Page images
PDF
EPUB

dedicated, which latter expression is at once more correct and more modest; we must decidedly protest against the expression, not by my freewill, but by his, this work, whatsoever it be, was prompted and undertaken. What right has Mr. V. to make such an assertion as this? On what ground has he deduced such a conclusion? How does he know that he has undertaken this translation by the will of Jesus Christ rather than by his own will? and therefore how is he authorized to say, that the Lord Jesus Christ has any such knowledge? "The parochial minister of an extensive charge in a populous town has no business, I am much inclined to say," writes Mr. V. in 1815, "to commence author." Yet now he declares, that the work before us was prompted and undertaken, not by his own freewill, but that of Jesus Christ. We really should like to know, on what grounds Mr. V. has been led to adopt an opinion at present so widely differing from that which he formerly advanced.

pronounce an opinion, we cannot but fear there is great danger lest he should think more highly of himself than he ought to think.

The nature of his undertaking required him, it is true, on various occasions, to pronounce upon the sentiments of Luther; and it is doubtless consistent with Christian humility, and with a deep sense of our own inferiority to others, to point out instances wherein we conceive them to have erred; yet we cannot but feel, that in the way in which Mr. V. speaks of Luther, he often forgets the exalted character, talents, attainments, and fidelity of this champion of the Reformation.

The DEFECTs of this treatise, then, are the defects of Luther's theological system. It was not given to him to discern, that all God's dealings with creatures are referable to one vast counsel, devised, ordained, and

operated for the accomplishment of one vast end; that this vast end is the manifestation of God; that this counsel is in all its parts (not in that only which respects man's redemption, but every jot of every part) laid, conducted and consummated in and by Christ-the eternally pre

destinated, and in time very, risen GODMAN; much less was it given to him to discern the structure and materials of that counsel by which God is effecting this end -that Adam, meaning not the personal Adam only, but all that was created in him, even the whole human race, is the great and capital subject of his self-manifesting operations. Though he had some insight into the mystery of Christ's person -that he was verily God and man, a coequal in the Trinity made man through the Virgin's impregnation by the Holy Ghost, he was not fully led into the mystery that his person is constituted by taking a human person, the spiritualized man Jesus, into union with his divine person, and that

Assertions of this nature open the door to the wildest enthusiasm. To maintain, that any work of ours is prompted and undertaken by the Saviour's freewill and not by our own, is in a measure at least to lay claim to inspiration. And how shall such a claim be limited or bounded? If the undertaking is from God, may we not infer, that the performance is also from him? and may we not at length be led to ascribe all our positions, whatever they may be, he has been acting in this person as into his influence, and eventually to impute whatever is blameable in our spirit, temper, or conduct, to his suggestion?

We say not, indeed, that Mr. V. entertains any such idea; but we think his position leads to such a conclusion: and when we view the confidence with which he dog matizes on points where the wisest and best of men have hesitated to

spired, not by his own Godhead, but by the Holy Ghost, from the beginning-baving subsisted as the glorified God-man first predestinately and secretly, up to the period of his ascension; and now, ever since that period, really and declaredly—doing the will of the Father continually, not his own will, by the Holy Ghost's inspiration, not his own; thus exhibiting the Trinity and in truth, every act of God. His huin every act he performs, which is, in deed

man person, moreover, was marvellously formed, so as to be at the same time both

[ocr errors]

son of Adam and son of God; the Holy Ghost's impregnation gave him a spotless soul; the daughter of Adam gave him a sinful body: thus he became the sinless sinner; thus he that knew no sin was made sin for us, and was in all points tempted, like as we are, without sin; that same Holy Ghost which had begotten him sinless, keeping him without sin amidst all the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, until he had died to sin once, and his mortality had been swallowed up of life. Into this depth of the mystery of Christ's person, of which the essential element is union, yet distinctness'—both as it respects his divine and human person, and as it respects his oneness with us-it was not given to Luther to penetrate. Again; although it was given him to see the fact of man's coming into the world guilty (which he ascribes to his being born of Adam), and that entire vitiation of his nature, as brought into the world with him, which renders him both vile and impotent (a fact which he assumes, and reasons upon, throughout the whole of his treatise); he was not led to see the mystery of the creation and fall of every individual of the human race, male and female, in and with Adam. Again; though it was given him to see the fact, that there are elect and reprobate men, God having predestinated some to everlasting life, and others to everlasting death; he had no insight into that covenant-standing in Christ, and the appropriateness of His work, consequently, to the elect, which renders God just in acting a difference between them, whilst the original and eternal separation is of a law beyond justice-even of that sovereignty which knows no limit but omnipotency. Thus he was not only left, through his ignorance of God's plan and counsel, without any insight into that blessed and glorious principle which reconciles the spiritual mind to the severity of his appointments-for how, else, shall that paramount end of God-manifestation be accomplished?-but he was even obliged to give up the justice of God (which, both verily and discernibly, is without a flaw in this procedure), and to take refuge in a most pernicious falsehood, that we know nothing about God's justice, and must be content to be ignorant what it is, till THE DAY disclose it.'-Pp. lvii-lx.

into the sovereignty of God: that sovereignty which is so bitterly offensive to the carnal mind, whilst without the light of it we cannot stir a step in God. Whence came creation in all and every part of its wide range; whence come blessing and cursing, either as foreordained or as fulfilled; whence come heaven and hell, and inhabitants for each; whence comes the devil; whence comes the fall of man; whence comes sealed ruin on the one hand, and whence comes free restoration and glorification on the other; but from Him who makes no appeal to the creature for his vindication, but says, 'I have lifted up mine hand that it shall be so?'-But there is a worthy end for all this; which Luther saw not and therefore did not assign; the sight of which, however, makes the difference of a cruel God and a wise one. It is not true that God condemns the undeserving, or that he crowns the unworthy. Luther did not discern the mystery of the creation and fall of every individual man in Adam, neither did he understand the mystery of the predestinative counsel.-Pp. 318, 319.

We quote these passages, at once to show the freedom with which Mr. V. censures Luther;-the perfect equality, or rather superiority, which he assumes with respect to him; and at the same time some of the strange positions which he has himself seen fit to advance.

[ocr errors]

Many of these positions approximate indeed exceedingly near to heresy: when Mr. V. speaks of 'the sinful flesh of Jesus Christ:'when he says, that God did all in 'all that Luther's enemies did; by 'working in Charles as well as the • Elector; in Leo as well as Luther, &c.:'-when he says, that hell is filled through the devil's agency; by which he secures and retains to himself that spoil which it is the Father's good pleasure that he 'should carry off to HIS glory:'and when he treats of the origin of evil, of reprobation, &c. he

Luther,—prodigy as he was in his day, speaks, in our judgment, in a most

-had not the clue of God-manifestation to guide him through the labyrinth, and, therefore, counted much that is light, darkness. P. 62.

Luther both speaks and means incorrectly here; but he says rather more than he means.-P. 188.

Luther blunders a good deal bere, while he says many excellent things.-Much of the difficulty is, no doubt, resolvable

unwarranted, unguarded, and dangerous manner, to adopt no stronger

terms.

There is, indeed, a fearlessness in Mr. V.'s inquiries, and a confidence in his positions, which appears to us most unjustifiable. Where Luther pauses and says, "Secret things belong to the Lord our God;"

where Milner, and Scott, and Ro binson, and almost all the most eminent of ancient and modern divines, proceed with cautious step, he presses boldly forwards. He attempts to solve points on which they hesitated to pronounce; and he speaks with as much familiarity about the reprobate, &c. as if the volume of the divine counsels had been opened for his inspection.

We fear that this is owing to a want of humility; to a want of reverence for the Word of God; to a mistake as to the grand object of the Saviour's appearance. This Mr. V. tells us is the manifestation of God as his express image;' and he elsewhere speaks of the manifestation of God as the end of all his counsels and of all his operations;' and he not obscurely intimates, that the manifestation of the divine vengeance was as much the object of God's as the purposes manifestation of his mercy. But the scriptural account of the matter is, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;"-" For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved;" that Christ came to save sinners:" and we are therefore disposed to contend, that the primary object of the Saviour's coming was the salvation of men. Doubtless, in saving men, the divine character is manifested; but it is a manifestation of love; whereas, the view which Mr. V. seems most to delight in contemplating, is not the glories of redemption, but the ministration of condemnation.

But this dwelling on the dark side of the divine dispensations," even supposing such views to be as correct as in our judgment they are erroneous, has a fatal effect in checking all exertion and energyin leading to speculation rather than practice-in producing dry and heartless statements, rather than

solemn warnings, earnest entrea-
ties, fervent expostulations, tender
and compassionate prayers, and
self-denying and unwearied labours
for perishing sinners. There is a
heartlessness, and a want of pity and
of compassion for perishing men,
which seems to pervade every part
of Mr. V.'s annotations, and which
affords a striking and a melancholy
contrast to that spirit which the Sa-
viour manifested when he wept over
Jerusalem, and which distinguished
the great Apostle, when, in the full
view of the divine purpose concern-
ing Israel, he could yet say, "Bre-
thren, my heart's desire and prayer
for Israel is, that they may be
"I could wish myself ac-
saved."
cursed from Christ for bre-
my
thren." Here is love even to pe-
rishing and justly-condemned sin-
ners.

