« PreviousContinue »
plied? If not, then what is it that this same sanctification means ? and why is it that he is made to speak of the Holy Ghost, as performing or having performed it upon him, when he feels not any such thing, nor knows any thing about the matter?
Does he then feel or suppose any such particular operation going on with him? If so, then must this sanctification be the receiving of that inward light, which certain of the people called Methodists, take upon them to speak of themselves as feeling within themselves. By the rulers of the Church and their adherents, these Methodists are spoken of as schismatics, and a species of heretics. Quere, such reprobation, how is it consistent with the declaration thus expressed and included in this Catechism?
To be sanctified is to be made holy. By the child, be he who he may, sooner or later, this point of information will have been received, if it has not been already. While giving this answer, does the child then feel itself holy ?If not, then why is it to be forced to say it does? If yes, then is it already a Methodist child : an arrant Methodist.
Question 6.—You said that your Godfathers and Godmothers did promise for you that you should keep God's commandments. Tell me how many there be.
Answer.—The same which God spake in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
1. Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.
# Thereupon follow the other nine of these commandments.
Upon the face of this introduction, an appearance rather unfortunate presents itself. The child in question is not a Jew: neither he nor any of his forefathers were ever, in the manner thus alluded to, “ brought out of the land of “ Egypt.
.” But it is to the Jews, and to that race alone,to those, and the progeny of those, who were thus brought out of the land of Egypt,--that these Commandments are any where in the Bible represented as having been delivered.
How far, by a person professing the religion of Jesus they ought to be considered as binding upon him, is a subject of controversy, upon which it is not proposed to enter in this place.
One observation, however, there is, which, even in this place, claims admission,-and that by a title which it seems not easy to dispute. This is—that, in a discourse, which is intended for the instruction of Christian children, and which has for one of its objects the causing these Commandments to be regarded as binding upon Christians, it seems not altogether congruous to that design, to employ a form of words, upon the face of which it appears, that no person, not being of Jewish lineage, and at the same time of the Jewish persuasion in matters of religion, and therefore no child for whose use this formulary was intended, is of the number of the persons to whom these Commandments were addressed.
In relation to this incongruity, what was the expectation, and consequent instruction, of the penners and establishers of this formulary--that it would and should, or that it would not and should not, attract, in general, the
notice, and engage the attention, of those who were destined to be impregnated with it?-impregnated with the , matter, or, at any rate, with the words of it? If yes, then the expectation and intention was,-that, by those, by whom the words of this formulary were got by heart, no reliance should be placed in the words, of which it was composed; but that for the sense of it, they were to refer themselves to whatever construction the person, to whose guidance it was meant they should stand subjected, might at any time be pleased to put upon it :-if no, then the expectation and intention was,—that in this part at least(and if in this part, how should it be otherwise in any other ?) the place it occupied in men's minds would and should be that of an insignificant assemblage of words :of mere words, not accompanied by correspondent ideas, and therefore not capable of exercising any influence on human practice ;-on the conduct of those upon whose memories it was to be impressed.
But, in relation to this matter, let the expectation and intention have been what they may, what is likely to be the effect? The incongruity, will it be perceived ? then in so far will the unfitness of this formulary for its purpose be perceived. The incongruity, will it not be perceived ? it will then be, because,-in this particular part, as in the whole together,-it is not of a nature to take on the under. standing any efficient hold, nor therefore to produce on life and conduct any beneficial effect.
Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth.
Upon the face of this commandment, two branches of art and science stand condemned and prohibited; viz. the graphic art in all its various modifications; the graphic art, and thereby, in great measure, the science of natural history: two branches of art and science; and thereby, among men, those by whom those branches of art and science are respectively practised and cultivated : on the one hand, painters and other such artists on the other hand, natural philosophers.
True it is, that, immediately after the above, these are the words that follow :-" Thou shalt not bow down to “ them, nor worship them.” Well then (it has been said) by this it appears, that in so far as concerns manual operation in any shape, in addition to the act of bowing down to and worshipping them, all that was meant to be included in the prohibition, was—not simply, the act of making the sorts of things in question, but the act of making them for the purpose in question : viz. that of their being bowed down to and worshipped. .
Yes, verily: in this may be seen a signification, which must per force be put upon these words, in so far as a resolution has been previously taken, that whatsoever were the real meaning of the prohibitory clause, the act of making, as applied to the class of articles in question, shall not be considered as included in it.
But, upon the face of the words, as they here stand, is this the true, the natural, the proper sense of them? If so, then are the words designative of the sort of act first mentioned, viz. the act of making—then are the words “ Thou shalt not make to thyself”—to be considered as words void of meaning: then is the whole passage to be understood, as it would be if no such words were there.
But, for the taking of any such liberty with this passage
where is the sufficient warrant? If with this passage that sort of liberty may be taken, -taken at pleasure, by any man who finds a convenience in so doing,--why not with any other, and every other ?- This is the way that, now-adays, so many religions are made. By omission, hy insertion, by substitution-by amendment in every shape--a man makes a Bible of his own; and thereupon, with intimations given of divine vengeance in case of refractori. ness, he calls upon mankind to bow down and worship it.
The writer, inspired or not inspired, by whom this pas. sage was originally penned, was he so much less skilled in the import and management of his own language, as not to be able to give expression to a prohibition, which he did intend should take effect, not to be able to give ex. pression to this prohibition, without adding to it another and still more extensive,--and that a useless and perni. cious one, which he did not intend should take effect ! Inspired or uninspired, had he not foresight enough to foresee (and surely no such gift as that of supernatural prophecy was necessary to enable a man to foresee) that such as is here contended for would be the signification put upon these words,-and in consequence to do what was so perfectly easy to do, for preventing any such sense from being put upon them, viz, to forbear inserting the words by which this supposed real intention was so plainly counteracted, and which could not be either necessary or conducive to any other purpose than that of counteracting it.
In truth, according to the plain and only natural import of the words, here are two sorts of acts, perfectly distinct from and unconnected with each other, that are successively taken for the objects of so many successive prohibitory clauses. One is the act of worshipping the natural objects therein described, the other is the act of making visible representations of these same objects.