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consider, therefore, such a use words. But if they will do this, of scripture phrases, as a suffi-. they yield the point in debate. cient declaration of a man's faith, To subscribe a passage of Scripis so far from consulting the glo- ture taken in such a particular ry of inspiration, that it is turn- sense, is the same as subscribing ing its words into so many charms the expressions by which we exand amulets ; and it might as plain its sense, or the same as reasonably be affirmed, that a few making those expressions a part scripture words, written on pa- of our creed. per, will cure a man of diseases, In reality, we are required to as to affirm that they will make receive the truths, rather than known a person's sentiments, the mere words of Scripture. It when the meaning he affixes to is the mind of Christ, or the docthem is disguised.
trines he taught, and not mere The ancient Pharisees destroy- combinations of letters, that deed the spirit of the law, while serve the name of the Christian they pretended the strictest re- revelation. Consequently, where gard to its letter. They ac- those doctrines are taught and knowledged every part of the received in their purity, in whatmoral and ceremonial law, while ever terms they are expressed, Christ charged them with mak- there the Bible is honoured, as ing it void. They were willing the standard of faith. Where to subscribe any passages in the those doctrines are denied, how prophets, which related to the tenaciously soever scripture Messiah. But that did not de- phrases are held, there the Bible nominate them believers, so long is rejected, and another rule of as they understood those passa- faith set up in its stead. ges in a wrong sense, and refused But there are other conseto apply them to Jesus of Naza- quences worthy of notice, rereth. Those men, therefore, sulting from the scheme of those who would receive a person's as- who maintain, that none but sent to the letter or phrases of scripture phrases are to be used Scripture, without any explana- in declarations of faith. tion, as a sufficient test of his or According to their scheme, thodoxy, build their scheme up- there could be no expounding of on the maxims of the scribes, Scripture. The advantage of and, to say nothing worse, intro- the best commentaries and the duce into the Christian church best preaching would be lost, the old Jewish pharisaism. and the whole course of public
The only perceivable way to and private instruction would avoid these absurdities is to as- consist merely in reading the sert, that they who adhere to Bible. How effectually this scripture phrases are far from would contravene the great dedesigning to use them in an un- sign of the gospel ministry, and certain sense ; that, while they how fatal it would be to the cause choose to express the doctrines of religion is, doubtless, as eviof the gospel in the words of the dent to our opponents, as to Holy Ghost, they are willing, if ourselves. desired, to explain what they be- If a man publishes a book conlieve to be the meaning of those taining what he believes to be the doctrines of the gospel, he faith in the doctrines of reveladoes as much as to subscribe tion. For, in rigid propriety, it is those doctrines. Whatever a the Bible in the original tongues gospel minister speaks concern- only, which consists of the ing religion, he may consistently words made use of by the Holy subscribe. He should surely be Ghost. Those, properly, are ready to give the most solemn the words of revelation. No assent himself to every thing English yords or phrases can which he publicly delivers, as pretend to the authority of the will of God, to the people. scripture expressions, unless Can any reason be given, why a they are a just interpretation of preacher should refuse to sub- the Hebrew and Greek, and corscribe his own sermon, or any respond in sense with the origi. doctrine contained in it? Ought nal. If a sly deceiver, resolved he not to maintain as great sin- at any rate to support his favourcerity and caution, as inviolable ite scheme, should translate a a regard to the truth, and as close passage of the Greek Testament an adherence to revelation in the into such English phrases, as pulpit, as any where else ? There did not express the sense of the he is under sacred obligations to original, but contained the very kold fast the faithful word as he error, which the Spirit of God hath been taught, and to instruct meant to condemn ; it would be the people in sound doctrine. absurd to call those English He ought to speak because he phrases scripture words, or to believes. When he preaches consider a man, who assented to any thing froin the pulpit, by the them, as assenting to the words words which he uses, he confesses of the Iloly Ghost. his faith, and virtually subscribes Whenever we subscribe a text a creed drawn up in those very as it stands in our common verterins. So that the reason, sion, designing thereby to de. which will confine creeds to the clare our faith in scripture precise phrases of Scripture, will words, we virtually declare that confine sermons to them also. we think the true meaning of And if preaching must be re- the original expressed in our stricted to scripture phrases, translation, which, as far as this why not every kind of religious subject is concerned, is tantacommunication ? According to mount to subscribing those conthis notion, we must never speak fessions of faith, which, in our or write any thing on divine sub- opinion, contain the true docjects, except in the very words trines of inspiration.
