« PreviousContinue »
teachers of tliis character have actu. a thing as heresy, as it is manifest ally existed. Inspired men, being from the word of God there is, then cotemporary with these false teacho it is equally manifest that heresy is ers, could detect them, and waru still extant. Which are the berethe Church against their destructive sies ? is another question. All I wish
To effect this was one im- now to prove is their existence. portant object of those epistles sent Very different opinions are enterfrom Heaven by the Son of God tained in the visible Church on such himself which are recorded in the be- interesting points as the attributes of ginning of the Revelation of St. God, his counsels, his laws, and his John.
government. Very different opin2. The future existence of false ions are entertained concerning the teachers is predicted by the inspired apostacy of man, and the extent of writers; so that we have the spirit bis depravity, and the necessity of of inspiration to assure us, not only redemption ; also, concerning the that teachers of this character did then person and work of the Redeemer; exist, but also that they would exist in also the way in which we gain and succeeding periods of the Church. preserve an interest in his special faThe Saviour forewarns his Church
No less different opinions that there would arise false Christs are entertained concerning the resurand false prophets, who would de rection of the dead, and eternal judgceive, if it were possible, the very ment, with its endless consequences. elect. Paul when taking leave of Now is it not impossible, that we the Ephesian elders, delivers this af- should embrace sentiments which fecting prediction : “ For I know are entirely dissimilar on points so this, that after my departing shall fundamental, and yet none of us be grievous wolves enter in among you, guilty of heresy ? All who believe not sparing ibe flock. Also of your that heresies ever existed, will not selves shall men arise, speaking per- hesitate to admit, there is the fullest verge things, to draw away disciples evidence that they still exist. after them.” The apostle Peter is But how does the present exisvery explicit on this point, in his tence of heresies, prove the present second epistle at the beginning of existence of false teachers ? It is, in the second chapter : “ But there the first place, evident that heresies were false prophets also among the are originated and propagated by people, even as there shall be false corrupt reachers. The origin of ieacher's anong you.” By the light beretical sentiments is accounted for of revealed truth it is evident, that in this way ; that “ men shall arise, false teachers have been in the speaking perverse things, to draw Church since the apostolic age. away disciples after them.” First,
3. The present existence of here there is a corrupt master, and then a sies is proof of the present existence corrupt school. It is perfectly natot talse teachers. Under this head ural to infer, that as heresies are init will be incumbeui on nie, first to debted to heretical teachers for their prove the present existence of bere- origin, so it is by their influence sies, and then to show how this proves they are perpetuated. Ifl mistake the existence of false teachers. not, Paul attributes to heretical teacb
As to the present existence of her. ers the continuance of heretical deesies in the Christian Church, it ception, in a passage in the third needs no other proof but this indis- chapter of his second Epistle to putable fact; that systenis of faith Timothy : “ Now as Janines and are still extensively embraced which Jambres withstood Moses, so do are not only unlike, but fundamen- these also resist the truth; men of tally different and contradictory to corruptwinds, reprobate concerning each other. Now if there be such the faith. But they shall proceed
no further; for their folly shall be Could a teacher of this character have made manifest unto all men, as a sight of the benevolent compassion theirs also was.” It is manifest that which the children of God feel for corrupt teachers in the Christian him, while they are supplicating the Church are pointed out and illustra- throne of grace for his translation into ted by the case of the magicians of the kingdom of Christ, his conscience Egypt, who withstood Moses, and at least must approve, and say, “I by their magical arts deceived the ought not to hate these people bepeople. If the teachers of false doc- cause they are praying for my contrines were once to have their folly version.' Thomas Scott never had made manifest to all men, it would any reason, and never will, to all be difficult to keep up the credit of eternity, have any reason to hate their systems. It is by the good words Mr. Newton, for being so importunate and fair speeches. of these that the in praying for him as a blind guide, hearts of the simple are deceived. that his eyes might be opened. (see Rom. xvi, 18.)
2. When false teachers are conAs it is evident that the Milleni- verted, the display which is made of um has not yet come, when Satan the power and grace of God, is very is to be bound and Christ is to have illustrious. The peculiar obstinacy universal dominion, so we have no and criminality of such characters, reason to think that the teachers of makes room for a striking manifesthe Christian Church are. as yet, all tation of divine power to overcome taught of God. It is to be one of such obstinacy; and of mercy, to the peculiar glories of that blessed save and bless a leader in the ranks period, that Zion's watchmen will
of the enemy.
The conversion of all be united in the knowledge and such men resembles the conversion love of the truth. That is the fa- of Saul the persecutor. And the vored time when the watchmen will conversion of Saul brought a great all see eye to eye, and lift up their revenue of praise to the God of all voice together. But this is far from grace.
