« PoprzedniaDalej »
Being. Notwithstanding, therefore, all you have said to the contrary, I must still contend, that no errors, which you may suppose Trinitarians to entertain respecting the nature of God, can justify your cbarging them with the crime of blasphemy. I cannot by any means admit, that, “ virtuous and sipoerely pious and devout persons,” and such you seem ready to allow many Trinitarians to be, can be guilty of blasphemy against God.
I intirely agree with you in thinking, that persons of all descriptions are bound to take the greatest care to assure themselves, that their zeal for their religious ter nets be " a zeal according to knowledge." · But, when I recollect, that the Jewish rulers, are said in Scripture to have delivered up Jesus for envy (Matt. xxvii. 18.) which is a fault of the heart or disposition, I cannot agree with you in saying, what you seem to say, that their doing so is to be attributed merely to ignorance. They were indeed ignorant, of the heinousness of their crime; "they knew not what they did;" that they " killed the Prince ar Lord of Life." They were, however, by no means ignorant, that their procedure was criminal ; they knew, that they“ sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; they knew, that "they denied å koly and just man, and desired a murderer to be granted upto them." Matt. xxvii. 59. Acts iii. 14.
You think me wrong in asserting, that “the only kind of proof, of which a revelation, made many ages ago, is capable, is that of an accumulation of probabilities in its favour." I have elsewhere given the reasons, and must not here repeat them, for my opinion, that all moral truths rest on grounds of probability. It will be sufficient for the present purpose to observe, with Bishop Butler, that "probable evidence is essentially distinguished from demonstrative by this, that it admits of de grees, and of all variety of them, from the highest moral certainty, to the very lowest presumption. will, I trust, readily acknowledge, that the degree of assurance, in which the Christian religion is believed to be true by different men, is very different; a circumstance, wbich does not take place with respect to trutbs of a demonstrative nature. This circumstance, however, does not interfere with our attaining to such an assurance of the truth of Christianity, as is sufficient to answer every intended purpose. If all men were as fully assured
of the truth of Christianity, as they are that the san will rise to-morrow morning, which is plainly no more than probable, they would bave all the assurance of it, that can be necessary to affect their hearts, or influence their conduct.
You still think, that the Apocalypse must have been written before several at least of St. Paul's epistles, and well known to him, because there are passages in the latter, which, without reference to passages in the former, are unintelligible. Admitting the fact, for which, however, I see no sufficient reason, this argument is by no means of a convincing notare. Has it not happened in a variety of instances, and may it not reasonably be expected to happen, that a revelation is rendered clearer, by a subsequent revelation Divine truth is made known to men, as they are able to bear it. See Isaiah xxviii. 10. Also 1 Cor. iii. e. There are many passages of the Old Testament, particularly passages of a prophetic nature, (and of such nature is the passage of St. Paul referred to, 1 Corin. xv. 52.) which, vill explained by passages of the New Testament, were wnintelligible. Shall we therefore say, that those passages of the Old Testament were not written til after the writing and pablication of the correspondent passages of the New? The grand purport of the whole Mosaic dispensation itself was not fully understood, till it was 'explained by the subsequent dispensation of the Gospel. It was not till then known, that “the law (the Jewish religion) as our schoolmaster to bring us unto Ohrist. Gal. iii. 94.
You mistake in supposing me to say, that your inter pretation of the seven viols cannot be right, because preceding interpreters of them have not agreed in their opinions, or because you differ in your opinion about them from Bishop Newton." I only say, after Bishop Newton, and I give a reason for saying so, of which you seem to admit the justness, that the disagreement of interpreters respecting the meaning of a prophecy is a presumption, that the attempt to explain it is premature. When I afterwards say, that " the reader is not to 'expect in your work any proofs, or pretensions to proof, in opposition to the truch of the doctrines referred to," I do not speak with reference to your " explications of the Apocalypse,” into the merits of which Dhad expressly declined to enter; but with reference to your opposition to the doctrines of the Trinity and the -Incarnation,
which I still think you have supported by" no proofs, nor pretensions to proof.” You may indeed think, that the truth of these doctrines cannot consist with your explication of the prophecies of Daniel, John, and Paul; but you will hardly expect, that your explication of these prophecies should be received as certain, till the events which you suppose to be predicted by them, and which you admit to be distant fifty or sixty years, shall have proved it to be so. You have also referred to some of the difficulties, in which a belief of the doctrines of the Trivity and the Incarnation may involve us; but I am too fastidious about evidence to admit, that objections, which are drawn from our ignorance, ought to have any weight against propositions, of which the truth has been made out by positive and sufficient proofs. I am always ready to attend to such objections, and, if I am able, to remove them. If I am not able, recollecting,
now we know only in part," I am content rather to rest in my ignorance, than to withdraw my belief from truth. You say, and I am not inclined to deny it, that "both our reason and the repeated declaration of the Deity himself assure us, that he is devoid of all bodily form, and that he cannot undergo a change of any kind." Yet, as you must also acknowledge, the Scripture tells us, that “ God was in Christ,” and that “ in him (i. e. in Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Now, if we cannot reconcile these different propositionsy and others of a similar kind, to our entire satisfaction, I cannot think, that we are therefore at liberty to reject any of them. The time will undoubtedly come, and for this we should wait with patience, when the veil shall be taken away;" when we shall no longer “ see through a glass darkly, but face to face;" when “ we shall know, even as we also are known."
