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to defend. These are probably what Mr. G. calls his “main arguments.” Every man, who is not a volunteer in faith, entertains his own opinion on the scriptural truths which he holds in common with his brethren: and while he modestly declines to dictate to others, he may reasonably be allowed to vindicate the general doctrines according to his own modification of them, without being made responsible for the precision of those statements from which his opponent imagines himself to derive considerable advantage. To answer directly this class of Mr. G.'s arguments, would be to vindicate those human systems which he has selected as the most vulnerable, instead of that Divine system of “truth which abideth for ever.” The only legitimate method in the present case, therefore, was to state the doctrines under discussion in what the author thought the most scriptural manner, and to support his own statement. If by such a statement his opponent's objections be fairly obviated or evaded, they are answered effectually though not formally ; for the light of truth alone is sufficient to dispel the shades of error. In this way Mr. G.'s main arguments are really touched ; and some people think that the touch is like that of Ithuriel's spear.
E. H. Manchester, April 29, 1814.
Of the Impossibility of attaining to the Knowledge of
Divine Things by Reason without Revelation. It is one of the disadvantages to be encountered in the present discussion, that while the evangelical party take only the Scriptures for their guide, the Socinians claim it as a privilege to appeal from the sacred writers to the dic. tates of unassisted reason. The latter will submit their opinions to the test of Scripture, only when the Scrip. tures will stand the ordeal of their opinions. Or, to speak with greater propriety, they choose to try rather the Scrip. tures by their creed, than their creed by the Scriptures. When the language of the evangelists and apostles appears to favour their hypothesis, they are prepared to make the utmost use of its authority ; but when the contrary is the case, and the plainest declarations of the sacred writers can by no “ cogging of the dice," be transformed into me. taphor, allegory, or figurative representation; when the primitive teachers of Christian truth obstinately refuse to become Socinians, or even to be neutral, our opponents are prepared to pronounce against them a sentence of excommunication, and to erase their testimony from the record, as an interpolation, a corruption of the sacred text, or an inconclusive argument.
On this important subject Mr. G. has fully delivered himself. His language is as follows: “ Grant only (what none I imagine will deny) that the bestowment of reason upon man was, in itself, a partial revelation of the nature, attributes, and will of God, and then say whether it be possible that a subsequent, more complete revelation should contradict the first.' (Sermon on Christianity an Intellectual and Individual Religion.)
The advocates of the infallibility of human reason in things Divine, would do well to acquaint themselves more exactly with the power and the province of the faculty which they so unrea
reasonably exalt. The doctrine of innate ideas has been long and justly exploded. But if the mind (or reason) of man possesses no innate ideas, from whence does it collect the first principles of knowledge ? From sensation, experience, and instruction. Infants
obtain their first and imperfect ideas from what they perceive by their external senses. These first ideas are rectified by experience. Having in this way received a variety of ideas, and having learned to distinguish the different sounds which they hear, they are next taught to imitate those sounds, and to make each of them the sign of a distinct idea. They are thus prepared for farther instruction ; and by instruction they obtain all their additional know. ledge. They are instructed in the knowledge of first principles. They are taught even the use of reason; and by instruction are led on to those farther degrees of knowledge which are acquired by rational deduction. Why do we appoint instructers to our children, if they have the rudiments of all needful knowledge within themselves? The universal practice of mankind, founded on universal experience, yea, even the practice and expe. rience of Mr. G., who, in his way, is taking so much pains to instruct and to guide our reason, amounts to a de. monstration of what is here asserted.
The personal experience of every man speaks the same language. Let any one make the experiment, whether he can, by the utmost exertion of his reason, create one new idea in addition to those which he has received by sensation and instruction. Every man may be conscious that he at first relied on the testimony of others, and was then taught to reason on those principles which he had thus imbibed. The eye of reason, like the eye of the body, is by its Maker formed capable of perceiving and distinguishing the objects which are suited to its nature, when they are laid before it in a proper light. But until those objects are so proposed to it, it can no more perceive or distinguish them than the bodily eye can see what is not presented to it, or which is the same thing, what is presented in midnight darkness. As the mind cannot reason without ideas, it has no more
power to create them than to create an atom. Man is a dependent being. God only is his own instructer, (if there be no impropriety in applying that expression to the eter. nal mind,) and he only has the ideas and archetypes of all things in himself.
The vanity of all the inquiries of mankind after wisdom, Divine wisdom, and spiritual understanding, until God is pleased to reveal it, is finely exemplified in Job xxviii. Exactly similar to the doctrine of that beautiful chapter is the uniform doctrine of the Scriptures. They declare that, as to the things of God, mankind are in a state of entire ignorance until they are taught by Divine revelation; and always impute the knowledge which mankind receive to instruction from above. Take the following passages as a sufficient specimen :-" Every man is brutish in his knowledge,” Jer. x, 14. “ He that teacheth man know. ledge. The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law,” Psalm xciv, 10-12. “ But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding," Job xxxii, 8,
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit," 1 Cor. ii, 9, 10. spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death,” Luke i, 78, 79.
“ I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet," Rom. vii, 7. “ How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? And how shall they hear without a preacher ? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. I was found of them that sought me not. I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me," Rom. x, 14, 17, 20.
However unwilling modern philosophers, who have re. ceived all their true wisdom from the Bible, may be to confess the insufficiency of human reason in things Divine, the sages of antiquity were honest enough to acknowledge the uncertainty of its researches.
Pythagoras changed the name of wise men into lovers
6 The day.