« PoprzedniaDalej »
unrepented sin should have been followed by death as a penal visitation, seems an untenable position. I should be glad to know on what ground d supposes it to have been the case.
I am, Sir, truly yours,
THE DUTY OF ENCREASED EXERTION AMONG PROTESTANTS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.
SIR.-Agitation is the order of the day. Ireland is to be again agitated from one end of the island to the other at the instigation of the great champion of the Roman Catholics, to whom bis friends are just now giving, by general consent, the appellation of " the mighty agitator.
0! Sir, if in former years Protestants had endeavoured to emancipate their countrymen from the chains and darkness of Romish superstition, with one-twentieth part of the resolution and perseverance which have recently been displayed by Mr. O'Connell and his associates, would Ireland offer to us the spectacle which she now presents ? To make the assertion would be to libel the Christian religion.
But what is the duty of Protestants in these times of daring and successful agitation ? Far be it from me to call upon the clergy to come forward as political agitators--as the political opponents of the Roman Catholics. Let the ministers of Christ seek scriptural objects by scriptural means. Let them take their weapons from the armoury of the Bible, and advance fearlessly as the assailants of Romish ignorance, superstition, and idolatry: and aim, under the Divine blessing, to chase the mischiefs of Romanism from their borders. The Irish clergy are at this moment placed in a post of danger and honour; and the eyes of the empire are upon them. For the successful accomplishment of the great and glorious work now before then, they should be men "mighty in the Scriptures,"
-men of faith and love-men of holy zeal and self-denying labour. The glory of God, the honor of the Gospel of Christ, the cause of Protestantism, the best interests of Ireland, should be ever in their hearts and minds. Their cause is the cause of trùth, and if they strive lawfully and faint not, the God of truth will be on their side, and crown their efforts with success. Should not such a cause, sach motives, such prospects warm cowardice into courage, and unbelief into confidence ?
Let us take example from the Roman Catholics, to make us ashamed of our indolence, to animate our zeal, to correct our deficiency. In the newspaper accounts of the proceedings in Clare, ! find it mentioned that the Rev. Messrs. Gahegan and Quin addressed the auditory in Irish, in a manner which made a powerful impression." These gentlemen, I presume, are Roman Catholic priests. Sir, how many of our Protestant clergy could do the same-address the Irish people in the language which they love and cherish ? In those parts of the Island where the Irish language is spoken, the Protestant clergy will never succeed in making a powerful and universal impression, until, in visiting their flock, they can admonish the erring, and pray with the sick poor in the Irish language, and read to them the Irish Scriptures.
Mr. M. Fitzgerald has lately borne a favourable testimony in the Imperial Parliament to the Church of Ireland. He tells us that Government has been careful in choosing individuals properly qualified to raise to the episcopal dignity. He gives an enconraging account of the inferior clergy, and especially of those who have more recently entered into the office of the ministry. These are pleasing signs of the times for Protestantism. But with all these improvements, are the Protestant clergy yet as vigilant, as indefatigable in pursuit of the great object of the spiritual emancipation of the Roman Catholics, as are Mr. O'Connell and his friends in seeking, what they call, political emancipation ? Are not the children of this world in their generation, wiser than the children of light?
If the determined efforts of the Roman Catholics shall awaken Protestants to get clearer views of their real 'duty and interest-if all that has happened shall make our bishops see more and more the necessity of kindness, condescension, and diligent exertion on their parts-if they shall be drawn yet further from all resemblance to mere aristocratical prelates, and come yet nearer to Him who was at once Shepherd and Bishop-if our inferior clergy shall see the necessity of greater activity in the discharge of their ministerial and pastoral duties—of a more clear and affectionate intercourse with their flocks-a more earnest study of the Scriptures, (and of the Irish language when necessary,) then will the present agitations eminently advance the cause of truth in Ireland, and one of the best friends of Protestantism will be-Mr. O'Connell.
