« AnteriorContinuar »
believed, through grace. So the punctuation ought to be. Apollos remained awhile with Paul, when he was at Ephesus, but declined returning to Corinth, though Paul wished it. 1 Cor. xvi. 12. He was afterwards with Titus in Crete, Tit. iii. 13, from which he went to Italy, and wrote, as Venema supposes, this epistle to the Hebrews: At length, it seems, he returned to Alexandria, Heb. xiii. 19. In this city, if conjecture may be indulged, he instituted a catechetical school, by others attributed to Mark. Give now a candid consideration to the arguments, with which Venema supports his opinion. If it is correct, we have gained another important point with regard to the history of our canonical books. Besides the presumption, that Paul would not have withholden his name, which he did not in any of his other epistles; it has 1. Some weight, that there does not appear a shadow of evidence, that the writer was an apostle, or invested with any dignity or authority in the church whatsoever; yea, he distinguishes himself from the leaders, and excuses himself, that he wrote admonitions and consolatory letters, ch. xiii. 17, 18, 22, which agrees with Apollos not being with Paul. 2. He joins himself to the Hebrews, who did receive the doctrine of Christ from other witnesses, as well as they ; chap. ii. 3. and mentions no where any immediate revelation. The contrary way is usual with Paul, Gal. i. 3. It suits better the character of Apollos, than that of Paul, that he aims at a more sublime instruction, as it was natural for
Paul to filant, for Apollos to water. Of this there are specimens, chap. v. 'l 1. vi. 1. 4. The style which he uses, is round, rhetorical, oratorical. To Apollos, called Aoyos, an elegant and graceful elocution is ascribed, Acts xviii, 24, 27. more applicable to Apollos, than to Paul, whose style is more concise and energetic. It would be further an easy task to bring forward words and phrases unusual to Paul. 5. It appears evident, that the author has a particular relation to the Hebrews, to whom he writes; so that he not only addressed them in a letter, but requested their prayers to God, that he might soon return to them, chap. xiii. 19. which does not agree with the character of Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, chiefly, not of the Jews. 6. It is more than doubtful whether "aul would have freely conversed in Italy where Timothy was imprisoned, which however this author asserts, ch. xiii. 23. I know it is commonly thought, that the writer declares himself bound, x. 34. but this is owing to an incorrect reading, as for 9:5uot; us must be read, 3iculois, which is required by the verb,
.svara'ia, to have compassion,
comp. ch. xiii. 3. 7. It does not agree with Paul, to call such an extensive letter, a short one, xiii. 22, as Paul in a much shorter letter to the Galatians, says, “see how largely I have written with mine own hand,” Gal. vi. 1 1. It suits better the style of an orator to call it a short letter. 8. The only objection is from 2 Pet. iii. 15, which, if taken
This too is
away, shall take the place of an argument. Paul is said to have written to the same, as Peter, who wrote to the dispersed Jews.
Here cannot be understood one, but various letters, as directly follows, and not particularly written to the Hebrews or Jews, but to believers in general, Greeks as well as Jews, in which letters he, as well Peter, spake of the same things, to wit. of the reasons of the delay of the last judgment, and God’s long suffering, not willing, that men should perish, but that all should repent, and be saved, Jews as well as Gentiles.
If still any one pretends, that Paul’s epistle to the dispersed Jews must be here understood, nothing hinders in that case indeed, from understanding Peter's saying as referring to St. Paul’s lost epistles ; as it is beyond doubt, that Paul wrote more letters, than those actually preserved; which is evident from 2 Thess. iii. 17. as no other now remains between the second and the first.
(or Readers are requested to examine the passages referred to.
The Editors acknowledge the ingenuity of Venema's defence, and thank their learned Correspondent for the pains he has taken to select and communicate the arguments. They must however be allowed to suggest the importance of great caution and long examination on the part of readers, as none of the arguments appear fully conclusive, and some of them are ea. sily exposed. Besides, some of the ideas contained in the defence tend to diminish the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
SURVEY OF NEW ExCo LAND C HURCHES.
