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sages in which belief of the truth is required, and unbelief forbidden, in which promises are made to faith, and threatenings denounced against unbelief, in which individuals are exhorted "to stand fast in the faith," "to contend earnestly for the faith,' "to give attendance to doctrine, ""to take heed to doctrine, "to speak the things which become sound doctrine," would far exceed the limits proposed for this Tract. But this passing allusion to them must be sufficient to convince the candid reader that many of the duties of the gospel cannot be performed without a knowledge of its doctrines. He will perceive that any one, who will be obedient to all the commands of God, or in other words be a consistent and thorough practical christian, must understand the doctrines of the gospel. But it is not sufficient to say that all the duties of the Bible cannot be performed, without a knowledge of its doctrines. Though this is the truth, it is not the whole truth. It may be safely asserted that none of them will be performed without more or less of this knowledge; for
3. The doctrines of the Bible present the motives by which all its precepts are enforced.
A mere precept or command is not that which produces obedience, or that which is instrumental of producing obedience. This only shows what ought to be done. Other considerations must be presented to influ ence an intelligent being to perform the duty enjoined. Now the doctrines of the Bible furnish the motives suited to influence creatures to obey. In view of these they see the reasonableness of God's commands and the goodness of his character. They see also their. obligation to obey, and the consequences both of their obedience, and of their disobedience. Mankind would not be at all influenced by any of the commands of God, if they knew nothing of the doctrines by which his character and government, and their own character and condition are illustrated. Let the motives drawn from the doctrine of God's goodness and mercy, his truth and justice; from the doctrine of his omniscience, omnipresence, and almighty power; from the doctrine of the atonement by the death and sufferings of the Son of God; and from the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and future
connexion between doctrine and practice, and the influence which the one has upon the other. The plain matter of fact, that the practical religion, inculcated by the precepts of the Bible, can be successfully promoted no longer than its doctrines are understood and defended, seems never to have occurred to their minds. The object of this Tract is to show that,
Doctrinal knowledge is the foundation of true religion. It is here asserted, not merely that doctrinal knowledge is of great importance in religion, that it enlightens, strengthens, and confirms the Christian in his duties and his hopes, but that it is the foundation of true religion,—that, without which the thing cannot exist, and all pretension to it is either delusion or hypocrisy. This will be sufficiently evident to every reader who candidly considers the following facts.
1. The duties of the Bible are founded upon its doctrines.
What God has required his creatures to do, he has not arbitrarily required, but required for good and sufficient reasons. These reasons are found in the doctrines which he has revealed. The duty of loving God is founded upon the doctrine that he is supremely good. If he was not a good Being, it could not be the duty of creatures to love him. And if he was not the best of all beings, it could not be their duty to love him supremely.
The duty of repentance is founded upon the doctrine of human depravity. If mankind are not sinners, they have nothing to repent of. And the question respecting the extent of their sinfulness or depravity, must obviously settle the question respecting the extent to which repentance is a duty.
The duty of faith in Christ depends upon the doctrine that he is the true Messiah. Unless he is as he claims to be the Son of God, unless he actually "made his soul an offering for sin," and unless "he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him," it cannot be the duty of perishing sinners to trust in him as their Saviour.
The duty of submission to the will of God under trials, depends upon the doctrine that God governs the world in righteousness. If there is any event which takes place
without his agency and in opposition to his wise and holy purposes, we cannot be under obligation to be reconciled to it. True submission to the will of God under trials, is nothing more or less than submission to these things, so far as the design and hand of God are in them.
The duty of keeping the Sabbath holy, depends upon the doctrine that the Sabbath is a divine institution. If God does not require mankind to set apart one day in seven to be devoted especially to the purposes of religion, and if the first day of the week is not now the particular day to be thus devoted to his service, we are not under obligation to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."
It is a duty to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. He himself declared that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. The martyr Stephen died calling upon his name. All the primitive Christians were in the practice of offering prayers and singing praises to him. And all holy beings in heaven and on earth are represented by John as saying, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb forever." But this duty of worshipping Christ depends upon the doctrine that he is one with, and equal to the Father; for we are expressly forbidden to have or to worship more Gods than one.
