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fall of our first parents to the present time, no human creature has been exempt from it. Pain, either of body or of mind, is the general attendant on man, with more or less intermission, from the cradle to the grave. More especially to the believer suffering is the path to glory—the road his Divine Master took before him, and in which he must therefore expect to follow him; sometimes the bush is all encompassed with flame, burning flame! Its fire and smoke ascend to heaven, and seem to increase in violence every moment, yet the bush is not consumed! The believer continues steady, resolute, treading firmly in his holy walk, fearing no danger, for the angel is with him; Christ is with him in the midst of the fire. The flame, indeed, burns up the rotten branches and the withered leaves, but every green leaf, and every vigorous branch it renders more beautiful and verdant. Many, like Moses, turn to look at the great sight, why the bush is not consumed, and understand it as little as he did; they cannot discern the Almighty arm which supports the Christian ; they cannot see the Saviour who revives bim, and grants him power to remain unhurt ! It is really a sight which may call forth the admiration of angels, to behold a believer tried in the furnace of adversity, like gold in the fire ! Oh, far more precious than fine gold is the soul of the believer to his Lord ! Christ will try, nay he has declared severe trials to be the portion of his people on earth: but He is with them still, and will bring them out the more pure, bright, and precious. The burning bush was become a holy thing, when honoured by the presence of Jehovah ;

:-so does the Christian be. come holy, a saint, a chosen, a sanctified one, when Christ is with him in his sorrows. Fear not weak believer whoever thou art,—the bush was kept from being consumed by a miracle; and dost thou fear that thou wilt not be preserved by Him, and for Him, who made, tries, and will eventually crown thee? How frequently does the believer feel his heart sorely oppressed both by outward and inward troubles? He is as fully endowed with tender feelings as other men; nay, perhaps his very piety renders him more tender and feeling than he would otherwise bave been. Comforts seem to fly bim; friends to abandon; death robs him of those most dear, or else they live only to encrease his trials ; perhaps sickness and poverty add to bis sufferings, and bitterly aug. ment their weight; he feels surrounded, as it were, by the flames of affliction : but behold a miracle ! he is not consumed; nay, on the contrary, the flame by which he is surrounded serves but to preserve him, as the fire did the bush ; sanctified sufferings keep him from loving the world and losing his soul-keep him near to God; and he would prefer enduring all the sorrows of which mortality is capable, rather than lose his heavenly portion. Christ is his all, his hope, bis stay. The bush may burn with fire, but the bush is not consumed!

MIRA.

.

ON INCONSISTENCY. TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER. It is a subject of much regret, and should be one of deep humiliation, to observe inconsistency of conduct so frequently manifested even among those who feel very strongly the importance of religion. Among worldly-minded people this does not occur, all is consistency there ; whether ambition, wealth, or pleasure is the object of pursuit, it is pursued steadily; every thing gives way that interferes ; time and health are only valuable as they conduce to the end so much desired. But where the view extends to another world, the mind of many seems unable to fix on an object so remote for any length of time. Sometimes they feel warmly, perhaps enthusiastically; their hopes, their wishes are all for those objects that have no end; but some triflle occurs, something strikes the imagination, all is gone that lately appeared so desirable, and the present scene occupies their entire thoughts, perhaps for a length of time. Others mix up an intense love for all the pleasures of this world, with a sincere wish for what they know and feel to be a better state, and are continually in scenes and employments that are a complete contrast to each other. There is a great difference between giving up the world and loving the world. Christians may enjoy rational society, even though every individual does not altogether feel with them on religion ; but it is utterly inconsistent with their profession, and should be painful to their feelings, to mix wilfully and unnecessarily with the vain, the trifling, and the irreligious part of society. It is argued sometimes that St. Paul was “all things to all men,” but they forget that it was “that he might save some." His compliances were not sinful ones, for “ he was not without law to God, but under the law to Christ," and his object was to benefit others. Few consider themselves as accountable for their time ; and months are wasted, and no reproach of conscience ensues. If a bankrupt was offered a situation of great emolument, but informed he must be prepared for it by a course of previous study and thought, and that his mind and heart must be engaged in the business or it was vain to attempt it: would he not be considered insane if observed to employ nearly the entire of his time in pursuits calculated to lead his mind away from the important object; and what would be said if he pleaded that he spent two hours every week in hearing a lecture on the subject, and considered that sufficient?—The inference is plain ; but poor human creatures are too often like the child that cannot think of tomorrow, and the observation of this should lead us to pray for that assistance without which they can do no good thing,—that Holy Spirit that alone can give them “ a right judgment in all things."

