This is the reply of Philip to Nathaniel when he said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth!" Nathan had prejudices against Nazareth. He was a native of Galilee. He was, however, a good man, honest, and independent, "an Israelite, indeed, in whom was no guile." He came, he saw, he was converted.
I. We remark, that every good man will be willing to examine the grounds of his opinions, and sacrifice his prejudices against the opinions, and sacrifice his prejudices against the truth.
He will come and see. He will investigate for himself, and not take up a report with eagerness when it affects the character or the interests of a fellow creature. He will examine the subject of religion for himself, and not sit down contentedly in his own pre-conceptions, or in the opinion of others.
"Come and see," is the great motto. Independence of mind is essential to faithful and successful investigation. He who trembles at the anathema of a man like himself, and embraces the greatest absurdities from the dread of eternal punishment, is in mental and spiritual bondage. His soul is disqualified for truth, and for noble enterprize. He deserves to be a slave. Prejudice and the simple desire to arrive at truth, cannot co-exist in the mind. The former is a dungeon, deep and dark, and closed against every ray of truth. On every question, it must be sacrificed, and truth, for its own sake, be so highly prized, as to induce us to renounce every error, even, to the modification of our personal vanity. This is to obtain the noblest victory recognized by man, the victory over himself, sad one that is infinitely more valuable than the defeat of an opponent.
Of the power of prejudice, we have an example in the recent conversion of Dr. Remington, of the M. E. Church, at Lowell, to the principles of the Baptists, as stated by himself. So inveterate were his prejudices, that when eight candidates for admission into his church, could be satisfied by nothing short of immersion, he obtained another minister to immerse them, rather than perform the right [rite] himself. The converts were baptized. The last one, an invalid, came up out of the water praising God. His heart was melted, his mind was opened to conviction. He entered into a faithful examination of the subject, and the result was, the change of his connection from the Methodist to the Baptist church.
We would throw out the inquiry here - does not the baptism of infants necessarily create a prejudice, in after life, to the discovery of truth, so far as this ordinance is concerned! Does it not forestall free investigation upon the subject of personal duty? Jesus Christ commands all who believe to be baptized. Here is one who has an act performed on him when he is unconscious of its meaning - when he grows up, he is informed that obedience to this command has been performed - that it was done by pious parents - that it would be wicked to do it again - and that it has received the sanction of many wise and good men. If he ever believes in Christ, and the question arises in his mind. - "Ought I not, as a believer, to be baptized?" the question is at once arrested by the thought of the feelings of parents, the displeasure of spiritual guides, and the indignation of God. Investigation is shut out, as a general effect, and very few are able to throw off the prejudices of education, and to behold the glory of the ordinance as it is exhibited in the New Testament. Can any good come out of Nazareth? Come and see. Can any good come out of immersion? "Come and see."
Let every one examine for himself. Let our religion be the religion of the Bible, studied with diligence and |prayer, and an independent mind. We cannot shelter ourselves under great names or the acts of our, or our own ignorance of duty. Where is Jesus to be found? "Come and see." What does he require of us. "Come and see."
II. We remark, that though men are the instruments of Jesus Christ, to convey the knowledge of salvation, yet he reserves to himself the right to enlighten the mind, and, therefore, we must come to Jesus.
He is the great Rabbi, the teacher of teachers, the Son of God, and he invites men to come to him for light and salvation, He looks with kindness upon the soul that approaches him, and in the tenderness of his sympathies, asks - What seek ye? What is your desire? Come onto me, and I will give you rest. - Stand not off at a distance, but draw nigh, and behold for yourselves. "Come and see." Come to the closet. He is there. Come to the sanctuary. There you will find him, and see his glory. Come to his ordinances. There, the refreshings of his grace are felt. He is Seated upon a throne of mercy, and invites you to come with boldness. "Come and see," and you will return, exclaiming in the language of the Queen of Sheba,"the half was not told me."
Sinner, you may never come to Jesus Christ and see. His beauty and grace you may never behold. But his eye is upon thee. Oh, what a change will come over thy dream when Jesus Christ says - I saw thee in all thy places of folly and iniquity. I saw into thy heart. I saw how thou didst delight in what was hateful to me. I saw thy motives. I saw thy acts. I saw how thou didst lead many astray who died in their sins. I saw how thy heart was set upon wealth; how thou didst forsake me for gold. When thou wast faithfully warned, I saw thy heart rebel against the counsel of my servants. I saw thee. Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!
[From the Tennessee Baptist, August 10, 1850. CD edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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