« IndietroContinua »
holy Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him 2" Though, however, Mr. Scott passed through “deep waters,” and sometimes 4. §a in darkness,” (Isa. L. 10) during his last illness, it is not to be supposed that this was his constant, or even his habitual situation, much less that fear of the final event prevailed in him. No : hope as to that point generally predominated, though he would say, “Even one fear, where in: finity is at stake, is sufficient to countervail all its consoling effects:” but the present conflict was severe : “Satan,” he said, “bends all his efforts to be revenged on me, in this awful hour, for all that I have done against his kingdom through life!" and his holy soul could conceive of many evils, short of final failure of salvation, from which he shrunk back with horror. There can be no doubt that these distressing feelings were much connected with the disease under which he labored, as they increased and abated again with the daily paroxysm of his fever: yet, with the scriptures in our hands, we cannot hesitate to concur in his judgment, that the malignant powers of darkness took advanlage of this, in a peculiar manner, toharass and distress him. Froun time to time, however, the clouds dispersed, and the “sun of righteousness arose upon him with healing in his beams.” This was signally the case, on one occasion, after he had received the holy sacrament, which be did four times with a solemnity, and even sublimity of devotion, which can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. He had observed, “An undue stress is by some laid upon this ordinance, as administered to the sick, but I think others of us are in danger of undervaluing it: it is a means of grace, and may prove God's instrument of conveying to me the comfort I am seeking." Blessed be God it did so in an eminent degree. Shortly after the service was concluded, he adopted the language of Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Through the remainder of the day, and during the night, he remained in a very happy state of mind. To one who came in the evening he said, “It was beneficial to me: I received Christ, and he received me. I feel a calmness which I did not expect last night: I bless God for it.” And then he repeated, in the most emphatic manner, the whole twelfth chapter of Isaiab, “O Lord, I will praise thee,” &c. The next morning he said; “This is heaven begun. I have done with darkness for ever —for ever. Satan is vanquished. Nothing now remains but salvation with eternal glory—eternal glory.” ... This, indeed, was not realized, so far as ol. the expectation that there would e no other conflict. The fact is, he had onagined himself much nearer death than
he was; and life continuing, “the clouds,” as he expressed it, “ returned after the rain." Still, as the end approached, darkness & gloom fled away, and calmness, and peace, and sometimes blessed anticipations predominated. The day before he died he dismissed one of his children to public worship, with benedictions and prayers for all the congregations of Christ's church, and concluded, “Blessed be his glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. He is highly exalted above all blessing and praise.” And the very day he died, he thus addressed an aged and infirm inmate of his family “This is hard work; but let us think of heaven! let us hope for heaven! let us pray for heaven.” And afterwards, on reviewing the forenoon, (for he seemed still strictly to call himself to account for his use of time) he said, “The morning for some hours H. very comfortably.” And again, “This is something like godlimess,"—meaning, as he at another time expressed it, that he had been able to “approach unto God.” But it was not only at these brighter seasons that the excellent state of his mind appeared: even when “joy and peace” were most wanting, all the other “fruits of the Spirit,” produced in rich abundance, were visible in him to every eye but his own. This became the more apparent even by means of his deafness, which, while it almost cut him off from receiving communications from others, produced in him a habit of almost literally thinking aloud : and this brought to light such exercises of faith, of hope, of love, of servent prayer, of deep §. of meditation or: the Scriptures, in which numerous passages were often brought together in the most striking and often beautiful combi. nation, as could not otherwise have been traced, and as cannot be adequately represented to those who did not witness thein. But throughout his illness all his tempers and dispositions marked a soul ripe for heaven. His patience was most exemplary, though this was the grace which, almost more than any other he feared would fail. His kindness and affection to all who approached him were carried to the greatest height, and shewed themselves in a singularly minute attention to all their feelings, and whatever might be for their comfort, to a degree that was quite affecting; especially at a time when he was suffering so much himself, often in mind as well as body;-even in the darkest times, Thou ART RIGHTEous ! FATHER glorify Thy NAME! solemnly enunciated, was the sentence most frequently on his lips, and marked his profound submission #. humility and sense of utter unworthiness seemed now more deep than words could express. One of the prayers caught from his lips, in the manner above descri bed, was in these words: “O God, do not abhor me, though I be indeed abhorrible, and abhor myself! Say not, Thou filthy soul, continue filthy still but say, rather, I will, be thou clean " It need scarcely be said that Christ was now more precious in his eyes than ever, and his expressions of exclusive, undivided, and adoring adherence to him for salvation, if possible more strong. At the same time, he refused the appropriation to himself of those promises which belong only to true believers in Christ, except as it could be shewn that he bore the character commonly annexed to the promise, such as those that fear the Lord—that love God, repent, believe, and obey. When he could not trace this in himself, he would have recourse to those which encourage even the chief of sinners to come to Christ, and assure them, that “he that cometh he will in no wise cast out.” In this connection it may be remarked, that whatever dissatisfaction with himself he at any time expressed, he never intimated the least wavering as to the truths which he had spent his life in inculcating, or impeached his own sincerity and faithfulness in the discharge of his ministry. It was delightful to see, as the close approached, all his fears disappearing one af. ter another, and in the end not one evil that he had apprehended coming upon him! He had dreaded delirium, in which he might say and do “desperate things:” but he suffered none, beyond an occasional tumult of thoughts in his sleep, and a momentary confusion on awaking. He had dreaded the utter exhaustion of his patience: but it increased to the end. On the only point on which any approach to impatience had been discovered—“his desire to depart"—he had become almost perfectly resigned; and though he still inquired frequently if any “token for good,” as he called the symptoms of dissolution, appeared, yet on receiving a negative answer, he only observed, “Then I must seek a fresh stock of patience.” His last fear respected the agony of death itself, the act of dying, and the severe struggle which he thought he had peculiar reason then to expect. But, blessed be God! death brought no agony, no struggle, not even a groan, or a sigh, or a dis
composed feature to him His breath (so to speak) gradually ebbed away, and that he ceased to breathe, while his countenance assumed a most benign and placid aspect, was all the description that could be given of his departure. Thus “slept in Jesus,” in the 75th year of his age, and after the faithful discharge of his ministry during more than 45 years, this honored servant of God, who by his numerous and valuable writings, “being dead, yet speaketh," and will, it may be hoped, continue to instruct and edify to distant generations. A sentence which he uttered on an occasion when his assembled family joined with him in reviewing “all the way that the Lord had led them," may perhaps pro...'. close this brief narrative:– “I cannot but feel and consider myself as a man that has been peculiarly prospered of God, and I desire to acknowledge it with humble and devout gratitude. Yes, goodnes and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. Whatever my FEElings may at any time be—and my situation and infirmities, and perhaps also my turn of mind exposes me, at times, to considerable gloom and depression—yet This is My deliberate judg: ment. Yea, and on the whole I can add with good confidence, not only they have followed, but goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." It may be gratifying to the public to be informed that Mr. Scott has left in MS. a memoir of his own life, down to the year 1812, which cannot fail to prove highly interesting to all who have esteemed his character, and profited by his instructions It may be satisfactory also to state, with respect to the ... edition of his Bible, which has been long in the course of execution, that the o is fully prepared by the author as far as the third chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy; and that besides this there exists a †. of the last published edition, corrected by him to the very end of Revelations: from which the remaining part will be completed, according to his own final directions, under the care of a gentleman, in concert with his (the author's) family, who has long been his literary assistant in the work, and in whose fidelity he placed entire confidence
A communication from L. H. has been received and will be inserted.
able a writer will continue to favor us with his productions.
