A Compendium of Christian Theology

By William Burt Pope, D.D.,

Volume One

Chapter 1

Definition of Theology




            God and Divine Things


            Extent and Limitation


            Relation to Natural Theology, and Earlier Dispensations


            Development and Various Types


            Its Aim, Methods, and Study

CHRISTIAN Theology is the science of God and Divine thing’s, based upon the revelation made to mankind in Jesus Christ, and variously systematized within the Christian Church.

(General Definition) All that belongs to the preliminaries of our study may be distributed under the several heads suggested by this definition, which is so framed as to include, first, Theology proper; secondly, its limitation to the relations between God and mankind; thirdly, its essential connection with Christ; fourthly, its characteristics as developed under various influences within the Christian Church; and lastly, its title to the name of a science. The introductory remarks which will be made on these several topics have for their object simply to prepare the mind of the student for what lies before him; and to give a few hints which will all afterwards be expanded in due course.


God is the source and the subject and the end of theology. The stricter and earlier use of the word limited it to the doctrine of the Triune God and His attributes. But in modern usage it includes the whole compass of the science of Religion, or the relations of all things to God. This gives it its unity and dignity and sanctity. It is A DEO, DE DEO, IN DEUM: from God in its origin, concerning God in its substance, and it leads to God in all its issues; His NAME is in it.

1. The only adequate definition of this subject embraces DIVINE THINGS: Logos peri tou Theou kai peri ton Theion. The Supreme, whose being is the first postulate of theology or divinity, declares Himself to be as to His nature incomprehensible and unsearchable. I AM THAT I AM 1 is the nearest approach to a definition; it asserts without proving His existence, and that He exists in an essence known only to Himself. The Old Testament asks: Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?2 The New Testament, which brings Him nearer in His Son, represents Him as dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto to search.3 In the profoundest sense He is ever THE UNKNOWN GOD.4 It is His glory that He must conceal Himself. But St. Paul, as a preacher to the Gentiles, nevertheless declares that Unknown God, and in his writings uses two expressive phrases which at once affirm the prerogative and assign the limits of our theology proper. He speaks of the things of God, ta ton Thon, 5 in reference to those mysteries which the Spirit can and will reveal to those who receive Him. And he indicates that even apart from the supernatural revelations of the Spirit what is [or may be] known of God, to gnwsyon ton Theon,6 is unfolded to man. All that is known is all that may be known: the possible knowledge is the actual knowledge in its successive communications from the light of nature to the light of grace and thence to the light of glory. The thick darkness round about the unsearchable Presence is not absolutely unbroken: the rays that flow from it penetrate every department of true knowledge, especially of this.

1 Ex. 3:14, 2 Job 11:7, 3 1 Tim. 6:16, 4 Acts 17: 23, 5 1 Cor. 2:11, 6 Rom 1:19.

2. There is a sense in which universal theology is concerned simply with the relation of all things to God: if we carefully guard our meaning we may make this proposition include the converse, the relation of God to all things. Relation of course must be mutual; but it is hard in this matter to detach from the notion of relation that of dependence. The Eternal One is the Unconditioned Being. When we study His nature and perfections and works we must always remember that He is His Perfect Self independent of every created object, and independent of every thought concerning Him. But there is not a doctrine, nor is there a branch or development of any doctrine, which is not purely the expression of some relation of His creatures to the Supreme First Cause.

3. Hence every branch of this science is sacred. It is a temple which is filled with the presence of God. From its hidden sanctuary, into which no high priest taken from among men can enter, issues a light which leaves no part dark save where it is dark with excess of glory. Therefore all fit students are worshippers as well as students. In the heathen world there was a true instinct of this. The highest tribute the ancients could pay to their poets and philosophers, from Homer and Hesiod downwards, was to call them Theologoi.

Their philosophy was their theology. So in the early Church, when theology put on its perfection, its relation to God was the seal of that perfection: St. John was called the Divine, Ho Theologos, because his writings contained most of the manifestation of the Holy Trinity in its internal and external relations. What has been said of God Himself may be said concerning the theological study of God: He is the centre everywhere of a science which has its circumference nowhere. The remembrance of this must exert its influence upon our spirit and temper in all our studies. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.1

1Ps. 24:3,4.


Theology is mainly concerned with the things of God as they are related to man and his destination. This proposition implies the capacity in our nature to receive Divine truth; indicates both the extent and the limits of its range as revealed especially for man; and explains the essentially human character which is impressed on its form and invests it with a profound human interest.

1. Man is in a certain sense the centre of this science. He is specifically the centre of one branch of it, technically called ANTHROPOLOGY, which has to do with his characteristics as a creature formed in the image of God; but, more generally, he is the object around which all revolves. The light of revelation is poured upon the human race; and in its fullness upon it alone. Accordingly the relation of mankind to the Supreme may be said to be one of the definitions of theology. But man is only one insignificant, and yet not insignificant, creature of God. His place in the vast creation, and the development of his wonderful career in harmony with all other Divine designs, marks out his relation to theology universal. But this general truth must be viewed in two lights: man is the object of all revelation, as it concerns him and his destination; man is the subject of all revelation, as he is its recipient.

(1) Theology is concerned with the destiny of man in the universe. Its first lessons, the opening of the volume of the book, presents him as the head of the creation of God: the history of the origin of all things, and of the slow formation of this world, is only the preface to his introduction as the representative of his Maker upon the earth. His fall and his redemption are blended in one; the whole sequel of revelation is the record of the Divine method of retrieving in the Second Adam what in the first was marred, THE DIVINE IMAGE. The redemption of the human race, and the salvation of individual man, are interwoven into one great economy, stretching from the shutting of the earthly to the opening of the heavenly Paradise. There is not a revelation of God in His three Persons, as the Father, the Son Incarnate, and the Holy Ghost, which is not directly or indirectly connected with the salvation of mankind. Thus theology is simply the system of Divine truth which lies at the foundation of human religion or the spiritual fellowship between man and his Creator.

(2) But the same general principle may be referred to man as the recipient of revelation.

Created in the image of God, he is an intelligent, free and responsible creature, capable of separation from the Divine will and also capable of restoration to the Divine communion.

The two first postulates of all theology are the Personality of the Infinite Being and the personality of man His creature. Neither of these is matter of demonstration in the holy oracles: both are assumed or taken for granted everywhere. To renounce either is to annihilate theological knowledge properly so called. Although in the prosecution of this study methods of proving both may be adopted, under the pressure of a necessity imposed on us by the waywardness of human skepticism, yet must we finally and always beg the question here God is a Person who condescends to man; and man is a person who is capable of God.

