of it; while selfishness has rendered us insensible to the beauty of holiness. The unholy heart of man is the source of this unrealizing state in the midst of evidence, of this unfeeling condition in the presence of such excellence, and of this inactivity while pressed by such a power of motive. While under the influence of this evil heart of unbelief, man departs unceasingly from the living God; is blind, and cannot see afar off; and is dead to all the glorious realities which surround him. The laws of nature are a veil upon his heart, to shut out nature's God; and second causes interpose their opaque influence between God and his soul, and paralyze all the energies of the Moral Sun. There is no remedy for this dark and unrealizing state of mind, but a change of the affections from selfish to holy; for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” One of the first indications of a change of the affections, therefore, will be, the opening of the eyes of the understanding, to see God, and to realize the presence of God in his works. Now, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, will shine in the heart. The means of manifestation were perfect before; the mirror did its duty; the heavens declared his glory, and the firmament his handy work; day unto day uttered speech, and night unto night showed knowledge: but the veil of unbelief shut out the light, and broke the power of evidence. But this being taken away by a change in
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