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from the weak and insignificant instrument to the omnipotent hand which guides it ;which cannot believe that mere water can be rendered truly effectual to the mystical washing away of sin, or that the elements of bread and wine can in reality become the efficacious means of grace;-above all, perhaps, which cannot comprehend the essential difference between the ministrations of different men, or that the ministry of any man whatever can be of avail to the salvation of his fellow-creatures;-which will not, in short, "receive the kingdom of "God as a little child," and therefore cannot "enter therein."
t Luke xviii. 17.
By the Church and its ordiદ્વંદ nances every Christian is put to the same trial," (as that of Naaman ;) "whether he will submit to such 66 things as reason cannot account for; whether he will "look for an effect to which the cause is not adequate "without the interposition of an invisible power. The "children of God are still exercised by this trial. Some "accept the terms proposed; they believe the promises "of God, and are saved. Of the rest, some do not see "how they can be saved in this manner; and others "spend their lives in vanity, and never think whether "they can or cannot." Essay on the Church; Scholar Armed, vol. ii. p. 27. Bishop Hoadly must be considered to have given a most dangerous sanction to this
Against the notorious and alarming increase of a species of scepticism thus hazardous to the souls of men, so closely bordering on positive infidelity, and at the same time so destructive of the peace and harmony of the Church of Christ, now, surely, if ever, the most zealous vigilance and most strenuous exertions of the Christian pastor are preeminently demanded. For while men labour under prejudices which render them alike insensible to the advantages attendant on ecclesiastical communion, and to the evils incurred by separation, who shall venture to indulge the cheering hope of discovering an effectual remedy for those unhappy dissensions, by which our Church is rent, and her very existence
And if it be true, as there is in fact but too much reason to apprehend, that the ignorance of the laity on these subjects has in some degree arisen from the silence of
description of scepticism, when he thus expressed his sentiments; "Human benedictions, human absolutions, "human denunciations, human excommunications, have "nothing to do with the favour or anger of God." Preservative against Nonjurors, p. 101.
the Clergy themselves, be it ours to strive, if it yet be possible, to redeem that error, to repair, if it be yet possible, that fatal neglect. Be it ours, as faithful" stewards of the "mysteries of God"," in conveying to them truths, unfortunately as unpopular as they are important, to persevere through “evil "report and good report," "whether they "will hear, or whether they will forbeary," that so we may at least be spared the pain of being self-condemned, may at least be enabled to address them with the holy confidence of the Apostle, "We take you to "record this day, that we are pure from "the blood of all men. We have not "shunned to declare unto you the whole "counsel of God z."
u 1 Cor. iv. 1. y Ezekiel ii. 5.
x 2 Cor. vi. 8.
1 COR. xiv. 40.
Let all things be done decently and in order. IT has been already observed in the preceding Lectures, and must, it is conceived, be sufficiently obvious, that, besides those positive institutions of Christ himself, which may justly be regarded as essential to the existence of a genuine branch of his universal Church, a variety of regulations, relating to the unity and good order of a Christian society, must be confided to human discretion. Under the present constitution of human nature, an exact uniformity of opinion amongst numerous individuals on points of this, or indeed of almost any description, is notoriously impossible; and the peaceful surrender of private judgment to the decisions of legitimate authority can alone secure uniformity of practice. That a general concession, so necessary