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likewise ; and it is this which bave been just considered, are to makes the important feature of the be argued from in the unconditional story. For any thing that appears, manner of which he who has proit was hardness of heart and preju- duced them sets the example, they dice which inade the disciples so seem clearly to establish, that the saslow in comprehending the Pro- cred Books require no exposition phets; not any inherent difficulty whatever. For both of them lead us in applying the predictions which to this consideration, that the Scripthey had read to the occurrences tures as we now have them, that is, which they had seen. At all events, the Jewish and Christian Scriptures the circumstance recorded by the combined, give us, not only doubts, Evangelist may suggest to but solutions. The Bible, in this serious doubt, whether the prin- view, is itself both text and com. cipai requisite for a profitable mentary, that which was commenperusal of the Scriptures be not tary in the days of the Apostles something beyond the power of having now become a part of the notes and comments to supply. text. Therefore, arguing broadly
The Bishop's second precedent and arbitrarily, from these preceis derived froin the Acts of the dents, it would rather follow that Apostles. Philip, he
Philip, he observes, all additional commentaries might was sent to the Ethiopian Eu- be discarded, as being at the best nuch, to show bim the spiritual- superfluities. ity of the prophecies of Isaiah, But such inferences in the gross and the general doctrine of the are little conducive to the interests faith of Christ.” The intend. of truth. There is no doubt that ed inference is, that the Bible Scripture contains difficulties which should not be intrusted to the a judicious expositor may often common people, unless accompa- assist in dispelling : neither is nied either by a teacher or by a there any doubt that a practical commentary. It would hardly commentary may much contribute appear that the conclusiveness of to edification; and, on both grounds, this inference had been very deeply it is clearly incumbent on Chris. considered. For can it be seriously tians, according to their several maintained, that even a child, with means and opportunities, to promote the New Testament—nay, with the use and circulation of such this very narrative-in his bands, expositions and commentaries as resembles the noble Ethiopian, . they honestly judge to be the best educated and statedly resident in and most scriptural. The note and a beatben country, a recent visiter the comment are important as well at Jerusalem, and in whose hearing as the text; the office of circulating, our blessed Saviour had probably so far as occasions serve, the one, never been named except as a is as obligatory as that of circulating, notorious and convicted impostor ? so far as occasions serve, the other. The precedent little applies to To this extent all are agreed. But, those who, in the same page that when we come to estimate the relates the Ethiopian's doubts, find relative importance of these two also recorded the decisive manner objects, the comparative force of in which those doubts were re- these two obligations, then it is solved. In the case of such per- that a deplorable difference of sen: sons, the passage,
far from proving timent arises. the want of a commentary, does In the opinion of Dr. Wordsworth, itself supply the commentary tbat (for, in him, we have a right to was wanted, and thus enables them, assume that the expression is an even without a guide, to " under- accurate exponent of the thought,) stand what they read.”
the distribution of explanatory comIs, then, the two precedents that ments and devotional forms is of almost equal dignity and impor bearing on the great question of tance with that of the sacred text the circulation of the Bible without itself. In our judgment, on the note or comment. In truth, having contrary, such language is , rash, disposed, as we trust, of the preceunscriptural, and untrue ; for the dents referred to by our author, it former of those objects is very is natural that we should now digreatly inferior in dignity and im- rectly address ourselves to the disportance to the latter. Nor does proof of his leading position. this imply any inconsistency. The In the first place, if uneducated mathematician talks of his infinites readers of the Bible are less acute of different orders, and with much than the learned, they are in the more reason may the moralist talk same proportion less fastidious. of obligations unequal in their de. Their unsophisticated minds thrive gree. It is not less the duty of a on that plain fare which more deliChristian to relieve the temporal cate tastes find homely and unnecessities of his fellow men, than pleasing. They read the simple to minister to their spiritual wants; narrative of the Fall of Man, and but, if these duties were in any case they draw from it the obvious moto come into conflict, that man ral, without once thinking it neceswould be thought a very indifferent sary to allegorize it into modern Christian whỏ could hesitate be- philosophy. They peruse the bistween them a single moment. tory of Redemption, and they con
To resume, however, our more template its mysteries in reverent immediate task- The Bishop of attention, without once finding it Carlisle repeatedly adverts to the expedient to resolve them into the alarm which the proceedings of rational religion of Socinianism. the Bible Society have occasioned. With them the heart is more busy In a passage which will hereafter than the discursive faculty, and it be adduced, he even describes this teaches them gratefully to receive apprehension as having extended to truths " multitudes.” They dread, it
From which our nicer optics turn away. seems, the effects which the indiscriminate perusal of the Bible may It cannot be necessary to quote produce on the bulk of the people. authorities on so clear a point.
The intended inference for the That the great perverter of ScripBible Society, we presume, is, Mul- ture has been presumptuous or tis terribilis, multos caveto. But purblind learning, not bumble and surely these multitudes might find unsuspecting ignorance, is a truth some fitter subject for their fears. now universally known, and always We believe it to be a very great acknowledged, -always, that is, exmistake in point of fact, that per- cept when it is to be acted upon. sons of the lower orders, when put Yet, since Lactantius, as we have in possession of a Bible, are apt to seen, has been appealed to in the be misled or injured by the more work before us, it may not be unindifficult or perplexing parts of holy teresting to show how closely the opiwrit. For it very beautifully hap- nion of that classical writer concurs pens—and it is an additional ex. with the general sentiment on the ample of the principle of compen- present subject. In a passage, of sation in the works of Providence- which an English translation may that the same circumstances which more easily represent the sense in one view increase their danger than the elegance, the Christian as readers of the unexplained Scrip- Cicero thus delivers himself: “One ture, do in another diminish it. pripcipal reason why the sacred This we shall attempt briefly to Scripture finds so little credence show, not as a matter of curious with the wise, and learned, and observation, but as immediately mighty of the present age, is, that these,
the prophets employ a plain and most engaging. Give him in his familiar style, adapted to the intelli- leisure moments a Bible, and obgence of the common people. They serve the result. The plainer nar. are therefore held cheap by those ràtives of the Old Testament, such who desire neither to read nor to as the histories of Noah, of Job, or bear any thing that is not recom- of Daniel-the Psalms, so remarkmended by polish and eloquence,
able for the truth and nature of men, whose minds are incapable of their stylemperhaps, the obviously being impressed, except by that evangelical passages of Isaiah, which charms their ears with its these will be found to occupy his harmony. Whatever appears low chief attention. But, even above or mean, such persons reject as trifling, puerile, and vulgar. In à 6. Perhaps the Christian volame is his word, they regard nothing as true, theme, but that which is agreeable; no
How Guiltless Blood for guilty man
was shed; thing as worthy of belief, but that
How He who bore in heaven the which excites pleasurable sensa- Second Name tions; and make embellishment, not Had not on earth whereon to lay his truth, their standard of value."*
In the second place, it is true The Cotter of Burns, indeed, that the poor have neither leisure
does not altogether confine himself nor learning to understand the
to easy reading ; but the Cotter of more abstruse or mysterious parts Burns, it must be remembered, is a of Scripture; but then this want of
of education. leisure and learning disinclines, as
Now if, in the perusal of these well as disqualifies them, for the touching compositions, some feeling study. Their hours of reading are arises beyond a vague curiosity or the hours of lassitude or of sickness.
a merely transient interest, - if a It is not in such seasons that men desire is excited to know more go laboriously wrong. The scho- familiarly the mighty and impressive lar and the sophist may read for subjects spoken of, --if a sentiment the purposes of contention ; but
of reverence grows up for the exthe humble read that they may cellence of Revelation and the mabe instructed, and the weary and jesty of its Author,-if a perception, heavy-laden that they may find rest. however indistinct or mysterious, Their objects are repose, comfort, is attained, of the powers of the tranquillity; not vain exercitations world to come,-if an approach, of reasoning, or oppositions of sci- however faint, is made to that ence falsely so called. To an un- Christian humility on which, as on educated man, the simplest portions some low valley, the dews of heaven of Scripture will naturally prove the love to descend, --why must it be
supposed a probable consequence, * Nam hæc in primis causa est, cur
that the mind, which is at one mo. apud sapientes et doctos et principes hu- ment thus engaged and impressed, jus sæculi Scriptura Sancta fide careat; will, in the next, plunge into all quod Prophetæ communi ac simplici the difficulties of skeptical or polesermone, ut ad populum, sunt locuti. Contempuntur itaque ab' iis, qui nihilmical speculation? Why must it, audire vel legere nisi expolitum ac di
even on the ordinary principles of sertum volunt; nec quicquam inhærere human nature, be imagined, that animis eorum potest, nisi quod aures the humble student in question blandiori sono permulcet. Illa verò, will desert that plain reading which quæ sordida videntur, anilia, inepta, vulgaria existimantur. Adeò nihil verum
has come home to his heart, for putant, nisi quod auditù suave est; matters of doubtful or delusive disbihil credibile, nisi quod potest incutere putation? Why must it be thought voluptatem ; nemo rem veritate ponderat, sed oraatù.” Instit. Lib. V. sec. 1, *Cotter's Saturday-Night.
that he will not rather recede with sent his Apostle Philip to declare instinctive reverence from the dark unto him the true sense of the places of a Revelation which he has Scripture that he read—or else, if learned to respect? Why must it we lack a learned man to instruct be believed that the impressions and teach us, yet God himself from his untutored mind has received, above will give light unto may not operate as a preservative minds, and teach us those things against snares which might prove which are necessary for us, and perilous to bardier understandings ? wherein we be ignorant. And. in Above all, why must it be conclud. another place, Chrysostom saith, ed that the aid of a super-buman that man's human and worldly wisinfluence will be wanting, to cherish dom, or science, is not needful to his faint piety, to give definition to the understanding of Scripture ; but his vague ideas, and to fortify him the revelation of the Holy Ghost, against the seductions of the temp- who inspireth the true meaning ter? There is surely no absurdity unto them that with bumility and in trusting that such a person may diligence do search therefore." experience the merciful guidance Not the least observable circumof that Spirit, who is described as stance in this extract, is the purever present to human infirmity, pose for which it introduces the as knocking at the heart for ad- Ethiopian nobleman : a purpose mittance—as waiting to be gracious so essentially different, not to say mas anxious (if the figure may be diametrically opposite, from that used) for occasions of infusing holy to which the same history is turned desires, suggesting good counsels, in a passage already cited from the and prompting just works : for Charge before us.
In the one case, under such human images as these the history is quoted to prove that have the Scriptures been pleased to the unaccompanied Scriptures canrepresent the magnitude, though not safely be studied by illiterate not the nature, of perfect and pas- persons; for they will never be sionless goodness.
clear to them without a commenIf this is enthusiasm, it is the en- tator. In the other, it is brought thusiasm of Saint Chrysostom and to prove that they may safely be the Homilies of the Church of studied by such persons ; for England. " God receiveth the a commentator, or what is better learned and unlearned, and casteth than a commentator, will never away none, but is indifferent unto be wanting. Opinions are free on all. And the Scripture is full, as all subjects; but, for ourselves, we well of low valleys, plain ways,
are much too old-fashioned to hefor every man to use and sitate, on this occasion, whether we to walk in, as also of high hills and should side with the Charge or with mountains, which few men the Homily,--with the Bishop of climb unto. And whosoever giveth Carlisle, or with the united auhis mind to holy Scriptures with thority of Cranmer, Ridley, and diligent study and burning desire, Latimer. it cannot be, saith Saint John Chry- In answer to these positions, a sostom, that he should be left with. line of argument may perhaps be out help. For either God Almighty adopted, which would by no means will send him some godly doctor be new with the opponents of the to teach him-as he did to instruct Bible Society. All these good the Eunuch, a nobleman of Ethio- effects, it may be said, might inpia, and treasurer to Queen Can- deed flow from the circulation of dace ; who having a great affection the Scriptures, even without note to read the Scripture, although he or comment, provided they were understood it not, yet for the desire
* Book of Homilies, p. 6. Oxford Edithat he had unto God's word, God tion, 1802.
left to themselves. But, then, they wish,---surrendering to him the will not be left to themselves. False premises of his argument in full, teachers are abroad ;-men, whose it will still appear that we have not rank in life necessarily subjects made the remotest approach to his the lower orders to their society conclusions. and influence ; men, ever eager to False teachers, the argument spread heresy or enthusiasm; men says, are abroad ; and therefore wbo, with that view, would anx. we must be cautious how we disiously avail themselves of any re- tribute the unexpounded Bible. ligious impression that might be Now, if the result of withholding produced on an uninformed mind the Bible were to withhold the false by the perusal of the Scriptures, to teacher also,---if, by restricting the insinuate pestilent opinions; who circulation of the records of truth, would misinterpret the sacred text, we restrained at the same time the pervert the unguarded reader, and propagation of falsehood and error, thus render the records of truth -if the sending (as our present an instrument of dangerous error. author and others have recomEven total ignorance may be a less mended) all our Bibles to foreign evil than a kuowledge so capable parts, bad the effect of banishing of abuse. Or, at least, it may be all our beretics and enthusiasts to better that the poor should run a foreign parts also,--there might somewhat greater risk of being then be some meaning in this arwithout the Bible altogether, than gument. For it might then be that they should run the risks in- plausibly maintained that we should separable from a possession of the do better to expose our poorer uninterpreted Bible, while sur- brethren to the chance of perishing rounded by such interpreters. fur lack of knowledge, than to the
"It must needs be said the certainty of being seduced into an Highest of Authorities) that offences abuse of knowledge ;-or, in other come.” That is, we humbly pre- words, we should rather expose sume, not that they are the subjects them to the chance of losing themof direct pre-ordination, or result selves in the dark, than to the cerfrom a fatal fitness in the consti- tainty of being misled in broad day, tution of things; but that they may But the misfortune is, tbat the arbe calculated upon, as the natural gument proceeds on a supposition fruits of a corrupt world, that precisely contrary to all this. By they are founded in that moral ne- the very supposition of the argucessity which is only the sad self- ment, the lower classes are surconsistence of human nature. In rounded by deceiving guides whom the same manner, we may calculate we cannot remove from them. By upon the existence of false doc- the very supposition of the argutrine, heresy, and schism; they are, ment, therefore, though the Bible and they always have been, but too is taken away, the false teacher is prevalent. In assigning, however, left behind. That is, we may withthe actual amount of these evils draw the words of truth, but we at any given time, very different leave behind the words of false. estimates may be formed; nor can hood. These wily deluders, we pretend to partake in that live- these seducers with their thousand liness of alarm, as to their present arts,-these apostles of mischief, prevalence, which is felt by some cannot be expected to lose their persons, and on which the objec- persuasive powers, because the tion we are considering proceeds. poor lose their Bibles. Familiar as But that is a question which it may the argument represents them to be not be necessary to settle. For, with the common people, and algranting the objector all he can ways having access to them, and