« ForrigeFortsett »
treat of realities, and treat of them in words that can be understood; but many books on religion, and many preachers, seem to deal only in words. And the consequence is, many fancy religion is a delusion, a fanaticism, a dream. Others believe there is something in it, but they cannot conceive what it is. Yet teachers and preachers appear not properly to understand why so many get weary of sermons and religious books. Let them talk in plain good English, and say nothing but what has some great Christian reality under it, and sermons and religious books will be the most popular things on earth.
-I would never sacrifice Christian truth to conciliate the world; but I would sacrifice everything at variance with Christian truth; and I would present Christian truth itself in as intelligible and taking a form as possible.
-The antinomian theology has had a terribly corrupting effect on many members of churches. I meet proofs of it every day. God help me to do my duty. Some of my hearers say to me, 'We come to church to be comforted, and not to be continually told to do, do, do.' I do not wish people to be comforted unless they will do their duty; and they will never lack comfort if they do do it. Comfort is for those who labor to comfort and benefit others, and not for those who care only for themselves. I try to make the easy-going, indolent and selfish professors miserable: and in some cases I succeed. But I make others happy, thank God, by inducing them to give themselves heartily to Christian work.
-Here are a few more good words from Baxter: 'Many proclaim the praise of truth in general, but reject and persecute its various portions. The name of truth they honor, but the truth itself they despise.'
EXTRACTS FROM MY DIARY.
'Passion is a great seducer of the understanding, and strangely blindeth and perverteth the judgment.'
'When passion hath done boiling and the heart is cooled, and leaveth the judgment to do its work without clamor and disturbance, it is strange to see how things will appear to you to be quite of another tendency than in your frenzy you esteemed them.'
'Be more studious to hold and improve those common truths which all profess, than to oppose the particular opinions of any, except so far as those common truths require you to do so.'
'Be not borne down by the censoriousness of any, to outrun your own understanding and the truth, and to comply with them in their errors and extremes; but hold to the truth and keep your station. 'Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them.' Jer. xv. 19.’
'Believe nothing that contradicteth the end of all religion. If its tendency be against a holy life, it cannot be truth.'
'Plead not the darker texts of Scripture against those that are more plain and clear, nor a few texts against many that are as plain. plain. That passage that is interpreted against the most plain and frequent expressions of the Scriptures is certainly misinterpreted.'
I will carry out these principles to the best of my ability. -I notice that Christ never tells people that they cannot repent and do God's will without divine help. He did not think it necessary to supply people with excuses for their neglect of duty. And He knew that divine help is never withheld from any man. All have the help needed to do what God requires. There is no danger of any man trying to do anything good before he receives power from God. God is always beforehand with men.
—I have had a troubled night. I have not slept soundly for a week. I have had odd hours of sleep, but never a quarter of a night's unbroken rest. Parties will talk with me about religion, and I am foolish enough to talk with them, yet we never quite agree. They insist on the sacredness of every old notion and of every old word they have received from their teachers, and I believe in the sacredness of nothing but Scripture truth and common sense. They cannot understand me, and I cannot accept their nonsense. And they have no idea of liberty or toleration. They allow no excuse for not being sound in the faith, and no one is sound in the faith according to their notions but those who agree with them. They know nothing of the foundation on which the Connexion was built. They know nothing of Wesley nothing, at least, of his liberal views. The fundamental principles of the Connexion justify me in my freedom of investigation, and in the sentiments which I hold and teach; but they do not know this. They know nothing but that every one is to think as they think, and talk as they talk. Hence they keep me on the rack.
I am tired. I feel sad. I could weep. I feel as if I could like to run away, like Elijah, and hide myself in the wilds of some great mountain. But no; I must stand my ground, and do my duty. Shall truth be timid, and error bold? Shall folly rage and be confident, and wisdom be afraid to whisper? Help me, O God, to do my duty as Thy servant, and as the minister of Thy Gospel.
