Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ive powers of heterodox ingenuity summoned to combat this momentous doctrine, in a work published some years back, entitled the Theological Repository. Of what consequence in the frame and essence of Christianity, it was deemed by the principal marshaller of this controversial host, may be inferred, not only from the great labour he has bestowed on this one subject, (having written five different essays in that work, in opposition to the received doctrine of atonement) but also from his express declarations. In Theol. Rep. vol. i. p. 429, he pronounces this doctrine to be one of the radical, as well as the most generally prevailing corruptions of the Christian scheme: and in p. 124, he calls it “ a disgrace to Christianity, and a load upon it, which it must either throw off, or sink under.” And lest the combined exertions of the authors of this work might not prove sufficient to overturn this unchristian tenet, he renews his attack upon it with undiminished zeal in his “ History of the Corruptions of Christianity;" among which he ranks this as one of the most important, stating (vol. i. p. 152) that “ as the doctrine of the Divine Unity was infringed by the introduction of that of the Divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost (as a person distinct from the Father ;) so the doctrine of the natural placability of the Divine Being, and our ideas of the equity of his government, have been greatly debased by the gradual introduction of the modern doctrine of atonement.” And, on this account, he declares his intention, of shewing, in a fuller manner, than with respect to any other of the corruptions of Christianity, that it is totally unfounded both in reason and Scripture, and an entire departure from the genuine doctrine of the Gospel

. Indeed, the avowed defender of the Socinian heresy, must have felt it indispensable to the support of his

scheme, to set aside this doctrine. Thus, (Hist. of Cor. vol. i. p. 272.) he says, “ it immediately follows from his” (Socinus's)“ principles, that Christ being only a man, though ever so innocent, his death could not, in any proper sense of the word, atone for the sins of other men.” Accordingly, both in his “ History of the Corruptions,” and in the “ Theological Repository,” he bends his principal force against this doctrine of our church. Shall not then so determined a vehemence of attack upon this doctrine in particular, convince us still more of its importance in the Christian scheme; and point out to the friends of Gospel truth, on what ground they are chiefly to stand in its defence?

NO. IV.-PARDON NOT NECESSARILY CONSEQUENT UPON

REPENTANCE.

Page 6. (d) Balguy, in his Essay on Redemption, (and after him Dr. Holmes, *) has argued this point with uncommon strength and clearness. The case of penitence, he remarks, is clearly different from that of innocence: it implies a mixture of guilt precontracted, and punishment proportionably deserved. It is consequently inconsistent with rectitude, that both should be treated alike by God. The present conduct of the Penitent will receive God's approbation : but the reformation of the Sinner cannot have a retrospective effect. The agent may be changed, but his former sins cannot be thereby cancelled : the convert and the sinner are the same individual person : and the agent must be answerable for his whole conduct. The conscience of the Penitent furnishes a fair view of the case. His sentiments of himself, can be only a mixture of approbation and disapprobation, satisfaction and displeasure." "His past sins must still, however sincerely he may have reformed, occasion self-dissatisfaction: and this will even be the stronger, the more he improves in virtue. Now, as this is agreeable to truth, there is reason to conclude, that God beholds him in the same light-see Balguy's Essay, 1785. p. 31–55, and Mr. Holmes's Four Tracts, p. 138, 139.—The author of the Scripture Account of Sacrifices, Part 1. Sect. 6. and Part 4. Sect. 4. has likewise examined this subject in a judicious manner.—It may be worth remarking also, as Dr. Schuckford has done, that Cicero goes no farther on this head than to assert, Quem pænitet peccasse, penè est innocens.

