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This is a work in which I feel that all Christians should unite, and I would that there were this union in our own neighborhood! As yet it seems to me that the Church of Christ, as one Church, has never grappled with the evils that are in the world, and not only is good left undone, but it is prevented. Not long ago I was on a journey, when a fellow-traveller, apparently a mechanic, sitting opposite me, began a conversation on religion. He said, “I have attended churches and chapels of all kinds, and wherever I have been, I have heard other denominations preached against. At church I was warned against the chapels, and at the chapels against one another, and the church; aud so it seemed as if none had the truth.” He added, “I do not find this spirit of disagreement in the New Testament, and am beginning to think it is better to stay at home and read my Bible, and pray to God in my heart, than to go to a place of worship, and hear that none who do not receive just this or that form of faith can be accepted of Christ.” How could I help feeling that my fellow-traveller had too truly described the Christian world as it is !
Once more, then, let me ask, Why cannot Christians be satisfied with Peter's answer, when our Lord asked, “Whom say ye that I am ? And Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Will it help us to love God or His Anointed better if
Rev. Hugh J. Rose, then vicar of Horsham). These things may not be in accordance with the condemnatory clause of the Athanasian Creed, but they seem to me only the simple carrying out of the grand principle, “ One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.”
we put our belief in a dialectic form, which arose out of the habits of certain heathen converts, who had been brought up in a philosophy which they could not entirely lay by? What an expressive fact it is, that such terms as “three persons and one God,” “triune God,” “ Divine essence,” “two natures in one person,” “ Trinity," “first person,” “ second person,” “third person,” “co-essential,” “co-equal, co-eternal,” “God-man,” “incarnate God,” “God the Son,” “God the Holy Ghost,” are phrases nowhere to be found in Holy Writ! O, surely the time is coming when, by a more free, trustful, and enlarged communion, we may shew that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts ! Surely, to those who receive Christ as the Son of God, and are inwardly united to him, the soul's life cannot depend on any metaphysical distinction with regard to his nature! Surely eternal life is a thing of the innermost spirit, and to be gained by a living relation to God in Christ! “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman; abide in me, and I in you; I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing." After reading such words of life as these, how hard and cold it seems to hear that any debated point of theological doctrine is essential to our being saved! You say that you wished, had your space permitted, to transfer to your pages a part of M. Vinet's chapter on mysteries. In that very chapter I find much to agree with ; let me call your attention to one passage, which I think is capable of a more extended application than perhaps its author intended : “What, in reference to us, is the object of the gospel? Evidently to regenerate and save us. But it attains this end entirely by the things it reveals. Of what use would it be to know those it conceals from us? We possess the knowledge which can enlighten our consciences, rectify our inclinations, renew our hearts; what should we gain if we possessed other knowledge ? It infinitely concerns us to know that the Bible is the Word of God; does it equally concern us to know in what way the holy men, that wrote it, were moved by the Holy Ghost? It is of infinite importance for us to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; need we know precisely in what way the divine and human natures are united in his adorable person? It is of infinite importance for us to know that unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God, and that the Holy Spirit is the author of that new birth; shall we be further advanced if we know the Divine process by which that wonder is performed ? Is it not enough for us to know the truths that save? Of what use, then, would it be to know those which have not the slightest bearing on our salvation? Though I knew all mysteries,' says St. Paul, and have not charity, I am nothing. St. Paul was content not to know, provided he had charity; shall not we, following his example, be content also without knowledge, provided that like him we have charity, that is to say, life ?”
And now, Reverend Sir, I will bring these preliminary remarks to a close. Perhaps by this interchange of thought neither of us may be led to any very
LETTER TO THE REV. E. H. BICKERSTETH.
material change in the interpretation of Scripture; but you and every reader of these words will, I trust, join me in the prayer, that the present occasion may be one on which the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will send His Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before Him.
Yours, with much respect,
DEFINITIONS AND PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
“In the midst of this darkness which involves us, we both conceive and speak, or rather lisp, like children, concerning this and other Divine mysteries. While we are in this life, we behold our God, as it were in a glass darkly, but the time will come, or rather, eternity, which is beyond all time and period, will come, wherein we shall see Him face to face. The beatific vision of God will then chase all darkness from our minds. Let us earnestly and humbly supplicate the Divine mercy night and day, to make us worthy of this at the last. Meanwhile, so long as we are on our way, we rather desire to know, than do (actually) know clearly, what,' (to use the words of the learned Athenagoras)'is the oneness of the Son with the Father; what is the communion of the Father with the Son; and what the Spirit is; and what is the union of these that are so great, and (what) the distinction of them united; the Spirit, the Son, and the Father.'”—Bishop Bull's Defensio Fidei Nicænæ, part ii., p. 653.
In Bishop Bull's work these words occur at the end of his attempt to vindicate the Nicene faith ; but does not the whole spirit of the passage shew how inconsistent a thing it is to condemn those who, while heartily receiving Divine Revelation, cannot assent to a particular form of expressing their Christian belief ? Surely it does not become us to demand as indis