Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

tion which superior beings may occa-
sionally occupy) where its hemisphere,
encompassed by its magnificent rings,
would fill the whole extent of our vision
-the view of such a ponderous and
glorious object flying with such
ing velocity before us, would infinitely
exceed every idea of grandeur we can
derive from terrestrial scenes, and over-
whelm our powers with astonishment
and awe.
Under such an emotion we
could only exclaim, "GREAT AND MAR-
VELLOUS ARE THY WORKS, LORD GOD
ALMIGHTY!" The ideas of strength
and power implied in the impulsion of
such enormous masses of matter,
through the illimitable tracts of space,
are forced upon the mind with such
irresistible energy, far surpassing what
any abstract propositions or reasonings
can convey; and constrain us to ex-
claim, "Who is a strong Lord like
unto thee! Thy right hand hath be-
come glorious in power! The Lord
God omnipotent reigneth!"

In

If we consider the immense number of bodies thus impelled through the vast spaces of the universe-the rapidity with which the comets, when near the sun, are carried through the regions they traverse-if we consider the high probability if not absolute certainty, that the sun with all its attendant planets and comets, is impelled with a still greater degree of velocity towards some distant region of space, or around some wide circumference-that all the thousands of systems of that nebula to which the sun belongs, are moving in a similar manner that all the nebulæ in the heavens are moving around some magnificent central body-in short, that all the suns and worlds in the Universe are in rapid and perpetual motion, as constituent portions of one grand and boundless empire, of which Jehovah is the Sovereign-and if we consider still farther, that all these mighty movements have been going on, without intermission, during the course of many centuries, and some of them, perhaps, for myriads of ages before the foundations of our world were laid-rated from another by intervals of many it is impossible for the human mind to millions of miles. The space which form any adequate idea of the stupen- surrounds the utmost limits of our dous forces which are in incessant system, extending in every direction, operation throughout the unlimited em- to the nearest fixed stars, is, at least, pire of the Almighty. To estimate 40,000,000,000,000,000 miles in diamesuch mechanical force, even in a single ter; and, it is highly probable, that instance, completely baffles the mathe-every star is surrounded by a space of

Again, the immense spaces which surround the heavenly bodies, and in which they perform their revolutions, tend to expand our conception on this subject, and to illustrate the magnificence of the Divine operations. whatever point of view we contemplate the scenery of the heavens, an idea of grandeur irresistibly bursts upon the mind; and, if empty space can, in any sense, be considered as an object of sublimity, nothing can fill the mind with a grander idea of magnitude and extension, than the amplitude of the scale upon which the planetary systems are constructed. Around the body of the sun there is allotted a cubical space, 3,600 millions of miles in diameter, in which eleven planetary globes revolve--every one being sepa

"7

matician's skill, and sets the power of numbers at defiance. "Language,' and figures, and comparisons, are "lost in wonders so sublime," and the mind overpowered with such reflexions, is iramaz-resistibly led upwards, to search for the the cause in that OMNIPOTEnt Being who upholds the pillars of the universe -the thunder of whose power none can comprehend. While contemplating such august objects, how emphatic and impressive appears the language of the sacred oracles, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? Great things doth he which we cannot comprehend. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the glory, and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and earth is thine. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord, neither are there any works like unto thy works. Thou art great, and dost wondrous things, thou art God alone. Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of all things, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of his understanding? Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him; for he spake, and it was done, he commanded, and it stood fast."

ON THE OMNIPOTENCE OF THE DEITY.

271

effects produced by such an apprehension-if all the rays of glory emitted by the luminaries of heaven, are only so many reflections of the grandeur of Him who dwells in light unapproachaable-if they have a tendency to assist the mind in forming its conceptions of that ineffable Being, whose uncreated glory cannot be directly contemplated

and if they are calculated to produce a sublime and awful impression on all created intelligences-shall we rest contented with a less glorious idea of God than his works are calculated to afford? Shall we disregard the works of the Lord, and contemn "the operations of his hands," and that, too, in the face of all the invitations on this subject, addressed to us from heaven? For thus saith Jehovah, "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold, who hath created these things? who bringeth forth their host by number? I, the Lord, who maketh all things, who stretched forth the heavens alone, and spread abroad the earth by myself; all their host have I commanded." And, if, at the command of God, we lift our eyes to the "firmament of his power," surely we ought to do it, not with a

