Page images

abeling denundntions of that private and upblie pisøry and ruin, which will eserat tund sin, wherlier cloaked by superstition or displayed in profanenesy. And, along with all theje things, it unfolds a series of predictions, reaching trom the heginning of the Old Testament to the end; and growing from obscure and general, continually clearer and more determinate, concerping the appearance of a divine person on earth for the; recovery of fallen man, the revival and propagation of true religion throughout the world. The books of the New Testament open to us thc exccution of this great design., The Gospels record his supernatural birth, his unspotted and, exemplary life, liisi astonishing and gracious miracles, his pure and benevolent doctrine, his dying for our offences, and rising again for our justification. His mission of fit persons, endued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to teach all nations, hiş own ascension into Heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God till he shall come to judge the quick and the dead., Rhe Acts of the Apostles relate the wonderful success of their preaching, and the original foundation of the Catholic church. The Epistles contain their adinirable directions to clergy and laity. And the revelation concludes with foretelling the state of Christianity, primitive, degenerate, and reformed, to the last ages, Secker's Serm.. vol. vi. p. 39, 40.

What is there in the church established that calls so loudly for reformation? To: satisfy some, it seems all inclosures must be thrown down, all creeds and SUBSCRIPTIONS taken away, all uniformity in divine worship left at large, and nothing required as a term of communion, or even as a qualification for the teachers in religion, but the profession of the one article, or (in terms equally indefinite) of what is necessary to denominate a man a Christian. But we must be allowed to inquire what consequences are : to be expected from this thorough reformation, : supposing they could be gratified? They will promise us a glorious state of universal liberty. But, is it to be imagined that a nation, not wholly abandoned to all sense of religion, could, for any time, continue in such a state as this? Would all Christians be at once set at liberty from their passions and prejudices? and, particularly, would the teachers of religion (for teachers, I. suppose, there must be so long as there is religion) - be, by, this means, divested of that lust of power from which some at present affect to be under such dreadful apprehensions? Alas! the denominations of the contending parties might be changed, but : the contentions themselves 'would remain as fierce as ever. We should soon have. teacher setting up against teacher; each proposing a different interpretation of this one. article, and of what is necessary to denominate a man a Christian; each zealous for the prevalence of his own, and, probably the more so, in proportion to the hopes he might flatter himself with of being able to draw the then vacant public encouragements towards it. In the mean while, those of the people, whom this scheme should find in , & posture of indifference to all religion, would soon be adyanced, by it into the seat of the scornful, while it would drive the more devout into the arms of the. Romisk, emissary:

[ocr errors]

of the rest, some would fall in with one leader some with another. Geo. Fótbergilt: Serm. Jan. 30, 1737. :

A remarkable misquotation of Spencer in relation to the urim and thummim, . ** In book iii. c. 2, speaking of the place wherein the urim, which he supposes to be images, were put, amongst other authorities to confirm his opinion he produces that of Prideaux, and says, “ Ut alios taceam, doctissimus noster Prideauxius sic sensumi nostrum effert verbis magis disertis et dictatoriis. “Sufficit observasse urim et thuinmim a Deo tradita, a Mose recepta, et inter rationalis duplicitatem veluti in Theca quadam fuisse inclusa.": Atque hoc unum de oraculo nostro certum fixumque habuit, reliqua de eo omnia nocte mediâ obscuriora.” And for this he quotes his Orat: de veste Aaron. p. 16. But, if this be the same with the treatise of urim in his Connection, vol. i. p. 213, it is plain that Dr Spencer has not quoted him fairly; for he says expressly there, that this was only the opinion of Dr Spencer, which he had borrowed from Christophera Castro, and that Dr Pocock had shewn it to be both absurd and impious; and adds, farther, that it is safest to hold that the words urim and thummim meant only the divine virtue given to the breast-plate in its consecration.

If the purchase of SLAVES was permitted under the Jewish law, which may be inferred from Levit. xxvi.' v. 44, 45, 46, and was never strictly forbidelen by Christ himself: supposing, that the purchase of slaves is not an act of compulsion, but a voluntary deed on the part of the purchased slaves; supposing, also, that the purchasers treat' them as they ought, both on their voyage and in their settlements, the heavy charges against it do not seem so conclusive as the advocates for the abolition of it contend. See Bruce's Travels, vol. i. and the arguments pro and con. in the several debates of the British Parliament, and the sundry pamphlets which have been published on the subject. But, after all, it might be more advantageous in the end to the several planters' if they were," by a gradual ubolition of this traffic, to furnish themselves, in the course of: twenty years or more, 'with a' sufficient number of' natives to cultivate their several plantations, which might be certainly done by encouraging population amongst them; and at a less expense than they are now at; and these persons properly trained up would have a natural interest in cultivating the lands to the best advantage ; and there would be no danger of tumults and insurrections. But an imniediate 'abolition of the slaveni trade would be a remedy vörse than the disease, as it would involve thousands and ten thousand of families in utter ruin, and, perhaps, occasión many otber unforeseen bads conseậnences. ".. io

. . . . !


