Page images

As St Paul did not learn the Christian religion from the other apostles, nor they fron Christ, but both he and they received it immediately, by the operations of God's spirit, it is evident that the doctrines they preached and the books they wrote were in: spired. But the author must have had some very different notion of inspiration, if, indeed, he had any distinct notion of it, who has maintained, that its influence on the minds of the apostles was not permanent but transitory, adapted only to special occasions, and, when these were served, presently suspended or withdrawn. The natural faculties of the human mind enable it to retain the knowledge it has once acquired; especially if that knowledge be clear and important. None could be more important, or more justly claim attention, than the suggestions of the Holy Spirit; and there is no reason to believe that they were either obscure in themselves or destructive of a man's natural faculties. But, as long as the memory retained the divine communications, so long did the inspiration continue; and this, we may presume, was usually as long as the apostle lived. And, of whatever kind the language of inspiration were, it had probably no other source than the natural abilities of the writers. The form and character of St Paul's Epistles we shall find to have been derived from the circumstances of his early life. Tarsus, where he was born, was in that age a celebrated seat of learning; and the Tarsic eloquence was employed in sudden and unpremeditated harangies. And St Paul, long accustomed to compositions of this sort, transferred the style and manner from speaking to writing. But St Paul did not learn at Tarsus the general forin only of his writings. He collected there, also, many of their minute ornaments. In that city was one of the largest and most celebrated places of exercise then in Asia. See Strabo, lib. 14. And there is no matter from which the apostle borrows his words and images in greater abundance than from the public exercises; and when he exhorts his disciples to the practice of virtue, he does it usually in the very same terms in which he would have encouraged the combatants. His family also was anoilier source of his figurative espressions. . His parents were Roman citizens, and words or sentiments derived from the laws of Rome would easily creep into their conversation. No wonder, then, that their Son sometimes uses forms of speech peculiar to the Roman luwyers, and applies many of the rules of adoption, manumission, and testaments, to illustrate the counsels of God in our redemption. Nor are there wanting in St Paul' some marks of his pccupation. To a man employed in making tents, the ideas of cainps, arins, armour, warfare, military pay, would be familiar. And he introduces these and their concomitants so frequently, that his language seems to be such as might rather have been expected from a soldier than from one who lived in quiet times and was a preacher of the Gospel of peace. When we observe farther, that, being educated in the school of Gamaliel, and instructed in all the learning of the Jewish doctors, he not only uses the Hebrew idiom, but has many references to the Hebrew Scriptures and the received interpretations of them, there will remain nothing that is peculiar in his manner of writing of which the origin may


[ocr errors]

not be traced to one or other of the forementioned circumstances. Powell's Sermons, p. 248, &c. • To fix the degree of inspiration, which was imparted to the writers of the New Tesiqment, is an object of much greater consequence than to explain the method in which it was conveyed. That the apostles were constantly under the divine influence, that such influence extended to scrupulous correctness in every particular, and'rendered them perfectly infallible in the writings they have left us, is an opinion, which its advocates will find it difficult to establish. Aware of the many objections which may be brought against them, it is not for such an hypothesis that we ought precipitately to contend. There seems, however, nothing repugnant to reason,' nothing inconsistent with the circumstances of the case, in supposing that the Holy Spirit guarded the Sacréd writers from error in the grand outlines of their narration, in the statement of precepts, and the developement of doctrines. A divine , assistance, thus favourably imparted, seems to have answered the great end of its communication without extending to the revelation of other points. It at once accounts satisfactorily for those slight deviations from exact conformity.which the advocates of jufidelity have inagnified into apparent importance, and displayed with ostentatious parade. In the more minute circumstances of facts, the Sacred writers are left to the resources of their own unassisted memory and experience, and consequently are reduced to the level of all other credible historians. Upon those momentous points which contribute to form an infallible rule and standard of faith and practice, they were guided by the hand of divine wisdom into all truth, and soar to a height of credibility which no human writer can attain.” Kert's Bampton Lectures, Sermon 7, p. 265.