It is generally agreed that prayer is a duty. But this cannot be a fact unless the doctrine of our dependence upon God is true. If there is any respect in which we are not dependent on God, in that respect it cannot be our duty to pray.
It is our duty to love our neighbor as ourselves, to love our enemies, to pray for them, and to do them all the good in our power. But all these duties are founded upon the doctrine of disinterested affection. If it is right, as some pretend, to make our own interest or pleasure the principal object of our regard, it cannot be duty to love others as ourselves. If, as is often asserted, mankind are incapable of exercising a disinterested affection, it cannot be their duty to love their enemies; for it is impossible that a known enemy should be embraced by any other than a disinterested affection.
It might be shown that every duty inculcated in the
of the truth;" or that "he that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," if a knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible were not a necessary means in the conversion of the sinner by the Holy Spirit. But if doctrinal knowledge is essential to conversion, it must be essential to the existence of true religion; for it is a plain matter of fact that there can be no true religion among men "dead in trespasses and sins," until they are quickened by the Spirit of God. There are those who make much of experimental religion, and doubtless sincerely believe in a change of heart by the influence of the Holy Spirit, who are often heard to speak lightly of doctrinal knowledge. But surely such persons do not understand themselves. All genuine religious experience is founded upon Christian doctrine. This is the sword of the Spirit,-the instrument by which he effects all his mighty conquests. There is not a single holy affection, produced in men by the operation of the Holy Spirit, the object of which is not presented by some doctrine of the Bible, and which does not agree in character with some doctrine of the Bible. All true love to God, to Christ, to man, has for its object something which the Bible teaches, and which is believed respecting these perEvery exercise of true humility, and every exercise of true repentance, has for its object something which the Bible teaches, and which is believed respecting ourselves. Every degree of true Christian zeal is kindled up in view of something which the Bible teaches, and which is believed respecting Christ and his kingdom. Every exercise of true submission to the will of God arises in view of something which the Bible teaches, and which is believed respecting the government of God. There may be religious exercises, which arise not in view of any thing taught in the Bible, and which agree not in character with any holy object exhibited in the Bible; but these exercises are not true religion. Men may imagine a character which they call God, and sincerely and ardently love this character; but if it is not the character which the Bible ascribes to God, the love which is exercised in view of it can have nothing in it of the nature of true religion. They may believe in the existence of a certain character which they call Jesus Christ, and feel a very
deep interest in this character as their Saviour, and a very ardent affection for him on account of what they suppose he has done and will do for them, and still if the character which they have in view is essentially different from that which the scriptures ascribe to the Lord Jesus, their feelings towards it cannot be the religion of the gospel. Men may be greatly alarmed in view of their sins, and very sorry that they have committed them, but if the scriptural representation of the evil of sin be kept out of view, their repentance can be nothing but "the sorrow of the world which worketh death." They may be very zealous in the promotion of what they call religion, but unless this is something which is in accordance with the doctrines of the Bible, their "zeal is not according to knowledge," or entitled to the name of Christian zeal.
Other considerations might be urged to show that doctrinal knowledge is essential to the existence of true religion. But enough, it is apprehended, has been said to make this point plain. No one surely will entertain a doubt of this, who admits that the duties of the Bible are founded upon its doctrines; that the performance of some of these duties implies a knowledge of the doctrines; that its doctrines are the motives, by which all its duties are enforced; and that divine truth, by which we must understand the doctrines of the Bible, is the means by which the Holy Spirit renews and sanctifies the hearts of men. And with any one who is disposed to deny these plain facts, any further reasoning on the subject would be useless.
Here, reader, allow me to call your attention to a few things, which, as consequences of the foregoing truth, are worthy of your serious attention.
It must be a fact, if doctrinal knowledge is the foundation of true religion, that no one has any more true religion than he has doctrinal knowledge. If there can be no holy affection, but in view of some object which the doctrines of the Bible present to the mind, the truly religious feelings of every one must be limited by the doctrines with which he is acquainted. If no one can act without a motive, and every motive to obedience is found in the doctrines of the Bible, then the true obedience of every one must be limited by his knowledge of