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from the operation of this sentence, the Pope and his councils can plead no exemption.
If the visionary enthusiast, presuming upon his immediate inspirations, condemn the use of premeditated discourses, and a public liturgy; he who rightly judges, by the rule of God's word, and the example of the apostolical church, is ready to answer, that no immediate suggestions, of the spirit of God, can be discordant with those truths, which it has already declared, and with that law of good order which it has established in the written word-and, that no man can be required to receive any doctrine, as the immediate suggestion of the Spirit, which is not confirmed by the evidence of miracles, or the gift of prophecy.
And, as to premeditated discourses, and public liturgies, they had their place in the early ages of the apostolical church, where they were admitted for the purpose of avoiding fanatical effusion, and obtaining the common consent of the ministers and people, in their addresses to Almighty God.
If one separatist, humbly lamenting the tenderness of his conscience, and another boldly insisting upon the freedom of opinion, reject the fellowship of the established church, and seek the truth of the Gospel, from those pastors who, in their several conventicles, plead a secret and special call to the ministry; the man who has rightly formed his judgment upon the authority of the word of God, and the example of primitive Christianity, will, in vain, be invited into their society, whilst he sees that the church of Christ was constituted as one undivided body that those who, upon the like frivolous pretences, forsook the fellowship of that body, who either renounced its faith or despised its discipline, were not, during the primitive and purer ages, even ranked under the name of Christians; but were regarded by the whole apostolical church, as heathen men, and as publicans : and that, in the age of the apostles, and in every age of the true church, no man could be duly acknowledged
a minister, who did not derive his authority, by public and official appoint
ment, from the apostles of Christ, and therefore from Christ himself, the great shepherd of the universal flock.
Many cases of a parallel nature might be specified : but let these suffice, as examples of the application of a right judgment, in proving all things ; and of its invincible force, in holding fast that which is good.
Upon the whole, then, we may conclude, that human judgment, or the light of reason, has its due place and office in the affairs of religion ; but that, notwithstanding this, its lawful operation is bounded by certain fixt and determined limits: that the plea of private judgment cannot be allowed to a professed Christian, unless he judge fairly and consistently upon Christian principles; and that a discriminative acknowledgment of the divine authority of the Holy Scripture, and a respectful attention to the constitution of the primitive and apostolical church, are leading principles, necessary to the forming of a right Christian judgment.
Let us, then, implore the Giver of every good gift, for his grace, to employ our natural powers, with diligence and sincerity, in the examination of his sacred word, and
the discernment of those laws of order, which tend to the edification of his church, that we may, henceforth, be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every
wind of doctrine ; bút; speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ !
And may God grant us, by the divine light of his blessed Spirit, to have a right judgment in all things, that we may evermore rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour! Amen.
OF THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE NEW
I COR. II. 5.
That your faith should not stand in the wist
dom of men, but in the power of God.
In the records of the New Testament, we have a history of the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, together with an account of certain precepts, which he enjoined to his disciples, and a certain system of doctrine, which, through them, he taught to the world. And whosoever admits the truth of these records, even in the most general way, is bound to acknowledge, with the Jewish doctors, that Christ was a teacher come from God, because no man could have done those works which he did, except God were with him.
But, as the books of the New Testament are not transmitted to us in the writing of Christ himself, but in that of his apostles, and other disciples, there is room for in