Imatges de pÓgina
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the existence of vice and misery? How are they to be reconciled with the Divine attributes? If God be the only Creator and Author of all things, which must unquestionably be allowed, and therefore the Creator and Author of vice and misery, how can these evils be reconciled with the infinite goodness and wisdom of that Almighty Being, who is supposed (though erroneously) to have full power utterly to abolish these evils from existence, or else to have created the universe without them? These questions have often been satisfactorily and plausibly answered, by affirming that by the introduction and existence of evil, the Almighty best promotes his wise and benevolent designs upon the whole; and therefore uses evil as an instrument in the production of general good. But this answer is only plausible, and by no means conclusive, and rests entirely upon that faith in infinite goodness and wisdom, which those attributes are calculated to inspire; but the original difficulty still remains, and is alike common to all systems of faith, i. e. Why could not an infinitely wise, powerful and benevolent Being, have dispensed with the exist ence of evil, and have produced the same happy effects from happier causes? The reply to this question has commonly been, "The Almighty could doubtless have dispensed with evil, but it is evident from its actual existence, that he judged its existence best calculated, upon the whole, to produce his benevolent designs." But this

reply still rests solely upon an appeal

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the difficulty of the question remains the same; but the answer to be drawn from the foregoing hypothesis appears to be of itself absolutely conclusive, i. e. because the Almighty cannot do impossibilities-because he cannot make an infinite being or an equal, (which every being not subject to evil inust necessarily be,) and therefore because, without the existence of evil, there could not have been any created intelligences whatever, he could not have been a Creator at all.

2. It affords a demonstrable refutation of the reputed orthodox doctrine of the absolute primeval perfection of man, without being subject at creation, either to moral or natural evil; since the foregoing hypothesis proves,

that evil is the necessary and consequent attendant of every created being.

3. It presents a complete refutation of the old Heathenish and reputed Orthodox notion of inherent immortality; since as there can be but one Being possessed of unlimited or infinite attributes, he alone can be capable of infinite duration: and hence, without entering into the intricate inquiry concerning the materiality or immateriality of the human soul, a subject in which the loftiest geniuses have "found no end in wand'ring mazes lost," a conclusion must be drawn, that in order to render the existence of any created intelligence infinite in duration, that existence must necessarily be revived, prolonged and continued on to infinity, by repeated renewals and changes from time to time, by the sovereign power of the one sole infinite Being; since no created existence is, or can be, of itself, i. e. of its own constituent parts or properties, capable of enduring everlastingly, for want of the attribute of infinity.

There are some other inferences of minor importance, drawn from the foregoing hypothesis, which I have not thought necessary at present to set forth, and wishing to see this important subject thoroughly investigated in your valuable work, I am, &c. G. P. HINTON.

SIR,

Colyton, May 10, 1823. THIS reply was given to an appeal

many

to me, I suppose to tion of academical history, may not others. The appeal, as a porbe unworthy of preservation, whatever may be thought of the reply. A copy of my letter being taken and not dated, I cannot recollect the year when this the worthy Mr. Horsey was the prindispute happened, but am pretty sure cipal tutor at the time.

JOSEPH CORNISH.

GENTLEMEN,

I HAVE given serious attention to your printed letter, and am clearly of opinion, that Mr. Coward's Trustees are by no acting in any degree inconsistent with means chargeable with persecution, or the most generous principles of liberty, because they prohibit students the use of written forms in the devotions of the family.

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It seems to me highly expedient, and almost indispensably necessary, for every one who takes on him the office of a teacher amongst any denominations of Christians, or, indeed, amongst persons of any other religion, to be able to pray extempore with readiness and propriety, even though forms be generally used by the community to which he belongs. There are cases and circumstances to which no forms can be suited, and under which the use of free prayer would tend much to excite a spirit of devotion, and to promote the great ends for which prayer is appointed.

In order to pray extempore with readiness and propriety, the practice must be adopted early; and as it is at present, and likely to be for many years to come, (I hope and believe for ever,) essential to a Dissenting minister's general acceptance and usefulness that he should be able to do this; those who have the management of our seminaries are fully justified in withholding their assistance from those who refuse thus to endeavour to qualify themselves.

