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ror for impenitent sinners, but annihilation.
have but little effect on people, who are neither willing to go to heaven nor hell. One of their own writers justly remarks, that the scheme does not consist so much in believing, as in not believing. In a word, it is a system of perfect moral darkness-excluding almost every truth of revealed religion, and the inspiration of the Book which contains it. Thus, the reasons have been assigned for their refusal to speak according to God's word; and, in so doing, they evince, as the text says, that "there is no light in them." As the Scripture says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 2 Cor. 2. 14. But let our attention now be turned, to a suitable
1. If the Holy Scripture is the only standard of faith and practice, and is inspired, then we may believe that it must have been under the special care of Divine Providence in every period of time. If it has not been dictated by the Holy Spirit-if it has been interpolated-if it has been mistranslated-if it has been essentially corrupted in any way, it cannot be considered now as a certain criterion of the Divine will. Every one may receive or reject it at his own pleasure, without any danger of exposing himself to the anger of God on that account. The adversaries of Trinitarian doctrines appear to be very fond of viewing the case in this light. Those people, however, who believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, must, of course, believe that the providence of God has preserved it from being essentially injured by the hands of its enemies. No genuine Trinitarian is inclined so much as even to insinuate that the sacred writings are lame, in relation to any
point in the general system of theology. The men who are in the habit of inculcating a belief that the Bible is not the fruit of a plenary inspiration, and that it has been greatly altered from its original form, are endeavoring to support a system of doctrines which require such subterfuges. This book has existed in the midst of its enemies, in every age; and if Divine Providence had not protected it from their rage, there would not be the smallest vestige of it remaining now. That part of mankind whose "mind is enmity against God," cannot be very friendly to a correct revelation of his character and will. This is the character of every human being, whose heart has not been renewed by the Holy Ghost. We need not be alarmed, therefore, when the cry is raised, that the Scriptures are not divinely inspired, or that they have been corrupted. It is our duty and privilege, my hearers, to abide by "the law and the testimony;" and if our opponents choose to appeal to any other standard, let them answer it to God. We must believe that his "word is very pure," and the only rule that is of divine authority. It is a fountain of living water, whose transparency has never been discolored by the admixture of any foreign and polluted streams.
2. If the Scriptures are inspired, and are the only rule of doctrine and duty, it will follow, that an attack upon their authenticity is a bold undertaking. It requires such magnanimity as some of the British reviewers ascribed to Dr. Priestley, to attempt the thing without trembling. Men who are equal to this, must possess minds standing-above the fear of every divine threatening. But from such magnanimity, may the Lord deliver us!
When men set out with an ardent desire of finding interpolations, mistranslations, or any other corruptions, in the Scriptures, it is an evidence that they are unfriendly to some of the doctrines contained therein; and, therefore,
we need not be surprised, if God, in righteous judgment, permits them to think that they have succeeded in their researches, when there is no proof in the case, on which they may consistently rely. It has been noticed already, that the Lord suffers some people, for their wickedness, to fall into "strong delusions, that they should believe a lie." The Lord said to Israel, by a prophet, "Every one, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and puttefh the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me, I the Lord will answer him by myself; and I will set my face against that man, and I will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet; and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and I will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him." Ezek. 14. 7-10.
Thus, we see, that when people seek after error, they may be righteously blinded. In criticising upon Scripture, care should be taken, lest we have some wicked end to answer by the thing. If we examine the Divine Oracles with a pure heart, we cannot fail in seeing that they are just like the God of purity and truth. The Scriptures will endure to the end of time; and, therefore, they who keep the nearest to them, are in the safest course. AMEN.
GALATIANS IV. 17.
They zealously affect you, but not well.
MEN have invented various ways, in their depraved imagination, to escape deserved wrath and to obtain everlasting happiness. They are easily captivated with false schemes of theology; but they are all more or less detrimental to their eternal salvation. From the text and its connection, it appears that men were much disposed to depart from the pure truths of Revelation, even in the age miracles and inspiration. In relation to such people, St. Paul seems to have been deficient in displaying that charity, which is now by many, so highly applauded. He considered those, who taught doctrines opposite to his own, as troubling the churches of Christ. He had, in fact, the boldness to say, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." Gal. 5. 12. The teachers that he referred to, were hostile to the doctrines of grace; and inculcated, what they called good works, as the proper ground of acceptance with God. He says to Timothy, "Desiring tobe teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." 1. Tim. 1. 7. Every system of error, is calculated to flatter the pride of men-to hide the beauty of holiness-to justify the sinner, and te
eclipse the glory of God in the work of salvation. On this account, the Apostle set his face against theological errors, in all their varied forms, saying, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached--let him be accursed." Gal. 1. 8. He repeats this saying, in the succeeding verse, to show us the settled determination of his mind on this point.
From St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, it appears that many false teachers had entered into that church, and corrupted the principles of its members to a high degree. This led him to exclaim “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth!" Gal. 3. 1. Their schemes of error, however, seemed greatly to affect the minds of that people, and inspired them with an extraordinary degree of religious zeal. As they had such an effect on their hearers, no doubt, they appeared to be very zealous themselves, in all their performances. Their grand object was, to make the Galatians hate the true doctrines of the gospel-to love error-to esteem the teachers of it—and to despise the real Apostles and ministers of Christ. St. Paul, therefore, says of them, "They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them." He, however, does not condemn zeal of the right kind; for he proceeds in saying, "It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing."
But, alas! men are more easily inflamed against the truth, than in favor of it; for their hearts are, by nature, totally depraved. Nothing short of divine power and grace, will incline them to the doctrines of truth and holiness. Human nature is the same thing now, that it was in the days of the inspired writers; and error has put on as great a variety of forms now, as ever it did in any ante