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False gospels were not obtruded on the world till the genuine scriptures were every where difpersed; and as they were publicly read in the daily worship of the Christians, no change could be made but what must have been immediately discovered. Some philosophers, from the schools of the latter Platonists in Egypt, when they embraced Christianity, introduced endless allegories ; and, in imitation of those who forged writings in the names of Hermes, Zoroafter, and Pythagoras, began to allow themselves in what was called pious frauds, that they might give authority to their own conceits, or thereby invite philosophers to join them. But the primitive Chriftians were plain men, who made it matter of conscience to transmit the pure truths of the gofpel, without any vicious mixture whatsoever, and in a language that was easily understood by all. Many various readings no doubt there are, which were occasioned by the numerous transcripts that were taken by Christians of what was the rule of their faith and practice : none of these various readings, however, affect any one doctrine or duty of Christianity ; but all the copics serve to confirm the authenticity of the scriptures. Let us not then be moved from the hope of the gospel, but hold fast the profeffion of our faith without wavering—for he is faithful that hath promised. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.
The Gospel freached to the Poor.
ALEXANDER WEBSTER, D. D.
HEARKEN men, brethren, and fathers, to
what the Lord our God requires, that all of us may seek the good and peace of Jerusalem with the greatest fincerity and ardour, especially with respect to its religious interests. For this purpose it is highly necessary that we should acquaint ourselves with our Bibles, which contain such exalted sentiments of the most generous disinterested goodness; which not only recommend the warmest zeal for the temporal and eternal interests of men, by the most amiable precepts and animating examples ; but clearly point out how every one in particular may act his part in promoting the general happiness and felicity.
But while we esteem every truth precious, let us see to it that our zeal be according to knowledge, proportioned to the value and importance of things; and conducted with that wisdom and prudence, that meekness and condescenfion, which so well become the ministers of the gospel of peace, and the followers of the Lamb, who are taught that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. And as it is felf-evident that the true interest and real honour of a Christian church can only be promoted by a steady regard to the laws and institutions of Christ, the alone King and head of it, we would do well to take care that the doctrines for which we contend, be the faith which was once delivered to the saints, and not the doctrines and commandments of men, lest when we would appear for God, we be found to fight against him, and overthrow that very church which we mean to establish.
Now unto this Almighty, all-fufficient God, who hath been our dwelling place in all generations, a wall of fire round about us, and the glory in the midst of us—unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Sermon preached before the General
WILLIAM LEECHMAN, D.D.
PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW.
ONE great advantage arising from a mild and
moderate conduct is, that it places us in the most favourable situation for rectifying the mistakes and errors of those who have unhappily fallen into them. As long as we discover a real tenderness for their interests and characters, we may justly hope they will hearken to our reafons, and lay open their minds to conviction. But so soon as we betray anger and bitterness, or use them harshly, we thereby prevent all the effect of the strongest arguments. When we fee, for instance, youth, through a fondness for novelty, and the
rashness to which that season of life is liable, hurried away to espouse new opinions with great vehemence, and throw off established doctrines, before they have time to consider and understand them ; if we then discover passion and resentment, can never hope to have any power over their minds. But if we shew them, by the whole course of our behaviour, that we retain a sincere good will to them, and a hearty concern for their interests; we may then, perhaps, prevail upon them to listen to our reasonings, and to suspend their forming any fixed judgment about the matter, until cooler thought, and more thorough examination, make them fitter judges of things. The experience of mankind justifies this obfervation : a man of wisdom and moderation sometimes convinces and reclaims those who have been misled, but the wrath of man never works the righteousness of God; nor can he ever hope to succeed in his designs, who acts counter to the meek and humble spirit of our blessed Saviour. This deserves the consideration of all friends to truth and virtue, and especially of those who are any way concerned in the education of the rising generation. In order to preserve a proper modesty as to our notions and sentiments about things of doubtful difputation, and the circumstantials of religion, and to abate that positiveness in our own way, which is so opposite to real humility, and which leads us to complain of the pride of other men's understandings, when there is no other reason for the charge, than that they cannot adopt our notions and phrases. Let us seriously ask ourselves the following questions: Can I pretend to a clearer understanding, to a more diligent and impartial enquiry into revelation, or to greater degrees of divine illumination, than all others who differ in opinion from me ? What grounds have I to imagine that I am in the full poffeffion of all divine truths? Do I not acknowledge that I may err? What fecurity then have I, that I do not actually err in some instances, amidst the multitude of opinions which I hold ? May I not be in a mistake, nay, in many mistakes, though I am not conscious of the particular instances? Is there not ground to expect that the admission into the regions of perfect light will prove not only an enlargement, but a correction of former views, to men of the wiseft, best, and faireít minds ?-Such questions, seriously put, and urged upon our own consciences in silence and retirement, and under the awful impression of the presence of the great Searcher of hearts, would naturally check that presumptuous confidence that our own particular views are certainly right, which is so common in the world, and so frequently accompanied with that wrath of man which never works the righteoulness of God. Such serious soliloquics would lead us to fufpect that we are departing from the meek