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parts which are hard to be understood. I do not say that unlearned Christians can not understand their religion; for their religion, in substance, is contained in passages that are level to the humblest apprehensions. I do not disparage the Bible. Its value consists in the body of its undisputed truths and revelations. Besides, be the case as it may, it can be no disparagement of the sacred volume to state what it is. And that it does require study, and learning, to understand portions of it-what do all the labours of learned men, what do innumerable volumes of commentators, and whole libraries of sacred criticism show, if they do not show this? Why all these studies, let us ask, if unlearned men can understand the difficult and doubtful passages of their Bibles?
The truth is, in my simple judgment, that the body of mankind ought never to have been disturbed with those Theological disquisitions which involve or require a deep knowledge of criticism, any more than they are with the subtilties of the Law, or with the abstruse speculations of philosophy, the disputes of anatomists, metaphysicians, and men of science. General readers, not to say those who read not at all, are just as unable to understand one as the other. There are questions in religion, undoubtedly, which are suitable for popular discussions. And if we could separate these from the more abstruse matters of inquiry, we should doubtless be able to settle the seeming difference of opinion that has lately sprung up among us, on the general expediency of controversy. There must be discussion;
and since men cannot agree, there must be dispute. Let there be controversy then; and let it range from the highest to the lowest subjects. All I would contend for, is, that those controversies which are addressed to the body of the people, be such as the people are prepared to understand; and that more curious questions be confined in religion, as in other things, to the learned. This reasonable discrimination would have cut off many disputes which among the mass of the people are perfectly useless, and might have saved us from some of our unhappy discussions.
In fine, and to sum up my observations, let Religion, not as a matter of experience and practice-but let Religion, in its words, its subjects, and its controversies, be treated as other things are-as the Law, Medicine, or any of the Sciences. Let what is practical, what is easily understood, what the simple and sound judgment of a man can compass, be commended, in religion, as in science, to all who can and will read it. Let what is abstruse, what is hard to be understood, what belongs to the department of profound criticism, be left for those who have opportunity, time, and learning for it. Let others read their writings as much as they please; but let them not judge till they read; let not their confidence outrun their knowledge. I think this is safe advice. I cannot conceive of any possible harm it can do. I believe it would do much good. I believe that it would tend to the promotion of a practical and affectionate piety among us; and I think moreover, that it would do this special good :—it
would lead men to rest their religious hopes and fears not on matters of doubtful disputation, but on those essential, moral, plain, practical grounds, which are the great foundations of piety and virtue. D.
I see thee in thy loveliness go
Was active towards the the children of His hand.
Call round thee Genius with his gifted train,
Charge Eloquence to utter thy rebukes
Bid Poetry with all her copious store
Bid Painting shadow forth her rich designs,
Of truth, of moral loveliness and worth,
WHO ARE CHRISTIANS?
We are utterly at a loss to conceive how there can be any difference of opinion on the question, what profession of faith is necessary to constitute a man a Christian, as distinguished from an infidel; and we believe that until a comparatively recent date there has been but
one opinion on the subject. The test now adopted by Christians of the exclusive sect, is altogether arbitrary and fallacious, and to us appears opposed to reason, to the usage of all Christian antiquity, and to the plain import of the language of the Bible. It deprives of the sacred name of Christian, multitudes, who daily bow the knee at the name of Jesus, who regard the great truths of his religion as the light and solace of their intellectual existence, and who would die a thousand deaths sooner than renounce them.
In the original and correct sense of the term, a Christian is a follower of Christ, that is, one who professes to derive his religion from him, who regards him as his chieftain and guide, the author of his faith and hopes. A disciple of Moses is one who professes to derive his religion from Moses; a Mahometan one who professes to derive it from Mahomet; just so a Christian is one who relies on the teachings of Jesus, one who embraces the religion of which he was, under God, the founder.
If we carefully read the New Testament, we shall find that the faith deemed necessary to constitute a Christian by Jesus, and his apostles, was exceedingly simple. It consisted in the belief of this single proposition Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ. Whoever made this profession was considered a Christian as distinguished from a Jew, or a Heathen; and whoever now makes it is a Christian, so far as faith is concerned. He is a Christian, as distinguished from an unbeliever or infidel, and he is authorized to complain of injustice