Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/17

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

Further, if to whom much is given, of him much will be required, how is it safe for us to make light of our privileges, if we have them? is not this to reject the birth-right? to hide our talent under a napkin? When we say that God has done more for us than for the Presbyterians, this indeed may be connected with feelings of spiritual pride; but it need not. We may, by so saying, provoke ourselves to jealousy; for we dare not deny that, in spite of our peculiar privileges of communion with Christ, yet even higher saints may lie hid (to our great shame) among those who have not themselves the certainty of our especial approaches to His glorious majesty. Was not Elijah sent to a widow of Sarepta? did not Elisha cure Naaman? and are not these instances set forward by our Lord Himself as warnings to us "not to be highminded but to fear;" and, again, as a gracious consolation when we think of our less favoured brethren? Where is the narrowness of view and feeling which you impute to me? Why may I not speak out, in order at once to admonish myself, and to attempt to reclaim to a more excellent way those who are at present severed from the true Church?

And what has here been said of an established Presbyterianism, is true (in its degree) of dissent; when it has become hereditary, and embodied in institutions.

Further, it is surely parallel with the order of Divine Providence that there should be a variety, a sort of graduated scale, in His method of dispensing His favour in Christ. So far from its being a strange thing that Protestant sects are not "in Christ," in the same fulness that we are, it is more accordant to the scheme of the world that they should lie between us and heathenism. It would be strange if there were but two states, one absolutely of favour, one of disfavour. Take the world at large, one form of paganism is better than another. The North American Indians are theists, and as such more privileged than polytheists, Mahometanism is a better religion than Hindooism. Judaism is better than Mahometanism. One may believe that long established dissent affords to such as are born and bred in it a sort of pretext, and is attended with a portion of blessing, (where there is no means of knowing better,) which does not attach to those who cause divisions, found sects, or wantonly wander from the Church