« السابقةمتابعة »
would put it to the common sense of every rian, whether it be at all probable, that a revelation which the God of heaven has been (if I may so express myself) at so much pains to communicate, should, after all, have in it so very little that is peculiar to itself; that, in the amount of actual discovery, it should go so very short a way beyond the Volume of Nature? Is it not, a priori, much more reasonable to expect, that the leading communications of such a revelation should unite the two attributes of pre-eminent importance and exclusive appropriateness? should be such as men could not do without, and could not otherwise obtain ?-Unitarians were greatly offended when their system was denominated the half-way-house between true Christianity and deism ;—we must now be pardoned, if, not from our conviction only, but upon their own showing, we place it a good many stages nearer to the end of the journey.
Were it not that I am aware how much most readers dislike long prefaces, and that the present has already exceeded all due bounds, I should have said a little on the rationalism or neology of the Continent, as affording additional and striking illustrations of the tendency of the system, and its close affinity to deism:-for, although English Unitarianism and German neology may not be identically the same, yet in some of their leading features of character, and principles of criticism, and modes of interpretation, there is such a coincidence between them as would fairly warrant inferences, especially with regard to tendency, from the one to the other. -But I must forbear.
Before concluding, however, I embrace the opportunity of
strongly expressing my obligations to an eminent writer of our own country, who combines, in no ordinary degree, accurate and extensive scholarship, and critical acumen, with the courtesy of the gentleman, the meekness of the Christian, and a measure of candour, of which the fault, if it be chargeable with any, is one whose extreme rarity might entitle it to a place in a museum of character,—I mean that of excess. The work of my highly valued friend Dr. JOHN PYE SMITH, entitled, The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, is a treasure of admirable Biblical Criticism. The Reader will find that I have made occasional use of it, particularly in the Notes, both in confirmation of my own sentiments, and to throw new light on some parts of the subject.-In a Note at the close of the Discourse on the nature and necessity of the Atonement, I have referred to a Discourse of the same Author on the Sacrifice of Christ. That reference was made, before I was aware of the Discourse having been recently re-published, with three additional ones on kindred subjects, or branches of the same subject,—the priesthood of Christ, the Atonement made by Christ, and the redemption effected by Christ, -forming, with notes and illustrations, a respectable octavo volume, distinguished by the same critical ability and the same Christian spirit.
In consequence of the publication of a pamphlet, by the Rev. W. H. Drummond, D. D. one of the Ministers of the Strand Street congregation, Dublin, entitled "The doctrine "of the Trinity founded neither on Scripture nor on Reason "and common Sense, but on tradition and the infallible "church;" a new champion for the truth has just appeared on
the Arena of authorship, namely, the Rev. James Carlile, one of the Ministers of the Scots Church, Mary's Abbey, Dublin, in a work entitled "JESUS CHRIST OUR GOD AND SAVIOUR," of which I have not yet finished the perusal, but which, from what I have read, appears to be the production of an acute, ardent, and vigorous mind,-ably reasoned, and forcibly written.
In the present Edition of this Work, I have placed first in order the Discourse" on the Test of Truth in matters of "Religion," which was formerly fourth in the series, being satisfied, agreeably to an early suggestion of the Eclectic Reviewer, notwithstanding the circumstances that induced me to postpone it in the delivery, that this is its most natural position. The enlargements, before alluded to, including an extension of the size of the page, will amount in all to about 150 pages, of which a considerable proportion are in the small type of the notes.-Several of the notes of the former Editions have been omitted, as being rather of temporary interest; and a number of new ones have been added.-A more copious Table of Contents is prefixed, and an Index of Scripture Texts subjoined.
I have had abundant cause for devout and lively gratitude to the God of all grace, in the evidences afforded, from time to time, that the publication of these Discourses has not been in vain. I commend them anew to His blessing, in the humble remembrance that "neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God, who giveth the increase." R. W.
Glasgow, May 28th, 1828.
ON THE TEST OF TRUTH IN MATTERS OF RELIGION.
1 THESS. V. 21.
“Prove all things :-hold fast that which is good.".
In entering upon any argumentative discussion, nothing is of more essential consequence than to ascertain, with precision, not only the points in dispute, but the legitimate sources of evidence, or the authority to which the disputants mutually agree to make their appeal, and by which, according to such agreement, the controversy is to be settled. If the subject of question be, what the doctrines are which are taught in a particular record, the reference, it is obvious, must be made to the record itself; and the sole inquiries must be, What did the author write? and, What is the meaning of his language? But if the question be, Are the doctrines of that record worthy of credit ?—a question which supposes them ascertained, -the case is entirely altered. The appeal is not now to the record itself; but to those sources of evidence that are appropriate to the matters of which it treats, and by which the doctrines maintained in it may be either disproved or established. The two questions, What is Newton's philosophy? and, Is Newton's philosophy true?—are entirely distinct, and must be answered in different ways; the one by an examination of Newton's writings, the other by an investigation of the works of God.
There is one obvious exception to these remarks. They relate to human records. Supposing any record once ascer