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too nearly on the footing of mere Hebrew literature; and the Apocryphal books are introduced to notice, without any distinct reference to the inferior value of the new authority. · Not to insist strongly on the degrading effect of the modernized terms, Sheik, Emir, and Vizier, repeatedly introduced, Jacob's prophecy is a poem ;· the prophets are constantly poets; David himself is excused for adopting "fierce and vindictive" language, as being "the warrior-poet of a sterner age." The Judges, the divinely-appointed instruments of mercy and deliverance to Israel, are placed in a degrading light: Samson, even in a point of view absolutely ludicrous. The inaccuracy of the narrative is decidedly asserted in the case of Abimelek and Sarah, and doubts of the same kind are frequently insinuated. Ahab's ill-timed lenity to the Syrians, though sternly rebuked by a prophet of God, is only held to be a “criminal weakness, according to the existing notions." It is maintained, that "the prosperity of the state under David and Solomon amply justifies the deviation from the original constitution;" as if in utter forgetfulness of the declared anger of the Almighty at the projected innovation. It should even seem as if it was not so much by the Spirit of God, as by "the gigantic character of the region and empire of Babylon, by which they were surrounded," that Ezekiel and Daniel are excited to prophesy of "imperial dynasties, and wide and universal monarchies."
III. The vague theory of the accommodation of religion to the progressive state of civilization, requires next to be considered. Such importance indeed is attached to it, that to trace it is stated to have been "the design of the earlier history;"-a design which is of itself naturally subversive of a due regard to the more important truths and higher objects of the sacred volume, and which the story of the Jewish people is not calculated very clearly to illustrate.
Few theories are found to obtain a delusive hold on the mind, without having an apparent basis in some acknowledged truth. Such truth in the present case is the declared condescension to the "hardness of the heart" of the Israelites on one or two points of morality; those, for example, relating to divorce, and the law of retaliation. But if it is contended, that the purer principles of the Gospel actually awaited the advance of Jewish refinement, we are soon involved in consequences which neither Scripture nor experience can maintain.
The all-wise Disposer of events could alone determine when that "fulness of time" would come, which should most beneficially introduce the Gospel dispensation, with reference to the condition, not of the Jews only, or even of the Jews in particular, but of mankind at large. In the mean time, these his chosen people were appointed to perform an important part, as the subjects of a temporal dispensation ;-of a law which we are authorized to consider imperfect, not merely as a condescension to the stubbornness of the Israelite, but as also elementary, and figurative, and introductory only to "the bringing in of a better hope." Destitute as they were of the covenanted promise of eternal life, and of those sublimer incitements to obedience, which animate the Christian, shall it be with any confidence asserted, that the higher requisitions of Christian morality could have been even consistently engrafted on their law?— -or farther, that such promise, depending only on the atoning blood of Christ, could have been consistently given thus early, and under a law confessedly incompetent to attain it?
It is moreover observable, that, although the prophets gradually spiritualized the Law of Moses, as in preparation for the Gospel system;-emphatically inculcated the inferiority of ritual observances, when compared with personal holiness, and encouraged that increasing expectatian of eternal recompense, which we find to have prevailed; the Jews, so far from evincing a corresponding improvement, had rather, for several centuries preceding the advent of Christ, fallen into a state of comparative barbarism. Shall it then be inferred with the author, from this theory of progressive refinement, as developed in Jewish history, that Christianity is "the religion of civilized and enlightened man," and by a consequence, from which there appears to be no escape, that the uncivilized and unenlightened offer little hopes of conversion? The divine command to
"teach all nations!" assuredly intimates neither distinction nor reserve. "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free, but Christ is all, and in all."
As it is my leading object to vindicate the sacred canon of Scripture from irreverence and misrepresentation, I am unwilling to extend my remarks to that portion of the history, which, as it depends on merely human testimony, even in the novelties of unauthorized speculation, throws no immediate contempt on an inspired guide. But I cannot altogether abstain from noticing the disappointment, not to say the shock, naturally experienced by the Christian reader, on finding that even the leading and public facts of his Saviour's ministry are not deemed worthy of a place in a history of the Jews. The few cursory observations on the character of Pilate, and the prejudices of the Jews, as calculated to affect his ministry, are no satisfactory substitute;-and the professed exclusion of strictly theological matter offers no apology for the omission of simple narration.-Pp. 8-42.
In the name of all, then, who are impressed with a pious veneration for the religion of their forefathers, we demand that this offensive publication be withdrawn. Surely the publisher, as well as the writer, is bound to suppress, so far as he may yet be able, the circulation of a work so dangerous in its principles; and Mr. Murray will find it to his advantage, even on the score of profit and loss, to cancel it from the otherwise useful and interesting Library, of which it forms a part. We are glad to observe, that a History of the Jews, written with the feelings and the views of a Christian, is about to be published by Mr. Croly; and we trust that so desirable a substitute for Mr. Milman's lucubrations will throw them considerably into the shade.