brute unconscious gaze," not with the vacant stare of a savage, not as if we were still enveloped with the mists and prejudices of the dark ages-but as surrounded by that blaze of light which modern science has thrown upon the scenery of the sky, in order that we may contemplate, with fixed attention, all that enlightened reason, aided by the nicest observations, has ascer tained respecting the magnificence of the celestial orbs. To overlook the sublime discoveries of modern times, to despise them, or to call in question their reality, as some religionists have done, because they bring to our ears such astonishing reports of the "eternal power" and majesty of Jehovahis to act as if we were afraid lest the Deity should be represented as more grand and magnificent than he really is, and as if we should be better pleased to pay him a less share of homage and adoration than is due to his name.

A

·

equal, or even of greater extent. body impelled with the greatest velocity which art can produce, a cannon ball, for instance, would require twenty years to pass through the space which intervenes between the earth and the sun, and four millions seven hundred thousand years ere it could reach the nearest star. Though the stars seem to be crowded together in clusters, and some of them almost to touch one another, yet the distance between any two stars which seem to make the nearest approach, is such as neither words can express, nor imagination fathom. These immense spaces are as unfathomable, on the one hand, as the magnitude of the bodies which move in them, and their prodigious velocities, are incomprehensible on the other; and they form a part of those magnificent proportions according to which the fabric of universal nature was arranged -all corresponding to the majesty of that infinite and incomprehensible Being, "who measures the ocean in the hollow of his hand, and meteth out the heavens with a span." How wonderful that bodies at such prodigious distances should exert a mutual influence on each other! that the moon at the dis-" tance of 240,000 miles, should raise tides in the ocean, and currents in the atmosphere! that the sun, at the distance of ninety-five millions of miles, should raise the vapours, move the ocean, direct the course of the winds, fructify the earth, and distribute light, and heat, and colour, through every region of the globe; yea, that his attractive influence and fructifying energy should extend even to the planet Herschel, at the distance of eighteen hundred millions of miles? So that, in every point of view in which the universe is contemplated, we perceive the same grand scale of operation by which the Almighty has arranged the provinces of his universal kingdom.

We would now ask, in the name of all that is sacred, whether such magnificent manifestations of Deity ought to be considered as irrelevant in the business of religion, and whether they ought to be thrown completely into the shade, in the discussions which take place on religious topics, in "the assemblies of the saints?" If religion consists in the intellectual apprehension of the perfections of God, and in the moral

A DISSENTER'S REASONS FOR | confirmation of the doctrine of TransubSEPARATING FROM THE COM- stantiation,-Diss.); the retaining of so MUNION OF THE CHURCH OF many of the ancient festivals, &c." ENGLAND.

(Continued from page 239.)

That the Papists generally did frequent the Church in these first ten years, is positively affirmed by Sir Edward Coke, in his speech at the arraignment of Garnet, the Jesuit; in which he speaks on his own certain knowledge, not on vulgar hearsay, affirming more

stitions, is a truth familiar to all who are in the least conversant with the annals of English Reformation. Calvin, who had told Cranmer in plain terms, "That in the Liturgie, as it then stood, there remained a whole mass of Popery, which did not only blemish, but destroy God's public worship," justly observed to the Refugees at Frankfort: "That though it was lawful to begin with such beggarly rudiments, yet it behoved the learned, godly, and grave ministers of Christ, to set forth something more refined from filth and rustiness." It was, however, "matter of cold comfort to him," says the Anti-Presbyterian Heylin, "to understand that the Liturgie had been afterwards revised and agreed upon; and that it was made more passable than before with the Roman Catholics."-Hist. of the Presb. p. 212.

Now, that this degrading principle induced the Anglican Church to retain the anti-christian and Romish doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, together with some other dangerous or frivolous super-particularly, "that he had many times seen Bedenfield, Cornwallis, and some other of the leading Romanists, at the Divine Service of the Church, who afterwards were the first that departed from it. And which may serve instead of all, we find the like affirmed also by the Queen herself, in her instructions given to Walsingham, then being her Resident with the French king, anno 1570. In which instructions, bearing date on the 11th of August, it is affirmed expressly of the heads of that party, and therefore we may judge the like of the members also, that they did ordinarily resort from the beginning of her reign, in all open places, to the Churches, and to Divine Service in the Church, without any contradiction or shew of misliking."-p. 224.

