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and unremitted concern for their state. Where are the prosperous, whose prosperity did not enliven her countenance, and diffuse joy through her soul! Where are the Sons and Daughters of affliction, with whom she was not ready to weep! It is but a just tribute to those who shared her sympathy, to relate, that she unreservedly expressed her gratitude to heaven that her lot was cast, and that she was permitted to associate with christians, who were inclined to reciprocate acts of humanity and tenderness.
All who had the privilege of being her witnesses were constrained to venerate her discretion, her exemplariness, her uniform display of the spirit of her religion in those scenes, which were exposed to public observation.
We are most to admire her character as a christian pro fessor. Her religion gave the most solid proof that it was a pure stream from the fountain. It was a religion of the understanding, affections, and life. Of few disciples of Jesus can we with more justice say, She was a cheerful Christian. Such were her ideas of God, of the Saviour, and of his Gos-' pel, that she was alike preserved from indifference and insensibility on the one hand, and from gloominess and superstition on the other.
Her heart was warmed with charity. None ever heard from her lips an uncandid whisper against the sincere and humble of any denomination of Christians. A liberality
of feeling and sentiment, which was the fruit of correct ideas of the merciful purpose of christianity, caused her to mourn for the discords and alienations in the family of Christ.
Her Bible was her best treasure and her constant companion. "She read therein by day, and meditated by night"
From the tenour of her conversation and life; from her outward respect for christian ordinances; from her delight in the observance of them; and from the thoughts of her dependence on God and her obligation, which we have often heard, we have consoling evidence of her firm faith in the Son of God, and of the sincerity and constancy of her devotion. We may believe that in the prospect of death with the elevation of feeling and thought which the language implies, she gave utterance to her piety in that devout strain; "whom have I, O God, in heaven, but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
It is not our design to represent this estimable christian as having no imperfections, but as one who had a governing sense of God and religion. When a disciple who had attained to such eminence in the school of her Master is no longer suffered to shed a lustre on religion by her example, it becometh us to bow with
submission to the will of God. We have cause of gratitude for his goodness in allowing her to live long, in making the evening of her life honourable, and in enabling her so to live as to die in the faith and hope of the gospel. We may even consider it an expression of mercy to her, that her removal took place at a time when she was useful, and had a remaining capacity to communicate and to receive enjoyment.
Having the remembrance of her character and the hopes of
religion, her friends cannot want sufficient grounds of support and comfort.
In this distinguished female were wonderfully combined the virtues, which give dignity and worth to her sex. Let it be the employment of each surviving woman to survey this portrait, that she may learn the course to the moral and religious elevation and to the importance in society, for which a merciful providence has designed her.
THE WORD OF GOD PREFERABLE TO HUMAN SYSTEMS.
that while human learning is making a rapid progress in its various branches, the religion of Christ is almost every where overwhelmed by human formularies and systems. Christianity can never have its free course among men of improved understandings, and even among rational creatures in general, while gross misrepresentations of it are substituted in the place of the simple and perfect original."
"IT is my earnest wish and prayer, that by a more general cultivation of biblical criticism, the lover of the scriptures may better understand and more deeply admire them; and that those who neglect a due examination of them, or who deny their authority may be convinced of their importance, and may discover the signatures of truth stampt on them. My ardent love and admiration of these divine writings lead me to conclude that they cannot be seriously and carefully read without pleasure and conviction Ilament that they are impiously interdicted to a large body of Christians; that they are so much disregarded, and of course misunderstood by the bulk of Protestants among ourselves; that many of our clergy, unmindful of the solemn engagement at their ordination, do not devote their time to the study of them, and
The foregoing excellent paragraph was taken from the Preface to Archbishop Newcome's "Observations on our Lord;" a book which we have already recommended to the perusal of our fellow christians. The passage which we have transcribed expresses our own views and feelings in regard to the excellency of the scriptures, the importance of biblical criticism, and the evil of having the religion of Christ
overwhelmed with human
formularies and systems," or human liturgies, creeds and confessions of faith.
We are aware that some worthy persons, whose characters we have no inclination to reproach, or depreciate, have been of opinion, that a confession of faith in the language of scripture is no definite expression of the views of those who may adopt it; and that creeds of human composure are a more sure criterion of a man's real sentiments. But we have never had the pleasure of seeing a creed, or confession of faith, in the words of man's wisdom in which the doctrines of the gospel were expressed in a more definite or unambiguous manner, than they may be stated in the simple and unadulterated language of inspiration.
We know indeed, that passages of scripture may be differently understood by different persons, and that persons of very contradictory sentiments may honestly subscribe to the same articles of faith, If stated in the language of the Bible. But this difficulty is not avoided by setting aside the language of scripture and substituting the language of fallible man. For it is a well known fact, that persons of very different sentiments have mutually adopted the "Assembly's Catechism" as a confession of faith, and that the different persons explain particular articles in that confession in a very different manIndeed it is doubted whether there be one passage of Scripture which has been
explained in a greater variety of senses, than some of the articles of that catechism.
We have not mentioned the "Assembly's Catechism" for the purpose of reproaching it, nor as singular in regard to its being understood in different senses; but because it has been one of the most popular confessions in our country, and most generally known. Other confessions are liable to the same objection that they are very differently understood by those who assent to them. Such in fact is the diversity of opinion among those who adopt the same creed or confession, that their formal as. sent is evidence of little more than this, that they have preferred a popular confession of faith, in the words of fallible men, to a confession in the words of the Holy Spirit.
When such a long confession of faith is adopted as that of the Westminster Assembly, or that of the Church of England, it may reasonably be doubted, whether one member in five hundred, understands each article according to the original intention of the compilers; and it may also be doubted whether so many as two in the five hundred agree in their views of each article. What important purpose, then, do such confessions answer excepting that of being Shibboleths to distinguish party of christians from another, and making a show of unanimity in sentiment, far beyond the true state of facts?
In most cases of adopting human confessions or systems,
we may safely believe, that two thirds of the church members place their cónfidence in the Pastor and some leading characters in the church, and adopt the articles proposed by them on the ground of this confidence.
While we thus freely express our opinion on the manner in which these confessions are admitted in churches, we are far from saying or believing, that such compendious systems can be of no use. If they were employed only as means of instruction, like other writings of fallible men, they might be of real service, to christians. They might be viewed as expressing the opinions of the compilers, and afford a variety of topics for profitable discussion, and thus be means of real improvement in knowledge. But when these human systems are made the standard of faith to the churches which adopt them, in such a sense that the members feel bound by them, they are evidently a substitute for the BIBLE; and more or less of "gross misrepresentations of it, are sub stituted in the place of the simple and perfect original." The confession of faith will then be employed as a Rule by which particular passages in the Bible must be measured, and with which the words of inspiration must be compelled to accord. Instead of core recting the confession by the Bible, the Bible will be explained by the confession of faith. Yea, so far as the churches feel bound by such
"human formularies and systems," those things, which ought to be used only as means of instruction, operate as a real barrier to improvement, In respect to all the doctrines contained in the confession, the inquirer after truth is thus addressed by the adopted system, "Hitherto
shalt thou come but no farther; here shall thy progress be stayed."
Such confessions regarded as standards of faith, not only check free enquiry, but expose professors of religion to reproachful duplicity, or bitter contentions. In almost every community there are some minds that cannot submit to such fetters as "human systems." They will prefer the Bible as a standard, and inquire, whether the human system does agree with that standard or not. In most cases thorough inquiry will first produce doubt and then dissent respecting some particular Articles. The more popular the confession, the greater is the danger, that duplicity, or contentions, will result from a person's being convinced that some of the articles are erroneous. Those who have not sufficient fortitude to meet opposition and reproach, will be exposed to perpetual duplicity to conceal their dissent from the popular creed. But such as may be convinced that some articles in the confession are erroneous, and have too much virtue, fortitude, and independence of mind, to expose themselves to a course of degrading duplici
ty, will avow their dissent; man system" which he does and this avowal will probably not understand, he expresses be followed by bitter animosi- his confidence in man, and not ties, and bring on the dis- in GoD or his wORD. If, then, senters the most severe re it be more safe to trust in the proaches. Lord, and in the Scriptures as the word of his grace, than to trust in man, and his word, it is more safe to assent to articles of faith in the language of inspiration, than in the language of uninspired men.
Such are some of the natural consequences of admitting "human systems" as binding on the consciences of church members. In view of these things we cannot but recommend, that confessions of faith should be in the language which the Holy Spirit has dic tated. This, it is presumed, would be no disadvantage as to unity in sentiment, and it would be of great advantage as to unity of affection, which is a thing of the highest impor
We may add, if believers in Jesus' subscribe to the words of inspiration with incorrect views of their import, and afterwards, by advancing in knowledge, find reason to change some of their opinions, they will have no occasion to alter the articles of their confession. The articles may stand from age to age, whatever advances the church, or individuals, may make in theological knowledge. But when human systems are substituted for the language of Scripture, neither the church, nor individual members, can make any considerable advances, without being exposed to the inconvenience of needing a corresponding change in the articles of their confession.
It may probably be asked, what shall christians do, after having given their mutual assent to articles of faith in the language of scripture, if on comparing their ideas, it shall be found, that there is a real difference of opinion on some important articles? We frankly answer, Let each do to his brother as he would that his brother should do to him. As each individual would reasonably desire the spirit of love
It may probably be objected, that many professors would not understand every article of a confession of faith, if they were all in the language of Scripture. It is admitted that such would probably be the case; yet, in our opinion, the language of Scripture is generally far more simple and intelligible, than the language of human systems. But admitting, that as many church members would give their assent to articles which they do not understand, in the one case as in the other, still there would be one very striking difference in the two cases. By giving his assent to the language of Scripture, without a clear understanding of its import, the believer would only express his confidence in God, and in the Scriptures as the word of God. But when he gives his assent to a "hu