Слике страница

Dess came crowding back upon her mind; but even then, she was triumphant, and not the shadow of a doubt was again suffered to obscure her unclouded trust in the Savior. He seemned to be ever present to sustain her soul; and for aught that we know, the mind, withdrawn from earthly things, may have been absorbed with its higher powers of contemplation, in that approaching eternity, and the blessedness which was so soon to break upon her disembodied vision. Thus she remained till the last waning of her consciousness, however buffeted by the tempter, still immoveable-passed the dark valley, and crossed the heaving flood, “through the dear might of Him who walked the waves,” and who had left his promise, now so strikingly fulfilled, to be the support of his followers in their trying hour. Even while the slumbers of death were weighing down her senses, and her heart was beating its last faint pulsations, when, with a thrilling pressure, she gave her hand in recognition to her husband, she spoke of Jesus, as if He only was there present with her, who was indeed the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely and precious to her soul. Thus she died, as she had lived, a monument of grace.

It has doubtless been perceived, that the writer bore to the subject of this sketch, a very near relation. It was to him indeed mysterious, to see her rent from his side at the very moment when she seemed most qualified to aid him and others, on their way to heaven ; but even amid the blighting of his fondest hopes, and the desolations of his bereaved heart, pressed down with anguish as he gazed on the orphan left in his care, he has been enabled, perhaps in answer to her prayers, to kiss the chastening rod, and to bow with unmurmuring resignation to the blow which has torn from him that gift of God, which he prized beyond every earthly joy. It has not been bis aim in this memorial, to unseal the fountains of his heart and indulge in private grief, but rather to erect a monument to the grace of God in her deliverance, to the efficacy of united and persevering supplication, and to the readiness of a prayer hearing God to lend a listening ear to the requests of his children. If any whose eye may glance upon these pages, pressed by similar trials and temptations, should recognize a case like their own, may the same grace which led her to break through every obstacle, and

urge her way to Christ, make the resemblance yet more striking, : by leading them with like humility, faith and love, to go and do likewise. “ Is any one afflicted,” says the apostle,“ let him pray,

" Is any soul sinking under despair, seems to reiterate to us, this

tempted, desponding, rescued child of grace, let him remember i "always to pray and not to faint.

“Here bring your wounded hearts,
Here tell your anguish-
Earth bath no sorrow Heaven cannot heal."


The exigencies of the church demand a new style of scriptural interpretation. We are engaged in controversies, which never can be settled by that kind of verbal criticism which has been so much in vogue for some years past. We can never silence those cavilers who dip here and there into the sacred scriptures, and build their systems upon isolated texts, except by showing them how inconsistent they are with the general spirit and unity of the word of God. Hume ingeniously perverted and ridiculed many passages of scripture, which he had first disjoined from their proper connection. But Hume himself confessed, in a literary conversation, that he had never read the scriptures for the purpose of discovering their unity and consistency with themselves. No wonder therefore, he was both skeptical and ignorant of their import : he would have misunderstood and ridiculed any book which he treated like the bible. Busy infidelity may pick flaws in a few detached passages; but the entire bible is impregnable and lofty, like mount Zion that never can be moved. No man who follows the inspired writers step by step through a whole argument, catching the genius and spirit of each, can, by any means, misinterpret and pervert their meaning, It comes upon him like a flood. He looks beyond words; he follows the indissoluble series of thought. Whole volumes have been written upon a few texts in the writings of the apostle John, which relate to the character and offices of the Lord Jesus Christ; and if men will confine their reading to such disquisitions, whole volumes more may be written without bringing the discussion any nearer to a close. Their views of the Redeemer's character will change with the interpretation of a word, or the position of a comma. But who that has dealt honestly with the apostle, studied his writings as a whole, and caught his spirit, can doubt for a moment what sentiments he cherished towards the Savior of the world ? Like the thin cloud of an autumnal sky, through which the harvest moon shines clear and full, the writings of John are mere transparencies, through which the character of Christ as an atoning Savior, shines in clear and softened lustre. Errorists may do what they can with a few obscure passages, so long as they cannot make us to doubt concerning the grand pre-eminent topic of that disciple, who labored to requite the special love of his Savior, by reflecting in every possible variety of light and position, the unsearchable glory of his character.

We should interpret writings as we judge of character. One sentence does not set aside the general design and system, of an author, any more than one fault over-balances a thousand brilliant virtues. We should not deal fairly with David, were we to

consider his character as a compound of licentiousness and cruelty, on account of a single crime ; neither should we describe Paul as a contentious man, because he once differed from a brother apostle. No: individual faults are forgotten in the luster of general character. We couple the solitary crime of the Psalmist, with the boly raptures of a soul dwelling in the "secret place of Jehovah," the momentary self-will of Paul, with the splendid achievements of his apostleship, and we call them all holy and godlike men, whose lives for a brilliant track of light and glory in the history of the church, nothwithstanding their occasional imperfections.

Precisely so will reasonable men judge of the import and meaning of an author. The occasional, incidental remark does not give character to the entire composition. Who would say that the writings of Rousseau are safe and spiritual, because they contain a splendid panegyric on the character of Jesus Christ, extorted from the sensibility of genius by the spectacle of consummate excellence? Who ranks Bolingbroke among the defenders of the faith, because he has so eloquently eulogized the sublimity of the scriptures? We lose sight of these incidental and forced expressions of truth, in the cold and prevalent malignity of atheism. Their main design was to destroy the bible, not to praise it. After making every possible allowance, we cannot but see that their grand object was all profane ;—to use the words of Burke, all "pure, unmixed, dephlegmated, defecated evil.” On the other hand, who dares affirm that the writings of Milton are of an irreligious and licentious tendency, because a few unguarded expressions once fell from the lips of the “stem old prophet ?" We cannot doubt as to the general tenor and design of these writers. Their great object is discernible by the most superficial reader; and should a few detached sentences be forced to bear a different construction, who would think of sinking all that is plain and obvious, beneath incidental remarks of acknowledged obscurity ?

So it should be with the bible, with this difference ;-uninspired men may contradict themselves, but there are no contradictions, no inconsistencies, no absurdities in the bible. But there are mysteries. There are “ things hard to be understood.” There are disputed texts. What then? Shall we lose sight of general and obvious truths—truths which are written as with a sunbeam-in the obscurities of verbal interpretation? The paramount, omnipresent design of the scriptures is obvious to an unperverted mind. The illiterate understand it alike. It is all bright above and around us. Shall we then close our eyes upon this refulgent blaze of evidence, and build up a separate faith upon one or two difficult and mysterious passages ? Shall we interpret the little which we know not, so as to contradict the much which we know for certainty? Shall we hold to a system of opinions, which is manifestly opposed to the Vol. V.


grand, fundamental principles of revelation, with nothing to support it but detached sentences, of acknowledged difficulty? This were an absolute absurdity. This were more unjust than to hold up one petty offense, as a faithful delineation of a character illustrious by a thousand brilliant virtues.

We have made these remarks with particular reference to the Unitarian controversy. We cannot believe that a candid examination, not of a few insulated texts, but of the leading object of each of the sacred writings, and the one system which all combine to form, can result in the Unitarian belief. That belief is founded upon detached passages. Its advocates cannot pretend that any entire book, in the inspired volume, is chiefly occupied with any one of their distinctive doctrines. We have always believed that each book had some pre-eminent topic which gives it unity; and that all the various books are so connected as to give unity of subject to the entire scriptures. Now, we have never met with an analysis of the bible, by the advocates of the Unitarian belief, instructing us just what portion each writer supplies to form their complete system. Among all the arguments which they have advanced, we know not that they have ever attempted to show, that the one great object of this apostle was to hold forth salvation upon mere sincerity and obedience-of another to portray the "godlike tendency of human nature"-and of another to describe the character of Christ as our “ great exemplar;" after the manner in which the advocates of the evangelical system are accustomed to define the grand theme of the Romans to be “ Christ our justification and sanctification,” and of the Ephesians, “all the fullness of Christ.” What argument can Unitarianism produce that can be compared, in point of enlarged views and copious induction, with Shuttleworth's “Consistency of Revelation ?" But is it so, that the only evidence in support of this system is drawn from a few detached texts, and not from inquiries into the general principle and object of the inspired writers? Let us no longer “strive about words to no profit.” Let us meet on higher ground. There is a “more excellent way' of arriving at the truth. It is a principle which we adopt in the study of every human composition. Study to discover that specific subject which gives unity to each book, and then fitly frame it together" into one uniform and complete system. We cannot believe that an intelligent man can read his bible in this way, without arriving at what are usually denominated evangelical principles. There is the same harmony and order among them which exists in the material heavens. They form one indissoluble system. That system is interwoven and expanded throughout the entire bible. It gives unity to the scriptures. However various in form and imagery the different parts may be, they all fit into each other, and like the stones in an arch, support and strengthen the whole.

There is more than meets the common ear in the affirmation of the

philosophic apostle,” “The whole building, fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord, Jesus Christ HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNER STONE." The bible is the history of a plan of salvation, through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else can give unity to the scriptures. In this they all unite and blend. It is in this view alone, that there is nothing in them irrelevant, contradictory, or superfluous. This vast and sublime plan of salvation is unfolded in every variety of exhibition. All the rays of heavenly light converge upon this glorious person, who is the sun and center of the whole dispensation. Socinians have too long taken for granted, what has too long been tacitly conceded, that the old testament leans towards their peculiar opinions, and that, if any part of the bible is against them, it is only the new testament. “ Search the scriptures,” says our Savior, referring of course to the old testament, “ for they are they which testify of me.” “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The best argument in support of evangelical views concerning the character and offices of Christ, might be founded on what has bitherto been neglected—the prophetical scriptures. As yet we have employed only a few detached sentences as quoted by Christ and his apostles,-a few scattered grains of gold, while the native bed of rich and inexhaustible ore, has not been explored. The new testament differs from the old only in this, that it is a fuller and clearer disclosure of the same divine plan. It never contradicts nor supersedes the old testament. The “ Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," is the prominent object in both. On any other position, half the scriptures are irrelevant and superfluous.

We shall illustrate our position by a rapid glance over the whole field of revelation. Where it will suit our purpose, we shall employ the brief comments of Douglas upon the completeness of the scriptures, to illustrate their unity. In Genesis we have history enough to disclose man's lost condition, his need of divine interposition, and the promise of God, in which, as in its germ, is contained the whole of revelation. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” All that follows is a gradual expansion and fulfilment of this promise. As the connecting link, we observe an immediate transition from patriarchal worship, to a system of types, professedly instituted not for any intrinsic value in themselves but in allusion to a future event. In the moral law, we behold, as in a glass, the perfect holiness of the Deity, and the enormity of human guilt. The ceremonial law pre-shadows a great atonement, by which that guilt was to be removed, and that holiness made illustrious. The design of the historical books is

« ПретходнаНастави »