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ing of the grove at Enna, says, “Qui locus, quod in medio est insulæ situs, umbilicus Siciliæ nominatur:" Livy also has “ Ætoli umbilicum Græciæ incolunt." *
The inspired writers refer to the mountains of Judea with a national fondness; upon the picturesque beauty of their father-land they dwell with evident delight; culling some of their choicest images from the heights of Lebanon, the excellency of Carmel, the dews af Hermon, or the temple-crowned hill of the Lord. When captives in the land of the stranger, they turned in utter loathing from the barbaric pomp of the heathen, to the remembrance of Zion as their chief joy; no sky was so bright to them as that which shone upon their native plains; and gracefully as the willows waved over the waters of the Euphrates, they charmed no song from the lips of the exiles, whose hearts were far away, communing with the rose of Sharon or the lily of the valley growing by the “river of God.” Often in the pages of the Hebrew bards, do the high hills serve the purpose of embellishment and illustration. To describe the stability of the divine character, they tell us that “ His righteousness is like the great mountains;" to express the perpetuity of the divine favour, they assure us that though the “ mountains depart and the hills be removed, yet his loving-kindness shall not depart;" and to inspire confidence in the divine protection, they draw a parallel between the spiritual condition of the good man, and the natural site of their own metropolis:
“ AS THE MOUNTAINS ARE ROUND ABOUT JERUSALEM, SO THE LORD IS ROUND ABOUT HIS PEOPLE, FROM HENCEFORTI EVEN FOR EVER.”.
* Cic. In Ver. Act ii. lib. iv. 48. Livy, xxxv. 18. The phrase is indeed most generally used to denote centrality as well as elevation. Strabo says that Delphi lay in the middle of all Greece, and according to some in the middle of the earth, whence kai trálesav rñs yñs oupalóv. Pindar says, in his 4th Pythian ode, that Delphi lies πάρ μέσον ομφαλόν ευδένδροω ματέρος, i. e. of the earth. Cicero de Divinat. ii. 56, says, O sancte Apollo, qui umbilicum certum terrarum obsides. Ezekiel may therefore refer to the central situation, as well as the elevation of Palestine, though the latter interpetration is sanctioned by the use of the phrase in the book of Judges already cited. The notion that Jerusalem and the surrounding territory formed the centre of the earth was held by the ancient Jews and the early Christians. Theodoret remarks, in his Commentary upon Ezekiel, that God had chosen the Jews, in order through them to bless all nations. He had therefore assigned them an abode in the middle of the earth, so that all other people might learn from them piety and virtue; EdwnEV dè avrois και τόπον εις οίκήτηριον της οικουμένης τα μέσα – – – ίν' εκείνοι την από ταύτης ωφέλειαν λαύσωσι, και πάσαν ευσέβειαν και ευνομίαν παρ' αυτοίς petauaswolv. So also Jerom in loc. Jerusalem in medio mundi sitam, hic idem propheta testatur, umbilicum terræ eam esse demonstraps. Victorinus of Poitou says, in the poem of the Cross,
Est locus, ex omni medium quem credimus orbe,
Golgatha Judæi patrio cognomine dicunt. In the Syriac liturgy of the Antiochian church, the following words occur at the 'festival of the adoration of the Holy Cross, “Our Lord hung high upon the cross, Inese Vaji pelo loll o Abases and embraced the four ends (or quarters of heaven) in the middle of the earth."
The Works of Thomas Chalmers, D.D. LL. D. Professor of
Theology in the University of Edinburgh. New Edition,
12mo. "Vols. I-IV. Glasgow: William Collins. GREAT have been the recent revolutions in the book trade. Cheapness, combined with elegance, is the universal order of the day, and historians, poets, novelists, who used to come out in two guinea quartos, or fifteen shilling octavos, or even twelve shilling duodecimos, are now compressed into little five shilling volumes, each of which often contains nearly twice as much as was formerly sold for the same sum. Even the most aristocratic authors, (we refer exclusively to literary rank,) who used to find no difficulty in disposing of several editions of fair octavos, are now, one and all, transmigrating into this humble, but still beautiful and attractive form ; a form which, though it may in some cases abridge the profits of booksellers and writers, secures incalculable benefits to the world of readers. Even as it respects profit, however, (which, though a matter of very little importance to the reader, is a point of considerable moment to the author,) we apprehend that a writer of any considerable celebrity is hardly like to lose much; the increased sale generally affording full compensation for a more moderate profit on the individual article. .
While these modern cheap editions may almost vie with their predecessors in point of elegance, there cannot be a greater contrast than between the comparatively slender margins and well-filled pages of the former, and the fair, broad margins and narrow strips of type which characterized the latter; the pages of which strongly remind one of the fantastic dress of our bishops, a sort of mimicry of the wide lawn sleeves and the little black apron
Whilst the generality of our more distinguished voluminous authors are not cheapened and popularized till after their death, some few of them have undertaken (in our opinion wisely) a complete and revised edition of their works during their own lifetime; they have not left to injudicious friends and literary undertakers the task of taking care of their fame; and this is right. To give their works a last and finishing touch, to improve them by a calm and deliberate revisal, seems, at once, due to their own reputation, and to the laudable desire that their productions should be as perfect and as useful as possible. In this, as in every respect, it becomes a wise and good man to “set his house in order before he dies.”
We are glad, therefore, to find Dr. Chalmers (who has undoubt. edly been one of the most powerful, influential, and what is still better, useful writers of his age,) undertaking a complete and revised edition of his somewhat voluminous productions. Nor is it, as the reader will perceive, merely a reprint ; as stated in the prospectus, “ the series is to contain several new works in addition to those X. S. VOL. I.
already published -- which, at the same time, it will be the author's best care both to mature and to remodel.” The additions, it appears, will be for the most part, if not wholly, of a theological character, and will be on such topics, and combined with the author's previous works in such a manner, as to form something like a systematic exhibition of his views on all the principal points of theology. The only considerable defect connected with the editing of the work, and the observation applies equally to the new and the old matter, is that the pruning-knife has not been used as it ought. The Doctor has in numberless instances indulged in his besetting fault of prolixity to very wearisomeness. His works would, in our opinion, be ten times as compact and forcible, if he had struck out somewhat more than one-fourth of the matter.
Of the general peculiarities of Dr. Chalmers' mind, little need be said by us, since they are stamped so deeply on every one of his works, and since those works have long been in the hands of every one. There is probably no writer of the present day, whose mental idiosyncracy is so strongly marked as that of this great man. His speculative and reasoning powers are undoubtedly very considerable; still they are not the qualities by which he is most strongly characterized. His most distinctive attribute is his exuberant imagination. This faculty seems never tired or exhausted, however numerous the modes in which it has exhibited and illustrated the same truths.
No man seizes a single point more strongly, or illustrates it more forcibly than he does; but we question whether he can be called comprehensive ; at all events, he seldom takes, in one vien, a comprehensive survey of all the relations and bearings of any complicated subject. To give us any such comprehensive view, it seems requisite for him to treat it at different periods, and in a series of distinct disquisitions; one point at a time being generally as much as the author consents to treat us with. He depicts a landscape not in one large painting, but in a series of views.- This we apprehend is the cause of his two principal failings. The first is his tendency, while solely occupied with the principle or truth which he immediately designs to illustrate, to express himself too strongly; to attach an undue importance to that principle or truth, instead of nicely discriminating the limits which it should occupy by a simultaneous reference to those other points in the great system of truth which are related to it. A remarkable instance of this was given in his work on " The Evidences of Christianity," as first published. Impressed with the great truth that the historical evidence was both the clearest and most conclusive, he proceeded to repudiate every other as unworthy of consideration, or at least acted as though he thought so, by exclusively limiting his work to that one line of argument. Impressed with the great truth, that the moral system of the divine government is too vast and complicated to permit us adequately to judge of what it is fit or unfit for the Supreme Being to do, he hastily pushed this principle to its extreme, and appeared to deny that there could be any internal evidence for Christianity, founded on the nature and character of that moral system which it unfolds to us ;-as though because we were incompetent judges of the whole of the divine administration, we were therefore also totally ignorant of the general principles by which it must be eternally impressed, and of the general character which must always belong to it; or as though because we could not see the wisdom and propriety of all that was revealed, no notice was to be taken of the numberless instances in which we can discern such wisdom and, propriety; instances which taken together might still form (whatever the remaining mysteries) a strong presumptive argument that Christianity is divine. This error, we admit, Dr. Chalmers has thoroughly remedied in the present edition of his works, and, as we shall have occasion presently to remark, has acknowledged that his former views were partial and defective.
The above-mentioned tendency of mind, viz. to give for the moment an undue prominence and exclusive importance to any one point which happens to seize the attention, is not easily characterized by any single word in our language, but the Germans have a word which precisely answers to it-we mean the word einsitigkeit, literally one-sidedness. .
The other failing to which the above-mentioned tendency of mind leads, is the disposition to dwell too long upon any one topic, to iterate and re-iterate the same sentiment, not only after it has been made perspicuous, but long after it has been expressed with all the force and energy which the author can impart to it. This tendency in Dr. Chalmers' case is greatly strengthened by the exuberance and splendour of his imagination, which keeps presenting him with a series of illustrations, each so beautiful and captivating, that he seems to have no heart to resist them; although he must well know that it is a principle of sound criticism in argumentative composition, that mere illustration is a fault when the meaning has once been made perspicuous and impressive. Hence the weariness of which a reflective reader of Dr. Chalmers (and none can read him who is not in some measure reflective is apt to complain if he reads much of his writings at a time. One is continually tempted to exclaim, “Well, that point is very clear; that is abundantly plain ; but what comes next?" and when he finds that the next paragraph,
and the next, -and the next, still present him with the same thoughts in different forms, he gets almost out of patience.
We apprehend that this failing is in a great measure to be attributed to our author's not having sufficiently kept in mind the distinction which should always be maintained between compositions for the pulpit and compositions for the press. A diffuseness, a repetition, an exuberance of illustration, which would be effective in the former, become intolerable in the latter.
In spite of all this, however, we cannot but feel that the writings of this justly-celebrated writer are calculated to be eminently useful; that they have been a great blessing to the church; and that they will be so. If we have expressed our opinion on his defects strongly, it is principally because he has, like every other great man, raised up a " vile herd” of imitators who affect his manner and mimic his style, without the slightest pretensions to his power of intellect and splendour of imagination. It is necessary that our young writers and preachers (large classes of them have been and will be diligent students of his writings) should be faithfully warned that the things which they are imitating, and which are the only things they can imitate, are not the excellencies, but the defects of their master.
The four volumes now before us contain, of Dr. Chalmers' previously published writings, the work “ on Natural Theology,” (published in the series of the “ Bridgewater Treatises ;") and the work “ on the Christian Evidences;" both, however, augmented by a great deal of new and valuable matter, preliminary and supplementary. The portions of the new matter by which we have been most struck, are chapters I. III. and IV. of Book I.; " of the distinctions between the ethics of theology and the objects of theology,” and “ of the metaphysics which have been resorted to on the side of theism.” On the last of these topics, especially, he examines, with great power and acuteness, “ Mr. Hume's objection to the a posteriori argument for the being of God, founded on the assertion that the world is a singular effect.” He shows, in our opinion, conclusively, that the answers of Reid and Stewart, (who attribute our inference of design from its effects, to an original and ultimate principle of our nature) are unsatisfactory, and that this principle is itself resolvable into another and more general law of the mental constitution, namely, an instinctive belief in the constancy of nature. At the same time we are much mistaken, if the principle at which our author stops, is not itself capable, by further analysis, of being resolved into a still more general law, embracing all those phenomena to which he refers, and a great many beside. But whether this be so or not, the conclusiveness of the Doctor's reasoning remains precisely the same, there being an unquestionable tendency in man to believe in this constancy of nature, whether that principle which constitutes such belief has an exclusive and special reference to that class of phenomena, or not.
As the Bridgewater Treatise has been in another shape long before the public, and as we have nearly exhausted the space to which this article must be restricted, we refrain from offering any lengthened remarks upon it: powerful and original as are many of the views it contains, it appears to us far from having exhausted the subiect.
It is the work " on the Christian Evidences” to which the most valuable accessions have been made in the present edition of Dr. Chalmers' works. The first “ Book” is taken up by “ Preliminary Considerations,” “on the cognizance which the understanding takes of its own processes,” “ on man's instinctive belief in the constancy of nature,” and “ on the sufficiency of human testimony for the proof of miracles," as preparatory to a very full and able refutation of Hume's celebrated argument. In this our author fairly shows that Campbell's attempt to refer our “ faith in testimony” to a principle sui generis-an original instinct of the mindis unsuccessful, and inclines to refer it with Hume to our faith in the constancy of nature; he then undertakes to show that Hume's conclusion is false, thongh his premises were allowed to be right.