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12. The primitive churches, for some ages after Christ, neither owned nor practised either image worship or invocation of saints.
Objection. We worship not the image, but the person represented by it.
Answer. The heathen said the same, yet were they idolaters. Objection. 'Tis presumption to go immediately to God in prayer. Answer. 'Tis so; therefore we have a Mediator who is God-man.
Objection. We seek the prayers of living saints for us, why not saints glorified ?
Answer. For the one there is a Scripture warrant, Rom. xv. 13: not for the other.
Objection. Gen. xlviii. 16. The angel bless the lads.
Answer. That is Christ, not a created angel. See Isa. lxiii. 19; Mal. iii. 1.
Objection. Let my name be named ; i. e. let them be called as my own sons are, the sons of Jacob.
Objection. Exod. xxxii. 13. Remember Abraham.
Answer 1. If this practice be fetched from hell, we may well reject it.
2. It is a parable. Objection. Rev. viii. 3, 4, comp. v. 8.
Answer 1. The other angel is Christ. 2. The odours, i.e. their own praises sweet through him.
(To be continued.)
DR. PYE SMITH'S REPLY TO DR. BENNETT'S LETTER.* The reason of my declining Dr. Bennett's friendly offer of allowing me to peruse his paper before its publication, was from no disrespect, but solely because I thought such a course would be unsatisfactory to him, as I could not expect him to decline publishing his views, and I saw no ntility in both a private and a public discussion. Fully expecting that his animadversions would appear in the Congregational Magazine for Angust, I added a reference to them, as for that month, in the Index to the third edition of the Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, which was sent to press in July. My motive for so doing, was the desire to excite the fullest attention to whatever might be said in opposition to my sentiments.
Dr. Bennett very properly wishes his paper to be considered as directed, not merely against my views of Solomon's Song, but chiefly against what he calls my general theory of the inspiration of Scripture. To the latter subject, therefore, I shall first pay attention.
I may not unreasonably remark, that my general sentiments on this subject appeared to me necessary to be laid down, in settling the basis of evidence on which I proposed to argue, in the great question of my book, the eliciting of the doctrine of the Holy
Vide our last Number, page 610.
Scriptures concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was accordingly done in the first edition, in 1818. It was more fully expounded in the second edition, in 1829, and was applied to the case of the Song of Solomon : and from an earnest desire to leave nothing doubtful or ambiguous, I endeavoured, in the third edition, to supply further explanations and illustrations.
Dr. Bennett observes, “To me it appears that the whole work is enfeebled by the Doctor's theory of inspiration ; for almost every text he has adduced to prove the Divinity of Christ, may be rendered inconclusive by a very plausible application of his own principles.”
Were this the case, I should indeed be a most miserable man. With deep anxiety, with much labour, and many prayers, I have searched the Scriptures through a long course of years, in order to ascertain their decision upon a fundamental article of faith, and on which rest my religious obedience and my immortal hopes; I have cleared, as I thought, my evidences from the particles of inferior mould which might seem to adhere to any of them; I have brought them out in what to me appears their native strength and brightness; my own faith has been delightfully strengthened, and, by God's great mercy, various instances of similar blessing to others have been brought to my grateful knowledge ; and at last I am charged with laying down principles which furnish a very plausible method of evading my conclusions !
“— Are these things so ?-Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken.”
They are not so. My own conviction is, that it is a great and most beneficial service to the divine cause of religion, and to the solidly satisfactory study of the Scriptures, to maintain, as I have endeavoured to do, that “ The quality of Inspiration, forming the ground of faith and obedience, inheres in every sentence, paragraph, or book which, either directly or by implication, contains religious truth, precept, or expectation. This, I humbly think, leaves us every thing that a Christian can wish for; and it liberates us from the pressure of difficulties which have often furnished the enemies of revealed truth with pretexts for serious objections. Inspiration belongs to RELIGious objects; and to attach it to other things is to lose sight of its nature, and misapply its design.” Script. Testim. vol. i. p. 54.
Dr. Bennett has adduced the following objections to this sentiment.
I. That it is incapable of being reduced to practice; because (as he evidently assumes) there is no criterion in our possession by which we can safely distinguish between the dictates of inspiration and those portions of Scripture which are merely human.
Reply. I do not admit the assumption. The “religious and theological element," or whatever “ contains religious truth, precept, or expectation,” cannot but appear perfectly distinct and manifest to any man who understands language, and is not previously determined to pervert what is plainly before his eyes. In proof of this, I had adduced, in the briefest mention, a few descriptive terms of
such matter as appears not to have been given by inspiration of God.
1. “Merely genealogical.” I request the reader to look at the following instances. Gen. xxxvi. 9-43. The census in Numb. xxvi. The genealogies forming considerable parts of 1 Chron. chapters i. to ix. The lists in Ezra ii. x. Nehem. vii. x. xii.
Pedigrees and tables of this kind were kept by the proper registrars for the tribes and families of Israel and Judah. Such pas. sages as those referred to were evidently taken from those official documents. Discrepancies and difficulties occur which can often be solved only by conjecture. They were of great importance for the determination of legal claims: they are valuable appendages to the history; and some of them especially, as evincing the descent of Jesus : but I do not see how they can be regarded as any other than human productions. Surely Dr. B. will not maintain that the officers of the national registration were the subjects of an inspiring influence in this performance of their ordinary civil duty.
2. “ Topographical.” Such as these :- The name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba (fortress of Arba,) which Arba was a great man among the Anakim." Josh. xiv. 15. The list of towns in chap. xv. to xix. and xxi. evidently extracts from the field-books of the surveyors, and the predial archives. Occasional notes of the nature of an itinerary,-“ As thou goest to” such or such a place.
3. “ Numerical.” In particular I ask attention to the numbers which occur, in several places, of armies and of men slain in battle. Abijah, king of Judah, with an army of 400,000; and Jeroboam, king of the ten revolted tribes, with double that number, being on both sides picked troops, came to an engagement; and half a million of the latter army fell in the battle. 2 Chron. xiii. Let it be considered that the territory of Judah did not exceed in extent that of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; and that of Israel not equal to Yorkshire and Lancashire; both mountainous countries, though the valleys and hill-slopes pre-eminently fertile; the inhabitants chiefly living upon the land, for they had very little foreign commerce; and let it be asked whether, from the most dense population conceivable upon such an area, a number of fighting men could be raised which would give a selected body out of it at all approaching to the number above-mentioned? The armies of the orientials, especially in ancient times, were certainly very large; notwithstanding that we have reason to believe their numbers, in profane historians, to have been greatly exaggerated; but this instance leaves even their statements immeasurably behind. The largest army upon record is that with which Xerxes invaded Greece. He was three years employing his mighty power to collect it from all the most populous countries of central and western Asia; and it is stated by Herodotus at 1,700,000; Ctesias, and by Diodorus Siculus at 1,000,000; but, in another place, Diodorus makes it considerably less; Ælian and Pliny about 700,000. The most judicious historical critics are of opinion that those larger enumerd
tions included women, children, and baggage-men. All the ancient historians are full of astonishment at this extent of armament. Yet, in the passage under consideration, the little country of Palestine furnishes so many troops as to allow a selection to be made, which amounts to 1,200,000 fighting men. The difficulty may be somewhat diminished by the idea of their being, on both sides, a hasty levy en masse, to serve only a few days, and every man bringing with him his own provision; but though diminished, it is far from being taken away. I might remark upon the incapacity of the plain of Jezreel, or any other part of the country, to be the field of battle, unless it were a mere péle-méle massacre. Further, the largest army upon record, in modern times, is that which Buonaparte led against Russia, in 1812; and that was half a million, the very number which is here said to have been KILLED ON one side only, and in a single battle! How could such a number be buried? But, if they were not immediately buried, a dreadful pestilence would ensue in that climate. Let not the reader suppose that I seek to discredit the history. No; I firmly believe it, but regard the numbers as having been altered.
A similar remark might be made upon the numbers of animals offered in sacrifice, on various recorded occasions, in the temple at Jerusalem. If the blood flowed away in sewers, it would have choked up the channels, and overflowed the receptacles, for there was no great river to carry it off. The fountain Siloam, and the brook Kedron, would have been as nothing for such a purpose; even a river, equal to the Thames would scarcely have sufficed, not to mention the water's being rendered unfit for drink. Such a quantity of blood, and the rejected matter from the viscera, in the hot country of Judæa, would have bred a dire plague. Again, I beg it to be observed, I am speaking only of the numbers, as not being the objects of inspiration.
4. “ Fragments of antiquity, presenting no character whatever of religious matters." For example: Num. xxi. 17, 18; a little popular song, on the opening of a well, with the attendance of Moses and the chieftains with their badges of office: the digging of the well having had peculiar importance and perhaps difficulties. The same chapter (v. 27-30,) contains another piece of national poetry, written by some Amorite bard, and introduced by Moses for the purpose of showing that the Israelites had a full right to deprive Sihon of the fort of Heshbon, since he had before taken it and much territory around it, from the king of Moab. 2 Kings xiv. 9, 10; the parable of Joash, a wicked man, uttered to express his contempt of Amaziah's pride and foolhardiness. 2 Sam. xxiii. 1839; exploits of Abishai, and Benaiah; and a list of other warriors, distinguished by their heroism.
These instances, in addition to those described in the Scripture Testimony, I. p. 39, 41, 54, 3d ed. may serve to mark more definitely, (though I think my descriptions in the places referred to are sufficiently clear,) what was my meaning in the expressions which Dr. Bennett disapproves ;—“ passages, to which an original inspiration could not be attached ;-inserted as facts and documents in
the general course of the inspired narratire; appendages, of the nature of private memoirs or public records, useful to the antiquary and the philologist, but which belong not to the Rule of Faith or the Directory of Practice.”
II. Dr. Bennett expresses his next objection, by putting the question, “ Is not Dr. Smith's theory substantially the same with that of the Socinians ?”
Reply. I think I have a right to protest strongly against the assumption which this question implies, on the ground of what I have advanced, not faintly, obscurely, or ambiguously, in the work which has occasioned these animadversions, particularly in the pages 34, 35, 39-44; 93-117. In parts of those pages, I have stated Dr. Priestley's scheme in his own words; I have brought arguments to prove that-it destroys the proper authority of Scrip ture,- is inconsistent and self-subversive, -involves a begging of the question,-is opposed to manifest facts in the structure of the Scriptures, -and would nullify the certainty of language. On the other side, I have taken great pains to establish these propositions :“ Whatever is laid down, by the declared intention of a sacred writer [i. e. of the Old or the New Testament,] or by the tenor and design of his work, to be a command, promise, threatening, doctrine, institution, or prediction from God, is indeed such; and was given by the inspiration of his SPIRIT, in such a way as was proper and suitable to the occasion : and all the historical facts related (allowing of course for the lapses of transcribers, mistakes (and too probably designed exaggerations, springing out of the silly pride of carnal-minded Jews,] in some cases of] numerals, and the innocent additions of genealogical or other elucidatory clauses (as, Gen. XXIV. 27, which is Hebron ;'-xxxvi. 31;- probably Num. xii. 3;Deut. iii. 9, 11; middle cl.-such clauses as in Josh. iv. 4; viii. 28; xv. 63; xvi. 10;—and the Titles to the Psalms, and the epigraph Ps. lxxii. 20.-) which modern writers would make Notes,) -are faithfully and correctly laid down, as they really took place;and, thus narrated, they are parts in the series of inspired history, and adapted to innumerable purposes of instruction and moral benefit.” Page 44. “ The great principle of a COMPLETE INSPIRATION of the Apostles, warranting our dependence upon the CERTAIN TRUTH of every declaration which they have delivered, as a principle (i. e. doctrine or motive,] duty, elucidation, or application, or religion.” Page 94.-" It is sufficient for us to know that we possess the truth of God conveyed to us in those forms of diction which are the most suitable to its nature and to our capacity for receiving it.” Page 97.-" A sacred historian, relating what he knew from personal observation, indubitable human testimony, public notoriety, or authentic records; and a prophet, penetrating into future ages, or declaring the hitherto secret counsels of the Deity ;-would need divine influences respectively different. In the latter case, there must be a direct communication of such intelligence as no created being could by any means or efforts ever acquire; in the other, it is sufficient if the writer be directed to the most proper use of his materials, and be preserved from mistake