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I passed in Meadville. After this I left Meadville, and took the good steamer Buffalo, at Erie, for Chicago. It not be ing my purpose to describe natural scenery, I shall say nothing of Mackinaw nor the great lakes. We reached Chicago in safety in five days. I found that the Unitarian society here have had no preaching since Mr. Harrington left for the east. They were very glad to meet once more, though they have nothing but a Hall to assemble in. Finding that the doctrinal lectures had done good in Meadville, I determined to try the same course in Chicago; and we have had large and increasing audiences. Last night the Hall was quite full. I have preached eleven sermons during the sixteen days I have spent in Chicago and its vicinity. Two of these, however, were delivered at Geneva, on Fox river, about forty miles distant, where there is a small Unitarian society, who enjoy the labors of Mr. Walworth, a Christian preacher of ability and a true spirit. I would be glad to have you send him the Messenger regularly. He promises to try to get some subscribers. It seems to me that Unitarians and Christians should unite together wherever they can do so. The country on the Fox river is so very beautiful, that I am tempted to forego my resolution, and expatiate on its advantages. Beautiful, high and rolling prai

ries, covered with rich and soft grass, amid which the fullfed cattle are lazily mumbling their food-groves and clumps and oak openings, scattered here and there in most picturesque variety,-swift streams, running over gravelly bottoms,

plenty of game, both grouse and deer, and large bass and pike in the lakes and riversnatural roads, running smoothly over prairies and winding under the trees, where no tangled undergrowth nor blackened stumps distort or mar the beauty of the scene-little villages, neat, painted white, sprinkled along here and there; and heavy harvests of yellow grain, waving wide over the broad plains: all this gives even the feeling of being in an old settled country; and we are astonished to learn that five years ago, not a white man's cabin sent up its smoke over the whole district, now filled full with the industrious farmers of New-England and New-York, and that even now the land has not been in market, so that the occupants of whole towns are in fact squatters. But our idea of squatters is very much changed when we see such a people as this, industrious, intelligent and refined.-We learn in Chicago that Mr. Harrington has received $1,100 in New-England for a church, and expects to make it $1,500. They have collected here in two days over $1,000, and confidently expect $1,500. J. F. C."

THE

WESTERN MESSENGER.

DEVOTED TO RELIGION AND LITERATURE.

VOL. VIII.

OCTOBER, 1840.

THE BIBLE:

WHAT IT IS, AND WHAT IT IS NOT.

BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU.

No. 6.

(CONTINUED FROM THE FOURTH NUMBER, PAGE 205.)

But, it will now be urged, whatever sentiments may be entertained respecting the proper inference from miracles in general, there is one in particular which directly establishes the plenary inspiration of the apostles and first disciples. It is recorded in the book of Acts, that on the day of Pentecost, when they were with one accord in one place, the Holy Ghost descended upon all.* The two Evangelists, St. Matthew and St. John, were present; so were St. Peter and St. James; for all these were Apostles. And we know that, by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles, the same power passed into all disciples on whom they might choose to confer the privilege. We cannot suppose any of the New Testament authors to have been excluded from this class; and must therefore believe that every word of the Christian canon was composed under the influence of the Unerring Spirit. This argument is proposed in the following words, by Dr. Tattershall, in his published sermon on the "Nature and Extent of the Right of Private Judgment."

VOL. VIII.-31.

*Acts ii: 1-4.

"The Scriptures have been already proved"..." to be a true and authentic history; one of the principal facts of which history is, the outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ. I take, therefore, as an example, the Gospel of St. Matthew, and reason as follows:-I learn, from the history, that Christ's disciples were inspired by the Holy Ghost; among this number was St. Matthew; therefore St. Matthew was inspired; and, consequently, that which he wrote, under this influence of inspiration, is to be regarded as the word of God. Whereas, on the other hand, if St. Matthew was not inspired, the history relates that which is not true, and the credibility of the whole sacred history is at once destroyed; and with it, both the Church and also Christianity itself, must fall to the ground."

Now to convey, at the outset, a distinct idea of the reason why this argument does not convince me, let me say, that I believe St. Matthew to have been inspired; but I do not believe him to have been infallible. I am sure that he nowhere puts forth any such claim: and if he does not affirm it himself, I know not who can affirm it for him. Indeed, to the advocates of this doctrine, it must seem strange that even St. John the Divine, instead of bearing down all doubt by this overwhelming claim, should so modestly and carefully conciliate the belief of his readers, by appealing to his own human opportunities of information:" and he that saw it bare record, and this record is true:"*"this is the disciple that testifieth of these things, and wrote these things:† and that St. Luke should content himself with saying, at the commencement of his Gospel, that its materials were furnished by those who "from the beginning were eye-witnesses."