* The late Dr. Holmes, for some years Canon of Christ Church in Oxford, and afterwards Dean of Winchester. I cannot mention this gentleman's name, without paying to it that tribute of respect which it so justly claims. To his indefatigable and learned research, the public is indebted for one of the most valuable additions to biblical literature, which at this day it is capable of receiving. Treading in the steps of that great benefactor to the biblical student, Dr. Kennicot, he devoted a life to the collection of materials, for the emendation of the text of the Septuagint Scriptures, as his distinguish ed predecessor had done for that of the Hebrew. After the most assiduous, and, to a person not acquainted with the visour of Dr. Holmes' mind, almost incredible labour, in the collation of MSS. and versions, he was enabled to give to the public the valuable result of his enquiries, in one complete volume of the Pentateuch, and the Book of Daniel. That it was not allotted to him to finish the great work in which he had engaged, is most deeply to be regretted. It is, however, to be hoped, that the learned university, on whose reputation his labours have reflected additional lustre, will not permit an

undertaking of such incalculable utility to the Christian world, to remain unaccomplished, especially as the materials for its prosecution, which the industry of Dr. Holmes has so amply supplied, and which remain deposited in the Bodleian Libran ry, must leave comparatively little to be done for its final execution. The preface to the volume which has been published, concludes with these words : “ Hoc unum superest inonendum, quod Collationes istæ ex omni genere, qui ad hoc opus per hos quindecim annos, jam fuerunt elaboratæ, in Bibliothecâ Bodleianâ reponantur, atque vel a me, si vivam et valeam, vel si aliter acciderit, ab alio quodam Editore, sub auspicio Colendissimorum Typographei Clarendoniani Oxoniensis Curatorum, in publicum emittentur.”—The language also of the valuable and much to be lamented author, (with whom I was personally acquainted, and had for some years the satisfaction of corresponding,) was always such as to encourage the expectation here held out. That this expectation should be gratified, and with all practicable despatch, cannot but be the anxious wish of every person interested in the pure and unadulterated exposition of Scripture truth.

Lamentable it is to confess, that the name of Warburton is to be coupled with the defence of the deistical objection, against which the above reasoning is directed. But no less true is it than strange, that in the account of natural religion, which that eminent writer has given, in the IXth book of the Divine Legation, he has pronounced, in terms the most unqualified, upon the intrinsic and necessary efficacy of repentance : asserting, that it is plainly obvious to human reason, from a view of the connexion that must subsist between the creature and his Maker, that, whenever man forfeits the favour of God by a violation of the moral law, his sincere repentance entitles him to the pardon of his transgressions.--I have been led, with the less reluctance, to notice this pernicious paradox of the learned Bishop, because it affords me the opportunity of directing the reader's attention to the judicious and satisfactory refutation, which it has lately received, in a prize essay, in one of the Sister Universities. See Mr. Pearson's Critical Essay on the IXth Book of the Divine Legation, p. 25-34. The reasons, that induced Warburton to adopt so heterodox a position, are assigned by himself in one of his private letters to his

friend Dr. Hurd, and are to the full as insufficient as the position is untenable. These, together with the alarm given to Dr. Hurd by the new doctrine taken up by his friend, will be found VOL. I.

r2

noticed in the Letters from a late Eminent Prelate, p. 421–423. Locke and Nye (as well as Warburton) have given but too much countenance to the erroneous opinion combated in this Number.

NO. V. -THE SENSE ENTERTAINED BY MANKIND OF THE

NATURAL INEFFICACY OF REPENTANCE, PROVED FROM THE HISTORY OF HUMAN SACRIFICES.

Page 8. (e) If we look to the practices of the Heathen world, we shall find the result of the reasoning, which is advanced in the page referred to, confirmed from experience by abundant proof. We shall find, that almost the entire of the religion of the Pagan nations, consisted in rites of deprecation. Fear of the Divine displeasure, seems to have been the leading feature, in their religious impressions ; and in the diversity, the costliness, and the cruelty of their sacrifices, they sought to appease Gods, to whose wrath they felt themselves exposed, from a consciousness of sin, unrelieved by any information as to the means of escaping its effects. So strikingly predominant was this feature of terror in the Gentile superstitions, that we find it expressly laid down by the father of Grecian history, το Θειον παν φθονερον Te xou tapaxudes (Herod. Lib. 1. cap. 32.:) and Porphyry directly asserts," that there was wanting some universal method of delivering men's souls, which no sect of philosophy had ever yet found out.” (August. de civit. Dei. Lib. x. cap. 32.) that is; that something besides their own repentance, was wanting to appease the anger of their Gods.

The universal prevalence of HUMAN SACRIFICES, throughout the Gentile world, is a decisive proof of the light, in which the human mind, unaided by revelation, is disposed to view the divinity; and

« ZurückWeiter »