« ElőzőTovább »
contradicted in the first place, even by Cosmas of the sixth century, whom he claims as his principal voucher, but who found in these inscriptions no such records of miraculous events, but simple statements of the names of travellers, which is much nearer the truth; and secondly, which is of far greater consequence, they are contradicted by the inscriptions themselves, as recently deciphered with scrupulous and scientific accuracy and a self-evidence which has commanded the assent of all competent scholars, and which is gathering additional confirmation on all sides from fresh discoveries and further investigations.
We restrict ourselves to one more remark in relation to these volumes. While they are evidently written in the interest of the Pentateuch, and the design of the well-meaning but misguided writer is to do a service to revealed truth, the aid afforded is treacherous and hollow. If his readings are correct, instead of sustaining they undermine most effectually the antiquity and genuineness of the writings of Moses. It he could establish his conclusions, sceptical critics could find no more welcome ally. The language of the Pentateuch is certainly not that of these inscriptions as he reads them. And if they are authentic monuments of the days of Moses, and his explanation of them is correct, they afford a palpable evidence that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses nor by any one in the Mosaic age.
Mr. Forster imagines that the language of the inscriptions is the ancient Egyptian; and that the Hebrew was first taught the Israelites by direct revelation from Heaven at the giving of the law. It is difficult to preserve one's gravity in arguing with a man who can propound so extraordinary an hypothesis, which, apart from its intrinsic absurdity, is contradicted by known facts at every point. The language of Egypt long prior to the time of Moses is well known from extant monuments. It bears no affinity to the supposititious tongue discovered by Mr. Forster, and no sane man would ever think of reading it by the aid of Golius' Arabic lexicon ; and the ante-Mosaic existence of the IIebrew language can be established beyond all reasonable cavil.
Concede Mr. Forster's reading of the Sinaitic inscriptions,
and concede the date which he claims for them, and the defence of the Mosaic writings becomes hopeless. If the children of Israel in the age of the exodus spoke the language of these inscriptions, as this is made out in these volumes, the Pentateuch could not have been written for their use. Bunsen's unfounded hypothesis respecting the book of Jonah might then be applied to the first five books of the Bible, and that under circumstances which would give it real validity. He fancies that the song in the second chapter of Jonah is alone genuine, and that it is descriptive of an actual escape from the perils of the sea ; this was misunderstood, and so gave rise to the legend of the rest of the book. For the first time in the entire history of Biblical criticism authentic moniments would stand in fatal antagonism to the verity of the Scriptural records. These inscriptions, it would be claimed, were the only coeval accounts, the only authentic originals. These do not necessarily contain any thing miraculons. They have, however, been misunderstood and exaggerated in later times. The Pentateuch is the legendary accretion, of which these inscriptions are the only reliable base. So that henceforth we would be obliged to derive our knowledge of the Mosaic period, not from Moses, but from Mr. Forster, and we could know only so much as the latter is able to teach us. For this we confess we are not prepared.
While, however, Mr. Forster has been in chase of a phantom-and it is to be regretted that so much patience, ingenuity, and expense have been devoted to so chimerical an endthe photographs and carefully prepared copies of the inscriptions, which these volumes contain, are of real and permanent value, and afford a useful addition to the materials previously existing or accessible for the study of these ancient and curious records upon the rocks of Sinai.
Art. IV.-A Phase of the Church Question. So far as the cause of true catholic unity is concerned, the great Christian thought that underlies all these calls for Church union, we cannot see that this Presbyterian movement means much, or that its full success would be of any very great account.—John W. Nevin, D. D. In the estimation of Dr. Nevin, að already shown,* the proper solution of the Church Question centres in a clear apprehension of what is involved in the idea of the Church, true. But whence comes the idea ? The Christian Church rests upon no human “idea or theory.” Ministers of the Gospel ought to remember that there is a divine norm. This is not found in the so-called Apostles' Creed. Dr. Nevin does not distinguish between what is divine and that which is simply human. The true creed is the apostolic formula: “In THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY Guost."
No other creed was known in the primitive Church, no other is divine. This does not define the idea. It matters little what the ancient fathers taught. Christians cannot admit the authority of uninspired men. Every true disciple of Christ can say with Ignatius : “But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that is ancient.”—See Epis. to Phila., chap. 8.
Neither Dr. Nevin, nor any other minister, ancient or modern, has a right to insist upon the binding authority of an exposition of a creed, which is known to be simply a form arranged according to the mind of the corrupt hierarchy of the fifth and sixth centuries. The authority of Christ in relation to the true idea of the Ecclesia goes before the notions of both ancient and modern fathers. The Saviour said: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
The form of the so-called Apostles' Creed does not in itself constitute any divine norm. Dr. Nevin is mistaken in supposing that his scheme rests upon the apostolic idea of the Christian Church. The Greek fathers originated the word catholic. There is no apostolic authority for using this word, on the
* See October No. of this Journal, for 1869, Art. IV.
peculiar exposition of which is founded this private judgment scheme. To base an “idea or theory" of the Ecclesia upon what the Greek fathers taught, rather than to accept the Word of Christ, may be the work of a speculatist. No such theorizing can have any weight with those who prefer to follow Christ rather than to put confidence in men.
It is useless for Dr. Nevin to affirm that the creed defines the idea Theological writers of all ages—Roman, Greek, and Protestant-adınit that there is One Holy Christian Church. It is no less certain that this Ecclesia has always been regarded as the aggregated assembly of the saints. The notion of an ideal Church finds no authority in a word or phrase uttered by the Saviour. What is equally remarkable is the fact, that this abstract notion can find no foundation in history. It is not a question, therefore, whether the “idea or theory" entertained by Dr. Nevin may be received. History says: No. A privatejudgment scheme, no matter how profoundly philosophical, can have no right, considered historically, to either respect or confidence.
There is only one truly primitive idea of the Ecclesia. The so-called fathers, whether Greek or Roman, may entertain whatever notion, idea, or theory they choose. The notions, ideas, or theories may be ancient: they are not primitive. Dr. Nevin, in company with Romanists, Greco-Romanists, Anglo-Romanists, and all other advocates of a human “idea or theory” may accept as normal what is simply ancient. True Protestantism accepts only the PRIMITIVE CREED.
The Saviour speaks through his Apostles, of the Ecclesia as “the multitude of them that believe.” This multitude is said to increase. “ And the Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved.” Here is the primitive idea of the Christian Church: it is the Assembly of the saints. Augus
“ The Church consists of the faithful dispersed throughout the world.” No other idea was known in the days of the Apostles: the Saviour teaches no other. This Ecclesia is founded upon a truly personal faith. Of this faith the Saviour says: “On this rock I will found my Church.”
Dr. Nevin does not distinguish between a personal faith, as a living reality, and a formal faith. The so-called Apostles'
Creed is simply a summary of doctrines. Personal faith, on the contrary, stands related directly to Christ. The words of Ignatius are to the point : “ The beginning of life is faith, and the end is love.”—See Epis. to Eph., chap. 14.
Speaking of the apostolic idea of the Church, Pearson says: “For the single persons professing faith in Christ are members of the particular churches in which they live, and all these particular churches are members of the general and universal Church, which is one by unity of aggregation; and this is the Church in the Creed, which we believe, and which is in other creeds expressly termed one, I believe in one holy catholic Church."-See Pearson on the Creed, p. 507.
This eminent scholar speaks historically. No other idea is primitive: no other is Christian. Even Roman theologians reaffirm this apostolic idea.
The Council of Trent says: “The Church is Catholic, that is, universal; and justly is she called Catholic, because as St. Augustine says: “She is diffused by the splendor of one faith from the rising to the setting sun.'"-See Cat. Coun. Trent, p. 77.
In view of historical facts, it must be regarded as a matter of surprise to find Dr. Nevin willing to offer to the Christian world his own private-judgment exposition of the word, catholic, as the historical sense of the creed. His own “idea or theory” of a whole forms for him the principle of his scheme. Dr. Nevin says: “It is to be borne in mind that there are two kinds of generality or universality, and that only one of them answers to the true force of the term catholic.” Again : "If it be asked, which of these two orders of universality is intended by the title, catholic, as applied to the Christian Church, the answer is at once sufficiently plain. It is that which is expressed by the word whole."-Mer. Rev., vol. iii., pp. 2–4.
Dr. Nevin ought to know that his exposition is simply his own speculative idea. No such metaphysical conception of the word, catholic, has ever been known or recognized in connection with the historical sense of the creed. Dr. Dorner, the eminent Christologist of Germany, speaking of the “idea or theory” of the Church held and advocated by Dr. Nevin, says: “He himself,” that is, Dr. Nevin, “moves in a subjectivism of his own which deceives itself with a pretended objectivism.'