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THE SOVEREIGNTY OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE
Romans xiv. 7, 8.
None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For, whe
ther we live, we live unto the Lord ; or, whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
Paul lays down for the decision of a particular controversy. We cannot well enter into the apostle's meaning, unless we understand the particular subject, which led him to express himself in this
Our first reflections, therefore, will tend to explain the subject, and afterward we will extend our meditations to greater objects. We will attend to the text in that point of view, in which those christians are most interested, who have repeatedly engaged to devote themselves wholly to Jesus Christ : to consecrate to him through life, and to commit to him at death, not only with submission, but also with joy, those souls, over, which he hath acquired the noblest right. Thus shall we verify, in the most pure and elevated of all senses, this saying of the apostle ; none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For, whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or, whether we die,
we die unto the Lord ; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
St. Paul proposed in the text, and in some of the preceding and following verses, to establish the doctrine of toleration. By toleration, we mean, that disposition of a christian, which, on a principle of benevolence, inclines him to hold communion with a man, who, through weakness of mind, mixeth with the truths of religion some errors, that are not entirely incompatible with it ; and with the new testament worship some ceremonies, which are unsuitable to its elevation and simplicity, but which, however, do not destroy its essence.
Retain every part of this definition, for each is essential to the subject defined. I
I say, that he who exerciseth toleration, acts on a principle of benevolence, for were he to act on a principle of indolence, or of contempt for religion, his disposition of mind, far from being a virtue worthy of praise, would be a vice fit only for execration. Toleration, I say, is to be exercised towards him only, who errs through weakness of mind; for he, who persists in his error through arrogance, and for the sake of rending the church, deserves rigorous punishment. I say, further, that he, who exerciseth toleration, doth not confine himself to praying for him, who is the object of it, and to endeavoring to reclaim him, he proceeds further, and holds communion with him ; that is to say, he assists at the same religious exercises, and partakes of the Lord'ssupper at the same table. Without this communion, can we consider him, whom we pretend to tolerate, as a brother in the sense of St. Paul? I add, finally, erroneous sentiments, which are tolerated, must be compatible with the great truths of religion ; and observances, which are tolerated, nust not destroy the essence of evangelical worship al