Imágenes de páginas

very first

has been so ably vindicated, and so 'completely freed from the erroneous representations of the church of Rome, that I need not farther enlarge on this part of the subject. I shall merely observe, that the distinction which I have laid down between the authority of a writing inherent in its very nature, and the genuineness of it deducible from extrinsic proof, is alone sufficient, in my apprehension, to clear up the doubtful doctrine entertained by some, who seem to think that the • knowledge of what is scripture must come from • the inward work of the holy Spirit upon our hearts.' Abating from the quaker-like principle, which has produced such an opinion, and from the enthusiastic form of expression which it bears, I would argue against the adoption of it, on the ground of its tendency to foster human pride, and to promote the following dangerous conceit, so greedily espoused by the avowed enemies of christianity, and, I am sorry to add, by many of its pretended friends, that the reason of man is the ultimate judge of that ' which is WORTHY of God to reveal. This conceit, if admitted, and, when admitted, applied to the contents of the holy Bible, would speedily exhibit itself in plucking up, pulling down, and destroying the fair fabric of divine revelation; so that even the · head-stone of the corner' would be once more • disallowed by the disobedient,' and become itself • a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence

to them whose reason makes them already to • stumble at the word.'

Symptoms Symptoms of such uncharacteristic doubting and distrust have already displayed themselves in men, from whom better things might have been expected, who have labo:ired hard to shew (for to prove is beyond their power), that the scriptures of the Old Testament give no certain hope, scarcely indeed a faint prospect of a future state ; and that all the promises and threatenings in these scriptures are confined to things temporal, and concern only the happiness or misery of the present life. Can a greater stigma be put upon any document, claiming the title of a revelation from heaven, than to suppose it defective, nay, altogether silent, in the great consummatory article of all religion, viz. the final issue of human life, whether annihilation or eternal duration ? For, although such • blind leaders of the blind’ do admit (for the best possible reason, because it cannot be denied) that the New Testament (in their estimation, a code of doctrine and discipline wholly distinct from, and unconnected with the Old) has supplied every defect, and has expressly rerealed a future state of reward and punishment; yet their hypothesis leaves the church, during the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, that is, from the calling of Abram to the advent of our Saviour, destitute of all hope of immortality, by reason of there being no such hope to be derived from the revelation vouchsafed to them. Yet St Paul is not afraid to tell his Roman converts, that " whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning;


" that we, through patience, and comfort of the 'scriptures, MIGHT HAVE HOPE':' while our blessed Lord himself does expressly restrict the hope, which the Jewish church had from the scriptures of the Old Testament, to the hope of eternal life.-- Search the scriptures, for in them ye

think YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE !!! From such clear and incontrovertible preinises, corroborated by our Saviour's explication of the title which, in the scriptures of the Old Testament, Almighty God assumes to himself. I am the God of Abra

ham, &c. the church hesitates not to draw this natural conclusion, that both in the Old ' and New Testament everlasting life is offered

to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator • between God and man, being both God and man; . and therefore they are not to be heard, which

feign, that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises *'

With respect to the alleged obscurity of scripture, I am, on the whole, so little disposed to resist the charge, that in common with every humble christian, I esteem the obscurity of some of its parts as an evidence of its high value, and of its divine authority. Let a man be once duly satisfied of the shallowness of his intellectual faculties, and their inability rightly to apprehend terrestrial objects ; which 21


i Rom. xv. 4.
3 St Matt. xxii. 31, 32, 33.

2 St John v. 39.
4 VIIth Article.

will cost him but small labour to discover, whether he turns his thoughts to the vicissitudes of nature, or to the changes and chances of this mortal life,' and he will require but few arguments to convince him, that the transcendent mysteries which Jehovah had to reveal concerning himself, in his essence and in his attributes, the æconomy of redemption, the necessity and nature of atonement by a God-man, and of sanctification by a divine Spirit, with all the concomitant or consequent discoveries of the great mystery of godliness, are truths which, did the language of revelation express them ever so accurately, , the finite understanding of man could not clearly or fully comprehend. Nay, I feel warranted, from what we daily see or know of the untowardness of the human mind, to affirm, that, had the whole divine record been expressed in plain and universally intelligible terms_terms obvious to every capacity, and discoverable at a glance, the present complaint of obscurity would have been changed into expressions of contempt ; and the scriptures would have been denounced as a mass of puerile invention, in which nothing was to be discovered but what was attainable by the light of nature, nothing which required that they should ever have been distinguished as a revelation come from God.

But let us for a moment examine the charge of obscurity a little more closely, and try if we can discover what ground there is for such a charge, and


every one who

where the obscurity lies. It will, I hope, be granted, that there is no such thing to be found in the republic of letters, as a book of any description, the contents of which are equally intelligible to

opens it. Yet this obscurity is seldom ascribed to the book itself; it is more properly ascribed to diversity of talent and of application in the reader. The Bible is a book, the subject matter of which transcends that of every other book existing, and if ever the previous possession of those qualities of the wisdom that is from above,' namely, that we be without partiality, and without hypo

crisy,' was necessary to any study, it is indispensibly necessary to the study of the Bible. Here lurks the secret cause of biblical obscurity. The man of genius, as he is termed-in other words, the ' self-willed and presumptuous,' treats the scriptures as Naaman of old treated the message of Elisha. He opens them and is wroth, because God's thoughts are not as his thoughts, because the ways of revelation are not the


of revelation which a philosopher and metaphysician would have adopted. Well may we say to him— My father, if the

God of truth had inflated thy inind with some great swelling words of vanity, wouldst thou • not have studied his word ? how much rather

then, when he saith to thee, Arise, and be bap* tized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name • of the Lord ?' The simple unprejudiced christian, he who, in the figurative language of an apostle, as a new-born babe desireth the sincere milk of the 21?


« AnteriorContinuar »