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The general line of argument is this: Peat-beds have been found consisting of several generations of decayed trees superimposed one upon another; long periods have been required for the growth and decay of these, and for their conversion into peat-beds. Moreover, in the lowest strata of these decayed trees, human implements have been found; hence man was contemporary with the trees composing this strata. The time estimated for the growth of the peat is, in some instances, from four thousand to sixteen thousand years. In some cases, too, peat-beds twenty or thirty feet deep are underlaid by gravel containing flint tools.
In several of the Swiss lakes, where the water is only from five to fif teen feet deep, ancient wooden piles are observed at the bottom. These evidently once supported villages of great antiquity; for among the piles large numbers of human implements, such as are found in the lowest peat and gravel beds, have been dredged up.
A large number of shafts or borings have been made in the Nile mud, to the depth of sixty feet or more; and at this depth, pieces of burnt brick and pottery have been found; and, it being assumed that six inches of this mud accumulates in a century, the makers of the brick and pottery must have lived twelve thousand years ago. There are other similar trains of reasoning in the book, such as finding human bones and other relics, in caves and other places, in juxtaposition with the bones of animals long since extinct, and the discovery of a human skeleton in the delta of the Mississippi, to which Dr. Dowler ascribes an antiquity of fifty thousand years, though our author makes no estimate of its age.
Now it will be seen at once, that it is not possible to draw any definite conclusion from such data. They indicate the great antiquity of man; but how great? How long was each strata of the peat-bed, each with its particular species of tree, in forming? Or how long the gravel-bed beneath? What is the interval covered by the different kinds of implements, as stone, bronze, and iron, found in these different strata? It has been assumed that the stone implements cover a period of from three to four thou sand years, and the bronze from five to seven thousand; but this is only conjecture.
So too in regard to the Nile mud, — it is not proved that the accumulation is at the rate of six inches in a century for twelve thousand years back; it is merely an assumption, a supposition, and is rejected by some persons most competent to judge in the case. And the juxtaposition of human bones and other relics, in caves and elsewhere, with the bones of animals long since extinct, does not prove that man was contemporaneous with such animals. These relics may have drifted into the place where they have been found, or been conveyed there by some other means.
In this volume we meet quite too frequently with arguments based on assumptions: "A strong presumption in favor of the opinion is;" "Now, if we suppose;" "“if we could assume." It is assumed uniformly in the volume that the rate of geological change in the carlier periods was as slow as at
present, or, in other words, that the rate of change has been uniform from the beginning; while many eminent geologists maintain that the present slow changes cannot be applied to the carlier periods. There is, therefore, no agreement among geologists themselves as to the rate of change at different times; nor is there always an agreement in the interpretation of particular phenomena. Our author regards the famous flint drift in the valley of the Somme, which contains human implements, and is thought to furnish very strong evidence of the early appearance of man on the carth, as being of very great antiquity, while another eminent geologist, M. Elie de Beaumont, considers it as belonging to the, recent period.
Our faith then in the Biblical account of the antiquity of man need not be disturbed, till the eminent interpreters of the geological phenomena involved in this subject can agree among themselves, and adduce more convincing arguments in support of the theory here maintained.
It is not intended by these remarks to undervalue the services of Sir Charles Lyell in the preparation of this volume. He has brought together from various sources a vast amount of geological information bearing on the subject discussed; indeed, he has done all that the materials yet gathered would enable him to do. Nowhere else has so much matter illustrative of the subject been collected. The high reputation of the author and the nature of the subject will deserve and give the work a special interest and a wide circulation. The publishers, too, have presented it in a very attractive form.
BENGEL'S GNOMON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.1
BENGEL'S Gnomon is a commentary on the New Testament. "It is an index or pointer to indicate what lies within the compass of the sacred text; less for the purpose of exhausting the text for the reader, than to give suggestive hints." It was written a hundred and twenty years ago, in the Latin language, and has always been considered a valuable expositor of the New Testament. It differs from ordinary commentaries by avoiding long discussions, and confining attention to the meaning of the text directly. The thought is given in the shortest and most compact form.
The work was first translated into English, and published by the Messrs. Clark of Edinburgh, in 1854, in five volumes. The present edition is translated directly from the Latin; the translators, as they say, using the language of the Edinburgh edition only where it could not be improved.
As great progress has been made in sacred philology and in the principles of interpretation since the Gnomon was published, it would be reasonable to
1 John Albert Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament; pointing out from the Natural Force of the Words the Simplicity, Depth, Harmony, and Saving Power of its Divine Thoughts. A new translation, by Carleton T. Lewis, M A., and Marvin R. Vincent, M.A, Professors in Troy University. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 925 and 980. Philadelphia: Perkinpine and Higgins. 1862.
expect that such progress would reveal both errors and defects. To give, therefore, increased value to the work, the translators have incorporated the expositions of the best modern commentators wherever there seemed to be either errors or deficiencies in the original. The additions have been made from such works as Meyer, De Wette, Lücke, Tholuck, Winer, Neander, Stier, Calvin, Olshausen, Gesenius, Alford, etc. The critical part of the Gnomon, too, has been greatly improved. Bengel's discussions relating to the text are of little value, in comparison with the investigations of later critics. The New Testament text has, accordingly, been revised and conformed to the latest critical researches. Notwithstanding these modifications, Bengel's views, except in the discussions relating to the text, have been faithfully retained; the additions, whether pertaining to the exposition or the text, being indicated by brackets. Thus, this edition gives us Bengel and the expositions of the best modern commentators.
We have compared the translation, in several passages, with the original. It faithfully represents the meaning of the author, while it has one of the best criterions of a good translation in rarely ever suggesting that it is a translation. It is in pure idiomatic English, giving the meaning with point and directness. A comparison of this version, at almost any point, with that of the Edinburgh edition will show that, in all the essentials of a good translation, it is decidedly superior. We regret that the want of space does not allow us to illustrate this by parallel passages.
MUSIC OF THE BIBLE.1
The book which bears this title is a thick octavo volume of more than five hundred pages, neatly printed and prepossessing in its external appearance. In taking up a work of such a size, one naturally expects to find the subject of Hebrew, as well as Grecian and Roman music, discussed in a thorough and discriminating, if not exhaustive, manner. But whoever takes up the volume in question with such an expectation will be disappointed. A very large part of it is occupied with matter either not at all connected with the music of the Bible, or not connected in such a way as to shed light on the subject. Here may be mentioned the ethnological and historical discussions which occupy almost the entire preface of fifty-eight pages, and a multitude of scriptural passages, quoted merely because they contain references to singing, dancing, or shouting. For example, the whole of 2 Sam. xxii, containing fifty-one verses, is quoted because it is introduced with the words: "and David spake unto the Lord the words of this song." One might, indeed, suppose that the author's design was to present a sample of Hebrew poetry, with discussions on its
1 Music of the Bible; or, Explanatory Notes upon those Passages in the Sacred Scriptures which relate to Music, including a Brief View of Hebrew Poetry. By Enoch Hutchinson. 8vo. pp. 513. Boston: Gould and Lincoln; New York: Sheldon and Co.; Cincinnati: George S. Blanchard. 1864.
peculiar structure and rhythm; but he finds at the end only the following general remarks, which throw no light on either Hebrew music or Hebrew poetry:
"The above is a psalm of praise, containing a general review of God's mercies to the king of Israel through life, and the many wonderful deliverances which he had experienced. This ode, with a few variations, is found in the book of Psalms (Ps. xviii.). We have it here as originally composed by David for his own private devotions. In Psalms we have it as amended and delivered to the chief musician for the services of the temple. The hymn extends through the chapter, and contains some of the finest specimens of oriental imagery extant.”
The above is a fair sample of numerous quotations with their comments; the writer's plan being to take the books of the Bible in order, and quote every passage in which there is a reference to singing, shouting, dancing, or musical instruments. As these quotations are very many, and often very extended, they occupy no small part of the work.
The writer does, however, discuss, at considerable length, the subject of ancient musical instruments, and gives some good engravings, taken from Villoteau and others, which shed much light on their form and the manner of using them. We could wish that, in the remarks appended to them, he had given us, in well-digested form, the result of his own investigations, rather than a congeries of opinions that are often conflicting. It would be unreasonable, however, to require, on a subject so obscure and difficult, that a writer should always have a clearly defined judgment.
What has just been said of his remarks on ancient musical instruments applies, in general, to his " General View of Hebrew poetry," pp. 232, seq.
CHRISTIANITY THE RELIGION OF NATURE.1
The fundamental idea on which the discussion in this treatise is based is, that Christianity is identical with natural religion. In its essence, natural religion is not different from revealed religion. There is really but one religion. The distinction between natural and revealed religion relates only to "the different methods in which religious truth becomes known to mankind. What is ascertained by the unaided exercise of man's own powers is called natural religion; what is received on testimony is called revealed religion. But the latter is no less natural than the former" (p. 19). But man's unaided powers are insufficient, either by consciousness, intuition, or reasoning, to attain to a knowledge of religious truth. A revelation is therefore needed to give men a knowledge of what is beyond their own consciousness; and revelation must be authenticated by miracles, else it is
1 Christianity the Religion of Nature. Lectures delivered before the Lowell Institute. By A. P. Peabody, D.D., LL.D., Preacher to the University, and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals in Harvard College. 12mo. pp. viii and 250. Boston: Gould and Lincoln; New York: Sheldon and Co.; Cincinnati: George S. Blanchard. 1864.
no revelation. Now it is "maintained that not only the contents of revelation, but the fact of revelation, belongs to natural religion; that is, that revelation is not only an historical fact, but a fact that was to have been anticipated on a priori grounds, on grounds connected with the nature of man and of God" (p. 34). The yearnings of man's nature would lead him to look for a revelation. There is "a universal appetency" for it; and there is an antecedent reason in the nature of things to suppose," that this appetency will be satisfied (pp. 34, 36). Moreover "there is in the nature of God antecedent reason to suppose that he would have made a revelation" (p. 38); and such antecedent reason rests on the basis of natural religion.
A reason for the Sabbath, too, exists in natural religion. It is "revealed because it is natural; written on the tablet of stone because it had been first written on human, animal, and inanimate nature" (p. 240). "Christianity is," therefore, “as old as creation," a provision and a probability of a revelation being implanted in our nature. On the grounds of this a priori probability, an authoritative revelation through Jesus Christ is to be defended against scepticism. It is, therefore, "incumbent on Christians to demonstrate that the religion of the gospel is, in all its parts, in all its apparatus, in all its history, natural religion, that it is not a provisional scheme, not a supplementary dispensation, but co-eternal with the mind of God, and coeval with the souls of men, — that its doctrines and precepts are not true and right because they were revealed, but that they were revealed because they are essentially true and immutably right. It is only when this conviction is produced in the mind of the objector, that he is prepared to listen to argument and to weigh evidence as to the historical aspects of the question" (p. vii).
The argument throughout is clear and forcible, presented in a style of great neatness and purity. The line of discussion will be found a rich subject for study in these days of scepticism, when the canons of historical criticism applied to the Bible by some of the rationalistic schools would destroy our faith in the genuineness of every other ancient book, and in every "fact a few centuries old."
While we feel objections to some of the statements, and miss others that we would have gladly seen, the general argument will strengthen the defences of Christianity against the assaults of its enemies.
TERCENTENARY MONUMENT OF THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM.'
The Essays which compose most of this volume were read before the General Convention held in Philadelphia, from the 17th to the 23d of Janu
1 Tercentenary Monument. In Commemoration of the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. 8vo. pp. lxxiii and 574. Chamhersburg, Pa.: Published by M. Kieffer and Co.; Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blackiston; New York: A. D. F. Randolph.. 1863.