« السابقةمتابعة »
credit for both the possession and the exercise of wisdom and goodness, when the human mind is enveloped in the densest clouds, and surrounded by the thickest darkness respecting his modes of operation. His reasons are with himself, and though he giveth not an account of any of his proceedings, he "afflicteth not willingly;" nor out of sovereignty or mere caprice, does he ever "grieve the children of men." Lam. iii. 33. “For a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness," 1 Pet. i. 6.
2. Sorrowful occurrences are the natural effects of sin.
Had we never offended, we should never have died. Until sin opened the door, the last enemy to be destroyed would never have entered our world. When a man has fallen, you are not surprised at finding him wounded: when he has broken the law, you naturally expect his imprisonment: and when he has taken poison, you do not wonder at the fatal consequence. 66 'Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," Rom. v. 12. Sin is the fall by which we are universally injured: it is the offence under which we are condemned: it is the cause of our mortality.
3. Man's future state will solve all his present difficulties.
Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of God's throne." And he hath said, "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter," John xiii. 7. The crooked lines of the good man's path shall all be made straight: the darkness shall become perfect light the bereavements experienced in the world shall be found under the direction of mercy herself: and the bitterest cup that ever the righteous drank, shall attest the declaration of Paul to be founded on fact, when he said, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God," Rom. viii. 28. Now we behold "interest clashing with interest, spirit rising up against spirit, one purpose defeating another, universal nature apparently on the verge of confusion, chaos and ancient night threatening to resume their empire. But, without knowledge, design, or cooperation,-nay, in defiance of concert and cooperation,-the whole is making a regular, steady progress; the muddy stream is working itself pure; the discordant mass is bound as in chains of adamant; the wrath of man is praising God; every succeeding era and event is explaining and confirming that by which it was preceded; all is tending towards one grand consummation, which shall collect, adjust, unite, and crown the scattered parts, and demonstrate to the conviction of every intelligent being, that, "to the righteous, all was, is, and shall be, very good."*
Hunter's Sacred Biography, vol. iv. p. 273, 274. 8th edition.
We have the obscurity of Providence painfully verified in the early decease of our highly esteemed and deeply lamented friend, Mr. William Greenfield, the learned editor of Bagster's "Comprehensive Bible," and author of many other literary and useful works. We have his death now to improve; and we cannot but deplore his departure, as an unspeakable loss to the church of God in general, as well as to ourselves, with whom he was accustomed to worship, in particular. We must, however, be still, and wait the development of present mysteries in a future world: the most clouded scenes will then put on an aspect of brightness which the mortal eye is too feeble to behold; and even faith herself too weak to discover in its clearness.
Mr. Greenfield was born in London, April 1, 1799. He was a descendant of pious ancestors in a long line of honourable succession. His great grandfather was a worthy member of the church of Christ at Haddington, under the pastoral care of the late Rev. John Brown, author of the "Self-Interpreting Bible." Mr. James Greenfield, the grandfather of our departed friend, was apprenticed to one of Mr. Brown's elders, during which, he also became a communicant of the same church with his honoured parent. Some time after the expiration of his apprenticeship, he removed from Scotland to London, and was recommended by the church at Haddington to that of the Rev. A. Hall, the predecessor of Dr. Waugh. Mr. William Greenfield, the father of him whose loss we now mourn, attended with his parents in Well-street chapel, and became a member of the church. Subsequently, however, by the advice of friends, and the strong recommendation of his excellent pastor, the venerable Waugh, he was induced to go a missionary voyage, in the ship Duff. This was her second voyage, and Mr. Greenfield returned in safety. But he afterwards lost his life by the upsetting of a boat, and left a widow to bewail his departure, with the charge of our deceased friend wholly devolving upon herself, when he was only two years of age. She was a pious and most exemplary Christian; therefore it was her study to bring up her child in the fear of God. In the spring of 1802, she removed with him from London to Scotland, and he received the rudiments of his education in her family. He resided in Scotland about eight years, and, with his mother, attended the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Young, at Jedburgh. In the summer of 1810, they returned to London, and Mr. Greenfield resided for some time with his two maternal uncles. Here, it seems, his literary thirst began to shew itself, and his mind to open its astonishing powers in acquiring the knowledge of languages. In the course of their reading, his uncles had often been perplexed with learned quotations, and therefore, though in business, they were determined, if possible, to obtain such an
acquaintance with the different tongues with which they were so frequently met, as to be able to understand their meaning when they found them introduced by various authors. This was the very element of their nephew, and, as far as they knew, they taught him; but the pupil soon surpassed his instructors.
In October, 1812, he was bound an apprentice to a pious man, a Mr. Rennie, a bookbinder. In the house of his master, he found a Jew who was a reader of the law in the synagogue, and who, observing our young friend very acute in his discernment, and possessed of some knowledge of the Hebrew, took particular notice of him, and offered to perfect him in the language, which he did gratuitously.
