Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

bụsing the easy goodnature of Protestants, and stripping emancipation of its delusive plausibilities. In future, when the partizans of that measure shall assert, that it is to terminate in concessions, however ample, to the laity, they may be silenced by a reference to those ingenious six pages. The Report will stand on record, a straightforward anticipation of those ulterior demands which cast their shadow before upon the discernment of Mr. Peel; whether Popery shall be erected into a law church; whether its idolatrous ritual shall be established, under the sanction of a Test Act; whether its abjured jurisdiction shall be taken into alliance in working the ordinary machinery of government; whether its dispensing power shall be invoked, to absolve the sovereign and the legislature from their present oaths; whether, in fine, its whole system shall be formally incorporated into the living organization of this Protestant state ;-—these are the questions, nothing less than these, which the Report introduces to the contemplation of Parliament. Should it be adopted, conciliation will have fixed a wedge between the State and the Church. The nation being once entrapped into a renunciation of its right to take cognizance of religion, it would be an easy march of intellect to discover curious consequences, and of liberality, to urge them; the spirit of the age might pronounce that all the statutes on that subject, from Henry the VIIIth downwards, were virtually repealed, and the antient church, the church of the common law,* might prepare to re-occupy the vacant establishments.

Jesus Christ the Great God our Saviour. Being a view of the doctrine of Scripture

respecting the Deity of the Son as connected with the Deity of the Father and of the Holy Ghost. By the Rev. James Carlile, one of the Ministers of the Scots' Church, Mary’s-abbey, Dublin. Dublin-Westley and Tyrrell, 1828.

(Concluded from vol. vi. p. 377,) One of the most valuable chapters in our Author's work, is thaton the principle of reasoning from Scripture: it is indeed an important branch of the Unitarian controversy, and we will venture to pronounce that no one imbued with proper reverence for the Bible, and applying plain common sense and common information to its language, will ever find in it the doctrines of Unitarianism. Persons so circumstanced may not agree as to their exposition of different texts, or the relative value of different doctrines; but they will never discover in it the meagre skeleton and life-destroying views of the Humanitarian school. So true indeed is this, that as Mr. Carlile observes,

“A very large proportion of the reasons given by the author of the pamphlet for rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, as he expresses bimself, are upsound and worthless; because they are reasons for rejecting it whether it be revealed in Scripture or not. He says, he rejects it, because it is contradictory to reason, because

* So Popery has been lately called ; we do no not remember whether by J.K.L. or some orator of the Association.

it contradicts the simplicity of God, (wbich is simply the dictate of his own imagination, and no part of revelation,) because it is indefinable and incapable of explonation ; because it presents a monstrous confused image to the mind. He rejects it on a principle of benevolence, because he wishes every one to believe the Gospel, and he would remove a difficulty....He rejects it, because the most erroneous notions of providence, and infidelity itself had sprung fronı it, as if infidelity had never sprung from Unitarianism. He rejects it, because he alleges on the authority of Dr, Priestley, it was unknown to the primitive Cbristians.... He rejects it, because, as he conceives, it degrades the Father and dishonours the Son, (that is, his conception of it does so,)....Now all these arguments would be equally good reasons for rejecting a doctrine, whether it be revealed in Scripture or not, and if every one of them were well founded, they would not prove that it is not taught in Scripture."-pp. 4, 5, 6. Thus the Unitarian brings abstract arguments to repel facts, bypothesis in opposition to experience, and reasons that are only strong against the imaginations of his own mind, and then thinks he has argued against the Trinity; he has, in fact, argued against the Bible, and, we hope unwittingly, joined the Deist's party, but with regard to the real point at issue, has only proved his own ignorance. Our author bas made some excellent observations on Dr. Drummond's assumption of Mr. Maguire's statement as to opposing texts, which we regret our limits will not allow us to quote, and we must therefore refer to the work itself for some judicious remarks on the mode of arguing from one part of the divine dispensations to another.

Mr. Carlile proves that the name of God in its highest acceptation is given to Christ from the usual texts, John i. 1-3, Rom. ix. 5, &c. Heb. i. 8, 9, &c.; on this last text, Dr. Drummond had advanced a translation of the passage quoted from the xlv. Psalm, given by Dr. Young, which Mr. Carlile justly considers audacious:

“ It is ascribing to a word, which occurs more than two thousand times in the Old Testament, a sense which it does not bear in one single instance; and applying it in a manner of which there is not a single example. It is a translation too, directly opposed to that of the apostle, who renders the word which Dr. Young renders prince by the Greek word, Theos (God); a word which occurs above fifteen hundred times, in the New Testament, but not once in the sense of prince, por is it once given as a title to any individual creature."-p. 132. It is to be regretted that the crude, and we believe juvenile translation of the Psalms made by the late Bishop of Clonfert, to whom we presume Dr. Drummond alluded, had ever been made public, and we believe it was contrary to the wish of Dr. Young's best friends, nay, as it had been printed in the Bishop's life time but not circulated, we are convinced contrary to his own.

Dr. Young was indeed a man whose worth and talents placed him high in the estimation of his friends and his country, but his attention had been too much directed to other and different pursuits, to render him an high authority in theology; at all events an accurate and extensive knowledge of Hebrew formed, we believe, no part of his acquirements, and his undertaking to translate the Psalms with his slender acquaintance with the language in which they were written, was an offence against common sense only to be atoned for by a suppression of the version.

We

pass over a large proportion of our Author's work for the purpose of coming to one passage which we think exhibits his peculiar originality in a very favourable point of view; it is that in which he proves how easily the very weapons that Unitarians employ against the doctrines of the Trinity, may be directed against Christianity, and shows that the natural result of unsettling the meaning and disturbing the language and interpretation of Scripture, must be a denial of its divine original, and universal scepticism. Having in the eleventh chapter, identified God with Christ, "in the names, titles, characters, attributes, works, offices, manifestations, and duties required from us," p. 290, and guarded against the usual objection, that we have no right to assume an identity of nature from an identity of name and office, by showing that such names and offices never have, nor never can have been predicated of a creature; he proceeds to point out the danger and absurdity of the Unitarian mode of meeting such an argument, namely, that of discovering that in some part of Scripture, or on some single occasion, the name of God or the attributes of God may by possibility have been figura

applied, therefore they must be always so“ Let us suppose an adversary of the Bible and of Christianity, to read the work of our author. or any other work in which the same system of criticism is adopted... He finds, from the writings of our author, that a great part of the Bible is written in figurative and hyperbolical language, after the manner of Oriental poetry, which is to be corrected by reason and common sense ; that many of the sublimest phrases may be much lowered by little variations in the reading, or by finding different acceptations in which the same word is sometimes used ; and that the authority of some parts of it are disputed even by professing Christians...He therefore takes up the Bible, and proposes, with the help of our author's admissions and example, boldly to prove that no such system of religion as has been attributed to it, is contained in it.”—pp. 293, 294. Such a person proceeds to reason thus :

“It has been usually imagined that the Hebrew Scriptures teach that there is one, and one only supreme God.. It would appear, from the accurate and learned investigations of the latest and ablest critics,-critics too who profess to believe in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, that no such doctrine is contained in it. The Reverend and learned Dr. Drummond, who, although an adversary to rational Theism, is, nevertheless, an honour to his profession, has demonstrated that by the term which is usually rendered God in the English translation of the Bible, is meant the legislators and magistrates of the Jews. He finds that the title was given to Moses and all the other Jewish legislators ; and furnishes several instances of individual legislators or kings among them, being addressed by that title.

“« • This explains the whole difficulty. The Jews having risen up against the Egyptians, whose slaves they were, and having effected their escape from that country, appear to have established a sort of republic, under the government of magistrates chosen for life. The able and artful leaders, who had conducted them out of Egypt, and who had contrived to foil the attempts of the Egyptian army to recover them, procured histories and poems to be written, in which, according to the lofty hyperbolical style of the orientals, were described the

power and vigilance of their government. For example, it is asserted that these legislators, in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. This, however, was not so revolting a statement as might at first sight be supposed ; for the Reverend Author to whom we are so much indebted, has shown that the heavens and the earth meant, in the language of these writers, the ecclesiastical and civil polities of the Jews. The people therefore were taught, in those high sounding words, that their civil and ecclesiastical constitution originated in the wisdom of their rulers.. Perhaps the reader may be startled by such explanations, but I assure him that the very learned Christian author to whom I have alluded, shows that this style was quite familiar to the Jews; for that even in the New Testament, a part of the Bible written at so much later a period, it is asserted that Jesus Christ, a man who lived in the days of Augustus Cæsar, • made the world,' and created all things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, and proves that all that was meant by that language was, that he made some changes in the Jewish civil and ecclesiastical constitution,'”—pp. 295–297.

The following are amusing and certainly not too highly coloured :

" " There are however other singular expressions, by which the general knowledge of the Jewish legislators was described. One of their poets says• He,' or rather, that which,' (alluding still to the government) . planted the ear, shall it not hear; that which formed the eye, shall it not see.' One should imagine from this, that the Jewish poets ascribed the very forniation of the human body to their magistrates. But this is too absurd a supposition to be entertained. Common sense and reason could see no object to be gained by such extravagance. We must therefore look for some other meaning. Nor shall we have far to look. The word 978 rendered ear, signifies also a balance, and the word goy rendered eye, signifies also a fountain. Hence it is obvious that what the poet meant was, that the government adjusted the weights and measures used in Judea ; and that they also planned and constructed the wells and fountains; all of which perfectly harmonizes with their having collected together the water that was mingled with the earth, by draining the lands, as formerly noticed.

«• To a person unaccustomed to the style of the Bible, this interpretation may seem somewhat forced or unnatural ; but if he will turn to our author's critique on the first five verses of the Gospel of John, which he will find in pages 42d and 43d of the 2d edition of his learned work, he will be satisfied that this explanation perfectly accords with the general strain of the Bible.

6 6 But the most artful and extraordinary expedient employed by the rulers of this singular people, for the purpose of keeping continually before them the authority and power of the law, was to contrive a species of worship to be paid to the constitution. While other nations were worshipping images of former rulers or of imaginary beings, these crafty and shrewd legislators made a chest, covered it with gold, placed in it a copy of the fundamental principles of the law engraved on stone; on the top of this chest they made a seat or throne, which they called a mercy seat; they then erected a magnificent tent or tabernacle, while they were journeying from Egypt to Canaan and establishing themselves there, but wbich, after they were permanently settled, was exchangfor a noble temple or palace. There they deposited this chest, accompapied with a rod, the emblem of authority, and a pot of some description of food, such as they had fed upon in their journey, as an emblem of the plenty to be expected

by submitting to regular government. Three times a year was every male arrived at maturity obliged to appear and do obeisance to these symbols of government. There also, they, from time to time, slaughtered cattle ; which was intended to teach the people that, if they transgressed the law, they would be slaughtered in the same manner without mercy.'”-pp. 300_308.

We think the above reasoning on Unitarian principles equally consistent and conclusive, and that the sceptic may well say to Dr. Drummond's Theistical tendencies :

" It is but just to observe, that the Reverend and worthy gentleman of whose learned' explanations of the Bible, we have availed ourselves, does not draw the same inférences from it which have been drawn above.. But wbat can be more inconsistent ? He tells us, for example, that in the language of the prophet's heaven and earth signify the civil and'ecclesiastical polities of the Jews; that God signifies the Jewish legislators and magistrates ; and yet he quotes passages from these very prophets, and these passages confessedly poetical and figurative, and insists on the words, the heavens and the earth, being understood literally of the material heavens and earth, and on the word God being understood of the Supreme Being. If he would have us believe that these doctrines are in the Bible, let him point them out to us in language, the meaning of which cannot be disputed; but let him not seek to amuse, us with language which, by his own showing, is ambiguous.”—p. 304. Indeed in a passage preserved, we believe, in Dr. Drummond's second edition, we find him boasting that many that were burrying to infidelity, have found Unitarianism a convenient resting place, quite forgetting what a near approach to Deism his favourite system must make, and also that it is a resting place, not on account of what it retains, but of what it. denies. The honest reasoner who becomes an Unitarian, must from an Unitarian become an infidel; the principles that lead him to the one, must conduct him to the other, if regard to self interest and worldly principle do not detain him in a nominal profession of Christianity.

We regret that our limits prevent us from making liberal quotations from Mr. Carlile's chapter “on the influence of Unitarianism on the Religious Character, but we recommend it, and indeed the whole volume, most. strongly to our readers, as the work of an able, and pious labourer in; the great cause of true religion, and a most single-minded opposer of a system which degrades the Redeemer, and robs man of his dearest hopes, desecrates* with. unhallowed presumption the revelation of God, and refuses to admit even his declared will, till it has passed the ordeal of puny human reason.

• We were much pleased with Mr. Carlile's strictures on the extraordinary principles of theological interpretation advanced by Rev. Dr. Bruce in his Arian sermons. The Scriptures are in the first place divided into two parts, the Acts and Epistles thrown overboard, and an appeal only to the Gospels is valid ; then a doctrine is non-essential if it be contained in one Gospel only, or two; or three; it must be in the four : next, even in the four, if it be mysterious, it is assuredly not one of those that belong to us or our children, and even though not mysterious, if it do not commend itself to our understanding as directly bearing upon practice, we are to have nothing to do with it. Such is Dr. Bruce's divinity, and yet he calls himself a Christian.

« PoprzedniaDalej »