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fifty-five particular churches. « The following,” says Dr. Buchanan, “ are the chief doctrines of this ancient Church:
• First.—They hold the doctrine of a vicarious Atonement for the sins of men, by the blood and merits of Christ, and of the justification of the soul before God, by faith alone in that Atonement.
- Second.—They maintain the Regeneration, or new birth of the soul to righteousness, by the influence of the Spirit of God, which change is called in their books, from the Greek, Meta-Noia, or change of mind.
“ Third. In regard to the Trinity, the creed of the Syrian Christians accords with that of St. Athanasius, but without the damnatory clauses. In a written and official communication to Colonel Macaulay, the English Resident at Travancore, the Metropolitan states it to be as follows: "We believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons in one God, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance, one in three and three in one. The Father generator, the Son generated, and the Holy Ghost proceeding. None is before or after the other ; in majesty, honour, might, and power, co-equal; Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Uni. ty'-_ That in the appointed time, through the disposition of the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Son appeared on earth for the salvation of mankind : that he was born of the Virgin Mary, through the means of the Holy Ghost, and was incarnate God and man.'"*
The same Author observes that, in the East, the vestiges of Evangelical religion everywhere present themselves.
• Dr. Buchanan's Christian Researches, p. p. 124, 125.-Dr. B. visited these Churches in 1806
These, he says, relate to the Trinity in Unity; to the incarnation of the Deity; to a vicarious Atonement for sin; and to the influence of the Divine Spirit on the mind of man. “ Now,” adds this excellent man, “ if we should be able to prove that all these are represented in the systems of the East, will any man venture to affirm that it happens by chance ?” The testimony, which the religion of the Hindoos gives to the doctrine of the Trinity, we have already seen in our Reflections on that subject.
The second is the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Deity." The Hindoos believe that one of the persons in their Trinity, (and that too the second person), was « manifested in the flesh. Hence their fables of the Avatars, or Incarnations of Vishnoo. And this doctrine is found over almost the whole of Asia. Whence then originated this idea that God should become man, and take our nature upon him ?' The Hindoos do not consider, that it was an Angel merely that became man, (like some philosophers in Europe), but God himself. Can there be any doubt, that the fabulous Incarnations of the eastern mythology are derived from the real Incarnation of the Son of God, or from the prophecies that went before it? Jesus the Messiah is the true Avatar."
Third.—The doctrine of a vicarious Atonement for sin, by the shedding of blood.—To this day, in Hindostan, the people bring the goat or kid to the temple, and the priest sheds the blood of the innocent victim. Nor is this peculiar to Hindostan; throughout the whole East, the doctrine of a sacrifice for sin seems to exist, in one form or other. Ever since “ Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain ;" ever since Noah, the father of the new world, “ offered up burnt offerings on the altar,” sacrifices have been offered up in almost erery nation, as if for a constant memorial to mankind that “ without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”Heb, ix. 22.
Fourth.—The influence of the Divine Spirit on the minds of men.-In the most ancient writings of the Hindoos, some of which have been published, it is asserted, that “ the Divine Spirit, or light of holy knowledge.” influences the minds of men. And the man who is the subject of such influence is called “ the man twice born.” Many chapters are devoted to the duties, character, and virtues of “the man twice born.”
Other doctrines might be illustrated by similar analogies. The characters of the Mosaic ceremonial law pervade the whole system of the Hindoo ritual and worship. Now, if these analogies were merely partial, or accidental, they would be less important: but they are not accidental, as every man who is erudite in the Holy Scriptures, and in oriental mythology, well knows. They are general and systematic. Has it ever been alleged that the Light of Nature could teach such doctrines as those which we have above enumerated ? Some of them are contrary to the Light of Nature. Every where in the East there appears to be a counterfeit of the true doctrine. The inhabitants have lost sight of the only true God, and they apply their traditional notions to false gods. These doctrines are unquestionably relics of the first faith of the earth; they bear the strong characters of God's primary revelation to man, which neither the power of man, nor time itself, hath been able to destroy; but which have endured from age to age, like the works of nature, the moon and stars, which God hath created, incorruptible.*
• Dr. Buchanan's Christian Researches, p. p. 272, 273, 274, 275, 276. VOL. II.
