Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

HOLY SCRIPTURE.

The following are some of the propositions before formed from his works :

That it was

an improperly-directed veneration for the “ text of Scripture in the Schoolmen, to receive Scripture, “ not simply as the living Word of God, but as containing “ the sacred propositions of inspired wisdom,” and that thus 5 while they set themselves to gather up the fragments of “ revealed truth,” they “ lost the opportunity of feeding on “ the bread of God which came down from heaven.” (p. 91.)

That “to make it our business, to collect into one theory “every scattered intimation of the Divine Being and attri“ butes, is the result of a false view of Scripture, as having “ God for their proper subject.” (p. 89.)

That “no conclusions of human reasoning, are properly “ religious truths,” but only “pious opinions.” (Observ.

That “ a fundamental characteristic of the Christian Scriptures, totally precludes all deduction of speculative (or intel“ lectual, or theological) conclusions, concerning religious 6 truth.” (Observ. p. 13.)

by means of what was termed in the Schools the “ analogy of faith, the Bible lost its most important charac“ teristic in the comparison with other assumed revelations." (B. L. p. 88.)

p. 8, 14.)

That 66

A

He objected also to the practice of “ adducing text " after text from an Epistle, in which it was con“ tended that some dogmatic truth, some theory, or "system, or peculiar view of Divine truth, is asserted;" requesting it might be “ considered, whether it was - not by such a mode of inference from the Scripture

language, as would convert the Epistles into textual “ authorities on points of controversy, that the very " system of the Scholastic theology was erected.” (B. L. p. 375); maintaining that " texts, as texts,

prove nothing,” (Obs. p. 15. first ed.); and stigmatizing, as “common prejudice” without “ foundation,” the principle “ which identifies systems of doctrine-or theological propositions methodi

[ocr errors]

a

pl

cally deduced and stated—with the simple religion “ of Jesus Christ.” (Obs. p. 3.)

Dr. Hampden now says : “ It (private reason) must compare Scripture with Scripture, and so gather up the fragments of truth scattered

throughout the sacred volume, and put them together. “ This is a perfectly legitimate employment of reason. It is

a very different process from that of the speculatist, who 6 selects certain abstract notions, and frames definitions, and

argues from them what must be the truth of Revelation. “ The true Christian inquirer uses his reason to the utmost “ in interpreting what he reads in Scripture. He reasons, “ and concludes, and judges, but he does not speculate. He

pursues what is called the analogy of faith, analysing and “ combining the passages of Scripture, and so forms a com“prehensive scheme of religious truth from the Bible." (p. 23.)

66

" ture,

Now, again, it seems needful to ask, How can these stand together? How is this statement to be reconciled with his former objection to “ all deduction of conse“quences” as “ irrelevant to the establishment of

religious doctrine ?” (B. L. p. 54.) How, with the position, that, though it was “hardly possible to avoid " speculating or reasoning on the given truths of Scrip

no right intellectual, speculative, or theological truth could result ;” that no " conclusions of human reasoning, however correctly deduced, how

ever logically sound, are properly religious truths ;" nay, that these “ intellectual, or speculative, or theo

logical conclusions, have been the fruitful source of

controversy, and error, and heresy, in the progress of Christianity ?” (Observ. p. 8, 13, 14.)

Here, then, are two views directly opposed to each other ; which is it likely that young men will take, that which binds them to authority and received notions, or that which directly sets them free from it, and from the “ cumbrous machinery” of “ a meta“physical and logical theology,” (B. L. p. 380,) and holds out the hope that thereby

" the sacred truth”

might be “ allowed to stand forth to view, in its own " attractive simplicity ?” (ib.)

CREEDS AND ARTICLES. The same question recurs here. Dr. Hampden now declares, that the Church “ interposes usefully “ with her Creeds, and Articles, and Homilies, and

Liturgy, and Canons,;" that he is satisfied in his own mind “ that they have been of essential use for maintaining the Christian religion in its integrity, in

holding together the faithful in fast communion, in keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,

“ Under this conviction,” he says, “how“ ever freely I may have discussed the abstract phraseology in which they are expressed, I have said “ whatever I may have on any occasion said con“ cerning the Creeds and Articles of the Church. ... “ Have they guarded and inculcated the truth as it is “ written ? This is the question with regard to them. "I firmly believe that they have done so, by the “ watchful superintendence of Christ over his Church; " and I therefore esteem them very highly for their “ work's sake, though they have wrought that work

by the hands of fallible men, and amidst all the “ imperfections of human language.” (p. 19, 20.)

Dr. Hampden's charge, however, against the Creeds and Articles related not (as he here implies) to their phraseology simply, but to their substance, to their “speculative or theological conclusions," " the un

scripturalness of the notions on which their seve“ ral expressions were founded," " the unsoundness of “ the metaphysical and logical theology” contained in them," the speculations of false philosophy, which “ intermingled with them," and upon which the most sacred truths were based ; these he pronounced to be not the bond of union, but " the fruitful source of “controversy, and error, and heresy,” maintaining that “ theological opinion ought not to be the bond of “ union of any Christian society,” and that “the

“ real unity of the Church is, after all, an invisible

one.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The following propositions out of a number formed from his works might suffice:

It is these “ speculative or theological conclusions, such as we find in all articles of religious communion,” which have “ been the fruitful source of controversy and error and “ heresy in the progress of Christianity, and against which

accordingly the zeal of every lc er of the simple faith, as it « is in Christ. Jesus, ought to ': directed.” (Observ. p. 13.)

• Experience proves,” that "the naked truth of God has “ been overborne and obscured by the phraseology which the “ Orthodox were forced to employ.” (B. L. p. 377.)

“ The notions on which the several expressions of the “ Articles at large, and in particular of the Nicene and " Athanasian Creeds, are founded, are both unphilosophical '" and unscriptural ;" their terms belong to “ ancient theories “ of philosophy, and

are only less obviously injurious to the simplicity of the Faith, than those which they exclude.” (p. 378.)

66 Thé Nicene and Athanasian Creeds involve scholastic speculations,” they are logical definitions of the high “ subject of which they treat." (p. 544.)

“ The speculative logical Christianity which survives among us at this day, has been in all ages, the principal obstacle to the union and peace of the Church of Christ.” (p. 53.)

" I would once more call attention to the divine part of “ Christianity, as entirely distinct from its episodic additions. “Whatever may have been the motives and conduct of suc“ cessive agents employed in its propagation, whatever may “have been the speculations of false Philosophy on the facts “of Christianity; those facts themselves are not touched.” (p. 390.)

Assuming that the Holy Spirit has not been unfaithful " to his charge over the Church of Christ, I have endeavoured 66 to take some account of that resistance which the human “ agent has opposed to the diffusion of the truth as it was “ divinely inspired. ... As in the natural world, corruption 5 and disease may mark for their own the fairest works of the $6 Divine hand, but cannot unmake them ; so neither are we " to suppose that the superintendence of Christ over his “ Church no longer exists, because the fields of his vineyard “ have been overrun with thorns and weeds.” (p. vi. viii.)

“ The real unity of the Church is, after all, an invisible

B

one.

It is the communion of saints; the union of Chris“ tians with the Holy Spirit himself. And it is not for us to “ trace his path minutely ... all that we ought to say of our

own profession is, in the spirit of St. Paul's expression, « Such is our judgment, and we think also that' we · have “ the Spirit of God.'” (Observ. p. 28.)

THEOLOGICAL LANGUAGE.

Dr. Hampden expresses his regret, that his use of the word Fact to designate Christian truths has been misconceived. It was, he believes, founded upon a passage of Bp. Butler, who speaks of doctrines as being “ matters of fact,” and says, that " precepts

come under the same notion.”

[ocr errors]

“ I have no wish,” adds Dr. H. “ to retain a phraseology " which is not generally understood. But I think it has no “ real difficulty in it, to persons at least accustomed to

philosophical terms. All such persons know that fact in “ philosophical language is not restricted to something done “ (sic), though it denotes such a thing in its primary sense ; “ but means in general whatever is (sic). I employ the term “ to express the reality (sic) which belongs to Christian " truths as they are matters of Revelation, as they exist in the Scriptures themselves, where they are not so much matters “ taught, or truths stated systematically, as they are matters “ revealed. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.' “This is a true saying, &c.' God is Love.' Here are “ several propositions which as parts of the Scripture Revelation are realities of the kingdom of grace, or facts, as I “ term them; when however, they are taken out of Scripture “and taught in the same, or equivalent expressions, as parts “ of a system of Christian truth, they are more properly 6 doctrines.” (p. 32, 3.)

Yet the sense given by Bp. Butler, and that now adopted by Dr. Hampden, are fundamentally at variance with that which lies as the basis of all the statements of the Bampton Lectures. Dr. H. now says, “ Fact means whatever is (sic), and is not in philosophical language restricted to something done(sic). Before, he as distinctly, and positively restricted the word to that, to which he now says, in philosophical language it is not to be restricted—the doings, or

« ForrigeFortsæt »