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The duty of Christians is to confront and repel, not abet the enemy, nor admit him into their camp in order to subdue him."
Introduction to the Christian's Magazine.
When any individual is admitted to the Presbyterian Church in the United States, he either professes or tacitly consents sincerely to receive and adopt the confession of faith of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures." It has been proved in the preceding pages, that the system of Hopkinsianism is repugnant to this confession of faith. This conclusion therefore, irresistibly follows, that no person, who is fully convinced of the truth of this system, or who is not a Calvinist in sentiment, can conscientiously unite himself to the Presbyterian Church, by assent to its confession of faith.
Neither can such a person, without prevarication, consent to the confession of the Reformed Dutch Church, or to the public standards of any Presbyterian or Episcopal congregation in the United States. This should be well understood by private Christians, and by all the rulers in the household of faith.
It is a just conclusion also, that persons who are known to support doctrines utterly repugnant to these standards, cannot with propriety be received by the rulers of these ecclesiastical societies. To admit any one who is known to be a Hopkinsian, is nothing less than connivance at a false profession.
These results are not stated from any disposition to abridge the religious privileges of nominal or real Christians; but from a full conviction of their importance to the prosperity of Zion. A confession of faith should be a bond of union; but it will be of no utility, when persons of contrary opinions, upon the fundamental articles of religion, subscribe it. Then it becomes like
the matrimonial covenant between inimicable partners, the bond of perpetual discord.
So long as every man in our free country can serve God according to the dictates of his own conscience, none should complain, that those who agree in doctrine choose to be united, even to the exclusion of others. The seceders from the Calvinism of the reformed Churches, ought, as honest men, to declare what. they believe; and, if they please, compose a general confession for themselves.
Should the teachers and private Christians of this persuasion continue to enter the Presbyterian Church, the result must probably be, that the confession of faith, and form of government now used with the most happy effect, must soon, like the Cambridge, Boston, and Saybrook Platforms, without any repeal, be consigned to the garret; there to moulder, until the antiquarian shall deem them worthy of a place in his library. The NewEngland Churches formerly had a confession and system of ecclesiastical government; but the admission of multitudes, who disregarded those standards, to every privilege and office, has finally produced this effect, that few churches acknowledge the authority of their platforms of government, and very few have any government at all. The Presbyterian church should take warning; for a family or city divided against itself cannot stand.
That the Saybrook and Boston Platforms should be in many churches disregarded, after the most solemn adoption by the original churches of Connecticut and Massachusetts is not wonderful, when we remember that those valuable instruments contain the marrow of Calvinism. The Hopkinsians, Sabellians, Arians and Socinians cannot be expected to like them. We conclude, however, from the contrast which has been exhibited, that any person, who maintains either of these heresies has departed from the faith of the pious fathers of New-England. Lest a mistake should here originate, let it be remembered, that very many in comparison with the whole number of seceders, still adhere to those doctrines for which the puritans forsook their native plains, braved the dangers of the sea, and sought an asylum in the waste, howling wilderness. It is grateful also to state,
that of late the Saybrook Platform has been reprinted; and there is some hope, that the time is not far distant when the Eastern Churches will be more generally united in some efficient system of government.
In regard to the Presbyterian Church, it is devoutly to be wished, that all her members should be well acquainted with their own creed and form of government, that they may be able to defend both.
So shall "our feet stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem;" and the church shall be "builded as a city that is compact together : whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord."
On page 115, note, first line, for advocate, read advocates. 246, the ninth line from the bottom, after vile body;
insert a comma, instead of a period.
255, for Chap. XII. read in some copies XIII.