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a glorious kingdom. - 1 Thess. ii. 12. Had the generality • of commentators observed this, they would not have had • occasion to interpret this of the Holy Spirit of God wish
ing,” [and] praying for the coming of Christ's kingdom, in • the same manner, and with the same ardency as St. John 6 and the christian church here does. Which to me seems • very incongruous.' So Mr. Pyle, whose interpretation is approved by Mr. Lowman.
Brenius" is not very different. Or, as some other interpreters express it, "" The Spirit and the bride;" that is, the church animated by the Spirit, and ardently longing • for the coming of Christ.'
Every one may perceive, that we have been discoursing of miraculous gifts and powers; which now are, and for a long time have been, commonly called extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. These are not saving. They who received such gifts after baptism, and profession of faith in Jesus Christ, were thereby satisfied that the doctrine of Christ was true, and from heaven. And they were assured, that if they acted according to that faith, they might be saved, without observing the peculiarities of the law of Moses, But such gifts alone were not saving, without sincere virtue, and the practice of a good life.
So says St. Paul, 1 Cor. xii. 1, 2, “ But covet earnestly the best gifts. Τα χαρισματα τα κρειττονα, And yet show I unto you a more excellent way, Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am beconie as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” The same might be said of the necessity of sobriety, and humility, and meekness, or any other virtue, that is there said of charity or love. And perhaps all social virtue is comprehended by the apostle in the one virtue here mentioned by him. For in another place he says: “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” Rom. xii. 8–10.
And that all virtues ought to be joined together, and carefully cultivated by those who make a profession of the christian religion, is shown by St. Peter. 6 And beside this,” says he, “ giving all diligence, add to your faith
Spiritus qui est in Sponsâ, vel Sponsa per spiritum, qui in ipsâ residet, dicit : id est, credentium omnium vota, tum separatim tum conjunctim, hoc idem contendunt. Bren. in loc.
• C'est à dire, l'Espouse, qui est l'eglise, animée du S. Esprit, et soupirant ardemment après l'apparition de J. C. L'Enf. et Beaus.
virtue, (or fortitude,] and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness.For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 5-10.
CONCLUSION. I have now finished what I proposed at the beginning of this postscript, having explained, according to my ability, those words, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God, as used in the scriptures.
Many of the interpretations, which have been given by me, wiń be readily assented to by all. If any others should not be approved of at first, I hope no offence needs to be taken. I do not dictate; but with bumility and deference recommend these thoughts to the consideration of my brethren in Christ Jesus.
It becomes us all to examine the doctrines, wbich are proposed to us. We should not be christians and protestants upon the same grounds, that others are Mahometans and papists: barely because such or such opinions are generally received and established in the country where we live,
Our blessed Lord and his apostles have forewarned us, that men would arise, teaching perverse things; that tares would be mingled with the good grain, and error with truth. The event has been accordingly. If there are any notions concerning a Trinity of Divine Persons, which are not right and just: if transubstantiation is not a reasonable and scriptural doctrine: if the worship of angels, and departed saints, and of their images, is not required and coinmanded, but condemned and forbidden, in the Old and New Testament: it must be allowed, that corruptions bave been brought into the christian church. For such things there are among those, who are called christians.
What is to be done in this case ? Are they, who discern such corruptions, obliged to acquiesce? Would it be sin, to show, how unreasonable and unscriptural such things are ? I do not see how this can be said, provided it be done with meekness and gentleness.
Plato, in his Timæus, says, " ThatP it is very difficult to ' find out the author and parent of the universe, and when • found, it is impossible to declare bim to all.' Cicero, who translated that work of Plato into Latin, renders the last
Ρ Τον μεν ον ποιητης και πατερα ταδε τα παντος ευρειν τε εργον, και ευροντα, ELS Tavras, aồvvatov deyεiv. Platon. Timæus. p. 28. T. III. Serran. et ap. Fabr. p. 336.
clause, as if Plato had said: When you have found him, • it is unlawful to declare him to the vulgar.' Perhaps, that was Cicero's own sentiment. Being a statesman, and politician, as well as a philosopher, he might be more concerned ! for peace than truth. A multitude of deities being the prevailing belief, he was afraid to oppose the prejudices of the people, who might be offended at the doctrine of the divinc unity with its consequences. But so it should not be among christians, who, beside the light of nature, have also the light of revelation.
Says the Psalmist : “ In Judah is God known. His name is great in Israel,” Ps. Ixxvi. 1. It was their great privilege, and happiness, that God was known among them, and worshipped, and served by them; when heathen people were ignorant of the true God, and worshipped senseless idols. That distinction was owing to the revelation, which God had made of himself to Abrabam, and his descendants. Which benefit we also now enjoy, together with the clearer and fuller revelation of God and bis will, which has been made by our blessed Saviour, the promised Messiah. See John i. 18; iv. 23, 24; xvij. 25, 26.
