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ART. II. ON THE POSITION OF 3. Buddicom's Emanuel, 461
4. Horne's Introduction, 461
Professor of Chemistry and 17. Bunyan's Grace Abound-
408 20. Kendall's Santa Fé Expe-
C. NEAPOLITANI, DE CHRISTO 26. Gordon's Lives of Alexan-
der VI and Cæsar Borgia, 478
REVIEW OF Haight's “ GUIDE” AND M’ILVAINE'S “SOLEMN
RESPONSIBILITY OF MINISTERS."
By Rev. J. W. McLane, Pastor of Madison-st. Presbyterian Church, N. Y
The Guide to the Understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and
the Unity of the Church ; two Sermons preached in Au
Rector. With Notes and an Appendix. New-York : 1841.
by the Right Rev. Charles P. Målvaine, D.D., Bishop of
These sermons may be taken, in some aspects at least, as
gospel-depending less upon forms and ceremonies, and planting itself more firmly in defence of the great doctrines of the Reformation. It is mainly as samples of these opposites that we bring these productions together, and to the notice of our readers at present. “ The Guide,” for it assumes to be something more than a guide, was published, as we learn from a letter of the vestry accompanying it, at their request, and for the purpose of giving “ their neighbors, relatives, and friends," most of whom they consider “ honest in their prejudices,” a correct view of the “ Constitution of the Church, and of the relation which tradition holds to the sacred volume.” Finding it difficult, as it would seem, to satisfy the minds of those who object to their “ peculiar views,” and to “set them right," in these matters, the vestry anticipated important aid in their work from the publication of this Guide. Hence its appearance.
The sermon of the Prelate was delivered on a more imposing occasion, and for a far nobler object. Its sentiments are those of a pure and elevated piety—and are alike honorable to the head and the heart of that distinguished servant of Christ who uttered them. The friends of truth, especially in the Episcopal communion, are much indebted to Bishop M’Ilvaine, for the noble stand he has taken against some of the Oxford doctrines in this discourse, and more particularly in the publication of a work, for which many pious hearts have thanked God, but which a stupid and wretched formalism has marked and stigmatized as “the Gambier Romance.” Some parts of the sermon under review must have fallen with disastrous and crushing weight upon the author of “the Guide.” We must, however, take our leave of the Prelate, until we call him before our readers to pour forth the manly and eloquent indignation of his soul upon sentiments which would have darkened the Tiber, even in the worst days of popery. It is with the Rector of All Saints that we have to do.
The first part of the Guide refers to the understanding of the Scriptures, and is based upon the question of Philip to the Ethiopean eunuch, and his reply : Understandest thou what thou readest ? How can I, except some man should guide me ? From this the Rector raises the question, “ Is the Bible without note or comment a sufficient gnide to a man who is sincerely seeking to know and do the will of God? Or does he need something else?” Strange as it may seem in the nineteenth century, and in a church calling itself Protestant, he takes the
position that the Bible in such cases is not sufficient—that man needs something more in order to know and do the will of God, and to keep him from error. Most Protestants believe the Bible to be a plain book in all things pertaining to righteousness and life-so plain that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not
The conviction in Protestant churches almost universally is, that the difficulty in understanding the Bible exists far more in the state of a man's heart, than in the impotency of his intellect, and that, therefore, the readiest way to understand its truths is to do the will of God, that the seed of heavenly truth, when sown, yields its fold just in proportion to the goodness of the ground upon which it falls; and that therefore those who lack wisdom are the most likely to find it, who, as the Apostle directs, look to God for it, and not to man-who, are taught by the Spirit, and consequently know more of the will of God than they do who betake themselves to the teachings of men.*
The Rector, however, is of a different opinion. This course of study and prayer does not remove the fficulty. For he sees “ men with the Bible in their hands, which they receive as the word of God, and which they regard as the only source of divine truth, and which they have perused most assiduously upon bended knees, and with hearts raised to heaven, differing not a little in their interpretation of Scripture.” And hence he tells us, “ they are divided into sects and subdivision of sects." The conclusion therefore is, that in our efforts to understand the Bible, we need something more than this book, “ studied with humility and prayer.” We need a Guide.f But who or what * Let men say what they will
, they will find it hard to discover any volume, which, in all its great outlines, is plainer than the book of God. It has its obscurities and its mysteries, it is true-wisely left there ; but they trouble not the humble and docile-myriads of whom without any teacher but itself, have learned from it enough to teach them how to live well, and how to die happy.-Ed. Review for Jan. 1843.
† It is with a feeling of just indignation that we hear professed Christians and professed Protestants—at all events those who are not professed Romanists--giving utterance to the sentiment, that the private student of Scripture would not ordinarily gain a knowledge of the gospel from it. Such a doctrine is not merely an insult to common sense-it is a libel on the Divine Author of the Bible.-Idem.
is this to be, is the next question started by the Rector. “ Who is to inform us whether the Bible teaches the doctrines held by this sect or by that ? or which of its various interpretations is correct ?" An immediate answer is not given to these questions. The author first takes an excursion into ecclesiastical history to ascertain whether the professed followers of Christ have always thus differed as to the sense of the Saviour's words, and those of his apostles. Here he is greatly comforted. He sees in the past, a time when all were agreed as to the meaning of the Bible--a time when, from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, one unbroken sentiment on this subject existed. He introduces Irenæus, who, as he says, was the disciple of St. John," and who lived in those halcyon days, to state that in his time there was no difference of faith or tradition" in the churches East or West, North or South ; and proceeds to give us the reason of this unanimity of opinion about the meaning of the Bible. If we could have had the ear of the Rector just here, we would have whispered the wise precaution of Franklin, of first ascertaining whether what is here asserted be a fact, before proceeding to account for it. But the chasm was leaped, and the explanation given. It is too precious to be omitted—“ Christ taught his apostles; they taught others both by word and epistles. Teachers, who had been taught by apostles, or apostolic men, brought forward no new subjects, or doctrines, but simply referred their hearers to points on which they had been previously instructed, and which bad been summed up in the creed which they had been taught, and incorporated in the liturgy which they had constantly used. All question as to whether the Bible taught this or that doctrine was shut out of the early church,” i. e., by an appeal to tradition—to what the apostles taught, and what had been handed down from one to another.
In admiration, the Rector exclaims, “ No wonder that, as Irenæus says, there was no difference of faith or tradition in the churches of Germany, Spain, and Gaul, in the East, in Egypt, in Africa, or in the more central parts of the world;" or that in the council at Nice,“ bishops from all parts of the world were perfectly agreed as to what the faith of the church then was, as it had been from the beginning.". All this unanimity as to the meaning of the Bible not only existed then, but would have continued even to this day, if men“ had adhered to primitive doctrines and usages,” (and let the Bible alone, or had