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Christ that he may touch them; to admit them into the ark of his church, and to the privileges of the Christian cove nant. If this is done in faith, and with suitable solemnities of reverence and devotion, we cannot doubt but God will bless the "charitable work" to the child's benefit. "The washing of regeneration," through the Lord's merciful goodness, will be accompanied with his heavenly benediction. The faithful ministration of baptism has a sanctifying efficacy, which, we may believe, inclines the heart to righteousness, and in many happy instances is the seed or principle of its entire conversion to God. He only knows how many Christians now living are rejoicing in comforts of divine grace, which commenced in the pious faith that first devoted them to God, and afterwards brought them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
A true faith in God, a sincere trust in the Saviour, is best evinced by obe. dience to his word and will; and especially by a careful, conscientious use of the appointed means of grace. What we are chiefly to learn from his words read for our text is, that the use of means is necessary to the attainment of God's favour. "This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." It was not possible to effect that cure; it was not allowed to the apostles, though commissioned from heaven, to cast out that "deaf and dumb spirit," without the previous, sanctifying preparation of religious fasting, and humble, fervent prayer. And this may all Christians well apply to themselves, and to those sins which most easily beset them. In things which appertain to this life, we see and well know it is not enough to wish for blessings, nor to believe that they are attainable, and that God is able and willing to give them. Suitable measures and precautions must be taken, and proper diligence employed, before they can be attained. "The children of light" should be as "wise in their generation;" means are no less
necessary to the acquirement of the true riches, and especially when in your spiritual warfare, difficulties are to be surmounted; when great wickedness is to be reclaimed, or powerful temptations to be resisted; if strong propensities to evil must be eradicated; if sinful passions and inordinate affections are to be regulated or subdued; in all such cases of difficulty and importance your preparations, your means and your efforts, if you would succeed, must be proportioned and adapted to the magnitude of your object. In the hearts of men are still a "kind" of evil spirits, which will not go out, but by prayer and fasting. If you would "go on to perfection;" if you would increase in all virtue and godliness of living;" if you would indeed subdue your evil and corrupt affections, you must not only continue "instant in prayer;" but in some things practise self-denial. All kinds of religious abstinence may be comprised under the idea of fasting, which in its more general sense, is abstaining from sensual pleasures; from carnal gratification, especially from eating and drinking to please the palate, in order both to exercise a mastery over the passions and the appetites of nature; and that the mind may be more ardently and purely fixed on God and the concerns of the soul; or, as the church has better expressed it, "That our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may obey its godly motions in righteousness and true holiness." The Christian who never fasts in this sense of fasting; who never voluntarily for the glory of God and the good of his soul, restrains his desires in things indifferent; the Christian who at all times indulges in every pleasure and gratification which he supposes to be lawful, is likely to make but little progress in any "virtue" or "godliness of living;" if indeed (which is awfully doubtful) he should even preserve the principles of religion in his heart. Does the Christian know to what
severe conflicts religious duty may call him? God's faithful people have often had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; of bonds and imprisonment; of tortures and death. And they are ever subject to various and daily trials of humiliation and self-restraint. Common sense and natural reason teach men to train up their children, and accustom themselves to the studies, labours or business to which interest or duty may probably call them. The soldier of this world submits to long and painful discipline, and exercise of arms. And is the soldier of Christ to make no preparation until the enemy assails him? What was the example which the Saviour gave? Knowing that he was to be tempted to sin, he retired from the world; he prepared himself for the contest by fasting and prayer. Though he was suffering with hunger, and it was perfectly in his power, he would not "command the stones to be made bread." This was done, and is written, for our example. If you sometimes, with a free and good will, refrain from what you naturally desire, you may hope with more confidence to stand in the day of temptation. If, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you are disciplined to self-government; if you are habituated to the command of your passions, you will more easily and more surely restrain those affections which are corrupt and sinful; temperance and sobriety and all virtue will be more natural and easy. But if, on the contrary, you shall at all times, and on all occasions, indulge in whatever is supposed not to be sinful, or forbidden in the word of God, you may well fear that you shall sometimes transgress the sacred boundary of Christian morals.
Let then our faith in Christ be evinced by a diligent use of the means appointed, and by all the precautions recommended by the wisdom which is from above. If we would profit by seasons of religious abstinence, we must at the least, refrain from unne
cessary amusements and festivity: luxuries must be retrenched; our charities must be increased; more time must be devoted, to visiting the sick and afflicted; to publick worship, and to private prayer. Such are especially the proper seasons for examining our hearts and our conduct; and if we have done any wrong to any man we should make restitution.