Says that most excellent teacher of men in an address to the Father : “ And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," John xvii. 3.
The right knowledge of God and Christ therefore must be the greatest of blessings, and should be sought after in the first place, and be prized above all things. And wherever the benefit of it is obstructed by wrong notions, it may be the duty of some to give, and of others to receive, instruction; that God may be glorified, and men may be edified, and saved.
The scriptures are acknowledged to be the fountain of religious knowledge. Accordingly some there have been among us, and in our own times, who have endeavoured to give a clear account of the scripture-doctrine, concerning God and Christ; men of unquestioned piety, and eminent for natural and acquired abilities. And though their schemes have not been exactly the same, and they have not all had equal success and acceptance, it must be acknowledged, that their writings have been very useful. They have kept up, and cherished a spirit of inquiry and thoughtfulness in things of religion. “And they have promoted knowledge, moderation, candour, and equity, among chris
et cum jam inveneris, indicare in vulgus nefas,
tians. And may such excellent dispositions prevail among us yet more
more. Saith the venerable Dr. Sherlock, bishop of London, in the fourth volume of his Discourses, lately published, p. 321, 322, From these things laid together it is evident, • that the apostles were witnesses and teachers of the faith, • and had no authority to add any thing to the doctrine of • Christ, or to declare new articles of faith.
• Now if the apostles, commissioned directly by Christ • himself, and supported by miraculous gifts of the spirit, • had not this power, can any of their successors in the
vernment of the church, without great impiety, pretend to * it? Did the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth • centuries know the articles of the faith better than the • apostles did? Or were they more powerfully assisted by • the Holy Spirit ? No christian can think it, or say it. • Whence is it then that the church of Rome bas received
the power they pretend to, of making new articles of faith, 6 and 'dooming all to eternal destruction who receive them • not? Can any sober, serious christian trust himself to such * guides, and not tremble, when he reads the woe denounced • by St. Paul : “ Though we, or an angel from heaven, . preach any other gospel- let him be accursed ?” Gal. i. 8.'
Certainly that is a noble declaration, and well deserving the regard of all christians.
His lordship here allows, or even asserts the rights of private judgment. He supposes, that common christians, who have no share in the government of the church, are able to understand the doctrine delivered by the apostles, and the determinations of bishops, and to compare them together, and to discern wherein they differ. And be allows us to reject new articles, not delivered and taught by Christ's apostles. And strongly represents to us the great hazard of trusting to such assuming guides, as make and impose new articles of faith.
If we may judge of articles, taught by the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries; we may for the same reason judge concerning those decreed by the bishops and clergy of the fourth and fifth centuries—For neither were they apostles, but at the utmost no more than successors of the apostles. And if it should appear, that they taught and recommended any articles, which are po part of " the faith, once delivered to the saints” tles, such articles may be rejected by us.
* It is the twelfth discourse in that volume. The text is the epistle of St. Jude, ver. 3, latter part.
by Christ's apos
And since it is allowed, that the bishops and clergy of the ninth and tenth centuries have assumed an authority to decide new articles, to wbich they had no right; should not this put christians upon their guard, and induce them to examine the doctrine proposed to them, and consider, whether it is the faith once delivered to the saints, or somewhat added to it? For what has been done, or attempted, in some ages, may have been attempted in others.
His lordship blames the church of Rome for making new articles of faith, and dooming all to eternal destruction, who receive them not.
We should be impartial. If any others do the like, are not they blameable also ? It is well known, that there is a creed, in great authority with many, beside the church of Rome, containing an abstruse doctrine, very hard to be believed. And it would be a very difficult undertaking to show, that it adds not any thing to the doctrine of Christ, as taught and testified by his faithful apostles. And yet it is there said : . This is the catholic faith, which except a man • believe faithfully he cannot be saved. And, which faith,
except every man do keep whole and undefiled, without • doubt he shall perish everlastingly.' Can this be justified ? And does not the bishop's argument just recited, oblige me to add, though unwillingly, May it not deserve to be considered by every sober and serious christian, who solemnly recites that creed, on whom those anathemas may fall, if God should treat men according to strict justice !
But I forbear enlarging. For I have been desirous, if possible, not to say any thing offensive. Therefore I do not indulge myself in grievous complaints, and severe reprehensions of such things, as by many have been thought to
But, if I might be permitted to do it, I would take notice of one thing, because it has a connection with the subject of this postscript.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy • Ghost : as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall * be, world without end. Amen.'
Doubtless this is said by many very frequently, and with great devotion.
But can it be said truly? Does not that deserve consideration ? Is there any such doxology in the New Testament? If not, how can it be said to have been
in the beginning ? Are not the books of the New Testament the most ancient, and the most authentic christian writings in all the world? It matters not much to inquire when this doxology was first used, or how long it has been