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which was not dictated by the Holy Spirit, to whom the sacred writers were but amanuenses, as Tertius was to Paul.* This would be found a sorry way of answering objections, and would not be very useful in bringing them to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.
With respect to the matter recorded in the Old Testament, will any one say, that all was spoken by God? Some things were said by very bad men, and yet very well said; some by very good men, and yet ill said; but, where is it asserted, that in committing these things to writing, the authors were wholly impelled by the Holy Spirit? They record what was said by others; I believe they record it correctly, and this is enough for me in endeavouring to know what is the religion of the Bible.
(To be Continued.)
To the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D. D.
SIR, THE Sermon delivered by you in Belfast, on "The effect of man's wrath in the agitation of religious controversies," is a noble offering at the shrine of charity. It is admirably illustrative of the principles of the Reformation, the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and the right of individual judgment; and it breathes the pure and benevolent spirit of the Gospel of the Saviour. It is with sorrow, therefore, that I mark what appears to me, inconsistency mingled with its wisdom, and contradiction to principles so powerfully and beautifully sketched. In page 23, you affirm, that, in pleading "the Godhead of the Saviour, you "simply repeat a statement of Scripture as distinct and absolute as it is in the power of vocables to make it, even that the Word was God." Again, in page 25, you say, "And should he but tell of Him who was made flesh, that He was in the beginning with God, and that He was God, surely on a theme so vastly above us and beyond us, it is for us to regulate our belief by the very letter of this communication; and on the basis of such an evidence as this, to honour the Son even as we honour the Father, is the soundest philosophy, as well as the soundest faith!"
Where, I would respectfully inquire, were your usual powers of discrimination, when you penned those pas
*Rom. xvi. 22.
sages? Where slumbered your Protestant principles, when you delivered them? See you not, that by these assertions, you have furnished the Catholic with weapons against your own faith, and given to the Unbeliever reasons strong for continuing to reject Revelation? Acting upon the principle you have laid down, the Unbeliever, when he reads Genesis iii. 8, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:" or, the same chapter, 21, "Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them,"-may well exclaim, things are here attributed to the Deity, "as distinct and absolute, as it is in the power of vocables to make" them, which are a degradation to the all-pervading Spirit of nature; and surely, that can be no revelation from heaven, which teaches me, by receiving it, to degrade the Great Being who formed and blesses me. Should it be pointed out to such a man, that these assertions are not to be literally interpreted, that it was customary to attribute all that was done to the agency of God, and that reason and common sense must be exercised in the perusal of the Bible, the Unbeliever meets us with the authority of Dr. Chalmers, delaring "it is for us to regulate our belief by the very letter of the communication," and arguing thus on your own principles, what reply could you make, that he might be turned from the error of his way?
When I read Exodus vii. 1, I find the statement made 66 as distinct and absolute as it is in the power of vocables to make it," " And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." What am I to make of this passage, if I proceed as you would have me to do? I must believe in the Godhead of Moses. Especially must I do so, when I find, in addition, that the plural word Aleim, the favourite argument used to substantiate the doctrine of the Trinity, is the word applied to designate the Deity of Moses in this text.
In reading 1 Chronicles xxi. 1, "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel," and bearing your rule in mind, that the assertion is " as distinct and absolute as it is in the power of vocables to make it," a person might be led to believe in the popular doctrine of the mighty agency and influence of the Devil. But if the same individual turned to the parallel passage
in 2 Samuel xxiv. 1, he would perceive it recorded, “ And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." What is now to be done? “The power of vocables" is as potent in the one passage as in the other. If he be to keep "by the very letter of this communication," he must believe in contradiction and absurdity. If he exercise his rational faculties, he would ascertain, that the meaning of Satan is adversary, and that, as Israel had rebelled against their God, he, in this instance, was their adversary.
The Catholic, however, is the only professing Christian who fully acts upon the principle which you have laid down. He receives the declaration of Jesus, John vi. 53, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," and other similar passages, in a literal sense, because his Priest has declared it to be his duty" to regulate our belief by the very letter of this communication," and because, acting up to that advice, and believing the doctrine of Transubstantiation, he simply repeats "a statement of Scripture as distinct and absolute as it is in the power of vocables to make it.” And should you, Sir, wish to convert your elder brother from the monstrous delusion under which he is labouring, and explain to him the meaning of the text he relies on for the truth of his doctrine, by the exercise of those powers of intellect with which God has gifted you, and illustrate its bearing by other portions of the Divine Record, and the general tenor of Heaven's Revelation, well might he retort upon you the sentiments I have already so often quoted, and put the finishing stroke to his argument, in your own language, p. 24, "After that a sound erudition hath pronounced the integrity of this our passage, we should deem it a waste and a perversion of criticism, to suspend our belief till we had adjusted all the merits of all the controversies on other and more ambiguous passages."
Be you assured, Sir, that the glorious principles on which the Reformation was founded, and by which alone it can be justified-the sufficiency of Scripture, the right of individual judgment, and of fearless free inquiry, cannot be tampered with, or compromised with impunity. Men must either act up to them in all their religious searchings, if they wish to possess a faith against which superstition and infidelity shall not prevail, or they must ever be involved
in shuffling, evasion, and contradiction. Do you yourself, Sir, believe the Godhead of the Saviour" in the sense in which it is probable your auditors would receive the doctrine, and which the standards of your Church call on you to maintain? Do you hold Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be equal with his Father, "the same in substance, equal in power and glory?" If so, what is your meaning, when you harangue, page 17, on "the stable realities of that place where God sitteth on his throne, and where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God?" Can he who sits on the right hand of God, be the same God on whose right hand he sits? Can he who does not occupy the throne of glory, be the same Almighty Being who does occupy it? Surely, surely no. If these questions be answered in the negative, and if you still assert "the Godhead of the Saviour," according to the dogmas of your Church-if the Being who fills the throne be God, and he who sits on his right hand, be also God, then are there two Gods, two Infinities, then are you convicted of Polytheism. And if this be "the Godhead of the Saviour," which you plead for, wonder not that the pleader for Transubstantiation is unmoved by your arguments, for it is scarcely a whit removed from it, either in incomprehensibility or contradiction.
But if the Godhead of the Saviour," which you would maintain, be not Supreme Deity, but official, delegated Divinity, then I maintain the doctrine as strongly and as fervently as you can do. For, if the Legislator of Israel merited the title God-if to magistrates the same appellation were given, how much higher a claim to it could he present, who was indeed the well-beloved of the Father, full of grace and truth! In thus saying, I am merely repeating the spirit of my revered Master's language, when replying to those, who, like their followers in the present times, would charge that upon him, the claim of Supreme Deity, which he never assumed,—John x. 34–38, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.”
Honouring, as I do, your talents, I have felt myself called on to address you, on what seems to me to be the inconsistencies in your powerful appeal in behalf of Christian benevolence. Lamenting that so distinguished an advocate of Protestantism, should, by his eloquence," give currency to principles which would sanction every absurdity, and transform the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, into a tissue of contradictions, has been my motive. And if one individual should thereby be encouraged to act consistently with the requirements of God's gracious blessings,-Reason and Revelation,-it will abundantly
A UNITARIAN PROTESTANT.
To the Rev. Robert Stewart, Minister of the Gospel at Broughshane, Ireland.-Letter 5.
THE task which I have imposed upon myself, is now almost finished, and I rejoice at the prospect of being soon absolved from its wearisomeness. It is indeed painful thus to dwell on the records of human weakness, and human wanderings.
You accuse the Unitarians of supineness and indifference respecting the extension of Christianity, and place in contrast, with much self-gratulation, the zeal and success of that party to which you at present belong. Here we have another proof of the absolute impossibility of avoiding offence. It is doubtless in your recollection, that on more than one public occasion, Arianism has been described, as a most insidious, widely spreading, and deadly poison; and compared, in its baleful effects, to the Upas tree, of Eastern story. The evidence of your leader, Mr. Cooke, before the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry, on this subject, would lead us to suppose, that the Unitarian party were both zealous and successful. Speaking of the Belfast Academical Institution, and the General Synod of Ulster, he says, "There is at present a strong Arian party in the Synod. From the establishment of a seminary, at least partly Arian, they will acquire a great accession of power. They would finally, in my mind, become irresistible. Step after step they have advanced in the Institution, and the check of dependence on the people once removed, they would finally obtain the seat of Theology. Further, I judge from the experience of other churches. The academy of Geneva introduced one Arian after another, till at last they became Arian or Socinian altogether. The same has occurred in other places, to the debasement or ruin of evangelical truth. Do you conceive,' the Commissioners inquired, "that the persons professing Arian principles, act together as a party? Yes; while the others are rather divided among themselves, or feel not the same anxiety to promote their own views. Do you mean, that they are anxious