페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

3. As a rule, universal belief can never be enforced as a duty on mankind. For the fountain of our faith is, and ought to be, accessible to all, and intelligible to all. But what the church has in all places, by all her members and at all times believed, is one of the most difficult points of knowledge to be ascertained and ultimately it would merge in the claims of infallibility. What the Scripture tells of the "unity of the Spirit" and the unity of faith, all may know, and they can all know no more. This informs us that there is "one body and one spirit (as St. Paul writes), even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." And what can they, or what need they know besides? It is most lamentable to think of enlightening the sun by factitious luminaries, all of which profess to receive their tiny lights only from his beams.

4. Again. Should not a canon, so sacred and so commanding, be, as its definition ("Semper, ubique, et ab omnibus") demands, invariable as to persons, times, and places? If it exists now, it is not true (“ ab omnibus"), for hundreds of thousands, Dr. Pusey being witness, have deviated from this rule for three hundred years. If it has ceased, it is false as to time; it is not " semper."

5. Once more. If the "whole church" of Christ be guided by his goodness and foreknowledge," how are we to account for such a numerous body of "his church" being now led to adopt another interpretation of "his words?" Does "his goodness" now, not before, "mislead" them? Or, are they to be excluded from the number of those who are real members of Christ's church, and committed to the "uncovenanted mercies of God?".

6. It is worth while to inquire when this assumed new interpretation started, and what was the state and character of the church of Christ before and since this awful error took place? Dr. Pusey informs us, that this departure was effected at the Reformation: all before were of one creed. Then, if all held this one creed, it was the creed of Popery, and as that has not reformed, it is so still. What, however, is the character of those, who, in this respect, as well as others, have reformed their creed? The Professor admits that "they love their Saviour." (vi.) Does the Romish church, which still retains the opus ope

ratum, "love the Saviour?" And does she love one mediator or many? But in reference to

66

THE FATHERS, whose piety we highly venerate. In what respect is this " one sense" of Christ's words, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," true, in fact, as applied to them? We know that Hooker is often quoted as saying, that every one of the fathers understood this text "literally." But what does Hooker mean by the fathers understanding it literally? Why, they understood that "water" meant water, and not something else; that is, the fathers believed that "water" was intended to allude to baptism by water "literally," and not figuratively, like baptism by "fire." This is what was understood by literally. But now we must remind Dr. Pusey and the reader, that in this sense we also receive our "Lord's words" "literally." We believe, with all the fathers, that "water," and that baptism, were "literally," not "figuratively," intended by our Saviour.

But further. We believe and interpret the whole of our Lord's words, "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," literally. We hold this language to be literally and invariably true without exception. But none of the Fathers uniformly did this. Nor do either Archbishop Lawrence, or Bishops Bethell and Mant, nor even, we believe, Dr. Pusey himself, interpret and hold our "Redeemer's words" literally and without exception. They all depart from their own rule of "literal interpretation," but we never depart from the most exactly literal interpretation, and never wish or need to do it.

We find, therefore, that the fathers, and every one else, who embraces the notion about "water and the Spirit," being" absolutely necessary," to "grace and glory," are not only obliged to contradict the most obvious facts-the scripture, and common sense; but they are also compelled to subvert their own professedly "literal interpretation," and, in Hooker's language, acknowledge that it will not " stand,”—that it is inconsistent with itself, and with other branches of their creed. They are, therefore, forced to make various exceptions to this "absolute necessity of baptism," as to regeneration and consequent salvation. The fathers excepted martyrs, or such as were baptised in "their own blood;" thus turning blood into "water," in a case of necessity. They also

excepted sincere converts who "desired" baptism, but died unbaptised. And who, we would ask, under the influence of that instruction, which suspends "salvation," on the reception of baptism, would not "desire" baptism, though at his last gasp, that after a life not always well spent, he might receive this "viaticum," as it was called, and ascend to heaven?

Thus we see how utterly impossible it is to force any sense on our "Saviour's words," but that which their genuine formation appropriately bears. He says, that to be" born of water and of the Spirit," is necessary to enter into the kingdom of God. But though all who do thus enter, are "such as shall be saved;" yet he does not say, that there is no other possible way to go to heaven. The expiring Thief was a notable exception. Besides, the notion involves endless absurdities. Baptism never received an appointment to convey regeneration. Regeneration is always connected with believing; and believing is aways required before baptism. And it would require a miracle to enable all men, every where, and at all times, to ensure baptism, after believing, and before death, when sometimes their declared belief was the signal for their immediate execution.

"The kingdom of God," as here defined by our Lord himself, consisting only of such as are "born of water and of the Spirit," being firmly and distinctly kept in view, will enable us to understand with greater readiness, the true character, design, and office, of that initiatory rite, which is by our Lord made necessary to a due entry into it. This will be the subject of our next inquiry.

But in concluding our remarks on our Lord's interview with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a master in Israel; we cannot but observe with what Divine wisdom the whole intercourse was conducted. This learned enquirer was minutely acquainted, as all the Pharisees were, with every custom, rite, and ceremony, in use among the Jews. Our Saviour's allusion, therefore, to "water," must have been perfectly comprehended by him. But he (as well as all his brethren) had quite lost the "spirit" of his own religion, and rested entirely on "the water." Christ allowed the "water," and said no more about it, but dwelt wholly on the "Spirit," and the spiritual nature of "the kingdom of God." This was the only thing with which Nicodemus was unacquainted, and which only, our

Lord on that account, explained. If our Saviour, instead of drawing the mind of Nicodemus to that alone which is essential to the kingdom of God, had introduced other considerations, explanatory of what is external and internal, of professing members, and real members, of "wheat and tares," would not this have tended to perplex the erroneous understanding of Nicodemus, and to occupy his mind with less important considerations; and might it not even have furnished this technical casuist with pretences for considering himself capable of entering into the kingdom of God, defective as he was of that Spirit which is essential to its true character, and essential to everlasting life? And is it not obvious, that should Nicodemus become, from what our Lord had said, spiritually and experimentally acquainted with the kingdom of God, in its simple and unmixed character, he would soon learn to distinguish things that differ? And when he should learn, that in other parts of our Lord's teaching, the meaning of the kingdom of God was more extensive, and comprehended many that were not of" the “ kingdom," he would never again stumble, as now he did, at not being able to distinguish the real kingdom of God, from a mere external body of professors, called by that name.

66

In page 15 we observed, that the words to "see" and to enter," bear in other parts of scripture, the appropriate meaning which we have there given them. The reader may be glad to have some further evidence of this assertion. We therefore remark :

1. That all words adapted to the sight and action of our natural members, have and must have, a figurative or spiritual meaning when they are used to convey mental or spiritual ideas.

2. The word here translated to " see," is not uncommonly used in Scripture to signify mental discernment or perception-the meaning which we have in John iii. 3, given to it. Let the reader examine only the following verses where the same word (or one from the same root) is used in the original. Matt. xiii. 14; Luke ii. 26; John i. 48; Acts ii. 27; xv. 6; Heb. xi. 13. In which passages it is said, "that he should not see death" "should not see corruption"-and "when thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee". "Abraham saw my day"—" these all died in the faith, not having received

the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." The above instances are plain, intelligible, and convincing. But the same word in four or five different places, where the prophet Isaiah, (vi. 9,) is quoted, is put in opposition to seeing with the bodily eyes, and must therefore relate to the mental perception only; as in Matt. xiii. 14; Mark iv. 12; Luke viii. 10; John xii. 40; and Acts xxviii. 26. The translation is, " by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive." In all these cases the seeing is taken from another word, while the sume word that is (in John xxxiii.) rendered to see, is in all the foregoing references rendered to perceive. And this, moreover, where spiritual perception alone is the very thing of which the Jews were defective. Seeing ye shall see, but not perceive." That is, seeing with your eyes ye shall not see with your minds. The precise reference in every one of those cases is to the true spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, and the direct and exact idea of John iii. 3,-" Ye cannot see the kingdom of God."

66

3. The word "see" must necessarily have a figurative and not a literal meaning, otherwise it could not be strictly true. For if a person must be born again in order to see with the bodily eyes the kingdom of God; or, as Dr. Pusey calls it," grace and glory:" no blind person could possibly be saved, because he could not in this sense see the kingdom of God: and a Pharisee who says he sees, might go to heaven though blind to all the spiritual excellences of it, and full of malignant hatred against the Messiah and his kingdom.

4.. Dr. Pusey and every one else here uses the words to "see" and to "enter" in a figurative, and not in a correctly literal sense. When he speaks of "the kingdom of God," as being explained by a state of "grace and glory," he certainly means more than seeing with the eyes the kingdom of God, or walking on our legs into the gospel church; and thence to glory.

5. The interpretation then which we have given, seems the most exact meaning which the words in their situation can possibly bear. We have added the above remarks that the reader may distinctly perceive that our views of these two texts, upon which so much depends, cannot be shaken by any verbal criticism.

« 이전계속 »