SPIRITUS Det, et Spiritus' Jesu Christi, quatenins auxiliis istis: ütitiarjr isignificat: in Scripturis vel externa ista binaria,'ausilla, gure aptá nata sunt adspirare hochini ndimus et vires, ut libenter et alacriter facere ea velit, qui Deo gráta sunt, btob qiubas, como prehendo non tantum promissa et comminationeig ordnyela, sed plaalulia, quæ duos :


bus actibus circumscribi posse credo. Imo. Jis actibus quibus Deus infirmitatum nostrarum conscius et preces nostras serias quotidie audiens, inhibet quominus :aut valde graves, aut valde diuturnæ tentationes set afflictiones nobis occurrant. qdo. Iis actibus, quibus Deus vel occurrere nobis facit, sæpe non cogitantibus, ejusmodi objecta, occa. siones, exempla, actiones, &c. unde causas ingentes accipimus, et nos aceipere sentimus, ut in officio pietatis contineamur, &c. Vel spiritus iste significat auxilium internum, quo Christus animabus nostris intus adspirat vel inspirat vim aliquam peculiarem, quæ apta nata est nos, acriter movere atque exstimolare, ut libenter, alacriter et sedulo nos ipsos in officio contineamus; quod fit, quando cogitationes, affectiones, pias, sanctas, vel de novo injecit, vel sepultas in memoriam revocat, vel spem es fiduciam conceptam altius imprimit, vel scientiâ clarâ rerum obscurarum, imprimis præceptorum suorum, nos illustrat, et similia. Episcopii Respons. ad Cameronem, c. 23.

The authority of the SCRIPTURES, dictated by the unerring wisdom of God, shortens the way to useful knowledge within a length that the weakest faculties can hold out, and proves a readier plainer guide, in matters of doctrine or duty, than the best enlightened human reason, pursuing its course by long intricate deduct tions of one consequence from angther. So that, whereas it was a common saying among the philosophers, that truth lies hidden at the bottom of the well, the firmly

ristian may say, that all necessary truths are raised up to the surface of the written word, where they stand in such legible characters as that he who runs may read, : Abraham Tucker on Light of Nature, vol. v, p. 264.

· Antiqui deorum laudes carminibus comprehensas circum aras eorum euntés cane: bant, cujus primuin ambitum quem ingrediebantur ex parte dextrâ seogame vocabant; reversionem autem sinistrorsum factam completo priore orbe árliscopano appellabant. Dein in conspectu deorum soliti consistere, cantici reliqua consequebantur, appellantes id. Epoden. Marius Victorious, lib. i. p. 74. Jackson's Chronol. vol. iii. p. 184.,

SuperSTITION neither knoweth the right kind, morobserveth the dne measure, of actions belonging to the service of God, but is always joined with a wrong opinion touching things divine. Superstition is when things are either abhorred or observed with a zealous or fearful, buberroneous, relation to God: by means whereof the superstitious do sometimes serve, though the true God, yet with, needless offices, and defraud him of duties necessary; sometimes load others than bim with, such honours as properly are his. The one, their oversight who miss in the choice of that wherewith they are affected; the other, theirs who fail in the election of him towards whom they shew their devotion. This, the crime of Idolatry; that, the fault of voluntary, either niceness or superfluity in religion. Hooker's Eccles. Polity, book v. sect..3: -1. 11. .

Ben 1 kk:3 * ...b. is pas .. Apud · Apud veteres incussa fuit religio in stERNUTAMENTIS (Ang. sneezing) bonum omen et salutem precari, quod Tiberium Cæsarem mirifice exegisse dicant, ut si quid infandi dirique immineat, ea precatione et salute avertatur. Aristoteles autem, quod e capite hominis tanquam ex arce ducunt originem, quæ pars divina et sanctior homini est, propterea inde spiritum, tanquam signum augurale, et divinum numen nos venerari decere censuit. Ea quidem apud eos qui ista pervestigare adorti sunt, miræ observationis fuere. Nam si essent matutina nefanda ominari et rei inceptandæ irritos conatus facere. Si vero meridiana, firmissimi auspicii esse, præcipue a dextris arbitrati sunt. Fuitque animadversum inter epulas medio accubitu, sternutamento revocari ferculum. Si non postea gustetur aliquid, inter dira et certissimo exitio haberi. Alexander ab Alexandro, fo. 52, p. 1. — But did not these benedictions on sneezing arise from the child's sneezing seven times on Elisha's raising him to life. 2 Kings, c. iv.

