Page images
PDF
EPUB

persecution he suffered from orthodoxy." When he asserts that Mr. White's loss of orthodox friends was compensated to him by the acquisition of new friends in an heretical circle, he shews an imperfect knowledge of human nature in general. Means of subsistence and "the bounty of friends," it is alleged, were still afforded him, notwithstanding his deviations from orthodoxy. But there were other and higher wants, from which his loving nature often suffered. The reviewer has his own theory, and it is not an unamusing one, of the principal cause of White's intellectual restlessness and tendency to scepticism. He traces it to "the want of a home endeared to him by affection and domestic interests and enjoymente." He thinks that “the concentration and repose of the affections" which the marriage state is designed to produce, “must tend to reclaim from or check a disposition to fitful and erratic speculations, and to reduce and dissipate intellectual idealism as well as romantic visions of life.” He adds, “Corroborative of this view, it is a curious fact that the leading sceptics, including Hume, Voltaire, Gibbon, Lord Herbert, Hobbes, Spinosa, were never married ; the last lived as a perfect recluse, frequently not leaving his room for three or four days together. Bolingbroke married early, but soon parted from his wife ; so, as is well known, did Lord Byron." It would not be difficult to enumerate a counter list as large of married unbelievers. It will probably be found that of those who have devoted themselves to abstract, particularly metaphysical studies, whether they have retained or rejected Christianity, a larger proportion than usual have remained in the joyless state of celibacy.

We noticed with pleasure in the review several passages of a liberal and generous character. To the letters of Channing justice is done. One of them is spoken of as shewing “much sound feeling in regard to the moral purpose and end of Christianity." Dr. Channing's works are said to be

adapted to exercise a powerful influence in the correction and elevation of public feeling and opinion." (P. 50.) Elsewhere (p. 58) praise is given to every honest free inquirer, from whatever point he may start or at whatever conclusion he may arrive. We hail in the following passage an approach to a rational view of the subject of Inspiration :-" We do not see what is gained by maintaining a strictly verbal inspiration of any portion of Scripture ; but as applied to the Gospel narratives, this theory must expose us to the most formidable difficulties,&c. &c. (P. 63.) The whole passage deserves attention, and is satisfactory as shewing a disposition amongst the English Congregationalists to advance on this question. In America, this is scarcely the case, at least if we may judge from an article on “ Inspiration,” both unsatisfactory and unlearned, in Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature, contributed by Professor Leonard Wood, of Andover. Elsewhere (p. 72) the reviewer speaks of the “creedal dogmatist," and (p. 69) he thus describes the effects which follow the interdicting of inquiry, or the enforcing of a dogmatic or metaphysical creed :-" In almost all religious bodies where this has occurred, one of two results has followed a large proportion of the members, including a large proportion of the teachers, have diverged into what the creed denounces as error, or they have sunk into a state of mere listless acquiescence in its dogmas," &c.

The political article at the close of the No. is temperate and fair. It thus speaks of the accession of the Whigs to office : “ We wish them well—we are of them and our only fear is, lest their noble principles, which have seemed at times to become somewhat stiffened with age, should still betray too much of that kind of infirmity. It is this fear which prompts us just now to speak more in the language of caution than in that of congratulation." Sir Robert Peel the reviewer accounts “a man of substantially honest purposes. He began in a bad school, and it has been the business of his life to unlearn the lessons there taught him. Had he been the dishonest man he is sometimes said to have been, he never would have unlearnt them. It is a characteristic of his mind that he should be as open to new impressions from new circumstances at 60, as he was at 26. His genius is eminently practical,” &c. (P. 261.) The reviewer pays only scanty justice to Sir Robert's bold and patriotic course in putting himself at the head of the Free-Trade party. To Mr. Cobden's rare merits as a speaker, as a political instructor, as a statesman and as a man, a hearty and a noble tribute of admiration is paid. In answering the question, what the Whigs are likely to do, the reviewer alludes somewhat whimperingly to the rebukes given to large bodies of Protestant Nonconformists by Lord John Russell, Mr. Macaulay and Mr. Sheil. On the subject of popular education, the reviewer appears to write not quite consistently. He begins by expressing a hope that Government will not disturb the existing sectarian apparatus, and will only originate schools in neglected districts, and afterwards, having fallen in with Dr. Hook's pamphlet, he gives way to a fervour of admiration and gratitude, and expresses his “ cordial approval of the substance of Dr. Hook's scheme. (P. 275.) As coming from so large and well-organized a body as the Congregational Dissenters, we look on the following concessions offered by this writer as very important :

“A purely secular education is immeasurably preferable to blank ignorance. There is no valid objection to receiving aid from the State in imparting secular education to its people." (P. 268.) "The office of the priest and of the schoolmaster, so far from being identical, may be kept perfectly distinct." (P. 270.) The bigot and hypocritical cry against á.godless education has nearly worn itself out." (P. 270.)“ We have always entertained a very low opinion of the religious instruction given in day-schools, and of the religious impression produced by it." (P. 271.) “In this respect, we think our British and Foreign School Society is unhappily in a false position. The hollow and sectarian cry against an education without religion, has forced the members of that Society into strong measures on this point, in the hope of shaming their assailants into silence ; but by so doing they have placed themselves in the awkward position of seeming to accept public money for religious uses." (P. 272.)

The extraordinary lull of party feeling in the country, the apparently sudden and very unexpected agreement of religious leaders, both in and out of the Church, in declaring the necessity for new and extensive plans of education, would seem to mark the present period as eminently auspicious, and to invite the statesmen now at the national helm to devise and propose some great and enduring plan for bettering the intellectual and moral condition of the great bulk of the community. If our hopes in this respect are not fallacious, may the Nonconformists of England fulfil the promise of the reviewer, and, throwing aside “all timid and unmanly jealousy," give a frank and generous response to the appeal for aid in this work of pure philanthropy!

The People's Dictionary of the Bible, Parts XI. and XII.-We renew with pleasure our notice of this enterprizing and instructive periodical. Nearly a third of the work, as proposed, is now published, and we are enabled to speak of it with confidence as a scholar-like and at the same time popular production. The several Nos. will of course vary in interest, but there are none that have not some articles of great value. In the XIth, we would specify those on Ceremony, Cherub and Christian ; in the XIIth, those on Church, Cisterns and Clothing. We are acquainted with no English work that combines, as this does, a free and consistent theology with varied learning. Excellent as Dr. Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature in many respects is, the reader of it is perpetually struck with variations both of statement and opinion on the part of the several contributors. That work is, perhaps, in its theology as liberal as the present age will bear; but how often must the reader familiar with foreign theological literature be struck, on consulting the Cyclopædia, with its inferiority, as respects learning and free inquiry, to German works of the same pretension!

It is with regret that we have heard of instances of orthodox influence being used to prevent the circulation of the “ People's Dictionary.” The “ Biblical Review, we are sorry to perceive, frowns upon it. It is, we think, due to the author of the “ Dictionary" to insert the following letter from him to the Editors of that journal, defending the “ Dictionary” from the censures of their criticism.

A critic in the “ Biblical Review and Congregational Magazine," No. VIII., August 1846, has put forward a review of the People's Dictionary of the Bible, which seems to require some notice. I shall leave the writer in undisputed possession of whatever advantage he may derive from the unfriendly spirit in which his critique is conceived, or from the humorous tone he has in parts chosen to assume. Impelled, apparently, by the admitted fact that the Dictionary “has been very favourably noticed in periodicals and newspapers," and has received “testimonies signed by many ministers," the critic, not denying that "this work may on account of its cheapness be useful to many," and that "the article Bible is a very able condensation of the results to which the researches of scholars have led concerning the Bible in general and the English Bible in particular," advances several charges which I shall notice seriatim.

1. “Many pages of the People's Dictionary are extracted from very similar publications."-Answer: The assertion is accompanied by no evidence. If by “ very similar publications,” Dictionaries of the Bible are meant, the assertion is untrue. Extracts and translations, ás is usual, have been made from books of travel, the preference being given to such as are of high authority.

2. “The People's Dictionary is an offshoot of the Biblical Cyclopædia.”_ Answer: Having assumed that Dr. Beard is the author of the People's Dictionary, the critic might have informed his readers that Dr. B. is one of the largest contributors to Dr. Kitto's Biblical Cyclopædia; and he would have spoken less incorrectly, had he said that the two works are in part drawn from common sources. The chief difference is, that the People's Dictionary is more largely indebted to foreign, and in particular German, scholarship, which is admitted to be the highest in Biblical science.

3. “A group of eight beards is transferred from the Biblical Cyclopædia." -Answer: This is untrue. The beards given in that work (Vol. I. p. 308) are dissimilar to the group in the People's Dictionary (Vol. I. p. 137) which was taken from a German work, and for which no "originality" was claimed.

4. “ Three asses are manifestly abstracted from the stalls of Kitto." Answer: They were not taken from the Biblical Cyclopædia. And if they were, what ground is there for blame? And what right to impute blame has a critic who has borrowed from the very page he was charging with “appropriation," a translation of eight lines of the Book of Job ?

5. “The People's Dictionary adopts for its own the comment which derives from the braying of the wild ass the illustration found in the words, The voice of one crying in the wilderness.'"-Answer: This is untrue; of that comment the People's Dictionary merely says, “it is not so absurd as may at first sight appear."

6. The critic brings forward a “nest of blunders." —Answer: The nest is of his own making, and a mare's nest. Quoting from the People's Dictionary these words— The Mosaical law put the ass among the unclean animals; following in THIS what has proved an universal observance, namely, to guard by law, as well as feeling, animals that, as beasts of burden, are useful to man: to eat that animal that we have ploughed with or ridden, is repulsive; nor can animals that have done their duty in labour afford salubrious nutriment" -the critic charges on the People's Dictionary several inaccuracies.-1. “ The Mosaic law concerning unclean animals is not constructed so as to protect beasts of burden.”—Answer: The passage does not aver that the Mosaic law was so constructed. The critic has made general, a remark expressly limited to a particular case. 2. “It was not an universal observance of the Mosaic law to guard by legislation beasts of burden."-Answer: Here, again, the critic has created the error which he exposes : the words in the text, “what has proved an universal observance," shew that other and more recent polities than the Mosaic were intended. 3. “ Animals that have done their duty in moderate labour afford a more salubrious nutriment,” &c.-Answer: This the People's Dictionary neither affirms nor denies; and in order to gain the appearance of pertinency for his remarks, the critic is obliged to interpolate the word "moderate."

7. One error the critic has detected. At p. 241, Vol. I. of the People's Dictionary, instead of the words, “ on the ground of its being,” let the reader put the word “ though," and refer to the article Clean (p. 371).

8. Quoting part of a passage from the People's Dictionary, the critic declares, “ All this is perfectly untrue;"_"the camel * * is exceedingly ill adapted to travel in rugged mountain passes, the stones of which lacerate its feet, and in which, especially if the ground is moist, it constantly slips and stumbles.— Answer : On which side the truth lies, let two learned Eastern travellers determine, Dr. Olin and Dr. Robinson. The first, in direct confirmation of one part of the passage pronounced“ perfectly untrue," declares, “ Their broadspreading foot ** holds to the smooth, steep rocks with the greatest tenacity.(Travels in the East, Vol. II. p. 77.) The second directly contradicts the critic: “I was surprised to find them (camels) travelling with so much ease and safety up and down the most rugged mountain passes. They never either slip or stumble. In all our long journeys with them, I do not recollect a single instance; and yet no roads can be worse than the passes in going and returning between Hebrort and Wady Musa." (Biblical Researches, Vol. II. p. 635.)

9. “Among the instances of erroneous etymology, we will mention that the English word camp is derived from the German word kampf, combat. Now camp is not derived from the German kampf, although it is related to it.”— Answer: The question, then, simply is, whether the relation between the two words is one of derivation—that is to say, whether we get our word camp from the Latin or from the Teutonic. The utmost that an impartial judge would affirm is, that the point is of a doubtful nature. Our critic, however, is more bold, and places this in the front rank as a specimen of “erroneous etymology." Most scholars will give preference to the authority of Dr. Bosworth, who in his Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language derives camp from the Dutch kamp and the German kampf.

10. “ Among the useless verbiage with which this and similar works are swelled, we may mention the article Bag."-Remarking en passant that this and similar works" is not grammatical English, we inform the reader that the swelling effected by the article Bag amounts to little more than a quarter of a page. The “verbiage,” however, of the article Bag will not suffer in comparison with the cloudy and hypercritical remarks which the critic subjoins, and which shew more of the will than the ability to inflict a wound.

11. The same fault-finding propensity is discovered by the critic in his remarks on the article Advocate, in which “ the distinction” which gives him offence finds no existence, being a pure invention of his own brain.

12. Two lines and a half of the article Bushel, which extends to not more than twelve lines, occupy the critic for two-thirds of an octavo page. The objectionable words are, “ The ancients were accustomed to cover their lamps with the bushel when they wished to do any thing secretly;" to which the critic objects-1. The statement is fabricated. 2. It explains nothing. 3. The ancients did not use their bushel measures as extinguishers. 4. The People's Dictionary appeals to Matt. v. 15 in proof of the alleged custom.Answer: As to the imputed fabrication, I give the words of my authority, namely, Kuinoel, who in his comment on the passage expressly says, “ Veteres autem consuevisse lucernas modio tegere, cum aliquid vellent occultare, vel clam facere, patet etiam ex Fulgentio, Mythol. iii. 6- That the ancients, when they wished to hide any thing or do it secretly, were accustomed to cover their lamps with the bushel, appears even from Fulgentius." See also Meyer, Commentar in loc. The critic should be more cautious than to cry out“ fabrication" the moment he gets beyond the limits of his own knowledge. The VOL. II.

4 c

explanation afforded is this—that as the concealment was practised only when something wrong was meant, so it behoved the disciples of Jesus to imitate the ordinary and open custom of not concealing the lamp under the bushel, acting therein like good and honest householders by letting their ligbt shine before men. Comp. Luke xi. 33. The imagery is borrowed from the Eastern tent, in which the lamp, even by day, is the only source of light. The extinction or covering of the lamp, therefore, causes complete darkness, and the lamp is not commonly covered unless something wrong is contemplated. The critic's third statement is answered by the passage just given from Kuinoel. It is answered also by an implication contained in the words of our Lord; for the existence of a practice of covering the lamp with the bushel, when a dark tent was desired, is requisite to give point to the words, “neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel." The exceptional custom brings into relief the ordinary practice, as mentioned by Jesus, in order to enforce on his disciples the duty of holding up their light before the world.—The fourth charge is incompatible with the blame administered a few lines earlier : we put the two passages in juxta-position: “If there were any proof * * * it should have been stated.” “This is the text which the People's Dictionary of the Bible appeals to in proof." So, then, I am blamed for giving and for not giving proof. Having whipped me for withholding the proof, this “just judge” then whips me for supplying it. The ground for the first whipping is an assumption on the part of the critic; for as my work is not addressed to scholars, I do not profess to “swell” its pages with references. The reason for the second whipping is a pure invention of the critic; for Matthew v. 15 is not given in the Dictionary as a proof of the custom, being merely referred to at the end of the article to indicate what was the passage of Scripture to which the remarks were directed.

Having gone over the several objections taken by the critic, I venture to ask in conclusion whether he has made out a case against himself or against

EDITOR OF THE PEOPLE'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE.

the

The Monthly Religious Magazine-Boston, N. America-- June and July, 1846.-This Magazine, edited by Rev. F. D. Huntington, steadily maintains its interest and fulfils its promise “to furnish religious reading of a popular kind." It is, without being controversial, Unitarian in its doctrine and Catholic in its spirit. It will, we think, better supply the means of estimating the characteristics of Boston Unitarianism than any of the several religious periodicals that cross the Atlantic. The June No. opens with a plain but soundhearted and well-thought-out sermon by Rev. E. Peabody, developing the causes, process and cure of Pauperism. In the Ministry at Large (our Domestic Mission ) alone does the preacher find the needed moral influences “ competent to meet and counteract the causes that are creating" pauperism. The Rev. J. N. Bellows contributes to the same No. a paper on “Temperance,” in which the extravagances of what is called the “Temperance cause" are not spared. He distinguishes temperance from abstinence. He speaks of ardent spirits as destructive to life when used as a beverage, though valuable in medicine and the arts. He also advocates the disuse of wine upon the ground of expediency, “not because it is a poison, a drink malum in se. Here is the rub. The Temperance advocates say it is a poison. They call cider a poison. Now the public do not believe their statements, because they are not true.”

In the July No., are some good remarks by the Editor on the Anniversary Week of 1846 ; also a very interesting paper, entitled “Impressions of American Scenery," by Rev. Charles T. Brooks, from which we had marked passages for extract; but our space is exhausted.

« PreviousContinue »