« AnteriorContinuar »
For when it is considered that Truth is one, whilst Error is infinite; the conclusion of every thinking man, it is presumed, must be, that there can be but one true Religion; and consequently but one Religion, which the God of truth can be expected to acknowledge. But when it is also considered, that God's design in instituting his Church was, that it might preserve this one true Religion in the world; it will obviously follow, that a departure from it must be, what it has at all times proved, the sure prelude, in a greater or less degree, to the loss of that Religion, which this Church of Divine institution was designed to preserve. Whilst the best, and indeed the only sure mode of ascertaining what this one true Religion is, will be found in the institutions of Christ, and the practice of his Apostles. The Bible consequently, as containing the records of authority on these points, must be the only sure standard of judgment on this important subject. But as there can be but one true
Religion, so also can there be but one right interpretation of the Bible which contains it.
When then it is observed, that the word which God graciously revealed, for the purpose of bringing his fallen creature to the knowledge of this true Religion; has been made the passport to errors of every description, all equally laying claim to the same Divine sanction; men will be led to suspect that there is no such thing as truth to be found in the Bible; or at least, that truth and error in Religion are matters of perfect indifference; a persuasion that will by degrees have its natural termination in general infidelity.
Man however, is left, as a rational being ought to be, to his own responsibility. He is left in a situation similar, in this respect, to that in which Adam was placed in Paradise; with this difference indeed, that he has a greater number of temptations to contend with, and a less portion of strength to resist them. Like Adam, he
has the liberty to conform to the Divine Revelation, or to act against it. But in either case, it must be observed, the Revelation itself remains the same. As the word of God, it continues stedfast.
Although man, therefore, in consequence of his having been left at liberty to obey or disobey, may please himself with his own imaginations, or walk in ways of his own choosing; still he must only expect to please God, by making his revealed word the rule of his conduct; it being for that express purpose that the word of God has been revealed to him,
Should then the reader have drank so deeply of the intoxicating cup of modern liberality, as to have no relish left for the preceding plain statement; or should he find that it lays him under a restraint, to which his proud nature cannot submit; it will be a loss of time for him to proceed to the following pages; since the chief
subject contained in them has been built this foundation; that the Redemption of fallen man, as the sole work of God's wis dom and mercy, remains to be conducted according to the plan which God has thought fit to reveal; to which consequently every person looking to derive benefit from it, must in reason be expected to conform.
Such is the principle upon which my rea❤ soning turns. Should the premises be incorrect, the conclusion which has been drawn from them, must of course fall to the ground, But should they be admitted, as it is presumed they must, they will not fail to possess an interest proportionate to their importance; and sufficient, I trust, to recommend the subject, on which they have been brought to bear in the following pages, to the serious attention of every Christian
I have only to premise further, that as the object in view on the present occasion, is to
contribute my endeavours, however weak, towards the counteraction of an evil which to me appears big with important consequences; by stemming, as far as may be, that wide spreading torrent of Schism, which at this time seems threatening to bear down our sacred inclosure; the reader will, I trust, give me credit, at least, for sincerity of intention, however disappointed he may be with the manner, in which it has been carried into effect. But had I waited till I could have satisfied myself with my present undertaking, the reader's time, at least so far as I should have been concerned in it, would, it is most probable, have been left to himself. If however I may have so far succeeded, as to fix the thoughts of serious Members of the Church, on the important subject contained in the following pages, or may provoke some abler pen to handle it, for that desirable purpose, I shall not have written in vain. Whilst for errors and im