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frain from endeavouring to set them right, lest he should be accused of the want of a christian spirit, or expose himself to the imputation of illiberality and intolerance.
In these times of religious indifference, when so many loose, opinions prevail, prejudicial, in the highest degree,
to the interests of christianity, and entirely destructive of the unity of the church,-silence, on the part of its friends, whether clergy or laity, becomes criminal, and a cold neutrality inexcusable. It is hoped, however, that no uncharitable expressions will be found to have intentionally fallen from the writer's pen.
The consequences of what he conceives to be error, must be left to the just and merciful judgment of him, who remembers whereof we are made, and knows the strength of our prejudices, and the excellencies and defects of our reasoning powers.
But though he passes no censures upon conscientious scruples, as proofs of persuasion, he cannot admit them to be any proofs of the truth of our opinions.
It has been often said, and it will probably be said in the present case," that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law,” therefore it is of little consequence what a man believes, if his religious tenets be accompanied with sincerity, This doctrine has been cultivated with the utmost diligence, enforced with all the arts of argument, and embellished with all the ornaments of eloquence, but not guarded, by equal care, with proper limitations, from being a snare to pride, and a stumblingblock to weakness.
That the judge of all the earth will do right, that he will require in proportion to what he has given, and punish men for the misapplication or neglect of talents, not for the want of them, is deducible from the contemplation of the Divine attributes. But when a law is promulgated, with that evidence which the Divine legislature, (and such a law is now meant,) sees to be sufficient for the conviction of a reasonable man, is it not presuming too much, to suppose, that we are innocent in rejecting it, or not bound by it, if we do reject it?
Sincerity, in all professions, is commendable, and in the Christian character indispensable ; but if sincerity, as such, independent of any particular mode of worship, or profession, good or bad, can recommend us to the favour of the Almighty, then moral and theological truth is of no use to man. St. Paul was a zealous Jew, and verily believed, that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth ; so he breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the Christians. Did this belief justify blasphemy and persecution ? and is it to be inferred, that when a man really believes error, he is, by the reality of his belief, constituted virtuous ? This would
open a door to all the evils of the most outrageous fanaticism, and abrogate the whole moral law, under pretence of conscience.
With all this sincerity of belief, St. Paul styles himself the chief of sinners, because he had persecuted without a warrant, had culpably and rashly overlooked (what he might and ought to have seen), that Jesus was no subverter of the Jewish law,
that he was no enemy to the God and King of Israel, but came indeed from him, acted by his commission, and displayed all the signs and credentials of the Messiah, in whom the law and the prophets were finally to be completed.
No firmness of persuasion, can authorize a man to act wrong, on the pretence of conscience-we should learn even to suspect the possibility of guilt's mixing itself with what we call our speculative opinions. Error may be innocent; but not as long as truth lies before us, and we may, if we do our duty, discover it.
In matters of religion, the legislature has wisely and liberally conceded to every subject of the realm, the right of private judgment, but let it be a judgment of discretion.
The Scriptures teach one faith