« PredošláPokračovať »
seience and human learning were progȚessive; but the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures was passing away. * As a proof of this decay in sacred literature, we need only notice this fact. The HEBREW language, which is the source of all critical knowledge of the Bible (of the New Testament as well as of the Old), became at length, but little known even to learned men. And though there ever have been illustrious exceptions, it ceased at last, to form a part of the ordinary studies of youth at our seats of learn. ing; even of those students, who were destined for the sacred office.
Out of this state of things arose a new enemy to the church; the enemy that might be expeeted, INFIDELITY; or the positive denial of the truth of a revelation from God. We have seen that it was Superstition which first shut the Bible. The second attempt was made by Infidelity. But the further consideration of this subject we must reserve for the afternoon; when we shall review the progress of Infidelity in extending its darkness; and the Era of Light which followed.
But before I conclude this discourse, I would beg leave to direct your attention to a subject of no little consequence to the interests of religion, and to the character of our Universities
* See Apendix.
in the present circumstances of the churchzso theringtidea of which arises immediately from). our present discussion. I mean the impore i tance of a critical knowledge of the ORIGINALA languages of the Holy Scriptures to the theon logical Student grito91 107)
The original language of the New Testat: ment has been well cultivated ; and one causey of this has been its affinity to the GREEK Clasui SICS. But the acquisition of the language of the Old Testament is equally necessary, lIt isi indispensable for those who would possess a critical knowledge of the Bible for the New Teatamient is written in the idiom of the Old It may be received as an axiom," that a knowe " dedges of Hebrew learning among the great "body of the clergy, is the mark of ra flourishGring churchz' that is, of a church which is ardent vin maintaining the true faith, and in expounding the pure word of God to the peoples Among the members of the Romish communion this species of learning is almost entirely extinctia iba V 13 363 2.133: ?*i£,afor
Having thus asserted the importance of a critical knowledge of the Bible, I think it fit, nevertheless, to controvert the opinion, that without such a knowledge individuals cannot build the doctrines of Christianity, or Christianity itself, upon a solid foundation. If this were true, what must have been the state of
our own church in the absence of Hebrow learning? If sacred criticism be the sole found dation and constitute the very grounds of paro belief, upon what has our belief hitherto been grounded? This opinion places the Christian Religion on the footing of the superstitions of Mahomet and Brahma ; which is this, that if you commit to memory a certain number of historic facts, and can read certain languages, (all of which, both facts and languages, may be oblitered from your memory in less than twenty years) you are a good Theologian ; but with this advantage, however, in favour of the Mahometan, in regard to many Theologians of this day, that, whereas he can read his Koran in the original Arabic, they cannot read the Old Testament in the original | Hebrew.My brethren, by this argument, (which is the same in principle with those which, as we have seen, were uttered in a dark age from the chief seats of learning) the assisting Grace of God, and all that is peculiar to the Christian religion, seems to be very BOLDLY extinguished. & But perhaps the source of this misapprehension lies in confounding these two terms, a Theologian and a Christian. That which con. stitutes a Christian is, Faith, Hope, and Charity, these three. Much human learning is not essentially necessary to constitute a Chris
tian. Indeed, a man MAY BE a profound Theologian and not be a Christian at all. He may be learned in the doctrines and history of Christianity, and yet be a stranger to the FRUITS of Christianity. He may be destitute of Faith, of Hope, and of Charity,
Let us not then confound the FRUITS of re. ligion, namely, its influence on the moral con duct, its peace of mind, and hope of heaven, with the CIRCUMSTANCES of religion. True religion is that which its great Author himself hath declared. It is a PRACTICAL knowledge of the Love of God, the FATHER, “ who sent “ not his Son into the world, to condemn the world; but that the world, through him, "might be saved ;” of the ATONEMENT of God the Son, by faith in whom we receive remis, sion of our sins, and are justified in the sight of the Father; and of the SANCTIFICATION of God the Holy Ghost, by which we are made MEET “ to become partakers of the inheri, “tance of the saints in light.”-The preacher who can communicate this knowledge to his hearers. (and it is true, that if he possess a critical knowledge of the Bible, and of the history of Christianity, he will be likely to do it with the most success), the same is ça a 56 workman that needeth not be ashamed,
ce and a good minister of Jesus Christ. 1 Tim.
D..!!! !". As 'an illustration of this truth, we may add duce the influence of the Gospel on the ignorant minds of persons born in the heathen world.
It has been maintained by some, that civili. zation must always prepare the way for Christianity. But this position, like many others allied to this subject, is completely at variance with the fact. Civilization is a blessing of itself, and ought to be given, as we have opportunity, to all nations : but it is not universally necessary that it should precede the Gospel
. The fact is, that the religion of Christ has sometimes found more difficulty'in conflicting with a refined superstition, with what St. Paul calls - the wisdom of men," than with the ignorance of bárbarism. It doth not appear that human learning, in itself considered, though in many ways an important instrument of good to mankind, predisposes the mind in any manner or degree to receive the Grace of God. There is a sense in which Learning, like Riches, may impede our spiritual progress, for « Knowledge puffeth up,' (1 Cor. vi. 1.) though we are ever to dig. tinguish between the use and the abuse of learning. On this subject we ought to keep