Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

ment of man upon bis fellows, who at one time pours forth upon them the vindictiveness of his injured feelings, and at avother would clothe them in almost poetic excellence,-ever changiog his impression of the species with the varying hue of the individuals who pass before bim; and, under the impulse of his wayward imagination, vilifying or idolizing his own nature, just as self is affected by it. There is something which stands most manifestly and separately out from all this in the one constant deliverance of Scripture, which, without faltering, affirms this province of God to be in deepest rebellion against Him; and that, in reference to Him, all have come under a curse, and all are dead in trespasses and in sins."--p. 118, vol. IV.

The portable evidence is a phrase borrowed from Joseph John Gurney, in his work on the Evidences, and means that self-evidencing light which the Scriptures carry along with them, wherever they go. The following extract will explain its nature :

“ Each entire man bas a conscience within his breast which tells him of the difference between right and wrong, and tells him somewhat of the God who planted it there; and each has a consciousness which tells him of his own delinquencies against this law of moral nature, and that, in the eye of him who ordained that law, he himself is an offender. Let the word which tells him the same things lay hold of his attention, and the recognized harmony between the lessons of the one and of the other, the felt echo in his own heart to the intimations of a message thus brought nigh unto him,--the response given from within to the voice heard from without — will fix and perpetuate his attention the more ; and all the discoveries made by this process of a joint or double manifestation, will bave, at least, the authority of two witnesses to confirm them. Let us conceive that the ministrations of the Spirit are superadded to the ministrations of the word, and that he who is the subject of these, obtains, in consequence, a clearer and fuller view both of himself and of the Bible. Under such a discipline as this, all bis convictions, and with his convictions, his fears must grow apace; the feeble and incipient notices which first drew his regards, might now be to him the loud denunciations of terror; all that is said of the evil of sin and of the vengeance which awaits the sinner under a holy and unchangeable lawgiver, might have tenfold greater weight and significancy than before ; and he be haunted, in consequence, by the thought of an angry God and an undone eternity. In the midst of these disquietudes which so agitate and engross his soul, let us further imagine that the same Bible which told him of sin, now tells him of salvation ; and that the same Spirit from on high which irradiated the one revelation and made it stand forth as if in illuminated characters of greater dread and majesty than before, casts a bright but pleasing irradiation over the other also, In answer to the prayers of this tost and tempestdriven supplioant, seeking for rest but bitherto finding none, let the revelation of grace be at length made as palpable as before was the revelation of terror. Let him now be helped to take a view of redemption, in its characters and in its footsteps,- of that great movement made from heaven to earth, and the object of wbich was to reconcile the outcast world, and recall its wandering generations to the family of God. Let the law have acted its part as a schoolmaster in bringing him to Christ; and, in the history of him who came, charged with the overtures of peace, and went about doing good continually, let him learn the possibility at least that there is an outlet of escape from condemnation, that there is still a refuge from despair. Let this dawning hope ripen more and more towards a full-assurance, as he becomes niore intelligent in the doctrines of the Saviour, and listens to his repeated declarations of good will to the children of men. Above all let him be made to know the purposes of his death; and his minit be opened to behold the great mystery of the atonement, the union of heaven's justice with heaven's clemency. It is then that the scales fall from his eyes; and in the propitiated pardon of the Gospel, blending the honours of a vindicated sacredness with the freest and fullest proclamations of mercy, he at length finds that alone remedy * by which the misgivings of his guilty nature can be met and satisfied. By one and the same manifestation, even the spectacle of the cross, his con. fidence, though a transgressor of the law, is restored ; while his reverence for the law's authority is exalted,--and, in the transition which he now makes to peace and holiness, he learns what it is to mix trembling with his mirth, to combine with the security of the Christian faith the dili. gence of the Christian practice. But his experience does not stop at this great event of his history, which might well be termed the turning point of his salvation. It rather only begins here; and, along the career of the new creature in Jesus Christ our Lord, with the power of sin broken, and a constantly increasing delight in that law which was formerly his terror, the descriptions of the book so tally with the findings of his own heart and his own history, as to multiply the evidence upon him that Christianity is divine. Under the teaching of the Bible which he daily reads, and of the Spirit which he daily prays for, these signatures of heaven in the whole religion of the New Testament become every day more legible and more convincing,--till a belief nerer to be shaken be fully ez. tablished within him, that verily God is in it of a truth."-p.172,vol. IV.

