Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

subject, as the chapters and passages in question, it would, of course, be entirely renounced on this principle. No man can prove the doctrines in debate, to people who have previously assumed the belief that they are an impossibility. Every thing that appears to support them, must, therefore, be removed on some calculation or other. But, surely, that is refusing to abide by the decision of the Scriptures, and making our own reason the test of truth and falsehood.

Concerning one of the five ways, which they have invented, of rendering Rom. 9. 5, Mr. Belsham says, “ This conjecture, ingenious, and even probable as it is, not being supported by a single manuscript, version, or authority whatever, cannot be admitted into the text. But one may almost believe that the present reading might be owing to an inadvertence in one of the earliest transcribers, if not in the apostle's own amanuensis !!” See Belsham's Calm Enquiry, page 224.

This course is evading an equivocal, but unpleasant text, at any rate! There is no possibility of standing before such reasoners ! People who see the beauty and importance of Trinitarian doctrines, must be greatly shocked in seeing such liberty taken with the Oracles of God. But when interpolation, mistranslation, and every other method of evasion, fails, our opponents have recourse,

4. To the open denial of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. This is, confessedly, a strong assertion ; but it may be very easily supported, from the express sayings of some of the most eminent Anti-Trinitarian authors. It is said by St. Paul, that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" but the reverse of this is boldly maintained by Dr. Priestley, who was one of the most distinguished Anti-Trinitarians of his age. He says, in his letters to a philosophical unbeliever, “Not that I consider the books of Scripture as inspired, and on that account

entitled to respect. If you wish to know what, in my opinion, a Christian is bound to believe with respect to the Scriptures, I answer, that the books which are universally received as authentic, are to be considered as faithful records of past transactions. No Christian is answerable for more than this. The writers of Scripture were men, and therefore fallible ; but all that we have to do with them, is in the character of historians, and witnesses of what they heard and saw. Of course, their credibility is to be estimated like that of other historians, viz. from the circumstances in which they wrote, or with respect to their opportunities of knowing the truth of what they relate, and the biases to which they might be subject. Like all other historians, they were liable to mistakes; and with respect to their reasoning, we are fully at liberty to judge of it, as well as that of any other men, by a due consideration of the propositions they advance, and the arguments they allege."

In a communication to Dr. Price, on this subject, he says, “ Neither I, nor I presume yourself, believe implicitly every thing that is advanced by any writer in the Old or New Testament." In relation to all the sacred writers, he says to that gentleman," I believe them to have been men, and consequently fallible, and liable to mistake with respect to things to which they had not given much attention, or concerning which they had not the means of exact information ; which I take to be the case with respect to the account which Moses has given of the creation and fall of man."

In another part of his writings, he charges Moses with giving us “a lame account of these things. Some of the British reviewers ascribed this saying concerning Moses, to the Dr.’s magnanimity;" that is, his independence and elevation of mind. That the thing was bold, must be ad

mitted; but we think that it was more evincive of moral depravity, than of true greatness.

Dr. Priestley was undoubtedly a man of some learning and talents; but such an attack upon Moses, was a high evidence of his infidelity, and no ornament to his character. With all his erudition, study, and mental force, the best of his writings fall infinitely beneath the sublimity of the Holy Scriptures. The one shows the learned, ingenious, and studious mind; but the other bears the obvious marks of true Divinity, and is a bright display of the moral glory of God. There is as wide a difference, therefore, between the productions of a Priestley, and the writings of Moses, as there is between earth and heaven! There have been many in the world, not inferior to Dr. Priestley in any respect, who have differed greatly from him in relation to the Scriptures; and, no doubt, it is the case now, and will be to the end of time. To speak otherwise, would be a manifestation of moral blindness, and insensibility to the beauty of truth and holiness.

In direct opposition to the Apostles, Paul and Peter, and some of the Prophets, Dr. Priestly has said, “ That the books of Scripture were written by divine inspiration, is a thing to which the writers themselves make no pretensions. It is a notion destitute of all proof; and has done great injury to the cause of christianity.” But in advancing unqualified and daring assertions, in opposition to Prophets and Apostles, Dr. Priestly was actually a “magnanimous” writer! In his first letter to Mr. Burn, he has the temerity to declare, “ That in no sense whatever, not even in the lowest of all, is Christ so much as called God in all the New Testament."

On this astonishing assertion, Dr. Fuller makes the following remarks: “ The method taken by this writer, to enable him to hazard such an assertion without being sub

ject to the charge of downright falsehood, could be no other than that of laying a kind of arrest upon many sacred passages, as being either interpolations, or mistranslations, or something that shall answer the same end; and by these means, imposing silence upon them as to the subject in dispute.” “To be sure,” says the Dr. “we may go on, killing one Scripture testimony, and stoning another, till at length, it will become an easy thing to assert, that there is never an instance in all the New-Testament, in which our opinions are confronted. But to what does it all amount? When we are told that “ Christ is never so much as called God in the New Testament;" the question is, whether we are to understand it of the New Testament as it was left by the sacred writers; or, as corrected, amended, curtailed, and interpreted, by a set of controvertists, with a view to make it accord with a favorite system."

It has been made to appear, that Dr. Priestley pointedly denies, that the Scriptures are the fruit of divine inspiration. He viewed them only, “as faithful records of past transactions.” But, as the writers of the Scriptures declare that they were inspired, if Dr. Priestley is right, then they have told us a palpable falsehood; and, therefore, they cannot be considered as faithful historians, nor even as honest men. Viewing the case in this light, it cannot be said that the Scriptures are a proper test of truth and duty. If the Dr. is correct, they may be summoned to answer at the bar of reason ; and if they do not approve themselves to its decisions, are as liable to be condemned as any other writings. It is entirely impertinent on this calculation, to exhort any man to go “to the law and to the testimony,” to know what he should either do or believe.

Dr.Priestly, however, is not alone, in such daring attacks upon the Holy Scriptures. The Rev. T. Lindsey says,

in relation to the Person of Christ, “ It must be owned, to have been left in obscurity in the Scriptures themselves, which might mislead readers, full of heathen prejudices.” But if the Scriptures are calculated to “mislead” men, in judging of Christ, they are not very well adapted to inform them on any other subject; and, therefore, they must be in a great measure useless, unless it be to afford matter for religious controversy. A writer in the Monthly Review, agrees with Mr. Lindsey in saying, “ The nature and design of the Scriptures, is not to settle disputed theories, nor to decide upon speculative controverted questions, even in religion and morality.” It must be acknowledged, I think, that this is in fact, a plain denial of the inspiration of Scripture, and a rejection of it, as being the proper rule of truth and virtue. Another writer of this class, says of St. John, “ If a concise, abrupt obscurity, inconsistent with itself, and made up of allegories, is to be called sublimity of speech, I own John to be sublime: for there is scarce one discourse of Christ, which is not altogether allegorical, and very hard to be understood.” But to go on, another author of the same stamp says, “I shall not a little glory if I shall be found to give some light to Paul's darkness, a darkness, as some think, industriously affected." Let us hear another of the Anti-Trinitarian school, in relation to the historical events of the NewTestament, saying, “These narrations, true or false, are only suited for ignorant, uncultivated minds, who cannot enter into the evidence of natural religion.” He adds, that “ Moses, according to the childish conceptions of the Jews in his days, paints God as agitated by violent affections, partial to one people, and hating all other nations.' In a note on 2 Peter, 1. 21. “ The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is said

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »