Изображения страниц

called as a denomination to exert ourselves for the spread of the gospel in its reality, simplicity, and practical power. The world will judge us, as it has full right to do, by our fidelity to this test."* But Mr Hill of Worcester admitted that they "had not done much for the conversion of the heathen."+

Of the character and spirit of religion in the churches, the testimony was not more cheering. Lest we may have misapprehended the singular remarks of Mr Hedge of Bangor, we shall give a portion of them in extenso. "Rev. Mr Hedge of Bangor said, that brother Lathrop had remarked, that it was easier to procure money for political purposes than for religious ones. Why is it so? Is it not because men see a reality in politics, a present, living, and life-warm reality in the objects for which their contributions are sought; and because they do not see this in religion? Mr H. thought we erred very much in taking Christianity and religion out of the sphere of common life. We thus take all blood out of it. When Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared as a spirit to his disciples, they were all afraid of him. Men are still affrighted for the same reason, because Christ is presented to them as a ghost. Religion has none of the blood of daily life in it. It is not of a piece with great nature. Our theology and religious action, how unreal and hollow they are! We use phraseology which once had a meaning, but which no longer has. The reality has gone out of the words and forms which we insist on still using. Thus the phrase, the saving of souls,' which his brother from St Louis had used, was so indefinite and misguiding a phrase, as to be responsible for much of the ignorance that prevailed relative to the aims and purposes of the gospel towards man. What an indefinite, hollow, and unmeaning phrase it is! and how much is the real truth once contained in it lost sight of, for those very words' sake! How ghastly is the view of Christ presented by our preaching! he is not a man, but a spectre."

It would be a hypocritical affectation if we were to say that we lament these symptoms of decay in a system which we religiously esteem to be both antiscriptural and dangerous: yet would not insult over the miscarriages even of a cause which we do not approve. From such indications, the argument is good against all claims of sole propriety in that which is fruitful, heroic, and magnanimous; and the evil is inherent. The vital principles have been eliminated. Separate American Unitarianism from certain adventitious aids,-from the diverted endowments of Cambridge, from the scholarship of its sons, and from the prestige of elegant society and social rank, and it becomes a stationary and deliquescent mass. Upon the common mind of the nation it has not made, nor will it ever make, * The Christian Inquirer, vol. i. p. 10. + Ib. p. 10.

an impression. The more its banner is unfurled, the less does its phalanx press onward. Its day of strength was when it was not revealed; "when the Unitarianism of New England (we use the words of Mr Furness) was in its extreme infancy; when it was too tender to be brought out into the open air; before it had been baptised, when it was afraid of its name." It has a Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania; but how many churches? Wealth and art may give noble architecture and subduing music; but architecture and music cannot fill the vaulted house with ardent worshippers. Having thrown away that which draws and melts the heart of the people, it needs beyond all religious bodies upon earth, the succedaneum of vestments, incense, processions, statuary, and painting. In default of these, the easy grace and balanced melody of classical essays, though read with every intonation of art, will not cheer the dulness of an afternoon-service. The elements of Christian eloquence have been alienated. The fervour even of their noblest preachers is rather moonlight than day. Dread of systematic discussion has excluded the great source of intellectual excitement, even as felt by common minds, which love the ardency of argumentation. Similar causes have led their writers to sacrifice science to what is called literature, and energy to correctness. Great as is our abhorrence of certain errors in the Church of Rome, we never recur to the pages of Bourdaloue, Massillon, or Bossuet, without some elevation and perhaps some transport. But who can thus feel under the most symmetrical and faultless of Unitarian discourses? And with what hope can the system be expected ever to produce, in respect to pathos, fire, and sacred urgency, a Chalmers, a Tholuck, or a Monod?

These observations we do not apply in their strictness to the work before us, which in character is didactic, and therefore subdued in its tone. Yet several, if not most, of these discourses were pronounced from the pulpit. Perhaps we should do no injustice to the author, if we should take them as specimens of his public ministrations. They are, to an extraordinary degree, exempt from every vulgar fault; classic in the purity of the English diction, and alike free from harshness and obscurity. They abound in passages which evince a taste cultivated even to fastidiousness. But these, after all, are negative virtues. There is a marked absence as well of rapid, trenchant, irresistible ratiocination, as of vehement and passionate entrance to the strongholds of the heart. It is the reigning and characteristic evil of the system itself.

It is high time for us to remember that we have sat down to write a critique, and not a book. Several portions of the *The Christian Inquirer, vol. i. p. 9.

volume before us yet remain untouched. Our readers could not be relied on for patience equal to a longer train of observation at this time. We have not willingly misrepresented the author; but our admiration of his system has not been increased by his labours. They have resulted in no misgiving as to the foundation or the defences of catholic Christianity. "Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide, even unto death."

ART. III.—The alleged Discrepancy between John and the other Evangelists respecting our Lord's last Passover.

[This paper is from the pen of Dr EDWARD ROBINSON.]

EVER since the earliest centuries of the Christian era, a difference of opinion has existed in the church, as to the point, whether our Lord's last meal with his disciples, on the evening before his crucifixion, was the ordinary paschal supper of the Jews. The question may be stated in other forms; as, for example, Did the crucifixion of our Lord follow or precede the Jewish paschal supper? Was the Friday on which Jesus suffered, the fourteenth or the fifteenth day of the month Nisan? But it is obvious that in all these forms the point at issue is the same; and the solution must in all depend upon the same evidence and arguments.

In the following article I propose briefly to survey this field of controversy; partly because of the intrinsic importance and difficulties of the subject itself, and partly because, in late years, these difficulties have been brought forward very prominently by some of the commentators of Germany; and have been made the ground, sometimes, of fierce assault upon a single gospel, and, at other times, of systematic efforts against the credibility and authority of all the evangelists. It will, I trust, be made to appear, that these efforts are all in vain, and that the truth of God stands for ever sure. We shall be led to see, I think, that here, as well as elsewhere, the longer such efforts are continued, and the greater the learning and skill with which they are conducted, the more clearly will the grand result be brought out to view, and the striking truth be more and more developed, that a fundamental characteristic every where manifest in the testimony of the four evangelists is, UNITY IN DIVersity.

As the events of our Lord's Passion were so intimately connected with the celebration of the passover, it seems proper here to bring together in one view those circumstances relating to that festival, which may serve to illustrate that sacred history, and thus prepare the way for a better understanding of the main point to be discussed.

I. Time of killing the Paschal Lamb.

The paschal lamb (or kid, Exod. xii. 5) was to be selected on the tenth day of the first month.-(Exod. xii. 3.) On the fourteenth day of the same month, (called Abib in the Pentateuch, and later Nisan, Deut. xvi. 1, Esth. iii. 7,) the lamb thus selected was to be killed, at a point of time designated by the expression Day, between the two evenings (Exod. xii. 6; Lev. xxiii. 5; Numb. ix. 3, 5); or, as is elsewhere said,

niye, at evening about the going down of the sun.(Deut. xvi. 6.) The same phrase, Day, between the two evenings, is put for the time of the daily evening sacrifice.—(Exod. xxix. 39, 41; Numb. xxviii. 4.) The time thus marked was regarded by the Samaritans and Karaites as being the interval between sunset and deep twilight; and so too Aben Ezra.* But the Pharisees and Rabbinists, according to the Mishnah, (Pesach. v. 3), held the first evening to commence with the declining sun (Greek den gwia); and the second evening with the setting sun (Greek din ía). Hence, according to them, the paschal lamb was to be killed in the interval between the ninth and eleventh hour, equivalent to our three and five o'clock, P.M. That this was in fact the practice among the Jews in the time of our Lord, appears from the testimony of Josephus: Пárxa καλεῖται, καθ ̓ ἣν θύουσι μὲν ἀπὸ ἐννάτης ὥρας μέχρι ενδεκάτης. † The daily evening sacrifice in the temple was also offered at the ninth hour, or three o'clock, P.M., as the same historian testifies. Similar was the Greek díλn.

The true time, then, of killing the passover in our Lord's day, was between the ninth and eleventh hour, or towards sunset, near the close of the fourteenth day of Nisan.

II. Time of eating the Passover.

This was to be done the same evening: "And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs shall they eat it."-(Exod. xii. 8.) The Hebrews in Egypt ate the first passover, and struck the blood

*See Reland de Samar. § 22, in Diss. Miscell. t. ii.; Trigland de Karaeis, c. 4; Aben Ezra ad Exod. xii. 6.

Jos. B. J. vi. 9, 3.

Jos. Antiq. xiv. 4, 3. Comp. Pesach. vi. 1; also Acts iii. 1, et Wetstein in loc.

of the victims on their door-posts, on the evening before the last great plague; at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn; and in the morning the people broke up from Rameses on their march towards the Red Sea, viz., "on the fifteenth day of the first month, on the morrow after the passover."-(Num. xxxiii. 3.)

It hence appears, very definitely, that the paschal lamb was to be slain in the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the month; and was eaten the same evening, that is, on the evening which was reckoned to and began the fifteenth day.

III. Festival of Unleavened Bread.

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses."-(Exod. xii. 18, 19, comp. Deut. xvi. 3, 4.) "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread."-(Lev. xxiii. 6, comp. Num. xxviii. 17.) From these passages it appears that the festival of unleavened bread began strictly with the passover meal at or after sunset following the fourteenth day, and continued until the end of the twenty-first day.*

In accordance with these precepts, and with an anxiety to go beyond rather than to fall short of them, the Jews were accustomed, at or before noon on the fourteenth day of Nisan, to cease from labour and put away all leaven out of their houses. On that day, too, towards sunset, the paschal lamb was killed, and was eaten in the evening. Hence, in popular usage, this fourteenth day itself, being thus a day of preparation for the festival which properly began at evening, very naturally came to be regarded as belonging to the festival; and is therefore sometimes spoken of in the New Testament as the "first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover."-(Mark xiv. 12, Luke xxii. 7, comp. Matt. xxvi. 7.) That such an usage was common, appears also from Josephus, who, having in one place expressly fixed the commencement of this festival on the fifteenth of Nisan, speaks, nevertheless, in another passage of the fourteenth as the day of that festival, in exact accordance with the evangelists. In still another place, the same historian mentions the festival of unleavened bread as being celebrated for eight days.§

It is hardly necessary to remark, that in consequence of the

*Comp. Jos. Antiq. iii. 10, 5.

+ Lightfoot Opp. ed. Leusd. i. p. 728 sq.; Hor. Heb. in Marc. xiv. 12. Jos. Antiq. iii. 10, 5; B. J. v. 3, 1; comp. Antiq. xi. 4, 8.

Jos. Antiq. ii. 15, 1.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »