Images de page
PDF
ePub

Protestants, who writes, " as to the fact of inspiration of the books of Scripture, we must with awe and modesty humbly decline to say what we believe no Church, ancient or modern, can ever attest." Surely this is sufficient to convince you that you must borrow several articles of belief from tradition, or you will be thrown into difficulties that I tremble to contemplate. You will have to cast overboard much of the Scriptures, and the inspiration of the greater part. The arguments which the champions of Protestantism can adduce, do not prove the inspiration of the larger portion of the New Testament. They may be able to prove that Scripture is genuine, and that Scripture. is authentic; but this is far beneath the point they are bound to establish; for they are bound to show by Scripture itself, that the whole of Scripture, not a portion, not two portions, not this book or that, but that the whole is inspired, and the word of God himself.

I would pass on to another argument, but I have not time now. Again, I repeat this to you :-How are you satisfied of the canonicity of the books of the New Testament? How are you satisfied of the inspiration of Scripture? I require from the Gentlemen opposite a clear and positive answer; and I am confident that when that answer is before you, you will be convinced that, unless you have recourse to tradition, you must give up a portion of the canonical books, and the inspiration of the greater part.

Here is another proof in point. You admit the 8th chapter of John, wherein is contained the history of the woman taken in adultery. This portion, it is well known, was omitted in a great number of Greek MSS.; it is omitted by Origen and Chrysostom; it is not found in the Greek Catena, which contains 23 Greek authors; the very first commentator who mentioned it was Euthymius, in the twelfth century, and even he says it was not found in the most correct copies; it was not contained in the Coptic, Gothic, or Syriac versions, before the publication of the English Polyglot; it was doubted of by many Catholics before the Council of Trent, and by many Protestants before and since. Now what proof have you, such especially as to make it a matter of divine faith, that this 8th chapter of the Gospel of John truly belongs to the canon of Scripture, and is truly an inspired portion thereof? What proof is there that rests not exclusively on tradition? By what other evidence is this chapter received, and the

history of Susannah, or Baruch, rejected? There is an apparent obscurity in this matter, and therefore there must be, moreover, some authority to determine, in such cases wherein traditions are not clear, what were the real doctrines communicated from faithful men to faithful men down to our own times;-what parts of obscure traditions are to be received as genuine, what are not to be received as such, because the former do, and the latter do not manifest the doctrines of the unerring Church, at the times to which the writers refer.

THE CHAIRMAN.

Ladies and Gentlemen,-You will pardon my rising to anticipate a reply to the personalities in which the last speaker has indulged.

I am sure that I best interpret your feelings, and most promote the objects of this Discussion, whilst expressing a hope that it should be conducted without having recourse to personal allusions, whether to pronunciation or otherwise.

THE REV. E. TOTTENHAM.

Mr. Chairman,-In conformity with the observations you have just made, even were I not to consult my own feelings, I should certainly abstain from any thing like personal allusion.

Mr. Macdonnell, in his opening speech, did me the honour to pay me a compliment; however, he did not apply it in the most complimentary manner. He told me I exercised any power which I possessed in carefully slipping away from the subject, and that that had been uniformly my practice. Now I really think Mr. Macdonnell ought himself to have attended to the substance of this remark in his own speech. I find him speaking a great deal occasionally of what he calls the Law Church, and of a well paid ministry; I behold him drawing a frightful picture of the state of Ireland, and of other places; and speaking of the Reformation Society as introduced to supersede the instruction of bishops and ministers. These and other

such topics he has introduced. I ask, therefore, if all this was, or was not, slipping away from the question? If I was guilty of the error, I think the blame lies upon the Rev. Gentleman himself as well as upon me.

Though my friend on the right has replied to the statements made by the Rev. Mr. Macdonnell, yet there are a few points which I wish to notice, inasmuch as he had not time to follow them out fully, and particularly because some of them refer more immediately to myself.

Mr. Macdonnell asserted that it was imperatively required that I should have proved the sufficiency of my own rule of faith, whereas the fact was that I was doing nothing but retorting on the Roman Catholic rule. Let our friends judge whether I have not attempted to prove the one as well as to retort on the other; and let me say, that, if I retorted, it was not so much for the purpose of formally attacking the Roman Catholic rule, as of shewing that the arguments urged against the Protestant rule proved too much, and were consequently of no avail. Retort has often been considered a most powerful kind of argument, and perhaps this may account for Mr. Macdonnell's uneasiness on the subject.