From our subject we infer more particularly, what should be our preparation for religious solemnities, and the more important acts of devotion. Such for instance is eminently the case of ordinations to the sacred ministry. When men thus solemnly devote themselves, their time, their talents, and their lives to God, in labours so important to his glory, and the immortal good of their fellow men; in labours for which by nature and with all human means, we are totally insufficient, if they are worldly or thoughtless; if they neglect the due preparation, can it be hoped, or can they reasonably expect, that God will accept them as his? That he will sanctify them for this office, and bless their ministry? The apostles gave us good examples; they not only prayed, but fasted on such occasions. How different from their example is the too common case of those who take upon themselves this momentous and most sacred office, apparently with as little concern, or apprehension, as men engage in the common affairs of life.How different from the example of the apostles is the still more common practice of making our ordinations the occasion, not of religious abstinence and humiliation, but of feasting and merri
They who would receive baptism, or confirmation; and they who would come to the Lord's supper, the first time especially, if they would receive also the heavenly benediction-" the inward and spiritual grace," "should not neglect the due preparation. Some
time previous should be devoted to meditation and prayer, that the mind may be in a pious, holy frame, and the heart be prepared for communion with God. Let your thoughts, on these most interesting occasions, be abstracted as much as possible from worldly concerns. Think much of sought. Seek thus and you shall find; your sins, that you may repent; of God's mercy, that you may believe; and of Christ's merits, that you may hope, and trust, in him alone. It is owing, no doubt, in a great degree, to the neglect of such preparation, that the ordinances of religion are received, and its rites performed to so little edification. "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you:" humble yourself, and you "shall be exalted."
out humble and earnest supplication at the throne of grace. If a malefactor were condemned to die, and there was reason to hope a pardon might be obtained; you well know with what anxious solicitude, with what earnest and persevering efforts it would be
knock as such a one would knock, and it will certainly be opened unto you.
It is, no doubt, sometimes the case, that you mourn the absence of spiritual comfort; that you want the refreshing light of God's countenance. There are seasons at least when you are conscious that you are not what you ought to be; when you desire not only in state, but in heart and life, to be the children of God, and conformed to the image of his Son but your affections are so much in the world; your attention is so much engaged in temporal concerns; your zeal is so languid, your love so cold, your hopes so distracted with doubts and fears, that you have no joy or peace in believing. To you may be truly said, "this kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." They who are Christ's have crucified the world, with its affections and lusts." But such a victory is not obtained, without bearing a cross. While you live easy and careless and unconcerned, indulging at all times your desires, in what you sup. pose to be lawful, you are not likely to experience any change for the better. To "fight the good fight of faith," you need the whole armour of God;" and this invulnerable armour, the gift of heaven, is not to be obtained with
ADVOCATE, VOL. II.
The like may be said of such Christians as find themselves declining from the faith, and the fear of God; who look back to the world, as Israel in the wilderness did to Egypt, having lost their first love. Much prayer and selfdenial are necessary to restore such to spiritual health. And if on the contrary they will neglect these salutary means of renovation, and seek for comfort in the world, let them not wonder, or think it hard dealing, if God should say, as applied to them, Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." Let them not complain, though he should swear in his wrath, they shall not enter into my rest."
May God in his merciful goodness give us all grace to use such abstinence," and to continue so instant in prayer, "that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey his godly motions in righteousness and true holiness," to his honour and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate,
Ar the present stage of religious controversy between the opponents and advocates of our Lord's divinity, it is no small triumph to the cause of truth, to have the confession from an honest sceptick, that the divinity of our Saviour is a fundamental doctrine of the scriptures.
The salutary influence this confession may have, on the minds of some of your readers, infected with the so
cinian heresy, is my reason for submitting it to your use.
The enlightened mind and amiable temper of its author would add much to its importance, could I feel myself at liberty to mention him. But without his permission, or knowledge of my intention, I can only say, it is contained in a letter sent me, on the return of that valuable production, Stuart's letters to Channing, from one, who, in practice a Christian, will ere long, (I am as fully persuaded as that he will have the prayers of the orthodox,) have fulfilled in him the sure promise of Christ, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether L. I speak of myself." Extract from the letter alluded to.