Could we of inspiration, lest we should be free the words of our language *called upon to subscribe the sen- from all ambiguity, and always timents, which we express use them in a determinate sense ;
The scheme of our opponents the chief controversy would be, has a very unfavourable aspect in wirat way the original text on all translations of the Bible, should be translated. In that and seems to make it impracti- case, confessions of faith might cable for such as are unacquaint- be so framed, that the principal ed with the Hebrew and Greek thing imported by our subscriblanguages, ever to declare their ing them would be, that we Vol. II. No. 9. ЕЕe
believe such and such texts ought numberless disorders in the Christo be so rendered, and that the tian world. They have fomented interpretation given by the op- division and strife, by which the posite side is erroneous. Now church has been rent, while Chriswould not confessions of this tian love and piety have been lost kind be liable to all the objec. in the contest. They have been tions, which are made against framed to entangle conscience, and thos, in common use? If then to stifle the truth. They have of. we regulate ourselves wholly ac ten been made engines of ambi. cording to the opinion of those, tion, avarice, and cruelty. They who oppose confessions, we nev have promoted a blind, malignant er can declare our faith, except zeal, and led to the fiercest and in the Hebrew and Greek lan- most bloody persecutions. And in guages, in which the very phrases gencral they are very prejudiciat used by the inspired writers are to Christian love and candour. found.
In reply, it may be observed, Once more. If none but that the principal evils mentionscripture expressions are to be ed in this objection took place, used, it will be impossible for when creeds were armed with us to declare our faith in the the sword, with blood and torclearest and most legitimate ture. But what have these evils scripture consequences, or in to do with that authority of those truths, which, though not creeds, which is perfectly conexplicitly asserted in the Scrip- sistent with the most extended tures, are plainly inferrible from rights of rational creatures, and them. In this way some truths is founded on the unalienable of our religion, which are by all and essential privileges of all soacknowledged to be of great im cieties? Is the abuse of a thing portance, must be entirely set to be made an argument against aside, or if believed, must by no it? The wisest institutions, the means be professed.
best privileges, and the most These are some of the conse valuable possessions are liable to quences of the scheme espoused abuse; and when abused, become by the adversaries of creeds. In- occasions of great mischief. to such absurdities must they in This is the case with the noble evitably fall, so long as they re faculty of reason ; with the privgard words more than things; ileges of human society, and so long as they venerate and with the sublimest truths of revhonour the phrases of Scripture elation. Even the grace of the more than the truths contained Lord Jesus is often turned into in them, and look upon empty licentiousness., Shall we then sounds, instead of the purity of urge the abuse of creeds, as an faith, as a distinguishing mark argument against them? The of Christianity.
uncharitable heats and contenOnly one objection tions, and other mischiefs, which against the use of confessions are mentioned in the objection, will be noticed.
