« ZurückWeiter »
(4.) Reakingly, bint to Jerusser light; u
manner, or for the sake of worshipping. That the Syrian translators should therefore employ this word to express the sense of the Greek A POCKVVEW, instead of a more doubtful one, is strongly in favour of the received translation.
(3.) The Arabic word sou sagad, signifies, according to Willmet, "procubuit se, frontem imponens terræ, ad commonstrandum suppliciis animi dejectionem, atque abnegationem sui, uti inter precandum faciunt populi orientis. Deinde, quia illum honorem soli Deo deberi agnoscunt adoravit,” he prostrated himself, with his face upon the earth, to shew by supplications the dejection of his mind, and the denial of himself, according to the custom of the eastern nations when they pray. Whence it signifies to worship, inasmuch as they acknowledge that this honour is due to God alone. We find, then, that the Syrian translators have used a word, which, as it agrees also with the Arabic, places it in a still stronger light; that the Magi, whether from Persia or Arabia, went to Jerusalem for the purpose not only of paying Jesus a kingly, but also a religious adoration.
(4.) Reland in his defence of the religion of Mahomet, on the ninth chapter concerning, prayers, interprets the word wysmul (root du sagad) by the Greek word apOOKUVIOLS, sive “prona adoratio," a profound adoration. And one of the sentences of Ali Ebn Ali Talebi is, Billy Wysouls is 1 tl wojë I nothing shall gain access to God but frequent acts of worship and self-abasement. The Arabic translation, too, gives us the very same root with the Syriac.
gumi " to worship him." See also the derivatives of the root Jouw in Richardson's Persian and Arabic Dictionary.
(5.) The Coptic translation is TEMOTwigt iesiog “that we may worship him,” which very well expresses the meaning of the Greek #pookvinoal autw.
(6.) But it is singularly to the purpose, that the two words in the 9th and 11th. verses of the Seventy-second Psalm, for which the Evangelist has used the word APOokuvngai, should both be used in the prayer that the Jews use when they enter their synagogue, to signify their adoration and worship of God ..? 6 5, 1
2 py ! And I will worship, and will bow down, will kneel, before the Lord that made me.
(7.) In Matt. ii. 11, the expression is still stronger in the Syriac. and on elavo " and they fell down and worshipped him.” The word as “to fall down,” implies a falling down or prostrating for the purpose of prayer or worship: and may therefore be thus rendered, “ And they prostrated themselves in a devout manner, and worshipped him.”
Should the Unitarian now turn upon me, and say, “etiamsi persuaseris non persuadebis," although you should convince me, you shall not prevail over me; I shall content myself with appealing to
VOL. X. NO. III.
more rational beings for their belief, that the most ancient Christians interpreted and understood the word a pookvrnoal here used, as an act of religious adoration paid by the Magi to the infant Jesus.
ON THE STANDARD AND TEST OF TRUE PIETY. There was a time when the term Christian was a name of infamy s but when this term no longer distinguished the true follower of Christ from the world called Christian, it gave place to others, which have in every age been successively adopted to designate those who have too much vital and practical religion to suit the bulk of professed Christians.
Against such persons, however denominated, it has among other things been objected that they require every body to see with their eyes : and the charge of uncharitableness has been urged against them, because they are supposed to question the sincerity and impugn the piety of every individual who does not coincide in all particulars with their sentiments and conform to their habits. This is a serious charge, and at the same time one which is very likely to gain currency without much examination into its truth or falsehood. Liberality of sentiment, as it is called, and the notions which pass current under that phrase, are very favourable to the views of the world in general, who do not care to have their principles and conduct too nicely scrutinized; and at the same time so revolting to an ingenuous mind is the imputation of bigotry, that candour itself is liable to be duped into an easy acquiescence with the prevailing opinion on this subject.
The charge in question, in the sense in which it is intended, is utterly without foundation, and proceeds from ignorance of the principles of those against whom it is made. Charity, as it has often been remarked, does not consist in believing every person to be a Christian with or without evidence; but in putting the most favourable interpretation that circumstances may permit on such points as come under our notice.
It may be well to observe, as a passing remark, that the very individuals who tax others with a want of charity, for setting up, as they assume, an arbitrary standard of piety, are themselves (perhaps uncon. . sciously) guilty of a similar offence, by setting up a standard of their own; and every one who advances a step beyond it, is suspected by them of hypocrisy or enthusiasm : whoever manifests greater earnestness or livelier feelings than themselves on the subject of religion is charged with being “righteous overmuch," and branded with some appellation of reproach.
In explanation of the principles on which our estimate of piety is founded, and in vindication of that estimate itself, we appeal to the Holy Scriptures, as affording the only correct standard of truth, Whence is it then, perhaps it may be asked, that among persons who equally profess to appeal to the same unerring standard, there exists so great a diversity of opinion? The question is thus stated and answered by a writer of no ordinary stamp:-
When the enemies of such a profession (such as we are now considering) bring forward the stale objection--" What is true religion? for we find it one thing in England, another in Scotland, a third at Rome, and often twenty different things in the same place;- settle this, they say, among yourselves before you address us on the subject;"--we answer, it has long been settled. While you stumble at the supposed diversity, we both discern and admire the identity. We feel the fullest conviction, that real religion in itself, so far from being a different thing in different places, is one and the same thing at all times and in all places. ... In order to understand this, men should consider what real religion is-namely, the heart of fallen man returning to God through a Mediator. The Scriptures term this “Life." . As the life of the body is one and the same principle in all men, whatever difference there be observed in their respective complexions, features or forms: so, real religion, which is the life of the soul, is one and the same principle; of a higher order indeed, but which equally identifies the subject; and like the former, is discerned by the exercise of its proper faculties and acts.... Tell me not of the external forms and petty circumstantial distinctions with which his education or connexions have prejudiced his mind: they are but as his provincial dialect, his dress or his complexion. The grand inquiry should be_Is the sinner humble and penitent before his God? Is he seeking acceptance only through that Redeemer whom “God hath set forth for a propitiation through faith in his blood ? Is he found walking in a course of holy obedience? If this be really his case, then call such a man by what term of distinction or reproach you please, still the man is alive to God, and will join his fellow believers in serving Him; if not in the same modes, yet to the same ends; there will be an unity, though not an uniformity. Strip real religion therefore of that which is no essential part of it, or what is only accidental to it; and regard it as described in the Scriptures, and exemplified, though but imperfectly, in the true believer; and then you will find it the same under every dispensation."
It is then in the heart, so far as man can judge of it, that we are accustomed, after the example of the Judge of all, to look for the evidence of true piety. Let it not be said that this is an encroachment on the province of Him whose unalienable prerogative it is to "search the heart and try the reins;"—if it be true that “ a tree is known by its fruits"-or certain that “ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," we have sufficient authority for our conduct. And here, as in many other points, the analogy of common life may serve to throw a light upon the subject. How is it, for instance, that we learn to appreciate, as they deserve, the professions of a hollow friendship, if not by reading the secret workings of the heart through the veil with which it is enveloped? Who can define that peculiar feeling called taste, in reference to the fine arts ? Take music, for instance. Among the numerous pretenders to the art, do we hesitate asserting respecting a great majority, that they have no real taste for music? and yet they shall, many of them, have attained a considerable proficiency, both as it respects the knowledge of the science, and the execution of the art :-why then are we to be called uncharitable for acting precisely on the same principles in estimating the degree in which the affections are under the influence of religion ?-for this simple reason, Because men will persist, in defiance of the dictates of reason and Scripture to the contrary, in looking at the outward conduct, while God looketh at the heart.
Two propositions are necessarily implied and involved in the general imputation of uncharitableness, as it respects that class of individuals who are affected by it. First, that they are mistaken or enthusiastic
in their estimate of the nature of piety in themselves; and secondly, that they are not authorised to judge of others by that same standard. Let us bestow a little attention on each of these points.
I. As it respects the satisfaction of his own mind indeed, the true believer has not much difficulty to encounter; because he possesses that kind of evidence within his own breast, which is to himself entirely conclusive. “ He that believeth (it is said) hath the witness in himself.” “The Spirit beareth witness with his spirit that he is a child of God." His faith rests in the first instance, indeed, on that external evidence of the truth of revelation which is open to the examination of all the world; but he now believes and embraces it not only as true, but as suitable; the gospel has met his wants; he now rejoices in the knowledge of his Saviour with much of that appropriating feeling which the men of Sychar expressed—“ Now we believe, not because of thy saying, but because we have seen him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” The gospel has come to him “ not in word only, but in power;" he is enabled to enter into the spiritual meaning of passages which once appeared dark and unintelligible; he did not disbelieve, i.e. actually reject such passages before; but he could affix no definite idea to them; they were mysteries into which he could not enter. But now they come home to his mind with a force of which he was formerly unconscious; and seem to possess a beauty and suitableness which he could neither see nor feel before. Will it be demanded “how can these things be ?” the reply of our Lord to one in the objector's situation, is the only reply in our power to return " that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit-marvel not that I say unto you, ye must be born again." -" The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual discerneth all things." What evidence can we produce that we are cheered by the light of the sun and invigorated by its warmth ? A blind man may say it is impossible ; and who shall undertake to convince him of his error? But does that alter the real state of the case ? or is any one who has the use of his eyes in any degree the more convinced that he is deceived in the impressions of which he is sensible? The blind man may indeed be instructed in the theory of vision, and what does his idea of it amount to, after all your pains ?-that “ scarlet is like the sound of a trumpet," as one is recorded to have said. The Scriptures, however, afford abundant authority for the comparison; they state all mankind to be by nature in a state of spiritual blindness, from which they can be recovered by no inferior power than that which “ commanded the light to shine out of darkness" at the creation of the world: (2 Cor. iv. 6.)—to assert an exemption from the common fault of man in our own case, is to add to the delusion without 'diminishing the guilt: as our Lord said to the " Jews, now you say, we see, therefore your sin remaineth”—but He " came a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not abide in darkness.” To be sensible of our ignorance is the first step towards acquiring real wisdom. But the Christian must not only satisfy his own mind, he must be prepared to justify his principles before the world ; he' must “be ready to give an answer to every one that asketh a reason of the hope that is in him." He is accused of entertaining enthusiastic notions respecting the nature of piety. We have in part considered the manner in which he meets the charge, and when we take into the account that he was once under the influence of the same prejudices which he is now desirous of combating ; that he at one time found himself precisely in the situation of his present opponents; once entered into their views and adopted their arguments; and that he has only given up these positions point by point, as he found them successively untenable:-again, when he finds his present sentiments corroborated and confirmed by the united experience and testimony of those whose integrity and consistency of character entitle them to confidence; and, once more, when under an habitual consciousness of his entire ignorance and helplessness in reference to spiritual things, he watches against the acknowledged “ deceitfulness and desperate wickedness" of his own heart, brings all its secret workings to the light of God's truth, and judges of all according to the law and the testimony-when these considerations are taken into the account, he seems not only to have strong grounds of confidence for the establishment of his own faith, but to challenge the attention of every candid mind.
It is indeed difficult, not to say impossible, to give any just idea to a second person, of the strong conviction which the true believer possesses of the general soundness of his own principles; his faith, as the Scripture beautifully expresses it, is “ built upon a rock.” We say the general soundness of his principles, for the enlightened Christian lays no claim to infallibility; he is painfully conscious of much remaining ignorance and prejudice, but in the main he is like a man who having, through mercy, passed a dangerous road under the shades of nigbt, now in broad day-light draws back his steps, and marks the dangers which beset his path; and now with feelings of gratitude to the God who hath borne with his wanderings, and guided his erring footsteps, he would set up beacons to warn the unwary traveller, and direct him safely along the narrow way—but this must be experienced in order to be understood. It has been shrewdly remarked, “ he who stands on a height, sees farther than those who are placed in a bottom; but let him not fancy that he shall make those below believe all he sees." Under a consciousness therefore of our inability to do justice to the subject of experimental religion, in the short space which could at present be devoted to it, we pass on to the consideration of such points as are open to the observation of all-- which introduces us to the second general head under which we proposed to divide our remarks, viz.
II. The grounds upon which the Christian forms his estimate of the religion of the world; in other words, the authority on which he subjects others to the same standard as himself. And here it naturally occurs to us, that the Scriptures uniformly teach us to consider all mankind as divided, in reference to their character in the sight of God, into two classes: and this also, with a special application to the visible Church, or body of professing Christians. Thus we read, not only in general terms of " children of light, and children of the