Page images


fages on this head from Scripture; where are plainly pointed out in Scripture; but only our ideas of it can be obtained. how they exist we enquire not; And though most of these passages are cluding here, as in other points of diffifigurative; yet as figures are intended to culty, that if a clearer information had illustrate realities, and are indeed the only been necessary, it would have been af. illustrations of which this subject is capa- forded. ble, we may take it for granted, that these With regard to the operations of the figurative expressions are intended to con- Holy Spirit of God, (besides which, little vey a juft idea of the truth. With a more on this head is revealed) we believe, view to make the more impression upon that it directed the apostles, and enabled you, I shall place these paffages in a re- them to propagate the gospel-and that it gular series, though collected from various will affist all

good men in the conscientious parts.

discharge of

a pious life. “ The Lord himself shall descend from The Scripture doctrine, with regard to heaven with his holy angels—The trumpet the assistance we receive from the Holy fhall sound; and all that are in the grave Spirit of God (which is the most essential fhall hear his voice, and come forth- part of this article) is briefly this: Then shall he fit upon the throne of his Our best endeavours are insufficient. glory; and all nations shall be gathered We are unprofitable servants, after all ; before him-the books shall be opened; and cannot please God, unless sanctified, and men shall be judged according to their and affifted by his Holy Spirit. Hence works.—They who have finned without the life of a good man hath been fomelaw, shall perish, (that is, be judged) with- times called a standing miracle; fomeour law; and they who have finned in the thing beyond the common course of nalaw, fall be judged by the law.-Unto ture. To attain any degree of goodness, whomsoever much is given, of him shall we must be fupernaturally afsifted. be much required.—Then Thall he say to At the same time, we are assured of this them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed, assistance, if we strive to obtain it by ferinherit the kingdom prepared for you. vent prayer, and a pious life. If we trust And to them on his left, Depart from me, in ourselves, we shall fail. If we trust in ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared God, without doing all we can ourselves, for the devil and his angels.—Then shall we shall fail likewise. And if we conthe righteous shine forth in the presence of tinue obstinate in our perverseness, we their Father; while the wicked shall go may at length totally incapacitate ourinto everlasting punishment: there shall selves from being the temples of the Holy be wailing and griashing of teeth. What Ghoft. manner of persons ought we then to be in And indeed what is there in all this, all holy conversation, and godliness ? look- which common life does not daily illusing for, and haftening unto, the day of our trate? Is any thing more common, than Lord; when the heavens being on fire, for the intellect of one man to assist that thall be dissolved, and the elements shall of another? Is not the whole scheme of melt with fervent heat.-Wherefore, be- education an infusion of knowledge and loved, seeing that we look for such things, virtue not our own? Is it not evident too, let us be diligent, that we may be found that nothing of this kind can be communiof him in peace, without spot, and blame. cated without application on the part of less; that each of us may receive that the learner? Are not the efforts of the blessed sentence, “ Well done, thou good teacher in a manner necessarily proporand faithful fervant: thou hast been faith- tioned to this application? If the learner fal over a little, enter thou into the joy of becomes languid in his pursuits, are not thy Lord.”

the endeavours of the teacher of course We believe, farther, in “ the Holy discouraged? And will they not at length Ghoft;" that is, we believe every thing wholly făil, if it be found in the end they which the Scriptures tell us of the Holy answer no purpose ?-In a manner anaSpirit of God.

We inquire not into the logous to this, the Holy Spirit of God coDature of its union with the Godhead. operates with the endeavours of man. We take it for granted, that the Father, Our endeavours are necessary to obtain the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have fome God's aflistance: and the more earneftly kind of union, and some kind of distinction; these endeavours are exerted, the measure because both this union and this distinction of this grace will of course be greater.


Ď 3

But, on the other hand, if these endea- might have been the original meaning of vours languith, the ailistance of Heaven it, it certainly does not relolve itself into a will lessen in proportion; and if we behave very obvious one to us. If we say we with obstinate perverseneis, it will by de- mean by it, that good christians living togrees wholly fail.

It will not always gether on earth, ihould exercise all offices strive with man; but will leave him a of charity among themselves, no one will melancholy prey to his own vicious incli- contradict the article; but many perhaps nations.

may aik, Why is it made an article of As to the manner, in which this fpi- faith? It relates not so much to faith, as ritual assistance is conveyed, we make no to practice: and the ten commandments inquiry. We can as little comprehend it, might just as well be introduced as articles as we can the action of our souls upon our of our belief. bodies. We are sensible, that our souls To this I can only suggest, that it may do act upon our bodies; and it is a belief have a place among the articles of our equally consonant to reason, that the divine creed, as a test of our enlarged ideas of influence may act upon our souls. The christianity, and as opposed to the narrowadvocate for natural religion need not be mindedness of fome christians, who harreminded, that among the heathens a bour very uncharitable opinions against all divine influence was a received opinion. who are not of their own church; and The priets of every oracle were supposed fcruple not to thew their opinions by unto be inspired by their gods; and the charitable actions. The papists particuheroes of antiquity were univerfaliy be- larly deny falvation to any but those of lieved to act under the influence of a su- their own communion, and persecute those pernatural allistance; by which it was con- of other persuasions where they have the ceived they performed actions beyond power.-In opposition to this, we profess human power.—This Ihews, at least, that our belief of the great christian law of there is nothing in this doctrine repugnant charity. We believe we ought to think to reason.


charitably of good christians of all deno§ 157. Creed continued.-Tre Holy Carbo- and unrestrained communion of charitable

minations; and ought to practise a free lic Church, c.

offices towards them, We believe, farther, in the “ holy ca- In this light the second part of the tholic church, and the “communion of article depends upon the firit. By the saints.

" holy catholic church,” we mean all fin. “ I believe in the holy catholic church," cere christians, of whatever church, or is certainly a very obscure expression to a peculiarity of opinion; and by “ the comproteftant; as it is very capable of a munion of sainis," a kind and charitable popish construction, implying our trust in behaviour towards them. the infallibility of the church; whereas we Though it is probable this was not the attribute infallibility to no church upon original meaning of the article, yet as the earth. The mot obvious sense, therefore, reformers of the liturgy did not think it in which it can be considered as a protes- proper to make an alteration, we are led to tant article of our belief, is this, that we seek such a sense as appears most consistent call no particular fociety of chriftians a with scripture. We are affured, that this holy catholic church; but believe, that all article, as well as the “ descent into hell,” true and sincere christians, of whatever is not of the fame antiquity as the rest of communion, or particular opinion, shall be the creed *. the objects of God's mercy. The patri. We profess our belief farther in the archal covenant was confined to a few. forgiveness of fins.”—The ScriptureThe Jewish church stood also on a very doctrine of sin, and of the guilt, which narrow bafis. But the chriflian church, arises from it, is this: we believe, is truly catholic: its gracious Man was originally created in a state of offers are made to all mankind; and God innocence, yet liable to fall. Had he perthrough Christ will take out of every na- fevered in his obedience, he might have tion such as shall be saved.

enjoyed that happiness, which is the conThe “communion of saints,” is an ex- sequence of perfect virtue. But when this preffion equally obscure: and whatever happy state was lost, his paflions and ap

[ocr errors]

* See Bingham's Antiquities, vol. iv. char. 3.


petites became disordered, and prone to from mere animal life; how it is conevil. Since that time we have all been, nected with the body; and in what state more or less, involved in sin, and are all it subsists, when its bodily functions ceale; therefore, in the Scripture-language,“ un- are among those indissoluble questions, der the curse;" that is, we are naturally with which nature every where abounds, in a tate of unpardoned guilt.

But notwithstanding the difficulties, which In this mournful exigence, what was to attend the discussion of these questions, the be done? In a state of nature, it is true, truth itself hath in all ages of the world we might be forry for our fins. Nature been the popular creed. Men believed too might dictate repentance. But sorrow their souls were immortal from their own and repentance, though they may put us feelings, so impressed with an expectation on our guard, for the future, can make no of immortality-from observing the proatonement for fins already committed. Agressive state of the soul, capable, even afresolution to run no more into debt may ter the body had attained its full strength, make us caucious; but ca

can never discharge of ftill higher improvements both in knowa debt already contracted *.

ledge, and in habits of virtue--from the In this diáress of nature, Jesus Christ analogy of all nature, dying and reviving came into the world. He threw a light in every part-from their situation here lo upon the gloom that surrounded us. He apparently incomplete in itself; and from Thewed us, that in this world we were lost a variety of other topics, which the reason - that the law of nature could not save us of man was able to suggeit. But though --that the tenor of that law was perfect nature could obscurely suggest this great obedience, with which we could not com- truth; yet Christianity alone threw a clear ply—but that God-thro' his mediation, light upon it, and impressed it with a full offered us a method of regaining happiness degree of conviction upon our minds. --that he came to make that atonement But the article before us proceeds a step for us, which we could not make for our- farther. It not only implies the immortafelves—and to redeem us from that guilt, lity of the soul; but afferts the resurrecwhich would otherwise overwhelmus tion of the body.-Nor was this doctrine that faith ard obedience were, on our parts, wholly new to nature. In its conceptions the conditions required in this gracious co

