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« that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wis. dom, &c., that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wis. dom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught. But we speak the wisdom of God, in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth; but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. For who hath known the mind of the Lord ; that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ,” 1 Cor. i, ii. “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak," James i, 16, 17, 19. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, He taketh the wise in their
own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men,” i Cor. iii, 18–21. “Let God be true, but every man a liar : as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged,” Rom. iii, 4. “ To the law, and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isa. viii, 20. “Foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes," 2 Tim. ii, 23. “ Charge them before the Lord, that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker," 2 Tim. ii, 14–17. “ Charge some that they teach no other doctrine," 1 Tim. i, 3. • If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doc. trine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words, whereof come perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth : from such withdraw thyself," 1 Tim. vi, 3–5. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain bab. blings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called, which some professing, have erred concerning the faith," 1 Tim. vi, 20. “Because that when they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise they became fools," Rom. i, 21, 22. “ For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ,” Col. ii, 1–8. “ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes ; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” Psa. xix, 7–9. “ Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets ; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. I have heard what the prophets said that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the hearts of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let himn speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat ? saith the Lord : Is not my word like as a fire ? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rocks in pieces,” Jer. xxiii, 9, &c. “ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these
things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book," Rev. xxii, 18, 19.
The language of these passages is so far from being equivocal, that the reader, without the assistance of a commentator, will easily understand them, and make the proper application.
How much cause there is for these warnings, has been exemplified from the times of the apostles to the present. 6 The Christian Church was scarcely formed when in dif. ferent places there started up certain pretended reformers, who, not satisfied with the simplicity of that religion which was taught by the apostles, set up a new religion drawn from their own licentious imaginations. Several of these are mentioned by the apostles, such as Hymenæus and Alexander. The influence of these new teachers was but inconsiderable at first. During the lives of the apostles their attempts toward the perversion of Christianity were attended with little success. They, however, acquired credit and strength by degrees; and even from the first dawn of the gospel laid imperceptibly the foundation of those sects which produced afterward such trouble in the Christian Church.
“ Among the various sects that troubled the Christian Church, the leading one was that of the Gnostics. These self-sufficient philosophers boasted of their being able to restore mankind to the knowledge (gnosis) of the supreme Being, which had been lost in the world. Under the gene. ral appellation of Gnostics are comprehended all those who, in the first ages of Christianity, corrupted the doctrine of the gospel by a profane mixture of the tenets of the oriental philosophy with its divine truths.” (Mosheim, book i, part ii, chap. v.) From these “knowing ones' arose, in the first and second century, a rich harvest of heretics and heresies, of which, not to mention them in detail, the reader may find an ample account in the first volume of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History. A few specimens would show that the apostles acted wisely when they cautioned their disciples against every thing
destructive to the simplicity of the gospel, and that they were not mistaken in the results of this unnatural coali. tion of philosophy and revelation which they predicted. “There is no observation capable of fuller proof, than that religion, through all ages of the Christian Church, was more or less pure according to the alloy of philosophy or human reason mixed up with it. There were scarcely a heresy in the primitive church that was not imbibed from Plato's academy, Zeno's portico, or some vain reasonings of the pagan wise men. In latter ages the schoolmen rejected Plato, and exalted Aristotle into the chair of Christ, says Tilenus, (Til. Syntagm., part ii, disp. 16, thes. 31,) esteeming him the god of wisdom, who could not err.
And the controversy long subsisted to which of them an appeal lay for the determination of truth. Such is the vain arrogance of human reason, as to have puffed up some in every age to promise they would show us the truth by the mere light of it, and maintain it as the only rule of faith. ‘Philosophy and vain deceit' have always proved highly injurious to the purity of religion, and the great objects of faith which are supernaturally revealed.” (Dr. Ellis.)
Since philosophy has fallen into the hands of sincere and devout Christians, who valued above all learning “ the faith delivered to the saints,” and “ contended” for that faith as the truest wisdom, it has been much reformed. But so long as it is human wisdom, it will never be fit to take the lead of revelation. Modern philosophers, as well as those of antiquity, whenever they attempt to model their creed by the rule of their reason, show themselves capable of the greatest absurdities. With our Unitarian divines, (as they are pleased exclusively to denominate themselves,) it is a first principle that “reason directs to whatever is true in speculation.' To set reason free from the fetters of education, they have renounced the doctrine of human depravity, and of eternal punishment. Thus inspired with unlimited confidence in their own under. standing, and divested of all apprehension of eternal con, sequences, they are “induced to reason cautiously and frequently, and learn to reason well.” So says one of themselves.* And what can be more reasonably expected
* Mr. James Yates, in a sermon on the grounds of Unitarian dissent, preached at Glasgow, pp. 16, 17, 22, 23.