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of the Apostles who wrote it was what it was, and from the Old Testament being inspired.
Again: whence do Protestants derive their common notion, that every one may gain his faith from Scripture for himself?
Again: consider whether the doctrine of the Atonement may not be explained away by those who explain away the doctrine of the Eucharist: if the expressions used concerning the latter are merely figurative, so may be those of the former.
Again on how many texts does the doctrine of original sin rest, that is, the doctrine that we are individually born under God's displeasure, in consequence of the sin of Adam? on one or two.
Again how do we prove the doctrine of justification by faith. only? it is no where declared in Scripture. St. Paul does but speak of justification by faith, not faith only, and St. James actually denies that it is by faith only. Yet we infer, and truly, that there is a correct sense in which it is by faith only; though an Apostle has in so many words said the contrary. Is any Church doctrine, about the power of Absolution, the Christian Priesthood, or the danger of sin after Baptism, so disadvantageously circumstanced in point of evidence as this?
On the whole then, I ask, on how many special or palmary texts do any of the doctrines or rites we hold depend? what doctrines or rites would be left to us, if we demanded the clearest and fullest evidence, before we believed any thing? what would the Gospel consist of? would there be any revelation at all left? Some all-important doctrines indeed at first sight would remain in the New Testament, such as the divinity of CHRIST, the unity of GOD, and the supremacy of divine grace, and our election in CHRIST, and the resurrection of the body, and eternal life or death to the righteous or sinners; but little besides. Shall we give up the divinity of the HOLY GHOST, original sin, the Atonement, the inspiration of the New Testament, united worship, the Sacraments, and infant baptism? Let us do so. Well:-I will venture to say that then we shall find difficulties as regards those other doctrines, as the divinity of CHRIST, which I have described as at first remaining; they are only clearer than the others, not so clearly stated as to be secured from specious objections. We
shall have difficulties about the meaning of the word "everlasting," as applied to punishment, about the compatibility of divine grace with free-will, about the possibility of the resurrection of the body, and about the sense in which CHRIST is GOD. The mind which rejects a doctrine which has but one text in its favour, on the ground that if it were important, it would have more, may, where a doctrine is mentioned often, always find occasion to wonder that still it is not mentioned in this or that particular place, where it might be expected. When it is pressed with such a text as St. Thomas's confession, "My LORD and my GOD," it will ask, But why does our LORD say but seven days before to St. Mary Magdalen, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My GoD and your God?" When, with St. Peter's confession, "LORD, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee," it will ask, But why does CHRIST say of Himself, that He does not know the last day, only the Father? Indeed, the more arguments there are for a doctrine in Scripture, the more objections will be found against it; so that on the whole, I think, even the Scripture evidence for the divinity of CHRIST, will be found in fact as little to satisfy the captious mind, when fairly engaged to discuss it, as that for infant baptism, great as is the difference in the evidence for the two. And the history of these last centuries bears out this remark.
I conclude, then, that there must be some fault somewhere in this specious argument; that it does not follow that a doctrine or rite is not divine because it is not clearly stated in Scripture; that there are some wise and unknown reasons for doctrines being as they are, not clearly stated there. To be sure, I might take the other alternative, and run the full length of scepticism, denying that any thing is divine, whatever it is, which is not spoken of in Scripture beyond all contradiction and objection. But for many reasons I cannot get myself to do this, as I shall proceed to show in the next Lecture.
THE DIFFICULTIES OF LATITUDINARIANISM.
No one, I think, will seriously maintain, that any other definite religious system is laid down in Scripture at all more clearly than the Church system. It may be maintained, and speciously, that the Church system is not there, or that this or that particular doctrine of some other system seems to be there more plainly than the corresponding Church doctrine; but that Presbyterianism as a whole, or Independency as a whole, or the religion of Lutherans, Baptists, Wesleyans, or Friends, as a whole, is more clearly laid down in it, and with fewer texts looking the other way, that any of these has less difficulties to encounter than the Creed of the Church,-I do not think can successfully be maintained. The arguments which are used to prove that the Church system is not in Scripture, may as cogently be used to prove that no system is in Scripture. If silence in Scripture, or apparent contrariety, is an argument against the Church system, it is an argument against system at all. No system is on the surface of Scripture; none, but has at times to account for the silence or the apparent opposition of Scripture as to particular portions of it. This, then, is the choice of conclusions to which we are brought: -either Christianity contains no definite message, creed, revelation, system, or whatever other name we call it, nothing which can be made the subject of belief at all; or, though there is a true creed or system (whatever it is), yet it is not on the surface of Scripture, but contained in a latent form within it, and to be maintained only by indirect arguments, by comparison of texts, by inferences from what is said plainly, and by overcoming or resigning oneself to difficulties; or, though there is a true creed or system revealed, it is not in Scripture, but to be gained collaterally from other sources. I wish persons to consider this statement steadily. I do not see that it can be disputed; and if
not, it is very important. I repeat it; we have a choice of three conclusions. Either there is no definite religious information given us in Christianity at all, or it is given in Scripture in an indirect and covert way, or it is given, but not in Scripture. The first is the Latitudinarian view which has gained ground in this day; the second is our own received ground; the third is the ground of the Roman Church. If then we will not content ourselves with merely probable, or (what we may be disposed to call) insufficient proofs of matters of faith and worship, we must become either utter Latitudinarians or Roman Catholics. If we will not submit to the notion of the doctrines of the Gospel being hidden under the text of Scripture from the view of the chance reader, we must submit to believe that there are no doctrines at all, or that the doctrines are not in Scripture, but elsewhere, as in Tradition. I know of no other alternative.
Many men, indeed, will attempt to find a fourth way, thus: they would fain discern one or two doctrines in Scripture clearly, and no more; or some generalized form, yet not so much as a body of doctrine of any character. They consider that a certain message, consisting of one or two great and simple statements, makes up the whole of the Gospel, and that these are plainly in Scripture; accordingly, that he who holds and acts upon these is a Christian, and ought to be acknowledged by all to be such, for in holding these, he holds all that is necessary. These statements they sometimes call the essentials, the peculiar doctrines, the vital doctrines, the leading idea, the great truths of the Gospel, and all this sounds very well; but when we come to realize what is abstractedly so plausible, we are met by this insurmountable difficulty, that no great number of persons agree together what are these great truths, simple views, leading idea, or peculiar doctrines of the Gospel. Some say that the doctrine of the Atonement is the leading idea; some, the doctrine of spiritual influence; some, that both together are the peculiar doctrines; some, that love is all in all; some, that the acknowledgment that JESUS is the CHRIST; and some, that the resurrection from the dead is after all the essence of the Gospel, and all that need be believed. Moreover, since, as all parties must
confess, the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity is not brought out in form upon the surface of Scripture, it follows either that it is not one part of the leading idea, or that the leading idea is not on the surface. And if the doctrine of the Trinity is not to be accounted as one of the leading or fundamental truths of revelation, the keystone of the mysterious system is lost; and that being lost, mystery will, in matter of fact, be found gradually to fade away from the creed altogether; that is, the notion of Christianity as being a revelation of new truths, will gradually fade away, and the Gospel will be considered in course of time scarcely more than the republication of the law of nature. This, I think, will be found to be the historical course and issue of this line of thought. If we will have it so, that the doctrines of Scripture should be on the surface of Scripture, though I may have my very definite notion what doctrines are on the surface, and you yours, and another his, yet you and he and I, though in appearance competent to judge, though serious, earnest, and possessed of due attainments, will not agree together what those doctrines are; so that, practically, what I have said will come about in the end, —that (if we are candid) we shall be forced to allow, that there is no system, no creed, no doctrine at all lucidly and explicitly set forth in Scripture; and if we will not seek it under the surface, we must either give up seeking it, or seek it in Tradition,-we must become Latitudinarians or Roman Catholics.
Now of these alternatives, Romanism or Latitudinarianism, the latter I do really conceive to be quite out of the question with every serious mind. The Latitudinarian doctrine is this: that every man's view of revealed religion is acceptable to God, if he acts up to it; that no one view is in itself better than another, or at least that we cannot tell which is the better. All we have to do then is to act consistently with what we hold, and to value others if they act consistently with what they hold; that to be consistent constitutes sincerity; that where there is this evident sincerity, it is no matter whether we profess to be Romanists or Protestants, Catholics or Heretics, Calvinists or Arminians, Anglicans or Dissenters, High Churchmen or Puritans, Episcopalians or Independents, Wesleyans or Socinians. Such seems