« ForrigeFortsett »
Church or the religion of' Christ; and who are, in truth, unbelievers, practical and theoretical, in the midst of all the means of instruction and grace. Many of the Dissenters from the Church of England, Papists* :Presbyterians, Quakers, (whatever other denomination they may have chosen) have at all times displayed examples of faith, charity, and every Christian virtue. Such men are without controversy members of the Catholic Church, though they may enjoy no secular splendor, power, or prosperity. I wish them to become Members of our own most excellent Church ; but I cannot pronounce them to be excluded from the Church of Christ, because they are out of our Own; and who art thou, O Man, who shall presume to exclude thy fellow creaturefrom the Mercy of thine and his almighty Maker: I have only to add, that when they tvor* thily communicate at the Eucharist, how* ever their modeof administering may differ, as to'the external ceremony, they are yet united to the body of Christ by faith and love. The Quakers, indeed, who administer not the Sacrament at all, are, I 'x conceive conceive, under a great error; yet as their worship is spiritual, and their dispositions, evinced by their Actions, remarkably charitable, I am willing to believe that they hold communion with all other sincere Christians, by a mental or cordial communion, and so are not separated from the Catholic Church. I wish any thing I could say, (though I wish without hope,) could prevail with them to take "the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace." I lament what appears to me to be their mistake; but, far be it from any Christian, to say, that they are cut off by it from the body of Christ, while they exhibit proofs in other respects of a Christian faith and a Christian life.
Let us all, who name the name of Christ, ** keep the Unity Of The Spirit in the *« bond of peace;" and remember, that God is the Father of us all, and will pity his own children, though narrow and SeVere Theologists, from the school*, should pronounce their condemnation.
The Idea erroneous, that the Maintenance of the Dignity of the Catholic Church and the Rites of Christianity is unfavourable to civil Liberty.
Vtood order, subordination, tranquillity, justice, and mercy, are the legitimate and lovely children of true Religion. It is a most unfortunate mistake, and a most unjust calumny, to think and affirm, that the Catholic Church of Christ is hostile to the common rights of Man in civil Society.
Has any system of polity ever existed in the world which honoured the poorest and lowest ranks of men as they are honoured by the Christian Religion? In the Kingdom of Christ, which is the Church,
MAN IS RESPECTED AS MAN, exclusively
of all regard to the external circumstances of riches, honours, or station. All human being's in it are considered as one x 2 family, family, the offspring of one parent, and all cherished with maternal affection. The nursing-mother seems to say to the world, in the pathetic language and beautiful imagery of our Saviour, "How often "would I have gathered my children to"gether, even as a hen gathereth her "chickens under her wings; and ye "- would not."
I should love the religion of Christ evea as a heathen philosopher and philanthropist, for its beneficent effects on the hufnan race. It is the guide of youth, the support of age, the repose of tfye weary, the refuge of the miserable. It arrests the hand of the oppressor, by appalling his conscience; or, if haply the oppressor should proceed and prevail, it teaches the oppressed to look Avith confidence to a Deliverer, mighty to save.
Rome was free; yet slavery was permitted there, and slaves treated with lingular inhumanity. We.read in history, that when sick, they were often turned out of doorg to take their chance, or sent in. mockery to an island in the Tiber, to be cured by the god, iEsculapius. By the Roman man laws a slave could not give evidence without the torture; and if a master were killed in his own house, all the slaves, however numerous, were put to death, though their innocence were manifest. Hut the Christian Emperors made laws in favour of this unfortunate set of men, and their chains were at length broken asunder by the prevalence of Christianity.
Slavery might, perhaps, be revived in Europe, if it were compatible with this philanthropic religion. There are persons living without religious restraint, who seem, from the unfeeling insolence of their behaviour to their inferiors, sufficiently willing that hereditary slavery should be again established. But Christianity has banished it, and nothing but a return to barbarous ignorance, and a total apostasy fronl Christ can ever restore it.
Before the introduction of Christianitv, infants were often exposed to destruction by their libertine parents, as soon as born, and the practice scarcely deemed infamous; men were compelled to fight with "wild beasts., and to murder each other for the entertainment of a theatre; ai«<l the x 3 amusement