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AN ESSAY, PROVING, FROM THE SCRIPTURES, THAT THE
BY JOHN BARCLAY, A. M.
FOR SOME TIME ASSISTANT MINISTER AT FETTERCAIRN,
D. ROBERTSON AND CO. AND J. THOMSON, ARGYLE STREET.
-The world by wisdom knew not God.-The things which the Gentiles
sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.-By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.
Riddick & Kerr, Printers,
The object of the following work is to shew that, for our knowledge of all that concerns God, we are indebted solely and exclusively to divine revelation; and that every particular which God hath seen meet to reveal to us, stands equally and infallibly true to our consciences. What God hath condescended to become the witness to the truth of in our minds, can no more be confirmed, than it can be weakened, by any other species of evidence.
In aiming at the establishment of these principles, the scope of the author of Without Faith, Without God, differs essentially from that of ordinary writers on the subject of religion. According to them, there are religious notions which owe their origin to man himself; and even views which are derived from revelation, may nevertheless receive increase and confirmation from other quarters. Indeed, if those who have commonly undertaken to treat of this all-important topic are to be believed, nothing is better calculated to produce a liking to the doctrines of Christ Jesus, than demonstrations à priori that they must be, and à posteriori that they are, agreeable to the results of observation and rational enquiry. Hence, statements and views, contained in the Bible, which appear to them to be borne out by matter of fact, they profess to be themselves thoroughly convinced of, and shew themselves solicitous to bring under the notice of their followers. But in regard to points which have no other basis than divine testimony, they either preserve a total silence, or at the utmost speak doubtfully and hesitatingly. This, whenever divine testimony enters the conscience as such, Mr. Barclay shews cannot happen.
All that God hath declared, resting on one and the same authority, can only be believed by us in one and the same way. God being the only, and being also the infallible, witness to the truth of whatever He hath made known in His word, every part of it must be to us, if enlightened by Him, equally and absolutely certain. We cannot be sure of one divine truth, while we reject, or are hesitating about, another. We cannot be receiving the facts of scripture, while we are dubious as to its reasonings. While we admit as true the transmission of sin and death to us from Adam, we cannot be rejecting, or in doubt about, our possession of righteousness and life everlasting in Christ Jesus. So far from this, the Holy Spirit testifying in our consciences equally and infallibly to the truth of all that is contained in the sacred record, whatever, through the medium of that record, is by him disclosed to us, is to us equally and infallibly certain.
This, indeed, must be. The Holy Spirit, speaking by the mouth of one of the apostles, has furnished us
with an argument, in support of Mr. Barclay's leading principle, to subvert which sets all the boasted ingenuity of man completely at defiance. If we receive the witness or testimony of man, the witness or testimony of God is greater. 1 John v. 9. That is, if mere human testimony, confessedly inferior to that of God as in every point of view it must be, is nevertheless frequently productive in our minds of a conviction which we shall in vain attempt to distinguish from absolute certainty, can divine testimony, when introduced into our minds as such, produce a conviction the strength of which shall be less ? Nay, if in many cases we find it impossible to distinguish the effect of human testimony from absolute certainty, must not divine testimony, as superior by its nature, beget absolute and infallible certainty itself?-Although I have never visited Mexico, I have no doubts concerning the existence of that country. And yet, wbat higher testimony than that of man constitutes the basis of my conviction in this particular case? When my heavenly Father, the faithful and true witness, sees meet to reveal it to me and my fellow believers, as the import and substance of his testimony, that he hath given to us eternal life, and that this life is in his Son, 1 John v. 11, is it possible that there should exist in our minds, believing this to be his testimony, a conviction of its truth inferior to that with which we believe in the existence of Mexico ?
The fact is, the following work of Mr. Barclay is a bold, masterly, and scriptural, assault on the principle of religious scepticism.