We see no traces of this spirit in Mr. V.'s annotations.

It is on these grounds we especially deprecate the spread of such sentiments. They are like tares among the wheat-entangling, impeding, exhausting; - under the specious appearance of the good seed, most effectually disappointing the hopes of the husbandman. Much, indeed, should we be surprised at finding any person, advancing such sentiments, eminently useful; and much should we fear, that, amidst utter unprofitableness, the individual would sit quietly down and console himself with the idea, that God's time was not come; would persuade himself that, if not useful, he was in no wise to blame; and would thus as effectually promote the cause of Satan as those who deny the divinity, or reject the atonement of Christ, or who substitute human reason in the room of divine teaching.

We have neither time nor inclination for minor remarks; yet we must add, that, from a view of Mr. V.'s scholastic character, we certainly did expect pure and standard English, and were not prepared for such barbarisms as hurriedness, lostness, politicality, &c.

RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.

NAVAL AND MILITARY BIBLE SOCIETY.

We have been requested to insert the following Appeal on behalf of this valuable Institution; and we earnestly trust its perusal will induce some of our readers to exert themselves in so urgent and important an undertaking.

"The Naval and Military Bible Society having for some years past been greatly restricted in their efforts to afford the brave defenders of our country requisite supplies of the Scriptures; and, from their reluctance to reject altogether the many pressing demands on them, having incurred a debt of 1200%; the Managers of this Institution have, at length, in compliance with the wishes of several judicious and warm friends to the Society, determined to submit a brief statement of their case to the notice of a benevolent public; and with confidence solicit their aid to extricate them from their present difficulties. To this measure they are encouraged, from a persuasion that our seamen and soldiers, forming a large and most interesting part of our population, will never cease, whether in peace or war, to be dear to their fellow-countrymen; for whose protection and welfare they have ever been ready to sacrifice their own comforts, and expose their lives to the most imminent dangers.

"It has pleased Almighty God, in this our day, to excite among mankind in general (especially in our own happy land) amore than ordinary desire for religious instruction; and, accordingly, we see Institutions daily forming to meet the necessities of our fellow-men perishing for lack of knowledge. Foremost among these, the NAVAL AND MILITARY BIBLE SOCIETY has been labouring with varied success for FORTY-THREE years to convey the glad tidings of salvation to that long-neglected, but most important class of our countrymen who man our fleets and armies. During the continuance of a long and sanguinary war, many individuals, constrained by feelings of gratitude to those who, under Providence, were the instruments of protection from the multiplied evils which deluged the rest of Europe, were ready to admit their claim as paramount to all others, and admitted it most liberally. But in latter years, this spirit, to the prejudice of our brave seamen and soldiers, has greatly subsided; and many and painful have been the occasions, when, through want of funds, the Managers of this Society have been compelled to pause, and, to a certain extent, withhold the word of Eternal Life from those who were earnestly beseeching the boon at their hands. It might be imagined (and that not unreasonably), that on NOV. 1823.

ནཱ་

the arrival of peace, and the consequent reduction of a large naval and military establishment, the demands on the Society for the Scriptures would be proportionably diminished; but that this is an erroneous assumption is evident, as will appear from the abstracts of issues and receipts hereto annexed for the last three years of the war, 1812, 1813, 1814; and those of recent date, 1821, 1822, and 1823. These abstracts demonstrate, that in the war the demands for Bibles were fewer, whilst the receipts of money were considerably greater; whereas in the latter years of peace, above cited, the demand for Bibles has been much augmented, and the annual receipts of money greatly diminished. The solution of this fact is to be sought for in the formation of regimental schools, and an increased desire in the navy and army to profit by the comparative leisure they now enjoy, in searching the contents of that volume which they had not the means of studying with sufficient diligence under the extremities and constant occupations of actual serrice. To those who love their Bibles, and hail this growing thirst for religious, knowledge, this statement will not appear strange, nor this appeal unnecessary; to them, and to all well-wishers of our navy and army (and where is the family that has not immediately or remotely some connexion in one or other of the services?) the Committee would say-Whilst you are contemplating the conversion of a world, let not your brethren at home, especially your soldiers and seamen, remain neglected: their numbers are still great, and their claims inferior to none..' The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things he shall stand.'"

To this Appeal is annexed a comparative statement of receipts and issues during the last three years of war and of peace; from which it appears,

That EIGHT THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SIX more copies of the Scriptures were issued during the last three years of peace, than during the last three years of the war.

That upwards of ONE THOUSAND POUNDS more were contributed by sailors and soldiers themselves, towards the purchase of the Scriptures during the last three years of the peace, than during the last three years of the war.

And that THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED. and THIRTY-FOUR POUNDS less have been received during the last three years of the peace, than during the last three years of the war.

These facts speak for themselves, and

3 K

\ strongly call upon clergymen and ministers of every denomination to make congregational collections; upon officers to promote contributions of one day's pay, or small weekly subscriptions; and upon ladies, gentlemen, and all who have it in their

PRAYER BOOK AND

We are happy to understand, from the last Report of this valuable Institution, that it is proceeding, with considerable success, in diffusing, both at home and abroad, the valuable formularies of our Church. The following anecdotes from that Report must, we think, prove highly interesting to every Christian mind:

en

"I presented two of your pretty little Italian Prayer Books," writes a Clergyman resident on the coast of Italy, "to persons of a liberal education and larged mind. Some few days after they had perused them, finding how many things our English Church had retained of the ancient Liturgies, they not only expressed their astonishment; but seemed to feel singular satisfaction in being able to acknowledge, what they had hitherto been taught not to allow, that we were really Christians, and not heretics; expressing, however, at the same time, an ardent wish, that we had gone somewhat farther and retained more."

66

"

"There are a great many foreigners, Swiss and Germans particularly, who admire our Liturgy and doctrines, and attend our service when in their power: for them, copies of the French version of our Prayer Book are much needed. Geneva would be a good depôt for these, and for English Prayer Books; as at that place there are many English settlers, many English travellers, and very many Swiss, Germans, &c. who attend our Church. I have also found," he observes in continuation, many Italians very desirous of becoming acquainted with the doctrines and discipline of our Church; and many of the priests have expressed great astonishment on reading a Latin copy of our Prayer Book, which I happened to have with me. The extreme ignorance which prevails here, respecting the religion of the English, is astonishing. Since many of them have seen me in my official dress, regularly performing Divine Service, and have observed the numbers and the decorum of my congregation, I can perceive that they treat us with more respect; and even some of the priests acknowledge that, though they never heard it before, they now believe we are Christians. You will see, therefore, that some copies of our Prayer Book in Latin, and Italian also, would be of use."

From Holland, a Clergyman who has

power to promote and encourage associations, donations, subscriptions, &c.

Contributions received at Messrs. Whitmores, Doriens, Poles, Hammersleys, Hatchards, Hoares, &c. and at the Committee Room, 113, Jermyn Street.

HOMILY SOCIETY.

circulated large editions of the first three Homilies, on Reading Holy Scripture, the Misery of Man by Sin, and his Salvation by Christ; and who gives away, on suitable occasions, copies of the Burial Service in Dutch, writes thus: "Many pious persons in this country look upon the Church of England with increasing interest and respect; so that they are prepared to pay serious attention to whatever your Society may publish in Dutch; and thus a field is opened for real usefulness, which is likely to become every year more extensive. I am acquainted with some persons in this country, who are even ardent admirers of our forms; and I doubt not the number will increase."

From Germany, where more than one edition of the first Homily, in the language of that country, has been circulated, the reports have always been highly favourable.

In the year 1817, in consequence of representations made by persons well acquainted with the wants of Ireland, this Society undertook, what it afterwards accomplished with much difficulty and expense, an edition of the Book of Common Prayer in the Irish tongue and character. The very pleasing manner in which copies of this book, when cautiously and judiciously bestowed or lent, were received in different parts of Ireland, has already been stated in the Society's Ninth Annual Report. During the last year, the few copies which had not been transmitted to Ireland, have been put into the hands of persons acting as readers under the Irish Society instituted in London: and the result has been, as the following extracts from the diary of an Irish teacher will show, of a description truly gratifying.

"Sunday, November 10, 1822.-When reading at the house of one of my pupils, some of the neighbours came in for the purpose of hearing me. They were much pleased to hear me read from the Prayer Book, which I had with me at the time. They took a great liking to it, and said they should be fond of praying if they had the Prayer Books to pray from; and if I could procure them a few, they would receive them with gladness."

"Monday, December 16th.--Read to an elderly man at the point of death, who confessed that he had been a vicious character from his youth. 'Oh,' said he, how do I

« PreviousContinue »