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byterian, Churches? They know, and we know, and the highest legal authorities to whom questions of property bequeathed to Presbyterians may be referred, ought to know, that the great mass of Congregational or Independent Churches in this country are now, both in doctrine and in discipline, what those churches were which were formerly, by a misnomer, called Presbyterians ; while those who tenaciously adhere to the name, from motives best known to themselves, have departed widely from both the doctrine and the discipline of the ancient Presbyterian Churches.
It is, however, easy to perceive the drift of these expressions of love to Establishments, reiterated in all the Socinian pamphlets before us *. There is evidently flitting before the prophetic eye of these modern seers, an enchanting vision of such a modification of the formularies of the Church of England, as shall enable them decently, and without subjecting themselves to the charge of abandoning their rational scheme of Christianity, to enter within its pale, and partake of its honours and emoluments. They seem to imagine that, in the present hour of her extremity, the Church of England will stretch wide her arms to receive so enlightened and philosophic a body of Christians as themselves. We believe they will find themselves mistaken ; but, should it prove otherwise, our brethren of the endowed Episcopal sect will be welcome to their new allies.
That both Socinians and anti-evangelical Churchmen should be alike distrustful of the efficiency of the voluntary principle, we can readily understand. Neither of them could for an instant stand such a test. Deprived of state patronage and state support on the one hand, or of ill-gotten private endowments on the other, both would soon wither and expire; whereas genuine religion, vital Christianity, “the Truth as it is in Jesus,” has nothing to fear from the trial.
Another considerable portion of these pamphlets is occupied, as might have been expected, with the attempt to prove that Unitarian ministers are, in point of fact, preachers of Christ's Holy Gospel. In proof of this, we are favoured with two Socinian Confessions of faith, couched in terms so vague and ambiguous, that the utmost ingenuity would fail to deduce from them what is really believed; though it is sufficiently apparent from the omissions, that the far greater part of the fundamental doctrines of
Christ's Holy Gospel' as communicated by his Apostles, has no place there. Mr. Hunter tells us, that
• The great doctrines of Christianity, the resurrection and future accountableness of man, the
supremacy of the one only living and true God, and the divine origin of Christianity, proved by the miracles and
* See Hunter's Hist. Def. pp. 72, 73. Tottie, pp. 57---64.
by the resurrection of Christ, are common to the Presbyterian founders, and to those who are their present successors.
But the Presbyterian ministers generally are not now Calvinists; they preach strongly against that system, as dishonourable to God, unfavourable to human happiness, and resting on no sufficient basis of evidence. Forgive them this wrong. They are not Arminians. They hold not the doctrine of the Trinity, or of Original Sin, as commonly professed, if we can be said really' to know how these doctrines are commonly understood and professed. In fact, the English Presbyterians, like the Presbyterian Church of Geneva, have adopted a more rational and sober system of Christian truth, such as appears to them to be in reality the Christianity which was taught to the Gentiles by the original founders.'
Hunter, pp. 35. Mr. Tottie writes thus:
• It may surprise many who are unacquainted with what is meant by the doctrines and belief of Unitarians, to learn from this testimony the fact, that it is the usage of Unitarians, on the first Lord's day in each month, to partake of and celebrate that solemn and comfortable ordinance of the blessed Saviour of mankind, called the Lord's Supper; and thereby publicly profess, like other Christians, their firm belief in his divine mission on earth, his sinless life, his miracles, sufferings, crucifixion, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, and his mediatorial office; and their earnest desire to accept, with love and gratitude to him, the new covenant, which he declared and sealed with his precious blood, whereby God manifested his willingness to be reconciled to his sinful creatures through faith in his Messiah, and declared that, on the condition of repentance, mankind are, by the infinite goodness and mercy of Almighty God, not by any merits or selfrighteousness of their own, encouraged to hope for and obtain remission of sin and eternal life; and thereby further profess their willingness to accept Christ's Holy Gospel as the rule of their lives, by which they will be judged and accepted or rejected at that day in which it is ordained that he shall judge the world in righteousness.'
