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Now, against these most extraordinary passages we must immediately enter our protest; our space will not allow us to attempt to say one-tenth part of what is suggested to our minds from almost every line, beginning from that which doubts the inspiration of the apostles, down to the very singular scheme of chronological religion, which implies, that a lapse of 250 years can alter the essential meaning and import of the fundamental doctrines of christianity. For we can hardly suspect Dr. Maltby of holding, that these last are to be altered and lacerated, to patch up the broken consistency of those who, having taken the pay of the church upon solemn engagement made (or “ which ought to have been made) upon due consideration, begin to occupy themselves when admitted within the fortress in pulling down her bulwarks.
But it is from these passages, joined to those formerly quoted, that we think ourselves fully justified in inferring the Socinian propensities of Dr. Maltby. We trust that he has not, as Marmontel said of Rousseau, l'ambition de faire secte;" for, truly, whether he knows it or not, he has done little else than retail some of the flattest of the trite and worn down doctrines of the Socinian leaders. He has gently insinuated that the apostles might be inspired, and that the apostolical epistles are useless as to any practical inference to the mass of the people. This is merely betraying the trust; but the Socinians having also sworn to defend it, drive at the same point by more open and manly attacks.
Mr. Fellowes, in his Guide to Immortality, Vol. III. p. 231, says in plain terms, “ Those who prefer religious speculation to the practice of religion, or who wish to keep alive the memory and to rekindle the heat of controversies, whose lustre and whose interest have long since been lost in the night of ages, may dedicate the best portion of their days to the fruitless study of that imperviously dark and inextricably bewildering polemical matter, which is still preserved in the apostolical epistles.” And again, in his “ Religion without Cant,” which has been well denominated by Dr. Magee (see his admirable work on the Atonement*), “ Cant without Religion,” he would have the articles and canons so altered, that “ the ministers of the establishment should be compelled to teach nothing but that pure morality, which Christ taught without cant or mystery.” In his “ Picture of Christian Philosophy,” he talks of the “ puerile conceits of St. Paul, who labours with mysterious meanings, which he fails in
* We acknowledge with gratitude our obligations to Dr. Magee's work on the Atonement for many of the extracts and arguments concerning the Socinians, used and cited in this article.
developing with sufficient perspicuity,” “His epistles relate to questions which are at present of more curiosity than importance. A modern believer has very little concern with any of them.” The other Socinian writers are full of passages of the same import; and we may fairly ask, whether in point of practical result there is any essential difference between these sentiments and opinions and those of Dr. Maltby ;-and whether we are not justified in concluding the common opinion of them all to be, that St. Paul, and most of the writers of the apostolical epistles, were guided in those compositions by merely human and fallible fancies; that the hitherto received doctrines of christianity, which rest on their authority, are to be discarded as idle dreams, and “the gospel to be regarded merely and exclusively as a moral system, or rule of life;"_" that the essential parts of the christian religion contain no doctrine that is mysterious,”—and “ that in the gospels alone are to be found every useful truth, and every religious duty."
This," as has been well observed, “ is, undoubtedly, making brief work with the writings of the New Testament, and may with as much propriety be entitled, a short cut, as a safe guide to immortality." That Dr. Maltby really participates in these opinions may be further infurred from the nature of the excision he would wish to make from the Bible, in order to fit it for the use of the
poor, i. e. for the common use of the people,- for all but the high-priests of the temple. He proposes to take out all - the epistles of St. Paul, except the first of Timothy, and those to Titus and Philemon, and his proposed improvement of the liturgy and articles is, of course, to adapt them to this improved construction of the Bible.
We do certainly feel obliged to the learned doctor for kindly allowing us to retain 1 Tim. and Titus, which relate principally to the conduct necessary to be held by ecclesiastical dignitaries, and as he announces himself in his title-page to be one of those dignitaries, we think it highly liberal that he should be so strong an advocate for enabling the people to judge of the competence of their spiritual superiors. Nevertheless we really cannot but consider this as a very sorry consolation for the exclusion of the epistle to the Romans, the two epistles to the Corinthians, those to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Thessalonians, Hebrews, and all the practical and fundamental doctrines they contain! And we really think, that after the preceding extracts, we are justified in concluding that Dr. Maltby's real opinion is, not merely that the common people should be excluded from access to the apostolical episiles, but that those writings, and the doctrines they contain, should be generally depreciated as mere matter of polemical divinity.
We can scarcely bring ourselves to take any further notice of the almost incredible doubt implied by the reverend minister of the gospel in one passage of the above quotations, whether the apostles had indeed the aid of the Holy Spirit in guiding their judgment, than simply to refer to the articles of the church, which are founded throughout upon the doctrines promulgated in the apostolical epistles. We are not surprised that Dr. Maltby wishes to alter these articles, for certainly“ no man of a sane understanding can reconcile to himself subscription to the articles of the church, and the rejection of the doctrines which those articles define.” But doubtless he had better have
made up his mind on this subject before he ventured upon the | indispensable form of subscription, I do willingly and ex
animo subscribe to the thirty-nine articles of the church of England;" —and the work of his relation the Bishop of Lincoln, (see Elements, vol. ij. p. 567.), would have afforded him much light on this point. But we must leave it to Dr. Maltby to settle with his own conscience, and shall simply declare our opinion, that such doubts strike at the very root of the Christian religion, and we may just as well doubt whether any part of the scripture was inspired. The light in which we consider the epistles generally, is as commentaries on the gospels, without which the gospel scannot be well understood either by the learned or unlearned. Our Saviour expressly declared, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now;" and in another part he says, “ When he the spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth.”. With various declarations implying that till the Holy Ghost was sent, the full meaning of his words could not be comprehended. “ In truth,” says Dr. Magee, “ the object of our Saviour's life was to supply the subject, not to promulgate the doctrines of the gospel. The evangelists, therefore, contine themselves to the simple duty of narration; and the doctrines which altogether depend upon what our Lord had done and suffered, particularly upon his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, were, after this groundwork was fairly laid, to be fully set forth by those to whom our blessed Saviour had solemnly promised the unerring aid of the Holy Spirit, and who were especially designated by him for that very purpose.” On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was sent down on the apostles to enlighten their minds, and to enable them to explain and comment on the mysterious parts of the gospels. For if Dr. Maltby will examine the gospels, that of St. John in particular, he will find numerous passages more obscure and more inaccessible to mere human reason than any part of St. Paul's epistles. Should he venture to remark that St. Paul was not one of the apostles at the day of Pentecost, we must refer him to the miraculous conversion of that apostle, which emphatically stamps him as under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit from that time forward.
By lowering or rejecting the inspired authority of the apostles, and the doctrines of the apostolical epistles, Dr. Malthy flatters himself that he may promote “a good understanding among Christians of all denominations." Really this is now become the most despicable cant. It is abundantly clear that by discarding one after another the doctrines of any religion, the different sects of infidelity may be nominally and apparently reconciled; but it is more than abundantly absurd to suppose, that by discarding the doctrines of christianity, the Christian religion can be really fortified. No! that will certainly not be effected;
--but this will be accomplished;-christianity will be rendered very little different from what the advocates of infidelity have already embraced. Concerning the heavy responsibility and fearful risk incurred by this mode of proceeding, we would submit the following passages from Scripture to Dr. Maltby's serious consideration. 66 Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, nordiminish ought from it.” (Deut. iv. 2.) “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Ibid. xii. 52.) Also nearly the last words in the New Testament. If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.” (Rev. chap. xxii. ver. 19.) And finally this passage from 2 Tim. which epistle Dr. Maltby was certainly right in excluding from his garbled Bible, as it flatly contradicts his positions; “ From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 17.)
We dismiss Dr. Maltby's evident misinterpretation of the Psalms, (p. 9.) with recommending him to read Bishop Horne. And we trust he will receive our advice in charity, when we assure him, that being yet but a child in the knowledge of christianity as promulgated by the fathers of the English church, it behoves him to consult those fathers, and with earnest prayer to search the scriptures, before he next launches into spiritual controversy; and we are persuaded that we shall then welcome his return to theological discussion with far other sentiments
than those, which, with much pain to ourselves, we have thought it right to express on the present occasion.
We must confess that we always feel so strong a disgust at seeing party politics mixed up with the clerical character, and forced into rel:gious discussions, that we think the following vulgar and unfounded insinuations call for peculiar animadversion
“ Certainly, however, it does seem a most remarkable circumstance, that, --when war is carried on to an unprecedented extent, and with a spirit so peculiarly harsh and unrelenting; when the slightest approach to intercourse is forbidden under the severest penalties; when the courtesies, formerly usual even amongst hostile nations, are completely at an end ;-at such a crisis, a pure philanthropic feeling bursts out for the purpose of sending Bibles to the continent. We refuse cotton to the clothing of these nations ;articles of nourishment to their support, or, perhaps, their innocent gratification;-we even refuse bark to their diseases. Still that spirit, which professes itself to be the genuine spirit of the gospel among us, deals forth a profusion of Bibles for the relief of their spiritual necessities. They may shiver in the pitiless storm, destitute of that raiment, which we have sternly refused to supply; they may linger in hopeless pining, and gasp for that refreshment, of which we endeavour to abridge them; they may even die in the hospitals and in the streets, from the want of that indispensable medicine, which a rigorous policy confines to our own coasts: but in their dying hours they are supplied with the books of holy writ," &c. &c.
Our readers may probably have some faint recollection of a controversy in the house of commons about bark and cotton, in which the violent oppositionists persevered in imputing to the virtuous and able minister of (alas!) that day, the design with malice aforethought to perpetuate the fevers and nakedness of the French people; notwithstanding it was made to appear as clear as the sun at noon, that the object was not to deprive that nation of bark and cotton, which they might have procured in any quantity at an advanced price through the circuitous medium of the neutral or hostile navies; but simply to prevent the insolent and unheard of practice which the French government attempted to establish against us, that it would take directly from our merchants precisely those few articles of prime necessity which could not elsewhere be procured but with greater difficulty and expence, while at the same time it would exercise the most rigorous hostility against their general commerce. Surely, under such circumstances, we had a right to insist upon that which is essential in all commercial transactions, the mutual