Sicút memoria tua non cogit fæcta esse quæ præterierunt, sic Deus Præscientia sua non cogit facienda, quæ futura sunt; nec est consequens, ut, si Deo certus est omnium ordo causarum, ideo nihil sit in nostræ voluntatis arbitrio. Et ipsæ quippe nostræ voluntates in causarum ordine sunt, qui certus est Deo, ejusque præscientia continetur, Quocirca nullo modo cogimur, aut retentâ præscientia Dei, tollere voluntatis arbitrium; aut retento voluntatis arbitrio, Deum, quod nefas est, negare præscium futurorum; sed utrumque amplectimur, utrumque fideliter et veraciter confitemur. Illud, ut bene credamus; hoc, ut bene vivamus. Neque ideo peccat homo, quia Deus illum peccaturum præscivit; imo ideo' non dubitatur ipsum peccare, oum peccat; quia ille, cujus præscientia falli non potest, non fatum, non fortunam, non aliquid aliud, sed ipsum peccaturum esse præscivit,'qui, si nokit otonino, non peccat; sed si peccare noluerit, etiam hoc ille præscivit. St Augustin, de Lib. Arb. lib. iii. c. 4. Voss. Hist. Pelag. lib. vii.

P. 2.

The apostles could use the keys of the KINGDOM of stéaven np farther than Christ saw fit, who openeth and no man shutteth, who shutteth and no man openeth; yet the Cc 2


-apostles had great powers by virtue of these words, Matt. xyiii. 18, which we have not: the power of discerning by the spirit, in many cases at least, and therefore of. declaring who were penitent and pardoned, who otherwise: the power of inflicting and continuing miraculous punishments on wicked persons, which is binding and retaining their sins; and of removing such punishments, which is loosing and remitting them. Secker’s Sermons, vol. vi. p. 355. It appears, and is as

and is as plain as can be, that the Jews commonly used the words binding or loosing to mean declaring and teaching things to be necessary or not necessary, but unlawful to be believed and practised; and, consequently, all our Saviour can be understood to mean by those words to the apostles is this, that he constituted and appointed them to be the teachers of the people, and what they enjoined or forbid to be believed and practised should be accounted lawful or unlawful, and accordingly rewarded or punished by God. Gale’s Sermons.

This is a very forced and unnatural construction; for it is certainly false that the apostles had any power to make or declare a thing to be lawful or unlawful, that was not made so by Christ. For, as the use of a key is to open or shut the door, by opening to give admittance, and by shutting it to deny it, to any place, so the power which Christ conferred on the apostles is this, that they should be the chief rulers and governors of his church, and as such should have authority to admit or exclude such persons as they should judge convenient. That this is the meaning of our Saviour's promise is plain from the terms of binding and loosing, which commonly signify imprisonin; or releasing from prison, and is the proper business of those who have the custody of the keys; and therefore, when applied to the members of Christ's Church, must denote an authority in the officers thereof to condemn them for their sins or alsolve them, which, in the spiritual sense, is the only way of imprisoning or releasing from prison. - Stackhouse on Creed.

Petro (Matt. xvi. 19) promittitur potestas solvendi et ligandi, hoc est, declarandi quid licitam, quid illicitum sit; seu quid faciendum, et a quibus abstinendum sit homini, ut salutem obtineat æternam. Vide Seld. de Synag. Ind. lib. ii. Limborch.

The power of binding and loosing, given to Peter, Matt, xvi. 19, relates to doctrine; that given to all the apostles, Matt. xviii. 18, respects discipline. Macknight.

The power of the keys belongs to things, not to persons; and seems to respect those institutions and laws which may be proper for the government of the church. Bishop Pearce.

ö, Matt. xvi. 19, and öva, Matt. xviii. 18, may refer to persons as well as räv, Joh. vi. 97, 39. And then these texts are equivalent to 'Joh. xx. 23. Archbishop Secker indeed restrains thein to the infiction or removal of miraculous punishments. Archbishop Newcome.

All this relates to Peter alone, not to the other apostles; and this authority was temporary, not perpetual. And the power of binding and loosing respects the abrogation


[ocr errors]

of the civil part of the Mosaical law, and the obligation of the moral part. Bishop Horsley,

Erit ligatum et in cælo, i. e. idem erit meum patrisque judicium, quod fuerit tuum. Intellige, si Petrus potestate hac legitime utatur, non ex odio, favore, &c. sed juste judicet, sequatur leges Dei et Christi. Nam si insontem ligaret, id non esset ratum in cælo. Hæc ergo auctoritas Pétro data nullum præjudicium adfert juri Dei, quasi is ut pedarius judex subscribere cogatur hominis sententiæ. Lucas Brugensis, Poly. Synop.

