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our contemporaries or posterity, but by encouraging sincere inquirers to read, compare, understand, and believe the word of life, as set forth in the Divine Oracles.”
We cannot look for religious improvement on the part of people who, like the learned yet idolatrous citizens of Athens, are desirous of “ hearing and telling some new thing;" nor yet to those who, following the leadings of the flesh, regard the dreams of a bewildered imagination as the voice of God. The experience of eighteen hundred years teaches us most unmistakably, that we cannot look for any moral change for the better in a community as the result of human speculations. The Sacred Oracles are the only source of spiritual enlightenment. To their inspired pages we must ever direct the attention of our fellow-men. They are perfect in themselves, for since the beloved disciple fell asleep, not one line has been added thereto. In proportion as the churches study the Scriptures, and endeavor to reach the high moral standard there set forth, will be their usefulness and success. They will attract to themselves thoughtful minds, and exercise a benign intiuence over the people at: large. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the true source of national elevation. As its principles are brought to bear on a people, civilization, intelligence, and high moral refinement will spring up in their midst.
We have, then, this work before us. We must employ all the instrumentalities at our command, to induce men to read and reflect on religious subjects, in the light of the Bible, resting assured that the seed thus sown will be seen after many days. And, as we are prompted to renewed efforts from a grateful sense of our own obligations, we shall cultivate our faith and devotional feelings, and
a heavenly growth in grace and knowledge of the truth will embellish our lives.” Every member of a church may do something towards hastening forward this movement, for, by well-directed conversation, and the timely circulation of religious periodicals and tracts, important results not unfrequently ensue. As one among many periodicals that may be employed in such a manner, we respectfully press the claims of the British Millennial Harbinger.
As before observed, the materials for our work are ample. We have already on hand Essays from the pens of A. Campbell, R. Richardson, B. Franklin, T. Fanning, J. Henshall, and Professors Pendleton and Milligan, of the United States, as well as several from brethren in Great Britain. Brother King will also contribute matter for eight pages monthly. We hope, therefore, with the assistance of those brethren who, from time to time, forward us interesting Items of News-and whose continued co-operation is earnestly solicited--to produce a volume acceptable and profitable to all our readers.
British Millennial Harbinger.
THE TRUE ISSUE.
TRUTH and justice are the pillars of the moral universe. Therefore, justice and judgment are the foundation of God's throne, while mercy and truth, arm in arm, precede each magisterial act of his administration of the affairs of the empire of creation. The course of nature, or the movements of the universe in all its area-whether celestial, terrestrial or infernal-is conducted, managed, and will be consummated, in each and every period of its being, in perfect and unperturbed harmony with these two capital realities, or essential elements, whose combinations are both the centre and circumference of absolute being and blessedness.
All true and real sublimity is in the abstract conception, and not in the formal being or accidental relations of the parts of an infinite whole. Nor is there any respect to reason in any form of Pantheism, as delineated in human conceptions of something called nature ; or of a being “whose body nature is, and God the soul.” A creator without a creature, or a creature without a creator, is the climax of absurdity. God and his universe, are not identical. They are two, and not one.
Hence they are relative terms. But Jehovah is absolute, and is necessarily and essentially self-existent, or immutable. Here, and nowhere else, does human reason or human imagination find repose. The finite never, never, never can comprehend nor apprehend the infinite. And yet it is the only fixture, the one centre, on which cultivated reason and educated imagination can find a moment's repose.
Mathematics, the most certain of all the sciences, assumes an undefined and undefinable point as the basis of all its demonstrations. And religion, true religion, in all its manifestations, called Patriarchal, Jewish, or Christian, whether individual or social, begins with, and terminates upon, the only self-existent, eternal, and immutable Jehovah. This is not a voluntary opinion, a freak of imagination, but the rock of ages—the stand-still point, around which revolves all true reason, all true religion, all true humanity, and, consequently, all true science.
The Bible, therefore, assumes this as its first and fundamental oracle. And he that finds not repose and pleasure in the first oracle of the first chapter, and first period of the Holy Bible, will never find it in all the cycles of chronology, in any or in all the circles of science or philosophy, truly or falsely so called Like Noah's forlorn dove, he may fly over a shoreless ocean, but find no repose
He must return to the ark, with or without an olive leaf as a monument of the past or as a presage of the future.
We thank God that it is so : that we are most benevolently constituted to listen to him, and to inquire of him on every theme in which our personal and social good, our present or our future happiness, is, or may be, involved. We can find no relief in human science, no repose in human philosophy, for they all, on this subject, begin with the sophism usually called the begging of the question. There is not, on this transcendent theme, one moment's repose to cultivated reason in any, or in all, the philosophies of all the schools, and of all the ages of the world. Moses in this, as in all other matters, shows his supernatural wisdom in ignoring them all. He, with manful reason, full-orbed and brilliant, affirms in conscious truth and firm repose, that “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH,” alias the universe, culminating in ineffable glory, and firmly reposing on the simple volition of the self-existent, eternal, and immutable Jehovah. The first oracle that broke the awful silence of eternity, was pregnant with all the elements of all the systems of astronomy, and all the future developments of ages past and of ages to come. Here, and only here, can true reason or true science find a safe lodgment a self-complacent and a happy repose. And here the Christian philosopher enjoys a peace of mind, a calm and a dignified serenity, and a full assurance of understanding, to which every mere sceptical theorist or sciolist is, and for ever will be, an absolute stranger.
But Theology and Christology are two distinct themes-naturally, necessarily, and eternally distinct; but not in any antagonism or incongruity with each other. Theos is not Christos, nor Christos Theos, in an essential or absolute identity. They are not identical in nature, office, or relation. There is divinity alone in THEOs, but there is both divinity and humanity in CHRISTOS. · The Jews worshipped an absolute Jehovah unincarnate. We worship an absolute Jehovah incarnate. They looked down the vista of time—we look up the vista of time to an EMMANUEL. We believe in his actual death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification, as our Lord and our Redeemer. We regard his death as a perfect and a perpetually acceptable sacrifice for our sins; and through him we humbly, and confidently, and gratefully approach an absolute Jehovah, as our Father and his Father, as our God and his God. We embrace him as our Divine Prophet, High Priest, and King, and recognize him in all his positive ordinances—Christian baptism, the Lord's day, the Lord's supper, the communion of saints in preaching the gospel, in supporting a Christian ministry, (domestic and foreign) in contributing to the wants of the poor and the destitute of earth the literal or spiritual bread and water of life, as God in his providence and moral government may furnish to us the means and the opportunity.
We also teach that while each Christian community is a distinct an, independent community, so far as its own social rights, titles, and privileges, spiritual and ecclesiastic, are concerned, yet each and every Christian congregation is enjoined, in both the letter and spirit of the gospel institution, to co-operate in council, judgment, and action, with all other Christian congregations, whereever their respective localities, or the common emergencies, ecclesiastic or foreign, may providentially call upon them, in any or in all of the predicaments of the present organization of the church and of the world.
We, moreover, in general terms, reprobate all the substitutes for the Bible, in the form of abstract and speculative creeds, rubrics, platforms, or doctrines of theology or Christology, found in the present sectarian and schismatic institutions of the so-called church or churches, provincial or oecumenical, of the 19th century. We have full faith in the apostles of Jesus Christ, as his plenipotentiaries, and in their writings, as able to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly to furnish and equip him for every good word and good deed. Such have been the scope, the spirit, and the purport of all our efforts, in word or in writing, for forty years past.
We have, indeed, grown in knowledge, in the full assurance of faith, in the full assurance of understanding, and in the full assurance of hope. We have not been without errors of reason, errors of opinion, errors of action ; nor do we yet claim an exemption from the common frailties, in head or heart, incident to our present frail and erratic humanity. But of one thing we are confident—that the opposition made to us has been anything but discreet, prudential, moral or Christian. False issues, false charges, false surmises, and false representations, with scarce an exception, have constituted the whole artillery of the opposition, the whole machinery ecclesiastic brought to bear against us.
Notwithstanding all this, we have grown in constantly increasing ratios from year to year, not in numbers only, but in the progress of our principles in the heads and hearts of preachers and people, once fiercely opposing us. In proof of this, we may, at no distant period, furnish volume of excerpts from the popular, ecclesiastic, and editorial terminologies of forty years ago, in contrast with those of the present living age.
There is not known to me any issue, true and proper, between us and Protestants generally, upon any one of the substantive facts, precepts, promises, threatenings, or positive institutions of Christianity. But we presume that there are material differences in some of the views taken of them, and in the use made of them by certain portions of our Protestant population. Besides, the terminology, or nomenclature, of original Christianity, has been supplanted by a new and alien terminology, created out of the theological discussions and strifes emanating from the Arian, Arminian, Lutheran, Calvinian, Wesleyan, and other doctrinal and ecclesiastic debates and strifes, relating to doctrine, discipline, and church polities.
To us it appears wholly alien to Christianity to give any place to such questions as gender strife and debate, rather than godly edification. Besides, it is not any mere assent of the understanding to any mental abstraction or speculative view or theory, that renews the heart, influences the will, pruifies the conscience, or reconciles a sinner to God, and subdues his whole being to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The person, office, and character of the Divine Redeemer-his life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification as Lord of all, judge of all, and rewarder of all, according to their works or character--are the proper materials of Christian faith, hope, and love ; and these lodged in the heart, cherished in the soul, energize it, and actuate it into a new life, and adorn that life with righteousness and true holiness. For these every church, every minister of the church, every member of the church, should exert and employ his whole soul, mind, and strength.
But all those questions that gender strife, pride, self-esteem, envy, censoriousness, are not of the Spirit, but of the flesh ; whose fruits are self-complacency, pride, envy, jealousy, rivalry, and inordinate selfishness in all its forms and manifestations. It is, indeed, sheer Pharisaism-a form of religion without the power of it-which often appears under all human creeds, forms, and theories, from the highest speculative abstraction of Calvinism down to the lowest, grossest, and most animal displays of Arminianism. Yet many preach with the zeal of a crusader, the pride of a philosopher, and the outward sanctimoniousness of a Pharisee of the Pharisees, these sectarian tenets, these cold abstractions, and these barren formulas of opinion, sacrilegiously called faith, or the faith.
But every day, or age, or generation, has its darling, its foster-child, over which it yearns, and for which it devotes its whole soul, mind, and strength. These darlings are generally the creatures of the brain, rather than the offspring of the heart. One of these pets, at the present day, is a beautiful theoretie creature called regeneration. It is a beautiful speculative creature, chameleonlike, of all colors, and of every stature.
There is, indeed, an evangelical regeneration-a splendid fact and event in every Christian's life—a new birth of water and of Spirit, in order to entrance into the divine family. But there is, antecedent to it, a quickening of the soul or of the spirit of man, by the illumination of the Holy and Divine Spirit, shedding the radiance of the full-orbed Sun of Righteousness, of justice and of mercy, upon the eyes of the understanding, permeating the heart, subduing the soul, warming the affections of its proper subject, and quickening him into a new, a holy, and a happy life.
But of this there are a priori and a posteriori theories of learned length and of intense warmth and zeal, so far as the modus operandi is contemplated. Then there are its genealogies, maternal and paternal, and its specific and essential attributes, dates, places, and circumstances, which have crazed some heads and alienated some hearts, and filled the church with a jargon and a strife most
a fatal to piety and humanity. We merely instance this as one of the factitious issues which self-yclept orthodoxy has instituted, and to which it has attracted a peculiar attention, as the symbol of a standing or a falling church. Hence, the venerated five points of John Calvin, and those antagonisms of James Arminius, are comparatively cloistered in the cell, to give space to this darling of the two rival schools.
Now, although sincerely believing, and unequivocally teaching, the doctrine that Jesus presented to Nicodemus, on the paramount importance of the great topic of being born again of both parents, because we have not said amen to the speculative definitions of certain sainted fathers in our modern Israel -a new factitious and schismatic importance has been given to this theory, as allengrossing as the Decalogue to the Jew, or the Thirty-nine Articles to a representative of Queen Victoria's Church of Englandism.
The question, too, is not as to the fact of regeneration, for that is conceded on all hands-nor to the necessity of spiritual influence, for that, too, is conceded by all evangelical Christians; but the question is thrown out of the fact into the philosophy, and out of an event to a remote antecedent impact or physical impulse, sui generis; of which both parties confess ignorance as to the mode, or afflatus, by which it is consummated. Yet to doubt or to dogmatize upon such a theory, in some of the forms in which it is presented, is as heinous as an overt