« AnteriorContinuar »
So do you.
faith and practice.
you are all divided about the sense of Scripture, and you have not settled who shall be judge. You say one thing. My teacher says anoth
You quote Scripture, he quotes Scripture. You reason, he reasons. You require me to believe you. I respect you: but why should I trust you rather than my own minister? You say, he is a heretic: but the catholics say you are both heretics. Shall I believe them? They quote histories and fathers. To whom do you all address yourselves? Where is the judge? You say, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets : but you say, I am no prophet, and I say you are not one. Who is to judge ? You have broken off your yoke, allow me to break mine. Having freed yourselves from the tyranny of popish prelates, why do you turn ecclesiastical tyrants yourselves, and treat others with barbarity and cruelty for only doing what you set them an example to do? You say, your lay-hearers, the magistrates, and not you, ministers, are to be blamed, for it is they who banish and burn for heresy, and not you. I know you make this excuse : but, tell me, have not you instilled such principles into their ears, or have they done any thing more than practise the doctrine you taught them ? Have you not told them how glorious it is to defend the faith? Have you not been the constant admirers and flatterers of such princes as have depopulated whole districts for heresy ? Do you not daily teach, that they who appeal from your confessions to Scripture ought to be punished by the secular power? It is impossible for you to deny this. You have published books to justify the banishing of one old teacher, and the execution of another, and you seem to wish we would follow your example, and kill men for not believing as we do.
God forbid. When you talk of your Lutheran confession, and your Calvinistical creed, and your unanimity, and your fundamental truth, I keep thinking of the sixth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill. Farewell, most learned and respected Beza. Take what I have said in good part, and continue your friendship to me.”
I see by your looks you relish this letter. It does
you honour. It was written by a great master in the school of religion and good manners.
I. well tell you more about him some leisure day. Mean time, I will lend you this letter, and see, here is one of the prettiest bound hymn-books that ever I saw; I will put the letter into it, and the little boy, who brings me the fairest written copy of it this day month, shall have this hymo-book. He that says it by heart, stands upright, looks pleasantly, and pronounces it with a soft, but fullmouthed gracefulness to me, as the writer would have done to Mr. Beza, he shall have another like it : and he that best explains some of the hard words to me, such as heresy, minister, magistrate, secular power, prelate, Lutheran creed, and so on, he shall have a tbird. Do not be afraid. Ask your father, or the school-master, or somebody, and come and tell me when I come again. We shali make it out among us, I dare say, and understand it as well as the writer did. Come, let us finish by singing two verses of this incomparable hymn-book.
Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one be gore :
Should keep in tune so long.
But 'tis our God supports our frame,
The God that built us first.
Tbat reared us from the dust.
(.AT WICKHAM BROOK.)
HOSEA iii, 5. Afterward shall the children of Israel fear the Lord and
his goodness in the latter days. Always when I see a Jew, I recollect a saying of the Lord by the Prophet Isaiah, “Thou art the seed of Abraham my friend," and I find a thousand thoughts in my mind, impelling me to my duty. I am going this morning just to give you a sketch of a subject, that would fill volumes, and a subject of which we ought not to be ignorant.
First, let us inform ourselves of the general history of this people. The father of the family was Abraham. He was born in the east, of an idolatrous family, and, at the command of God, he became the first dissenter in the world. He quitted his country, and went, and set up the worship of one God in his own family, and taught them to practise it. From this man proceeded a family, which increased into tribes, and formed a people as the stars in the heaven, or the sand on the seashore for multitude. Idolatry and immorality sometimes infect. ed a few : but the bulk preserved the belief of one God, and the imitation of his perfections inviolably for ages. They were shepherds, and lived, inbosomed in forests and fastnesses, a plain, frugal, laborious life, unacquainted with the world, and unpractised in the arts and luxuries of polished nations. They assembled to worship God by prayers and sacrifice at every new moon, where the old heads of families taught morality, and inculcated the hope excited by the promise of God, that in one of their family all the families of the earth should be blessed with the knowledge of their God, and their morality. Thus read the book of Genesis, and
other Scripture histories of the same times, and without forming any romantic ideas of imitation impossible except in their circumstances, admire the history, approve the prophecy, and copy the inoffensive purity of their lives.
When these people were in slavery in Egypt, they were at a school in which Providence taught them, by their own feelings, the nature and the worth of liberty, 'both civil and religious. What noble efforts they made to obtain it, and how God crowned their honest endeavours with success under the direction of Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, you will read in the four books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. When they changed their government into an absolute monarchy, they enslaved themselves, and overwhelmed their country with idolatry, immorality, and calamities of every kind. Read the Prophecies with the light of history of times, persons, and places, which is contained in Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, and you will easily discover what religion had to object against a tyrannical government, an idolatrous worship, and dissolute manners; and what it had to do in bearing affliction, reforming worship, and cherishing hope of better times under the direction of the expected prince of the house of David.
When he came, and addressed himself to the blessing of all nations with an universal religion, some of his countrymen put him to death; but others espoused his cause, wrote his history, and reasoned to establish it, not in the form of a secular kingdom, but in the convictions and consciences of reasonable men. There it hath stood ever since, and, though the bulk of the Jews have been scattered and punished for crucifying Christ, yet, by being kept a separate people, they serve to prove the truth of the Gospel ; and the text, with many others like it, promises that “they shall reverence the Lord in the latter days.” The Epistle to the Hebrews lies ready for their use at that day. I think nothing can be easier than to apply this historical knowledge to its proper use; and yet some Christians have got such an unwise and wayward knack of reasoning as to quote
whatever was among the Jews in proof of what ought to be now: as if the economy that crucified Christ was to restore him his character and dignity!
Remark next the customs of this people. They serye, as their history does, to interpret Scripture. Our text is connected with one. A part of this prophecy is a drama. The young gentlemen in the right hand corner know what I mean, and I will try to make you all understand me. A drama, in our present view, is a subject both related and represented. Divines call it preaching by signs. These signs were proper to represent to the eye the subject spoken of to the ear. Thus Jeremiah explained slavery with a yoke upon his neck; and Jesus simplicity, by setting a
66 little child" before his disciples. The Prophet Hosea was ordered to open to the Jews their prostitution to wickedness and misery, the patience and goodness of God, and the effect, which in time his goodness would have upon their descendants. Full of these subjects, the Prophet comes into a public assembly of the nation, and brings along with him a prostitute with three children, one of which, it should seem, she had conceived and borne by her own father. He gives his children names suited to his views, and utters the prophecy contained in the two first chapters. In the third chapter he is described as coming again, and bringing with him, not a prostitute in single life, but an adulteress, perhaps in liquor, or acting as if she were, to represent a people remarkable for a loving flaggons of wine.”
This woman had been hired to act this part for several days, at a price agreed on between herself and the prophet. Imagine a great national assembly at a public festival. Conceive the public attention caught by the entrance of the prophet, and his scandalous companions. Suppose him to ascend an eminence, and to place these miserable objects near him in full view of every body. Imagine him to harangue on the nature and necessity of virtue, especially to the people under contract, as a wife to her husband, or a nation to their God. Suppose him to reason on the iniquity of violated faith in every form. Suppose him to expatiate in tears, 6 smiting with