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the manifest disparity between PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY and that of the present day has been much talked of, and a reform seriously proposed and attempted; but this has been, by the great body of professors, highly blamed and violently opposed, as both unseasonable and dangerous. But surely this was wrong. It can never be unseasonable or dangerous to compare modern with PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY, and to endeavour to bring them to an agreement. An honest and ardent spirit of enquiry, and a disposition to search and be guided by THE SCRIPTURES, must be always desirable and commendable, and ought never to be blamed or discouraged.—And it is surely far better to hear professors own that there are defects among them, and abuses that call for speedy and immediate reform, than to hear them, on the other hand, congratulating themselves, and asserting that nothing among them stands in need of amendment; which would be but saying in other words, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing : a language that ought never to be heard among Christians! By admitting the practice here pleaded for, as a fundamental and essential part of our congregational order, or social observances, we should be expressing our readiness to meet fairly and fearlessly every sober and earnest attempt at reformation or improvement, and to have the matter determined by the plain and authoritative voice or sense of THE SACRED SCRIPTURES: in other words, we should appear, in that case, as men truly desirous of being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus
Christ himself being the chief corner stone. • 13. Another circumstance which seems to plead
loudly for the public and copious reading of THE SCRIPTURES in our congregations, is, that numbers of the hearers, in most places, cannot read them themselves, and not a few of them never hear them read in the families where they reside. It is strange that this has not long ago struck every person of the least reflection in our Churches, and especially the Ministers, as a most conclusive and irresistible argument for the adoption of this practice. Had we but the smallest degree of concern or compassion for the inanifest hardship which those poor creatures labour under, it might be thought that we could do no less than give them a fair opportunity, at all our public meetings, to hear the precious and sacred word of God distinctly and copiously read. It is shameful to think that much more of the SCRIPTURE is read in the public service of the established church than in many, if not in most, dissenting congregations. It will not avail to say of this practice, that it may be performed at home, and that that is sufficient; for the very same might be said, with equal truth and propriety, of praying and singing, and even the Lord's Supper. The public reading of the word of God is a Congregational or church ordinance, as well as the others, and ought to be allowed to maintain its place as such. But it is needless to set about answering idle objections. What has been already urged, it is hoped, will be sufficient to re
commend the practice to every candid and piaus person, and cause every objection to hide its face and vanish.
14. As to the hard case of those who have never learnt to read, and many such there are in every neighbourhood and in every congregation, it might be further observed, that it is much to be wished every congregation, or church, would establish, at some convenient place, a SUNDAY School, for the purpose of instructing such of the poor and illiterate as are inclined, or may be prevailed upon to learn to read the word of God. An hour or two so employed every Sabbath would be well employed; and there are doubtless some individuals in every congregation that must be tolerably qualified for such a task, and who, it is to be hoped, would readily lend a helping hand for so necessary, so useful, and so honourable a service.
15. In addition to the preceding observations, it may not be improper here to hint, that in congregations where portions of SCRIPTURE are generally read, it is mostly done too much like a school-boy reading his lesson, without any apparent regard to the subject matter, or contents. This is not the sort of reading here pleaded for; but a reading accompanied with such discriminative and explanatory remarks as may call the attention of the hearers to the leading truths held out, help them to discern or understand their import, and impress them on their minds for their comfort and edification.
16. Unconnected as is the present writer with the various denominations of the CHRISTIAN WORLD he wishes to be considered here as advocating the cause of none of them. That there are among them many good and excellent men he doubts not. All such individuals he sincerely and highly respects. But the great parties which divide our RELIGIOUS WORLD, especially those who call any man master, or choose to bear any popular religious leader's name, and submit their consciences to his guidance, he considers as so many branches of that grand apostacy from genuine Christianity which the apostles foretold, as what would soon take place, and continue beyond the present period, even till the promised time of reformation and restitution of all things ! In short, he here pleads only for PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY, or that sacred and perfect order of things which the New Testament has sanctioned.
The author most sincerely wishes to see all our Sects and Parties, BETTER NeighBOURS, and abounding more in that“ Charity which envieth not, which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, &c." Till such becomes the case, (for all their numerical increase, and their very christian and evangelical pretensions), they can make but a very unchristian and unevangelical appearance in the world, and such as will exhibit religion as a curse rather than a BLESSING to mankind.
Mr. Richards, whilst occupied in the duties of the Pastoral office, was not idle as to the Press, Of the baptism of ADULTS by immersion he was the able and intrepid champion. This shall be more fully noticed in the Second Part of the MEMOIR, where will be found an Account of his Works. Here a Letter of some length, addressed to a friend in Wales, shall be transcribed, where the good man touches in all the fullness of his heart on the topic of Believer's Baptism. His pamphlets were at the time much admired, and he took a leading part in the controversy. Some allowance will therefore be made for the ardour discernible on the occasion. It has been pleasantly observed, how strange it is that cold water should create so much warmth—but natural temper sufficiently accounts for it. The introduction of the Letter indicates the regard he bore towards his natal soil, which in him must not be confounded with the common vulgar love of one's country. Mr. RICHARDS had an intelligent and discriminative mind, impregnated with the expansive and generous spirit of Christianity. It is to be regretted that a larger portion of his time had not been devoted to the investigation of the antiquities as well as the history of his NATIVE PRINCIPALITY. He was no Pseudo-patriot, but a real lover of his Country.