« PreviousContinue »
By what has been said, it appears to me sufficiently demonstrated, both out of the Scriptures and the ancient Fathers, that the bliss of the saints either entirely or chiefly depends on the RESURRECTION ; and that the supreme perfection, and the consummate felicity or glory, which the beatific vision of God expresses, are not imparted to human spirits before the day of judgment and the advent of the Lord. And if, from paucity of the number of testimonies adduced, we feared that the question should suffer detriment, it would be easy to bring forward many more, of the fourth and following centuries : but the force of Holy Writ (which ought to be sufficient alone) is obscured by too much collateral proof; and I shall therefore only add (and that as an appendix) some of the more obvious and indisputable passages of a later date to the same effect, which may either be consulted or disregarded as the reader's mind seeks comfort and support from his fellow-mortals or not.
THE TRANSLATOR. And now this eloquent author (the Reverend Doctor Burnet, Master of the Charter-House in 1727) proceeds to quote the testimonies of Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ecumenius, Theophylactus, Euthymius, &c.; Plures patres in Not. Cortholt. ad Justin. xliv. Col. 1 et 2 ; Hilarius, Ambrosius, and Augustin ; (Erpos. ad Psalm xxxvi. 10; Enchirid. ad Laurent. c. 118; Gen. ad. Literam, 1. 12, c. 35; De Civ. Dei, 1.12,c. 9; Retract. 1.1, c. 14; Confess. 1. 9, c. 3; D. Bernardus; Clemens ; Cyprian; Dyonisius the Areopagite; Epiphanius; Shaplet. Defens. Auctorit. Eccles. I. 1. c. 3;) and in the first instance Auctor. Quæstionum et Respons. ad Orthod. apud Justin Martyr; together with all the ancient Liturgies: but in these days it is presumed that he would altogether have rested here; “ For, indeed, when they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither would they believe though one rose from the dead.”
My effort has been, not so much to give the language, as to write in communion with the spirit of our author : at the same time, the liberties which I have taken in this translation are not important enough to be mentioned. WE OFFER TO THE CHURCH THE TRUTH AS IT is, as it was seen to be by five hundred brethren at once, IN THE PERSON OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. “ He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear." And as for those disciples whom Satan, or the world, or the desires or hopes or fattering unctions of the flesh, have so blinded, that they esteem themselves, or hope themselves to be, greater than their Lord; as for those servants, I say, may God be merciful unto them, for his own Name's sake!
REVIEWS AND MISCELLANIES.
VAUGHAN'S POPULAR ESSAYS. "Self-manifestation the End of all God's Counsel and Operations.
- The 'Truth: a Series of popular Essays designed to lead Men into the Knowledge and Enjoyment of God. By E. T.
Vaughan, M.A., Vicar of St. Martin's, Leicester.” We should not have delayed to bring the Popular Essays of Mr. Vaughan under the consideration of our readers until the present time, had we not entertained the daily hope that they would have been completed under the superintendance of the same master spirit that indited their commencement. That hope has now closed upon us; and we have therefore no motives to induce us to refrain, but many to urge us on to give some account of this invaluable treatise; and not among the least may be mentioned, an apprehension that it is not so universally known as it ought to be, for the benefit of the church of God.
The Notes to Mr. Vaughan's edition of Luther's treatise De Servo Arbitrio, the Life of Robinson, as well as his Sermons, and the little work which is the subject of these remarks, evince the author to be a theologian of the first order, in any age, and in any church ; and in our day, in the Church of England, absolutely without a rival. In estimating the value of an ininstrument, the first element in the calculation is an accurate knowledge of the nature of the work which it has to perform; and, rating the importance of Mr. Vaughan as a divine very high, it is proper to shew the grounds upon which that judgment has been formed.
Although the labours of Bishops Horsley and Porteus, Messrs. Biddulph, Faber, Cunninghame, Frere, and some others, kept the prospect of the Second Coming of the Lord from dying quite out of the remembrance and hope of the church in these latter days, it was not till the publication of the letters under the signature of Basilicus, by Mr. Way, that the subject was brought to her attention, once more, with a force sufficient to rivet the regard of all who, being taught by the Spirit of truth, have the witness within themselves to any branch of it that is presented from without. Many, who had never considered the subject before, began now to search the Scriptures, to see whether these things were so or not; and finding that they were, believed them, to the saving of their souls. But, along with the precious seed of the kingdom sowing up and down the land, Satan was busy in planting tares : where he could not prevail upon men abso
lutely to reject the truth, he insinuated a pernicious error in their minds. Taking advantage of the false spirit of love, and unsanctified, anti-christian benevolence, which he had been long infusing into their hearts, he found a soil well prepared for the reception of his damnable doctrine of universal redemption ;-a doctrine not only in direct contradiction to many express declarations of God's word, but utterly at variance with every object that is revealed as to be answered by the incarnation and death of the Son of God; by the creation, fall, and redemption of man. This error spread far and wide: many of God's own children were deceived ; and, if they did not absolutely embrace it, received so much of it as for a long time to unsettle their minds, and unhinge their whole scheme of divinity: while indolent and ignorant preachers either did not perceive its consequences, or were too indifferent to their duty to warn men of its danger.
As, in calculating the value of the services of Luther and Knox, we must refer to the times, and the grossness of the practices which they were raised up to overthrow; so must we call to mind the state of the church, when we are forming an estimate of the powers of the man whom the Lord raised up to be His witness in another day. While the majority of professors of religion were in the state of mawkish sentimentality which we have above described whining and puling about Christian love, although hating God's revealed character in their hearts--Mr. Vaughan was prepared of God to withstand the delusion that Satan had introduced. He performed this office in the most effectual, if not in the only, way in which it is possible to meet this heresy; which is, by reference to as much of the ultimate end and purpose of God in all his intermediate acts as is revealed in God's word. The subject has been handled by many divines, among the most eminent of whom may be named Hooker, Charnock, Edwards, and Williams. The first refers to it only by the way, in the course of a treatise on another matter. Charnock takes a more extended view, as the nature of his work required he should do, but without bringing it to bear upon any one specific point. President Edwards alludes to it only in reference to Arminian errors : and Williams has written with one great fallacy running through his work, which makes some reject it as altogether deceptious; while others receive it, fallacy and all, without being able to discriminate between them. The form, therefore, which the present heresy has assumed, required Mr. Vaughan to treat the subject in a manner different from all his eminent predecessors.
There are two principal methods on which an argument may be constructed. The one is, by announcing the proposition intended to be proved at the commencement of the oration, and following it up by a series of proofs : the other is, by stealing
on the hearers gradually, and winning them to the conclusion at which it is meant to bring them, without exciting any opposition to their previous prejudices. Both these modes have been used, by the masters of rhetoric. Demosthenes seems to have availed himself of them indiscriminately, without giving one a preference over the other. Aristotle points them out; as does also Cicero, in his treatise de Oratore, observing that he used both, but without stating his reasons for employing one or the other. Mr. Vaughan usually adopted the former. Much may be said in favour of both. In the present day of superficial knowledge and apathy in religion, it may be well to state at once some startling proposition, which shall have the effect at least of rouzing the auditors out of their “death-like stilness and their dread repose.
On the other hand, so great is the ignorance of religionists, and so little are they in the habit of reflecting or of reasoning, that the plainest truths will be rejected, unless supported by some name in repute amongst them. Examples of this are seen in the universality with which the facts connected with the second coming of the Lord were branded by the whole of the Evangelical oracles as New! and the flippancy with which, in their folly, they called the orthodox creed of our Lord's true humanity a heresy.--Mr. Vaughan's object is thus described by himself. By popular essays, the author means
essays • addressed to the coinmon people, as distinct from the learned ; . and by this title holds himself excused from going at large * into the investigation and defence of every assertion and refe
rence which he may introduce into his work. Following the ' advice of a judicious prelate, he aims to write "dogmatically • rather than controversially ;” but desires it to be understood,
that he advances nothing without serious thought, and some research. He begs his reader not to be dismayed if he meet with a word or sentence here and there which he does not instantly comprehend. Before he has finished the number or essay, he ' will probably find some light thrown upon it which removes
his difficulty. The secrets of God cannot be received or told at once. The author stipulates, therefore, for patience, atten'tion, and repeated rumination. The thoughtless, the super'ficial, and the desultory, will either disdain to read, or quickly • throw aside so dull, so laborious, so unpersuasive a performance. • The author has not rigidly adhered to the received version in • his long and multiplied quotations from the Scriptures. Whilst he admires the simplicity, energy, and numerous arrangement of that version, and is ever ready to maintain that it constitutes a fair transcript of the original volume, sufficiently accurate for general use; still, in collecting and reciting the testimony of God upon any proposed subject, he deems it necessary to exercise a scrupulous fidelity in the rendering of every word,
VOL. 1._NO. IV.
clause, and sentence of the parent language, though it be with some offence to the ear and taste, and with the hazard of detracting some little from the more than due veneration with which that truly venerable work is commonly regarded. Taking 'it for granted, moreover, that the reader will have his Bible at "hand, he has ventured to save expense and trouble by printing
only his own exhibition of the sacred text, which he requests ' him, however, to compare with the authorized one. In his quotations from the New Testament, he has followed Professor White's edition (Oxford : 1803) even to the punctuation; and in his quotations from the Old, in which he chiefly adopts the received version, has used Simons's Hebrew Bible (Amst. • 1753).'
If we were to endeavour to state as briefly as possible the separate objects aimed at by the Evangelical party, from the days of Whitefield and Wesley to the present hour, and by Mr. Vaughan and a few others (such as Mr. Goode and Mr. Howells), we should say it was this : that the problem proposed for solution by the former was, “With how small a portion of right knowledge of the revealed character of God is it possible to be safe?" whereas the problem to be resolved by the other class is, “ How shall the greatest knowledge of God be attained, that he may be rightly worshipped and loved ?" One would suppose,
from the published sermons, that such a prayer as that of the Apostle for the Ephesians was never offered up by any of the former class : “ I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes
of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Our present business is not with the former class, or it would be easy to shew that its tendency is to propagate a fearful delusion,--that the followers of it may have a satanic hatred to the God of the Bible, while they may flatter themselves that they are heirs of his kingdom. But we have now to do with Mr. Vaughan.
It is not to be denied that the ultimate end of all God's counsel and operations in creation is the manifestation of Him* self ;' and that the object of teaching his creatures to know Him is, that the loveliness of his nature may be known, and he therein loved and worshipped aright. It is impossible that the felicity of God can be in the remotest degree increased or diminished by the existence or non-existence of the works of his own hands. The moving cause, therefore, of his “ going out into creation acts,” to use a quaint expression of the old writers, is a willingness to communicate as much of that blessedness to