Images de page
PDF
ePub

this spiritual taste, and even account it It has a vast and extended view. It has enthusiasm.

There are various marks or characteristics of a spiritual mind. Self-loathing is a token of such a mind. The axe is laid to the root of a vain-glorious spirit. It maintains, too, a walk and converse with God. "Enoch walked with God." There is a transaction between God and the spiritual mind: if the man feels dead and heartless, that is matter of complaint before God. He looks to God for wisdom for the day-for the hour-for the business in hand.

[ocr errors]

A spiritual mind refers its affairs to God. "Let God's will be obeyed by me in this affair!" His way may differ from that which I should choose; but let it be so! Surely, I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of its mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." Indeed, a spiritual mind has something of the nature of the sensitive plant: "I shall smart if I touch this or that." There is a holy shrinking away from evil.

A spiritual mind enjoys, at times, the influx of a holy joy and satisfaction, so that when bereaved of creature-comforts, it can find such a repose in Christ and his promises, that the man can say, "Well! it is enough, let God take from me what else he pleases."

A spiritual mind is a mortified mind. The Church of Rome talks much of mortification, but it is not radical and spiritual. The spiritual mind must mortify whatever would retard its ascent towards heaven; it must rise on the wings of faith, and hope, and love.

This spiritual mind is a sublime mind.

seen the beauty and glory of Christ, and cannot, therefore, admire "the goodly buildings of the temple:" as Fenelon says of Christ,-he had seen his Father's house, and could not, therefore, be taken with the glory of the earthly structure.

There are various means of promoting a spiritual mind. Beware of saying of this or that evil, "Is it not a little one?" Much depends on the mortifying the body. The temper is too apt to rise; the will let itself loose; the imagination will often hurry us away. Vain company will injure the mind; carnal professors will especially-we catch contagion from such men. Misemployment of time is injurious. Another man's trifling is notorious to all observers; but what am I doing? Avoid all idleness; "exercise thyself unto godliness;" plan for God. Beware of temptation: the mind that has dwelt on sinful objects will be in darkness for days. Associate with spirituallyminded men the very sight of a good man, though he says nothing, will refresh the soul. Finally, contemplate Christ; be much in retirement and prayer; and study the honour and glory of your Divine Lord and Master.-Cecil.

I know not how it is that some Christians can make so little of recollection and retirement. I find the spirit of the world is a strong assimilating principle, and sinking me in among the dregs of a carnal nature. I am obliged to withdraw myself regularly, and to say to my heart, "Where are you? What are you doing."-Ib.

MATERIALS FOR THOUGHT.

In the worst condition, the church hath two faces: one towards heaven and Christ, which is always constant and glorious; another towards the world, which is in appearance contemptible and changeable. God is often nearest to his church, when he seems furthest off. In all

storms, there is sea-room enough in the infinite goodness of God for faith to be carried on with a full sail. Of all troubles, the trouble of a proud heart is the worst. A believer never carves for himself, but he cuts his own fingers.-Toplady's Works.

Unless the mind be under the regulating power of religion, it will be perpetually losing its balance, and changing its tenour. At one time it will be accelerated into indecent and dangerous speed, through the impulse of desire, ambition, or revenge; at another time, it is chilled into languor and inaction, through fear, despondency, and disappointment. We may behold the same person, now believing things incredible, and attempting things impracticable; and anon, staggering at the shadow of a doubt; and shrinking from the slightest appearance of danger. Insolent, fierce, and overbearing in prosperity, the unsteady creature becomes groveling, dispirited, and mean in adversity. "It is a good thing," therefore," that the heart be established by grace." Grace, that calm, steady, uniform principle, which veers not with every wind of doctrine; it rises not nor falls, like the mercury in the tube, with every variation of the atmosphere, with regard to disappointment and success, censure and applause, health and sickness, youth and age. In the day of prosperity, religion saith to the soul, "Rejoice;" and in the day of adversity, "Consider;" for a wise and merciful God hath set the one over against the other. This Divine principle corrects immoderate joy, saying to the happy, "Be not high-minded, but fear :" it consoles and supports the miserable, by breathing the sweet assurance, that "the light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."-Dr.

Hunter.

That is not fortitude, but folly, that unnecessarily exposes ourselves, or those whom we love, to hardship and danger. "If any provide not for his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." It is our care, not our labour and reflection, which we are encouraged to cast upon God.-Ib.

A regard to public utility exists and improves private friendship.

To promote the glory of God, his own virtue, and the good of his fellow-creatures, is the great and constant aim of every good man.

As none is too wise to learn, it is a proof of affection to communicate useful hints; and a high proof of wisdom to take and use them, from whatever quarter they come. There is one Being only, who is not to be instructed. "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?"

Though we cannot successfully imitate eminent men in certain particulars of conduct, or in the display of talents which may be denied to ourselves; yet we are not thereby precluded from the exercise of the inferior talents which we possess, and from a virtuous emulation, where it is possible to succeed. Let me strive to be a Moses in some things, though I am conscious I must fall inconceivably behind him in most others.

Whatever wisdom we may have learned, whatever pleasure we may have enjoyed, whatever comfort we possess, whatever hope we feel,—all is of Thee, pure, eternal, unchanging Source of light, and life, and joy !—Ib.

Frequent retirement from the world is necessary in order to our enjoying communion with God. The prophet Ezekiel was to leave his countrymen, and retire to the plain, where God promised to talk with him; to shut up himself in his house, where God visited him. Thus ministers must find time, much time, for study; and give themselves to reading, meditation, and prayer, that they may be fitted for public worship; and their friends who hinder them by expecting long and unnecessary visits, injure both their ministers, their fellow-Christians, and themselves. It is the duty of all so to contrive their affairs, that they may have time for religious retirement.-Job Orton.

[blocks in formation]

LECTURES on the Acrs of the APOSTLES. With an Appendix, in continuation of the Inspired History, by a Sketch of the Revelation. By JAMES BENNETT, D.D. 8vo, pp. 482.

Gladding, City road.

Dr. Bennett's mode of lecturing on the historical books of the New Testament has always commended itself to our judgments as peculiarly interesting and appropriate. He proceeds on the analytical plan; and thereby draws forth the lessons involved in historic narrative far more successfully than if he had adopted the textual method ordinarily resorted to by mere commentators. And yet he is careful never to overlook those minute criticisms of the sacred text, which the occasional defects of the authorized version may have rendered necessary. It is due to our venerable friend to say, that the general course of his studies, his former occupation as a theological tutor in one of our colleges, and his highly respectable scholarship, fit him, in no ordinary degree, for the function of a sound Biblical critic. Dr. Bennett's theology, too, may always be relied on, as it has suffered no deterioration by passing through the alembic of modern refinement; but stands out in bold defence of the faith once delivered to the saints."

We congratulate the author, as we do the churches of Christ, upon the completion of his valuable series of lectures upon the bis

toric books of the New Testament. As the author of "Lectures on the History and the Preaching of Christ," Dr. B. informs his readers, in the preface to the present volume, that he "has been encouraged to close the Christian history by this volume, on which he may be permitted to make some introductory remarks for the reader's guidance.

"First. To avoid all undue bias, it should be our method, in all such expositions, to commence by translating the original as literally as possible. For though the most literal is not always the most faithful version, it frequently has advantages which the more elegant translation must lose. A version which would have been inadmissible, if published by itself, has, therefore, been suffered here to remain, as wrought into the narrative, and made the basis of the comment. The charm of the Peshito-Syriac lies very much in that kind of simple fidelity which scholars might deem a fault. There is no book of the New Testament which demands more imperatively than the Acts, an appeal from our authorized version to the Greek. For the ignorance or prejudices of our translators, and the commands of their conceited king, have combined to corrupt, in a peculiar manner, this portion of the word of God.

"Secondly. It has been the aim of the writer to keep constantly in view the genius of the Acts, which is historical. If God has varied his revelation, why should we

confound all distinctions by a sameness of
exposition? Let the epistles teach us Chris-
tian doctrine, and the Acts make us ac-
quainted with ecclesiastical history. It had
been easy and pleasant to indulge in theo-
logical reflections where Luke has confined
himself to facts; but he who makes us
better acquainted with the inspired history
of the church, is the real expositor of the
Acts.