(3) The objective and subjective relations of man as the centre of theological science meet in the word RELIGION, one of the largest and deepest terms with which we have to do. Its derivation has been much disputed; but the two leading explanations of it may be united for our present purpose. According to Lactantius, vinculo pietatis obstricti deo et RELIGATI sumus, unde ipsa religio nomen accepit, non, ut Cicero interpretatus est, a relegendo. That is to say, the eternal bond which binds man to God is signified by religion, which is therefore the relation of the human creature to the Supreme Creator, as acknowledged and borne witness to in all forms of theological teaching and worship.

Men have never been without a religion, for God has never left Himself without witness1 in any age or land: there have been gods many and religions many, though to us only one God and. one religion. The rejected interpretation of Cicero, however, demands to be heard: qui omnia, quae ad cultum deorum pertinerent, diligenter retractarent et tanquam RELEGERENT, sunt dicti religiosi, ex relegendo. That is to say, the exercise of the human mind in pondering and considering Divine things is signified by religion, which is, as it were, an instinctive and inwrought aspiration of human nature corrected and purified and directed to its highest issues in the true faith. We combine the two when we say that man is the centre of all theology as it is the foundation of all true religion.

1Acts 14:17.

2. Hence the limitation that everywhere meets us. The relations of the vast universe, and of other creatures in it, with God, are included only so far as they concern mankind.

Revelation brings us tidings from without, from the outside universe; and its communications concerning the earlier probation of spiritual intelligences, their division into orders, their interest and agency in the development of the Divine purposes, amount when systematized to a considerable department of revealed truth, to which the name ANGELOLOGY is sometimes given. But it is always their connection with man that regulates the method and the amount of these disclosures. There is strict parsimony as to everything not essential to human destiny: the principle of Least Action is maintained in revelation as in nature. Hence it is obvious that the responsibility of theology, so to speak, is limited to one subject. Those who study it must submit to this restriction.

What is that to thee?1 has its meaning here for all who indulge too much in speculation both as to the past and as to the future. Concerning all other things thou shalt know hereafter: there are many hints and earnests of a more abundant compensatory outpouring of knowledge in due time. Meanwhile this is the answer by anticipation to many objections of the skeptical spirit. We have but one leaf out of an enormous book; its page begins and ends, so to speak, in the middle of a sentence. Hereafter we shall see much more of this book. Now we know in part.2 We know ourselves apart from other creatures and other worlds. Then we shall know as also we are known: we shall know other beings and other worlds as they know us.

1John 21:22, 2 1 Cor. 13:12.

3. There is an impress upon theology, whether in its Divine records or in its human science, which results from its adaptation to human faculties. We must here take it for granted that man is a creature capable of religion, that is, of communion with God, as a person related to a Person. The Scripture which does not prove that God is does not prove that man is capable of knowing God: both are the fundamental presuppositions of theology. But, reserving the fuller demonstration of this, we must mark that as he is a creature in probation, his knowledge of Divine things is given in probationary forms, testing his character at every point. All is expressly adapted to his limited faculties, and imparted to him in a way suitable to his present stage of existence. God has come down to us in the likeness of men,1 and speaks to them in their own language. As the Rabbins said of the Law, Lex Dei loquitur linguam filiorum hominum, the law of God speaks the language of the children of men. The entire Bible is pervaded by what is called ANTHROPOMORPHISM and ANTHROPOPATHY: the former gives a name to the condescension of God in seeming to take a human form and human attributes; the latter includes also the peculiar affections of man, not excepting some that belong to his infirmity, such as hope and suspense. Not that the reality does not correspond. The Supreme gives us a true revelation of Himself; but it is a revelation that can be understood only in our world, and by us men. Even the angels desire to look into these things; 2 they are learning the secrets of the manifold wisdom of God as known by the Church; 3 but they cannot study them in our language.

1Acts 14:11, 2 1 Peter 1:12, 3 Eph. 3:10.

4. As human students of our own truth, we may be assured Sufficient that we shall have full and sufficient guidance. Nothing that it concerns us to know has been or will be hidden from us: what is reserved is reserved for our discipline, as what is revealed is revealed for our instruction. He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good: 1 this must have its widest application. So also must that other saying, which contains the counterpart: The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.2 With what a profound human interest does this invest the whole domain of this sacred knowledge! Our life, our hope, our destiny, our all, is bound up with it: it is the record of our degradation and of our deliverance, of our ruin and of our recovery, of our woes and of our redemption. How great is the dignity of man that he is the centre, in any sense, of such a science! If it is the name of God that gives it its surpassing majesty, that grandeur is reflected upon us.

What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? 3 Our study cannot be conducted aright without a combination of the loftiest triumph and the deepest humility; we must always remember the dignity while we never forget the lowliness of the place we ourselves occupy in it. Approaching the revelation of Him who is our Wisdom, we hear: that no flesh should glory in His presence; 4 receiving that revelation we again hear, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 5 Theology is a light shed upon all the universe; it is the glory of God's creature, man. But this leads us to the eternal secret of our dignity.

Our knowledge comes to us through One who is Man and also God; His incarnation in the fullness of time explains the Anthropomorphism of the Old Testament; and it is in Him that the theology of God and the theology of man become one.

1Mic. 6:8, 2 Deut. 29:29, 3 Psa. 8:4, 4 1 Cor. 1:29-31, 5 Luk. 2:32.


Jesus Christ is Himself in Person and in Word the revelation of God. He has confirmed and supplemented Natural Theology, or that which is independent of supernatural revelation. He has consummated the preliminary disclosures of His own earlier dispensations. He has discredited and condemned all teachers and teaching that reject His authority. Hence the science which we study is essentially Christian theology.

The postulates of the general proposition will be more fully established hereafter: they are now only stated and assumed.

1. In its technical sense, the term CHRISTOLOGY generally refers to the doctrine of Christ's Person as such in the unity of His two natures; but it may be said that Christology is Theology. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. 1 Although He reveals God as the Father who becomes visible in Him, He is in a certain sense the manifestation of the entire Divinity. He is the Mystery of God manifest in the flesh.2 The Old Testament, Behold your God! 3 Ecce Deus tuus! answers to the New Testament, Behold the Man!4 Ecce Homo! Our Lord is the ever-blessed unity of these: for both were spoken expressly of Him. His Person is the compendium of all that is Divine in human things, and in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.5 He is the substance of revelation in act and in word. He is Himself the one and supreme Theologian: neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son. 6 He is the centre of theology; all its doctrines revolve around Him: I am the Truth. 7 And, as Mediator between God and men,8 making both one, He is in a peculiar sense the bond of perfectness in theology. In Him is its unity, and it is complete in Him. The superscription of the Apocalypse is the superscription of our science as a whole: it is the apokalnpsis 'Iesous Christos, the Revelation of Jesus Christ,9 of Him as its object, from Him as its source.

