« PreviousContinue »
Uzzah, it is probable, meant well, when " he put forth his hand to hold the ark." But Uzzah was struck dead on the spot, for invading the office of the priesthood. Saul, it is presumed, meant well, when, in the absence of Samuel, he offered the burnt-offering. But the sentence pronounced against him was, that in so doing he had done foolishly, that he had not kept the commandments of the Lord his God, and that therefore his kingdom should not continue. There is not a more common deception than that which arises from the persuasion that the act is justified by the sincerity of the agent. Sincerity, it is to be observed, generally speaking, signifies nothing more than that a person is earnest in the pursuit of his object; that he really believes as he professes, and acts as his best judgment directs. But this sincerity may consist with the most irregular practice, and the most unchristian disposition. A man, for instance, may believe his own lie, and act upon it with the same confidence that another acts upon the truth; he may have a zeal for God's service, but not according to knowledge; he may earnestly pursue a wrong object, or a right one, by irregular means. In all such cases the scripture has furnished us with a general rule of judgment, where it tells us, that "a man is not crowned, except he strive lawfully." And, that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."|| "There are excellent works," says Bishop Reynolds, "which being done without
* 1 Chron. xiii. 9, 10.
2 Tim. ii. 5.
+1 Sam. xiii. 13, 14.
Prov. xiv. 12.
the call of God, do not edify but disturb the body. for the Church to prosper and flourish is, for every member to keep in his own rank and order; to remember his own measure; to act in his own sphere; to manage his particular condition and relations with spiritual wisdom and humility; the eye to do the work of an eye, the hand of a hand."
In short, whatever ideas of serving God we may form to ourselves, God is not to be served by a breach of his commands. And this we may depend upon: that God will be best served, when the attention of every person in his own order, shall be confined to the discharge of the duties appropriate to his particular station.
On the Plea advanced by SEPARATISTS from
A FURTHER plea commonly advanced by Separatists is, that the Gospel is not preached in our Church. Had it been said, that the Gospel of J. Calvin was not preached there, we should readily have pleaded guilty to the charge; but that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached there, we certainly maintain, upon the authority of those Scriptures from which it has been received.
The leading doctrine of Christ's Gospel, in the judgment of some Christians, is, that it holds out salvation to certain chosen individuals, exclusive of the general bulk of mankind. The doctrine of our Church upon the subject is, that Christ died to purchase salvation for all men; all men, consequently, are interested in that great event, though all men will not be in a condition to be benefited by it. The notion of partial salvation is founded upon certain supposed absolute decrees; of which preachers talk much, but confessedly know nothing. The doctrine of general salvation, by