"It may, however, be asked, why expound
this book at all? Is it not a narrative suffi-
ciently plain? Are we not, by such attempts,
labouring to paint the diamond, or perfume
the rose? The Acts were, indeed, intelli-
gible enough to those to whom Luke imme-
diately wrote; but lapse of time, and change
of circumstances, have given occasion to ob-
scurities which require an interpreter. Due
diligence would, even now, make the mere
reading of Scripture more useful than it
usually is; but expository lectures have at
least this advantage, that they lead to a more
thoughtful and profitable reading of the
Divine word. For these lectures I would
ask, that each one may be followed, as well
as preceded, by the reading of the corres-
pondent portion of the New Testament.

"The Appendix to this volume, which is
a sequel to the same writer's' Lectures on
the History of Christ,' attempts, by aid of
the Revelation, to complete the inspired
history of the Church to the end of time.

"Of the chronology of the Acts, the fol-
lowing lectures may be thought negligent,
but so is Luke; and as it is impossible to
be sure of the exact dates, the reader is left
to those in the margin of our Bibles, which
are as nearly right as, perhaps, any that have
been framed, from Capel down to our time."

Judas; Acts i. ii.-II. The Descent of the
Holy Spirit at Pentecost; Acts ii.-III. The
first recorded Miracle wrought by the Wit-
nesses of Christ's Resurrection; Acts iii.
-IV. The first Persecution of the Apostles;
Acts iv. 1-31.-V. The Sin and Punish-
ment of Ananias and Sapphira; Acts iv. 32;
v. 16.-VI. Imprisonment and Deliverance
of the Apostles; Acts v. 17, to the end.-
VII. The Institution of Deacons; Acts vi.
1-7.-VIII. The first Christian Martyr ;
Acts vi. 8; vii. passim.-IX. The Gospel
going forth from Jerusalem into the Gentile
World; Acts viii.-X. The Conversion of
the Apostle Paul; Acts ix. 1-31.-XI. The
Miracles wrought on Eneas and Dorcas;
Acts ix. 32 to the end.-XII. The Gather-
ing of the Gentiles into the Church, or the
Throwing Down of the Middle Wall of Par-
tition; Acts x. 1 ; xi. 18.-XIII. The Ori-
gin of the Christian Name; Acts xi. 19 to
the end.-XIV. Peter's Deliverance, and
Herod's Death; Acts xii.-XV.The Mission
of Paul and Barnabas to the Isle of Cyprus;
Acts xii. 25; xiii. 12.—XVI. The Preach-
ing of the Gospel at Antioch, in Pisidia;
Acts xiii. 13 to the end.-XVII. Paul and
Barnabas persecuted, idolised, and restored
to Antioch; Acts xiv.-XVIII. The Ex-
emption of the Gentiles from the Yoke of
the Ceremonial Law; Acts xv. 1-35.-
XIX. The Entrance of the Gospel into
Europe; Acts xv. 36 to the end of chapter
xvi.-XX. Paul at Thessalonica, Berea, and
Athens; Acts xvii.-XXI. Paul at Corinth;
Acts xviii.-XXII. Paul at Ephesus; Acts
xix.-XXIII. Paul at Miletus; Acts xx.
-XXIV. Paul's final Arrival at Jerusalem;
Acts xxi. 1-33.-XXV. Paul's Defence
before the Multitude of the Jews; Acts
xxi. 33, to the end of chapter xxii.-
-XXVI. Paul's Rescue from the Jewish
Sanhedrim; Acts xxii. 30, xxiv. to the end.

Such is our author's own account of the
important volume, which we now introduce
with great satisfaction to our readers. We
are sure they will not think that Dr. Bennett-XXVII. Paul's Examination before Felix ;
has overrated his own labours; but, on the
contrary, that he has spoken modestly of an
undertaking of considerable literary and
theological merit.

Those who wish to peruse the Acts of the
Apostles with an intelligent perception of
the series of facts which they record, can
scarcely resort to a more terse or enlightened
guide than the work before us. The thread
of history is admirably preserved, and the
great lessons inculcated are brought forth to
distinct view with equal ingenuity and force.
We must say, there is a great charm in these
lectures, which renders it impossible to lay
them aside till all are read. Their piety is
fervent, and their theology is after the purest
model, viz., the school of Christ and his
apostles.

The Lectures are thirty-three in number,
and are designated in the following maner :
I. Matthias chosen to be Apostle instead of

Acts. xxiv.-XXVIII. Paul's appearance
before Festus and Agrippa; Acts xxv. xxvi.
-XXIX. Paul's Voyage and Shipwreck;
Acts xxvii.-XXX. Paul at Melita; Acts
xxviii. 1-11.-XXXI. Paul's Arrival at
Rome; Acts xxviii. 12-16.-XXXII. The
Apostolic Ministry to the Jews, at Rome;
Acts xxviii. 17-29.-XXXIII. Paul's two
years' Residence at Rome; Acts xxviii. 30,
31. Appendix.

We have been rather surprised to find this
volume without any table of contents. It is
certainly a defect, and ought to be supplied
when a second edition is called for. Indeed,
considering the mass of interesting matter
contained in the volume, and presented to
the mind of the reader in a clear, scriptural,
and convincing manner, we would suggest
to our venerable friend that an Index, care-
fully executed, would add much to the value
of the work. But with or without these

[blocks in formation]

PRIOR to any manifestation of Divine all-sufficiency, there are certain great primary Truths predicable of the Deity, and necessary in order to such manifestation. These primary Truths are amply developed in the pages of the Scripture, and admit of, or rather conduct to, certain logical deductions, which may be regarded as the principles which regulate the several displays which God has made of himself to his creatures. Now, we may arrive at the knowledge of these principles, either in the way of inference, by deduction, or in the way of actual investigation of the phenomena of divine manifestation, by induction. Dr. Harris has proceeded in both ways;-first, by showing that his principles of divine manifestation, a priori, are fairly deducible from the primary Bible truths announced respecting the Deity; and, secondly, by proving that the same principles are inductively verified by the facts of the divine operation.

We shall briefly sketch and illustrate our author's general principles, reserving for a final article the inductive portion of his most interesting volume.

I. It is argued, then, first of all, "That every divinely originated object and event is a result, of which the supreme and ultimate reason is in the Divine Nature." God not only has a reason for every manifestation he has made of himself, but he is himself the ultimate and adequate reason why every object and event, the result of divine operation, is, and is what it is. "For, if," observes Dr. H., "the origin of everything which may exist must be traced to him as the great first cause, everything will, in some sense, be like him; i.e., it will be, and will be what it is, when it proceeds from him, because he is what he is; for before it was produced, it was potentially included in him. Additional reasons may be found in itself, and in other parts of creation, to account for its existence. And of vast significance may many of these reasons be to the creature. Yet all these will be found subordinate and traceable to that in

finite reason which includes, but is independent of them all, as belonging to the infinite nature of God."

II. A second principle is, "That everything sustains a relation to the great purpose, and is made subservient to it." It is not only a law of every creature's existence, that it is what it is, just because God is what he is; but it is equally a law, or primary condition of the creature's existence that it should contribute to God's Great Manifestation of himself, in fulfilment of his own eternal purpose. "We can conceive, then," observes the author, "of a twofold reason for everything, ad extra :the one, arising from what God is, the other from what he purposes-the former a natural reason, the latter a moral necessity or reason of Divine appointment-the former looking back to its origin, the latter looking onwards to its end. As nothing

which may exist, can have a separate, exclusive, and independent end of its own, everything will find its own end, in answering His."

[ocr errors]

III. The third principle contended for is, "That the Manifestation will be carried on by a system of means, or medial relations." Supposing the author's view of the great relation to be correct, which we sincerely believe, "we may expect," as Dr. H. states, "that that relation, as constituting the medium of the Divine Manifestation, will itself be manifested; or that, in harmony with that primary relation, the whole manifestation will consist of, or be carried on by, a system of corresponding medial relations, (relations rising with the rising nature of the being sustaining them ;) otherwise, that great relation itself will be but partially disclosed, if it be not even entirely, and for ever, unknown.

"Another reason for the medial constitution of the Creation, is, that the Great Relation is not merely the medium of the manifestation, but an important part of it; just as the sun, besides being the medium of vision, is also the glory of the Creation. Now as everything exists for the Divine Manifestation, of which that relation itself is a vital part, everything may be expected to manifest that Relation by itself sustaining a medial relation."

IV. Another principle is, "That everything will be found either promoting, or under an obligation to promote, the great end commensurate with its means and volitions." As, according to the author's view of the Medial Relation, He who sustains it is under obligation commensurate to his means of answering the great end,-so he argues that every other subordinate relation may be expected to be accompanied by obligations corresponding in their number and amount with its power of promoting the

« PrécédentContinuer »