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written, "He hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." In what part of divine revelation is it declared, that the spirits or souls of any were created before the six days spoken of in Genesis? Hath not the Holy Ghost by the apostle said, that God who cannot He gave us (the whole church) life in Christ before the world was? Did their souls or bodies, who are said to be loved with an everlasting love, actually exist before their creation? If Gaius admits, as I have every reason to believe he will admit, that the church existed in the mind, will, and purpose of Jehovah, from all eternity, when they had no actual existence as composed of soul or body; why may not Christ, then, as the head of his body, the church, be said to be set up as future man and mediator from everlasting in the eternal decree, council and covenant of Jehovah, and not have a pre-existing created soul? Hath not God declared, that he calls things that are not (in existence) as though they were? foreknown unto God were all his works before the foundation of the world. If so, be knew them before he created them.
I cannot, therefore, see any impropriety, friend Gaius, in rejecting the doctrine of a pre-existing soul of Jesus. For if the souls and bodies of all the elect were chosen and loved from all eternity, when they had no existence but in the mind of Jehovah; so I believe the body and soul of our most gracious Christ, which in the fulness of time he took into union with his divine person, pre-existed in the mind of Jehovah. Christ, as the head of his body, the church, is called, God's elect, God's servant, and the first-born among many brethren, he being the blessed object in whom the church was chosen from everlasting.
My reason for further objecting to the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Christ is, that it flatly contradicts the first part of divine revelation, concerning the creation of all things in six days. And although your Correspondent, Mr. Editor, enumerates a host of writers whom I have never read, my reading being nearly confined to the word of God, yet I can receive no man's testimony unless it is confirmed by the plain truth of God. If Gaius can bring from the word of truth a " thus saith the Lord" to confirm the doctrine, I trust I shall not be found among the old and foolish kings who would no more be admonished! I am fully persuaded the nearer we keep to the fountain, the purer the stream. Waters often get impregnated with the soils through which they run,—which is exemplified in this our day by numberless publications.
I have no doubt many good men and great men, (yet they were 'but men,) have embraced the doctrine of the pre-existence, under the idea of glorifying the Saviour; but in my apprehension they have erred in the attempt, and I must differ from them. I have heard of a man, (perhaps Gaius knows him—I do not) not a hundred miles from Wittlesea, who when he just began to preach appeared to come forth with much simplicity of gospel truth; and he has acknowledged that he first received the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Christ from the teaching of men: and from this stepping-stone he advanced till he now openly and publicly denies from the pulpit the Trinity of Persons in Jehovah. As the sands of my glass are nearly run out, and many of the infirmities of age are come upon me, 1 do not intend to enter the lists as a controversial writer; but this I confess, I see no ground for such doctrine in the blessed word of God, nor can I perceive, according to the light it hath pleased my most gracious God to bestow on his servant, what edification or profit accruing from the doctrine of pre-existence to the church, or what glory to God.
Now as God's glory should be the grand aim of all his children, and the welfare of the church of God lay near their hearts, that doctrine which confuses and stumbles the weak cannot be profitable. May it be our endeavour, my unknown friend, to seek the glory of God and the edifying of the church, and not to please ourselves, is the earnest prayer, brother Gaius, of
February, 1828. LOVER OF TRUTH.
P. S. Gaius objects, that the saints of old (if the pre-existence of the soul of Christ be denied) had only a decretal Mediator. Might it not as well be objected, they had only a decretal sacrifice or atonement? Was the Lamb of God actually offered up? True, there were types and figures; and Paul says, they were only shadows of good things to come, but the substance was Christ; and again, " in these last days Christ hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Were the patriarchs, prophets, and saints of old, that lived and died before the actual offering up of Christ as a sacrifice for sin, saved or lost? 1 think Gaius will admit they were saved by faith in the promised Messiah: for they saw the promise at a distance, that is, a distance of time, as we poor mortals reckon time. Then it must be by the decretal act of Jehovah, before the sacrifice was actually offered, or atonement made.
If, according to friend Gaius's creed, there must be a pre-existing soul of Christ created or formed, some time (most certainly not from eternity, for I agree with him that that which is eternal must of necessity be of God,) as some have affirmed, or time before time began; this to a poor weak old man as myself appears a contradiction; for before time all was eternity, and when time shall cease eternity will still continue. I therefore humbly conceive, that if by the decretal act of God, as touching the actual sufferings and death of the everblessed Jesus, sinners were saved, and their spirits were with God in the enjoyment of the blessed fruit of a Saviour's death and righteousness, bwore the actual suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ; why not, by the decretal act of God, might not Christ be the appointed head of his church, and yet have no pre-existing created soul?
I write not, Mr. Editor, for contention, God forbid. But, if it be his will, for the edification of his body the church: nor shall 1 again resume the subject.
■An Apology for the Ancient Fulness and Purity of the Doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland: a Sermon preached on the occasion of a Fast, appointed by the Presbytery of London, to be held in all their Churches on the First Day of the present Year, because of the low ebb of Religion among the Children of the Scottish Church residing in these Parts. By the Rev. Edward Irving, M. A. Minister of the Scotch Church, London. Nisbet.
As we some time since wrote in praise of a volume by the Rev. Edw. Irving, we cannot in the notice of this Sermon express our dissent from many of its sentiments, without entering a little into particulars. In his explanatory comment on "the ancient fulness and purity of the doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland," we apprehend the author has done injustice to the principles of the Scottish Reformers, —and that in no inconsiderable degree, in reference to their statement of the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, and the person of Christ. It unhappily appears to be the object of the Rev. Gentleman, whatsoever be the topic of discourse, to introduce some novelty, or to venture some speculation, whether for the purpose of elucidation, or for the sake of mere effect, we will not attempt to predict. So far as he writes in agreement with sound doctrine, we rejoice to commend his labours; but when he oversteps the boundaries of eternal truth, we hasten to lift the warning voice, and to call attention to the profitless pursuits of an immature judgment.
"The first great declension on the subject of doctrine which we have to lament in our church, and indeed in all the churches, is in that which is the foundation of all other doctrines ; to wit, the doctrine of the Trinity, which, in the first ages, was deemed of such importance as to occupy almost exclusively the attention of the first four councils of the church: yet now it is become an unopened mystery, believed chiefly upon tradition, when believed at all, and, even when believed, seldom apprehended as the great fountain of christian truth. Divines of these days shrink from it, as a profound abyss in which nothing is to be found but darkness and dismay. There is, indeed, a controversy still maintained for the Divinity of Christ, by the quotation of texts, but seldom by any deep arguments drawn from the nature of the Godhead itself, or from the work of the redemption and regeneration of the creature; and it is maintained not so much for its own dignity and use in theology, as for the securing of the doctrine of the atonement, which hath swallowed up almost every other doctrine, and become the great indulgence of ignorance and idleness, which, in a selfish age, will ever be the case. But as to the personal subsistences in the Trinity, and their personal offices in the great work which is accomplishing the purpose of God, as to the Unity of the Divine substance, notwithstanding these personal distinctions and offices, and as to the sublime theology of our fathers, thence derived, concerning the covenant made between the Father and the Son, and carried into effect by the Holy Spirit;—these subjects are as much lost to the studies of our divines, and excluded from their public discourses unto the people, as if
Vol. IV.—No. 47. 2 T
they belonged to the speculations of the later Platonists, or the refinements of the school divines: and yet I hold them to be the first principles and cardinal points of all orthodox theology.
"From the darkness which God hath spread over these, the rudiments of doctrine, innumerable deficiencies and errors have proceeded, of which I shall mention a few. First—The doubts and waverings which exist upon the subject of election arise all from not comprehending the office of the Father, and his prerogative to be alone self-originated, the originator of the Son; and through him of the Holy Ghost: for, if this were rightly and fully apprehended, then his prerogative of first-will and self-origination in all things revealed by the Word and Spirit, could never come into doubt; and for this all.originating will, what is election but the specific name proper to that of the eternal counsel opened in this present age of the church, which endureth until the Lord shall come again?"
Much of this is very excellent: and, alas! that the subject of lamentation should be so justly chosen. The idea of the doctrine of the atonement having 'swallowed up' almost every other doctrine, and become 'the great indulgence of ignorance and idleness,' is rather above our comprehension. That of the prerogative of the Father to become, 'the originator of the Son,' and through him of the Holy Ghost,' is so near akin to the language of an anti-trinitarian, that we but re-quote it to shew our great surprise and utter astonishment.
