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verbally acknowledged-namely, That the Scripture cannot be broken. (John, x. 35.)
St. Paul testifies of himself and his brother apostles-We are not as many, who corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ. (2 Cor. ii. 17.) Having received the ministry of the Gospel, they were not walking in craftiness, or handling the word of God deceitfully, but, by manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience, in the sight of God. (2 Cor. iv. 1, 2.)
The same apostle denounces a solemn curse upon any man, or even an angel from heaven, who should preach any other Gospel than that which the church of Christ had received from his appointed ministers. And this curse extends to any teacher whatsoever, who should add to, diminish from, or pervert the true spirit of that Gospel, which is delivered to us in the records of the New Testament.
And lest the judgment of the cleurch should be corrupted by the infusion of any false principles—by any thing thaš might tend to efface the authority ( revealed
truth, it is seasonably guarded by this em: phatical charge-Beware lest any man spoil you, through philosophy and pain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudi; ments of the world, and not after Christ, (Col. ii. 8.) And of such importance is the observance of this caution, that the same apostle earnestly repeats the charge to his beloved convert, the Bishop of Ephesus0, Timothy! keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, FALSELY SO CALLED, which some professing, have erred concerning the faith. (1 Tim. vi. 20, 21.).
Thus it appears, that the light of reason has no authority to alter or pervert the truth, as it is revealed in the word of God. And to him who resolves, under the direction of a right judgment, to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good, this must be a self-evident proposition ; for the philosophy and boasted science of man must fall infinitely short of his wisdom, by whose inspiration the holy Scripture was given. It is, therefore, the duty of every one who professes the Christian religion, to acknowledge
that the Scripture contains the sacred rule of faith, and of religious deportment. But, to the well-being of a Christian church, and to the preservation of due order amongst its members, many internal regulations are necessary, beyond what the Scripture has expressly defined, or particularly declared. And such things, a right judgment will deem to be more within the sphere of human deliberation, than those definite truths and sacred precepts which bear the seal of divine authority. Yet still, he who forms a right judgment, will be under the direction of some fixt and accurate principles. He will perceive, that the laws of order, which are summarily laid down in the Gospel, have been unfolded, and more fully brought to view, in the constitution of the primitive and apostolical church. And hence he will acknowledge, that the internal regulations of a church of Christ, its form of worship, and rules of discipline, must, in no respect, be contrary to the word of God; and that, agreeably to the injunction of this word, all things must be done decently, and in order, and to general edification--to the training up of the members of that church,
according to the perfect model laid down by the apostles of our Lord.
Notwithstanding, therefore, the disciples of Christ may justly clạim a right of deliberation, in such matters, they cannot, under the direction of a right judgment, rashly, suggest a mode of worship upon the plan of novel fancy, or individual conceita As the advancement of true religion, and the preservation of good order, are the ends to be, aimed at, it will be necessary to observe the fundamental laws of the Gospel, on the one hand; and, on the other, to acknowledge şome lawful and competent authority, in the visible church, And, in order to ascertain what authority may be deemed lawful and competent to the maintenance of good order, it must be the obvious resource of a right judgment, to contemplate, with respect, the constitution of the primitive churches, which were founded by the apostles of Christ, and to. pay a due regard to such regulations as obtained a general consent amongst them, and which, therefore, appear to, have existed from the age of their first establishment: for true piety, under the direction of
à right judgment, will not disallow that mode of worship, that law of order, which was of apostolical institution. It is, then, requisite, in order to the forming of a right judgment in matters which pertain to the Christian religion, to have a sacred regard to the Holy Scriptures, and a steady attention to the model of the primitive and apostolical church. These were the great principles upon which our pious forefathers judged and acted, in the reformation of our national church. And whilst we adhere to the same principles, we cannot want means to support the stedfastness of our own minds, or a rule, to prove, and judge of, the various doctrines and suggestions of men. This may be explained by the consideration of a few particular cases: thus,
If the professed infidel deny the evidence of miracles, or, in order to shake our faith, controvert the possibility of any great event, recorded in the scripture, as the immediate act of God; a right judgment, established upon just principles, will resolve, that the Almighty Being, who, without controul or competition, constituted the laws of nature according to his own will, has a