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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Devotional Unity Of The Evangelical Churches

page 241

The Devotional Unity Of The Evangelical Churches.

The cross of Christ is the symbol of Christianity; that in which every believer glories as the only ground of his confidence towards God. Though all moral and religious truths are in their nature sources of power, and never fail to influence more or less the character of those who embrace them, yet some truths are more powerful, and hence more important, than others.— We may speculate with comparative impunity, on the nature of angels, on the origin of evil, on the purposes of God, on his relation to the world, and even on the grounds and nature of human responsibility; but when we come to the question; how am I to gain access to God? how can I secure the pardon of my sins and acceptance with him? what is the true ground of hope, and what must I do to place myself on that ground so as to secure the assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost? then the less we speculate the better. The more we keep to the simple, authoritative statement of God's word, the firmer will be our faith, the page 242 more full and free our access to God, and the more harmonious and healthful our whole religious experience. Such is the informing influence of such experience, when it is genuine, that is, when really guided by the Spirit and conformed to the revelation of God, that it effects a far nearer coincidence of views in all the children of God, than the multiplicity of sects and conflicting systems of theology would lead us to imagine. The mass of true Christians in all denominations, get their religion directly from the Bible, and are but little affected by the peculiarities of their creeds. And even among those who make theology a study, there is often one form of doctrine for speculation, and another simpler and truer, for the closet. Metaphysical distinctions are forgot in prayer, or under the pressure of real conviction of sin, and need of pardon and of divine assistance. Hence it is that the devotional writings of Christians agree far nearer than their creeds. It may be taken for granted that that mode of stating divine truth, which is most in accordance with the devotional language of true Christians; which best expresses those views the soul takes when it appropriates the doctrines of the Gospel for its own spiritual emergencies is the truest and the best.

How then does the believer regard the person and work of Christ in his own exercises of faith, gratitude, and love? What is the language in which those exercises are expressed? If we look to the devotional writings of the Church, in all ages and countries, and of all sects and names, we shall get one clear, consistent answer. What David wrote three thousand years ago, expresses with precision the emotions of God's people now; the hymns of the early Christians, of the Lutherans, the Reformed, of Moravians, of British and American Christians, all express the common consciousness of God's people; they all echo the words and accents in which the truth came clothed from the mouth of God, and in which in spite of the obstructions of theological theories it finds its way to every believing heart.