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ner of the times, the will of God. And entertaining the former of these impressions, they rightly argue that a book purporting to be a revelation to mankind, unless all men can readily understand it, is no revelation. But there can be no doubt I presume, that this impression is a mistaken one & The sacred writers were commissioned to declare certain truths; and they were left to declare them after their own manner, and the manner of the age ; and it is no more easy to understand the Bible than it is to understand any other ancient book. This conclusion must be admitted, whatever may be thought of the reasoning. Explain the doctrine of inspiration as we may-it is an unquestionable truth, and every enlightened student of the Bible must know it, that there are considerable portions of it, which cannot be understood without much study, and without, to say the least, some learning, which the body of the people do not possess. Every sensible man who has really studied his Bible, must know that this is the case with considerable portions of the Prophecies and Epistles. The people at large are reading these continually, and think to derive benefit from them, and do, no doubt, affix to them some vague meaning ; but they do not, and cannot understand them. They comprehend what is practical for the most part, and all that is essential; but much of what is speculative and controversial, I repeat it, with their present knowledge, they do not and cannot understand.

This may be a hard saying to many; but I believe it ought not, being unquestionably true, to be witholden. It may be an unpopular doctrine, but that circumstance

I hope does not prove it unimportant. There certainly is a mistake on this subject; and the greatness of the error, is but the greater reason for correcting it. Besides, the error is far from being harmless. This constant reading of what is not well comprehended this attempt to grasp ideas which are perpetually escaping through ancient and unintelligible modes of thought and phraseology, this formal and forced perusal of obscure chapters with a sort of demure reverence, tends to throw dulness, doubt and obscurity into all our conceptions of religion. The Bible, too, instead of being a bond of common faith and fellowship to Christains, is made an armory for polemics. And there are some controversies among the body of Christians which can never be intelligently and properly settled till they qualify themselves in a better manner to understand the Scriptures. One of two grounds ought to be taken. Either the people—I except a few intelligent, though general readers—either the people as a mass, the generality of our parishes must procure Libraries, must purchase books that will illustrate the Scriptures, and read them, or they ought to give up all pretension to understand that portion of our controversies which is founded on Biblical criticism. I mean for instance, the Scriptural arguments on such controversies as those upon original sin, total depravity, predestination, and the atonement; and the evidence on these subjects, it is well known, is usually gathered from the obscurer portions of the Prophecies and Epistles. The question concerning the Trinity seems to me a plain one, although some of the arguments on this subject require an acuteness of criticism on language, and an understanding of circumstances and states of mind in the ancient world, to which but too few, even of the priesthood, can lay claim. And yet multitudes of men and women are confidently deciding controversies on the most difficult questions of philology and interpretation, who never read-not Hebrew or Greek-but who never read a book on criticism, who never read a book on ancient customs, who never read a book on the circumstances of the primitive age, on the difficuliies and disputes prevailing, on the Jewish prejudices or the Gentile systems of philosophy :and if I were asked what I would give for the critical judgment of these men and women, I answer, nothingnothing at all. I derogate nothing from their general intelligence. And their judgment may be good, even on the point in question, as far as their common sense will carry them; and upon the general strain of the Scriptures, they may judge well, and may come, on the whole, to a right conclusion. But upon deep questions of criticism, they ought not to pretend to judge. I give that credit to the modesty of many among us, as to presume that they do not undertake to decide upon matters of this sort ; and to those who have not this modesty, it may be fairly recommended as the first step of a good and sound judgment.

I would particularly guard what I have said on this subject from injurious misapprehensions. I certainly do not discourage the reading of the Scriptures. I only urge the needful preparation for it in regard to those parts which are hard to be understood. I do not say that unlearned Christians can not understand their religion; for their religion, in substance, is contained in passages that are level to the humblest apprehensions. I do not disparage the Bible. Its value consists in the body of its undisputed truths and revelations. Besides, be the case as it may, it can be no disparagement of the sacred volume to state what it is. And that it does require study, and learning, to understand portions of it—what do all the labours of learned men, what do innumerable volumes of commentators, and whole libraries of sacred criticism show, if they do not show this? Why all these studies, let us ask, if unlearned men can understand the difficult and doubtful passages of their Bibles ?

The truth is, in my simple judgment, that the body of mankind ought never to have been disturbed with those Theological disquisitions which involve or require a deep knowledge of criticism, any more than they are with the subtilties of the Law, or with the abstruse speculations of philosophy, the disputes of anatomists, metaphysicians, and men of science. General readers, not to say those who read not at all, are just as unable to understand one as the other. There are questions in religion, undoubtedly, which are suitable for popular discussions. And if we could separate these from the more abstruse matters of inquiry, we should doubtless be able to settle the seeming difference of opinion that has lately sprung up among us, on the general expediency of controversy. There

There must be discussion ; and since men cannot agree, there must be dispute. Let there be controversy then; and let it range from the highest to the lowest subjects. All I would contend for, is, that those controversies which are addressed to the body of the people, be such as the people are prepared to understand; and that more curious questions be confined in religion, as in other things, to the learned. This reasonable discrimination would have cut off many disputes which among the mass of the people are perfectly useless, and might have saved us from some of our unhappy discussions.

In fine, and to sum up my observations, let Religion, not as a matter of experience and practice-but let Religion, in its words, its subjects, and its controversies, be treated as other things are-as the Law, Medicine, or any of the Sciences. Let what is practical, what is easily understood, what the simple and sound judgment of a man can compass, be commended, in religion, as in science, to all who can and will read it. Let what is abstruse, what is hard to be understood, what belongs to the department of profound criticism, be left, for those who have opportunity, time, and learning for it. Let others read their writings as much as they please ; but let them not judge till they read; let not their confidence outrun their knowledge. I think this is safe advice. I cannot conceive of any possible harm it can do. I believe it would do much good. I believe that it would tend to the promotion of a practical and affectionate piety among us; and I think moreover, that it would do this special good :-it

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