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his reason be a fit rule by which to judge whether that doctrine of revelation be true? This one concession is subversive of the whole fabric of Socinianism, which is like a kingdom divided against itself. Once more : ought they not to be assured that their (what name should it have ?) spirit is free, has liberty, and is not bound down by the chains of irresistible necessity, before they assure themselves that they are entering on a free inquiry!
Leaving them to consider how far it is proper to begin their reasonings where they now end them, let us examine the points in which they agree, and those in which they differ.
1. Their agreement is all in negatives. They are only agreed about what is not. They agree in denying that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, or the object of religious worship; and in rejecting the doctrines of satisfaction and vicarious atonement, as well as the doctrine of original sin and everlasting punishment. That is, they agree in renouncing these doctrines of the Bible.
2. But in things positive, though led by the same infal. lible guide,
66 which directs to whatever is true in specu. lation,” they agree not at all. They are not agreed whether Jesus Christ was the “instrumental” Creator of the world, or a mere man. They are not agreed in what manner the world is benefited by the death of Christ. They are not agreed whether baptism, (i. e., washing, should be administered with or without water! Risum teneatis ? They are not agreed whether they have an immortal soul; or whether they have any soul at all; whether they are walking in glorious liberty, or are bound in the adaman. tine chains of inexorable necessity! Such are the consist. encies of all-searching, all-discerning, all-knowing reason ! When men, instead of ascending to heaven on a ladder let down from above, agree to build a tower of which the foun. dation shall be on earth, and the summit shall reach the skies, no wonder that God confounds their language !
To bring to light this disagreement among themselves, was the design with which Mr. Yates was cited. The citation is intended to show, first, that as the heathen philosophers, without the aid of revelation, could discover and detect error, but could not find out truth, or agree among themselves on that great question, What is truth? and therefore could never enlighten the world by their in. structions ; so, when philosophical divines bring the doc. trines of revelation to the test of human reason, and make their own conceptions the rule by which they are to judge, they can easily agree to discard many points of doctrine which in their own opinion ought not to be taught, because they are false, but have among themselves no positive re, vealed truth on which they are agreed, and therefore are as unfit to instruct mankind as their elder brethren: and, secondly, that as by the philosophy which some of the first Christian teachers adopted, Christianity was neutralized; so by the negative and skeptical philosophy of mo. dern teachers, Christianity is destroyed. It is true, indeed, while the Socinians differ among themselves in matters which they deem of "inferior importance,” they agree in “ a few great principles ;' and it is equally true, that Herod and Pontius Pilate “ agreed to differ” in smaller matters, but to unite in the important affair of “ crucifying the Lord of glory."
If, then, for creatures of such acknowledged ignorance to profess themselves able to discover the truths of God, is arrogance; to determine them by their own reason, is profaneness. To do either the one or the other is more than man is fitted for, or called to; and none has attempted it who has not failed. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is agreed on both sides, is a revelation from God. It is suited, especially in those parts which most imme. diately concern us, to the capacity of the meanest. “ To the poor," who are generally illiterate, “the gospel is preached;" yet these “ God has chosen, rich in faith.” Even “ a child may know the Holy Scriptures, and be made wise unto salvation.” It is not a veil thrown over the truth by forced allegories and strained metaphors ; but a revelation of the truth, delivered in proper terms, where proper terms are most intelligible ; and in which figures are used only where figures are absolutely necessary, or will give it greater perspicuity and force. says the Apostle Paul, “ great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which put a veil over his face.” “ But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to
66 We use,
6. We see
every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, (veiled,) it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” 2 Cor. iii, 12, 13; iv, 2-4.
It is true, the gospel has its mysteries. It has its mysteries revealed: truths which were once kept secret, “ but now are made manifest.” These are properly mysteries no longer, and are called so only with respect to what they once were. It has its mysteries yet unrevealed. There are things which we “ know not now; but shall know hereafter." And it has its mysteries imperfectly revealed : revealed so far as we are able to comprehend a revelation of them. These are mysteries still. them through a glass darkly:" " we know them but in part," 1 Cor. xiii, 12. The gospel does not in in every case enable us to answer those questions,—why? how? wherefore? but it teaches us to submit our understandings to the wisdom of God, and our hearts to his will.