Every thing in this argument clearly depends on the meaning which we are to attach to the phrases "Holy Ghost," "Inspiration"-" Spirit of God"-and other forms of expression employed to denote this peculiar influence. What, according to the Scriptures, were the appropriate functions of this Divine Agent? and are we to include among them an exemption of those, on whom its power fell, from all possibilities of error, in narration, in reasoning, in expectation, in speculative and practical doctrine? In short, do the sacred writers represent this Holy Spirit as conferring intellectual infallibility?

Now the original account of the descent of the Holy Spirit certainly implies nothing of the kind.§ The gift of tongues, ‡Luke i: 2.

*John xix: 35. txix: 24.

Acts ii: 1--4.

which St Paul, though possessed of it in the highest degree,* places in the lowest rank of spiritual gifts, and which he expressly discriminates from "the word of wisdom," and "the word of knowledge," is the only preternatural effect there ascribed to this new influence. Other passages, descriptive of this agency, equally fall short of this claim of infallibility. We read, for example, that by the direction of the Apostles, seven persons were to be selected from the general body of believers, who were to be men "full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom," the two attributes being distinguished. It must be supposed, too, that the qualifications demanded of these officers had some proportionate reference to the duties assigned. These duties were simply the management of the society's financial accounts, and the distribution of its eleemosynary funds. When it is said that John the Baptist should "be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb," are we to understand that, from earliest infancy, he was infallible?-he who, in the very midst of his ministry, sent to Jesus for information on this question, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"T-a question, be it observed, which implies doubt on the great subject-matter of the Baptist's whole mission. Perhaps, however, it will be admitted that there are inferior degrees of this inspiration; so that passages like this may be found, in which the phrases denoting it are used in a lower sense. But, it will be said, in its highest intensity it cannot be so restricted, and is even distinctly affirmed to involve infallibility. The operations of the spirit of God are distributed by theologians into two classes, the extraordinary, experienced by the Apostles, and exempting them from liability to error, the ordinary, which are assured to all true disciples, and whose office implies no further illumination of the understanding, than is needful for the sanctification of the heart. Now if this statement and division be really true and scriptural, we shall doubtless find Christ and his Apostles separating their promises of divine influence into two corresponding sets; keeping things so different, clear of all confusion; and fully as exact in this "discerning of spirits," as their modern disciples. But so far is this from being the case, that between the greater spirit of the twelve Apostles, and the less spirit of the general church, no distinction whatever is drawn; nor any between the intellectual infallibility which was to await the Apostles, and the spiritual sanctification promised

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to the faithful multitude of all ages. Nay, it so happens, that the most unlimited expressions relating to the subject occur in such connexions, that they cannot be confined to the Apostles, but obviously apply to all private Christians. For instance, shall we say that our Lord's promise of the "Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," explained by the remarkable synonym which he appended, "the spirit of truth" which should" teach them all things," and "lead them into all truth,” -implies universal illumination of the understanding? Close at hand is the clause forbidding the interpretation, by spreading the promise over all ages of the Church: "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the spirit of truth;"* and the expression is accordingly quoted by Dr. Wardlaw, as descriptive of the common operations of the spirit. Again, St. John, in his first General Epistle, (addressed of course to the whole church,) says, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." Take then the strongest and most unqualified expressions on this subject, and if they prove the infallibility of the Apostles, they prove the same of all private Christians. Or, take those which show sanctification to be the characteristic office of the Holy Spirit with respect to the general church, and you show that this also was its agency on the Apostles.

One or two texts are occasionally adduced in defence of this doctrine: their paucity and inapplicability show how slight is the scripture foundation on which it rests. By far the most remarkable of these is found in 2 Tim. iii: 16.: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Now observe,

1. That the verb is, which constitutes the whole affirmation here, has nothing corresponding to it in the Greek, and is put in by the English translators. Of course the sentence requires a verb somewhere, but the place of its insertion depends on the discretion of the translator. Baxter, Grotius, and other critics, accordingly render the passage thus: "All scripture, given by inspiration of God, is also profitable," &c. The Apostle has already been reminding Timothy of the importance of those scriptures with which he had been acquainted from his youth to his personal faith: and he now adds, that they are also useful for his public teaching. He

John xiv: 16, 17, 26.

+Discourses on the principal Points of the Socinian Controversy, p. 341, Disc. xi. +1 John ii: 20.

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