We too often have occasion to render the mighty argument of scripture in favour of "the mystery of God4" to require enlargement in this place; and we therefore turn to Mr. Irving's views of the person of Christ. He is speaking of the eternal purpose of God to bring all things into subjection to the second Person in a creature-form.
"To the attainment of which end, the second Person must come in the fallen state of the creature, and so become its Jesus or Saviour by triumphing over its sinfulness and its infirmity; after which, in reward of his humiliation, and in virtue of his triumph, as the first-born of the fallen creatures, he receiveth from his Father, now become his God, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and so is constituted the Christ, or the Anointed One; who thenceforth anointeth with holiness and power all the creatures whom the Father willeth to save: when also, he virtually becometh the Lord, because no higher place or power can be attained unto, than to possess in full right the gift of the Holy Ghost; who, as he is the first life, so also he is the second life of all things. But here, the Father, to assert his own first place of sovereign rule, and all-origination in the redemption, as in the creation and the fall, and for other great ends which we stay not to enumerate, instead of giving the Son at once the sceptre of the kingdom, gave him the seat at his own right-hand, and said unto David's Lord, "Sit thou here, till I make thine enemies thy footstool;" and the Son—to shew that in his exaltation also he is but second in respect to origination, as in his eternal generation and in his humiliation—the great Head of the worshippers, and the great pattern of the subjects, did consent to remain a Lord declared, but not a Lord installed, until the times of his Father should be accomplished, when he shall be brought in the second time in glory and majesty, a Priest no longer within the veil, but a Priest upon the throne of David. Now, I do solemnly declare, that this endless theme of the person and work of Jesus Christ the Lord, and the infinite mystery of his Name, seemeth to have become hid from the public ministry of the great body of the preachers of that church whereof I am a minister. It is a bold word to utter, and a fearful one; but the time no longer endureth palliation, and I say it advisedly, with all the risks npon niv head."
"The second Person must come in the fallen state of the creature!" —" The first-born of the fallen creatures.'" We should offer an insult to the understanding of our readers, were we to attempt to prove the fatal effects of indulging in such unscriptural expressions. Or, were it apparent that they originated in unpremeditated design, they might be passed by with simply referring to them. But the error they involve is one of the strange novelties our author has recently introduced, and which, in the face of a bold disavowal, he seems determined to maintain. We can know, acknowledge, or conceive of, no way in which the immaculate Surety of the church partook of her sins, her sorrows, and her infirmities, but through the doctrine of imputation. The Son of God, uniting himself to the nature of his people, took possession of a " body prepared" by the Holy Ghost,—a nature, though human, holy, harmless, undented. But—not to enlarge —it is worthy of remark, that the imputation of the sins of the church, and of the righteousness of the Surety, has found no place in the sermon we are noticing. We do not choose to go to the lengths of some, even divines of eminence, in the use of terms to elucidate the great mystery of godliness,—God manifest in the flesh; but we candidly avow, that their error is venial, compared with the unqualified statements this extraordinary preacher advances, and pertinaciously presumes to justify.
That 'the endless theme of the person and work of Jesus Christ the Lord, and the infinite mystery of his Name, secineth to have become hid from the public ministry of the preachers both of the Scottish and English church, we agree to deplore—but on very different grounds. And we, also, 'say it advisedly, with all the risk upon our head.'
Equally abhorrent to our feelings and judgment are such sentiments as these, in treating of the covenant engagements of the third Person in Jehovah. "The act of self-humiliation which the Spirit underwent in condescending to inform the Son of God in creature-form!" "The work of the Spirit, in the immaculate conception of a substance created in a sinful form!" Above all, we protest against the idea, "that in every act of Christ there are these three parts: namely, first, the meritorious part, consisting in his personal humiliation into the form of a man; the second, the manly part, in his feeling the perfect identity of fallen manhood in all its points ; the third, the holy part, in his being supported under the same, pure and spotless, by the Holy Ghost."
We have a word or two to add, on our author's views of Baptism, and the Lord's Supper.
"Ah me! the gospel,—the substance of the precious gospel, the death, the burial, the resurrection, and the eternal life, which Christ embodied to the faithful in these two holy sacraments; and required of the faithful, by an act of their own, to receive in solemn covenant and assurance from his . hands; so that, after such an interchange made between ChrUt^md his several members, one by one, there might remain no more doubt upon their