« AnteriorContinuar »
[THE following Discourses having been printed at a distance from the Author,
and hurried through the press, a few typographical errors have occurred, which the reader will readily correct.]
CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION IN THE SPIRIT OF
2 TIMOTHY, ii. 24.
The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach ; patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
The human mind is so constituted, as to leave room for a vast variety of character, sentiment, and opinion, among the children of men. Whether this variety may have arisen, as many think, from an innate and original difference in the con. stitution of different minds; or whether it be produced, as many others think, (in whose opinion I can more easily concur,) wholly, or chiefly, by an endless variety of circumstances in the early condition of different individuals, necessarily growing out of their peculiar education, society, and habits ;-to whatever source it may
be traced, the fact cannot be disputed, that the characters of the human mind are as various as the features of the human countenance.
This being one of the arrangements of unerring wisdom, must no doubt be made to serve some wise and valuable purposes.
But that which is in itself innocent and useful, and directly designed for good by the great Creator, is often, by the creature, perverted from its object, and rendered absolutely pernicious. It has been very much so in the case before us. Men have not only entertained different opinions on the same subject-seen the same object, as it were, with different eyes :this, perhaps, would, in itself, have been no great evil; but they have also been wilful and wicked enough to make such differences the occasion of reproaching and slandering, of persecuting and destroying each other, and that often on points of comparatively minor importance.
That the passions should have been enlisted in the quarrel, among Heathens, is no more than might have been expected, where men were not under the holy guidance of Divine revelation. That human beings, in such circumstances, should have been proud and passionate, heady and highminded, hateful and hating one another, would seem to belong to the degeneracy of our nature. But when a revelation of Divine mercy to offending man is handed down from the throne of Heaven ;-when the high bearer of that message presents himself in the character of the reconciling Mediator, and the Prince of Peace; and when the message itself is announced as: the glad tidings of peace on earth and good-will towards men ;-it might have been expected that, whatever differences of opinion might still remain among those who admitted this Divine revelation, the fierceness, at least, and the bitterness of human pride and passion would have been dismissed; that all those who thankfully received the overtures of Heaven's mercy, would at least cease to exercise mutual unkindness and cruelty ;--that all those who were willing to be reconciled unto God through a Redeemer, would also be reconciled to one another; and that where differences of opinion on minor points, or doubtful points, should arise among them, they would at least, on such subjects, agree to differ
How wofully have such reasonable expectations been disappointed! Look back upon the annals of the Christian Church, and see, with sorrow, how much and how sorely the benevolent countenance of Christianity hath been disfigured by the virulence of controversy.; and how often and how deeply her very spirit has been depressed, and seemingly extinguished, by the violence of persecution! Look abroad over the face of the Christian world, at the present day, and you behold men's minds soured and inflamed by the