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his own gracious purpopes in it, are registered fully, unequivocally and finally, in his written word.
All holy Scripture, from tbe earliest preserved manuscript recognized as in the Synagogue by Jesus Christ, down to the latest letter of an inspired apostle authenticated by the Church "all holy Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction and correction in righteousness”within the covers of that sublime volume is “ Truth.” There, and there only, are the laws of moral movement and progress. It is a revelation of the will of the Eternal for the government and present and final happiness of his creature. As rounded and complete as are the laws of physical motion, so must be, unquestionably, the laws of moral mind. If not, the code must be imperfect; and we could as soon, nay, sooner admit the idea of an imperfection or a slip, an omission or an excess in the solar system or the laws of chemical relation, than suppose an omission in a purposed revelation which is to rule the eternal destiny of almost countless millions of souls.
It follows from this, that “ the truth" may be ascertained. It is a revelation, that man may know his Maker's gracious will. Then, certainly to the extent that he intended it to be a revelation, it may be distinctly read and known.
The Father of thought and language has chosen his thought which is to be revealed, and the language by which it is best fitted to enter into and to adapt itself to the mind of man. It would be strange in deed, therefore, if the heaven directed language failed to convey the thought; if the invited inquirer found himself baffled, not by his own ignorance or error, but by the chosen vehicle of the idea. True,
there may be difficulties, obscurities, “ things hard to be understood ;” and as far as these are so, they are part of the system, part of the object in view, a portion of the means for training and disciplining the mind; as there are deep spots on the sun's bright disk that we cannot fathom while we receive the effulgence of his light. But, if there are really in Scripture obscure passages or thoughts, to the extent to which they really are obscure, they were intended to be obscure; and it cannot be said, therefore, that it is of the nature of a revelation that it is obscure—that it is not a revelation-that it does not convey a distinct idea ; but rather that in that wondrous book in which God has been pleased to make his revealed mind plain to his creature, there are also passages which are intended to be difficult and mystic, to show man, so easily puffed up and exalted, what a poor imbecile creature he is, when he brings his boasted wisdom to look upon a thought which God has not been pleased to make plain. This has little, however, to do with the fact, that as far as God has been pleased to make his written word a useful revelation of his will, so far the meaning stands out in the very best way for man's ascertaining it. And if he will he may. We must put away, therefore, all the too popular and common notions of the obscurity and difficulty of Scripture, whether the objection comes from Romanists or indolent Protestants. The idea is a solecism. It is an assumption that God had bidden the sunshine of his will pierce through the mist of his own chosen language to illumine the human understanding, and that it has failed. It cannot be but that a proper measure of diligent application, through the instrumentality of a proper education, guided and sanctioned by right moral feelings, must bring out that meaning which God had mercifully enshrined there, as a light and not a darkness-a revelation and not a mystery. If this is not so, the whole avowed object of the book is baffled and lost; and that which is the prero. gative of man, to make himself understood by langnage, is not the prerogative of God. Observe, it is not argued that man can penetrate into the mysteries which God did not purpose him to know; but that he can perceive and understand that which God did purpose that he should know; and that, by means of the channel through which God has directly appointed that this knowledge should come. God's will, in his written word, is a revealed will intended to be known; and man is invited and enjoined to read and understand it.
