« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1831, by Gray & Powen, in the
Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetis,
CAMBRIDGE : E. W. METCALF AND Co.
.. LETTER 1.
REVEREND SIR, I have read your Review of my Letters to Professor Stuart. You have noticed several verbal and unimportant errors, denied the truth of some of my statements, and advanced very little argument and evi- ' dence in support of your positions. In the estimation of candid and intelligent Christians, your Review only serves to confirm the accuracy of my descriptions, the correctness of my reasoning, and the soundness of my conclusions. But your pamphlet was probably designed to make the inore ignorant portion of your own denomination believe, that my Letters are largely disfigured with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. As I originally wrote for the more special benefit of this class of the community, I am constrained by a sense of duty to appear again in their behalf. I wish now to convince them, that all the essentinl statements in my Letters to Professor Stuart are substantially correct. This is the principal object of the present públication.
In your Review, you have observed no order, connexion, or method. You have jumbled together the various topics of discussion, brought forward the same inaccuracies in several different parts of your book, and then, like a child, counted up your fingers to see how many apparent falsehoods you had discovered. I shall not attempt to follow your rambling course. I shall proceed in the same order in which the subjects are arranged in my Letters. Under each division, I shall inquire what you have done to weaken or destroy my conclusions. I shall cheerfully correct all mistakes and retract all misstatements ; for I am anxious to defend nothing but the simple, unvarnished truth. I shall also advance evidence in support of those assertions, the truth of which you have denied; so that you may know what testimony has appeared satisfactory to my own mind. I shall likewise endeavour to answer your reasoning. This I shall do, to a considerabie degree, in the words of distinguished orthodox divines ; and more especially, in the words of the pious, venerated, and orthodox Richard Baxter.
I appeal to hiin more particularly at this time, because we are informed that he has of late become a great favorite with your party; and the Editor of the Recorder assures us, that his writings are read “ with affection and pleasure by orthodox Christians.” I now ask you and the public to accompany me in my exaniination of your Review.
I. USE MADE OF HUMAN CREEDS.
You have contradicted several of my statements under this division. Some of your assertions are made in direct opposition to satisfactory evidence; others relate to verbal and unimportant mistakes, which I cheerfully correct; others again are mere quibbles about words, and but three are deserving the least notice.
1. Speaking of the Andover creed, I made this declaration : “ Scarcely an article of the whole can be expressed in Scriptural language.” In proof of my assertion, I presented the creed to my readers, and left them to decide for themselves concerning the truth of my position. Your whole answer to this statement is contained in the following sentence. “The sense of many of these articles, not to say the , most of them, can be expressed in Scriptural language." Let me entreat you to peruse the following extract from the pious Baxter.
so Some must have confessions in words of their own, to wbich all that will be accounted Christians must subscribe; or at least all that would have communion with them. Though we would subscribe to the whole Scripture, or any confession drawn up in its phrase and matter, yet this will not serve for union and communion. They tell us, heretics will subscribe to the Scripture ; and I tell them, that heretics may subscribe also to their confessions, and force a sense of their own upon them; and that God never left them to make better confessions, and fitter to discover heresies, than Scripture doth afford. — And thus men lose themselves, and abuse the church, because God's word will not serve their turn as a rule for us to unite upon. This is the One Rule that God hath left, and men must needs blame this as insufficient, and mend God's word by the devices of their addle brains, and then complain of divisions when they have made them. The rule that all must agree in, must be made by One that is above all, and whose au. thority is acknowledged by all. Never will the church have full unity till the Scripture sufficiency be acknowledged. You complain of many opinions and ways, and many you will still have, till the One Kule, the Scripture, be the standard of our religion. Stick to this one Bible, and let nothing come into your faith or religion but what comes thence, and when controversies arise, try them by this; and if you cannot do it yourselves, then take up the help of ministers or synods, and use them not as masters, but as helpers of your faith ; not to make you another rule, but to help you understand this One Rule, and thus you may come to be of one religion, and never otherwise.” – Practical Works. fol. Vol. IV. p. 673. Letters, p. 6. Review, p. 45.