-There are some verses of hymns that are sung in almost all religious assemblies that have nothing answering to them in Scripture. John Wesley once said, that the hymns which were the greatest favorites among the Methodists were the worst in the whole Hymn Book. It is the same still I fear, to some extent. Let those who would like to know to what words and hymns we refer, take themselves to task for a time, and. demand Scriptural authority for every word and expression they utter. We would save them the trouble, were it not that we have learned that instruction from others is of no use to people who do not endeavor to teach themselves.
But take a sample or two. I cannot sing the following:
TIRED AND SAD.
"Forbid it Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God."
"The immortal God hath died for me," &c.
Jesus died, and God dwelt in Jesus, but God did not die. Great allowances are made to poets; but they should not be encouraged to write impossibilities.
"A heart that always feels Thy blood,” &c.
I feel thankful for the love which led Jesus to die for me; but I cannot say I feel the blood. I feel the happy effects of the death or blood-shedding of Jesus; and perhaps that is what the poet means.
"When from the dust of death I rise,
This is not scriptural. The good servant in the parable of the talents says: "Lord, Thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more." And so far was his Lord from finding fault with his plea, that he answered, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." And why may not other faithful servants use the same plea?
John makes perfect love, or likeness to Jesus, the ground of confidence or boldness in the day of judgment. How strange that Christian writers should be so ignorant of the Bible, or so regardless of its teachings. Some of them seem to think they are saying very fine things when they are talking their anti-Christian nonsense. Help me, Ó God, to speak and act in accordance with Thy word.
Fine writing may be a fine thing, but true writing is a
I suppose it is as hard for theologians to give up their anti-Christian words and notions as it is for drunkards to give up their drink. But it would be well for them to consider, that self-denial may be as necessary to their salvation, as it is to the salvation of infidels and profligates.
I would sacrifice a little poetry to truth. I would not be very particular, but do let us have substantial truth. Do not let us encumber and disfigure religion by absurdities, impossibilities, and antinomian abominations.
Some one has said, "The world is very jealous of those who assail its religious ignorance. Its old mistakes are great idols. No man has ever carried a people one march nearer the promised land without being in danger of being stoned. No man has ever purified the life of an age, without substantially laying down his own."
I am anxious only for truth and righteousness. Truth and righteousness I respect in all sects, from the Quakers to the Catholics; and I hate nonsense, and lies, and sin, in professing Christians, as much as in Turks and pagans. So end the extracts from my Diary.
I have just been reading an article in the Christian Advocate, and I can't resist the temptation to give a short
extract or two.
"Not only is there an emasculated theology, but there is not a little emasculated preaching.
THE REFORMING TENDENCY.
"Nothing is emptier or feebler than cant-ringing the changes on what may be called the stock phrases of one's sect. John Wesley once said, 'Let but a pert, self-sufficient animal, that has neither sense nor grace, bawl out something about 'Christ,' or 'His blood,' or 'justification by faith, and there are not wanting those who will cry out, 'What a fine Gospel sermon!' For myself, I prefer a sermon on either good tempers or good works to such 'Gospel
"Take away from certain preachers their 'heavenly tone, as the old lady called it-their sing-song cadences, and their favorite pulpit phrases and you take away the principal part of their stock in trade. Out upon such 'words without knowledge'-sound without sense!
"Quite as destitute of Gospel power is that preaching which consists largely in the presentation of old worn-out theories, musty scholastic philosophies about religion, usually paraded under the pretentious title of 'doctrine.'
"The devil, it is said, once inspired a dead priest to preach an orthodox sermon. On being questioned by his imps why he ventured on such a deliverance, he replied very significantly, that nothing made infidels more effectually than orthodoxy preached by dead men's lips."
THE REFORMING TENDENCY.
HAD a third tendency which helped to get me into trouble; namely, a reforming tendency. Earnest and active-minded young men are generally reformers. In me the reforming tendency was unusually strong. I wanted to reform everybody and everything, and to do it thoroughly, and without delay. And I commenced operations very early.
1. It was the custom of my class-leader to read over to his class once a quarter the rules of society, and to request the