You seem to think that the considering prayer as an academical exercise, is a profanation of it. I cannot see the matter in this light, or conceive the Divine Majesty is offended when young students for the ministry, or any men whatever, pray on particular occasions with a direct view to being rendered more extensively useful, and the being enabled more effectually to promote his glory. Such will have that reverence for the Almighty on their souls, as may be humbly hoped will render such prayers an acceptable sacrifice. If to pray extempore in public be desirable, some means must be used to improve a person's abilities, and those who have the management of education must have a right to insist (if any reluctance be expressed), that on some occasions those do this who are assisted in their preparatory studies. The students might with as much reason refuse to compose their own sermons, under a pretence that they could employ their time better, and better promote the spiritual good of their hearers by delivering the compositions of others, or even to apply to the study of the classics or philosophy, that they might be able to devote more time to divine meditations.

The case of the martyrs is not at all in point, and possibly was the hasty suggestion of some younger student. For any number of men to force others to profess sentiments, or to join in religious services which they do not approve, is persecution. The forcing men to contribute the smallest part of their property or their time to the support of a

religion they do not approve, is persecution. But surely any individual may devote his own fortune or a part of it to what purposes he pleases, and those who choose to partake of the fortune of this private individual, ought in all reason to comply with his terms; and for any to call him on this account a persecutor, would be an uncharitable perversion of language. I do not believe it can be made to appear that Mr. Coward's Trustees in any instance act contrary to his will.

It is expressed in such terms as fully to justify them in doing what they have done: "Exhorting the students to examine freely and seriously, to make the word of God their guide, and apply to him for direction." If any prove Armi nians, Arians or Socinians, the Trustees do not make them so. Calvinists, Trinitarians and Athanasians have no discouragements thrown in their way, no books withheld which tend to establish them in such principles; and however Mr. Coward might occasionally express himself, yet if he had really been the bigot some have supposed, he would have fixed on very different men from Watts, Doddridge, Neal, &c., as the managers of his charities. Suppose a Papist should bequeath by his will a large sum to instruct young persons "in the principles of the Christian religion," would this oblige the trustees of that will, in all after ages, to receive none but Papists into a participation of the benefit, and to exclude those who appeared likely to deviate from the faith of Rome? Should they neglect to instruct young persons in the principles of the Christian religion, then they would not be true to their trust. Mr. Coward's Trustees are to educate and endeavour to qualify persons for the ministry amongst Dissenters, and though some few congregations may adopt Liturgies, and others approve of written forms, yet, whilst this is not generally liked, it is a necessary part of a Dissenting minister's education to be able to pray extempore, and the Trustees ought not to be condemned, but, on the contrary, merit the thanks of every friend to the Dissenting interest for insisting on the students' using proper means for acquiring this ability. And should they withdraw their assistance from those who refuse to adopt the methods they prescribe, no infringement would be made on the rights of conscience. They do not require the students to declare their approbation of extempore prayer in preference to written or printed forms; they do not insist on their introducing any particular words and expressions; and as it was never yet pretended, and I sup

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SALM lvii. 8. "Awake up, my GLORY." .”—On the translation and the import of this clause a few observations may be made. The noun is justly rendered in the English Bible, my GLORY no other version of it seems admissible. This word has, accordingly, been employed, I believe, by the majority of translators, certainly by the best; by the LXX., the Vulgate, Luther, Diodati, Castalio, Rosenmüller, Geddes, Mendelsohn, not to speak of many others. It remains then to inquire, what is the meaning of the term? Several commentators explain it of the tongue; some of the soul, or mind; to which interpretation I give my humble suffrage. I am not acquainted with any passage in which the original substantive bears unequivocally the sense of tongue it is a very different noun by which the Hebrews express that member of the body. The tongue has indeed been styled, by later writers, the glory of our frame;' and justly enough, if the corporeal structure be intended, and nothing more. To the whole frame of man, considered as an intellectual and a moral being, the remark, most assuredly, is not applicable. Nor is there the slightest evidence, that the Psalmist designed to use the word in that limited signification upon which I have animadverted.

inquire, what is the genuine text, what the correct punctuation, what the true rendering and interpretation?

