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LETTER SIGNED FIDUS.
Inserted in page 76, of No. II.
E are glad to hear that our correspondent Fidus has derived « fome pleasure" from our “ first number,” and we thank him for his courteous acknowledgment to that purpose. We do not consider the utmoft freedom of remark on the sentiments we advance, as in itself an evidence of hoftility to
our undertaking. We form our estimate of a writer's disposition towards us, by the matter contained in his remarks, and by the manner in which they are communicated; because from these we judge how he is affected to, and influenced by that 'TRUTH which we espouse.
Fidus objects to our saying " that the love « manifested in the atonement is the only true « God, and there is no God besides that love. “ That God is love, he admits; but that love is “ God, he cannot: because, in his apprehension, “ this would be to deify an attribute, and de“ throne the great Spirit.” This is indeed a weighty charge; and it became one who would “ not be esteemed an enemy to our undertak. « ing,” to have deferred advancing it, till he had more maturely considered upon what grounds it could rest. And why does he extract such a sentiment from the latter proposition, though he fees nothing exceptionable in the former? Truly, because he takes a liberty here, which there he durft not: for if this form of expression (Love is God) necessarily means that an attribute in the Deity; doubtless that form of expression (God is Love) must mean that the Deity is an attribute. Let Fidus then be convinced that his principle of interpretation is false, and let him grant to both of these declarations the latitude which he cannot withhold from one of them. Then he will hear them speak one language, and a language fit for the ears of proud worms like us—that we fhall in vain seek to know any thing of God beyond those perfections wherein He has made HIMSELF known and that the affemblage of these perfections, that is, the whole Divine character, is then most clearly and justly reprefented to our human conceptions, when He is called Love.
With respect to “ those words in the conclu« fion of John's first epistle, This is the true God “ and eternal life;" we do not conceive that our application of them militates against the sense in which Fidus receives them; because the apostle, in saying " all that he had to say of love “ and happiness,” was but describing the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom perfect love, or all that can be known of God, is exhibited to our view; and henceforth dwells not, as otherwise it must have done, in light inaccessible to men; but is manifest unto all that believe, in the person of Jefus, who is the brightness of his Father's glory -the image of the invisible God.
We cannot discover what precise ideas Fidus annexes to the terms « institutions” and “ ordia nances;” and whether or no he uses both these words in the fame acceptation, is equally du. bious. He thinks it “ meet and right and a fpecial privilege to observe” what he does not allow to be an institution, while he makes light of
neglecting what he admits as ordinances. Surely, the person who can with a safe conscience revere what is not enjoined in the scriptures, and disregard what is there laid down, should be the last to raise a question about institutions and ordinances, for with such a person the difpute can be only about words. But we are not surprised to observe Fidus inconsistent with himself, for so it must ever be with those who are inconsistent with fcripture truth; and here his departure from the guidance of the word presents itself to us in four particulars : 1. In thinking it right to pay religious observance to that which is not enjoined in the scriptures, bem cause (as we must suppose) such observance has obtained a currency in the religious world : 2. In dispensing with a veneration for « some ardinances" in which “ the firít christians continued “ stedfast," because they “ are little attended to “now" 3. In denying “that the observance of it” (the Lord's day) « is enjoined in the New Testa“ment,” though the New Testament churches, under the immediate direction of the Holy Ghost, acted as if it were : and 4. In admitting to the rank of ordinances what either is not found at all, or is found unconnected with re. ligious worship, amongst the primitive Chriftians.
The first and second of these errors involve a fuppofition that the authority of God's word may be superseded by the prevalent usage of religious professors. Did Fidus mean to utter such a fentiment? We will not suppose it. But when he writes for the public on fo important a subject as Divine Truth, he should be more attentive to the force of his own expressions. In the third instance, he seems to consider a preccpt conceived in express terms, neceffary to establish the observance of the Lord's day in the rank of an inftitution. Did Fidus merely difapprove of the word institution, as one which always conveyed to his mind the idea of a positive command; we should have an answer for him in his own use of the word ordinance, which, though full as strong and peremptory in its primary fignification, he has ufed with much greater latitude; and if that did not satisfy him, we would not prolong a verbal controversy. But we learn that his objection is not aimed at the term inftitution, from the mode in which he has advanced it, viz. his denying that the observance of the Lord's day “ is enjoined in the New Teftament;" to this therefore we fhall offer a few words in reply.
That the early Christians « in general” obferved the Lord's day, Fidus is willing to admit; (and why he fhould suppose any to have neglected it, we cannot conceive, for we are sure the hypothesis has no countenance either from scripture or ecclefiaftical history) but “ that the ob« fervance of it is enjoined, &e. he is not con© vinced.” We would then remind him that the first christian churches, being planted by inspired apostles, must be considered to have derived their religious institutions from Divine appointment; and one which in a certain fense involved all the other ordinances of worship, would last of all be left to human discretion. But further; it appears from the beginning of the apocalypse, that the Holy Ghost has recognized this as an appointment proceeding from Himself; for there mention is made of the Lord's day, which expression has no parallel in the Greek Teftament, except the Lord's supper: and
as the latter appellation was certainly used to distinguish from their common meals what Chri- . tians eat and drank in remembrance of the's Lord's death; so we are led to understand the former as intended to distinguish from other days the day on which they commemorated their Lord's refurrection. 'Tis true, the appellation itself leaves the precise day undetermined ; but when we consider that the Gospel gives not the remotest sanction to the regarding any one day above another; except the first day of the week, infomuch that no other day is even mentioned (except the seventh day in Heb. iv. 4.) throughout the whole New Testament; under this confideration, we must think ourselves bound to apply that title to the forst day of the week, and to revere that day accordingly. We cannot therefore suppose it left to our own judgment whether we shall “ think it meet and right” to regard that day, but we view the matter as already determined by the word of God. Fidus may perceive we do not enter at large into the question ; for indeed there are so many little matters to be adjusted between us, that we are compelled to haften from one to another, for fear of being tedious : yet we are not without hopes, that we have faid enough to convince Fidus, that it is not only a “ fpecial privilege," but also an indispensible duty, to observe the Lord's day.
The fourth error of Fidus appears in his admitting as ordinances, what the Scriptures do not acknowledge as such; which, however, he has advanced with some hesitation, for after the enumeration of his supposed ordinances, he adds, “ But I wish for information on this head, * and am open to conviction if I am wrong.'