« AnteriorContinuar »
question “ How can that be?"_in a thousand instances, than put an evasive interpretation upon a single verse of the word of God.
When our brethren shall cease to beat the air in refutation of what we never advanced; when they shall see the absurdity of prejudging the question, by good-natured lamentations over our sad, sad delusion; and when they shall gird up their loins to the work in good earnest, betake themselves to study the subject patiently in detail, and produce grave and solid arguments, not negatively alone, in opposition to an erroneous system of interpreta. tion, but positively also, in support and confirmation of a genuine system ; I repeat, I am open to conviction, and shall, in all sincerity, rejoice to be instructed. I protest, with all my soul, against the idea of any man supposing that he knows enough, and thereupon refusing to inquire into the depths of revealed truth, on the plea of dangerous novelty, or non-essential speculation. Additional instruction in the meaning of the Scriptures, is growth in the knowledge of God; and in that knowledge, it is
my desire and hope, that I shall increase, not only during this life present, but throughout eternity.
Since these Lectures were delivered, many extremely interesting points of doctrine have engaged the attention of the churches in this kingdom; and an attempt has been made to identify with prophetic investigation, those opinions which are considered heterodox in themselves, and dangerous in their tendencies. The unfairness of such an attempt will be manifest to every man who is acquainted with the subject, and who possesses sufficient candour for the exercise of discrimination. Yet, notwithstanding its unfairness, it has succeeded in strengthening existing prejudices, and exciting conscientious alarms. Discrimination is indispensable to the acquirement of true wisdom. It is foreign to my present purpose to examine in detail the doctrines referred to. But the manner in which the present revived discussion of those doctrines stands connected with the study of prophecy is sufficiently remarkable ; and exhibits, in its true light, one of the many recommendations of that study.
All truth is linked together in one harmonious chain: an accurate investigation, therefore, of any one point, in all its bearings, is invariably connected with such a clearing up of collateral points, that existing error is detected, and unlooked for controversy thereby elicited. To the study of prophecy, we are thus indirectly indebted for the re-examination of many important doctrines, which had been allowed to fall into comparative neglect. And whatever
may be said, (and too truly said,) about the acrimonious spirit in which religious controversy is usually conducted; still it is a recognized fact that the most prosperous times of the church have been times of controversy. In this deadening world, we have much more to fear, as Christians, from stagnation, than from storms. Indifference at heart to the distinguishing peculiarities of vital truth, concealed beneath a superficial bustle about outwardly useful things, is far from a prosperous state. The ease, and harmony, and seeming unanimity engendered by it, are fatal symptoms of a growing, though disclaimed latitudinarianism. An intruder upon the fascinating spell is condemned as an enemy to peace. And since the bond of its union is not the depth of truth, the man who presses forward any deep truth, whatever his particular view of it may be, is deemed an intruder : not in reference to what he says, for that is not carefully examined; but in reference to his saying any thing, which every body does not say. It would not, indeed, sound well to bring the real accusation against him--to wit, that he is a searcher into more of the truth of God than is usually brought forward ; and that he proclaims what he knows with the boldness of honest enthusiasm, “uncaring consequences;"_this were an honourable charge: it suits better with the temper of the times to charge him with a breach of love, a want of brotherly kindness, a harsh, Ishmaelitish spirit.
But what shall a Christian man say of that love which extends its wide, indiscriminating embrace, not only to Christians of various denominations, but also to antichristians : to men who deny the Godhead, and reject the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, and deride as fanaticism the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? When attempts are made to limit the operation of Christian love within the narrow circle of any one favourite class, it becomes a Christian man to protest against the bigotry of such a limitation : but when, on the other side, this boasted love 'enlarges itself beyond all Christian classes, and calling itself universal charity or religious liberty, gives the right hand of fellowship to the enemies of the cross of Christ, it equally becomes a Christian man to protest against the foul abuse : yea, to lift up his voice like a trumpet, and bear witness against the infidel amalgamation.
Ye who profess submission to the Bible, do ye not hear the Bible ? Ye who combine for the distribution of the Bible, do ye not read the Bible? For it is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. Whosoever abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed : for he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds. A professedly religious union between members of the church of Christ and avowed Socinians, (such as we see formed and