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ed with spiritual authority, to execute and enforce his commission. - In the same chapter, he also declares, that the law that law which demanded the obedience of the church-was made for every thing that is contrary to sound doctrine to the doctrine of the Gospel-which was committed to his, trust. But how was it committed? This; also the apostle explains. It was not be cause he felt an impulse in his own mind to become a minister, and acted spontaneously upon that impulse; but because Jesus Christ had put him into the ministry. t.In another place, he charges Timothy--Take heed to thyself, and to the doctrine. Continue in these things for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Tim. iv. 16.) And again, he gives him this instruction-If any iman teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesomes words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but dogting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth;
supposing that gain is godliness. From such withdraw thyself. (1 Tim. vi. 3--5.) |
Titus also receives instruction, that it is required, in a bishop, to hold fast the faithfal word, as he has been taught, that-hé may be able, by sound doctrine, both to cxhort and convince the gainsayers: for, as the apostle adds, there are many unruly and vain talkers, and deceivers. (Tit. i. 9, 10.): 96 wStJohn declares-IVhosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine : of Christ that one faith, once delivered to the saints is not of God. (2 John, 9.) od 13. i 17 . Such is the language of our Lord's chosen missionaries, as recorded in the New Testad ment. Its meaning cannot be misunderstood. In It is plain, express, and energètic. Idenforces the necessity of one üncorrupted faith and doctrine, to be taught in one undivided church, by one duly constituted ministry, according to the appointment of Chiist himself in the study
Shall it bei pirged, ip opposition, that there are other texts of a different tendency? Surely such a plea; cannot be adınitted. Is not the Gospel consistent with itselfr Is not the rule of our faith a straight rule? Or;
are there any amongst us who durst depart from this rule, and maintain, that the order and precision laid down in this sacred volume are not applicable to the present times not consistent with the extent of civil liberty, with the advancement of science, or with the state of society as we now find it?
Let us beware how we trifle with holy things. The laws of Christ remain uncancelled: they are the same at this moment as they were at the time of their first promulgation; and they must continue to be binding upon all Christians, of all times and places, and under all circumstances. Their awful sanctions will not be removed before the great day in which we must all appear, and carty in our final account: for St. Paul affiringGod shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel: (Rom. ii. 16.)
Can we, as Christians, assert, that, with regard to us in favour of our times--the dispensation has been changed? No such assertion can be supported. Where, then, is that indulgence conceded to tender consciences that freedom of opinion-that right of private judgment--which, as some have maintained, extend their operation over the fundamental articles of faith and doctrine, over the declared regulations of the Gospel, and authorise the disuniting of the church of Christ?, They are not to be found in the book which will be opened in that day when we shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.
Let us, therefore, look to ourselves. We may, at present, abuse the lenient forbearance of our national laws. We may heedlessly mistake temporal impunity for sacred authority, and listen to the doctrines of erring and presumptuous men. But we shall not be admitted before our Judge with the Act of Toleration, the visions of enthusiasts, or the comments of philosophy, in our hands. The holy Scriptures claim a prerogatiye above all theses because they are not of man, but of God,
But some will reply to the are to be judged, not according to our opinigus, and professions, but according to our deeds. Ada mitting this to be truer Is not the wilful neglect of the written oracles of God, and walking by the directions of fallible, men,
or the surmises of our own hearts, as much a deed of ours as any thing we can commit? And who will dare to affirm, that, for such a deed, he shall not be called to an account? No sincere disciple of Christ, who has been taught to observe all things whatsoever he commanded his apostles, can make this assertion.
Let us, then, turn away from every thing that will be consumed in the day of judgment, and attend to the infallible word of God, which teaches us to acknowledge the UNITY of the visible church of Christ, committed to the charge of one united ministry, appointed by the great Shepherd of the flock; and the unity of an incorrupt and immutable faith and doctrine, as necessary to secure to us the promises of the Gospel. And in this holy anity may God preserwe, us, that we may have fellowship, not only with each other, but also with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Holy Ghost, in the unity of the Godhead, be ascribed all honour and glory, now and for eyer.-- Amen.