of a future life, we always fir the soul in venant-and that God promised us, on his, an imbodied fate. It was airy indeed, the pardon of our fins, and everlasting life and bloodless; but still it had the parts of - that we were first therefore to be made a human body, and could perform all its holy through the gospel of Christ, and operations. then we might expect falvation through in these particulars the Scripture does his death: “Us, who were dead in tref. not gratify our curiosity. From various pafles and fins, would he quicken. Christ passages we are led to believe, that the kould redeem us from the curse of the body shall certainly rise again: but in law. By grace we shculd be saved thro' what manner, or of what iubitance, we faith; and that rot of ourselves: it was pretend not to examine. We learn “ that the gift of God. Not of works, let any it is town in corruption, and raised in inman should boast,"


corruption; that it is sown in dishonour,

and raised in glory; that it is fown a na$ 1;3. Creed continued.-Refurreciion of the tural body, and raised a spiritual body:” Buily.

from all which we gather, that whatever We believe farther“ in the resurrec. sameness our bodies may have, they will tion of the body.”- This article pre- hereafter take a more spiritualized nature; · sumes our belief in the immortality of the and will not be subject to those infirmities, scal.

to which they were subject on earth. FarWhat that principle of life is. which ther on this head, it behoves us not to inwe call the foul; how it is distinguished quire.

Thus Mr. Jenyns expreffes the same thing : “ The punishment of vice is a debt due to justice, * thich cannot be remitted without compensation : repertance can be no compentation. It may * change a wicked man's dispositions, and prevent his offending for the future; but can lay no claim "to pardon for what is paft. If any one by profligacy and extravagance contracts a debt, repentance " may make him wiser, and hinder him from running into farther distresses, but can never pay vit his *cid boards, for which he must be ever accountable, unless they are discharged by himielf, or some uther in luis fead,"

View of thic Intern. Eviu. p. 112.


P 4

Instead, therefore, of entering into any appetites prevail; in the next, reason and metaphysical disquisitions of identity, or virtue will have the superiority --" hunger any other curious points in which this and thirst, tears and sorrow,” we read, deep subject might engage us, all which,“ will be no more”- that is, all uneasy as they are founded upon uncertainty, passions and appetites will then be annihimust end in doubt, it is better to draw this lated-all vain fears will be then removed doctrine, as well as all others, into practic -all anxious and intruding cares—and we cal use; and the use we ought to make of shall feel ourselves compleat and perfect; it is, to pay that regard to our bodies, and our happiness, not dependent, as here, which is due to them not vainly to adorn upon a thousand precarious circumstances, - not luxuriously to pamper them; but to both within and without ourselves, but keep them as much as possible from the consistent, uniform, and stable. pollutions of the world; and to lay them On the other hand, we pretend not to down in the grave undefiled, there to be inquire in what the punishment of the sealed up in expectation of a blefled resur- wicked consists. In the Scripture we find rection.

many expressions, from which we gather, Lastly, we believe “ in the life everlast- that it will be very great. It is there ing:" in which article we express our called, " an everlasting fire, prepared for faith in the eternity of a future state of re- the devil and his angels---where the worm wards and punishments.

dieth not, and the fire is never quenched This article is nearly related to the last, where shall be weeping, and gnashing of and is involved in the same obscurity, In teeth-where the wicked shall drink of the what the reward of the virtuous will con- wrath of God, poured without mixture fist, after death, our reason gives us no into the cup of his indignation-where information. Conjecture indeed it will, they shall have no reft, neither by day nor in a matter which lo nearly concerns us; night.” and it hath conjectured in all ages: but Though it becomes us certainly to put information it hath none, except from the our interpretations with the greatest cauword of God; and even there, our limited tion and humility upon such passages as capacities can receive it only in general these; yet “ the worm that never dieth," and figurative expreffions. We are told, and “the fire that is never quenched," " there will then reign fulness of joy, and are strong expressions, and hardly to be pleasures for evermore--that the righteous evaded by any refinements of verbal critiThall have an inheritance incorruptible, un- cism. Let the deift bravely argue down defiled, that fadeth not away-where they his fears, by demonstrating the absurdity shall shine forth, as the sun, in the presence of consuming a spirit in material fire. Let of their father--where error, and fin, and him fully explain the nature of future pumisery shall be no more where shall be nishment; and convince us, that where it assembled an innumerable company of an- cannot reform, it must be unjuft.-But let gels, the general afsembly of the church, us, with more modesty, lay our hands the spirits of just men made perfect--that humbly upon our breasts, confess our ignothey shall neither hunger, nor thirit any rance; revere the appointments of God, more-that all tears fall be wiped from whatever they may be; and prepare to their eyes that there shall be neither meet them with holy hope, and trembling death, nor forrow, nor pain."

