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whether we consider the inspiration of the writers of the New Testament, or those of the Old, p. 59. this mode of communication appears to have been alike in both cases, as might reasonably be expected, since we know, that the information given, proceeded from the same Spirit, Eph. iii. 5. 2 Pet. i. 21. But how can we enquire into the nature of that operation, which is fo difficult to conceive, p. 2, that we are utterly ignorant, by what evidence, i. e. in what manner the possessors of inspired knowledge were assured of their own inspiration, p. 46, is not easy to understand. It is however, as Mr. P. justly observes, one thing to ascertain (the reality of) à matter of fact, and altogether a different thing, to assign the mode by which such fact is brought to pass : and therefore the extent of apoftolic inspiration, that is the authority of the apofiles, is much easier ascertained, than the mode in which they received this inspiration.
Qur author begins p. 1, as persous desirous of attaining real, i. é, exaet knowledge should, and as all men of science do, by ascertaining with precision, thote ideas, whose relations, and connections they propose to investigate : and he defines inspiration to mean an immediate and miraculous communication of knowledge from God. Because that knowledge only is said to be received by inspiration, which men do not attain by the customary use of any natural faculty, or by reasoning, or by mere hunan information ; but which is conveyed to the mind by fone inexplicable operation of God himself. Nor perhaps can we say after Mr. P. with propriety, · that inspiration and revelation are finonymous terms, because tho' all inspiration is revelation, yet the converse is not true, viz. that all revelation is inspiration. God certainly revealed his Law from Mount Sinai, Deut. iv. 12, 13, 33, 36: but were all the Jews to whom this revelation was made, inspired ? In the same way God communicated much knowledge to the prophet Samuel, 1 Sam. iii; and such knowledge as Samuel could not have attained by any human means ; but in there, and many similar cases, this knowledge though it was immediately, and if you please miraculoutly communicated, was not conveyed to the minds of the perions receiving it according to that mode of communication, which we particularly understand by inspiration ; i. e. some inexplicable, and to all other persons in fenible operation of divine power, 1 Kings xiii. 20.
The whole design of Mr. P's. inquiry seems to be that of accumulating proofs of the clear and certain knowledge of the apostles ; and he has to be sure heaped up a great variety of proofs as numerous as they are cogent, and as cogent as they are useless. Becaufe why labour to accumulate human evidence upon this point, when we can have the evidence of God which is greater : fince He thought proper to confirm the reality of their inspiration, i, e. the truth of their words, by signs and wonders, and mighty works - such works as no man could do unless God was with him. And those who will not be convinced by this record God gave of their infallibility, will not be convinced by the weaker efforts of human reafon. But thongh the apostles were unquestionably infallible, that is, had a clear and compleat knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity, does it therefore follow, that those who can only collect their knowledge of these docrines from the (couteiledly authentic) writings of the apostles, poffels the fame certainty and clearness of knowledge, the same infallibility, as those who received this knowledge from God himself? Men who receive knowledge immediatcly from God CANNOT poflibly be mistaken, because God cannot poflibly be mistaken, and also because He will not be mifunder
Mood, since He is not only perfectly acquainted with the knowledge he thinks proper to communicate, what is of no less importance, He is also equally acquainted, how far, and with what degree of accuracy, those who receive His communications, do understand them. But this is a sort of kuowledge which it may be appertains to God alone. For could inspired persons convey the knowledge miraculously given to them, with the same clearness and certainty to others, whether by word of mouth, or by their writings, the fame effect would follow as if all mankind were inspired by God himself. There could not be any more difference of opinion nun concerning inspired truth, than there was amongst the apostles ; amongst whom our author justly observes, p. 21, there was no diversity of religious opinions. But is that the case in these days ? How then can it be affirmed, as Mr. Parry affirms, p. 55, that their writings are a sure and infallible guide to us in all matters of religious opinion ? Had men in these days, (to use Mr. Parry's words, p. 21) like them a compleat and consistent view of the whole system of Chriftian do&rine, and Christian duty, there could be no variety of religious opinions, but all men would be perfectly joined together in the Same mind, and the firme judgment as the apostles were. Knowledge received by original inspiration, many to be sure be traniinitted during the lives of those, who have been favoured with it, with as much certainty as it was received. I say may, I do not lay must be fo tranfmitted. Because the common and usual imperfections of language, which so often and so much prevent the accurate communication of knowledge, may be obviated in a great degree, or wholly removed by verbal explanations : for though our author says, p. 22, “ honett men would not deceive, and inspired men could not be mistaken, yet what authority have we to say that either the one or the other may not be misunderstood ?. .
