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ble regret, and not a little sur: christian people: and we readily prise, It is a sermon of the fash- admit, as sound and good, the ionable stamp, and upon the reasons offered by our author, fashionable theme of ordination in support of the “claims, " discourses. It is aimed entirely which the scripture has to this against creeds and confessions of high distiuction. But we can. faith ; and if not with greater not so readily admit, that the felicity and effect, yet at least words of scripture only, without with greater zeal and exertion, reference to any sense, or interthan we have commonly seen. pretation of them, are to be held And on this account chiefly it is, * fast ; for, “ as a rule of faith," that we deem it deserving of we can form no conception of particular notice.
the use of words, whether such The passage chosen by Dr.. as “man's wisdom teacheth,” or K. for his text, is, Titus i. 9. even such as “the Holy Ghost “ Holding fast the faithful word teacheth,” any farther than the as he huth been taught, that he true sense or interpretation of may be able by sound doctrine, them is regarded. To contend both to exhort and to convince therefore, for the mere words the gainsayers."
and not for the true doctrine, After an introduction, not re
or "mind of the Spirit in the markably appropriate or concise, scriptures, to us, appears idle referring to his text, our au
This how. thor observes,
ever, if we do not misappre.
hend him, Dr. K. has done. “ The apostle it will be conceded There is indeed a great ambigu. had in view some standard of truth, . ity, and want of precision in his which the elder is to observe in teach
manner of expressing himself on ing and ruling in the church, and which he conceived an adequate rule
this subject. He involves him. of christian faith and ministerial du self continually in circumlocu. ty. What this rule is, and its claim tions, universalities, and quali. to the character of the faithful word; fying phrases. But the whole by whom, and for what reasons, it drift of his discourse evidently must be held fast; and when it is proceeds upon the assumption, suitably regarded, will be the lead. ing subjects of our enquiry."
that the letter, the mere words of
scripture, and not any particular The result of his first en. meaning, or interpretation of quiry the Dr. expresses as fol. them, are to be held fast as the lows :
standard of faith.”
It is upon
this ground precisely, that we "The inspired scripture is the find bis fortified campi
and it rule of faith intended, the faithful is here that he has planted his word to be held fast, as taught by **** holy men of God, wbo spake as
battery against creeds and con. they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” fessions of faith. If it be ad.
mitted, that not the mere words To this we have nothing to of scripture, but their sense, or object. We hold the “inspired the mind of the Spirit in them, scripture to be the rule of faith, in whatever form of words it the faithful word to be held fast” may be truly expressed, is to be by all christian ministers, and regarded as “the rule of faith,”
the Dr.'s ground is gone at once, of scripture, why should any at. and his whole labor is lost. tempt be made to convince them, or
For the support of his grand of what are they to be convinced? principle he appears to rely on. But the elder isenjoined to "hold the first clause of his text. fast the faithful word, as he hath “ Holding fast the faithful: been taught; that by sound, unWORD.” This he would have us. corrupt ductrine, he may be a. understand, as an apostolic di. ble both to administer comfort rection, that the elder or minister to believers and excite them to
of the gospel, should hold fast, their duty, and to confute the . the words of scripture. The in- errors of all opposers, silence
telligent reader, however, will their cavils, and rebuke their
a steady adherence to mere words.
try should tenaciuosly adhere, with
out farther examination, to sentiments It is yet further to be observed, impressed on his mind by early edu. that the elder is to "hold fast cation, or by his assistants in the the faithful word, as he hath study of divinity; but that he is al.' been taught, that he may be ways to keep his thoughts upon the
divine word, as the standard of truth, able, by sound doctrine, both to
and prove or correct his opinions by exhort and to convince the gain. it.” sayers.” But who are these gain. sayers? Are they infidels only, Very good, but what then ? or those who deny the scriptures The question is not whether altogether? Are they not those in all cases, 66 a candidate rather, who, though they admit for the ministry, or the in. the words, yet deny the true doc. ducted minister, is 'to adhere trines of scripture? But how to the sentiments, which, by are these gainsayers to be con. whatever means, have been “imFinced, if, not the true sense, pressed on his mind;" but is he, but only the mere words of scrips in any case, thus to adhere? Is ture, are to be held fast ? And he required to embrace the truth, farther, whatever may be their as taught in the scriptures, and, doctrines, or opinions, so long as they do not deny the words See Dr. Guise on the text.