joy, and awful submission to his righteous From these, and such expressions as will. these, though we cannot collect the entire To the unenlightened heathen the eter, nature of a future state of happiness, yet nity of future punishments appeared no we can easily gather a few circumstances, such unreasonable doctrine. Their state which must of course attend it; as, that it of the damned was of eternal duration. will be very great--that it will last for A vulture for ever tore those entrails, ever-that it will be of a nature entirely which were for ever renewed*. different from the happiness of this world Of one thing, however, we may be that, as in this world, our paffions and well assured (which may set us entirely at

-Roftroque immanis vultur obunco
Immortale jecur tundens, fæcundaque pænis

En. vią 596,
-Sedet, æternumque fedehit
Infelix Theseus.

Ib, 616


- reft in all our enquiries on this deep fub- ble characters; not defining the minutit jeft!, that every thing will, in the end, be of morals; but injoining those great duties right-chat a juft and merciful God must only, which have the most particular influač agreeably to justice and mercy-and ence upon the happiness of society; and that the first of these attributes will most prohibiting those enormous crimes, which assuredly be tempered with the latter. are

the greatest sources of its distress. From the doctrine of future rewards The ten commandments are divided and punishments, the great and most con- into two parts, from their being originally vincing practical truth which arises, is, that written upon two tables. From hence one we cannot exert too much pains in quali- table is supposed to contain our duty_to fying ourselves for the happiness of a fu- God; the other our duty to man. But ture world. As this happiness will last for this seems to be an unauthorized division; ever, how beneficial will be the exchange and hath a tendency to a verbal mistake;

- this world, “ which is but for a moment, as if some duties were owing to God; for that everlasting weight of glory which and others to man: whereas in fact we fadeth not away!"

know that all duties are equally owing to Vice, on the other hand, receives the God. However, if we avoid this miscongreatest discouragement from this doc- ception, the division into our duty to God, trine, as every fin we commit in this world and our duty to man, may be a convenient may be considered as an addition to an one.-The four first commandments are everlasting account in the next. Gilpin. contained in the first table: the remaining

fix in the second. $ 159. On the Ten Commandments.

At the head of them stands a prohi. Having considered the articles of our bition to acknowledge more than one faith, we proceed to the rules of our prac- God. tice. There, we know, are of such im. The second commandment bears a near portance, that, let our faith be what it relation to the first. The former forbids will, unless it influence our lives, it is of polytheism; the latter idolatry: and with no value. At the same time, if it be this belief, and practice, which generally what it ought to be, it will certainly have accompanied each other, all the nations of this infuence.

the earth were tainted, when these comOn this head, the ten commandments mandments were given : especially those are ärft placed before us; from which the nations, by whom the Jews were surcomposers of the catechism, as well as rounded. many other divines, have drawn a com- The third commandment injoins revepleat system of christian duties. But this rence to God's name. This is a strong is perhaps rather too much. Both Mo. religious restraint in private life; and as a ses, in the law, and Christ in the gospel, folemn oath is the strietest obligation afeem to have inlarged greatly on morals: mong men, nothing can be of greater ferand each of them, especially the latter, to vice to society, than to hold it in general have added many practical rules, which do respect. not obviously fall under any of the com- The fourth commands the observance mandments.

of the fabbath; as one of the best means But though we cannot call the deca- of preserving a sense of God, and of relilogue a compleat rule of duty, we accept gion in the minds of men. it with the utmost reverence, as the firit The second table begins with injoining great written law that ever God commu- obedience to parents; a duty in a peculiar nicated to man.

We consider it as an manner adapted to the Jewilh ftate, before eternal monument, inscribed by the finger any regular government was erected. The of God himself, with a few strong, indeli- temporal promise, which guards it, and

In the fourth volume of Bishop Warburton's commentary on Pope's works, in the second satira of Dr. Donne, are these lines:

Of whose strange crimes no cannonift can tell

In which commandment's large contents they dwell. “ The original,” says the bishop, " is more humorous.

In which commandment's large receipt they dwell ; " as if the ten commandments were so wide, as to stand ready to receive every thing, which either " the law of nature, or the gospel commands. A just ridicule on those practical commentators, as " they are called, who include all moral and religious duties within them."

« PreviousContinue »