In representing me as “ accusing you of want of candour, for attributing to the established Church the doctrines of original sin derived to all men from their progenitor, Adam, of predestination and election," you do not represent me accurately. It is not for attributing these doctrines to the established Church, that I blame you, but for: attributing to her that Calvinistic interpretation of them, which the Church disowns, and which, by the fair construction of her articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, has repeatedly been proved not to belong to her. Among other proofs of this, which have recently
appeared, appeared, I beg leave to refer you to Dr. Kipling's very valuable tract, entitled, “ The Articles of the Church of England proved not to be Calvinistic;" by a careful
perusal of which you will, I think, be convinced, that the Church of England is not Calvinistic. Though that Church asserts, that all men are born with sinful inclinations, she does not assert, that the guilt of Adam's offence is imputed to thein; and though she holds, that the means of salvation are the free gift of God through Christ, she does not allow, either that salvation is actually to be obtained without mens own endeavours, or that it may be lost in spite of their sincere endeavours to the contrary.
Scaliger is reported to have said, “ Calvinus sapuit, quia non scripsit in Apocalypsin : Calvin was wise, because he did not w had been well for the peace of the Christian world, if the same wisdom had restrained Calvin's pen on other occasions. It is at least probable, that his absurdities (for I will not follow your example by calling them blasphemies) would not then have found the patronage of a name of so great authority. Whitby also, from whom I have taken this report, says, “ I confess, I write not upon it, for want of wisdom; that is, because I have neither sufficient reading, nor judgment, to discern the intendment of the prophecies contained in that book."-It appears, therefore, that when you recommend this book as " the particular object of my immediate diligent study,” which you mention as the view of your address to me, you invite me to an exercise of sufficient difficulty. I hope, however, that your advice, which I receive with thankfulness, will not be entirely lost upon me; for, though I do not lay so much stress on the study of the Apocalypse, as you do, and am inclined to táink, that
a right knowledge of what the true Christian religion is," may be obtained without it; yet I readily admit, that every part of Holy Scripture is most worthy of a Christian's attention, and that a “ perfect” knowledge of that religion, if indeed a perfect knowledge is by any means attainable by mortals, is to be attained only by a due attention to every part of the revealed Word of God. I am, in any case, fully persuaded, that the inore we understand of the “ depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, displayed in the Gospel of his Son, the more shall we be impressed with sentiments
Pol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. Jan. 1805. F of
of admiration, gratitude, and praise. I am also of opi. nion, that the true nature and design of the Christian religion is, in fact, but little understood, because, in comparison with its vast importance, but little attended to, by the generality of people, and even by many of those, who are thought to be well educated, and who sustain higli situations in life; and most certain I am, that it persons, who have the opportunity of doing it, were to study the Holy Scriptures more, and such human explications of them, as are sober and judicious, not less, il would greatly contribute to their individual happiness, as well as to that accomplishment of Christ's kingdom, which is by all so devoutly to be wished.
Though you seem to be awatė, that the charge of insunity, which you consider me as bringing against you, was rather with a ludicrous than a serious view, you are hurt át, my bringing it. Had I brought the charge of real insaniiy, it would have involved no blame. Where there is no voluntary fault, there can be no disgrace. As, however, I brought the charge of insanity, only by referring to the character of Don Quixote, it is evident, that I was to be understood metaphorically. If the knight of La Mancha were really mad, we should not take the pleasing interest in his adventures, which we now do. He only acts, in one instance of conduct, with the samě Care
. ever, as it may, Don Quixote, in spite of his eccentri
iş a truly respectable character; and believe me, Sir, notwithstanding what 'I consider as your aberrations from right reasoning, and your wrong conduct in consequence, I entertain for you a great share, not only of respect, but of esteem and offeetion.
Jan 8, 1805.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE, GENTLEMEN, CONFESS that I once interpreted the wabric prefixed
to the burial-offiee literally and severely; and I theretore concluded that Christian Burial should be denied to