Page images
PDF
EPUB

thought less brave than their Trinitarian opponents in supporting what they consider to be the truth. Surely Unitarians are not afraid to take their own Bible to their own pulpits; why then should they use a version of the Bible, which is, in their esteem, so corrupt, when, by the display of a little candour and courage, they might introduce to the public a version much more correct?

If Unitarians would thus avowedly adopt their own Bible, and deal no longer in enthymemes, Trinitarians would know better how to treat with them. A line of distinction would be thus fairly drawn, and each class then would occupy their own proper ground. But, so long as they pretend to hold the same ground, and fight under the same banner, a confusion must necessarily take place. Friends will be mistaken for foes, and foes for friends ; sound arguments will be rejected as false, and false arguments will be taken for sound; truth will be lost in the contest; temper will be ruffled; and, instead of bringing the dispute to an amicable termination, it will be protracted without either side being convinced or edified,

It appears to us that Trinitarians must hold the general opinions which they profess, while they profess to hold the inspiration of that Bible whence their opinions are drawn. Appealing to the standard to which they do, we cannot see how they could honestly relinquish their present doctrines; but, we do not see, why they should continue to dispute with Unitarians, when they know that that class of men do not adopt the same Bible that they do. Never can any class oi men be successfully argued with, on divinity, whilst they pretend to take their doctrines from a book which they hold in their hands, but, in fact, draw all their arguments and all their reasonings from a system which they have secreted in their heads.

In consequence of the bush-fighting plan, which Unitarians have hitherto pursued, Trinitarians have not been safe to enter into the field of contest with them. For, when Trinitarians have thought they were standing upon sure ground, and were willing to maintain their position at all hazards, they have generally found, to their no small surprise and mortification, that the pioneers of Unitarianism have got before them, with some of their old tools and old lumber, of which they profess to have an abundance, and have sapped the ground upon which they stood. Thus every text which could be quoted in favour of Trinitarianism, has, by an undermining mode of procedure, been either discarded by Unitarians altogether, or else so twisted and tortured that it either speaks nothing, or is made apparently to raise its voice in favour of Unitarianism.

It is impossible, therefore, for Trinitarians to meet their Unitarian opponents upon equal ground, while the latter continue

to use the mode of arguing which they have hitherto pursued. Trinitarians know not with what scriptural arguments to meet them. With their old tools and their old lumber, which they procure from old libraries and old manuscripts, they mend every text and passage so as to make it harmonize as far as possible with their own views. Is this the way, we would ask, , in which we ought to mend and patch a book which professes to be a document from heaven ; and a document too, which is admitted to contain doctrines which could not have been discovered nor framed by all the researches and ingenuity of man? Can such a patch-work be safely appealed to as a standard of truth? Yet Unitarians would have us to believe, that they deeply venerate the scriptures, and that all their doctrines of divinity have their foundation in the Bible. But what is this Bible, on which they profess to ground their opinions? We answer, that it is a book of their own formation; and, hence, they argue in a circle; their opinions support their Bible and their Bible supports their opinions.

We maintain, therefore, that whilst matters continue thus between Unitarians and Trinitarians they need never expect to arrive at unanimity in sentiment; before such an event can possibly take place, either Unitarians must be supernaturally brought by the Spirit of God to view and treat the present Bible differently, or else Trinitarians and Unitarians must mutually discard the present Bible altogether, and mutually embrace one which will countenance and support Unitarianism; for, since Unitarians have already virtually rejected the sacred volume, no argument of force can be drawn from it to convince them of their error; and, hence, if no change take place upon either side, it is impossible that any union can take place. But, so long as Trinitarians are not disposed to relinquish the apostolical scriptures, we do not see how they possibly can go over to the side of the Unitarians ; for, while Trinitarians continue in their present mind, we have no doubt but that they will esteem the doctrines of Christ's divinity and atonement essential to salvation and will consequently be very reluctant to abandon them for a few philosophical speculations, and a few dry, unedifying, fashionable maxims.

If then Trinitarians are determined to hold on by their good old Bible; and Unitarians are determined, so far as they can, to destroy all confidence in this good old book; let Trinitarians not contend with them; but let them simply declare the truth as God has been pleased to reveal it, and leave the result to God himself. Great is the truth, and it shall prevail. Let it be preached then with zeal, simplicity, and affection, without any mention of Unitarianism or any other heretical ism, and that God, who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life, will bear testimony to the declaration of his own truth.

T. G. M.I.

ON THE ADVANTAGES OF REVELATION.

Concluded from p. 32. II. The ground of the advantages hitherto considered, is, the superiority of Revelation to the Light of Nature, in the manner of teaching : it remains to institute a brief comparison, in regard to the things which they respectively teach.

It would be censurable inadvertence, to utter a single word, that might tend to disparage those divine instructions, which Nature, though silently, yet profusely and constantly, conveys to every rational inhabitant of the earth. Concerning these instructions we may remark, in perfect consistence with whatever has been said respecting the method of their communication, that as their extent cannot be measured, neither can their value be too highly appreciated: that they are as excellent in quality, as they are vast in the sphere which they irradiate ; that they not only “show forth knowledge even to the ends of the world, but that kind of knowledge which every intelligent creature should be most solicitous to acquire: that they disclose the character of the great Source of all Being and Blessedness; concerning whom, while St. Paul insinuates that there are some things which cannot be known, he declares that what may be known of Him is manifest to all men in the works of creation.

