Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

“ That ro man can, with justice, apply the term lateness to the preaching of the gospel, unleis it be in his power to ascertain the proportion which the age of Tiberius bears to the future, as well as to the past, an i to deterinine for hv many ages the Cellor of the Uni. verle intends that the fabric of the univers, and all that is in it, should exift."

Lateness, were it chargeable at all, does not depend on what is to come, but on what is pait. When, afterwards, he reminds us that there are many reasons for delay, known only to him with whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years, he then, with ourselves, rcfolves all into the wisdom of the Creator. The reasoning from analogy, which follows, is perfectly correct, but, of course, fimilar to what is found in other authors. We do, indeed, admit, that the nations of the worid, while funk in ignorance, were not so well qualified for the reception of the gospel, as after the promulgation of the Jewish religion, and the consequent belief of one God. We will allow that the evidence derived from prophecy would have been less, but the plain evidence of miracles might have been the same, and, as Christianity seems at last to have succeeded best amongst the unlarned, we can hardly think that all the learning and knowledge of which the world was then poilelfed, could be, humanly speaking, requisite to such fucceis, cspecially when we consider the pride, vanity, and abuses, which ihen exifted. We hope the author will'excuse țhis freedom, because we would wiih to have no argument üdvanced which will not bear the strictest examination. And having reluctantly made this animadversion, we fhall analyze this work with greater satisfaction, because we have very little to objiet to, and much to commend.

In the concluding part of the first discourse, he answers the cavils of those who ask what will become of them to whom the gospel was not revealed? And, in doing this, he makes a proper distinction between them to whoin it was offered, and them to whom it was altogether unknown. That there is not Salvation, but by Jesus Christ, is the language of the gospel, but what allowances will be made for ignorance and prejudice cannot be known. The times of Heathen ignorance God overlooked, but when he vouchsafed a revelation, it certainly could not be discretionary in man to receive or reject it, without being ultimately accountable to his Creator.

In the fecond discourse the author endeavours to prove that the belief of the unity of God was necessary to be eltablished with some one nation at least, to prepare that nation and qihers for the reception of Christianity, and we wish that they

who

[ocr errors]

who carry on the controversy concerning natural religion would attend to this one observation :

In reviewing the history of religion, it is a point of extreme nicety and difficulty to distinguish exactly between the discoveries of reason and the remains of early tradition.” P. 32.

He concludes his discourse in the following manner:-

It is not for your sakei, o house of Israel, that I do this, but for mine holy name's fake. It is not on account of your own merit, or for the sake of your own prosperity, that I have distinguished you with peculiar marks of my favour, but it is to glorify my great name, that all the world may fee and confess that I am indeed the true God, and that there is none beside me.”

In the third discourse the author points out the methods made use of to keep the Israelites distinct from all other nations. He then takes a view of their religious and civil institutions, most of them peculiar, and calculated to keep that people separate from all others. And as to the pretended perpetuity of the obligation of the ceremonial law, it is obvious that the impollibility of observing it is a strong argument. For, to use the author's words

Their temporal and their spiritual state, which were, in fact, one and the same thing, which gradually rofe together to the height of their fame and splendour, were both destroyed where the purpose of their establishment was fulfilled."

In the fourth discourse the author thews the connection there was between

“ The religious inftitutions of the Jews and the essential doctrines of Christianity, and in what fenfe, under what limitations, the former are to be considered as figures and types of the latter."

And here he properly observes, that truth lies between two extremes, between the reveries of mysticism and a scrupulous adherence to liberal interpretation. He exemplifies the use of types in the language of the prophets, originally derived from hieroglyphics, and, after observing that Christian writers have divided types into three claffes-11, the remarkable events in the history of the Jewish people—2dly, the characters of illustrious persons, Patriarchs, Kings, or Conquerors---3dly, the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion, he seems justly to remark

“ That we cannot be wrong in refusing to acknowledge any circum:tances in the Old Testament to be a hadow or tokin of Chrift, unless the writers of the New Teitament have declared it to be fo." K4

What

[ocr errors]

What the Jews thought of their facrifices cannot now be well ascertained, but, surely, if the author allow that serious and pious men must have raised their thoughts to a higher and better atonement, they not only would attend their worship with greater zeal, but would interpret it in a way purposely intended by the Almighty. We agree with the author, that the Almighty, by his prophets, was continually preparing their minds for the abolition of their facrifices; that the displeasure which the Holy Spirit expresses was not to announce such intended dissolution, but to reprove the wickedness of them who offered. When outward obfervances do not lead to inward purity, they are abominable in the fight of God. When Christ came the use of the types was the same to Jew and Gentile, and of whatever was prescribed, either before or under the law, Christ was the end to every one that believed,

The fifth discourse states the leading prophecies concerning Christ. The fixth proves that all the fortunes of the Jewith people, their political revolutions, and their alternate changes from power and prosperity to humiliation and flavery, all contributed to the great purpose of preserving in the world the knowledge of the true God, and of preparing the way for the promised Mesliah. A review is taken of the history of the Jews, and reasons aligned why God did not make a full end of them.

“ For what purpose they are still reserved, cannot be pronounced with certainty, until it thall please the Almighty to remove the veil from cur eyes.” P. 183.

In the seventh discourse such a view is taken of the history of the world as to shew that, at a certain period, the civilized parts were placed under the dominion of one particular people, with a view to facilitate the propagation of the Christian religion, and this is done, that the younger part of the audience may not consider history as a jejune narrative of uninterefling facts, or as an argument for ihe pen of the historian, or the orator, but as a record of the power and providence of God. The connection of the several parts of the Roman empire facilitated communication with each other, and, we may add, that the dependence of Judea upon Rome was the means of St. Paul's appealing to Cæsar, and preaching the gospel in the capital of his dominions.

The fulness of time is more immediately considered in the eighth discourse, and it was justly said to be come, because then was the time which the Holy Spirit had fixed for the appearance of the great deliverer of mankind, because he pas universally expected, and because all the methods, by which

God

God had thought proper to prepare for his approach, had been brought to full maturity. The state of Jews and Gentiles is properly considered, and the superior advantages of Christianity, to nations in general, as well as to individuals, are fairly estimated.

“ If Christianity has already done so much, it may fairly be presumed that it will do more, that its influence bears a proportion to its progress, and that, when its glorious light is diffufed impartially over the world, iis efficacy will become complete. Then we may expect that the ftormy paifions, which at present agitate and convulle the moral world, will be hushed into repose, and the whole race of man will be knit together in the bands of charity and universal love."

That this may be the case, every one will devoutly wish, but we fear the picture is too flattering to be just, and that, as long as man is a free agent, liable to be seduced by temptations, and carried away by his pallions, so long he will fall short of his duty, and give melancholy instances of infirmity and depravity. A general conversion to Christianity does not imply any thing like spotless obedience, but it may, perhaps, have one materially beneficial effect, it may put a stop to wars and contentions, '“ natioa will not then rise against nation, neither will they war any more.” Yet we find that the experience of so many thousand years does not, at present, incline the kingdoms of the world to peace, though conquest itself is, and ever has been, dearly purchased, and attended with little advantage, as if on purpose to teach men that wars and fightings are as contrary to the true temporal interest of society, as they are to the spirit of Christianity, and that aggression is particularly culpable in the eyes of the Prince of Peace.

The ninth discourse, on the process of the Christian religion, is principally intended to obviate objections against its want of universality, and to thew that it must be, in its nature, progreslive, that what has happened already justified those comparisons in the gospel, which mark its present and future success, and that the Christian should wait for the desire of all nations, as the devout Ifraelite did for the confolation of Israel, till all the kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of God and his Chrift.

Upon the whole, the matter of these discourses is well arranged, the language is clear, and often nervous ; no false ornaments of style are fought after, and the fimplicity of exprellion is well suited to the dignity of the subject.

ART.

A

ART. VI. Vancouver's Voyage of Discovery 19 the North

Pacific Ocean, and Round the World, &c.

(Continued from VOL. II. P. 380.) Very particular account is given of the family, connec

tions, and expectations of the Oiaheite Sovereign, which will be peculiarly agreeable to those readers that are acquainted with Capt. Cook's Voyages. The author makes the following reflections, at once humane and judicious, on the advantages derived by the inhabitants from their intercourse with Europe:

“ So import int are the various European implements, and other commodities, now become to the happiness and comfort of these Ilanders, that I cannot avoid reflecting with Captain Cook on the very deplorable condition, to which thefe good people, on a certainty, muit be reduced, should their communication with Europeans be ever at an end. The knowledge they have now acquired of the superiority, and the supply with which they have been furnished of more useful implements, have rendered there, and other European cornmodities, not only effentially necessary to their common comforts, but have made them regardless of their former tools and manufactures, which are now growing fast out of use, and, I may add, equally out of remembrance. Of this we had convincing proof in the few of their bone, or stone tools, or utensils, that were fcen anongit them; those offered for sale, were of rude work manihiy, and of an inferior kind, folely intended for our market to be purchased by way of curiolity, I am likewise well convinced, thit, by a very snall addition to prefent European cloth, the culture of their cloth-plant, which now seenis much neglected, will be entirely disregarded, and they will rely upon the precarious fupply which may be obtaine from accidental visitors, from this and many others, of the most important requisites of social life.

« Under these painful confiderations, it appears that Europeans are bound by all the laws of humanity, regularly to furnish those wants which they alone have created ; and to afford the inhabitants from time to time fupplies of such important useful articles as have been al. ready introduced, and which, having excluded their own native manu. Lactures, are, in inolt respects, become indipensibly necellary to their whole ceconomy of life, in return for which, i valuable consideration would be received in provisions and refreshments, highly beneficial to the traders who may visit the Pacific Ocean.”--. 145, Vol. 1.

From Otaheite they proceeded to the Sandwich Illands, and arrived off Owhyhee. As they stood along fhore they wure surprized at being hailed by a canoe in broken English,

and

« ForrigeFortsett »