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should be the case, will not the pride that separates them from man separate them from God at the same time, and spoil all their religion, instead of bringing them nearer to perfection ? Christians would not be so weak as they are in this respect, if they did but duly consider, that true piety does not lead to willworship, in which men consult the pleasing of their fancy; but in a conformity of the mind to the will and the ways of God. This is the severest trial of man, and few are able to endure it : nay, not one amongst us, without the special grace of God, disposing the heart to self-abasement, and poverty of spirit.
There is another danger which persons may bring themselves into, by boasting of an higher degree of piety than that of the Church : for: while they do theinselves no real good, they may be doing much harın to other Christians. The great godliness, on which they value theinselves, may prove at last to be false and counterfeit; or it may appear weak and ignorant; more zealous than wise ; or it may be envious and quarrelsome : and thereby they will give persons occasion to say, that all pretension to superior piety is a suspicious thing, generally taken up for some bad purpose. Thus they bring universal reproach upon a religious character: it being concluded from their example, that honest and sensible people will be better thought of, if they purposely avoid all appearances of godliness, and discover as little of it as possible in their words and actions. This is a fearful conclusion, and hastens many a dangerous downfall. I have heard, and many others must have heard, persons talking and arguing after this fashion, whom it is out of our power to convince; and perhaps it is convenient to themselves that they never should be con. vinced. It is one lamentable consequence of division,
that the mouths of such vain talkers are opened. Persons divided in their religious sentiments watch one another with an evil eye; and instead of hiding one another's faults, are delighted with detections and
aggravations. This is to the great disadvantage of all piety : it is an evil we should be studious to avoid ; and the prospect of that havock which it makes amongst us, should be one great inducement towards a prudent and charitable union with our fellow Christians.
It is said farther, that there is better teaching out of the Church. . But I do sincerely believe on the other hand, that bad as teaching of the Church may be, there is worse teaching out of it than in it. This indeed we must confess, that so far as the doctrine depends upon the minister, it is not always right : but we may say at the same time, that so far as the doctrine depends upon the Church, it is never wrong. The Church duly delivers the teaching of God in the Scriptures; and has an unexceptionable form of sound Christian teaching in her Homilies: I wish the people heard them more frequently, and that the spirit of those Homilies was followed by all the Teachers of the Church.
But, does all religion consist in man’s preaching ? Some argue as if they thought so. Hath not God preached to us all in his Gospel; and doth he not say, “ My House shall be called the House of Prayer ?" Did not the Apostles, though appointed to preach in all the world, go to pray in the Temple ? They understood that God had ordained them to preach, with design that they should convert the world to the practice of praying; and it would have been strange, if they had not set the example of it in their own persons.-Preaching meant at first the publishing of the Gospel ; that the world might be brought over to it: when the world is converted, and the Scriptures are received as the word of God, the duty then is to read, and to pray, and to act, as the Gospel instructs; which Gospel is now daily preaching to us all. The more hopeful employment of the ministry now, and of more extensive benefit, is that of teaching the first elements of Christianity in the Catechism. Preaching will never teach these, if they have not been taught be fore. No science can be understood properly unless we begin with its elements. For this reason I have always been so desirous, that children should be well instructed in their Catechism. I received the advice many years ago from a Bishop of this Church, who was your Diocesan *: he said,
" Whatever you do be diligent in catechising ; it is of much more use than preaching.” So indeed it is: and there are those who can witness that I have never been wanting in the practice: in which if any minister engages with sincerity and affection, I can promise him, from my own experience, that the smiles of the little children of his parish will make him amends for many of the frowns he may meet with in the world.
It is a farther temptation to people to leave the Church, because it has been supposed of late years that something better is now found out, which will answer the purpose without it-I mean a new birth. That there is a new birth in the Scripture, and that it is necessary to Salvation, no man can deny; for, saith our Saviour,
except a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven t." There is then a new birth of the spirit; but as water
+ John iii. 5,
* Bishop Hinchcliffe. VOL. IV,
is mentioned with it, it must mean the new birth in Christian Baptism. There is also a Regeneration spoken of by St. Paul * : but as it is called the washing of Regeneration, this also must refer to the water of Baptism. The Church of England follows this doctrine of the Scripture, and understands Regeneration as the gift of God in Baptism: for this is the language of the Church in the office : “We yield Thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit.” Regeneration therefore is the work of the Holy Spirit in Baptism: and neither the Scripture nor the Church give us any encouragement to believe, that Christians are ever baptized by the hearing of a Sermon. If it be said that the presence of the Spirit of God cannot be without the effect of Regeneration; and that every person who has the Spirit of God, must be born of God; this is not accurate Divinity ; even allowing them to have the Spirit as they say. For the gift of the Spirit may be one thing, and Regeneration may be another. When the Holy Ghost fell on them that heard the word, this was the effect of preaching: but the Apostle commanded those very persons to be baptised with water, although they had received the Holy Ghost t. Therefore the receiving of the Holy Ghost, so far as this is the effect of preaching, is different from what is done in Baptism, and is not what is meant by Regeneration, or the New Birth. If it can be shewn, that the Gospel any where promises a New Birth, independent of Baptism, we will believe it: but as the Church could never find it, we never shall; and they that teach it, and say there is experience for it, have no warrant from the Scripture.
9 Titus iii. 5.
+ Acts X. 47,
" Ask them,” says
A famous Preacher of late times, who believed, and pleaded for, all the extraordinary symptoms of a New Birth, refers us for the reality of it to numbers of people who had experience of it. be," they will not deceive you. But supposing they are deceived themselves, they will in that case deceive us also; and it is no wonder if they should; for most men are inclined to repeat a story which magnifies themselves; and their teachers are willing that they should repeat it, for it magnifies them too*. These facts, whether true or false, are attended with a mistake. The conversion of the mind to a sober and godly life is here confounded with a New Birth; and the tendency of this is to depreciate the means of Grace; which enthusiasm never fails to do: but Conversion and Regeneration are never confounded in the Scripture: they are different things, and the one may be without the other. Infants are subjects of Regene. ration in Baptism; but they are not capable of Conversion : nor do they want it, being already in that simple unassuming state of mind, to which grown persons are to be converted, and become as little children t. Baptism is one of the necessary means of Grace: it is the gift of God: no man can make it, or substitute any thing else in the place of it: but if he wishes to raise a party, and make a Church of his own, he will depreciate Baptism, and teach you how you may do with
The like wonders were boasted of by the Puritans of the last century; whose ministry, as it is noted by Merick Casaubon, pro. duced in their followers“ first desperation, or somewhat very near to it; then an absolute confidence grounded upon it. That this is the only way is an invention of their own, which I think hath more of policy in it, in the first inventors and abettors, than of ignorance." Casaubon on Credulity and Incredulity, p. 193.
+ Matt. xviii. 3.