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great importance, because God has manifestly owned and prospered human writings on religion, and because learning is needful for the due understanding, both of the word and the works of God. This learn
ing, useful at all times, is eminently so in the present age of free inquiry, and often sceptical objection; besides which, it furnishes much real enjoyment, and an agreeable as well as salutary exercise of that preeminent faculty of reason which was bestowed upon us by a gracious Creator for his own glory, and our happiness and benefit. Mr. Bickersteth most justly remarks:
"If we look at the history of the church, the brightest examples of ardent and useful piety have been found in men of great knowledge. The most honoured instruments in founding and carrying forward both the Jewish and Christian churches were men eminent in learning as well as in piety. Moses, the lawgiver and leader of the Jews, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel." Bickersteth, p. 9.
"The force of the objection, that the first Christians were illiterate, is taken away by the fact, that they were supernaturally assisted with all the learning which was requisite for their office. Ecolampadius justly observes to the Waldenses, we are not to tempt God as if He were to be expected to instruct us as He did the Apostles, miraculously without study on our part. Indeed, we cannot have the local information which they had without much learning. Besides, while the great Apostle of the Gentiles was not destitute of human learning naturally acquired; he both made use of that learning in defence of the Gospel, and disputed with the learned Athenians on their own principles.
"It is a very erroneous idea, that knowledge is prejudicial to faith. Religion is not the privilege of the ignorant. In fact, the worst enemies of Christianity have endeavoured to keep Christians in ignorance. We see this both in Paganism and Popery. The ages of ignorance were the ages when Popery was dominant and in the time of Paganism, the emperor Julian, one of the most artful and bitter opponents which the Christian religion perhaps ever had, well aware of the powerful use which Christians had made of learning, refused permission to them to study the classics." Bickersteth,
"The revival of literature and the reformation of the church were connected events. The Reformers felt strongly the
importance of learning; Luther says, 'I am persuaded that true divinity could not well be supported without the knowldge of letters: of this we have sad proof, for while learning was decayed and in ruins, theology fell too, and lay most wretchedly obscured. I am sure that the revelation and manifestation of the word of God would never have been so extensive and glorious as it is, if preparatorily, like so many John the Baptists smoothing the way, the knowledge of languages and good learning had not risen up amongst us. They are most exceedingly mistaken, who imagine that the knowledge of nature and true philosophy is of no use to a divine.'” Bickersteth, pp. 11, 12.
"It is the testimony of Boyle, one qualified to say so, For an ordinary naturalist to despise those that study the mysteries of religion, as much inferior to physical truths, is no less unreasonable than it were for a watch-maker, because he understands his own trade, to despise privy councillors, who are acquainted with the secrets of monarchs and mysteries of state; or than it were for a ship-carpenter, because he understands more of the fabric of a vessel, to despise the admiral that is acquainted with the secret designs of the prince, and employed about the most important affairs." Bickersteth, p. 13.
But the student in theology needs ever to keep in mind that he treads on sacred ground. He is not pursuing an abstract, or merely speculative branch of knowledge, but one which has constant reference to the state of the heart as well as the mere powers of the understanding. Mr. Bickersteth, therefore, wisely reminds the student of those moral qualifications with which he ought to apply himself to divine science. He shews that sin blinds the mind; that communion with God, that faith and love, that Christian tempers and dispositions, that simplicity of purpose to do the will of God, that a willingness to confess Christ before men, and all the details of a holy and charitable life, are important helps to the right attainment of sacred knowledge.
Yet even this is not all; for though "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness," yet this very faith is the gift of God. Divine teaching is necessary to guide men into religious knowledge, to any practical or spiritual purpose; and this teaching is promised to
all who humbly seek it. "The meek shall he guide in judgment, the meek shall he teach his way.' "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord." "A man can receive nothing except it be given him from above." Our author has many excellent observations on this subject. He remarks:
"Perhaps the grand defect of most theological writers is the not constantly adverting to the need of Divine teaching, to make us wise unto salvation; and the great success of such spiritual and devotional treatises as have been a means of edifying the church through successive ages, has arisen from their clearly and distinctly bringing forward our dependence on Divine grace. Such books as Augustine's Confessions, and Thomas à Kempis, are eminently useful, simply on this ground. "God does not now teach by supernatural means; as he taught the Prophets and Apostles, and enabled them to write the inspired volume. He does not ordi. narily teach without human instrumentality, and, specially, He teaches through His own word. The standard or criterion of this instruction, is the inspired volume. The Father, through the mediation of Christ, communicates by the Spirit, this Divine teaching to His children. The Holy Ghost is the main agent. This Divine Spirit enables us to know the things that are freely given to us of God." Bickersteth, pp. 50, 51.
These things premised, the religious student proceeds to his investigations. The mine in which he is to dig for the hidden treasure is the sacred Scripture: to this, therefore, he first betakes himself, and this, whatever subsidiary aids he may call in, he never leaves. Our author's observations on the study of the Scripture are highly useful. He sums up the whole as follows:
"All things relating to religion may be resolved into these two great questions,Is the Bible the word of God? What does the Bible teach? To be able to answer the first satisfactorily is a great and important duty. The Scriptures must be read, the evidences must be weighed, and light must be sought from above, that the mind may come to a clear and decided conviction. To answer the second, the Scrip tures also must first be diligently sought, and cavils must not be admitted; it being proved to be the word of God, submission of mind to its ascertained truth, even where we cannot harmonize them, is as great a duty as diligent inquiry, to ascertain what these truths are. Men of an infidel spirit have scrutinized and sifted
the Bible with as little reverence as if it in all other books, we have to exercise were a mere human classic. But, while our judgment as to what is right and what is wrong, and are bound to leave the wrong, there is a vast difference in the Bible. It is God's word, and we have by that book to correct every other impression." Bickersteth, pp. 68, 69.
"Read the Bible then first, read it in the middle of other studies, read it last of all. There ought to be no part of the Scriptures to which you have been long a stranger. The whole should be read through again and again. Let it be your daily, constant, and never-failing companion and guide. Let its truths be con-, tinually revolving in your mind. Look upward for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. No commentator teaches as he teaches. He giveth wisdom, and that liberally, and upbraideth not. In this book, under his teaching, you may place unreserved confi. dence, you will find sweet repose, holy affections, and perfect security." Bickersteth, pp. 70, 71.
The whole work is written, as our readers will have perceived by the above extracts, in a hortatory and didactic style; and many parts might have been preached in the form of a practical address from the pulpit. the pulpit. To reasoning minds, that prefer having premises only given, and working out their own conclusions, and making their own applications, this style is not the most interesting; but for popular effect it is the most useful, and the wide extension of Mr. Bickersteth's valuable publications shews how well his truly scriptural exhortations have been received, and how have not been in vain in the Lord. highly they are prized. His labours
Mr. Bickersteth proceeds to shew the character of scriptural divinity, and the union of spirit which, amidst minor diversities of opinion, exists among the true members of Christ. The basis of this union, as well as the basis of the whole scheme of Christian doctrine, he represents to be Christ crucified as a sacrifice for sin, and the life of the believer grounded on union to Christ; warning his readers against resting upon a dead faith, a mere assent to Christian doctrines, and a bold forward profession of religion, or excited feelings, or our own imperfect obe
dience, or religious acts, or the mercy of God irrespective of the mode in which he has promised to exercise it; or, most perhaps of all, our own goodness conjoined with the merits of Christ,-that most plausible of all devices to evade the doctrines of grace. Mr. Bickersteth alludes as follows, to the manner in which sacred truth is revealed in the word of God, a manner far from accordant to the views which we should have ignorantly formed of what was most befitting, yet found in fact to produce those blessed effects which revelation was intended to
secure. Human wisdom would have written a regular treatise, or a catechism, or a set of articles, or well reasoned propositions; not so the Bible.
"Divine truths are not stated abstractedly, as a mere theory to be established by argument, and proved by the moral fitness of things, or by their native beauty and excellence. We have not a statement, for instance, to explain the difficulties of the Trinity, or a dissertation to shew the nature of the doctrine. It is revealed only in its devotional and practical connexions. We have indeed, in the Romans and in the Ephesians, much of a system of Divine truth in regular order, yet all is stated with reference to experience and practice, rather than as a mere theory. It is in short a revelation of the Divine will from the great Lord of all to his sinful creatures; an authoritative declaration, rather than an argumentative proof, or a treatise to establish a human doctrine. There is a beautiful proportion given to every truth, according to its real character and use; and we disturb the order of that
proportion, when we insist too prominently or too exclusively on one favourite doctrine, to the neglect of others, and so give a partial view of the whole.
"The truths of revelation in the Bible are not generally either systematically arranged, or scholastically defined. They are rather incidentally introduced, with the exception of one or two of the Epistles, according to occasion, and in the way of common discourse. We hardly know where to turn for any explicit definitions of Scripture doctrine in the word of God. This actual position of Divine truth in Scripture (promiscuously scattered throughout, and connected only by the subject matter of discourse, rather than by any artificial arrangement) is surely of the most beautiful proofs of the wisdom of God. It is far better adapted to the bulk of mankind than any technical
exactness. It better meets the prejudices
and useful; as are those in the next
“All who have deeply engaged in study have felt its tendency to draw the heart from God: so to occupy the intellect, for, the highest privilege of man, commuthat we forget, or think we have not time nion with God. What we mean is, that eagerly engages the mind, even though it this, as well as any other pursuit that be theological and scriptural in its subject, may yet lead us away from that which should be the primary object of the Christian student: the life of God in the soul of man. Bickersteth, pp. 109, 110.
and especially such practical books as are
full of Christ and his salvation. A devout
honey to my mouth, music to my ears,
"The more we enter into the spirit of
shall receive more and more of the en-
controversy, is drawn up with great
"There may be a disproportionate attention to controversy, as well as a despising of it: if it be pursued to the neglect or prejudice of devotional and practical religion, if it be pursued with the passions of the natural and not with the graces of the spiritual man, it is disproportionately pursued. But because there is this mistake, there is a prevalent notion among those to whom we may justly give the blessed title of peacemakers, that the simple statement of truth is a sufficient confutation of error. Such forget the advantage that error has against truth in its falling in with the natural principles of the heart. Exposure of error and false statement, in a controversial form, is a prominent part of the Epistles to the unsettled churches. The duty of controversy under many circumstances which might be stated
is perfectly clear, We must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
"Yet while it has pleased our Heavenly
Father thus to overrule some controver sies for good, it is not all controversy that has done good, nor any in this fallen world that has done unmixed good. There have been controversies with comparatively little practical benefit, and with deep injury to the spirit of those engaged in them" Bickersteth, pp. 113, 114.
We will quote one passage more from this chapter. It contains a truth which for nearly thirty years we have been urging upon zealous systematizers on all sides, and which can never be too often impressed, especially upon younger theological students, who are too often ready to follow the steps of some favourite leader over brake and briar, into the most treacherous bogs and
mazes of error.
"Beware of artificial systems of divinity. That the Scripture contains an harmonious system, and that there is connexion, and dependence, and proportion, of the several parts of truth is unques
to discern this system clearly in every component part, requires an eye perfectly single, without a dark spot of sin, or prejudiced reasoning of any kind. It is also unquestionable that a full and clear statement gathered from all parts of Scripture is advantageous; but implied consequences, where the Scripture has not stated those consequences, and artificial plans and arrangements of truth, may deprive us of the power and simplicity of truth, and even prejudice the mind of others against it. In this view it appears to me that many excellent writers have gone too far in their distinctions. Let us keep to scriptural terms and ideas, and not be wise above what is
written. Let us also not interpret figurative expressions too minutely. Where Scripture is plain and obvious, there is a clear ground of faith. Where it is ambiguous or intricate, suspend your judgment, neither affirm nor deny, but humble yourself before God and admire His majesty. Especially, seek not by human additions to make every part clear in your own system. That system which is more exact and clear than the Scriptures is so far false. We ought to be as fairly chargeable with inconsistency as the book of God. But we are often, in study, attending rather to the theory and science of theology, than to practical obedience, and the holy efficacy of scriptural truth." Bickersteth, pp. 149, 150.