"I am much obliged to you indeed, for the perusal of Stuart's letters: it is very long, since I have read any thing to give me such unmixed delight, so strong a conviction of the learning, the acuteness, the philological skill, the courage, the fairness, the zeal, and the piety of its author, such admiration of his talents, such respect for his person. All those, who admit the fact of inspiration, and who are agreed upon the rules of fair construction, might, I should think, be satisfied of an intention in the sacred writers, to assert the divinity of our Saviour."
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate. IT is a very popular and common objection to the Episcopal church, particularly in those places where new parishes have been formed, that it retains and countenances many of the corruptions of popery. The belief that such is the fact, no doubt, prevents many worthy and conscientious people from uniting themselves to our communion; and a great advantage has been taken of the prevailing prejudice in this respect, to bring
discredit and reproach upon the sys. tem which Christ and his apostles established, even by those whose means of information should have taught them more candour, and a higher regard to truth. A very limited examination of the subject will be sufficient to convince every impartial inquirer, notwithstanding the round assertions of controversialists, and the unblushing imputations of reviewers, that the church is not justly liable to the censure to which it has been thus unwarrantably subjected; and it is the design of the present communication to point out some of the principal corruptions of the Romish hierarchy, and to show their entire rejection by protestant Episcopalians. The enumeration may consist of the twelve following particulars.
1. The universal dominion and infallibility of the pope.
2. The doctrine of transubstantiation.
3. The sale of indulgences or grant. ing of absolutions.
4. The worship of images. 5. Increasing the number of sacraments to seven.
6. Withholding the cup from the laity.
7. Performing publick worship in an unknown language.
8. Invocation of saints, and angels, and the blessed virgin.
9. Forbidding the use of the scriptures to the common people.
10. The doctrine of human merit. 11. The belief in purgatory. 12. The celibacy of the clergy. The above list, it is believed, includes the principal corruptions which have prevailed in the church of Rome, against which the writings of the reformers were chiefly directed; and not one of these is retained by the protestant Episcopal church in England, Scotland or America. In regard to the first, it is known that we do not admit the supreme authority, in matters ec
clesiastical, of any human being whatsoever. Each diocese is under the care of a bishop, who is subject to the canons of the church, and no one exercises or claims any authority over his brethren. In convention, rites and ceremonies may be decreed, but not otherwise than as God's word doth allow. As to the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the change of bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, it is declared in the 28th ararticle, that" it cannot be proved by holy writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions." To guard against the perversion of papists, the phrase "these thy creatures of bread and wine," is used in the communion service after the consecration of the elements. The 3d, 4th, 8th and 11th particulars are clearly condemned in the 22d article, which is as follows. "The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of images as of reliques, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing,vainly invented and grounded upon no warranty of scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God."
The number of sacraments, which the Romanists have made seven, is said in the 25th article to be but two, that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord. The 24th article is directly opposed to the custom of praying or administering the sacraments in a tongue not understood by the people. The denial of the cup to the laity is reproved in the 30th article, and the doctrine of merit, in the 11th. As to the 9th and 12th corruptions, it must be evident to all, that they form no part of our system, for the word of truth, in large portions, is constantly read in our churches, and the clergy generally follow the example of the apostles and their immediate successors in being in all things an example to their flocks.
Thus it is evident, that the Episcopal church, so far from adhering to the corruptions of popery, is among their most decided opponents. Some things, indeed, she holds in common with the church of Rome; and she rejoices that they are still in her possession. But they are such as prevailed in the purest ages of the gospel; they were cultivated with care, and bequeathed as a rich legacy to the church, by apostles and martyrs; and they will be defended with enlightened zeal as the bonds of unity, and the preventives of heresy, until the Son of man shall come in his kingdom. The orders of the ministry; the forms of prayer; the observance of those festivals and fasts which are most interesting to our faith, and most encouraging to our hopes, have withstood the revolutions that have hitherto affected the church, and we doubt not will remain, to unite, to improve, and to animate the followers of the Lamb until time shall be no more. Nor will we imitate the madness of those who hew down the pillars of the temple because its walls have been defaced and defiled. S.
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate.
No part of religious worship is more interesting and delightful, or makes a greater impression on the congregation, than sacred musick. It has always therefore occupied an important place in the services of the sanctuary. It enlivened the devotions of the synagogue, and has acquired an honourable distinction' in those of the Christian church. The psalms of David, abounding in the most elevated strains of piety, and breathing the purest language of adoration, of penitence, of faith, of hope, and of charity, were set to musick in the Jewish ritual; and many of them have been adopted, by the disciples of Christ, as admirably calculated to express their