Bishop Burnett, in his letter to Dr Williams, on some author's charging the Trinitarians, that, because the law would turn men out of their benefices if they owned the contrary doctrine, (i. e. of Socinus,) therefore, to save these, they not only speak and write but worship God in acts that are plainly against their consciences," in behalf of himself and his brethren, answers it thus.' “ I call God to witness how unjust as well as black this accusation is. If I did not sincerely believe this doctrine, I should think it a horrid prevarication with God and man to make confession which I do not believe, and to join in acts of worship which I think idolatrous. No man of conscience can think himself clear of so criminal an imputation, by holding his peace, when those confessions of faith are made; his standing up to them, nay his continuing in the communion of the church that uses them, is a plain avowing of them: and he must live and die in a state of damnation who can make those professions, and continue in such solemn, acts of worship, when all this is a lying both to God and man. The blackest part of the charge of Idolatry, which we lay on the church of Rome, is a mild thing compared to this. Here is not only material but formal Idolatry, if we worship one as the great God whom we believe to be but a mere creature.”. But it is. to be feared there have of late years been too many instances of this scandalous duplicity.

Tithes first paid in England, under Offa, circa 770... i. We cannot possibly ascertain the time when tithes were first introduced into this country. Possibly they were contemporary with the planting of Christianity among the Saxons, by Augustin, the monk, about the end of the sixth century. : But the first mention of them, which I have met with in any written English law, is in a constituţional decree, inade in a synod held A. D. 785, (Selden, c. 8, § 2,) wherein the payment of tithes in general is strongly enjoined. - To make a good and sufficientmodus for tithes, i. It must be certain and invariable. 2. The thing given in lieu of tithes must be beneficial to the parson, and not for the emolument of third persous only. 3. It must be something different from the thing compounded for. 4. One cannot be discharged from payment of one species of tithe, by paying a modus for


another. 5. The recompense must be in its nature as durable as the tithes discharged by it; that is, an inheritance certain. 6. The modus must not be too large, which is called a rank modus." Blackstoneg. vol. ii. p. 25, 30.

The Jews reckon up these five particulars as wanting in the second TEMPLE; 1. The ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat which was upon it. 2. The shecinah, or divine presence. 3. The urim and thummim. 4. The holy fire upon the altar. And, 5. The spirit of prophecy. Prideaux's Connect. vol. i. p. 203. . .. . But these were more than supplied by the appearance of Christ in it; and, therefore, as Haggai had foretold, c. ii. 9, the glory of this latter house was greater thau. that of the former; for, as Episcopius has well observed, “ Messias Israelis summa gloria est; ipse gloria Dei Israelis; ipse est character hypostaseos ejus; urim et thummim, a quo revelatio divinæ voluntatis, veluti oraculum, prodire debuit; ipse area fæderis, et propitiatorium in sanguine suo; ipse qui baptizat spiritu et igne," &c. See also Revel. xix, 10.

: In the TEMPTATION of Christ in the wilderness, Satan was permitted to try whether he could traverse the great work of human redemption. In the possession of the bodies of men he seems to have been in part forced upon the employment, as the casting him out by divine power gave glory to God, and bore testimony to the ministry of Christ; and so adınirably hath our indulgent master been pleased to guard this important truth of demoniasm against the most plausible evasions of self-conceited men, that, to cut off all escape from a forced confession of the mighty hand of heaven, here are two cases objected to the incredulous; one of Satan's temptation of the Son of God, another of his possession (viz. the herd of swine) of brute animals; in neither of which can the power of imagination have any place. In the first instance the divine patient was above all its delusions, in the other the brute patient was below its power. Warburton's Sermon on the Fall of Satan.

Images and TEMPLES may be supposed to have been of much earlier date than the worship of deified heroes, according to Spencer; for, images probably took their rise from the worship of the sun and moon with the rest of the celestial bodies, and might be invented to supply their absence; and this seems to have been the opinion of Maimonides, in those very words which Spencer produces to prove his assertion. “ Constat homines templa extruxisse stellis, in eisque collocasse imaginem, ad quam colendam unanimiter consenserunt.” p. 903. And froin the worship of the heavenly bodies most probably came the general practice of erecting temples on the tops of the mountains, which they did for this purpose of having a nearer intercourse with their several gods. And that the sense I have here given to Maimonides seeins to be the true one, will more fully appear from the following quotation of Spencer from MaimoKk 2


« PreviousContinue »