But we must lay down our pen, only adding that the remaining chapters of the work are written in the same judicious and excellent spirit, and always for spiritual and The lists of practical edification. books in various departments of divinity, adapted to the studies of different clases of persons, will be found highly serviceable. Amidst the diversity of tastes, and the multiplicity of publications, new and old, no two persons would compile the same lists; but Mr. Bickersteth's are very valuable, and may be consulted with advantage by the advanced as well as incipient theological student. An important feature throughout his book is the affectionate prominence which he has given to the works of the English Reformers, whose writings were far less technical, and more scriptural and redolent of devout and holy feeling, than those of many of their most admired successors. We need scarcely repeat that a deep spirit of piety, of love to God and to man, and an elevated toneof scriptural sentiment, breathe throughout this as well as all the author's other writings.
Jewish History vindicated from the unscriptural View of it displayed in the History of the Jews, forming a Portion of the Family Library; a Sermon preached before the University of Oxford. By
the Rev. GODFREY FAUSSETT, But with all the faults of Mr.
DD. Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity. Oxford. 1830.
WE perused the work alluded to in this sermon, at its first publication, and were so deeply afflicted at its contents, that we were proceeding to draw up a somewhat full reply to its exceptionable statements, and only waited till we could go through the details with the care and at the length which appeared to us desirable to counteract its evil tendency. In the mean time, the celebrity of the reputed author, Mr. Milman, and the character of the work itself, have caused it to be so widely canvassed, and its principles to be so fully exposed, that we think it now unnecessary thrice to slay the slain. Our pages not being confined to theological students, but familiarly domesticated in families, we are always unwilling unnecessarily to protrude neological expositions of Scripture, or light and flippant allusions to sacred things, even for the sake of refutation. In the present case, the task is unnecessary; for it is refutation sufficient that the work in question is triumphantly displayed in the windows of Carlile, by the side of Paine's Age of Reason and similar productions. When a work reaches that degradation, we cease to think it requisite to review it. So far as we are concerned, our readers may live and die in happy ignorance of the irreverence with which, under the grave name of history, sacred things may be associated with indecorous images: they may read their matin portion of holy writ, without being haunted through the day with the chilling notion that miracles, if not wholly juggles, are at least only natural phenomena; and retire to rest after their vespers, edified by the faith of saints and patriarchs, without dreaming of sheiks and emirs, commuting prophets into poets, and the champions of Israel into "gallant insurgents and guerilla leaders."
Milman's book, the censure upon it, however severe, ought, in order to be just, to be discriminating. We cannot bring our minds to think him an infidel, or a willing abettor of infidels; and Carlile's "fraternal hug" is a gratuitous insult, which entitles him to sympathy, rather than indignation. The convicted blasphemer rejoices if he can any where collect a stray shred from any decent man's garment to patch the leprous tatters of brutal infidelity; and to pillage an Oxford professor must be doubly glorious. Mr. Milman is wronged by this base appropriation; he strayed upon the borders of the hostile camp; but we would trust unwittingly, not intending really to enlist himself in the ranks of the enemy. Between his purpose and its result we consider it but justice to make this distinction. To say nothing of higher motives, it seems not likely that a clergyman in Professor Milman's station would have alienated his friends, offended the public, and impeded his prospects in life, by the publication of such a work if he had himself fully discerned the tendencies of his own system. He probably intended to write a light and entertaining history, and imagined that the Jewish History might be so treated: that his book would be so dangerous and exceptionable as it is, was no part of his calculations. At the same time, could any man whose views of Divine revelation are what they ought to be have written such a book? He has made the enemies of God to blaspheme; he has nade the hearts of the righteous sad; and he owes it to himself, to the university of Oxford, to the world, and to his God, to make his palinode as public as his offence. He has been animadverted upon in the pulpit of St. Mary's, by a brother professor, in the able and interesting discourse now before us: in the same pulpit should we hear him express his deep regret gladly for what he has written,