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infallible word of God; and the simplicity of scriptural truth be substituted for the careful definitions, acute discriminations, and abstract reasonings of theologists.
The objection of Mr. Carlile to the subscription required by the Synod is twofold. He objects to subscription in the abstract, and he objects to certain articles in the Westminster Confession, because they are opposed both to the book of nature and the book of God.
We shall not enter upon the second class of objections; for though we are not fond of abstract reasonings in practical matters, we cannot, in the article of subscription to creeds, reason abstractedly without every moment reflecting on the concrete-the practical bearing-of the abstract agreement. Why were creeds first resorted to ? It may appear easy, at first sight, to answer this question. It may be affirmed that their object is, “ to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” by excluding from the sacred enclosure of the church all whose opinions are heretical. But what is an opinion? It is, whether it be right or wrong, a mental conviction. A series, therefore, of opinions is a series of mental convictions. Now a creed is a series of mental convictions. Not, indeed, the convictions of one mind, but the convictions of all the minds engaged in drawing it up. And what is a heresy? A series of opinions. Let it be supposed that all these opinions are wrong, or that the greater number are correct, perfectly scriptural, but that the heresy arises from one gross and most injurious error in the system, which nullifies the value of all the truth which it contains. And what does the creed do in this case? It opposes one series of opinions to another. The views of one man, or several men, are opposed to the views of another or several other men. Let the opinions of the one party be rendered anthoritative-let them prescribe as they please, and give what sanction they please to their prescriptions, the sanctions of pains, penalties, or exclusions from offices, civil or ecclesiastical let them, through the medium of this sanction enforce their creed, articles, or confession of faith through many generations-what will be the general result? Will heresy be eradicated, truth promoted, and the design of the compilers of the creed or confession of faith fulfilled ? All ecclesiastical history puts at once a strong and a decisive negative to this inquiry. No; you do not change opinions; you work a change in certain expressions of opinion. Some are silent. Some, from expediency, act the hypocrite, and affix their signature to that which they do not believe. Some sign what they do not understand ; and which, when they give assent to it, they have no intention to seek to understand ; and multitudes, believing that the creed, drawn up as it was by holy men, eminent fathers, or bold and zealous reformers, and adopted and promulgated by the church, must be right, rest satisfied with a name and a place among its advocates, and induce the fallacious hope of being saved by the creed they profess, the church to which they belong, and the religious party with which they are associated. And what but a conviction of this kind can induce some, from whom better things were expected, to exhort men to cleave to a church from the precepts of which error the most dangerous and destructive is promulgated, merely because
its creed is, in their opinion, scriptural and correct? What is this but to commit their immortal interests to improbability ? For it is not much more probable that their sentiments will accord, and their character be modelled by that which is addressed to them weekly by the living voice of their fellow man, and has frequently all the freshness of novelty about it, than by a creed or confession of faith which is rarely read, or if read often, has failed, from the very circumstance of its frequent repetition, to produce any impression on the mind or the heart? The boasted orthodoxy of many a church has tended to destroy the souls of its adherents. The members of such churches too frequently profess what they do not believe, and rely on their profession instead of trusting in the Saviour of lost man. Other sects beside the ancient Pharisees, equally bigotted, equally formal, equally destitute of the first principle of divine truth in their mind, and of the exemplification of it in their dispositions and conduct, have adopted similar sentiments, which they expressed when they said, “ these people that know not the law are accursed.” “We be Abraham's seed.”
