Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

THEOLOGY, AND ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS. one principal ground of argumentation and mere gazer upon the skies, to elicit theię analogy. We have nothing wherewith to order and their real paths. compare them; no invention, no discovery, “ Our knowledge therefore of astronomy no operation or resource of art, which, in is admirable, though imperfect : and, amids this, respect, resembles them. Even those the confessed desiderata and desideranda, things which are made to imitate and repre. which impede our investigation of the wissent them, such as orreries, planctaria, ce, dom of the Deity, in these the grandest of lestial globes, &c, bear no affinity to them, his works, there are to be found, in the in the cause and principle by which their phænomena, ascertained circumstances and motions are actuated. I can assign for this laws, sufficient to indicate an intellectual difference a reason of utility, viz. a reason agency in three of its principal operations, why, though the action of terrestrial bodies viz. in chusing, in determining, in regulatupon cach other be, in almost all cases, ing; in chusing out of a boundless variety through the intervention of solid or Auid of suppositions which were equally possible, substances, yet central attraction does not that which is beneficial ; in determining, operate in this manner. It was necessary what, left to itself, had a thousand chances that the intervals between the planetary orbs against conveniency, for one in its favour , should be devoid of any inert matter, either in regulating subjects, as to quantity and fluid or solid, because such an intervening degree, which, by their nature, were unsubstance would, by its resistance, destroy limited with respect to either." those very motions, which attraction is em

Under each of these heads the author ployed to preserve. This may be a final cause of the difference; but still the differ- proceeds to offer such instances as best cace destroys the analogy.

admit of a popular explication. In this Our ignorance, moreover, of the sen- part of his work he acknowledges the sitive natures, by which other planets are assistance of the Rev. J. Brinkley, of the inhabited, necessarily keeps from us the University of Dublin. knowledge of numberless utilities, relations, The four succeeding chapters contain and subserviencies, which we perceive upon many very striking and judicious reour globe. “ After all; the real subject of admira

marks upon the attributes of that su. tion is, that we understand so much of astro preme intelligence whose existence has nomy as we do. That an animal confined been so clearly demonstrated, from to the surface of one of the planets ; bearing which, if our limits would allow, we a less proportion to it, than the smallesi could select many excellent passages ; microscopic insect does to the plant it lives but we trust, there is not one of our upon ; that this little, husy,' inquisitive readers who has not already determined creature, by the use of senses which were to seek for them in the work itself. given to it for its domestic necessities, and The twenty-sixth chapter, which by means of the assistance of those senses which it has had the art to procure, should treats of the goodness of the Deity, is have been enabled to observe the whole most valuable and satisfactory. system of worlds to which its own belongs;

The concluding chapter shews the imthe changes of place of the immense globos portance of the preceding inquiry, and which compose it; and with such accuracy,

its close relation to the great doctrine as to mark out, beforeirand, the situation of revealed religion, the future life of men. in the heavens in which they will be found After the ample analysis which we

any future point of time; and, that these have now given of this truly admirable bodies, after sailing through regions of void work, we need add nothing, in order to and trackless space, should arrive at the place where they were expected, not within will be evident, that although we have

recommend it to general attention. It a minute, but within a few seconds of a minute, of the prefixed and predicted time: other works of a similar nature and tenthis is wonderful, whether we refer our dency, yet that this is by no means superadmiration to the constancy of the heavenly fluous. Whatever Dr. Paley takes in motions themselves, or to the perspicuity hand, he makes interesting and useful. and precision with which they have been He renders plain truths still plainer: noticed by mankind. Nor is this the whole, he resolves with ease what have been nor indeed the chief part, of whiat astronomy considered as difficulties; and by the teaches. By bringing reason to bear upon perspicuity of his style, the clearness of cxxiest observation), the astronomer has his arrangement, and the simplicity and been able, out of the confusion (for such it the beauty of his illustrations, he captia is) under wlrich the motions of the heavenly vates the most inattentive, and delights bodies present themselves to the eye of a the most improved mind,

at

Art. XV. Conversations on the Divine Government, showing that every Thing is from

God, and for Good to all. By THEOPHILUS LINDSEY, M. A. 8vo. pp. 234. BY all who are acquainted with the cred history connected with them; nor any character of the excellent and venerable presumed discoveries of the hidden powers author, this work will be highly and just- and energies of nature, that have put them ly valued. By those who know him not

on rejecting divine revelation, and led not it must be esteemed as an able and in- and take refuge in the gloomy idea of a father

a few of them to deny the being of a God, teresting defence of the divine benevo- less world. It is a difficulty of a more serilence. Though it aspires not to the ons kind, from which it sometimes origicharacter of an elaborate philosophical nates; the perplexity that worthy thinking treatise, it contains much accurate and persons are often thrown into, how to reconforcible reasoning, and possesses more cile appearances in the world of nature, and vigour both of thought and of language the imperfect and forlorn state of mankind than could have been expected from the with the supposition of a perfectly wise and

If there be a pen of four score. As the production of good morat administration. such an advanced period of life it excites the universe, why such a miserable world, so

being perfectly wise and good at the head of an interest which few philosophical pieces much natural evil, pain and suffering, and so can raise. Here we have the unbiassed much vice and wretchedness? Why are not judgment of one who after a chequered all men virtuous and happy? And, why so life is standing upon the verge of the little apparent amendment for the better grave—and of the world through which among christians, and so great a majority of he has passed, as well as of that upon or to an annihilation, with so great an ex

them doomed to endless suffering hereafter, which he is entering, he cheerfully pro- pénce of miracles and of a divine extraordinounces that they are good. he experienced of the discipline of the nary power made to so little purpose ?

Could we find a clue to lead us safe out present scene--and yet he extols it as be- of this labyrinth, and to teach us how to nevolent. Of the trials of life he has justify the dealings of God with mankind, had his full share, and now when they consistently with that perfect goodness, are drawing rapidly to a close he thank- which we must ever ascribe to hiin, if we fully owns that they are indications of believe him to be at all; we shall provide the infinite wisdom. No more beautiful pic- best remedy against, and, in time, put an ture of a good mind was ever exhibited;

end to, the prevailing scepticism." and none, we are persuaded, who love To find this clue is therefore the object themselves or others, will fail to use their of the present work, and the object will utmost endeavours to make the resem- be readily acknowledged to have been blance their own.

gained, not indeed by a train of close and We shall endeavour to convey to our metaphysical reasoning, but by a pleasreaders as accurate an idea as we can of ing and satisfactory arrangement of obthis pleasing and valuable legacy of servations which have occurred to other a most worthy and excellent man. It liberal and inquiring minds, and which consists of six conversations between se are well adapted to carry conviction to veral learned friends upon the interesting the heart of every sincere friend of truth. and important subject of the divine go The goodness of God is deduced from vernment,-the result of which was an the various circumstances which distins unanimous resolution, that there is nothing guish the animal creation, and all the really and ultimately ill in the state of man, but provisions which are made for their sub. cury thing ordered for the best for all. p. 4. sistence and their enjoyment. From the

The first and a great part of the se same manifest attention of the Creator to cond conversations, are introductory to the happiness of mankind in their ania this inquiry, lamenting the diffusion mal capacities, and above all, from the of infidelity, and assigning its causes, gift of the usual faculties, and the capaamong which, and of the most fatal ten- city which men enjoy,“ of rising to some dency, one of the company considers the faint, though infinitely distant resem. erroneous views which are held concern. blance of the all good and all perfect ing the government of God.

Being," p. 60.

But as it is necessary to “ It is not however, entirely, men's doubes the argument to shew not only that meni concerning the possibility or reality of have such a capacity for obtaining that zeiracles, or concerning the truth of the sun happiness, which "arisusfrun the know

saved.” p.

ledge and worship of God, and from a in this part of the work, the inference resemblance to him in goodness,” but may be clearly made, “that none of the also that the arrangements of divine Pro- human race, however multiplied and agvidence threw no insurmountable ob- gravated their crimes may have been, stacle in the way, a short but compre- will be consigned to fruitless unavailing hensive view is taken of the history of suffering and misery for ever, but in the man from the earliest period, so far as it long course of ages, and by the disciis connected with his moral and religious pline to which they will be doomed, all character, “and from this glance of man will be brought to repentance and be and of his moral state and condition from

182. the beginning, a very correct idea may As being necessary to the complete be formed of the progress and moral at vindication of the divine goodness, the tainments, for which he was principally work concludes with an attempt to shew made.

that the scriptures do not teach the exAnd though the little effect of genuine istence of a wicked spirt who exerts his virtuous principle, and the defective know- baneful influence and interference in the ledge of God, have shewn themselves, and affairs of men. The notion of such a still too much appear, in the wars almost being having, according to our author, continually waging between nation and na

been acquired by the Jews from the Chal. tion; and in the hatred and animosities on account of difference of religious sentiments; of the Old and New Testament, which

dæans, and all the passages in the books yet it would be unfair and unjust, in the most sceptical, not to admit that knowledge

seem to countenance the notion, being and virtue have been upon the whole pro- capable of a more rational and just in gressive, and that very many eminent exam. terpretation. Such passages are here ex. ples of both have been formed, and are form- amined, and the scriptures are abiy vining, in every age and country."

dicated from the imputation of teaching We are next presented with what we the existence of a wicked spirit. presume is the only satisfactory solution Agreeably to the peculiar manner of of the difficulty arising from the exist. the venerable author, advantage is taken ence of natural and moral evil ; their of the form of conversation in which the manifest tendency to produce “those work is written, to introduce several didispositions and affections which are the gressions from the main subject of dishighest perfection of men, and the source course. Of these the most interesting is of their purest happiness.” It is not that which relates to the carl of Shaftespossible that the Deity should have cho- bury, the noble author of the Character. sen evil for its own sake; and when we istics. It is highly favourable to the consider attentively the state of man, and memory of this eminent person, and exappeal to fact and experience, we shall hibits many strong proofs that he was a see that every evil of every kind is made friend to the christian revelation, and an instrument of greater good, and high- desirous of passing for such, though his er felicity than would otherwise have judgment in some cases was strongly been enjoyed. An inevitable conse- and unfortunately warped. quence resulting from this theory, is the Such is the general outline of this corrective nature of future punishment; work, which few will read without pleaand from the observations which occur sure and improvement.

Art. XVI. Illustrations of the Truth of the Christian Religion. By Edw.Maltby,B.D.

Domestic Chaplain to the Lord Bisbop of Lincoln. 8vo. pp. 448. THE fate of Christianity affords a religion. The violent measures which striking illustration of the conduct of they adopted were the immediate cause divine Providence, which from seeming of the dispersion of the disciples throughevil is continually educing good. The out Samaria, and the wide diffusion of great founder of the gospel dispensation those principles which the enemies of had scarcely been removed from a scene truth were endeavouring to destroy: of trial to a state of exaltation, when the When the gospel had advanced beyond Jewish rulers began to persecute his fol. the reach of its first opposers, the Ro. lowers, and to employ every means in mans became its inveterate foe; and the their power to arrest the progress of his general persecutions seemed only to ex

cite more eager attention to the argu- all its parts, from the exact preservation ments and facts upon which it was estab- of character, and from the comparison lished, to invigorate the zeal of its friends, of these writings, with those spurious and to enlarge the number of believers. compositions, which were justly placed When the very power by which it had in the lowest class by the earliest Chrisbeen so long harassed, was compelled tians. to take it under its protection; it then Of the nature of this evidence, and of had to contend with the sophistry, and the able manner in which it is detailed, the wit, and the misrepresentation of the our readers will be enabled to judge from infidel. This contest has continued to the following specimens. the present day, and in our own times “ In the historical books, as well as in the has been urged with unexampled rigour. epistles, but particularly in the former, traces And what have been the consequences are to be discerned in every page (I might alHas christianity been vanquished? Have most say in every sentence) of a manner of her enemies triumphed ? No. Her di. thinking and of expression, very consonant vine origin has been more clearly proved; with the opinions and the practices of the in

habitants of Judæa. The vernacular lanthe confidence of her friends has been increased; and a mass of evidence has guage of the Jews, at the period

to which

these writings are usually referred, has been been formed in her favour which no fu- termed by Jerome, and with some propriety, ture attempts can destroy or inyalidate. Syro-Chaldaic. It is not indeed entirely

We have been led into these reflec Chaldee, the language to which the Israeltions by the work before us, which we ites were accustomed in their captivity; nor do not hesitate to pronounce one of the is it pure Syriac, the language of the inhabimost masterly productions which the in- tants of the neighbouring country; but it is fidelity of the present age has called a mixture of both, with a strong tincture of forth. The author thus modestly speaks over, evident marks in these volumes of the

the old Hebrew idiom. There are, moreof its origin:

change, which the Macedonian conquests “ During a very attentive perasal of the

introduced into the language of the conquered books of the New Testament, I was occa

countries; and there is a variety not only of

Latin phrases, but of Latin words incorposionally struck with internal marks of truth;

rated, and as it were domiciliated, into the some of which, so far as my recollection went, had not been observed at all, and the style of the New Testament is found to

vernacular tongue. In this last particular, others did not appear to have been noticed, differ from that of the Septuagint vession, according to their real importance, by any writers who had fallen in my way. My con

which is much more free, if not entirely so, viction was gradually strengthened, in pro- idiom. So that, although these different col

from any mixture of Latin phraseology or portion as the instances which occurred to me became more numerous, and my reflec- kind of Greek, which has been termed the

lections of writings are composed in the same tion upon them more direct and intense.

Helenistic dialect, but is indeed more proFrom time to time I committed my observations to paper, without any other view, at perly the

Greek of the synagogue, still there first, than that of preserving them for my which shews that the one must have been

is this marked distinction between them; own use. Some of them, however, furnished written, after the Macedonians had obtained materials for sermons; and as the collection a considerable influence over the affairs of insensibly increased, I began at length to Judea, while the other bears evident tokens consider them as not wholly unworthy of of the prevalence of the Roman arms. The public attention."

historical facts, mentioned and alluded to in The whole is arranged in eight chap various parts of the New Testament, will not ters. The first of which treats upon books must have been written after the ac

admit any reasonable doubt, but that the " the internal evidence of genuineness and au. cession of Tiberius to the empire; but even thenticity in the books of the New Testament.

if this were the case, these internal marks This evidence is derived from the style would shew, that the Romans had estaband language of these books; from the lished themselves in that part of the world, remarkable minuteness and precision sufficiently to have effected a considerable with which the incidents and conversa- change in the language of the inhabitants. tions are recorded in them; from their On the other hand, as Michaelis observes, not being infected with the slightest tinc. these writings abound, shew them to have

“ The Hebraisms and Syriasıns, with which ture of party spirit; from the candour been written by men of Hebrew origin," and honesty with which the writers re. He justly concludes from this fact, that they cord their own errors and failings, from were productions of the first century; since the consistency of the gospel history, in after the decease of the Jewish converts to

Christianity, we find hardly any instánce of barbarians on the shores of Melita: By sea Jevrs who turned preachers of the gospel; and by land we accompany the adventurous and the Christian fathers were for the most voyagers, amidst scenes, in which they appart totally ignorant of Hebrew."

pear to the astonished spectators, as gods

descended from heaven-or when they seem Concerning the exact preservation of to the deluded multitude, as the fanatic enecharacter in the writings of the sacred mies of on-still, in the characters of historians, Mr. M. has the following ex the chief actors, we observe a consistency and 'cellent remarks.

identity, which attests the reality of the repre

sentation ; while those, with whom they “ It has ever been considered as a requi- converse, and who are introduced but incisite, in fictitious compositions, that the cha- dentally, bear the traces of that national and racters should not only have the distinguish individual resemblance, which the records of ing marks of the peculiar situation, and cir- history have invariably assigned them.” cumstances, in which they are supposed to be placed, but that a consistency should be

The Codex Pseudepigraphus of Fabristrictly observed throughout the same cha- cius furnishes our author with much racter; and if the person thus represented, be strange and curious matter from the brought from real life, it is invariably re- apochryphal writings, and it requires but quired, that he should bear some visible little taste to feel the great superiority of marks of those qualities, which history or what are accounted cannonical books,

faine has already assigned him. This is ab- and, we conceive, but little candour and solutely necessary in order to render fiction probable. And the nearer the approach is ingenuousness of mind to acknowledge made to these previous requisites, the more

that the contrast furnishes a very striking is the merit of the writer enhanced, and the proof of their authenticity. interest of the composition heightened. The subject of the second chapter is Now certainly, the qualities that are neces the proof arising from the nature and sary to render a professed fiction probable, strength of the prejadices of the Jews." In are indispensably required to make that, exhibiting this proof, the peculiar opiwhich professes to record real transactions nions and the nature of the expectations authentic. And as a deficiency in those, qua- which the Jews had formed respecting lifications would'detract from the credibility the Messiah are detailed, and the leading of any narrative, so the exact adherence to them, under circumstances, where it is high- features of the conduct pursued by Jesus, ly improbable, that the art or invention of the and the distinguishing marks of the resvriter could have supplied these marks of ligion he published, are next brought truth, must in a great degree, if not decisive in contrast. We cannot give a better ly, confirm its claim to the title of true his- view of the whole than in Mr. M.'s own tory. It is scarcely possible to conceive a words. wider compass of subject, and consequently one more unfavourable to the genius of fic « The Jews," he observes, “ were distintion, than what is comprehended in the his- guished by a rigid, inflexible attachment to torical writings of the New Testament. the Mosaic law, the obligation of which they Not only are Jews introduced of various conceived to be perpetual ; an inordinate conranks and ages, from the chiefs of the San- ceit of their own superior merit, in the siglit hulrim, the expounders of the law, and the of God, and in a proportionate contempt for leaders of the sects, to the humble fishermen, all other nations. They were in almost the companions of Jesus, and even to cha- daily expectation of a chosen prophet from racters still lower, those whom the contagion heaven, who should be armed with power to of disease, or the scandal of their vices had deliver them from their enemies, assert the driven from the comforts of social life; but superiority as well as permanence of the Mowe also hear the discourses, and observe the saic institutions, and extend, over all the actions, of heathens, widely differing from world, the empire of the sons of Abraham. each other in the qualities of their hearts, in These opinions and expectations, it must be the endowments of the mind, in condition remembered, were rivetted with the greater and in occupation. Nor is the scene con force, and indulged with the less scruple, as fined to a single nation or country, but we they conceived them to be founded upon the are transported from Jerusalem to Athens, will of the Almighty; and consequently that from the residence of those, who cultivated their opinions could not be wrong, nor their no other knowledge than that of their own expectations frustrated. Nor were these the law and traditions, to the centre of heathen casual sentiments of the vulgar and unthinklearning and taste, and of heatlien superstition ing, or the laboured interpretations of the too and idolatry: from Athens, and from studious only; but they were the collective Corinil, and from plazus, tire scars of every and unanimous sentiments of the whole body improvement in the arts of cruized lite, of the people; insomuch that there probably we are conveyed to the rudy, and ur.civilized were but few, suficiently enlightened, and

« ForrigeFortsett »