« PreviousContinue »
Julian Pe. 4 Who
gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver Tbessaloriod, 4762.
nica. ValgarÆra, 51.
faitb revealed for the first time in any one of the Epistles ?
Is it the doctrine of the unity of God? A claim will not be
Is it the doctrine of the union of three divine persons in one Godhead? Has the Old Testament then maintained silence on that article of faith? Have the Gospels maintained silence? I mean not to multiply testimonies. But is there no passage in the writings of Isaiah, wbich styles the predicted Saviour « the mighty God, God with us?” Is there no passage in the Gospels which avers, that “in the beginning was the Word, that the Word was with God, that the Word was God?” Is there no passage in which our Lord affirms concerning himself, “ Before Abraham was, I am, I and my Father are one?” Does no Gospel pronounce blasphemy against the Holy Ghost unpar. donable ; or unite that Divine Spirit with the Father and the Son, as the God to whom we are dedicated in baptism?
Is it the agency of our Lord in creating the universe? The first chapter of St. John's Gospel answers the question.
Is it the propitiatory sacrifice of our Saviour? Have our copies, then, of the Old Testament lost the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah ? Do our copies of the Gospels no longer speak of “ the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world :" of “the good Shepherd who came to lay down his life for the sheep, to give his life a ransom for many;" of one who “ came down from heaven to give his tleslı for the life of the world?”
Is it the universality of the offer of redemption ? If the references ju the preceding paragraph have not rendered an answer superfluous; does no Gospel instruct us that Christ “ was lifted up" on the cross, “ that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life?” Is there no Gospel still recording his final command to his apostles to “go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Is there po Gospel still recording his accompanying assurance : “ He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved?”
Is it our Lord's exaltation in his buman nature to glory? He replies by his Evangelists, “ I ascend to my Father: all power is given unto me iu heaven and in earth.”
Is the deficient article the corruption of human nature ? Not while the Old Testament emphatically records, that after the fall the sons of Adam were born in his image, no longer that of God. Not while it records the declarations of the Most High, before the deluge and after it, that “the imagination of man's beart is evil from his youth ;” or his averment by the lips of Jeremiah, that “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Not while the fifteenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, or the seventh chapter of that of St. Mark, retains the catalogue of sins pronounced by our Saviour to be the offspring of the beart. Not while another Gospel produces his words : “ As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me: with. out me ye can do nothing?"
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XII.
213 Juliar Pe- us from this present evil world, according to the will of Thessaloriod, 4762. God and our Father :
pica. Volgar Æra, 51.
Is it the necessity of the entire renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit? Not if the third chapter of St. John's Gospel be part of the canon of Scripture.
Is it justification by faith in the blood of Christ ? Not while the corruption of human nature, and the necessity of a complete renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit, are doctrines of the Old Testament and of the Gospels. Not while the Old Testament continues to exhibit the example of the father of the faithful, who believed God, and it was counted to him for rigbteousness; who saw by faith the day of Christ, and rejoiced to see it. Not while the Almighty proclaims by the propbet Habakkuk, that " the just shall live by his faith.” Not while the passages already noticed respecting the atoping sacrifice of the Son of God, and the consequences of believing in Him, shall be found in the Old Testament and the Gospels.
Is it the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, the glory of heaven, the damnation of hell? On each of these points the Gospels are acknowledged to speak with decisive clearness.
Can it be necessary to pursue the inquiry further? There is yet a topic, the omission of which would expose me to the charge of keeping out of sight the example, held in the estima. tion of many pious men to be the most adverse to my present argument. By certain of our brethren, the Calvinistic tenets are decmed to be signally developed in parts of the Epistles. And it is natural that persons regarding those tenets not merely as religious verities, but as the basis of Christian comfort and of Christian usefulness, should be led to think and to speak of the Epistles as containing the previously undisplayed perfection of Christianity. A deliberate, and, as I would humbly hope, an honest comparison of “things spiritual with spiritual,” (i Cor. ii. 13.) has not discovered to me Calvinistic tenets in any part of the sacred volume. But our brethren, who have formed an opposite conclusion concerning the divine plan of redemption, may be the more easily induced to an exact appreciation of the Epistles, when they recollect that there are various passages in the Old Testament and in the Gospels which the Calvinistic divines consider as satisfactory proofs of their own system.
“ I have yet many things to say unto you ; but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth,” (John xvi. 12, 13.) This address of our Lord to his apostles is commonly alleged in support of the assertion, that additional doctrines were to be propounded in the Epistles. That such cannot be the meaning of the passage, the preceding inquiry as to the several articles of Christian belief has proved. If the Epistles do not contain any new article of faith, to new articles our Saviour did not alludo. Nor in the articles of faith stated in the Epistles does there appear to be any point, wbich would be offensive to the known prepossessions and inclinations of the disciples. To what particulars then did our Saviour allude? To truths not indeed new, for the Scriptures of the Old Testament had announced them, for repeatedly bad he inculcated them himself; truths which, like his predictions of his own sufferings, and death, and resurrection, the apostles had frequently heard from him and still disbelieved; truths in the highest degree offensive to their prejudices and their desires : that Christ was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, no less than the glory of the people of Israel : that the peculiar privileges of the Jews were at an
Julian Pe- 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Thessaloriod, 4762.
nica. Vulgar Æra, 51.
end: that the Samaritan, the Greek, and the Barbarian, were
The post then which the Epistles occupy in the sacred depo.
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XII.
nica, Vulgar Æra,
St. Paul reproves the Galatians for their departure from 51.
the future resurrection of their departed friends, subjoins the
It is true they have been rejected by various ancient heretics,
Antiquity has made mention of some other works attributed lo St. Paul. Eusebius speaks of a book entitled, “ The Acts of St. Paul,” which in one place he ranks among the doubtful (e) Scriptures, and in another among the supposed (f ) Scriptures. There was likewise an “ Epistle to the Laodiceans," wbích was in existence in St. Jerom's time, and which be affirms to be rejecled by every one (9). Marcion one of them of the same litle; but there is no doubt but that was the Epistle to the
Juhan Pe- 7 Which is not another : but there be some that trou. Thessaloriod, 4762. ble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Ephesians, wbich was inscribed to the Laodiceans, in his Apos-
The Epistles of St. Paul are addressed to some Churches
The excellent Epistles of St. Paul have been preserved for us with great integrity, as may be seen by comparing the ancient versions, and the quotations of the old fathers, with the original text. The several readings or variations that have been collected from different manuscripts, are not by any means so numerous as those that are found in the manuscripts of the Gospels; which perhaps may be attributed to the copyists, who having in mind the expressions of a different Evangelist, might easily refer them to that wbich they were transcribing. They seem indeed to have done it sometimes designedly, in order to clear one passage by another. This has less frequently bappen. ed in St. Paul's Epistles; and among these various readings that remain, we dare assert, that there are none of them that can do any injury, either to the authenticity of those divine writings, or to the apostolic doctrine which they inculcate.
These Epistles have been long ranked in the order in which they at present stand. Epiphanius (m), who censures Marcion for having overturned this order, informs us that in his time the Epistle to the Romans was the first in all the authentic copies. He remarks only, that the Epistle to Philemon, wbich was the last in most of the manuscripts, was placed the thirteenth in some others; and that in some the Epistle to the Hebrews was the tenth, and proceded the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. It is certain that the Epistles are not chronoJogically arranged (n). The Epistle to the Galatians appears to