Popular Dialogues between David and
He who would form a just estimate of the value of our ecclesiastical establishment as a plan of moral and religious instruction, will do well to compare the practical effects of the established system with the practical effects of those schemes which have been adopted by seceders. Let him, however, be careful not to regard the description of those effects as given by parties concerned, but to form his notions from sober and minute observation of real life.
Whatever credit be allowed to the founders of some of our modern sects for zeal for the good of mankind, experience teaches us that their sectarian
zeal has not been according to knowledge, whatever may be said of the knowledge and principles of some few individuals of those who have been brought up amongst those sects. The greater part of those whose education has been confined within their bounds are found to be extremely ignorant, and extremely bigoted. The low and bitter prejudices entertained by the inferior orders of Independents and Methodists against the religious institutions of their country, can hardly be credited by those who have not the means of intimate acquaintance with their mode of talking.
The author of the little work mentioned at the head of this article appears to be well acquainted with the very language and turn of thought much encouraged amongst the lower
orders of those whose religion has been learned in the preaching house and at prayer-meetings. And the reader of the "POPULAR DIALOGUES" will find in the phraseology of "Korah" expression given to the envy and hatred much cultivated against every thing connected with the Church as by law established, and by which the quiet church-going parishioner is continually assailed, and the pious efforts of the parochial minister for the benefit of his charge opposed and thwarted. The building, the bells, the Liturgy, the Clergy, are constant subjects of scornful remarks, which, being heard from childhood, without any inducement to question or examine the grounds for such unfavourable notice, are considered as justly applicable to all that belongs to the church; while the extempore effusions of the local mechanic or the itinerant teacher, are supposed to flow from the very impulse of divine influence.
"David" is a sober church-going parishioner, who meets the sectarist "Korah" with good sense and scriptural principles, often with the words of scripture, and a reference to texts aptly introduced.
It appears from remarks printed upon the cover of No. II. that a Methodist preacher at Huddersfield has tried the "cap," found that it fits, and has appropriated it. From our own knowledge of the language held by Methodists of the lower order in various parts of the country, we are perfectly sure that it is not possible to controvert the matter of fact that "Korah," in the "Popular Dialogues," utters the very expressions much in sometimes use amongst sectaries; from ignorance, at other times for party purposes.
The following may serve as a specimen of the style and manner in which the dialogue is carried on.
Korah having invited David to go with him to "hear a fine man," and David having suggested that he never "wanders from his place," and quoted Jude 12, and Rom. xvi. 17, the dialogue proceeds :
Korah. Well, I do not see how that passage applies to our people.
David. How would you apply it?
Korah. Why, suppose some one or two more of our people in this place were to leave us, and to set up a fresh meetinghouse, it would be making a division; and those persons would come under the apostle's meaning and condemnation. David. So when people divide from you it is the sin of division; but it is no sin of division for you to separate from the Church! Pray, would not those persons that separated from you, who are but a society of very doubtful authority, and still more doubtful utility, be more justified than you are in separating from a Church whose authority and usefulness your founders and leaders never questioned, and none of you can disprove?
Korah. Well, I suppose you know that you have a soul to save: go with me, it may be the last opportunity you may have.
David. I do know that I have a soul to be saved; and I do know also that my soul is as likely to be saved by striving lawfully, (2 Tim. ii. 5.) as by striving unlawfully, or causing divisions. As to this being the last opportunity; if it be so, and I do not go with you, I shall lose nothing.
Korah. But you should go where you can hear the truth.
David. I do so: and I am very sure that if our own minister cannot instruct us in the right way, your teachers cannot. &c. &c.
In page 11, David puts to Korah a few pointed questions, tending to lead to an examination into the practical effect produced upon characters drawn away from the Church by the arts of sectaries. This is an inquiry of no mean importance. Whatever may have been the case in some places at certain fixed periods, we are persuaded, that on an impartial examination into character, sectaries have little ground for boasting on the score of superior regard to truth, meekness, temperance, soberness, and chastity, in those who leave the church to join them, or in those who receive their education amongst them.
Questions on the Catechism of the Episcopal Church. By C. H. TERROT, M. A. Minister of St. Peter's Chapel, Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Wardlaw. 1829. pp. 59.
IN speaking of the above small work, it will only be necessary, in order to give our readers an idea of it,
to quote the author's design, as given by himself in his preface addressed to parents.
When your children appear at chapel, it will be my business, in the first place, to ascertain that they know the Catechism thoroughly and accurately; and when I am satisfied of this, to commence a course of mingled explanation and examination, the object of which will be to explain to them the real nature of the religious doctrines briefly asserted in that formulary, and to direct them to the evidence of Scripture, by which the truth of these doctrines may be proved.
As a directory to guide myself in the examination of the children, I have drawn up the following series of Questions; and I have printed them, that all of you may be enabled to co-operate with me, and to assist your children in preparing for their examination in chapel. This little work consists of Questions upon the Church Catechism, without answers affixed, except in a few cases of particular difficulty or importance. At almost every question, however, you will find reference made to one or more texts of Scripture, and from these texts the proper answer to the question may be easily deduced.
But I would particularly request you to observe, that the repetition of the text referred to is not the answer to the question. A child may easily find the texts in the Bible, and commit them accurately to memory, without bestowing any attention on the doctrine they assert, or their bearing upon the question which has been asked. But he cannot deduce from them a short and precise answer, however defective or erroneous it may be, without some reflection or examination. Should the answer be defective, it will then be my business to supply the deficiency, and should it be erroneous, to point out how the catechumen has misapprehended the sense of Scripture. At the same time he must be able to repeat the texts of Scripture, as being the evidence by which he proves the propriety of his answer.
In the case of the youngest children of the class, it will probably be necessary for their parents, in almost every instance, to supply them with a proper answer, while the eldest children may be expected, in almost every instance, to deduce it for themselves. In every case, however, and as a general rule, I would advise that no more assistance be given than is actually requisite, and that every child be urged and encouraged to employ whatever intelligence he possesses in discovering the sense of Scripture. I would also observe
The sixth and tenth lines of this extract are in a metre we cannot scan; but they are not the only verses of that kind; for, though there be, we believe, six or eight lines in the two cantos, which would not disgrace the Laureate himself, the rest are about as miserable devices as were ever perpetrated by a bard in the frenzy of imagination, or the lunacy of rhyme.
There are six pieces, called "Stanzas," appended to the poem, prefaced by the following advertisement :
I confess, that if, after reading a long Poem, I find no short ones at the end of the volume, I am disappointed. Some refreshment is requisite after "the burden and heat of the day." Many readers of the foregoing Cantos will probably say so; and, as I would not willingly occasion offence or uneasiness, I leave the subsequent pieces with them. The fare may not prove sumptuous; but he is not to be blamed who offers his best, and means well.-Prosper, THOU! the works of our hands upon us. Amen.-P. 122.
These stanzas are almost as good as any ever indited by Sternhold and Hopkins-though not quite. It would have been as well, had they been left in the place whence they have been transplanted. They may edify the readers of the Christian Guardian; but in these days, when piety is so common, and good poetry so scarce, it can hardly answer the purpose of a publisher, or a reader, to waste his attention on performances of the kind. Mr. Bryan means well, we doubt not, but his forte is not among the Muses.
In conclusion, had we not considered it our duty to lift up our voice against the growing fashion amongst our divines, to print their sermons in rhyme, as well as to state the truth as critics, we would have spared the author the trouble of reading these remarks, which, though apparently harsh, are directed to his benefit.
The Christian Student: designed to assist Christians in general in acquiring religious Knowledge. With Lists of Books adapted to the various Classes of Society. By the Rev. E. BICKERSTETH, Minister of Sir George
Wheeler's Chapel, Spital-square. Second Edition. 1829. 12mo. Pp. xii. 661. 9s. 6d. London : Seeleys.
The Christian Hearer: designed to shew the Importance of hearing the Word, and to assist Christians in hearing with profit. By the Rev. E. BICKERSTETH. 1829. 12mo. Pp. x. 327. London: Seeleys.
It is with the deepest regret that we are impelled to withhold our unqualified approbation from these volumes. They have obtained a wide circulation among a certain class of readers, and they unquestionably exhibit considerable reading and research. Mr. Bickersteth is, we have no doubt, a pious, well-meaning, and zealous man; but his strong Calvinistic tenets render him a very dangerous guide in the study of the Scriptures. On this score we are bound to caution the student against many of the positions which he will find maintained in his writings; and to place them on their guard with respect to many of the books which he recommends. In the general outline, however, of the
Christian Student" more especially, he will find much useful information; and, with his eyes open, the directions laid down may be followed with profit.
Reflections upon the Gospel according to St. John. By W. HEBERDEN, M.D. F. R. S. London: Rivingtons. 1830. 12mo. Pp. 203. Price 4s.
THESE reflections are a sort of running commentary on the leading events and features of St. John's Gospel, and are calculated to prove a useful guide to those who have little leisure for the perusal of the more extended annotations of Biblical interpreters. They are written in a spirit of genuine piety; and the practical observations speak very highly for the religious character of the author. Some ingenious remarks, on points of more abstruse inquiry than are ordinarily discussed in the body of the work, are thrown together in an appendix.