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him for the sins of men. They will not allow that preaching the Gospel goes any farther than this. In the language of those persons, an Evangelical minister is one who confines his discourses to this class of subjects, and exhibits them in such a light as to leave the impression that man's salvation depends upon the arbitrary appointment of God, and not on man's conduct. And by an Evangelical book, they mean a book that runs in the same strain.
Others go farther, and call nothing Evangelical but what savours strongly of decrees, and is steeped in the mysteries of unconditional election and reprobation. They can hear nothing that talks of duty; it is all Arminianism and Socinianism together. They want no trouble; they wish for a Saviour that will take all the trouble upon himself, and leave them nothing to do but to ride to heaven in the chariot of distinguishing and irresistible grace.
Both these parties go in the same track, only one outstrips the other a little. Both of them set up a new Gospel, or at least set up a new theory, and call it the Gospel. Both of them shut out Christ from the number of Gospel ministers, and all who follow his example. They will have nothing to be Evangelical but what is unlike the Gospel. The Gospels are about the most unevangelical writings in the country, in their opinion ; the very essence and example of Legal, Arminian, and Pelagian preaching
This outrageous inconsistency arises from people forming their notions of religion from the writings of men instead of forming them from the writings of God. They take their religion on trust from their forefathers, instead of drawing instruction from the Scriptures. The systems and creeds and catechisms of their forefathers they make the standard of orthodoxy, and they make the Gospel give way and bend to their views. It is in this way that they come to call that Gospel which is no better than baptized Paganism, and the Gospel itself they set aside as an unaccountable thing.
For myself, I am content to take part with Jesus Christ. I do not want to be a better Christian than he
was, and I have no ambition to be a better minister. If my sermons and books be as Evangelical as his discourses were, I shall be satisfied. If I am excommunicated and persecuted in the company of Christ, so let it be. “ I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” I am not ashamed to confess that I know nothing equal to it. I see nothing good in Methodism, I see nothing good in Calvinism, I see nothing good in Quakerism, but what I see in the Gospel. I see no doctrine taught in the Epistles but what I see taught in the Gospels; and the Gospel as taught by Christ himself, appears to me the clear, the full, the most glorious and affecting revelation of God's character and will to man.
I by no means think that all those doctrines which by way of eminence are commonly called Evangelical doctrines, are errors. The doctrines of human depravity, the influences of the Spirit, Justification, and the Atonement, are truly doctrines of the Gospel. They were taught by Christ himself, and that as clearly and as fully as by the Apostles. These doctrines, it is true, are mixed up with much mystery and error, as they are often preached by many who are called Evangelical ministers; but the doctrines themselves are Gospel doctrines. But they are not the whole of the Gospel; nor are they the chief part; nor are they, so far as I can learn, the most important parts of the Gospel. The doctrine of God's fatherly and universal goodness,—the doctrine of immortality and of the resurrection of the dead,—the doctrine that God is a Spirit, and that he seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth,—the doctrine that neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love, the doctrine that all things work together for good to them that love God,—these and many other doctrines are as truly Evangelical, and as important to the welfare of mankind, as any doctrines taught in the Bible.
And the doctrines of meekness, of the forgiveness of injuries, of mercy, of peaceableness, of loving our enemies, of acting from right motives, of prayer, of doing to others as we would they should do unto us, of letting our light shine before men, of not judging, of not being anxious about the world, of not making feasts for those who do not need them, of being merciful as our Father which is in heaven is merciful, of giving alms, of washing one another's feet, of not being called masters, of the right to judge for ourselves what is right, and many
other doctrines of temperance, and charity, and godliness,-all seem to me as needful to be known to our salvation and comfort, as the doctrine of the Atonement, and of the influences of God's spirit.
A man may be an Evangelical preacher, and yet dwell frequently on the Atonement, the influences of the spirit, and justification by faith, because Christ himself frequently dwelt on those subjects; but he cannot be an Evangelical preacher if he dwell almost exclusively on those points, while he says little on doctrines of duty. Christ dwelt almost unceasingly on matters of duty, and touched only by the bye on other subjects; and to be truly Evangelical we must follow his plan.