having embraced it, to hold it Is it then because confesfast? This is the great question. sions of faith are less plain,
For if the candidate, or minister, less intelligible and definite, than is required to embrace the true the scriptures, that they are opdoctrines of scripture, and to ad. posed ? This we confess, we had here to them; then certainly, he not until now understood. But is to do something more than if this be not the fact, where merely to hold fast scripture does the objection lie? If with words and phrases. He is to respect to important points of hold fast the true sense of scrip. doctrine” the scriptures are so ture, in whatever words express. plain, that “honest enquirers afed, and to "teach no other doc. ter truth” can find no difficulty trine.” And if so, why may he in ascertaining what they are ; not be required, or at least al. then surely the “honest” believ. lowed, to confess his faith ex. er in the truth can have no ob
plicitly, and in such words as jection to declaring what he unmost definitely express the scrip- derstands them to be. ture doctrines, in which he be. not follow, as a fair inference, lieves ?
that those, who are unwilling to But here Dr. K. again ob. subscribe to a confession of faith, serves :
in which the plain doctrines of
the gospel are concisely but “The perfections and professed design of the Author of our holy re- plainly expressed, are not “ honligion forbid the supposition that es. est?” But will Dr. K. abide sential doctrines, the belief of which this inference ? is necessary to the true christian, are Plain as the scriptures are, is not plain, but hidden mysteries, to it not, however a fact that they honest enquirers after the truth. Can it be that the word of God, pro
are differently and even opposite fessedly revealed from heaven, to be ly construed? Is it not a fact, “a light to our path,” is so imper. as notorious at it is melancholy, fect, mysterious and unintelligible a that there have always been in rule of faith, respecting important the world “men of corrupt points of doctrine, a belief of which is minds, not enduring sound docessential to every true christian, that something more explicit and defin: "trine," but disposed to “pervert ite, if not altogether of human ori. the scriptures, and privily to gin, yet of human modification and bring in even damnable heresies?" language, must be made the touch. Has not christendom, in all ages, stone, by which the correctness of a
been deluged with errors, even man's sentiments, and even the puri. ty of his religious affections are to be by those who profess to hold tried ?”
fast the words of inspired scrip
ture? And if so, ought not the Such is the emphatical man. true churches of Christ, and the ner in which our author is friends of truth generally to displeased to express himself, upon tinguish themselves, as the plainness of the scriptures. light of the world," as "a city But who could have imagined that upon an hill.” Is it not propthe great plainness of the scrip- er and important, that, amidst tures would ever have been urg- abounding errors and corruped, as an objection against con. tions, they should let it be fessions of faith!
known, that they still "hold
fast the faithful word as they if a church, or any “ associated have been taught” and are not body,” after judging several. ashamed of the doctrines of the ly for themselves, harmoniously cross? Thus they lift up the concur in the leading doctrines standard of the gospel in the of the gospel, why may not they, most conspicuous manner, as the also, thus far agree in the same grand point of union among confession of faith, and if they themselves, and as “ au ensign to deem it proper, declare their the people ?” And that they be agreement to the world ? so prepared, that “if any come But our author again : unto them, and bring not this doctrine, they may not receive “ Must we concede to them the them," and that they may deiect right to associate, and, by a plurality taose, “who say they are Jews, of votes, to fix upon a creed, com. and are not, but do lie ?"
posed in words which their own, or If, as our author represents,
some other man's wisdom teacheth;
to which we must assent or be denied the great doctrines of the gospel their charity and fellowship, and subare so plainly expressed in the jected not only to inconvenience, but scriptures, that no honest en. to the charge of heresy ?” quirer" can mistake them; what objection can there be to having A hard case truly. But can we them drawn up for occasional deny their “ right to associate,” use, in the plain and concise and to adopt, in the manner they form of a creed, or confession ? judge most proper, such a And if plain, as the scriptures creed,” as, in their view, is con. are, they are nevertheless so mis. sonant with the word of God ? construed and perverted, that may not individuals, may not men may profess a belief in them, ministers and churches, as many and yet deny or explain away as are disposed, regularly asso. their most important doctrines; ciate for the purposes of mutu. may not creeds or confessions, al edification, and of promoting be not only warrantable, but of the general interests of truth and great use for the security and fel. religion, and publicly confess lowship of the churches, and for their agreement in the great and the honor and advancement of essential articles of our holy the Redeemer's cause ?
religion? Shall they be denied But, says our author, “the this privilege? Shall they for us. nature of the case requires each ing it, be charged before the to judge for bimself what are the world, with “invading the rights doctrines of revelation.” True; of conscience,” and with “feel. and having judged for himself ing no very strong objections what the doctrines of revela. to papal authority, if they might tion are, may he not also confess choose in what hands it shall be his belief in them in such manner placed ?" If the creed which and form, as he shall deem cor. they adopt be not consentaneous rect and proper ? If two or with the lively oracles; then let three, after judging for them- it be fairly opposed and explod. selves, coincide in their views, ed. But if it truly express the why may not they adopt the great doctrines of Christ; then same form of confession And let it stand ; and let all the Vol. I. New Series
friends of truth rejoice, that in quences of their perversion ? a degenerate age, so many are It is important, we think, to found to “hold fast the faithful be observed, that it is not against word, as they have been taught." creeds and confessions only, that But,
Dr. K.'s arguments and objections “ By adopting a human standard,
lie; they lie with equal force, or test, of religious opinions, we tell against all exposition of the the world by fair implication, that we scriptures, against preaching, have not entire confidence in the
and against expressing any views scripture, as a rule of faith for any
of religious doctrine on any who do not believe just as we do, or that all who differ from us are either occasion, or in any manner, weak or dishonest."
otherwise than in scripture words
and phrases. The words of We have not been accus. scripture, merely, are to be held toned to regard creeds fast. The scriptures are plain and confessions, standards of easy to be understood, and every faith, paramount to the scrip one is to judge for himself of tures : we have considered them their sense. For any person, only as an open, concise, and therefore, or number of persons, detinitive expression, of what are to undertake to express the docsupposed to be the leading doc. trines of revelation, or to say trines, which the scriptures con what they are, in any other than tain. If a confession“ teach scripture language, is arrogant for doctrine, the commandments and presumptuous, is an infringeof men,” let it be denominated ment of the rights of conscience, “human,” and rejected. But is disrespectful to the spirit of if a confession only express in inspiration, and is uncharitable other words, the true doctrine of to our fellow men. This, if we scripture, it cannot, we believe, do not misconceive, is the sum of be justly branded as a mere “hu- the whole. But if all this be man standard.” Neither does correct and valid, then ministers the adopting of such a confes. have only to go into their pul. sion imply any want of proper pits, and rehearse the words of " contidence in the scriptures.” scripture without comment and It may, indeed, imply that we exposition, and more privately to suppose the scriptures, though reprove, rebuke and exhort" in perfect in their design, are yet scripture language; and people liable to perversion : and that have only to hear and read, and they are liable to perversion, who talk over their scriptures. The will undertake to deny ? Are man who expresses a religious we not, indeed, warned by the sentiment in any other, than scripSpirit of truth himself, that men ture language, commits an of. may
66 wrest the scriptures even fence at once against God and to their destruction ?" And his fellow men: and especially if shall we, then, be chargeable he endeavours to bring others to with disrespect to the scriptures, believe in his views of divine if we only use proper means to truth, expressed in his own save them from being perverted, words, as being more correct or to guard ourselves and others than theirs, he gives ground for against the pernicious conse the “suspicion, that he feels no