Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

,. Let me now make a few brief references to holy scripture, to show that the Apostles' Creed, if not directly drawn from the word of God, yet may be fully sustained by it; and, therefore, cannot, consistently with truth, be called "an abstract of human opinions":

“I believe in God,” Ps. c. 3; Heb. xi. 6— the Father,” Eph. iv. 6; 2 Cor. i. 3-"Almighty," Rev. iv. 8; xi, 17—“Maker of heaven and earth;" Eph. iii. 9—"and in Jesus Christ,” John xiv. 1; iv. 26 "his only Son, John iii. 16; Mark xiv. 62—our Lord:” John xiii. 13; 2 Pet. i. 11-who was conceived by the Holy Ghost," Matth. i. 20—born of the Virgin Mary,” Luke i. 27; ï. 7,21– suffered under Pontius Pilate," Mark xv. 15—was crucified,” Luke xxiii. 33“Dead and buried :" Mark xv. 37; Luke xxiii. 55—"he descended into hell;" Acts i1. 31_"the third day he rose from the dead,” Acts x. 40%"he ascended into heaven," Luke xxiv. 51-"and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father, Almighty:” Mark xvi. 19—"from thence he shall come to judge the quick and dead." Philip iii. 20; Acts x. 42—"I believe in the Holy Ghost,” Matth. xxviii. 19_"the holy catholic (universal] church," Eph. v. 25, 27—“the resurrection of saints,” Eph. ii. 19; 1 John i. 3—“the forgiveness of sins," Col. i. 14—“the resurrection of the body," 1 Cor. xv. 42, 44; Philip iii. 21_"and the life everlasting." John xvi. 40.

You must excuse me, therefore, if I cannot subscribe to, or adopt, your definition of creeds, as including the Apostles', to be an abstract of "human opinions;") nor as being a human contrivance, any farther than the merely bringing together and arranging, for the sake of compression, in a few brief sentences, doctrines plainly declared on the pages of scripture; and nearly, if not wholly, in the very language of scripture itself. I must, moreover, be allowed to think, that you have indulged yourself, in the above quoted questions and answers, in a tone altogether too authoritative and contemptuous, and not savoring enough of that humility and brotherly kindness which are, indeed, scriptural characteristics of the christian. There is far too much, also, in your writings generally, of an ex cathedra style. You deal your censures much too indiscriminately; and, as if it was a well understood and settled point, that you, of all men living, have just views, a clear head, and an understanding heart; in short, as if you were, like the Roman Pope, infallible: which, you certainly are not, and are not like to be. You dwell too much in a bustle. Commune more with your own heart; learn to bear with other men's opinions, and to believe that they actually have powers of mind, and of heart; are capable of as pure motives, and are quite as likely to be actuated by them, as yourself.

Now, friend C. if you like plain dealing as well as you profess to, and are as ready to listen as to lecture, to be advised as to censure and condemn, you will publish this letter in your Harbinger. Accordingly, I shall look for it in your next number. I rather fear, however, that I shall not be allowed to see it in print. My estimate of your true character will be made up by the result; and you may then, possibly, hear from me again. :

BARNABAS. VOL. III.

[ocr errors]

Reply to Barnabas. My Good SIR:

OLD MEN, to which class you profess to belong, are some. times in a captious mood; and in that mood are apt to say and do that, which in their better frames of mind and feelings, often gives them pain. It is not for me to explain to you the feelings which prompted the preceding address, which you see I have had the moral courage to lay before my readers. But, in the fulness of your devotion to ancient creeds, especially that called the Apostles', you have done me some injustice, without, perhaps, intending it. I am not guilty of the charge you so unceremoniously impute to me, of ascribing to the Apostles the Nicene Creed. This I have not done. It is true, I have given the Nicene Creed; but do not give it as the Apostles' Creed.

A little more attention to the 42d question, would have prevented this imputation. The question is:- .

“Can you repeat it, as received by the Catholic church?”

