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Deity to interpose in a special manner to effect purposes 50 unimportant.
The doctrines which we believe to be doctrines of Christianity, are doctrines of inestimable value. The question of their truth is one in which we are interested most deeply. Our happiness and our virtue are at stake on the decision. If they are not true, we are miserable indeed. The brute, satisfied with the enjoyments of the present day, has a preferable tenure of existence to pian, if they are both to perish together. But if they are true, there is a prospect displayed before us inconceivably glorious and delightful. They are truths which it was worthy of God to teach. Look now at the doctrines which we are opposing. Are these doctrines considered in themselves of so very much importance or value? It may, for aught we know, be important to believe them, if they are true. That is a different question. What we ask is, whether it is very important or desirable that they should be true. Is it very important to our virtue and happiness, that there should be a tbreefold distinction in the divine nature; or that the mercy of God which is extended towards us, should have been PURCHASED with the blood of his Son? Is it desirable for us to be satisfied that our natures are so depraved, that, till they are changed by the act of God, we can do nothing to please him? Examine the creeds of what is called Orthodoxy; and read the suinmary of obligations which these creeds teach us, that we lie under to God as our MAKER. What obligations would be due from his creatures to a being who had formed them under his "displeasure and curse," made them “bond slaves to Satan," and “JUSTLY LIABLE (the absurdity is as gross as the impiety) to all punishments in this world, and in thai which is to come. With what feelings might such creatures justly regard their Maker? What is the character which they would have a right to ascribe to him? It would be mockery to ask, if it were desirable that this doctrine should be true; or if Christianity would lose much of its value, if it should appear that it taught no such doctrine.
Oh no! these are not doctrines of the gospel; and it is because we bave some feeling of the inestimable value of our religion, and some desire to promote its influence, that we wish men to believe that these are not doctrines of the gospel. It is because we feel that God ought to be the object of our most perfect veneration and love, that we revolt at doctrines which confound and darken our ideas of bis nature, which represent one person in the Divinity as exacting, and another as submitting to the punishment of our offences; and at other
doctrines far worse than these, which, if it were possible for them to have their full influence upon the mind, would make God an object of utter borror and detestation. We believe that the great truths of religion, which are taught by Chris. tianity, are the foundation of public and private bappiness, of the good order of well regulated society, of purity of morals, of domestic comfort, of all that is most generous and most disinterested in the human character, of all those qualities which endear man to man; that they make life tolerable and reconcile us to death; and that it is on these, that the character must be formed, which will fit us for heaven ;-and it is, THEREFORE, that we wish them to be presented to men such as they really are, free from all the gross errors which human folly and perversity have connected with them,-errors, which have prevented their reception, and essentially counteracted their influence.
Died, at Groton, Massachusetts, September 10, on returning from a journey for his health, the Rev. Joshua HUNTINGTON, Pastor of the Old South Church in Boston; in the thirty-fourth year of his age, and the twelfth of his ministry
Notwithstanding the interval, which has elapsed, we are unwilling to omit the first opportunity the publication of our work has offered, to notice an event so interesting and instructive as the early death of an useful minister, and to pay some tribute to one, who held strong claims on our affection and regard. Mr. Huntington was the son of an highly respected citizen of New London, Connecticut; and having graduated at Yale College in 1804, and completed his preparatory studies for the ministry, was ordained in 1808 as colleague Pastor with ihe Rev. Dr. J. Eckley. Upon the death of that excellent man, on the memory of whose mild and candid spirit we repose with pleasing recollections, he succeeded to the sole charge, and continued in the fulfilment of its duties, not however without repeated interruptions froin feeble health, till within a few weeks of his decease.
Mr. Huntington was, we believe, a faithful and devoted minister of Jesus Christ. His piety seemed to be a strong pervading principle; and his naturally affectionate temper, under the infinence of religion, was expressed in a lively regard for the good of souls. His zea) was chastened by prudence, that essential ministerial grace; and those, who knew him intimately, saw that it was free from that alloy of selfishness, and especially the passion for pre-eminence, with which it is too often miogled. Those of his brethren, who found themselves compelled to differ from him in his theological views, can bear their affectionate testimony to his mild candid spirit, to his freedom from asperity in his judgments, to his honourable frankness, and his disposition to friendly intercourse.
And we express our sense of this excellence in our departed brother with the more pleasure, because we deem these virtues so essential to the Christian character; and are confident, that now in the light of heaven he perceives to his joy, that they are among the fairest of those fruits of the spirit, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
His people have testified their affectionate regard for his virtues and services, by a most liberal provision for his bereaved family; so early deprived of an husband, father, and friend. With the continuance of the whole salary, and the use of the Parish-house for one year from bis decease, they have voted to the widow and children an annual grant of $1000 for six years ; making in the whole a gift of more than 8000 dollars. We are happy in recording this as a laudable expression of Christian sympathy, well worthy, as far as there may be ability, of imitation ; and in that richly endowed society, a most judicious as well as liberal appropriation of their funds.
