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the least attempt at showing, that, when fairly interpreted, they relate to the matter in question, aud support the doctrines which you now advocate. In this very simple manner, detached portions of Scripture might be quoted, in defence of opinions the most wild and contradictory. I might, therefore, fairly dismiss this part of the subject, by affirming, that your quotations are irrelevant; and stake my affirmation against yours. But as there are many points on which I do not wish to take you for an example, I shall devote a little time to the explanation of the leading passages which you have selected for your purpose.
Your first quotation, is that one which has been so often pressed into the controversy, from Isaiah ix. 6. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
In reference to this and some other portions of the Old Testament, it may be observed, that when a prophecy has been evidently accomplished, it must be explained with reference to the past, and not to the future. For I dismiss at once from my thoughts, that most unwarrantable assumption, that the words of Scripture have a double meaning; relating in one sense to an event that is not very distant, and ultimately to another, that is remote. This lax mode of interpreting prophecy, might fitly apply to the responses of the Heathen Oracles, which had various senses affixed to them, as a convenient mode of imposing on human credulity; but is utterly unworthy of that blessed Revelation which came from God.
There is indeed, a mode of employing the language of completed prophecy, to present and even to coming events, that is very suitable, and often highly impressive, of which we have many examples in the New Testament. On such occasions, it is used to describe circumstances of a similar nature to those that had occurred-in the same manner, as we at the present day, use expressions from various writers, and apply them to the illustration of our own views, though in their original meaning, they may have been very differently used.
By a careful examination of the portion of Isaiah, already quoted, and of the Jewish History, it will, I think, be found, that this prophecy did not relate to our Saviour, but to Hezekiah, the deliverer of Jerusalem. Ahaz, king of Judah, had been besieged in the royal city by the united forces of Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel; and having no hopes of being able to make a successful resistance, was about to form an alliance with the king of Assyria. To dissuade him from this purpose, of which the Prophet disapproved, he assured him that his deliverance was at hand:-" That a virgin should conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel (expressive of trust in God), and that, before the child should know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that he abhorred should be deprived of both her kings. This prediction was accordingly verified. At a subsequent period, the same Prophet predicted the happiness of Judah, under the approaching reign of the virtuous Hezekiah; and expressed himself in the strong figurative language which you have quoted, to give an exalted idea of their temporal deliverance, and blessedness. A reference to the Book of Kings and Chronicles, will satisfy any inquirer, that all these things were fully accomplished.
The next portion of Scripture which you have either misconceived, or misrepresented, is taken from the Book of Revelation, chap. i. 8, "I am Alpha and Omega," &c. and these words you think fit to apply to our blessed Lord. By consulting the Sacred Text, it will appear evidently, that you have given an unfaithful interpretation. John begins at verse 4th, with a declaration of the eternity of God; and in the 5th, 6th, and 7th verses, having stated, by way of parenthesis, what Jesus had done, and what he had still to accomplish, he returns to the subject with
which he had commenced, and describes the attributes of the Deity, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." How this language can suitably apply to him whose power was confessedly derived from another, "who could do nothing of himself," it is surely very difficult to understand; and I am persuaded, that prejudice alone, could prevent a man from seeing its gross inconsistency.
The next portion of Scripture adduced by you, in support of the Supreme Deity of Jesus, is Col. ii. 9. "In whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. These words are merely expressive of the extraordinary powers conferred upon our Saviour by Almighty God, to qualify him for the discharge of his important mission; and of the graces and virtues with which he was endowed. But how they can prove that three are one, and one are three, does not clearly appear.
Your last reference to Scripture, is to the 1st chap. of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 1-8. This portion of Scripture is expressive of the great dignity of Christ, and of the honours to which he was exalted. "When he bringeth his first-born into the world, he saith, let all the Angels, (that is messengers of God) pay homage to him." "And of these messengers, he saith, who maketh the winds his messengers, and flames of lightning his ministers." This, I apprehend, will be found a correct translation of the original. "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.' The word God in Scripture, is frequently applied to created and inferior natures. "I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.' I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”—and quotations to this effect could be multiplied. But whatever meaning we may choose to affix to the word, as it occurs in the 8th of the 1st Chap. of Hebrews, it is plain, from the very next verse, that the nature of the person spoken of, was subordinate to that of God. "Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Besides, the xlv. Psalm, which is quoted in these words, and applied as descriptive of the glory and honour of Jesus, was evidently composed in honour of King Solomon, at the time of his marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. It is entitled "a Song of Loves;" and an attentive reading of it will show the occasion on which it was written. The following are extracts: "My heart is inditing a good matter; I speak of the things which I have made touching the king; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach these terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. King's daughters were among thy honourable women; upon thy right hand did stand the Queen, in gold of Ophir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy Father's house, so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy lord, and worship thou him. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour. The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework; the virgins her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the king's palace.”
Now, if the word "God" in this Psalm, which is evidently applied to Solomon, does not exalt the son of David to divine honours, I cannot see how the use of it by the Apostle, as expressive of the glory and power to which the Supreme Being had exalted his Son Jesus, can be a proof that he who was born in Judea, lived for more than thirty years upon earth, and was at length cruelly and unjustly put to death by the Jews, was the Almighty Creator of all things, who is from everlasting, and whose days draw not nearer to an end.
You have not thought proper to favour the public with an analysis of one solitary portion of Scripture, of all that you have interwoven in your book. Perhaps it would have been unreasonable to have expected it. When your kind Ballymena friends, pitying your wants, shall have furnished you "with a Polyglot Bible, and several critical works to explain the same,” the deficiency may be supplied. The circumstance, however, by some strange association of ideas, reminds me of Father O'Regan. knew him well. His opportunities for acquiring learning in early life, like those of many others "put into the priest's office for a morsel of bread," had been very limited; and the laborious duties of his profession, in after life, had been equally unfavourable to literary improvement. He was, in truth, a very ignorant man. But he had one quality for which I valued him, whilst living, and now respect his memory-he_was modest and unassuming. It was his fortune to be neighbour to a Presbyterian Minister, who delighted in argument. The temptation to attack the Priest was irresistible. Poor O'Regan, on such occasions, offered no resistance; but with an imploring look, exclaimed, “Ah! do, pray, let me alone; you know I have not got my larning yet."
October 15, 1827.
A NEW Monthly publication, entitled "The Christian Advocate," has been set on foot in Alnwick, by the friends who have laboured so zealously for the promotion of freedom of inquiry, in that town and neighbourhood. We rejoice to see these local works springing up. We trust the "Advocate" will be productive of good. Its price renders it available to almost every class; and it may thus excite a desire for scriptural investigation, in places where larger publications may not penetrate.
THE REV. T. W. Horsfield, of Lewes, has been unanimously invited as Coadjutor with the Rev. Dr. Davies, at Taunton.
THE Rev. R. Cree, of Preston, has been invited to Bridport, as successor to the late Mr. Wawne.
THE REV. J. Owen, of Tamworth, has been invited to Macclesfield.
WE presume, therefore, that the Congregations of Lewes, Preston, Atherstone, and Tamworth, as well as Gorton, will now be in want of Ministers.
WE again request our Correspondents will favour us with their Communications, previously to the 16th of each Month; and with Articles of Intelligence, previously to the 20th.
The Proceedings of the Synod of Ulster.*
The Father Inquisitors of the Synod of Ulster, have, by their late memorable proceedings, clearly demonstrated, that religious bigotry retains the same features, however various be the church or sect which gives it encouragement. The demon is the same, whether domineering in the gorgeous vestments of Papacy, lurking, half-concealed, in the lawn of Prelacy, or skulking in the short cloak of the Presbyterian. Demonstrating, also, that Priests and Priestcraft are far from extinct, they exhibited the goodly and edifying picture of ecclesiastical intolerance in its most disgusting colours; disclosing the hateful spirit of persecution, although imbecile and almost powerless; manifesting an intense desire to immolate their brethren on the altar of sectarian animosity, but without capacity to execute their purpose; and, therefore, alas, obliged to denounce merely, being unable to administer the merciful and salutary chastening of fire and faggot, to that heresy whose existence appeared so horrible!
But one redeeming feature must not be omitted. Even within the walls of that dark conclave, amidst the tumultuous conflict of passions, which only religious (as they are termed) assemblies represent in their most hateful characters, though agitated by theological virulence, yet even here, the power as well as extent of public opinion was recollected and acknowledged, and sectarian bitterness quailed at the possibility of falling beneath its condemnation. Hence only could arise the consciousness of lack of candour; hence, amidst an assumption of infallibility, not beneath the pretensions of St. Peter's chair, the misgiving, that the basis of Protestantism, the right of private judgment, was placed in jeopardy by these inquisitorial proceedings. Therefore was the easily-made
* Though written in August, we only received this Article a few days since. Though rather late, we trust that the importance of the subject and the excellence of the observations, will prove that it is still a word in season.-Edit.
claim to candour unblushingly advanced, although a convenient opportunity for its exercise does not appear to have been afforded; and the right of free inquiry, and of individual opinion advocated, its mischievous tendency being destroyed by the judicious introduction of a Trini
To claim the exercise of candour, must sound somewhat ungraciously in the ears of the Bible Christian, unlearned in sophistical quibbles, but aspiring to the possession of gospel charity and the spirit of Christ, when he finds it in unholy alliance with the domination of spiritual pridewhen he perceives, that humble-minded pious men, whose sole desire is to imitate their Lord and Master, to exemplify the beauty of holiness by the equable tenor of their lives; who crave to bring the thirsty soul to the waters of life eternal, and to introduce to the benighted mortal, a saving knowledge of God and of his Christ—when he finds such men denounced for mere doctrinal differences, by their equally frail, but far more presumptuous fellow-men, as robbers, heretics, and infidels, with whom it is impossible to "hold the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace" (Cooke)!-with whom all intercourse must be interdicted, inasmuch as they "should neither worship in the same temple,† nor give each other the right hand of fellowship"-(S. Dill)!-because they "could not look on an Arian as a brother"-(Elder)! Truly, he will conclude, that not only candour, but also that charity or love, which an Apostle testifies to be superior even to faith, and which must, therefore, be regarded as a fundamental requisite of the Christian's character, is, with reckless zeal, annihilated; and he will lament, that the ignorant but
As Dr. Drummond happily expresses it, Read the Scriptures, and judge for yourself, but "read them with the spectacles of Athanasius or Calvin!" The Doctor's remark, that "if you happen to take a glance with your own eyes, &c. you are immediately stigmatised as a leper and heretic, and must be cut off from "the covenanted mercies of God, &c.!" is but too abundantly substantiated by the page of Ecclesiastical History; and another proof is added to the existing mass, by the proceedings of the Synod of Ulster, A. D. 1827.
†This reverend "preacher of the word of his divine Master," who occasionally delights in the exercise of candour, and feels "no desire to tyrannize over the minds of men, because (and we thank him for the admission) opinion should be (ay, should be!) free as the wind," is, it must be admitted, a very harmless polemic. Does the reverend orator mean the above to be regarded as an apophasis, leading his hearers to the recollection of the passage-Stand by, for I am holier than thou?