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who have the experience of years, the credit of superior knowledge, the advantage of high station. But there is always, I trust, in such an audience, some part, among whom the discourse of a preacher may be attended with more general, more direct, and more lasting benefit. I mean those ingenuous youths, who are trained in these venerable seats of legal learning, and who look up with just admiration to those ornaments of their profession, who are revered for their goodness, as well as distinguished by their wisdom. In the ardour,-in the honest ardour, to surpass their competitors in the race for worldly knowledge or for worldly fame, some there may chance to be, who lose sight of that knowledge which is far more to be coveted; the knowledge of God, who formed him for the most glorious purposes ; and of the Saviour, whose all-prevailing mediation gives effect to those purposes ; -usefulness and goodness here, and hereafter everlasting life. Others there are, who bury the remembrance even of present wealth and present fame, in a vain and senseless endeavour to extract pleasure from a round of tumultuous amusement, or the unrestrained indulgence of immoral propensities; who vainly seek to calm the tumult of an undisciplined mind in the dangerous vortex of a gaming-house, the disquieting mirth of midnight revelry, or in scenes of debasing voluptuousness; -scenes, which to credulous inexperience may wear a fascinating look, but of which the infatuated votary will too soon reap the bitter fruits in disease and despair; and, without timely repentance and renewed faith, in the blighting of every prospect, both in this world and in that which is to come.
Some there may by chance be among my younger hearers, who (from a fatal neglect of religious culture, or the unhappy example of those, with whom it has been their hard lot or perverse choice to associate) may have contracted a fatal taint of scepticism ; may have permitted themselves to doubt about the substantial doctrines of our creed; or, even more fatally, have suffered their doubts to merge in a total disbelief of the utility, the efficacy, the truth, of all Revealed religion.
To these several degrees of moral perversity or intellectual darkness the efforts of a preacher may sometimes most properly be opposed ; and, by the gracious assistance of God, his admonitions may be addressed effectually. Him, whose thoughts are too much engrossed by the hope of gain or distinction, he will remind that no earthly labour can prosper, but by the aid of that Power above, who ruleth all human events; he will remind him that, after all, the riches and the glories of this world are equally transitory; and that he, who is truly wise, will fix his main hope, and exert his chief endeavours, for such as are unperishable and eternal.
The votary of dissipation or mere animal enjoyment he will rouse to nobler pursuits even here; to the due cultivation of his mind ; to the judicious employment of his time ; to the praise and the esteem of his fellow-creatures, which, when conferred by the wise and good, are of far more value than the uncertain and fleeting gratification, which at best can be supplied from worldly pleasure. If, awakened by such suggestions, he will arouse him from his dream of sensuality, and shew an anxiety for present peace and present fame, he may be led gradually to elevate his thoughts to higher views and fairer scenes ; and at length to center them, where all the thoughts of man should chiefly, should ultimately, be centered, the favour and approbation of “ Him, in whose right hand is the fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.'
pp. 7–13. This outline of the Preacher's duty will be thought much more comprehensive than distinct; and the phraseology is in that highly polished strain of courtesy which scarcely admits of the insinuation of repulsive doctrine. The higher classes are not exempt from transgression ;' they are not free from frailty; humanum est errare; they may, by possibility, stumble; some ingenuous youths may chance to lose sight of the knowledge which is most important! We should have feared that language like this would have been mistaken by these learned and honourable persons for delicate, yet severe irony. Was it meant for such? Or could it be intended to conciliate them, on the principle of becoming a Greek to the Greek ? Or was the Preacher unconscious that he was complimenting his auditory in a style so little in harmony with notorious fact, that a secret laugh must have been excited at his own expense ?
The volume contains seven and twenty sermons. The subjects are various and well selected. In the course of the Preacher's ministry, he delivered a series of nineteen discourses explanatory of the Epistle to the Romans, seven of which are here printed. No more valuable or appropriate service could have been rendered, than that which Dr. Maltby proposed to himself in this course; and the high scholarship and extensive reading he brought to the task, might have enabled him to throw important light upon this difficult portion of the New Testament. The great and funda'mental rule of sound interpretation' which he lays down, is, that,
as many of the causes which induced St. Paul to write, were inci• dental, temporary, and local, so must a great proportion of his 'expressions be interpreted of those peculiar times, and not con
sidered equally applicable to any other part of Christianity.' (p. 164.) In this fundamental rule, the learned Author appears to us to have fallen into a capital mistake. The interpretation of expressions is one thing: the application of them is another. In reference to the former, the causes which induced St. Paul to write, may be safely put out of the question, since all that an honest interpreter has to do, is to give the proper meaning and force of his text. Of the applicability of the reasonings or precepts, when interpreted, to our own circumstances, the Critic is not required, nor may he be competent to decide. In his illustration of the above rule, the learned Preacher betrays at once its dangerous tendency and its fallacy. In reference to the harsh epithets' employed by St. Paul to describe the condition of our fallen nature, we meet with the following remarks.
While, with due feelings of awe and reverence, we turn our thoughts to this wonderful act of grace in the Son of God, thus taking our nature upon Him, and shedding His innocent blood upon the cross for our redemption, we must not fail to remember that the expressions, here used by St. Paul, were intended to signify the unhappy condition of Gentiles in their unconverted state ; as other expressions of sorrow and reproach denoted the sinfulness of the Jews and their loss of the Divine favour, at the particular time, when the Apostle wrote. We cannot therefore be too cautious how we misinterpret the language of Holy Writ, and apply to our own cases or to the case of any fellow Christians, words and phrases, which were expressly levelled against the conduct and condition of Jews or Gentiles, before their conversion to Christianity. We and our forefathers for many generations have happily been received into the church of Christ ; and therefore neither we nor they can be considered as “ without strength,” « ungodly,” “ sinners,” or “ enemies,” in the sense, in which these expressions were applied by St. Paul to the Gentile converts of his own day.
"Thus are we provided with a seasonable caution against groundless fear, if at any time, from want of a clear conception of the Apostle's meaning, we should imagine that such expressions refer to our own spiritual condition; as also against presumptuous judgement respecting the state of any other man, to whom we might erroneously apply epithets, which are shewn to belong exclusively to the unregenerate Heathen. And thus does a clear insight into the sense of scripture enable us to draw a line of just distinction between cases, which are really dissimilar; while it proves a safeguard against the misery of despondency on the one hand, and the sin of uncharitableness on the other.
· But a further caution may be induced from a correct apprehension of the terms employed by the Apostle, and perhaps it is the most necessary caution of all. And that is a caution lest we so interpret St. Paul, as to invalidate in the smallest degree the strength of the foundation, upon which Christian purity and Christian morality rest. If we apply to the case of all Christians at all times, the language which is applied to Heathens upon their first embracing the Gospel ; or if we apply even to their final and complete justification what is said of their primary justification, or admission into the kingdom of God and his Son, we shall sanction the worst heresies of the Antinomians; we shall give a further currency to the mistakes of enthusiasts in our own days, who uphold a distinction between faith and good works, which is as injurious to the salutary effect of the Gospel, as it is opposed to its plainest declarations. Now there is not any clear-sighted man whatsoever, who does not at once perceive that all interpretations which lead to such consequences, must be at variance with the real intention of the word of God; although there may be many, who, from want of close attention to the different parts of Scripture, which are placed in seeming opposition to each other, may not be able to point out in what the fallacy consists, nor how it may be best refuted.' " pp. 172–174.
