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death ; and whether the miracle was really or only seemingly supernatural, makes no difference in the present argument, its power of convincing, whatever that power may be, whether great or small, depending on the fulness of the belief in its miraculous nature. Est quibus esse videtour. Or rather, that I may express the same position in a form less likely to offend, is not a true efficient conviction of a moral truth, is not the creatŽng of a new heart, which collects the emergies of a man's whole being in the focus of the conscience, the one essential miracle, the same and of the same evidence to the ignorant and the learned, which no superior skill can counterfeit, human or demoniacal ? Is it not emphatically that leading of the Father, without which no man can come to Christ Is it not that implication of doctrine in the miracle and of miracle in the doctrine, which is the bridge of communication between the senses and the soul;-that predisposing warmth which renders the understanding susceptible of the specific impression from the historic, and from all other outward, seals of testimony ? Is not this the one infallible criterion of miracles, by which a man can know whether they be of God 2 The abhorrence in which the most savage or barbarous tribes hold witchcraft, in which however their belief is so intense” as even to control the springs of life, is not this abhorrence of witchcraft under so full a conviction of its reality a proof, how little of divine, how little fitting to our nature, a miracle is, when insulated from spiritual truths, and disconnected from religion as its end ? What then can we think of a theological theory, which adopting a scheme of prudential legality, common to it with “the sty of Epicurus,” as far at least as the springs of moral action are concerned, makes its whole religion consist in the belief of miracles | As well might the poor African prepare for himself a fetisch by plucking out the eyes from the eagle or the lynx, and enshriming the same, worship in them the power of vision. As the tenet of professed Christians (I speak of the principle not of the men, whose hearts will always more or less correct the errors of their understandings) it is even more absurd, and the pretext for such a religion more inconsistent than the religion itself. For they profess to
* I refer the reader to Hearn's Travels among the Copper Indians, and to Bryan Edward's account of the Oby in the West Indies, grounded on judicial documents and personal observation.
derive from it their whole faith in that futurity, which if they had not previously believed on the evidence of their own consciences, of Moses and the Prophets, they are assured by the great Founder and Object of Christianity, that neither will they believe it, in any spiritual and profitable sense, though a man should rise from the dead. - . . . For myself, I can not resist the conviction, built on particular and general history, that the extravagances of Antinomianism and Solifidianism are little more than the counteractions to this Christian paganism —the play, as it were, of antagonist muscles. The feelings will set up their standard against the understanding, whenever the understanding has renounced its allegiance to the reason : and what is faith, but the personal realization of the reason by its union with the will ? If we would drive out the demons of fanaticism from the people, we must begin by exercising the spirit of Epicureanism in the higher ranks, and restore to their teachers the true Christian enthusiasm,” the vivifying influences of the altar, the censer, and the sacrifice. They must neither be ashamed of, nor disposed to explain away, the articles of prevenient and auxiliary grace, nor the necessity of being born again to the life from which our nature had become apostate.i. They must administer indeed the necessary medicines to the sick, the motives of fear as well as of hope ; but they must not withhold from them the idea of health, or conceal from them that the medicines for the sick are not the diet of the healthy. Nay, they must make it a part of the curative process to induce the patient, on the first symptoms of recovery, to look forward with prayer and aspiration to that state, in which perfect love shutteth out fear. Above all, they must not seek to make the mysteries of faith what the world calls rational by theories of original sin and redemption borrowed analogically from the imperfection of human law-courts and the coarse contrivances of state expedience. Among the numerous examples with which I might enforce
* The original meaning of the Greek, 8v6ovatacuoc is, the influence of the divinity such as was supposed to take possession of the priest during the performance of the services at the altar.
