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application; its uncompromising condemnation of every species of vice; and all this, as forming a part of a prospective scheme for man's benefit, developed at once as perfect and complete, and viewed with the greatest advantage from the true situation of man, as encompassed with weakness, misery, and sorrow; are strikingly exhibited, and leave it scarcely possible to doubt that such a system has its origin in a Being of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power.
The application of this argument to the case of evidence is one of analogy, and is thus pointed out by
"Contrivance for the benefit of man, pervades the works of God in creation. The world was made for such a being as man, and for no other. The order of the seasons, the necessity of labour and forethought to make the earth fruitful; the warningsthe natural warnings-given us of the consequences of such and such conduct; the prospective arrangements and compensations apparent in the daily order of human events, are parts of God's moral government, which are adapted to man; to his accountableness, to his capacities for observation, to his various faculties and powers. The natural world, also, is suited to his peculiar wants and his means of receiving knowledge; the light is adapted to his eye-the beauties around him, to his perception of pleasure-the products of the earth, to his various appetites the remedies with which nature abounds, to his diseases. All is adaptation to his circumstances, in the world around him, and in the providential government of God: all affects his relation with other men as a moral and social being-all has influence on self-preservation, and the pursuit (desire ?) of happiness implanted in his breast by the Almighty Man perceives and admires this suitableness: it is one of the noblest offices of philosophy to point out the particular in. dications of it. In proportion as these are more clear and express, as they converge from more distant and unlooked-for quarters, and bear more particularly on man's happiness, is the evidence of Divine contrivance. In like manner, it will be found, that in the matter and form of
Divine revelation, there is an adaptation as clear, as widely spread over all the parts of it, as various and important in its bearings upon human happiness, converging from points as distant and unlooked for, as in the works of the same Divine Architect in creation. The book of nature and the book of revelation are
written by the same Divine hand, and bear evident traces of the same manner and style. So that as the performances of a great painter are recognized by a similarity of outline and colouring, and by other peculiarities of his art, the books of nature and Christianity are recognized as performances of the same Divine Artist, by the similarity of adaptation and contrivance for the faculties and wants of the beings for whose use they were designed." Pp. 11-13.
In the course of this lecture Mr. Wilson assumes, but we think incorrectly, that the great principles of what is called natural religion, are supposed in the Scriptures to be already known. He remarks: fect God-the creation of the world by "The being of one Almighty and perhim out of nothing-the immortal and accountable nature of man-a future state of rewards and punishments-the obliga tion of loving, worshipping, and obeying God-the several branches of duty to our fellow-creatures: these principles revelation scarcely ever formally declares, much less stops to prove. It looks on them as known-it considers them as sufficiently established by the works of creation, the fragments of man's moral nature, the tradition of the original revelation, the voice of conscience." p. 16.
This is a liberal concession to "natural religion;" but we doubt whether it can be either justly or safely allowed. If such discoveries as are here stated could have been made without a revelation, or if, in point of fact, any system of Divine knowledge such as is here supposed, had been established in any part of the pagan world, then Deism would have firmer ground to stand upon, and revealed religion would be supported by fewer arguments, than we had imagined. That traditional accounts, derived from original revelation, of the being of a God, of the creation of the world, and other facts, were prevalent every where, we readily admit; and from this source we may account for those insulated passages in the writings of pagan philosophers, which speak of a Supreme Being, of his unity, his attributes, his works, even with grandeur and sublimity; but these are detached, occasional, indefinite, and plainly indicate the source from. which they were derived,-they
were the fruit, not of the philosopher's native intuition, but of information obtained through other channels. Had they been selforiginated, they would probably have been connected with other facts of a corresponding nature, and have issued in something like a rational and uniform, though defective, system of religion. But nothing of this kind ever appeared in the absence of revealed truth. All that Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and the wisest sages of former days ever knew of God, of creation, of providence, was derived from others, and was like broken fragments of an ancient structure built by other hands: they were incoherent sentiments, relics of old traditions, and intermixed with the most absurd conceits and palpable contradictions. They had a portion of light; but it served only to make their darkness visible. It was a meteor, gliding across their bewildered path,-it shewed them their error, but not the way to extricate themselves from it. Whenever they attempted to reduce their notions to a system, they always left off with Polytheism, Pantheism, or Atheism. The original, eternal, and independent existence of matter and spirit, and the never-to-be-disputed axiom of "Nihil ex nihilo fit," ever haunted and bewildered them; and every attempt to attain to that degree of knowledge which writers on natural religion, so called, have been so ready to compliment them with, has issued in a fresh comment on the scriptural aphorism, that "the world by wisdom knew not God."
