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the means, whilst we hurry on to This error lies at the foundation of the end, is, -as I conceive, a pre- all the peculiar views of the divines sumptuous tempting of God. It is who are now under our considera proceeding on the fatal mistake of tion, and either occasions or confirst taking for granted what the se- firms their chief departures from the cret will of God is, and then acting simplicity of the faith. In this on that assumption to the neglect, way, the typical parts of the Old at least to the comparative neglect, Testament are not explained as the of those means by which alone God Apostle bas given us the example, brings man to final salvation. The in their grand and leading features, scriptural method appears to me to bul pursued out to the most minute be, to encourage, as occasion may and' dubious ramifications, The require, the humble and diligent historical writings, instead of being Christian in bis conflict by the expounded for the purposes which cheering promises of God; to ani- their obvious meaning would point mate him to persevering efforts by out, are wrested to a fanciful system the hope of protection and deliver- of metaphorical accommodation. ance; and to fill his mind with ad. The Book of Psalms in like manner, miring gratitude and fervent de- is considered, however violently, to votedness, by' elevated views of the be descriptive in all its parts, of the condescension and faithfulness of his person and work of the Saviour. Redeemer in the covenant of grace. The parables of our Lord in the There are soine judicious remarks on New Testament are likewise not this subject, in Mr. Simeon's preface permitted to convey the simple and to his " Helps to Composition;" to beautiful instruction, which ihe exwbich I refer your readers, whilst plications of our Lord himself, or the I proceed to consider,
circumstances in which they were 7. The seventh error which I have delivered, usually furnish, but are stated as attaching to this system- compelled to yield to a new and unan unsound and fanciful method of natural process. Nor is this all : interpreting the holy Scriptures. I idiomatic language is sometimes utam very far from intending by this terly disregarded. The distinction the occasional mistakes which the between expressions found in a calm most studious and humble Christian narrative, and a rapturous strain of may commit, but that systematic poetry, is overlooked. A similarity mode of exposition which characie. in the mere sound of words is caught rises the ministry of those who at: an incidental allusion in a senadopt the sentiments I have been tence is dwelt on, to the neglect of considering, and which appears to the main subject. The evident tone me to proceed from a disregard of and spirit of different passages is but the just rules of interpretation, a slightly considered. Plain portions shrinking from diligent study, a of Scripture are seldom selected as passion for new or strange glosses, texts, al least are not so often taken, and an eagerness to engage every as those which afford room for a passage which is capable of subserv. fanciful discussion. In a word, ' ing this purpose, in the support of where this part of the system has some favourable sentiment. Thus, been fully imbibed, which I sinin various degrees, and, I firmly be. cerely believe is in very few cases, lieve, uodesignedly as to many truly it is perfectly astonishing to observe pious persons, the whole Scripture the wild and unfounded expositions is made to yield to the rude hand of of holy writ which have been se* the expositor, instead of being taken riously contended for. I am not in its obvious meaning, considered here objecting to a just exposition in connection with its several parts, of the types and prophecies of the and allowed to instruct bim authori. Old Testament, or to the most spi. tatively in the truths of the Gospel. ritual and comprehensive view of the
instructions delivered by our Lord that there are many eminent Cbrisand his apostles in the New; but I tjans, who, though they have in some do decidedly object to an incoherent measure adopted the sentiments I am and extravagant perversion of plain now reviewing, exhibit the utmost passages. I do think that a sober humility and charity in their spirit interpretation of the word of God is and conduct. But in tbe young and the least mark of gratitude we can inexperienced, who have imbibed pay for the inestimable blessing. I the opinions, without copying the do conceive, that to frame to our- graces of their teachers, I have myselves any system of religion which self almost uniformly seen a severe does not allow every part of the and unnieasured spirit of cavil. I Bible to retain its due place, is dao- have noticed a disregard of age, sex, gerous and indefensible. And I and station in life. I have been must be allowed 10 protest in the distressed to perceive in them an inmost solemn manner against the use curable confidence, a superiority to of arts, which all unite to condemn instruction, a contempt of others, an in the Papist or the Socinian, and jocivility and coarseness of behaviour, which ought equally to be dreaded I will not say a vulgarity and indeliin whatever ranks the innovation cacy of language, which bas utterly may chuse to appear.
excluded any beneficial conversation 8. The eighth and last point which when they have been present, and I consider as characteristic of the has converted what should have been theologians I am considering, is, a cen- the Christian jotercourse of friends sorious and positive temper in pressing into a scene of angry and jarring their sentiments on others, and in con. disputation. It is not, indeed, wondemning those who decline to receive derful that the contrite and lowly then. To a firm and friendly state. temper of our Redeemer sbould bave ment of any differences of, opinion, forsaken those, who have departed no reflecting person can object. The from the simplicity of truth, in those spirit of charity and meekness is in very parts of it wbich are peculiarly no way violated by such a conduct. calculated to produce the Christian On the contrary, every humble Chris. spirit; but I cannot but deeply retian is glad to obtain further infor- gret this last feature of the system, mation, to relinquish a tenet which is as it tends to case up the mind, to proved to be erroneous, to compare close it against conviction, and to his sentiments with those of others, prevent almost the hope of recovery. and thus to aim at“ growth in grace, In fact, in some extreme cases which and in the knowledge of his Lord have fallen under my notice, I have and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Even seen, not only all disposition to imardour and zeal in the defence of provement extinguished, but the very what we conceive to be essential life and influence of religion gradutrulh, are entitled to our coumen- ally languish, a disputatious temper dation. But where we observe a cen- gain ground, a neglect first of minissorious dogmatical spirit, which will terial and then of family duties prelisten to no argumepis, however tem.. vail, till at last the deluded theorist perately stated, and which demands either sunk into a mere form of godimplicit acquiescence, and this.. ip liness, or appeared openly to make young and evidently uninformed shipwreck of faith and a good concharacters, it is impossible not to lac, science. ment the wide and essential differ It is the full persuasion of the unence. It has accordingly appeared scriptural tendency of the various
mem that ng mark more clearly sentiments which I have now stated designates ghis crude and unscrip to you, that has induced me to ado tural system, than the bitterness and dress you at this time. I hope I self-conceit whigh force themselves have not misrepresented the case. I upon our notice. I fully admit ain sure I have not intended to do sa
I bave written with real pain and re- dently conformable with the gene luctance ; nor am I sanguine ja myral tenor of Seripture than the parexpectations of success. Those, in- tial and narrow system which they deed, who have thoroughly settled in have been led to favour. I might be this system, are commonly 80 en- satisfied with this appeal. I think drenched on all bands by the uni no one cau soberly admit the plain happy thraldom of a short-sighted, meaning of the word of God, and but plausible hypothesis, and are so long-maintain the disproportionlittle sensible of the evident effect of ate and incoherent theology I their doctrines on themselves and have endeavoured to expose. But otbers, that I should be backward at I would again entreat them to in. entering on the subject with them. quire whether, in every age of the There are others, again, of diglia- church, the apostolic not excepted, guished personal piety, who baving there bare not been some individus earlyimbibed someofthe views I have als who have stood on their narrow been considering, bave neutralized ground, and who springing up in the the effects of them so completely by church, especially at the time of a the fervent holiness of their spirit revival of religion, bave soon after. and character, as to render it doubt. wards dwindled into their native inful whether any serious attempt significance ? Nay, I would ask, should be made, to dislodge them in does not the corruption of the hutheir advanced years from the ground man heart lead us to expect'such in. they occupy. The persons whom Inovations: I am sure almost every have had chiefly in view are younger Epistle of St. Paul treats largely of Christians and ministers, who rather deflexions, on one side or the other, admire and approve, than exactly un- from the simplicity of the Gospel. derstand and act upon, this perilous But may I not, besides, confidently scheme of doctrine; and who are as refer them to the best men whom the yet accessible to calm and affection- church bas known in our own day, ate expostulation. Let me entreat of or in that of our fathers; to those such to give this whole subject a re- whose labours have been most suca newed consideration. I doubt not cessful in the conversion of sinners, but that their intentions at present and who have themselves most adornmay be excellent. They have been ed the name of Christ; as all taking, disgusted with the cold and worldly without exception, the broad and spirit of many Christians. They catholic ground of Christian instruchave thought, and thought rightly, tion for which I have contended ? shat the grace and mercy of Christ May I not go further, and request have sometimes been too much ob- the sincere inquirer after truth to scured by human reason and human compare the general effects of the learning. They bave, on the orber one system of doctrine with those hand, been warmed by the ardent produced by the other, in the spirit zeal of some minister, or some pri- and conduct of the mass of their revate Christian who has maintained spective adhérents. I feel persuadthese sentiments. Perhaps the nelie ed, that whoever candidly attends to gious education they have received these suggestions, All soon experibas had this tincture. I know the ence fresh views of truth-opening difficuley of rising above these im- on his mind. A conscientious and pressions. Let me, however, beg ardent Christian may leasily be sesuch persons simply to ask them- dueed for a time by a system which selves whether that comprehensive seems to promise greater spirituality course of evangelical instruction, more love to Christ, and bolder ac wbieb, without neglecting any one knowledgments of bis grace-few part of Divine truth, inaists chiefly, young and affectionate hearts quite though not exclusively, on the doce escape this share but as the chatrine of the cross, is not more evio racter becomes more formed, the
judgment better directed, the under: ertion, as well as by the applicatioa standing more enriched with the va• of new principles of conduct. They rious truths of Scripture, the experi will not be perfect, but they will be, ence of religion more enlarged by what they were not before, "consorrow and conflict, and the observa- sistent, humble, 'advancing Chris. tion on what passes amongst those tians. Their reliance on Divine who profess the Gospel more exten- grace will be a more pure and sive and matured, such persons gra. practical principle; and they will, dually return into the plain and sim- ere long, look back on their former ple path which the real church of hasty judgment, and inaccurate noGod in every age has trodden. The lions, with the regret of one who crude produce of the early summer was unhappily betrayed into an inyields to the rich and mellowed fruit temperance of which he did not of autumn. May I indulge the know the evil, and who mistook the hope that, under the blessing of God, conclusions of human pride and inthis may be the case with some who firmity, for the dictates of the unerrmay read these lines? The gradual, ing oracles of God.
D. W: but sure, improvement consequent on such an amelioration, will best at. test the value of the change. All ibe grand principles of religion will Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer. remain the same, but the new and
Aston-Sandford, Sept. 9, 1814. wise use to which they will be ap. The very candid and respectful plied, and the various other doctrines manner in which CLERICUS Osontwhich will invigorate and direct ENSIS (in your Number for August, them, will add stability and consist- p. 483), asks my deliberate judgment, ency to every thing pure and holy on a subject in which he supposes in the character, wbilst they tend to two parts of my exposition to be ircorrect what is amiss, and supply reconcileable, requires a frank and what is defective. Every truth will ingenuous reply. assume a better tone, because it will In writing on so great a variety of be considered in a more just light. subjects as a comment on the Scrip. Something may at first be lost in tures necessarily involves, it would sensible comfort, but this will be not be at all wonderful, if, in submore then compensated by a growth ordinate matters, real inconsisten. in solid peace and joy. The love of cies of one part with another should Christ will be the prevailing prin. be discovered; for the mind cannot ciple of the conduct; and this will keep the whole in view at once. not be weakened, but increased, by In many things of this kind I must the new motives which are given for crave the candour of the reader: its exercise, and the new topics on but I shall, while I am here, be wbich it will operate. Instead of thankful to bave such inaccuracies those fervid emotions in which their pointed out to me, that I may acreligion had too exclusively consist- knowledge and rectify them. ed, a real advance in all the parts In the present instance, I do not of Christian knowledge, in faith, in perceive any thing, in either of love, and in holy obedience, will take the passages referred to, which is place. Their former vanity or ar contrary to my present views. In rogance will be exchanged for the latter quotation, the actual state child-like docility. Their general of things, among adulis, in the visispirit towards others, will less re- ble church, at present, and in most semble the warmth of a partisan, of the preceding ages, is intended: and partake more of genuine cha- and it appears to be a natter berity. Their usefulness in the world yond doubt, that a vast majority will be abundantly augmented by live and die strangers to true repentthe discovery of new. fields for ex: anee, conversion, and saving taith in
the Son of God: they must then pee ed (though it appears to be favourrish, and God will assuredly be ed in Scripture), that as infants, righteous in their condemnation. without actual transgression, are inBut if the case be thus, in respect of volved in the ruin of our race, by prosessed Christians, what is it in the first Adam, so infants, as such, respect of Mohammedans and idola- dying before actual transgression, ters? What, among the present race before tbey are capable of knowing of Jews ? Nay, among the Israelites right from wrong, are, without perbefore the coming of Christ ?-Ofsonal repentance and faith, but not ancient Jews there was, and of without regeneration, made partakers Christians there is, “a remnant ac- of the salvation of the second Adam. cording to the election of grace;' " This I had in view, as one supposibut this is not sąjd of the others. tion, when I wrote the passage in This, then, is my deliberate judgment, question. I do not say, " It is so ;" in respect of the latter quotation. but, “Probably it may be so." --- And
In respect of the former quotation, when we consider what a large I did not mean to establish any de proportion of the human race, in cided opinion; but merely to give every age and nation, die in infanan intimation, that we may probably cy, it appears to me a cheering find our conjectures erroneous, as lo thought; and vastly alters the rethe supposed vast majority of those sult which would arise from the who perish, through all ages and actual state of adults, even in Chrisnations.
tian countries, in every generation Perhaps possibly might have hitherto. been more proper than probably : But besides this, I look forward yet there appears to my mind to a Millennium, very speedily apa probability, that as to a vast majo. proaching; wben “the earth shall rity of those who perish, men's con- be filled with the knowledge of the jectures may be found erroneous. glory of the Lord, as the waters coIo the first place, God has not been ver ihe sea." And though I dare not, pleased to inform us, what is the as some have done, venture on comcondition of those who die before putations; yet being fully conthey “can discern between their vioced, that if wars, oppressions, right hand and their left.” (Jon. iv. licentiousness, and intemperance, 11.). It is generally admitted, that with other vices, were universally the infant offspring of true believers, shunned, and every restriction who die before the commission of taken off from holy matrimony, actual sin, are saved. Some would, the blessing pronounced, not only however, make a distinction between on Adam and Eve before the fall, such as are baptised and such as are but on the sons of Noah after the pot: but this is wholly without flood-."Be fruitful, and multiply, and ground in Scripture, unless baptisma replenish the earth"--would speedbe regeneration, or so connected ily follow. Being also decidedly of with it that no unbaptised person is opinion, that, when swords shall uniregenerated og can be. It would versally be exchanged for ploughexclude a large proportion of the shares, and the culture of the earth children of believers, who die on. become man's grand employment, baptised, as of old many infants in the best cultivaled countries will Israel died uocircumcised. And be rendered far more productive; the most. unfeeling Supralapsarian and forests, deserts, marshes, and never ventured on so dire an opi- nearly the whole of the dry ground nico, as to consign all the unbap- on the globe, be rendered subservitized infants, in every, age and na. ent to the maintenance of man, and tion, to eternal misery.
vastly less of it wasted in luxuries, I do not propose it as an article of and needless indulgence; I can confaith; for it is not expressly reveal. ceive of more inhabitants living