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establishment, who have subscribed to its articles, &c. For, with respect to the lay members of an establishment, it does not appear, that their liberty to propose any improvements in the establishment, is at all interfered with by their being members of it. But I further contend, that improvements may be proposed, even by the clergy of an establishment, without the violation of any obligation, The making of such proposals may be perfectly consistent with the belief of every thing of which they have professed their belief. I have myself proposed an alteration in the Athanasian Creed; not because I do not believe all the articles of that Creed, or admit the propriety of the damnatory clauses, when those clauses are understood as the Church intends 'them; but because I think, that, in fact, they are differently understood, and that, in consequence of this, the reading of the Creed is greatly neglected. Now, I cannot conceive, that, in making this proposal, I have violated any obligation of duty which I bwe to the church; but rather, that I have rendered an essential service to the church, or at least have opened the way for rendering her such a service.
Of the utility of establishments I am fully convinced. Whether they favour improvements or not, they at least keep us steady, and preserve us from being retrograde; and this, when we consider the errors which the sectarists are constantly accumulating, ought to be acknowledged as an inestimable advantage. I cannot but think, however, that all establishments ought diligently to practise that which the Church of England so properly professes, i. e. “ to keep the mean detween two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting, any variation." Pref to Com. Pray. On this ground I often wish, that the Church of England would give some practical proof of her readiness to adınit improvements, if it were only by deliberating on the proposals for improvement, which are, from time to time, submitted to her consideration. I can easily conceive, that, generally speaking, an establishment, may favour improvements, though itself should remain the same; but it will naturally be doubted whether the establishment improves, when, without even a deliberation about alterations, it remains the same for a hundred years together. . ., I am, Sir,
i . Your's, &c. . Jan. 15, 1806.
E. PEARSON. Vol. X. Churchm. Mag. for Feb. 1806. P
Sequel to Reflections on John ii.
(Continued from page 19.).
DUT to return to our endeavour of ascertaining the
B real intention of our Lord in his discourse to Nicodemus. Nothing remains of what was proposed but to offer some illustrations of the opinion here supported.
Illustrations of the Interpretation of John iii. 3,5.
1. Having considered our Lord's short declaration, concerning a Jew's being born again when he became a Christian, in the light of a short hint of the manner in which the Christian Religion would supersede the Jewish; as the outline or contents, of a grand design affecting the whole earth; it would afford a satisfactory illustration of our notion, if any one were to examine how that hint is enlarged upon, and that grand design laid open in other parts of the New Testament, written some time after Nicodemus's visit to our Lord. Were we to introduce every thing which might be found to this purpose, we must far exceed the limits of any periodical miscellany : we must therefore content ourselves with selecting a small number of texts, and recommending to our readers to peFuse carefully the Epistles to the Galatians and the Hebrews, with the idea here suggested. Not that these two Epistles were written with precisely the same view; that to the Galatians was probably written in order to hinder the converts from mixing Judaism with Christianity; that to the Hebrews in order to retain them from relapsing into Judaism : but either of these views might give occasion for shewing how much Judaism was excelled by Christianity; ás also, that the more spiritual religion was always intended to supersede the carnal one: and consequently that every Jew, becoming a Christian, must give up the merit of being born of Abrabam, and begin a new life of a moral or spiritual sort,
I have already mentioned Gal. iii. 3. « Are ye so foolish? having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the Aesh?" But this should be compared with the third chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians, where St. Paul compares the religion of Moses as written “in tables of stone,” with the Christian, as written " in fleshly tables of the heart." The former he calls " the ministration of death,” the latter, “ the ministration of the spirit.” And he argues, if the former was glorious, “ How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious ?" Bishop Warburton, as I remember, understands 1 Cor. xv. 46, in a sense which bears affinity to what we are treating : “ that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual.” St. Paul appears to me to have had the idea which is here proposed, when he uses the following expressions in his Epistle to the Galatians, chap. iii. ver. 26, &c. to the end of the chapter. “Yeare all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." In the next chapter, St. Paul uses an allegory : he says that Abraham had two sons; one born after the flesh, the other by promise: these represent the two Covenants, the Jewish and the Christian; and when he speaks of them again, instead. of the word promise he uses the word spirit. “ He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit.” Surely this comes very near our idea, that being born again, of water and of the spirit, is meant to express a Jew's receiving Christian baptism. The rite of baptism is always' supposed when men are made Christians. . St. Paul's expression is, “ as many of you as have been baptized into Christ,” &c.And I see not why, where St. Paul uses the word Promise, with reference to being after it, we may not generally understand it as being equivalent to Spirit. All these passages of Scripture which make Virtue necese sary in order to a man's being a true Israelite, in the Christian sense of the word, greatly corroborate as well as illustrate our interpretation. « In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision ; but faith which worketh by Love.” (Gal. v. 0. see also
Rom. ite word carrin part. But there is the meant. e cribe
Rom. ii. ver. 17, to the end).-1 Cor. iii. 3. St. Paul applies the word carnal to Christians who have the Jewish temper remaining in part. But Phil. iii. 3—7. is particularly worthy of attention; as there St. Paul plainly shews, that by confidence in the flesh, he means confidence in being born of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and in being a Pharisee; as well as in having been circumcised the eighth day : and to this confidence is opposed his Christian confidence in the Cross of Christ. « We are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh: though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. Circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.”
Out of the epistle to the Hebrews a great number of passages might be alledged ; but the whole epistle should be read. The word spoken by Angels (the Law of Moses) has its due honour; but that which was spoken by that Lord, whom all the Angels worshipped, is comparatively called a “ great salvation.” Moses is allowed to have been a faithful servant, but Christ was a son, over his own house." And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that: obey him;.. an high priest for ever : made, not after the law of a CARNAL commandinent, but after the power of an endless life.” (Heb. vii. 16.)" There is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before (the old law of Moses) for the unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope did ; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (vii. 18, 19.) The unprofitableness of the law is described : that law consisted or stood,“ only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation.” (ix. 10.) The same change which is here called reformation, might, if allusion had been required to birth, or descent, have been called regeneration. In this Epistle it is declared to be the intention of the new religion to purge the conscience from dead works. (ix. 14.) The law is said to be “ a shadow of good things to come.” Under the law things visible were to be sprittkled with blood; the book, the people,
the tabernacle, the vessels; almost all things by the law were purged with blood; (ix. 22.) but when by the new and living way we enter into the holiest, we must draw near with a true heart (x. 22.) in a full assurance of faith, (such as that described in the eleventh chapter): having our hearts sprinkled (or purged, or purified); not now with blood, but from an evil conscience ; and our bodies (in baptism) washed with pure water : we must provoke (incite, or challenge in the way of emulation) one another unto love and to good works : we must do good and communicate; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. We must follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. How can the change from Judaism to Christianity be better described ? And as we see the sacred writers falling into any metaphors which circumstances suggest, how can we wonder that our Lord should fall into one founded on birth and descenį, when the Rabbi, whose notions he wanted to rectify, was so elated and prejudiced by consciousness of his own descent? · I should hope, that a due consideration of that most important revolution, just sketched by our Lord to Nicodemus, and in the fulness of time more particularly and largely explained, would greatly tend to illustrate our sense of Jesus's declaration to Nicodemus, and our reasonings upon it, with regard to the necessity of his being born again.
2. It might illustrate being born again, to consider more fully how the Jew, when converted to Christianity, must begin a new religious life. The ideas and sentiments even of the most religious man amongst the Jews must be extremely different from those of a true Chriscian ; that is, supposing each, not to be of an enlarged and philosophical mind, but to act from what was usually distinguished and applauded in his own religion. The pretensions of the pious Jew, bis notions of merit, his views, his purposes, his morals, must all differ extremely from those of the Christian. Nor could they ever approach, or at least coincide, by, any improvement in Judaism, by any continuation or refinement of it. A “ generation of Vipers” must require regeneration, in order to give them à Christian temper and constitution. The dizalos, or righteous man of the Jews, was only “ as touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blame