Notwithstanding some important variations in the LXX.,* I see no reason for a departure from the reading in the Hebrew Bibles. Those variations

do not, of necessity, indicate that the Greek translation was framed from a different text.

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The division of the words in the last clause of verse the sixth, is made thus in the Vulgate :† Admirabilis, consiliarius, Deus, fortis, pater futuri sæculi, princeps pacis." This punctuation I am disposed to consider as correct. Mr. Kitcat, in two valuable pamphlets, has lately illustrated and vindicated it: nor, whatever has been insinuated, does he "stand exposed to the charge of plagiarism," since he evidently possesses the inclination and ability to examine the Scriptures for himself.

Isaiah ix. 6, 7. Criticism, when directed to this famous passage, should

I receive, in the main, this gentleman's translation: "his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, Mighty, the Father of the Age, the Prince of Peace." It is remarkable enough, that, for the word here rendered God, Luther has held' [hero]. Such, I had long thought, is the most exact and proper version; but I should have spoken very diffidently of it, had not I met with the sanction of so great an authority. The appellation 'God,' even in the confined and inferior sense which it admits, and indeed here requires, has a singular and incongruous position among the epithets and titles in this clause, and manifestly breaks the climax.

I am inclined to believe, that the Messiah is the personage to whom the prophet now directs the attention of his readers: had the prediction been cited by our Lord, by the evangelists, or by the apostles, its meaning would have been determined, beyond the possibility of doubt.

Matt. vi. 10. "Thy kingdom come." The kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, is the dispensation of the

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gospel, in its different stages; in its progress, from the commencement of it, under the ministry of Christ and his inspired followers, to its final and most glorious issue, in the universal and everlasting ascendancy of knowledge, truth, holiness and bliss.* This definition of the phrase, this view of the subject, appears to comprehend and reconcile the varying, and even opposing, sentiments of expositors.

Matt. xxvii. 25. "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children!" There is one sense in which the destruction of the Jewish temple by Titus, and the overthrow of that state, became a judicial punishment of the nation; their ambitious desire of a temporal Messiah, led them to reject and crucify Jesus of Nazareth; and it was exactly the same disposition that brought on their downfal, by means of the restlessness and tumults,† which provoked the Roman emperor beyond endu

rance.

Matt. xxvii. 51. - behold the vail of the temple was rent in twain," &c. From the wonders accompanying the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, it has been argued, that his nature was superhuman. The argument is utterly destitute of foundation. Who then was the author of those miracles? Almighty God, and he alone. For what purpose were they wrought? Doubtless, in attestation of the mission and the character of his beloved Son. An extraordinary, and, it would seem, a miraculous appearance, marked the removal of Elijah from the world. Shall we, therefore, conclude, that Elijah possessed a superhuman nature and a pre-existent soul? Yet such an inference would justly follow from the reasoning brought under our notice. Consistency, indeed, requires the advocates of this opinion to go much further. Why do they stop short in their imaginations, and not exclaim, at once, with Sir Richard Steele,§ "The earth trembles, the temple rends, the rocks burst, the dead arise: which are the

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Matt. iii. 2, v. 19, viii. 11; 1 Cor.

xv. 24.

† Joseph. D. B. J. lib. vi. cap. ix. (Hudson).

2 Kings ii. 11.

§ Christian Hero, (Oxford, 1802,) 71.

quick? which are the dead? Sure nature, all nature, is departing with her Creator." This, whatever else it be, is not scriptural theology.

Matthew xxviii. 19. 66 teach (TEUTATE) all nations." There cannot be a reasonable doubt as to the just rendering, viz. " make disciples of," &c. It is true, we may be unable to produce from the classical writers an example of this verb being used transitively. But that authority is not requisite, and sometimes may even mislead us, when we are interpreting the books of the New Testament. In the present case, Acts xiv. 21," when they had taught many," [had made many disciples], is sufficient and decisive. Suppose that in these two instances the translation was, "act [or conduct yourselves] [or they acted or conducted themselves] as disciples," what becomes of the accusatives [waνTa Ta εOvn Karous] which immediately follow?