The Rev. Gentleman has asked this question:- "Is there any place in Christ's teaching, or in that of the Apostles', in which it is said the Bible was to be the only rule of faith?" And then he adds,-" If it was intended to be such, Christ ought to have so taught us." On this latter point I shall make the same observation that I did yesterday I have nothing to say to what Christ ought or ought not to have done; I am satisfied that he should do what he pleases, without being guilty of the presumption of prescribing a particular course of proceeding to a Being like him.

To return, however, to the original question. We are asked," Is there any place where Christ or his apostles distinctly teach that the Bible was to be the only rule of faith?" Suppose it were not taught in so many words, would it therefore follow that the written word does not contain all things necessary to salvation? It would not; for when we know that the Scriptures have come from God, we have a right to assume that they are perfect, and contain all necessary truth, till the contrary be proved, or till an additional rule be adduced and authenticated as being of divine origin. But let me say, though the very words, "the Bible only," are not to be found in Christ's

teaching, yet no argument can be founded on this, for several passages have been quoted which are equivalent to such an expression, and prove decisively the sufficiency and supreme authority of the Scriptures alone as a rule of faith. Out of the many that I produced I may notice particularly the one in the Second Epistle to Timothy, 3rd chap. ver. 14-17. This proves my point distinctly; for, if the Scriptures are able to make a man "wise unto salvation," certainly there must be within them every thing necessary for us to know. Let me further observe, that there has not been even an attempt, from the opening of the discussion to the present moment, to reply to that text of Scripture.

We have again and again had the argument about the books of the New Testament not having been written in the first instance; but that I have already answered, and I need not go over the ground again. Let the public judge of the correctness or the incorrectness of the answer from the printed report.

The Rev. Gentleman from Birmingham talked about. translations, and he said that the Bible, which had been circulated in this kingdom, was notoriously corrupt. My friend, Mr. Lyons, has adverted to this subject, and has used the method of retort, perhaps not to the satisfaction of our friends on the other side. The question, Sir, we are debating, is not about translations, but respecting the Scriptures as God has given them; and though it may happen that, in this or that translation, there may be occasional errors, yet it does not follow that the revelation, as it came from God, should be insufficient as a rule of faith.

However, with respect to that translation with which we are most concerned, and which, I suppose, is the one alluded to, namely, that which is called King James's Bible; I should say, that the circumstances under which it was translated were such as to preclude the possibility of any vital error. The circumstances of the case were these. About 50 divines were brought together, who, as a Roman Catholic bishop, Dr. Milner, says, were " of various capacities, learning, judgment, opinions, and prejudices." The plan upon which they proceeded was this. Each divine took a single book of Scripture, or a portion, and translated it, after which it was submitted to the other divines; so that each part was first translated by an individual, and then passed round to be revised and sanctioned

by the whole number. Now, if the men engaged in the work were, as Dr. Milner says, "of various capacities, learning, judgment, opinions, and prejudices," it is impossible that they could have united in setting forth a wilfully corrupt translation, seeing that each must have been a check on the others. Moreover, Dr. Doyle himself declared, in his examination before the Parliamentary Commissioners, that the authorised version was a NOBLE

WORK.

In addition to this-there is another important point to be borne in mind in connection with the question of translations. There was the Septuagint in existence in our Lord's time. This translation was certainly not immaculate. Horne, in his "Introduction to the Critical Study of the Scriptures," demonstrates its incorrectness in many places in reference to the Hebrew text; and yet we find that our Lord and his Apostles constantly quoted from it, as well as from the Hebrew. This fact shows us that we may be satisfied with a translation, though it be not altogether so correct as the original. So far for the question of translations.

The old objection, in reference to Unitarians, was here started. It was asked how we could satisfy an Unitarian with respect to the text, "My Father is greater than I;" and much inconsistency was charged on us for violating, by the attempt, our principle of the right of private judgment. Before stating the answer we should give to an Unitarian under such circumstances, let me reply to the charge of inconsistency, by saying, as I did before, that until it could be proved that we sought to force his judg ment, it could not fairly be proved that we acted inconsistently with our principles. We hold private judgment to be a natural right, and therefore applicable to religion, until it be established that, as respects it, there is a special limitation. Believing this, and believing at the same time that a simple Unitarian is in error, we go to him, not to force his judgment, but to lead him to exercise it more seriously and prayerfully, and with greater submission to the plain testimony of the Bible. Thus we are guilty of no inconsistency. Now, with respect to the objection itself. The difficulty started by the Unitarian is this-Christ says, "My Father is greater than I;” and therefore the Unitarian concludes that Christ is not God. I should say to him in reply, that his conclusion is too hastily drawn, because, if he examines the Scriptures, he

« PrécédentContinuer »