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and with perfect sincerity, may attempt it, but they know no more than we do.” p. 7.
But is it true, indeed, that we have no revelation in regard to the person of Christ? Will Dr. L. come before the public and confess that he knows nothing respecting the person of the Saviour ? Will he presume to say, that there is nothing revealed, and that he has no means of forming an opinion on the question, whether Christ is a mere man, or an angel, or a superangelic being, or a strictly Divine person? Whether aware of it or not, he virtually does say this, in the Discourse before us. And having said it, he virtually contradicts the declaration, by describing Christ as an “inconceivably exalted Being”—which he could not have done, had he found nothing revealed, and had he formed no opinion relating to the subject.
There are two considerations presented in the Discourse, to shew that nothing is revealed or known respecting the person of Christ; one is the text ; No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father ;' and the other is the diversity of opinion which has been entertained in relation to this point.
No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father.' Is this passage to be taken in its strictest sense; or does it require, like many other of our Lord's declarations, to be measured and qualified by a comparison with other passages— comparing spiritual things with spiritual?? None originally knew anything pertaining to the Son of God, except the Deity; and none now know anything more of him than God has been pleased to reveal. But has he revealed nothing? And is it strictly true that there is now nothing known? How came Dr. L. then to know so much about Christ? Where did he learn that the Lord Jesus is “ an inconceivably exalted Being”_"the Mediator between God and man, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and to whom the Spirit was given without measure"? If we have no revelation concerning Christ, what are we to understand by the record which God hath given us of his Son'? And what are we to think of all that is written respecting the person and offices of Christ, in different parts of the Bible?
Says Dr. L., Christ “came not to reveal himself, but the Father.” But is it true that Christ made no revelations respecting himself? When he said, Before Abraham was, I am'• He that hath seen me hath seen the Father'—'I and my Father are one'- I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last- I am he that searcheth the reins and the heart—Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven; '--in all these, and similar declarations, did he reveal nothing concerning himself? If Christ did reveal himself—if the Father also has revealed him—if the Bible is eminently a revelation concerning him ; then the passage, selected
by our author as the foundation of his Discourse, cannot be taken in its strictest sense. None can pretend to know who the Son is, any farther than he is revealed; but a revelation has been made; and the great and only question for men to decide is, What is the purport of this revelation ? What does the Bible disclose and teach, respecting the person of the Saviour?
And here we are brought to that diversity of opinion, on which the writer of the Sermon enlarges, and which he regards as demonstrative proof of the correctness of the position he has assumed. The Socinian interprets the Bible to mean that Christ was a man, and nothing more. The Arian places him something higher than angels. He was “an inconceivably exalted Being,” says Dr. Lowell. While the Trinitarian honors him as strictly a Divine person. The Word was God.'-" The various opinions which have existed in all ages respecting the person of Christ, might have been sufficient,” says our author, “ without the declaration of Scripture, to demonstrate that no man knoweth who the Son is.'' p. 18.
Dr. Lowell's views of demonstration must be widely different from those of the generality of men, or he could not have hazarded an assertion like this. On what subject, we ask, whether of natural or revealed religion, have not men held a diversity of opinion. The existence, the perfections, and purposes of God; the inspiration of the Scriptures; the character and state of man; the offices and work, as well as the person of Christ; the promises and threatenings of the Gospel; the conditions of salvation; and the retributions of the world to come ;-on all these great subjects men have differed, and differed variously and widely. But does this 6 demonstrate” that these are not subjects of revelation, and consequently that nothing can be known respecting them? We admit there have been different opinions, all professedly founded on the Scriptures, touching the person of the Saviour; but what does this prove? Not that the Scriptures afford no light, and contain no revelation on the subject; but that men have darkened minds and hardened hearts, and are liable now, as they were in the days of the apostle Peter, to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.'
