« EelmineJätka »
ILLUSTRIOUS, in the church of Jesus in general, and in the church of England in particular, is the name of CCNYERS MIDDLETONT. Signal was, and is, the service rendered by him to the religion of Jesus. By that bold, though reverend, hand, it now stands cleared of many a heap of pernicious rubbish, with which it had been incumbered and defiled, by the unhallowed labours of a succession of writers, who,—without personal intercourse with the founder, any more than we have now,-have, from the mere circumstance of the comparative vicinity of their days to those in which he lived, derived the exclusive possession of the imposing title of Fathers of the Church, or, in one word, The Fathers.
So able, so effectual, has been this clearance, that,
* This Introduction is, in the main, a reprint from the single sheet pamphlet, published A° 1821, under the title of Summary View, &c.; but with some defalcations, additions, and alterations.
+ The Reverend Dr. Conyers Middleton, A° 1721, principal librarian of the University of Cambridge; afterwards possessor of an ecclesiastical benefice in the county of Surry, (Biographia Britannica, MIDDLETON), in his work intituled, "A Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the earliest Ages," &c.
as it has been observed by the Edinburgh Reviewers *, -speaking of course of protestants, and more particularly of English protestants,—till one unexpected exception, which it mentions, had presented itself, they had thought that in no man's opinion were those writers any “longer to be regarded as guides, either in faith or morals.”
One step further was still wanting. One thorn still remained, to be plucked out of the side of this so much injured religion,—and that was, the addition made to it by Saul of Tarsus : by that Saul, who, under the name of Paul, has—(as will be seen) without warrant from, and even in the teeth of, the history of Jesus, as delivered by his companions and biographers the four evangelists,-been dignified with the title of his apostle: bis apostlet, that is to say, his emissary *: his emissary, that is to say, sent out by him: sent out, by that Jesus, whose immediate disciples he so long persecuted and destroyed, and whose person, -unless dreaining of a person after his death, or professing to have dreamt of him, is seeing him,- he
In the course of the ensuing examination, the subject of miracles has come, unavoidably, under consideration. On this delicate ground, it has been mat
* A° 1814, No. 47, p. 58.
† Apostle, a modification of the Greek word Apostolos (AWOOTOMOs): a person sent out.
Emissary, from the Latin word emissus-sent out.
ter of no small comfort to the author, to behold precursors, among divines of different persuasions, whose reputation for piety has not been diminished by the spirit of critical inquiry which accompanies it. Such were Mede*, Sykes t, and others, whose ingenious labours were, in the case called that of the dæmoniacs, employed in the endeavour to remove the supernatural character, from what, in their eyes, was no inore than a natural appearance. On the success of these their labours, any judgment would here be irrelevant. Not altogether so the observation, that in no instance does it appear to him that any such latitude of interpretation has been employed, as that which, on that occasion, was found necessary for the conversion of devils into discases.
The dissentions which, at all times, have had place among persons professing the religion of Jesus, are but too notorious. The mischiefs, produced by these dissentions, are no less so. These dissentions, and these mischiefs—in what have they had their source ? In certain words. These words, of whom have they been the words ? Of Jesus ? No: this has not been so much as pretended. Of Paul, and of Paul alone: he giving them all along not as the words of Jesus, but as his own only:-he all along preaching (as will
* The Rev. Jos. Mede, and the Rev. Dr. Sykes, divines of the church of England.
+ The Rev. Dr. Lardner, and the Rev. H. Farnier, presbyter an disseating divines.
be seen) in declared opposition to the eleven who were undisputedly the apostles of Jesus: thus, of Paul only have they been the words.
That, by these words, and, consequently, by him whose words they were and are, all the mischiefs, which have been imputed to the religion of Jesus,
, have been produced,---in so far as the dissentions, from which these mischiefs flowed, have had these words for their subjects,-cannot be denied. But, moreover, in these same words, that is to say, in the doctrines delivered by them, cannot but be to be found the origin, and the cause, of no small part-perhaps of the greatest part—of the opposition, which that religion, with its benevolent system of morals, has hitherto experienced. If this be so, then, by the clearing it of this incumbrance, not only as yet unexampled purity, but additional extent, may not unreasonably be expected to be given to it.
It was by the frequent recurrence of these observations, that the author of these pages was led to the inquiry, whether the religion of Paul, -as contained in the writings ascribed to Paul, and with a degree of propriety which the author sees no reason to dispute, -whether the religion of Paul has any just title to be considered as forming a part of the religion of Jesus. The result was in the negative. The considerations, by which this result was produced, will form the matter of the ensuing pages.
If, by cutting off a source of useless privations and groundless terrors, comfort and inward peace