Among the ministers of various denominations whose sentiments are Evangelical, it cannot be denied that there are to be found weak men, but there is no reason to suppose that their number is proportionally greater than may be found among those who have adopted a system Anti-evangelical. Some men of violent spirit and unhallowed tempers are likewise to be found in their society, as they are to be found among the partizans of every religious creed. There have also, no doubt, been some characters among them detected, who have been a disgrace to the professions of religion which they have made, but in this class these have never been numerous. Let them be compared with those who have embraced an opposite system ; in talent they will be found not to be inferior; in morals much more correct and exemplary; in zeal for religion much more abundant; and in disinterested virtue superlatively eminent. What a celebrated wri. ter among them, who has touched the infirmities of his brethren with no light hand, has justly said of the Evangelịcal Ministers of the Church of England, may, with the strictest justice, be said of Evangelical Ministers in general—" As a body they are more than free, from immoralities.”* In the number of the Evangelical are to be numbered almost all the Calvinists and the genuine followers of Arminius. . There is also a considerable number of those who take no decisive part between these systems, so far as they are opposed to each other. These neutrals suppose that the love of system has carried both Calvinists and Arminians to extremes, and made them both seize the one half of the Bible with avi.
• " Zeal Without Innovation," p. 162.
dity, while they set no proportional value on the other. Two excellent writers, Mr. Wilberforce and Mrs. More, correctly and decidedly Evangelical, have taken no part whatever in this controversy. The former, in his “ Practical View,” '&c. has shown a happy union of strong intellectual energies, and language elegantly polished, and blended with the warmest, yet soberest piety.* The
** Mr. Evans, in his Sketch, represents Mr. Wilberforce as an advocate for the Methodists. " The Methodists have found an advocate in William Wilber. force, Esq. M.P. who pleads their cause at some length in his Treatise on Vital Christianity.” The cause Mr. Wilberforce pleads is that of Evangelical Re. ligion in general, without the smallest reference to the peculiarities by which the Methodists are distinguished from other denominations. Mr. E. must have known, or might have known, that Mr. Wilberforce was a regular member of the Church of England. It was therefore utterly indecorous to treat a Gentle man, entitled to the respect of the human race for his exertions in the cause of humanity, in such a manner. But Mr. E. very well knew, that with a certain class of men, to be informed that a man is a Methodist, is to be informed that he is a fool and an enthusiast. Every well informed person will indeed be ashamed of such ignorance and prejudice. The writer who can allow himself to give publicity to such misrepresentations, has forfeited every claim to candour and impartiality. Mr. Wilberforce's forcible statement of Human depravity is, unquestionably, the cause of the offence Mr. E. has taken at the Treatise on Vital Christianity. In a le:ter which Mr. E. addressed from the Press to Dr. Hawker he asks “ In what light will the Court of Heaven view those who libel Human Nature, pronouncing it to be rotten to the core ?" We shall take the liberty to ask him another question, In what light will the Court of Heaven view those who libel that infinite wisdom and love which made the blessed God provide a ransom for our souls, in the Atonement of his own Son, and a Sanctifier, in the person of his Spirit, to regenerate our natures and to create us again to righteousness, whilst, according to Mr. E.'s system of Divinity, we were neither liable to his wrath, nor unable to accomplish our own sanctification ? Or, let us state the question thus, In what light will the Court of Heaven view those who, when the Supreme Judge bas pronounced the imaginations of Man's heart to be evil, and only evil continually, and unregenerated men to be enemies to Him in their heart, by wicked works, dare to call his decisions abominable, and represent them as those of a tyrant? If the doctrine of human depravity is taught in Scripture, they themselves must be sensible of the consequence of such hard speeches. If those who believe the doctrine are in a mistake on this subject, the libel surely cannot be a malicious one, for they include themselves in the charge as deeply