Imatges de pÓgina





Every writer has some object in view, when he undertakes any work; and it is well to state that object, at the commencement. I will here say, that it is not my intention to increase the unhappy divisions, and unkind feelings, which exist in the religious world; nor to build up or aid any sect, doctrine, or creed, that is not fully supported by the Bible; nor to condemn any, that is not clearly contrary to the testimony of God. If I know myself, I have no preference for any system, beyond what the truth as it is in Jesus requires. Although I have been educated in what is called the orthodox school and faith, yet I have no desire that it should be

supported, if it is not fully substantiated by the gospel truth; nor would I favor any other doctrine, that is not clearly maintained in the same way. It cannot be my object to endeavor to gain, personally, the

applause of men, (I only hope to escape abuse and reproach,) for I do not intend that it shall be known even who I am; being desirous that the work should stand or fall, according to its merits or demerits.


For it is too often the case, that books are received or rejected, read or not read, approved or condemned, according to the prevailing feelings or impressions existing respecting the name of the author. But I am anonymous, and, personally, have no influence. It is not my object to attempt to write in a style of great force, splendid eloquence, or fascinating beauty, if I was capable — simplicity, plainness, truth, and clearness, are all I seek. Again, it is not my intention to be carried away with unfathomable mysteries, when I can find plain and brilliant truth to lead me. And it is not my design to make my faith explain and control the Bible, but to let the Bible form and establish


faith. I will now state affirmatively, and briefly, some of the objects I have in view. It is my design to bring forward and display all the testimony of God, which can have any relation, either directly or indirectly, to

my subject; together with the various and different arguments and explanations used concerning the same. I shall not produce one part of Scripture, and omit another (as some have done) to favor any particular sect or doctrine; but shall endeavor to display the whole, that the true doctrine may be formed therefrom, and not a human, imaginary system, from a consideration of a part of the evidence only.

It is my most ardent desire to discourage and do away, as much as possible, all differences, divisions, controversies, and unkind feelings, that now unhappily prevail; to unite all professors as a band of

brothers, so that, as Christ prayed, they all may

be one, as he and the Father are one; and that it may be said of all, with admiration and praise

see how these Christians love one another!” And I do seriously hope, that all the churches on earth, which are now, nominally, almost innumerable, may be united into one general church, headed by the same glorious name, the only name by which salvation can be obtained — and be called the Christian church, or the church of Christ on earth; that all the names of the different sects may be laid aside, and that there may be but one denomination known among Christians, which should be that of Biblists, or Scripturalists. Should I be the means, in any degree, of promoting any of these objects, I shall feel happy; though, at nearly threescore years and ten, I cannot surely expect, or look for, any earthly reward — but shall aspire only to a consolatory hope, that I may receive, at last, that divine, beatific annunciation of the Judge—“Well done."

The subject I am about to consider is, in some respects, different from all others. It is the most important, interesting, sublime, and glorious of all subjects. It leads the contemplation from earth to Heaven — from a speck to a Universe - from nonentity to Almighty, Eternal Being !

Theology, in its most extensive sense, embraces not only the Being of God, but also all his wonderful attributes, all his marvellous works and providence. The evidence relating thereto is all from one source, from one fountain of perfect truth, in

which there can be no possible falsehood, error, or defect. This evidence is no less than the testimony of that Omnicient, Perfect Being, who is Truth, in the abstract -- who cannot lie, who cannot deceive, who cannot prevaricate. This testimony God has delivered in different ways, and at different times, by his works, by his laws of nature, reason, and common sense, and especially, and more fully and perfectly, by the Bible, his written word, communicated through his holy Prophets, and inspired Apostles of his Son Jesus Christ. Thus we have the written testimony of God which cannot be invalidated. And although nature, reason, and common sense do not, clearly and fully, make known all things concerning the being, providence, and attributes of the Most High, yet so far as they do actually and certainly reveal and teach anything, that is as much the truth of God, and as truly his revelation, as what the Bible declares; for they are all his witnesses, his agents, speaking and doing as directed by his supreme, unerring will, all being his divine gifts to men. They, therefore, must all harmonizethey cannot contradict each other; for it is impossible that God can declare a fact by one witness or one agent, in one way, and contradict it in or by another; because it is essential to his perfect character, that he “is true in all his ways," as well as “ holy in all his works.” It is not therefore well to say (as has been said) that some parts of the Bible are contrary to, or inconsistent with reason; because, if both are the gifts of God, both bis organs


of speech, or his instruments of revelation, they cannot be contradictory, they must be consistent with each other. It is true, systems, or hypotheses of some human invention, respecting theology, may be advanced, which are inconsistent with reason; but then, if well examined, they will be found to be inconsistent with the true meaning of the Bible also, or they could not be at variance with reason, which is one of God's organs of communications, one of his agents in revelation.

But although the evidence of the Bible is from a true, perfect, and pure source, and must have been entirely free from error and imperfection, when it left that source, yet, as we do not receive it directly from the fountain, but by various streams that issue therefrom, it may have acquired in its course some extraneous matter, so as not to come to us unmixed with error and imperfection. As a stream from a pure and sweet fountain of water may, as it flows over various soils and through impure matter, collect unwholesome ingredients, so as to need defecation before it is fit for use; so the truth of the Scriptures, coming to us through the course of languages, many words and sentences of which are ambiguous and uncertain, and also through a vast number of manuscripts, copies, printings, and translations of uninspired persons, may require a process of filtration, through the sieves of reason, history, and science, before we can obtain the truth in its original purity. If there were no ambiguity in words, and no

« AnteriorContinua »