« PreviousContinue »
are our only security. Let them be rejected, or, what is equivalent with their rejection, let the spirit of “philosophy, falsely so called," and the alleged decisions of human reacon, be made their interpreter, and the standard by which their revelations are to be judged, and imagination will soon become the expositor of truth. The faney will run wild, and, in the reveries and triumphs of fiction, every thing distinctive, and of value in the bible, the very life and soul of Christianity, will evanish. This the Christian knows, and therefore guards, with ever-wakeful jealousy, against the proud and sceptical exposition of the sacred oracles, where men, of unbelieving minds and hearts, and, not imbued with the spirit of truth, undertake, by their “oppositions of science,” to explain away the grand peculiarities of our faith. He will not consent, who has received the bible as the word of God, to be taught by "the perverse disputings of men.” What this man, or the other of lofty aspirings, may, in the vanity and scepticism of their unbelieving heart, tell him is meant by the Spirit of God, he heeds not, but yields, most cordially and implicitly to the impressions of the word, in its plain and obvious import. Nor does he this unwisely; for he has, in his own soul, an attestation of the truth. He feels that there is more than metaphor, or a figure of speech, in the language of the scriptures, as to the living Spirit of God. He apprehends Him to be the very sum of all the moral and spirtual blessings he enjoys, and, as life is imparted to his soul;-as his affections, which once were dead to God, become tender and lively towards divine things;as his moral sensibilities are purified, his heart expatiates in the joys of fellowship with God, and his whole soul is drawn upward in sublimest anticipations. As his faith and hope and love, the powerful principles of human action, are transferred from earth and earthly things, and made to act with more effective energy in reference to God and heavenly things, he feels perfectly convinced that there is a mighty agent within him accomplishing all—and that mighty agent, none other than God Himself, in the person and character of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of life and purity.
THE OFFICE OF HUMAN REASON
INTERPRETATION OF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES,
The difference between scriptural and scientific truth-The subject of the
chapter stated— The scriptures assumed to be the word of God-An appeal to the reader who may doubt-Infallibility claimed for the oracles of GodThe common infidel objection against this claim— The sentiments of a writer of the seventeenth century-Remarks upon them—The ineaning of the terms human reason settled--Erroneous assumptions of the rationalists Examples of false reasoning—The folly of reasoning as to other worlds from assumptions as to this—No mysticism in the language employed by the Spirit of God-The facts revealed in scripture essentially different from the phenomena of nature-Thence a superiority claimed for the knowledge of the former—The Spirit's revelations essential to that knowledge-Perfections in God probably not yet revealed—Mysteries in His government that will perhaps never be known by us—The very limited extent of human science—Thence the folly of proud and arrogant demands with regard to the knowledge of God inferred—We cannot reject facts when substantiated by evidence-The testimony of God as sufficient evidence as that of sense—The folly of demanding evidence not appropriate to the nature of the subject-Mathematical evidence liable to exception—The folly of applying the data which this world affords as tests of what is truth in othersThe Divine testimony satisfactory and decisive-The danger of neglecting it illustrated in the early history of the Corinthian churchThe character of Paul's preaching—Reason cannot legitimately act as umpire in matters of faith-Its proper office.
THERE is that, in the truths of the sacred seriptures, which makes them to differ from the doctrines of human science. So far as they are exhibited in propositions, expressed in definite language, they resemble each other. And so far as human reason is concerned, in the apprehension of them, no difference can be discerned. One proposition is just as intelligible as another, provided, that the language employed in both is equally perspicuous. Yet does it not follow that the facts involved in these propositions are of equally easy apprehension. Some things are, in their very nature, inexplicable, while others are intelligible at first sight. Inattention to this has led to much, and very serious mischief, in the interpretation of the sacred scriptures. That the mind of rational man, which we have above designated by the popular phrase of human reason, has some important office in the apprehension of scriptural truth, every one feels. What that office precisely is, it is the design in this chapter to unfold. The exposition of this subject is rendered necessary, alike from its own intrinsic importance, from the very fatal results which have flowed from its not being well understood, from the proof and illustration of the subject in the preceding chapter, and from the intimate connection which it holds with the entire discussions that we propose.
It must be obvious, that it is of very great moment, in itself, as well as in relation particularly to the subject in hand, we should be able to determine, whether human reason is to sit as judge and umpire, deciding as to what is truth, or whether its entire office is not to perceive, receive and enforce truth not originally excogitated in the human mind. On the decision of this question depends the use that we shall make of the sacred scriptures, and the benefit we shall derive from them.
It is assumed that they are the word of God. If any reader doubts on this subject, we request him to resort to the proofs so abundantly and so invincibly demonstrative to every unprejudiced mind, of the fact that the things spoken and written by the inspired penmen were delivered
"not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." His mind must be dark indeed, and his heart most wretchedly depraved, who can carefully examine the arguments drawn from the miracles performed, and predictions delivered by the apostles and prophets, not to mention any other, without being convinced that what Paul said of himself is true of all. "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." The subject is undoubtedly deserving of the most serious and interested attention of every rational man, and we adjure the reader, if he has the least doubt as to the fact, to lose no time, and spare no pains, to bring this very important question, involving his own eternal interests, to an issue. Let him dismiss prejudice, and read, and weigh, both sides of the question, and decide according to the amount and force of evidence, after a full and impartial examination. We shall not fear the result in his mind. It is nothing but obliguity of heart that can resist the overwhelming power of the demonstrations in the case. The claims of the sacred scriptures are so high, and their asseverations affecting man's personal and eternal interests, so bold, and appalling, and uncompromising, that no man, pretending to act as a reasonable being, cun dismiss this subject with a trivial attention.
Assuming the scriptures to be the word of God, as we do, it is obvious that we claim for them the infallibility of infinite and immutable truth. Thence it is contended, there arises an obligation, on our part, in reference to them, which applies not to any other species of evidence. Believing them to be the word of God, we are bound, by all the authority that God can assert, to receive them not as
11 Cor. 1. 1?
2 Gal. i. 11, 12