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upon to expose. Such a wish on my part would be every way inconsistent with the benevolence of the gospel. I regard them as proper objects of our compassion and our prayers; and I would exhort you all to administer to their wants with the same open hand as if they had cordially embraced our own faith; for the true spirit of Protestant Christianity will justify nothing else. When you remember that they were born in the Romish church, that, by the circumstances of their education, they have been shut out from the light of truth almost as much as if their lot had been cast in a Pagan land, that all the strength and sacredness of early associations are in favour of the system which they hold, and that they have been steadily trained to the belief that there is no salvation out of the Romish communion ;can you wonder at their bigoted adherence to their own doctrines? Had you and I been born and educated in similar circumstances, is there not every reason to believe that we should have been like them? Instead, therefore, of reproaching them with their errours, or irritating them by severe denunciations, let us endeavour, in all respects, to do them good as we have opportunity; not forgetting to propound to our own consciences the question, "Who hath made thee to differ ???
5. Let not Christianity be held responsible for the lives of her professors.
Who that has been conversant with the objections of infidels against our blessed Religion, does not know with how much triumph they have appealed to the history of Christianity for evidence that it does not make men the better; and after having drawn a picture, -if you please, a faithful picture,—of the Christian church during much the larger part of the period of her past existence;-after having exhibited the various forms of ignorance and su
perstition, of debasement and crime, with which she is justly chargeable, they have looked at the result of their efforts with the most self-complacent exultation, as if the Bible were fairly proved to be nothing better than a book of fables. But if they will turn off their eyes from the history of the church, and let them rest awhile on this very Bible which they condemn, they will see that the precepts and doctrines of the latter are utterly at war with the offensive dogmas and practices of the former; and that it is the height of injustice to Christianity to attempt to identify them. We admit that age after age passed away, and the church was not only overspread with thick darkness, but was the scene of abominations upon which the imagination scarcely dares to linger; but during that whole period the Christian Religion, as it existed in the Bible, and as it existed in the hearts and lives of the faithful, had in it the elements of grace, and purity and wisdom; and so far as its voice could be heard, protested against the absurdities and enormities which were prevailing under the sanction of the Christian name. I say then, the infidel is flagrantly unjust in charging these evils to the account of Christianity: she is not responsible for them in any other way than as a good man is responsible for another's crime, against which he had most solemnly and earnestly remonstrated.
And the spirit to which I have here adverted is not confined to professed infidels; nor is it brought into exercise merely by contemplating the history of the Romish church. There has always been much—there is much at this day—in the Protestant church, and that whether you view things on a more extended or a more limited scale, which is at war both with the precepts and spirit of true Christianity. Not only individual professors of religion prove themselves gross hypocrites by shamelessly
violating the principles of the gospel, while yet they make high pretensions to living under its power, but practices sometimes creep into the church and become extensively prevalent, which will not bear for a moment to be referred to the scriptural standard. Do you who are men of the world ask me where you shall look for an illustration of Christianity but to the lives of its professors? I will tell you:—look at the character of its glorious Founder ;-look into the record of his life, and of his Religion as he has given it to the world;—and see if there be any thing there which your judgment does not fully approve. Or if you must look at its professors, be candid enough to contemplate the characters of those who in some good degree walk in the steps of Him whom they acknowledge as their Lord. I repeat, Christianity in the Bible is one thing, Christianity in the church has too often been quite another; and if, in the spirit of a caviller, you identify the two, take heed lest you do it at the peril of your soul.
5. Let the church be admonished in respect to the danger of an ever restless spirit of innovation.
In contemplating the history of Romanism we have seen that it had a small beginning: it originated in the slightest defection from apostolick faith and practice; and for a time there seems to have been no intention to depart materially from the scriptural standard; but the waves of innovation rose higher, and became stronger, and succeeded each other with increasing rapidity, until the glorious truths and institutions of the gospel were well nigh submerged in a common ruin. Behold Christianity as she was in the apostolick age, and then view her as she was in the tenth and eleventh centuries; and in the process by which this change has been effected you have a fair illustration of the gradual and insidious
and disastrous manner, in which an innovating spirit operates.
Now then let not the church, or any portion of the church, shut her ears upon the lessons of the past. The absurdities and errours which we have been contempla ting are so many beacons to warn us against a departure from the simplicity that is in Christ. In respect both to the doctrines and institutions of the gospel, there is a monitory voice from the past, saying “Touch them not;" and if we refuse to obey this mandate, we not only turn a deaf ear to the language of Providence, but trifle with the authority of Zion's King. Do you say, “Let me modify God's truth or God's ordinances a little, that I may accommodate the one or the other more to the circumstances of the times?" How do you know but that, in doing so, you may be laying a foundation on which there shall arise a superstructure of impiety or infidelity that shall tower into the clouds as a beacon to coming generations ? How do you know but that those who come after you will have occasion to point to what you are doing, as the lifting up of the floodgates of deso lating fanaticism or fatal errour? How do you know but that He who hath sent his angel to testify to the churches, may punish your rash invasion of his authority, by taking away your part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City ?
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY CONTRASTED WITH
I. TIMOTHY III. 16.
God was manifest in the flesh.
IN CONNEXION WITH
II. PETER 11. 1. Denying the Lord that bought them. Paul, in the former of these passages, brings out in the most unequivocal manner the doctrines of the deity and incarnation of Jesus Christ;-doctrines which may fair. ly be considered as constituting the basis of the whole system of evangelical truth. Peter, in the latter passage, is warning the Christians to whom he writes against the influence of certain false teachers whom he describes as "bringing in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them," or rejecting the great doctrine of Redemption through the blood of Christ. The two pas sages taken together, therefore, may fairly be considered as suggesting the contrast betwen Evangelical Christianity and Unitarianism ;—the subject which, in this course of lectures, next claims our attention.