« ElőzőTovább »
This view of matter is also confirmed by the theory of static and dynamic forces—these are only other names for what Dr. Hickok calls antagonist and diremptive forces.
Our space will not allow us to follow the author step by step, in his ingenious application of this theory to all the principles of natural science. Beginning with the laws of motion, he shows that these must be, according to the proposed theory of spacefilling forces, just what they are proved to be by actual experiment. The same theory would necessitate the material creation to be a sphere, all the parts of this sphere to be attracted towards its centre, etc. Thus the principles of magnetism, of electricity, of heat, of world-formations, of light, of geological formations, of cometary bodies, of stellar distribution, chemical and crystalline principles-together with the principles of life, into which, however, a new element enters-are all successively examined. After thus determining how “a universe of central working forces," if brought into existence, must be, Dr. Hickok goes on, in Chapter III., to examine the necessary laws of the universe, as they are known to exist, and finding them just such as the principles evolved from his theory made necessary, he concludes that he has reached a "true and valid science of the universe," a Rational Cosmology. In an appendix the author applies the views given in his work to the “Mosaic history of creation," and contends that the record is thus relieved from some "apparently irreconcilable incongruities in its own statements;" as, for instance, the creation of light before the sun and moon appeared, etc.
It will thus be seen that the pretensions of this work are great indeed. It aims at no less than to point out the root of all physical science, and the basis of all true theology. The name of the author guarantees the ability with which the task is executed, but still the work embraces several points about which philosophers and theologians will, no doubt, continue to differ for a long time to come. Among these points we may note the following:
1. The question as to the standard of right and wrong, whether such a standard exists independent of God himself, and to which God conforms his actions. The affir. mative of this question seems to be involved in the following statement, which we have already quoted: "Principles are truths prior to all facts, or makings, and are themselves unmade. They stand in immutable and eternal necessity; and while they condition all power, can themselves be conditioned by no power. Even Om. nipotence can be wise and righteous, only as determined by immutable principles."
2. The extent to which man is responsible for his own acts, is touched upon in the following : “With all rational spirits there is such capacity of initial causality, and thus of all free and responsible beings we affirm that their personal acts aro their own origination, and can no more be transferred to any other person than their separate identity. Man and angel can, in this sense, truly create. Their good or bad deeds are of their own origination."
3. The author's view of the creation, although it does not exclude, would seem to involve little direct agency or intervention on the part of the creator. God calls into existence certain forces, causes them to combine in such a way as to form phy. sical matter, and to continue to work in this matter in such a way, as finally to construct the present universe. "How the universal cosmos may be originated," he observes," and how it must then be orderly and harmoniously arranged by the determinations of its central forces, and the wonderful beauty which comes out in the consummated structure, may all be apprehended in the rational process, which we have so carefully and extensively pursued." ... "We have the forces in which matter is, and the principles of their working determining what matter does, but all is mechanically pushed or pulled into its shape and proportions. This mechanism will work on in the worlds, and when the superficial strata have cooled and hardened to a permanent crust that admits collected gases to combine, and form themselves into vapors and mist, and these condensing into water, which, as superincombent upon the solid earth, gathers itself into ocean beds, and then both land and water become enveloped by an atmosphere, through which every where the radiations of light are reflected and diffused, there then comes an occasion for a higher order of existence than any chemical combinations or crystalline concretions can reach."
TaE HISTORY OF THE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, CALLED
METHODISM, CONSIDERED IN ITS DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONAL FORMS, AND ITS RELATIONS TO BRITISH AND AMERICAN PROTESTANTISM. By Abel Stevens, LL.D. Vol. II. From the Origin of Methodism to the Death of Whitefield. Fourth thousand. New-York: Carlton & Porter. 1858.
The interests of Methodism have never been in much apparent danger of suffer. ing from lack of attention on part of writers pro and con. In addition to numerous historico-biographical treatises on Wesley and his coadjutors, which, happily for the memory of their subjects, never attained to the honor of a second edition, we have had a Life of Wesley, (including, as all his biographies of necessity must, a history of the rise of Methodism,) by Southey; another by Moore; another by Whitehead; a history of the Wesley Family, by Adam Clarke; a history of Wesleyan Methodism, by Smith; a history of Wesley and Methodism, by Isaac Taylor; a Compendium of Methodism, by Dr. James Porter, together with not a few other works of a similar character, which it will not be necessary to mention here. Some idea of what has been done in the same direction by the opponents of Methodism, avowedly such, may be obtained from the fact that so late as the year 1846, was printed in Philadelphia, by Jobp Pennington, a "Catalogue of Works that have been published in Refutation of Methodism, from its origin, in 1729, to 1846, compiled by J. C. Decanver," which catalogue, comprising the titles of three hundred and eighty-four publications, may be found, together with one hundred and forty-three of the most curious of works mentioned in it, in the Library of the Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the city of New York, where it has been placed by its compiler. Formidable as this list may appear, Dr. Stevens assures us that it is not complete, and that the whole number of works, treating favorably and unfavorably of Methodism, can hardly be short of fifteen hundred!
The work whose title we have placed at the head of this paper, bids fair, if the task which its author has undertaken does not fall below its design, to supersede most of the previous publications on the same subject, as well as to obviate the necessity for any farther treatises on Wesley and Methodism for a long time to come. Dr. Stevens proposes to complete his history in four volumes, the last of which is to bring the narrative down to the centenary celebration of Methodism, in 1839—a period prior to the sectional disputes which have divided the Methodist Episcopal Church, and which are yet too recent for a satisfactory judgment from history." The volume which has just been given to the public, as its title indicates, treats of the history of Methodism from its origin to the death of Whitefield, in 1770. Dr. Stever s writes in an easy and rather perspicuous style, and is perhaps as systematic in the arrangement and discussion of his topics, as the encyclopedical nature of his work will allow. The number of names merely, which are mentioned in the table of contents, is astonishing ; indeed, it would be a comparatively easy task to prepare from the material thus comprised within less than five hundred pages, a complete biographical dictionary of the early Methodists, or Methodist Fathers, as perbaps we should designate them. The book, too, from the very nature of the subjects treated of, abounds in a variety of incident, which adds greatly to the interest of its historic details. Few, if any, historians can lay claim to absolute impartiality; and we are not so extravagant as to expect that a thorough Methodist, as Dr. Stevens evidently is, with an unmistakable leaning to the Arminian theology, sbould be able, on all points, exactly to please every class of readers. So far, however, as we can judge, he has written with no design or desire to make proselytes, and indeed exhibits a degree of candor which does him credit. In his preface he tells us that, “as a great religious development of the last century, affecting largely our common Protestantism, and unquestionably destined to affect it still more profoundly, Methodism does not belong exclusively to the denominations which have appropriated its name," and that he has therefore "attempted to write its history in a liberal spirit, and to consider it not as a sectarian, but as a general religious movement, ostensibly within the Church of England, at least during the lives of its chief Methodist founders, but reaching beyond it to most of the Protestantism of England and America." We regard this new “History of Methodism," as a very opportune publication, and have no doubt, that several of its chapers will be read not only with interest, but profit at the present crisis, when the Holy Spirit is so manifestly being poured out upon the churches.
THE TRUTH UNMASKED AND ERROR EXPOSED IN THEOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS, MORAL GOVERNMENT AND MORAL AGENCY. By Elder H. W. Middleton, Panole, Mississippi. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott & Co.
The "error” which Mr. Middleton recklessly undertakes to expose, is the belief in those fundamental doctrines of Total Depravity, of the influences of the Holy Spirit, of Faith, of Repentance, of Regeneration, etc., which form the basis of all evangelical creeds, which are held by all orthodox theologians, of whatever denomination or school, and which every candid searcher for truth, whether learned or ignorant, infallibly derives from the Scriptures. The great "truth unmasked” is man's capacity to save himself, which is supported by the fact that it best accords with Mr. Middleton's own sense of the "fitness of things." No additional attraction is lent these views by the defiant and sometimes coarse manner in which they are presented.
THE COMING AND REIGN OF CHRIST. By David N. Lord. New-York: Franklin
The doctrine of Christ's personal reign on earth is one which may, no doubt, be explained in perfect harmony with the Scripture prophecies. This is more than can be said, however, for that exposition of this doctrine which is given in the work before us. Mr. Lord has undertaken not merely to point out what may be the minute particulars attending this great event, but boldly to affirm what these inevitably will be. His boldness in handling this mysterious prophecy is the more to be wondered at, since he differs on several important points from all of the ablest advocates of the doctrine of a personal reign. The following outline will exhibit this. Mr. Lord holds that Christ is to come in person, attended by the resurrected saints, to introduce the Millennium. Hence Satan is to be bound and the nations converted after our Saviour's second advent. A throne is to be erected in the city of Jerusalem, on which Christ is to sit and preside over the earth. While Satan is to be bound, and sin to be banished from the earth, men will still continue to be born into the world as fallen beings, and the change of the living described by St. Paul in the fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians will probably not take place until some time after the resurrection of the saints. All are not to be changed at once—which point the author derives from a more than doubtful interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins—but a "large share of the population of the globe at every period will be in the natural life.” The human race is then to continue to perpetuate itself in successive generations forever.
In order to sustain his singular views, Mr. Lord is driven to two positions which are wholly at variance with those almost universally held by orthodox commentators. (1.) He rejects altogether the idea that this world is to be burned up. The explicit declaration of this fact given in the third chapter of 2 Peter, together with a fearful description of the scene, is explained by Mr. Lord to refer merely to volcanic action. The “elements" to be melted are "carbon, sulphur, gases, and other inflammable substances." "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise," refers to the rushing sound of whirlwinds, common during the eruptions of a volcano; this view is confirmed by a description of such a scene as given in Dana's U. S. Exploring Expedition. “The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” refers, says Mr. Lord, to the "crops, grass, trees, and structures of men," which will naturally be set on fire by the “combustible materials" thrown out from the volcano. The ungodly—those in league with Satan—are to be gathered together in the neighborhood of volcanoes, and 10 be not consumed by the fire, but rather suffocated, so that the fowls of the air may feed upon their flesh as described in Rev. 19. Such is the view confidently presented by Mr. Lord in opposition to that which he makes bold to say " is almost universally entertained with. out any ground whatever."
Another very objectionable position of Mr. Lord's is that advanced by him in opposition to the general view of the final judgment. He assumes that the judge ment of different nations is to occur at different times, and to occupy a considerable period.
LIFE IN A RISEN SAVIOUR. By Robert S. Candlish, D.D. Philadelphia : Lindsay
& Blakiston, 1858.
This volume consists of a series of discourses founded upon the 15th chapter of Ist Corinthians. Dr. Candlish considers that the doctrine of the resurrection is discussed by St. Paul in this chapter merely with reference to "its bearing on the believer's spiritual and eternal life.” In this view he has “sought to trace the line of thought which gives unity to the apostle's reasoning," without pretending to a complete exposition, or stopping for minute and verbal criticism.
The first eleven verses suggest two discourses upon the character and substance of St. Paul's preaching, together with the evidence upon which it is based. Next Dr. Candlish discusses the proposition, “what is implied in the denial of the Resurrection." Under this head he elucidates and applies with great force the Apostle's argument, that the hope of Christianity depends upon the fact of Christ's resurrection. For if Christ be not “risen again for our justification," then are the pious dead lost, and our own condition is hopeless; we have been "planted together in the likeness of his death," and still remain so; it is foolish to be “baptized for the dead;" we had better adopt the epicurean maxim: “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."
From this, two important practical truths are deduced. First. “That the resurrection for which Paul pleads is the resurrection which virtually includes in it the whole life of the believer in this world, in the intermediate state, and throughout eternity." Second. “That what reconciles believers to present trial is not the distant and prospective vision of a future reward, but the present sense of a resurrection life.”
Dr. Candlish then goes on to discuss the "nature of the future body." What his views on this subject are, may be gathered from the following extract, in which he points out the distinction between the expressions, "flesh and blood," and "flesh and bones." "The first, flesh and blood, denotes the human bodily nature, liable to dissolution and decay. The other, flesh and bones, points rather to its higher spiritual development in a structure having extension and form-bones and flesh of some sort—but not necessarily of a sort resolvable into dust, and perishable." Dr. Candlish also dwells with great power upon the practical importance of holding strictly to the doctrine not only of a resurrection of the body, but of the identity between the present and the resurrected body. In this connection occurs a passage which we quote, as a specimen of the practical application which renders these discourses so valuable. In view of the fact that the thread of continuity between the past and the future is not to be broken at death, Dr. Candlish says: “Oh! that I were so living now and always in this my body as I shall wish I had lived, when I come to live in it again! Let me never at any time, in any circumstances, lose sight of this solemn thought, that the deed which I am now doing in the body-the thought I am thinking now, the word I am speaking now, the work I am working at now, in the body-must follow me. I may perhaps lay it down at death. But I must take it up again at the resurrection. This deed of mine must follow me into that future and eternal life. It must follow me. For what purpose ?" etc.
In regard to the Millennium, Dr. Candlish seems to hold the view that it is to be a special dispensation of grace previous to the destruction of this world, and to the second advent of Christ. "The millennial reign of grace," he observes, " is really a reign of great glory,” but “it is not the ultimate hope of the Church. Nor is it in it that the Lord's kingdom or reign is to take its ultimate and perfect glory."
MEMOIR OF REV. DAVID TAPPAN STODDARD, MISSIONARY TO THE NESTORIANS.
By Joseph P. Thompson, D.D., Pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle Church. New-York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Company.
Mr. Stoddard was the youngest son of Solomon Stoddard, Esq., of Northampton, Mass., and brother of Professor Stoddard, the author of a well-known Latin grammar. At an early age he entered the Sophomore class of Williams College, and subsequently was transferred to the same class at Yale. Through the instrumentality of a class-mate, his early religious impressions were here revived, and he soon