While, however, we deny to Deists the advantage which the above concession would afford their cause, we readily admit that the matters referred to do not constitute the grand peculiarities of the Holy Scriptures; and also that, when revealed, they fall in with the natural reason and moral percep tions of man: and this is all that Mr. Wilson's argument required,
and probably the most that he intended; but his statement, we think, is too broad, and would take from Christianity a portion of the clearest internal evidence of its Divine origin. It strikes, especially, at the root of the masterly argument, conducted with equal learning, acuteness, and research, by Dr. Ellis, in his treatise "on the Knowledge of Divine Things," and thus deprives us of one of the most ready and conclusive anti-infidel publications in the English language, scarcely excepting Leslie's "Short Method with the Deists." Too much concession has been made by writers on natural religion: some especially of that semi-deistical age which Mr. Wilson has referred to in a passage before quoted, have conceded too much to the innate and unassisted powers of fallen man. Reason has been almost deified, and scarcely any thing, except the very peculiarities of Christianity, has been thought beyond its reach. Hence, assuming that these facts which the Bible alone has brought to light, are discoverable by merely human intellect and research, and having lighted their torch, indirectly if not directly, at the altar of revealed religion, but concealing, or being ignorant of, the source of their illumination, they have boasted of their self-created light, and spurned at the Scriptures as pretending to discover that to man which, without their superfluous aid, he could have acquired for himself. Nothing can be imagined further from the thoughts of Mr. Wilson than that any thing he has written could give countenance to such presumption; but we fear that his very liberal admissions in favour of natural religion might be thus misapplied.
The next lecture is on "the excellencies of the doctrines of
We are happy to say, that the honourable mention made of Dr. Ellis's work by the present Bishop of Durham, in his it from the too great neglect into which it Bampton Lectures, has assisted to rescue had fallen. To us it has ever been a ext-book.
Christianity," the argument from which, as applied to the truth of revealed religion, is, that those doctrines are of so superlative a nature as to carry with them the conviction that they must proceed from God. The discussion is conducted with great ability, and leads most satisfactorily to the intended conclusion. After a lucid exhibition of what he considers "the chief doctrines of the Christian religion," Mr. Wilson points out the manner in which they display "their Divine excellency." One of their most remarkable features is "the harmony of their parts," taken in connexion with the various writers, and the distant periods in which the different parts were written: for though the penmen were various, it is clear that one Master-mind was the constant dictator; and this could be none other than He who knew the end from the beginning, and had the whole plan before him when the very first sentence was recorded. The importance and copiousness of this argument, as an internal evidence, might well have sustained a whole lecture; but the point has been well and frequently handled, and this may have been Mr. Wilson's reason for reducing his notice of it within a narrow compass.
An expression occurs in this lecture (p. 64) which Mr. Wilson will probably alter in the next edition, "a God bleeding, agonizing." We recollect Acts xx. 28, but the passage would scarcely sustain the expression. Socinian writers are constantly taking advantage of strong expressions of this kind, to object against the orthodox doctrine, as if it were meant that the Godhead suffered; and not the manhood, which, after a mysterious manner, was united to it.
"The unspotted purity of the Christian morals," is the subject of the sixteenth lecture; and certainly, if any thing can prove the Divine origin of our holy religion, it must be the stamp of the Divine character which is impressed upon it.
Nothing less than perfect holiness could have given birth to such spotless purity. This argument is not only decisive in itself, but is easy to be understood, and carries along with it a sort of intuitive conviction of its truth. Mr. Wilson has left scarcely any thing to be added on this interesting topic. The system of morals is perfect, whether we regard the extent of its demands, or the purity of its precepts; the standard of duty, or the means of rising to it; the principle from which all obedience emanates, or the motives by which it is excited;" the inseparable connexion of every part, or the entireness of heart which is essential to uniformity of conduct. Mr. Wilson does not fail to connect Christian morals with Christian doctrines, and to shew that the union is essential and indissoluble. love of Christ constrains to obedience, and the promises and privileges of the Gospel are attached and appropriate only to a dutiful state of mind. Every thing in Christianity is calculated to promote its own sublime morality; and whether we regard the happiness of heaven, or are influenced by the terrors of hell, both states afford their sanction to moral obedience.
This lecture, independently of the argument which it affords to the truth of Christianity, will be read by the Christian for its practical Divinity. He will endeavour, as powerfully urged by our author, to bring his tempers, affections, desires, motives, objects, and habits, to the blessed ordeal of spiritual religion; by which he will discover his daily defects and low attainments. Thus will his soul be humbled in the dust, and he will have recourse to the fountain that was opened for sin and impurity: he will pray with more earnestness for the cleansing influences of the Holy Spirit, and aim with greater singleness of heart at a perfect conformity to the will of God.
(To be concluded in the Appendix.)
The Clerical Portrait: a Word of Advice to the Young Divine (preceded by an Introductory Letter to the Under-Graduate). By the Rev. GEORGE HUGHES, Curate of Horningsheath. Second Edition. London. 1829.
IT is one of the favourable signs of the present times (and an auspicious feature it is, amidst much abounding evil), that there is evinced by our bishops and clergy a growing sense of the importance of the duties, responsibilities, and qualifications, of their sacred office. Episcopal and archidiaconal charges, and visitation sermons, are not, so much as they once were, comments on acts of parliament; explanations of an ambiguous rubric; expositions of the powers and duties of some ecclesiastical officer; exhortations to establish one society or school, in order to oppose another; recom. mendations to petition the legislature; attacks on Dissenters; philippics against the so-called Evangelical clergy; or misquotations and mistranslations of the Genevese Reformer. These topics have had their day, or rather their night, of ignorance; and are, it is earnestly hoped, gone by for ever.