The first book of Locke's essay, which with submission I think the worst, tends to this dingerous doctrine, that the human mind, previous to education and habit, is as súseuptible of any one impression as of any other; a doctrine, which, if true, would go bar to prove ihai trüih ani virtue aie no betier than human contrivances, or, at least, that they have nothing permaneat in tļeir nature, but may be as cha calle as the incluations an:i capacities of inen. Surely this is not the doctrine that Locke meant to establish? Bu, bis zeal againsi innute idea; and innate principles put him of his guari, and made him alow ioo little to instinct, for fear of allowing too much. Beattie on Truth, p. 238.

In Mr King's calculations, the accuracy of which has never yet been questioned, he asserts, that, of thirty-nine millions of acres of land in England, ten millions, or more than a fourth, cursisted in heaths, moors, mountaias, and barren lands, and this exclusive of woods, forests, paiks, commons, roads, &c. There have, since that time, been many improvements made; but it will be surely allowed no improbable supposition, that one fiftieth part may yet be gained from the unprofitable state in which it is. Campbell's Pol. Survey, vol. ii. p. 732.

That is a very moderate su;position.

When the Edomites fled from David, with their young king Hadad, into Egypt, it is probable that they carried thither also the use of Letters; for letters were then in use, among the posterity of Abraham, in Arabia Petræa and upon the borders of the Red Sea, the law being written there by Moses, in a book and in tables of stone, lorg before; for Moses, marrying the daughter of the prince of Midian, and dwelling with him forty years, learnt them anong the Midianites; and Job, who lived among their neighbours, the Edomites, mentions the writing down of words, as there in use in his days; Job, xix. 23, 24. And there is no instance of letters, for writing down sounds; being in use, before the days of David, in any other nation besides the posterity of Abraham. The Eýyptians ascribed this invention to Thoth, the secretary of Osiris, and therefore letters began to be in use in Egypt in the days of Thoth; i. e. a

little lessened

little after the flight of the Edomites from David, or about the time that Cadmus brought them into Europe. Sir Isaac Newton's Chronol. p. 210.

See this opinion of Sir Isaac's argued against in the Divine Legation, vol. iii.

It appears, from the express testimony of Moses, that God did indeed teach man language, Gen. ii. 19, 20; yet we cannot reasonably suppose it to be any other than what served his present purpose. After this, he was able of himself to improve and enlarge it as his future occasions should require, consequently the first language must needs be very poor and narrow. Warb. Divine Leg. vol. iii. p. 108.

On the whole we see, that, before the institution of letters to express sounds, all écharacters denoted •only things; lst, by representation, or cariologic hieroglyphic. 2dly, by analogy or symbols, i. e. tropical hieroglyphic. 3dly, by arbitrary institution. But it may be worth while to consider more particularly the origin and introduction of these arbitrary marks, the last advance of hieroglyphics towards alphabetic writing. We may observe that substances and all visible objects were at first very naturally expressed by the images of the things themselves, as moral modes and other ideal conceptions of the mind were more aptly represented by marks of arbitrary institution. For, as all nations in their ruder state had hieroglyphic images, or analogic or symbolic figures, for marking things, so had they likewise simple characters or notes of arbitrary institution for mental conceptions. Warb. Div. Leg. vol. iii, p. 88, 89, 95.

But, if they had from the beginning characters of arbitrary institution for mental conceptions, how can this be called the last advance towards alphabetic writing? And, if they were made use of for this purpose, why might they not for the purpose of conveying any other idea? especially as the learned author observes before, “ that the first language must be very poor and narrow, and therefore the fewer marks or notes of arbitrary institution would be necessary." For, as he remarks farther, men had once observed (and this they could not but observe early and easily, by the brute and inarticulate sounds which they were perpetually hearing emitterl) how small the number is of primitive sounds, and how infinite the words are which may be formed by varied combinations of those simple sounds, it would naturally and easily occur to them, that a cery few of those marks, which had before casually excited the Sensation of those siinple sounds, might be selected and formed into what has since been called an alphabet, to express them all. And then their old accustomed way of combining primitive xounds into words would as naturally and easily direct them to a like combination of what were now become the simple marks of sound, from whence would arise literary writing." p. 153. One would think, then, that, as language was toeval with mankind, that letters were of a very early date, and prior to the invention of hieroglyphics, which were confessedly the institution of the Egyptians; and, if letters were abbreviated characters from the hieroglyphics and symbolic figures, it might be imagined that at first they would have been very numerous, and gradually

« when

« PreviousContinue »