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Acts xix. 5, 6. "When they heard this, they were baptized in [into] the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost [Spirit] came on them," &c. We cannot reason, in fairness, from this case to the effects of Christian baptism in ordinary times. Nor does the New Testament supply an example of the gifts of the Holy Spirit having been communicated to the members, and, among these, the infants, of households, the heads of which received that initiatory rite: no such gifts were imparted to the family. of Lydia, none to the family of the gaoler at Philippi. In one word, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration finds no support, but the contrary, in the apostolic practice and doctrine. The recent, if it be not the still-existing controversy on the subject, has not perhaps engaged all the attention which it deserves. There is a large class of readers who satisfy themselves with smiling, or frowning, on the claims of those who take the affirmative of the question. But, whatsoever he thought of the nature and basis of these claims, the matter should not be so lightly treated. Unscriptural tenets have sometimes been employed as weapons against religious freedom. If baptism be indeed the channel. through which spiritual or moral regeneration flows; if the rite be

essential for this purpose; if it can only be administered by legitimate successors of the apostles; and if a certain order of men are considered as sustaining that character exclusively, what will be the consequences? Some of the most disgusting, arrogant and pernicious exertions of ecclesiastical dominion.

1 Peter v. 8. "Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I regard this verse as having, in substance, the same import with Ephes. v. 16, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The passages are identical, in respect of the exhortation which they contain, and of the state of things which they describe; namely, an age of persecution, the existence of an accuser, a calumniator, an informer, whose violence, and whose stratagems, endangered the temporal safety of the early Christians.

N.

Letter of Mendelsohn to Lavater. [We have received this letter in print, with an introduction, evidently from some Jewish pen :-"The following letter from the learned Mendelsohn to his celebrated friend Lavater, not having been hitherto in extensive circulation in this country, has been republished for the more general perusal of those who have been induced by either mistaken feelings of kindness, or by interested misrepresentations, to interfere with the religious opinions of the Jews."] REVEREND FRIEND OF MAN,

́OU have thought proper to dedi

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into the Evidences of Christianity," which you have translated from the French; and, in the Dedication, to conjure me, in the most solemn manner, before the eyes of the public, to refute this writing, as far as the essential arguments by which the facts of Christianity are supported appear to me ill-founded; but so far as I find them just, to do what prudence, love of truth and integrity command me to do, and what Socrates would have done, had he read this work, and found it unanswerable.

That is, to abandon the religion of

my forefathers, and confess the truth of that which Bonnet vindicates.And, assuredly, were this my opinion, and could I ever be base enough to let prudence enter into my consideration in connexion with integrity and the love of truth, I should, in this case, find them all in the same scale.

I am fully convinced that this act of yours has sprung from a pure source, and I can impute to you none but amiable and philanthropic motives. I should be worthy of no honest man's esteem, if I did not answer, with a grateful heart, the friendly dispositions you manifest towards me in the dedication. But I cannot deny it, this writing from you strongly surprises me. I could have expected any thing sooner than a public challenge from Lavater. Since you still recollect the confidential discourse I had the pleasure to hold with you, and your worthy friends, in my chamber, you cannot have forgotten how often I sought to turn the conversation from religious to more indifferent subjects; how much you and your friends were brought to open my mind on a quesforced to press me, before I could be tion of so much importance to the

heart.

If I do not mistake, assurances were at that time given, that no public use should ever be made of any thing then said. Yet I would rather suppose myself in an error, than impute to you the violation of a promise.

But if, in my chamber, and among a small number of worthy persons of whose good intentions I had reason to be persuaded, I so sedulously avoided an explanation, it was easy to guess that I must be extremely averse to a public one, and that I must be embarrassed can not be deemed contemptible. What, then, could induce you thus, contrary to my will, which was known to you, to force me into the arena, which I so heartily wished never to enter? And if you even ascribed my aversion to mere timidity and bashfulness, does not such a weakness deserve the toleration and indulgence of an amiable mind? But my scruple against entering into religious controversy has been neither weakness nor timidity. I can say that it was not of yesterday I began to examine my religion. I very early felt the duty of trying my

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