"Nor were these years less fatal," adds the same writer," to the Church of England, by the defection of the Papists, who, till this time, had kept themselves in her communion; and did in general as punctually attend all divine offices in the same, as the vulgar Protestants. And it is probable enough, that they might have held out longer in their due obedience, if first the scandal which was given by the other faction, (that is, the evangelical Christians or Puritans*) and afterwards the separation which ensued upon it, had not took them off. The Liturgie of the Church had been exceedingly well fitted to their approbation, by leaving out an offensive passage against the Pope; restoring the old form of words, accustomably used in the participation of the holy Sacrament; the total expunging of a rubric which seemed to make a question of the real presence; the reverend posture of kneeling at the holy table (a posture first introduced as an appendage and

1

This curious narrative not only exposes the absurdity of an Anglican Doctor, who can talk of "the defection of the Papists" in her communion, as an event fatal to the Protestant Church of England, but it likewise proves the injustice of her now retaining as necessary, those heresies and frivolities, which she hypocritically imposed on us three centuries ago, under the thread-bare plea of "manifesting the justice and equity of the Reformation."-Stillingfleet's Hist. Account. p. 16.

Though her real object was, evidently, to deceive and take in the Papists, she has, as yet, yielded nothing for her brethren's sake, unless it be the use of chrism or consecrated oil, and a few other miserable trifles, with this political salvo, first, That there was nothing contained in the said book, the Liturgy, but what was agreeable to the word of God and the primitive Church [!!] very comfortable to all good people desiring to live in Christian conversation, and most profitable to the estate of this realm. And secondly, That such doubts

*"The leading principles of this Faction are contained in this rule-"That all such rites as had been borrowed either from the Jew or Gentile, without express warrant from Christ or the holy Apostles, as also all other significant ceremonies, which had been brought into the Church against right and reason, should be immediately removed.”—Ib. p. 220,

FROM THE COMMUNION OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.

as had been raised in the use and exercise thereof, proceeded rather from the curiosity of the ministers and mistakers, than from any other worthy cause."Heyl. ib. p. 206.

As the primitive church, a term of indefinite and most convenient latitude, is here raised to a sort of equality with the Word of God; it is not surprising to hear Laud's Chaplain jeering at Theodore Beza, who "blames the ancient Fathers for borrowing many of their ceremonies from the Jews and Gentiles, though done by them out of a good and honest purpose; that being all things to all men they might gain the more. "9

An interesting account of the amalgamation of the Sacraments instituted by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with the secret mysteries of Isis and Mithras, will be found in the learned Casaubon's animadversion on Baronius, p. 480, &c. "There were," says he," in the early days of Christianity, illustrious men, who already complained of the introduction of Heathen rites into the Church, and who rejected them on this account-that they were parts of idol worship, as Tertullian expresses it."-De Orat. cap. xii. ap. eund. This was at the close of the second century.

|

"The Fathers affirmed that deification was the effect and ultimate result of their Sacraments; aware that the authors of those vain superstitions dared to promise the same honour to their epopti, or candidates."-Casaub. Ib.

273

fratrum, to the pitiless moth; my reason is this-I believe in GoD, and not in the FATHERS.

I cannot say with Justin, about the

It is, however, certain that this "good and honest purpose" introduced heathenism and all its forms into the tem-year 150, that "baptism only can cleanse ple of God; and that the Church of and purify a penitent;" or that it is England, in daring to imitate what she "the water of life."-With Irenæus, that calls, the primitive model, has prolonged "Christ gave to his disciples the power the tyranny of Antichrist and supersti- of regenerating to God, when he sent tion over the enlightened nation which them to baptize." A.D. 190.-With still condescends to protect her. Clemens Alexandrinus, that "being dipped we are illuminated; being illuminated, we are adopted for sons, &c."With Tertullian, that baptism is "a sanctifying power." A.D. 204.-With Cyprian, that "a person all on a sudden puts off sin in the laver of the salutary water." A.D. 250.-That "by the help of the regenerating water the spots of the former days are cleansed away, &c."That "by baptism the Holy Spirit is (necessarily) received." That "the water should be purified and sanctified by the Priest, that he may be able, by the baptism which he administers, to wash away the sins of the baptized person.' That " there is but one water in the holy church which makes sheep; that baptism is necessary to salvation," John iii. 5.That "from it all faith takes its origin; that it is the saving entrance to a hope of eternal life, and a divine gift which purifies and quickens the servants of God.-That "remission of sin and sanctification are the effects of baptism," John iii. 5.-That "we are born in Christ, or, the laver of regeneration.”That "it is baptism in which the old man dies, and the new man is born." Yet, strange to tell, all these eminent Divines flourished before the fourth century!

99

In these secret rites there was a Baptism and a Supper. Tertullian mention's both; and they were equally familiar to our British and Gaulish Druids, long before the second and third cen

turies.

Of the antiquity of these notions I have no doubt; they are as ancient as the ritual of the far-famed gods of Egypt, Phrygia, and Eleusis; but the Paganism of Christianity I leave to the old Fathers; the Paganism of Popery to the Church of England; Dionysius the Areopagite, and Dr. Mant, par nobile

VOL. X.

I presume even to dissent from that thrice great Mercury, whom some true primitive Churchmen once conjured from the skies, or the bottomless abyss, to serve their cause in an hour of need. This heathen philosopher or god, very confidently talks of the Holy Spirit in

a

basin-of" a great cup in which the Spirit dips itself;" and we are informed that "this great cup is a baptismal font." Begging Mercury's pardon, I will not say with his godship, that "Baptism is Regeneration;" and that no one can be "saved before this regeneration."-Vide Casaub. p. 76.

[ocr errors]

I dare not say with Chrysostom, that "it is impossible without baptism to obtain the kingdom;" nor that "it is impossible to be saved without it;" nor

2 N

|

can. I denounce with that hasty Father, eternal vengeance against all those who neglect conferring salvation on their infants-an act which an all-wise God has entirely left at the mercy of priests and parents, if we believe the orthodox!! Woe to that Presbyter! Woe to those parents!

According to Augustin, Baptism was very properly called "salvation and life;" and, in recommending these impious denominations, that light of the Church ventures to palm them upon us as the relics of "an ancient and apostolical tradition."-Contra. Pelag. lib. i. c. 24.

Though the carnal interpretation of two texts of Scripture (John iii. 5. vi. 54.) may have accelerated the general adop. tion of such unscriptural doctrines as these, I am led to infer from the very accurate imitation of heathen mysteries perceptible in the administration of those two simple ordinances, which our divine Legislator left to his church, that these doctrines are genuine remains of the same mystery of ungodliness," which, at a very early period, tended to confound the religion of Satan with the religion of Messiah.-(See Casaubon, p. 483, and seq.

66

It may be worth my while, hereafter, to exhibit other proofs of the extensive mischief it has done, in filling the churches of Christ with the dæmons and idols of pagan mythology; in trans

TRANSUBSTANTIATION

1. Exhibits Christ as really and corporeally present in the transmuted element, or species of bread.

2. Converts the Lord's Supper into that very sacrifice which was offered upon the cross.

3. Declares all adults who receive the HOST, that is, Christ, with attrition, to be in a state of grace and of certain salvation.

4. Rome says, that Christ dies again, as often as the priest elevates the host.

5. The transubstantiators worship the host; but they affirm that it is the real body of Christ.

6. These apply the merits of Christ's death in the consecrated wafer.

forming the festivals of the heathen into those of the Nativity, of the Epiphany, of St. John, of St. Peter, &c. &c.

The same politic compliance which familiarized the early Christians with the ritual abominations and fooleries of their heathen neighbours, was the means of settling Antichrist" in the temple of God." The Church of England's secular views and politic compliance ;-her unreasonable regard for corrupted antiquity;

her fixed determination to fetain all her errors, and to confess none, are circumstances which necessitate a separation from her, as one of the strong holds of the enemy of Christ, as a scandal to our Protestant domestic churches, and as an obstacle to the free progress of Christianity and truth.

Her favourite IDOL, Baptismal Regeneration, is a daily source of the most offensive clerical equivocations. Ministers of the truth, who should, at least, have learnt to "put away lying," ere they presume to instruct others, hold three opinions on this point; and, strange to tell, the most absurd is the least shocking; for it needs none of that fashionable dissimulation, which invents for the plainest words, a meaning never dreamt of by those who first used them

a meaning contrary to their usual acceptation, and confuted by the general doctrine of at least fourteen centuries.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »