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acred original of the scriptures, yet they file them down and contrue them after their own manner, and take a licentious liberty in nodifying the doctrines of the gospel, so as to suit their own conracted notions and imperfect views. They open a wide door for pror, and an endless variety of religions; as the faculties of the uman mnd in individuals are as various in respect of extent and apacity, as the faces of mankind. They do not consider the narow limits of human comprehension, the feebleness of our frame, what inadequate conceptions we have of everything around us, and even of our very selves; that there is an important difference betwixt a partial and a perfect perception of truth, and what it is highly just and proper, that the reason of man should stoop to the revelations of heaven.
Injurious as these Unitarians were by their principles and proceedings, to fair criticism, to true philosophy, and sound Christianity; yet were their notions adopted by many. Their leaders exerted themselves with unwearied zeal, published many books with a view to support their system, but which had a tendency to pervert the scriptures, and detached a number of missionamies into different countries, to make proselytes and erect congregations. They differed from other sects in the manner of propagating their opinions. For while most address themselves to the vulgar; these principally applied to persons of rank and wealth, and courted the patronage of learned men.
Yet did not they escape the severest censure, and the warmest opposition. Many elaborate treatises were published for their - refutation; and the world presented an unusual spectacle, when Catholics, Calvinists, and Lutherans, forgetting their peculiar dissensions, united in one body to bear down the growth of Socinianism.--Dr. Nisbet's Ecc. Hist. p. 802.
TENURE OF THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE. It is well known, that from the first settlement of New-England to the present time, a Minister, regularly ordained over a Church and people, has been considered as holding his office for life. The contract respecting his temporal support, could be dissolved by mutual consent only, or by a manifest dereliction, on his part, of ministerial character and duty. But recently, an opinion has been entertained, and seems to be spreading in the community, that it would tend to promote the public good, if Ministers were made to hold their office at the will of the people whom they serve, or at most for a limited term of years. In pursuance of this opinion, several Ministers have lately been settled for a short period, as five years, or less; while others have consented to have the contract between them and their people, dissolvable at the will of either party, by giving a short notice. Whether this novel practice is leading to a desirable state of things, and will be ultimately conducive to the usefulness of the ministry and the good of the people, ought to be made a subject of serious enquiry. The following settiments of a very intelligent and judicious layman, on this subject, are worthy of special attention. Extract from the - Opinion" of Chief Justice Parsons, in the case of Avery
• vs. Inhabitants of Tyringham. Mass. Rep. vol. 3. “A consideration of the nature and duties of the ministerial office, is important in determining its tenure. It is the duty of a Minister to adapt bis religious and moral instruction to the various classes comprising his congregation. He ought therefore to hare a knowledge of their situation, circumstances, habits, and characters, which is not to be obtained but by a long and familiar acquaintance with them.”
« Vice is to be reproved by him, in public and private: and the more prevalent and fashionable are any bad habits, the more pecessary it is for the faithful Minister to censure them, and to rebuke those who indulge them. But if it be a principle, that his office and support depend on the will of his people, the natural tendency of such a principle, by operating on his fears, will be to restrais him from a full and plain discharge of his official duties. And it may be added, that the same principle, by diminishing his weight and influence, will render his exhortations and rebukes unarailing and ineffectual. And as it cannot be for the interest of the people to hold a power, probably dangerous, and certainly inconvenient to themselves, I cannot believe that a tenure at will, whence this power results, can accord with the nature and duties of the office. And it may be also observed, that, if the tenure of his office be at will, a Minister, after a life of exemplary diligence in the exercise of his official duties, may, when oppressed with the infirmities of age, be removed from office and be dismissed to poverty and neg. lect. A consequence of this power in a parish, will be the deterring of young men of information and genius from entering into the clerical profession; and devolving the public instruction in religion and morals on incompetent persons, without talents, education, or any suitable qualifications. Thus an office, which, to be useful, ought to attract our respect and veneration, will be the object of general contempt and disgrace. And an effect of this kind, surely, every good citizen would wish the laws to prevent, so far as the laws may have power.”
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, has under its care 19 Synods-92 Presbyteries—1393 ordained Ministers, and 205 Licentiates--making 1598 Preachers of the Gospel--195 candidates for the sacred office--2070 churches, or congregations, under the spiritual government of so many Sessions, and
EXTRACTS FROM AN EXPOSTULATORY ADDRESS, To the Methodists in Ireland, and a Vindication of the same, by John Walker,
late Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin.
[Continued from page 474.] You go on to observe that, in a strict adherence to the discipline of Methodism, I must“ mean to include their injunctions of morality and general piety: and where these things are combined with a strict attendance on meelings of piety; you ask, am I-or“ is any one on earth entitled to pronounce, that such persons are really destitute of Christian faith?” Now, Sir, I answer without difficulty, that such persons may be really destitute of Christian faith; and may manifest such evidences of infidelity, as will entitle any Christian on earth, who observes them, to pronounce that they are so. If the observance of what is called morality and general piety cannot of themselves constitute a Christian character, certainly no attendance on meetings of piety can. And that the former cannot, is certain from scripture, and from acknowledged fact. For strict morality-(so called)—and for general piety-not only some of all denominations of professing Christians have been eminent, from the Arminian Methodists to Pelagians of all degrees and from them—through all the shades of Arianism-to the thorough-paced Socinian, who considers the Bible only as containing a collection of moral and pious precepts—while exemplified in the life of a man, -and regards its revealed truths only as so many eastern metaphors, which he may interpret away into anything or nothing, at his pleasure:—not only some of all these have been eminent as moralists and pietists—but some avowed infidels and heathens also.
