صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

which human death is expressed, are either expressly applied, or by consequence are plainly applicable, to the death of our Saviour. His resurrection doth imply the reality of his death; for otherwise it had not been miraculous, it had not been a pledge of our resurrection. But I will not further needlessly insist upon explicating or confirming a point so clear, and never misunderstood or questioned, except by some wild and presumptuous heretics. Our Saviour's death, then, was a true, real, and proper death, suitable to that frail, passible, and mortal nature, which he vouchsafed to undergo for us; to the condition of sinful flesh, in the likeness whereof he did appear; severing his soul and body, and remitting them to their original sources. His passion was indeed ultimum supplicium, an extreme capital punishment; the highest in the last result, which in this world either the fiercest injustice, or the severest justice, could inflict; for to kill the body is (Matt. x. 28) the utmost limit of all human power and malice, the most and worst that man can do; and so far did they proceed with our Lord."-Then, after shewing how the benefits of Christ's death are applied to the church, he says, "But a farther height, a perfect immensity indeed, of worth and efficacy, must needs accrue to the death of our Saviour, from his being the Son of God, from his being God (one and the same in nature with his Almighty and Allglorious Father): for it is the blood of Christ, the Son of God, which purgeth us from all sin (1 John i. 7; Rev. i. 5, 6); yea, God himself did purchase the church with his own blood (Acts xx. 28): it is the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (Tit. ii. 14); hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us (1 John iii. 16). That the immortal God should die! that the Most High should be debased to so low a condition! as it cannot be heard without wonder, so it could not be undertaken without huge reason, nor accomplished without mighty effect. Well, indeed, might such a condescension serve to advance us from the basest state to any pitch of honour and happiness; well might one drop of that Royal Blood of Heaven suffice to purchase many worlds, to ransom innumerable lives of men, to expiate an infinity of sins, however grievous and foul."-Barrow, vol. ii. p. 388.

We should have concluded here, if we had to deal with none but members of the Church of England; but there are numbers whom we would gladly own for brethren who do not belong to that church, and to whom we are desirous of addressing a few words; especially to such of them as are members of the Church of Scotland. Our brethren of the North who have greatly cultivated their reasoning powers, and also strenuously asserted the right of private judgment in religion, are peculiarly

liable to the dangers incident to the abuse of these things, in themselves so excellent. The heresies which infested the Eastern church were chiefly respecting the person of our Lord, and may be traced either to metaphysical subtleties on the one hand, or physical analogies applied too literally on the other. To defend the church against the several forms of heresy as they arose, the several creeds were composed; and with such success, that no similar heresy can find its way into any church that holds the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. To these Creeds, and her Articles, we mainly attribute the consistent steady doctrine of the Church of England; though much is also to be ascribed to the learned character of her clergy, and to their general acquaintance with the writings of the Fathers. But in Scotland, where these preventatives have not been so constantly in operation, heresies have at different times started up, which it has been found very difficult to check, and against which the General Assembly have been obliged to use all their authority. One of the worst of these heresies was that of Antonia Bourignion; which was introduced into Scotland by Dr. George Gairdyn of Aberdeen, and for which he was deposed from the ministry by the General Assembly of 1700. By an Act of Assembly 1710, still in force, every minister, previous to his ordination, is interrogated, "Do you disown all Popish, Arian, Socinian, Arminian, Bourignian, and other doctrines, tenets, and opinions whatsoever, contrary to and inconsistent with the Confession of Faith?" This heresy we of the South have scarcely heard of; but it is easy to perceive that the fear of Bourignionism has in some instances produced a recoil into an opposite error. Poor Bourignion was a wild enthusiast, and so inconsistent that it is matter of surprise to us that she had any followers. Born in Flanders 1616, and educated in Popery-or rather taught the Romish traditions without any education-she had nothing to restrain the workings of an over-susceptible imagination. She was cruelly treated at home, and thus her ardent mind was thrown in upon itself, and found in its own workings a visionary world, to which she could retire from the disquiets and troubles of a world which cared not for her nor she for it. As might be expected, she soon began to fancy that she received special revelations from Heaven; and, never having been taught to regard the Scriptures as the sole standard of truth, she cared not for adjusting her notions by the Bible: if they coincided with it, she expressed no additional confidence; if they differed, her assurance remained unshaken. Her followers declared that she wrote with astonishing rapidity; that she never blotted a word; and that, if interrupted, she resumed the subject on her return without any apparent break, and without needing to look back a single line. Writings so composed abound, as might be expected, with all

[ocr errors]

the errors which enthusiasm, void of artifice or vice, might utter. Those relating to the Person of our Lord were chiefly two, stated in the second Act of Assembly 1701, as follows: 1. "The ascribing to Christ a twofold human nature, one of which was produced of Adam before the woman was formed, and the other born of the virgin Mary :" the second lay in "The assertion of the sinful corruption of Christ's human nature, and a rebellion in Christ's natural will to the will of God." Or, to state these errors in her own language (Nouveau Ciel, p. 34); When God created all things at first, there was no deformity in any of his works; all was beautiful and luminous, &c. The earth was all transparent throughout, &c. God formed to man a body, as the case and organ of the soul. This body was clear, subtile, agile, and transparent, like Muscovy glass; its flesh like crystal; its veins like streams of rubies, &c. &c. Man, when first created, was endued with a principle of fœcundity, with a power to produce his like without the help of another; having within his body the principles of both natures, and in that respect being a complete and perfect man. Adam, while he was in perfect innocence, did thus produce one like himself, who was the first-born of every creature; "-and she goes on to utter blasphemies which we shall not transcribe. Her second head of error she thus promulgates: "That Jesus Christ was united always to his Heavenly Father, in his superior part, is most true. I have written that he never contracted sin, though he contracted all the maledictions of sin, after he clothed himself with our mortality. But he, resolving to become a mortal man, subjected himself to all the miseries both of body and mind which sin had brought into human nature; and according to this he felt a rebellion in his natural will to the will of God, in sentiment, but never in consent, and resisted this rebellion which he felt in his corruption," &c. Such is Bourignionism; gross, palpable error, which it would be an insult to the common sense of our readers to think it necessary to point out: and if any one, knowing what this poor woman asserted, imputes any of her errors to us, it must proceed from a degree of stupidity or of recklessness beyond our correction; and we leave him to God, the Judge of all. That the Church of England has been kept free from such delusions, we mainly attribute to the Athanasian Creed: long may we prize it as it deserves; and long may it, and her Articles, and her Canons, continue part and parcel of the law of the land! While these bulwarks of our faith remain, heresies may arise and sweep around the church with the fury of a tempest, and may engulph some without her pale; but those who have taken sanctuary within her bosom, can listen undismayed to the raging of the storm, safe in the everlasting arms, firm on the Rock of ages.



(By the Rev. E. IRVING-concluded from vol. i. p. 666.)

ANOTHER cause, for which he denounceth woe upon that generation of the church which was ruled by the Scribes and Pharisees, is written in these words: "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matt. xxiii. 27). Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. It was the custom amongst the Jews, and is, as travellers inform us, at this day the custom in the East, to whitewash the outside of the wall which surrounds their sepulchres, both for the end of making them more beautiful, and for guarding against impurity by coming too near to any thing which had touched a dead body. These, as they shone in the light of the sun, would no doubt cast a very beautiful appearance unto the beholder. So, saith he, did. the Pharisees; upon whom any one looking would readily have pronounced them most excellent and worthy men, adorned with all outward grace, and rectitude, and piety. But as the traveller, upon drawing near one of these whited sepulchres, thinking to find within it some shelter, some pleasure or entertainment worthy of its outward appearance, would have been wofully disappointed, and even horrified, when he found it to contain only rottenness and corruption, and to communicate only disgust and defilement; so signified the Lord, that any one coming near these Pharisees in hope of friendship, consolation, help, or instruction, would find them hollow as the tomb, and dead to the voice of sympathy as the mouldering tenant of the tomb. Another figure by which he sets them forth, in the corresponding passage of Luke, xi. 44, is this: "Ye are as graves, which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them." This alludeth to another custom in the East, likewise derived from the defilement communicated by the dead; which was, to mark with chalk upon the ground the extent of the vaults under which the dead lay entombed. But ye, Pharisees, saith the Lord, are as if a man, walking as he thought upon the unpolluted ground, should be treading upon the dead, and deriving pollution and defilement to himself when he knew not of it: ye appear honest, true, uncontaminated, in order to mislead men, who, stumbling upon you, do find you to be like an open sepulchre, breathing forth the foul damps and exhalations of the charnelhouse. Fearful words! beloved brethren; most fearful words! to

apply to a body of men who carried texts of Scripture written upon their foreheads; who prayed, and fasted, and gave alms, and kept the Sabbath with scrupulous exactness, and passed even beyond the bounds of the Divine law, to lay upon themselves the traditionary burdens of the elders; the most highly esteemed and reputable of the church in those days; the "religious world" of that time. There was, indeed, an opposite party, who believed little and obeyed less, and took the full scope of their carnal sense and will. These were the Sadducees, the "Liberals" of the time; out of estimation with the common people, amongst whom the principle of faith and the fear of God always linger and survive the longest. The common people, indeed, were so much under the influence of the Scribes and Pharisees, that our Lord was constrained to disclose their short-comings, their wickedness, their deceitfulness, their arrogance, and utter blindness; in order, if it were possible, to deliver these people out of their hands. They had made Moses void, by the traditions of the elders; they had sealed the books of the Prophets, and said unto the people, "We cannot read it, because it is sealed." They had the key of doctrine in the holy Scriptures, but they would neither enter into the truth, nor suffer others to enter in; and every one who entered into the kingdom of heaven was so prevented and withstood by them, that they had as it were to take it by force: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence since the preaching of John, and the violent take it by force."

Now, brethren, say what they like, I believe this to be the very condition of what is called our religious world. Outwardly it is a whited sepulchre, inwardly it is full of dead men's bones. Their professions are most fair, their account of themselves most flattering, their report of their own works most magnificent : come into the heart of their operations, and you find disguise, concealment, fabrication, extortion also, and many things besides of the like kind. Outwardly, there is the profession of godliness, the desire to save all mankind, Christ's own boundless love; there are solemnity, gravity, and other deeply imposing appearances: but within doors, there is no prayer, but the resistance of it; there is no spirit of love; there is levity; there is quarrel, haste, misconstruction, chiding, and other fruits of the flesh. I say this of the system: all reputable as it is, I believe it to be rotten at the core. It may startle and amaze you to hear me say so: so did it startle and amaze the Jewish church to hear our Lord speak so of the Scribes and Pharisees. It may enrage you to hear me say so: so did it enrage them that he should so speak; and his temerity, as they would say, his unmeasured censure and open exposure of them, brought him to the cross, from which Pilate, and the people also, had they not been stirred up by the Pharisees, would have made him a way of escape. Therefore

« السابقةمتابعة »