« 上一頁繼續 »
merely serves to weary the parochial minister, to vex the people, especially the poor, who are chiefly affected by it, and to drive them to the dissenting chapel, or to the registrar of births and marriages, where they meet with few impediments.
The state of the Church of Rome amongst us, its noisy boasts, and its unquestionable triumphs, begin at last to awaken attention. Lord Edward Howard addressed a large assembly of the members of his Church, a few evenings since, at the Town Hall of Birmingham. He congratulated them, as well he might, upon the favour they find with their Protestant fellow-townsmen, and yet he deplored the prejudice with which they were in general regarded. The favour in which they are held is shown by a grant of £800, made by the corporation of the town, for building them a chapel in the new Cemetery. As to the prejudices which exist, we should like to ask Lord Edward if he really thinks them undeserved. Does he really believe that, if the Romish Church was in the ascendant, she would concede to us Protestants the liberty for which she clamours at our hands ? Would she allow us any liberty at all? He knows perfectly well that she would do nothing of the kind; and that our suspicion, or prejudice, or call it what he may, is nothing more, but in our opinion a great deal less, than self-defence warrants. Popery is always aggressive, always exclusive, always a tyrant, and, like other tyrants, crouching and obsequious till she can spring upon her prey.
The Prison Ministers Bill seems likely to produce the mischief that we expected from it. The Romish priests, wherever they have a few Romanists in the prison--and what prison is without them ?clamour for a chaplain, to be paid out of the rates of the town or county. And in several places they have clamoured with success. In others they have been foiled; and we are happy to see that a spirit of resistance begins to show itself. At Liverpool, where a chaplain has been voted, the Town Council have sought legal advice upon the question, whether they are obliged to pay the salary which the magistrates have granted, and it seems that no law compels them to do so. The magistrates of Kent were invited, by a motion of Sir E. C. Dering, a few days ago, to appoint a Romish chaplain for the Maidstone county jail, with a stipend as permitted by the recent Act. We must express our satisfaction that, in consequence of an amendment moved by Mr. Beattie, the proposal was rejected by a majority of 35 against 17. We quote with pleasure the following extract from the Hastings News, the editor of which, we are informed, is not a member of our own Church :
“We cannot understand how Protestant gentlemen can seek, in any form, the endowment of a system of religion that is so far opposed to free thought and free action as to forbid, where it has the power to do so, the general circulation of the Holy Scriptures; and this effort is the more extraordinary, in the face of the fact, that Romish priests could plead no persecution before this Act was passed. Any Popish prisoner could see his priest, if he wished to do so; just as any one calling himself a Protestant Dissenter could see the minister of his own alleged communion. There is a great deal of sheer indifference to religion in our senate-house,-a spirit which is but Alimsily covered by a pretentious Liberalism. A man who knows no
a Vol. 63.-No. 314.
distinction between truth and error will easily tolerate all teaching, no matter what its tendency or nature; and he will sometimes claim great credit for his excessively obliging tolerance. The really liberal man, however, is he who has a live conscience and a fixed faith, and who yet desires no influence but a moral one to be used on the minds of those who differ from him. But one of this truly liberal stamp, if intelligent as well as generous, will draw a broad line between the duty of acknowledging an opponent's equal right to religious freedom, and the doubtful policy of paying him to teach his peculiar tenets. If those tenets should happen to be-as in the case of Romanistsessentially subversive of all freedom, another reason is found for limiting toleration within its proper bounds. There is a political element in Popery which makes the argument stronger against that system than it could be against any system of Protestant Nonconformity : for Popery is restless, and dissatisfied, and never properly itself, until it gets the State supremacy for which it is always practically, however covertly, striving.
“Our thanks are due to Mr. Beattie, Mr. Hugessen, and the rest of the thirty-five Kent magistrates who defeated the motion of Sir E. C. Dering last week for appointing a paid Romish chaplain to the County prisons.
“Many of the Roman Catholic prisoners do not wish for a priest. They prefer the services of the prison chaplain. Those who do wish for their priest, can have him on the same condition on which the Dissenting criminal can have his spiritual adviser; that is, by asking for him. This is the plain English of the matter. Can anything be. fairer? The principle of separate endowments for contending creeds once allowed, it would be difficult to say where the payment of prison chaplains would logically end.”
Since writing, we perceive that the clause 398 in the Church Building Amendment Bill, “ as amended by the Select Committee," omits the sentence to which we have objected, and makes no mention of consecration and re-consecration. Still, our remarks upon the subject are, we think, of sufficient importance to deserve attention, and we leave them as they stand.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. A BARRISTER complains of our review of Dr. Bonar's “God's Way of Peace.” We
are not at all surprised that he should do so, for we were aware that it was held in high esteem by many excellent Christians. It was on this account that we held it an imperative duty to point out its faults. But having done this, we must decline to open a controversy upon the subject of its merits. If our extracts did not justify the comments of the reviewer, we must bear the blame, and are satisfied to do so. A Barrister says, “In charging vpon certain passages in the book an Antinomian tendency, your reviewer, as I venture to think, has overlooked an important consideration; I mean the fact that the volume is addressed to, and only intended for the use of, one class of persons, namely, anxious in. quirers who have not yet found the Saviour." Surely, this is an admission of something wrong, or the book would be fit for every class. We submit that, far from being an excuse for partial or exaggerated statements of doctrine, the apology rather exposes a dangerous tendency. Here we must leave the matter. No inconsiderable number of our best Evangelical divines and laymen entertain the views expressed by our reviewer, while yet they honour Dr. Bonar for his love and piety. If he will only write with a little more caution, our end will be attained.
ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. BY THE VERY Rev. DANIEL BAGOT, DEAN OF DROMORE. The opponents of the Christian religion, as it is revealed to our faith in the Word of God, may be divided into two classes—either, in the first place, those who, resisting the force of the evidence by which it is supported, reject altogether the system of doctrines which it contains; or, secondly, those who, yielding to the strength of the evidence on which that religion in the abstract is based, either add to or deny the leading doctrines of which it consists. Under the former are to be ranked all infidels and deists. The more prominent sects who come under the latter denomination are Romanists and Unitarians. Of these latter, the system of the one consists chiefly in adding to the acknowledged doctrines of revelation the unauthorized traditions of men; whereas the system of the other amounts to an absolute negation of all the essential and characteristic truths of the Gospel of Christ. And if it be right to compare one system of error with another, we would at once pronounce the latter to be the more deadly and dangerous of the two.
We have said that Unitarianism is a negation-which is more than a rejection-of the leading doctrines of the Gospel; for those who profess it, whether Arians or Socinians, reject and protest against the doctrine of the Trinity, of the Deity of Christ, of the personality, agency, and influences of the Holy Ghost, and of the Atonement, or at-one-ment or reconciliation of the world to God by the vicarious sacrifice of our Redeemer. They have, in fact, so completely renounced the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity, as to render it a matter of surprise that they have not renounced as well the very designation of Christians. They have, indeed, almost virtually done so by using the term “ 'Unitarian as their favourite and almost exVol. 63,-No. 315.
clusive title; but, as it is evident that this title is as applicable to the professors of mere Natural Theology, they might as well amalgamate at once with Mahometans and Deists.
I have used the word “Unitarian” as a convenient designation of those who deny the doctrines to which I have referred, merely because it is the title by which they are generally known ; and not because I allow it, when correctly explained, to be their proper and legitimate appellation. For what sentiments and teachings, let me ask, regarding the unity of the Godhead, should really entitle a man to such a name? No one, I maintain, is a Unitarian, in the correct sense of the word, but the man who believes in that precise unity which the Bible attributes to the Nature of God. But is it by an examination and an induction of Scripture testimony that Arians and Socinians arrive at their conceptions of the unity of the Divine Nature? Unquestionably not: but it is by à priori speculations educed by the mere unaided exercise of natural reason. They assume, for instance, a definition of unity, before they come to the Bible ; and then maintain that the unity of the Divine Nature, as stated in the Bible, must be strictly such as their preconceived notions represent. But if they will thus indulge in such à priori speculations, by what licence, or on what principles, do they begin at any definite point? They have many propositions to establish before they can thus discover and determine upon the simple unity of God, as they define it. They should, for instance, first prove that their natural reason can, by searching, find out God; and then they should be able to demonstrate, that simple unity of nature, according to their idea of it, is a necessary perfection; and then, that the unity of God, in one sense, is absolutely incompatible with any kind of plurality in another. How much more consistent with true humility is the conduct of those who presume not to exercise their limited and fallible reason in dogmatizing on the nature of Deity-who, feeling that they cannot explain better than God Himself wherein His Nature consists, are ready to ascribe to Him that species of unity which the Bible reveals, receiving the statements of His Inspired Word as making known to us facts to be believed, simply because He announces them, and without requiring or attempting their explanation. Those only, in short, are legitimately entitled to the name of Unitarian, who believe in the Scriptural or revealed unity of God--a unity which excludes the Deity of all false gods whom the heathen worshipped, but which includes the existence of three Divine persons in the One Godhead of the Bible.
There are objections frequently advanced against the doctrine of the Trinity, or Tri-unity (or that there are three coexistent persons in the unity of the Divine Nature), which often make a popular impression, though in reality they do not bear a close examination. It is alleged, for instance, that this doctrine is incomprehensible. Unquestionably it is; but do those who advance this objection reject every proposition which they cannot comprehend? What is all knowledge but an accumulation of assertions that there exists a relationship between the objects of sensation and reflection, the essential nature of which we cannot, in multitudes of cases, comprehend ? Can we, for instance, explain how our souls and bodies are united, though we believe the fact? Can Unitarians, who believe that God is everywhere present, reconcile His Omnipresence with the non-extension of His Spiritual Nature ? Can they reconcile the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God with man's free agency and moral responsibility ? or the goodness of God with the existence of sin, which His power might prevent ? or the infinite mercy of God with the punishment of the fallen angels? This mode of reasoning against the doctrine of the Trinity on the ground of its incomprehensibility, if extended to our investigation of every other subject of knowledge, would land us in universal scepticism. We should remember that revelation, like other subjects, has its ultimate problems, and the doctrine of the Trinity is the ultimate problem of revelation. In all our religious investigations we should assume this as a postulatethat there is a wide difference between propositions that are above reason, and propositions that are contrary to reason; and that no antecedent speculations, no matter on what principles they may be constructed, can prevail against the direct testimony of Scripture, which is the inspired rule of faith.
But it is alleged that the doctrine of the Trinity is not to be ranked with those propositions which are above reason, but with those which are contrary to reason, and which should therefore be rejected for their manifest absurdity. But in what respect, let me ask, is the doctrine of the Trinity contrary to reason, or how does it involve a contradiction ? It is, I am aware, alleged that we represent God to be three, and yet one at the same time. But we do not say that He is THREE in the same sense that He is ONE. Our belief is this that there is one great omnipotent and omniscient Being, who is the eternal and invisible God, to the entire exclusion of the alleged Deity of every other real or fictitious being; and we also believe, because it is revealed to us as a fact in Scripture, that this One Being subsists in a plurality of persons; that there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost, but that the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one : the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal ;—that “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they