« ZurückWeiter »
a little improved, are certainly leading men to perdition, and ought to be shunned as one of the severest scourges that heaven ever inflicted for the sins of a degenerate people. I feel myself bound to offer this solemn testimony, and I do it without personal disrespect to any man;—whoever preaches “another gospel” ought not to be heard a moment. By hearing you countenance errour, and hold up hands stretched out, (however unintentionally,) to scatter death; you expose yourselves to contagion, and by a fatal example lead your undiscerning children in the road to eternal ruin. Parents who do this must answer it to God. Would Paul have done this when he fervently pronounced, “ Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, let him be accursed”? Would John have done this when he said, “ If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” ? The blessed martyr Irenæus, who lived in the age immediately after the apostles, has preserved the following anecdotes of the beloved disciple, and of Polycarp," the angel of the church of Smyrna," who is so highly commended in the Revelation : 66 There are some now living," says he, “who heard [Polycarp] relate this fact; that John, the disciple of our Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and seeing Cerinthus within, [who among other things held, with modern Socinians, that Jesus was only the
son of Joseph and Mary,*] leaped from the bath unwashed, saying that he was afraid the bath would fall, as Cerinthus the enemy of truth was in it. And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him one day and said, Do you know me? I know you to be the first-born of Satan. So much fear,” continues Irenæus, “ had the apostles and their disciples of communicating even in word with any of those who corrupted the truth; as Paul also said, A heretick after one admoni. tion avoid, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and is condemned of himself.”+ The genuineness of this record is fully confirmed by its being not only found in the Works of Irenæus, but quoted by Eusebius.f Polycarp, you must know, was the disciple of John, and was, as Irenæus himself says, “not only taught by the apostles, and conversant with many of those who had seen our Lord, but constituted by the apostles in Asia bishop of the church of Smyrna,” and in extreme old age gloriously suffered martyrdom.Irenæus himself was the disciple of Polycarp. He was born in Asia, near where John lived and died, and afterwards became bishop of Lyons in France. In his Epistle to Fiorinus, written in his old age, he says, “I saw you when I was yet a boy in the lesser Asia with Polycarp.--For the things which were then done I remember better than those which have happened lately ;-insomuch that I could even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and reason, and his going out and coming in, and his manner of life, and bodily appearance, and finally the discourses which he delivered to the multitude, and how he told them of his familiar intimacy with John, and with the rest who had seen the Lord, as also how he rehearsed their sayings, and related the things which he had heard of them respecting the Lord, and His miracles, and doctrine, which Polycarp had received from those who had themselves seen the Word of Life.—These things which happened at that time, through the goodness of God I eagerly heard, wri. ting them not on paper, but in my heart, and continually, through the grace of God, am revolving them with exactness in my mind. And in the presence of God I can make the solemn protestation, that that blessed and apostolick presbyter, had he heard any such thing, would certainly have exclaimed, and with his ears stopped would have said, as his manner was, Good God! to what times hast thou reserved me that I should endure these things! and would have fled froin the place itself, in which sitting or standing he should have heard discourses of this sort."*
* Irenæi lib. 1. contra Hæreses, cap. 26. † Lib. 3. cap. 3.
# Eccl. Ilist. lib. 3. cap. 28. & lib. 4. cap. 14. Irenæi lib. 3 contra Hæreses, cap. 3.
Such was the spirit of the primitive Church,— of apostles and martyrs. But we are fallen on other times, on times when it has become an unpardonable offence even to frown at heresy, much
* Irenai opera p. 339, 340. Paris. Ed. 1710.
more to separate from those who preach another gospel.” They who have no wish to give offence or pain, but dare not for their lives place themselves and their dear children under the sound of " another gospel" for a single day, must be hunted out of the world because they do not grow to the seats where nothing else is to be heard. A voice from heaven warns them, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing," and they fear to disobey. Let this be their apology and justification with all who have not renounced the Christian name. Indeed this separation had become indispensable. Were all the people to go on together a few years longer, the whole mass would be carried down the stream, and all the rising generation inevitably plunged into the gulph beneath. They have already kept together so long, under a false notion of charity, that even good people have almost lost the power of discrimination. This alliance between light and darkness is just as the enemy of God and man would have it. It is the master-piece of his policy to root out the last remains of the piety and faith of our fathers.
Before I conclude I must bespeak your most solemn attention to a few Reflections. I pray you to listen for a moment with no ordinary concern. I have something to lay before you which is of more vital importance to you than any other consi. derations on earth.
If these four doctrines are eternal truths, what is to become of the greater part of my hearers ? are half of you upon these principles prepared for Judgment? If these doctrines are true, every one of you must be born again or lie down in everlasting sorrows. Neither your morality nor your indifference will screen you. Have you been born again ? You are going on to eternity as fast as time can waft you. The interposition of a world could not retard your progress. Presently you will tremble on a dying bed. Are you prepared for Judgment? Those very eyes will see a falling universe. Those very feet will stand before the tribunal of Christ. I see the heavens opening, the Son of man descending, the dead arising, the world burning, and my dear hearers before the bar! Where now is that thin morality that covered an infidel heart? The omniscient
has dissolved it by a look. I stretch forward my thoughts through the revolutions of a thousand ages, and find my hearers still fixed in heaven or hell. I wander through other periods as numerous as the moments in the first, and still I find you fixed in heaven or hell. Is such an eternity before you ? and are you asleep? are you not bringing all your powers into one effort “ to make your calling and election sure”?
Can you slumber with such an eternity before you ? Dreaming of
1 the efficacy of your modes and forms! Dream no more: you must undergo a radical change of heart. “Verily, verily I say unto [you,] except a man be