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not grasp the vast relations of the spiritual and eternal world; but in the deep-felt consciousness of its own helplessness, and with profoundest gratitude for aught of “marvellous light” that may descend from heaven on its path, it gives expression to its inward musings in this devout and grateful exclamation—“Who can by searching find out God—who can know the Almighty thoroughly and unto perfection !"
The argument of the work before us, then, is purely scriptural; and the following is the order of investigation adopted by the author, in reference to the great subject of which it treats. Having settled the important question of the inspiration of the Scriptures, for the benefit of those who may not have acquired satisfactory and sound opin. ions on that preliminary point, he exhibits the “evidence” in the following order: Humanity of Christ-Christ more than man-Christ more than a creature-Christ the supreme God-Union of two natures in Christ-On the Holy Spirit-On the Trinity-On mysteries-And
as the end of our faith is right affections and right conduct, the concluding chapter is devoted to the practical use we ought to make of the relation in which we stand to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as united in the work of our salvation.”
The inquiry with which the work commences, involves a question of the greatest importance; for as the Bible is the umpire of all religious controversy, loose and in. adequate views of its inspiration have given rise to many instances of flagrant violence done to its contents. If holy men of old “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” what shall we say of that theological audacity, that in reference to the writers of the Old Tes. tament, would represent them as labouring under frequent misconceptions; and would exalt some of the writings in the New to an undue pre-eminence above the rest? In the prosecution of his argument the author notices, (without however dogmatising on the subject,) the question that has been a good deal agitated of late; regarding the mode of inspiration. The observations, in which, without laying down any theory, he contends simply for the optimism of the Bible, are as follows:
“ It is obviously not necessary that we settle this controversy ere we believe the complete inspiration of the Scriptures. How far human agency was concerned in the production of the Scriptures, and how far
miraculous agency, we cannot say with precision; nor is it necessary. The perfection of the Scriptures does not depend upon the mode of inspiration. There can be no doubt of the inspiration of suggestion in the prophets, and of the suggestion of the very words in those cases, in which they understood not their own predictions. From this mode of inspiration has arisen the term itself (breathed into ;) and for aught we knon, this may have been the mode of inspiration on all occasions. But on this it is not necessary to pronounce.
One man says, such a verse was suggested to the apostle by the spirit of God; another, that the thoughts could not be suggested without the words also; and a third says, the apostle was permitted to write such a verse because it was the best. These three persons differ as to the mode of production, yet they agree as to the result. In the estimation of each of them that verse is the best possible for the occasion. Whatever theory they may have formed regarding the mode of inspiration, they are practically agreed as to the final state and authority of the Scriptures. They unite in believing that God calls upon us to look on them as his own, to which he has affixed his seal. Instead, therefore, of answering the demand for a definition of inspiration, by propounding any exclusive theory, we are content to hold that those Scriptures ascertained to be canonical upon competent evidence, and the text of those Scriptures, as gathered from comparison of ancient manuscripts, versions, and fathers, are to be received by us, to use the remarkable and dying words of Locke, having God for their author, salvation for their
end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for their matter."
The following are a few of the preliminary remarks of the author, on the interpretation of Scripture :
“Reason is the interpreter, not the judge of Scripture : and a regard to the word of God is not shown by admitting propositions which are evident in themselves, because these we should have received, though made known by the most worthless character ; but by believing on the authority of God what could not be discovered by reason. One man of superior sagacity discovers that which escapes the observation of a multitude of other
An angel may observe that which escapes the observation of the most penetrating mortal ; and God himself perceives a niultitude of truths with intuitive certainty, which are beyond the range of the most gifted of his angelic creatures, and how much more beyond the discovery of the greatest minds of our race. A want of humility is a want of sense, and is no other than ignorance with dazzled eyes--dazzled with its first view of the field of knowledge; but as the prospect opens, and we discover how little we truly know of all that is to be known, we become less assured of those views for which we contended with so much zeal in the infancy of our knowledge and of ourjudgments.
“There are some truths which, like God himself, dwell in light, to which no man can approach. Their evidence is inaccessible to us, and they must be received simply upon the authority of Scripture : and one express and authoritative declaration of God, is worth a thousand arguments and veri-similitudes without it. The argument for submission is short: “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?
“Having ascertained that it is God that speaks, it is surely no dishonour to our understandings to believe our Maker. There is no alterna
tive between receiving implicitly whatever appears to be the just interpretation of Scripture, and rejecting the Bible altogether, as a book of imposture, delusion, and riddles. There can be no half-way between taking the Scriptures as our unerring guide, and open infidelity-every thing else is a mere colouring of christianity-acknowledging the Scriptures in words only. Such half believers, however they may deceive themselves, in reality reject the Gospel ; and they are regarded by the open infidel and the sincere Christian, as only timid unbelievers, amusing themselves with the shadow of Christianity, while they reject the substance.”
With this quotation we must take our leave of the valuable work before us, as our limits will not afford us. space or opportunity for an analysis of its contents. The extracts we have made are specimens, not so much of the argument, as of the spirit of the book. Both however are truly excellent, and we hail the “Outline of the Scripture evidence for the Trinity," as an important contribution to the cause. If our testimony in its favour can have any weight, we give it heartily. We recommend it to those who are already grounded in a belief of the doctrine, as a means of establishing them more firmly in the faith, and as a repository of weighty arguments in its defence; we recommend it to the humble and sincere inquirer after truth, as a book well calculated to lighten the difficulty of his researches, and give a practical direction to the whole current of his thoughts; and to those of our antagonists in controversy, who would contemplate Trinitarianism as it is, we also recommend this comprehensive digest, hoping that a perusal of its pages, if it do not rectify, will at least moderate their judgments on this all important question. And may an influence from on high descend upon the hearts of all men, so that they may be brought in deep humility and faith to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!*
*Throughout the above article we have employed the term “ Unitarian,'' to denote that system which refuses to acknowledge the doctrine of the Triaity. This is a mere matter of courtesy on our part; for it is well known that Trinitarians are just as sound believers in the Divine Unity, as any of their opponents. We have no desire, however, to quarrel with them about the name, especially as both parties, and the public generally, perfectly understand the import of the phraseology employed. We wish the Christian world bad been less occupied about “ strifes of words."
Scottish MISSIONARY Society.—On Thursday, the 12th inst. a Deputation from the Scottish Missionary Society arrived in Belfast, consisting of the Rev. Messrs. Cupples of Legerwood, Smart of Paisley, and Schaw of Ayr. Since their arrival, they have been engaged preaching and holding public meetings in different parts of the country. And it is their intention to visit a considerable portion
of the province of Ulster, and then to proceed to Dublin. It is hoped the Deputation will meet with a cordial reception in all those districts through which they travel, in the prosecution of their mission. To such they are well entitled, both by their personal respectability, and the very important object which it is their aim to promote. Nor should the Presbyterians of the North forget the liberality of their brethren in Scotland, in the support of every religious object which Irishmen have gone thither to advocate. Ireland is deeply Scotland's debtor; and if she be not able entirely to liquidate her debt, let her at least discover a willing mind in doing all she can. Let her heartily join in Scotland's efforts, to send the knowledge of the cross to the unenlightened nations, and thus will she best show her gratitude for what she has herself received, and gratify her benefactor. As to the cause of Christian Missions to the heathen, it is to be feared it is yet little understood by our churches, and the obligation to support it still less felt. Much has been said upon it, but little has been done. What systematic plans have yet been adopted in the majority of our congregations to further this great enterprize? There are a large proportion, in which we fear there is little or any thing done. And yet one design of the King of the church, in associating its members in that capacity, is to extend its principles throughout the earth. We trust the time is at hand when this subject shall be felt in some measure proportionate to its importance; when, instead of having to solicit the pulpits of our brethren, and to beg the aid of their hearers, Ministers and people shall feel themselves honoured by the visit of God's servants coming to provoke them to the good works of Christian liberality and Missionary zeal. We pray that the visit of the present Deputation may be much blessed in stirring up the churches to a sense of the duty which they owe to the dark places of the earth, that are still full of the habitations of cruelty. We hope, in a subsequent Number, to lay before our readers a full report of the proceedings of the Deputation, the places where they preached, and the amount of the collections made by them. .
go and do
Christian Liberality.–Last week, at a Meeting of a few members of the Presbyterian Congregation of Newry, in connexion with the Synod of Ulster, and under the pastoral care of the Rev. J. Shields, the sum of £800 was subscribed towards liqui. dating the debt due on their Meeting-House. This munificent sum was raised by persons who had previously paid two subscriptions to the same object. Let other congregations, similarly circumstanced, look to this poble example, and“ likewise."
It is only about four years since this congregation, composed chiefly of individuals who separated from an Arian ministry, was established in the town of Newry. Its erection was exceedingly galling to the Arians. And in the wretched organ of that party, a Rev. Gentleman, so late as the month of September last, speaks of this truly liberal congregation and its excellent Minister in the following contemptuous terms:-"I know that a young man,
named SHIELDS, has been ordained to a SMALL congregation, collected from various sects, in Newry!”
“The wicked is driven away in his wickedness : but the righteous bath
hope in his death.”—Prov, xiv, 32.
In whatever view we contemplate death, it is a subject of peculiar solemnity. It is generally ushered in with sick. ness and severe pain; and when our beauty is made to fade away like a moth, when our strength is turned to weakness, when days of vanity and wearisome nights are appointed to us, our sufferings compel us to serious thought.
But death is not a mere affliction : it is a punishment. It is not merely as men are accustomed to call it,“ debt to be paid to nature;" but it is a penalty incurred by transgression, in fulfilment of the declaration-" in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” It is an arrest under the sanction of the divine law, denouncing-"i dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. and this circumstance clothes it with additional awful.
Nor are these the only circumstances that render death awful. The most fearful thought of all is, that after death cometh the judgment, and that of this judgment the sentence is final and eternal.
Let us then, with a solemnity suitable to this momentous subject, consider-
1. Some circumstances common to the righteous and the wicked in death. 2. Those circumstances in which they differ.
I. In considering those circumstances in death that are common to men, we may observe that there will be an end to all their earthly pleasures.