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ponder these things ? prudent, and he shall know them ? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressor shall fall therein.”
In the New Testament (the Magna Charta of our Christian profession), there, and there alone, we must look for the doctrines we are to believe, the precepts we are to observe, and the institutions we must celebrate, imitating the perfect example left us by the “author and finisher of our faith," with a persevering and indefatigable fidelity.
It has been pertinently remarked, that "to reject the Gospel because bad men pervert it, and angry men quarrel about it, and bigotted men look sour on others, and curse them because they do not agree in every tittle with themselves, displays the same folly as if a person should cut down a tree bearing abundance of delicious fruit, and furnishing a refreshing shade, because caterpillars disfigure the leaves, and spiders made their webs among the branches.”
“ The cause of Christianity,” says Dr. Doddridge, “has greatly gained by debate, and the Gospel comes like fine gold out of the furnace, which the more it is tried the more it is approved.”
On the subject of difficulties, admitting that some remain which are inexplicable, ought this circumstance to shake our faith or excite astonishment ? This, indeed, is nothing but what might be expected in the present state of being. Are the appearances of nature fully explained, or the intricacies of science altogether developed ? We are encompassed with wonders, and why should RELIGION be expected to be void of difficulties ? “ It would indeed be a miracle (remarks the late Bishop Watson) greater than any we are instructed to believe, if there remained no difficulties — if a being with but five scanty inlets of knowledge, separated but yesterday from his mother-earth, and to day sinking again
into her bosom, could fathom the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of Him, which is, which was, and is to come, the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”
Most if not all Christians, whatever their particular tenets may be, acknowledge the Scriptures (the Old and New Testament) as the sole foundation of their faith and practice. But as these books, or at least particular passages in them, being variously interpreted by different commentators, have given birth to a multiplicity of different sects, it requires a little more than common attention to explain and put this all important subject—a subject that so nearly concerns us all—in as perfect a light as possible.
Let any sect of professing Christians be asked by what authority these books claim an absolute right to determine the consciences and understandings of men with regard to what they should believe, and what they should do; they answer, that all scripture, whether for doctrine, correction, or reproof, was given by immediate inspiration from God. If again interrogated how those books, which they call