this warning, I refer, not without reluctance, to the most eloquent and one of the most learned of our divines; a rigorist, indeed, concerning the authority of the Church, but a Latitudinarian in the articles of its faith; who stretched the latter almost to the advanced posts of Socimianism, and strained the former to a hazardous conformity with the assumptions of the Roman hierarchy. With what emotions must not a pious mind peruse such passages as the following —“It (death) reigned upon them whose sins therefore would not be so imputed as Adam's was ; because there was no law with an express threatening given to them as was to Adam ; but although it was not wholly imputed upon their own account, yet it was imputed upon their's and Adam's. For God was so exasperated with mankind, that being angry he would still continue that punishment to lesser sins and sinners, which he only had first threatened to Adam ; and so Adam brought it upon them. * * * * The case is this. Jonathan and Michal were Saul's children. It came to pass, that seven of Saul's issue were to be hanged ; all equally innocent, equally culpable.* David took the five sons of Michal, for she had left him unhandsomely, Jonathan was his friend, and therefore he spared his son Mephibosheth. Here it was indifferent as to the guilt of the persons” (observe, no guilt was attached to either of them) “whether David should take the sons of Michal or of Jonathan ; but it is likely that, as upon the kindness which David had to Jonathan, he spared his son, so upon the just provocation of Michal, he made that evil to fall upon them, of which they were otherwise capable ; which, it may be, they should not have suffered, if their mother had been kind. Adam was to God, as Michal to David.”: And this, with many passages equally gross, occurs in a refutation of the doctrine of original sin, on the ground of its incongruity with reason, and its incompatibility with God's justice “Exasperated” with those whom the Bishop has elsewhere, in the same treatise, declared to have been “innocent and most unfortunate”—the two things that most conciliate love and pity Or, if they did not remain innocent, yet, those whose abandon. ment to a mere nature, while they were subjected to a law above
* These two words are added without the least ground in Scripture, ac. cording to which (2 Samuel, xxi.) no charge was laid to them but that they were the children of Saul, and sacrificed to a point of state expedience,
f Jeremy Taylor's Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, c. vi. s. 1.-Fl.
nature, he affirms to be the irresistible cause that they, one and all, did sin —and this at once illustrated and justified by one of the worst actions of an imperfect mortal! So far could the resolve to coerce all doctrines within the limits of the individual’s power of comprehension, and the prejudices of an Arminian against the Calvinist preachers, carry a highly-gifted and exemplary divine. Let us be on our guard, lest similar effects should result from the zeal, however well-grounded in some respects, against the Church Calvinists of our days. My own belief is, perhaps, equi-distant from that of both parties, the Grotian and the Genevan. But, confining my remark exclusively to the doctrimes and the practical deductions from them, I could never read Bishop Taylor's Tract on the doctrine and practice of Repentance, without being tempted to characterize high Calvinism as (comparatively) a lamb in wolf's skin, and strict Arminianism as approaching to the reverse. -
Actuated by these motives, I have devoted the following essay to a brief history of the rise and occasion of the Latitudinarian system in its birth-place in Greece, and to a faithful exhibition both of its parentage and its offspring. The reader will find it strictly correspondent to the motto of both essays, i ööog x&tothe way downwards.
ON THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF THE SECT OF
*H 600g scă76):
As Pythagoras, declining the title of the wise man, is said to have first named himself philosopher, or lover of wisdom, so Protagoras, followed by Gorgias, Prodicus, and others, found even the former word too marrow for his own opinion of himself, and first assumed the title of sophist —this word originally signifying one who possesses the power of making others wise, a wholesale and retail dealer in wisdom —a wisdom-monger, in the same sense as we say, an iron-monger. In this, and not in their abuse of the arts of reasoning, have Plato and Aristotle placed the essential of the sophistic character. Their sophisms were indeed its natural products and accompaniments, but must yet be distinguished from it, as the fruits from the tree. "Eurrog0s tog— x&timãog—t & u0.6 suote: Tréguóyov xotó rég 7tókets, x&l Trajkotiv reg ×gi own sketov reg—a vender, a market-man, in moral and intellectual knowledges (connoissances)—one who hires himself out or puts himself up at auction, as a carpenter and upholsterer to the heads and hearts of his customers—such are the phrases by which Plato at once describes and satirizes the proper sophist.* Nor does the Stagyrite fall short of his great master and rival in the reprobation of these professors of wisdom, or differ from him in the grounds of it. He, too, gives the basemess of the motives joined with the impudence and delusive nature of the pretence, as the generic character.f . Next to this pretenice of selling wisdom and eloquence, they were distinguished by their itinerancy. Athens was, indeed, their great emporium and place of resort, but by no means their domicile. Such were Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, Polus, Callicles, Thrasymachus, and a whole host of sophists minozum gentium ; and though many of the tribe, like the Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, so dramatically portrayed by Plato, were mere empty disputants, sleight-of-word jugglers, this was far from being their common character. Both Plato and Aristotle repeatedly admit the brilliancy of their talents and the extent of their acquirements. The following passage from the Timaeus of the former will be my best commentary as well as authority. “The race of sophists, again, I acknowledge for men of no common powers, and of eminent skill and experience in many and various kinds of knowledge, and these too not seldom truly fair and ornamental of our nature ; but I fear that somehow, as being itinerants from city to city, loose from all permanent ties of house and home, and everywhere aliens, they shoot wide of the proper