1 Jn. 14:9, 2 1 Tim. 3:16, 3 Isa. 40:9, 4 John 19:5, 5 Col. 2:3, 6 Matt. 11:27, 7 John 14:6, 8 1 Tim. 2:5, 9 Rev. 1:1.

2. The Supreme Revealer confirms and absorbs into His teaching the original revelations of nature: or what is called NATURAL THEOLOGY. (1.) He presupposes the elements of this natural knowledge. He everywhere appeals to it. But by the mouth of His servant Paul He has given the fullest exposition of what it includes. First, the Apostle speaks of the law written on their hearts, 1 or on the reason of universal man, which is the indestructible evidence of a God in Whose image he was created: for we are also His offspring. 2 Secondly, he appeals to the religious consciousness, or conscience, in man bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another 3 according to the standard written or rather engraven on the reason; to the evidences of the eternal power and Godhead which were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; 4 and to a Providence, drawing men, in all ages, to feel after 5 the unknown God of a final revelation. Thus St. Paul, as preacher in the Acts, and teacher in the Romans, traces the broad outlines of the primitive inferior and traditional knowledge of mankind. He is himself pre-eminently the theologian of the finished revelation in Christ, but he indirectly and yet most clearly acknowledges the labors of a certain theology outside of supernatural revelation and preliminary to it. (2.) The New Teacher confirms and supplements the theology of nature. Our Lord came not to destroy but to fulfill this natural law and these natural prophets. Of these scriptures also He silently says to the searcher: they testify of Me. 6 His coming reveals their imperfection; but His tribute to them, as the basis of His teaching, vindicates their Divine origin. The fanaticism of the Jews cried: Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?7 He did both afterwards by His Apostles, and the latter He had done long before. This will hereafter recur at more length.

1 Rom. 2:15, 2 Acts 17:28, 3 Rom. 11:15, 4 Rom. 1:20, 5 Acts 17:27, 6 John 5:39, 7 John 7:35.

3. Christian Theology is the consummation of its own earlier economies. Christ was the Revealer from the beginning. But His revelations have been given by progressive stages; and now in the end of the world He has gathered the whole into one great system of truth.

We may therefore regard His perfect teaching as the consummation of its preliminary forms. It is the fulfillment of OLD TESTAMENT THEOLOGY as a vast body of preparatory truth, the ruling design of which is to prepare the way of the Lord. This one complex economy of past revelation is itself divided again into several branches: there is the PATRIARCHALTHEOLOGY, which had in it the earliest broad disclosures of the Divine will, the Gospel before the Law; the MOSAIC THEOLOGY, which is that of the chosen people, and its theocracy, and typical institutes, the Gospel under the Law, and the PROPHETICAL THEOLOGY, which is emphatically the Gospel in the Law. These branches of the earlier teaching were all under the guidance of inspiration: under the Spirit of Christ which was in them.1 They are all presupposed, confirmed, and supplemented and perfected by the New-Testament institution of Christ. This also must again be considered more fully.

1 1 Peter 1:11 4. New-Testament teaching, which sanctions the religion of nature and the earlier disclosures of truth, both having the same common element of preparation, denounces every independent source of religious instruction. One is your Master, even Christ, kathegetes or didaskalos. 1 He has expressly shut out all others who had come before Him, or who might come after Him: the former, all that ever came before Me, 2 since My appearance, whom the sheep did not hear; 3 the latter, Go ye not therefore after them. He is not more jealous of the honor of His Father than of His own honor. He is the absolute Teacher; But I say unto you 4 interdicts every other: the only supplement of His own words which He admits is that which He Himself gives in the person of the Spirit of truth.

5 And this is intended in the comprehensive saying of the last commission: panta osa eneteilamhn, all things whatsoever I have commanded. 6

1 Matt 23:8, 2 John 10:8, 3 Lu. 21:8, 4 Matt. 5:22, 5 John 16:13, 6 Matt. 28:20.

The theological systems of religious teaching which are thus condemned are those which have been based upon perversions either of natural or of revealed religion.

(1) The former has assumed many forms, all of them having some common relation to the only truth. There has always been a TRADITIONAL THEOLOGY among men, which, containing vestiges of primitive revelation perverted into error, has been woven into every imaginable form of MYTHOLOGY, or legendary religion, varying with the culture of the nations. These have been connected, especially in the East, with elaborate religious systems which may be called the HEATHEN RELIGIONS, FLOurishing especially in India, China, and Persia when Christ came into the world. PHILOSOPHY, which seeks the first principles of truth in the love of it, but without even professing to find it, has been in every age a human disguise of Divine revelation: anciently deeply religious, almost in every age the expression of a religious sentiment, but in modern times led away by false fundamental principles. The theology proper of a perverted religion of nature is DEISM, in its rather less anti-Christian form THEISM, which retains a God but rejects supernatural revelation, and especially that of Christ.

(2) The perversions of revealed religion have assumed also many forms. The most gigantic is that of RABBINISM, or TALMUDISM, as taught in the writings of the Talmud, the foundations of which were laid in the Judaism of the interval between the two Testaments. Next comes MOHAMMEDANISM, an imposture based upon the Holy Scriptures, but reducing religion back again to the lowest conditions of nature: the strangest admixture of truth and error which history presents. And to them must be added that mass of CHRISTIAN TRADITIONALISM which is identified with the corruption of the Christian Faith. All these are the dark background of the science which the name of Christ sanctifies. We shall meet some of them again and again: and indicate them now only in outline.

5. Christ, the Centre of theology, is its Living Teacher also. As the test of all opinion and faith is the place it assigns to Him, —Whom say ye that I am? being the question that follows Whom do men say that I am?1 —so His doctrine cannot be studied effectually save at His feet. By His Spirit He guides His disciples, as the company of its believing students, into all the truth: no longer by a supreme inspiration, but by a secret instruction that gives the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, [which is] Christ, 2 to every believer united to Himself. Pectus facit theologum, the heart's devotion makes the theologian: this aphorism of Augustine holds good of all whose hearts are true to their Master. They are the holy brethren who are invited to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, [Christ] Jesus. 3 Of the unbelieving Jews our Lord said: Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word. 4 But His true disciples, down to the least, can hear His doctrinal word, logos, for they have learned by the Spirit its heavenly meaning as the word of eternal truth; therefore they understand His speech, His lalias, and receive His perfect doctrine. They know Him their Master, and His communications. But He gives His instruction through His Spirit, not only by secret and personal illumination, but through the channels of teaching provided in His Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth. 5 They receive both the elements and the developments of Christian doctrine as set forth among the people of God; the teachings of God are addressed to the household of faith: prov touv oikeiouv thv pistewv. 6

1 Mark 8:27-29, 2 Col. 2:2, 3 Heb. 3:1, 4 John 8:43, 51 Tim. 3:15, 6 Gal. 6:10.


The Lord has been pleased to commit His revelation, as finished in the Scriptures, to the keeping of His Church, under the control and supervision of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are the rule and standard and test of theology, which in this relation must be regarded as the whole sum of the Church's Christian literature, gradually produced and variously modified: an extension of the term which is absolutely necessary, but requires to be guarded by the proviso that all sound theology is that which has its foundations and evidences in the Word of God.

