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disclosures.” And what is his illustration ? “ Who, for instance, could think for a moment of educing from the pages of revelation any truth to be set by the side of the sublime central fact of the atoning work of Jesus Christ in the matter of man's salvation ? This constitutes the very core of all inspired truth imparted by God to man, and neither time nor eternity will develope anything to supersede or equal it.” Can Professor Bush doubt that a very large and respectable class of scholars, as honest and pious men as the world has ever seen, firm believers in the Gospel of Christ, have wholly failed to see in the Scriptures what he calls “a fundamental and paramount fact,” “ the sublime central fact of the atoning work of Jesus Christ," in his sense of the language? Can it be, that the very core of inspired truth has escaped the view of enlightened and sincere disciples of Jesus Christ? We fear that our author is speaking in his character of implicit obedience to the creed – from the ground of his education and position, and not from his philosophical or critical chair, when he makes these statements. If he would apply the same scholarship, candor, frankness and independence to an examination of the fundamental articles of his theological faith, which he brings to the examination of the doctrine of the resurrection, we have no doubt he would soon find himself in a very different position from that he now occupies, and much more at home. We welcome this work as the forerunner of more important works upon more important subjects from the same quarter. It is our firm conviction that the author cannot stop where he is. He has called
up a spirit which he cannot lay. It is impossible for him to defend the canons of criticism he has proclaimed, without admitting applications of them as fatal to the system of theology with which he is connected, as to the particular dogma against which he has so successfully directed them. On this account, we have been particularly interested in noticing the reception which the work has met from quarters hitherto friendly to the author. And we have not been surprised that his " familiar friends” have “lifted up their heel against ” him. He is rightly regarded by them as bringing a lighted candle into a powder-house. The instinct of self-preservation must incite and authorize the popular school of theology to expel so dangerous a citizen. VOL. XXXVIII. -4TH S. VOL. III. NO. II.
We feel very little astonishment that he should be denounced as undermining the foundation of evangelical faith, and we are mistaken if our author did not anticipate the storm he has brought upon his head. Indeed, if the public that he addressed needed all the elaborate apology and humble deprecation of the first half of this book, Professor Bush, who knew them well, must have also known that no amount of apology would be received for the spirit or the conclusions of the work. A man will not listen to excuses for taking his life. And a theological party cannot be complimented, or reasoned, into patience with an insidious attempt upon their very existence. Our Professor may possibly think himself very ill-used by his orthodox critics. We do not think so. We see very few grounds of sympathy between him and them. He agrees with them upon points which are not brought into argument, but differs upon every point which he discusses. His positive opinions are at variance with theirs ; his negative opinions in accordance. Whenever he makes his negative views positive ones, is there not just reason to suspect that they also will be at variance ?
We had designed to examine the various reviews which this work has received from Orthodox sources. But we find ourselves without room. It is enough to say, that Professor Bush has committed what is deemed an unpardonable sin. He has ventured to doubt whether there may not be error in the popular creed. He has been bold enough to appeal from the artificial creeds of the Church to the Bible, and he has intimated that further inquiry might put many popular opinions under correction. Professor Bush fights too much 66
his own hook” to be very serviceable in the Orthodox ranks. His two-edged sword knows no other enemy
and where he sees her badge he directs his blows. It is not at all surprising to us, that his allies
save us from our friends." The work is written in a flowing and fascinating style. We wish, however, that the writer's classical attainments would not obtrude themselves so much into his Eng. lish style. There are too many Latinisms to be forgiven in this book. We object to the introduction into a dignified theological work, of such foreign phrases as "apropos, par eminence," ” “detenus,” “exposé;
exposé ;” and into any
should put up
book, dignified or undignified, of such unauthorized words “ inerrancy,
“ rectoral," " self-evidencing,” “ difficulted,” and others of the kind. Our author's legitimate vocabulary is so large that he has no excuse for these transgressions; and as we hope often and soon to hear from him, we are interested in their immediate and complete correction and disuse.
H. W. B.
ART. V.-MINISTERING SPIRITS.
There is, of course, but one Object of worship ; one source of all true inspiration, comfort and hope. Whatever comes between him and us, except to draw us nearer to him, must be cast aside as a hindrance to our devotions. But while God is always near, and allows us, in proportion to the purity and elevation of our souls, to hold intercourse with him, he at the same time by the ten thousand ministers of his goodness is training us up for a higher and more perfect communion with himself. All that is beautiful or sublime in nature, the relations of domestic life with its unnumbered joys, anxieties and sorrows, the forms of public and private worship, the Scriptures of truth, the life, death and ascension of Jesus, are among the means, through which he is preparing us for himself. And are there not also “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ? " Is it reasonable to suppose, that the gradation of being, from the zoophyte upward, suddenly ends in man, and that he is separated from those above him by an infinite distance ; or, that it goes on in orderly succession, though under forms which, like electricity, for instance, or the principle of animal and vegetable life, cannot, from their more refined nature, be recognized by our present senses? While “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth," are we to suppose that they take only a passive interest in what concerns us here? If of little children it is said, “ their angels do always behold the face of their Father which is in heaven,” are we to believe, that they have no influence over those whose guardians they are ? If “the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob is the God not of the dead, but of the living," there can be no suspension of life at the grave; and if at the resurrection, which thus speedily ensues, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”, is it a thing incredible, that the spirits of the faithful, who have gone from our midst, are, not only, as angels of God in heaven, permitted to behold, but, as ministers of love and mercy, to wait on and assist, those whom they have left behind ?
The Scriptures do not draw the same sharp line of separation, which our earthly thoughts and modern theologians insist upon, between the living and the dead. We need say nothing of the Old Testament, where the two worlds seem almost interfused and angels join in familiar intercourse with man. In the New Testament the same order of things is recognized. Angels announced the Saviour's birth; in the wilderness “angels came and ministered to him”; in his transfiguration spirits of ancient prophets appeared “talking with him ;” at Gethsemane “ there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him; and as his birth, so also his resurrection was announced by angels. And the ministry of Jesus did not cease with his ascension, but he has promised that “wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there is he in the midst of them.” “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him;" and if like him, we shall retain an interest in those whom we have loved; and why not be permitted to exercise an influence over them for good? This is in harmony with all that we know of God's dealings with his creatures, acting upon them, not only directly by his own spirit, but through agents, seen and unseen, in all the intercourse and relations of life. Besides, the habits and affections, which Christians are enjoined to cherish as a preparation for heaven, are those which bind them most strongly to their fellow-beings, and best fit them to be employed as their sainted guardians and friends.
Neither our philosophy nor our religion is sufficiently comprehensive, to include all the truth which God would impart; and yet whatever comes not within the arbitrary rules that we have established, is rejected or explained away. The words of life are on our lips, but we believe them not.
Straightened by systems of thought which do not take in the whole of man's nature, still less, all the workings of God towards his children, we ask, sometimes arrogantly, and sometimes in sorrow, how these things can be? Our friends, for instance, die. The body, through which alone we have recognized their presence, is resolved into dust. Words, telling of a resurrection and immortal life, are spoken by the grave. But the senses, which have been our teachers and companions, give no response, and we go back to our solitary homes with heavy and desponding hearts. We call up the images of those who are gone, their kind words, and yet kinder acts, and wonder that so much beauty, so much virtue, and the promise of so much usefulness should be permitted to die. We contrast the circumstances of our past with those of our present lot, and are overpowered with grief. The murmurings of the afflicted patriarch come to our lips, and we exclaim, “Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me, when his candle shined upon my head, and my children were about me.” But we are not lifted up so as to behold them in their present condition, and the doctrine of a future immortality is not a deep and settled conviction of the heart. Soon, therefore, grief becomes intolerable; and having buried the dead out of our sight, we shrink from a subject so dark and repulsive. The flood of living events comes on, and, in the tumult of business or pleasure, we seek relief from the thoughts that look in so coldly and so drearily upon us. We strive to forget, and do, in a great measure, thrust out from our minds, those who but a few weeks since were cherished as our dearest friends. Such is the natural effect of this practical unbelief on many, who suppose themselves, and would be thought by others, good and believing Christians.
But there are higher purposes intended in the Providence of God, and often through the pangs of bereavement we are subdued and melted, till humbling ourselves before our Maker, we open our hearts, and receive from him a richer joy than we have lost. So to thousands have their afflictions been sanctified and blessed. But of these there are many who think only of the past and the future, Death is a dark vacuity; a yawning chasm between the life that has been and that which shall be. The present is a vale