But we must now attend to Mr. Greenfield's religious character. Like Timothy, he had been blessed with a pious mother, and a holy grandmother; and, like Timothy, he had known the Scriptures from his infancy. At the age of sixteen, however, he became decidedly serious, and commenced teacher in the Fitzroy Sabbath school, of which his master was a conductor. At seventeen, he united in Christian fellowship with the church under the pastoral care of Dr. Waugh; and from that time a close friendship existed between them, until the doctor's decease. This excellent man acted as a father to Mr. Greenfield; and, in return, Mr. G. always beheld him with filial affection and confidence, as his counsellor and his benefactor. One instance may be inserted here, as a specimen and proof of their intimacy and mutual esteem.
Full of ardour in the cause of Christ, Mr. Greenfield wished to convince his Jewish teacher that Jesus was the true Messiah, whom their own patriarchs expected and prophets predicted. At first, the Jew appeared to have the advantage, from his superior knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures; but our friend was soon competent to meet him on this ground: and when he was opposed by any objection whatever, which he could not answer to his satisfaction, he embraced the earliest opportunity of stating his difficulty to Dr. Waugh, and getting furnished with proper arguments from the matured judgment of that venerable divine. Some young persons, who are ignorant, remain in ignorance, because they are too proud or vain to seek instruction, lest their folly should be exposed: they wish to pass as wise, when they know the mere pretension is a cheat. But that was not the character of William Greenfield. In this conduct of inquiry, he discovered at once the greatness of his mind, the humility of his disposition, and honest zeal in the cause of Christ.
At the age of twenty, he began to address the children of the Sabbath school publicly; an office for which he was well qualified by a rich store of biblical knowledge and christian experience.
In the year 1824, he gave up his business, and applied himself wholly to the pursuit of literature. In this year he commenced the "Comprehensive Bible," and finished that Herculean and incomparable work in December, 1826. It is a work, indeed, which has been condemned by ignorance, traduced by envy, rejected by fanaticism, and termed heterodox by slander; but a work that will immortalize the name of Greenfield with honour, when the arrogant pretenders to an exclusive orthodoxy, who have deemed themselves authorized to scatter "firebrands, arrows, and death," wherever a visionary mind or a wild imagination may dictate, as doing God service;-yes, we are bold to aver, the name of the man who edited the "Comprehensive Bible" shall be immortalized with honour, when the ashes of his persecutors are scattered to the four winds, their predictions are falsified, their dogmas held in derision, and their conduct shall be universally execrated for its cruelty under the cloak of pious zeal. What is the idea which our departed friend has expressed in the Comprehensive Bible" respecting the Almighty? You shall hear.
Of Jesus Christ, he thus speaks: "He was co-eternal with the
Of the Holy Ghost, he tells us: "He is omnipresent, omniscient, eternal; is God." He "spake by the prophets, wrought miracles :" and "blasphemy against him is unpardonable."‡
He observes: "Mysteries relative to a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the nature and perfections of God, the covenant of grace, the incarnation of the Son of God,-his mediatorial offices, and redemption through his blood,-justification, adoption, sanctification, and eternal blessedness in him,—and the offices of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, these, and many others of a like nature, God only could either comprehend or discover." §
And what does he state in his note on 1 John v. 7? The genuineness of this passage has been given up by some divines of whose piety
*Note on Psalm lxxi. 19.
+ Comprehensive Bible, Index to Subjects, on the word CHRIST.
Ibid. on the word GHOST.
§ Comprehensive Bible, page 61 of the Introduction.
and orthodoxy there never was a doubt; but it was not so considered by the editor of the "Comprehensive Bible." He "It seems says, more probable that the Arians should silently omit it in their copies, or that it should be left out by mistake, than that the Trinitarians should forge and insert it; for the latter would only gain ONE argument for a doctrine which is abundantly TAUGHT in other Scriptures; but if it was admitted as the word of GOD, all the ingenuity and diligence of opponents could scarcely avoid the inference naturally deducible from it." In the nineteenth verse of the same chapter, the note on man's apostacy is very striking. "Lieth in wickedness," he renders, " in the wicked one; is embraced in his arms, where it lies fast asleep, and carnally secure, deriving its heat and power from its infernal fosterer." Of man, he speaks in "his primeval dignity, his fall, the universal corruption of his nature, the great business of his life, and his dignity restored by Christ."* Regeneration he observes, is "a change of heart and life, necessary."†
On prayer, he is most expressive, both for ourselves and others; ‡ and proves the doctrine of the resurrection to be plainly revealed, both in the Old and the New Testaments, and the expectation of the saints in every age of the world.§
Yet this is the book accused of neology; and this is the man cruelly assailed, infamously maligned, and persecuted even unto death, by a class of persons inflated with pride and self-complacency, as the sole conservators of sacred truth.
With regard to the disposition and conduct of our departed friend, his very countenance indicated the benevolence of his heart: he was frank, open, generous. He possessed a sensibility too acute for his own comfort, but ever prompt to promote the happiness of others. Cowper says
"I would not enter on my list of friends,
(Though graced with polish'd manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility,) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm."
And this tenderness of feeling was somewhat characteristic of our departed friend, Mr. Greenfield: he would not have given unnecessary pain to any creature.
* Comprehensive Bible, Index to Subjects, on the word MAN.
+ Ibid. on the word REGENERATION.
Ibid. on the word PRAYER.
§ Ibid. on the word RESURRECTION.