Imagens das páginas

expressly denies, that the earliest writers ever mention Infant Baptism in direct terms and as a thing not to be questioned. This denial stands untouched, for the earliest zcriters are not at all referred to in the Review. The evidence of Tertullian, with the trifling addition, which our brethren would make to it, only goes to prove the "existence" of the practice, but certainly by no means its "prevalence." It does not appear from this, that it was " universal" and "unquestioned," but rather that it existed as an innovation, amongst those to whom this '" Father" wrote, and was by him, not only questioned, but condemned. There seems not in this early age to have been any claim of apostolic authority for this practice, but rather that it was founded upon necessity and expediency; and it is precisely upon the ground of this expediency and necessity that Tertullian combats it. In referring to Irenasus, the Reviewers hear very hard upon Dr. Gale, for questioning the authenticity of the chapter whence a very important quotation is made; and attempt to justify the " Father" at all hazards, in the contradictions and inconsistencies which that chapter contains; but surely we may be allowed to look with much jealousy upon a statement, which so palpably contradicts facts fully established by the Sacred Word, and which must have been perfectly known by Irensus; and when in ■connection with these statements, are others so completely in accordance with the corrupt opinions and practices of the church, from whose hands we have received the only copies of these writings which we possess, we may •with that " most confused, illogical, and unfair of controversial writers," Dr. Gale, be permitted still to doubt its authenticity. The reference to Justin Martyr is as usual pressed into the service, but without adverting to the luminous display, which he, in another place makes of the views and practice of the Christian Church in this particular; it •is not by any means clear, how the fact of many aged persons having been discipled to Christ by teaching, (which is manifestly the import of the term,) in their childhood, can be made to serve the cause.of Infant Baptism. We admit their consecutive Baptism, but the associated circumstance of instruction effectually excludes infancy. What is contained in the subsequent

Fathers, 150 years from the Apostles, when all manner of corruptions were fast inundating the Christian Church, can never be made the rule of our faith and practice; and our brethren may therefore remain in full and peaceable possession of all the sanction which they can obtain from Cyprian, and his successors.;

Proceeding, the Reviewers inveigh in very uncourteous terms against the observations of Mr. Birt, than which nothing certainly can be more temperate, judicious and conclusive. The point of view in which he has placed the subject is a galling one for his opponents, but it is correct; and the correctness is in no trifling degree proved, by the attempts our reviewers have made, to evade the force of his remarks, and give consistency to their own practice, by pleading for a "relativereligion." But what is this "relative religion?" Surely they need not to be told, that religion as revealed to and enjoined upon us by Christ is entirely personal. Its means, and its obligations, however socially attended to, have all a personal reference; and there is not a single duty which can be discharged, obligation fulfilled, or blessing enjoyed by one person for another. The head of a family maintains an altar to God in his house, and commands his children and his servants to attend him to the sanctuary; but of what avail are these acts to the latter parties, except as ordinary means by which their hearts may become affected.' Notwithstanding their punctual performance by the parent and master, the children and servants may continue, and thousands are unbelievers of the very worst descriptiop; and this relative religion is therefore a nonentity. Widely different were the circumstances of the Patriarchal and Mosaical dispensations, where first to families, and afterwards to a nation, God1 especially made himself known; but now we recognize only personal religion. For "in every nation, he thatfeareth God, and worketh righteousness is accepted with him ;" and this has a relative effect, only in the fulfilment of the duties we have to perform to those around us, and the accomplishment of which can lay them under no similar obligation, unless they are conscious and voluntary agents.

The long paragraph on "poptism," seems to be a mere waste of ink. Whether Mr. Cox has or has not suececded in refuting Mr. Ewing's positions in detail, is quite immaterial. He lias done quite enough to prove, (what must indeed be perceived at a glance by any man of common sense,) that this "novel theory," is throughout, barren and ridiculous; altogether unworthy of the neudite character of its author, and such as the reviewers themselves cannot tolerate. These gentleman again think, that they have obtained a signal triumph over Mr. C. when, after stating, that " he has quoted instances in which the Greek words do signify to immerse," they challenge him to bring forward those, in which "such an idea is necessarily excluded.'' They are bold challengers, for perhaps, (notwithstanding the naming denial in the middle of the paragraph,) when they had proceeded thus far, they might in some trifling degree, have become convinced of the Fact, that it is indeed difficult to find any passage, in which the terms are used, either in the Old or New Testament, whether absolutely or figuratively, where the idea of immersion is necessarily excluded; and therefore their vaunt falls to the ground.


Without entering upon any debate respecting the "paludamentum," the reviewer's version and illustration of this passage cannot, I conceive, be admitted. There is in the text of Rev. xix. a manifest distinction between the going forth of' the "Conqueror'' to battle in ver. 11.and five following; and the actual joining of battle in ver. 19. Whether the colour of the robe arose from its immersion in purple dye; or whether, (as seems more consonant with the tenor both of this passage and its parallel in Isa. lxiii.) it was stained with the blood of slaughtered enemies; the parenthetical correction of the reviewers, (" sprinkled with blood,'') cannot be established. The whole force of the passage is destroyed by'it; the allusion being, to the shedding of such abundance of blood as thoroughly to imbue all the robes or garments of the warrior.

The charge against Dr. Campbell, brought forward to break the force of his unquestioned acumen as a critic, is very weak. Admitting that his sentiments and practice did not accord, the former were wrung from him by the overpowering evidence of etymological truth, and no doubt he, (as well «» many of his brethren and successors,)



had many grounds upon which to justify the latter.

In the progress of their investigation, the reviewers have hit upon a most unfortunate case to prove the fallacy of the Baptists' arguments; that of Philip and the Eunuch; for, in detailing the circumstances of this transaction, we perfectly agree with them, in all which is said of "going down into" and "coming up out of," the water; equally are these affirmed of both parties, and most readily do we' admit, that, as refers to these actions, they were both placed under precisely the same circumstances; hut there are four little words, which these gentlemen by some unaccountable neglect, have altogether overlooked; these words are "and he baptized him," which immediately alter the relative situation of the parties, and make the one the administrator of that of which the other was solely the subject, and on these words all the controversy hangs.

The reviewers having answered Mr. Cox's pledge by another, we may reply to this last, that Mr. C. and his brethren, baptize precisely such persons, as the scriptures point out as the proper subjects, viz. Believers; and until they are convinced from these scriptures, that any distinction exists between unbelievers born of Christian parents, and unbelievers born under other circumstances, they must remain persuaded that they are right. And if the greatest classical scholars that have existed; men, whose whole lives were spent in etymological researches, both as referring to sacred and profane history, uniformly attach to the terms, bapto and baptizo, the primary meaning of immersion, (and upon this point we challenge the reviewers, not to bare assertion, but to authoritative proof) not excepting that of Mr. Ereing himself;) if this be the case, then every instance of baptism in the New Testament, where an element is actually applied, is immersion-baptism; and they ought to yield. Nothing, surely, can be more surprising, than the remarks made relative to the Saviour's burial. Of what avail is it to cavil, as to whether the body was finally committed to the sepulchre; or whether the interment was finished? We have the unquestionable fact, that it "Was ComMitted To The Sepulchre, into the mouth of which a great stone was rolled." It must then have been actually interred,

2 Y

from which interment the Redeemer arose; and it matters little, as to the establishment of these facts, whether all the accustomed ceremonies of washing, anointing, and embalming, had been attended to.

In conclusion I have to express my regret, that the reviewers should, in the ebullition of their zeal, have been betrayed into the use of such epithets, as have been distinguished in the course of this paper, and which are more in accordance with the age of Featley, than with the liberal and enlightened spirit of the nineteenth century. Before they again charge Mr. C. with "misrepresentations and blunders," with *'flippancy, maccurucy, and self-confidence, it may perhaps be wise in them, " to ponder well the paths of their own feet," which are by no means infallible.


Octtier, isj 1.


"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine."—Titus ii. 1.

Sound doctrine is an expression so commonly used by Christians, that few are apt to suspect any ambiguity in its meaning. Every one of those sects into which the Christian world is unhappily divided, applies the expression to signify the whole of its own system of doctrine, hut especially those speculative and disputable tenets which distinguish it from other sects, and even those lechnical terms which it has coined or adopted on purpose to define them with precision. All sects, with equal confidence, appropriate the epithet to their own peculiar systems: yet the distintinguishing tenets of different sects are contradictory. It is certain, therefore, that the epithet is misapplied by some of them. Each affirms, that it is misapplied by all except its own adherents: and as the theological system of every sect contains something of human, and consequently fallible, explication, impartiality can scarce avoid suspecting that the epithet is, in some measure, misapplied by all sects. It will not therefore he superfluous, professedly to ascertain and-illustrate its genuine import.

Sound doctrine, sound or wholesome words, sound speech, sound in the faith, are.

all expressions found in Scripture, and evidently intended to convey the same idea. The original words which express the epithet in all these phrases, refer primarily to bodily health, as opposed to disease , but they are, by classical writers, used with great latitude, for signifying metaphorically whatever if, right or approveable. They are all words of the same etymology. One of them primarily signifies healthful, but is also used by Greek authors, to signify healing,u>hoksome,or conducive to health. Another of them signifies, most literally, healing, but it is used likewise,in several places of the new Testament, Luke v. 31. vii. 10. xv. 27. to signify healthful. We may conclude, therefore, that they are designed to be synonymous when they are applied to doctrine, and to denote such as is healthful, or such as is healing, or such as unites both these characters. What they precisely denote, we shall be best able to determine, by comparing the passages in which they occur, and examining the scope and connexion of each. All these passages lie in Paul's epistles to Timothy and to Titus: and, from the slightest attention to them, it will, I think, be evident, that the Apostle calls doctrine sound, in a sense very remote from that in which the term is used by the discordant sects of Christians; that he constantly means it to express both the ideas which it naturally signifies; that he intends the genuine doctrine of Christ, but with a particular reference, both to its being healthful, pure, and unsophisticated, and to it's being wholesome or healing, as having a practical tendency. So far is he from designing it to denote the peculiarities of any human system, that, on the contrary, he is at pains to intimate, that he designs it to express the plainness anil simplicity of the doctrine of the gospel, as delivered by Christ and his Apostles, in direct opposition to the precarious opinions, the subtile explications and definitions, the ingenious speculations and refinements of uninspired men: and so far is he from applying the term to any curious or intricate theory, that he no less clearly and constantly intimates that, by calling doctrine sound, he means to express its being fit to cure the diseases, and promote the health of the soul; and that, in opposition not only to tenets directly immoral, but particularly also to the inutility and pernicious tendency of all subtile questions and abstract disquisitions. These two ideas, by which the Apostle characterizes sound doctrine, it will be necessary to trace out jointly; for, in every passage of his writings, they are jointly kept in view with the greatest care.


Our Apostle uses the term sound doctrine, in 1 Tim. i. 10. He immediately subjoins a definition of it: it is, what is according to' the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which, say she,was committed to my trust, ver. 11; it is what is plainly and expressly revealed by God in the gospel. In the context, the idea of sound doctrine is still more precisely defined, and fully illustrated, particularly by being contrasted with its opposites. To perceive this, we must look back to the beginning of the paragraph, ver. 3. The Apostle there reminds Timothy, that he had formerly desired him to charge some that they teach no Other doctrine: Other, he can only mean, than the doctrine of the gospel, which he had preached. And what was the other doctrine which they taught? The next-words inform us, Neither give heed to fables, and endless genealogies, ver. 4: the fabulous traditions which the Jews had invented, and which, they pretended, led to the right understanding of the Scriptures; and the fanciful notions concerning certain successive derivations of spiritual beings, commonly called /Eons, from the Supreme Being, or from one another, which the Apostle justly pronounces endless or interminable; because, being founded solely in imagination, they might be, and actually were, varied and multiplied according to every man's caprice. The Christian converts from Judaism, retaining their fondness for both these*, endeavoured to intermix them with, or superadd them to, the gospel, under pretence of explaining some of its doctrines with the greater precision and fullness.—These speculations, which were the human definitions and refinements, at that time heterogeneously interwoven with the gospel, he censures not only as being another doctrine, totally foreign to the gospel; but also, very explicitly, on account of their having no moral tendency, but necessarily drawing men oft' from practice; for he subjoins, which minister questions intricate, perplexing, unprofitable disputes, rather than godly edifying. That it might


appear how contradictory they are, in this respect, to the gospel, he asserts that its end., its sole purpose, its direct and ultimate scope, is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, ver. 5. and so anxious is he to exclude the subtilizing upon its simple principles, th»t he represents every such attempt as a deviation from its whole structure and design ; from which, says he, some, the teachers already censured, having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, ver. 6. He proceeds to expose the ignorance and self-conceit which led them into this deviation: and, as they vented their fantastical subtleties as belonging to the law, and under pretence of teaching it perfectly, he takes occasion to explain what was the real design of the law; not to serve as a foundation for such speculative visions, but to condemn every kind of immorality: many kinds of it he enumerates; and it is in closing the enumeration that he says, And if there be any other thing that is CokTrary to sound doctrine, ver. 7—10. Thus directing us to refer the phrase to_ the whole paragraph, and to explain ti' by the whole tenour of his discourse; as marking the doctrine of the gospel as simple, and as practical, fully taught by Christ and his Apostles, and applied to the sole purpose of promoting holiness; uncombined with any refinements of human ingenuity, which always are another doctrine, and never fail to counteract its tendency to produce, not purity and charity, but indeterminable controversies, and unhallowed, uncharitable contentions and divisions. —The idea of Christian doctrine which he had here given, he is solicitous to keep in view throughout the epistle, and frequently recurs to it. In particular, when he predicts a great corruption of the Christian Church, and describes it as a departure from the faith, chap. iv. 1. he plainly intimates, that the departure consisted in a deviation from that simplicity and moral tendency which belong to the true faith; for, in exhorting Timothy to oppose it by good doctrine, ver. 6, he gives him this direction, Refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself unto godliness, ver. 7.

But, chap. vi. 3. he speaks again of wholesome, or sound words; for, in the original, the epithet is the same which he had formerly applied to doctrine. What these were, he immediately explains, " Even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ;" tho gospel in the simplicity in which it was at first delivered; and " the doctrine which is according to godliness:" thus studiously unfolding and forcing into view both the ideas which we have affirmed to be implied in the epithet. If farther evidence of this be necessary, the whole context will abundantly supply it. He insinuates, that some "consent not to the wholesome words," but "teach otherwise." Otherwise than what? Certainly one of two things. Either, first, otherwise than he had taught, and commanded Timothy to teach and exhort immediately before; and then he must mean, that they teach otherwise than they ought, and not according to the "wholesome words of Christ," who are not careful to inculcate the several moral duties of life; for he had immediately before been wholly occupied in giving plain practical directions concerning the particular duties incumbent on Timothy lnmself.on widows, and on servants. Or, secondly, otherwise than was required by the general descriptions which the apostle had formerly given of Christian doctrine : and that these had been anxiously contrived to mark especially both its practical tendency and its simplicity in opposition to all human speculations and opinions, is evident from the passage which we have already explained, and might be confirmed by other passages. The apostle's idea of sound words is farther ascertained by the character which he gives of the man who deviates from them, ver. 4, 5, "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doating, ailing, diseased, ;about questions and strifes of words." It is a false conceit of his own acuteness and ingenuity which impels him to subtilize on the plain doctrines of the gospel; and his doing so betrays his total ignorance of their genuine nature, and is truly a distempered appetite for enquiries, discussions, and definitions, which, profound or important as he imagines them, are in fact trifling or unintelligible logomachies, at the best controversies not about truth itself, but about particular modes of expressing it, none of them necessary, and perhaps all of them in some respect improper. He stigmatizes these as not only thus foreign to the simplicity of the gospel, hut also contradictory to its moral tendency; as speculations whereof, instead of "godliness, cometh

envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth." In this passage, therefore, as well as in the former, it is the original, simple doctrine of the gospel, studiously opposed to all abstract, curious definitions and questions, misnamed theological, that the apostle calls sound or wholesome, and he so calls it with a direct and particular view to mark its natural influence on all the virtues of a good life. It will not, perhaps, be a blameable minuteness to remark farther, that in this passage it is the Words of Christ, not his Doctrine, as in the former passage, that the apostle calls sound; on purpose, it would Seem, to intimate, that the words of Scripture are the most proper for expressing the doctrine of Scripture; that the substitution of other terms, as more explicit and precise, and fitter for distinguishing the truth from error, is really a deviation from the simplicity of the gospel, and a certain means of introducing human refinements, and raising vain and subtile questions heterogeneous to its nature and design. At any rate, the apostle's anxiety to condemn these is plain and undeniable; for returning to this subject, he concludes the epistle with an earnest exhortation to beware of them: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith," ver. 20, 21.

Notwithstanding all the pains which the apostle had thus taken to describe and recommend sound doctrine, the false teachers persisted in their attachment to fanciful and unprofitable fables and questions, and disseminated them Hi the Ephesian and other Asiatic churches with so great success, that he found it necessary to resume the subject in the second epistle to Timothy, and to give almost the whole epistle a reference to it. He commands Timothy, 2 Tim. i. 13, to holdfast, to adhere to the form, the model and exemplar of sound words. It is the same phrase which he had used in the passage last explained, and he uses it in the very same sense. That he means the simple doctrine of the gospel as originally delivered, he is careful to intimate, by immediately subjoining this test and criterion, "which thou hast heard of me:" not the words or the opinions of any uninspired man,

« AnteriorContinuar »