Groton Convention--Letters--Speculations upon Physical and Moral Evil--Sin.
AFTER the private record of impressions, given in the last chapter, it will be interesting to have the speech which Mr. Parker delivered before the Convention. It is taken from a newspaper which existed at that time to advocate reforms in theological and ecclesiastical matters.
We have had already several definitions of sectarianism; but it is useless to attempt to define sectarianism until we know what Christianity is, as useless as to define a crooked line before knowing what a straight line is. To find out what Christianity is, if we go to the usages and opinions of Christ himself, the work is plain and easy. The way of Christianity, which is identical with the way of salvation, is so plain and easy, that none can mistake it. A young man asks of Christ, "What shall I do to have eternal life?" The answer is very short: "Keep the commandments." And when the young man asks of "Which?" the chief moral precepts were pointed out, and the practical duties of love to neighbours enforced. The same question was put to him in a little different form. A scribe asked, "Which is the great commandment of the law?" He answered, "Love God with heart;""love thy neighbour as thyself; on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." This is the Christian scheme; here is its righteousness, its religion; all are here. Christianity is a divine life: a life of outward goodness--a life of inward holiness. Try this by reason--reason enlightened by holiness; there is nothing which jars with reason--nothing that conflicts with human nature. Try it by conscience--God's most intimate presence in the soul; and when this light shines most fully into the heart, you shall find nothing wrong-- nothing harsh--nothing arbitrary in this scheme of the whole duty of man. Here, among things essential to morality and religion, to Chris. tianity and eternal life, not a word is said about belief in any dogmas; not a word about the Atonement--the Old Testament or the New Testament--not a word about Baptism, or anything ritual. Christianity was a divine life, not a belief.
Now, I take it, sectarianism is a departure from this simple method of Christ. We find departures even in the New Testament, as I will show, though not in historical order. 1. At dead of night, the jailer, alarmed by an earthquake, asked Paul, "What shall I do to be saved?" The answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," &c.; i.e., believe its Christianity; for the concrete is often used for the abstract in the New