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Sucb exhibitions.-o-Page 32. That theatrical performances are prejudicíal to the morals of young people, cannot surely be denied. But it is said to have been urged in defence of the Westminster play, that it is ordained by the fatutes. To this I shall only answer; that if, notwithstanding those statutes, morning prayers can be omitted daily, surely a play may be omitted annually. Or let it be commuted for public speaking, which, as practised åt Winchester, Eton, Harrow, and elfewhere, seems not only innocent, but in many respects advantageous.
be fatal.- Page 34.
If we except that short but dreadful period, when fanaticism, united with hypocrisy, overthrew both the Church aad Monarchy; at ho time fince the Reformation, has enthusiasm fpread fo wide in England as in these our days. It has been carried to the greatef excels, both by Clergymen and Laymen, in meeting-houses, barns, and fields. By more føber Divines, holding some of the Calvinistic tenets, it has been introduced into our churches and chapels, though in a less degree, and in a milder tone; but mixed fometimes with indecent reflections on the rest of our Clergy. This would be less alarming, if such reflections were as groundless as they are indeeoroys, but, alas ! they are often too just ; and those, who are the objects of them, irritated and difgafted by the success of their opponents, inftead of reforming what is amiss, and redoubling their zeal, Ay off to the contrary extreme, and affect to treat their accufers with contempt.-Fas est et ab bofte doceri-much more ought we to be willing to learn from our incere and zealous, though miftaken, brethren.
If to the great fundamentals of the Gospel, they add, as equally clear and important, fome obscure, or erroneous tenets; will this juftify us in preaching the dry morality of the Heathéns, instead of the doć. trines and duties of Christianity? Who is there that, in this Christian country, has not been present at the delivery of mere moral dife courses; grounded on mere moral principles and arguments? Some G 2
( 44 ) set up two objets of our veneration, God, and Nature, and two diftin& religions, natural, and revealed. What then is Nature, but that order of things, which God has appointed? And what is Natural Religion, but those divine truths, which the Almighty revealed, firft to Adam, and afterwards to Noah and his sons, and to Abraham and his descendants; and which have been handed down by tradition, or have fince been collected at various times, by intercourse with Jews or Christians, or by access to their sacred records; but have been corrupted by negligence and ignorance, by diftance of time and place, and by the erroneous deductions of unaffifted reason? If it be more than this, produce its code, or, if that be loft, prove that it once exifted. If the answer be, that it exists in the minds of all men; I deny the fact; I deny that any knowledge there exists which has not been received by instruction.-.-" Canft thou by searching find out God?” Job, xi. 7.-" The things of God knoweth no man.” Cor, ö. 11. Besides, if this ignis fatuus (which is to rival, or even eclipse Revelation) were inherent in human nature, it must be the same in all men ; whereas in this, beyond any other inttance, are the endless varieties of error exemplified. Quot bomines, tot fententie-Look at the boafted philosophers of antiquity---Do they agree in their notions of the Deity, his Worship, or his Will? We find them to the last, doubtful and variable, differing from others, and from themselves, and unable to ascertain the truth. Warned by their example, and conscious of their own inability to discover the will of God; some among us, have contended for a rule of life, distinct from the know. ledge of God, and of his will, and called by them, morality, ethics, natural law, &c. And is this that Gospel, which Christ commanded his disciples to preach to all the world? Was it to this our Clergy pledged themselyes at their ordination? Did they not then folemnly declare their persuasion that the Holy Scriptures contain all do&rine necessary to falyation; and their determination out of the faid Scriptures to instruct the people committed to their charge; and to teach nothing as requisite to falvation, but what may be concluded and proved thereby? Did they not then folemnly promise to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines, and to be diligent in reading the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same? And is it thus they fulfil their vows? And do they thus hope to counteract enthusiasm? Or can they expect the Grace of God to render such preaching effectual to the salvation of their hearers? If enthufiasm thall ever be conquered, it must be by
those weapons, which it misapplies. Let its opponents lay before their flocks all the fundamental doctrines of Christianity-The Creation-The State of Innocence and Covenant of Works The Fall of Man- The Redemption and Covenant of Grace-The Wickedness of the old World, ended by the Flood-Noah and his family preserved, and the Covenant renewed with him—The World repeopled, the Confusion of Tongues, and Dispersion of the Nations The Call of Abraham, his Faith-Isaac the Type of Christ -The Plagues of Egypt-Moses, and the written Law–The History of the Jewish Nation under its Judges and Kings-The Rebellion of the Ten Tribes-Their Idolatry and Dispersion-The Captivity of the Jews Their Restoration-The Prophets, and their Prophecies--St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Meffiah Jesus the Mediator of the new Covenant---His Incarnation and Birth, his Circumcifion, and Submiffion to the ceremonial Law--His Manifestation to the Gentiles -His Temptation--His Miracles-His Prophecies-His Precepts His Character--His Conduct---His Trials---His Sufferings---His Death, and the Atonement and Satisfaction thereby made for the Sins of the whole World--His glorious Resurrection, and triumphant Afcenfion.
Nor let them fail to unfold the remaining Articles of our Faith The Descent of the Holy Ghost, and his Office, as the Sanctifier of the Church--the great Mystery of the Trinity in Unity---The one Holy Catholic and Apoftolic Church, founded by Christ and his Apostles; its Contitution, its Officers, its Privileges; and our duty thence resulting, to become and continue faithful members thereof, and partakers of its Sacraments, instituted by Christ himself, and his appointed means of Grace and Salvation. Let them also explain the connexion and communion between that part of the Church, which is Hill militant on earth, and that, which is already triumphant in heaven ~The forgiveness of our Sins, procured by the Death of Christ, if we fulfil the conditions required by him; and the Rewards consequent thereon, the Resurrection of our Bodies, and eternal Happiness in Heaven-And let them fulfil the remainder of their Vow, by pointing out to their Hearers, the Danger and Delusion of the strange and er. roneous Doctrines, which are now too prevalent both in our own Church, and among those numberlefs Sects, which are the disgrace of our Holy Religion, whose characteristic is Unity.
In a word, let them not sun to declare all the Counsel of God; and let them declare it, like Dr, Vincent, " with all their heart, and
mind, and soul, with all the powers they poffefs, and all the know, ledge they have acquired."
Few of their hearers are judges of the foundness of a fyllogism, but all of them have paffions and affections; and are these able inftruments of vice or error, never to be employed in the cause of true religion ; of that religion, whose first and great commandment is love, and whofe fecond differs only in its object; whose history, and whofe fanctions are calculated to melt the moft obdurate heart, and make the foutest tremble? Muft the fufferings and death of the Son of God himself, for our fake, and in our stead, produce no emotion of Sorrow or gratitude in our breasts? Must the certainty of eternal happiness and glory, or of torments endless and insupportable, have no effe& on oar imaginations, or even on thofe of our children? “ Far from us, and from our clergy, be such frigid philosophy.” No, let reason regulate all the faculties of our fouls, and point them to their proper obje&s, but let no ftoiç apathy attempt their annihilation. Under reason's guidance they are not only harniless, but highly use ful; and in nothing more fo, thaa in promoting the interests of Chriftianity. - Left what I have here advanced on the fubject of preaching, mould fail to convince, or appear prefumptuous as coming from a Layman, I defire to protect it by an authority, which no man who duly appreciates fuperior talents and found principles, will be inclined to dispute, Bishop Horsey, in a late Charge, says as follows: " If, instead of thus preaching Christ, you are content to preach oply Socrates or SeBeca; if, instead of the everlasting Gospel of the living God, you preach some extracts only of your own, accommodated by a bold retrenchment of mysteries, to the blindness and the pride of human reason; depend upon it, animated enthufiafm will be an overmatch for dry, frigid ethies; fuperftition will be an overmatch for all such mutilated Gospels, and crafty atheism, taking advantage of the extravagance of the first, the insipidity of the fecond, the enormities of the third, and of the rash conceflions of half-believers, will make an easy conquest of them all. In delivering the great mysterious truths of the Gospel, and I repeat it, the whole Gospel, with all its mysteries, muft be preached in all Congregations, I would advife you to use in general, not an argumentative, but a plain didactic style ; teach with authority, pot as the scribes."
The unautborized affertions of the Moralif.-.-Page 35. Every asertion may fairly be called unauthorized, which contradiets the law of God; and every writing pernicious, which openly of indirectly tends to supersede, or weaken the authority of that law. In: the very first page of Dr. Paley's “ Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy," we are told, that Moral Philosophy means, that science which teaches, men their duty, and the reasons of it, and that without it the rules of life, among which the Scriptures are allowed a place, oftentimes millead men through a defect, either in the rule or in the Application. If, therefore, to prevent the Scriptures from misleading us, moral philofophy must previously be ftudied, and moral philofor pby teaches men their duty and the reasons of it, the conclufion is; that the Scriptures do indeed contain a rule of life, but do not teach men their duty or the reasons of it. The Scriptures must, therefore, upon Dr. Paley's affertion, be considered as affording a set of precepts, which, though true, could not be applied till the moralift interposed to give them efficacy. Ja vol. i. p. 8. of the fame work, it: is said, that the Scriptures are employed not so much to teach new rules of morality, as to enforce the practice of it by new fanctions, and a greater certainty, which last seems to be the proper business of a revelation from God, and what was most wanted.” It is presumpa tuous to determine what is the proper business of a revelation ; and to alfert that the enforcing of morality by new fan&ions, and a greater certainty, was the thing most wanted, is at least to Olight the necessity of a Redemption, without which the speculations of morality will prore but a broken reed.
In yol. i. p. 41. the author defines virtue to be the “ doing good to mankind in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness.” Mere implicit obedience, therefore, to the will of God will not, according to this definition, on which the author rests his whole system, be virtue, unless it is joined with the view of doing good to mankind. But the Scriptures give a different account of virtue, and bestow the highest praise upon acts of implicit obedience, of which it was impossible for any human faculties to foresee the bene. ficial consequences to mankind. And if Dr. Paley's be the true defia nition of virtue, how can men of ordinary capacities, and narrow