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Protestant Saving Faith. What is that Faith which saves ?–Much as I have endeavoured to understand the meaning of the Protestants, I have not been able to obtain a clearer notion than this : “ Saving Faith is an unhesitating belief that we are saved by the blood of Christ.”— This, translated into intelligible language, means : Saving Faith is a belief that we are saved according to a certain theological theory. The next step in this important inquiry is,-how is a man to fulfil this most important condition? The answer is, that it is not in the power of man to acquire it: it is a miraculous gift of heaven. With this answer, the system of Predestination is almost inseparably connected. Treating Thee, O eternal Father, as they would a capricious tyrant of the East, they address Thee in the language of the most irrational and degraded servility. They say, Man is clay and thou the Potter, and carry on the absurd comparison between an unconscious plastic substance, and an active, lofty spirit, analogous, if not similar, to Thee : they would stop, by the insulting question, “Who art thou, Man ?” the complaints of those whom, only to "manifest thy glory," i. e. to boast of thy power, Thou hast doomed to eternal sufferings. “Who am I ?” might well the insulted spirit answer, “Thou hast said it: I am a Man. God, who gave me that dignity next to his own, if He were subject to such passions, would look down upon thee, miserable flat
terer, with indignation and contempt. Wouldst thou secure his favour by representing him as a most odious, cruel, unfeeling tyrant, seeking his glory in the unending misery of those among his creatures who alone seem capable of unending happiness ?"How unworthy of the glorious name of Man, must those be who can thus think of their own species ! But no ! they are not necessarily what they appear : Fanaticism is a dreadful disease, which frequently perverts even the best minds, and produces a partial insanity.
Since I entered upon these Meditations, Paul of Tarsus has constantly stood before me. In one of his allegorizings, he left, a sketch which Augustine, the African bishop who for so many centuries has been the governing despot of the Western Christians, converted into a most horrible libel against thy Deity. With what intrepid madness does he venture upon a history of thy eternal designs and decrees in regard to mankind! Thy best, thy noblest work reduced to a mass of corruption, out of which Thou wilt condescend to save some, leaving the bulk to eternal unhappiness, as not worth the trouble to save them. And why? Because Thou hadst so ordered thy moral and physical world that it depended upon Adam to make it a reproach to its Author. Oh my God, how my heart sickens when I think that at this moment such an odious, disgusting, and blasphemous system is taught and preached all over Europe ! When shall this disgrace have an end; when shall religion cast off doctrines as unworthy of Thee as even the most disgusting fables of heathenism ? Thou knowest, my Father, that I do not wish to indulge in invective or declamation : I speak what I find in my heart: I speak it in Thy immediate presence, under the strongest conviction that the doctrines I condemn, far from being derived from Thee, are contradictory of thy Divine Being,
Redemption. How could the theological fable to which that name is given, become for a multitude of feeling minds, the most striking representation of Thy divine Love? But here human Reason (at least, in a considerable number of individuals) has been so bewildered, that it is impossible to tell whether the source of that Love is one or more than one : whether the principal personage in that ultra-mundane tragedy is a severe unyielding Fate, who has, in a great degree, been superseded by the generous self-sacrifice of another Being more deserving our worship and affection. Is it thou, Eternal Father, who hast died for Man ? The Priesthood, who call themselves the infallible interpreters of the never-erring Scriptures, have declared it most heretically sinful to say so.*_No: Thou hast not courted the sympathy of mankind in that manner. It was thy Son, who died. What ! the Son of God ? another God ?-No: no: one and the same God.—And yet He, that one God, died, and did not die.—O shame of Christianity, O absurd philosophy, to the acceptance of which our favour with God, our salvation, is said to be attached! Who can bear the shadow of the metaphysical cloud of Essences, Persons, Hypostases, Circum-incessions, or Inter-penetrations of these three persons who are one God? Is it to mock Reason, thy best gift, that thy Gospel was published in the world !
.N.B.—The heresy of the Patripassians.
No, my God, it is not thy Gospel, thy “Good Tidings;" it is a bewildering and bewildered dream of African fanatics. Africa and Egypt are the native soils of church theology. But, how has that strange dream obtained such an extensive acceptance among nations so different in mental character from the inventors of these wild systems ?-From that characteristic difference itself. It is the northern and western austerity and love of definite fact, that has reduced metaphor to history, and condensed cloudy images into colossal, massive statues. Thou knowest, O God, the almost unconquerable tendency of mankind to fly from Thee to their own works, the idols of their hands or their imagination. They want a God "after their own image, in their own likeness ;"* a God that generates and produces out of his own
substance. This tendency developed itself gradually, till a feverish imagination gave it the present definite shape, pretending to publish the events of Eternity, the secret transactions of the invisible court of Heaven, which have decided the fate of mankind. Forgive me if I repeat the offensive Tale.
God, of course Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
• Serapion was an Egyptian monk, a friend of the famous Antony the Abbot, who firmly believed that God had a body. Some of his learned friends persuaded him that this was an error. Cassian, who relates the story, tells us that this orthodox lesson very much distressed and disturbed him, so that with great simplicity he used to exclaim :Heu me miserum! Tulerunt a me Deum meum, et quem teneam non habeo, vel quem adorem aut interpellem jam nescio. See Gibbon, chap. xlvii.