Зображення сторінки

nothing could équal his love to all, who “ loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity.” Every thing that was bitter, and railing, he utterly abhorred, while he was the kindest apologist for all, however he might differ from them in things not essential ; and while he would make an apology for himself, as it respected our Church liturgy, to which he could not well subscribe, yet he would admire its general tendency, and even would say, with its few defects, that he esteemed it to be one of the national blessings of the land, as a general knowledge of the truths of the gospel, was thereby wonderfully preserved.

Mer. It is much to be lamented, that we should lose the services of so good a man, on account of such scruples of conscience.

Loveg. Not at all. The Dissenters are a very useful body; and in numberless instances, nothing can be done without them.

Mer. I hope you will except Mr. Stiff, and his fraternity.

Loveg. With all my heart. But these good men may work where we cannot, and in many places where their aid is deplorably needed; and why should we wish all the good men to work in one line !---It is amazing what an abundance of good, Mr. Peaceful does among all the Dissenters in these parts, his spirit is so tender and good.

Mer. I suppose Mr. Peaceful might have had some other objections against conformity.

Loveg. Yes he had. His principal objection seems to have been, the much lamented want of discipline, as also the too near affinity between the Church and state: but then he would candidly acknowledge, as it was national, it could scarcely be expected to be otherwise, and that national establishments, like all human things, must have their advantages, and disadvantages ; that consequently, as the state had a right to her choice about religion, so the Dissenters were left at full liberty to chuse for themselves; and that it was no more right for the Dissenters to attack the established Church, than it would be for the established Church to oppress the Dissenters. But nothing delighted Mr. Peaceful's mind so much, as to make his annotations on St. Paul's view about the distinctions of meats, and days, and of meats offered to idols, which exemplifies so much of the forbearing mind of Christ, in the character of that Apostle. *

Mer. Sir, my mind has been much occupied on that subject of late. How much the Apostle urges the meekness, and gentleness, of the Christian character !

Slapd. One wonders that an angry bigot, can live after he has read those chapters, if he has the grace of God in his heart.

Mer. A bigot with the grace of God in his heart! Two principles, strangely opposite, and these to be the inhabitants of the same bosom! But let us retire into this pleasant retreat, and talk these matters over more seriously: the weather is delightfully mild, for this advanced season of the year, and I fear this subject is too much overlooked, I am sure it has been so by me. [They sit down, and the conversation recommences.]

Loveg. (With a small Greek Testament in his hand.] Nothing can equal the tenderness of the apostle's mind in the 14th of the Romans. You know that this chapter refers to those Christians, whose minds were not perfectly free from Jewish prejudices; and, though they ill understood the holy liberty of

* Nothing is more to be lamented, than the angry spirit, with which these different controversial writers, treat each other, while the high churchman rails at the schismatical, of every party, with the most superstitious contempt, the dissenter in return, will exaggerate the most trifling causes for dissent, against the churchmen, in language equally uncandid, and unfair. I forbear to mention the names of several authors of this angry cast. The writer was exceedingly sorry to find, that on the wrapper, Dr. Gill's reasons for dissent, appeared on seven of the numbers of this publication, without the author's knowledge, and consent, which the publisher immediately withdrew, at the author's request

the gospel, and their consciences were consequently misguided; yet still it was in matters, not essential to salvation. These, while thus “weak in faith, were to be received, but not to doubtful disputations," or in other words, to unnecessary wranglings, and discussions. The dispute ran in this chapter, it should seem, upon keeping Jewish seasons, and eating meats according to the Jewish law: this was certainly for want of better knowledge; and yet what a kind apologist St. Paul was for them, in regard to eating meats ceremonially impure! What a spirit of love he irculcates by that observation. “Let not bir tat eateth, despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not, judge him that eateth, for God hath received him.” “ Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth, or falleth ; yea, he shall be upholden, for God is able to establish him.” In the same spirit he goes on about days, only observing, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind ;” and I remember, that was a favorite expression with Mr. Peaceful.

Slapd. I wish it had been a favorite expression with Mr. Stiff, it might have made a better man of him.

Loveg. Aye, and of Mr. Steepleman too ; but let us forget them both, and mind the lovely remark of the Apostle on the subject : “He that regardeth the day, regardet it unto the Lord : and he that regardeth nor the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it: he that eateth, eateth unto the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks;" that is, on both sides of the question, they acted according to their light, and consequently were not to be judged of each other.

Mer. And what a lovely conclusion he draws from it, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth unto himself! For whether we live, we live unto the Lord : whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." What a wonderful change must have been

VOL. 11.

wrought upon the mind of this once stiff, bigotted persecutor, to make him so much the reverse to him. Skelf, so gentle, and so mild !

Loveg. But I think this most lovely spirit, is still more richly displayed in what the Apostle further re. marks: “ Let us not therefore, judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block (or cause of scandal) in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded, by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean in itself, (though before the coming of the Lord Jesus, many things were prohibited as being unclean ;) but still to him who esteemeth any thing unclean, to him it is unclean." And now mind, what a lovely conclusion he again draws: “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably or (according to love) destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."* "Let not then your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not meats and drinks, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Slapd. Stop there brother Lovegond, for a moment, that's the point.---If any could go to the devil with such blessed, excellent tempers, I should like to go with such for the sake of good company; and then let a set of violent bigots, curse and excommunicate each other, as hard, and as fast as they can, on account of a set of non-essential punctilios ; provided wa can live together on earth, as believing that the same heaven, if we are blessed with the same mind, is to receive us all at the last.

• The reader may find, that Mr. Lovegood, in reading his Greek Testament, made some slight alterations in the text, which, after all, are so insignificant, that they prove how well the public may confide in the present translation. But on that expression, “ destroy not him for whom Christ died," he first remarked, that the drift of the argument was only to shew how the

peace of such was destroyed, and not that the purposes of God according to election could not stand, if the will of an angry bigot should strive to prevent it. He further shewed that such were at least the attempts of such angry bigots, how ever unsuccessful those attempts might prove.

" all

Loveg. You will speak like yourself. But it is next said, that "if in these things they serve Christ, they are acceptable to God, and approved of men." There is no hell for the holy, nor heaven for the unholy: indeed we have heaven in us upon earth, when we are holy. But do let us finish our observations on the chapter, which I conclude to be one of the best recipes to cure the bigotry of the human heart. “Let us therefore, pursue the things which lead to peace, and the things whereby one may edify, or build up another; for meat destroy not the work of God.” Now in my opinion, this evidently refers to those for whom Christ died, and who are the workmanship of his Spirit. Then we see how the Apostle next observes, that through the liberty of the gospel dispensation, things are pure ; but that it is evil to a man who eateth with offence," against his own judgment. Therefore it is good neither to eat flesh, or drink wine," by which

by which a weak brother stumbleth, is offended or made weak. Hast thou faith, have it to thyself before God. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that which he allows, for he that doubts" about these matters “is condemned” in his own judgment " if he eat," for want of this faith of knowledge ; " for whatsoever is not of faith, is sin."

Slar?. I wish the worthy translators of the New Testament, had used a milder word in their translation of that passage. Mrs. Scruple, a good. woman in our 'parish, one of a very conscientious turn of mind, was kept from the sacrament a long time, till I explained matters to her, and gave her to understand, that the passage had no reference whatsoever to the sacrament; and that the passage, which still more alarmed her about eating, and drinking our own damnation, did not mean eternal damnation, but a temporal judgment, as was evidently then the case of the Corinthian church : “ For this cause many are weak, and sickly among you, and many sleep."

Loveg. I fear many good people are sadly puzzled

« НазадПродовжити »