« PreviousContinue »
ever entitled to the same return, as a successful attempt, we shall offer our services, in explaining one of these hard terms, on the subject of which we have received not a little amusement, at the expence of our wise and learned instructors. 1. The term ajroxatáxpiros, Tit. iii. 13. from whence it is determined, that heresy is a sin against conscience, signifies, according to the genius of the Greek language, and the customs of the Jewish people*, self-sentenced, self denounced ; "one who stands condemned, not by his own conscience before God, but by his own mouth before men +." 2. The term Alpenis, Keresy, Ibid. iii. 10. which is now given a reference to the immoral lives and carnal motives of the possessor, is opposed, in the sacred writings, to doctrine, not morals; and is nised in this sense in the general directions given to the church for rejectiug all who avowed their errors I. 3. The gist of infallıbility, and power of discerning men's hearts, is consequently unnecessary, in the nature of the thing, for exercising this authority in main. taining the discipline of the Church; and as the proper attribute of God, was absolutely unpossessed by the Apostles. 4. Supposing any gift necessary, it reduces the injunction given to whole Churches, by the Apostle, Tit. iii. Gal. i. 8. for rejecting heretics, to a palpable absurdity; unless we suppose it extended to the power of reading men's hearts.
With this observation we may consign Mr. Robert Aspland to the fate of Mr. John Jones and Mr. Thomas Belsham : as the partner of their praise, not less than the companion of their Jabours. As we are conscious, how much the success of their exertions must depend on the unaninity of their operations; we would not, by stimulating their jealousy, excite any of those evil passions, which by operating in contrary directions, might thwart their respective endeavours. The meed of praise, which we have to bestow, shall be consequently distributed with as
* Seld. ubi supr. Lib. II. cap. xii. $ 3. p. 322. “ Aiunt autem 937 837 WIN 737 Rite homo judicatat seipsum in seipsum legie timum fercbat judicium) etiamsi bona sua non minuerit.'. Id est
, ubi quis sive actor sive reus futurus ferret in aut de se sentention, quam et adversario enarrareta-properare ei necesse non erat ad forum, &c.
Forte ex more hoc legitimo judicandi seipsum, ortæ sunt locutiones aliquot S. Pauli, sunimi inter Judæos Christian osque sui temporis, theologi et jurisconsulti, Vox illa singularis AUTOXUTárpitos a seipso damnatus ei usurpatur.'
+ Steb. I Let. to Fost. p. 16. II Let: p. 28. # Seld. ubi supr. p. 323. conf. Lib. I. cap. viii. p. 117. Steb, I Let. p. 28 II Eet. p. 38.72. Steb. ibid. 1 Let. pp. 24, 25. JI Let. p. 40.
1. The tea
impartial a hand as possible. In those qualifications, which are calculated to fit them for succeeding in the glorious cause which they have espoused, we are at a loss to discover which is most uninformed, most confident, or most shallow. And though from a rongh calculation of their various characteristic merits, we are enabled to assign most dulness to Mr. Jones, most imbecility to Mr. Belsham, and most malice to Mr. Aspland; we are yet undecided in opinion, which of the triumvirate may excel in presumption.
Art. VII. A Help to the Study of the Scriptures, designed to
assist the Unlearned in Reading them with Profit. By a
Churchman. 62 pp. 6d. Hatchard. 1815. As it is our wish to recommend by our notice certain Tracts to general use, so it is our duty by the same notice to caution the public against the adoption of others. The one before us is, we are sorry to say, of the last description. The author appears to set at nought all the aid of human learning and human reason (forgetting that they are both the gifts of God) in the study of the Seripture, to direct bis readers to look for immediate inspiration as the only means of understanding the word of God. He, indeed, who will study the Seriptures without praying for the grace of God to assist him in his research, will study them to very little spiritual advantage ; but he who waits for an erperience to reveal to him their meaning and tendency, and refuses the assistance of human learning in their interpretation, will study them to as little. Grace and reason are equally the gifts of God, and the one is given not to supersede, but to assist the other. But the author has, by a strange perversion of purpose, given little account of the several books of the Old and New Testament, as a help to the ignorant. But is not this " worldly wisdom and science," and if the Bible is its own interpreter, why give a preparatory interpretation Thus much for his consistency. Let us now examine these interpretations.
“ ROMANS. This epistle was written to Christians the Apostle had not yet seen, who lived at Rome which was then the capital or chief city of the whole world. It contains à statement of the doctrines of the gospel in regular order. The ground work or first principles of the gospel are given in the five first chapters; the blessed fruits arising from an experimental knowledge of those principles, are displayed in the privileges of the six following chapters, and in the precepts or moral duties of the five last. St. Paul shews how all mankind are guilty before God; and that the only way to be justified or accounted righteous in his sight, to
obtain pardon, and a title to eternal life, is by believing with the heart in Jesus Christ. He proves this by various arguments and from the example of Abraham, and then shews the practical tendency of the doctrine. No part of scripture is more important than this, to be thoroughly read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested. It utterly destroys all ideas of salvation by our own works, in part or altogether. It sets before us free redemption, justification, and salvation in Christ Jesus alone, and yet shews us that the people of Christ will be a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
. Now-it is hardly credible that any Churchman, as he is pleased to call liimself, should be so wilfully ignorant as not to know, or, sp obstinately perversè as, if he does know, not to inform hisreaders of the peculiar circumstances under which this epistle was written, that it was addressed to converted Jews, to combat and remove their bigotted and mistaken prejudices. It is much better indeed, we confess, that the Bible should be its own interpreter, than that it should be placed in the hands of the lower people, accompanied with such wilfully ignorant and erroneous misinterpretations.
ART. VIII. The peculiar Claims which the Society for promoting
Christian Knowledge has on the Liberality of Churchmen, preached at the Church of Aylesbury. By the Rev. C. J.
Blomfield, M.A. 8vo. 24 pp. 18. 6d. Rivingtons. 1315. IT is with pleasure that we trace the labours of so deep and accomplished a scholar as Mr. Blomfield in the cause of our pure and apostolic Church. The sermon before us enters into no controversial discussion, but it lays down the soundest principles, and inculcates the most useful practice. The following extract will give the reader an idea of the simple, clear, and energetic style in which the exclusive claims of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge on the liberality of every true Churchman.are enforced.
“ It is certain, however, that the Scriptures may be read with more or less profit by different persons, according to the different mode in which their studies are pursued. It is also certain, that all parts of Scripture are not equally important, nor all equally clear; and that all men are not equally qualified to determine which those
"The same Spirit,' we know, bestows diversities of gifts :" and divideth to every man severally as he will. It is true, indeed, that those passages of Holy Writ, which set fortli our
Blomfield's Sermon before the District Committee. 657 duties and God's glory, which teach us all that is necessary to regulate our conduct and satisfy our hopes, are so plain and easy, that it requires only common sense and a sincere spirit to understand them. But there are also many parts, which have a local and particular meaning, by the misapplication of which we may be led into great and dangerous mistakes, and may fancy ourselves deeply concernéd in precepts with which in reality we have little or nothing to do. And it is no imputation cast upon the wisdom or the goodness of God, to assert that all parts of the Scriptures are not equally intelligible to all men; because this is a defect, (if we may. use such an expression in treating of such a subject) which arises from the natural condition of things, and for which the natural condition of thiņgs supplies a remedy. For the same diversity of talents and education, which renders some men better qualified than others to understand and interpret the Bible, provides also a resource for the ignorants in the assistance which they may derive from the studies of the more discerning and more learned of their brethren. But to say that the Bible, when put into the hands of the unlearned; requires no comment nor explanation, is to say, that po important passage of Scripture can be misunderstood by the sincere enquirer after truth; and yet all the numberless sects, into which the Christian world is divided, if questioned as to the authority on which they ground their contrary doctrines, refer us to the Bible.
" It is not for us to determine whether the mansion of heaven be a palace with many gates; but of the countless variety of paths by which Christians seek to arrive at it, some must surely be more direct and safe than others ; and it is therefore our duty, at the same time that we point out to our 'weaker brethren the high prize of their calling, and teach them duly to appreciate its value, it is our duty, I say, to place them, if we can, in that line of faith and practice, which we ourselves believe to be the safest and the best. Under this impression, our Society deemed that its charitable work would be incomplete, unless with the Scriptures it should furnish helps to the right understanding of them. Accordingly it has distributed to a vast number of Christians, not only that most excellent summary of belief and duty contained in the Liturgy of our Church, but also a great variety of excellent treatises, at once brief and perspicuous; in which those practical conclusions are drawn from the text of Scripture, which the unlearned and unassisted reader might not so readily have perceived. And these are not in any instance the fanciful and bewildering speculations of visionary men, nor the ravings of unlearned enthusiasts ; having been composed by men not more remarkable for the warmth of their piety, than for the coolness of their judgment, and approved of by the most entinent members of the Church. Many, indeed most of them, are expressly directed to the edification and comfort of the poor ; and by bringing into one point of view the most important passages of Scripture relative to Christian faith and practice; by pointing out their connexion and
mutual dependence; and by enforcing in plain and familiar language the conclusions to be drawn from them, they are well calcu. lated to form a storehouse of doctrinal and practical divinity for the great mass of society; and to counteract the mischievous effects of those numberless tracts and expositions of the Scripture, which are disseminated with so much zeal by misjudging, though perhaps well-intentioned men. The judiciousness of the plan pursued by our Society, and its excellent effect upon the minds and hearts of the people, those persons are best able to appreciate, who have witnessed the joyful alacrity with which the poor receive these tracts from the hand of their minister, and the care with which they peruse and preserve them,” P. 15.
After speaking in forcible language of the missionary department of the Society, Mr. Blomfield thus sums up the whole.
“ In speaking of a Society whose objects are so truly Christian, and so judiciously pursued, to describe is to commend it
. It is impertinent. to spend many words in praising that, with which no well-wisher to the cause of religion can find fault. I will only sug. gest one other consideration, but that is an important one. If Christianity is to be propagated at all, it must be in some particular form of profession: as to what this form should be, mankind are divided in opinion. The Bible, it is true, is the standard by which they are to be judged of: but if every man is to be left, without help or guidance, to construct his own creed from the Bible, we know that an endless diversity of belief will ensue, and that all cannot be right. We believe that in all points of importance, the doctrine and regimen of aur Church are scriptural and primitive; and that therefore our profession is the true one. It is possible that we may be mistaken; but that does not affect the present question, As long as we believe that we are right, and that others are wrong, that is, as long as we are conscientious members of our own establishment, it would be difficult to select any charitable institution which las equal claims upon our liberality with that, whose object is to promote the cause and propagate the blessings of genuine Christianity, by putting into the hands of the lower classes of so. ciety the volume of Holy Writ, and by teaching them to understand the mystery of godliness in that sense, in which so many pious and learned men have for so many ages concurred." P. 18.
We trust that thris Sermon will have a very wide circulation, as by its plain, perspicuous, and most convincing arguments, it cannot fail to produce the most beneficial practical results.