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ERRATA. Page 22, 17th line from the top, for fail read are a forl. P. 62, 6th line from the bottom insert not after does. P. 165, 5th line from the bottom, for deeds read duels. P. 267, in the text of Sermon xvi. insert the death of. P. 336, 17th line from bottom for unjust read just. P. 391, 17th line from top, for external read eternal. P. 394, 6th line from bottom, omit to after not,
FAITHFUL MINISTERS AVOW THEIR RELIGIOUS
Acts, XXIV. 14.--But this I confess unto thee, that after the way, which they call heresy, so wor. ship the God of my fathers ; believing all things, which are written in the law and the prophets.
After Paul returned from Greece to Jerusalem, he went into the temple to preach ; but the Asiatic Jews stirred up all the people and laid hands on him and would have killed him, if the chief captain had not taken him out of their hands and led him to the castle. When he came upon the stairs, he requested and obtained leave of the captain to make his defence before the people. After this, the chief captain carried him before the Sanhedrim, the highest ecclesiastical court in the nation. In pleading before them, he so wisely managed his cause, as to disunite them in opinion, which defeated their design to condemn him.--But though the council dismissed him, yet a number of the people conspired against him and bound themselves, by an oath, that they would not eat, nor drink, till they had slain him. When this was made known to the chief captain, he sent a band of soldiers to conduct him in safety to Felix, the governor. Felix immediately sent to Jerusalem for Ananias with the elders, to come and exhibit their complaints against Paul. When they were come, they employed one Tertullus, an orator, to be their advocate. He opened their cause with peculiar address ; and exhibited their complaints. After the governor had heard them, he beckoned to Paul to make a reply. In his reply, he absolutely denied the charges, which had been alleged against him.
But he turned to the governor and said, " This I confess unto thee, that after the way, which they call hercsy, so worship I the God of my fathers ; believing all things, which are written in the law and the prophets.” Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, which he preached, nor afraid to profess his belief of its great and essential doctrines, though he knew they were called, by the greatest men in the nation, an absurd and fatal heresy. Hence we conclude,
That those, who preach the true doctrines of the gospel, are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments, though they know, that they are called heresy by others.
I. I shall show, that the true doctrines of the gospel are very often called heresy ; And,
II. Show why those, who preach them, are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments,
I. I am to show, that the true doctrines of the gospel are very often called heresy.
The gospel was essentially preached to Adam, and from Adam to Abraham ; and from Abraham to Moses ; and from Moses to Christ. But through all that long tract of time, it was generally misunderstood and misrepresented by all the heathen nations ; and by many who professed to acknowledge its truth and divinity. When Christ came and preached the gospel, with greater purity and plainness, not only the Gentiles, but the Jews disbelieved, misrepresented and rejected it. Both the Pharisees and Sadducees hated and opposed him and finally put him to death, for preaching the plain and important truths of the gospel. And wherever the apostles preached the same doctrines, they were generally represented, by Jews and Gentiles, as a mean and contemptible sect, who propagated gross heresies and delusions. Tertullus, in his plea against Paul, said, “We have found this man, a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition among all the Jews, throughout the world ; and a ring-leader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” As Christ was brought up in Nazareth, an obscure place, his enemies reproachfully called him, a Nazarene, and his followers, Nazarenes ; and Paul, a ring-leader of that despicable sect. And when Paul came to Rome and called upon Christians to come and see him, They said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren, that came, shewed, or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest : for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” James and Stephen were early put to death, by the Jews, for preaching the gospel in Judea ; and the other apostles, who went round the world preaching the gospel to Jews and Pagans were every where opposed, abused and finally persecuted unto death. The primitive Christians suffered no less than ten bloody persecutions. And ever since those times, such Christians, as have embraced and maintained the pure doctrines of the gospel, have been more, or less opposed and persecuted by heathens and by multitudes, who professed to believe the gospel. The Sabellians, Arians and Socinians were the earliest sectarians, that arose in the church in the third and fourth century, who disbelieved and denied some of the essential doctrines of the gospel. Since their day, a flood of sectarians have sprung up in the Christian world, who have opposed, misrepresented and denied some, or all of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Among nominal Christians, at the present time, there are Antinomians, Arminians, Methodists, Universalists and Unitarians, besides a number of minor sectarians, who unite in calling the pure doctrines of the gospel, which Paul preached, gross heresies if not blasphemies.--Though the ministers in New England generally profess to believe and maintain the same doctrines, which their fathers who planted these churches, professed and maintained ; yet many of them do not preach the same doctrines, nor approve of others, who do preach them. There are indeed some, who preach the same doctrines, plainly and fully, that Paul preached and that the first ministers in New-England preached ; but they are eve