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his own gracious purpopes in it, there may be difficulties, obscuriare registered fully, unequivocally ties," things hard to be underand finally, in his written word. stood ;” and as far as these are so,
All holy Scripture, from the they are part of the system, part earliest preserved manuscript re- of the object in view, a portion of cognized as in the Synagogue by the means for training and disciJesus Christ, down to the latest plining the mind; as there are letter of an inspired apostle au- deep spots on the sun's bright disk thenticated by the Church—"all that we cannot fathom while we holy Scripture is given by inspira- receive the effulgence of his light. tion of God, and is profitable for But, if there are really in Scripture doctrine, for reproof, for instruction obscure passages or thoughts, to and correction in righteousness”- the extent to which they really are within the covers of that sublime obscure, they were intended to be volume is Truth.” There, and obscure; and it cannot be said, there only, are the laws of moral therefore, that it is of the nature of movement and progress. It is a re- a revelation that it is obscure that velation of the will of the Eternal it is not a revelation—that it does for the government and present and not convey a distinct idea; but final happiness of his creature. As rather that in that wondrous book rounded and complete as are the in which God has been pleased to laws of physical motion, so must make his revealed mind plain to be, unquestionably, the laws of his creature, there are also pasmoral mind. If not, the code must sages which are intended to be difbe imperfect; and we could as soon, ficult and mystic, to show man, so nay, sooner admit the idea of an easily puffed up and exalted, what imperfection or a slip, an omission
imbecile creature he is, when or an excess in the solar system or he brings his boasted wisdom to the laws of chemical relation, than look upon a thought which God suppose an omission in a purposed has not been pleased to make plain. revelation which is to rule the This has little, however, to do with eternal destiny of almost countless the fact, that as far as God has millions of souls.
been pleased to make his written It follows from this, that “ the word a useful revelation of his will, truth" may be ascertained. It is so far the meaning stands out in a revelation, that man may know the very best way for man's ascerhis Maker's gracious will. Then, taining it. And if he will he may. certainly to the extent that he We must put away, therefore, all intended it to be a revelation, it the too popular and common nomay be distinctly read and known. tions of the
obscurity and difficulty The Father of thought and lan- of Scripture, whether the objection guage has chosen his thought which comes from Romanists or indolent is to be revealed, and the language Protestants. The idea is a solecism. by which it is best fitted to enter It is an assumption that God had into and to adapt itself to the mind bidden the sunshine of his will of man.
It would be strange in- pierce through the mist of his own deed, therefore, if the heaven- chosen language to illumine the directed language failed to convey human understanding, and that it the thought; if the invited inquirer has failed. It cannot be but that found himself baffled, not by his a proper measure of diligent appliown ignorance or error, but by the cation, through the instrumentality chosen vehicle of the idea. True, of a proper education, guided and
sanctioned by right moral feelings, demonstration of the mind of God must bring out that meaning which abides as sure as the great mounGod had mercifully enshrined there, tainous outlines of the earth's suras a light and not a darknessma face. Add to it anything unwritten, revelation and not a mystery. If anything yet to be developed from this is not so, the whole avowed the breast of subsequent men, and object of the book is baffled and the grand outline is blurred and lost; and that which is the prero- lost amid the mists of accidental gative of man, to make himself mischievous vacillation and understood by langnage, is not the change. The revelation as a whole prerogative of God. Observe, it is is gone. The purposed object is not argued that man can penetrate lost. On no authority whatever into the mysteries which God did could the idea of traditional addinot purpose him to know; but that tion to revealed written truth be he can perceive and understand admitted, except on the absolute that which God did purpose that distinct averment of the book itself. he should know; and that, by means And yet when we look to it, it of the channel through which God appears at once that one of the has directly appointed that this most serious faults with which the knowledge should come. God's great incarnate teacher charged the will, in his written word, is a re- keepers of the then existing portion vealed will intended to be known; of Holy Writ was, that they had and man is invited and enjoined to "taught for doctrines thecommandread and understand it.
