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them to her home and to her heart: they are intended to furnish, that she was unto them as a sister. And he may not, tlırough ignorance of perhaps I may be permitted to add, this essential point, injure the cause that this love of the good is one he designs to defend. great evidence of the sincerity of Sir Isaac Newton (to whose our religion. “ Do good unto all opinions surely some deference is . men, but especially to the house- due) seems to have explained its . hold of faith,” is the injunction of nature accurately: he says, “The the Apostle. Are we not brethren ? prophecies of the Old Testament Let us then“ see that we fall not were given, not to gratify men's out by the way.” May we love the curiosities by enabling them to good—may we unite ourselves to foreknow things, but that, after them- may we give them our hands they were fulfilled, they might be and our hearts, and go forth toge- interpreted by the event, and the ther in the strength of our heavenly providence of God, not the interFather, to bless and benefit all preters, be then manifested to the around us! O happy country world.” If the opinion, then, conwhich should be thus bound toge- tained in this quotation be correct, ther! And more and more happy which I think is indisputable, it shall we, as individuals, become in appears, that the evidence of Proproportion as our own state more phecy arises solely from those prenearly approaches to this. Blessed, dictions which are already fulfilled; thrice blessed, shall we be, when all and that the office of an Interpreter hearts, tuned as it were, by the of Prophecy is “not to foretel hand of God, and moved by the times and things by Prophecy, as breath of Heaven, shall sound one if God designed him for a prophet,” harmonious and concordant note, but diligently to collate the events and join in one heavenly song-- recorded in profane history with “ Glory to God, and good will to Scripture predictions, in order to man;" when our general aim, and ascertain to which they allude. our universal attainment shall be- This being accomplished, we are “ to love God, and to love one an. able to encounter the infidel with other."
this irrefragable argument, that : C. since the records of Christianity
contain predictions of events which Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer.
did not occur till ages afterwards,
the author of those records must The prophecies contained in the be God-foreknowledge being one Old and New Testaments have of the peculiar attributes of Deity. always been considered by compe. This statement, both of the nature tent judges as the strongest evi. of the evidence arising from prodences of the truth of Revelation. phecy and of the office of their Bishop Newton observes, thạt “it interpreter, appears to receive adis one of the excellencies of the ditional confirmation from the obevidence drawn from prophecy, scurity of all prophecy previous to that it is a growing evidence; and its fulfilment. The design of this that the more prophecies are ful- obscurity is probably to discourage filled, the more testimonies there the attempt to predict future events, are and confirmations of the truth and to confine us to those which and certainty of Divine Revelation." may appear to have been fulfilled. It is extremely necessary, there. It is invariably found, that this fore, that every person wbo at- obscurity is removed so completely tempts to demonstrate the truth of after their fulfilment, that no ra. Christianity by an appeal to the tional mind can doubt to what event prophecies, should be well acquaint- they allude. 'For instance, how ed with the nature of the evidence clear and divested of all obscurity
do the prophecies relating to the aid of our ancestors, whose pouMessiah now appear, to what they derous folios contain extensive indid before his advent; and since formation and erudite discussion; this has been the case hitherto, it and to aim at comprising within is reasonable to conclude that such the compass of a modern pamphlet will be the case with respect to all all that is to be said upon subjects that remain to be fulfilled.
of the most abstruse nature. From On this ground, then, is it not such efforts important results canto be lamented that commentators not be anticipated. upon prophecy should not have ad. In some instances, we have seen hered more strictly to this only safe with surprise that the professed rule of interpretation ? An error in object of these adventurous interattributing a prediction of Scripture preters of the prophetic volumes to some event already passed, is has been peculiarly the instruction not attended with injurious conse- of the poor. Now I will freely quences to the cause of Christianity; own, that I am not aware in what but when pious men predict, from manner this end is to be effected the Scriptures, events which never by publications of this kind. If, occur, infidels rejoice and triumph, indeed, it be at all necessary to and religion is injured, undesign explain the prophecies to the lower edly indeed, by her professed orders of society, time, perhaps, friends. That this has been the would be most profitably employed, case, no one can doubt, who is ac- and the object best accomplished, quainted with some of the comments by abridging some standard work on the prophecies that have ap- on the Prophecies. peared within the last twenty years. My main objection, however, to Opinions, not less discordant than this sort of Quixotism in the interextravagant, have been industrious- pretation of the Sacred Writings is ly propagated; and every indivi. founded upon the awful character dual, however illiterate, who ima- of the Sacred Volume itself. A gined, that he perceived a new light commentator upon Scripture asthrown on the prophetic pages by sumes to himself, indeed, a most some passing event, or who fancied dignified, but a highly responsible that he could remove the veil from office. To misrepresent, even unthose on which it still remained, designedly, the meaning of the has deemed it improper to witbhold Holy Spirit, is a most serious ofhis wayward fancies from “ the fence; and therefore the attempt public at large, and the religious to make Scripture accord with a world in particular.”
preconceived human system or It would not be a difficult under- hypothesis, which may or may not taking in many instances to trace be erroneous, ought to be deprethis assumption of prophetical cated by every pious mind. Surepowers, to that fruitful source of ly it is a primary duty to inculcate human actions-vanity. Especially upon all men the simplicity and may we apprehend this to be the docility of the primitive Christians. case where we find these interpre. They delighted to dwell on the ters arrogating to themselves the truths clearly revealed in the Scrip. merit of new discoveries, and in- tures, and left those of a more solently trampling upon the more mysterious nature to be revealed unpretending suggestions of their by their great Author, at his own learned and pious predecessors. time, and in his own way. They, This is an age of considerable pre- indeed, approached the mysteries tension, but of little real learning; of the Sacred Volume but with rean age in which many philosophize verence and self-abasement. They who will not read. Young writers approached them in the spirit of among us are apt to disdain the St. Paul, and exclaimed, “ Othe depth of the riches both of the predictions, there we have some wisdom and knowledge of God! clue to guide us through the labyHow unsearchable are his judg- rinth; and though it may be diffiments, and his ways past finding cult to trace out every minute out!” Many parts of the holy resemblance, yet there are some Scriptures are still covered with a strong lines and features which veil of mystery; covered, doubtless, cannot fail of striking every one for some wise purpose. It becomes who will but impartially and duly us, then, to suffer that veil to examine them." remain, until the “ fulness of
Φιλολογος. the time be come,” when it shall be withdrawn ; and those things which are now seen only as
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. “ through a glass darkly,” shall ALLOW me as a Christian, and as be seen “ face to face.”
a member of the Church of EngAlthough the theological works lapd, at whose altars I hope one of the present day are very nume- day to minister, to thank your rous, how few comparatively are correspondent, D. W., for his truly those which can be strictly classed interesting and important remarks under the head of" bortatory the on the prevalence of certain theo. ology." There is no deficiency of logical errors. “Whoever is coneither controversial or abstract versant with the present state of writings on subjects connected religion in this country, must be with religion. But those which convinced, 'that at no time could represent religion as an operative they have been more seasonable, principle, influencing the will, re- The church seems to be now rising fining the affections, assimilating from her slumber of ages. That the whole man to the image of pure fire which at a remote period God; and which, while they mag. burnt upon lier altars, but which nify the mercy of God, enforce the had almost become extinct, seems obligation of a holy life by the again to be bursting forth; and it sanctions of the law, are more rare therefore becomes an imperious than the temper of the age would duty on those who are concerned have led us to anticipate. Let for her prosperity, to take heed those persons competent to the that this fire be fed with hallowed task, and who are desirous of edi materials. Your correspondent has fying either the rich or poor of the manifested his anxiety on this Church of God, employ their time point. Like a faithful watchman, and talents in supplying this de- he has raised his warning voice; and ficiency.
may the ministers of the sanctuary I cannot close these remarks in hear and attend! more appropriate words than those Among the errors which lie has of Bishop Newton: “ If we would so forcibly pointed out, there is confine ourselves to the rules of one wbich, in my opinion, has done just criticism, and not indulge lawmore to injure ihe cause of Chrisless and extravagant fancies; if we tianity, and to promote the growth would be content with sober and of impiety and infidelity, than any genuine interpretation, and not other-I mean that of a fanciful pretend to be prophets, nor pre- and forced interpretation of Scrip: sume to be wise above what is ture. The beautiful simplicity and written, we should more consider perspicuity of Holy Writ, have those passages which have already too often disappeared amidst the been accomplished, than frame allegorical, spiritual, orbidden conjectures about those which re. dieanings attached to them by fanmain to be fulfilled. Where the Dissertations on the Prophecies, facts may be compared with the Vol. ii. p. 163.
ciful interpreters; of interpreters tempt is made to soften the colours whose chief design has been to ings, even though a portrait is to discover a sense which the Holy be presented of Abraham, or David, Spirit, perhaps, never intended to or Peter. God forbid, then, that convey. From the days of Origen, we should depart from the practhere have never been wanting tice of Scripture. The heart of those who have endeavoured to man is always too ready to palliate convert the Scriptures into a mere its own transgressions, and to find collection of mysteries, paradoxes, an excuse for every error, Ever and enigmas. But it was reserved the devout Christian is too often for the 19th century to produce a tempted to spare a darling lust; commentator who should offer the and, by a perversion of words, to most mischievous apologies for sins ask, “ Is it not a little one ?! which Scripture either expressly And it is chiefly from the testimony condemns, or is infinitely far from of Scripture, that this lust or sin is coumending; including, in these deeply offensive to God, that he apologies, even the crime of Judas! is compelled to make the sacrifice. Without any intention of arguing Had there been a single instance on a subject on which it must be in which a sinful action had been thought that every man who is con- palliated by the Holy Spirit, the tented with the plain and unso. “ heart is" $o“. deceitful,” so phisticated testimony of Scripture “ desperately wicked," that it has made up his opinion, I wish would have clung to that instance simply to point out the impropriety as a sort of license for the coun and danger of such a course of mission of ten thousand acts of conduct.
