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The immoral and pernicious ten- faithfulness, to oppose the errors
dency of error. Illustrated in the times. Still we are ready a sermon at the ordination of to wonder, that the writer conthe Rev. James Beach, to the tents himself before the great pastoral care of the church in doctrine of the apostle, with only Winsted. Jan. 1. 1806. By examining a few gross and danASAHEL HOOKER, A. M. Pas- gerous errors. It would have for of the church in Goshen. contributed much to the merit of Hartford, Lincoln & Gleason. the sermon, already excellent, if Feb. 1806.
the ingenious author had underEvil communications corrupt good taken to prove, by some obvious manners, 1 Cor. xv. 33.
arguments, the connexion beAfter a very proper intro- tween wrong theory and wrong duction, the author gives this as practice. This connexion might the doctrine of the text. As gross have been invincibly argued from errors are destructive of good the proneness of mankind to do morals, they are necessarily hostile what their judgment approves, to true religion. It is a rule laid or to act according to their condown by the most approved wri- viction. It might have been arters on sermonizing, that the gued from the vigilance of indoctrine, or leading sentiment spiration to guard us against of the discourse be expressed in erroneous sentiments, as well as as few and simple terms as possi- against wicked actions. It might ble. It is, therefore, queried, have been argued too from whether the great sentiment of the conduct of many individuals the text, and of the discourse both in the church, and in the might not, with more propriety, world. have been expressed in some Though we suggest these such manner as this ; wrong the- additions, we do not forget the ory is productive of wrong prac- narrow limits of a single distice; or thus, erroneous senti- course. ments lead to wicked actions.
The plan adopted is executed The author's plan is to illus- with ability. The first error grate the doctrine, not by ab- mentioned, as of a pernicious stract reasoning, but by examin- tendency, is Deism. The second ing several gross and dangerous is the error of the Universalists. errors, which abound at the pre- It is satisfactorily proved, that sent day. This method is not mankind, as they are, will take without its advantages. The occasion from this scheme, if author governs himself by the believed, to sin with the greater favourite maxim of a divine, greediness. This is, in brief, whose memory is highly respec. the spirit of his reasoning. If ted in New England ; that it is the hearts of men are fully set in one imporlant branch of ministerial them to do evil, because sentence
against them is not speedily executed; how much more will they be set on evil, if they believe the sentence will never be executed.
"The Most High said of the false prophets of old, they have strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not depart from his wicked way, BY PROMISING HIM LIFE. Nor is it easy to perceive in what respects the doctrine, which teaches the salvation of all men, of all characters, and which, of course, makes it depend on no conditions, is a whit less immoral and pernicious in its tendency, than the doctrine of the fool's heart, there is no God. The father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, doubtless apprehended the real tendency of the doctrine in question, and first preached it to mankind with dire effect. The consequence of their believing it, and acting on a presumption of its being true, was the apostasy and ruin of the human race."
The third false opinion mentioned is, that the depravity of mankind arises from their ignorance of the truth. The author shows that this sentiment is contrary to plain scripture declarations, and that it implies that man is by nature holy, and needs not to be renewed by the grace of God; and, accordingly, that the sentiment is suited to cherish his pride and make him pure in
his own eyes.
The author finally notices the opinion of those, who deny the divine institution and perpetual obligation of the Christian Sabbath. In a note he suggests, that what has been advanced concern
ing a few gross errors is equally applicable to others.
A number of interesting reflections close the discourse.
"1. We may hence see the fatal tendency of modern liberality. This liberality, when examined by the light of divine truth, is found to be a sort of compromise between the various Vol. II. No. 2. N
friends of error and irreligion. In this compromise it is agreed to extend their full charity to one another, however different their opinions, and even to all mankind, except those, who maintain an essential difference between right and wrong, between truth and error, and who thence contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. As this wonderful liberality is founded in a deep rooted love of darkness, it renders men no less opposed to a candid, impartial, and prayerful investigation of moral and religious subjects, than to that teachable and humble spirit, which is essential to receiving the truth in the love of it. The genius of this liberality is distinguished by such maxims as this; it is no matter what men believe, if they are but sincere in their belief. This word, sincere, is the bait, which is designed to conceal the deceitful and fatal snare. By being sincere, in the present case, nothing better can be correctly intended, than men's really believing what they profess to believe. But professing, or not professing, can never alter the nature of their belief, or of the things believed. Hence, stripping their language of disguise, this is the doctrine, which they intend to maintain, that it is no matter what men believe, or what they disbelieve, and therefore, that they are not accountable to God for any sentiments, which they are pleased to embrace. Some men use this language, who dare not avow themselves the open and unequivocal adversaries of religion, and of morals. But might they not avow this, consistently with truth? And would they not do it, were they not, for the present, less bold, than impious; or more afraid of men, than of God? If it be no matlieve that the doctrine of an all-perter what men believe, they may befect Deity, who is the Creator, the Governor, and the Judge of the world, is a mere chimera of superstition. They may, in like manner, disbelieve the record, which God hath given of his Son, or embrace any other opinion, however grossly erroneous, and utterly subversive of the Christian faith. When straitened for arguments to support their liberality in all its absurd and borrid consequences, they will plead their own
practical atheism. They labour to set aside the doctrines, and even the reality of a divine revelation, because they wish to live in such a manner, as fills them with horror, when presented with the awful prospect of being arraigned at the tribunal of HeaAccordingly, the doctrine, which maintains the innocence of all opinions, is a most insidious attack on the pure and undefiled religion of the gospel, and being universally admitted, would be soon followed with the universal destruction of the morals and the happiness of mankind in this world, and of their souls in the world to come."
