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ture would most assuredly be fatal to the Church doctrines. But this (it will be urged) is not all; there are texts in the New Testament actually inconsistent with that system. For example, what can be stronger against the sanctity of particular places, nay of any institutions, persons, or rites, than our LORD'S declaration, that God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth? or against the Eucharistic Sacrifice, than St. Paul's contrast in Heb. x. between the Jewish sacrifices and the one Christian Atonement? or can Baptism really have the gifts which are attributed to it in the Catholic or Church system, considering how St. Paul says, that all rites are done away, and that faith is all in all ?" Such is the sort of objection which it is proposed now to consider.
Now, in what remains of this Lecture I shall but briefly draw out the argumentum ad hominem I have alluded to, or in other words, show that the argument in question proves too much for the purposes of those who use it; that it leads to conclusions beyond those to which they would confine it; and if it tells for any thing, tells for much which they repudiate.
Now the argument in question proves too much, first, in this way, that it shows that external religion is not only not important or necessary, but not allowable. If, for instance, when our SAVIOUR said, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father . . . . . . The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the FATHER in spirit and in truth: for the FATHER seeketh such to worship Him. GoD is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth',"-if He means that the external local worship of the Jews was so to be abolished that no external local worship should again be enjoined, that the Gospel worship was but mental, stripped of every thing material or sensible, and offered in that simple spirit and truth which exists in heaven,-if so, it is plain that all external religion is not only not imperative under the Gospel, but forbidden. This text, if it avails for any thing against Sacraments and Ordinances, avails entirely; it cuts them away root and branch. It says, not that they are unimportant, but that
1 John iv. 21-24.
they are not to be. It does not leave them at our option. Any interpretation which gives an opening to their existing, gives so far an opening to their being important. If the command to worship in spirit and truth is consistent with the permission to worship through certain rites, it is consistent with the duty to worship through them. Why are we to have a greater freedom (if I may so speak) than God Himself? why are we to choose what rites we please to worship in, and not God choose them? as if spirituality consisted, not in doing without rites altogether, (a notion which at least is intelligible,) but in our forestalling our LORD and MASTER in the choice of them. Let us take the text to mean that there shall be no external worship at all, if we will (we shall be wrong, but we shall speak fairly and intelligibly); but, if there may be times, places, ministers, ordinances of worship, though the text speaks of worshipping in spirit and in truth, what is there in it to negative the notion of God's having chosen those times, places, ministers, and ordinances, so that if we attempt to choose, we shall commit the very fault of the Jews, who were ever setting up golden calves, planting groves, or consecrating ministers without authority of God?
And what has been observed of this text, holds good of all arguments drawn, whether from the silence about, or the supposed positive statements of Scripture against, the rites and ordinances of the Church. If obscurity of texts, for instance, about the grace of the Eucharist be taken as a proof that no great benefit is therein given, it is an argument against there being any benefit. On the other hand, when certain texts are once determined to refer to it, the emphatic language used, when it is spoken of, shows that the benefit is not small. We cannot say that the subject is unimportant, without saying that it is not mentioned. Either no gift is given in the Eucharist, or a great gift. If only the 6th of St. John, for instance, does allude to its benefit, it shows it is not merely an edifying rite, but an awful communication beyond words. Again, if the phrase of "the communication of the body of CHRIST," used by St. Paul, means any gift, it means a great one. You may say that it does not mean any gift at all, only a representation or figure of the communication; this I call explaining away, but still it is intelligible; but I do not see how,
if it is to be taken literally as a real communication, it can be other than a communication of His Body. Again, though the LORD'S Table be but twice called an Altar in Scripture, yet granting that it is meant in those passages, it is spoken of so solemnly, that it matters not though it be no where else spoken of. "We have an Altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." We do not know of the existence of the ordinance except in the knowledge of its importance; and in corroboration and explanation of this matter of fact, let it be well observed that St. Paul expressly declares that the Jewish rites. are not to be practised because they are not important.
This is one way in which this argument proves too much; so that they who for the sake of decency or edification, or from an imaginative turn of mind, delight in ordinances, yet think they may make them for themselves, in that they bring no special blessing with them, these as plainly will contradict the Gospel as those who attribute a mystical virtue to them, nay more so; for if any truth is clear, it is, that such ordinances as are without virtue are abolished by the Gospel, this being the exact case of the Jewish rites.
Now as to the other point of view in which the argument in question proves too much for the purpose of those who use it :If it be a good argument against the truth of the Apostolical Succession and similar doctrines, that so little is said about them in Scripture, this is quite as good an argument against nearly all the doctrines which are held by any who is called a Christian in any sense of the word; as a few instances will show.
First, as to Ordinances. There is not a single text in the Bible enjoining infant baptism: the Scripture warrant on which we baptize infants, consists of inferences carefully made from various texts. How is it that St. Paul does not in his Epistles remind parents of so great a duty, if it is a duty?
Again, there is not a single text telling us to keep holy the first day of the week, and that instead of the seventh. GOD hallowed the seventh day, yet we now observe the first. Why do we do this? Our Scripture warrant for doing so is such as this: "since the Apostles met on the first day of the week, therefore the first day is to be hallowed; and since St. Paul says the Sabbath is
abolished, therefore the seventh day (which is the Sabbath) is not to be hallowed :"—this is a true inference, but very indirect surely. It is not on the surface of Scripture. We might infer, though incorrectly still we might infer, that St. Paul meant that the command in the second of Genesis was repealed, and that now there is no sacred day at all in the seven, though meetings for prayer are right on Sunday. There is nothing on the surface of Scripture to prove that the sacredness conferred in the beginning on the seventh day now by transference attaches to the first.
Again, there is scarcely a text enjoining going to Church for joint worship. St. Paul happens in one place of his Epistle to the Hebrews, to warn us against forgetting to assemble together for prayer. Our SAVIOUR says that where two or three are gathered together, He is in the midst of them; yet this alludes in the first instance not to public worship, but to Church councils and censures, quite a distinct subject. And in the Acts and Epistles we meet with instances or precepts in favour of joint worship; yet there is nothing express to show that it is necessary for all times,-nothing more express than there is to show that in 1 Cor. vii. St. Paul meant that an unmarried state is better at all times,—nothing which does not need collecting and inferring with minute carefulness from Scripture. The first disciples did pray together, and so in like manner the first disciples did not marry. St. Paul tells them who were in a state of distress, to pray together so much the more as they see the day approaching-and he says that celibacy is "good for the present distress." The same remarks might be applied to the question of community of goods. On the other hand, our LORD did not use social prayer: even when with His disciples He prayed by Himself, and His directions in Matt. vi. about private prayer, with the silence which He observes about public, might be as plausibly adduced as an argument against public, as the same kind of silence in Scripture concerning turning to the east, or making the sign of the Cross, or concerning commemorations for the dead in CHRIST, accompanied with its warnings against formality and ceremonial abuses, is urged as an argument against these latter usages.
Again there is no text in the New Testament which enjoins
us to "establish" religion (as the phrase is), or to make it national, and give the Church certain honour and power; whereas our LORD's words, "My kingdom is not of this world,” (John xviii. 36.) may be interpreted to discountenance such a proceeding. We consider that it is right to establish the Church on the ground of mere deductions, though of course true ones, from the sacred text; such as St. Paul's using his rights as a Roman citizen. There is no text which allows us to take oaths. The words of CHRIST and St. James seem plainly the other way. Why then do we take them? We infer that it is allowable from finding that St. Paul uses such expressions as "I call God for a record upon my soul"-" the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not" (2 Cor. i. 23; Gal. i. 20); these we argue, and rightly, are equivalent to an oath.
Again, considering GoD has said, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," it seems a very singular power which we give to the Civil Magistrate to take away life. It ought to rest, one might suppose, on some very clear permission given in Scripture. Now, on what does it rest? on one or two words of an Apostle casually introduced into Scripture, as far as anything is casual,-on St. Paul's saying in a parenthesis, "he (the magistrate) beareth not the sword in vain ;" and he is speaking of a heathen magistrate, not of a Christian.
Once more:-On how many texts does the prohibition of polygamy depend, if we set about counting them?
Next, consider how Doctrine will stand, if the said rule of interpretation is to hold.
If the LORD's Supper is never distinctly called a Sacrifice, or Christian ministers never called Priests, still, let me ask, (as I have already done,) is the HOLY GHOST ever expressly called GOD in Scripture? No where; we infer it from what is said; we compare parallel passages.
If the words Altar, Absolution, or Succession, are not in Scripture (supposing it), neither is the word Trinity.
Again how do we know that the New Testament is inspired? does it any where declare this of itself? no where; how, then, do we know it? we infer it from the circumstance that the office