My first answer to it is grounded on the argumentum ad hominem of which I have already spoken. That is, I shall show that, if the objection proves anything, it proves too much for the purposes of those who use it; that it leads to conclusions beyond those to which they would confine it; and if it tells for them, it tells for those whom they would not hesitate to consider heretical or unbelieving.

Now the argument in question proves too much, first, in this way, that it shows that external religion is not only not important or necessary, but not allowable. If, for instance, when our Saviour said, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father ... The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth," [John iv. 21-24.]—if He means that the external local worship of the Jews was so to be abolished, that no external local worship should again be enjoined, that the Gospel worship was but mental, stripped of everything material or sensible, and offered in that simple spirit and truth which exists in heaven, if so, it is plain that all external religion is not only not imperative under the {118} Gospel, but forbidden. This text, if it avails for any thing against Sacraments and Ordinances, avails entirely; it cuts them away root and branch. It says, not that they are unimportant, but that they are not to be. It does not leave them at our option. Any interpretation which gives an opening to their existing, gives so far an opening to their being important. If the command to worship in spirit and truth is consistent with the permission to worship through certain rites, it is consistent with the duty to worship through them. Why are we to have a greater freedom, if I may so speak, than God Himself? why are we to choose what rites we please to worship in, and not He choose them?—as if spirituality consisted, not in doing without rites altogether, (a notion which at least is intelligible,) but in our forestalling our Lord and Master in the choice of them. Let us take the text to mean that there shall be no external worship at all, if we will (we shall be wrong, but we shall speak fairly and intelligibly); but, if there may be times, places, ministers, ordinances of worship, although the text speaks of worshipping in spirit and in truth, then, what is there in it to negative the notion of God's having chosen those times, places, ministers, and ordinances, so that if we attempt to choose, we shall be committing the very fault of the Jews, who were ever setting up golden calves, planting groves, or consecrating ministers, without authority from God?


I conclude, then, that there must be some fault somewhere in this specious argument; that it does not follow that a doctrine or rite is not divine, because it is not directly stated in Scripture; that there are some wise and unknown reasons for doctrines being, as we find them, not clearly stated there. To be sure, I might take the other alternative, and run the full length of scepticism, and openly deny that any doctrine or duty, whatever it is, is divine, which is not stated in Scripture beyond all contradiction and objection. But for many reasons I cannot get myself to do this, as I shall proceed to show.