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what is called a course of reading, have only found his memory possessed of
many confused, mutilated, contradictory ideas, with which he would have but little inclination to occupy his thoughts any further. If these
If these pages collect for the reader, under one general view, what he would not have collected for himself, they are useful; and should they not be found to contain one observation which has not been often and better expressed before, yet still, as connected with such a simple unbroken exposition of Scripture authority, they are useful and deserving of attention. What does it signify where ideas are to be found, to one who, from the habits, pursuits, and prepossessions of the times, is withheld from searching after them ? And above all, they ought to be reckoned useful, should they induce a youthful reader to become acquainted with the best writers of all sects on the present momentous subject ; doing it, however, with a prudent caution against ingenious and subtle reasoning, which a good cause seldom requires, and from which a bad cause so often receives its greatest or only support.
A VIEW, &c.
CONCERNING the nature and dignity of our blessed Saviour there have been many different opinions, professing to rest upon the testimony of Scripture ; but three great distinct doctrines are the groundwork of all. The high church doctrine of the Trinity makes Jesus Christ God, equal in power, and all other attributes, with the supreme God, or God the Father. That which is commonly called the Arian, supposes him to be a most highly exalted Being, who was with God before the creation of the world, and by whose agency it probably was created, by power derived from Almighty God. That which is denominated the Socinian, regards him as the great Missioned Prophet of God, sent into the world to reveal his will to men; to set them an example of perfect virtue; and to testify the truth of his mission by the sacrifice of his life.
These three rules of belief stand far and far apart, though the two last are very often confounded with each other. The advocates for the first or high church doctrine, taking it for granted that the chief reason for dissenting from their authoritative and established belief is its being incomprehensible, when taken along with the unity of God, use, and justly use, in its defence a powerful argument:-“Every thing round us,” say they, “is a mystery: we know not how our own volition effects one movement of our body; we know not how a seed put into the earth produces an herb or a tree; we know not how the smallest leaf bursts the little bud attached to the parent stem, and unfolds itself to the air ; and shall we reject what is taught in Scripture, because we are unable to comprehend it ?" On this ground they stand strong.
But no Christian -- no Protestant Christian, regulates, or at least ought to regulate, his faith by any thing but what appears to him to be really taught in Scripture. To human reason, the noblest gift of our heavenly Father, are submitted the proofs of our Scripture's authenticity - its claim to being received as the word of God; and to human reason also must be sub
mitted the interpretation of its meaning. The deepest scholar, when he has examined the original words of any passage of Scripture, and clothed it in corresponding words of his own native tongue, is a better judge of its meaning than a man of natural good sense, who knows no language but his own, only in as far as he may have compared that passage with others in the original versions, relating to a similar subject. Put a translation of the passage in question, and translations of those related to it, under the consideration of the unlearned man of sense, and he becomes as competent a judge of its meaning as the scholar. There is no honest way of establishing any religious doctrine but setting before the mind those passages of Holy Writ in which they are taught, or have been supposed to be taught. Now, the most liberal and judicious clergyman, in preaching upon such subjects, can only support the doctrine which he advocates by a partial production of scripture evidence, and can scarcely be supposed to offer to his audience the opinions of an unbiassed mind. In proportion to the importance of a doctrine, it is required that the whole scriptural passages regarding it should be given to the consideration of the sincere Chris
tian ; and if he be really sincere, the tediousness and monotony of the task will not deter him from undertaking it, and going through it thoroughly. Indeed, there is no other way of coming to clear and satisfactory conclusions. To form decided opinions on particular insulated portions of any work, without regarding their agreement with the plain general tenour of the whole, would be unwise and unfair; but more especially so, should that work, like our Sacred Writ, abound in metaphorical expressions.
I am ignorant if any general collection of texts bearing on the present subject has been already laid before the public ; but, as far as I know, there is none on so simple a plan as the following, which is the fairest and, I should suppose, the most useful way of treating it. Surely the fairest ; for the peculiar doctrines of all denominations of Christians are professedly founded upon Scripture; and a full exposition of Scripture must, therefore, be considered as equally friendly to them all,- as that which they ought all to desire, if their professions be sincere.
I presume, then, to lay before the reader all the texts, as they follow one another, in the