Continued from page 259.
THERE is no truth more clearly fevealed in scripture, none confirmed by more various and substantial facts, or more certainly known and felt by Christians, than the native defravity of man. The evidence, which scripture furnishes of this truth, is very clear and multiform. It is contained in every part of the Bible. Whether we look into the Old Testament or the New ; whether we attend to the rites of the Mosaic, or the Christian system ; whether we examine the historic, the devotional, the prophetic, the doctrinal, or the preceptive parts of the sacred volume, we find irresistible proof of this sad and humbling truth. Without admitting it, the scriptures can never be understood according to the rules of a just and fair construction. Without admitting it, many parts of the Bible, which the inspired writers manifestly consider, as eminently important, will be destitute of meaning and use. In demonstrating this deplorable truth, the whole course of events, learned from observation and from history, conspires with the holy scriptures. How plain and certain is it to every wise observer, that mankind, whether considered in a social or individual state, are wholly corrupt, the children of disobedience, transgressors from the womb.
In the view of good men, this truth is attended with the highest evidence. A thousand arguments in confirmation of it are derived from their growing acquaintance with themselves. Every day's experience adds to their conviction, that in them there is, naturally, no good thing, and that the apostle can be charged with no extravagance or harshness, when he the unrenewed heart as enmity with God. They have no more doubts of their moral corruption and vileness, than they have of their existence. That the disease of sin is deeply wrought in the very nature of man, rests upon evidence of the same kind with any principle in natural philosophy. No philosophic truth is supported by more evident appearances or more numerous operations, than the doctrine of native depravity. The facts of a moral nature, which prove this doctrine, may be ranked with the facts of a physical nature, which prove the doctrine of gravitation. The fruits of human corruption appear so early ; they are so various, so constant, and so copious, that we can with no more reason doubt its existence, than the existence of any natural appetite or passion. But notwithstanding the various and abundant proofs, upon which this doctrine rests, it is often denied and opposed. At this day there is a general disposition manifested, especially among the learned, to change or conceal its awful scripture form, and to consider it as of small consequence, in what manner it is believed, or whether it is believed at all. Instead of the inspired sentiment, that mankind are shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, or that depravity affects their moral nature from Vol. III. No. 8. W w
their first existence; many consider it merely as the accidental effect of the temptations, to which they are early exposed, or of some unpropitious circumstances attending their education. Most people imagine, that depravity is very partial, by no means extending to the whole moral nature, or to all the moral actions of man. They consider it as their misfortune rather, than their sin, exculpating themselves, because their state is the consequence of Adam's transgression. And some, who advocate the doctrine of total depravity, represent it in a light, which is plainly inconsistent with the free agency, the moral obligation and accountability of sinners. But without enumerating all the errors respecting this doctrine, which are entertained and defended at the present day; it is my design to guard the churches of Christ against those errors, by pointing out the sources from which they proceed, and the various hurtful effects which they produce. One perpetual source of error respecting the character and actions of lapsed man is, the firactice of judging by a wrong standard. If men would keep their eye steadily fixed on the moral excellence of God, the perfect pattern of all goodness ; or would duly consider the nature and extent of what his law requires; they would be convinced of the entire moral depravation of man. In the light of divine holiness they would see, that the thought of the imagination of his heart is evil continually and from his youth. Judging by the perfect and unchangeable law, they would readily admit the exact truth of the following description of mankind, in Rom. iii. “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre ; with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways ; and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” But on this subject, men judge by a wrong standard ; a standard not only different from the moral law, but opposite to it. Instead of the holy commands of God, they set up, as a rule of judgment, the corrupt opinions and maxims of the world; maxims, which justify what the law condemns, or, at best, substitute a regular external deportment for holiness of heart. Another false standard of judgment is the character of those men, whom many writers and the world in general treat with the highest respect and honour. Their spirit and conduct, differing widely from that rule of moral excellence which the Bible authorises, lead to very erroneous conclusions respecting good and evil. Even characters deservedly esteemed for Christian piety cannot, without danger, be considered as the standard of our judgment. In this world, the best Christians are very imper
