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a conclusion respecting the whole. In common life we readily exercise this discriminating faculty, to deterınine what is good and what is evil. Is it said, that reason should be laid aside when religion claims our attention? For what purpose? Are you afraid that the Chriftian faith should be scrutinized? If you are, you do it a manifest injustice. If you are not afraid, for God's sake, do not subject your religion to cruel and unjust fufpicions. 66 It is an error, says an excellent divine *, to discard the use of reason in religion, and inveigh against human nature, out of respect to revelation and the grace God. 'Tis not more certain that the eye could do little, in some cases, without a telescope, than that the telescope can be of no use without the eye; and our calling in the mechanism of art to improve that of nature, is a concesfion that nature is the foundation of art, which only finishes what the other begins. Thus revelation is a kind of fupplement to reason; and grace to nature; the gospel brings new light, and new enforcements of strength; but the old faculties are still employed, and Divine assistance to be expected upon no other terms but our making the best use of these." It is, indeed, only by the use of reason, that we can judge of the external and the internal evidences of the gospel, and maintain our ground against Infidels, Jews, and Pagans. That reason, there.
* Grove of Taunton.
fore, should lie dormant respecting the doctrines and duties of this same gospel, is a position at once both absurd and ridiculous. Reason indeed has its limits, and these linits are known to wise and good men. The fober use of this faculty in all our affairs, and especially in the momentous concerns of the foul, cannot be too much commended. Both the doctrines and the duties of the gospel of Jesus Christ, should be carefully examined, firmly believed, and zealcusly maintained. Our religion has nothing to fear from the minutest enquiry, or from the feverest investigation. Like the works of nature, the farther we examine it, the more fully will its excellence appear, and the more effectually will its glory be displayed !
2. By not judging even of yourselves concerning the religion of Christ, you are exposed to error. in belief, and to folly in practice.
Whence arose the absurd dogmas, and superÍtitious fooleries of Popery? From having given up the use of reason in the affairs of religion. Reason is the monitor placed by Almighty God in the breast of every individual, to preserve his intelligent and accountable creatures from the commiffion of evil. In this present state, we are strangely deceived by appearances, and examination becomes necessary to rectify even our most ordinary judgments. Docs not the ignorant and
uninformed contemplator of the heavens imagine a star to be no bigger than a diamond, and fupposes the sun to be no larger than a circular plate about twelve inches in diameter ? Philofophy, however, has pronounced both these judgments to be extremely erroneous. fimilar manner, a superficial acquaintance with the scriptures has led thousands to believe that they contained sentiments which are incompati'ble with the perfections of God, and inimical to the best interests of mankind. It is not fo much the poffeffion, as it is the proper use of reason, which constitutes the superiority of man over the brute creation. The freaks of enthufiasm, and the mummeries of superstition, arise from the dormant state of this faculty in the breast of the individual. In ecclesiastical history we uniformly fin!, that reason is decried by enthusiasts and impostors; but our blessed Saviviour Jesus Christ acts a very different part, and manifests a very different spirit. He calls on all to examine. He condemns them for the want of examination. He even warns the deluded Jews of the long train of evils which would necessarily arise from their indolence; and thus affords the ftrongest incentive to his disciples to exercise the right of privite judgment, where the important affairs of religion are concerned. Would to God! that his followers had been equally zealous to explain, recommend, and
practise this essential duty! A modern prelate of considerable eminence*, alluding to former times, when first heathenism, and afterwards Popery, prevailed in this country; remarks, concerning this fubject, “ Had the use of reason been abandoned in the affairs of religion, we might have been still plucking milletoe with the Druids, or mixing a little flower and water into the substance of the incomprehensible God !”
3. By not judging even of yourselves concerning the religion of Christ, Protestants stand chargeable with gross inconsistency.
The whole Christian world, (excepting an inconsiderable portion of it) was once overspread with Popery. Our forefathers, galled by its yoke, at length disclaimed pontifica usurpation, and boldly asserted the right of private judg
To attain the invaluable privilege of thinking, for themselves, they were grievous sufferers. We, 'their descendants, acknowledge the juftness of their cause, glory in the exertions which they made; and are come into the pofsession of blessings which they purchased with their blood! For us, therefore, to lay afide our judging faculty, when the doctrines and duties of religion are the subject of attention, is a palpable inconsistency; and to discourage by any one method, the exercise of it in others, is downright Popery. It is a matter of indifference under what specious name it chooses to conceal itself. In Calvinism, Arminianisın, Arianism, Socinianism, or indeed in any other ism which the restless ingenuity of man has devised — Intolerance is equally contrary to the genius of our religion, and equally subversive of the peace and happiness of mankind. Strange as the title
* Dr. Watson, the prefent Bishop of Landaff.
sound in our ears, such kind of Christians, wherever they are found, may be termed Popish Protestants; and this motley title is too applicable to many of the profeflors of Chriftianity. For their fincerity and good intentions we give them ample credit ; but it is certainly no breach of charity to say of them, they understand not the nature, nor have they imbibed the fpirit of the New Testament.
If Protestants” (says * the celebrated apologist for the Quakers, speaking of uncharitableness and intolerance) " do justly abhor these things in Papifts, is it not sad that they should do the like themselves ? A thing, that at their first appearance, when they were in their primitive innocency, they did not think on, as appears by that saying of Luther-- Neither popie nor bishop1, nor any other man, hath power to oblige a Christian to one syllable, except it be by his own consent. And again, I call boldly to Christians, that neither man or angel can impose any law upon them but so