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ment; then, the facts and inspired propositions of the Bible, received in all their simplicity, shall become the sure foundation of an enduring philosophy, which, rising like a glorious pyramid, shall hide its top in the impenetrable light wherein God dwelleth and knoweth himself alone.
Until that day of great illumination come, there must be diverse theories and speculations, by men of diverse powers, learning, prejudices and aims. But while these theories are building up, or crumbling, and these speculations wax warm and even fierce in the conflict with mighty antagonists, do not the facts and inspired propositions remain the same? Is it necessary that all the unlearned, or plainly educated, all men, women and children, who can find food and life and light and happiness in the gospel, should become involved in the unintelligible conflict, and be arrayed against each other by the names and fierce watchwords of sects and parties?
Mark, friends-remember, gentlemen--that whether the Copernican or the Ptolemaic system be true, we have the same succession of day and night, the same kind presence of the heavens, the same bountiful and motherly bosom of the earth; that whether the phlogistic or the anti-phlogistic theory be true, we can still plough and reap, and make bread from the “fat kidneys of wheat,”-thatwhatever may be the true cosmogony, social order and quiet duty and enjoyment exist independently of the determination of these difficult points. And so, likewise, while the metaphysical doctors of the church are involved in their complicated ontologies, theodicies, psychologies, anthropologies ; and, in the zeal and towering wrath of disputation, are hurling at each other the tortuous and lurid thunderbolts of logic; the gospel of Christ, like a sweet lake among the green hills, lies still, calm and transparent, reflecting the light and the forms of beaven. We may all go together, the learned and the unlearned-even the conflicting doctors may go together into the green pastures and beside the still waters." We may intermit our inquiries respecting the foundations of these everlasting hills, respecting the causes and laws, the path and motions of the sun and the stars over our heads, respecting the sources and the
beauty! what a heavenly influence breathes here! Here lies a wondrous telescope: let us look through it. We see the land which is afar off the heavenly city stands revealed.
In the world of nature, the facts were first given, and loved, and generalized into useful rules; and philosophy came on slowly afterwards as the interpreter of the unquestionable facts. But even here the wildness of speculation often did violence to the simplicity of nature ; but then, the error did not reach our common life, and the majestic voice of nature soon silenced the voices of strange children.
But when Christianity appeared, she found old religions and philosophies, boastful of their descent, proud and stern in their pretensions; all alike contending for the mastery, or forming alliances to make conquest and pre-eminence doubly sure. She came, not as a philosophy, but revealed herself as the face of nature upon the morning of creation, when light was first spread abroad : there were forms and objects to behold, and influences to feel and enjoy. There was undoubtedly a philosophy connected with all this. But as the sun with his light and warmth reached the little bud of earth, and opened its petals, and painted its colors, and presented its beauty and fragrance to the sense of man, without deigning to explain the curious and beautiful work; and as the soul of man found itself in wonderful union with a corporeal body, admirably fitted to its uses, without comprehending the nature of this union, and saw a universal life working in organic nature without comprehending its interpenetration and its plastic energy; so, in this spiritual world of Christianity, there was the union of divinity with humanity, and the communication of influences from a heavenly spirit, and the penetrating and vivifying power of a higher life, plainly given, and producing its palpable and glorious works of moral purity, beauty and order, while no explanation of the modes and conditions of this process was vouchsafed.
The first followers and adherents of Christianity received her as “ little children.” They were generally persons of sober minds, intelligent enough to perceive and apply facts, but carried away by no philosophical pride and enthusiasm. And while the days of persecution lasted, even the philosophical, who truly embraced the gospel, were more eager after eternal life than speculation; as, during a siege, the philosopher will sometimes lay aside his books, or leave the laboratory, and take shield and spear in the common emergency.
But the presence of the old philosophies was soon felt. The facts and doctrines proclaimed, obviously had philosophical relations. Plato, and Epicurus and Zoroaster, as well as Jupiter, Isis and Arimanes, felt the pressure of the new religion.
First, therefore, appeared a collision between facts and truths of inspiration, and established dogmas. The affirmations of Christ and God were in conflict with the deductions of a speculative reason. This conflict began when Christ, at twelve years of age, disputed with the doctors in the temple. It continued during his life, and extended more and more after his death. Speculative philosophy rejected his miracles and denied his resurrection. Paul met it at Mars-hill when he preached Jesus and the resurrection. Paganism and philosophy went hand in hand, but they were prostrated before the facts of the gospel. Christianity triumphed, but philosophy was not extinguished. Now philosophy put on priestly garments, and became the commentator of God's revelations. Mighty tomes, under saintly names, and creeds, and confessions, bearing the broad seals of synods and councils, are the memorials of her work.
