Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

justify and support the high estimation in which his work has been generally held. To those already in possession of a copy of the former editions, we have thought it might be useful to indicate their nature and extent, as, though they form many sheets of new matter, they do not add to the bulk of the volumes, a larger page being employed. Considerable as they are, however, the possessor of a copy of any previous edition after the first, has no occasion to be dissatisfied. Yet, if he can afford to treat himself with the more complete and handsome book, we recommend him to follow our example, and make a present of the older copy to some poor student, to whom these volumes will be a most valuable repertory of Biblical lore and apparatus of critical study.

Art. III. Outlines of Lectures on the Book of Daniel, by the Rev.

F. A. Cox, LL.D. Second Edition. London.

6

WEowe an apology to Dr. Cox for not giving an earlier notice

of this unpretending little volume. We are glad, however, to observe that it has made its own way, without any recommendation of ours; and we should like to see the outlines filled, the general contents enlarged, and the book assume a magnitude worthy of the subject and the able manner in which, for the most part, it has been elucidated.

The Lectures, of which these are the outlines, were delivered by Dr. Cox to his own church and congregation during the winter of 1832 and 1833; with a more immediate design', says the Author, to guard them, by a clear and unsophisticated expo

sition of this sacred book, against the prevalent misconceptions • of the day, on the subject of prophecy, and especially of the prophecies of Daniel.'

To be a clear expositor of prophecy, implies qualifications of a very high order. To a severe and accurate judgement must be united a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and of general history, the most patient investigation of the style and

manner of each of the prophets, the specific nature and design of their

predictions, and the greatest possible caution in applying them to the state of the world and of the church at any given period, and especially to recent or passing events, which may have occurred, or are occurring, in our own or any other country. Unfortunately, many of the modern writers on prophecy, by their weak puerilities, their wild extravagances, and gross absurdities, have brought the study which they have so much abused into contempt; and this contempt has operated so powerfully on certain minds, that, though

perfectly competent to the task, and thoroughly persuaded of the importance of studying the prophecies with a view to their elucidation, they have been altogether deterred from pursuing it. To most persons who have engaged in it, it has proved seductive and absorbing. To ministers of the Gospel, it has been especially injurious, drawing them away from the paths of useful labour, till they have lost themselves in theories and speculations, which, though founded in truth, are comparatively of little practical value. Dr. Cox has happily avoided each of these perils, and has furnished his own congregation and the Christian world with a judicious and popular exposition of those very prophecies which men of a heated imagination and an unsound judgement have made the occasion of so much fanaticism and delusion. The Lectures which treat on Nebuchadnezzar's great image, and the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, are peculiarly interesting. The concluding observations of the fifth Lecture, as they are illustrative of the spirit and execution of the work, and bear upon the remarks we have ventured to offer, we shall lay before our readers.

1. We should be careful to avoid giving a disproportionate attention to one part of inspired truth, so as to neglect or disparage the rest. This is undoubtedly a source of error; and to this we are in various ways strongly tempted. Our solicitude to defend what is attacked, or to elucidate what to many seems obscure, or to indulge the pleasure of contemplating what is magnificent, may have an ensnaring effect upon the mind. Most men are more casily captivated by what is imaginative or beautiful, than by what demands patient investigation and profound thought; or than by what more directly involves considerations of immediate duty. Hence multitudes, who disregard the most solemn appeals of religion, are willingly led at once into the regions of theory and speculation. That Prophecy is a very important study, and has been too much overlooked, is readily admitted ; but it is to be feared, that it has of late engrossed too exclusively an attention, and, as in other times, a mistaken zeal, or the pride of singularity, has drawn many away.

• 2. Nothing, besides, is more essential to the peace of the Christian world, the comfort of our own minds, and the proof of our personal religion, than avoiding the language and the spirit of censoriousness. That it is one of the prevalent vices of the present day, which has been generated and inflamed by religious controversy, and particularly by the discussion of what is termed the millenarian question, cannot be doubted. It appears to have originated, as it is natural that it should, in that disproportionate regard to the prophetic portion of Scripture to which we have adverted. We first regret, then remonstrate, then censure, and often, alas ! despise those who cannot be induced to attribute the same degree of importance to a subject which we deem of overwhelming magnitude, and which we have in our ardour erected into a standard of orthodoxy, and a test of religion. When the subject too is of a brilliant

VOL. XII.-N.S.

[ocr errors]

and imaginative character, the senses are dazzled, the judgement overruled, and the mind impatient of doubt or contradiction. Hence some soar even into wild enthusiasm, and dictate to their companions the language of reproach against those who lag behind them, in the less glowing regions of sober and sedulous enquiry. Even truth itself is held in unrighteousness when it is associated with slander; and when the tongue is calumnious, we can hardly believe it' to be set on fire of Heaven !

3. It may be worthy of consideration, whether those who advocate the setting up of Christ's kingdom as still future, do not deduct considerably from the motive to exertion which arises out of the opposite sentiment.'

[ocr errors]

Dr. Cox has pressed this part of his subject with great force, and we are glad to perceive, throughout the volume, an ardent concern to promote the interests of a pure, elevated, and practical piety. With regard to the prophecies already fulfilled, the Doctor, substantially agrees with Bishop Newton, Sir Isaac Newton, Mede, and other celebrated and venerable writers of former times, adhering to their rules of interpretation, but availing himself of subsequent information, and using his own judgement in applying it.

The portion of the Book of Daniel which consists of unfulfilled prophecies, the Lecturer has treated with a modesty and reserve becoming the mysterious nature of a subject on which Providence does not appear as yet to have shed its revealing light.

We are glad that Dr. Cox has set the example to his brethren of soberly and judiciously introducing the prophecies of scripture into his course of public instruction. If it is the duty of Christians to study the prophecies, as well as other parts of the sacred volume, (and we conceive that it is, for the obvious reason, that prophecies are so scattered up and down throughout the whole of it, that we must close its pages, if we will not bestow some attention upon them,) then surely those whose office it is to expound the Scriptures in their length and in their breadth, ought not slightly to pass over so considerable a portion of them as that which is devoted to prophecy.

But it becomes both lecturers and their hearers ever to bear in mind, that mystery, to a certain degree, will always hang over even that large field of prophecy which has been accomplished; that the unfulfilled prophecies are at present a sealed book ; and that both the former and the latter will not be perfectly manifested and understood, until the great consummation of all things shall unravel the web of the divine counsels. That event only will roll away the dark curtain through which the strongest mortal sight has hitherto but dimly penetrated.

Our modern fanatics, indeed, maintain, that the prophecies relating to past, to present, and to future events, are alike adapted to receive a satisfactory explanation. This task they have imposed upon themselves, and they seem much pleased with the result: to others, their labours present only a melancholy exhibition of presumption and folly.

It is important, in the study of the prophecies, to entertain a just notion of the great end which prophecy, in general, is intended to answer; not, surely, to communicate to us an exact knowledge of future events, but to be a standing evidence of the truth of Christianity, making the word of God correspond with his works,--the book of nature with the book of grace. By this also, as the cloud gradually rolls away, we see the same light shining both on the end and the beginning; the same hand guiding every part, to form a whole ; making every shallow rivulet, every wandering brook run into the great stream of time, till it falls into the ocean of eternity. By means too of prophecy, which is constantly fulfilling, there is gained a still increasing testimony to the divine origin of Revelation ; and future ages will derive as convincing arguments from this source, as we ourselves do from those prophecies which the event has fully interpreted. These appear to be the uses which God intends should be made of Prophecy; and with this view it ought to be studied; and in this pursuit, we should learn to throw our chief strength and attention towards the past,—to study prophecy and history together. This course is likely to be attended with fewer difficulties than any other. A distant view of an event, after the lapse of a century or centuries, will much more, probably, resemble à symbolical one, than another which is immediately before our eyes. It will be more comprehensive and more abstract, more disengaged from the lesser interests and prejudices which must always accompany recent or present circumstances, and prevent their being seen in their true light and character. The consequences, too, which it has left behind, will be more likely to shew both its real and its relative importance.

The latent errors and fanatical follies with which we are surrounded, will operate as warnings to those Christian teachers who, like Dr. Cox, are determined to bring the grand subject of Prophecy before their people : they will be modest and cautious in expressing their opinions ; they will not, like Mr. Irving, pronounce their interpretation to be so certain, that another like it hath

not by any Commentator been found, nor can be found.' They will likewise learn to keep only the Divine precepts for their rule of duty, and only the great outline of Prophecy for their encouragement in Christian endeavours and undertakings : and above all, they will be careful to walk in the steps of those pious men who have gone before them in this path, and to follow their example of charity, in applying their predictions and interpretations." We do not find them fulminating and anathematizing, nor vainly and presumptuously attempting to imitate the denunciations of Divine vengeance, though it does not appear that such declaimers were more wanting at that time than they are now. Howe takes occasion, from some writers or preachers of this kind, to declare, and to prove that by their invectives, they are indulging a bad ' carnal spirit,' instead of zeal for the glory of God. It is certain, indeed, that this is not the business of mortal fallible men. Divine Justice has not put into our hands the sword and the balances. The command is to love one another, and this is the design of Prophecy as well as of every other part of Scripture. Such too will be the effect, if we view and study it according to the purpose for which it was given ; remaining satisfied with beholding the great and glorious light which beams upon the distant mountains, and not seeking too curiously to penetrate the shadows, clouds, and darkness that lie between.

Art. IV. l. The Christian Keepsake, and Missionary Annual. Edited

by the Rev. William Ellis. Price 12s. in morocco. 2. The Biblical Keepsake: or, Landscape Illustrations of the most

remarkable Places mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, made from original Sketches, taken on the spot. With descriptions of the Plates, by the Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne, B. D., &c. 8vo, 32

plates. Price 21s. in morocco. 3. The Forget-me-not for MDCCCXXXV. Edited by Frederick

Shoberl. Price 12s. 4. The Keepsake for MDCCCXXXV. Edited by Frederic Mansel

Reynolds. 8vo. Price 11. ls. in morocco. WE had scarcely time to examine several of the Annuals

which reached us on the eve of our last publication*. “The Christian Keepsake,” which is equal to any in the attractiveness of its embellishments, possesses a specific character which raises it far above the level of the elegant literary toys which in outward shape it resembles. Mr. Ellis

has, we think, hit upon the happy medium between the would-be-serious character of the Amulet, and the over serious air of the Amethyst; and has presented to the public a volume decidedly religious without being all about religion. The greater part of the contents are articles of solid and

לל

* The Literary Souvenir, advertised to appear on the 1st of December, has not yet reached us.

« AnteriorContinuar »