There is a collateral idea here of some importance: that the written will of God is not to be supposed to owe anything in the way of addition or improvement or devel. opement of any new notion not within itself, to any unwritten source such as tradition or church authority and announcement. The system of written revelation as it stands is the subject of the most ample, jealous, and elaborate proof; and consequently any other portion of revealed truth, if there were any, must from analogy be looked for not in the realms of the indefinite and the uncertain, but in the clear light of an amply-sustained proof like the rest. The manifest object of revelation by means of a written document, distinctly ascertained and guarded, is that it may stand out to all ages fixed, definite, and incapable of change, forgery, or adulteration. Once publish such a document largely by many copies and in more than one language, and “ litera scripta manet-the
demonstration of the mind of God abides as sure as the great mountainous outlines of the earth's surface. Add to it anything unwritten, anything yet to be developed from the breast of subsequent men, and the grand outline is blurred and lost amid the mists of accidental or mischievous vacillation and change. The revelation as a whole is gone. The purposed object is lost. On no authority whatever could the idea of traditional addition to revealed written truth be admitted, except on the absolute distinct averment of the book itself. And yet when we look to it, it appears at once that one of the most serious faults with which the great incarnate teacher charged the keepers of the then existing portion of Holy Writ was, that they had “taught for doctrines the commandments of men, and made void the commandments of men by their tradition.” It is easy to perceive that if men were hostile, directly or indirectly, to the essence of revealed truth, they would readily have recourse, if possible, to some such diluting and adulterating invention, by which the distinctiveness of the statements of infinite wisdom might be confounded and neutralized. But few honest minds would be prepared to admit that after the direct object of the litera scripta had been clearly ascertained, and the sin of tampering with part of it had been at so important a crisis só solemnly denounced; that then the whole completed canon of written revelation should be plunged at once into cloud and mystery, and all the accurate and infinitely distinct delineations blurred and irretrievably defiled in the quagmires of church authority and priestly traditional developement. It is of the wisdom of the infinitely wise, that if, for the safe guidance of his creature he condescends to
place his will within a written doc- all his salvation and all his desire; ument, he draws a line of demarca. but we affirm, in a higher sense tion around it, such that it shall still, the Church ought to know, stand alone; and all the arguments beyond all question and doubt, the for the modification of it by an un- full meaning of the inspired records; written and traditionary revelation and so ought the lettered and inare but mystifications to neutralize telligent individual of that Church. its power and to defeat its purpose, No pains should be spared, and no which he will laugh to scorn. patient, laboured, and continuous
But to return. If God's written effort accounted too great for such word is a revelation; if, according an object. It should be the highto His gracious will, its purport is est strain of the intellect and the ascertainable, then it ought to be heart. When the admirers of the ascertained. No duty was ever works of God in nature would plainer. No privilege ever stood know the laws by which visible higher than to know through this nature is governed, and trace the gracious condescension the mind wisdom of the Creator in the sysof the Most High. “Holy Scrip- tematic processes of a perishing ture” has been talked of till the creation, they combine, they form idea is become commonplace; but their institutes, their associations. what a woful error! Look at the They calmly register for centuries idea intensely, and it rises with you apparently unconnected facts, obserin intensity, till it is not possible to vations, and experiments, and wait entertain a thought more awful and watch till the patiently sought than this distinct record and detail indication brings forth some new of the mind of the Almighty. We generalization; and so they conmeet this infinite Being in the blast tinued till the whole scientific world of his storm, in the flash of his can say, “So far we have ascerlightning, and in the rocking of tained; so far we are agreed; so his earthquake, and the mighty far the inviting veil which has been roll of his ocean: but it is more thrown over the principles of physolemn still to meet him in the re- sics is removed; up to a certain velation of his will. To this mercy point we know the law of nature, invites. To this duty, the highest the law of successional agencies by sense of duty, enjoins. It is the which the Author of Nature has call of the “still, small voice.” been pleased to bring about visible The full import of the message results.” For a long time the ought to be known in all its breadth language of empiric science was and in all its minuteness. Man, but fanatical pretence; but before according to his ability, should set philosophical investigation, the his strenuous effort to this work. mind of God and his mode of workWhat can be for one instant admit ing in nature have been unfolded. ted to be equally momentous? Ask Up to a certain point philosophers the intensely studying astronomer are agreed; on all the main lines what he thinks of the knowledge of of inquiry there is no controversy. nature's physical laws? and what If there had been any proper are they! They must perish. We measure of desire to read the writspeak not now of the plain, unletter- ten mind of God as to his moral ed man who, in the reading of a faith government of his creature, would ful version, lays hold sufficiently of it have remained even till now in the great features of revealed truth, the Church a matter of mere casuand presses them to his heart as alty whether this awful inspired
speaking from on high has been rightly comprehended or not? Where is the combined institute, the united effort carried on for a series of ages to record and compare, to illustrate and eliminate, as if men believed the momentous fact that God had spoken ; and that by a diligent enquiry into this volume of historical, didactic, and prophetic tracts, the very mind of the Eternal respecting the eternal interests of his creatures might be educed? Such a measure, solemnly and deliberately adopted, would have long since settled beyond controversy the grand outlines of truth revealed in all important points; and the universal Church would have acknowledged without controversy the great mystery of godliness. It would not have been left as it is for each new and isolated enquirer to launch his frail bark on this wide ocean of research, almost without a compass and without a guide. It would not have been in this latter day a church-dividing question whether the restoration of a sinner to acceptance with his Maker is by baptism or by a living faith; or whether the safe holding of an individual on this system of grace depends upon the sincerity of his own intention, or on that of the priest.