October 21st. Died, at Charlestown, Miss SARAH Russell, aged 68 years. The character of this lady was no ordinary character. The soundness of her understanding, and the clearness and accnracy of her judgment, were the admiration of all that knew her. Reason she knew to be the only immediale guide, which God has given to man, to point out the way of duty and happiness. But she felt the necessity of instructing and informing this guide. She therefore sent it abroad among the works of God, to inquire of tbem what they could tell of their taker; and she made it sit at the feet of Jesus to learn of bim his divine communications. But whatever opinions or principles she might in this way imbibe, she was aware that their importance was to be measured solely by their practical influence on the conduct and life. Her morals were strict, and of the highest order. She thought much inore, than some do, of the plain precepts of duty considered as a part of religion.
Benevolence formed one of the distinguishing traits of her disposition. Mers was liberal and extensive; but, at the same time, rational and discrininating. It was in Religion, that she found her distinction and glory. To bear the cross of a patient and merciful Saviour she justly deemed the highest exaltation, to which human nature can aspire. And she exhibited in berself a noble illustration of the influence which Christianity, as we understand it, is calculated to exert on the buman character. Her religion was grounded on a deep sense of piety to God; and on this foundation she built a faith that was rational, consistent, and sincere ---a religion, deep, and pure, and self-denying.
Oct. 7. In Exeter, (N. H.) Rev. John EMERY ABBOT, Pastor of the North Church in Salem, aged 26. His disorder was lingering, and had been protracted for two years under various alternations of hope and fear. He bore them all, as he bad ever borne liealth and prosperity, with perfect equanimity, and the most cheerful resignation. 'T'hose, who saw him then, felt what they had always felt when they saw him in health, that his mind and lieart were wholly under the control of his religiou, and that nothing could shake the spirit of composure, trust, and piety, of cheerfulness and benevolence, which characterized him in life. He died, as he lived, an eminent Christian--admired and beloved by all who knew him for the great simplicity, purity, and loveliness of his character. He deserves a fuller notice than this, and we hope to have an opportunity of giving it.
Nov. 7. At Northampton, Hon. Caleb STRONG, late Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged 75. A man highly hovoured and trusted by his fellow citizens; greatly respected and beloved by those wbo knew him; a decided and sincere friend of religion, whose institutions he reverenced and whose spirit he uniformly exemplified in his life. He was one of the righteous, who shall be had in everlasting remembrance. His death was sadden, in a good old age and a ripe hope of glory.
NEW SERIES—No. 6.
For November and December, 1819.
ON THE SAFETY OF BELIEVING TOO MUCH.
There is a silly argument in much favour with some persons, that it is the part of discretion to profess the doctrines of orthodoxy, because, say they, it is safer to believe too much than too little. If these doctrines are true, they wbo, reject them are in a dangerous error. If false, the orthodox are to be sure in an error, but not in a dangerous one.
We do not enter into the views of those who think something else as good as the truth. We do not conceive of a safe belief, as a thing capable of being subjected to the ineasures of quantity. We do not see that the terms, too much or too little, are in any way applicable to it. Whatever is more or less than truth, is falsehood. Is it safe to believe what is false in a case where belief has a practical influence? Is it prudent to set our ininds at rest, because we believe eitber the truth or something more, when something more necessarily means, something different ?
We think Balaain spoke wisely when he said, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more ;" and we think it becomes christians to take equal need how they add any thing to, or take from, “the things which are written in this book.” We are not at all persuaded of the safety of entertaining erroneous views of a subject which has to do with the conduct of life, e. g. the nature of God or of New Series-vol. I.
duty, even if you can dignify your mistake by calling it something more than truth. If your friend promises to render you a service which will save you from bankruptcy, on your con. forming to certain conditions, and you, in your affected admiration of his goodness, and real love of your own ease, neglect to perform these conditions, it will fare with you no better, if he keeps his word, than if you had had too little confidence in his friendship, and never had applied to him.
When one man is said to believe more than another, by what rule is his amount of faith measured? One standard is the number and comprehensiveness of the propositions he believes. Now to believe many or unqualified propositions, is clearly no way to be safe, if some of the many are false, and some of the unqualified need to bave qualifications made. It is no credit to the understanding to receive what is not true, and if it does this where conduct depends on its decisions, that conduct will be wrong. To say in ibis sense, that to believe mucb, is safe, would be of course to make all error, even religious unbelief, or assent to the most demoralizing doctrines, a harmless thing.
We do not mean to say, ibat any would justify the remark in this sepse. We wish only to go over all the ground, by noticing each of the senses in which the phrase can be used. When one class of christians claims to believe more than another, they appear to mean one of two things. First, they seem to have an indefinite idea that ibey believe more of what is really found in scripture. But can it escape them that this is the very point at issue? We profess to believe all that scripture teaches. They, on their part, assert we do not. We, on ours, contend, that what they call scriptural truth, is human error. While this argument is pending, they stand on the ground, that their belief is the truth. They cannot, to shew their safety in believing more (as they think) than we, say that they believe more of scriplure truth, for this is the very question in debate; and if they could prove it, their plea of safety then would be, not that what they believed was either the truth or something beyond it, but that wbat they believed was the truth itself.
But by this believing much is commonly meant, we suppose, believing what tasks the faith. He is held to have most faith who has made the greatest sacrifice of the common powers of belief; who has assented, in short, at the greatest cost of common sense. There is an idea swimming in meus' minds,-like the floating island of antiquity, now beneath, now above the surface,-ibat God is pleased with the surrender of the intellectual nature ; and that in assenting to a proposition, which