« PreviousContinue »
As a proof that I have not been alone in my views of the present state of Christians, I subjoin the following passage from the writings of the late celebrated Robert Hall. The extract is from the first paragraph of what he wrote “On the Terms of Communion."
“To see Christian societies regarding each other with the jealousies of rival empires, each aiming to raise itself on the ruin of all others, making extrava. gant boasts of superior purity, generally in exact proportion to their departure from it, and scarcely deigning to acknowledge the possibility of obtaining salvation out of their pale, is the odious and disgusting spectacle which modern Christianity presents. The bond of charity, which unites the genuine followers of Christ in distinction from the world is dissolved ; and the very terms, by which it was wont to be denoted, exclusively employed to express a predilection for a sect. The evils which result from this state of division are incalculable. It supplies infidels with their most plausible topics of invective. It hardens the consciences of the irreligious, weakens the hands of the good, impedes the efficacy of prayer, and is probably the principal obstruction to that ample effusion of the Spirit which is essential to the renovation of the world."
After the whole series of Letters to Christians had been prepared for the press, I opened the first volume of Mr. Hall's writings, and my attention was soon attracted by the passage which has now been copied. It struck my mind as a remarkable
epitome of what I had written. The first sentence, however, seemed to contain more of severity than I had allowed myself to express. But if it be a truth that rival sects are chargeable with “making extravagant boasts of superior purity, generally in exact proportion to their departure from it," what can be of greater importance to them than that this truth should be understood ? A due consideration of the nature of humility, as contrasted with pride, will perhaps justify the sentiment expressed by Mr. Hall; and in this manner, though dead, he now speaks to the Christian world. May his admirers of every sect duly hearken to his admonitory voice, and exert themselves to correct the evils of which he complained. In proportion as Christians shall possess the true spirit of the Gospel, they must desire to see a reformation of such lamentable evils and inconsistencies.
Perhaps there are few persons of any sect of Christians who will object to the foregoing letters, if they can make themselves believe that the remarks which imply blame were meant to be applied only to such as dissent from their creed; yet many may be displeased, from an apprehension that inconsistency has been intentionally imputed to themselves or their party. Let it then be observed, that I have written the letters in the belief that there are errors- -both of opinion and practice, in all the denominations of Christians with which I am acquainted ; and in the hope that there are good people in each sect, who will deplore the existing evils, and exert their influence to effect a reformation.