These remarks are sent to The Christian Examiner only in the hope that some more able pen will pursue the subject further, as there is no telling the importance of a consistent line of conduct in those who profess themselves to be true Christians, or the great injury they may cause by the contrary,

S. D.

BIBLICAL CRITICISM-2 PETER iii. 16.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER,

Sir-Having read in your_July Number, a criticism on the much-contested passage in St. Peter, in reference to the difficulties that exist in the writings of St. Paul— I beg leave to offer one or two remarks on that subject.

I am inclined to think that your correspondent E. M. does not clearly comprehend the nature of the argument advanced by Roman Catholics against the free circulation of the Scriptures, nor the precise purpose for which they produce this passage from St. Peter, I shall therefore state this argument in a logical form :

Whatever contains difficulties may be wrested and perverted by the ignorant and unstable, and should not, therefore, be universally circulated.

The Scriptures contain difficulties of this nature ;
Therefore, the Scriptures should not be universally circulated.

Now, Sir, will you permit me to ask how the criticism of E. M. tends to answer this argument? He says, that inasmuch as the original is ev órs, and not av års, the difficulties were in the subjects of St. Paul's Epistles, and not in the Epistles themselves : But I would ask what difficulty there can be in a letter which is not connected with the subject-matter of that letter; or whether the concession that there are difficulties in the subject-matter of the letters of St. Paul, does not leave the Roman Catholic argument precisely as plausible as he found it. Further, I may

refer to Hammond's Annotations on the New Testament, where it will be found, that there is nearly as much authority for reading εν αις as εν οις.*

I shall now beg leave to add one or two remarks, in reply to the argument of Roman Catholics before stated :

1. Their argument will be found to prove too much : for, if it be conceded, that whatever contains difficulties may be perverted, and should therefore be withheld ; this would take the Scriptures from even the most learned ecclesiastics, as they perceive difficulties in Scripture as well as others, and they have been the principal persons to pervert and wrest these Scriptures to the promulgation of heresy.

1

* Our correspondent, in his zeal for syllogistic argumentation, leaves criticism rather too much in the back ground; more so, perhaps, than he is aware of. A second reference to Dr. Hammond will show him that that learned Author by no means places the two readings upon' an'equal footing, but only mentions év års as the reading of the King's M. S. ; and upon consulting later critics, he will find it absolutely rejected ;-—it is in the margin of Griesbach.“ We think our correspondent rather too particular about the very innocent criticism of E. M. inserted in our previous Number; it is a criticism which has been brought forward and substantiated in every Bible discussion which has occurred during the last few years. The meaning of the text is too obvious to be mistaken, save through perversion ; the things difficult to be understood were the very things treated of by St. Peter in the chapter in which the text occurs, and therefore treated of, that they might be better understood, though he no.

VOL. VII.

2 A

was an

2. We deny the force of the argument, as proving the propriety of withdrawing the entire Scriptures, unless they prove the entire Scriptures to be difficult; and in the mean time we maintain, that as the difficulties in Scripture are not associated with any necessary objects of faith or any prescribed rules of practice, that they still remain " profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness."

3. We argue that the expression “unlearned" has a reference to spiritual knowledge, and not to human learning, and this is evident, not merely from the meaning of the original word, but also from this, if it had a reference to human learning, it would then exclude even St. Peter himself from reading the writings of St. Paul, for he

“unlearned and ignorant man,” (Acts iv. 13.) Now the source of spiritual knowledge is the Scriptures, (See Rom. xv. 4, and 2 Tim. iii. 16 ;) therefore the persons who wrested Scripture to their destruction, were those who built their faith upon too partial a knowledge of Scripture; and the obvious method to remedy this was to do what St. Peter himself enjoins in the 18th verse of this chapter, to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

4. This very passage proves, that the writings of St. Paul were, at the time St. Peter wrote, read by the unlearned and unstable ; for it is difficult to conceive how they could wrest that which they never read; therefore we infer, that if St. Peter intended to found a prohibition to the free circulation of the Scriptures on the fact of their containing difficulties liable to perversion, that this was the very place in which he would have done so; yet he has left no prohibition-but quite the contrary, as is evident from the 18th verse before cited.

