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It is truly to the intellect as enchanting, as were the principles of Voltaire and Rousseau enchanting to the passions, from the unrestrained freedom they inculcated. The intellectual cultivation, which is so rapidly extending itself, and the departure from the ancient sound principles of religious education, are powerful auxiliaries to such a system. The temptation of such a philosophy is most strong in minds of a high standard ; and as these master-minds exercise an influence far beyond what is at first sight conceived, the mischief of their errors is doubly multiplied. There is, too, in every strong and energetic mind, until chastened by spiritual teaching, an unbending arrogance, which will not stoop to subjection ; but, catching the wide and unbounded liberty of thought which this philosophy holds out to it, revels unrestrained in its excesses; passing over all that is opposed to it; and, mistaking its own conceits for established truths, it staggers at every doctrine and truth which is not plainly in their course, and explicable upon their principles. Hence arise the distortion of Scripture statements, the passing in metaphor and allegory over all miracles, and the denial of the very being of God as Trinity in Unity, allowing Him only an existence according to the rules and modes of their philosophy. This philosophising heresy is not only to be marked in those who are its avowed professors, but, by an operation similar to that of its sister heresy of the last century, it infuses its poison with the utmost subtlety even in the cup of those who would be horrified at the idea of its adoption. It has already made itself apparent in the literary and scientific classes, by the fearless and unchastened discussions of religious subjects, and the marked dislike to distinctive views and sound doctrines, which are scoffed at under the name of dogmas. Its influence, too, is manifest in the temper of the great assemblies, where we should most earnestly desire to find its opposite. In the herd of dabblers, who parrot forth the ideas of their herdsmen, we find the same poison infusing itself through the lower branches of society, though its virulence may not be such as to make it matter of public observation.
The cure of this we may not dare to challenge by any feeble essay; but, as the great array of the French philosophers, which, inspirited by their poisonous excitement, was directed against the truth of revelation, was met by a careful and renewed opening of the proofs and defences of Christianity, so now the array of the new philosophy, which is fighting against revelation under the banner of false figure and allegory, is in its turn to be met by a demonstration of the true spiritual reading and allegorical construction of the inspired volume. The enchantment of intellectual liberty is also to be met by the reality of a sound and catholic explanation of the all-pervading
glory of God, and by the broad and unquestionable illustration of God's dealings with his people; an illustration as splendid in point of mental development as is the system of the philosophers. But, more than all
, the God-denying principle, which describes his Being after a deistical method, is to be answered by the development which all creation and providence, as well as all revelation, give of the mystery of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, and by proving the denial of this great truth to be the inevitable precursor of atheism.
And, finally, a third point, to which the attention of the church is especially demanded, is the very general lukewarmness, which has spread throughout its professing members. unhappily, the temptation of a religion where the invisible is defined by a regular series of forms and ordinances, to trust in the outward form rather than in the thing signified : as it is equally the temptation of a religion where forms and ordinances are disregarded, to lose the invisible from the want of a welldefined form of expressing and maintaining it. And in the two great divisions, which our national community marks out within itself, there is the lukewarm formalist on the one hand, and the lukewarm sentimentalist on the other; engrossing between them an appalling portion of the professing church. That the formalist, having the form of a sound doctrine and worship, is wiser in his generation than the sentimentalist, who is left without guide or pilot, may not be doubted; but that both are to be viewed as departing from the faith is equally clear; and it is the solemn duty of the church to admonish them as brethren of their faults. In this admonition, it is evident the formalist, who deems the due observance of the form to be the proper means of
grace, will require the elucidation of the nothingness and vanity of all forms and formal observance of ordinances, unless they are regarded as the outward expression of the spiritual reality : that, though they are not only a sign, but also the very means whereby the Holy Spirit may be imparted, yet this must be through faith and hope of the teaching of the Holy Spirit,“ taking of the things of Christ and shewing unto them;" and of His in-dwelling, to make them “one with Christ, and Christ with them.” To the sentimentalist, who despises forms and ordinances, must be shewn that they are the appointed language and expression of invisible truth, and the appointed means whereby God has promised to bless his church and people, and seal their acceptance with him : that, although he is maintaining the good fight against the formalist by declaring the spiritual to be the reality, and the form only the shadow, yet he errs most grievously in stumbling at the stumbling-stone and rock of offence, the form and manner in which God is pleased to impart the spiritual unto the soul; a soul which itself is clothed in a perishing substance, the form and fashion of which, although perishable, serve well to express its nature and impulse, and serve also, as do church forms and ordinances, to communicate that impulse unto others. It is truly a narrow and sectarian spirit which governs these weak brethren. Having received a part of the truth, their contracted minds are filled; and, shutting the door to all further communication, they pervert the part they have received, and destroy the equilibrium it sustained with the other part of truth. And where another party has taken the other part, and refused to receive this, the connection is to them wholly destroyed; and the parts, which erewhile would have duly balanced and united in one whole, are now set in contrast, and made to fight each against the other, as if it were the heresiarch embodied. But such combatants may surely discern, if they will be taught, that it is not in the receipt of the parts of truth that they err, but in the shutting out that which is requisite to make the whole truth. It is their narrow exclusive spirits which fight one against the other, and make use of the weapons of truth, as the most serviceable for their disgraceful contest.
For these ends of conviction, what can so well serve as the exposition of the invisible reality which is pointed to by all things visible, and the proof that this invisible is only and properly expressed by the visible: that throughout creation the manifestation of the spiritual is the obvious intent; and the redemption of the mind from the worship of the visible to that of the spiritual through the visible, is the proper application ? There is no lukewarm professor, however much he may deceive himself, who does not trust either in the visible or in the sensible. It is not that the formalist trusts in the formal, and the sentimentalist in the spiritual; but as the formalist in the formal, so the sentimentalist in the sensible, in frames and in feelings. The spiritual guidance and energy which proceeds from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in every true believer, is as much to be distinguished froin the impulse of the feelings as it is from the bowing down to dumb forms. It is the shewing forth the glory of God, as distinguished from all created things, that we may trust will lead to the faithful acknowledgment of Him ;-the view of his glory, and the meditation upon it, which may draw off the soul from a worship of forms and natural things, to rest in him ;--the understanding of the fulness of the manifestation of this glory in the Lord Jesus, as setting him forth to the believer in power; the love surpassing knowledge seen in the calling, redemption, and glorification of the church, as the motive to love and faithfulness; and this fulness of glory and love made in the Lord Jesus the trust and ground of rejoicing in the believer, which may redeem him from the love of sin, the fear of death,
and from the temptation to formal and sensible idolatry, leading him to walk circumspectly, as knowing his own weakness; yet to be strong in the Lord in all times of trouble, trial, and temptation, as knowing the Lord's strength and love unto all his adopted children.
Thus much have I ventured to say upon the subject of the treatise, and have been drawn on far beyond the bounds I had prescribed. The importance which has been attached to the great truth it seeks to develop and the line of study it opens, has been spoken of with more boldness, since this truth was evolved by far abler minds and men of high spiritual attainments, and has received the approbation of those to whose judgment the writer willingly defers. It may be hoped that this feeble essay towards its explanation may be ere long supplanted by the pen
of those to whom the church is indebted, under its great Head, for the original deduction of it.
Analysis of the Treatise. 1. Creation revealed. 2. The means and the end of creation revealed. 3. The manner of accomplishing this end by new-creation re
vealed. 4. Christ Jesus thus as the creation, the subsistence, and the
end of all things, revealed.
his fulness. 5. This end is the guide of all prophetic inquiries. 6. God hath a purpose in this end, which should be sought out.
a. Which will be a key to the understanding of all his
works. b. Without knowing which the wisdom of God in the
manner of the end cannot be understood. c. The inquiry after it is of the highest moment, and en
couraged by Heb. xii. 22, and Psal. iii., and must be
pursued in the spirit of faith and of humility. d. The spirit of pride, under a shew of humility, opposes
the inquiry, as unprofitable and unspiritual. e. God has declared it to be the rule of his acting in
blessing: the inquiry cannot be unspiritual. f. God has declared the office of his Spirit in us to search
it out: it cannot be unspiritual. The mistakes of former inquirers no ground to refuse
this inquiry. 7. This ultimate purpose is revealed in the same gradation
with the revelation of the manner of the end by all things
To the Patriarchs.
To the Gentile Church.
8. The manner of the end shadowed differently in each period,
and the declaration of the ultimate purpose differently
a. Declaration to Abraham : “I am the Almighty God.”
Jehovah ;" “ Ye shall know that I am the Lord.”
Israel, whilst the end of all things in Christ was declared by his calling himself the God of Abraham, of Isaac,
and of Jacob. 10. The same testimony given to the Jewish Church by Moses,
as to the end, by the expression “I am the God of your fathers,” and as to the ultimate purpose; by the name “I
Am” and “Jehovah." 11. A more explicit declaration of this ultimate purpose to be
expected, from God's dealings towards Pharoah. 12. This is made by his declaring his dealings towards his people
should be, “That they might know_that he was the Lord their God;” and to Pharoah, “That he might be
known to be the Lord."
in the blessings upon Abraham, and in his judgments
On giving them flesh in the wilderness.
In his blessing upon the people.
On passing over Jordan.
On slaying Goliath.
On the bestowal of gifts for the temple.
At the dedication of the temple.
In the Lord's answer to his prayer at the dedication. 14. The declaration of his purpose in the Jewish church amounts
to a declaration of the Lord's ultimate purpose in his spiritual church.