All the followers of Christ, being characteristic of the present when they heard of his conversion, day. The watchmen are very far and that he preached the faith which from seeing eye to eye. They do once he destroyed, glorified God in not merely disagree in the modes him. So it is now whenever a blind and forms of religion ; they differ in guide has his eyes opened, and begins things of the most vital importance. to preach the truth as it is in Jesus.
I trust it has been made to appear, 3. The probable effect which the that it indicates no want of charity, conversion of a false teacher will because we believe that blind guides have on the cause of truth, is a poware still to be found in the Church. erful motive to draw forih prayers in I shall now suggest some motives to his behalf. The conversion of such excite Christians to pray for their a sinner, would be apt to arrest an conversion.
uncommon degree of attention. 1. Prayer for the conversion of There is no work which the Almighty blind guides, is an expression of love is performing on the earth, which is to them. Their souls are precious; to be compared with that which he and there is great reason to fear that effects in the hearts of men, in conthey will be forever lost. The Sa- verting them from rebels into friends: viour said, “ If the blind lead the and yet it is apt to attract but little blind, they will both fall into the of the attention of a world buried in ditch." The blind leader will not business of pleasure. There are only fall into the bottomless pit; but times when the Captain of salvation he will sink low in it. How can we subdues by his grace some gigantic love the soul of such a man, and not foe, which serves to arrest more genpray for his conversion to God ? eral attention. Such a conquest as we are now contemplating, is pecue of the doctrine of the cross.
It reliarly calculated to do it; and on markably qualified bim to explain this account it is greatly to be desi- and enforce the doctrine of a free red. Certainly it is to be devoutly justification through the righteousness wished, that the attention of creatures of God our Saviour. should be turned to the brightest dis- There are, without doubt, many play of the Creator's glory.
men who now sustain the office of There is another way in which the ministers of the Gospel, who are men cause of truth will be greatly bene. of superior talents and education, fitted by the conversion of blind who are nevertheless worse than useguides; it will put a stop to their less, on account of their ignorance of misguiding others. Blind guides are the truth. These men need nothing said to lead their fellow men into the but a new heart to render them onditch ; in other words, they lead speakable blessings to the Church. them down to hell. They are char. Were they only to receive their sight, ged with taking away the key of it cannot be a matter of doubt what knowledge, so as to hinder men from they would do :—they would forthentering the kingdom of beaven. with preach the faith which they Their word is said to eat like a cau- have despised. Who can help but ker, to the overthrowing of the faith wish and pray for a host of such of their hearers. Their doctrines preachers ? are called “ damnable heresies," It is possible that objections will which prove destructive not only to arise in the minds of some against themselves, but also to their follow- the proposal which has been made, ers. Who can number the souls to pray for the conversion of blind which have been eternally undone by guides. one heresiarch ! Every false teaclier 1st. It may be objected that we is undoubtedly the instrument of ru- cannot pray for blind guides, unless ining many. In this point of view we are informed who they are. This every such conversion is unspeakably is not at all necessary: We can important Were such a man to be pray for all the sick without knowing truly converted, he would crase 10 who are now in this condition. We pervert the right way of the Lord. can pray for all the heathen without He would be deeply bumbled with knowing the name of a single beathen. the mischief which he had already We can ask God to undeceive such done.
as have a false hope, without being The conversion of a false teaclier able ourselves to searcin the bearis of would effect more than merely to put our fellow men. That there are false a stop to his doing inischief, it would teachers, is perfectly evident, as we prepare him to be very useful. I have already seen ; we need not an heretical teacher is made a sub. therefore hesitate to pray for their ject of divine grace, he will embrace conversion. the truth. To him truth appears to 2dly. It will be objected, that be a matter of no small consequence. those ministers who engage in the And he is apt to preach it in a man- prayer proposed, do by this very ner uncommonly clear and distin. ihing consider themselves as not guishing. Whatever others may do, needing the intercession of others. you cannot make this man adopt the I do not see how this consequence sentiment, that it is of no importance will follow. If a concert of prayer what a man belicves. He knows by should be proposed for the sick, his own experience that heresies are would my engaging in such a concert to be reckoned among other works amount to a declaration, that I do not of the flesh, The Pharisaism of consider myself included in the numPaul's early life, appeared to have a ber for whom prayer is made ? Suregreat influence on him as a preacher ly the sick ought to pray one for another, that they may be healed. hearers of the word ought not to be
I would further remark that the apprised there are any false teachers true minister of Christ may know in the world. A sentiment more conthat they are not false teachers; that trary to the spirit of God's word, and they are not as many who corrupt more prejudicial to the best interests the word of God. l'alse teachers of man, could not be broached. Let may boast of equal confidence ; but me suppose the country to be full of certainly they can have no assurance, empirics, who make great and false of that which is not true. Faithful pretensions to skill,
what would teachers may doubt of their own be duty in such a case ? Would it be conversion, but at the same time duty to keep the country profoundly they will feel assured concerning the ignorant of this fact, lest it should be fundamental truths of the Gospel. the ineans of creating suspicion in And when they find men holding the their minds even concerning skilful sacred office, wbo, instead of preach- physicians ? No, not by any means, ing in favor, preach against these fun- will be the answer of every man. damental truths, they cannot help Every man wishes to be apprised of praying for them. (in their closets at the thing which endangers his natuleast.) that the Lord would open ral life. But is it not as important, their eyes that they may see. that he should be apprised of that
3dly. It will be objected that this which endangers the life of his soul ? proposal is invidious and insulting, I will add one other objection, and not fraternal. How can this which is of a complexion somewhat objection lie against the proposal ? different from those which have been Neither the names, nor the sccts of already introduced; it is this—That the false teachers have been men- the fort proposed will be utterly in tioned. If my brethren, either in vain ;- that if men have become the ministry, or out of the ministry teachers in the Church, without beare afraid that my heart is not righting themselves taught of God, there with God, can I be offended with is no hope that they will come to them because they plead with God others with the inquiry, What must in my behalf ? Could they exercise we do to be saved ? It is readily acany good will towards me, iind do knowledged that the case of unconless ? If I am now a blind guide, verted ministers, is a very alarming and should continue to be such until case. They are generally wise in I die, it had been good for me if I their own concert; and we are told had not been born.
that there is more hope of a fool, 4thly. It will be objected that (that is, of one who makes no prethis proposal to pray for the conver- tensions to wisdom,) than of such. sion of unconverted ministers is cal. Still I do not think we ought to say, culated to weaken the confidence of there is no hope that prayer for the people in the piety of their ministers, conversion of corrupt teachers will and in this way prevent their being not be of any avail. The case of benefitted by their instructions. But Dr. Scott, is well known. According would not the same objection lie to his own statement, he was a siriagainst the caution which the Saviour king example of a blind guide, who gives us, to beware of talse prophets had his eyes opened. Other examwhich come to us in sheep's clothing, ples of a similar nature, have probabut are inwardly ravening wolves ? bly been known in our own country. And would not the objection lie There is a statement made Acts against all which is said in the word 6, 7, which answers the objection of God, concerning the existence and now before us : " And the word of pestilential influence of corrupt teach- God increased ; and the number of ers? The objection supposes, that the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem
greatly ; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.' This circumstance, that a great com
Prov. xxv. 28.—He that hath no rule pany of the priests were obedient to over his oron spirit, is like a city
that is broken down and without the faith, through the power of divine
walls. grace on their hearts, added a peculiar glory to the triumphs of the To those who are familiar with the cross in apostolic days : and who can scriptures, it is unnecessary to obtell but that a similar circumstance serve that in ancient times it was the may be one of the most illustrious custom to surround cities by a strong displays of grace which shall usher wall. Unless this were done, there in the Millennium ? Should a great was no security against the sudden company of heretical teachers be irruption of enemies. With this fact converted to the truth and become in view, we shall readily perceive zealous preachers of the Gospel, it the beauty and force of the comparwould be a most attractive display of ison between a “city broken down the power and grace of Immanuel ; and without walls," and the condiand would at the same time furnish tion of a man who has no rule over some of the best instruments to go his owo spirit." A city without into all the world and preach the walls was exposed to every enemy : gospel to every creature.
it was in constant danger of being The proposal which has now been invaded and destroyed. The man made, is of sufficient importance to who has no rule over his own spirit produce an explicit agreement in resembles a city thus exposed. He prayer, among all the ministers and has lost that subjection of himself, friends of Christ in every part of the wbich is like a wall of defence, and world.
is liable to be invaded by every eneIt has been the particular object my. Every malicious and designing of this communication, to stir up the man may disturb his peace, and he Church to pray for the conversion of has no security against the temptaheretical teachers. In this connex- tions which may destroy his soul. ion, it will not be unnatural to sug- Is he subject to jealousy ? Every gest the importance of much prayer thing he hears, or sees will disturb for orthodox ministers; that they him. He will be listening at every may all be men of grace ; and not corner, and is sure to turn every only so, but that great grace may be thing against himself, even though upon them all. And when we look be should be the most foreign from to the great Head of the Church to the subject of conversation. increase the number of teachers, let Is he envious ? He will pine in us not forget his own direction on secret, at the prosperity of others. this subject, and then we shall pray He will view the dispensations of only for laborers to be sent forth into heaven as partial; as though God the harvest. That by means of Ed- designed to render him unhappy by ucation Societies, and prayer for the making all around him happy. He descent of the Spirit on our public is prepared to be wretched, with schools, and by prayer for the con- the means of happiness within his version of false teachers ; the num
reach. ber of “ laborers" may be greatly Is he passionate ? Every idle word multiplied, will, I trust, be the will thron bim into a frenzy. His heart's desire and prayer of all those agitated passions are like the tumult who prefer Jerusalens above their of an assaulted city. Regardless of chief joy.
reputation, character and the claims