網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

THE

CHURCHMAN'S MONTHLY REVIEW.

JANUARY, 1841.

JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH.-THE MERCIFUL

CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL COVENANT. - THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE AS A RULE OF FAITH. Three Sermons, preached before the University of Oxford. By Philip N. SHUTTLEWORTH, D.D., Warden of New College,

&c. (now Lord Bishop of Chichester). Rivingtons. 1810. We have selected this unpretending, but most seasonable, volume, for the commencement of our critical labours, not only on account of the just reputation of the distinguished Writer, but because, on observing the subjects of the three discourses which it contains, and more especially the third, we hoped to find some remarks confirmatory of the principles on which the Churchman's Reviewwill be conducted in accordance with its name. Nor have we been disappointed in this hope. The last of these sermons, entitled, 'The Sufficiency of Scripture as a Rule of Faith,' enters deeply and fully into the proof of that proposition, which we have been accustomed to regard, and which we earnestly desire to recommend, as the basis of all true churchmanship— Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.' (Article vi.) In strict conformity with this explicit and authoritative decision of the Church, 'the one proposition, (observes Bishop Shuttleworth, which on the present occasion it is my object to maintain, is the admirable adaptation of the inspired writings to the average and more ordinary faculties of the human understanding-in other words, the

B

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

entire sufficiency and clearness of scripture as a means of salvation, to all who apply to it for that purpose, however deficient such persons may be in those higher attainments which come under the denomination of literature and philosophy.'-(p. 89.)

It is then, as we conceive, this recognition of the oracles of God first, as a standard of faith, which all are under obligation to apply, and then, as a rule of practice from which none can be at liberty to depart; that constitutes the prominent and distinctive feature in the character of the genuine Churchman. By this, we believe, he will be best enabled to avoid the two opposing extremes, towards which the errors, the extravagances, and we might say, the heresies of the present age converge; a faith unproductive of virtue, and a virtue unproduced by faith-on the one hand a meditative, contemplative, quiescent, stagnant religion, which dogmatizes in symbols, or evaporates in forms--on the other, a liberal or rather latitudinarian indifference to all creeds, which assumes that man is irresponsible for his opinions so long as he is (by his fellow man) irreproachable in his conduct--and which, applying the Poet's unceremonious designation of 'graceless zealots' to all who contend about modes of faith,' is hardy enough to aver

His can't be wrong whose life is in the right. Either of these extremes, it is manifest, originates in the specious and too prevalent fallacy of taking a part for the whole; while the true and safe 'middle way' applies the spirit and tenor of the whole of Scripture as the test and touchstone of every system, which professes to comprehend a part. Thus we are equally preserved from diverging into error, or from stopping short of truth. For the negative proposition in the article of our Church necessarily implies the affirmative —that ‘as nothing is an article of faith, or to be thought requisite and necessary to salvation which is not contained in Holy Scripture,' so every thing is an article of faith, and essential to be received, which IS contained therein ; in other words, that whatever of doctrine is taught by the oracles of God, claims the assent, or if need be, the submission of the understanding; and whatever of precept they inculcate demands the subjection of the will, the regulation of the conduct, and the obedience of the heart.

It is therefore of incalculable moment, first, that the foundation of our religious belief should be firmly laid, and then, that the limits of its practical obligation should be accurately and unalterably defined—that we should be enabled to distinguish by an unerring criterion between the revealed will and word of God, and the deductions, inferences, speculations, inventions, or 'superadditions' of man ;-that 'substantial truths'-truths which involve the eternal

1

destinies of the recipient--should not only be accessible to the moral and spiritual perceptions of all whom they concern, but be presented in a form alike incapable of any error, and unsusceptible of any change. If it be an essential attribute of the nature of Deity, that “with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," so likewise the word which He hath spoken, being the transcript of that portion of His mind which He deems proper to communicate to man, must be assimilated to the character of Ilim who hath spoken it. Not only must it be “incorruptible, that liveth and abideth for ever;” but, being designed for the universal benefit of the whole intelligent creation, the statements which it unfolds, while such in substance as are undiscoverable by any, will be such in terms as shall be comprehensible by all. Did not the Christian revelation contain truths and facts equally above the reach of the learned and ignorant to find out, it would not be a revelation--being intended for the instruction of all mankind in their moral, rather than in their strictly intellectual faculties, it cannot be supposed that its lessons would be conveyed in a manner to which those faculties would be unable to respond, or with which they could not fully sympathize. To the proposition, then, that Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation' our Church virtually and practically superadds another—that all things necessary to salvation which Holy Scripture contains, are capable of being acquired, apprehended, and applied, by all who are admitted by baptism into her visible fellowship and communion-that, “even if we lack a learned man to instruct and teach us, yet God himself from above will give light into our minds, and teach us those things that be necessary for us, and whereof we are ignorant; and those things in the scripture that be plain to understand and necessary for salvation, every man's duty (and therefore every man's privilege) is to learn them, to print them in memory and effectually to exercise them. By that means in this world we shall have God's defence, favour, and grace, with the unspeakable solace of peace, and quietness of conscience; and after this miserable life we shall enjoy the endless bliss and glory of heaven.' (Second Part of the Exhortation to the Reading of Holy Scripture.)

We return then to our portraiture of the true Churchman (the man to aid whose judgment and direct whose exercise of mind in the most important subjects our humble labours are especially designed) and having ascertained as its prominent and distinctive feature the entire and unreserved acceptance of Holy Scripture as the supreme and exclusive authority in matters of faith, we proceed to identify a second, which is naturally produced by, and inseparably associated with, the first--we mean, the adoption of that exposi

« 上一頁繼續 »