« PreviousContinue »
guage. There cannot be meanings impossible to be ato tained, without foreign help, by those who perfectly understand such language; for, were this the case, no person could ever know when he understood a language, nor could any information ever be credited. There would always be apprehensions of unknown and, for what could be told, contradictory meanings; and that degree of certainty, which information by words (however imperfect from its nature) can now attain, would be utterly destroyed. What then are we to say, when Mr. R. (vol.ii. p. 86) affirms, that those good persons are to be credited, who DECLARE, that they have received, in answer to prayer for divine teaching, such a perception of some of the leading truths REVEALED in the Bible, that is, truths made known to us by this external revelation, as is totally distinct from any which they before experienced? and what are we to think of those perceptions which are totally distinct from any perceptions (any knowledge I suppose he means, if he has any meaning to his words) which the words of Scripture can possibly convey? Knowledge so derived immediately from God himself differs nothing from inspiration, and is therefore equally miraculous ; for, if inspiration be not a miracle, the word miracle has no meaning. But Mr. R. (vol. ii. p. 41) admits, that there is no evidence of miraculous powers (i. e. the exertion of uniraculous powers) in our days.
(To be continued.)
REMARKS ON THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL,
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
HERE is no one cause, I apprehend, that has pro
duced stronger prejudices against Revelation at large, than mistaken opinions originating in partial views of its particular doctrines. The chief prejudices against the truly important and fundamental doctrine, of which I propose to treat, arise from such imperfect views of the subject, and from putting asunder correlative circumstances, which God has inseparably joined together. For
the same sentence which decreed the punishment of Adam and of all his posterity, decreed at the same time the correlative means of restoration to happiness. (Gen. iii. 15.) The means of obtaining eternal life and bliss were indeed changed, but they were not annibilated. Man indeed ceased to be able to save himself by his own unassisted powers, and he acquired evil propensities, which he could not by his own unaided will overcome. But although in one scale the effects of the fall were cast, yet in the opposite scale were cast the effects of the obedience and atonement of the Lamb of God, “ slain from the foundation of the world;" and the balance thereby perhaps more than restored. (Gen. xlviii. 15, 16.) If, to illustrate my position, every son of Adam is born blind into the world, nevertheless Christ " enlighteneth every man that coineth into the world.” (Jobo i. 9.) This our blessed Saviour has
one, it is true, in different degrees, as he saw fit; but he has done it so far, at all times, as to restore every man to such a degree of free-agency, as to enable him, by walking according to the light given to him, to save his soul alive.
Now, if we may be allowed to reason à priori' upon this high question, perhaps the superhuman wisdom of this dispensation may in some ineasure appear. For if it be adınitted that man was created a free agent, it follows that he must have been liable to stand or fall. I believe, too, that it will not be denied that pride is the first and great cause of the fall of every free agent. “ Aspiring to be gods, angels fell.” Desirous likewise to know by their own experience good and evil, and thence to form their choice of their own proper good, rather than with humility and faith to give credit to their all-wise Creator, our first parents began that series of experiments, which occasioned their fall, and which has been, and will be, continued by their descendants, till they shall have learned that God is wiser than men, and that he alone can point out to them their own proper good, the tree of life. (See Ps. cix. 9, Acts. v. 30.) Our Saviour's perfect knowledge of the nature of free agents probably induced him to commence his instructions with, * Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven.” Further, the first free agent that fell, must have fallen self-tempted, and has probably fallen irrecoverably into the lowest abyss. The circumstance, that man fell by the temptation of another, may have broken, or suspended, his fall, and
given occasion for the assisting impulse of grace to counterbalance his temptations and evil propensities. For had grace been given to him before an opposite evil propensity or temptation had taken place, it might perhaps have interfered with, and overset his free agency; whereas now it seems to restore it with increased advantages. For the consciousness of being in a degenerate and helpless state is calculated to excite humility, which is the security and wisdom of the creature; and humility is further increased in man when the Gospel reveals unto him, that if he will be saved, he must condescend to be saved by another.
Thus is the pride of the creature mortified, and thus man, when he is weak, is strong, and when he is foolish, is wise. Thus, too, it may be presumed, that by a dispensation so preventive and subversive of pride and its consequences, more persons will be preserved from an irrecoverable fall and ruin, than perhaps could have been saved by any other possible means. The argument will be confirmed by a consideration of the seemingly parallel case of St. Paul, described in 2 Cor. xii. 7-U; and we may now answer the unbeliever in the words spoken by the Lord to Esdras, who had been reflecting upon original sin-" Thou comest far short, that thou shouldest be able to love my creature inore than I.” (2 Esd. viii. 47).
I shall conclude with observing, that the efficacy of Christ's atonement has been operating from the beginning, and thaự the evil propensities of our natures have perhaps thereby been in some measure already mitigated. The earth from which man is taken (ops) was cursed, together with its offspring, as an image of, and speculum to, Eve and all her spiritually barren offspring. The effects of the corruption of buman nature and of the earth corresponded, and appeared in their greatest malignity in the ole world. (See Sherlock's Sermons on the Prophecies.) But by the destruction of the old world, the human race was reduced to the family of one pious, common parent, the glorious type of the second Adam; and thereby the human race was probably meliorated, and the curse upon the earth, in correspondency, mitigated. (Gen. v. 29, and viii. 21).
And the time will come, probably in this life, when the good and evil seed, the wheat and the tares, shall be still farther separated, (Luke xvii. 27) and when, as Isaiah foretells, “ Thy people also shall be all righteous,” (Is.lx.
21) “and the wilderness (in unison) shall blossom as the rose;" (Is. xxxv. 1) of which glorious age the Christian Bard (as he has sometimes been called) may be presumed to sing in the following lines of his 4th Eclogue:
Hinc, ubi jam firmata virum te fecerit ætas,
Mutabit merces: omnis feret omuja tellus. There shall indeed come a time, and God grant that it may soon arrive, when Paradise shall descend upon earth, in the midst of which “ there shall be the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree (shall be) for the healing of the nations, and there shall be no more curse." (Rev. xxii. 2, 3).
I am, Gentlemen, ,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
SHOULD bè obliged to you to admit the following
criticisms, if you think them worth your attention, into your next useful Miscellany. The account recorded in the Evangelical History of our Saviour's reforming the abuses of the temple, has been matter of much triumph to scoffers, equally undeserved as indecent. In the first place, admitting the translation (John ii. 15) to be correct, it is an unwarrantable liberty tu inake Jesus scourge
men, when the historian has neither mentioned nor implied it. But, secondly, I much question whether the author's sense be correctly given in our translation. If L have any critical knowledge of the Greek language, I am mistaken, if the general word aartas is not meant to include simply the particulars τα τε προβατα, και τες βοας. In this view, it should be translated_ he drove them all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen.” This is an interpretation which can only be established by authority. No positive
authority, I confess, occurs to me at the moment of writing this, but I have a general recollection
founded on repeated observation in the course of my reading. It may be objected, that wartas in the masculine gender must include the men. Without adverting to the well known rule of the masculine gender being more worn thy than either the feminine or neuter, I might reply, that such little solecisms are common in sacred language, What does aetapevov (Luke xxiv. 47) agree with grammatically? The above interpretation, moreover, exactly corresponds with one's idea of the suitableness of the instrument to the use to which it was applied. What could a scourge of small cords do against an interested and mer cenary rabble?---to drive put the cattle there could not be a properer instrument,
My next critical remark respects the 3d verse of the 2d chap. of the Acts of the Apostles. The words of the sacred writer are, “ Και ώφθησαν αυτός διαμεριζομεναι γλωσσαι, ωσιι
" In this passage, the words διαμεριζομεναι γλωσσαι have always (to me unaccountably) been translated “ cloven tongues.” Now the primary, genuine, and I believe almost universal sense of diepegośw, both in sacred and profane writers, is simply distribuo, to distribute. (See v. 45 of the same chap. Luke xv. 24, et alibi). Hence the passage would be, I conceive, rightly translated—“ And distributed tongues appeared to them”-implying that each person in particular bad this manifestation of the divine presence; and this is actually asserted in the clause immediately following:" srcelias TE 50'EVR EXASON avrwv.” In this view it appears a very proper and reasonable symbol of the powers conferred at .hat time on the Apostles. But no imagination, I think, can assign a reason, why a cloven tongue seould be a more appropriate symbol than one uncloven; or explain what additional meaning it would convey. Perhaps, after all, my interpretation may be far from novel. I have, however, to observe, that what few critics or commentators my own confined library have af. forded me an opportunity of consulting, (among whom I reckon Parkhurst) bave made no remarks of the above kind upon the passage in question. I am, Sir, with good wishes,
Your obedient Servant, Woolpit, March 10, 1806.