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not; and yet both are taught by our author, as we have seen in the preceding chapter.
In p. 82, he speaks of the attributes of God resulting from the works of creation. Here he has undoubtedly failed in communicating his ideas. He surely knows, that the works of God result from his attributes, and not his attributes from his works.
That he sometimes writes, without any meaning at all, is evident from his second sermon, p. 36. The principle, that the kingdom of God is within us, admits, he assures us, of a rational interpretation.
66 In its true sense,” says he, “ it is the medium between a mystic and a polemic.” Such is the Doctor's ' rational interpretation!' Now, if so celebrated a linguist as the quondam principal of the Belfast Academy, through the improper use of language, teaches doctrines which he does not believe ; communicates ideas which he does not entertain ; and sometimes writes without any meaning at all ; how much more liable to blunder would illiterate fishermen and mechanics be? To expect from such writers, if not divinely directed in their language, a correct statement either of facts or doctrines, would be weak and foolish in the extreme. On the principles of our author, where is the security, that even the four gospels contain the true doctrines of Jesus Christ ? Where is the security that they contain a true narration of facts? We are told, that all that was necessary was a good memory. But what reason have we to believe, that even good memories might not fail ? What security that they have not actually failed, and that the scripture history is not really erroneous ?
Once more : If the penmen of scripture have interlarded the Bible with occasional observations, how shall such observations be distinguished from the genuine dictates of the Holy Spirit ? Any controversialist, when pressed with a text of scripture, might say, “this is only an occasional, uninspired observation. It will not, therefore, prove your point.” Thus a wide door would be opened for error; and scepticism might reign to the end of the world.
In a word; if the plenary inspiration of the scriptures be denied, their perfection, as a rule of faith and manners, must be given up. If not entirely inspired by infallible wisdom, how can they be an infallible rule? Surely that which is partly divine and partly human, partly fallible and
partly infallible, can never be an unerring rule of faith and practice.
“ The Bible, the Bible, is the religion of Protestants, was once a celebrated maxim, the truth of which no Protestant disputed. At present, however, the case is quite different. The maxim is opposed, not only by the church of Rome, but by many Socinian and Arian divines, particularly by Dr. B. The cry now is not, The Bible, The Bible, but The Gospel, The Gospel, is our religion. According to our author, the whole Bible is not the standard of faith ; scarcely one hundredth part of it is entitled to that honour. We should collect, he assures us, the whole of the Christian doctrine from the words of Jesus. We should depend, for our knowledge of doctrinal points, solely on the gospels. Nay, in the Doctor's bold and daring enterprise of cutting down the standard of our faith, he proceeds still farther. “ Hence we may deduce,” says he, “not only “the sufficiency of scripture in general, but also the “ sufficiency of every evangelist separately, as to fundamen66 tals.”
He argues, that the gospels, either jointly or separately, are the standard of faith, because they contains all those essential principles, without which we could not be saved.” But this reasoning is evidently absurd. It proves too much, and, therefore, proves nothing at ail. The five books of Moses contain all that is essential to salvation ; and therefore the Pentateuch is the standard of our faith. Peter's sermon contains all that is essential to salvation ; and there. fore Peter's sermon is the standard of our faith.
Who sees not the extreme weakness and futility of such a mode of reasoning ; upon this absurd principle we might set up, not one, but an hundred standards of faith.
In curtailing the standard of our faith, the Doctor proceeds to a still more daring length.
6. From this," says he, (p. 45) " another undeniable inference follows ; that no i principle which cannot be clearly proved from every one “ of the evangelists, can be an essential article of faith; “ for, otherwise, we must suppose, that some one of them " has omitted an essential truth. If then, you be in doubt, o whether any doctrine be necessary to salvation, try it by this test : look for it in the gospels ; and if you do not
find it plainly declared in them all, you may safely conos clude, that it is not essential to the plan of redemption. “ If any person attempt to impose a spurious tenet upon
"you, require him to prove it in this manner.
If he fail, you may be assured, that the point in question is not even
an important truth. This I recommend as a sure guide s6 to conduct you through the intricacies of controversy, " and prevent you from being entangled in the nets of so“phistry.”
Let us try the Doctor's “ sure guide.” I ask, then, is the doctrine of forgiving injuries an essential article of faith? Certainly it is ; our author himself will not deny it. He assures us, (p. 89,) that God is “forgiving to the mer“ ciful, and inexorable to those who withhold pardon and “ compassion from others." And again, (p. 229, “ He “ requires nothing to make him merciful, but to be “merciful ourselves; nothing to make him placable “but to be meek, lowly, and forgiving". According to Doctor B. therefore, forgiveness of injuries is a most essential article of faith, and yet, according to the same Dr. B. it is no “ essential article of faith.” It is not even
an important truth,” Try it by the Doctor's sure guide. Is it taught in every one of the evangelists ? it is not. It is taught indeed by three of the evangelists, and we would naturally suppose, that at the mouth of three such witnesses every doctrine would be established. These witnesses assure us that if we forgive not men their trespasses, neither will our heavenly father forgive us our trespasses. But all this is nothing. John omits it; and therefore " it is not so even an important truth!” The same may be said of the doctrine of repentance.
Thus it appears, that the Doctor's sure guide is a false guide. It goes upon the false principle which our author assumes, that all the essential articles of faith are contained in every one of the gospels. He particularly assures us (p. 45,) that the Apostle John " committed to writing every “ fundamental doctrine, every thing necessary towards ob“ taining life eternal.” Now, he admits, that forgiving injuries is a fundamental doctrine, and necessary towards obtaining eternal life ; and yet John has not committed it to writing. It is not “ plainly declared” in his gospel. Repentance is a fundamental doctrine, and yet not plainly declared in all the gospels.
I ask, now, does the Doctor's book deserve the encomiums he has passed upon it? Is it “ consistent with itself “and the gospels ?” Is not “his sure guide” at variance with both ?
His sure guide is not only a false guide, founded on false principles : and an inconsistent guide ; inconsistent with his own acknowledged creed: it is a dangerous and des. structive guide—an ignis fatuus, calculated to mislead the Heaven-bound traveller, and to plunge him into the gulf of perdition.
Following this guide, men might live and die implacable, and impenitent, and yet presumptuously hope to be saved ! They might say, " According to Dr. B.'s sure guide, nei“ther forgiveness of injuries nor repentance is an essential « doctrine : it is not even an important truth-we will “ neither repent nor forgive :" and thus they might go “ down by the sides of the pit “ with a lie in their right “ hand!!!"
Finally ; the Doctor's sure guide is an IMPIOUS GUIDE. It impiously degrades almost the whole of the sacred volume. According to it, no truth is important that is not plainly declared in all the gospels. Now, the sermon on the mount is not contained in all the gospels.' The Lord's prayer is not contained in all the gospels. His intercessory prayer is not contained in all the gospels. His parables are not contained in all the gospels. His long and affecting valedictory address, recorded in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of John, is not contained in all the gospels. The institution of the Lord's supper is not contained in all the gospels.-Exclude from any one of the gospels whatever is not found in all the rest-exclude, also, the writer's own " occasional observations”-exclude, again, the uninspired " narration of ordinary facts"-exclude all these, and then tell me how much will remain. I might venture to assert, that the whole Bible would thus be compressed into a tract of less than ten pages !
Addison, in his Spectator, observes, "That if all the 66 books in the world were reduced to their quintessence,
many a bulky volume would make its appearance in a
penny paper.” Dr. B. has tried the experiment. He has subjected the word of God to this reducing process.--Yes, to a penny paper he has reduced the quintessence of the whole sacred volume! Having advanced so far, the transition to Deism is both short and easy. Nor would the bold and daring attack of infidelity be half so dangerous.
Dr. B. not only excludes the scriptures in general from the standard of our faith, but he actually pours contempt upon
them. As the standard of our faith, he not only represents them as useless, but as positively injurious. If
“ Christians," says he (p. 58,) " had drawn all their creeds s6 from the words of Jesus Christ, their religion would have “ retained its primeval simplicity. If the simplicity of the " gospel had been thus preserved, uniformity would have “ also very generally prevailed, and Christians would have skept the unity of the spirit in the bond of
This - simplicity and uniformity would have preserved it from • cavil. T'he pure doctrine of Christ is a subject of praise,
even among sceptics; and their ridicule and invective are “ generally directed against mysterious and metaphysical “ innovations, even when their object is, to bring Chris" tianity itself into disrepute. It may be reasonably sup
posed, that, if the creeds of Christians had remained
simple and pure, there would have been fewer occasions “ for scandal and offence. Their controversies would have “ been milder and fewer in number, and their conduct, it “ may be presumed, more peaceable and pure. They “ would have spoken the truth in love. That great scourge " of human nature and disgrace of the Christian church, “ Persecution, could scarcely have found any pretext for “ cruelty in the words of Christ. The Christian religion “ would have so charmed and edified mankind, that it "--would, by this time, have covered the whole face of the « earth. Men would have hailed it as the messenger of
glad tidings. The prophecies of Christ would have re“ ceived already, that completion which awaits them at " last. All mankind would have become one family, duti“ fully performing the will of their common father, practis.
ing the instructions of their great preceptor, and behav
ing to each other as brethren. Their swords would have * been transformed into plough-shares, and their spears " forged into pruning hooks.
Men would learn war no " more, and would every day become more and more fit “ for translation into heaven. The Spirit of God would « descend (the Doctor concludes poetically) and rest upon " their hearts, like the dove, the emblem of peace, gentle. ness,
and love." So then, from a creed drawn from the gospels, all blessings and happiness would flow; but from creeds drawn from the whole word of God, all evils, natural and moral, have ensued! Is not this to represent the scriptures of truth (the gospels alone excepted) as the pestilential source of every evil ? In this representation, is it not more than insinuated, is it not plainly implied—that these sacred