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A Handbook of Revealed Theology. By
John Stock, LL.D. With a prefatory recommendation by C. H. Spurgeon. Fourth Edition (Revised). London : Elliott Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C.
The first edition of this work was published more than twenty years ago, and therefore, to very many of our readers, needs no introduction. The fact that it is still in request is sufficient proof that it has made for itself a reputation as a standard work. We are informed in the preface that the labour was undertaken at the earnest request of Mr. Spurgeon ; and we shall convey a general idea of the book as a whole when we say, that the theological views advocated are those which are known, almost throughout the civilised world, as the views of the great preacher of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Our readers will not need to be informed that in some important matters those views are not ours, and that therefore, on several of his pages, we are at issue with Dr. Stock.
But justice, not to say generosity, before criticism. On all essential doctrines and by “essential” we mean indispensable to the salvation of the soul-Dr. Stock has l'endered good service to every denomination of true Christians, by his masterly statement and defence of the things “surely believed among us;" and even in those places where we cannot accept his arguments, we can but respect the spirit and terms in which they are advanced.
In his introduction, Dr. Stock reminds us that his subject is not NATURAL, but “Revealed Theology ;” and this, he maintains, must be systematic, harmonious, consistent with itself. To use his own words,
* Theology, like every other science, must have its fundamental truths; and these fundamental truths must sustain a certain relation to each other. It is the business of the theologian to discover these truths and their mutual relation ; and when he has done this, he has, in effect, framed a system of theology. He may object to the term SYSTEM, but he has produced that which the term designates.”
Acting upon this principle, our author
has “framed a system” in which our only regret is, that every part is not equally unassailable ; but, at the same time, he very properly admits that “our systems must bow to God's Word; but God's Word to our systems, never.
The work is divided into six parts, each part being again subdivided into a number of convenient chapters, so that any particular topic may be readily referred to by a glance at the table of contents.
Part I. treats of " THEOLOGY IN RELATION TO ITS STANDARD OF APPEAL.”
Clearly, “Revealed Theology” must wholly be sustained by Revelation ; and a question of first importance is, Does the revelation exist-what are its claims to acceptance ? or, as Dr. Stock puts it, Are we quite sure that we have the Book as God gave it to us? Is the canon of inspiration still preserved? Have we the right books, and have we those books in a genuine and authentic form?
?” This subject is admirably handled. Our author shows, first, that the à priori argument is altogether on the side of the genuineness and preservation of the canon. That we have the positive testimony of the Word itself that the Scripture cannot be broken. That we have our Lord's own voucher for the inspiration and authority of the Jewish canon as it existed in His day. While, as to the New Testament, he relies mainly on the promise of the Redeemer to the Apostles--that the Holy Ghost should be given to them, to preserve them from error and to guide them into all truth.
Dr. Stock, we rejoice to find, is a firm believer in verbal inspiration ; a subject which he argues at some length, although not, of course, in a work embracing so many subjects, so exhaustively as Dr. Gaussen, whose 56 Theopneutlia” covers the whole ground of the subject.
On the authority of the Bible we have many excellent arguments, and then the author proceeds to Part II : “THEOLOGY IN ITS GREAT THEME, God.”
Chapter I. of this section deals with “The Existence of God." Here are discussed a number of proofs or evidences of the truth of the existence of a Divine Being -either of them, considered separately, forcible; and all of them, taken together, overwhelming. The eighth we feel tempted to transcribe, because, although from the sceptic's point of view the least admissible, to the believer's mind it is the best of all, viz, “ The inward consciousness of all who have made trial of Jehovah's love and pouer.
“ The Christian has evidence in his own experience that there is a God. His conversion convinces him that there is a power above Nature. He knows that he was born again ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God'-John i. 13. And his daily religious life is to him a standing refutation of the absurdities of atheism. For he casts all his care upon God and learns that * He careth for him'-1 Pet. v. 7. He rolls his . burdens upon the Lord and knows that He sustains him'-Ps. lv. 22. In sorrow, he flies to his Maker, and finds Him a very present help; and amidst the gloom of the valley of the shadow of deaih he hears Him saying, 'Fear not, for I am with thee.' His happiest moments are spent at the feet of God, his deepest joys, his holiest raptures are experienced in communion with the eternal and invisible One. He believeth, and hath the witness in himself. He has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and he knows that blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. You might as well attempt to reason him out of his own being as try to persuade him that there is no God. This evidence, the most powerful of all, is possessed by the poorest and most illiterate Christian, to whom the arguments à priori, à posteriori, and à fortiori, are as unintelligible as the Greek of Sophocles.”
Chapter II. of this section is occupied with the consideration of the “ Tri-Personality of God," a doctrine which must needs be a matter of revelation and a matter of faith, since it could neither be suggestel nor proved by anything in the course of Nature. It is, however, as Dr. Stock says, not contrary to previously ascertained facts; and therefore, although a mystery, differs from an absurdity. Every devout person will agree with the writer when he says, “We shrink from all attempts to explain this doctrine by the rules of logic. It admits not of subjection to such formulas. The only question, then, for us to examine is, Do the Holy Scriptures teach what is meant by the doctrine of the Trinity ?”
In the affirmative, Dr. Stock relies upon the following: (1) The terms used in be
lievers' baptism ; (2) The language of the New Testament Benediction ; (3) The manifestation of Three Divine Persons at our Lord's baptism ; () The mention of a sin against the Holy Ghost, as distinguished from sins against the Father and the Son ; (5) The mention of Three Persons in the same sentence, as, for example, I will pray the Father and He shall give you another COMFORTER ; and, lastly, the significance of the plural Hebrew word, Elohim (God).
The next chapter deals with the subject of the GODHEAD OF CHRIST. This doctrine -the very life-blood of the Gospel -as being more generally attacked, is properly discussed somewhat more at length. The sceptic may not be convinced, but the believer cannot fail to be confirmed by a diligent perusal of this chapter. And when we remember that, if this doctrine were not established all the rest would be of no consequence : that the Bible would not be worth more than waste paper, if it were not a fact that the Deity of Christ is the essence of his qualifications as a Redeemer and Saviour :-we cannot be too grateful for every witness which helps our faith and furnishes us with conclusive arguments.
We have read with renewed pleasure the remarks of Dr. Stock on the attributes of God ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ. The essays of Ambrose Serle on this subject are probably familiar to many of our readers, and, although the remarks of Dr. Stock are necessarily much more concise, they are, perhaps, for this very reason the more effective. Not only does he show that Christ is called, in Scripture, “God," “the mighty God,” “God over all,” “God blessed for evermore,” “the true God and Eternal Life, ” but also that these terms do not-cannot admit of more than one interpretation.
" It is obvious," he remarks, to that no one can be invested with the attributes of God by delegation. No being can become eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and unchangeable. By representation God may make use of creatures to do His work, as He employed Moses to inflict His vengeance upon the false deities and depraved people of Egypt; but He caunot make mere creatures par. takers of those physical and moral attributes by which He is eternally, necessarily, and infinitely raised above all creatures. Jesus did more than accomplish Divine worksHe personally possessed Divine perfections.
The testimony, both of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, to the Divinity of
Christ is shown, and the familiar argument latest words being, "I have preached and of John Macgowan against Priestley is re- written much against the abuse of the docvived in the reference to the controversy trine of grace, but that doctrine is all my between Newman and James Martineau, salvation and all my desire. I am a great viz., that Jesus Christ was either all that sinner, and if I am saved it can only be Ho affirmed Himself to be, or else was by great and sovereign grace-by great and clearly the greatest pretender that ever sovereign grace.” The good man therefore lived; and, so far from being an object of died trusting in the free and sovereign grace worship, entitled to no respect whatever. of God, and not on his performance of the From the horns of this dilemma no Uni- supposed duty of believing the Gospel ; tarian can possibly escape.
We must not, which, the writer of this “ sketch " says, he however, enlarge too much. Our desire represented as a meritorious act,” in his is to move our readers to buy the book and printed works. read it, and not to save them the necessity. Another thing manifest in these
pages is The last chapter of this section is devoted that the writer has no great liking for to a brief but powerful argument on the
"what are called the doctrines of grace, Divinity and Personality of the Holy as he puts it. The churches which hold Spirit Much that is urged of Scripture
those doctrines in prominence, he says, are testimony to the Deity of Christ is equally affected with “the dry-rot of antiavailable here as, for instance, the names nomianism,” making special reference to and attributes of the Divine Being-applied
the eastern counties,' where it (i.e., to and appropriated by the Holy Spirit. antinomianism), he avers, still retains its That He is referred to by personal pro
hold, stubbornly resisting and slowly renouns as, He, Him, Himself, Whom, Me, treating before the advancing light.” But and I is not lost sight of ; nor that He is
this is no new charge laid at their door ; a special object of worship, to be addressed many have in like manner borne "false in prayer. That all gifts and graces are witness against their neighbour" in regard communicated to the Church through and
to those churches which are no more antiby Him, Dr. Stock maintains in the fewest nomian, in the proper sense of that word, words consistent with force and a due re.
than those who thus traduce them. He is gard to his subject. In a word, the chapter not, however, at all satisfied with Mr. is a suitable conclusion to an argument on Fuller's views, known as Fullerism, and the subject of what is termed the orthodox thinks his theology inferior to the broader conception of the Divine Being, that could and sounder views of truth which have scarcely be surpassed in excellence in the been arrived at by the thinking and intelsame number of pages.
ligence of a later and more favoured age.”
Several pages are occupied in discussing (To be continued.)
this question, from which we gather that these broader views “refuse to set limits
to the Divine love." Of course, it is simBaptist Worthics. Sketches, &c. By
ple childishness for mortals to talk about William Landels, D.D. No. 4, Andrew
setting limits to the Divine love; God only Fuller. Baptist Tract and Book Society,
knows the love of God in perfection, and Castle Street, London, E.C. Prico 4d.
we can only know as taught us in His Several things become evident in reading Word, to whom and to what it extends. this pamphlet, constituting the fourth of The silly expression referred to however, the series of "Sketches ” of distinguished points in the direction of a denial of all the Baptists now in course of issue by the
doctrines of sovereign grace, and that being Baptist Tract Society. The first is, that
so, and the writer of this sketch not having Andrew Fuller, notwithstanding the sin- made any reference to the fact that Mr. uosity in some respects of his creed, was Fuller wrote in defence of the practice of a good and godly man, and a most devoted
strict communion, whilst he has plentifully servant of Christ. It has been asserted noted his other works, the pamphlet seems that he very seldom preached his own not to be in harmony with the declared “Fullerism, of which good old John object of the Society that has issued it. Ryland once said, that it was an empty That object being to disseminate the barrel thrown out by the devil for ministers truths of the Gospel by means of small to roll about, instead of drinking the wine treatises or tracts, in accordance with our of the Kingdom.” Possibly Mr. Fuller views as Calvinists and Strict Communion thought so too before he died, some of his Baptists." The Committee, however, to
purge themselves from responsibility in the present case, prefix a note, stating that they are not bound by any of the con. troversies raised by the worthy author.”
Illustrations and Meditations; or, Flowers
from a Puritan's Garden. Distilled and dispensed by C. H. Spurgeon. London: Passmore & Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings. Pp. 284. Price 2s. 6d.
The “illustrations” are taken from Manton, the great Puritan writer, whose works, we are told, “occupy twenty-two volumes in the modern reprint-a mighty mountain of sound theology;" the “meditations” are Mr. Spurgeon's. Here is a sample :
“ It is dangerous when foundation stones lie loose. Indeed it is. Never was this danger greater. Men are denying the full inspiration of the Bible, frittering away the atonement, carping at justification by faith, and questioning the proper Deity of our blessed Lord. It is the work of the Holy. Spirit to establish, ground, and settle His people in foundational truths ; and there is reason to fear from the dubious
preaching of certain “intellectual” persons that they have little or no acquaintance with His inward teachings. If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do? The ungodly may triumph, but we weep and lament when we see the glorious doctrines of truth assailed by those who, though they know it not, are the enemies both of God and man. O Lord, visit Thy Church, and restore a martyr's faith among
Meanwhile we rejoice that the foun. dation of God standeth sure.”
The volume contains some 400 similarly pithy and instructive utterances, the words in italics being the “illustrations,” and those in usual type the “meditations ;" presenting together a large amount of good experimental and practical teaching arranged in small portions, very convenient for occasional or frequent meditation. The sincere Christian, of whatever age in divine life, desirous of knowing and doing his Lord's will, and of growing in grace, will find this little volume a most valuable help. Its cantions against
" modern thought,” in relation to theology and mere ritualism in worship, are very timely and forcible. Also those against excessive news. paper reading, novel reading, and worldliness in general. A very spiritual and heavenly tone pervades its every page.
News from our hurebes.
THE SUFFOLK AND NORFOLK
ASSOCIATION OF BAPTIST
THE anni gatherings of this Association were held on Wednesday and Thursday the 6th and 7th of June. The place of meeting was HOXNE, a pretty village about three miles distant from the town of Eye. The writer has several pleasing reminis. cences of happy seasons at Hoxne. A few times he preached in the very quaint old Baptist chapel-a chapel once beheld never to be forgotten. In the year 1864 a new chapel was built, and the opening services were held on Wednesday, September 21st. The preachers on the occasion being S. Collins, P. Dickerson, and R. E. Sears. The church is now in a peaceful and happy
condition. The pastor, Brother W. J. Denmee, is greatly beloved, and his labours have been much blest of God.
We arrived at Hoxne the evening previous to the meetings, being heartily received by our Brother Kent, one of the deacons, and his good wife.
FIRST DAY OF MEETING. The time appointed to commence the service was eleven o'clock, but long before that time the people began to assemble, a short prayer-meeting was therefore held. At eleven o'clock the spacious tent of the Association was nearly full, when all rose to sing,
Sing to the Lord that built the skies, &c." The moderator, Brother Charles Suggate, of Halesworth, read the 122nd Psalm, and after prayer by Brother Beddingfield, we had
of these letters ; and may all the churches have a fresh baptism of the Holy Ghost.
THE AFTERNOON SERVICE
THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS.
Dear Brethren, how clearly the goodness of our God is seen in our meeting ; for we meet as Christians, full of hope and anticipation, we know our God will come and bless us. We have seen God in creation, we looked upon His works as we came here this morning. We are here because provi. dence has smiled upon us.
We have seen God in the Book of Truth ; there we read, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' We have come hoping to see God in the face of Jesus Christ. No sight can be compared with this ! All beauties are there—and there is all sweetness !
We meet as Baptists, and we are not ashamed of it. We are Strict and Par. ticular Baptists. We wish the name had never been necessary ; but those who set aside New Testament order, compel us to take the name by which we show our desire to do our Saviour's will.
We meet to make known what we believe, We are not ashamed of our principles ; and we believe that God will be with us, for He is unchangeable, and Jesus Christ is the same. We shall never have another Bible, and God will never alter it. The Strict Baptists will never die out. Let us, brethren, abide by the Truth ; let us rally round the Cross ; and, strengthened by the Master's grace we must go forward. If we are faithful to God, He will be faithful to us, “Lo, I am with you alway." We have set our feet on firm ground.
We meet to seek the interests of Christ's Kingdom. The interests of Christ and ours are mutual. Christ and His Church are one. He has not ceased to pray for us ; and He is interested in all our work. What have we to fear? We must watch over ourselves, and do the Lord's work in the spirit of the Master. The love of Christ constraineth us."
After the reading of the Articles of Faith—for the Suffolk Regular Baptists have no thought of throwing their creed away - Brother S. K. Bland, the secretary, read abstracts from the letters sent from the various churches. The reading was deeply interesting, especially to those of us who have for so many years known the churches. About seventy-eight had been baptised. May God answer the many
began by singing “Come, Thou fount of every blessing Brother Kern, of Ipswich, read and prayed ; after which our brother, W. Winters, of Waltham Abbey, preached a thoughtful and interesting sermon from the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1 i.).
I. The Revelation of the Word.---A word is the clothing of thought. This Word is the thought of the eternal Father. “In the beginning.' When was that? The Word ever was ; for He is the eternal God. What do we know of eternity apart from this Word? All we know of eternity is in Christ ; He is the exponent of His Father's will. The Word of God was manifest in the flesh to reveal the Father's love. John gives us the face of Christ, in which the glory of the Father is seen. In this Word we see His wonderful complexity. He is the medium of communication between the Father and man. The Word reveals the character of all; He reveal our title to mansions in the skies. We know nothing of heaven without Christ; but He came from heaven and knows all about it.
II. The Eternity and Dignity of the Word.—“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” This word is the apocalypse of Deity. He is the key-note of every book, sermon, and song. He is the First and the Last ; He is the source of all, and the grand and glorious Amen. His Name is called the Word of God. He was in the beginning the Creator of all things. The Word is the visible God; you cannot see God without Christ.
This is the fountain opened ; it is God speaking to man in words of mercy. We cannot understand it by reason, for true religion is a matter of faith. This Word reveals the mind of love. No man can love God without knowing God ; no man can know Him without a revelation; and there is no revelation without Christ. He is the Word, the eternal Thought of God.
III. The Realisation of the Word.—It is applied by the Holy Ghost. If we hear the Word and receive it, it is by His ministry. John was only a voice ; Jesus is the Word. Thy word have I hid in
prayers presented during the reading
Blessed realisation ! This Word shows us what sin is ; it shows us