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of men's spiritual necessities :—for instance, we pray to God to deliver us, not only in all time of our tribulation, but in all time of our wealth, because we are quite as much in danger of being drawn from God by prosperity, as by adversity, and need his aid, as much, in the one as the other.
brance of you, for your fellowship in the Gospel, from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you
will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ"~he adds, “even, as it is meet for me to think this of you all,” yet he cautions these very people against strife, and vain glory, and mentions two by name, Evodias and Syntyche, whose notorious disagreements he was desirous to heal. Surely, then, if the Apostles, in a spirit of love and charity, used such language, knowing in what manner, and with what views, they spake, we need not hesitate to deliver ourselves with the same spirit and in the same latitude as they; leaving exceptions to him, who alone can tell what is the state of the soul, at the moment of separation from the body, and will allot, to each individual, adequate punishments and rewards, at that day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed.
Another objection to the Liturgy, is urged from the damnatory clauses, contained in the Athanasian creed : but permit me to observe, that I think this creed does not express, nor ever was intended to express, so much as is generally supposed.
The creed says, "the Catholic faith, is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance,"
In the intercessory part of our devotions, our sympathy is called forth, in behalf of all orders and degrees of men, under every name, and every character that can be con
and then it proceeds, “for there is one Person of the Father,” and so on, and after proving the distinct Personality of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and their unity in the Godhead, it adds, “so that in all things as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He, therefore, that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity." Here are all the distinct parts of an argument, the position affirmed, the proofs adduced, the deduction made, and the conclusion drawn, in reference to the importance of receiving and acknowledging that doctrine; from hence 1 infer, that the damnatory clauses should be understood only as applicable to the doctrine affirmed, and not extended to the reasoning adduced, in confirmation of it ; and if we believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental article of the Christian faith, (which it most certainly is) we may, without any breach of charity, apply to that doctrine, what our Lord spake of the gospel at large-"He that beliereth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be damned."
ceived—we pray to God to strengthen such as do stand, to comfort and help the weak hearted, and to raise up them that fall, and finally to beat down satan under our feet. We intercede for all that travel by land or water, for all women labouring of child, we pray for the sick and dying, for the widow and the fatherless, and lest any should have been omitted, we beg of God to have mercy upon all men, generally, and more especially to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts. In what other prayers, whether extemporaneous or written, shall we ever find such diffusive benevolence as this ?*
* Far be it from our thoughts, to place the whole of our confidence in the mere form of religion. That sorrow for sin, which does not prompt the relinquishment of what it professes to lament, can have no other seat than the lip. We are required by the church, to engage in her offices of devotion, not as performances to supply the place, but to secure the discharge of moral obligations ; not as exercises to consecrate, but to eradicate vice. Confession of sin, and supplication for forgiveness, is calculated to create, and increase our conviction, of the need we have of moral amendment, and of the obligation we are under, to forgive those that offend us.
Such is the moral process, which outward worship, is an instrument of promoting. Prayer and praise, is religion in the church, or the closet. Industry, from a sense of duty, is religion in the shop, or in the field. Commercial integrity is religion in the mart. The communication of consolation, is religion in the house of mourning. Tender attention, is religion in the chamber of sickness. Paternal instruction, is religion at the hearth. Judicial justice, is religion on the bench, Senatorial patriotism, is religion in the public council.In this manner, do the offices of devotion, by being periodically brought back to the breast, produce an efficacy upon the moral character, and at last settle.in the heart, so as to be ever present to the mind, and uniformly operative upon the conduct. They effect, and inspire a meek, humble, modest, sober piety, equally remote from the coldness of a formalist, the self-importance of a systematic dogmatist, and the unhallowed fervour of a wild enthusiast.
From the statement which has now been made, we may, I trust, clearly perceive that the doctrines and offices of the reformed church, exhibit, in a comprehensive view, the very essence of christianity. Equally averse to false philosophy, and fanciful theories, she draws her principles pure and unsullied from inspiration itself. What the Scriptures sanction not, she disclaims, what they dictate, she maintains and enforces, presenting to her members a safe, and
fect system of moral conduct, which (whilst novelties are daily starting up in the land,) unchanged by the vicissitudes of popular opinion, serve as an abiding beacon, to guard the flock of Christ, against the delusive glare of all false lights.
By the unmerited and boundless goodness of Almighty God, a scheme of duty, is therefore proposed for our acceptance, every part of which is useful and delightful.
As we act our various parts upon the stage of time, religion shews a regard for the sorrows of man, tender, soothing, and supporting. The poor, the sick, the outcast, the friendless, and the disconsolate, acknowledge her as their patron. To aid the sufferers in this vale of tears, she furnishes the peace, the patience, and the fortitude of piety.
But the most important consideration is yet to be suggested, a consideration infinitely awful and glorious. There is an hereafter, a future retribution, when the misery of sin, begun here, will continue through ages