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JESUS SEEN OF ANGELS.
THE SUBSTANCE OF WHICH WAS PREACHED
· IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF BROAD HEMBURY, DEVON;
DECEMBER 25th, 1770.
Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us; and sent his Son
to be the propitiation for our sins.-1 John iv. 10.
1 Tim. ii. 16.
Seen of Angels:
WITHIN the compass of this single verse, St. Paul comprises several fundamental articles of the Christian faith. The whole passage, so far as it extends, may be considered as a little system of divinity; and literally deserves the name of the Apostles' Creed. And such compendiums as this, of which there are many in holy scripture, seem to have given the first hint, at least, to the primitive churches, of declaring their attachment to Jesus and his gospel, in set formularies and confessions of faith.
Indeed, the apostle himself appears to intimate something of this kind, when writing to the Romans, be told them, Ye have from the heart, submitted to that mould, or model of doctrine, into which ye were delivered * So likewise, in his
* Rom. vi. 17. 'Tanx8oule de ex xagoras £15 óv magedo077€ TUTOVINS didax ns. In allusion, either to softened wax, which implicitly admits the impression of the stamp; or to metals, reduced to a state of fusibility, which assimilate themselves to the figure of the mould, into which they are cast.—The acute and learned author of the Confessional seems very unwilling to admit the probability of St. Paul's referring to any fixed formulary of doctrine, either in the passage last cited, or in the correspondent ones of 1 Tim. iv. 6. 1 Tim. vi. 3. and 2 Tim. i. 13. Let us hear this able writer speak for himself. “ The Greek words, in these several passages which are supposed to signify this standard or fixed formulary, run thus : TUTOS didaxons.
Υποτυπωσις υπαινονίων λογων-Λοίοι πιςεως και καλης διδασκαλιας .-Yπαινονίες λογοι οι τε κυρις ημών Ιησε Χριςο, και η κατ' ευσεβειαν
didaonokia. Now, when a capable and unprejudiced reader considers the variety of expression in these several passages, he will probably be inclined to think, that a fixed formulary of doctrine is the last thing a plain man would look for in them. A fixed formulary, one would think, should have a fixed title. Nor is it at all probable,
second epistle to Timothy, he thus directs that young divine : Hold fast the form of sound words,
that one and the same form of words should be described, in terms, which may denote an hundred different forms.” Confessional, p. 95, 96. 3d. Edit.
1. It matters very little, whether the apostolic formularies, deliver. ed to different persons, were syllabically, and verbatim, one and the same, or not. Their being materially, and substantially the same, as to their sense and meaning, was sufficient to secure the point aimed at, viz. unity of doctrine. The variety of titles, therefore, assigned to these fixed formularies (for such there seem to have been), is in reality, no objection to the doctrinal unity of the formularies themselves, supposing them to have been ever so numerous. But, 2. After all, there is no necessity for admitting even a verbal diversity of apostolical standards; at least, of those drawn up by one and the same apostle. Those for instance, given by St. Paul, were in all probability, not only materially, but verbally alike. Whoever considers this apostle's masterly command of the copious language, in which he wrote, will hardly I should imagine, be surprised at the variety of titles, given in different parts of his epistles, to perhaps one and the same summary: especially, as those various titles are all coincident in sense, and one as well as another, strictly compatible with a fixed apostolic formulary. Thus, for example, the XXXIX articles of the church of England may be termed (I mean by the few who believe them) Tupos didaxons, *TTOTUTWOIS üriasvovlwv Qoywv, Awyou TISEWS, &c. and yet remain the same identical articles, under all this variety of titles.
But the Confessionalist is inclined to believe, that in Rom. vi. 17. TUTOS didagns is, in particular, a phrase “ absolutely unintelligible,” if not referred to “ the exemplification of the Christian doctrine, in the practice of pious believers.” If, however, we read the apostle's words, through the medium of the metaphor to which he (I think, plainly) alludes; the absolute unintelligibility, of which the learned writer seems apprehensive, vanishes at once : and a sense arises (not very favourable indeed, to the main hypothesis of the Confessional, but) proper in itself, unforced in its deduction, and very intelligible by all. A sense too, which is at least, extremely probable to have been that the eloquent apostle intended to convey; as his admirable compositions very frequently derive both ornaments, strength, and perspicuity, from the adhibition of imagery and allusion : in which he greatly dealt, and as greatly excelled.-I have the satisfaction to find my argument confirmed, by the suffrage of a very respectable commentator, whose learning no man I believe, who has any learning himself, will venture to contest. He observes, that “ the word d992, which is the same with TUTOS here, is used by the Jewish writers, for a form, copy, or exemplar, of
which thou hast heard of me *: where the 'omolotwors, 'uricevovlwy Roywv, i. e. the copy, pattern, or outline of sound doctrines, mentioned by the apostle, strongly seems to refer to some elementary sketch, or summary of principles, previously given to Timothy, as a rule by which to proceed, in the doctrines he should publicly deliver as a preacher. So very far are, what have been since called, creeds and articles of faith, from being contrary, as such, either to the letter, or to the spirit of the gospel.
The expedience, propriety, and even necessity of these appear, among other considerations, from hence; that, without some given model, or determinate plan of doctrine, deduced from the sacred scriptures, it will be impossible, either for ministers or people, to form just and connected ideas of divine things. Unless the pearls, which are scattered at large in the gospel-field, be marshalled into some kind of order, and reduced in a regular chain, we can never preach, as the apostle directs, according to the analogy of the faith t: i. e. in exact agreement with that nice connection and mutual relation, which the several doctrines of faith have in common with each other ; so as to make of the whole, one
any sort of writings." Dr. Gill, on Rom. vi. 17. Every one knows that even our common Lexicons interpret TUTOS by Formula, Norma, Institutum. Scapula particularly intimates, that TUTOS sometimes signifies a compendium ; for which he cites that passage of Aristotle, TUTW aandes evder Vuodas, and this of Theophrast, Ev TUTW Hai 'ThWS EITEIV.— I should extend this note beyond all reasonable bounds, were I to pursue the argument further. I shall therefore only add, that the very particular notice, which the author of the Confessional has condescended to take of me, for some pages together in the last edition of his celebrated work; above all, the charge of flagrant inconsistency with myself, in my defence of subscription to fixed formularies; have brought me pretty deeply into this writer's debt; and, if my many avocations will give me leave, I design to embrace the first opportunity of coolly and respectfully balancing accounts with this able combatant of creeds, whose talents I revere, at the same time that I deplore their mis-application.
* 2 Tim. i. 13. + Rom. xii. 6.