ments of men, and made void the There is a collateral idea here of commandments of men by their some importance: that the written tradition.” It is easy to perceive will of God is not to be supposed that if men were hostile, directly or to owe anything in the way of indirectly, to the essence of revealed addition or improvement or devel- truth, they would readily have reopement of any new notion not course, if possible, to some such within itself, to any unwritten diluting and adulterating invention, source such as tradition or church by which the distinctiveness of the authority and announcement. The statements of infinite wisdom might system of written revelation as it be confounded and neutralized. stands is the subject of the most But few honest minds would be ample, jealous, and elaborate proof; prepared to admit that after the and consequently any other portion direct object of the litera scripta of revealed truth, if there were any, had been clearly ascertained, and must from analogy be looked for, the sin of tampering with part of not in the realms of the indefinite it had been at so important a crisis and the uncertain, but in the clear so solemnly denounced; that then light of an amply-sustained proof the whole completed canon of like the rest. The manifest object written revelation should be plungof revelation by means of a written ed at once into cloud and mystery, document, distinctly ascertained and all the accurate and infinitely and guarded, is that it may stand distinct delineations blurred and out to all ages fixed, definite, and irretrievably defiled in the quag. incapable of change, forgery, or mires of church authority and adulteration. Once publish such priestly traditional developement. a document largely by many copies It is of the wisdom of the infinitely and in more than one language, wise, that if, for the safe guidance and “litera scripta manet”-the 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 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
“ 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 having thought and differed, have rightly comprehended or not? heedlessly laid the blame, or some Where is the combined institute, of it, on the record. It is a great the united effort carried on for a matter to define well the limits series of ages to record and com- within which the authority of revepare, to illustrate and eliminate, as lation rules ; where the Lords peaks if men believed the momentous fact definitely; and where he has left that God had spoken; and that by men to judge for themselves. But a diligent enquiry into this volume on every point on which he has of historical, didactic, and prophetic condescended to speak, there is, tracts, the
mind of the Eternal and must be, a definite harmonious respecting the eternal interests of statement throughout the whole his creatures might be educed? document, which men may and Such a measure, solemnly and de- ought to find. Upon all such liberately adopted, would have long points the blame of men's differing since settled beyond controversy opinions lies, somehow or other, the grand outlines of truth revealed with themselves. “ Let God be in all important points; and the true and every man a liar.” Men universal Church would have ac- are guilty of their isms, and their knowledged without controversy schismatic views. The different the great mystery of godliness. It doctrinal notions of men are a libel would not have been left as it is either on the book or themselves. for each new and isolated enquirer It is not for any man or sect to say, to launch his frail bark on this “We have the truth, the whole wide ocean of research, almost truth, and nothing but the truth, without a compass and without a and all men who read differently guide. It would not have been in are in error, and consequently in this latter day a church-dividing guilt;" but it does behove the uniquestion whether the restoration versal Church to say- There of a sinner to acceptance with his is blame somewhere. We cannot Maker is by baptism or by a living charge it on the written word. We faith; or whether the safe holding cannot impugn the unity and simof an individual on this system of plicity of truth, or of the divine grace depends upon the sincerity revelation of truth. The truth, and of his own intention, or on that of the chosen vehicle of it, must be the priest.
infinitely perfect. As long thereIt is impossible to doubt that, in fore as we differ, some of us, pera revelation from heaven, whether haps all in one degree or other, are through many channels or one; in sin upon the point of that difwhether through the instrumen- ference.” And it will not do to sit tality of one human mind, or whe- down satisfied with the existence ther the book has been the issue of of differing doctrine in the universal the varying dispensations of a thou- Church, as if it was a matter of no sand years, there must be, from first moment that a divine message could to last, one only harmonious mean- be supposed to contain or counteing breathing throughout the whole. nance two differing views upon one It is impossible to suppose a dis- point. It should be the earnest crepancy
be collateral cry of the whole Church, in the points running nearly into matters diligent and rightly appointed chanof revelation, on which the book nel of such enquiry, What is the has not spoken, and men have not truth?” Let universal Christenyet clearly defined its limits, and dom approach the divine record in
the same humble, patient, self- revealed truth, would shine forth repressed spirit, in which the with meridian splendour, and out Baconian philosophers sought to of the subsiding ocean of angry raise the veil of nature; and doubt- controversy and dispute, there less, for the honour of infinite would arise the long-sought, symwisdom and for the happiness of metrical, and infinitely lovely form created dependance on it, the mist
of UNITY! of doctrinal and practical difference
LATIMER. would gradually vanish. TRUTH,
(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 advocacy rity 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
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