fect. We must not set them up as infallible guides; nor suffer them to occupy the place of Jesus Christ. Our attachment to their virtues should not lead us to admire their weaknesses, or to justify or imitate their faults,
I have suggested two of the false standards of judgment on subjects of a moral nature ; the corrupt opinions and maxims of the world, and the characters of men admired for their talents, their exploits, or their virtues. With such false standards of judgment before them, men are induced to “call evil good, and good evil ; to put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Judging by these delusive rules, they form very inadequate and erroneous opinions of human corruption, greatly mistating or wholly rejecting a doctrine, which lies at the foundation of evangelical truth. Beware, then, Christians, of these, and indeed of all false rules of judgment. The word of God is your only infallible standard. When you would form a correct opinion of the character of mankind, in general, or of the nature of any particular dispositions or actions ; ask not what are the maxims adopted by the fashionable, unthinking world ; nor what is the opinion of people in general. Look not at those, who are admired for their splendid circumstances, accomplishments, or actions. Confide not implicitly even in those, who are held in high estimation for Christian wisdom and goodness. But look to God’s holy law, and to the character and life of Jesus, where the excellence and the broad extent of that law appear with living beauty. With a con
stant and reverential regard to that character and law, you will be directed to proper views of apostate man. You will see that none of his actions or inclinations, while destitute of renewing race, can be pronounced holy. ou will be able, with great ease, to remove the delusive veil of external decorum, which so often conceals internal deformity. When the outward actions of sinners appear most fair and engaging, your habit of judging, according to the judgment of God, will still lead you to say, “an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles 2" Thus you will be satisfied, on scripture grounds, that man's heart is by nature wholly corrupt, and that this radical corruption diffuses itself universally through his actions, which, considered in relation to the moral law, are all unholy. In this sentiment you may depart exceedingly from the common opinion ; but you will secure the advantages of agreeing with the Spirit of truth. But there is another unfailing source of error on this subject, which must not be overlooked ; that is, the delusive influence of firide, and the other evil sassions of the heart. These passions are a dark mist, which prevents clear vision. Pride excludes spiritual light. Under its influence, men turn away from that picture of human nature, which is drawn by the pencil of truth. They can readily understand and admit speculations, which leave to pride the full possession of the heart, its chosen throne. But how can they admit the mortifying belief, that mankind, and themselves in
particular, are so defiled, so criminal, and so degraded, as the scripture declares them to be 2 In opposition to the serious belief of this doctrine all the imposing eloquence of pride and every corrupt passion is exerted. No wonder, that a truth so wounding to selfconceit, so destructive to unlawful pleasure, so alarming and distressing, is so seldom believed; so much obscured, and so vi
olently assaulted. No wonder,
considering what the human
heart is, that any error, however
palpable, is admitted, rather than
a doctrine, which sullies man’s
glory, and covers him with dishonour and shame. Here is the
grand source of mistake on this
subject. If there were less pride
in the world, the doctrine of hu
man depravity would meet a less
vigorous resistance. From this
source even Christians are in
danger. Although the scrip
tures are open before them, and
the pure light of heaven has
shone in their hearts; still their
pride is not wholly subdued, and
they are not sufficiently disposed
to submit, without reservation,
to the whole word of God. Let
the churches of Christ, there
fore, guard with sacred vigilance
against the influence of every un
hallowed passion, so that they
may preserve from diminution
and alteration the doctrine of hu
man corruption, as it stands in
sacred volume. ‘Let the
whole salutary truth be received
and felt, however painful to those
feelings, which would shun
the light ; and let every error
and misrepresentation, however
soothing to human nature, be re
jected as the bane of Christian