U siu. But, blessed be God! this Let us consider, for a moment, is not the case, Iniquity is conwhy the delinquencies of men, in demned by the Bible in all circumthe main faithful to God and to reli- stances, and in every character, gion, are recorded in the Bible. The sin of the saint is recorded, In the first place, they serve the that we may shun it. Why, then, purpose of stamping the Scripture should we, for whose benefit it is history with the character of truth: thus transmitted, seek to diminish for as the best men are imperfect, the effect of the record ? Why a true history of them will transmit should we wish (I must use a strong an account of the faults of conduct expression)-why should we wish to which this imperfection led. But to open a flood-gate to licentiousthis is not the only object of such ness? Better would it be, if we histories of the errors and sins of good must err, to err on the other side men. Are they recorded, as some of the question; aud rather to of the persons to whom 1 bave heighten the aggravations of sin, referred appear to imagine, tbat we than to seek for its alleviations. may plead them in excuse for our Such an error might possibly do own faults ? Certainly not. They no harm; for neither can sin be are recorded in order to display the made to appear too odious, nor corruptions of our nature; our de- the standard of moral purity be pendence upon God, and his hatred raised too high. to sin wherever and by whomsoever There is also another danger committed. In the Scriptures we attending this method of commentsee nothing of that system of milj. ing on Scripture, and a danger of gation, of dilution, of extenuation, no common magnitude: I mean, which prevails at present. A crime that of lalling the consciences of is not softened into an error ; nor the inconsiderate into a false secuan error into an innocent failing. rity.- What can be more likely to The sin and the sinner are strongly produce this effect than the exexposed and displayed. No at, tenuation of characters condemned
CHRIST. Observ. No. 160. 2 F
in Scripture? The false shepherds mercy. I believe that “thie blood are represented as crying, “Peace, of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all peace, when there is no peace ;" sin;" and that therefore it could and is not such extenuation a crime have washed away the stain of the of the same nature? Shall a man, sin of Judas. But have we suttithien, who professes a regard for eient evidence to prove that he was the eternal welfare of the soul, ven- a true believer in the Son of God, ture on an interpretation that at or to render nugatory those pasbest can do no good, and is in sages which certainly in their lireality fraught with such fatal con- teral sense imply that he died as sequences ? Let me earnestly ené öne without hope?' The mercy of treat all who are to feed the flock God may be extolled without these of God, to consider that the most adventitious aids. No sinner need effectual means, under God, of despair while the cases of a Marendering their hearers holy, is to nasseh, a Saul, and a Magdalen inculcate universal purity. Let are recorded to prove the ability them faithfully, in order to this and willingness of God to save. end, point out the crimes of Serip- But every apostate has cause to ture characters ; let them condemn tremble, while they contemplate iu a sinful action, though it should be the death of a Judas the consethe action of “the man after God's quence of their sin, Apostaey is own heart." Is the prevarication a sin of the first magnitude; and of Abraham recorded in Scripture? shall the end of the chief apostate Far be it from us to palliate that be construed into an argument for which is a lie, and therefore of- the safety of his soul? Shall a fensive in the sight of God.-Are license be collected from his histhe 'crimes of David transmitted tutory to "deny the Lord who bought us? Let us learn from his case us” and “ to trainple under feet how awfully a man may fall, who the Son of God ?" Oh, no! it is a at one period of his life was truly capital offence to lessen the force devoted to God and delighted in of Scripture warnings; especially holiness. Let us consider the mi. when it is considered that all the sery of his after-life, and the pangs aids of Scripture, conscience, and of that sorrow and penitence by reason are at tiines too feeble to which he returned to God.-Is the rouse or to restrain the sinner. fall of Peter recorded? Then let Humbly hoping that these reus condemn that unbelief for which marks may tend to check the prohe wept so “ bitterly.”—Is it said gress of so mischievous an errot, of Judas, that it would have been
I remain, &c. better for him that he had “never..
IGNOTUS. been born ?" Is his fearful end displayed as a warning to apo states? Then let us not seek to Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer. discover those alleviating circum. No'duty, perhaps, is more strongly stances in his character, or in his inculcated in the Bible than the “ damning deed," which shall tend “fear of God.” The texts upon to diminish the effect of his exam- this subject are not confined to ple. Let us not represent that either Testament to the Law, or death as the fruit of repentance, to the Gospel, to the commandwhich was evidently the action of ments or the doctrines of the impatience and despair. ' Bible. All breathe one and the
Neither will it be any excuse for same spirit; all teach the same such comments, to plead tbat they great truth, that “the fear of the are intended to magnify the mercy Lord is the beginning of wisdom." of God, and to prove that no sin- But bow, then, it may be asked, 'ner is removed beyond the reach of are all these passages to be reco&