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dare to be singularly consistent in his confession of faith, while the people around him, like the fickle and philosophic Athenians of old, are eager for some new thing, and ready to overwhelm with contempt and obloquy, any one who shall refuse to run with them, the same headlong and heedless course of innovation.
My brethren, on which side should we be found, were a decision now demanded of us ?–To mention, by way of example, one point on which our consistency might be tried.—We meet here to worship the Lord God of our Fathers as revealed to us in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, himself, very and eternal God,-according to the rites, and in the form of sound words prepared by the piety, and sanctified by the prayers of our fathers, and hallowed by the use of many successive generations.-Were it now, at length, discovered that the spirit of these forms of worship is too narrow and confined for the notions of the age in which we live—that the doctrines which are inculcated, and brought prominently forward in almost every prayer are too exclusive for the capacious liberality of modern enlightenment-how should we be influenced by such imposing assertions?
You will tell me perhaps, that I am asking a question which does not need an answer—because I am supposing a case which is not likely to occur.-Be it so, my brethren.-Suppose the contingency improbable in the highest degreeyet so long as it be barely possible, it is not the less incumbent upon us in a matter of such moment, to be provided with our decision whenever we may be called upon to give one. He who neglects to take counsel till the time for action arrives, is not very likely to be right either in the one or the other.—Certainly it is very possible that we may never be required to give up our Liturgy, or to suppress any of the doctrines which the Liturgy so unequivocally avows.—Nevertheless it is our duty to understand satisfactorily, why we would continue to use its prayers and to believe its doctrines.—To do this, we have only to compare it with the unerring word of God, and we shall find perhaps that where the one is exclusive, the other also excludes where the one is comprehensive, the other also enlarges itself.—Is not the very Gospel itself—that which was to be “glad tidings of great joy to all people,"—is not even this exclusive ? Inasmuch as it provides the means of salvation to all “ people, nations and languages," and to every individual of each, it is comprehensive as the universe. It is liberal, inasmuch as without money and without price, it has offered freely to all, that which the wealth of the universe could not have purchased. But salvation is provided and offered upon precise and definite terms-and none can be partakers of the benefit but those who conform to the terms. “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be sayed: but he that believeth not, shall be damned"."-And is not this to be exclusive!-- These terms, not all the wit, nor the power of man can alter. Need we fear to practise that inflexibility of which Christ himself has set us an example ? Shall any false notions-however specious and however prevalent, drive us to a compromise which all the noblest of God's servants have resisted to the death?–Surely if ever the emergency should arise, if ever we should be called upon to render our confession of faith conformable to the approved principles of the day-our course must be a plain one. All that may be yielded--we are ready to yield freely for peace’-sake.-But we cannot rob God, for the gratification of man. We cannot assert that, which we believe to be false--nor suppress or soften down that which we believe to be true. Should we be required to do this—whatever may be the rewards promised to acquiescence-or the punishments threatened to denial-may the supporting aid of God's Holy Spirit inspire us with a due share of that devoted resolution which dictated the words of the text.
to walk the straightforward course of Christian integrity without turning to the right hand or the left.--May we hold us fast by God through Jesus Christ in all the difficulties, trials, and temptations with which it may please him that our path should be beset, following cheerfully in the footsteps, and offering up earnest prayers to the Throne of Grace, through Him our example and Lord, who “ for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down for ever at the right hand of God.”
1 Heb. xi. 2.