It must here be admitted that many great and good men wrote nobly and wisely; and that even those fathers, who philosophised much and crudely, made many happy expositions, gave out many excellent and striking thoughts, and spoke often in eloquent and soul-stirring exhortations. Still it may be safely affirmed, that Gnosticism, Manichæism, Platonism, and other forms of philosophy pervaded and influenced the thinking of the fathers.
There are therefore two general forms of Christianity so called. First, Christianity as contained wholly and truly in the Bible, consisting of facts narrated, and of doctrines affirmed under the authority and inspiration of God. Secondly, Christianity as presented in the creeds, and confessions, and writings generally of the Christian fathers. It is indeed assumed by the devoted adherents of the latter, that they have presented Christianity according to the just scriptural idea.
In order to determine the question thus at issue, it would be necessary to examine the writings of the fathers, together with the acknowledged creeds and confessions.
Now three results are possible. 1. The integrity of the facts and truths of the gospel may be preserved; and the additions made may consist of just philosophical principles and expositions. 2. The integrity of the facts and truths may be preserv
ed; 'and the additions made may consist of the dogmas of a false philosophy. 3. The integrity of the facts and doctrines may be violated, and false dogmas may be added.
Wherever the integrity of the facts and affirmations of the gospel is preserved, ample ground for Christian union and fellowship exists, whatever may be the philosophical differences. As well might we refuse to work together by the light of the sun, or to cultivate, on common rules of agriculture, the fruitful earth, or to eat the same bread, because we differ in our theories in physics.
Next to the direct denial, or to the open perversion of the gospel, is the evil of commingling with its pure stream the various philosophies of men; and then presenting the adulterated, or at least the compound element, as that which came forth from the original source. Whether it be owing to the incapacity or imperfect discipline of the human mind, or whether the subject contains inherent difficulties, no branch of knowledge has presented so many contradictory and conflicting dogmas, and involved men in such fierce and interminable disputes as metaphysics. Now what can be more disastrous than to have all these disputes foisted into the gospel of Christ,--a religion not given to the “wise and prudent,” but unto “ babes ;" and not intended for the exercise of human wit, but to save the perishing sinner!
One most effectual means of bringing to an end the evils of which we have spoken, and of giving freedom to religion and to truth, is to introduce the profound and thorough study of the philosophical and dogmatical history of Christianity, into our systems of theological education. Let our students learn the origin of the numerous creeds and confessions of the church-of the stately systems of theology,-of all these learned, venerable, and authoritative dogmas. Initiate them into philosophical history and criticism. Let them not be confined to the bare facts of external history; but enable them to penetrate into the heart of these movements. Give them the simplicity of heart, the independence of thought, the learned furniture and skill to separate pure, primitive and apostolical Christianity from strange philoso
of church history, by his learned, judicious and impartial torical Presentation of Augustinism and Pelagianism." And next to him, the English public will feel themselves indebted to his learned translator, for his very spirited, graceful and lucid version ; and for his ingenious notes and additions.” This work cannot be commended too highly to the attention of clergymen and theological students. The translator aptly remarks: “There are probably three classes of men who will like to read such a work as this. First, those who have been called Pelagians : for they will honestly wish to know whether they ought any longer to reject the appellation; and how far, if at all, they should own its justness. Secondly, those who have called them Pelagians: as they will wish to know whether, in whole or in part, they have rightly bestowed the appellation ;-and whether, to any extent,
may also be applicable to themselves, Thirdly, those who have neither given nor received the name, but who would fain be better able to judge of the propriety with which it has been so currently applied and so promptly rejected, on the right and on the left.” And we would add, fourthly, those who boast of the title of Augustinians; that they may know how far they are entitled to this distinction, and how far, upon serious reflection, they may be disposed to consider it a desirable distinction. Let us no longer take or give names in the dark; and although “names are things,” let us learn that there are “ things” which are better than their “ names's purport.
The Augustinian and Pelagian controversy embraces topics which were agitated before the time of the two distinguished leaders from whom it takes its name; and which have never ceased to be agitated since their time. It does not appear, that of the earlier fathers there were any who could with justice be assigned strictly to the one form of doctrine or the other : and of the multitude of ecclesiastical writers who flourished subsequently, there was certainly a wide diversity of doctrine, bearing the same general designation of Augustinism and Pelagianism, but which, only in the case of the latter, attained to a distinctive title-that of Semi-Pelagianism.
With the aid of Dr. Wiggers to whose authority we dare