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ELEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH.
PREACHED IN THE CHAPEL OF REPTON SCHOOL
AT THE TIME OF CONFIRMATION.
REV. S. A. PEARS, D.D.
In the following Short Sermons, I have touched on subjects which do not usually form part of a course of instruction for Confirmation. It appeared to me that there was good reason wby, in addition to the ordinary routine of preparation, a simple statement of the broad elementary truths on which Christianity rests, should be laid before those who were about to claim the full standing and privileges of Christians.
I believe that there is an essential connexion between Christian doctrine and Christian practice; in other words, that God does not permit men to enjoy the advantages and rewards of the Gospel life, unless they know and receive Gospel trụth. The character of the worshipper iş determined by that of the object of his worship, and an incomplete
notion of God necessarily implies a false standard of morality. And if some among us have been tempted to make a losing compromise with the infidelity of the age by surrendering essential features of the revealed character of God, I fear we shall soon see the effect of their error in a moral deterioration, if not in themselves, yet certainly and speedily in their followers and the heirs of their doctrine.
But besides this, there are circumstances, unhappily notorious, which seemed to me to make such a statement necessary at the present time. There has never indeed been a time at which Christianity has not been assailed from one side or the other: and a plain declaration of the truth, as far as God has enabled us to receive it, is never without its value.
Just now, however, the assault seems to come from such a quarter, and in such a form, as to make it a peculiar and pressing danger for that class of hearers especially to whom these Sermons were addressed. The candidates for confirmation in a School Chapel consist in large part of boys who are about to pass in a short time to one of our great Universities; that is to say, they will very soon be in a position to have the most difficult and important questions affecting their faith as Christians brought before them as subjects of ordinary discussion. In one at least of the Universities, it may be said, the regular course of study, admirable as it is for the purpose of intellectual training, is open to this objection, that it encourages the habit of free speculation at an age when the mind is evidently unprepared for so severe a trial.
It surely cannot be thought premature or inappropriate, if I have taken advantage of a time of serious reflection, to set before my pupils a simple view of the general grounds on which the Christianity of the Church of England claims their allegiance.
And it is desirable at the same time that educated men who have children to bring up and desire to see them established in the truth, should carefully consider the direction of that current of thought, which is strongly bearing on the minds of students at this time; that they should know, too, to what extent it has already carried some of the most eminent and authoritative teachers in our own communion.
The direction of the current has indeed been apparent for some time past. Any one who · will take the pains to review the principal theological works of the last twenty years, may trace its progress.
We have seen during that period in the writings of powerful and popular