Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

food, and the whole class of herbivora would ever be so nearly on the verge of starvation, that multitudes would daily be consigned to lingering and painful death by famine; *** but now, while each suffering individual is soon relieved from pain, it contributes its enfeebled carcase to the support of its carnivorous benefactor, and leaves more room for the comfortable existence of the healthy survivors of its own species."— Vol. i. pp. 129–131.

The genius and industry of Cuvier, aided by the laws of comparative anatomy, have, as it were, again restored to life, extinct, gigantic, and microscopic tribes, whose various organs they have analytically investigated, and the evidence of contrivance and design have most clearly shown. We can only afford space to allude to an extinct reptile of the genus Ichthyosaurus, (or fish lizard.) Its remains abound in the lias formation throughout England. This creature exhibits combinations of form and mechanical contrivances, which are now dispersed through various classes and orders of existing animals, but are no longer united in the same genus. Thus, in the same individual, the snout of a porpoise is combined with the teeth of a crocodile, the head of a lizard with the vertebræ of a fish, and the sternum of an ornithorhynchus with the paddles of a whale. Some of these reptiles exceeded thirty feet in length. In these various capabilities our author traces a beautiful adaptation to the element in which these reptiles lived, and the purposes for which they were created. This train of observation applied to remains from the fossil mammalia to fossil insects, polypes and vegetables, constitutes the great argument of the treatise, which thus concludes.

“ The whole course of the enquiry, which we have now conducted to its close, has shown that the physical history of our globe, in which some have seen only waste, disorder, and confusion, teems with endless examples of economy, and order, and design; and the result of all our researches, carried back through the unwritten records of past time, has been to fix more steadily our assurance of the existence of one supreme Creator of all things, to exalt more highly our conviction of the immensity of his perfections, of his might and majesty, his wisdom and goodness, and all sustaining providence; and to penetrate our understanding with a profound and sensible perception of the high veneration man's intellect owes to God.' "-Vol. i. pp. 595, 596.

As we have spoken of this work in terms of praise, it is due from us, as impartial critics, to say that we apprehend the author has, at times, exceeded the bounds of inductive philosophy, and wandered into the regions of speculation and fancy. This, however, is but seldom, and consequently the whole argument is but slightly weakened by these occasional aberrations. The work is beautifully printed, but disproportionably disposed of in the volumes. The second volume contains only the plates (which are numerous, and exquisitely beautiful,) and the descriptive letter-press. Had the plates been incorporated with the text, and the contents of the volumes more equally divided, the convenience of readers would have been consulted by avoiding the frequent reference to the second volume, which is now indispensable to the comprehension of the first. We conclude by commending to our readers the perusal of this work, which is the most valuable contribution to natural theology we have met with for many years.

FOREIGN THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE.

In consideration of the important returns to sound views of scripture which are being effected in the ever-memorable cradle of the Reformation, and the advantages which cannot but accrue to biblical literature from a judicious application of the principles of a matured and enlightened criticism, we feel assured that many of our readers will approve of our occasionally, if not regularly, supplying them with brief notices of the principal works which appear there in this department. We also purpose to furnish them with an account of recent American works of note; and, indeed, of such foreign theological publications generally as may arrest our attention.

1. Handbuch der historisch-kritischen Einleitung in das Alte Testament :- Manual of an historico-critical Introduction to the Old Testament By H. A. Ch. Hävernick, Licentiate in Divinity, and Private Lecturer in the University of Rostock. Erlangen. 1836.

This is the first part of a very important undertaking. Most of the biblical introductions which have appeared in Germany during the last half century, have been written by men of thorough-paced neological sentiments, or whose minds have been, more or less, under the influence of a vain and varying philosophy. The result of the labours of Semler, Eichhorn, De Wette, Berthholdt, and others, has been to unsettle the foundations of truth, rather than to establish it upon a stable basis. With much that is available in the way of documentary evidence, they are so completely stuffed with hypotheses, and exhibit so many daring instances of irreverence for the sacred word, that they cannot be read without pain by any person of a truly pious mind. The present writer is one of a very different school-a pupil and friend of Tholuck, and already favourably known as the author of an elaborate and thoroughly critical commentary on the book of Daniel. The part of his introduction now before us consists of three chapters. The first is occupied with a history of the canon, in which are treated its origin, progress, and completion; the persons by whom it was formed; the grounds on which any book was received into it; its divisions ; extent; the apocryphal books, &c. Mr. H. avows his decided conviction, that the Hebrew Bible contained precisely the same books in the time of our Lord and his apostles which it now does. The second chapter contains a profound historical inquiry into the languages of the O. T. and the cognate dialects, especially the Hebrew, into the minutiæ of which the author goes at considerable length. The remaining chapter treats of the text itself, the origin of writing, the primeval characters, and the vowel points, all of which topics are discussed with distinguished ability. The following short extract from the preface will show the spirit of the writer." I have undertaken this work in the station which the grace of God has assigned me, in the cordial and firm conviction that the subject of investigation is the holy word of God, given to mankind sunk in sin and misery, in order to conduct them to the path of salvation and peace. He who, by the mercy and guidance of the Lord, has been brought to understand the word of life, and, in consequence, is not only increasingly enlightened, but sanctified and blest, cannot but feel compelled to bear testimony to the grace of which he has been made a partaker according as the Lord gives him opportunity and ability. In him the saying is verified : I believe, and therefore I speak. The theologian, and servant of the church of Jesus Christ, is persuaded it is impossible to form any true theological system that is not founded on the truths of God's revealed word, and his anxious solicitude, and most zealous endeavour will be to erect on this foundation the living edifice of a science of which He is the corner stone, than whom no other foundation can be laid. He knows also that he is not engaged in the service of men, or on a vain and profitless work, but in the service of the Head of the church, who has appointed him to be a steward of the divine mysteries, that he may be found faithful at the day of the appearance of Jesus Christ.”.

2. Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Römer. By L. J. Rückert. Leipsic, 1831.-Der Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Römer. By Dr. Herman Ohlshausen. Königsberg, 1835.Commentar zu dem Briefe des Apost. Paulus an die Römer. By Dr. Edward Kölner. Darmstadt, 1834.- Versuch, Sc. An attempt towards an elaborate Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, with historical Prolegomena, and exegetical and doctrinal Excursus. By Dr. J. G. Reiche, Professor of Divinity at Gottingen. Part I. 1833. * *

There is not a more striking or pleasing feature in the present history of theology than the attention which is given to the Epistle to the Romans. It is confessedly that portion of the sacred volume which may be said to contain the sum and substance of revealed truth. It is, as Luther expresses himself in his preface, " the purest gospel, which well deserves, not only that every christian man should commit it word for word to memory, but that he should be daily conversant with it as the daily bread of souls. For it can never be too much or too well read and considered; and the more it is handled, the more precious will it become, and the sweeter it will taste." The effective use made of this epistle by the great Reformer, in establishing the doctrine of justification by faith, is well known; and there is every reason to believe that the result of a renewed discussion of its contents will be the disclosure of that and other kindred doctrines in all their glory to the view of multitudes who have been groping in the dark recesses of rationalism.

We have placed together four of the more important commentaries on the epistle, which have recently made their appearance in Germany, the existence of which, as well as of others, may be traced to the stimulus given by the work of Tholuck. In a comparative point of view, that of Rückert is the most popularly elaborate; that of Ohlshausen the most satisfactory as to doctrinal exhibition; and that of Reiche the richest in critical materials. The work of of Köllner is eclectic in its character, but inferior to the others. Ohlshausen's is a continuation of his invaluable Commentary on the

N. S. VOL. I.

[ocr errors]

whole N.T. He is a worthy co-worker with Tholuck, but exhibits more of a leaning to the principles of Augustine. He writes like one who feels that he has a sure foundation on which he stands, and who, in the exercise of faith, personally enjoys the truths which it is his business to elucidate; the other writers occupy themselves with an investigation of the document, just as they would any other document of antiquity, apparently altogether devoid of religious interest. Indeed, they lay it down as a first principle of interpretation, that all personal interest in the doctrines is to be kept out of view.

It is truly gratifying to observe in how many instances these writers concur in defending the truth against the attacks of neologism. No one can peruse these volumes without perceiving that, as a question of pure criticism, the tables are completely turned upon the Paulusses, the Heinrichs, and other oracles of an unbelieving age. The very canons which, as philologists, antiquarians, and historians, they laboured so hard to establish, are now employed in supporting the positions which they endeavoured to overthrow.

CRITICAL NOTICES.

The Scope of Piety ; or, the Christian doing all Things to the Glory of God.

By Thomas Quinton Stow. London : Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1836. pp. 315.

MR. Srow is known advantageously to the public as the author of “ Memoirs of Dr. Rowland Taylor;" a work which, within narrow limits, contains much information with regard to a most interesting period of English history.

The subject of his present work is confessedly of great importance: “The eminent phraseology of Christians," he observes, “ and the uniform language of the Bible,” (a somewhat questionable association) “ agree in declaring, that to do all things to the glory of God is the scope of piety.” Mr. Stow has employed a portion of thought on the subject, which honourably evinces his own sense of its importance, and which cannot but secure the benefit of the serious and careful reader.

Our author apprehends that “ objection will, perhaps, be felt to the formality of scriptural quotation adopted in his pages.” This formality is, in our opinion, an excellence. It bodes ill to the interests of scriptural piety, that through a foolish affectation of refinement, direct citations from the scriptures should ever be banished, whether from the pulpit or the printed theological document,

The work before us commences with a very admirable chapter on “ the importance of clear and well-defined views of the great principles of Christian character."

“ By principles not so much what is primary and elementary, is intended, as what is mainly characteristical and distinctive; the predominant dispositions ; the grand aims; the leading motives, and the prevailing habits of mind and conduct, by which real Christians are distinguished, both in scriptural requirement, and in fact and exemplification. As specimens of the things intended might be mentioned, spirituality, including the care of the soul and taste for spi

ritual objects, humility, faith, love to God, sincerity, christian benévolence to men, and, DOING ALL THINGS TO THE GLORY OF GOD."-p. 14.

It appeared to us, while reading this most valuable chapter, that bad its phraseology been more remote from terms of abstraction, it would have been better adapted for the generality of Christians, even for the generality of those Christians, who, in comparison of the multitude, may be esteemed as intelligent. Such a passage as that which we have quoted, would deter some Christians from a perusal of the work; for notwithstanding all the vauntings of the light of our times, some Christians are only intelligent in comparison with their fellows. Had our author, for instance, substituted for the expression “ principles of christian character," the term " features of christian character," which he afterwards adopts, or the leading things in practical religion," a phrase, possibly, of somewhat too homely a cast, but which he still more subsequently adopts, he would have been better understood by the generality of his readers.

Our author's demonstration of the importance of clear and well defined views of the great principles of christian character is forcible and impressive.

* Confused, feeble, superficial representations of spiritual character leave the sinner uncertain and vacillating between these half-formed views and his own faint semblances of goodness, unconvinced of his own want, and consequently un. troubled and slumbering. But let views more lucid, more bold, more uncompromising, more self-evidential and self-commending be put forth, and they form a strong light, piercing the darkness which shrouds the unhappy sleeper, and striking through the closed eyelids of the mind, suffer him to repose no longer.”

p. 18.

In the second chapter Mr. Stow shows what it is to do any thing to the glory of God. “To do any thing to the glory of God," he says, " is to do any thing with a proper regard to God," a definition which he expands into a variety of particulars. Our author's object in this chapter is to specify the precise character of an action which glorifies God. It occurred to us, whether in this, or in some other part of his work, he might not have dwelt advantageously on the actions, which the scriptures represent as glorifying God; such as an acknowledgment of the divine existence and perfections. (Rom. i. 21.) Abasing ourselves before God, under a conviction of our sinfulness. (Jer. xii. 16; Mal. ï. 2.) The acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, and by consequence the truths of his religion amidst prevailing infidelity. (Luke xxiii. 47.) And, thanksgiving to God. (Luke xvii, 18.)

In the four following chapters, the author inquires into “ the extent of the requirement to do all things to the glory of God." From this part of the work we make the following extraet :

“How comes it to pass that so few young men of wealth, and who seem at the same time in all other respects eligible, feel inclined to devote themselves to the work of the christian ministry? When called to choose between this momentous and useful office, and the honour, riches, or ease promised by other walks of life, how happens it, that the selection so rarely falls upon the arduous, humble, but still glorious ministry of reconciliation ?"-p. 99.

We coincide in our author's remarks on the duty of relinquishing the ministerial office, not on the part of them whose labours may seem to be unsuccessful, but on their part, who are evidently unqualified for the sacred office. But an insuperable obstacle to such a relinquishment frequently exists : the insufficiency of his income has compelled the minister to dissipate the property, which is requisite in any thing like a rational attempt to engage in secular concerns.

In the following chapters the author treats of motives, prerequisites, and means, as connected with the topic of his discussion : of the certain and final Success of the attempt to do all things to the glory of God, he presents us with examples of so doing, and views the Christian in heaven doing all things to the glory of God.

In the expression of his sentiments our author errs, perhaps, rather on the side of diffusiveness, than contraction. “ Steering clear of these dangers we have

« ElőzőTovább »