The former part of this proposition must now be assumed: its, discussion is reserved for a future place. Meanwhile, it may be said that there is nothing in theology which does not seek its authority in the Word of God: our science is the arrangement, development, and application of facts and principles given by inspiration. The authoritative volume has from the beginning been lodged in the Church. The early oracles were in the keeping of the covenant people; and the Christian Faith has been delivered unto the saints. 1 The oracle has always had its ark. As the Church was enlarged the Bible was enlarged; but never was the one without the other in the world. Neither, however, without the Divine Spirit, Who has always watched over the growth of a theological literature around the Bible. Besides the fixed utterances of inspiration, the Holy Ghost has His own many other words 2 spoken by men under His more common influences; and Christian men have also theirs, which He overrules and controls. And all these are in their expansion theology, using the term in its widest latitude: a boundless mass of more or less systematized doctrine, the growth of all ages, of all kinds of soil, and of all zones of religious faith. The whole, so far as we have to do with it, is directly or indirectly the produce of the Christian Church: either as the formal arrangement of its own teaching, or as the result of false teaching which it condemns. And we have to consider its various characteristics accordingly.

1 Jude 3, 2 Acts 2:40.

But religious truth, as molded within the Church, must be developed according to some laws. First, the requirements of teaching would insure the creation of a large body of various theology. Again, this has assumed specific forms as conformed to different types of doctrine within the Church: giving birth to a great mass of what may be called Confessional theology. And, further, there is a rich development that is governed by the law of adaptation to the internal and external circumstances by which the truth may be surrounded. The idea of evolution is all-pervading in this science; and we are safe in applying it if we remember that there is one law of development peculiar to Scripture, the law of progressive revelation, and another that governs the human systematization of this.

Divine doctrine is developed in the Bible; in the Church human dogma.

I. Both as teacher and as defender of the Faith the Christian Church was from the beginning under a necessity to create a theology: whether as the teacher of its converts or as their defender against error. Didactic divinity was the necessary expansion of what in Scripture is termed the Apostles' doctrine.1 Its first and simplest form, as seen in the writings of the earliest Fathers, was EXPOSITORY or practical, aiming at the edification of the flock; then followed the CATECHETICAL, for the preliminary instruction of converts or Catechumens in order to baptism, conducted by pastors as Catechists, and formulated in the permanent Catechism; and thus were laid the foundations of all subsequent BIBLICAL theology proper. Defensive assertion of truth was rendered necessary by heresies arising within the community, and by the duty of vindicating the Faith against those without. The latter obligation gave rise to APOLOGETICS in all its branches, called in modern times EVIDENCES: Apology having reference rather to the position of the Christian society as challenged by the world, Evidences belonging rather to its aggressive and missionary character. The former introduced DOGMATIC Theology, taught first in Creeds—the Apostles', the Niceno-Constantinopolitan, and the Athanasian; afterwards in specific expositions of those creeds, and their individual articles: this, as distinguished from Apologetic, is controversial divinity or POLEMICS. In later times, all these branches have been incorporated into the unity of what is called SYSTEMATIC divinity, or the orderly arrangement of the doctrines of revelation, as they are Dogmas fixed in the decisions of the Church, defended against external assaults, and unfolded in the ethics of human duty.

This is the normal development of the science within Christendom, and common to all its branches. Every Christian community presents in its own literature more or less systematically all these various forms of fundamental teaching.

1 Acts 2:42.

II. There is a development also which has been conducted according to the law of distinct types of doctrine, issuing finally in what has been already termed CONFESSIONAL theology. This opens a very wide field, where the differences of the several branches of Christendom meet our view. It requires something like an historical survey.

1. Such a survey must include the New Testament itself; but marking the essential difference between its several types of doctrine and those that appear in the Church after inspiration had ceased. It is important to have a clear conception of this. The sum of Scriptural teaching is the combination of many elements which the Holy Ghost fashioned into unity. As the history of the redeeming government of mankind runs on, the gradual evolution of doctrine generally and of individual doctrines runs on with it; and as all events converge to the fullness of time so all doctrines converge to the fullness of truth.

Multiplicity and variety are for ever tending to simplicity and unity. The preparatory teaching of the Old Testament and the perfect teaching of the New are one in the unity of prophecy and fulfillment. The same may be said of the predictions of the Gospels before the Pentecost, and their accomplishment afterwards. And there are different types of doctrine in the Apostolic circle. St. John, St. Peter, St. James, St. Paul contribute their several distinct exhibitions of Christian truth, each of which is sharply marked off from its fellows, while all conspire to the unity of the faith. 1 The first Three received each his special charisma or gift, and represented the Savior’s teaching as given to them in its elements by His own lips, before and after the resurrection, and as subsequently expounded to them by the Holy Spirit, according to the Lord's promise. St. Paul was added to the company; he derived his teaching, according to his own testimony, directly from the Risen Savior, who elected the future Apostle from a Rabbinical school, and gave him a specific revelation of the scheme of the Gospel. In one of the Epistles which contain the fullest exhibition of what is new in the evangelical system he says: for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.2 It is most obvious that the method of the Inspiring Spirit was to complete the Christian revelation on the principle of a series of converging developments, the last and highest of which were committed to St. Paul and St. John. This fact will meet us again; it will be our main guide in the Biblical exposition of theology. Meanwhile, it must be remembered that these developments ended with the perfected revelation. Divine doctrine then ceased, and human dogma then began its course. The unity of New-Testament doctrine is perfect.

The Apostle Paul, who seems to introduce so many new elements into his teaching that he is claimed by very opposite parties as the real founder of Christian theology, is the most strenuous of all in asserting that unity, and in denouncing every tendency to divide the Christian Faith into several types. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment .

. . Is Christ divided? 1 Eph. 4:13, 2 Gal. 1:12, 3 1 Cor. 1:10-13.

2. In Christian history the case is different. Christendom soon was partitioned into provinces: the period of perfect unity in theological teaching was very brief. This is not the place to discuss the moral character of this fact: it is with the fact alone we have to do, and with that only in a preliminary way.