A FRIEND TO IRELAND'S BEST INTERESTS.
ON THE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE..
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.
SIR.-In a note to a former communication inserted in your Magazine, (p. 19,) I adverted (following the authority of many most respectable commentators,) to what I conceive to be the genuine meaning of the sacred text in the latter part of the 1st chapter of St. Peter's 2d epistle, viz.—that it refers solely to the mode by which prophecy itself is derived to us, and does not (as supposed by your correspondent “y,” to whose observation I was replying,) contain any rule or principle as to the manner in which that prophecy is to be by us interpreted. In stating this, I by no means wished to withhold that very eminent critics have maintained different opinions; among them, that originating, I believe, with Bishop Horsley,* seems entitled to most consideration. The learned prelate, after setting aside the idea of a living infallible interpreter, as not recognized where such a tribunal would have been noticed had it been in existence, and objecting to the authorized version of the passage, “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,” as both throwing obscurity upon it, and giving countenance to the Romish error more openly broached in the Rhemish Testament no prophecy of the Scripture is made by private interpretation,”—proposes to render the Greek, 'idas επιλυσεως ου γινεται, by what he states to be the real force of the vulgate Latin, (propriâ interpretatione,) “not any prophecy of the Scripture is of self interpretation,"—that is, the prophecies of Scripture do not interpret themselves; each is to be viewed as part of an entire system, and is to be understood in that sense which may most aptly connect it with the whole; the sense of prophecy is to be sought in the harmony of the prophetic writings, and in the events of the world, rather than from the bare terms of any single prediction. Now, Sir, though this be perfectly true, and equally true of every part, as of the prophetic part of God's written word,—for there cannot be a more fertile cause of error than the adoption of doctrinal opinions founded upon isolated pas. sages, and not viewed in connexion with the development of the whole scheme of Gospel redemption,---no portion of Scripture can interpret itself, but has its sense brought home to the heart in pa. tient study of the word, under the teaching of the Spirit of God, still it may be fairly questioned whether such is the principle inculcated in the passage before us; and whether the Bishop, so clearly as need be, establishes the connexion between it and the matter of fact alledged for its foundation in the following verse" for prophecy came not of old by the will of man.” Is the unity and consistency of design, in the communications to man from his Maker, a necessary reason why prophecy in particular should be less susceptible of interpretation than other parts of the sacred writings ? To my own mind it is not; and following Hammond, Whitby, and Poole, by whom, taken in connexion, the criticism seems abundantly justified, I conceive the apostle to refer simply to the original determination of prophecy, deducing thence the reason why his readers should give more earnest heed to it in general, and to the prophecies of which he was treating in particular. If persuaded, as a first principle, that no prophecy was of man's contrivance or device—that it proceeded not from human invention, but from divine revelation-not from the mind and suggestion of the speaker, but from the divine will, command and influence—that every prophet had his appointment and mission from above,--surely the Christians whom St. Peter addressed would be induced to regard the prophetic word in a more earnest manner, and to use it as a light shining for them in a dark place ;
and, that the whole body of prophecy stood founded upon this sure basis he shows, in the following words, by the fact of prophecy not having been at any time brought into the world by the design or will of man, but having been delivered by holy men of God, who spake “ moved by the Holy Ghost.” This interpretation, moreover, seems requisite from the connexion of the passage with the following chapter, the unnatural disjunction of which has probably contributed much to obscure its meaning; the apostle there goes on to contrast false prophets with those of whom he had before spoken as sent of God; all were not prophets who called themselves so; some falsely attributed to themselves the name; they ran without being sent. (Jer. xxiii. 21. Ezek. xiii. 16.) He bids them beware of such in that day of the Christian Church.
To this view it is, I believe, customary to object, that it makes the apostle guilty of tautology; but to no such charge is the construction liable. Were a preacher at the present day to inculcate upon his people the necessity of a more diligent perusal of the book of God, assuring them that they would find it a lamp to their feet and a light to their path,-the comfort of their souls and the stay of their life; were he to enforce his observations by referring to the nature of the work which was then the subject of his commendation, declaring that it was no production of man's brain which he held up to notice; bidding them be “ firmly persuaded, first of all, that it was not of human origin, seeing that no part of Scripture was brought into existence by the resolution or will of man, but that the inspired penmen wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;"—thus not delivering any thing of their own suggestion, but being instructed by God in every word which they wrote ;-were a minister thus to dilate, he would be thought to instance very conclusive reasoning ; why, then, are we to be accused of fixing tautology upon the apostle's language by supposing him to pursue a similar course in upholding the value of the prophetic word ? To me it seems clear, that the argument is to demand more serious attention to the matter, not from a conception of its unity of purpose, (as Bishop Horsley would have it) but from a consideration of its divine original,--a principle which, when carried to other parts of Scripture, furnishes us with most important instruction.
It cannot, I think, be questioned, upon the common principles of our fallen nature, that both the disposition to consult the book presented to us as the word of God, and the degree of credence and dependency which we finally rest upon its examined contents, will be in a very near ratio to the views which we entertain of the manner in which the book itself has acquired the form in which it is presented to us—that our belief and practice will be influenced, and vary according to the extent to which we consider it may be with safety relied upon : and this must ultimately resolve itself into the question of the composition of the original documents from which it is derived. As to translations and transcripts, no one (except Romanists) ever contended for their divine infallibility and inspiration ; they cannot be placed upon an equality with the original text; in the former case men of learning have, from time to time, been raised up of God to do His work, to translate, and justify their translation of the Scriptures into the mother tongue of those who would otherwise have been precluded from the benefit of their perusal; while, on the other hand, the purity of transcripts has been continually guarded by the faithfulness of the Church of God, maintained by the watchful jealousy of contending parties, and insured by the early multiplication of copies among all the nations to whom Christianity was at first promulgated. That the ultimate appeal for the rectitude of any rendering must be made to these originals, seems a point universally allowed; but, upon the value of the autographs themselves, opi. nion in the present day is by no means equally settled ; and there is, perhaps, no one point in which modern divinity varies more from that promulgated at the dawn of the Reformation. In the earlier days of gospel truth it does not seem to have occurred to the inculcators of Christianity, that “the word of God” was any thing but what it declares itself to be the word of God ;" or that our views of it are to be refined by discrimination, and defi. nition of its various degrees of inspiration, till it remains no longer more than the words of man. Hence we find it difficult in old writers to find the question expressly treated of; following “ the Word” itself, which declares all Scripture to be divinely inspired, and that holy men of God spake, moved by the Holy Ghost, they seem generally to have contented themselves with an acquiescence in so simple a truth, they speak only incidentally, as it were, of " the sacred
penmen," of the secretaries and the amanuenses of the Holy Ghost,” 6 of the dictation of God to their minds,” &c.; and they appear to have derived both to themselves, and in their writings for others, all the benefit which may be expected from the surrender of the mind to a revealed truth: there is a simplicity and an energy in their expositions which we now seldom meet with; and in contrast with this we also find theologians of later times given to discuss, distinguish, and define the various parts of the sacred volume, annexing to each the quantum of inspiration which it may “reasonably" be supposed to possess, till the value of the sacred record is utterly frittered to nought, and the plain Christian knows not how far he is bound to, or even with safety may, deduce practical rules of conduct from the various facts recorded ; all, as the Apostle assures him for our instruction (Rom. xvi. 4) all, even the most minute, registered of God "for our admonition.” (1 Cor. x. 11.)
Thus, as a preliminary to uncanonizing various books of Scripture, (for the canonization of each originally depended upon its inspiration, and that upon its genuineness --upon the credentials which its author exhibited to warrant his claim to attention as an ambassador from God,) we find the inspiration of the different parts of Scripture categorically arranged * under “ an inspiration
* Dick on the inspiration of Scripture.