When intelligent beings are known to be perfectly acquainted with any truth, we say that they are (as far as regards such truth) infallible. Why do we efteen God to be infallible, but because He is perfectly acquainted with all truth-because He knoweth all things. But there seems an impropriety, or rather 1carce any meaning in applying this term to words or writings. For unless ALL who hear the words, or read the writings, collect exactly the same truths from them, i. e. entertain exactly the same opinions, in what other sense can we understand the infallibility of language ? In this sense indeed all books whose subjects relate to the prescribed conceptions of abstract ideas in the human mind, are infallible ; because such conceptions are, and must be the saine in every man--and thus Euclid's Elements is an infallible book
And therefore Mr. Parry justly observes p. 28, All that a plain (he might have said all that any) Chriftian has to inquire into, is the MEANING of the inspired writings.-Very true to be sure! But in this inquiry lies the whole difficulty. For it is upon this account only, that inspiration or revelation is to be prized. Becaute men are not left to discover the truth by their own fallible faculties, but that the truth is bestowed upon them. How then is this meaning to be attained with certainty? Why, says Mr. P. p. 62, by having our minds filled with fcriptural principles.-- What are they? Why such undoubtedly as pious Christians of ALL denominations are in pofleflion of. But then who can make us a list of them? It is one of these I suppose, to follow p. 56, the plain and unstrained language and sentiments of scripture. True again to be sure. But who shall say when the language or the sentiments are unstrained? Do we firain the language if we take it in a metaphori
cal, rather than in a literal sense, or in a literal rather than a metaphorical sense? And are we to say that that truly sensible, learned, and pious writer, John Taylor of Norwich, strains the sentiments of the apostles, when at paragraph 146 of his Key to the Writings of the Apoftles, he fay's that by the Blood of Christ is meant the perfect obedience and goodness of Christ ? -Or, Are we to accuse the no less fentible, learned and pious author of the Scripture Characters of training the language of the Apoitles, because at Vol. iv. p. 1.17 or 176 he aiks plain Christians whether they can stand forth as witnefies of the refurrection of Jesus ? Although the Apostles afcribe the whole weight of their own testimony, to their familiar conversation with Christ, and to their eaiing and drinking with Him after He rose from the dead. An evidence these plain Chriftians cannot posibly have had, because we are told in the fourth volume, p. 76, or 91, that Christ's bodily presence is now withdrawn. Or, are we to say that he strains the sentiments of the Apostles, when he exhorts these fame plain Chriftians (which the Apostles never do) to seek, and cultivate an acquaintance with Jesus (ib. Vol. iii. p. 69, or 84, and p. 107, or 129,) for that He (Chrilt) meets such as do with expresions of His kindness, and admits them to a familiar intercourse with Himself, ib. p. 73 or 88 ; affords them the most gracious encouragement, and prevents their inquiries, by revealing Himself to them, p. 69, or 84. Or lastly Thall we say that this writer ftrains both the language and sentiments of the Apostles, when he afferts Vol ii. p. 170, or 204, that Christ was overwhelmed with a dread of His Father's wrath, though he was more than once declared miraculously to be that Father's beloved Son, in whom He was well-pleased.
At p. 43 Mr. P. tells us, “ some Christians believe one set of opinions, fome another, and you alk by what means shall we ascertain which of these dirterent syitems is right? Wliy, says Mr. P. p. 43, 44, by receiving the writings of the apostles, as the infallible standard (of truth) and test of all religious opinions. Be it to. But then we are told, p. 42, that every description of profeiling Chrittians do aétually acknowledge the New Testament as the word of God, that is, as an infallible standard of truth, and teft of religious opinions, which standard he further tells us at p. 57, is fired and umalterable ; and yet it seems that notwithstanding this very general acknowledgment of this fixed and unalterable, and therefore infallible ftandard, the effect of an unity of opinions, which I suppose we are to expect from it (for if we are not to expect unity of opinion, what are we to expect from it) does by no means follow. Since these differing Christians, who all agrce in the authenticity and authority of Scripture, are as far from agreeing in opinion with each other as ever.'
At p. 23 Mr. P. tells us, all that a Christian has to inquire into is the meaning of scripture. Because he who attains the meaning of scripture attains infallible truth.-Most undoubtedly. But by what means is a Chriftian to find out this meaning? A plain man would be apt to suppose by the use of his reason. But at p. 44 we are told, that it reaton is to be the standard of ascertaining revealed truth, (that is the meaning of fcripture) there will be no end of uncertainty and error, p. 55. Shall we then be better secured against uncertainty and error, if we adopt this author's criicion. Whatever opinions, he tells uis p. 56, are contrary to the plain and untrained language and sentiments of the Apostles of Christ, are undoubiecly falte in proportion as they deviate from the infallible rule of truth. And what is this infallible rule of truth !. Why the plain and un
Irained strained language and sentiments of the Apostles of Christ. And will not the holders of every opinion, say their own opinion alone agrees with the plain and unstrained language and sentiments of the Apostles of Christ, and that the holders of every other opinion strain the language and the sentiments of the Apostles of Christ, and of course deviate from the infallible rule of truth?
Who shall decide when doctors disagree, .
And soundeft caluists like you and me! But it seems, if the Apostles were not guided by the Spirit, we should have no certainty that their testimony as to the facts which they record is true, p. 45; although they were honest men, p. 22, 50, for they believed
(believed !--KNEW most afsuredly) themselves to be inspired, and aflerted the truth of this fact. If then, says Mr. P. they were mistaken in the truth of their own inspiration, might they not be mistaken in the truth of every other fact which they asserted, p. 49. They could not be mistaken in the truth of their own inspiration, however ignorant we may be of the manner in which it is aícertained to the receivers of it, p. 46, for they worked miracles; and this supernatural power was at least as good evidence to them of their own inspiration, as it was to others, p. 47, 49. The truth of the Apostles inIpiration does not stand upon their own allegation, but upon their exercise of miraculous powers : because their testimony to facts, which admitted no evidence but their own, and to the truth of doctrines, of which they alone were the witneiles, can only reft upon their lipernatural power of working miracles. Of the first fort is their teftimony to the reality of their own infpiration; of the appearance of an angel in a dream to the husband of the Virgin Mary more than once; and also to the Virgin herself; of the vifion of Zacharias in the Temple, of the transfiguration of lesus ; of the glory seen by St. Stephen at the time of his martyrdom, and of the incarnation of our Saviour without any human father, by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Of the second fort are their relations of the effects or consequences of thote various facts, for which facts they had either the evidence of sense or that of eye witnelles. For we cannot prove the truth of what the Apoftles say from the assumed reality of their inspiration, and then back again the reality of their inspiration, from the assumed truth of what they say ; since this were to argue in a circle. • An inquiry into the truth of Christianity cannot be, (as MIr. Parry justly. observes, p. 57) an unlimited range into the boundles and perplexing labyrinths of speculation ; because, “ we are not left, p. 58, to the vague conjectures, imperfect reasonings, and wild imaginations of FALLIELE men. It is an inquiry into the meaning of writings, acknowledged to be TRUE upon all hands, and by all parties.” But this meaning neither is nor can be decided by divine authority ; unless with one set of Christians, you will have recourse to a second revelation, to explain the first; (by the by, what fort of a revelation must that be which cannot be understood, and which therefore reveals nothing) or to an infallible expositor of feripture in the person of the pope; or to the telf-interpreting Bible of the London book-fellers. Much of the same fort, and equally well calculated to promote cract, that is real knowledge, is Dr. Hawker's unalterable doctrines of fcripture, the essentials and fundamentals of Christianity, of Metirs. Milner, Scot, Newton, Overton, and almost the whole tribe of serious divines and gospel ministers. Matters which God alone can ascer. tain. For the meaning of inspired writings cannot without a miracle be ascertained in any other way, than as the meaning of all other writings is,
that is by human judgment ; and what is human judgment, but the deci. fions of FALLIBLE men ? For no Christian church but that of Rome, ever laid claim to infallibility since the time of the Apostles. It is nevertheless our duty, p. 58, to ascertain this meaning, as exa&ly as we can, by every means in our power, and to follow it, as our ONLY guide in (revealed) religion.
However infallible then the original receivers of INSPIRED TRUTH may þe, this infallibility can never set aside the imperfections and uncertainty of language, unless the persons so inspired think proper to do it, by guarding against every doubtful expression, removing every obscurity, ascertaining the nature, extent, and application of every metaphor, and pointing out their various ideas with precision. But this our Lord Himself purDw sely forbore to do, Matt. xiii. 11, John ii. 19. Acts xxviii. 26, 27. Nor have the Apostles done this, nor (it should seem unquestionably for good reasons) were they directed so to do.
THOUGHTS CONCERNING DEATH. : TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
GENTLEMEN, IT appears to me one of the greatest leffons which haman" nature can
learn, to receive, with calmness and submission the summons of DEATH, and to be ready to retire from the scene of this world with gratitude, and content, whenever the great Governor of the universe shall be pleased to call us. To overcome the great antipathy, to which all men are subjected, not even excepting the best and wiseft of the sons of fallen Adam, againft this “ last enemy" which is to be overcome, requires a great vigour and foundness of mind; an holy, and pure course of life ; and a long and frequent meditation upon it in the days of health, youth, vigour and Itrength: and then the virtuous man, with the aid and aslistance of God's . Holy Spirit, may consider of it without fear, and anticipate its approach without horror.
With regard to the physical pains which accompany the separation of the foul and body, you have inserted in your firit volume an ancient MS. which contained some very useful reflections on that point very well worthy of the perufal of those persons who may labour under that fear. That vaft numbers of very good and pious persons have laboured under this dread is incontestible, and truly pitiable their condition most undoubtedly is; but vet I think that a proper exercise of their reason may, with God's blefling, in considerable measure enable them to surmount it. For my own part, in addition to the strong arguments produced in the above mentioned MS. I feel well convinced that the great and benevolent Author of our exiftence for the most part orders this important affair in such a manner that the physical pains attending the separation of soul and body are foon pait by and gone: and when, in fome particular cales, a more lingering DEATH awaits us, the support and consolation of his good Spirit will be imparted to good men in proportion to their necessities. Resting therefore our firm trust and confidence in this, as we ought to do in all other events of our preient and future existence, upon the God of our strength, I think we need not be in fear or thraldom upon this account. There are, how. ever, many important ideas annexed to the thought of Deuth, which have respect to the effects it may produce on our prcjent and future happineis ;