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the Gospel the Epistles, tan remarks are any
Epistle to the Hebrews is annexed a vindication of the great Apostle of the Gentiles from the charge of insincerity; and, by way of conclusion to the whole, some remarks are appended on the evidence afforded by the Epistles, taken collectively, to the general truth of the Gospel. From these we shall make a few selections.
The following statement of the doctrines maintained in the Epistle to the Romans forms a good foundation for the study of that importantly argumentative writing :
1. That all men are sinners in the sight of God, and can only attain to salvation by the aid of a dispensation of imputed righteousness, and not of personal merit.
2. That the criminality of mankind is the consequence of their disobedience to an acknowledged law of righteousness, either natural or revealed.
3. That the spiritual condemnation of the heathen world is the result of their violation of the sanctions of natural religion.
4. That the guilt of the Jews was the effect of their transgressions against the enactments of the Mosaic law.
5. That in our present fallen and degraded condition, which is the consequence of the sin of our first parents, the suggestions and desires of our carnal nature are in a constant state of warfare with our purest spiritual aspirations, and our better knowledge.
6. That, as it was the express object of our Saviour's mission to obliterate the effects of Adam's transgression, and to reconcile us to God by a satisfactory expiation for sin, it is obviously the duty of every Christian, to emancipate himself by every means in his power from the dominion of his carnal and impure appetites, invoking for that purpose the strengthening aid of the Holy Spirit, and trusting to the imputed righteousness of Christ for his final justification.
7. That God's election of the Jewish nation was of a temporal character only: the spiritual and real election being confined exclusively to such individuals as should subsequently have approved themselves to him by their piety and obedience.
8. That the national election of the Jews, having been an act of gratuitous favour, and designed for a specific object, without reference to any claim of merit on their part, might be, and was, justly withdrawn when the arrangements of Providence so required it.
9. That the admission of the Gentiles into the Gospel covenant implied no loss of spiritual privileges to the believing Jews, but merely the impartial diffusion of God's favour to all nations without distinction, whether Jew or Gentile.
10. That, as the whole of the Israelitish nation was not in reality God's Israel, but the obedient only deserved that appellation; so in the Christian world it is not every one bearing the denomination of Christian, but the pure in heart, and the perseveringly righteous only, who can hope to attain to the blessings resulting from Christ's atonement.
11. That a life of unblemished holiness, of perfect obedience, and of implicit reliance upon God's faithfulness, is absolutely required of every person whatever looking for salvation through the merits of our Redeemer.
Such are the principles undoubtedly inculcated in this beautiful Epistle. Whether or not they are compatible with what is usually termed the Calvinistic theory may be matter of opinion, according to the peculiar views and impressions of individuals. Certain it is, that no religious scheme can be pronounced to be that of St. Paul, which is irreconcilable with the admission of the foregoing propositions.- Pp. 72, 73.
On the subject of superstitious mortifications we read as follows, under the Epistle to the Galatians :-
If it be urged that our Saviour himself recommends one species of mortification, namely, fasting, as a religious duty, and himself set the example of it, the answer is obvious; that as a means of piety, as a corrective of the petulance produced by prosperity or health, it may be, and is, highly profitable: the real mistake is, when it is relied upon as actually meritorious, and as a substitute for that expiation for sin, which can be obtained through Christ's blood alone. The various forms under which this very natural but pernicions delusion has shown itself in different ages, according to the circumstances of each respective period, is matter of curious but melancholy observation. To the converted Jew and the Judaizing Gentile of the primitive Church it suggested an anxiety to return to the vexatious Levitical bondage from which they had been recently emancipated, and to adopt an heterogeneous and ill-assorted creed, in which the practice of circumcision and other unprofitable ceremonies was considered as a concurrent means of justification with the atonement of Christ itself. A few centuries afterwards it peopled the Egyptian deserts with ascetics, who, having originally retired thither for purposes of general mortification of the body, finally set the example, which was so eagerly followed in other countries, of the most fantastic and capriciously diversified modes of self-torment. It introduced the unscriptural doctrine of purgatory into the Eastern and Western Churches, and gave rise to the institution of the various monastic orders, and with them to a state of spiritual bondage, far exceeding that against which St. Paul so eloquently declaims in the Epistle now before us. To trace it through its infinite diversity of shapes would be endless; perhaps, in fact, few piously disposed persons exist who have not at some period of their lives felt a tendency to this delusion, from which they have finally escaped only by fixing their attention upon that one great basis of all scriptural truth, “ Christ crucified,” which, as it affords the only solid foundation for a believer's hope, so it is the great practical security for a holy and pure life. If the Protestant communities have been less disfigured by these gloomy superstitions than the Church of Rome, it is because their knowledge of the sacred writings is greater; without the continual and salutary corrective afforded by which, no goodness of intention, no degree of piety, however sincere, could have preserved them from the same pitiable degradation.—Pp. 237, 238.
In the concluding remarks, after some observations on the sincerity and earnestness of the several Apostolic writers, the identity of their doctrines, and the necessity of some such supplementary writings as the Epistles, in order to a complete apprehension of the Gospel scheme, in all its different bearings, Dr. S. proceeds to calculate the advantage arising from the contemplation of this important subject from different points of view:
Had, for instance, the Epistles of one only of our Lord's disciples descended to us, vast as would have been the value which would have attached to them, still they could not have completely effected that purpose which has been so fully accomplished by the diversified compositions which we actually possess. Every individual brings with him to the profound discussions of theology, if not the reality, at least the suspicion, of a bias. And even if we consider such a suspicion in the case of an inspired teacher to be out of the question, still we must at all events admit that the peculiar circumstances under which he may have been placed with respect to his own immediate converts may occasionally have made it imperative upon him from principle to dwell more particularly upon some single and partial view of the theory of revelation, to the comparative neglect, if not to the actual exclusion, of others not less intrinsically important. In addition therefore to the most unblemished integrity in the writer, it requires the collision, not merely of various individual feelings and predispositions, but that also of contingent external events, operating severally upon several parties, to call forth the complete discussion in all its parts of so intricate VOL. XI. NO. VI.
and extensive a system of belief as that of the Christian revelation, and to secure the adequate transmission of a scheme thus minute and comprehensive for the edification of aftertimes. And such is precisely the advantage which has accrued to religion both in speculation and practice, from that dissimilar mode of discussing the same really identical and harmonious doctrine which characterizes the Apostolical Epistles. The very different position of Paul with respect to his own peculiar converts, from that occupied by James, Peter, John, and Jude, with reference to theirs, made it to a certain degree incumbent upon him to consider the Christian dispensation from a position directly opposite to that from which they were disposed to regard it. Having been commissioned to undertake the conversion of the Gentile world, he must necessarily have laid it down as the foremost duty of his office to establish, in the first place, solidly and substantially, the foundation of faith in the Jehovah of the old, and in the crucified Saviour of the new, covenant; and, having secured that great elementary principle, then, as an obvious consequence, to erect upon it the superstructure of Christian holiness and of a good life. And according to this consistent view of the subject, we find him uniformly looking forward prospectively through the whole system, from its first commencing germ to its final and complete developement. The four last-mentioned apostles, on the contrary, having to deal almost exclusively with Jews, found many of the primary dogmas of the religion which they had to inculcate already in great measure assented to as articles of faith. To them therefore the task of elementary initiation was comparatively easy. It was not the doctrine of a Messiah which they had to originate, but that the crucified Son of Mary was the Messiah, whose advent had been impatiently expected: and in announcing the covenant of divine mercy as proffered to all mankind, they were only enlarging the operation, and refining the principle, of that covenant already acknowledged to subsist between the Almighty and the Jewish nation. The errors therefore which they had to combat, and to guard against, were of an entirely different character from those which called forth the occasional abjurations of St. Paul.—Pp. 548, 550.
One more extract, and we have done :
The uniform tone of reverential awe in which the person of our blessed Redeemer is alluded to throughout the Apostolical Epistles, is another circumstance which those persons who are disposed to object to the doctrine of his divine nature would do well seriously to consider. That St. Paul, who had known him only through the medium of the most stupendous preternatural events, should ever be found to speak of that tremendous Being with the deepest solemnity might naturally be expected. But with regard to the other apostles this consequence seems somewhat less obvious. We all know the equalizing tendency of familiarity in domestic intercourse between persons of the most dissimilar rank and condition of life. But the intimacy of friendship to which the disciples of our Lord were admitted for so long a period, appears not for a moment to have trenched upon their reverential adoration of him as an immediate emanation of the eternal Godhead. Above all, we find that sentiment most strongly marked, where perhaps we should least be prepared to look for it, in the writings of the beloved disciple St. John. The unequivocal assertions of our blessed Saviour's divinity contained in his Epistles and in his Gospel are justly considered as affording some of the strongest scriptural proofs of that important doctrine. But that such an impression should have taken complete hold of a mind which had been permitted to trace the object of its reverence through the humble incidents and detail of private life, can be accounted for only upon the supposition that the evidence confirmatory of that impression was of too decided a character to be shaken by even that most critical and perilous test. Certain it is that no misgivings or interventions of doubt upon this subject ever seem for one instant to suggest themselves to that apostle's mind. It has accordingly been well remarked, in reply to those impugners of our Redeemer's divinity, who assert that this doctrine is of comparatively recent origin, and was unknown to the primitive Church, that, on the contrary, the heresy which stood most conspicuous in the age of the apostles was that which denied, not his divine, but his human, nature; and that, so far from being called upon to prove him to be very God, (a point universally acknowledged, the great difficulty seems to have been to persuade the first polluters of the Christian faith, that he was also, really and actually, very Man. It was not, until the lapse of time had subdued by distance the astounding effect produced by his miraculous career upon earth, that human audacity dared to attempt to lower him to the scale of a merely mortal teacher, or even to that of the foremost and most glorious of God's created beings.—Pp.552, 553.
Here, then, we bid our author heartily farewell!
An Address to Young Persons after
Confirmation. London: Rivingtons, 1829. 12mo. Pp. 88. Price Is. 6d.
We sincerely hope to see this useful and excellent little tract, by the Bishop of Barbados, upon the revised list of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. It contains a series of rules for the observation of the youthful Christian, in order to the punctual fulfilment of his baptismal covenant. Each rule is briefly stated, and followed by appropriate exhortations; with scriptural references in the margin, and foot notes including prayers and citations from the old divines. The rules themselves are twelve in number, as follow: 1. Pray fervently morning and evening. 2. In the midst of worldly occupation think upon God. 3. Read a portion of Holy Scripture daily. 4. Remember your duty to your neighbour. 5. Be careful of your time. 6. Shun idleness. 7. Delay not the work of religion. 8. Accustom yourself to private meditation. 9. Be cautious with whom you associate. 10. Fear not the ridicule of the infidel or the scorner. 11. Beware of the first transgression. 12. Keep the Sabbath holy. At the end are appended a form of prayer and meditation for the morning, afternoon, and evening, from the Countess of Moreton's "Daily Exercise;" and a prayer from Bishop Cosin, to be used on the anniversary of our baptism.
The Divine Origin of Christianity, de
duced from some of those Evidences which are not founded on the authenticity of Scripture. By John ShepPard, author of “ Thoughts on Private Devotion," 8c. 2 Vols. London: Whittaker, Ave Maria Lane. 1829. Pp. xlviii. 358, 383. Price 14s.
The object of this work is thus stated by the Author himself:
“My primary aim is to show, that even if the New Testament had been unhappily destroyed, or its genuineness were not ascertainable, yet, provided the primitive spirit of the religion could be learnt from the writings of early believers, and those indirect proofs collected of its rise and progress, and their causes, which now exist, we ought not to reject it, but to judge that it came from God.”—Pref. p. 23.
In order to effect this object, Mr. Sheppard undertakes to establish two propositions; one of which is prefixed to the first chapter, and the other to the remainder of the work.
“1.-Before studying either the miraculous or prophetic proof of Christianity, or the written accounts of its progress, whether by friends or enemies,—there may be enough known, from a view of its distinctive character,-of its actual effects, of its continued and prospective spirit and tendency,--and of its acknowledged commencement,—to yield a complex presumption that it is not of men, but of God.'
“ II.-There are statements concerning Christianity, (and other coeval religions, in extant Jewish and heathen writers ;
in citations from lost works of its adversaries;- in notices of current oral objections to it;-in public appeals as to public facts by early Christian apologists ; — in details by Christian writers of events, the general truth of which is amply confirmed by their opponents; – together with implications in the silence of some Jews and heathens, and in the conduct of others; which concur to furnish very strong additional grounds for believing its supernatural origin.”
We had intended to have presented our readers with an analytical review of this work ; but our limits would scarcely permit us to do it the justice it deserves. In its perusal they will find considerable information; and the Author has exhibited great argumentative powers, and great depth of research, in the treatment of his subject. His style is peculiar, and sometimes harsh; and some of his opinions may probably be questioned; but we do not hesitate to pronounce his publication at once useful, interesting, and instructive.
The Book of Genesis considered and
illustrated, in a series of Historical Discourses ; preached in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Cheltenham. By the Rev. Francis CLOSE, A. M. Per petual Carate of Cheltenham. London: Hatchard and Seeley. 1828. 12mo. Pp. xxi. 334. 58.
As the latter volume has passed into a second edition, published in a cheap form for the purpose of a wider circulation, we had expected something above mediocrity in the composition of these discourses, either in a literary or a theological point of view. This expectation has certainly not been realized. There is a want of distinctness also in some of the Author's positions, which leads us to suspect the soundness of his views upon some doctrinal subjects. According to our notion of pulpit instruction, the doctrines of the Gospel should be placed in the most clear and conspicuous light; for without a just conception of the nature of his faith, the practice of a Christian is only founded in the sand, and his principles of exertion will be unstable, wavering, and insecure. From the two volumes before us we have been unable to perceive the precise tenets of Mr. Close's creed; and we must add, that his practical exhortations are not marked with any very forcible appeals, or searching application.
'H KAINH AIAOHKH. Novum Tes
tamentum Græce. Ex recensione Jo. Jac. GRIESBACHII, cum selecta Lectionum varietate. Londini : Rivingtons. 1829. 24mo. pp. xxiv. 525. 7s.
A neat and accurate edition of the Greek Testament. Prefixed are the preface to the last edition of Griesbach, with the third section of his prolegomena, relating to the plan which he pursued, and the aids he employed in forming his judgment of the Text; and a judicious selection of various readings are printed at the foot of the page. We could have wished that the volume had been printed in a bolder type, and in a larger size; at the same time that we are abundantly satisfied with the care and attention which has evidently been given to correctness in the typography.
Sermons for Servants. By WILLIAM
Downes Willis, M. A. Vicar of
Here is another little work well worthy the attention of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. "The duties of servants are enforced upon religious principles, and in a plain, familiar, and pleasing style, well adapted to the class of persons for whose benefit the publication is immediately designed. Trusting to its speedy adoption in most families, we deem it sufficient to subjoin the table of contents.
Sermon I. On Obedience. II. On Temptation. III. On Fidelity. IV. On Sobriety. V. On Truth. VI. On the Government of the Tongue. VII. On
Miscellaneous Sermons : preached in the
Parish Church of Cheltenham. By the Rev. Francis Close, A. M. Perpetual Curate. London: Hat chard. 1829. Svo. Pp. xx. 480. 128.