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of that destructive system, which is likely to become the grand heresy of the present age, says :
“This battle is not to be with an individual, nor in a day, but constantly and every where. Our opponents are wise and learned; and they have devoted themselves particularly to this subject. If we expect, therefore, to acquit ourselves to God and his church; if we intend to discharge the solemn obligation of handing down to the generations which follow, the truth, pure as we receiv. ed it from our fathers, we must prepare to meet them upon equal terms. Shall error, and in its train destruction, triumph over truth and salvation, through the ignorance of truth's defenders ?”—p. 42.
In the close of his discourse, Mr. H. notices two objections that may be urged against Biblical literature as explained by him: one derived from its result in the German universities; the other from its supposed unfriendly influence on piety.
In regard to the first, he remarks, that the unhappy prevalence of false doctrines in Germany, by no means proves that this is the natural result of the course of study recommended in this dissertation; and then observes, that,
“ This fact may have arisen from a multitude of causes. It may, in a measure, have arisen from the circumstance that in the numerous Universities of that country, there are chairs allotted to the various departments of Theology; that the only requisites for these chairs, are talents and learning. But what would be the natural consequences of such men having it as their official duty through life to teach Theology? Need we wonder that they would prefer to direct their attention in a considerable degree to the externals of the Bible ; to the philosophy of its language; to the history of its text, its manuscripts, and versions; to the illustration of its facts, and statements, by a reference to the history, manners, and opinions of the East? and is it to be expected that they would devote lives of laborious study, to these subjects, without collecting much that is valuable in illustration of the Sacred Scriptures; without opening a large field of inviting study, and furnishing materials, which the friends of religion may employ for the illustration and defence of the Word of God ?”—p. 43, 44.
In p. 48, the author further remarks, that the errors of the German teachers of Theology, may be attributed to the fact, that, “ in their expositions of scripture, they have proceeded on principles fundamentally erroneous,” by adopting “ the philosophical mode of interpretation,” which elevates their preconceived opinions in authority above the word of God. He justly observes,
“ But this abuse of reason and learning, does not prove that neither are to be used in the exposition of Scripture; nor does the fact, that many, who have possessed great external advantages for understanding the sacred writings, have shamefully abused them, prove that these advantages are dangerous or worthless. It does indeed prove, that something more is requisite, to make a good Interpreter of Scripture, than mere human learning. And this is most cheerfully acknowledged. The man whose heart is most like those of the sacred writers, and who enjoys most of the influences of the same all-teaching Spirit which wrought in them, will best understand the records they have left. This of all qualifications is beyond comparison the best ; yet no one will deny, that human learning, is useful in interpreting the Scriptures.”—p. 49.
The following passage, in which Mr. H. has indirectly and modestly expressed his opinion in regard to the improprietv of
leading young men, whose attainments are slender, and whose minds are not yet fortified by experience and reading against the seductive influence of error, to the study of writings filled with poisonous matter, we quote with pleasure :
“ Though it be admitted, that these works may contain valuable matter, yet it is questioned, whether the young have sufficient skill, in all cases, to separate the poison from the food: whether it is possible to read able misrepresentations of the truth, without being in some measure affected by them: whether every young man, at the very commencement of his course, is a fit antagonist for the most learned and powerful of the enemies of the Gospel; and whether experience does not teach that the opinions of young men are in a good degree form. od by the books they most frequently consult. It is thought, too, there is a great difference between coming to these books, as to the writings of the professed enemies of our religion, to learn, what they can advance against the doctrines we believe; and approaching them as friends, for the purposes of instruc tion. It is thought that the mind is imperceptibly put into a very different state; that our respect for the talents or erudition of the writer, prepares us too readily to acquiesce in his conclusions. But, if this danger be imaginary, is it possible to read without injury, works, in which the Bible and its doctrines are most irreverently treated to see the Sacred Volume placed on a level with the uninspired writings of profane antiquity ?-the “Mythology of the Jews" and Greeks, discussed precisely in the manner; to hear the account of the creation, called the cosmogony of a weak and foolish people; the intercourse of Moses with God, explained as a mere device to obtain authority for his laws; the predictions of the Prophets, as the dictates of a heated imagination? And, especially, is it possible to hear.uninjured, the adorable Redeemer, irreverently spoken of? to be told that in the performance of his most solemn miracles, s ductus hilaritate," he pretended to perform them? Is it possible that blasphemy here, should not produce the same effect upon the mind, that voluntary intercourse with profane persons, has always been found to produce? By what influence is the effect prevented in the one case, which is acknowledged in the other? It is thought that all experience teaches that every work sends out an influence of the same character, with its pervading spirit; that those which are imbued with piety, tend to promote it; and that those which teem, either with immorality or profaneness, cannot be read with impunity. It is hence inferred, that whatever philological knowledge may be buried in these writings, it is little worth the risk to moral health, which must be encountered to secure it.”—p. 45, 46.
In regard to the second objection, Mr. H. shows that the effect of this course of study must depend on the manner in which it is pursued. He says,
“If we could come to the Bible in some measure as we would enter God's presence, and read its pages as we would hear his voice; the oftener we approach it the holier and happier we should be. But if we come to the Scriptures, as to the works of men, without reverence, and without prayer, trusting in ourselves, our rules, or our learning, the result will be disastrous. What ever destroys our reverence for the Sacred Scriptures; or leads us to treat with careless familiarity the oracles of God, will lead not only to a decrease of piety, but to an amount of evil to the church, for which all human learning would be an empty compensation.”—p. 50.
Two cautions, in our opinion, ought to be given to students of Biblical literature. One is, not to attend too much to the critical department. The history of this subject, and the publications of those who have been extensively engaged in the study,
would alone be sufficient to occupy almost the whole time usually spent in the Seminary. The principal portion of time that can be fairly taken from other branches of study that demand their attention, should be applied to the other department, the interpretation of scripture. This caution too they may carry with them, when they leave that valuable institution, and engage in the active duties of the ministry.
An acquaintance with Biblical criticism, how important soever on some accounts, is not necessary to determine the questions, whether the Bible be the word of God, or whether its texts be genuine. The genuineness of its texts has been settled by the labours of men far better qualified to judge than noviciates in theological science; and of this fact they may be fully satisfied by general arguments that can be reduced to a small compass. Of the divine authority of the Bible any person may be convinced by arguments founded on its heavenly contents and on historic testimony. The Bible, like every other work of God, bears the impress of his image; and no one can examine it carefully, with humility and prayer, and not see this divine image. Besides, every theological student, who enters the Seminary, if he is what he avows himself to be, has felt the power of revealed truth on his heart. He has been regenerated and sanctified by the Bible; and, therefore, he knows by experience that it is the word of God. He “has the witness in himself;" the Bible has made him a new creature.
A temperate study of the critical department in Biblical science may result in much satisfaction; may arm him for the conAlict; may enable him to answer objections which he cannot at present: but it is by no means necessary in order to determine either of the questions stated above. We refer not to unimportant points; we consider the questions in their general bearings.
The other is, that when they shall have become pastors of churches, they understand the legitimate use to be made of their eritical knowledge. It is not designed for conversation in promiscuous companies ; an imprudent display of it may only result in exciting doubts in the minds of the ignorant. Even in the pulpit it ought to be used sparingly. We cannot approve
of that free and unrestrained manner in which some exhibit their critical knowledge in discourses delivered before a popular assembly. We forbear to say of what in our opinion it savours ; but we may openly express our doubts whether it does any good. Complaints against the common translation of the Bible ought to be avoided. The translation is excellent; and its claims, as being faithful and judicious, should always be maintained. Let preachers, in imitation of the great apostle, learn to practise selfdenial, and be willing to conceal a part of their attainments. Let
them reserve their critical skill for the vindication of the truth when assailed in company, or for those publications which the writings of errorists may demand.
With these cautions, in which we believe Mr. H. will cordially concur, we adopt the sentiment and the prayer expressed in his concluding sentence:
“Fully persuaded however, that the course of study of which we have been speaking, is not only extensive, and delightful; but in its nature, calculated to enlarge our views of divine truth, and to purify the heart; it is with confidence, I commend this Society formed for improvement in Biblical Literature, and in the knowledge of the Bible, to the diligence of its members, and to the bene. diction of the Great Head of the Church.”