Dr. L. gives us the sentiments of “ some of the earliest Christian writers after the apostles," relative to the person of Christ. And it is evident, from the passages he has quoted, and from many which he has failed to quote, that these holy confessors and martyrs were decided believers in the Divinity of the Saviour. Clement, described by our author as “the companion and fellow laborer of Paul, who is mentioned with so much honor in the epistle to the Philippians," speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ" as “God” and ascribes to him “glory and majesty, forever and ever.” Polycarp represents Christ as one “whom every living
creature shall "epistles of Igna There is one mcarnate, eveneath of
ays for ourSalus subjectedes made"
creature shall worship.” The following sentences are from the - seven authentic epistles of Ignatius, some of which are quoted by
Dr. Lowell, and some not." There is one physician, both fleshly and spiritual, made and not made, God incarnate, even Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Referring to the sufferings and death of Christ, he says, “ Permit me to imitate the passion of my God.” “I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom.”_" Consider the times, and expect him who is above all time, eternal, invisible, though for our sakes made visible; impalpable and impassible, yet for us subjected to sufferings; enduring all manner of ways for our salvation.”—“I wish you all happiness in our God Jesus Christ.” This phrase, “our God Jesus Christ," and “ Jesus Christ our God,” is of frequent occurrence in these epistles of Ignatius. Not less than six or seven passages might be given, in which it occurs in nearly the same words.*
We do not quote these apostolic fathers as inspired ; nor should we have quoted them at all, had not the example been set us by Dr. L. Their testimony, it will be seen, is in unison with that of Paul and John ; and more explicit it need not be.
We infer from the Discourse before us, that Dr. L. does not agree in all points with the generality of modern Unitarians. It can be no objection in his mind to the doctrine of the Trinity, that in some points of view it is mysterious : for he speaks of the person of Christ as a thing unrevealed, “ a mystery,” which “the scanty line of human reason cannot fathom." Yet he undoubtedly believes that there was, and is, such a person as Jesus Christ. We learn also from the Sermon, and from other sources, that Dr. L. is a believer in the atonement of Christ. He speaks of him as having 6 humbled himself that, by his obedience and death, he might make propitiation for the sins of mankind."—We are farther informed, that Dr. L. dissents from most Unitarians, in admitting what they denounce as the horrible doctrine of endless punishment.
Whether there are other points in which he differs from them, and agrees with us, we know not, nor are we concerned to know. But we are concerned to see him, and some few others who agree with him, who would be thought to hold a sort of evangelical Unitarianism, bestowing their countenance and fellowship upon those, who have discarded well nigh every vestige of evangelical truth. And if it could be thought likely to do them any good, we would even expostulate with these more serious Unitarians, on what we are constrained to think the inconsistency of their conduct. They must know, as well as we do, to what lengths many, whom they call their brethren, have departed from the faith once delivered to the saints. For they hear them discarding the atonement of Christ; denying the future and endless punishment of the wicked; and rejecting, in the common acceptation of the terms,
** Polycarp,” says Dr. Lowell, “ was a disciple of St. John.” “Ignatius was a contemporary of Polycarp, and probably a disciple of the apostles.”
the plenary inspiration of the holy Scriptures.* And still will Dr. L., and those who agree with him, exchange pulpits with such men, and assist at their ordinations, and extend to them the right hand of fellowship? Will they thus declare, before the world, and in the most solemn acts of religion, that they regard these as good ministers, who believe and love the truth, who will direct sinners
to Christ, and guide them to heaven? To the persons here addressed we must be allowed to say-in perfect friendship certainly, and with the most tender concern for the welfare of themselves and their people—that we deem this a very serious business, and we doubt not they will find it so at another day. How can they do anything to discountenance, for instance, the doctrine of universal salvation, while they hold fellowship with those who believe, and (as far as they dare) teach, this ruinous doctrine? How can they do anything to check the progress of infidelity even, while they hold fellowship with those who speak of the holy Scriptures, in the manner we have quoted in a previous note? We do therefore most affectionately and earnestly entreat them, by the blood of Calvary, by the worth of souls, and by all the precious interests of eternity, to pause where they are; to descend no further in this downward path ; to come out from the congregation of those who reject what they regard as most important truth; and to return to the faith of their Pilgrim fathers—to the faith of the reformers—to the faith of the apostles and early martyrs of Jesus.
*If any wish to know in what estimation leading Unitarians now hold the Scriptures, we need only refer them to some late numbers of the Christian Examiner. From what purports to be a Review of Professor Stuart's Commentary on the Hebrews, in the number for Jan. and Feb. 1828, written, as it is understood, by a distinguished Professor in Harvard University, we extract the following sentences; and whatever other part of our work is neglected, we do earnestly hope that these sentences will be read and pondered. “We must recollect that the words of Christ were reported from memory by the evan
und NOT ALWAYS WITH PERFECT ACCURACY. This is evident from the fact that in recording the same discourse or saying, the first three evangelists differ from each other, not unfrequently as to the words themselves, and occasionally also as to the SENSE and BEARING. Now all the evangelists, being themselves allegorists"-which term the writer defines to mean those who quote the Scriptures in “ imaginary, secondary sets *** which are “in their nature arbitrary and
arbitrary and fanciful" -“ALL the ceangelists being." in this sense, “allegorists, it would not have been strange, if unconsciously, and through INADVERTENCE, they had given an allegorical turn to words, which were used by our Saviour only by way of application." " The reasoning of St. Paul will not always bear a philosophical scrutiny."
pistle to the Hebrews, this writer says, “ His reasoning cannot be regarded as of ANY FORCE, by an intelligent reader of the present day. It is difficult so far to accommodate our minds to the conceptions and principles of the author and his cotemporaries, as to perceive how it was adapted to produce any effect at the time when it was written. It is founded, for the most part, upon the Old Testament; but not upon the language of the Old Testament taken in its obvious sense, and interpreted upon common principles. On the contrary, the writer'-an allegorist, like “all the eraars lists"_" deduces from its words hidden and mystical senses, and strange and unfounded inferences, which he adapts to his purpose.”
It hardly need be said, after what we have quoted, that this writer rejects the schede epistle to the Hebrews, regarding it as not entitled to a place in the Bible.
We doubt whether anything can be quoted from Priestley or Belsham more palpably inconsistent with the inspiration of the Scriptures, than the sentences which have bere been given.
Sermons, BY THE LATE Rev. Edward Payson, D. D. Pastor of the Second Church in Portland.
Few men have lived more beloved, or died more lamented by the people of God, than the late Dr. Payson. He was regarded, while on earth, as an invaluable treasure to the church; and when taken from us, although we almost saw him ascend like the prophet in a chariot of fire-such was the glory of his closing scene-still, we could not but mourn his departure. We knew we had no reason to mourn for him, but in the gain of the church above, and in his everlasting gain, we felt that the church on earth had sustained a heavy loss.
Knowing, as we did, the high estimation in which Dr. Payson was held during life, we could not but feel a degree of solicitude, when we heard announced a volume of his posthumous sermons. We feared it might happen to him, as in some instances it has to others, where the inconsiderate attachment of friends has prompted them to do that which was afterwards regretted. But, having perused the volume before us, our solicitude on this subject is at an end. The well earned reputation of its author is safe, and more than this need not be said for him.
These Sermons are characterized by directness, plainness, and unaffected earnestness. Occasionally they exhibit a reach of thought, a grandeur of conception, and a force and propriety of illustration, which are highly pleasing. The style, to us, is often beautiful, not because it is specially smooth, or highly ornamented, but because it is the natural expression of weighty thoughts, and of strong and holy feelings. The writer is evidently full of his subject, and his only object is to present and enforce it, and make it impressive and profitable to his hearers. In perusing these Sermons, we cannot doubt that we are listening to a holy man. We seem to ourselves to breathe a new and highly refreshing spiritual atmosphere. And it is impossible for the Christian to read more than a few pages, anywhere, without finding himself in a very serious frame of mind—without finding his heart warmed, and his soul enlarged, and himself spiritually strengthened and profitted.
We have solicited, and still hope to receive, a formal review of these Sermons, from an intimate acquaintance and friend of the deceased author. In the meantime, we have thought it our duty to bring the volume, while yet retaining the freshness of novelty, before the public, and give a number of extracts from it, for the double purpose of edifying our readers, and of promoting its circulation. We could wish it might lie on the writing desk of every minister of the Gospel, to be frequently pondered that its spirit might be caught, during the composition of his sermons. We hope it may find its way into the parlors of the rich, and the cottages of the poor, to admonish both these classes that mere earthly distinctions are of little consequence and of short duration, being soon to be levelled in the grave, and merged in one sweeping distinction of character, as it presents itself to the view of God. And could it meet the eyes of the thoughtless and unbelieving, who live after the course of this evil world, and laugh at the idea of hell, it could hardly fail to arouse in such, at least for a moment, a smothered conscience, and to startle them with the un