Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

.

shall endeavour to place it in the sequel. I request therefore in the second place, that you will at least suspend your judgment, and for a while suppose it possible that the views which I have to advocate are the most conducive to the perfection of the Christian character.

III. A third difficulty, connected with this last, arises from the attractive outward character, and from the real active zeal, of the persons, in whose conduct the principles against which I argue are illustrated. You see a large class of mankind careless of their spiritual welfare and regardless of the vital doctrines of Christianity; you see others busily employed in the duties of a Christian life; you feel well assured, and in many cases no doubt correctly, that their thoughts are actually occupied by the spirit and power of religion ; and you conclude that all the principles of these must needs be right, and those of the others, wrong. But then you must remember in the first place that in considering the effect of diverse principles, (Note IV.) you ought to put

out of the question all who profess but do not act on them; and that in judging of the practice of the soberminded part of our church, you are to reckon nothing of that great multitude who call themselves orthodox for the sake of respectability, and who rail against enthusiasm, without knowing what it means. And further you must remember how difficult it is to judge of the real state of another's soul; how little able we are in this world to discern the evil from the good. Nor must you forget that here also the nature of the case favours your delusion, if delusion it should prove to be. For the error, into which I suppose you to have fallen, is not unlike that which misled the Pharisees of old. And certainly no man who compared that sect, with the publicans and gross sinners of the times, would have suspected, what we are well assured was the case, that these last would be the foremost of the twain to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

IV. The last obstacle now to be mentioned to the due investigation of religious

truth, one which lies indeed at the root of all others, is the seductive influence of spiritual pride. To one who feels deeply the corruption of human nature, no apology is necessary for ascribing to any child of fallen Adam the liability to this baneful passion. I shall rather exhort you to beware of its suggestions, to take care lest you assume too hastily the correctness of your opinions, and too readily consider each argument against them as a trial of your faith, or a persecution for righteousness' sake. But I am ill informed of the disposition to which I am to address myself, if there be not a real desire for information, and an anxious prayer for settlement of doubts. May that prayer be heard ! May that desire be fulfilled! May the proof, to which you submit your opinions, end in your securely holding fast that only which is really good!

My intention, with a view to conducting the enquiry proposed, is to send you a series of sermons on the following subjects :

1. The limits of nonconformity to the world.

2. The principle of Christian charity. 3. The precept “ Judge not.” 4. Humility. 5. The communion of saints. 6. The danger of scandal to religion.

Any questions on these subjects which you may feel disposed to ask, either immediately, or when you have perused the whole, will meet with the best consideration I can give them; and the conference may be then closed with an answer to any objections (Note V.) which you may have to propose, as arising from the discussion itself.

SERMON II.

CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.

Rom. 12. 2.

Be not conformed to this world: but be ye trans

formed by the renewing of your mind

Our Saviour has in the Gospel drawn a very broad distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the world. And the whole tenour of his Gospel seems calculated to separate the believers in Christ from the corruption and sins of the sons of Adam. True Christians are as the people of Israel, to be kept apart from the pollutions of the rest of mankind; and to be found, as that favoured nation was designed to be, earnest in the worship of the true God, whilst the rest lie in ignorance and error. When therefore St. Paul bids the Christian converts at Rome, not to be conformed

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »