Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND.

affect our moral relations to the mysteries of the gosgel? How does it consist with the criminality of error and the obligations of faith?

As I have not lately first considered the subject, and have my own way of resolving it, in which however I am neither solitary nor original, I hope it will little startle you when I say—that THE POSITION IS NOT MORE SWEEPING THAN TRUE ; in my judgment. I repeat the averment-No MAN CAN BELIEVE WHAT

I extend it to religion and every thing else; but prefer the apophthegm that faith and intelligence must be commensurate, at least in this respect, that faith can go no farther than intelligence, though intelligence may go farther than faith.

To me it does not appear where there is either fallacy or peril in the proper import and use of this position. I certainly deceive myself greatly or I understand all that I believe on every subject. Take that of " the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” for a high example. You can easily show me the limit of intellection on this topic, dazzling with its own effulgence. You can show me the fact revealed; yes, I believe it, and I understand the fact revealed! But do I understand the mode of it also ? No, I do not—nor do I believe the mode of it, either. The mode is no subject of revelation, no object of faith, no matter of intelligence. I believe that God is one in one sense ; and three in another sense: and not so either as to exclude the other. But as to the mode or manner of it, or the question, How is it so? I understand nothing,

66

[ocr errors]

I believe nothing, I read nothing in the scriptures.
So I take it is the truth with respect to every other
matter of revealed instruction. But I go farther.
I find every thing in the universe, as related to my
knowledge, precisely in the same predicament.
What are the premises of natural philosophy, but
facts or phenomena, observed and classed, defined
and methodized, with the exactitude of science? So
of astronomy, botany, chemistry, geology, and the
whole of physical science—not alone. But do not
philosophers understand the modes of the facts ?
Not at all. They understand to some extent the re-
lations of the facts ; and facts subordinate which
analysis discovers : but still they know no more of
modes than essences. If this be true, we owe it to
the Hicksites, fathers and brethren, just because
we owe it to all others whom we can influence or
assist in vanquishing the obstructions that intercept
their return to the “ obedience of the faith "-from
what source soever they result, to disabuse genuine
orthodoxy of the false metaphysics that have dis-
honored it; to facilitate THE WAY OF LIFE to the
faith of men universally; and not to consecrate the
errors of good men or even great ones, because
some of them have gloomed the whole of christi-
anity by protruding and aggrandizing the opposite
position. I regard it as granting the whole cause
to the enemy; as surrendering the total contro-
versy; for one to require, contrary to the laws of
mind, a homage to the gospel which, for that reason
if for no other, the mind instinctively refuses to
render! and this, if I mistake not, is an infinitely

[ocr errors]

interesting concern! “We are debtors both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise; as much as in us is, to be ready to preach the gospel” to them. Isai. 57: 14. Hab. 2: 2. It would be sad for us in the day of judgment-I had almost said, even at the right hand of our glorious Lord, if he should there prove against us that, because “not skilful in the word of righteousness," we had made dark what he had made clear, difficult what he had rendered easy, and unintelligible what himself had fully and with infinite condescension expounded!

Allow me here to relate an anecdote in point. I was once providentially (some few years since) thrown in company with several respected persons of this unhappy persuasion. One of them, an educated and regular physician of the city of Philadelphia, remarked that he would rather hear nothing on that subject, for it would be useless; adding, I am so certain that a man cannot believe what he does not understand, that I never wish to listen to what confessedly contradicts this principle. Said I-may I not say any thing? No, was the answer; if contradictory to the position aforesaid. I replied, but what if I avouch the same, for I certainly believe it myself? This greatly surprised him and others. I proceeded : explained some of the greatest facts of revelation in coincidence with it; and elicited from him the concession-I never heard any thing so rational or convincing in favor of your side of the question before! His countenance changed from the first moment he perceived my

meaning, from lightness to gravity. He always behaved differently to me and to these topics afterward; and on his lamented death-bed, besides the patience he showed and the confessions he made, he ventured with trembling to express a hope of redemption through the blood of the Lamb;'wel

" comed a christian minister to his apartment; united with him in prayer; and called Jesus Christ his Redeemer! Forgive me, sirs, for a tear to the memory of my own dear late brother, James Cox, M. D. who left the world in December 1831, in the 35th year of his age. The Lord reigns ! He was a man of unsullied character; in social and professional life universally respected. In chastity of manners, in justice of principle, in decision of conduct, his equals were few and his admirers many. And of his errors—liking them as little as you can, I can appreciate his prejudices, his education, his impediments, his real ignorance of christianity! Forgive the reference and the episode :there are thousands of others in a similar condition. O that I could help them to “behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" I would labor for their salvation, and think their souls, gathered in Christ Jesus, the best hire in the world: for he whom such a motive would not supremely influence deserves truly the epithet of “ hireling” or reprobate.

In view of this noble distinction between the fact and the mode, as related to the faith and the duty of men—that is, to their believing and practising “ the glorious gospel of the blessed God;" while it

gives a lucid and legitimate facility, above almost any other, and is of universal applicability; I would say to Friends of both parties, that it will leave them“ without excuse” if, upon whatever pretence, they refuse that gospel. The end for which the gospel was written, is that for which the whole volume of inspiration was written. It is not to inform us of “ a superior rule" within us—which it behoved to do, if any such thing exists; and so at once to nullify its utility and condemn its copiousness; for who could want such a massive volume, as a mere index-finger to the inward light-and then afterward need the more voluminous writings, equally inspired, of Friends, as a supplemental appendix to its contents? The design of the scriptures, of which Jesus Christ is the pervading subject-theme from first to last, is plainly declared to us : “ These are written THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the CHRIST, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through his name.” Hence the whole scriptures are said to be “ MADE KNOWN TO ALL NATIONS FOR THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH.”. To believe, is to obey; for God commands us to believe. Mark, 1: 15. 1 John, 3 : 23. The design of revelation then, and of inspiration as the way

of revelation, is to disclose to us the lessons of truth which we are required to learn ; the doctrines of God, which we are obligated to receive; and the duties of wisdom, happiness, and salvation, which we are privileged and commanded to perform. And all this under the sanction of-LIFE OR DEATH ETERNAL! Jesus Christ has plainly suspended our destiny on

« AnteriorContinuar »