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Thus believed, wrote, and taught the revered and admired Saint Austin, the beau ideal and prototype of the justly celebrated John Calvin. I have given Dr. Wall's translation of the original Latin, lying before me, that I might not be supposed to have given a single tint or shade to the views of the great patron of infant baptism. With such views of baptism as those here delineated, professed by orthodox and heterodox, by Catholics and heretics, no one need wonder at the popularity of the rite, its wide diffusion, or the tenacity of its hold on the minds and affections of a too credulous and servile people.
We have considered every thing extant appealed to by its advocates in Old Testament and New-every thing alleged from church history, in the form of “Apostolic Fathers,” Greek Fathers, distinguished writers, "decrees of Synods and Councils,” &c. &c., down to the period when “THE MAN OF SIN" arrives at full maturity, and with his crown and mitre, his shepherd's crook, his crosier and sword spiritual, proclaims himself Pontifex MAXIMUS, “the PRINCE OF THE APOSTLES," "the VICAR OF CHRIST,” and “the HEAD OF THE CHURCE."
From this period down, we can find, as we have already shown, a host of distinguished men in every age, with their scattered communities-Mountaineers or Piedmontese-bearing witness for the Apostolic Institutions, and against the haughty and insolent assumptions of the Roman Pontiff, exalting himself above all the gods of earth and objects of human fear, sitting in the temple of God, assuming to be his Vicegerent, claiming for himself a reverence and an adoration due to God alone.. He, indeed, has even aimed, and successfully, “to change times and laws,” and usages inimical to his own claims and pretensions. Leaving the youth of the Christian profession to the necessity of making a personal application and a personal profession of the faith before initiation by baptism, was by no means so favorable to the rapid growth and worldly ag. grandizement of his church, as the universal baptism of infants as soon as born. The Roman hierarchy never 'was in favor of much thinking or examination on the part of its population. The clergy will think for them, if the people will only faithfully believe and serve them. I need not, then, trace through the sixth century the still more rapid progress of this rite. It never was, however, catholic—that is, universal. To pursue it farther in this direction would be but waste of time and prodigality of life.
LETTERS FROM HON. J. Q. ADAMS,
TO IIIS SON, ON THE BIBLE AND ITS TEACHINGS.
The first point of view in which I have invited you to consider the Bible, is in the light of Divine Revelation. And what are we to understand by these terms? I intend, as much as possible, to avoid the field of controversy, which I am not well acquainted with, and for which I have little respect, and still less inclination. My idea of the Bible as a Divine Revelation, is founded upon its practical use to mankind, and not upon metaphysical subtleties. There are three points of doctrine, the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is, the existence of a God; the second is, the immortality of the human soul; and the third is, a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these articles of faith, and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark; the laws of man may bind him in chains, or put him to death; but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.-It is possible to believe them all without believing that the Bible is a Divine Revelation. It is so obvious to every reasonable being that he did not make himself, and the world which he inhabits could as little make itself, that the moment we begin to exercise the power of reflection, it seems impossible to escape the conviction ihat there is a Creator. It is equally evident that the Creator must be a spiritual, and not a material being; there is also a consciousness that the thinking part of our nature is not material, but spiritual; that it is not subject to the laws of matter, nor perishable with it. Hence arises the belief that we have an immortal soul; and pursuing the train of thought which the visible creation and observation upon ourselves suggest, we must soon discover that the Creator must alş) be the Governor of the Universe; that his wisdom and his goodness must be without bounds; that he is a righteous God and loves righteousness; that mankind are bound by the laws of righteousness and are accountable to him for their obedience to them in this life, according to their good or evil deeds. This completion of divine justice must be reserved for another life. The existence of a Creator, the immortality of the human soul, and a future state of retribution, are therefore so perfectly congenial to natural reason when once discovered-or, rather, it is so impossible for natural reason to disbelieve them—that it would seem the light of natural reason could alone suffice for their discovery; but the conclusion would not be correct. Human reason may be sufficient to get an obscure glimpse of these sacred and important truths, but it cannot discover them in all their clearness. For example-in all their numberless false religions, which have swayed the minds of men in different ages and regions of the world, the idea of a God has always been included:
SERIES. III.-VOL V. 27
“Father of all! in every age,
In every clime ador'd-
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.” So says Pope's Universal Prayer. But it is the God of the Hebrews alone who is announced to us as the Creator of the world. The ideas of God entertained by all the most illustrious and most ingenious nations of antiquity were weak and absurd. "The Persians worshipped the Sun; the Egyptians believed in an innumerable multitude of gods, and worshipped not only oxen, crocodiles, dogs, and cats, but even garlics and onions. The Greeks invented a poetical religion, and adored men and women, virtues and vices; air, water, and fire, and every thing that a vivid imagination could personify. Almost all the Greek philosophers reasoned-and meditated upon the nature of the gods; but scarcely any of them reflected enough even to imagine that there was but one God, and not one of them cver conceived of Him as the Creator of the world. Cicero has collected together all their opinions upon the nature of the gods, and pronounced them more like the dreams of madmen than the sober judgmerit of wise men. In the first book of Ovid's Meta. morphoses, there is an account of the change of Chaos in the world. Before the sea and the earth, and the sky that surrounds all things, (says Ovid,) there was a thing called Chaos, and some of the gods (he does not know which) separated from each other the elements of this Chaos, and turned them into the world; thus far and no farther could human reason extend. But the first words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The blessed and sublime idea of God, as the Creator of the universe, the source of all human happiness for which all the sages and philosophers of Greece and Rome groped in darkness and never found, is recalled in the first verse of the book of Genesis. I call it the source of all human virtue and happiness; because when we have attained the conception of a Being, who by the mere act of his will, created the world, it would follow as an irresistible consequence, even if we were not told that the same Being must also be the Governor of his own creation that man, with all other things, was also created by him, and must hold his felicity and vis. tue on condition of obedience to his will. In the first chapters of the Bible there is a short and rapid historical narrative of the manner in which the world and man were made-of the condition upon which happiness and immortality were bestowed upon our first parents of their transgression of this condition-of the punishment denounced upon them—and the promise of redemption from it by the "seed of the woman.”
There are, and always have been, where the holy scriptures have been known, petty witlings, and self-conceited reasoners, who cavil at some of the particular details of this narration. Even serious inquirers after truth have sometimes been perplexed to believe that tiere should have been evening and morning before the existence of the sun-that man should be made of clay, and woman from the ribs of man-that they should have been forbidden to eat an apple
and for disobedience to that injunction, be with all their posterity doomed to death, and that eating an apple could give “the knowledge of good and evil,”-that a serpent should speak and beguile a woman. All this is undoubtedly marvelous, and above our comprehension. Much of it is clearly figurative and allegorical; nor is it easy to distinguish what part of it is to be understood in a literal and not in a symbolical sense. But all that it imports us to know or understand is plain; the great and essential principles, upon which our duties and enjoyments depend, are involved in no obscurity. A God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, is revealed in all his majesty and power; the terms upon which he gave existence and happiness to the common parent of mankind are exposed to us in the clearest light. Disobedience to the will of God was the offence for which he was precipitated from Paradise; obedience to the will of God is the merit by which Paradise is to be regained. Here, then, is the foundation of all morality-the source of all our obligations, as accountable creatures. This idea of the transcendent power of the Supreme Being is essentially connected with that by which the whole duty of man is summed up-obedience to his will. I have observed that natural reason might suffice for an obscure perception, but not for the clear discovery of these truths. Even Cicero could start to his own mind the question, Whether justice could exist upon earth unless founded upon piety? but could not settle it to his own satisfaction. The ray of divine light contained in the principle that justice has no other foundation than piety, could make its way to the soul of the heathen, but there it was extinguished in the low, unsettled, and inconsistent notions which were the only foundations of his piety. How could his piety be pure or sound, when he did not know whether there was one God or a thousand; whether he or they had or had not any concern in the formation of the world, and whether they had any regard to the affairs or the conduct of mankind. Once assume the idea of a single God, the Creator of all things, whose will is the law of moral obligation to man, and to whom man is accountable, and piety becomes as rational as it is essential; it becomes the first of human duties; and not a doubt can thenceforth remain that fidelity in the associations of human piety, and that most excellent virtue Justice, repose upon no other foundation. At a later age than Cicero, Longinus expressly quotes the 3d verse of the first chapter of Genesis as an example of the sublime: “God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" and wherein consists its sublimity? In the image of the transcendent power presented to the mind, with the most striking simplicity of expression. Yet this verse only exhibits the effects of that transcendent power which the first verse discloses in announcing God as the Creator of the world. The true sublimity is in the idea given us of God. To such a God the heart of man must yield with cheerfulness, the tribute of homage which it never could pay to the numerous gods of Egypt, to the dissolute debauchees of the heathen mythology, nor even to the more elevated, but. not less fantastical imaginations of the Grecian philosophers and kages. -Truly your affectionate Father,
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES-N0. VI. It has not been my design, in these papers, to enter upon the consideration of the rules to be observed in translating the scriptures from the original tongues. Such a discussion would profit few of our readers, and would be, indeed, quite unnecessary, since these rules have been so satisfactorily established, and so clearly exhibited by writers of unequalled erudition and ability. It has been my aim, rather, to treat of certain questions, which seem to be as yet unsettled in the minds of many, concerning the method of ascertaining the true sense of scripture from an approved version in any language with which they may be familiar. In the course of my remarks, I have endeavored to expose the errors of those who imagine the Bible to possess a species of absolute and necessary intelligibility in itself, irrespective of the condition of the mind to which it is presented, and independent of the kind and degree of attention paid to it, as well as of the common rules of the language in which its ideas are conveyed.
It has been shown, I trust, that the state of mind of those to whom the scripture is addressed, is a matter of the utmost importance; and that if the heart be not in a suitable condition, the proper impressions cannot be made upon it. To this cause alone is evidently referred, in the parable of The Sower,' any failure or deficiency that may appear in the results designed to be accomplished by the word of God. Just as the sun's rays fall in vain upon the eyes of the blind, so does the light of truth fail to penetrate into the soul that is unfitted to receive it. The perspicuity of the scriptures, then, is necessarily relative, as we have before stated, depending quite as much upon the attention and disposition of the reader, as upon the intrinsic perfection of the oracles themselves. In these, of course, there is no deficiency whatever. The light of divine truth shines forth from them forever with unabated splendor. But this light is necessarily transmitted through the medium of human language, in order that it may depict upon the human heart the bright image of the divine persections. This medium must be so pure that no ray of the celestial light shall be intercepted; or, in other words, we must have a true version, in which the divine communications are fully delivered; but it is no less necessary that the mind should be ready to receive the truth, and that this should dwell long enough upon the heart to produce its proper impression. There can never be any imperfection in this impression, unless