« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
on some others, to be the truth: And I esteem it much more eligible, to remain under an incapacity of sharing its honours and revenues, than to open my way to a possibility of obtaining them by what would in me, while I have such apprehensions, be undoubtedly an act of prevarication, hypocrisy, and falsehood; reverencing herein the authority of God, and remembering the account I must shortly give up in his presence.
Thus, Sir, on the whole, we both chuse what we apprehend God requires; we both adhere to that discipline, which we believe to have been primitive; or where you give it up in some instances, it is with an upright desire, I doubt not, of conforming to what you judge to be the leading and most important articles: But we both desire, that the communion of the church may be pure, and the form of its discipline and worship truly apostolical; and would exert the power, of which we each of us think ourselves regularly possessed, to make and keep it so; though we do not estimate our respective powers alike. We pray in different words and manners; we preach in different habits; we receive the sacred supper in different postures: But we both preach repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, regeneration and sanctification by his Spirit, and subjection to his laws, and particularly to that distinguishing law of mutual love. We both address the same God, in the name of the same Mediator; and the great blessings we ask, are in the main the same. We both commemorate the death of Christ as our propitiatory sacrifice, resting our own souls, and directing our people to rest theirs, on the atonement he hath made, and the complete righteousness which he hath wrought. Thus joining in love to him as our common Saviour, and living the life which we live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God, we are both waiting for his salvation; expecting that ere long our spirits will be joined, in the general assembly and church of those who die in the Lord, (that assembly, where perfect knowledge and love cement in everlasting bands the souls that once differed, as widely as they could differ who were one in Christ ;) where we hope, through divine grace, to share ages of delight, till our bodies shall be in the same moment borne from the dust, to inherit in our complete persons the everlasting kingdom of our heavenly Father. And in the mean time, why should it be thought strange, that amidst so many endearing bonds of union, our thoughts are hardly at leisure, to recollect the little circumstances in which we differ? Surely the part we are acting under these different denominations, is far more pleasing to God, more comfortable to ourselves, and more edifying to the world, than if you, dear Sir, were to set at naught your brother for his nonconformity, or I to judge mine for his conformity; and we were to infect, not to say, poison, the streams of God's sanctuary, where we respectively preside, with the bitterness of contention, censure, and reproach. I assuredly believe, my worthy brother, that in what I have now been writing with so unusual a freedom, and in what I thought I might in this connection write with some peculiar advantage, I have uttered your sentiments as well as my own. And surely, were they more generally to prevail, the face of our religious interests in Great Britain would wear a more pleasing and more hopeful aspect. Were our hearts thus filled with a desire of approaching to each other, and disposed on one hand and the other to sacrifice, as far as with a safe conscience we could, the circumstances that divide us, where we are divided, love might perhaps find means of union, at present unthought of by most. Or in the mean time, our worshipping in different places under different forms, might be no more pernicious to the peace and prosperity of the church, than our worshipping in different places, according to the same
REV. MR. JAMES HERVEY.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,
Ir may perhaps surprise you, that amidst the familiarities of our intimate friendship I should, without any previous notice, address you thus publicly from the press. I am not without some apprehension, that your modesty may be a little distressed on the occasion: But I am persuaded, you will on the whole forgive the desire I had, that all, to whom this little piece may come, should know, what most who are personally acquainted with us both already know, that I most highly esteem you, and most affectionately love you; and that no diversity in our professions and forms could prevent our entering into the strictest bonds of friendship, or make me unwilling most openly to profess it, and to perpetuate the memory of it, while this shall remain.
I am sorry to say, the temper that generally prevails is of such a nature, as to prohibit intimacies of this kind, and too frequently to occasion aversions, where there is no other cause of them than a variety of religious sentiments and practices. But it is our happiness, that we apprehend that temper to be as unreasonable, as it is unlovely, And surely all thinking men would see it in the same view, if they would but seriously compare the importance of those things wherein we agree with that of those in which we differ; especially if they would farther reflect, that the very same principles under different views promote, in conscientious men, those different practices, which, forgetting those principles, fundamental as they are to all true religion, the professors of it are so apt to contend about.
You, my pious and honoured friend, being, I doubt not, in your own mind persuaded, that Diocesan Episcopacy is of divine original, and that the church hath authority to decree rites and ceremonies, and to determine controversies in matters of faith, have solemnly declared that belief; and in consequence of it, have obliged yourself to render canonical obedience to those, whom you thereby acknowledge as governing you by an authority delegated from Christ; that thus you may be subject to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, and thereby approve your submission to him. I have declined that subjection, not from any disrespect to the persons of the established ecclesiastical governors, (many of whom I hold in the highest esteem, and number among the most distinguished ornaments of our common christianity) and least of all from any unwillingness to yield subjection, where I apprehend Christ to have appointed it: For so far as I know my own heart, it would be my greatest joy, to bow with all humility to any authority delegated from him. But I will freely tell you and the world, my nonconformity is founded on this, that I assuredly believe the contrary to what the constitution of the church of England requires me to declare, on the above-mentioned heads, and
perished. Renew, my worthy friend, the ardor of your prayers, that the God of the Spirits of all flesh may every where excite a multitude of enlightened and animated witnesses, to these vital truths of his everlasting gospel; and that his blessing may attend every effort for the advancement of this sacred cause. and particularly, that it may, notwithstanding all its imperfec tions, attend this humble attempt, from the hand of,
Reverend and dear Sir,
Your affectionate brother
in the work of the christian ministry,
Northampton, Sept. 18, 1748
and ever faithful friend and servant,
INVITATION TO THIRSTY SOULS.
John vii. 37.-In the last Day, that great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any Man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.
ALL the words of the words of our blessed Redeemer deserve our very serious regard; for, his enemies themselves being judges, Never man spake as he did *. But there is something in the words now before us, which may justly challenge a peculiar attention; as they were not spoken in ordinary converse, or to a little circle of domestic friends, but delivered in the temple, with a loud voice, on a solemn day, and in the midst of a very numerous assembly. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, or made proclamation, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
It is plain from the second verse, that the feast here spoken of is the feast of tabernacles; which was instituted in commemoration of God's giving the law to Israel, and conducting them through the wilderness, where they dwelt in tents +. The feast lasted eight days: Most of the former of them were spent in tabernacles or arbours made up of branches of the most shady trees, and adorned with the finest flowers and fruits which that delightful country afforded in the month of September. It is not improbable but on all these days the pious worshippers would sometimes quit these pleasant retreats, to attend the services of the temple: But it was the express command of God that The whole eighth day should be spent there, that being a holy convocation, on which, besides other institutions then to be attended, the whole law was to be read over in the audience of all the people, from the original copy which was laid up in the holy of holies §. This was the last day, that great day of the feast, which the evangelist mentions in the words before us.
* Ver. 46. † Lev. xxiii. 42, 43.
Lev. xxiii. 36. § Deut. xxxi. 10-30,