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into sin, for want of ability to resist temptation ; knowing that He “will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear; but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape." 1 Cor. x. 13.
Those who properly maintain the watch and the warfare, can adopt the language of the apostle; “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. viii. 37-39.
In giving our belief of the Scriptures, we adopt the language of the apostles themselves; that they are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus”-that they were "given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim. iii. 15–17. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. i. 21.
But though we give a full and unequivocal testimony to their Divine origin, and the just estimation in which we hold them; yet we are not willing to fall into the error of ascribing to them a character or an efficacy, which belongs only to that Divine Source from which they came. Thus we do not call them “the Word of God.” And our practice in this respect, has sometimes been misunderstood by other religious denominations. But I would ask the calm and patient reflection of such, that they may clearly understand our views before they pass censure upon us.
What idea, I would enquire, do they themselves intend to convey by the terms, “the Word of God?', If they mean, that the Divine Spirit dictated them-SO do we. If they mean, that God spoke through his servants, as recorded in the Scripturesso do we. Wherein, then, it may be asked, do we differ? It is in this. The Scriptures themselves appropriate the epithet in question to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.
The Evangelist says; “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” John i. 1-3.
" And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” v. 14. “ The Word of God is quick, and powerful.......and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight.” Heb. iv. 12, 13. “ The worlds were framed by the Word of God.” Heb. xi. 3. And John in the Revelation, speaking of Him who is "called Faithful and True," whom the armies in heaven followed, and who is “King of kings, and Lord of lords," says; "His Name is called the Word of God." Rev. xix. 13.
We therefore do not feel ourselves at liberty to apply that Name to the Scriptures, which in Scripture is applied to Him who created the worlds. It would lead to erroneous conclusion; and might I not say, without giving offence, that erroneous opinions have been already drawn on the subject.
It has been supposed by some, that the Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice-and constructively, that without a knowledge of them salvation is not possible.
Here we take the same ground that was taken in regard to the Name; for this is attributing to the Scriptures, what they testify should be ascribed to Christ.
The great body of Christian professors, confess that the mysteries which the Scriptures contain, cannot be understood without the illuminating Influence of the Holy Spirit. And surely none of these can suppose that the Scriptures are superior to that Spirit from which they were given forth, and by which they must still be unfolded to the human mind! For the inconsistency of such an opinion must be obvious.
We think also, that salvation is not limited to the circulation of the Scriptures. This would be derogatory to the Divine Character, as well as to the doctrines of the Christian Religion.
If none can be saved, but those who have the Scriptures, it is possible for man to deprive his fellow of salvation, by the exercise of force, in putting it out of his power to obtain the means. And thus it would follow, that human power can not only kill the body, but cast the soul into an eternal separation from the Divine Presence; directly contrary to the doctrine of our Lord.
The condition of slaves is intimately connected with this view of the subject. Even in the midst of a highly professing people, they are deprived of the Scriptures by being deprived of education sufficient to read them. And these restrictions and privations are imposed by law, in some parts of the world, in which vast numbers of them reside. And can a legislative body thus deprive millions of their fellow men of the means of salvation ! Can such an opinion find an advocate !
But I am aware that I shall be told, that they can
hear the preaching of the Gospel ; and thus they can be saved.
But what if the preaching which they hear should not be the Gospel ? Or will any preaching that is delia vered even by unqualified persons, answer as well as the Scriptures? The objection, in the sense in which it must be taken, is going from the point it is taking new grounds; and such as cannot be sustained. It is giving up the Scriptures as the rule, and transferring it to the preachers; because these slaves cannot refer to the Scriptures, as a test of what they hear. It transfers all that has been attributed to the Scriptures, from those Sacred Writings, to men--and many of these, not even professing to speak under Divine Influence. Are these doctrines of the Gospel? Is this the excellency of the New Covenant Dispensation? Are we brought, at last, to this point, to maintain that we are obliged to “ teach every man his neighbour, &c. saying ; Know the Lord?" Jer. xxxi, 34. Heb. viii. 11.
The condition of the poor must also be taken into consideration. Many of these are destitute of the Scriptures. And cannot God save these, though they are obe jects of his peculiar regard ?
Infants too are all destitute of the Scriptures. And are they all lost on that account?
These, it may be said, are only destitute of the Scriptures, in, consequence of that course of events, which is the result of the moral government of the Dea ity Himself.
The same may be said of deaf and dumb persons. And we are brought to the same conclusion in relation