Abbildungen der Seite

non-observance,--the same studied exclusion of all moral or providential reasons having reference to individual men, or particular communities, and to which in any case natural laws are subservient. Nature, they would say, is teaching us, at this costly sacrifice, the important lesson, that the collision of hard bodies will crush us, that fire will burn and water drown us; that, therefore, the great business of human life is the observance of her phenomena, for the sake of obedience to her commandments. All the consolation her science alone can offer is in this comfortless, and even despairing, idea of great wholes and processes never defined and never final; or in some future to which all the past has been subservient, and which itself is to be in like manner mediate to some other future yet to come, and yet to come, for ever and for ever more; or in some phantom of progress, never resting, never completed, in which the present present, and every other present, with all its individual existences, are but the means and victims of an unrelenting movement, where nothing partial can be final, and whatever exists at any one time, lives and perishes only for something equally flowing and unsubstantial in the eternity yet undeveloped. The planet is broken into fragments (all by the secret springs of physical law), that its dispersed forces may produce a better equilibrium in the system to which it belongs; the solar star, with its attendant worlds, perishes for the production of a like effect in some greater syn. tagma of the universe; the vessel founders, or goes down amid the flames, that navigation may be better learned or steamboats better built; the helpless beings who perish are only victims to progress; and so on eternally—a present ever imperfect, and having no importance of its own, except in reference to a future which “never is, but always to be blest,” and parts which have no scientific value except as connected with imaginary wholes in an everlasting series.

And this is all that science knows and nature teaches. Oh! how should our human hearts seek refuge from the chilling despair of such views, in the declarations of the Scriptures, and thank God that that blessed volume was given to us in a style so different from that of science or philosophy. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without your Heavenly Father's knowledge ;-"The very hairs of your heads are numbered ;" “ The Lord looks down from Heaven; His eyes behold and His eyelids try the ways of the children of men; His eyes are in all the earth beholding the evil and the good ; He knows our lying down and our rising up; He understandeth our thoughts afar off; The Lord is nigh unto all who call upon him. He heareth prayer,

and unto Him should all flesh come. He is angry with the wicked every day ; The Lord loveth the righteous ; Like as a father pitieth his children so the Lord pitieth those who fear Him; 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 indi

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

vidual man.


being to which mere scientific views are so prone from their very 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 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

[ocr errors]

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 alí 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 tov durduewr, Deus agminum coelestium, 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. We 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

« ZurückWeiter »