And this leads naturally to another evil, which appears inseparable from the authoritative imposition of creeds or articles of religion. They invariably induce divisions. The principal criterion (that we mean on which the greatest stress is laid in the New Testament) by which a Christian is to be distinguished from an ungodly man, is love to the brethren. This forms the bond of union. So that neither distance of place, difference in the mode of worship, nor any other outward variation in that which is circumstantial, can dissolve this bond. It is the characteristic of the spiritually minded. He who is destitute of it is yet carnal. His creed may be sound, his worship scriptural, his conduct decorous, his sacrifices for the cause of Christ great, yet if he have not love, his profession is an empty one. Slight differences of opinion among Christians are justifiable, provided they do not produce alienations of heart; wherever they do they carnalize the christian profession. He who values himself on account of some sectarian distinction, because he belongs to this or that party, subscribes this creed, or that confession of faith, is assimilated to the Corinthians of old. (1 Cor. ii. 1, 4.) He becomes exclusive. He assumes infallibility. He would fain, were it possible, dictate the faith and mode of worship of the whole christian church. Hence the imposition of creeds, articles, and confessions of faith, takes its rise from a carnalised Christianity, from a disposition to lord it over the consciences of others, and to sacrifice the divine spirit of christian charity on the altar of our own infallibility. The pretence is to exclude heretics and hypocrites, the effect is to admit the hypocritical and the worldly, and to shut out the inquiring, the conscientious, and the sincere. The one infallible and only authorised standard is abandoned, and the procrustan bed of human invention substituted in its place, which, like that ancient contrivance of cruelty, weakens, but never strengthens, maims, but never heals.
Creeds have entirely failed in the only object which can afford a shadow of justification for their adoption. They neither preserve orthodoxy, uniformity Calvin's own canton was not saved from
heresy-his own articles could not exclude socinianism. Our own Presbyterian churches were not saved from a similar fate by the Westminster Confession, nor has that confession availed to preserve the churches of the same order in Scotland, or in the sister island. The united churches of England and Ireland swarm with ministers and people of conflicting opinions through all the diversities of belief, from the coldest socinianism to the most bold and barefaced antinomianism; and yet it is often heedlessly affirmed and thoughtlessly repeated, that a church cannot maintain uniformity of doctrine without a written confession of faith imposed on all who wish to officiate as its members. The very reverse is the fact. This the author of the pamphlet before us has discovered, and he thus illustrates the fact to which we advert :-“ I appeal to the Independent churches in England. By Independents I do not mean any churches which may have slid into an independent form of government, but to that great Independent connection, including in it such names as Clayton, James, Raffles, Burder, Fletcher, Burnett, &c. in England; Ewing, Wardlaw, Russell, &c. in Scotland ; and Cooper, Urwick, Townly, &c. in Dublin." *** “ I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that this Independent connection has succeeded in maintaining for a longer period a more perfect uniformity of doctrine in its ministers, without a confession of faith, than any other church with which I am acquainted, has done with the help of such a confession. I have had pretty extensive opportunity of becoming acquainted with ministers of that connection in various districts of the United Kingdom, and I must say, I never met with one, nor so far as I can remember, ever heard of one, by whom the great fundamental doctrines in the Westminster Confession of Faith itself were not preached in their purity.” Mr. Carlile then assigns one reason for this uniformity, which, so far as it goes, is satisfactory and instructive. It is this :-“ Ministers, (of the Independent denomination,) whose sentiments are known by their preaching and writings, require every one desiring admission into their connection to give a confession of his faith in his own language; and they recognize only those whom they believe to be sound in the faith; and when persons in their connection remove to a distance from them, they give them letters commendatory, which ensure the reception of such persons among all who know their principles, and have confidence in their character.” We shall not add any comments to these remarks. They are true, and furnish no common apology for our professions as Congregationalists. And this conformity in the great doctrines of the Gospel, without subscription, may be observed to exist in an almost equal degree in the great body of Baptists, of whose theological opinions, the writings of Carey, Hall, Fuller, Foster, &c. may be regarded as affording a just representation.
We will only, in conclusion, add, that we admire the spirit, talent, and conclusive argumentation of this printed speech, and most cordially recommend it to the attention of our readers.
FOREIGN THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE.
FRANCE. 1. La Sainte Bible ; traduction de M. Genoudé.- The translation of the Bible, by M. Genoudé, was first published several years ago. The edition which is now in course of publication, comes out “under the auspices of the clergy of France, and is directed by the care of M. l'Abbé Juste, honorary canon, ancient professor, &c. with the authorization of Monseigneur, the Archbishop of Paris.” Genoudé is a very distinguished writer among the Catholics of France. He is a layman, a man devoted to literature, and one of the ablest contributors to the Gazette de France, which is, emphatically, of all the political journals, the true organ of the catholic interests. His first essays at translating the Scriptures were made a number of years ago, on the books of Job and Isaiah. Having succeeded well in those attempts, he was encouraged to undertake a translation of the entire Bible. The motive by which he was influenced to do this, he tells us, was a desire to present the sacred oracles to French readers in a style more truly elegant, and more truly French, avoiding the two extremes, which he conceives are manifest in the numerous French versions, of too close and rigid a translation of the text on the one hand, and too wide and paraphrastical a departure from it, on the other. His Preface contains a beautiful and just eulogium on the sacred volume. The brief notices which he gives of the several portions of the Bible are very well written.
This translation is made mainly from the Vulgate. It does not profess to be a canonical version of the Scriptures. Indeed, in an advertisement which is prefixed to it, it is expressly disclaimed that this translation is to be viewed in any other light than as a history of the Old and New Testaments, approaching as closely as possible to the sacred text. In the introduction to this work, which the publishers have given, the opinion of Fénélon is quoted in favour of the reading of the Scriptures by the laity, and, particularly, the remarks which that distinguished author makes, in regard to the fact, that the sacred volume was in their hands in the first ages of Christianity, and the propriety and necessity of the people being enlightened by the word of God. In addition to the considerations which Fénélon suggests, the publishers assign the efforts which the Bible Societies are making to distribute bad translations, as an argument why they have been led to publish and circulate this present translation of M. Genoudé.
We have not had time to examine M. Genoude's translation very closely. But we are inclined to think that it is done in an able manner. The Vulgate and the Septuagint have been mainly followed. Of course it differs much from the Hebrew of the Old and the Greek of the New Testaments. It is adorned, if we may so apply the word, with many very badly executed woodcuts. In these pictures, the Almighty God is represented uniformly under the appearance of an old man! We need not remark on the degraded idea which all such representations of that Being, who has forbidden that any “likeness” should be made of himself, are calculated to engender. We only add, that M. Genoudé is a true son of the Catholic church. After having extolled, in his preface, the sacred Scriptures, and after having stated the means which he had employed to render his translation accurate, and to have it correctly printed, he adds this remarkable sentence: “ Nous protestons d'avance, comme nous avons déjà fait lors des prémières éditions, contre toute interprétation que nous aurions adoptée, et qui serait contraire à la foi de l'Eglise Catholique, Apostolique, et Romaine, dans le sein de laquelle nous voulons vivre et mourir.” “ We protest beforehand, as we have already done in the former editions, against every interpretation which we may have adopted, and which may be contrary to the faith of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, in whose bosom we wish to live and die." In other words, M. Genoudé might as well have said : We have given a faithful translation of the Bible from the sources which the Catholic church approves; but if we have given a translation of any passage, no matter how faithfully we may have rendered it, which is contrary to what the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church believes, we protest beforehand against that interpretation! Here is something which is not only ridiculous, but in the highest degree insulting to the God of the Bible. But the Abbé Juste, who is associated with M. Genoudé, in the work of superintending the printing of the present edition, seems disposed to be even a more faithful son of the infallible mother, for he adds in his imprimatur: “ I declare that I unite, with all my heart, in the sentiments of faith and piety expressed by M. Genoudé, and protest, with him, against every error and false interpretation, condemning every thing which our holy church condemns, and willing to believe and approve, even to an iota, only what she teaches and approves.”
2. La Bible, Traduction Nouvelle, avec l'Hébreu en regard, fc.-" The Bible, a new translation, with the Hebrew on the opposite page, accompanied with the vowel-points and tonic accents; with philological, geographical, and literary notes, and the variations of the Septuagint and Samaritan versions. By S. Cahen, Director of the Israelitish School of Paris.”
The number of the Jews in France is not great. They have in all seven consistories, as they are termed in the laws of the kingdom. That is, they have seven synagogues, in Paris and other chief cities. Since the Revolution of July, 1830, and the accession of Louis Philippe, they have enjoyed every right to which they are entitled as citizens, and probably live in a more happy condition than do the Jews in any other country. By the charter of the late Revolution, they receive their proper proportion from the public treasury for the maintenance of their religious services. Indeed, the present government of France has shown a strong disposition to aid, in every way in which it can, these remains of a people dear to the christian church, because of their fathers, of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came. .