Toitie, pp. 43, 44. Compare these cold and meagre creeds, which exclude altogether the two cardinal doctrines of the Atonement and Divine Influence,-in which there is no reference whatever to the fallen condition of man, and the necessity of regeneration by the Spirit of God, which refer the whole of man's salvation to the infinite benevolence of the Deity, without any reference to the sacrifice of the Son of God as the appointed means of expiation ;-compare these specious exhibitions of a mutilated faith with the glowing effusions of the Apostles and primitive teachers of Christianity on these momentous topics, and it will not be difficult to arrive at the conclusion, that these modern luminaries have embraced another gospel than that revealed in the New Testament, -and that to whatever other honour they may aspire, they cannot be recognized as preachers of Christ's Iloly Gospel.
But we have been detained much longer than we intended from our principal object, which is, to recommend to most careful perusal and investigation, the facts and arguments brought forward by Mr. Halley in his admirable pamphlet, in proof-we might say, in demonstration of the assertion with which he sets out; namely, that the Improved Version has been truly designated a creed, and has no just pretensions whatever to be regarded as a fair and honest translation of the New Testament, agreeably to
the revised text of Griesbach. The spirit in which this pamphlet is written, is truly Christian ; the style is at once lively and spirited, yet dignified and argumentative; and the demolition of the defence set up by his antagonist, is most satisfactory and triumphant., We venture to think that Mr. Yates will not be
very eager to take the field against an adversary who is evidently armed at all points, lest he should encounter a second defeat, not less fatal to his reputation as a scholar and polemic, than that sustained on a former memorable occasion, and in a distant part of the kingdom.
The Vice Chancellor, stepping aside, it must be confessed, from the usual course of judicial decisions, had given it as his opinion, and sustained that opinion by criticisms which do much credit both to his head and heart, that the Improved Version is really not so much a version as a creed ; that this work, although pretending to be a translation of the New Testament, is not a translation, but something substituted for a translation ; and can therefore only be regarded as a creed which the makers of it intended to impose upon others, thus violating the principle of the sufficiency of Scripture and the right of private judgement.'
Mr. H. undertakes to support this very serious charge of having fabricated a creed in the shape of a Bible, and with having published it to the world as a document, not indeed from the council of Nice, but from the college of the Apostles ; not as the words of St. Athanasius, but as the writing of St. Paul.' While he acquits the translators of the slightest intention of falsifying the records of Divine Grace, he thus explains the nature and extent of his accusation.
“My meaning is, that when a translator of Holy Scripture uniformly strains every passage in favour of his own theological system ;-when he selects an unusual sense wherever the ordinary acceptation of the words is at variance with his own doctrine ;-when he supplies ellipses, and accommodates ambiguous phrases in a manner most favourable to the views of his party ; --and in short, regards theological consequences rather than critical rules, as you justly observe Beza did with the word ÜTÖTAOIS ;-we have then a creed in its worst form, in the form of Scripture ; and though it may be the result of strong theological prejudice, exerting an influence of which the subject may
remain unconscious, yet is it as delusive and pernicious as if the translator had deliberately determined upon a scheme of deception.
Such a creed is the “Improved Version.". Halley, p. 5.
In the subsequent part of his pamphlet, Mr. Halley submits to a rigid analysis, the alterations from the Received Text introduced into the Unitarian Version, to which the Vice Chancellor had previously alluded, and the propriety of which Mr. Yates has attempted to vindicate. We cannot, of course, follow him through this his elaborate exegesis of a most important portion of the New Testament; but, as a specimen of the actual unfairness, if not intentional dishonesty of the advocates of this version, and of the exposure which Mr. Halley has made of their unworthy artifices, we refer to the strictures on the concluding clause of the 2d verse, rendered in our Version, “ By whom also he made the world", and in the Improved Version, “For whom also he instituted the ages.” In support of this latter rendering, there would appear to be a most formidable array of authorities.
Mr. Yates had charged the Vice Chancellor with sweeping away, in half a sentence, Beza, Grotius, Glass, Dr. Lardner,
Dr. Chandler, Schleusner, Lindsey, Cappe, and Belsham '; to whom he afterwards adds the name of an eminent Greek scholar still living, Mr. Cogan. Now what would be naturally inferred from all this, but that the preceding authorities agreed with the Improved Version in its rendering of the passage in question ? How far this agrees with the fact, may be seen from the following summary, which Mr. Halley gives at the close of a long and most elaborate investigation of the case.
• I have thus noticed five of the eight authorities by which you support Mr. Belsham's version. Was there ever before so vain a parade of names,
so false a display of authority ? Let us briefly review it. Improved Version, “For whom he constituted the ages.”
Authorities in its favour, as adduced by its defender :• Beza ... ... ... By whom he made the world.
Schleusner . By whom he created the universe. Glass .... By whom he made the world. • Grotius....... By whom, or possibly, for whom, he made the world. Lardner A beautiful sense, if we admit the suggestion of
Grotius. . These are thy gods, O Israel !
It may be asked, Was this list produced in the confidence that nobody would ever take the trouble to examine it?
I do not say so, because I find in it an unexpected and extraordinary confirmation of an opinion which may be found in the works of the late Mr. Robert Hall
. In a sermon upon the “Spirit and Tendency of Socinianism,” he notices “the unexampled deference it displays to human authority.” I confess, when I read this passage, I was not prepared to admit its accuracy. Being in a great degree ignorant of the controversy, I thought submission to authority was not the characteristic of Unita
rians. He adds, “ This may excite surprise, because there is nothing which its abettors proclaim with such loud and lofty pretensions, as their unfettered freedom of thought, their emancipation from prejudice, and their disdain of human prescription.” Your list has convinced me, that in this instance the discrimination of Mr. Hall had not failed him. I find that at least some Unitarians are so fond of authorities as to quote them against themselves; for instance, Beza against his own Testament, Schleusner against his own Lexicon, Glass against his own Tractatus, and Grotius against his own argument.”
Halley, pp. 20, 21. With just severity, and in a style of dignified sarcasm, Mr. Halley chastises the arrogance and impertinence of Unitarian writers, in claiming for themselves the exclusive possession of the field of sacred criticism, as if they and they alone had laboured in this department of science ; as if none were familiar with the works of Griesbach and the numerous critics of the German school, but themselves; and as if, when these are incorrectly quoted or perverted, the orthodox were too ignorant to detect the imposition
· I have dwelt much longer upon criticism than I intended. I must leave it with an observation upon the almost exclusive knowledge which you assume for Unitarians. While you are familiar with Knapp, Schott, and Vater, of whom you say we never hear ;”-while, but for you, the volumes of Griesbach might have perished in obscurity, and in the “two universities, among the clergy of the Church of England, among many of the orthodox dissenters, the superintendents of classical education, and the masters of endowed schools,” you have observed " almost constant and uniform effort to thrust the labours of Griesbach into obscurity;"--while we are liable " to give out words of monkish origin,” and you alone are sure of citing the ipsissima verba of apostolic verity ;—what mighty advantages you must have in theological controversy—advantages sufficient to ensure, unless the cause be desperate, the certainty of success. You are like the emperor
who was furnished with the keenest and best-tempered arms; while we, like his combatants, are left to wield at our peril our base weapons of lead. Is not this an intimation of the badness of your cause? Better furnished with means of attack, as you candidly avow, you have still made no impression upon the system of our faith, nor have you
driven us from one entrenchment cast up by the authors of the Reformation, or the pious founders of Nonconformity. On the contrary, I believe, after the attention which of late years has been given to this controversy, there is widely diffused a more firm, enlightened, and scriptural assurance of the truth of our doctrine; the orthodox faith is more prominently and definitely preached ; and under its preaching-dearer than ever to the hearts of our people-large and flourishing congregations spring up on every side, while your chapels are nearly deserted, or re-occupied by other worshippers cloathed in the mantle of your venerable ancestors, which you, though retaining their names, have disdained to acknowledge. If you have, as you