« AnteriorContinuar »
divides the sea, and he walks over on dry land. And let me tell you, however useful all other answers may be, this is the only one that can place a man beyond the reach of danger in such times as these. The mere nominal Christian, who has no ballast to steady him, may make shipwreck of his faith at the first gust of wind, and become a Romanist, or Socinian, or anything else, just as the blow happens to be given him. But the believer, who has the witness in himself, is safe; "My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." No! he cannot be made to doubt that the Bible is the word of God, by all the sophistries or ingenuity in the world. He knows what it has done for him; he knows its power upon his own soul; it has shewn him a remedy for his disease, a recovery from his ruin, a way of access to his offended Father; in a word, it has led him by the Spirit's blessing to the foot of the cross. There the burden dropped off his back, and he experienced "the blessedness of him whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." He has "joy and peace in believing,"-that peace "which the world can neither give, nor take away." And do you think that he would give up his Bible, to which he is indebted for all this, or be persuaded that it is the word of man, because he may'nt be able to answer all the objections or difficulties that can be raised against it? No! he that believeth hath the witness in himself: and that witness is beyond the power of earth or hell to shake. "He shall not be afraid of the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day. A thousand may fall at his side," by the dark superstitions of Popery, "and ten thousand at his right hand,” by the open assaults of infidelity, "but it shall not come nigh" him; his "life is hid with Christ in God;" he has drank of the fountain of living waters, and they are "in him as a well of water springing up into everlasting life." May God give us all grace, so to drink of it, that we may thirst no more, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
EXTRACT FROM "IT IS WRITTEN" BY PROFESSOR
Having read other books, if you feel the need of spiritual aliment, open the Bible, and hear it. Sometimes it is melodious with the songs of angels : but it is of angels visiting the children of Adam; at others, it pours forth the full tide of heaven's harmony, to cheer the heart of man, and to awaken the conscience, in the shepherd's cot, as in the palace, in the garrets of poverty, as in the tents of the desert. The Bible in fact instructs all conditions of men: it unmasks alike the humble and the great; revealing equally to both the love of God, and unveiling the same mysteries. It addresses itself to children; and it is often children who there shew us the way to heaven and the majesty of the Lord. It addresses itself to shepherds; and it is often shepherds who are then presented to us, to reveal the character of God. It speaks to kings and scribes; and it is often they who therein teach us the misery of man, humility, confession and prayer. Domestic scenes, compunctions of conscience, secret effusions of prayer, travels, proverbs, outpourings of heart, the holy walk of a child of God, unveiled weaknesses, falls, restorations, inward experiences, parables, familiar epistles, theological expositions, sacred commentaries on some ancient scripture, national chronicles, military annals, political developement, descriptions of God, portraits of angels, heavenly visions, practical exhortations, rules of life, solutions of mental difficulties, judgments of the Lord, sacred songs, predictions of the future, accounts anterior to creation, sublime odes, and inimitable poetic imagery-all these by turns present themselves to our view in full and grateful variety, and as a whole captivate us like the majesty of a temple. It is thus that the Bible, from its first page to its last, was intended to associate with its sublime unity the attractive features of a human-like, familiar, sympathetic, personal instruction, and a drama of forty centuries. As has been said in the Bible of Desmarets, "There are shallows for lambs, and deep waters in which elephants may swim."
"But see, at the same time what unity, and what innumerable and harmonious combinations appear in this immense variety! Under manifold forms we have always the same truth presented to us; always man lost, and God in the character of a Saviour: always the first Adam driven from Eden, and losing the tree of life, and the second Adam with his ransomed ones re-entering Paradise, and finding again the tree of life; always the same cry in ten thousand tones-" O heart of man, return to thy God, for thy God pardons! Ye are in the abyss; escape out of it; a Saviour has descended into it. He giveth holiness and life."
ON HUMAN REASON.
ACTS xxv. 12.-"Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? Unto Cæsar shalt thou go."
THE objections urged by Unitarians against the doctrines of the gospel are drawn partly from scripture, and partly from reason. Those from scripture will be considered separately as each doctrine in turn comes before us; but the question of reason it will be better to settle at once in the very outset. And though we are told, that it is not "solely or chiefly" on the score of reason they reject certain doctrines, yet any one acquainted with their writings must be quite aware how much this weapon is made use of, and how much more effect it is likely to have upon a large class of minds, than any arguments from the word of God. Now if you will examine the various objections brought forward by Unitarians apart from scripture, you will find that they all resolve themselves into these two; 1st, a physical difficulty, namely-Such and such a thing appears impossible; I don't see how it can be so: and 2ndly, a moral difficulty, namely, I don't see how such and such thing would be right, or consistent with the character of God. The first objection applies to the Trinity for instance: no Unitarian pretends to say there would be anything wrong in Father, Son, and Spirit being each God, and yet there being only one God; but it appears to him impossible. The second applies to original sin for instance: there is no physical difficulty in believing the possibility of children being born in sin; but it is thought to be a stain on the moral government of God. On
* Such expressions as-"A man that believes the doctrine of the Trinity must be either a knave or a fool"-tell wonderfully upon a crowd; especially if they forget, that the man who says so believed it himself, or pretended to believe it, only the other day.
these two points then we join issue at the bar of reason; and we contend that reason herself, if properly exercised, would teach you the folly of disbelieving anything on either of these grounds. But before going to the proof, let us clear up a little mistake, that we may fairly understand each other. You ask, How can I believe what I don't understand? Before answering that, we must know what you mean. Suppose I say to an ignorant untaught child, Do you believe the doctrine of the Trinity? he might answer, I can't believe what I don't understand; I never heard the word before, I don't know what it means! In that case no one would expect him to believe it, because there is nothing for him to believe. But suppose I went on to give him a course of religious instruction, and explained to him what the doctrine of the Trinity meant, and then when I asked him, Do you believe it now? he replied, No, I can't: I understand what you mean by it, but it seems impossible; this would be another thing altogether. In this case we should blame him, and tell him, as we tell you, that it is most irrational to bring such an objection as that against it. Which of these two do Unitarians mean, when they talk of "the abstruse subtleties" and "mysterious dogmas" of the Athanasian creed? If the former, they only want a little explanation, which any well-informed Christian can give them; if the latter, it is faith they want, which only God can give them. Let us now proceed to exercise our reason on the works of God.
Take first the physical difficulty; on which a very few words will suffice. Look at that sturdy oak. How did it come there? Why a century ago a small acorn like this in my hand was put into the ground, which first rotted away, and then grew up into this great tree, How ridiculous! You don't want me to believe such a preposterous absurdity! Why it's impossible. How can it be so? That's more than I or any one else can tell you; it's done by the power of God in some way, but how is a mystery: no greater mystery though, than every blade of grass under your feet, than every atom of animal and vegetable life around you. If you'll believe nothing that is a mystery, nothing that you can't explain or understand, you must keep your eyes shut: for every time you open them they'll say, Thou fool! Precisely in this way St. Paul argues, when, after stating the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, he supposes some one to bring forward an objection from human reason-" How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" He refers him to the mysteries of creation; “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain, but God giveth it a body, as it
hath pleased him "-1 Cor. xv, 35,-38: as much as to say, You don't refuse to believe things beyond your comprehension, when experience declares them; then why should you refuse to do so, when God's word declares them? This is the first lesson reason teaches us.
We now come to moral difficulties, which form the second class of objections The Unitarian here assumes that he is a competent judge as to what would be right and what would be wrong for God to do.* He cannot believe such and such doctrines, because they make God appear unjust or unkind. Now this we call most irrational; because reason herself, if properly exercised on the works of creation, would teach you that, however competent you may be to decide what would be right and wrong in a man like yourself, you are not competent to do so, with regard to God. Look at this little fly sporting about in the full enjoyment of life and health and happiness. Examine it with the microscope, and observe how wisely and beautifully all its parts are formed. See how merrily it dances in the sunbeam. But look again: the poor little thing has incautiously touched a cobweb; a spider darts out, seizes hold of it, and puts it to a lingering death. How angry you feel at the ugly looking brute! but hold-who taught the spider to do it? who made it necessary that he must either kill flies or starve to death? Let us suppose four persons arguing on this little circumstance-an Atheist, a Manichæan, a Unitarian, and an orthodox Christian. A. It is quite evident from this, as well as from all the misery and sufferings of the brute creation, that there can be no God at all, or at all events not an Almighty one; for he would never have allowed the world to be in the state it is, if he could have prevented it. M.-I quite agree with you as to the impossibility of believing that all these things come from one great, good, omnipotent Being; for a Being that allows innocent animals to suffer, when he might prevent it, can neither be just nor good. But my theory is, that there are two Gods, one good and the other bad, and that all the good in the world comes from one, and all the bad from the other. U-I beg to differ with you both. I believe it was the same God who made both the spider and fly; that there is but one God, that he is perfectly just and good, that his very name is love, and "his tender mercies are over all his works." A.-Impossible! if there is but one God, and that an almighty one, he must be anything but a God of
* Take one specimen from Mr. Barker:-"If there were such a God as the Calvinistic doctrine supposes, blasphemy would be no longer a sin, but a duty and a virtue. It would be men's duty to denounce and reprobate such a being. The very worst censures they could utter against such a God would be eternally too light." This supposes some moral standard of right and wrong in the Universe independent of God, by which his creatures may judge of his conduct.