(1) During the first six hundred years, the Patristic age proper, the unity of the Faith was expressed by the Ecumenical Creeds: the APOSTLES', which gradually expanded the Baptismal Formula, the NICENE, which introduced a more theological definition of the Holy Trinity in Unity, the ATHANASIAN, which still more fully expanded this, and added to it the precise definition of the Incarnation. Scarcely were the Three Creeds lodged in the universal Faith than the first division of Confessional theology took place: that between the ORIENTAL and the WESTERN Confessions. Beginning with the difference of a word, the insertion of the FILIOQUE to express the procession of the Spirit from the Son as from the Father, the breach wore on, and the two Theologies have had ever since their marked types: that of the East contemplative, mystical, unprogressive, and teaching rather by symbol than by creeds; that of the West abounding in analysis, always progressive, and developing every truth to its utmost issues. The Greek or Oriental Creed, mainly though not exclusively represented by the Orthodox Church of Russia, holds to the decisions of the seven (Ecumenical Councils from 325 to 787, the Nicene Creed being its basis. Since the Reformation it has issued several Confessions, that of Peter Mogila in 1643, the Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem 1672, the Catechism of Philaret, sanctioned in 1839. Oriental divinity has many points of specific distinction from that of the West.

From the Roman Catholic it differs by rejecting the doctrine of the Papacy, by some modifications of the Seven Sacraments, by denying the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, by circulating the Bible in the Vernacular, and, as a consequence of the first of these differences, by the assertion of its own absolute supremacy as the only orthodox and true representative of Christianity on earth Classing Romanism among the schisms and heresies as the eldest born among them, it nevertheless agrees with Rome in the great bulk of its doctrines, and has no affinity with Protestantism save in its rejection of an infallible human authority and the consequent possibility of its own reformation.

(2) The Romanist and Protestant types of theology have divided the Western world for three centuries: united as they undoubtedly are in many of the most fundamental verities, their differences touch almost every essential topic in the administration of redemption and the presence of Christ in His Church. Those differences will meet us only too often: meanwhile it is enough to say that each type of doctrine is developed into a large body of theology. The basis of Romanism was until lately the TRIDENTINE symbols and decrees and canons, or the solemn sanction given by the Council of Trent in the middle of the sixteenth century to the dogmas which had been growing up in the mediaeval times, and were formulated in opposition to Protestantism. In the present century the VATICAN decisions on the Immaculate Conception, 1854, and Papal Infallibility, 1870, have been added to the Tridentine decrees and Roman Catechism of the era of the Reformation. PROTESTANTISM as such, that is, the general system of doctrine which derived its name from the protest against Rome, has many subdivisions, and its confessions are many. Historically considered, these divided into two at the Reformation: the LUTHERAN and the REFORMED; the chief expositors of the former having been Luther and Melanchthon, and of the latter Calvin and Zwingli. These are one in their adhesion to the three ancient Creeds, but specially in the restoration of Holy Scripture to its supreme place as the standard of faith, in the vindication of the fundamental doctrines of grace which in the ancient Creeds had not sufficient prominence, and in the establishment of the Scriptural view of a sinner's personal relations to Christ. But they differ in other respects: mainly in that Lutheran Theology is more deeply sacramental, and the Reformed is pervaded by the revived predestinarianism of Augustine. The chief standard of Lutheran doctrine is the Augsburg Confession of 1530, with Luther's Catechisms of 1529, and the Formula of Concord, 1577. The chief Reformed Standards were the Helvetic Confession of 1564, the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, with the various Confessions of France, Belgium, and Scotland. The Re-formed doctrine has spread more widely, and is now represented by many formularies, among which may be classed the Thirty-nine Articles, and more distinctly the Westminster Confession, which unites most of the English-speaking communions of Calvinism.

(3) In the beginning of the seventeenth century the ARMINIAN, or rather REMONSTRANT, Confession arose in Holland, under the direction of James Harmen, Arminius as a protest against what .has been called, from its second founder, CALVINISM. The supreme principle of this latter type of doctrine is the Absolute Sovereignty of God: its best representative is the Westminster Confession. The Armenian type has for its principle the universality of the benefit of the Atonement and the restored freedom of the human will as an element in the doctrine of the Divine decrees. The Remonstrance presented by the followers of James Arminius contained five articles, of which the following is the substance: that God elected to salvation, or to reprobation, those whose faith or whose final disbelief He foresaw; that Jesus Christ died for all, but only believers receive the benefit; that repentance and renewal are of the Spirit's operation; that the grace which effects this may be finally resisted; that the question of a necessary final perseverance must be left undecided. These Five Points, the last of which was afterwards made more explicit, have been the foundation of Arminianism in Holland, and in England, where it leavened theological thought to a great extent. In the Revival of the last century the original Methodists were distinguished from the followers of Whitefield as Arminians.

But the immediate successors of Arminius declined from sound faith in some particulars; and in its own country the system is deeply tinctured with Socinianism and Rationalism.

(4) All these Confessional types are exhibited in the systematic teachings of the larger communions into which the modern Church is divided. Nor are there any other, unless a UNITARIAN type is admitted: there was after the Reformation a Socinian Confession; but that, as a Confession, has vanished, scarcely any trace of its peculiarities being found in modern Unitarianism, which has its most productive field in America, and can scarcely be distinguished from pure Theism. Nor can there be said to be an ECLECTIC or LATITUDINARIAN system: for these words apply to no one particular type of Christian doctrine.

(5) METHODIST theology, which has spread during the last century over a very wide area of Christendom, is Catholic in the best sense, holding the Doctrinal Articles of the English Church, including the Three Creeds, and therefore maintaining the general doctrine of the Reformation. It is Arminian as opposed to Calvinism, but in no other sense. Its peculiarities are many, touching chiefly the nature and extent of personal salvation; and with regard to these its standards are certain writings of John Wesley and other authoritative documents.

III. There is a third view to be taken of development in the theology of the Christian Church: having reference to the form it has in all ages taken from external circumstances.

This also will be best seen in such a brief review as may serve to indicate the importance of the study of the ecclesiastical history of doctrine or dogma, and, at the same time, prepare the way for those historical summaries which will be given under the several heads of the following course.

1. In the Patristic Church—including the ante-Nicene and post-Nicene periods down to Gregory, A.D. 600—there were schools of theological thought, which represented almost all the later tendencies. For instance, Asia Minor and Antioch, Alexandria, and North Africa were severally centers of three very distinct kinds of teachings: the first, more faithful to Scripture and Apostolical tradition; the second, blending philosophical speculation, allegorical interpretation, and the mystical element with its Christianity; and the third, hard, real, and dialectic. The early writers in these distinct schools betray their influence in every age, and in all their views of Christian doctrine, and the same influence extends downwards, more or less, through subsequent times. These schools reign still without the names.

2. During the earlier part of the Middle Ages, superstition molded tradition into forms of doctrine that more and more diverged from the Scriptural standard. This was a period, however, of comparative stagnation, as contrasted with the luminous activity of the post- Nicene age and with the deep theological devotion of the Schoolmen beginning with Anselm about 1100. The Scholastic divinity in the universities of Christendom wrought up the materials it inherited into systematic forms, which carried dialectic subtlety and philosophical speculation to their highest point. By the toil of many indefatigable minds it laid the foundation of the complete system of Roman Catholicism as formulated in the Council of Trent; while, at the same time, it transmitted its methods to Protestantism, the first century of which almost rivaled the work of the medieval doctors in analytical severity and completeness. Whatever deductions may be made from the value of its results, the Christian Church owes very much to the industry and devotion of the Schoolmen. Systematic theology had its origin in their labors.

3. Through all these, however, struggled the Mystical spirit, which controlled a large part of the Scholastic theology, and penetrated every branch of the Christian Church, influencing the doctrines of each by turns. Its law of development is the independent teaching of God in communion with the human spirit: independent, first, as without the external means of grace, and, secondly, as given to the individual apart from all others.

The theology of every period, and of every region of Christendom, has received the impress of this law working lawlessly: its operation has touched Pantheism at the one pole, and at the other merely imparts a mystical coloring to Christian doctrine and devotion. Consequently, it is impossible to characterize Mystical theology as one distinct whole; and still more evidently is it wrong to brand it with indiscriminate condemnation.

Its earliest Christian representative, the pseudo-Dionysius, teaches with all his errors a sublime doctrine of the Supreme and of man's communion with Him; and the purest spirit of self-renouncing consecration pervades the writings of Scotus Erigena and other Mystics who held the leading doctrines of the Christian Faith. The Theologia Germanica, a work which transmitted to modern times the ancient Mysticism, was made by Luther almost one of the textbooks of the Reformation. From that time downwards Mystic devotional theology reappears in every region of Christendom. Romanism has had its several types in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany; and its Mystical writers, apart from their unevangelical and quietistic errors, carry devotion into a very high region. Every community of Protestantism has had its representatives both of the sound and of the unsound Mysticism. In some it has passed into a transcendental theosophy, Jacob Behmen being their expositor; in others, into a fanatical independence of external revelation, and indifference to the common fellowship of the Church; in others into a visionary religion of intuitional sentiment and feeling. But its healthiest manifestations have been simply a tribute to the pure Mysticism of the New Testament; a protest against the mere form and externality of godliness; and the true expression of all that is high and unearthly in communion with God.

4. In every age, but especially in these last times, theology in the Church has been influenced by a tendency the opposite of that of Mysticism: the spirit of Rationalism, which makes the human understanding the measure of the truth it accepts. Rationalism is either philosophical or critical: the former has aimed to recast Christian doctrine, and make it the manifold expression of its own ideas; the latter has been destructive, eliminating from the faith everything that human reasoning cannot explain. In both these forms it has widely influenced the development of Christian theology, though both may be said to carry their doctrine to a region altogether outside of Christendom. The term Rationalism, as signifying one of the elements that mould religious thought, may be restricted to the latter meaning. It is the spirit which perpetually labors to make the truths of revelation acceptable to the human understanding. In a very different sense from that of the Apostle, it testifies only that which it has seen: seen with the eye of reason alone.

Accepting the Christian Faith as a whole, it claims to give a good account of it to the intuitions and judgments of men; but this at the expense of all that is transcendent, mysterious, and past finding out in the ways of God with mankind.

5. The other aspect of Rationalism may more appropriately be termed Speculation in theology. Speculation starts from certain a priori determinations which thought finds in itself as the necessary and primary ground of all being and thinking. It fixes upon its point of observation, and speculates or regards attentively the whole field of possibilities from that point of view. Hence it constructs its own philosophy of religion from subjective principles. It aims to understand Christianity as the expression of eternal laws governing the universe. The result has been an ever-shifting variety of theological conceptions of the sum of things. The characteristics of each system have been marked by some primary category or law of thought to which all is reduced: in that of Scotus Erigena it was the idea of Nature uncreated, creating and created; in Leibnitz the Monad; in Spinoza, the one eternal Substance, with its attributes of thought and extension; in German transcendental philosophies, all more or less theological, the idea of the absolute, the Ego and non-Ego, the Idea, Each makes the Christian revelation the eternal and necessary expression of its own self-gendered thought. But another application of the term speculative in relation to theology requires to be mentioned: that which simply implies a disposition to push inquiry into the fringe of thick darkness which encompasses the circle of every revealed doctrine, and to fill up the chasms in the system of truth at every point. It is the undue exercise of imagination in the religious domain; and it differs from Rationalism only in this, that it does not reduce faith to knowledge, as if we must perfectly know in order to believe, but rather strives to include within the sphere of knowledge what is left to the acceptance of naked faith. With speculative theology, however defined, we ought to have but little to do.

6. Finally, there are healthy developments in theology, and especially in some branches of it, which are guided by the general advancement of human affairs. With the progress of human culture theology progresses. In its relation to science, philosophy, learning, and civilization generally, it both gives and receives. It absorbs the good influences, and counteracts the evil, of the times. It begins, as it were, afresh in every land in which it is planted and grows with its growth. The tree is everywhere the same, and its fruit the same; but its development varies with the influences of soil and culture. In every Christian Church theology is, at this moment, undergoing as a science manifold and obvious improvement; and each community contributes its part to the general advance.

But this leads to the last branch of our general proposition.


Christian Theology is the systematic arrangement of the truths pertaining to the revelation of God. It may lay claim to the character of a science: its aim is scientific, as it is the basis of practical religion: its methods also are scientific, in the best and only legitimate sense. But theological science has peculiarities which distinguish it from all others, and must be kept in view by every student.

I. The aim of theology is to exhibit the grounds and principles, the connection and harmonies, the results and applications, of the facts of revelation. In common with every science, it obeys the law of the human mind, which demands that the materials of its knowledge should be inductively generalized and systematically arranged; and, in common with every science, it arranges its materials for use and practical application.

Theology is the science, and Religion is the art. The two derivations of the word RELIGION—from Relegere, or Religare—blend, as we have seen, in making it the practice of the duties that flow from man's relation to God. Whether more subjective, according to the former, or more objective, according to the latter, it is, and has ever been, the art or practice of the Divine service. The reasons, obligations, laws, arguments, and results of this service are set forth in the science which is its foundation. And, as religion is from God, so also is theology. The Bible is as full of the science as it is of the art of religion. It will be seen hereafter that there is a distinction between Biblical and Systematic theology; but that distinction does not involve the exclusion of theological science from the Bible: almost every treatise in it refuses to allow this. Wherever man's duty to God is taught, there must be the establishment and enforcement of its grounds; and Holy Scripture encourages both the theoretical and the practical study of Divine truth.

II. The methods of theology are scientific. It observes, tests, and arranges facts and makes generalizations; it uses both the inductive and deductive processes of argument; it depends upon the same primary laws of thought upon which those processes rest; and it sets out, as all legitimate human inquiry must set out, with a firm faith in certain truths which lie behind experience, being inwrought into the fabric of our minds: such as the primary law of causation and all that it involves, and the validity of those laws of belief which are innate. But the facts of our science are gathered from regions some of which are thought to be interdicted to scientific observation. There is the sacred deposit of original truths in the constitution of man's nature. There are the economies of Creation and Providence. There is the boundless storehouse of the Word of God; and there are the innumerable testimonies of common experience, of which Scripture is the test, while they confirm the Scripture. Strictly speaking, all these regions of observation are one, inasmuch as every element of religious consciousness, and every lesson of the external universe, is wrought up into the fabric of Divine revelation. We cannot take a step further without the assurance that these are legitimate fields of observation, the facts or phenomena of which are as real as the facts with which physical science has to do.

Theological science is dissipated at once if this is denied. Supposing it granted, then there remains only the careful, honest, and religious observance of the accepted laws of reasoning. The result, whether by analysis or synthesis, is the scientific presentation of each doctrine and class of doctrine and the entire compass of theology. In this way, that is by the rigorous processes of induction and deduction, systematic theology arrives at a clear and distinct apprehension of every article of the Faith. For instance, its doctrine of sin is the result of a wide and exhaustive examination of a large number of testimonies in Scripture and in experience which force conviction on the mind that one, and one only, theory can account for all the facts. The same may be said of its doctrine of the Person of Christ, which is inductively established by a comparison of many passages, none of which individually contains a formal statement. Of this we shall have manifold other illustrations as we proceed.

III. Hence a distribution of the truths of revelation in systematic forms, which combine into a complete encyclopedia of theological science. A comprehensive view of this divides it into Biblical, Historical, and Dogmatic; each of these, however, more or less penetrating the others, and all combining to form what may be called Systematic divinity.

1. BIBLICAL THEOLOGY, in its widest meaning, includes the criticism and study of the text of Scripture; its construction as a whole; the laws of exegesis and their application, or Hermeneutics; its archaeology, geography, and history; and all that belongs to the Introduction to the Bible. More restricted in meaning, it is the arrangement of the theology of Scripture in its own terms and according to its own laws of development and classification. In this sense it is the foundation of all theology properly so called: every doctrine, as will be seen, having its own and proper Biblical development.

2. HISTORICAL THEOLOGY embraces ecclesiastical history in its whole compass, or the history of the kingdom of God within and without the Scripture; including all that belongs to the Church, its antiquities, ceremonies, and jurisprudence, but especially the progress and development of Christian doctrine through the ages of controversy and formation. It is in this latter sense that we shall use the term: endeavoring to present every specific article of the Faith in its evolution in ecclesiastical systems.

3. DOGMATIC or DOCTRINAL THEOLOGY includes both the doctrine and ethics of Christianity in their scientific arrangement, with their apology and defense; in it doctrine as taught in Scripture, and dogma as taught in the Church, are one.

4. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY may be said, more or less, to include all these: it takes the system of doctrine as its basis, but illustrates it from history, and verifies it by Scripture.

It has this peculiarity, that, while the other three may be independent of any particular standard, every work on systematic theology more or less bears the impress of one confessional stamp.

5. Of this fact the present course will be an illustration: exhibiting the compass of Divine truth, whether as presented in Scriptural forms, or as molded by ecclesiastical development, or as dogmatically stated in its results. It will first treat of the Christian Religion, and of its Documents as the DIVINE RULE OF FAITH: including the topics of Revelation, Inspiration, Canon, with such exhibition of the credentials or evidences of the Faith as are consistent with the strictly dogmatic character of our course. This is the necessary introduction to the supreme doctrine concerning GOD: His Being, Essence, Names, and Attributes. The consideration of these subjects will lead to the relations of GOD AND THE CREATURE. Then follows the doctrine concerning SIN: its origin, nature, and universality. The MEDIATORIAL MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST, His Person, and His Work, as objectively finished on earth and in heaven, will next demand prolonged attention, leading to the ADMINISTRATION OF REDEMPTION, including Personal Salvation, the Ethics of the Gospel, and the Institutions of the Christian Church. All must needs be closed by the doctrines pertaining to the LAST THINGS.

IV. It is of great importance that the mind should be imbued at the outset with a sense of the possibility and the advantage of a well-articulated system. In the organic unity of Christian truth every doctrine has its place in some cycle of doctrines, while all the lesser systems revolve around their common centre. And it is one of the fruits of theological study to enable the student to locate every topic at once. But not only so. There are rich and profound harmonies among these truths; and every doctrine, having its proper place, has also its relations to almost every other: the quick discernment of these relations is another fruit of devout and earnest inquiry. Putting the two together, the high aim of the proficient in this study should be to discover all the affinities and connections of the truths of the Christian system. It may be objected that such scientific precision in the definitions and demarcations of doctrine is out of keeping with the free spirit of Christian theology. It is customary to point to the rich and irregular luxuriance of Scripture. But the Scripture is altogether on the side of order. Some parts of it are as systematic as they could be made; and none are without system. It has, and bids us have and hold, the ugiainontwn, the form of sound words. 1 St. Paul distinguishes between the words of faith and the words of good doctrine, 2 which he exhorts Timothy to combine in their unity. Of course, the effort to systematize must be governed by a higher aim, and guarded against the danger to which it is peculiarly exposed. Theology, the city of God, is built, as it were, upon seven hills, which are the great doctrines that may be discerned to be fundamental. These several hills of the Lord are not sharply separated from each other, but throw out their spurs in all directions, making it hard to show where one department of truth ends and another begins. To maintain the distinctions without marking them too mechanically is the aim of sound theological science.

1 2 Tim. 1:13, 2 1 Tim. 4:6.

V. It remains only to mark the sacred peculiarities of this study. True as it is that its methods are the same which are employed in the inductive sciences, it is also true that its materials are partly or mainly collected in a region which merely human science cannot penetrate, and where a special kind of demonstration is alone attainable. It is wrong to place theology on a level with the inductive sciences: it is either below them, or above them, or both, according to the spirit in which it is viewed.

1. There is a sense in which the entire round of theological truth is matter of faith: even those facts which belong to the consciousness of every man are connected with great verities that are delivered to faith from the invisible world, Now, faith is the inward assurance of things not seen, and makes the materials of theology as real and certain as the things that physical science has to deal with. But that faith is not altogether common to man; it is connected with certain moral conditions; and, to those who have it not, theology in every form is only an incomprehensible pseudo-science. They retort upon it its own words, and brand it as science falsely so called. 1 Not that they entirely reject the study of Divine things: to them also there is a Science of Religion, or of the superstitions and quasi-spiritual delusions of mankind. To those who believe it is the truest, most comprehensive, and not least exact of all the sciences; and it is not their fault if it remains, nevertheless, a region of esoteric mysteries into which they alone are initiated.

1 1 Tim. 6:20.

2. Mystery is everywhere in this knowledge: its simplest elements are things unsearchable by the faculties of man. This is to some extent true of all other sciences; they all have their mysteries, in both the Scriptural senses of the term: things brought to light that have been long hidden, and things unsearchable, the signs of which only are seen. The latter always wait on the former; when the mystery ceases to be a matter reserved from knowledge, it ceases not to be a matter reserved from reason. This is true of the impenetrable things of nature; it is a mistake to think that when science has discovered the laws that govern the wonderful phenomena with which it deals, the mystery ceases. The simplest elements of every department of knowledge are things unsearchable by human faculties. Supposing scientific research to be successful in penetrating every secret of nature, so far as to find the secondary cause of every effect, there is still a large residuum over which it broods, waiting for light which probably will never come. But the theological mystery is confessedly great. 1 Every doctrine, however bright and blessed in itself, is compassed about with thick darkness; every page and every line of its record " exit in mysterium." There are, and will ever be, great antitheses or, as men call them, contradictions in thought which our limited capacity is unable to reconcile. Metaphysical thinking is compelled to leave these antinomies unsolved wherever the finite and the infinite meet. Our science also has its speculative region, into which reason soars, but the logical understanding cannot follow. Moreover, and finally, it has revelations to deal with which appall the minds which they baffle: the dread and awful truths which are its dark side, having their reflections in human experience and the ordinary course of nature, but not the less a stumbling block on that account. All these are the cross of theology, which to itself is its glory, to unbelieving man its reproach.

1 1 Tim. 3:16.

3. Like every other science, but in a peculiar sense, theology has much in it of the " petitio principii." It assumes many irreducible first axioms. The consciousness of self, the consciousness of a world not self, the consciousness of God neither self nor the world, we may seek to demonstrate, but they are postulated in the demonstration. It will appear, as we proceed, how often and in what various ways theology seems, in its general credentials and in its defense of every doctrine, to argue in a circle. This is a necessity of which it need never be ashamed, and no truly philosophical or scientific mind will charge this as an offence.

4. In common with all the sciences, theology has its phraseology of conventions: partly of scriptural precedent or suggestion, partly of human appointment. Conventional terms are necessary in all knowledge: the symbols of ideas once settled are, and ought to be, unchangeable. The systematic arrangement of Divine truth requires them, and has enlisted them in great variety. It has its precise technical terminology, the fixing of which has been the result of sound inductive processes, and the accurate maintenance of which gives its precision to our study. Revelation, Inspiration, Scripture, Faith, Trinity, Substance, Person, are instances of terms which have their established conventional meaning. The importance of this may be illustrated in the case of two of these terms in particular. Inspiration is a word in common use to signify an influence breathed upon or flowing into the mind from any external source, as opposed to its own inherent operations: hence it has a current philosophical and literary application. In religious matters it also signifies any influence or energy of the Holy Spirit in the awakening of spiritual feeling. But it has in theology a conventional meaning, which is limited to the direct and specific discipline of the Inspiring Spirit preparing the writers of Scripture for their task; and to that use of it the term is strictly to be appropriated. Again, the word Person has a variety of applications. It signifies generally the ground of personality, or of independent, conscious, responsible action. But it has in theology a specific relation both to the doctrine concerning God and to the doctrine concerning Christ. As to the former, it is used conventionally to distinguish the Three Persons in the unity of the one Divine essence. The personal God is known to us as Three Persons; and the term which has been long established stands simply as the symbol of an incomprehensible mystery. As to the latter, the indivisible Person of Christ signifies the result of the union of His two natures.

The conventional term has here another and distinct use, being again the symbol of a mystery equally unfathomable with that of the Triune personality. The same term has its different conventional use in these two supreme subjects: and its applications must be remembered and respected. But every department has its own specific theological vocabulary. They will defend themselves as we proceed: meanwhile, the student should be impressed with their importance, making it a law of his study to define them carefully and hold them fast tenaciously.

5. Theological science, in conclusion, has a Divine sanction, influence, and control, which no other can claim. There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them under-standing in every department of knowledge. But in theology, which seeks in all truth its relation to God and eternity, there is the guarantee of a special guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. His witness is not given only to the personal acceptance of the believer; it is a testimony to the doctrine on which his experience rests.

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 us of God. 1 This declaration of St. Paul refers to nothing less than the whole compass of theology, as it unfolds the deep things of God; and, what is more, it assures us that the sufficient knowledge of these deep things is not the prerogative of inspired Apostles only, but is the common privilege of all who receive the Divine Spirit as a Teacher. The theological student who does not imprint this truth on his heart at the outset goes on his perilous way without the strongest incentive for the encouragement of his labors. In this study the Holy Ghost more than blesses the diligent mind: He directs its pursuits, shapes its conclusions, and sanctifies its reasoning. The first condition of the successful pursuit of this science is the submission of the reason to the teaching of the only wise God our Savior.2 In the Holy Scriptures this is laid down as a primary axiom. No one who despises or neglects it will ever be more than a learner, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth; 3 but St. Paul, using the same strong word for a perfect experimental apprehension, says elsewhere that God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, eiv epignwsin alhqeiav. 4 The intellectual and spiritual perception of truth which is denied in the one case and affirmed in the other is expressed by a phrase which the Apostle never uses save for the highest certitude of knowledge. The sum of all is that no one who steadfastly relies on the Heavenly Teacher will fail to reach the full assurance of understanding, 5 in relation at least to that knowledge which is all that is essential to man, THE MYSTERY OF GOD, even CHRIST.

1 1 COR. 2:12, 2 JUDE 23, 3 2 TIM. 3:7, 4 1 TIM. 2:4, 5 COL. 2:2.