We have only to add, that this discourse is written in an easy and perspicuous style; that it is highly creditable to so young a man as the author; and that it bears the marks of fervent piety, as well as the impress of a clear and discriminating, a judicious and comprehensive mind. It is gratifying that a youth of so much promise has been recently chosen to fill the third professorial chair in the Theological Seminary, and that he has now devoted his life to a departinent in theological science in which he has already made such hopeful attainments.
J. J. J.
MEETING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
We are gratified with the style in which the minutes of the General Assembly have been printed this year. The minutes of last year were presented in a style disreputable to the character of our highest judicatory. The page was rather crowded ; but the principal ground of complaint was, the badness of the type and the inferiority of the paper. The types in which the minutes of this year are presented to the public, as well as the paper, are such as they ought to be. The page is full, and discovers, on the part of the stated clerk, a just regard to economy in the use of the Assembly's funds.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, met agreeably to appointment in the Seventh Presbyterian Church in the City of Philadelphia, May 16th, 1822, at 11 o'clock, A. M.; and was opened by the Rev. William Hill, D. D. Moderator of the last Assembly, with a sermon from Rom. xvi. 17: ·Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
This text certainly contains an important scriptural direction; and it ought to be understood by Christians. The learned and pious, yet liberal, Doctor Doddridge, paraphrases it thus :
“ I would particularly exhort you, brethren, to have your eyes upon, and to mark out for the caution of others, those persons, whether in public or private life, which cause divisions and offences (among you,] BY FALSE DOCTRINES, factious tempers, and scandalous lives : therein doing contrary to that pure, certain and uniting doctrine which you have learned of us, the apostles of Jesus Christ, who have been commissioned by him, as the authentic teachers of his gospel. And when you have diseovered such pernicious seducers, avoid them, so as to have no intimate converse with them; nor even to permit them to conTINUE IN YOUR COMMUNION, if they will not be reclaimed by the milder methods of brotherly admonition.”
At the organization of the Assembly there appeared eightythree ministers and thirty-three elders, who presented their commissions, and were enrolled as members. Others appeared in the course of the Assembly's sessions, and took their seats; so that the whole number of delegates that attended this meeting amounted in all to 136, exclusive of those who were introduced by the resignation of members.
The Rev. OBADIAH JENNINGS was chosen Moderator, and the Rev. Robert CATCHART, D. D. Temporary Clerk.
On Monday, May 20, the Assembly read the reports from the Presbyteries on the state of religion; and, on the Wednesday evening following, the narrative that had been prepared from their reports and verbal statements, was read to a large congregation who had been convened by the Assembly for the purpose of holding a prayer meeting for the effusion of God's Holy Spirit on our churches, and the world, and rendering hearty thanksgiving for what he had done for our section of the church, as well as the Christian church in general. The meeting was solemn and edifying.
On Tuesday, the 21st, the Board of Missions made their annual report.
At each meeting the Assembly inquires-What the Presbyteries are doing in relation to the important business of educating poor and pious young men for the gospel ministry? The following extract exhibits the substance of their reports :
“ From the information derived from the whole of the reports, whether written or verbal, which have been submitted on this subject, it appears that there are, at present, ninety young men, of the description contemplated by the As. sembly, receiving education for the ministry, selected and supported by the fol. lowing thirty Presbyteries, viz: By the Presbytery of Onondaga, five; Niagara, two; Cayuga, six; Otsego, four ; Albany, eighteen; Rochester, three ; North River, five ; Ontario, two; Troy, three ; Hudson, one ; Long-Island, two; Jer. sey, six; Newton, one ; Philadelphia, three; Baltimore, one ; Carlisle, three ; Redstone, two, Washington, three ; Hartford, one ; Grand River, one ; Win. chester, two; Portage, two; Lancaster, three; Chillicothe, three; Orange, two; Bath, one; Erie, one; Steubenville, one ; Miami, one; and Cincinnati, two.
“ A communication was received from the Trustees of the Assembly, and being read, was committed to Messrs. Reid, Gray, and Fairchild.
“It being the order of the day, the Assembly proceeded to receive commu-. ’nications on the state of religion; and Messrs. How, Weeks, and Knapp were appointed a committee to prepare a connected narrative of the information that may be received on the subject, and submit it to the Assembly. After Vol. II.-Presb. Mag.