Next to Christ, the Apostles are the most Evangelical teachers in existence; but they are all for things practical: to bring people from their natural selfishness, to love God, and to live for their fellow men, is the aim and tendency of all they have written. They preach Christ's doctrine, and their labour is to bring all men to be like Christ. There is not what men now call a doctrinal passage in all their writings. From first to last they urge men to be up and doing, and every sentence they utter is meant to leave the impression that their eternal happiness depends on the diligence with which they work for God. If they enter into discussions, it is simply with a view to practice; if they speak of the person of Christ, it is only incidentally, when urging men to duty. Obedience to God is every thing with them, and the doctrines of Christ,—the history of his trials and sufferings,-the greatness of his character, and all the dispensations of God, are brought forward simply as means to win our hearts, and make us zealous in good works.
MANY professors of religion manifest before their child
ren a far greater anxiety to have large houses, rich furniture, costly ornaments, and luxuries in meats and drinks, than they do to please God and do good to their fellow men. They show much more regard to the things of time than to the things of eternity; and seem to be much more anxious to increase their wealth and influence, than they do to use them in the cause of God. Can such persons as these expect success in bringing up their children? As well may they look for figs on thistles, or expect to gather grapes from thorns. How should an earthly example in them lead to a heavenly life in their offspring ? Children are prone enough to cling to the earth of their own accord, without the help of an earthly example. If a father wishes his children to live for heaven, he must live for heaven himself.
How is it that it is so difficult to bring children to say, If you please
Answer. Because they have not the example set them by their parents.
Parents never say If you please, to their children; and in many cases it is not common for them to say If you please to one another; and when children have to learn any thing by instruction without the help of example, it is very difficult indeed. If children have an example, it is enough in most cases; they need no more; but no instructions are sufficient without example. It should, therefore, be a parent's care to do, as far as he can, what he would wish his children to do; and to be what he would wish his children to be. Let him accompany his instructions with example, and the children will readily understand, and in most cases they will also obey.
Is it reasonable to take it ill, that any body desires of us that which is his own ? All we have is the Almighty's, and shall not God have his own when he calls for it?
Discontentedness is, in such a case, not only ingratitude, but injustice; for we are both unthankful for the time we had it, and not honest enough to restore it, if we could keep it. Thy complaints against God are a proof that thou needest all the afflictions he has laid upon thee; and rather a sign that more chastisement is needful, than that God has chastised thee too much.
Afflictions are intended to teach us submission to God, and till we have learned this lesson, it would be more reasonable to pray for more, than murmur as if we had
And when God finds us rebellious under the first correction, he generally adds a second and a severer; he knows that we shall perish without, and, unworthy as we are, he still desires us to be saved.
If God should leave thee with all this rebellion in thee, thou wouldst be lost; and if afflictions will not drive it out, there is nothing else that can.
Dost thou not pray that God would make thee what he would have thee to be, and use thee for his pleasure ? Why, then, shouldst thou murmur, when he is refining thee as silver, and employing thee for an example of suffering affliction with patience ?
Say not that thou canst not attend to thy duties as formerly; for when God afflicts thee thy duty is changed, and thy obligation is then to bear thy lot patiently.
If God were not perfect in wisdom, and boundless in love, thou wouldst not now have been living ; but if he be so wise and so kind, how canst thou stand out against him ?
No one ever gained by murmuring, but many have lost their all; no one ever lost by submission, but many have gained much even on earth, and every one gains in heaven.
If thou art an obedient child of God, what canst thou fear ? Thy Father will use thee well; if thou art froward, what canst thou expect ? It would be strange if thou shouldst escape.
CENSORIOUSNESS. Much of this comes from ill nature as well as from an inordinate value of ourselves : for we love rambling after other people's faults, better than staying at home to mend our own, and blaming the unhappy, instead of protecting and relieving them. When misfortunes overtake our