Upon enquiry, however,
we are assured, that the paragraph in question was inserted without any hostile intention to revivals of religion; and to avoid offence in such circumstances, appears to be our
If the writer of this communication, differs from us in opinion, with respect to
the fact here stated, we shall cheerfully attend to his statements
WE would preface this article by disavowing every thing like religious intolerance. We have no communion in the feelings of those who make an exact conformity to their creed, the condition of being acknowledged as fellow-christians. We plead for the exercise of free inquiry, and for the right of private judgment in matters of religion. Wherever the sundamental doctrines of the gospel are held, that man we hail as a christian brother; and though we may think we discover errors of some importance in his creed, we will cheerfully admit him within the circle of our charity. But farther than this, God forbid that we should go. To the honour of being liberal in the technical sense of that word, or of giving the hand of christian fellowship to a man, who openly rejects most of the peculiarities of the christian faith, we make no claim. An enlightened charity in relation to difserences of religious opinion, we are prepared to advocate with all our hearts; what we condemn is only that spurious catholicism which opens its arms so wide as to embrace the grossest errorists of the age. Ourobject in this article is to examine the grounds on which this universal charity, which does not even halt at fundamental error, is commonly vindicated.
1. The reasonableness of this indiscriminate charity is argued from the weakness of the human intellect. It is said, that in all our inquiries af.
ter truth, we are liable, from the darkness of our understandings, to be misled; that we can never know but that the opinions which we form concerning the doctrines of religion may be wrong, and those of our neighbour who thinks differently from us may be right; and hence it is presumption in us to withhold from him the hand of christian charity. Our first remark on this argument is, that it contradicts one of the first principles of intellectual philosophy. We mean the certainty of human knowledge. It denies that truth carries along with it, its own evidence; and it places the wildest vagary of the imagination on the very same ground with the most substantial reality. On this principle, the man who is dreaming has as good evidence of the reality of the objects about which he dreams, as he who is awake has of the existence of those which are reported to him by his senses. If it be true that the human intellect is so weak that we cannot certainly distinguish truth from error, we must admit the reasonableness of universal scepticism. But if we do not mistake, there is an inference to be drawn from this argument, highly derogatory to the character of God. It will be admitted even by those who urge the argument, that the bible is a revelation from God, and contains the means of eternal life. But what opinion can we form of the goodness, or even of the
justice of that Being, who should en
dow us with such feeble and imperfect faculties that we could not understand that system of truth, with the reception of which he has himself connected our eternal salvation?
But the argument, if admitted, proves too much. If the fallibility of my understanding is a reason why I should exclude no person from my charity who bears the christian name, it is as good a reason why I should look with indulgence on the grosser errors of infidelity. If the deist, who rejects revelation entirely, should assert his claim to my charity as a candidate for heaven, I should on this sweeping principle, have nothing to say. He might tell me that the human intellect is weak and imperfect, and that he is as liable to be right in rejecting revelation, as I in receiving it; and might call me intolerant and arrogant, if I were to withhold from him my charity. Surely that argument must be unsound which annihilates the difference between christianity and infidelity.
2. Another argument which the advocates of a universal catholicism urge with great confidence, and which is closely connected with the preceding, is founded on the alleged obscurity of scripture. ‘These doctrimes, say they, if revealed at all, are so indistinctly taught, that it would be unreasonable to make them a condition of christian fellowship. If God had intended this, doubtless they would have been revealed so clearly, that every one would have felt the evidence to be irresistible.”
We are not disposed to deny that there are some things in scripture which we do not fully understand; that there are insulated passages, concerning which we can only conjecture the meaning; and we are willing even to grant that on the minor parts of christian faith, which have no immediate bearing on the essential doctrines of religion, there may be a difference of opinion, growing out of actual obscurity. But to make this concession in regard to any of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, would be a palpable absurdity; for it is as gross a reflection on the character of God to suppose that he should make a revelation so obscure and indistinct that we could
not by the proper use of our faculties understand it, in respect to its prominent and commanding features, as it would be to say that he has not accommodated our intellect to the truth which he requires us to receive. Such conduct, instead of being conformable to our notions of the divine goodness, would present our merciful Father, in the attitude of making a most unreasonable and unjust requiSition.
