« 이전계속 »
Publifh this Difcourfe, not for the Information or Entertainment of the Learned, but (as the Title speaks) for the Inftruction of common Chriftians; thofe more efpecially with whom I am concerned as a Parish Minister, for whose Use the greateft Part of it was originally drawn up. Its Defign is to fhew the true Grounds of our Salvation by Christ; and what is that pure, fpiritual Service, which, as Chriftians, we are bound to pay. The great Neglect of God's publick Worship, which has been growing for fome Years paft, no doubt, is very much owing to Unbelief and Corruption of Manners; and where this is the Cafe, little Help (I fear) is to be expected from Reafon and Argument. But there may be an Indifference to the Gospel Inftitutions, arifing from low, difadvantageous Notions of them, in those in whom the Principles of Faith and Moral Virtue are not loft; which I apprehend to be a very common Cafe. They who reft every thing upon Moral Virtue, and confider outward Appointments as naked Signs or Profeffions only (and these Notions have with great Industry been propagated of late) will be very apt to fall into the Opinion, that, Virtue fuppofed, the reft is of little Ufe or Confequence. But if we confider Salvation
Salvation as the Purchase of Christ's Blood; and the Inftitutions of Chrift, as the Channels through which (by his Appointment) the Grace of the Gofpel is conveyed to us; this cuts off all Pretence: For, upon this Foot, a Refufal to join in the Ufe of thefe Inftitutions, will, in Effect, be a Renunciation of our INTEREST in Christ, and a cutting ourselves off from all UNION and COMMUNION with him.
It is in this View that I have placed the Chriftian Worship; and therefore I lay my Foundation in the Doctrine of our Redemption by Chrift; which I have delivered as it lies in the Scripture, without attending to the laboured Artifices, by which the Socinian Writers have endeavoured to obfcure and deface it. To enter into thefe Niceties was not agreeable to the Purpofe of this Difcourfe: For how much would common Readers have been the better for it? They who have confidered the Socinian Interpretations, know their Worth; and they who know nothing of them,
may venture to say, will never feel the Want of them. Subtil Heads may perplex the clearest Points; but if any one comes to the reading of the New Teftament, only with his plain natural Senfe about him; whatever Difficulties he may find in accounting for the Reasons of God's Providence in faving us by the Blood of his Son, offered as a Sacrifice and Propitiation for Sin (which is a Point that we are not at all qualified to judge of) I verily think it will be impoffible for him to doubt whether this be a Scripture Doctrine or not.
The principal Parts of the Chriftian Worship are Prayer, and the partaking of the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood; which have of late been made the Subject of much learned Difpute. And as Difputes, howfoever ufeful on fome Accounts,
are apt to unfettle those who may not have Leifure or Capacities to trace Things backward and forward through a long Series of Argumentation; I thought it might give Help to well-meaning Perfons to place the whole before them, in an easy and familiar Light. And though, in Conformity with this Defign, I have avoided the Formality of Objections and Answers, and pursued my own Thoughts in a plain and natural Way; yet I have paid fuch Regard to the material Points under each Queftion, that, in fo much as is neceffary for common Information, I hope no one will find Caufe to complain for want of reasonable Satisfaction. In the Account I have given of the Nature of the Sacrament, I have followed Dr. Cudworth, who feems to me to have hit upon the true Notion of it.
There are two Extreams chiefly to be guarded againft, in refpect of the Gofpel Inftitutions. One is a fuperftitious Shynefs; the other, a prefumptuous Familiarity. The firft is incident only to the beft Difpofitions, whofe Concern to do every Thing in the most acceptable Manner, leads them fometimes into unreafonable Jealoufies, which either keep them back from God's Ordinances, or take away much of that Comfort which they might otherwife reap from the use of them. I have endeavoured to cut off the Occafions of such Scruples, as the Sources from whence they are wont to arife have fallen in my Way; which I thought fo much the more neceffary, as Enthufiafm now begins to lift up her Head, and many are running after new Inventions. But I think that our greateft Danger, at prefent, lies on the other Side. To be overfcrupulous is not the general Temper of the Age; and therefore I have been large in fhewing the Neceffity of a good moral Life to sanctify our Devo
tions, and make them an Offering acceptable in the Sight of God. To give Encouragement to Perfons to join in our publick Worship, who bring not with them the due Qualifications, is doing the worft kind of Differvice to Religion; and could I believe that the Inftitutions of Chrift may be complied with in a Manner agreeable to the End and Defign of them, by those who have not one Grain of true Virtue in them; I fhould certainly have left the Defence of them to other Hands. They would, upon this Suppofition, be the useless infignificant Things that Unbelievers would gladly have them thought. But if by the Engagements they lay us under, and the Helps they adminifter, they are Inftruments ferving to a good Life; as this will be a proper Encouragement to all serious Chriftians to be diligent in the Observance of them, fo it should cure Unbelievers of fome of their Prejudices, when they fee this friendly Alliance between the Gospel and Natural Religion; if they are Earnest in their Boaftings about Natural Religion, and do not mean all this Talk as a Cover for Licentiousness.
The Difcourfe on SPEECH hath this Affinity with the foregoing Subject, that it contains an Account of one Act of Religious Worship, not less material than any of the reft, and with refpect to which, Caution is equally neceffary, if Arguments could do any thing to hinder the many Profanations of it. I am not vain enough to think that I fhall be able to reform Mankind: But any feasonable Attempt will not be thought, I hope, unbecoming my Profeffion. And if in but a few Inftances I may be fuccefsful; or if what is here offered, may help to keep Religion and common Honefty in fome Countenance, in a bad World, I fhall think my Pains well beftowed.
HE Cbrifian Worship relative to the Chriftian Doc-