« PreviousContinue »
of the herd of common divines, such as the Westminster Ase sembly, &c. falls vastly short of the apostle's reach, and frequently does not enter into the true spirit and design of Paul's epistles. They must understand, that the first reformers, and preachers and expositors in general, both before and since the reformation, for fifteen or sixteen hundred years past, were too unlearned and short sighted, to be capable of pen. etrating into the sense, or fit to undertake the making comments on the writings of so great a man as this apostle ; or else had dwelt in a cave of bigotry and superstition, too gloomy to allow them to use their own understandings with freedom, in reading the scripture. But at the same time, it must be understood, that there is risen up, now at length in this happy age of light and liberty, a set of men, of a more free and generous turn of mind, a more inquisitive genius, and better diso cernment. By such insinuations they seek advantage to their cause ; and thus the most unreasonable and extravagant interpretations of scripture are palliated and recommended : 'So that, if the simple reader is not very much on his guard, if he does not clearly see with his own eyes, or has too much indolence, or too little leisure, thoroughly to examine for himself (as few, alas, are willing to be at the pains of acquainting themselves thoroughly with the apostle's writings, and of comparing one part of them wiih another, so as to be fully able to judge of these gentleman's glosses and pretences) in this case, he is in danger of being imposed on with delusive appearances ; as he is prepared by this fair pretext of exalta ing the sagacity of the apostle, and by a parade of learning, criticism, exact version, penetration into the new scope, and discerning of wonderful connexions, together with the airs these writers assume of dictatorial peremptoriness, and contempt of old opinions and old expositions ; I say, such an one is by these things prepared to swallow strange doctrine, as trusting to the superior abilities of these modern interpreters,
But I humbly conceive, their interpretations, particularly of the Apostle Paul's writings, though in some things ingenious, yet in many things concerning these great articles of religion, are extremely absurd, and demonstrably disagreea,
ble, in the highest degree, to his real design, to the language he commonly uses, and to the doctrines currently taught in his epistles. Their criticisms, when examined, appear far more subtle, than solid ; and it seems as if nothing can possibly be strong enough, nothing perspicuous enough, in any composure whatever, to stand before such liberties as these writers indulge : The plainest and most nervous discourse is analyzed and criticised, till it dissolves into nothing, or till it becomes a thing of little significance : The holy scripture is subrilized into a mere mist; or made to evaporate into a thin cloud, that easily puts on any shape, and is moved in any direction, with a puff of wind, just as the manager pleases. It is not in the nature and power of language, to afford sufficient defence against such an art, so abused; as, Vimagine, a due consideration of some things I have had occasion in the preceding discourse to observe, may abundantly convince us. . But this, with the rest of what I have offered on this sub. ject of Original Sin, mast be left to every candid reader to judge of, for himself; and the success of the whole must now be left with God, who knows what is agreeable to his own mind, and is able to make his own truths prevail ; however mysterious they may seem to the poor, partial, narrow, and extremely imperfect views of mortals, while looking through a cloudy and delusory medium ; and however disagreeable they may be to the innumerable prejudices of men's hearts : And who has promised, that the gospel of Christ, such as is really his, shall finally be victorious ; and has assured us, that the word which goeth out of his mouth, shall not return to hins void, but shall accomplish that which he pleaseth, and shall prosper in the thing whereto he sends it. Let God arise, and plead his own cause, and glorify his own great name, Anes.
UPON PARTICULAR PASSAGES OF
GENESIS ii, 1.
THUS the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." This argues that the angels belong to the Mosaic creation, who are so often spoken of as God's host, and as the hosts of heaven.
GENESIS iv. 23, 24..... And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, I have slain a man to my wounding," &c. The probable design of the Holy Ghost in relating this, is to shew the great increase of the depravity and corruption of the world, or of Cain's posterity and those that adhered to them. This is shewn in the particular instance of Lamech, the chief man of Cain's posterity, in his day. Lamech had been guilty of murdering some man that he had a quarrel with. And he justifies himself in it, and endeavors to satisfy his wives that he shall escape with impunity, from the instance of Cain, whose life God spared, and even took special care that no man should kill him, making the declaration, that if any man killed him, vengeance should be taken of him seven fold, though the man he slew was his brother, and a righteous man, and had done him no injury. But the man he had slain