In the fourth book, which completes the volume and the subject of the Evidences, our author treats of the Canon of Scripture, its inspiration, the internal evidence for the Canon and inspiracion, and the supreme authority of Revelation. To each of these topics he devotes à chapter. In discussing the Canon of Scripture, he lays down the principle that one writer in the Sacred Volume is to be admitted as a witness for any other, that his writings are genuine and authentic; and proceeding on this principle, he takes up every book in the Old Testament, and furnishes a list of quotations from it in the other books of the same volume. This is a laborious but most useful service rendered to the Church. With the author's views of Inspiration we were perfectly delighted. They are substantially those of Carson and Haldane. With them he discards all degrees and distinctions of inspiration, resting on the affirmation, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

“But another and no less important advantage of testimonies regarding inspiration in the second form is, that they supersede all the unwarrantable, and, we would say, all the senseless and unphilosophical specu. lation, in which the impugners, and occasionally even the defenders of a plenary inspiration, have indulged, on the modes and degrees of inspira

P

tion. In much that has been said by these scholastics, not of the middle ages, but of the last and even of the present century, on the subjects of guidance and superintendence, and elevation and infusion, we can per, ceive nothing but an illegitimate attempt to lift that veil, which screens from our discernment the arcana of a hidden operation, -- reminding us somewhat of the hopeless and irrational attempts, in other days, to seize upon and to define the occult qualities of matter. Instead of being satisfied to know of the virtues and properties of the resulting commodity, nothing will appease their spirit of ambitious inquiry, till discovery has been made of the process of the manufacture. Now enough for us to know of the result. For the imaginations of men, as to the modus oper. andi, we infinitely prefer the palpable testimonies of Christ and bis apostles, as to the qualities of the opus operatum ; and, without prying into the distinctions of Christian, in every way as fanciful as those of Jewish doctors of old, --between one kind of inspiration and another, --it is enough for us to learn that the Bible, out and out, is perfect ; that the Bible is an infallible rule both of faith and manners.” -p. 353, vol. IV.

“It was indispensable, we say, for men's guidance, that they should have a distinct and absolute understanding on this subject; and nothing could serve the purpose better than just an isolated book, whose visible margin, as it were, separated and marked off that which was of Divine inspiration from that which was of human invention or human judgment. But when, instead of this, we are told that the limit does not lie around the book, but meanders in some obscure and untraceable way within it, -when taught to believe, as we are by the advocates of a partial inspira: tion, that man's words, as well as God's words, are there, and that, to find the line of demarcation between them, we have not, as every plain and unsophisticated man wont to imagine, we have not to make a cir. cuit around the four quarters of the Bible, but to make incursion withia the fence, and there separate the precious from the comparatively vile, when deprived of the palpable criterion we had formerly, wbich was sim ply and surely that this book is the depository of God's revelation, and all its contents are to be honoured and regarded as such, we are sent a rummaging among these contents, as if partly divine and partly buman, -and without any such criterion as we had before by which to discrimi. nate between them, we are thrown adrift among the ambiguities of a question where all is loose and indeterminate, and are left at a loss to know wbat we shall trust as the sayings of God, and what we shall treat as the sayings of a fallible mortal like ourselves. The separation between them was trodden under foot, when the outer wall of the court was taken down ; and by the giving up of a universal inspiration, we are left without a Bible,- for we are left to guess as we may, when it is, or when it is not, that the voice speaketh to us from heaven. It may well be said to emit an uncertain sound, when thus made uncertain of the quarter where the sound comes from ; nor can we imagine aught more precari. ous, than when given to understand, that there is a mixture of various sorts of inspiration in the book; and thus all is reduced to a dim and shadowy question of degrees, wbich is wholly unresolvable. It may continue to be called the Bible. But from the moment we are made to be. lieve that it is not, all over, the Word of God, its character, as a clear and unequivocal directory from our Master and Lawgiver in heaven, is benceforih nullified.”—p. 359, vol. IV.

In treating of the internal evidence for the Canon and In

spiration of Scripture, the author's main object is to fix the proper and relative place of the external and internal evidence. And this he does with great judgment and discrimination. Under the last topic, the authority of Revelation, there is a powerful call on the students of the Word to proceed on the sound principle of a genuine pbilosophy; and, the Bible being proved to have come from God, to submit their understanding and conscience and life to its authority, never asking another question than “how readest thou ?”

We take our leave of these two volumes on the Evidences with great admiration of their Author and gratitude for his services. We trust they shall have a wide circulation through the land, and through the world. They are well fitted to introduce the soundest principles of philosophy in the study of the Word of God, and to place the religion of the people on the firm basis of enlightened and well-directed reason. How grateful should the Church be to its great King and Head, who has raised up such a defender of evangelical religion, who is able to rise to the loftiest attainments of philosophy, and makes them all tributary to vital godliness. We would say, that the great work of Chalmers has been to demonstrate the happy union between sound philosophy and true religion, and to humble the pretenders to science who were accustomed to exclude religion even from a hearing. We pray that he may be spared to complete the task on which he has entered, of giving a uniform edition of his works to the public; and it is assuredly the duty of the friends of religion and philosophy to support the undertaking.

OBITUARY.

It is with sincere sorrow we record the death of our young and much respected friend Mr. Jobn Thomson Finlay, which took place at the residence of his father, the Rev. Moses Finlay, of Donoughmore, on Monday, the 7th of November. Bearing the venerable name of John Thomson, a desire generally prevailed with his friends, that God would incline his heart to the sacred ministry, of which his distinguished ancestor bad been 80 long an ornament,- his own mind at an early age indicated a fitness for the ministerial work, and a disposition towards it, -and as soon as he was competent to form such a purpose, the ministry was the settled object of his choice. After enjoying agood elementary education, he entered as a Student in the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where he completed the ordi. nary course of education with great credit to himself and satisfaction to bis friends and teachers. Subsequently he passed a Session in Edinburgh, to enjoy the prelections of the distinguished Chalmers, and to improve his Medical knowledge, which was already considerable. It was his intention to have

returned to that seat of learning : but it pleased the wise and Almighty Disposer of our lives and lots to afflict him with a painful disease, which prevented him from executing his purpose. Under this malady he was confined almost exclusively to his bed for the space of three years, and during the sleepless nights and wearisome days appointed him throughout that long period of suffering, he was never once heard to murmur. We doubt if many examples have appeared in the Christian Church of such entire conformity to the blessed image of him who," as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, opened not his mouth.” Nor did he rest merely in the cultivation of patient submission to the will of God,-his heart was intent on doing good as he enjoyed the opportunity. With those who visited him be conversed in the most cheerful and profitable manner. To some of his young friends he addressed letters, giving them such counsel as he thought they needed, and which he felt more liberty to convey in writing than in conversation. One letter of this description, addressed to a young friend, has been found unfinished among his papers, and it is commenced with an expression of his expectation that his days would be few on earth, thus rightly judging that his counsel would be more regarded by his friend. He continued in his usual state of suffering, without any appearance of his immediate dissolution, till within about a fortnight of his death. During that time, he greatly triumphed in God his Saviour, till he fell asleep in death. A few hours before his death, the family had united to sing the 58th Paraphrase, in an apartment so convenient to that in which he lay that he could hear their voices and distinguish their words. When they came to the second verse, he lifted up his heart with theirs, and in a clear and strong voice sung to the honour of the Saviour in whom he trusted,

“ He who for men their surety stood,

And poured on earth his precious blood,
Pursues in heaven his mighty plan,

The Saviour and the Friend of man." The atonement and intercession of Christ thus elevated him in death, as they bad sanctified him in life and comforted him in sorrow. Among his last broken accents he was heard, at in. tervals, to say,—" Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, my God and Saviour,---a great Sinner, but great glory,--and, (in almost the article of death,) goodness and mercy.” He died in possession of his understanding, surrounded by his friends, at peace with God and men, and affording another example of the justness of the Psalmist's words.--" mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.” Died, on the 4th instant, Elizabeth, daughter of Mrs. MClelland, of Peter's-hill. She was a child rarely gitted by nature and grace; and though she was only in her 12th year,

« IndietroContinua »