Imagini ale paginilor

not consider these observances as themselves meritorious in the sight of God; but looks upon them merely as leading to better things, and views them rather as the means, than as the end-the means of grace, leading to a hope of glory. Few and significant, and strictly Scriptural, are the rites which she has preserved, equally and in every respect remote from the superstition of the Church of Rome and the laxity of the schismatic. The clumsy fretwork of the ages of ignorance has been removed; the monstrous excrescences which defaced the form and destroyed the proportions of the Christian temple have been swept away, and the glorious structure stands forth in its own beautiful simplicity and symmetry, built upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.

Valuing then, as we do, and esteeming, above all earthly blessings, the worship and ceremonies and discipline of our Church, is it not surprising that so much should be said respecting the need of alteration? and, confessing as we do, that her forms are

derived from the clear fountain of eternal truth, so many plans of amendment should be advocated? There will indeed always be some who, in the emphatic language of St. Peter, are" presumptuous, self-willed, not afraid to speak evil of dignities; wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; who privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them; who speak swelling words of vanity, and allure through the lusts of the flesh and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil-spoken of." It is impossible to read this prophecy without understanding it as indicating a class of adversaries to our Church, who, at the present momenf, are most violent against her existence; most eager in their anticipations of her fall,-those who deny the Lord that bought them. Against these declared enemies, it is scarcely necessary to caution you. But you will

meet with another class, as hostile, in reality, to her interests, well-being, and peace, who may aptly be styled wells

without water-clouds carried by the tempest. Those, namely, who are neither with us nor against us-who belong to us, but are not of us-who hold with one hand the standard of the Church, and grasp with the other that of schism. Who, usurping the seat of judgment, to which neither their station nor their knowledge entitles them, are prepared in the fulness of self-sufficiency, humbly to exact or proudly to yield, as it may suit their peculiar and ever varying opinions. One of these pretended friends resigns as indefensible the connexion between the Church and the State; obliterates almost the only mark which remains to tell that there is still one Christian kingdom in Christian Europe. Another mutilates her beautiful and scriptural service, to please the indolent; alters the administration of the sacraments, to soothe the Dissenter; omits the public confession of the glorious and saving doctrine of the Trinity, to conciliate the Socinian; and gives up particular portions of her Liturgy to gratify the prejudice and ignorance of heresy,

and unbelief. Her doctrines, her ritual, her discipline, are thus surrendered one by one-till liberality finds it has nothing left to grant-infidelity triumphs that it has nothing more to demand.

What then is our duty under these circumstances? It is to come nearer, and gather closer around the ark of our faith: to be more zealous and attentive in the observance of her evangelical requirements to labour more earnestly, that we may show forth in our lives the effects of her services and discipline-the power of her doctrines upon ourselves. It is to discountenance, in our several walks of life, the arrogant pretensions put forth by ignorant or designing men. It is to avail ourselves diligently of the exalted privileges offered to us, and prove ourselves worthy of the peculiar blessings bestowed upon us. Let us seek comfort, and edification, and support, at the same fountains of everliving truth, where our fathers so abundantly found them, and where we also shall not fail to find, if we come in sincerity of heart, in the

spirit of a right mind. Thus built up in our own most Holy Faith, we shall give the best answer to our adversaries, by exhibiting our perfect unity, being "knit together in love," "continuing in the faith grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel1." One blessed assurance we have, amidst every peril and difficulty, that he who brought the Church out of Egypt, who led her through the sea of persecution, wherein she was baptized in the blood of her holiest and her best, will still" look down from heaven, behold, and visit the vine which his right hand hath planted, and the branch that he made so strong for himself 2."

Remember also, that you have a charge as serious, an obligation as important even as this. The time will soon arrive when you, to whom I speak, will no more tread the courts of the house of the Lord; when you will no more be numbered as members of the visible church of Christ;

1 Col. i. 23.

2 Psalm lxxx. 14, 15.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »