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and deride, and destroy, until the sober Scriptural intelligence of the community is effectually alarmed, and the support of their followers deserts them. For the sake of Scriptural religion, may the Spirit of Truth hasten that day.
With a very different feeling do we proceed to record our dissent from the manner in which one of the most distinguished advocates of orthodoxy has conducted the controversy. We allude to Professor Stuart's Letters to Dr. Channing, in which, along with an admirable exhibition of the powers, and the learning, and the Christian temper demanded for such a work, we think that he has given the sanction of his eminent name to some errors of no small importance.
The first of these which we shall particularize, appears in p. 55, of the third ed. where he finds fault with the use of the word Person, in the doctrine of the Trinity. The present generation of Trinitarians, however,' says he, do not feel responsible for the introduction of such technical terms, in senses so diverse from the common ideas attached to them. They merely take them as they find them. For my own part, I have no attachment to them; I think them injudiciously chosen, and heartily wish they were by general consent entirely exploded. They serve, perhaps, in most cases, principally to keep up the form of words, without definite ideas; and I fear, they have been the occasion of many disputes in the Church. The things which are aimed at by these terms, I would strenuously retain ; because I believe in the Divine origin and authority of the Bible, and that its language, fairly interpreted, does inculcate these things.'
Now we would respectfully ask what is to be gained by thus undertaking to represent the present generation of Trinitarians as not feeling themselves responsible for the
ancient and accredited language appropriated to the doctrine? Has the distinguished author paused to ask himself where he derived his authority for thus divorcing the Church of the present age from the Primitive Church? Has he paused to inquire how many celebrated writers would consent to unite in this censure upon the wisdom of antiquity? Or has he lessened the obscurity of his subject by casting away the old terms which he allows were designed to signify the truth, and leaving their place unsupplied by any other?
If any thing be undeniable, it is that every science has its technical phraseology, in which words are to be understood not in their common, but in their appropriate meaning. For example, the word election has one meaning in civil government, a second in theology, a third in common parlance. The adjective elective has one technical meaning when applied to the political term franchise, and another when applied to the chemical term attraction. And the word under consideration, Person, has one meaning in law; another in metaphysics, a third in theology, and a fourth in the drama. What then? What then? Must our whole language be altered until every word shall be reduced to one meaning, or until those who seek for occasion shall cease to harp upon their various significations. It is surely no new thing under the sun that disputes and controversies arise from the unfairness or ignorance of those who will not take terms as they find them, and submit to the trouble of acquiring their true meaning. But it is impossible to conciliate the enemies of truth by changing the terms in which we defend it. When we have thrown by the word Person, the foes of the Trinity are just where they were. They have gained a concession. They have produced an appearance of disunion among the orthodox. They have
set the modern Church at war with the ancient Church; but as to conceding any thing in their turn, that is another matter. Meanwhile multitudes of orthodox believers are alarmed and disturbed by the appearance of concession, Confidence is wounded, and the adversary shouts over an anticipated victory.
The same observations apply with increased force to the Professor's next surrender of the doctrine of the Divine generation or eternal Sonship of Christ. And he tells his correspondent, p. 132, that the ancient Fathers involved themselves in more than a Cretan labyrinth, by undertaking to defend the doctrine of eternal generation. If any one wishes to see how easy it is to accumulate words with out meaning, and perplex common minds with representations which, after all, afford no instruction, let him plunge into the abyss of patristical speculations on this subject.'
This paragraph is expressed in the true modern style of self-complacency, which takes credit to itself for the language of absolute contempt towards a body of men, distinguished in their own day, and ever since, as burning and shining lights in the Church, endowed with an extraordinary combination of learning, talents, and Christian zeal. And we cannot help contrasting the disdain of Professor Stuart towards the orthodox dead, with his very striking tone of deprecation towards the heterodox living, as affording a remarkable example of the power of association and prejudice, in turning out of its proper channels the current of that Christian sympathy, which should always be governed by the course of Christian truth.
In another particular we cannot avoid dissenting from the judgment of this eminent Professor, namely, where he recommends the ministers of Christ to study the most revolting and impious writers of the German school. If he
has been able to spend twenty years in this way without losing his orthodoxy, deriving pleasure and profit, as he assures us, without contamination, will he answer for the hundreds or thousands of intellects which his counsel may possibly expose to the same perilous association? Especially with regard to the youthful student, or even the ordinary minister of the Gospel, can that time be regarded as well spent which leads them into the worst of all temptations, without any other apology than the hope of acquiring knowledge, which certainly may be gained with much greater safety from other and purer sources? To read all that has been written on Theology is impossible. The longest life and the most unremitting application would not suffice for such an undertaking. Is there not enough that is sound, safe, and edifying, for the most industrious and indefatigable? And why should a sweeping recommendation from such authority tempt the half formed theologians of our day, to fill their shelves and confound their intellects with a class of writers, whose very learning and attractions only increase the danger of persuing them? We should, therefore, recommend no man to tempt himself, or trifle with his own faith, by needless communications with evil. It is quite sufficient for the prominent standardbearers of the cross to read such works, for the purpose of guarding the Church from the encroachments of heresy. With regard to students especially, we would oppose to the opinion of one Biblical critic, the far safer advice of another, whose well earned fame is an ample recommendation. Bishop Bloomfield, in his preface to his 'Greek Testament with notes Critical, Philosophical, and Exegetical,' speaking of the Commentaries of Rosenmiiller ånd Kuinoel, has the following passage:
The work of Rosenmiiller,' (besides that the principles
are very objectionable,) is almost wholly a compilation. Far more valuable is that of the latter; its principles too are better, though what are called Neologian views not unfrequently discover themselves; and the work, being too often interlarded with some of the most pestilent dogmas of Semler, Paulus, and others, though accompanied with refutations by the Editor, IS VERY UNFIT TO COME INTO THE HANDS OF STUDENTS.'
In farther contrast to the recommendation of Professor Stuart, we would invite the attention of those who desire to pass beyond the ordinary limits of theological attainment, to the writings of the Fathers. And we cannot do better on such a subject than quote the following admirable tribute from the notes to the Pastoral Instructions' of Bishop Jebb, the late honored and lamented ornament of the Church of Ireland. (See Lond. ed. 1831, p. 338.)
After quoting Gilbert Wake-the well known anti-trinitarian's panegyric on the Fathers,-not granted indeed to their theology, but to their learning, their talents, and their Christian zeal-Bishop Jebb continues: But another, and, all matters considered, a more remarkable testimonial must be produced from Daillé, the professed assailant of the ancient Fathers. A man, assuredly, deficient neither in disposition, nor ability, to detect any vulnerable part, and when detected, to inflict his wounds, with a sure aim and an unshrinking hand. From such an adversary, words of approbation are of no ordinary value. I translate from the Geneva edition, in 4to of 1656, p. 356,' &c.
'The works of authors,' says Daillé, who flourished in our own and the preceding age are consulted; and with much advantage. How much more profitable must be the study of the Fathers; whose piety and learning, are, for the most part, considerably greater, and certainly more