« PreviousContinue »
which is imputed to us: for because, saith he, that the virtue of the law was not such (and that by reason of the corruption of our nature) that it could make man pure and perfect, and for that it rather kindled the disease of sin, than did put it out to extinguish it, therefore God clothed his Son with flesh like unto our sinful flesh, wherein he utterly abolished our corruption, that, being accounted thoroughly pure and without fault in him, apprehended and laid hold on by faith, we might be found to have fully that singular perfection which the law requireth, and therefore that there might be no condemnation in us. f Which is not proper to the law, but cometh by our fault. g In man not born anew, whose disease the law could point out, but it could not heal it. h Of man's nature which is corrupt through sin, until he sanctified it. i To abolish sin in our flesh, Sheweth that sin hath no right in us.
From Heylyn's Theologia Veterum.
"Born of the Virgin Mary.
"Now that which, in this article, is expressed by the present words, Natus ex Virgine Maria, born of the Virgin Mary, in that of Nice is thus delivered, and was made man. Some heretics had formerly called this truth in question, affirming that our Saviour's body was not true and real, but only an airy and imaginary body, as did the Marcionites ;-others, that he received not his human being of the Virgin Mary, but brought his body from the heavens, and only passed through her womb, as through a conduit pipe; as Valentinian: as if our blessed Lord and Saviour had only borrowed for a time the shape of man, therein to act his woeful tragedy on the public theatre of the world, and made the Virgin's womb his tyring house. And some, again, there were who did conceive his body to be free from passion, maintaining that it was impassibilis; and that he was not subject to those natural frailties and infirmities, which are incident to the sons of men by the ordinary course of nature. To meet with these and other heretics of the like kind, the fathers, in the Nicene council, expressed our Saviour's being born of the Virgin Mary, which every heretic had wrested to his proper sense, in words which might more fully signify the truth and reality of his taking of our flesh upon him; in words which were not capable of so many evasions, declaring thus, that being incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, factus est homo, he was made man; and, consequently, was made subject unto those infirmities, which are inseparably annexed to our human nature. This, that which is positively affirmed by the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews (iv. 15), where it is said, that we have not such an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. The High Priest which God gave us in the time of the Gospel, was to be such as those he gave unto his people in the time of the Law; one who could have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself is compassed also with infirmities.
(Heb. v. 2.) The difference only stood in this, that our Saviour's passions and infirmities were free from sin, and neither did proceed from sin nor incline him to it, as do the passions and infirmities of men merely natural; which is the meaning of the Apostle Paul in the place aforesaid, where he affirmeth of our High Priest, that he was tempted, that is to say, afflicted, tried, and proved in all things like as we are, save only that it was without sin, or sinful motions. And to this truth the catholic doctors of the church do attest unanimously. St. Ambrose thus: Christ, saith he, took upon him not the shew, but the truth, and reality of the flesh. What then? Debuit ergo et dolorem suscipere ut vinceret tristitiam, non excluderet; he therefore was to have a sense of human sorrows, that he might overcome them, not exclude them only. Fulgentius goes to work more plainly, Nunc ostendendum est, &c. Now must we shew, that the passions of grief, sorrow, fear, &c. do properly pertain unto the soul; and that our Saviour did endure them all in his human soul, ut veram totamque in se cum suis infirmitatibus hominis demonstraret suscepti substantiam, that he might shew in himself the true and whole substance of man accompanied with its infirmities. The fathers of the Greek church do affirm the same. When thou hearest, saith Cyril, that Christ wept, feared, and sorrowed, acknowledge him to be a true man, and ascribe these things to the nature of man; for Christ took a mortal body subject to all the passions of nature, sin always excepted. Which, when he had affirmed in thesi, he doth thus infer, Et ita singulas passiones carnis, &c. Thus shalt thou find all the passions or affections of the flesh to be stirred in Christ, but without sin-that, being so stirred up, they might be repressed, and our nature reformed to the better. But none of all the ancients state the point more clearly than John Damascene, in his book Fide de Orthod. iii. 20, where he tells us this: We confess that Christ did take unto him all natural and blameless passions; for he assumed the whole man, and all that pertained to man, save sin. Natural and blameless passions are those which are not properly in our power, and whatsoever entered into man's life through the occasion of Adam's sin, as hunger, thirst, weakness, labour, weeping, shunning of death, fear, agony, whence came sweat with drops of blood. These things are in all men by nature; and, therefore, Christ took all these to him, that he might sanctify them all. With this agreeth the distinction of the latter schoolmen, who divide the infirmities of the flesh into natural and personal, calling those natural which follow the whole nature of man, as hunger, thirst, labour, weariness, and even death itself; those personal, which arise out of some defect or imperfection in the constitution of the body, or disorder of diet, or from some other
outward cause, as agues, leprosies, and the like. Then they infer, that all the frailties and infirmities (you may call them punishments if you will, as indeed they are) that are from without, and are common to the whole nature of man, taken with our flesh by Christ, who came to be a Saviour of all men without respect of persons; but such as flow from sin dwelling within, or proceed from particular causes, and are proper only unto some, those he took not on him. And of these passions and infirmities, attendant on Christ's human nature, I have spoken the rather in this place, because it doth so manifestly conduce to the better understanding of the following article,-namely, his sufferings of all sorts under Pontius Pilate."
In ipsa item Catholica Ecclesia magnopere curandum est, ut id teneamus, quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.
REVIEWS AND MISCELLANIES.
ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE PERIODICAL JOURNALS OF THE PRESENT DAY.
SHORTLY after we commenced our labours as journalists, a new "Religious and Family Paper" was set on foot, called "The Ecclesiastic" from its Prospectus the following passages are extracted :-"The first glance which a reflective eye takes of the state of literature and theological learning in this country must satisfy it that there never was a time when truth was so actively but so superficially sought for.....In the heavy rush after science, we miss the true signs of solid improvement. Our rejoicing at the apparent progress of the popular mind is damped by the discovery that excitement, not strength, has been the consequence of diffused knowledge; and that there is an utter want of that deep, quiet tone of serious thought, which invariably characterizes a really improving people. We think we discover the cause of this in the state of learning before it is diffused among the multitude."
After some remarks, on the state of poetry, tales, romances, &c., the writer proceeds :-"But we have, unfortunately, scarcely a brighter prospect when we proceed to examine the state of theological learning and literature. We should be wanting in the candour which belongs to the duty of our office, did we not confess that we believe there never was a period in which
they were less cultivated, or produced less effect on public opinion. In an age like this, habits of deep and serious thought are not easily acquired. Theology-awful in its moral importance, and furnishing, in the detail of its inquiries, the sublimest objects of intellectual admiration-can never be studied with success by minds undisciplined for the pursuit; will open none of its golden treasures to the superficial reader; be always unprofitable to the hasty writer and loose thinker; and will, therefore, uniformly be found to flourish least in those times when circumstances are unfavourable to a close concentration of thought and feeling. With two or three conspicuous exceptions, we have at present no examples, either of that patient and vigorous research or of that rich and noble eloquence which distinguished the instructors of our forefathers, and made their works a storehouse of all that is glorious in theology, weighty in human learning, or sublime in philosophy.
"From these united causes, wants have arisen in the public mind which call loudly for attention. While it is supposed to be glutted with knowledge, it is in fact wanting its most useful elements; while opinions are discussed with the greatest appearance of interest, few or no solid principles of reasoning are comprehended. The increasing zeal for popular instruction is mistaken for the actual progress of improvement; and there is reason to fear that the grand engines of truth have remained unmoved, while the gale and the stream have made the greatest noise. We lament to say, that to a considerable degree this is the case with regard to the progress of religion. There is, doubtlessly, much sincere piety and active zeal abroad; but there is also much of ill-supported pretence, much secret infidelity, more of negligence and indifference, and a still greater abundance of sectarian pride, mixed up with all the low cunning and base rancour which the spirit of schism can inspire. Pure Christianity can make little progress, while there is no voice loud enough to make itself heard above the din of infidel clamour, or the whine and murmur of ignorant complainants. Disbelievers in the Gospel, and the haters of the order it would inculcate, have been too long left to think themselves equal on the field of dispute. The worst passions of men have been appealed to, through the worst mediums; and, which is a circumstance that no other age has been so degraded by as our own: professors of religion, to carry some point or establish some favourite principle, have leagued with the known enemies of their faith, and confounded the liberty of Christians with the licence of devils. Let this be added to the miserable taste for display which has crept in among some of the ministers of God; which has led them to make anticks on the very ark of the covenant: let it be added to the indifference with which the holiest offices of the
Christian church have begun to be regarded; and there will be a sufficient reason to believe, that, if religion have any supporters, now is the time that their exertions are most needed, that plain piety and sound learning are at their full value."
We need scarcely add, that in the truth of these observations we entirely coincide; and if we admit their force so applicable to theology and literature in general, we feel them to be of tenfold power with reference to that department of revealed truth to the investigation of which our pages are more especially devoted, That we may not be thought unjustly spargere in auram voces ambiguas, we shall proceed to offer some proof of the justness of the remarks which we have copied from "The Ecclesiastic," and especially as far as they are applicable to the subject of prophecy.
It is well known to the majority of our readers, that about four years ago the publication of Mr. Irving's sermon preached before the Continental Society (Babylon Foredoomed), the letters of Mr. Lewis Way under the signature of Basilicus, the Dialogues on Prophecy, and some other works upon the same subject by Messrs. Fry, Vaughan, Marsh, Noel, M'Neile, Hawtrey, &c. roused the attention of the church, and of the world, to the coming kingdom of the Lord, in a way that it had not been excited for many years: and then it was for the first time perceived, with amazement and grief, that the doctrines advanced in them were charged with being "novel," and of "modern invention." This charge was not made in one, or only in some, of those publications which assume to be the sole legitimate teachers and judges of theology, called "Religious Magazines," and contradicted in others; but they all, of every party, creed, and denomination, united in one concurrent testimony that these opinions were novel and heretical.
Not being in the habit of reading Magazines-from considering them, even in their best form, as calculated to furnish spurious and superficial information, and to be therefore rather prejudicial than otherwise to sound doctrine and practical godliness-we were much surprised at what was advanced; and still more so at finding, that, however their respective opinions varied upon every other branch of religion, doctrinal and ceremonial, they were unanimous in spurning the belief of the personal coming of our Lord before the Millennium, and in rejecting the idea of His kingdom on earth ever being more remarkably displayed than in a wider extension of the present state of Christendom. A remark in the Political Register respecting the London newspapers seemed to furnish a key to the solution of this mystery: the author, therein commenting upon the notorious corruption of the public journals, and on their being influenced one day by the gamblers in the funds, and another day by speculators in