Imágenes de páginas

He so loved this world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might never perish but have eternal life."

Let it be called anthropomorphism; yet science and all philosophy, with all their boasted elevating tendencies, may well be exchanged for the single thought (even when associated with moral condemnation), that, insignificant as we may be in our physical relations, yet each individual man's own special cares, and wants, and sins, and good affections, and every peculiarity of his condition, in themselves, and separate from all things beside, are, at every moment, a distinct subject of contemplation to the Eternal Mind that fills the universe; as much so as if such feeble man or child had been the only work of His creating power. Although multitudes innumerable share the blessing, yet it is true, that for men individually, God made the earth to move in its orbit, the sun to give light, and even the far distant stars to shine. On each man individually hath He imposed a law, whose obligations and penalties shall remain when the material heavens and earth shall have passed away. Men individually are the subjects of His electing love from all eternity; and above all, and to crown it all, and as the sealing proof of all, for the salvation of individuals, even of all who, before the foundations of the world were ordained to eternal life, did He send His everlasting Son to die. It is in such views as these, and especially as presented in the awful fact of our redemption through the incarnation and the death of Christ, that revelation and the spirit of what we have styled exclusive naturalism, are the direct antipodes of each other. Whatever may be claimed for the elevating tendencies of certain aspects of science, with its great swelling words of vanity about wholes, and progress, and humanity, it is, after all, the Bible and the Church, together with the great schemes of God's moral government therein and thereby revealed, which teach the true dignity of human nature in the importance they attach to the individual man. Christ died for him. He was not intended, therefore, to be the mere victim of an everlasting physical progress, but possesses an infinite individual value; because, in his moral being, he has a finality which places him among those things that shall remain, for good or woe, when God arises to shake terribly the heavens and the earth.

And so, also, may it be said of the moral sense, as well as of that revelation which is the light and life thereof. Whilst science generalizes, conscience individualizes. The one estimates our importance only as a race, and from an à posteriori examination of our physical relations; the other assigns value to these very relations only from an à priori conviction of the high moral responsibility of the individual. A pungent conviction of sin, more than anything else, prevents that merging of our individual


being to which mere scientific views are so prone from their nature, and to which all counterfeit moral systems allied to naturalism do also universally tend. We cannot feel that we are sinners without feeling also that we are indeed most important parts of God's works, notwithstanding that when contemplated in our physical relations to the universe, we disappear among the very lowest of infinitesimals. The moral sense teaches that the rational and moral parts, instead of diminishing in value in consequence of the number and magnitude of other existences, do actually rise in the scale of intrinsic importance, in proportion to the greatness of the universe, of which they are parts. In this it recognises the truth, that, in a certain sense, the whole is for the parts as truly as the parts are for the whole. All things are yours, for ye are Christ's; all height and depth, all life and death, all things present and all things to come. Here then, as has been said, and at this precise point, science and revelation are in the most polar opposition in respect to the views they severally take of man. The genus Homo of the former is a being of very different relations from the child of the fallen and covenant-breaking Adam. Naturalism, we repeat it, knows nothing but the dogma of the parts for the whole. It never, of itself, reaches the sublime truth which the child so soon learns from its catechism, that parts, and wholes, and man, and nature,-yea, all things are for the glory of the Sovereign God. And here is its most gross inconsistency. The recognition of such a destiny it regards as among the most narrow and bigoted of theological absurdities; yet it manifests no repugnance to viewing man as the mere sport and victim of an ever advancing physical movement; as a being who lives and perishes for the glory of an unrelenting nature; his duties all resolved into an observance and study of her laws, his happiness and dignity in a life of obedience to her commandments, and his death into the payment of her never-forgiven debt.

The other diversity of tendency, to which allusion was made, is closely allied to the one of which we have been treating, and, in fact, comes directly from it. Reference is had to those views of the Divine relation to us, and to those personal appellations addressed to, or used of, the Deity, which seem to grow out of the naturalistic as distinguished from the moral contemplation of God and nature. As the naturalist loves to view things alone as wholes, or in their tendencies to a whole, so is there a correspondence in the universality of his language respecting the Deity, and in the appellations he bestows upon Him. He loves to contemplate a God afar off. He is accustomed, when compelled to speak of Him, to style Him the First Cause, the universal animating principle, the Supreme Being, the Infinite, the Prime Mover, the Primitive Development-anything, in short, which keeps

out the ideas of personality and moral attributes. In direct opposition to this feeling it is, that the serious and devout believer loves to dwell on the personality of God, as exhibited in the frequent personal appellations given to Him in the Scriptures. Hence he delights in contemplating Him historically, in the acts and events recorded in His word, rather than as the great animating Power, or developing Cause, or pervading Intelligence. Instead, therefore, of being fond of these appellations (although he does not reject them), he loves to think of Him as the God of the Fathers, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of His people, the God of the Covenant, the King of Zion, the Holy One of Israel; and above all, as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He would rather go to the very verge of anthropomorphism; he would rather be charged with low, and narrow, and finite, and local views of the Deity, than employ appellations, however philosophical, that would seem to imply only the physical relations, or which tend to efface, or keep out of view, the ideas of Creator, Preserver, Lawgiver, Judge, and Mediator, together with the inseparable associations of providence, law, forgiveness, and salvation. The physical sublimity itself, or that which may be regarded as attaching to the more universal or philosophical view, is immensely heightened to his conception, when connected, in the Scriptures, with the nearer personal acts and attributes. "He filleth all things; in Him we live and move and have our being; He inhabiteth eternity, and abides in the high and holy place; He also dwelleth with all such as are of lowly spirits, and who tremble at his word, to revive the heart of the humble, and the spirit of the contrite ones-Jehovah is his name, our Redeemer-the holy one of Israel." Even that most sublime epithet, Jehovah Tsebaoth, Kúgios tv dvráuεor, Deus agminum cœlestium, the Lord of Hosts, is associated in his mind with the idea of a spiritual rather than a physical power. It suggests the Lord of the Seraphim, the ruler of Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Angels, and Archangels, rather than the energies and agencies of nature. The appellation is admirably descriptive of Him "who calleth the stars by name, who bringeth out their hosts by number;" and yet, to one who delights in the personal and moral views of God's providence, it more readily calls to mind the King of the armies of Israel, the Leader of the array of "angels who encamp round about the righteous," and to whose guardian care He gives in charge the temporal and eternal interests of all who revere His




By REV. SAMUEL M. HOPKINS, A.M., Teacher in Theo. Sem. Auburn, N. Y.

General History of the Christian Religion and Church. From the German of Dr. Augustus Neander. Translated from the second and improved edition. By JOSEPH TORREY, Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy in the University of Vermont. Volume First, comprising the first great Division of the History. Boston: Crocker & Brewster. 1847.

THIS celebrated work of Neander's has been so long before the public-even in its present improved form, some five or six years, and the great merits of the historian are so universally acknowledged, that we shall not venture on anything like an extended criticism. Besides, the present writer, with a judicious reflection on the quid valeant humeri, quid ferre recusent, prefers leaving that to others, who may be better entitled to speak as having authority. He limits himself to some brief notice of the work, and of the translation, with the examination of a particular topic of the history, that may seem likely to interest the readers of this Review. Of the translation, we may say at once, that it seems to us in a high degree satisfactory. Neander is by no means the easiest writer in the world to render with ease and clearness in another language. He often takes very little pains with his periods. It may almost be said of him as of that other celebrated German Professor, Teufelsdröckh, that, "on the whole, he is not a cultivated writer."

He drives straight forward towards the mark, energetically enough, but with scant attention to grace of movement; and the ideas he intends to convey are sometimes of the most shadowy and intangible character. Mr. Rose, the English translator, every now and then doubts his apprehension of the thought, and helps himself out with notes, and the insertion of the original phrase for the reader to translate as he pleases. Professor Torrey, without resorting to such expedients, has given a clear, faithful, and well-expressed copy of Neander's work. remember but a single instance in which, as if doubtful of the correctness of his rendering, he has inserted the original phrase. It is in the chapter on the Church constitution; a passage in which the author is tracing the process by which the attributes of the Church spiritual became transferred to the Church visible. Thus


the corruption of the Church and its necessary unity was thrown outward (verausserlichte sich).

The translator's hesitancy here is justified by the fact that he has failed to seize the exact idea of the original; "was thrown outward," is a clumsy phrase, which conveys no distinct idea. The meaning of the writer is, that the feeling which should have attached to the real Church and its actual unity, became attached to its apparent and visible unity. There was a transference of ideas from what was real, to what was apparent. The conception of the Church was " thrown outward," no doubt; but it was in the specific mode of being transferred from the Church of faith, and love, and holiness, to the Church of creeds, and bishops, and ceremonies. It would be strange, however, if in dealing with so large a work and so troublesome an author, the translator should have made no stumble.

It is easy to say, as some contemporaneous Reviewer has said, that the translation is stiff and awkward. It perhaps makes that impression upon a reader who happens to begin at the beginning, for the first pages are not the best specimen of the work. It improves in its progress; but no one acquainted with the style of Neander, negligent, involved, abounding in long, complicated periods, with a tendency to over-refinement of reasoning, and the free use of German philosophical technology, will be disposed to complain in this respect. If any body thinks he can do better, it will do him no harm to try. We can say rather confidently, as the result of some experience,

"sudet multum frustraque laboret

Ausus idem, tantum series juncturaque pollet."

Neander's Kirchengeschichte is not properly a history. It is an extended critical discussion of the various prominent topics connected with the origin and progress of Christianity. The history of the Church, as distinguished from the history of religion, occupies but a small part of this large and handsome volume. The bulk of it is taken up with a view of the state of the world at the introduction of the gospel, the dominant philosophies, the Church constitution, and with a minute delineation of the various forms of error that stood opposed to, or combined with, the Christian system. It was on these last that the writer appears to have laid out his strength. His acute and patient mind, imbued with philosophy and fond of system, delighted in the microscopic dissection of the shadowy forms of Gnosticism and the Alexandrian philosophy; and we must say, that we think he has more consulted here his own taste, than the edification of his readers. The grotesque and monstrous systems of anti-Christian philosophy which issued from Alexandria or from Antioch, possess neither interest nor significancy. They teach nothing-suggest nothing. They are no further instructive than as they are melancholy examples of labo

« AnteriorContinuar »