In answering this question, the Nicene Creed is given. But then, the question is, Does not the Catholic church consider the Nicene Creed as much the Apostles' Creed, as you consider the Apostles' Creed to be the work of the twelve Apostles? You presume not to say that the Apostles so formed and arranged it, but that the doctrine which they taught justifies every word of it. So think the Catholics that the Nicene Creed is only an enlarged edition of the Apostles? Creed, and that every sentiment in it is contained in the Apostles? Creed.

Had I called that creed the Apostles? Creed, and not the Apostles' Creed as received by the Catholic church, I should have been guilty of a misrepresentation, and you might have had some ground of censure. The Apostles' Creed, as received by the Catholics, was presented in the form you find it in said Extra, for the purpose of more clearly exposing its unfounded pretensions to be the work of the Apostles.

But, as you define the word Apostles, I have no objection to say, that the facts stated in said creed, are all sustained by the Apostles. It reads thus, as received by the church of England:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

If this be a correct version of it, taken from the common prayer book published in Hartford, 1826, I can say, ex animo, that I believe every word of it. Because it is not, like all modern creeds, a synop sis of opinions, but a brief narrative of facts, and of all the great gospel facts.,

That it is of great antiquity, I never doubted. Its simplicity, and freedom from abstraction, are internal evidences that it is ancient, beyond all other human creeds; and it is proof positive that the word belief, or the word faith, was understood, as the time of its formation, as I have labored to make all my readers understand it. Then, the belief of facts well attested, constituted faith. I have no evidence that ever the Apostles drafted a summary, and therefore no faith in any creed, as that of the Apostles; but, that the Apostles' doctrine authorizes every proposition, or statement of fact, in this creed, I am fully persuaded. I am, indeed, glad that you have called my atten. tion to it again, because it so well sustains all that I have written on the subject of faith, and the simplicity of the views of the earliest christians.

I trust it will be deemed superfluous for me to evince to you how far we moderns have apostatized from ancient simplicity, when you see of how little account the creed which, in one sense, you call the Apos. tles', is in the estimation of all sects. Not one of them thinks it sufficient as a term of communion, for it scarcely makes a hundredth part of the volume which exhibits the bonds of union and communion among even the Episcopalians, who so often repeat it.

As to the lecture which you have the goodness to tender me, it is such as every honest man will present to himself. Whatever the motives may have been which prompted you to give it, so far as it is apposite, it is worthy of attention. Our readers will judge how far you have reason to represent me as needing such an exhortation. If, however, I have been too authoritative in my style, or too censorious of others, it is not because I think other men have not heads, nor hearts, but it is because many of them seem to give neither of them fair play; apparently allowing other considerations than the arguments of the Saviour and his Apostles, to influence their decision. .

There never was a reformer, or one who simply preached reformation to sinners, that might not have been exhorted by any sinner whom he addressed, as you exhort me. Many an irreclaimable sinner has counselled his exhorter to take more heed to himself, and to allow that other people had virtues mingled with their foibles, which made them as acceptable as himself. Far bo it, however, from me, to insinuate that you are of that class. But, sir, I regard it as neither incompatible with humility, benevolence, nor christian love, to speak with confidence, when we feel it; for speaking in the subjunctive, or conditional mood, is wholly incompatible with the pretensions of any man who, like you or me, assumes to be a teacher of others. • It is not human opinions which we propose as the bond of union, unless you say that facts, and testimony, and faith, are all mere opin

man who tells me that the sun, and moon, and stars, have no existence, save in the opinions of men; or, that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, are opinions, as much as the doctrine of "original sin,” and “total depravity," in the Calvinian or Arminian accepta .. tion of these phrases.

Now, my good sir, give me the same proof of your sincerity, that I have attempted to give you of mine.

Yours,

EDITOR.

“Mark them who cause Divisions." • THE Pope and his angels preached from this text half a century, while Luther, Zuingle, Melancthon, &c. were exposing the filthiness of the Mother of Harlots. As Luther gave the Pope no quarters, he wreaked his vengeance on the Reformers, denouncing them as here. tics, schismatics, sowers of discord among brethren, haughty, selfwilled, and contumacious dignitaries...

He learned that lesson from his predecessors, who denounced the Messiah and his Apostles by similar arguments. Jesus was not a good man, for he made divisions among the people; and the Apostles were heresiarchs, for they turned the world upside down.

Elijah, too, was a disturber of the peace of Israel; and Daniel greatly marred the harmony of the devout fraternity who paid court to Nebuchadnezzar. In short, from the time that Moses caused divisions in the kingdom of Pharaoh, down to the last Dover Association, this text, “Mark and avoid them that cause divisions," has never been unseasonable amongst the opponents of reform and of change; for as there can be no reformation without changemand as all who preach reformation preach a change, the consequence must be, that those who will not change, must, to justify themselves, denounce the reformers; and no texť does better than this—Mark them who cause divisions, and avoid them.

EDITOR.

FOR THE MILLENNIAL HARBINGER.

· Wind and Spirit. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” . . . Common translation of John iii. 8.

THE popular exposition of this passage of scriptnre, so far as we have been able to learn it, is, that the comparison here is between the wind in its effects, and the Holy Spirit in its effects, on the regenerated. As the wind blows where it pleases, so does the Holy Spirit, How is this made out? By the insertion of two supplements, it and with_"So it is with every one that is born of the Spirit.” As we cannot tell whence the wind comes, and whither it goes; so neither can the subjects of it tell whence the Holy Spirit comes, how it operates, and whither it goes. It operates alike sovereignly and mysteriously. How lame and blind all this!

In order to come at the TRUTH, let it be premised . 1. We have but one word in the Greek language for wind and spirit,

viz. pneuma.

. 2. An important rule of interpretation is, that “when any word or expression is ambiguous, and may, consistently with common use, be taken in different senses, it must be taken in that sense, which is agreeable to the subject of which the writer was treating;" consequently, the meaning of pneuma, and its proper translation into English, must always be determined by the connexion in which it stands.

3. The subject of discourse between the Saviour and Nicodemus was not wind, but spirit. PNEUMA is four times rendered in this connexion spirit. It is so rendered in the predicate of the passage under consideration: but only in the subject rendered wind.

Therefore, if to be born again, is to be born, not of wind, but of Spirit—if that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, and not wind; then must the Saviour's words, verse 8. (John iii.) be rendered

The Spirit breathes where it pleases, and you hear the report of it; but know not whence it comes and whither it goes: so is every person who is born of the Spirit.

Now for the meaning of this: The comparison is continued from the 6th verse between the begetter and the begotten-between the Holy Spirit and the person begotten or born of it. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.An identity of nature being here declared; an identity in the aspect and effect of their influences is declared in the sentence under consideration. “You hear the report of it"-the sound or rumor of its operations, (That the Spirit operrates, and so operates as to effect an important change in all who benter into the kingdom of God," being born of Spirit, had been asserted just before—“Except a man be born again, he cannot see (discern) the kingdom (or reign) of God.") “So is every one who is born of the Spirit” _So is he to you, Nicodemus, and to all like you, out of the kingdom, who have not submitted to the government of Messiah the Prince of Peace. As you know not whence the Spirit of God comes, and whither it goes; alike ignorant are you of the subject of divine influence. You discern him not. An entire stranger are you to the new principles, views, and feelings, by which he is actuated.

PHILOLOGUS.

Reformation the Order of the Day. THE following is the annunciation of a new sect of reformers in the medical world. We sympathize with all reformers, and wish them all prosperity, so far as they are reformers. The things that can be shaken seem destined to be overthrown, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

The paper (of which this is No. 1.) is published by John Stapleton, Cincinnati, O. on a half sheet, twice-a-month, at $1,25 per annum.

THIS is a reforming age, and the question of reform has agitated both the old and the New Worlds, from pole to pole. In England, France, and Ireland

in Germany, and in the north-and even among the disciples of Mahomet, in A frica, and Asia--and lastly, in the Americas the spirit of regeneration has per

VOL. III.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »