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« Thus, what the mystics speak or think is no longer their own thought or expression, but a true inspiration from on high. “On ne peut rien faire par soi-même; mais un autre Esprit se sert de la plume et de la langue de ces personnes ; et si cet Esprit ne les anime
pas, ils restent dans une pure ignorance ; et lorsqu'on leur parle de ce qu'ils ont écrit, et qu'on veut leur en faire rendre raison, ils sont souvent étonnés qu'ils n'y entendent rien, à moins que cet Esprit directeur ne le leur remette dans l'esprit.'
“Madame Guion adds, “ J'ai tant écrit sur tout cela, que ceci suffit;' and most readers will, probably, be of the same opinion in this case.
“In the writings ascribed to Thomas à Kempis, several of the peculiarities of mysticism disappear. The writer professedly avoids all theory, and wishes merely to preserve a lowly and devotional frame of mind. But when the Romanists left the absurd ceremonies of their church in search of some better way of serving God than with these solemn mummeries, nothing better presented itself to them than the devotion of the mystics. The Scriptures were either a sealed book to them, or, when studied at all, were looked at through a discoloured medium. Hence, without the writer being conscious of it, the piety of à Kempis has fully as much relation to the system of Pantheism as to the truths of the Bible. As all religion, according to Pantheism, is founded upon union with the Deity; and as that union is only prevented by our individuality or selfishness, which willingly, and acting from itself and for itself, separates it from the universal ocean of Being into which it would otherwise be absorbed ; so the first step of piety consists in quietism, or the ceasing to act or to will ; and into the void thus formed by the destruction of the selfish principle, the Divine Spirit as necessarily flows as air into a vacuum. Thus the mystic is exhorted, if he wishes for religious knowledge, not to direct his attention to the truths of the Scriptures, but to pore upon the vacancy of his quiescent mind.
“« If thou withdrawest thy attention,' says à Kempis,' from outward things, and keepest it fixed upon what passes within thee, thou wilt soon perceive the coming of the kingdom of God.""
P. 148:“But however erroneous à Kempis, and many others of the mystics, may be; and however calculated they are to mislead
the serious inquirer after truth, into visionary and dangerous opinions; yet the reader cannot doubt that they were men of genuine piety themselves, that what is excellent in them is to be ascribed to the Divine teaching; and that their errors are to be attributed in no small degree to the corrupt Church of Rome, which left no other way open to them, but that of mystical devotion."
P. 157 : “In Christianity, the first step is to believe n the Saviour, • What shall I do to be saved ? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved !' The believer is first justified, and then purified, or sanctified, by faith. But, according to the mystical system, the disciple must be purified before he can believe—he must get rid of self first, for till then his belief would be only a selfish belief.”
Pp. 159, 160: “Those Pantheist writers who consider Christ as our atonement, merely believe Him to be the medium, or channel, by which we flow back into the Divine Being.
“ It may be asked, how the mystics, who profess Christianity, reconcile these notions to Divine Revelation ? It is by a method which has been practised in all ages, by which one set of opinions may easily and successfully be engrafted upon any other system of opinions, however diametrically opposite they may be. This method is generally called spiritualizing. It was first practised by the philosophers of antiquity, upon their own mythology, and upon their ancient poets.
“ Homer, from having called the Ocean the father of gods and men, was pressed into the service of his theory by Thales, who makes him assert the origin of all things from water. The Stoics were so expert in this sort of spiritualizing and allegorizing, that they made the whole of the ancient literature of Greece wear the hue of their peculiar opinions; as Cicero observes, “Ut etiam veterrimi poëtæ, qui hæc ne suspicati quidem sint, Stoici fuisse videantur.' The Alexandrian school were still more eminent spiritualizers than the Stoics ; and Origen, their well-instructed disciple, made the outward sense of Scripture give place to the higher and more spiritual meaning which he conceived to lurk under it. By lineal descent his method has been inherited by the mystics; and while the obvious sense of the Bible is left to the uninitiated, the enlightened few enjoy an inner revelation
appropiated to themselves, and conformable to the doctrines of Pantheism. Not that they are strictly tied down to this inner sense of the Scriptures; they claim to have more immediate and individual communications addressed to their inward man ; discoveries of the inmost nature of things, and perceptions of the Divine existence (as some inform us, who make a vehement profession of Christianity by law established), more magnificent than were vouchsafed to the Hebrew prophets of old."
