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2. To prove the truth and necessity of Father, Son, and IIoly Spirit, as they have been, and are known, and employed in the manifestation and revelation of the knowledge of God, and in the existence of religion among mankind, since Adam fell; I will now exclude the office and agency of each.
1. I exclude the knowledge of the Father, as he has been made known in the system of religion, and all that he has said and done.
Then there is no Father so to have loved the world as to give his only begotten Son for its salvation, and no fact has ever occurred in reserence to him, or his Son, or this salvation, in word or work, by which the existence of either would be known. No spiritual object of faith, in the scripture use of the term, can be found in the whole bounding circle of human knowledge; within it there is no means of spiritual perception, ordiscernment without revelation,
2. I exclude the Word, and the word made flesh, who is the Son of God, and all that the scriptures tell us of him, and of all that he did and said hefore his incarnation and since, and what he is now doing, and will do.
I will not attempt to enumerate all the consequences of this exclusion upon the state of the human inind and the world, in reference to religion or to spiritual light, knowledge, and life; to thought, aflection, and conduct. I will mention a few of them. The purpose and grace, given to us in Christ before the world began-the promises and prophecies, made in reference to them--the incarnation of the Word-his appearance in the world--the manifestation of his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth--his death and resurrection-the establishment of the new covenant redemption through his blood, and the forgiveness of sin--his ascens sion into glory-his exaltation to the mediatorial throne, he being invested with all power in heaven and in earth-the new song sung in heaven to him by all the heavenly hosts, and by all that are in the earth, as the Lamb slain, Rev. V.-his return again to judge the world in righteousness, to raise the dead, and save the righteous, and to destroy the world with fire, and to sentence the wicked to eternal woe--the separate existence of the spirit from the body of those that die, until the resurrection, and the termination of the mediatorial reign-all, all these are extinguished from the minds of men, and from our world!
3. Exclude the Holy Spirit in all that he has said and done, which have been made known in miraculous and supernatural words and works since man fell. There is no spiritual light or knowledge in the world. Before Christ came into the world the testimony of Jesus was the spirit of prophecy; and after his crucifixion and glorification, the office and agency of the Spirit was to glorify him by working miracles in his name, and by speaking in his own words and sentences the things of Christ, and teaching things to come concerning him, and proving that he is in the Father, and the l'ather in him, and that he is Lord of all, and Saviour of the world--all these are extinguished, and the existence of the Spirit himself, his operations and influi VOL. III.
ences upon the hearts of men, are unknown; for he is not an object of sense that he can be seen, or felt, as existing distinct from our own minds, or froin the phenomena or appearances of nature. He is an object of faith, and is only known to exist by revelations made in words and miraculous works.
4. In the last place: Exclude the revelation concerning all these things, which is found in the recorded word of God, and in oral tradition; and all the knowlodge derived from it since the fall of man, and since the birth of Christ, whether pure or corrupted, and the world is of necessity involved in atheism, without an idea, a thought, or a feeling relative to God, except, as I before remarked, so far as Adam may have remembered, and informed his posterity, of what he knew in his primeval state before he sinned; there could, however, be no worship derived from such a remembrance, suited to the fallen state of man, no expiatory offerings or sacrifices, such as have appeared in all the forms of worship that have existed since.
We have now seen what would be the state of man without the death of Christ, and the offices and agencies of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in reference to religion, or the knowledge of God. We see also in what total depracity consists. It is true, that the scriptures assume it as a fact, that the knowledge of God existed in the world at the time they were written; but they never suppose hat knowledge to have originated without revelation, but the reverse; and any person, who now may think that it did, is invited to show the process by which the mind can arrive at it from the existence and phenomena of nature, or by analogy, or by the analysis of its own powers. I repeat, that in man's fallen state there is properly no natural religion. The assumption of the truth of natural religion, virtually denies that total depravity, as the loss of the knowledge of God, as well as the love of him, were consequences of the fall. Natural religion also involves the denial of the necessity, and the effects of the death of Christ in the divine purpose and conduct, and the existence and agency of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to the existence of religion or the knowledge of God in our world, since man fell, in contradiction to what is demon. strably true, and to what we have seen to be true. God is an object of faith, and not of sight or of sense, and so is the fact of creation. Sense informs us that the worlds are; but faith, or the revelation of God, teaches us that they were made by the word of God. Under the light of this knowledge, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work. Ps. xix; and so do the frame and constitution of man. Ps. cxxxix. 14.
1. Notwithstanding all the controversies that have existed about the atopement, or the death of Christ, and about the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all true knowledge, that we have of God and religion, is the effect of these doctrines. The Christian religion can no more exist without them, than light can exist without the primitive colors, or vision without light. The exclusion of either of these doctrines, with all its appropriate consequences, destroys the whole system of religious knowledge. Hence all that appertains to
our salvation is the gift of God, and is given to us in Christ, who is the light of the world, and the life of it.
2. All that can be known of divine truth must be found in the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, &c. in their own statements and connexions, which compose the word of God, and in the cultivation of the faith, hope, affection, and conduct, which that word is the means of producing and promoting in religion. These parts of speech, in their proper meaning, are ultimate principles in religion. Every individual christian, and every christian society, is equally bound to preserve the phraseology of every passage, and to cultivate the meaning and use of it in understanding, temper, and conduct, as God's means for forming the christian character, and for promoting the union, peace, and happiness of all christians, and for his honor and glory.
3. All christians do agree to the extent they believe in, and love the Lord Jesus Christ, and ought to cease their divisions and strife, and cultivate mutual affection, good oflices, and fellowship towards each other, according to the gospel.
PIILALETHES' STRICTURES ON JOHN. Dear Sir,
THE first remark which Philalethes has to make respecting the communication by John, which appeared in your Harbinger of November last, is, that he is unable to percerve, with any thing like precision, in what your correspondent's objection to the sentiments expressed by Philalethes, in his essay on Matheteuo, consists. John seems to assert that it contains objectionable matter, but certainly fails to state that objectionable matter in such a manner as to render it susceptible of a definite answer. Has John proved or attempted to prove the existence of untruth in a single assertion which Philalethes has made? When John shall have stated his objections with sulticient precision to be understood, Philalethes, will attempt to obviate them, or by his silence acknowledge error.
But, in the mean time, Philalethes takes the liberty of proposing a few questions. Is John prepared to deny that a rcal scholarship is necessary before scholarship be publicly avowed by immersion? Is. he prepared to assert that the person who by immersion declares himself to be one of Christ's disciples, does not act the hypocrite, if he be not previously to immersion a real disciple? Is he prepared to assert that water, or any thing else, applied in any quantity or manper to the body of a sinner, is able to alter the legal, intellectual, or moralor, in short, the mental state of that sinner? If his answers be affirmative, he is requested to specify the evidence which has engendered in his mind this conviction or belief. Is he prepared to assert that any act performable by a transgressor, can release hur from the punishment by law annexed to his transgression!
It is possible, however, that Philalethes and John may entertain very different sentiments respecting the constitution and character of a real disciple, and of the distinction which Philalethes makes bem tween a real and an avowed disciple. In the judgment of Philalethes, Christ came into this world himself, and sent inspired instructers, not only to furnish an ignorant and erring multitude of human beings with correct conceptions concerning God and his creatures, but to teach them also how they were to feel and act towards both; or, in other words, to enlighten their understandings respecting God and divine things, and through that information to beget in their minds those pious and virtuous emotions and dispositions, and in their external conduct that conformity to divine law, which constitute, characterize, and discriminate God's children; or if you will, Christ's genuine disciples, from an unenlightened, unbelieving, or falsely professing world. When a person, therefore, in the judgment of Philalethes, enters Christ's school, and there commences his scholarship, (and who on earth does more than commence it? shall we, regardless of our own experience and divine declaration to the contrary, doat and dream of intellectual and moral perfection?) that person commences not only the acquisition of correct conceptions, but also of correct dispositions and practicemin short, commences the knowledge, feelings, and conduct of a christian, Certain it is, that Christ recognizes none as disciples but such as study and practise every thing which he offers to teach them. His disciples must think, feel, and act as rational and moral beings, as well as talk.
But further, is John prepared to assert that these acquisitions cannot be made anteriorly to immersion, or a public afowal of them-in short, that it is the act of immersion which confers or creates them! Or that, though made, they do not constitute their possessor a christian or real disciple of Christ? Philalethes has asserted that knowledge, faith, love, and obedience are the elements or constituent parts, or rather principles of a christian; or, in other words, all that is necessary to constitute a christian; and, of course, that whenever all these are present in a human soul, that soul is a ehristian; but when any one of these is absent, there is no christian. in Will John deny this, and assert that more elements are necessary? That beside having read, understood, and believed God's message, and by means of this use of it, having had one's soul inflamed with love to God and man, and one's practice rendered as conformable to divine law as the present imperfection of man will permit, more is necessary to constitute a christian? If he do, surely it behoves him to specify the deficiency-to declare explicitly what is still wanting.
As to the political question proposed by John, Philalethes can assent to every letter and syllable of it, without infringing in the least on the incredulity which he has avowed immediately before it. , John seems to think that a human body is made a member of political society by the very same means by which a human soul is made a member of Christ's family. Philalethes thinks very differently. He well knows that membership in a political community can be gained
only by the body being dropt within its territorial limits, the reputed production of its members, or by its being subsequently subjected in a formal manner to the act of naturalization in a foreign statema process, by the by, in which no respect is paid to intellectual or moral qualities, provided the latter have not degenerated into open rebellion. Very differently, however, is membership in Christ's household attained. By intellectual and moral endowments alone is admission into this enviable community to be procured. To the body and its qualities or localities no regard is paid. It does not, therefore, follow, that because an Englishman, who may in judgment, feeling, and inclination, be in the highest degree an American citizen, cannot actually become such till his body be wasted to the American shore, and his person naturalized as the law directs, that a human soul, which has acquired the intellectual and moral qualities already specified--to wit, knowledge, faith, love, and obedience, is not constituted by their acquisition a member of Christ's happy family, even before the body in which that soul resides has become the subject of immersion, or the owner made any formal avowal of his christian attainments. Before John, therefore, can reasonably expect that Phi. lalethes will abandon his present conceptions, he must prove that it is something done by immersion, and not before, that produces in a human mind those intellectual and moral qualities which constitute that mind a member of Christ's kingdom.
As to the first difficulty under which John says he labors, Philalethes thinks that it has been created not by any thing asserted by him in his essay on Matheteuo, or elsewhere; but by some indistinct conceptions of John's own. What rotions John attaches to the words sconfess," or "put on Christ," Philalethes knows not; but as understood by him, they contain no inconsistency with the residue of his creed. Presuming that by the expressions confess," or "put on Christ," John means immersion, Philalethes will state his views of this action. First, then, he considers it to be the subject of an express and peremptory command. Secondly, that it is the duty, and not more the duty than the interest of all human beings, to put themselves, without delay, in a condition for its performance. And thirdly, that as soon as they know or believe themselves to be in such a condition, to have it performed immediately. But notwithstanding these articles of his faith, Philalethes cannot believe that during the progress of a mind honestly and diligently laboring to acquire a fitness for immersion-or, in other words, to acquire that knowledge, faith. love, and obedience, which constitute, wherever they exist, a soul a christian, that the progress or acquisitions of such a mind will be of no avail to it, unlees it continues to inhabit its body till that body becomes the subject of an actual immersion. 'True it is, that if a person neglects to acquire a fitness, or after knowing or believing himself to be fit for immersion, continues to trifle with Christ's command, Philalethes dares not meddle with his case, or pronounce the divine judgment respecting it.
How John came to impute to Philalethes the absurdity of reforma