The charge of obscurity, however, in regard to the important truths of religion, has no foundatien in fact. We do not hesitate to say that the language in which these doctrines are revealed, is as unexceptionable and unequivocal, as any language that could have been chosen. We remember an instance in which a student of theology, who had doubted concerning an important doctrine of scripture, told his instructor that if that doctrine were true, it was so important, he was sure it must have been revealed in a more direct manner. What language would you have chosen, answered the instructor, more direct than the language of scripture. He then repeated a form of words in which he thought that the doctrine could not be evaded. ‘Very well,' replied the instructor, “you have hit upon the Apostle's own words.” The young man looking wild and disconcerted said, “But what do you suppose the Apostle meant P” “Why I have always been accustomed,” answered the venerable clergyman, “to suppose that he meant as he said.’ It is worthy of remark, moreover, not only that the passages of scripture which contain any important doctrine are sufficiently explicit, but they are numerous enough we should suppose to satisfy the most unreasonable. No one of the leading truths of scripture is found only in a single passage, so that if we have made one passage yield to the arts of criticism, we have a multitude more staring us in the face, all of which must be despatched before the offensive doctrine can be exterminated.
3. The plea for universal charity is often made on the ground of the sufficiency of the scriptures as a rule of faith. It is said that all christians agree in believing the bible to be the word of God; and that it is arrogant in any one to make his particular interpretation of scripture, the standard to which all others must conform in order to be entitled to his christian charity.
We wish it distinctly understood that we are not among those who advocate the most rigid terms of christian communion. We do not believe that the formularies and standards of our churches ought to comprise any thing more than a general outline of the christian system. But the question whether we have a right to demand as a pre-requisite for christian fellowship any explicit declaration of faith, beyond a general belief in revelation, is identified with another question, whether we have a right to know the religious sentiments of those with whom we associate in christian ordinances. That we have a right to this knowledge, seems to us clear from the fact that some degree of it is essential to christian communion. A man who holds the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and attaches to them their due importance, can have no more communion with one who professedly rejects them, than light has with darkness. Communion implies a union of sentiment and feeling; but in the case supposed there is neither. If then, we have a right to know the sentiments of those whom we admit to our christian fellowship, we have a right to demand an explicit declaration of them ; and we have a right to presume that they use language in the sense which common usage has affixed to it. The man who spurns the great and fundamental doctrine of atonement is as ready to declare his belief in the bible as the most correct and evangelical christian; and can it be a question whether I have a right to be informed of his creed, when he pre
sents his claim to my christian charity ? To illustrate the fallacy of this argument, let us suppose the following case. I have a friend who is prosessedly a deist, and rejects the bible as a mere forgery. He practices many of the social virtues, is candid in his external deportment, and in short, is what the world calls a strictly moral man. He has been accustomed to contemplate the perfections of God as they are displayed in the natural world, to admit the doctrine of providence, and to think and speak reverently of the divine character. Still he has the bible in his hands and deliberately rejects it as the work of an impostor. None of us who believe the bible ourselves would venture to say that such a man is fit for heaven. We could not but feel that he is condemned already. I have another friend whose external conduct is equally exemplary with that of the infidel, and he moreover professes to believe the Bible to be the word of God; but he finds in it no traces of the doctrine of atonement, or of the influence of the Spirit in renewing the heart, or of any of those commanding truths by which christianity is chiefly distinguished from natural religion. Now if I subtract the difference between these two characters, all that remains in favour of the professed christianisa vague assent to the truth of the Bible, which when I come to analyze it, amounts to nothing. And yet if the argument which I am considering be good, I am to receive the latter to my bosom as a christian, and to declare to the former that he can have no place within the arms of my charity. If the infidel should complain of me for partiality, and for making a distinction where there was no difference, I could only tell him that I was tied up to liberal maxims which would not allow me to do otherwise. We cannot but think that it is an abuse of language, as well as a departure from strict honesty, for a man to assume the christian name, who