And say what we may about the mode of this manifestation, unquestionable is the conclusion which the apostle hence deduces, and on the equity of which we have already had occasion to remark, that they sustain a just condemnation who from this manifestation alone, do not acquaint themselves with their Maker so far, as to be qualified to render Him a sincere and acceptable service. To admit their ignorance as an excuse for either their irreligion or idolatry, were to overlook the nature of the cause, which prevents their acquiring the necessary knowledge: a criminal heedlessness indeed, which leaves on the school of Nature, the blame that belongs to her perverse and truant pupils ;--which supposes nothing to be taught in that school, or nothing so taught as to be within the reach of the human faculties, while it is notorious, that man is ignorant, solely because his depravity makes him unwilling to learn, has filled him with enmity to the image of his Maker, and subjected his mind to the wayward influence of prejudice and passion.

For what Christian does not know that any human intellect, however uncultivated by previous care, or however natively inferior, if entirely released from the fetters of depravity, would instantly discern,

“A ray of heavenly light gilding all forms
Terrestrial, in the vast and the minute;
The unambiguous footsteps of the God
Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing,

And wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds.” He, then, is but an apologist for depravity, who endeavours to vindicate the ignorance of the heathen; or who would plead in behalf of that lamentable disregard of the divine perfections, as discovered in creation, which has always characterized unrenewed man, whether heathen or nominally Christian. Nor should it be forgotten that, while by identifying what Nature teaches with what men learn under her tuition, he exculpates all their idolatry and ungodliness, he at the same time impeaches of flagrant injustice, that high tribunal which has pronounced them without excuse, and directly contradicts the inspired declaration, that “ the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made."

But though we should beware of showing the slightest disrespect towards that glorious disclosure of her Author, which Nature holds forth to our contemplation in the mirror of his works, we should be as careful not to lose sight of the conclusion to which our former reflections conducted us. Though we must decline the guilty business of trying to extenuate that aversion to their Maker, which is the sole cause of the ignorance of the gentiles, we should not forget the fatal power of that cause ; that while we find in it the essence of their guilt, we find in it also, that which would have ensured both to their guilt, and their wretchedness, an endless progression, by rendering inefficient and vain all the instructions of Nature, however intrinsically valuable, or profusely imparted: that since it is certain no attention, at least no candid attention, would have been given to those instructions, instead of gaining wisdom from the light of Nature, apostate man left altogether to himself, would have been a stranger to the simplest conceptions of God, and been degraded in mind and manners, below any barbarians now living on the earth.

And if this conclusion be, as in our view it certainly is, legitimate and irresistible, what a shameless injustice is it, in the enemies of Revelation, to arrogate to themselves the praise of discovering by their own unassisted powers that boasted code of moral truth, which under the imposing title, the religion of Nature, they have presented to the public in all the embellishVOL. II.-Presb. Mag.

3 E

ments of genius and learning, with the view of supplanting the influence of the inspired scriptures upon the mind and conduct and hopes of mankind ? For what if we should grant that every article in that code is inculcated by Nature, we should grant nothing inconsistent with the position that infidels are indebted for all their knowledge of it, not to their own penetration, but solely to those scriptures, which they would gladly banish from the earth, as a mass of cunningly devised fables, or as superfluous, even if they were true. Than this, there is no proposition more veritable, within the whole compass of our knowledge. Let men boast as they may the sufficiency of the light of Nature, the fact is unquestionable that but for the interference of Revelation, there would not have been formed by one human being, we do not say, a consistent scheme of Natural religion, but a just conception of the divine character. When we are reading the admirable treatises on Natural Religion by Ray, Durham, Paley, and others whose aim was not to supplant Revelation; or when we are contemplating the plausible systems of Herbert, Bolingbroke, Hume, and others miscalled deistical philosophers; or even when we are admiring the theology of Socrates and Plato, the morality of Cicero and Seneca, shall we suffer ourselves to be imposed on by the infidel assumption, that the excellent things which engage our attention, are discoveries for which no acknowledgments are due to the light of Revelation ?

These things it is true are contained in the volume of Nature, and from her pages have been faithfully transcribed by these her ingenious and laborious disciples; but it is no less true, that they never would have known one syllable in her volume, had not the divine goodness, unwilling that such a treasury of wisdom should remain under the injury of perpetual neglect, provided an expositor of that volume, in the book of Revelation. But for this gracious provision, a correct idea of the only true God, would not have been derived from the light of Nature by the brightest of mankind. It is Revelation, which by declaring the excellencies of Nature with her distinct and impressive voice; by minutely specifying and powerfully enforcing, her various inculcations of truth; by her arousing challenges to the study of her works; and where she could not exert a direct influence, by her traditional communications ; has procured for Nature all the pupils that have ever entered her school and enabled those pupils to profit by her instructions.

We claim then in behalf of Revelation this two-fold praise : first, that Nature teaches nothing, which she does not likewise and more impressively teach; and, secondly, that had she not become the expositor and eulogist of Nature, it had been as well for mankind if the pages of Nature had been perfectly

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »