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*F bis addresses to the Deity, to introduce Job ix. 9, "Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south." If the worthy Doctor had thought it necessary to introduce the passage in his sermon, and informed the people what it meant, he might have done some of them a piece of service; but certainly the introduction of it, made his prayer the opposite, in simplicity, to the one recommended by our Lord to his disciples in Matt. vi. 9—13. What a deplorable difference is discovered by contrasting the plain underrated prayers and sermons of primitive believers, with the philosophical orations and fanciful conjectures of some " fashionable preachers," who can remain unaffected at the contrast. To see talents misemployed, is at all times painful, but most especially pulpit talent. The man that is alive to God will disdain with just abhorrence, a substitution of oratory for spirituality, and the display of talent for "the wisdom that is from above." It is derogatory to the dignity of a Christian minister, and a criminal abuse of his office to play off the scholar in the pulpit. The following extract of a letter from a cotemporary work, bears so immediately upon the subject, that I cheerfully transcribe it for the pleasure and profit of your readers.
"Remember we do not mount the pulpit to say fine things, or eloquent things; we have there to proclaim the good tidings of salvation to fallen man; to point out the way of eternal iii'e ; to exhort, to cheer, and to support, the suffering sinner; these are the glorious topics upon which we have to •enlarge. And will these permit the tricks of oratory, or the studied beauties of eloquence? Shall truths and counsels like these be couched, in terms which the poor and ignorant cannot comprehend? Let every eloquent
preacher beware lest he fill any man's ear with sounding words when he should be feeding his soul with the bread of life. Let him fear lest instead of honouring God he should honour himself. If any man ascend tne pulpit with the intention of uttering a fine thing, he is sinning against God and the souls of men. Recollect however that there is a nicdiu'ii, and that vulgarity and meanness are cautiously to be avoided ; but whilst we speak with propriety and chastity, we cannot be too familiar or too plain."
These are the sentiments that should influence the conduct of every minister who is engaged in the important employment of ministering the gospel to fallen man. It is high time for those who arc called watchmen to the house of Israel, to cry aloud and spare not; that they forsake the vain, the empty, the criminal amusements of getting the applause of the multitude ; and that they cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light, " for the night is far spent, the day is at hand, when we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body." Important period! when the necessary as well as the vain distinctions of men shall be done away; when the importance of the gospel and the value of souls will be better understood; when the springs of action will be developed to the confusion of many; when the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; when the purchase of Iminanuel's blood shall go away into everlasting life, and when the wicked shall be cast into outer darkness. "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching."
Jan. 17, 1817.
t/l Series of Discourses on the Chris.. tian Revelation, viewed in connection with the Modern Astronomy. By Thomas Chalmers, D. 1). Minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow. London. Sold by Gale and l'enner, &c. 1817. pp. 875. Octavo, 8s. boards.
[Continued from page 87.] Having, in our last number, introduced these eloquent discourses, to the notice of our readers, ami, as we would fain hope, excited the attention of the dullest to them, we now proceed, according to promise to furnish a more ample account of the contents of this interesting volume. Few persons of the present day require to be told that it is chiefly to Sir Isaac Newton that we stand indebted for the clear and consistent discoveries of the philosophy of nature, with which we are now privileged above every preceding age. He discovered the mechanism of the planetary system. He discovered the composition of light. .He discovered the cause of those alternate movements which take place on the waters of the ocean. These are doctrines by which he has enriched the field of philosophy; and his system Bow prevails over all opposition, having advanced to the acquisition of the most universal empire that was ever established in philosophy. His principles have a degree of firmness and solidity that we should in vain look for in any other system. The most sceptical cannot avoid acknowledging this; for they not only connect together most perfectly all the phenomena of the heavens which had been observed before his time; but those also which the persevering industry and more perfect instruments of later astronomers have made known to us have been either easily explained by the application of his principles, or have been explained in consequence of more laborious and accurate calculations from those principles, than had been previously instituted. It is therefore with great propriety that before he proceeds to a direct refutation of the infidel objection against f lie gospel, Dr. Chalmers presents his
readers with a sketch of the character" of this eminent philosopher, and strikingly contrasts his modest, unassuming deportment with the arrogance and dogmatism of our modern sceptics. This particular chiefly occupies the second Sermon in the volume before ns, and though our confined limits will scarcely afford room to notice this preliminary brunch of the subject, we cannot pass it over without laying before the reader an extract or two.
"When we look back on the days of Newton, we annex a kind of mysterious greatness to him, who, by the pure force of his understanding, rose to such a gigantic elevation above the level of ordinary men—and the kings and warriors of other days sink into insignificance around him—and he, at this moment, stands forth to the public eye, in a prouder array of glory than circles the memory of all the men of former generations—and, while all the vulgar grandeur of other days is now mouldering in forgelfdliiess, the achievements of our great astronomer are still fresh in the veneration of his countrymen, and they carry him forward on the stream of time, with a reputation ever gathering, and the triumphs of a distinction that will never die.
"Now, the point that I want to impress upon you is, that the same public, who are so dazzled and overborne by the lustre of all this superiority, are utterly in the dark as to what that is which confers its chief merit on the philosophy of New torn They see t]\e result of his labours, but they know not how to appreciate the difficulty or the extent of them. They look on the stately edifice he has reared, but they know not what he had to do in settling the foundation which gives to it all itsstability—nor are they aware what painful encounters he had to make, both with the natural predilections of his own heart, and with the prejudices of others, when employed on the work of laying together its unpei-ishing materials. They have never heard of the controversies which this man, of peaceful unambitious modesty, had to sustain, with all that was proud, and all that was intolerant in the philosophy of the age. They have never, in thought, entered that closet which was the scene of his patient and profound exercises—nor have they gone along with him, as he gave his silent hours to the labours of the midnight oil, and plied that unwearied task, to which the charms of lofty contemplation!
nad allured him—nor have they accompanied him through all the workings of that wonderful mind, from which, as from the recesses of a laboratory, there came forth such gleams and processes of thought as shed an efFulgency over the whole umplitude of nature. All this, the public have not done; for of this the great majority, even of the reading and cultivated public, are utterly incapable j and, therefore, is it, that they need to be told what that is, in which the main distinction of his philosophy lies; that, when labouring in other fields of investigation, they may know how to borrow from his safe example, and how to profit by that superior wisdom which marked the whole conduct of his understanding.
"It was the property of his mind, that it kept a tenacious hold of every one position which had proof to substantiate it—hut it forms a property equally characteristic, and which, in fact, gives its leading peculiarity to the whole spirit and style of his investigations, that he put amostdcterminid exclusion on every one position that was destitute of such proof. He would not admit the astronomical theories of those who went before him, because they had no proof. He would "ft give in to their notions about the planets wheeling their rounds in whirlpools of ether—for he did not see this ether—he had n» proof of its existence— snd, besides, even supposing it to exist, it j would riot have impressed, on the heavenly bodies, su-ch movements as met his observation. He would not submit his Judgment to the reigning systems of the <lny—for, though they had authority to recommend thtm, they had no proof; and thus it is, tU at he evinced the strength and the soundness of his philosophy, as much by his decisions upon those doctrines of science which he rejected, as by his demonstration of those doctrines ofscience which he was the first to propose, and which now stand out to the eye of posterity as the only monuments to the force and superiority of his understanding. —" And thus you may understand, how the first man in the accomplishments of philosophy, which the world ever saw, *at at the book of nature in the humble attitude of its interpreter and its pupil— bow all the docility of conscious ignorance threw a sweet and softening lustre around the radiance even of his most splendid discoveries—and, while the flippancy of a few superficial acquirements is enough to place a philosopher of the day on the pedestal of his fancied elevation, and to vest him with an assumed lordship over the whole domain of natural and revealed knowledge; I cannot forbear to do honour to the unpretending greatness of Newton, than whom I know lot if there ever lighted on the face of our world, one in the character of whose admirable genius so much force and so
much humility were more attractively blended.
"I now propose to carry you forward, by a few simple illustrations, to the argument of this day. AH the sublime truths of the modern astronomy lie within the field of actual observation, and have the firm evidence to rest upon of all that information which is conveyed to us by the avenue of the senses. Sir Isaac Newton never went beyond this field, without a reverential impression upon his mind, of the precariousness of the ground on which he was standing. On this ground, he never ventured a positive affirmation—but, resigning the lofty tone of demonstration, and putting on the modesty of conscious ignorance, he brought forward all he had to say in the humble form of a doubt, or a conjecture, or a question. But, what he had not confidence to do, other philosophers have done after him—and they have winged thei» audacious way into forbidden regions— and they have crossed that circle by which the field of observation is enclosed —and there have they debated and dogmatised with all the pride of a most intolerant assurance."
The application of these judiciou* remarks to the subject in hand, must be obvious to the most superficial thinker. In the astronomical objection which infidelity has proposed against the truth of the Christian revelation, there is first an assertion, and then an argument. The assertion is, that Christianity is set up for the exclusive benefit of our minute and solitary world. The argument is, that God would not lavish so much attention on so insignificant a field. But, says Dr. Chalmers,
"Even though the assertion were admitted, I should have a quarrel with the argument. But the futility of the objection is not laid open in all its extent, unless we expose the utter want of all essential evidence even for the truth of the assertion. How do infidels know that Christianity is set up for the single benefit of this earth and its inhabitants? How are they able to tell us, that if you go to other planets, the person and the religion of Jesus are there unknown to them? We challenge them to the proof of this said positive announcement of theirs. We see in this objection the same rash and gratuitous procedure, which was so apparent in the two cases that we have already advanced for the purpose of illustration. We see in it the same glaring transgression on the spirit and the maxims of that very philosophy which they profess to idolize. They have made their argument against us, out of an assertion which they have no means of verifying—an assertion, the trtith or the falsehood • $£
which can only be gathered out of some supernatural message, for it lies completely beyond the range of human observation.
"The man who could embark in an enterprise so foolish and so fanciful, as lo theorise it on the details of the botany of another world, or to theorise it on the natural and moral history of its people, is just making as outrageous a departure from all sense, and all science, and all sobriety, when he presumes to speculate, or to assert on the details or the methods of God's administration innong its rational and accountable inhabitants. He wings his fancy to as hazardous a region, and vainly strives a penetrating vision through the mantle of as deep an obscurity. All the elements of such a speculation are bidden from him For any thing he can tell, sin has found its way into these other worlds. For any thing he can tell, their people have banished themselves from communion with God. For any thing be can tell, many a visit has been made to each of them, on the subject of our common Christianity, by commissioned messengers from the throne of the Eternal. For any thing he can tell, the redemption proclaimed to us is not one solitary instance, or not the whole of that redemption which is by the Son of God—but only our part in a plan of mercy, equal in magnificence to ail that astronomy has brought within the range of human rontemplation. For any thing he can tell, the moral pestilence, which walks abroad over the face of our world, may have spread its desolation over all the planets of all the systems, which the telescope has made known to ns. For any thing he can tell, some mighty redemption has been devised in heaven, to meet this disaster in the whole extent and malignity of its visitations. For any thing he can tell, the wonder-working God, who has •trewed the field of immensity with so many worlds, and spread the shelter of his omnipotence over them, may have sent a message of love to each, and reassured the hearts of its despairing people by some overpowering manifestation of tenderness. For any thing he can tell,angels from paradise may have sped to every planet their delegated way, and sung, from each azure canopy, a joyful annunciation, and said, ' Peace be to this residence, and good will to all it,families, and glory to Him in the highest, who, from the eminency of his throne, has issued an act of grace so magnificent, as to carry the tidings of life and of acceptance to the unnumbered orbs of a sinful creation.' For any thing he can tell, the Eternal Son, of whom it is said, that by him the worlds were created, may have bad the governmentof many sinful worlds laid upon bis shoulders; and by the power of his mysterious word, have awoke them '»J1 from that spiritual death, to which
they had sunk in lethargy as profound aj the slumbers of non-existence. For any thing he can tell, the one Spirit who moved on the face of the waters, and whose presiding influence it was that hushed the wild war of nature's elements, and made a beauteous system emerge out of its disjointed materials, may now be working with the fragments of another chaos; and educing order, and obedience, and harmony, out of the wrecks of a moral rebellion, which reaches through all these spheres, and spreads disorder to the uttermost limits of our astronomy.
"But here I stop—nor shall I attempt to grope my dark and fatiguing way, hy another inch, among such sublime and mysterious secrecies. It is not I who am offering to lift this curtain. It is not I who am pitching my adventurous flight to the secret things, which belong to God, away from the things that are revealed, and which belong to me and my children. It is the champion of that very Infidelity which I am now combating. It is he who props his unchristian argument, by presumptions fetched out of those untravelled obscurities, which lie on the other side of a harrier that I pronounce to be impassable. It is he who transgresses the limits which Newton forbore to enter; because, with a justness which reigns throughout all his inquiries, he saw the limit of his own understanding, nor would he venture himself beyond it. It is he who has borrowed from the philosophy of this wondrous man, a few dazzling conceptions, which have only served to bewilder him—while, an utter stranger to the spirit of this philosophy, he has carried a daring and an ignorant speculation far beyond the boundary of its prescribed and allowable enterprises. It is he who has mustered against the truths of the Gospel, resting, as it does, on evidence within the reach of his faculties, an objection, for the truth of which he has no evidence whatever. It is he who puts away from him a doctrine, for which he has the substantial and the familiar proof of human testimony; and substitutes in its place, a doctrine, for which he can get no other support than from a reverie of his own imagination. It is he who turns aside from all that safe and certain argument, that is supplied by the history of this world, of which he knows something; and who loses himself in the work of theorising about other worlds, of the moral and theological history of which he positively knows nothing. Upon htm, and not upon us, lies the folly of launching his impetuous way beyond the province of observation—of letting his fancy afloat among the unknown of distant and mysterious regions—and, by an act of daring, as impious as it is unphilosophical,of trying to unwrap that shroud, which, till drawn aside by the band of a messenger from heaven, will ever veil, from human eye, the purposes of the Eternal."
Having shewn how very opposite this rash and intrusive temper of our modern sceptics is, to the modest, cautious, and diffident spirit of philosophizing which characterises the Newtonian school, our author closes this branch of his argument which indeed is only preliminary, and may be regarded as the arsumentum ad hominem, with the following excellent remarks.
"But, there is one other most important conclusion, to which it carries us. It carries us, with all the docility of children, to the Bible; and puts us down into the attitude of an unreserved surrender of thought and understanding, to its authoritative information. Without the testimony of an authentic messenger from (Karen, I know nothing of heaven's toonsels. I never heard of any moral telescope that can bring to my observation, the doings or the deliberations which are taking place in the sanctuary of the Eternal. I may put into the registers of my belief, all that conies home to me through file senses of the outer man, or by the consciousness of the inner man. Snt neither the one nor the other can tell me of the purposes of God; can tell me of the transactions or the designs of his sublime monarchy; can tell me of the goings forth of Him who is from everlasting unto everlastingj can tell me of the march and the movements of thar great administration which embraces all worlds, and takes into its wide and comprehensive survey, the mighty roll of innumerable ages. It is true that my fancy may break its impetuous way into this lofty and inaccessible field; and through the devices of my heart, which are many, the visions of an ever-shifting theology may take their alternate sway over me: but the counsel of the Lord, it shall stand. And 1 repeat it, that if true to the leading principle of that philosophy, which has poured such a flood of light over the mysteries of nature, we 'hall dismiss every self-formed conception of our own, and wait in all the humility of conscious ignorance, till the Lord himself shall break his silence, and make his counsel known, by an act of communication. And now, that a professed communication is before me, and that it has all the solidity of the experimental evidence on its side, and nothing but the reveries of a daring speculation to oppose it, what is the consistent, what is the rational, what is the philosophical use that should be made of this document, but to set me down like a school-boy, to the work of turning its pages, and coning its lessons, and submitting the every
exercise of my judgment to its information and its testimony? We know that there is a superficial philosophy, which casts the glare of a most seducing brillaury around it; aud spurns the Bible, with all the doctrine, and all the piety of the Bible, away from it; and has infused the spirit of Antichrist into many of the literary establishments of the age; hut it is not the solid, the profound, the cautious spirit of that philosophy, which has done so much to enoble the modern period of our world; for the more that this spitit is cultivated and understood, the more will it be found in alliance with that spirit, in virtue of which all that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, is humbled, and all lofty imaginations are cast down, and every thought of the heart is brought into the captivity of the obedience of Christ."
Unquestionably these are golden remarks, and had the advocate for Christianity nothing more convincing to oppose to the infidel hypothesis, the subject might fairly be put upon this issue. But for the more direct confutation of it we must still beg the patience of our readers till another month, when we hope to finish our review of these excellent discourses.
[To be concluded in our next.]
Facts and Evidences on the subject of Baptism in Three Letters to a Deacon of a Baptist church; &c. [Continued from page 25.]
In renewing, after a temporary silence, our review of Mr. Taylor's pamphlets on the subject of Baptism, it is our intention simply to present our headers with a few extracts, promiscuously selected; illustrative of the author's method of illustrating scripture. We have already hinted, it is not our design to controvert, hut to exhibit; not to oppose argument to argument, but to display before the ordeal of common sense and a veneration for the sacred text, this writer's mode of establishing his hypothesis. It is to be regretted that he did not digest some plan for the prosecution of the argument before he had begun to publish; but as he did not think proper to do this, it is impossible that our analysis should supply the defect. Indeed, according to the author's own confession, it is composed of little else than " crude and unfinished hints," a "miscellaneous collection of memoranda, loosely arrang