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begirt with darkness and discomfort, may be eminently peaceful to ourselves, honourable to religion, consoling to survivers, gladdening to the church,'and glorifying to God.
5. Bring your state and your scheme to the test of a dying hour. Set death before you : realize the time of your departure: think of the period when flesh and heart shall fail, when awful anticipations of judgment and eternity shall' fill the soul, when earth and time shall recede, and when all your present gains and pleasures shall perish for ever. Is your religious system one which will likely abide the test? Is it such as will sustain and comfort you then? Is it one which instead of relinquishing, you will cleave to, in your hour of perplexity and peril? Depend on it, that system cannot be sound which will fail you then ? It is not safe to retain that now, which you will then be compelled to abandon, and it is egregious folly to hold either through obstinacy or indifference, a religious system which the experience of a dying hour shows to be unable to yield that support which a dying hour so peculiarly requires.—But we are concerned to try the heart no less than our system. Will your heart abide the test ? Is all right within ? Have you no secret misgivings that all is not well? Have you no cherished lust-no secret bosom sin ? Is there nothing which may cause consternation and dismay, when the last sickness shall lay its sudden arrest upon you. Do not trifle with your peace. Do not deceive yourself with a present calm which may be nothing but indifference, or with vague hopes which may be entertained by an unregenerate heart. Make sure work of your salvation. See that
you have the sanctification of the Spirit, and that being made free from sin, and having your fruit unto holiness, your end may be everlasting life.
6. Unitarianism is a system of religion totally unfit and unsafe to be trusted in prospect of death. We adopt the following energetic illustration of this remark, from Dr. Miller, a distinguished American divine in his “ letters on Unitarianism." “I have never known the system of the Orthodox to fail any one in that interesting hour that tries the hopes of men. Never did I see or hear of a man wbo in those trying circumstances began to think that he had made too high an estimate of Christ, or who regretted that he relied on him so much, or laid so much stress on his atonement and righteousness. On the contrary, no one, I will venture to say ever knew a votary of Orthodoxy who did not meet death with joy and tri. umph, just in proportion to the degree in which he was assured that he was really and practically a believer in Christ. And O, how often have I seen sucb leave the world in the most joyful and triumphant manner! How often have I heard them, with a smile of assured hope, and sometimes with the rapture of anticipated glory, marked on their dying features, exclaim, O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Can the same be said with truth of Unitarians and their system? It cannot. I have know many confident and satisfied with that system in the days of their health; but who, when death approached, renounced it, as aflording no foundation of hope. Then when they took a retrospect of all the sins and shortcomings of their lives, they began to see that without a better righteousness than their own, they could never appear before a holy God in peace. They have accordingly, abandoned, wholly abandoned, their old ground; and felt constrained to fall at the feet of Immanuel, and to exclaim humbled and adoring with Thomas, my LORD AND MY GOD! And even among those who did not thus renounce their old creed, but died fondly cleaving to it; the utmost that I have ever heard of as manifested by them, on the approach of death, was a certain philosophic calmness. This, it is but justice to say, was remarkably displayed in the death of Dr. Priestly himself. But his calmness according to his biographer, was not only connected with a belief in the doctrine of universal restoration, but founded upon it. “He desired me” says his son, (this was a few hours before he expired,) “He desired me to reach him a pamphlet which was at his bed's head, 'Simpson on the duration of future punishment. It will be a source of satisfaction to you to read that paniphlet, said he giving it to me. It contains my sentiments; and a belief in them will be a support to you, in the most trying circumstances, as it has been to me. We shall all meet finally.”—But whoever witnessed, in a Unitarian, such a death as that of Stephen, or such 28 that which Paul describes, as exhibited by a triumphant believer ? I believe it may with confidence be asserted such a sight was never witnessed. A great part of the language concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, wbich the inspired writers put into the mouths of dying Christians, and which the pious in all ages have delighted to adopt and to utter on the confines of eternity, could not in my opinion, be uttered by a Unitarian without, either assuming a new vocabulary, or entirely changing his principles.
Need I say, my friends, that this is a consideration which ought deeply to impress the heart of every one who expects to die, and who desires to embrace such prineiples and take such ground as will stand the test of a dying hour? Is not this one of the subjects on which the heart and the feelings ought to be consulted ? O that I could persuade every one who is about to decide between that blessed foundation of hope which the bible exbibits, and that which Unitarians recommend, to place before him the solemnities of a dying bed; the rupture of those ties which bound him to a retiring world; the end of all human illusions; and the approach of a decisive reckoning and a dread elernity! O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end."
THE UNBELIEF OF THE REPUTED WISE AND DEVOUT, A
STUMBLING-BLOCK TO THE WORLD.
There is no stumbling-block more fatal to the world than the unbelief of those, in every age, who are accounted wise, or learned, or devout. To most people it appears unac. countably strong, that the most enlightened in the knowledge of worldly things, the most profound philosophers, the most acute reasoners, the most learned scholars, should not be the likeliest to discover revealed truth, and to recognize it when laid before them. A like authority is awarded to the reputed virtuous and devout. Can any opinion be wrong, that is abetted by a sage, or by a devotee? It was this prejudice that was the strongest support to the body of the Jewish people, in the rejection of Christ. No evidence could overcome the authority of their rulers and teachers, till their hearts were opened by the Spirit of God. When the officers returned to the chief priests and Pharisees without taking Jesus into cus. tody, and, as their apology declared, “never man spake like this man,” the reply of the Pharisees was, "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Phari. sees believed on him."-John vii. 47. Notwithstanding all the evidence of his miracles, notwithstanding that he spake as never man spoke, he must be an impostor, because the religious guides did not acknowledge him.
As this prejudice operated to prevent the reception of christianity in the past age, it now operates among those : who have nominally received it, to the rejection of the true Gospel, and to the reception of the dogmas and ordinances of man. The great body of the people who boast of being exclusively the churcb of Christ, have no better reason to assign for their faith, than the Jews bad for their unbelief. “Our clergy tell us so" and so is an argument that will beat down the authority of axioms.
Protestants have renounced this authority in profession; yet to a certain extent the same authority is granted, if not exclusively to religious teachers, yet to the eminently wise in human sciences, and to those who are reputed peculiarly virtuous or pious. Nay, what is strangest of all, they who in profession renounce all human authority in religion and in practice, discover that even divine authority is in some things little respected by them, crouch before the authority of great genius, and never fail to blazon their heresy with illustrious names. The authority of profound philosophers is a shield, on which they receive those darts of their enemy, which they have no other way to ward off. Can that religious system be wrong, that boasts the names of the most illustrious of the song of science ? Can an opinion be dangerous, that was entertained by Locke, and Newton, and Milton ? Men who speak so, notwithstanding all their boastings of liberty of thinking, are the slaves of authority. The argument is perfectly of the same kind with that of the Jews, who, in reply to the more unprejudiced soldiers, exclaimed, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him ? As to the matter of fact, there is, in many cases, more free. dom of thought with the most uneducated, than with those who, boasting eternally of liberty, are secretly guided or influenced by a servile submission to the authority of great men. By the right of private judgment some persons seem to understand the right of differing from the Scriptures, and consequently of making God a liar, with impunity. But that inestimable right is not a right to judge wrong with impunity, or misunderstand the evi. deace of revealed truth, but a right of forming our own judgment on all religious subjects, without being aceounta able to our fellow-creatures. It excludes every interference of man, but cannot exclude our accountableness to God. We are as truly and as fully accountable for our religious sentiments as we are for our moral conduct. When God condescends to give his testimony on any subject, it must be at our peril that we misunderstand bim, or pervert his meaning.
If some strengthen themselves in error by the authority of the names of illustrious philosophers, or of men of genius and learning, others are more inclined to bow down before the authority of those who have had the appearance of extraordinary virtue or piety. When any error is con. demned, or its guilt and danger pointed out, we are reminded of the eminent piety or virtue of some who have maintained it. That such person's should be wrong, especially dangerously wrong, appears impossible. There was a saying among the Jews, that if any two men should go to heaven, one of them would be a Pharisee, and the other a Scribe. Such was the general opinion of the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. Yet our Lord, who knew what was in men, constantly testifies of these religionists, that they were whited sepulchres. And instead of sending them all to heaven, he declares' to his hearers, “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v. 20, which, is language has any meaning, imparts that no Scribe or Pharisee could enter heaven without being changed from what he was under that profession. Thus determines our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be the Judge of the world at the last day. If then any will still continue to boast of the sanction of reputed wise and pious men, they have their sentence'al. ready in Christ's decision, as to the Scribes and Pharisees.
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,
USHER'S QUAY, DUBLIN. '
[We have been requested to publish the following Pastoral Address,
which the worthy Author has circulated amongst his congregation. We highly approve of such ministerial appeals : they may be read and thought of, when a sermon is forgotten.-EDIT.)
MY DEAR FRIENDS,
Sixteen years have now rolled away since our union was formed as pastor and people. The