How can a revelation of the being, perfections, and ways of the infinite God, be made to a finite creature, without involving mysteries? That which is infinite cannot be comprehended by that which is finite. To suppose that it could, is to suppose that either the former is no longer infinite, or the latter is no longer finite. In whatever measure, therefore, God is made known to us, that which is known to us must imply something which is unknown, that is a mystery. It is the part of Christian humility to acknowledge that“ se. cret things belong unto the Lord our God;" and it is the part of Christian docility to receive with meekness “ those things which are revealed,” as belonging “ to us and to our children for ever." Deut. xxix, 29.
In an examination, like the present, of those things which once were mysteries, and of those which are now “in part” revealed, while we abstain from all vain and curious inquiries into the why, the how, and the wherefore, which are not revealed ; our business is, not to suppose that in the imaginary deductions of human reason we have an infallible standard of judgment already fixed, which is perfectly incompatible with the idea of those things hav. ing been, or being now, mysteries ; but to sit, without pre.
judice or prepossession, at the feet of Christ and of his apostles, and to learn from them what are " the principal doctrines of Christianity.”
Of the Existence of the Devil. Though the mere abstract, philosophical question of the existence of the devil, is rather curious than useful, yet to know that we have an invisible and inveterate foe, who makes the seduction of mankind his business, and their destruction his aim, is of great importance.
It is not our purpose to prove that there is an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, prescient, and infinitely malicious fiend. (Lect. vol. i, pp. 18, 73, 74, 84, 91, 92, 102.) Mr. G., for aught we know, may have heard ignorant persons speak as if there were ; and it must be con. fessed that he has made the best use of their misrepresentations. His attack on this « castle in the air” has afforded him a triumph to which he is heartily welcome. If he can prove nothing else, he can prove that there is not an in. finite devil. But all his arguments on this topic are mere waste of words. He has manufactured a man out of the straw of vulgar inaccuracy, and has innocently set it on fire. Leaving him to warm himself by the flame which he has kindled, we proceed to point out what we have learned on this subject from the sacred Scriptures.
By those divine oracles we are taught that there are beings celestial as well as terrestrial. He who created “ heaven” and “ earth,” created all things “in” them, “ visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers,” Col. i, 16. These invisible in. habitants of heaven are intelligent beings; for they “ do always behold the face of the Father which is in heaven," Matt. xviii, 10: and moral agents ; for they not only know, but do his will, and are set forth as an example to us, who are taught to pray that his “ will may be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” They are spiritual substances : not clothed with flesh like us ; for “he maketh his angels spirits,” Heb. i, 7.
of the passage.
These celestial spirits are called angels or messengers, because they have been known to mankind chiefly in the character of messengers from God.
From St. Peter and St. Jude we learn that some of these inhabitants of heaven “ abode not in the truth," but fell from their rectitude and bliss. To disturb our enjoy. ment of the testimony of St. Jude, Mr. G. has given us a specimen of Socinian reasoning. “I cannot enter into a critical explanation of every passage. I will refer you to Simpson's Essay on the words Satan and Devil, where the subject is thoroughly investigated. Suffice it now to say that it refers to human beings, and the punishment temporal. It relates to the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness, to their rebellion and their subsequent punishment.” (Vol. i, p. 73.)
Let us hear by what means Mr. Simpson has perverted the sense of the words of the apostle. In the first place, he has taken the utmost freedom in giving a new version
We shall not, however, object to this ; except in the case of one word, viz., aldiois, which our translators have properly rendered “ everlasting." It is from qel, always, and is the word which St. Paul uses in Rom. i, 20, where again it is, and must be, rendered “ eternal :” (“ eternal power and yodhead.") It is used by Ignatius, in his epistle to the Magnesians, (sec. 8,) to point out the eternity of Jesus Christ, whom he denomi. nates, with respect to God, avtov hoyos aidos, his eternal Word. But Mr. S., to get rid of a word which indicates eternal, instead of temporal punishment, has translated it in connection with the word dequois, without assigning any reason, and contrary to all authority, the chains of Hades.” In this case, then, we have a false translation.
With this exception, the utmost freedom of translation being allowed, the passage stands thus :—" And the (an. gels, or) messengers, who watched not over their princi. pality, but deserted their proper station, he hath reserved until the judgment of the great day, in everlasting chains, under darkness.” Such, with the exception which we have noted, is Mr. S.'s translation, on which we remark :
1. That the passage is still perfectly applicable to our purpose.