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Christians, especially on topics connected with Prophecy. However, if there be but a coincidence in the grand outlines and fundamentals, we should guard against a captious and disputatious temper on minor points; otherwise unity, or indeed any comfortable Christian communion, is a blessing to be despaired of.
It is well observed by an eminent living minister,1 that a cordial agreement in the essentials of the Gospel should induce us to put up with minor differences; and a superior and constant engagement of soul to the most important objects of religion will draw off, comparatively, the attention from inferior ones, leaving us neither leisure or relish for them.'
The author has, throughout, studiously steered by the shore of Revelation, aided by the beaconlights of the older divines; convinced, that the grievous theological errors of the age have chiefly resulted from persons forsaking this safe navigation, and launching out into a perilous ocean of daring speculation, where they have lost both themselves and their followers in what, it is to be feared, are the depths of Satan.'
He has further to intreat, that if in speaking of certain tenets and systems of religion, he should seem to any to have expressed himself too strongly, he may be understood as speaking entirely of things, not persons; of principles, not individuals. He trusts he can appeal to the searcher of hearts, to testify to his love for all his fellow-beings; even
1 Rev. William Jay.
those most opposed to him in opinion: but the more unfeignedly we love others, the more shall we abhor those doctrines, whereby we consider them endangered.
Love to the soul is the soul of love, and the time is arrived, when it behoves us to speak out, and designate things by their proper names, if we would not have persons hood-winked and deluded, to their everlasting ruin.
In conclusion, the writer requests, that, should the Christian Reader approve of his work, notwithstanding numerous imperfections that may be found in it-written as it was amidst many interruptions, and other labours; he will kindly offer up his prayers to GOD, that it may be blessed to the ends humbly designed, namely, the good of man, and the Divine glory.
July 17, 1837.
THE SINS OF THE AGE AND NATION.
"Shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sin," ISAIAH lviii. ).
It is a very prevalent opinion, the grounds of which we shall consider presently, that the united empire is now standing in a situation critically perilous.1 Persons who differ on almost every other question, appear unanimous on this: and he must view affairs through a very peculiar medium indeed, who does not descry a storm lowering in the political horizon, and threatening hourly to burst, and pour upon these islands its elements of mischief. May the Almighty in his infinite mercy grant, that the apprehensions so generally entertained respecting the country may prove to have been groundless; but it is in the firm and deliberate conviction that they are very far otherwise, that the writer of the following pages proceeds.
In enumerating some of the sins of the age, we
1 See Appendix, Note I.
shall begin where the Lord does,—' at his sanctuary,' or professing church; and we shall notice,
1. The evident lukewarmness of nominal Christians. How universally are the scriptures disseminated what swarms of religious publications issue from the press: what numbers of persons run to and fro, whereby knowledge is increased; all in addition to the ordinary means and opportunities of religious improvement. What could have been done for this portion of his vineyard, that the Lord hath not done for it? Where then are the fruits? In what are the majority of nominal protestants better than practical atheists-baptized heathens? Look to facts-these will be taken as the expression of our real sentiments at the day of judgment. Thousands of persons never enter a place of worship at all, but content themselves in a voluntary and perpetual exile from the means of spiritual instruction. Neglecting the command, 'not to forsake the assembling themselves' in the place which JEHOVAH has appointed, to put his name there, and where he has promised his blessing; they live without God,—that is, atheists,1 in the world; setting a pestiferous example to all around them. Others take no trouble for the truth's sake: they will not go any distance to hear it proclaimed: nay, if you bring the divine message to their very doors, the full soul, surfeited with secular cares and pleasures, despises the honey-comb. Verily we do
1 abeo, see Ephesians ii. 12.
seem to require the flames of persecution to warm our icy hearts-to separate the scum from the pure water of life, and cause them to boil up' with fervid affections toward GOD and his gospel.
Others do, customarily, attend the preaching of the word, yet continue as uninfluenced by what is uttered, as the deaf walls around them. They can hear the most solemn appeals, the most startling statements, the most cogent arguments for conversion to God, and devotedness of living, urged, too, with an earnestness and power, that one might suppose would almost awaken the dead, yet treat them all with the self-same apathy, as if the history of redemption, and the realities of eternity, were a cunningly-devised fable, the figment of priestcraft.
Others, again, are convinced of the truth in their judgments; they assent to the gospel while it is announced; but as soon as the sermon is conconcluded, return to their ordinary cogitations, as the horse rushes into the battle. Doubtless there is much running after popular preachers, much descanting on the style, and matter, and manner, of the orator—but who believes his report?' who is converted? They hear his words, but they will not do them; their mouth showeth much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, "he is unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on his instrument." Their understandings are enlightened and
1 Ps. xlv. 1. Heb.
2 Ezekiel xxxiii. 31, 32.