cause, by asserting, that they cannot alter their belief, and that, therefore, it cannot be sinful. And with a little more hardihood, but with no more absurdity or impiety, they may proceed to assert the same in respect to any vices, in which they are pleased to indulge. They are not more voluntary in the practice of these vices, than in embracing those sentiments, which are believed for no other reason, than their agreement with the feelings of a proud, sensual, and depraved heart.
"The liberal doctrine of modern times takes for granted what is palpably false, that there is no connex. ion between men's sentiments and
their hearts, and between their hearts and their practice. They never act understandingly, in embracing false and immoral opinions, but from an answerable frame of spirit. It is true, men often become much more depraved and immoral in their lives, in consequence of embracing those sentiments, which justify immorality and irreligion, and which are thence suited to draw forth the latent seeds of sensuality, pride, envy, revenge, and impiety. But in other cases, those, whose crimes have got beforehand of their speculative opinions, are found plunging suddenly into the darkness of gross error, that the hideous deformity of their characters may be concealed from the view of their consciences, and no longer disturb them with the guilty forebodings of infinite wrath.
"Again, that mode of reasoning, which makes all sorts of opinions innocent, might do the same, as consistently, in respect to all sorts of actions. The sentiments, which men embrace on moral and religious subjects, are their rules of moral conduct. Every man, therefore, who justifies errors in opinion, must, if consistent, justify the same, when carried into practice. This agrees not only with the tendency of erroneous sentiments, but with the evident design of numbers in embracing them, and with the habitual conduct of many. They embrace error with the sole view of finding in it a cloak for their sins. Many labour to disbelieve the moral government of God, and even his existence, because they are in love with
In the second inference the author points out the cause, to which we must ascribe the alarming prevalence of vice and irreligion. He mentions evil communications, or corrupt principles, as having a chief influ
In the third place he infers, very naturally, the importance not merely of shunning prevalent errors and vices, but of taking the best measures to oppose them, and to counteract their pernicious influence.
"It will perhaps be said, that we live in a land of liberty, where every man enjoys the right of forming and expressing his own opinions. True. But God has invested no man with the right of calling evil good, even if his errors are kept to himself; much less the right of communicating the foul contagion of them to those around him. All men are accountable to God for the sentiments, which they embrace, and which they inculcate on others. Nor have they any more right," on the principles of piety and benevolence, to disseminate those evil communications, which corrupt good manners, than to practise those flagrant abominations, which are at once an insult to the
Majesty of the universe, and an attack on the peace and safety of mankind:"
The occasional addresses at the close are marked with perti
nence, solemnity, and Christian tenderness. On the whole we cannot forbear saying, that this sermon, both in the importance
The General Assembly of the Presbyerian Church, at their annual sessions in May, are in the practice of receiving accounts of the state of Religion, from the members representing the various parts of their ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and of condensing and publishing these accounts in the form of a Report. The following is their Report for May last.
THE Assembly have heard with pleasure, accounts from the east and west, the north and south, proclaiming the triumphs of the Redeemer, in the extension and prosperity of his kingdom in our country.
The Assembly have received an impression of the most pleasing kind from the intelligence that there is, in almost every quarter, a general, and in some parts of our church, an increased attention to the public worship of God: that there exists a spirit of inquiry in regard to religious truth, and a more general conviction that the power of godliness is necessary to stamp valde on its form. Associations for prayer and reading the holy Scriptures, have, it appears, been the means frequently blessed by God, to preserve the very existence of religion, in places destitute of the preaching of the gospel, and the full administration of its ordinances. Such associations have happily prepared the people for the labours of the pious missionary, who thus came upon ground, as it were, already broken up, and profitably scattered the good seed of the word.
The Assembly have also heard with great satisfaction, that the catechising of children and others, has, in certain parts of our church, been practised with more than ordinary care, and with that desirable success, which may ever be expected to follow a suitable regard to this most important du
of the matter, and in the propri ety of the manner, far excels the generality of sermons on similar occasions.
With heartfelt pleasure the Assembly bear testimony to the charitable exertions made by some of their churches, for the relief of the poor, and for the maintenance of the holy ministry. They rejoice to find that the ordinances of the gospel are, in general, attended with punctuality and earnestness. They regret, however, that in some particulars, they are compelled to use the language of reprehension. It is with pain they observe it to be the practice of too many, in some of their churches, to attend divine service only on one part of the day, to the neglect or contempt of the remaining part. Against this practice, so injurious to the spiritual interests of their people; so entirely inconsist ent with the Christian character and privileges, they think it no more than their duty solemnly to protest. And they do most affectionately beseech all who are conscious of delinquency in this respect, no longer to withhold from God any portion of that time, which he hath specially consecrated to his own service.
We live at a time when it becomes a duty peculiarly incumbent, to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." It will, however, be remembered, that the sacred cause of truth can never be promoted by angry controversy, or railing accusation. It is therefore recommended to the churches, to vindicate the truth, not only by sound and temperate discussion, but also and especially, by the manifestation of its sanctifying and transforming power over the life and conversation; and by evincing, that, "the like mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It should ever be recollected, that error in doctrine hath a native tenden, cy to produce immorality in practice; and therefore, that we should not be earried about by every wind of doc..
trine. Let us prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. caution, it is hoped, will be received with attention and solemnity, inasmuch as the church has been of late invaded by errors which strike at the very foundation of our faith and hope, such as the denial of the Godhead, and atonement of the blessed Redeemer, the subjection of holy Scripture to the most extravagant impulses of the heart of man. These and other errors of a dangerous nature, have been industriously, and, alas! that the Assembly should be constrained to add, in some portions of our country, too successfully disseminated.
It is believed that in the revivals of late years, many have been added to the church of such as shall be saved. Many, who, stedfast in the Christian life, seek to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. For this, let the Giver of every good, and every perfect gift, be praised. These happy subjects of divine grace are exhorted to "hold fast that, which they have received, that no man take their crown;" to "be faithful unto death, that they may obtain a crown of life."
But as it has often occurred, in former periods of the church, so there is reason to believe, it has happened with respect to these effusions of the Spirit's gracious influences. Transformed into an angel of light,the enemy of souls hath endeavoured to mar the glorious display of divine operations, by inciting to the most absurd and extravagant outrages upon Christian sobriety and decorum.
The Assembly beseech all their people to bear in mind, that if they allow themselves to abandon the unerring guidance of God's written word, they will inevitably become the prey of ignorance, superstition and fanaticism. "Bodily exercise profiteth little." The mind sown with the seed of the word; the soul renewed by the Holy Spirit; these profit; these entitle a man to the character of being truly religious: and whatsoever has not a tendency to cherish and promote true religion, is inconstant as the wind, and light as the chaff it scatters.
The assembly are happy to add, that their observations on the prosperity of the church, and the favour able position of religious affairs generally, were not meant to be confined to the presbyteries under their care: they comprehend also the state of things within the bounds of the General Association of Connecticut, and among the Congregational churches in the state of Vermont, where the interests of Christ's kingdom appear to prosper.
On the whole, they commend their beloved people to the grace of God, praying the great Head of the church to vouchsafe to them yet far. ther days of refreshing from his presence. Exalted Redeemer, "pour water on the thirsty; floods of water upon the dry ground; thy Spirit on our seed, and thy blessing on our offspring; that they may grow up as grass, and as willows by the water courses." Amen.
MANGOURIT, the last year, published at Paris, "Travels in Hanover, in the years 1803, 1804." Among other information of value, is the following, viz. That only two religions are known in Hanover, Judaism, and Christianity, which latter is divided into the Catholic, the Calvinist, and the Lutheran persuasions. Before the union of Osnaburgh with the Electorate, the Jews were the most numer. ous body after the Lutherans. They
have here, as every where else, a commercial disposition. In the great cit. ies they are bankers; in the villages many of them are butchers; their. children partake in the advantages of public instruction. There are a few Catholics in Hanover; they were twenty times more numerous, a century ago. They have adopted the re-. ligion of the prince. Calvinism is scarcely ever mentioned in Hanover. Lutheranism prevails throughout the