« PreviousContinue »
tention, at a distance from the for the influence of sympathy, or house of God, and from all religious any other influence which human society, while deeply engaged in beings could exert. And it has their ordinary concerns, their often happened at the same time minds are suddenly turned to the to several different persons thus subject, their consciences are a- circumstanced, at a distance from wakened, their sins are set in or- each other. A special divine inder before their eyes, and they are fluence has been exerted upon their made to tremble" with fearful ap- minds, and that effect is produced prehension of the wrath to come. at once, which ministers of the All this has frequently happened, gospel and Christian friends had and in the case of persons to whoin long laboured to produce, but lanothing had been recently said on boured in vain. the subject, who did not know that
A Friend to Revivals. any others were seriously impres
Christian Repository. sed, and where there was no room
OF THE PREVALENCE OF SOCISIASISX. of danger. If any one should
(Continued from page 17.] sound an alarm, he will be disreIt is often asked, with much garded; for no enemy is to be seen. anxiety, whether Socinianism con- 'This fancied security favours the tinues to progress; and what is the approach of the enemy. And he prospect as to its further spread. will be likely to see his advantage, On this subject I have had my and take it, before his approach hopes, and I have had my is discovered.
He will not apfears. After several years of at- pear in the open field, with the tentive and anxious observation, weapons of war in his hand; he my fears preponderate. Unless will approach in the garb of a more efficient measures are taken friend, and hold out the emblem to stop its progress, I have but lit- of peace. He will not demand the tle doubt that it will ultimately surrender of the fortress; he will sweep. the American church like only ask to be admitted into the a desolating flood. I will give my. garrison. He will not propose to reasons.
open the gates; he will only 1. The danger is not sufficient. ask to be entrusted with the keys. ly apprehended. Nothing favours By the soothing manner of his adthe success of an enemy so much dress, he will lull the fears of the as fancied security. Out of the timid. By appearing modest in immediate vicinity of Socinianism, his demands, he will gain more there is no apprehension of its ap- than he asks. And before the proach. Our Ministers are pious | danger is discovered, he will acand orthodox. Our churches are complish all he desires. Such, at united together for mutual de- least, has been his manner hitherfence. Their creeds are sound to; and such we have reason to and scriptural. How can the ene- expect it will continue to be. my make any inroads ? Such con- 2. The causes which have considerations seem to promise secu- tributed to the introduction and rity; and there is no apprehension spread of Socinianism in New
England, are silently operating in opposed to its being preached.every direction. The benevolent They profess to believe it still, but efforts of the present age have they do not think it profitable.brought Christians of different de They are afraid it will give offence nominations nearer together. A
to those friends of theirs who do spirit of catholicism greatly pre- not believe it, and they cannot vails. They regard each other as bear to have them displeased. brethren, and rejoice in cach oth-They acknowledge that it is in the er`s prosperity. So far it is well. Bible; but they think those parts But this is not all. Closely con- of the Bible ought to be kept back, nected with this is that spurious lest they should do hurt. They charity, which sapped the founda- make an urgent demand for praction of the New-England churches. tical preaching, with which all will We too have begun to regard our
be suited. And if the minister fathers as too rigid in their views, will not comply with the popular and have begun to pursue a more
voice, it is very easy to get him liberal policy. We too are im- dismissed. The minister knows patient to take to our bosoms many this, and is often sorely tempted to of those who cannot subscribe the comply. On one side his judgment creeds of our churches. Regard - tells him is the path of duty; but it ing many as Christians, who do is filled with objects that pain the not think as we do, we are begin- eye. The disapprobation of his ning to consider those things in friends—the blame of unreasonable which we differ from them as mat- obstinacy—the scorn of the worldters of small importance, and by the enmity of the wicked-dismissno means to be placed among the ion and poverty--the sufferings of essentials of Christianity. Though a sickly wife, and the cries of famwe still believe them to be true, it ishing children-how can he enwould be no great sacrifice to us dure the thought? On the other to strike them from our creeds.- side, by a little compliance it is Though we still believe them to be probable he may soothe the clamtrue, we should be quite satisfied ors that are raised against him. By never to hear them preached.- softening down the tone of his Though we still believe them to preaching, and passing over a few be true, we have no anxiety that offensive subjects, he may retain our children should be taught the approbation of his people. By them. Were our pulpit vacant, retaining their confidence he hopes we should quite as soon consent to to be able to do them much good. settle a Minister who never preach- He doubts whether he ought to set ed them, as one who did. This, I up his own judgment against that believe, is the state of feeling with of those who are called the great a very large portion of the mem- and the wise. He is afraid, that, if bers of our churches. And thus he persists, and is driven away, they have taken the first step in some other will occupy the place, that downward course which has who will not preach so much truth led such multitudes into. Socinian- as he can. if he complies with the ism.
present demands. "There is no Many have gone a step further. prospect that he will be better reIn the fulness of their charity to- ceived elsewhere, or that he can wards those who do not believe do so much good in any other the truth, they have taken sides place. On the whole, after a few with them against it. They pro- faint struggles of his conscience, foss to believe it still, but they are he concludes it is best to comply.
In this manner I account for it / tion. The circulation of the bible that the tone of doctrinal preach will do something. But if those ing and of doctrinal instruction has who read it are taught to regard been softened down, within a few the doctrinal parts of it as of little years, to a very considerable ex- or no use, they will easily be pertent. And many of the churches suaded to neglect them. Of the have already made so great pro- religious tracts in circulation, very gress in the downward course, few
indeed appear to be intended that though their articles as yet to convey doctrinal instruction.remain unaltered, the faithful The writing and preaching against preaching of them would not be Socinian errors may be
very submitted to by their members. sary where they are beginning to The next generation that comes on prevail, but this does not lay the the stage, will be still more lax axe at the root of the tree. Noth
than their fathers; and their creeds | ing, will be an effectual guard ! will be altered or disregarded. against the spread of Socinianism,
And this downward progression unless the churches are establishwill need to go on but a short pe- ed, not only in the belief of the great riod, before the door will be open- | truths of the Bible, but in the love ed to all those errors which bring of them too. They must not only Socinianism in their train.
be willing to hear them preached, 3. Another reason for my fears but they must deem the preaching of the ultimate spread of Socinian- of them indispensable. They must ism is, that the measures adopted not only be willing to have their to prevent its progress, are alto children trained up in the knowgether insufficient. The principal ledge of the truth, but they must | measures which seem to be relied see that it is effectually done. To
on, to prevent the spread of Socin- accomplish this object, some efforts ian sentiments, are, the establish- are made by a few. But they lament of theological seminaries, bour against every discouragement, the bringing forward of pious young and accomplish but little. Their men for the ministry, the encour
efforts are often treated with conagement of Sabbath schools, the tempt, and often meet with direct círculation of the bible, and of re-opposition, and that too even from ligious tracts, and preaching and the professed friends of truth. The writing against Socinian errors. knowledge that this is the fact, All these are well, as far as they appears to me a serious ground of go, but they do not reach the source alarm. When so little is done of the evil. The theological sem. that is at all adapted to be an effec
may furnish learned and tual guard; and when almost the orthodox ministers; but what good whole attention of our churches will these do, if people are unwil- and ministers is directed to those ling to hear them? And I fear, that measures of defence, which, within some of these seminaries, more out this, are utterly insufficient; attention is paid to what is requi- I cannot but fear that the churches site to make popular preachers, are doomed to suffer a deluge of than to what is necessary to make Socinian errors, and that at no dismen mighty in the scriptures. The tant period. Sabbath schools will do something:
4. The prevailing taste of the But, from all that I can learn of present age, is, I think, highly their management, they contribute favourable to the ultimate spread but little towards the doctrinal of Socinianism. The present is instruction of the rising genera- ! not an age of close thinking. It
is an age of novelty, and an age of have but a small portion of their feeling. And the preaching that pages filled with such materials, is heard, and the books that are or they can obtain few patrons and read, must be in accordance with fewer readers. Religious news. the spirit of the times. A serinon papers and magazines of intelliof President Edwards', in most of gence have occupied their places. our churches, would not be endur- In these, there is so much that is ed at all. Such writings as his do interesting, so much to gratify the not form the reading of the present thirst for novelty, so much to move day. His works may perhaps be the passions, that they are eagerly found in the libraries of the clergy; read. And the Bible itself, it is but probably few of them ever to be feared, receives from most make them their study, and fewer professing Christians but a small still pursue the same strain of share of attention. I do not mean preaching. A sermon, to be pop- to complain of the circulation of ular now, must not put the audience religious intelligence. I wish it to the trouble of thinking. It must was more generally diffused than either contain something sprightly, it is. But still it ought not to octo please the imagination, or it cupy the principal place in the must be addressed to the passions, reading of Christians. The fact and move the animal feelings.- that it does, to the almost entire Now, it is plain, that a discourse exclusion of other reading, is : addressed to the imagination or the that which is ground of alarm.
upun purposes of instruction.
A people the rising generation will be de may sit under such preaching from plorable. They will grow up with year to year, and be much delight- a strong distaste for every ting ed with the preacher; but of the which requires labour of thought. great doctrines of the Bible, the Books of instruction will be still belief and love and practice of more disregarded. The Bible will which constitute the vital parts of be still more carelessly and superChristianity, they will know little ficially read. Doctrinal preachor nothing. So it is, also, withing will be still more unpopular.their reading. A large volume is close, discriminating, argumentaseldom, if ever, perused. Those tive preaching will be still more books of instruction, from which, rarely heard. And that spurious as exuberant fountains, our fathers charity, which consists in disredrew the precious and health-giv- gard of Gospel truth, and indiffering waters of life, are now laid ence or kind feelings towards eraside. Something new is eagerly ror, will be still more prevalent. sought after. And nothing can Let the rising generation grow be tolerated, even if new, unless up in this state of mind; let them it furnishes entertainment to the form such a taste, and such habimagination or stimulus to the pas-its, and they will be prepared to sions. And even then, it will tire, fall an easy and a willing prey to if it is not short. Those maga
All the native zines which contained doctrinal feelings of the human heart are on instruction and theological investi- the side of error.
All that is nec. gation, which required labour of essary to ensure its progress is to thought in the writers, and labour keep truth out of view. This has of attention in the readers, have been well understood by the adgradually perished, one after anoth- vocates of error in all
It er; and the few that survive must was well understood by the advo
cates of Socinianism in N. England. / us : The professed friends of truth In their private correspondence are themselves doing the work of with their friends in Europe, a few its enemies. And they are doing years since, they disclosed the pol-it far more effectually, too, than its icy they were pursuing. It was enemies could, if they were on the not to raise a controversy against ground. the truth. It was not to propagate
Let matters go on in this course; their tenets, by preaching or writ- let the causes which are now opeing in their favour. It was to keep rating to a great extent throughout in the dark. It was to cry down the American churches, but contindoctrinal and instructive preach- ue to operate, and the door will soon ing. It was to appear strenuous be thrown open to the advocates alvocates for charity, liberality and of error. Let our Ministers and good feeling among all denomina- churches continue to sleep over tions. They knew that the tem- the danger; let no alarm be soundper of the natural heart was oned; let no more efficient measures their side. And they clearly saw, be adopted to guard the purity of that if the great truths of the gos- the faith ; let orthodox books, and pel could be kept out of sight, orthodox preaching go more and they would be gradually and si- more into disrepute ; and let the iently expelled from the public rising generation grow up with a mind ; and then their victory confirmed disrelish of doctrinal would be certain. As long as instruction and enquiry; and I they were able to pursue this cov- see nothing which is likely to opert policy, it was attended with pose even a feeble barrier to the great success. And so it will universal spread of Socinianism. doubtless be again. There is this difference, however, among
A SON OF THE PILGRIMS.
FOR TRS HOPEIXSIAX MAGAZINE.
acquainted, than any other divine of his day.
He was, indeed, ESSAYS UPON HOPKINSIANISM. mighty in the Scriptures, and No. II.
greatly excelled in the exposition
of them. To this, the survivors Character of Dr. Hopkins.
among his stated hearers, can atThe mind of Dr. Hopkins was test; who sat with much delight endued with no ordinary pow- and edification, while, as his maners. For clearness of conception, ner was, for many years, he exdepth of penetration, and sound-pounded a chapter, or large portion pess of judgment, he was equalled of a chapter, every Sabbath mornby few in any age or nation. The ing. “His mind appeared readily strength and firmness of his bodi- to enter into the spirit and comly. constitution, rendered him ca- prehend the meaning of passages, pable of intense application to which, to others, were obscure. study, for many years, and ena- And, though he did not neglect bled him to perform an uncommon consulting expositors and commendegree of ministerial labour. His tators, with whose works he was kreat study was the Bible, that well acquainted, yet his uncominexhaustiðle fountain of Divine mon discernment of the sense and truth ; with the sacred contents of import of the sacred writings, which, he was, probably, better seemed to arise, rather from a