Page images
PDF
EPUB

terrestrial scenes are inadequate types, he will view the bright and more perfect displays of creative power, wisdom, and goodness in the palace of the universe; in that holiest of all, where beauty and loveliness in their most divine forms, unseen by mortal eye, shall be displayed in the superlative of glory, amidst the enraptured congratulations of innumerable multitudes of holy spirits, assembled not only from all earthly nations, and all mundane ages, but from all the celestial dominions, states, and communities of the empire of God.

To contemplate an eternity past—to anticipate an eternity get to come, with full developed minds of celestial stature, dwelling in spiritual and incorruptible bodies of unfading beauty and immortal youth, to survey the past creations of God-to witness the new-to commune with one another, and with all intelligences, on all the manifestations of the divinity-and above all, to trace all the acts of the great drama of man's redemption as developed by the Divine Author and Perfecter of a remedial economy-to read the library of heaven, the volumes of Creation, of Providence and Redemption-to intercommunicate the sentiments and emotions arising from such themes, interrupted only by heavenly anthems, and fresh glories breaking on our enraptured visions—will constitute a proper employment for beings of such endowments, capacities, and aspirations as

Need I add, to disclose such secrets—to reveal such mysteriesand to guide man in a path that leads to such a destiny, is not the province of philosophy-of the were light of nature or of reason; but the peculiar and worthy object of a communication, supernatural and divine—and such a volume we have in that much neglected, but in. comparable, sublime, and awful volume--the BIBLE.

man.

BAPTISM-EVANGELICAL PURIFICATION. By the Rev. EDWARD BEECHER, President of Illinois College, Jacksonville,

Illinois. The American Biblical Repository for some months past has been enriching its pages and illuminating its readers with a very ingenious and learned dissertation on BAPTISM, from the pen of President Beecher, of Illinois. This ingenious and profound critic has, to the great encouragement of new theological adventurers, discovered that St. Augustin, St. Chrysostom, with all the primitive Fathers—that all the great reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, Melancthon, Bucer, Reza, Cranmer, &c.; together with the Westminster Assembly, the Commentators ancient and modern, from Justin Martyr, the Shepherd of Hermas, Clemeni, St. Origen, St. Cyprian, down to Pool, Burkett, Matthew Henry, Thomas Scott, Whitby, Grotius, Hammond, Doddridge, Campbell, Macknight, Locke, Benson, Jaspis, Knapp, Rosenmuller, Tholuck, Professor Stuart, his father Lyman Beecher, D. D., and all the new school, up to Mr. Barnes of Philadelphia, and with all the Roman, Greek, and Protestant churches, have been in great error on the New Testament acceptation of the word baptizo. Evangellically it means neither dip, sprinkle, pour, wash, or wet; but simply purify. This great discovery was made by our critic from a debate, which, as he reports, took place between John the Purifier, alias John the Baptist, and a certain ingenious and learned Jew, on the meaning of the word purification. The Jew convinced John that this laborious usage of going down into the Jordan and dipping persons was wholly unnecessary; that he was sent to purify, and not to immerse, sprinkle, pour, or wet the people; but to purify them by the Holy Spirit, the antitype both of fire and water. From a calm, discreet, and profound listening to this debate on purification between the Baptist and the Jew, Mr. Beecher has risen up with a full conviction (a most felicitous and opportune discovery, when all the world are being turned and turning Baptists,) that Christ's commission has nothing to do with water at all; but that he simply commanded the Holy Twelve to go into all the world and disciple all nations, purifying them by wind, or word, or fire, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then, after purification, they were to keep and observe all things which the Lord had commanded.

But lest any sceptical reader of ours should imagine that we have misconstrued, and consequently misrepresented the views of our friend Mr. Beecher, I will give his own statement of the nature and blessed effecis of this most brilliant theological discovery, and in his own words, copied from the last number of the American Biblical Repository, p. 28:

"The conclusion to which we have arrived by our previous inquiries is this: Purifi. cation is enjoined by a speciớc cominand, but no particular mode of purification is enjoined. Of course, any individual may be lawfully purified in the way that he prefers. No result can be more desirable than this, for none tends more directly to harmonize the church. It combines the two fundamental requisites for union, which are-Ist To take from no church any thing which it desires as to its own mode of purification; and 2d. To authorize each church to regard the purification of others, though differing from its own, as valid. Who that loves the harmony of the churchwho, that regards the feelings and wishes of Christ, would not rejuice at an issue so

ispicious? What can be more desirable than a union without sacrifice of principle, or loss of any valued practice? But this result secures all !his; nay, more, it would give to our suptist brethren, not only the full enjoyment of all they desire without diminution or luss, but add to it the sweet persuasioii, that, on this point, all their Christian brethren are also right, and can, in like manner, enjoy the mode which they preser. Tlius all painful barriers to communion will at once be taken away, the middle wall of partition will fall, and all, in Christian love, will be united as one new man."

[blocks in formation]

A day of thanksgiving onght immediately to be appointed in all American and European evangelical churches for this great deliverance from so many ecclesiastic grievances, by the effects and logical consequences of this profound dip into the mysteries of Greek criticism, and the katharismatic allusions of the mighty ancients and the antiNicene Fathers, now for the first time opened to the astonished vision of both the Old World and the New.

It is my misfortune even yet to dissent from some great and wise and good men, and to be of somewhat dyspeptic habit in subscribing 10 the lucubrations, moonlight and lamplight dissertations of even the greatly learned on such words and things, monosyllabic or dissyllabic, which happen to involve either great literary, pecuniary, or honorary considerations especially connected with the corner or cope-stones of sectarian temples. I must therefore beg leave to tender my grateful acknowledgments to Mr. Beecher for his kind efforts to eradicate from Christendom the very tap-root of sectarianism; and to express my regrets that his benevolent efforts are built neither upon sand, nor ice, nor air; but upon something more ethereal, sublimated, refined, abstract, spiritual, imaginative, than we earthly, plain sense, reasoning, plodding mortals can comprehend.

Nevertheless, should the Rev. Dr. Peters admit into his Biblical Repository, devoted as it is to “theological discussion,” an article by way of Review of the very elaborate and learned treatise of my much esteemed friend President Beecher, I will attempt to demonstrate from his own rules of criticism and canons of interpretation, that his splendid castle, or strong hold of refuge against the weapons and assaults of the dippers, the sprinklers, and the pourers who have any conscience about the nature of the action of purification, which Nature's and the Church's immortal and immutable Lawgiver has ordained, is destitute of any favor from any respectable source of Christian intelligence, Hebrew, Grecian, Roman, or American; and that it is as baseless as any other petitio principii ancient or modern, sacred or profane, heterodox or orthodox, broached either before or since the discovery of Newfoundland, or any other terra firma, since the days of Christopher Columbus, Americus Vespucius, or any other great wanderer in quest of new discoveries. I shall hold myself responsible to furnish such a F A MIL Y CULTURE. CONVERSATIONS AT THE CARLTON HOUSE.-No. XX.

GENESIS XVII. & XVIII, Olympas. SOMETHING remains on the subject of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith. At this point we left off our morning lesson. What do seals imply, William?

William. Something previously stipulated, or agreed upon.

Olympas. When covenants are under consideration, that is true; but when Paul says that Abraham received the “sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised," does it allude to a covenant transaction at all?

Thomas. It would seem that Paul meant no more than that God's giving to Abraham the covenant of circumcision was a pledge, or an approval, of that faith which he had formerly exhibited in believing and obeying the first promise concerning the seed of blessings.

Olympas. You are right: the sign of circumcision was to Abraham not merely a sign, as it was to Ishmael and Isaac; but in addition, a proof of the excellency of that faith which he had twenty-four years before Isaac was born, or the covenant of circumcision ordained.

Thomas. Can baptism be a seal to any one of the faith which he has before he receives the ordinance?

Olympas. No: in strict conformity to the facts in the case of Abra. ham, it cannot be said either of infant or adult baptism, of believing or not believing baptism, that it is a seal of the righteousness of the faith which the subject previously possessed.

Eliza. Of infants it could not be, because they have no previous faith; but Dr. Godfather preaches that to those who have faith in person, or by proxy, baptism, like circumcision, is a seal of the righteousness of the faith which they before possessed.

Olympas. Dr. Godfather is not infallible, nor is his opinion so profoundly learned or wise, as that it were either a sin or a shame to differ from it. But, however learned or wise in other matters, I will take upon me to say, that, in this respect, he is greatly mistaken.

Thomas. I read in some of the Baptist books that baptism, like circumcision; may be called a seal of of the righteousness of faith to

before the birth of Ishmael or Isaac. The Lord's making a formal and special covenant with him afterwards as an approval of his previous faith and obeisance, was, indeed, a striking seal or pledge of the excellency of his faith; but baptism requires only a confession of faith from any one, and then it is common to all such confessors, and can. not be to any one of them a formal, or special divine interposition, or solemn approval of his faith or of its righteousness; and therefore no man's baptism can be to him from God what Abraham's circumcision was to him-a special pledge of the righteousness of his previous belief. Baptism never is to any one what circumcision was to Abraham-an immediate pledge from God that his faith is fully approved. We shall now hear you read in turn the 18th chapter of Genesis.

[The chapter being read, Olympas called upon all the family, in order, to ask him, or each other, a question on some point in it.]

James. What means the Plains of Mamre?"

Susan. Mamre was the brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner, and is called an Amorite.

William. Who were these three visitants that appeared to Abraham? Eliza. Three angels, I presume.

Reuben. One of them was more than an angel. He seems to have been the LORD.

Rufus. Yes; for Abraham shows by his words and his actions in accosting one of them, and in bowing so humbly towards the ground, when he invited him into his tent, that he supposed him to be more than a mortal.

Francis. Abraham was a very polite gentleman. He bowed very courteously to the sons of Heth on another occasion. It would, there. fore, seem to be too strong an inference to deduce from this the divinity of any one of the company.

Thomas. Some of the circumstances would seem to conflict with the opinion that they were angels; and yet it is difficult to contemplate them in any other light.

Olympas. The ancient rites of hospitality are admirably depicted in this passage. See the venerable Prince Abraham sitting at the door of his tent, during the heat of the day, casting his eyes occasionally along the plain, that, should any fatigued pilgrim appear, he might invite him to enjoy the hospitalities of his tabernacle. Meanwhile, three pilgrims in human form present themselves. They suddenly stood by him; and, lifting up his eyes, he ran to meet them at the door of his dwelling; and, from some indications of superior standing, he humbly bowed to the ground while he solicited the favor of their company; and thus prevailed with them to sojourn with him for a few

« PreviousContinue »