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a private nature about business, and then no one could understand it fully but the individual or individuals to whom it is addressed. Or it may be of a public nature, and the essential key to its meaning is a knowledge of the public affairs of that particular time and place in which it was written. It is not, I presume, necessary to pursné these remarks farther, which might be continued ad infini. tum. How tlren shall we apply any of these rules to the Epistles of Paul to any of the churches, especially to that of the Romans? Does the Epistle itself bear any marks of a temporary, particular or local nature? In diy humble opinion it is as remote from any such circumstance as possible. The facts to which the Apostle alludes are of a general nature. Indeed, he takes the widest range whether he be descanting upon historical, moral, divine or 'human conduct. Upon this principle, if I recollect right, Dr. Taylor founded bis key to the Romans, the best instrument ever yet produced for opening the sense of this portion of apostolical instruction. But to justify my remarks as to the general nature of this Epistle, let me call your atten: tion to certain expressions contained in it, and to the fact of certain others being absent.
Respecting the latter circumstance, I cannot find a single expression in this Epistle that supposes the Apostle to have had a view to any local circumstances in the Church at Rome. All that has been said about a Jew of some eminence being a member of that church, that be aimed at pre-eminence among the members, that the Apostle particularly alluded to himn in chapter ii., as one that taught others and was himself in need of a teacher, as transgressing the precepts he taught others, and as guilty of praca tices similar to those he condemned in others, I confess I cangot see any better ground for than pure imagination, nor is there any advantage in the supposition. It is certainly very common for all teachers to speak as if addressing themselves to some particular individual, when they are conveying the most general instruction. When our Lord says, Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup or platter, &c., he does not mean some particular Pharisee, but any Pharisee, or all the Pharisées. Or if he meant some particular Pharisee, it would then be of little advantage to us if we knew what particular Pharisee he meant, his name, place of abode, &c. You will observe in the Epistle to the Corinthians certain expressions refer.
ring to circumstances of a local nature, and the same may be said of the one to the Galatians; but in this to the Romans there is not an allusion to any principle or practice or fact of any kind, but what is of the most general nature, There might be Judaizing Christians at Rome; there were such at Antioch, in Galatia, and probably in all places. Were there those who taught others and had need of teaching themselves? This is but too common a circumstance every where. Were the Roman Christians persecuted? Persecution was the common lot of all who in these times dared to profess the gospel of Christ, For these reasons there is no proof arising from any expressions in this Epistle that it was, or contained any thing, of a local nature, or that it was written in answer to some questions which had been previously put to the Apostle, or that any criterion is necessary to understand its contents, but a knowledge of human nature, of the Christian religion, of the history of Abraham and the Mosaic dispensation, or, in other words, a knowledge of the other Scriptures. But it contains expressions of a general nature, and its allusions are often to general principles and practices. It is evident that the Apostle speaks in a general way in the first verse of the second chapter when he says, "Therefore, thou art inexcusable, o man, whosoever thou art." Except there were strong external evidence to prove that this address was to some particular individual no one would understand it so. It is evidently an address to any man whatever, who may sustain a similar character. The Apostle alludes to general principles, chap. i. ver. 20, et seq., to the end of the chapter ; in the second, throughout, if the above remark on verse 1 be just ; in the third, to verse 9, as is very plain ; and then be proceeds to shew, that there was no difference between Jew and Gentile, and can have no particular person in view, nor any practice that was confined to Rome. In short, I feel convinced that I might go through the whole Epistle with the same remarks, as it appears to me so very manifest ; so that nothing can be more far-fetched than any construction which supposes references to any thing of a local or temporary bature, except in chap. xvi. respecting salutation's, &c.
Considering this to be the case, it follows, that the best way to obtain a knowledge of this Epistle is to read and gain an understanding of the Scriptures in general, the state of the world at the commencement of Christianity, the principles of human nature, and the doctrines of the gospel, the advantage of which I shall hereafter proceed to eyince.
The Voice of Spring. By Mrs. Hemans. I COME,
I come! ye have call’d me long,
They are bursting fresh from their sparry caves,
Away from the dwellings of care-worn men,
-Ye have looked on death since ye saw ine last!
But I know of a land where there falls no blight,
Queries on Church Government. SEVERAL persons, anxious for the permanent prosperity of the Unitarian cause, wish for information, through the medium of the Christian Reformer, as to the best plans for constituting and regulating religious societies, and beg leave
Is a Unitarian congregation merely an assemblage of persons individually subscribing to a course of lectures on divinity, as they might in another place to a course of lectures on philosophy or elocution, the reputation or talent of the lecturer being the only point of attraction ? Or should there be something to bind each member to the others ?
Is it prudent to leave the management in the hands of aninister and trustees; or has a committee been found by experience to be useful? How should such a committee be appointed ? By acclamation or by ballot ? By minister and trustees proposing a double list, for members to scratch from? Or by what other means?
Who should be admitted to vote? The mixed assemblage who are usually denominated a congregation, or persons only who contribute a certain amount, and who have con, tinued to do so for a specified time?
If Mr. Wright's engagements afford lim leisure, and he think the subject of sufficient importance, the proposers of these queries would be thankful if he would communicate the result of his information and experience; and if other persons will do so likewise, it may perhaps be of some atility to our cause generally.
Deism and Christianity; Voltaire and Paine.
[From the New-York “ Christian suquirer.”] It is not a little amusing to observe the compliment which is sometimes passed, undesignedly of course, on Christianity by the Deistical writer. Even the gifted Paine,* with all his virulence, avows his creed to contain
As Paine is frequently calumniated by persons who are unac. quainted with his works and iguorant of his talents, the writer of the present paper would not have it understood that he uses his name with any kind of invidiousness. On the contrary, he feels all the respect for him, as a political writer, to which his works have the most indisputable claim, and he feels perfectly convinced, that when his theological works are forgotten, he will be enrolled among the benefactors of mankind, as having done more towards the simplification of civil and political government than any other writer.