are not to be ascribed to the na()bjection III. Whatever may ture and tendency of creeds, but be urged in favour of creeds, they to the unsanctified passions of have in fact been the occasion of mankind. From this source,
not from confessions of faith, are esty, humility, and love? May derived all the storms which we not feel and manifest all the have broken the peace of the excellencies of benevolence, forchurch, all the persecutions, bearance and candour, while we which have wasted the saints, refuse to choose a man for our and all the fires, which have de- minister, or to admit him to voured the world. If the hearts church communion, until he of men were sanctified ; if, un- 'gives us some evidence, that he der the guidance of God's Holy is a disciple of Jesus, and has Spirit, they would practise the embraced the faith once delivernoble virtues of the Christian re ed to the saibts ? Thus, howevligion ; we should soon see an er great the evils, which have end of division and strife, and at any time been occasioned by rejoice in the prosperity and creeds, there is evidently nothpeace of Zion. But if the pas- ing in their nature and proper sions of men continue unsanctifi- tendency, which does not hared, it is in vain to expect that monize with the most enlarged any other methods will secure affection of Christians, as well as the welfare either of civil or re with the most precious interests ligious society. Will setting of the church. aside confessions, and removing But there are many good efthe restraints, which religion fects of confessions, which, tho". lays upon mankind, terminate overlooked by our opponents, the reign of sin, and procure afford a strong argument in quiet and happiness? Have we their favour. These effects have not seen those, who trample on been considered in a former creeds, and even those, who number of this SURVEY. I shall spurn all the restraints of relig- only add the words of a late ion, as fond of their own notions, writer in the Religious Monitor. as imperious, and as uncharita- “ Not to speak of their effects in ble, as the most earnest pro- primitive times; it was by conmoters of orthodoxy? Human fessions, that the principles of depravity is ever active ; and if the reformation were spread ; it should cease to be occupied that the scheme was brought to a with religious contentions, it consistency; and that, under the would show itself in some other divine blessing, the fervid heroway.
ism was produceck which inspirThe objection before us hased our fathers to brave opposino weight, unless it can be prov. tion, and defy danger.” How ed that the principles, which we important it is to secure the have endeavoured to vindicate blessings which were gained by with respect to confessions, are the reformation! The hero, who inconsistent with the amiable has delivered his country, or the virtues of Christianity.
But patriot, who has introduced saluwhat pretence is there for such tary laws or institutions, esteems an allegation ? Are not modera the effects of his prowess or wis, tion and meekness compatible dom in proportion to their stabil. with unshaken firmness? Is not ity and permanence. It is so in the warmest zeal for the faith of religion. How evidently proper, the gospel consistent with mod- therefore, it is, that Christian
chúrches should adopt certain the weapons of unhallowed past internal regulations for the pur. sion and science falsely so calls pose of maintaining, in purity, ed, but with the more successful the faith which they profess, and weapons, which Christian truth of transmitting it to future ages. and love supply. Perhaps there
We have now exhibited what is no measure more important we judged of chief consequence at the present day, than the on this subject. We have en- avowed and steady adherence of deavoured to point out the utili all orthodox ministers and ty and importance of confessions churches to that scheme of res of fuith; to explain the princi- ligion, which was so often acq ples on which they rest ; to re- knowledged by our godly faz' move the doubts of the honest, thers, and has, in substance, but misinformed ; and to answer been generally embraced by the objections. aid expose the Protestant churches. The misrepresentations of adversa- scheme intended is that contain, ries.
ed in the Assembly's catechism, It is hoped, that'a dud consid- or in the Westminster confess eration of what has been written sion of faith. A general union will, rouse the attention and zeal on that basis would inconceivaof those, wbo love the glory of bly strengthen the cause of Zion, and lead them to unite in Christ among us, while it would every measure, which the inter- throw confusion and terror inta est of Christianity renders need the camp of the enemy. And ful. Churches of New Eng. notwithstanding every difficulty, land, be entreated not to over- such a union will take place, ik took the alarming signs of the it be as earnestly desired and times. Neglect not the only sought by faithful ministers and means of your safety. Let not churches, as, it is deprecated by those, who exalt the God of others.
PASTOR. your fathers, and seek your good, ever have reason to mourn the departure of your glory. In
THE DECALOGUE. this most eventful period, when the spirit of innovation and reva EIGHTH COMMMANDMENT. olution is spreading such deso- “ Thou shalt not steal.” lations and miseries over the earth, and forebodes such dreads God has been pleased to fur ful evils to the Christian cause, nish this world with whatever is let your fears be seasonably necessary for the accommodaawakened, and let a prudent tion of mankind, The right to foresight provide means of secus the conveniences of life origirity. Hold fast what you bave nates in the gift of God. The received, and let no man take grant to Adam and to his posteriyour crown.
If confessions of ty at the creation was confined faith, wisely used, have such a to their existing necessities. beneficial intuence, consider howPreviously to the days of Noah, great the evil of holding them there was no permission to eat in contempt. Contend earnest- animal food. The right which ly for the gospel faith ; not with mankind had, either to vegeta