This theory of interpretation, our readers are aware, has the support of Locke, Taylor, and Belsham. It is one of the desperate shifts to which heresy has had recourse, in order to make the plain declarations of God of no effect. We may justly style it desperate, first, because it is purely hypothetical and gratuitous, displaying little ingenuity, and requiring no scholarship; and secondly, because it is palpably at variance with the numerous declarations in the apostolic writings. We need only refer to Col. i. 21; Rom. viii. 7 ; Gal. iii. 21, 2; Rom. iii. 7; 1 Tim. i. 15. Of the glaring opposition of such interpretations to the language of the IXth and Xth articles of the Church of England, and to the whole spirit of the Liturgy, we say nothing: our object is not to enter into any discussion. But we must be allowed to ask, if the expressions applied by St. Paul to the Gentile converts of his own day are not to be considered as applicable to the case of our fellow Christians in the same sense, was it not incumbent upon the Preacher to explain in what sense they are applicable ? It is true, we are not the persons specifically addressed, who, formed part of the existing population at the time of Our Lord's crucifixion. But would Dr. Maltby maintain, that, when the Apostle says, “ God commendeth his love towards us,” he spoke not of the human race, but of the sinners of that day? Will he maintain, that no persons received into the Church of Christ, (that is, the Establishment,) are ungodly or hostile to the law of God? Could he imagine, that the learned auditory which he had the honour to address, stood in peculiar danger of falling into 'the misery of despondency' from a too severe estimate of their spiritual condition? Is this the side upon which his cautions were most needed ? Alas! what is the wisdom of the wise, where the heavenly light is wanting? A man who should so blunder in the affairs of this life,—as a lawyer, a physician, or a classical scholar, would incur disgrace, while bad theology is a passport to a mitre.
But what is justification by faith? Dr. Maltby's account of the matter is as follows. After referring to the language of the XIth article, he adds :
Nevertheless, some distinction must be made in applying the words of the text to the respective cases of the primitive Christians and of ourselves. Converts from Paganism and even Judaism were said to be “ justified by faith "-faith denoting the acceptance of a new religion, in contrast with the old. But when these expressions are applied to such as are sprung from a long continued series of Christian ancestors, and who have neither held the doctrines nor been infested with the habits of any other religion, the proposition must be understood in a different sense, or at least explained in a different manner. The doctrine applicable now, is this. We are put into a state to obtain final salvation upon the terms propounded in the Gospel. While we believe all that Christ and his Apostles have declared, we must obey all that he has commanded.' .... "The meaning which we should affix to the “ New Covenant” is this. If we so believe in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, as to live in conformity with the rules which He has laid down for our guidance, the Almighty is pleased, in such a case, to declare on His part, that he will bestow upon us everlasting happiness in the life which is to come.' pp. 168,9
This is Bishop Maltby's doctrine: is it St. Paul's ? As much as it is the doctrine of the Reformers and Martyrs, of Hooker and Barrow, of Beveridge and Hall.
It is of no use to mince the matter. Dr. Maltby does not mean to set up his scheme of religion against St. Paul's, but he does not understand the New Testament, and has consequently no clear notion of Christianity. He sets out wrong, adopting the most dangerous principle of interpretation possible ; viz. that all interpretations which lead to certain consequences, (that is, which are thought to lead to such consequences,) 'must be at 6 variance with the real intention of the word of God';-as if the intention of the word of God was not to be gathered from the plain language of Scripture! No one was ever driven to adopt so preposterous a principle, who did not feel the natural and obvious import of the Scriptures to be against him ? Dr. Maltby may be an expert critic; his ' aŭtos žpa upon a disputed
text' would carry with it far more weight than ours; but, in the line of argument he has adopted, he has descended from his vantage-ground, and laid aside his proper character as a scholar, and, instead of honestly applying his best faculties and high attainments to the faithful interpretation of the inspired document, has set himself to prove its doctrines to be inapplicable, and its obvious meaning to be dangerous and pernicious. A man who acts thus, stultifies himself, while he casts the greatest dishonour imaginable upon the word of God. Bishop Maltby quotes with high satisfaction the shrewd observation of Grotius' upon the answer of the Eunuch to Philip: "He did not imagine the ' meaning of Holy Scripture to be so clear, as now-a-days it is
thought by artisans and females.' But, if every artisan and female now-a-days is not able to answer the Eunuch's question, “ Of whom does the Prophet speak ?” the fault must lie with their instructors. The meaning of the Prophet must be acknowledged to be clear enough now, to every Christian who has the New Testament in his hand. The comment was unworthy of Grotius, or of any Protestant divine. Strange indeed, that artisans and females should imagine the meaning of Scripture to be clearer than it is, and that the learned should be contending for its ambi. guity and obscurity! In any other case, we should expect to find the reverse,—the unlearned complaining of the obscurity of a work, the learned defending the clearness of its meaning. So strange a phenomenon, we leave philosophers to explain. Should it be said, however, that the meaning of Holy Scripture is mistaken by the unlearned vulgar, who suppose it to be so clear, and