Nor are the works, written for the guidance of the younger clergy, less remarkable for the improvement in their subject-matter. In many instances, advice is contained in them, which, in the absence of inspiration, a Paul might glory to have written, and a Timothy might be benefited to receive. The efforts made, through the press, to damp their zeal, secularize their habits, and prostitute their talents to the service of the world, the flesh, and the devil, have not indeed ceased; but in general a higher standard is tolerated, both in personal and official conduct, than was a few years since set up even in some professedly respectable, and even orthodox, quar. ters. We have fewer denouncements in terrorem pietatis clericæ,
under the name of Calvinism or Methodism; and writers on the pastoral character, we would hope, learn to approximate more nearly to the unbending requirements of the Bible, as they affect the minister of Christ in his relations to his flock. Even in some instances in which there may be yet much to learn, many of the doctrines of the New Testament are stated with an earnestness, and its duties enforced with a seriousness, and in almostEvangelical language, which prove a growing seriousness and increas ing light, and that the inquirer is "not far from the kingdom of God." The writer or preacher who undertakes to delineate the character of the ambassador of Christ, and to advise the man of God, must be tried by a high standard; we not unjustly expect far more than we usually look for in the guide of youth, or the servant's friend. He should be a Moses to his Joshua, an Eli to his Samuel, a Jeremiah to his Baruch, a Paul to his Timothy, and a Peter. to his Mark. He should be "an example" to those whom he pre-. sumes to counsel, "in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity;" a veteran in the service, bold for God, and valiant for the faith; "a workman that. needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth;" having not only the form of godliness, but the power. He must speak "the things which become sound doctrine:" " in all things shewing " himself " a pattern of good works :" in doctrine shewing" uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity," and "sound speech that cannot be condemned.” "These things" he must "teach and exhort" otherwise he is "proud," "knowing nothing" of what he professes to teach others, "but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings," railing against the brethren, evil speaking of good works, abusing things that he understands not; and, instead of being a "guide of the
blind, a light of them that are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes;" he is a "blind leader of the blind," a destroyer of the faith which he should build up, a subverter of the soul, and a troubler of the Israel of God. We do not mean these harsh epithets for the writer whose book on pastoral duties lies before us, and which contains many things that are excellent, though some also which we cannot approve. We regret, for example, that, in a work, professedly written for the instruction of the "young divine," such expressions as the following are found; namely, "that all committed to `your charge may be found worthy of salvation, through your humble efforts, under the only merits of the Cross, at the judgment-seat of Christ;"" that there is another sacrament (the Lord's Supper) ordained, whereby his strength may be renewed, his penitence accepted, and his sins forgiven;" and "where those sins, repented of, may be forgiven, under the atoning merits of the Redeemer." "Afflictions, you will teach your hearers, are in mercy sent to wean them from this life, and to fix their attention on that better world, whither their friends are gone before them." "Man is by nature prone to sin; but if he do not wilfully trespass on the Divine mercy-if he involuntarily fall from the grace bestowed upon him, and bring his contrite heart to the altar, plead his own unworthiness, and pray for remission through the merits of his Saviour's blood, you are instructed to assure him the threat will not be visited upon him, -his offering will be once more accepted, his sin once more forgiven." "The supplications we offer to our God whenever we are assembled together to keep his Sabbath, and publicly to express our adoration of the mercies of his providence, are the fittest, we may presume to assert, for sinful man to use; the worthiest sacrifice finite can make to Infinite, the creation to his Creator." "Christ
came to instruct us how we might endure, by painting in the most glowing colours the reward of that endurance, to stamp a new value upon virtue," &c. "When" Philip "had wrought conversion upon the Ethiopian's soUL," &c. Such is, to say the least, the confused view of the writer on such solemn points, as to the way of acceptance with God, the nature of the sacraments, the Christian sacrifice, the reward of grace, and the agency of man in his own and in others' salvation.
Our author is equally unsafe as a guide to the young parish-priest. With regard, for instance, to his intercourse with certain classes of his parishioners, he says, "Now as to the rich, I have met with some clergymen who make it a sacred duty never to join the social circle; who decline all communion with the rich:" "I am so far from wishing to impute error to those whose conduct is the converse of these selfexiled clergymen, that I side, and without a moment's hesitation, with the social division." "Surely the rich have also characters to be studied, errors to be corrected, and sorrows to be healed." "The cheerful society of the evening will effect this." "Wherefore did our Divine Teacher enter the habitations of the Pharisee, sit at meat with him, and mingle in the general festivities?"-With regard to these alleged voluntary exiles, who never join the social circle, we have never met with them: we should grieve to credit that there are any clergymen who would not deny themselves, if, by occasionally visiting their richer parishioners, they thought they could promote their spiritual welfare. But what is usually understood by the "social circle" and the "cheerful evening," is not the most likely means to accomplish this good object, or even to "heal the sorrows" of the mind. Nor did we ever know that any persons supposed that our Saviour's going once to the table of a Pharisee could be contorted to his mingling with the general