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external authority it may. One chief merit of Christianity consists in restoring natural morality and natural religion, to their original and proper place-in permitting Conscience, Reason and the religious sentiment, to speak in their native, heavenly tones, and with their primitive authority. By thus restoring natural religion; by thus appealing to these divine counsellers and prophets of Eternity, it overthrows all arbitrary systems of Religion, which are not founded in the nature and Reason of things, and puts to Eternal Silence all capricious advisers. Thus by fulfilling the True, the Right, the Good and the Holy, it destroys all that is false, wrong, bad and profane.
Other religions have also their sacred books. The Hindoos have their Vedas, and Purenas; Mahommedans their Koran; Sectarians their Creed. These books are deemed by the foolish among their followers, greater than the Soul, superior to Conscience, Reason and the religious sentiment. They are appealed to as masters—the last standard of Faith; are honored as the sole and exclusive foundation of these peculiar religious systems. They can only be the basis of a system that is not founded in the nature and Reason of things. Faith in the peculiar institutions of such books in the Vedas, Korans, and Creeds, in any arbitrary system, is not freedom, but bondage. It is not obedience to the universal “ Law of the Spirit of Life,” but to some partial statute of Man's device. It degrades man while it comforts him. It puts his better nature to a deadly sleep before it offers him relief from the present, or faith for the future. Such systems the apostle well calls the “ Hagars shapen in ignorance, born into bondage, with their children, which are to be driven out before the freeborn Isaac, and destined like Ishmael to have their hand against every man.” Of the Scriptures, then, it may be said, as it has been of the Sabbath: The Bible was made for man, not man for the Bible.
T. P. (TO BE CONTINUED.)
Learning bears the same relation to talents that charcoal does to fire. It is the elaborated product of mind; but without mind it is useless. You must warm it to make it sparkle, and dissolve it to feel its benefit.
from tho German of Herder.) INTRODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.
JOHN 1. 1-18.
32. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.* [There was no Æon produced, as the Understanding of God, who formed and brought out ideas; inseparable from God, not merely near him; no subordinate, Deity; God himself was that which we call the Word, the Understanding, the will of the Deity: for in his being nothing is inseparable.]
The same was in the beginning with God, a creating Word. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made, not even the least, the most despised. Our world, the work of the understanding of God and his mighty will, is not the work of Angels, not the labor of a low, imperfect Demiurgus.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. [The life-giving Word of the Creation was Reason, the source of all, even the noblest light, which shines in human souls. This too is of no contemptible nature. It is a beam of the Eternal Light, an inner life from the highest source of life; no gift of an inferior Æon. From the first has the giver of all light taken to himself the enlighted of the human race, as his own work; he has not left it to subordinate Angels.]
The light shone long in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. [The darkness could not mingle with it, nor stop its radiant path. Centuries of blindness and bestial dulness passed away: still the enlightened of the world did not cease from his work, but kept on more and more awakening the human Understanding.]
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew
*It may be that John alludes in this to the personification of Wisdom, (Prov. viii: 22 et seq.): but it was not his object to personify this. The Speaker of tho Invisible, the revealer and executor of his will, the Word, is with him the main de*, according to the spirit of the whole
him not. [God had not left himself unmanifested to any nation; for all the people of the earth are his creatures; only they had not been mindful of it. Still, though unknown, the light was working on and preparing the way for brighter times.]
He came unto his own, (as their familiar friend, their guest;) and his own received him not. [Even Judea cannot boast herelf above other people in this. This nation, established by God's own hand, was more obstinate than all others in resistng his plain instructions. It rejected the lord returning to visit his possession.]
But this was not the conduct of all: many received him; and hese became (what this people had presumed themselves to be) he Sons of God; which were born not of blood, (i. e., of high incestors, as Abram, David, &c.,) nor of the will of the flesh, ror of the will of man, but of God, (i. e., not of carnal impulses, for how could they produce the spiritual?). Likeness to God belongs only to those who believe, to the spiritually minded. The Jewish nation was adopted as the child of God, only to the end of its own spiritual improvement and discipline.
To assure us of this, the Word, the teacher, the bringer of light to him, “was made flesh,(a man, like ourselves, and dwelt among us. We lived with him, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
" John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he of whom I spake. He that cometh after me is prepared before me; for he was before me.”
“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace."
" For the law was given by Moses, (to bind us to our allegiance,) but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
"No man hath seen God at any time; the Only-Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
Thus John introduces his Gospel; what follows from this introduction ?
33. In the first place, that all metaphysical-Gnostical speculations should be banished from the Gospel, as having no proper connexion with it.*
*If any one doubts tnis, let him read the beginning of John's first Epistle, where in fact this same introduction is repeated in different words. There the Apostio
« Talk not of an unknown God in the Deep; no mortal eye hath seen him; no finite understanding hath looked through his Being. But he is made intelligible to us through the Word; the whole Creation is a following out of his plan, an operation of his ordaining will. He is made intelligible in all living things, particularly in the world of human thought. Godlike throughout, conceived in human souls, godlike actions, performed by men, all have sprung from Him, from the Light, which shines through all, whose workings, in spite of every obstacle, still go on, and wake in man the noblest principle, the likeness to God. He has become visible to our time through him, whom, the only one of his kind, we have seen, heard and known as our friend. He not only spake to us of God, his Father, and revealed to us heavenly truths; from himself we enjoyed heavenly grace. The whole heaven of joys was about him, in his instructions full of love and truth; from such an ocean did we drink.”
6 Do not separate the Divine Being, while you invent a mythology of heaven. The inner and the outer Word, the Only-Begotten and First-Begotten Son of God, Jesus and Christ, are not distinct Beings; in the man, Jesus, appeared the Only and First-Begotten, the teacher of the counsel hitherto unrevealed, the completer of all the gracious will of God. He came not as a lawgiver, but as a teacher of truth, an actual, living manifestation and impress of an infinite goodness and love."
“Despise not the earthly creation, the human race and the several peoples of the earth. The Creation is of God; the Understanding called it forth: Goodness has held it in order. The human race has, in the Reason which God has given it, the ground for the noblest determination of itself, viz., the working out, through the knowledge of truth and pure benevolence, its own common happiness, as of a Godlike and brotherly race. To no people on earth has God left himself unmanifested; and if the light shone long in darkness, yet lost it nothing of its power. The grossness
of men could not arrest the brightening course of Providence."
says briefly and concisely, what, as an Evangelist, guarding against the false con structions of adversaries, he had to say more in detail; " what we have heard of the word of life, (the announcement of eternal salvation,) that write we to you also; for the life, (the bringer of this salvation,) has appeared.” Not only is every writer the best expounder of his own words, but John's whole Epistle, considered as a commentary upon his Gospel, is a patiem of unforced exposition and application, Leaving all subtilties, we ought to follow such a pattern.
“ Despise not even the ungrateful Jews and their lawgiver. He did in his season what he was designed to do; but now, from the midst of this same people, a light has gone up before us for all peoples, a message of grace for all nations."
34. And now if the beginning of the Gospell of John has been so misunderstood, that, while it was intended to root out speculative notions, and to bring men back to the character of their race, and Christians back to the essentials of Christianity, it has been made a mine for new speculations, an arena for learned subtile disputes, in the midst of which many an invective has been uttered, and many a tear wrung out-ay, and the blood of men and people shed in the bitterness of angerwho is more innocent of it than this Gospel? Ignorance, envy, hatred, intrigue, pride, avarice and other vices, so clouded the eyes of men, that for mere light they saw not the light.
35. Had John lived in the time of Arius, we may suppose him to have addressed him in a friendly manner, as follows:
“ About what are you wasting all your zeal, my son? What is it you would determine and find out?-how the Son of God was produced before the world, and, (as you express yourself, what ground there was for his existence in things not before existing? From whence can you know this? In my Gospel there is not a syllable about it, nor in the writings of any of my brethren. I went back no farther than our holy Scriptures go back, to the beginning of the Creation, and spoke to you of the Creating Word. That God produced the Understanding, which He himself was, and how he brought into being the Word of all that I said nothing: how could I talk such transcendental nonsense!
36. “And you, Fathers of the Church, after so many persecutions and cruelties; after intrigues, frauds, quarrels and calumnies, what sort of a forinula do you offer to the world? Arius made for himself out of the uncreated a mythological person, whom none of us knew. You speak of a God of God, a Light of Light, mani ested, but not made, &c. How do you come to such a conclusinn? Have you two Gods, two Lights, where one God creates the other, one Light the other? Tell me, how does one God create the other? I did what I could to prevent the Divine Being from being split asunder by per