« PreviousContinue »
and uninstructive. For though it is admitted that metaphysical reasonings are insufficient to discover to us the foundations of religious truth, without the aid of divine revelation, yet positions have been assumed claiming the support of metaphysics, from which those who maintain them can only be dislodged by the weapons of their own warfare. It is with reference to such positions, sustained by false reasoning, that our author has entered the lists as a metaphysician. His opposing positions appear to us to have been taken with great precision and accuracy, and his reasonings to be conclusive.
President Edwards, in his Treatise on the Will, gave a masterly exposition of the principal forms in which the doctrine of a self-determining power may be met and refuted. "But for some reason or other," as our author remarks, "his view of contingent self-determination appears to have attracted less attention of late, than that particular mode of statement which he resolves into an infinite series of volitions. The doctrine of his opponents was this, That the free acts of the will are not determined to be as they are, by any influence from without the will itself. This was considered by him as involving the alternative, that every volition is determined either by a preceding volition, or by nothing at all. The latter is contingent self-determination. This appeared to him so obviously absurd, as not to call for a logical statement, expanded into the form of a regularly constructed demonstration. To the other branch of the alternative, he has done such ample justice, that the question concerning it may be considered. as definitively settled. This may be one reason why the advocates of a self-determining power in the will, adhere so tenaciously to that form of the doctrine which implies contingence, as being the only ground left, on which they can hope to maintain their position."
It is to the refutation of those who, on this ground, have evaded the conclusions of Pres. Edwards's reasoning, that Pres. Day has directed the powers of his well disciplined mind; and his success, we think, is entirely triumphant. He has demonstrated that, "if nothing from without the will of the agent can have any influence in determining what his volitions shall be, then it must be beyond the power of the Father of our spirits to give direction to the acts of the will, without interfering with the prerogative of accountable agency. Omnipotence itself cannot work contradictions. When that inexplicable power, the human will, has once been set a going, it must, according to the doctrine of some, be suffered to run on for ever, throwing off its volitions by contingent efficiency, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, by any thing from without itself."
One happy result that we anticipate from the publication of this volume is, that it will lead theological combatants to see how much of their differences arises from the use of ambiguous language. The precision of the author in his definitions of terms, and the candor and
fairness with which he treats his opponents, are examples worthy of imitation; and his discussion of the topics embraced in this volume, we think, cannot fail to exert a correcting, an enlightening, and a healing influence, wherever it shall be attentively read and candidly weighed.
2.-The Sin against the Holy Ghost, explained agreeably to the Holy Scriptures. By Lewis Mayer, D. D. Late Professor in the Theol. Sem. of the Germ. Ref. Church in the United States. Baltimore: Lucas & Beaver, 1838. pp. 42.
This is an Essay of uncommon merit, and furnishes interesting evidence that the learned author, having retired from his professorship in the Theol. Sem, of the Germ. Ref. Church, is still turning his biblical studies to an important practical account. A right understanding of the nature and characteristics of the sin against the Holy Ghost, is one of the most difficult and perplexing points of practical theology. It is a point, too, on which the unlearned and unstable have wrested the Scriptures more than on most others. Dr. Mayer's discussion is wholly biblical, and his views are presented with great clearness and precision. He discriminates between the sin against the Holy Ghost, described Matt. 12: 31, 32. Mark 3: 28–30. Luke 12: 10, and another unpardonable sin of which mention is made in the first epistle of John and in Heb. 6: 6 and 10: 26-29, with which the sin against the Holy Ghost has often been confounded. He dissents from those interpreters who place the commission of this sin only in defamatory words, and proves conclusively that it was not committed by the scribes and pharisees, when they reviled Jesus, saying "He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils." His position is, that "The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost was the malicious reviling of the testimony which the Holy Ghost bare to the divine mission of Jesus and the truth of Christianity, in his miraculous operations in the church, after he was come in Christ's stead." This sin he regards not as a single transient act or deed of excessive enormity, but a permanent disposition of mind and manner of acting, which terminates only with the end of life; by which the person who so demeaned himself set at naught all the evidence of the truth of Christianity, even the testimony of the Holy Spirit, with all the light and comfort which accompanied it, and consequently shut himself out from faith and repentance." It is unpardonable," because it wholly excludes all faith in Christ, and consequently all repentance and conversion to God."
This view of the subject is not new. It is substantially that of Whitby; but it is more fully sustained in this Essay, by an ample induction of Scripture proof, than we have seen it elsewhere. We rejoice, therefore, in its publication in a form in which it may be extensively read.
3.-Discourse in Commemoration of the Glorious Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, delivered before the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of West Pennsylvania. By S. S. Schmucker, D. D. Professor of Theology in the Theol. Sem. Gettysburg, Pa. New York: Gould & Newman, 1838. pp. 131. 12mo.
This Discourse was prepared by appointment of the synod before which it was delivered, and in compliance with a resolution of that body recommending that a discourse on the Reformation be annually delivered by each member of the synod before the people of his charge, and that one such discourse be annually delivered before the synod. It is worthy of the form in which it is now given to the public, in a neat and convenient volume, and well sustains the repu tation of the author as a judicious and good writer.
After a brief statement of the "spiritual tyranny under which the whole civilized world was groaning" at the commencement of the Reformation, and "a few considerations to show that the period for this event was wisely chosen by the Head of the Church," the discourse announces and discusses the following as among the distinguishing features of the Reformation :-I. It gave us free access to the uncorrupted fountain of truth and duty, God's holy word, as our only infallible rule of faith and practice.-II. It has delivered the church from a multitude of doctrinal and practical corruptions.-III. Has given us liberty of conscience and freedom from religious persecution-IV. Has delivered the civil government of the countries which embraced it from papal tyranny, and has given a new impulse to civil liberty, which has been felt in every kingdom of Europe."
Under the last head our author presents, and sustains by authentic documents and history, the following established principles of popery, which have led to her encroachments on civil liberty in other countries, and must also do so in our own country if she should be permitted to prevail.-"1. The popes actually do claim, at this day, jurisdiction over the highest civil governments in the world.-2. They undertake to depose civil rulers, and to absolve the people from their allegiance to their own civil governments, even if they had formally pledged that allegiance by an oath.-3. Romish ecclesiastics, priests, monks, and nuns, claim exemption from the civil jurisdiction of the governments under which they live.-4. Their priests, etc. are under such oaths to the pope and his kingdom, as render them necessarily unfaithful to the civil liberties of any country."
The positions of Dr. S. are bold and uncompromising; but they are well supported, and his argument throughout is conducted in a spirit of candor and kindness, which, unhappily, has not sufficiently characterized some recent American publications on the Catholic controversy. We are glad to see that the subject of the Reformation, and of the blessings, both civil and religious, which have resulted
from that great event, has become so prominent an object of attention in the Lutheran church. Their example is worthy the emulation of other denominations of Christians.
4.-A New Tribute to the Memory of James Brainerd Taylor.New York: John S. Taylor, 1838. pp. 440.
The subject of this tribute was one of the most interesting and useful young men who have adorned the church of Christ in any age or country. He was called to his reward in a better world in the spring of 1829, and in the spring time of his life and promise. He died at the age of twenty-eight, having, but a few months previous, completed his education as a candidate for the christian ministry, and received license to preach the gospel. But the hand of God was upon him. The malady which terminated his life, arrested him at the very commencement of his labors in the office which he had long sought with the most lively and glowing hope of usefulness to his fellow men. Yet it cannot be said of him, that he obtained the prize without running the race. During the whole progress of his preparation for the higher sphere of usefulness and duty to which he aspired, he was intent upon doing good in all the circles in which he moved. His life, though brief and principally expended in preparation for a class of labors which he was never permitted to per form, was nevertheless most usefully employed, and the memory of it remains, as a burning and a shining light, to extend and perpetuate its influences upon the cause to which it was solemnly and religiously devoted.
The "Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor" commenced by the late Dr. Rice of Virginia and completed by his brother, Rev. B. H. Rice, D. D. of Princeton, N. J., has been several years before the public, has passed through several editions and been extensively read. The design of the compilers of the Memoir was to exhibit his religious character and example to candidates for the christian ministry, as models for their imitation. Of its adaptation to such a de sign too much cannot be said in its praise. It is worthy of the estimation in which it is held, and of the extensive circulation it has acquired. The " New Tribute" to his memory embraces a larger design, and exhibits many "additional breathings" of the pure spirit of young Taylor, recorded by his own pen, and more minute descriptions illustrative of his character," and the particulars that entered into combination to form that character; together with a more graphic account of the last scenes of his brief and holy and happy life." The author is anonymous; but his intimate acquaintance with the subject of his sketches, and the ardor with which he enters into the spirit of it, betray the kindness and affection of a brother, and give additional interest to the work. It contains also materials which were not adapted to the specific design of the "Memoir," and is en
riched by extracts from an additional Number of Mr. Taylor's Diary, (which has been found,) of greater interest than any before published. We commend it to our readers, as well worthy the patronage which we trust it will receive.
5.-Wanderings and Adventures in the Interior of South Africa. By Andrew Steedman. In two Volumes. London : 1835. pp. 330, 358.
These volumes contain a great variety of information acquired by the author in the course of a ten years' residence at Cape Town. During that time he traversed most of the interior of Southern Africa, principally, as he informs us, " for amusement and information," and obtained an extensive collection of its productions in natural history. Among these were several new and undescribed animals. The incidents and adventures which occurred under his own observation were carefully preserved in a journal and compose the thread of his narrative, which is, at once, credible, entertaining and instructive. His accounts of the benefits resulting from the labors of the Wesleyan missionaries among the Caffres are gratifying and encouraging to the friends of missions, and the moral influence of the work, no less than the variety and value of its information, is such as to commend it to a favorable reception. Several of the scenes of the narrative are illustrated by lithographic and wood engravings, beautifully executed, and the whole is accompanied with a map of southern Africa, supplying the most recent geographical information of that country. We are happy to learn that these volumes have been recently introduced into the American market, and may be purchased of J. S. Taylor of New York, and other booksellers.
6.-A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language, containing the Accentuation, the Grammatical Inflections, the irregular words referred to their themes, the parallel terms from the other Gothic languages, the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon in English and Latin, and copious English and Latin Indexes, serving as a Dictionary of English and Anglo-Saxon, as well as of Latin and English, with a long Preface, a Map of Languages, and the essentials of the Grammar. By the Rev. J. Bosworth, D. P., B. D., F. R. S., etc. etc. London: 1837. pp. 900.
In our Number for October, 1837, we gave a brief statement of existing efforts in England to promote the study of the Anglo-Saxon language. Among the names to which we alluded was that of Mr. Bosworth. This gentleman, now British chaplain at Rotterdam, has long been known as an indefatigable student. He published many