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xvii. 10; Passover, Exod. xii. 11; and besides, 'tis clear there is a figure in the other branch of the institution—this cup is the New Testament-and why not in this?
2. We are offended at the priests and peoples in worshipping the elements with religious worship; which, if there be no such conversion, cannot be excused from damnable idolatry, they being mere creatures.
3. At the priest's offering it as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, which falls in with the doctrine of transubstantiation; and, besides, is directly contrary to plain scripture, which says expressly, that Jesus Christ offered his body once for all; and that by one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified. Heb. x. 10, 11, &c.
Query 7. IVhat arguments to prove that the Scriptures are the highest judge in controversies of religion.
Explanation. The scriptures, i. e. the word of God contained in the Old and New Testament, are the highest judge; or rather, the rule of judging in controversies of religion, both concerning faith and manners, doctrine and practice, wherein we are to acquiesce.
Argument 1. This may be proved from those scriptures which bear this testimony to themselves, and their testimony, though of themselves, yet is true. As (1.) where it is affirmed that the word of God is perfect, Psalm xix. 7; profitable for doctrine, reproof, &c. 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; that the man of God may be perfect. (2.) Where it is termed a rule, Gal. vi. 16; a light, a lamp, a lantern, Psalm cxix. 105, Prov. v. 23; the foundation doctrinal on which the church is built, Eph. ii. 20. (3.) Where we are commanded to have recourse to them for guidance and direction in all difficulties, search the scriptures, John v. 39; to the law and to the testimony, Esa. viii. 20; they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them, Luke xvi. 29. (4.) Where they are commended that did so, as the Bereans, Acts xvii. 11; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, 2 Pet. i. 19. (5.) Where a curse is pronounced against those that either set up another rule, Gal. i. 8, 9, or add to this, or diminish from it, Deut. iv. 2; Prov. xxx. 6; Rev. xxii. 18, 19. (6.) Where not knowing the scripture is given as the reason of error, Matt. xxii. 29. Where it seems observable, that our Saviour proves the resurrection by a consequence drawn from scripture, which, when right, is equivalent to scripture itself. (7.) Where it is said, this is the very end of writing them, that we might believe, and believing, might have life, John xx. 2; Rom. xv. 4.
2. Because the scriptures are the rule by which God will hereafter judge our persons, and our ways, doctrines, and practices : John xii. 48; Rev. xx. 12; Rom. ii. 16. The fire that shall try every man's work, 1 Cor. iii. 13.
3. Because those requisites necessary in a judge are all to be found in the scripture, though but improperly so called.
(1.) It is required in a judge that he be knowing: now in the scriptures are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, being indited by that Spirit which knows all the things of God. 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, 12.
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(2.) That he be honest, impartial, and unbiassed. So are the scriptures, pure from all dross, corruption, and defilement, Psalm xii. 6.
(3.) That he have ability to discern, 1 Tim. iii. 9. So hath the scripture, Heb. iv. 12. 1 Cor. xiv. 25.
(4.) That he be ready and at hand. So is the scripture, Rom. x. 8.
4. Either the scripture is judge of controversies, or some other; but no other, therefore the scriptures.
1. Not human reason, as saith the Socinian; which is both short, scanty, and corrupt, and many doctrines revealed are above, and beyond it.
2. Not the light within, as saith the Quaker ; for that is darkness, Matt. vi. 23; and hath led others, and may lead us, into precipices of sin, John xvi. 2.; Acts xxvi. 9; and besides, must be tried by something else, 1 John iv. l.
3. Not the fathers, not tradition, not the Pope or councils, together or apart; not the present church, as saith the Papist, (wherein yet they are not all of a mind, but all Protestants agree in scripture,) for all and each of these have erred, and may err, Rom. iii. 4, and therefore are not to be rested in.
Infer. Then let all spirits, doctrines, worships, practices, be weighed by us in these balances of the sanctuary, and tried by this touchstone.
Things necessary are clear and plain ; and in other matters wait, in the use of means, till God reveal it; and, after all, some things shall be undetermined till Christ come.
SUGGESTIONS ON THE SCIENCE OF GEOLOGY, IN ANSWER
TO THE QUESTION OF T. K.
(To the Editor.) MY DEAR SIR,—The question of your correspondent, T. K., at p. 710 of the last Number, merits the most serious attention. It forms one, and probably the heaviest, of the two great difficulties which Christians feel in relation to the discoveries and doctrines of modern geology : the first is the alleged necessity of admitting that God had put forth his creating energy from an era impossible to be even conjectured, but stretching back, through immeasurable periods, from the adaptation of the earth, to be the abode of a new race of creatures, with man at their head. I have said, alleged. necessity; because that qualifying term is proper at the outset of an inquiry : but, though I cannot now undertake this part of the discussion, I am bound to profess that there is no doubt in my own mind. I must even go so far as to express my conviction, that it is perfectly impossible for any intelligent person to understand the facts of the case, and sit down with any modification of the sentiment which supposes our globe to have been created a few thousand years ago. But it is much to be lamented, that many well-meaning persons have imagined themselves qualified to decide this question, while really unacquainted with the essential parts of the argument; having probably derived what they suppose to be a competent VOL. 1. N.s.
measure of knowledge, from a perusal of some one or two books, lofty, and even haughty in assertion, but ignorant, to a degree almost incredible, of the very grounds on which the inquiry must proceed, so as to have any reasonable prospect of success. Indeed, geology, as a science deduced by the severest logic from phænomena which, when once fairly ascertained, a man can no more doubt of, (I think I speak not too strongly,) than he can doubt that it is day, when he sees the sun, can scarcely be said to have come into existence till within the last thirty or forty years; for it is within such a period that Dr. William Smith's discovery of characteristc fossils to each stratum and series of strata, laid a foundation, on which many most cautiously practical and reasoning geologists have built, and from which, by general accordance, the epithet has been applied to him, the father of geology. Yet, at this hour, many excellent persons are reposing upon the belief that one theory is about as good as another, that the primary doctrines which prevail amongst geologists are nothing but ideal hypotheses, not at all advanced beyond plansible conjectures, mostly at variance with each other, and that, as fast as one theory is set up, it is found to be wrong by some succeeding inquirer; so that, upon the whole, we may rest satisfied that the right theory has not yet been discovered, and that the phænomena are not yet justly understood, nor their real bearings discerned.* Of such persons there can be no hope, unless they will take pains in more ways than one, and to a degree which they have not yet dreamed of. It is no wonder that geology has risen so high within but the last fifteen years, and has attracted to it the most gifted minds in this and other countries: for it is based upon the evidence of sense, in the laborious and protracted examination of mines, mountain-regions, and less dangerous places without number; and it demands, in order to its successful cultivation, an acquaintance with at least the principles of chemistry, electricity, mineralogy, zoology, conchology, comparative anatomy, and (as the papers of Mr. Hopkins and Sir J. F. Herschel have recently shown) of the sublimest mathematics. Thus geology maintains relations with the whole sphere of natural knowledge; and, above all, it bears a most important reference to THEOLOGY and BIBLICAL studies, that we may know truth, and maintain it against both well-meaning believers and ill-meaning unbelievers, and may magnify “ the wondrous works of Him that is PERFECT in knowledge.”
I had no design of launching out thus : let me return to the occasion first mentioned. But I must put down thoughts as they arise, not having time to arrange them very particularly.
The question is, how can we admit the existence of animal pain and death, before “ sin entered into the world, and death by sin ?"
1. The matter of fact must be ascertained. Is there evidence, such as cannot be set aside, of such facts as the following? That the state of the surface of our globe has been changed by submersion under oceanic, or lake water, and frequent elevation and drying,
* These words are quoted from a living and eminent writer, whose name I forbear to mention, from the motive of sincere respect.
a great number of times, (say 30 to 40,) that cach of those successive states continued during a vast period, which it would be presumptuous to conjecture, but which might very moderately be taken at many thonsands of years; that, in every one of those states, (till we arrive at the very early primary strata,) we find the unquestionable remains of animals, or their shelly habitations; that these are not huddled together, as if drifted on by a torrent, or thrown into a hole, but are disposed in horizontal, or what was once horizontal, order, spread over large surfaces, often of the same family or tribe, in all stages of their growth, preserving the most delicate parts of their form, and thus showing that there they had quietly lived and died; that of these humble beings, many are shown, by the structure of the shell, to have been carnivorous; that, in some far more recent* members of the secondary class of strata, are found the skeletons of gigantic lizard-formed animals, with their stomachs remaining under their ribs, and those stomachs still retaining the more solid relicks of their food, among which are fish-scales, and bits of bone; and that every stratum has its own characteristic animal and vegetable remains, the differing natures of which indicate great and progressive alterations in temperature and other circumstances. All these are familiar facts to the geologist. He sees those remains in the midst of hard rocks, yea, often composing the chief substance of those rocks; he digs them out; he sends them to the British, and other Museums, or to be preserved in private collections; and there the delicate inhabitants of cities may see them without pains or peril.
We cannot argue against facts. Let us seek the solution of difficulties, in the best way that we can; but let us proceed with modesty and humility, ever ready to confess our weakness and ignorance; thankful for what we may know, submissive in what we cannot know, and confidently relying on the glorious perfections of God, where we cannot follow their unfolding. Are there not, ought there not to be, many things in nature, as well as in providence and grace, of which it is our privilege to say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high; I cannot attain unto it!– His judgments are a great deep :-unsearchable;—past finding out!”
2. It has pleased the Adorable Supreme to give existence to a dependent world, in part spiritual, and in part material. Of the material part of the universe, one great division is insensitive, and consists, so far as we know, of only aggregated and crystallized matter : the other is sensitive and its structure is organized ; that is, it is composed of a system, arranged by divine skill, of tubes or cells, in which fluids circulate, the more solid parts being perpetually in motion of receiving and giving, each particle passing on in a course of change, the whole endowed with the mysterious property, or functional possession, called life, and distributed into a classification of kinds, descending from larger to smaller groupes,
* Recent, in a geological sense; but, if compared with our common measures of time, we confess ourselves unable to give an equation. Untold thousands of years before the adjustment of the earth for the human race, would be no extravagant expression.
till we arrive at an individual. The individuals re-produce similar ones : each individual is born, grows, becomes mature, decays, dies; and the dead organic matter is seized upon by appropriated agents; some of which effect a re-combination of certain portions with the mineral kingdom; others, being themselves organic and living, both vegetable and animal, take and re-combine with their own structure, certain other portions. Thus all living organized beings are maintained in life by the assimilation into themselves of portions of dead organized beings : and this is the universal circle of process in all material nature that is endowed with life, vegetable and animal.
3. The law of dissolution, that is death, is therefore necessary to organic life. Each individual has its term; then it dies, and enables others to live. Through a vast period, the species continues; it at last ceases, but other species of the same genus appear, and enjoy their time of duration. Mightier cycles revolve, during which great changes take place in the temperature and the strata of the globe, and whole genera live no more. The life of man, however, does not extend to witness the commencement and the extinction of a single species: get the period of the human race upon earth has outlived several species, some of which obscurely appear in the traditionary history of nations, and one (the dodo) has become extinct within the last two hundred years: and finally, we have not the slightest reason to think that any genus has ceased, “ since the day that God created man upon the earth.”
4. A system of nature, according to which organized creatures should not die, would be totally incompatible with the plan which the Creator has been pleased to establish in this department of his works. But let us try some hypotheses.
(1.) Put the case, that there be no death. Upon this supposition, two or three modes are conceivable:
a. Life prolonged without food. But this would be irreconcilable with a system of successive production, nutrition, assimilation, and growth. Such beings would be perpetual possessors of the earth and the waters, in their own persons, without any progeny. Only imagine such a world! Shall we say one, or some number, of each species? Quadruped, bird, reptile, fish, mollusc, zoophyte, insect of every kind, including all those invisible without microscopic aid : each immortal!
b. Life prolonged by vegetable food alone. But this would require a differently constituted vegetable world : for there is no plant on the land or in the sea, which does not nourish myriads of minute insects, which are destroyed in the eating of the plants.
c. Must there be any multiplication by progeny, upon any scheme? Then, either the whole number must be always extremely small; or be kept down in some inconceivable way; or would, after a time, multiply to that degree that there would not be room for them. The land and the waters would be over-filled!
(2.) Let the supposition be, that death take place, but only in the way of natural decay and old age; not by violence, as in becoming the prey of other animals. This seems to be the hypothesis of T. K.