It is impossible to doubt that, in a revelation from heaven, whether through many channels or one; whether through the instrumentality of one human mind, or whether the book has been the issue of the varying dispensations of a thousand years, there must be, from first to last, one only harmonious mean. ing breathing throughout the whole. It is impossible to suppose a dis crepancy. There may be collateral points running nearly into matters of revelation, on which the book has not spoken, and men have not yet clearly defined its limits, and
having thought and differed, have heedlessly laid the blame, or some of it, on the record. It is a great matter to define well the limits within which the authority of revelation rules ; where the Lords peaks definitely; and where he has left men to judge for themselves. But on every point on which he has condescended to speak, there is, and must be, a definite harmonious statement throughout the whole document, which men may and ought to find. Upon all such points the blame of men's differing opinions lies, somehow or other, with themselves. “ Let God be true and every man a liar.” Men are guilty of their isms, and their schismatic views. The different doctrinal notions of men are a libel either on the book or themselves. It is not for any man or sect to say, “ We have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and all men who read differently are in error, and consequently in guilt;” but it does behove the universal Church to say." There is blame somewhere. We cannot charge it on the written word. We cannot impugn the unity and simplicity of truth, or of the divine revelation of truth. The truth, and the chosen vehicle of it, must be infinitely perfect. As long therefore as we differ, some of us, perhaps all in one degree or other, are in sin upon the point of that difference.” And it will not do to sit down satisfied with the existence of differing doctrine in the universal Church, as if it was a matter of no moment that a divine message could be supposed to contain or countenance two differing views upon one point. It should be the earnest cry of the whole Church, in the diligent and rightly appointed channel of such enquiry, “What is the truth?” Let universal Christendom approach the divine record in 3Q
the same humble, patient, selfrepressed spirit, in which the Baconian philosophers sought to raise the veil of nature; and doubtless, for the honour of infinite wisdom and for the happiness of created dependance on it, the mist of doctrinal and practical difference would gradually vanish. TRUTH,
revealed truth, would shine forth with meridian splendour, and out of the subsiding ocean of angry controversy and dispute, there would arise the long-sought, symmetrical, and infinitely lovely form of UNITY!
LATIMER. (To be continued.)
THOUGHTS ON THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
It is an affecting circumstance that as railway speculators are only a Society which is so simple and so found to forsake the scheme which unexceptionable, as well as allow- is doubtful in its advantages, and edly important in its object, as the cling to that which is manifestly Bible Society, should seem to re- prosperous and sure, so the matuquire or even admit of an advocacyrity of years and the evident proor defence; but we live to see the gression of success, added to the strangest things fall out to us in sublimity and perfectness of the this crooked world, and the failure object, would only confirm and and desertion, not to say the trea- establish attachment, and lead old chery of friends rather than the friends to exult in the honour and avowed and undisguised assault of privilege of their position, with enemies, seems to be the character feelings of interest and self-satisof the fiery trial which is to try faction not inferior to those which us in these latter days. I well re- the individual possesses who has member all that this Society had had the good fortune to be an early to encounter in its infancy, and shareholder in one of our most I know how it gathered strength prosperous railways. by opposition, and grew in public But the fact cannot be concealed, estimation. Men of talent and that the Bible Society in the prelearning only assailed in order to sent day is chiefly suffering from induce the powerful and unanswer the defection of friends. There is, able arguments of its abettors, it is to be feared, a growing alienamong whom were ranked the first ation amongst the Clergy of the men of the day in point of station Church of England. Bishops who and intellect: the effect of which once supported stand aloof. The has been a comparative rest from Clergy, in many directions, look on hostile quarters. It has been seen with suspicion and indifference: only to grow stronger from op. while many who do not recal their position, and hence its destruction pecuniary support, are afraid of has been abandoned as a hopeless being otherwise identified with the effort.
Society. And one would have hoped that May I hope that any suggestions in the steady progress of its blessed that can here be offered will meet achievements if foes were silent, the eye of any so circumstanced, friends would be faithful; and that and obtain their thoughtful, and