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But allowing that there may be much holy feeling mingled with this strange fire, that is but too often kindled from the altar of God, still, that state into which many would plunge themselves and the Church, is against nature. All her changes, mighty though they be, are the result of laws not fitful in their
operation. It is also against the economy grace. The
spasms and contortions sometimes effected in the Church are much like those effected by stimulants upon the human body ; powerful in their immediate effects, but invariably followed by collapse. Look at the recent, as well as the more ancient history of the Church, and see if she has ever long continued in a state of feverish excitement. Have not such seasons been uniformly followed by correspondent depression ? I would not, however, depreciate healthful, equable, sustained excitement, nor undervalue revivals of God's work. They are most auspicious tokens of his presence ; living fountains in the desert; an image of heaven. Oh, that God would multiply their number and their power; oh, that those who minister at the altar, may so pray and labour “ with one accord,” that the days of Pentecost may revisit and bless the Church! It is morbid, diseased, enervating excitement only that is to be deprecated. Yet so strong is the desire for this excitement, that a minister of moderate parts is often unable to meet the demands of a single parish, consisting of a few hundred souls. The aid of revival itinerants is sought. But this, instead of meeting, does but increase the demand. After one man has exhausted his magazine, another and another is called. And the oftener a place has been thus burnt over, the more difficult does it become to devise any means by which the dying embers may be again revived and fanned into a blaze. Where is this mania to end? Is the word of God so stale and weak, that none but a Boanerges can give it power upon the conscience and the heart? Blessed Spirit! desert not in grief our sanctuaries and our altars! Inspire with courage those who stand on the watch-towers of Zion, that they “cry aloud and spare not,” until the people turn from their abominations, and the plague be stayed; "in wrath, remember mercy!"
Art. VI. INQUIRY RESPECTING THE CLAIMS OF THE SON
TO EQUAL HOMAGE WITH THE FATHER.
By Rev. RICHARD W. Dickinson, New-York.
In physical inquiries no true philosopher forgets his actual situation, that however comprehensive his mind, he dwells in a dark place where the light is admitted only through a crevice ; that whatever his intellectual eminence, compared with the low-thoughted mass, he dwells in a vale where his vision is obscured by impenetrable fogs, or his prospect is intercepted by inaccessible mountains. Much less, then, in our inquiries respecting the discoveries of the Bible, does it become us to forget, that it is a revelation from that Being whose perfections are all infinite to a creature whose faculties are all finite; and that consequently instead of revealing what God is in himself, it can be designed to reveal only what God is in relation to mankind. If in natural science we are conversant only with the relations of things which in themselves elude our most acute investigations, how can our ignorance of the nature of revealed things, be any obstacle to our certain knowledge, or reasonable belief? The blind man who refused to believe in the existence of the sun because he did not see it, was in relation to nature, it appears to us, as sage a philosopher as the man who rejects any of the doctrines of Revelation on account of mystery. Could we have attained to the knowledge of God's mode of existence by an induction of facts carefully collected, or as an inference from premises which our own minds
had furnished, there would be no more room for skepticism : than there now exists in reference to Newton's Principia
there would have been no necessity, as far as this point is concerned, for a revelation. A revelation necessarily implies truths which are not within the range of the human faculties. Let it once be established that a revelation has been made to man, and whatever propositions are hermeneutically deducible from its pages must be accredited solely on the authority of Heaven. Mysterious they will be, in the nature of the things which they involve; but contrary to
reason they cannot be proved to be, because as revealed principles, they do not come within the perceptible relations of our ideas. The clown, who, because they are incomprehensible to his mind, rejects the principles of the Newtonian philosophy, acts less unreasonably than the self-styled philosopher who, for a similar reason, scouts the principles of the divine science. Their intellects are on a level compared with the disparity which exists between the finite and the infinite mind; while the former is more philosophical in withholding credence from human testimony to facts incomprehensible in their nature, than the latter in rejecting the mysterious doctrines of a volume supported by the author. ity of Him who understands the nature and relations of all things. It were less absurd, we apprehend, to believe for Tertullian's reason, than to say with the Rationalist Foster, that where “mystery begins, religion ends.” As well affirm, that there are no facts in natural philosophy, no demonstrations in mathematics, for in each of these sciences we arrive by infallible steps to conclusions of which it is impossible to form any clear, determinate conceptions. Where mystery begins? It begins in first principles; or there can be no such thing as truth or religion-no existence-no causes, nor effects! It begins in the throne of God, and ends but with eternity! A revelation without its mysteries, were as great a solecism as a temple without its god; or a creation by a creature.
Let any man attempt to comprehend God's self-existence ; his immensity without extension; his duration without succession ; his production of the universe out of nothing; his ever acting and never changing nature ; his unerring prescience, and his creatures' freedom.-Can he deny that the human mind is unequal in its grasp to that which it may demonstrate ? And if he must admit that the attributes of God, when contemplated either in relation to time or space are perfectly incomprehensible, shall he be forward to reject the Bible because it discloses to our faith an incomprehensible mode of the divine existence ? Not, if he would be consistent, or desires not to take his place in the lowest scale of intellectual character, with that of the atheist.
The truth is, if we are to receive from on high only that which may be fully comprehended, there can be no room for the exercise of faith. We do reverence to our own minds, and not to the uncreated intellect-to our precon
ceived opinions, and not to His thoughts which are not as our thoughts; we exalt our puny faculties above Infinity. “By how much any divine mystery," said the great Bacon, "is more unpalatable and incredible, by so much the more honour is given to God in believing, and the victory of our faith is made more noble." So thought the very heathen.“ Men conceived,” said Tacitus, “ that to respect the mysteries of the gods, and believe without inquiring, would be the best proof of veneration."
Reason, however, is not to be degraded from its proper rank ; nor may the understanding be insulted; but reason is not unfrequently identified with preconceptions; and an appeal to reason is generally nothing more than an appeal to that faculty of our minds which is governed by sense.
If the province of reason be the same in religion, with philosophy, no alternative remains for us but this—either to declare ourselves to be infallible; or else to admit that our passions and prejudices may distort our reasonings and invalidate our conclusions ; either to reject the inspiration of the Bible ; or bow our understandings to the truths and facts which reason may discover on its pages.
We have made these remarks, not only on account of their prospective bearing on the subject which we propose to investigate ; but because the pride of the human mind has often precluded belief in that mystery of God in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And knowing that if our gospel be veiled, it is veiled to those who destroy themselves, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded, we deem it of the last importance that the minds of our readers should be divested of all undue prepossessions or imaginary difficulties; and that they should come at once to the simple testimony of the word of God, the faithful and true witness, for it is written THAT ALL MEN SHOULD HONOUR THE Son EVEN AS THEY HONOUR THE FATHER.
The genuineness of this passage will not be assailed ; nor can its meaning be obscured or perverted. It is intelligible to every capacity; and though it would be rushing in o where angels dare not tread,” to attempt to comprehend in the divine nature the mystery of the triune God, it is the legitimate province of reason to ascertain the grounds on which the proposition which this passage involves is founded. I may not be able to comprehend the mode of the divine existence, but I may honouir Jesus Christ if the Scrip
tures on their authority require me, and by their evidence constrain me to believe that with the Father he is equally entitled to the honour of mankind.
But what in the view of dispassionate reason would entitle Jesus Christ to equal homage with God?
Would it be simply on account of the works which he did ? We are aware of the tendency of human nature to idolize the worker of miracles; and we are confident that any man might work a miracle, should he be commissioned and empowered by the Author of nature. The simple fact, then, that Christ did many mighty works, is not sufficient to this end, though the candid mind, on the discovery that his miracles were differently performed from those of either the prophets or of the apostles, may not readily preclude its consequent suspicion of his high origin. On the supposition that he were but a man, how is it to be explained, that his miracles bear no marks of dependence on a higher power ? By a motion of his hand, he stilled the waves of the sea ; with more ease than we could awake a friend from ordinary sleep, did he break the slumbers of the dead. It was but a word from his lips, and the fig-tree was withered and dried up from its roots—the tempest ceased its raging—the mouldering dead came forth from the grave. It is not surprising that the by-standers, overwhelmed with astonishment, fell down at his feet in involuntary obeisance. Here was one not indistinctly reminding them of Him who spake and it was done. And yet so far from counteracting the impression which his miracles produced on their minds, he distinctly informed them that all that the Father did on earth, he also did ; that the Father's works were his works. All that he performed, he attributed to himself, as well as to God; and charged them to believe his works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him..
Or, would it be on account of the prophesies which Christ uttered? We reasonably believe that God is with a prophet; but this cannot obligate us to pay divine honours to a prophet. He is indeed highly favoured of God, but still he is only a man. Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ; but was Christ moved in like manner? As men, the Jewish prophets were as ignorant of the future as we. They could predict no event of themselves. Selected by God for this purpose, they awaited the inspiration of his Spirit. When prophecying, with the exception of Moses.