5. We maintain that the Bible, being, as it professes, a revelation to finite apprehensions of the deep things of God, must necessarily contain difficulties inexplicable to all, and liable to be perverted by all : now if it follow, on this account, that it should be withheld from any, it will equally follow that it should be withheld from all, and then this argument convicts the Deity himself of having acted superfluously in giving this revelation; and consequently, those who withhold the Scriptures, display more concern for the spiritual safety of man, than the Almighty who gave

them.

tices that the (aua els) undisciplined, or unteachable, would be sure to pervert those, as they did the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. As to the fact of perversion, however, we may remark, that most able Romanists have themselves testified that it is not the simple, but the proud and learned, who abuse the Scriptures. We allude to their historian, Du Pin, and also to Bellarmine ; the former of whom declares, that " it is not the ignorant and the simple who have formed heresies in perverting the Word of God. They who do so,” says he, “ are generally bishops, priests, learned and enlightened persons.” (Dissert. Prelim. sur la Bible, B. I. c. ix.- quoted by Mr. Pope, Discussion, p. 83.) While the Cardinal avers that “ Heresies originate with the upper ranks rather than with persons belonging to the inferior classes. Beyond a doubt, almost all authors of heresies have been either bishops or presbyters.” (De Rom. Pont, L. i. c. 9.)-Edit.

But, lastly, without entering into any criticisms on the meaning of the terms in this passage, we meet the argument at its threshold, thus--and we challenge any Roman Catholic to reply to it:

St. Peter and the Members of the Council of Trent both agreed in reference to the estimate which they formed of a certain factnamely, they both agreed in the fact, that there are difficulties in Scripture; further, they both derive an argument from this fact, but of directly contrary natures--for the members of the Council of Trent issued a prohibition to the reading of the Scriptures, in consequence of these difficulties : and St. Peter, on the other hand, commands those to whom he wrote to become more intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, (see verse 18,) in consequence of these difficulties. Whether, therefore, it be right to hearken to the latter advice, when it carries with it the impress of apostolical inspiration, judge ye. I remain, Sir, yours, &c.

D. B.

BIBLICAL CRITICISM.-1 John v. 16.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.

SIR—Your correspondent à, in your last Number, thinks I have fallen into an inconsistency in my criticism on 1 John v. 16; but I conceive he is under a mistake, from not considering the distinction between one particular sin, and one species of sin. The sin against the Holy Ghost—be it what it may-is one individual sin; the sin unto death, in 1 John v. 16, is a species of sin ; and, therefore, though it would not be proper to say a sin against the Holy Ghost,” it would be perfectly so to say “a sin unto death.” It seems evident, then, that I was fully justified in the conclusion I derived from the mode of expression employed by the Apostle ; unless it should appear, that there are more sins than one against the Holy Ghost, or that there is but one “unto death ;” neither of which positions will, I believe, be maintained. That there is a difficulty on one point I am fully aware.

I mean in relation to the mode of ascertaining whether the sin in question was or was not belonging to the excepted case: but I presume, that while it pleased God to connect ostensibly (as was the case in the primitive church) the commission of certain sins with afflictive bodily visitations, and to appoint believing intercession as the means of relief, where relief was not precluded by the nature of the offence, I presume, I say, that such other arrangements existed in the Church at the time as were accommodated to that

peculiar state of things. In Valpy's explanation, as given by 9, there is an assumption that only certain privileged individuals could act on the occasion referred to. For this distinction certainly the text does not furnish any authority. Nor, in my humble opinion, did the measure of the punishment depend upon the state of the mind after the offence, so much as on the quality of the offence itself. That any

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