In short, Sir, while I know that there may be a kind of morality and a kind of piety, ever so fair and imposing in the sight of men, where there is no Christian faith; I know from my Bible, that there can be no true morality or piety--because no real love for man or God—but what springs from the Christian faith. And therefore where infidelity is avowed by rejection of or opposition to the fundamental truths of the gospel-believing my Bible-I must reject all the nominal morality and piety also of such profes sors, as spurious. The one only true God makes himself known to · us in his word. The man, who rejects his revealed truths, may have a kind of piety; but the true God is not the object of it, and his piety is no better than that of a heathen. Nor can I doubt that many pietists as well as moralists, will be found among the "haters of God,” when I observe the indignation and enmity, that are stirred up in their minds against his attributes and dealings with men, by the proposal of his revealed truths, in which these attributes and dealings are made known. And I do beseech the CHRISTIAN Methodists, who know and love the name of the Lord
(for otherwise they would not be Christians)—to attend to the admonition-notwithstanding the advocate who represents it a lliberal;--and not to be so easily satisfied (as they too commonly have appeared to be) about the state of those, who give in their names to the Society; and not to be so hasty in considering them as in the way of salvation. If they have grace and wisdom from above to exercise more fidelity towards the souls, over whom come of them are called to watch, they may soon discover, from the of fence that will be taken, and the opposition that will be made të them, how far some of their people are from obedience to the faith of the gospel; and how little acquainted with themselves or with God.
You ask me, whether I am" so thoroughly informed of all that such persons say in the language of Methodism, as to be sure that they give no mark of acquaintance with God or with themselves.") de Indeed, Sir, it does not require an acquaintance with all that any man says, in any language, to mark him unacquainted with God or Te with himself; if he be an opposer of the gospel of the grace of God. In scripture the power of unbelief is synonymous with the power of darkness; and the universal character of all by nature is," alien. ated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, rig because of the blindness of their hearts.” And when any are ex brought out of that state, it is by God's “ shining into their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of no Jesus Christ.” Then, and not before, they are “children of the as light and of the day:”—and then, instead of hating the light, which discovers at once their entire vileness and helplessness, and the glory and all-sufficiency of the Saviour, they love that light and rejoice in it;—instead of disputing against the sovereignty and es• ceeding riches of the grace of God, they prize • the joyful sound" that proclaims these, and abhor themselves, especially for their former opposition to it. You ask mewhether I am" accustomed to lay no stress whatever on the morality, &c. of my own religious friends.” Extraordinary as the question is, I am glad to answer it to Yes, Sir;—so great stress, that the man, who does not shev bis faith by his works, I can see no warrant to consider him as a believer, though the creed that he professes to believe were as orthodox as an Apostle's, and his talk as heavenly as an Angel's. And there is no truth of scripture, that I more firmly or explicitly declare, for there is none more clearly revealed, than that those who " say that they have fellowship with Christ and walk in darkness-lie.” No: -that very “grace of God, that bringetb salvation, teacheth” the objects of it “ to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, and righteously, and godly, in this present world."* " As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." ! And, "if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his:" 1
and, “the fruit of the spirit is, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance.” And just according as the believer “grows in grace and in the knowledge of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” this fruit will assuredly abound. Be assured, Sir, my testimony against those false professors, who “ live after the flesh”-in any of its varied forms, while they say that they believe the doctrines of grace, is as explicit, and as offensive to some of that description, though Calvinists, as any testimony I have ever borne against those who deny those doctrines. But what then? The latter do not profess the faith of the gospel; the former shew contrary to their profession, that they do not possess it. The avowed unbelief of the latter proves their most specious morality to be but dead works"-as not springing from faith; and the open immorality of the former (and I reckon under this head any of the allowed workings of the flesh enumerated by the A postle, Gal, v. 19, 21—though some of them may be indulged with very little discredit, even in the religious world) proves that their professional faith is vain, as not “working by love.” I pray God to keep me testifying alike against the infidelity of both.
You ask me, whether “ merely being an Arminian forfeits all right to a judgment of charity?" Let us have done, Sir, with that expression. My judgment, or opinion, both of my own state and the state of others, must be regulated by truth-by scripture truthnot by my wishes, nor by what I might hope to be true, if I set aside the declarations of God's word. Being an Arminian excludes not a man from being the object of charity, or love, in its various exercises: neither does his being a Turk or an infidel exclude him. Neither do I conceive (as I have before observed) that making a general profession of Arminian doctrine, precludes a hope, that the man is a real believer of the gospel. But I am as sure, that a man's being really an Arminian precludes that hope (though not the hope that he may, through the free grace which he denies, become a believer)-as I am sure that the tenets of Arminianism are contrary to the essential doctrines of the gospel.
The essential character of the gospel (whoever may deny it) is that of glad tidings of salvation to sinners, wholly lost, who have destroyed themselves;—of a great salvation, of which the one author is that God against whom they have sinned;-glad tidings of eternal life, as the free gift of God in Christ Jesus to the chief of sinners who believes the joyful record;—and that faith itself his gilt, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, and hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. I need not spend time to prove to you, Sir, that the essential character of Arminianism stands in direct opposition to this, which I maintain to be the essential character of the gospel. But I shall have occasion, in a subsequent letter, to go into the proof of the assertion,