P. 161: “ Plain Scriptural statements of truth were as adverse to mysticism as to Popery: there was nothing of that dreamy quietism about the heralds of the Reformation, which would have marked them out as the true sons of illumination in the eyes of the mystics; no still whispers from the inner shrine of Pantheism ; nothing but forcible appeals to the obvious sense of Scripture, fervid eloquence, and vehement action. The truth of the Bible was strongly enforced, and strongly defined, chasing away before it the errors alike of the Polytheist and the Pantheist; and the one true God, and the One Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, was preached, and held forth to all men in the infinity of his love, but also with the severity of his justice, and the purity of his holiness.”
Pp. 14–16: ...“ It has been a prevalent opinion with the Christian church, that there are writings, by eminent men in religion, which, though not inspired to the same degree as the canonical books, were nevertheless indited under such a measure of the direction of the Holy Spirit as to be of high authority. Let us endeavour to analyze this notion. There are certain books which the Spirit dictated in part, but not altogether. But can the portions so dictated be pointed out ?-If they can, to what
we indebted for the remaining portions ? if to the writer
alone, a fallible and erring man, what assurance have we that he may not be misleading us ?-If the inspired portions cannot be pointed out, how can we safely assent to the authority of that of which we know not the origin; or believe in doctrines, concerning which we are ignorant whether they are propounded to us by the Spirit of God or by the fancy of the author in whose writings they occur? It is needless to proceed with the argument.—The notion of semi-inspiration involves a manifest absurdity: it supposes that the inspiring Spirit sanctions the introduction into the Sacred Text of that which of all things will most effectually defeat the object of the revelation; for the gift of inspiration was granted in order that its receiver might be constituted thereby the recorder of absolute, unmingled truth, and that his writings might claim the unhesitating belief of mankind, through all succeeding generations, on this ground alone : and how could this object be more entirely frustrated, than by allowing the inspired truths to be intermixed with the unassisted reasoning or imaginations of him to whom they were revealed ? It would be idle to object here, that the writer might be kept from error by the Spirit, in these his mental efforts ; because that is itself inspiration, and all that is meant by it in one of the ordinary acceptations of the word. Assuredly, therefore, there is no such thing as semi-inspiration : that unspeakable grace was either imparted wholly, or it was altogether withholden. And in every written production, wherein the intellectual faculties of the writer have not been entirely under the dictation and guidance of the Spirit, in the nature of things it is impossible that He can have interfered supernaturally at all. For these reasons we unhesitatingly deny that the apostolical men could have received any assistance from the Holy Spirit, in inditing their epistles, short of plenary inspiration."
Pp. 33–35: “ Justin Martyr*, and his pupil Athenagoras †, both believed that the Greek philosophers had a certain measure of inspiration, whereby they were enabled to arrive at those parts of their systems which are in accordance with the Scrip,
“ Clement of Alexandria enlarges and improves upon this
“ * Apologia i. p. 83, D.'
“ + Legatio, 7 D.”
notion. He declares the Divine origin of the Eclectic Philosophy-'a system composed of all that is well said, and according to righteousness, by all the Greek philosophers.' This,' he says, 'they received from the fertilizing influences of the Logos, or Divine Wisdom, which descended at the same time upon the Jews, giving them the Law and the Prophets-and upon the Gentiles, giving them philosophy; like the rain, which falls on the house-tops as well as on the fields *. In another part of his work he argues thus: “All virtuous thoughts are imparted by Divine inspiration ; and that cannot be evil, or of evil origin, which tends to produce good. The Greek philosophy has this virtuous tendency: therefore the Greek philosophy is good. Now, God is the Author of all good; but the Greek philosophy is good : therefore the Greek philosophy is from God. It follows, that the Law was given to the Jews, and Philosophy to the Greeks, until the advent of our Lord +.' Elsewhere he terms philosophy 'a peculiar testament, oixelov dla Onxnu, imparted to the Greeks, which served them as a stepping-stone to Christianity t;' he also ascribes to it the power of “purifying and preparing the soul for the reception of the Christian faith g.'
“ The notions regarding inspiration entertained by the early church being now before us, we are not at all surprised to find that the Apostolical Fathers are frequently quoted as scriptural authorities by those of the succeeding century; since, in doing so, they only assign to them a station to which they had already assigned a mere version of the Old Testament, the most palpable forgeries, and even the writings of professed idolaters! We triumphantly conclude, that, however eminent the Fathers of this epoch may have been for piety and learning, their opinions upon a point whereon they so grievously err, are, as an independent testimony, utterly valueless, and by no means to be regarded, except when supported by that irresistible weight of collateral evidence which establishes the authenticity of the Canonical Books.
“ • 1 Strom. S 7. So in another place : Ý Didorodica Selce swpea Ηλλησιν δεδομενη. (Id. $ 2.)” “ + 6 Strom. $ 17; where see more to the same purpose." “† 6 Strom. $ 8.”
“S7 Strom. $ 4.”