« PreviousContinue »
upon Peter or his pretended successors, | ignorance; it is opposed to the doctrine They do not mention successors, and all and discipline of Christ's apostles; and pretence of succession, founded on those yet it calls itself the one, holy, catholic words, and all assumption of authority and apostolic church of Christ. Aniby any such pretended successors found- mated by the most gigantic ambition, it ed on them, is usurpation. The power has already made potentates and parof the keys depended exclusively upon liaments bend their knees to its proud inspiration. As inspired men the tiara, and aims at nothing less than the apostles could pronounce with certainty subjugation of the whole world. Three what characters God would forgive or tortured texts, like racked prisoners in condemn, and by the nature of the case its ecclesiastical dungeons, have been the power must terminate with the forced by it to support usurpations inspiration on which it rested. In which their plain and natural meaning other words, neither Peter nor any condemns. Thus sanctioned, it calls other apostle could convey this power itself the church of Christ, and with a of the keys to any other men, since they hardihood which eclipses the daring of could not convey the inspiration with all other usurpers, it has raised its unwhich the power was identified." authorized precepts to an equality with the laws of God, proclaiming that whoever disobeys them is guilty of mortal sin.
Having subsequently shown that the church of Rome is neither the church of Christ, nor any second universal church appointed and owned by Him, Mr. Noel asks, “What is it then?" To this question he replies, "It is the mixed multitude of a city swarming with soldiers, spies, and sbirri, where the use of the bible is prohibited to the common people, and where civil and religious liberty is denied. It is a church the members of which so hate each other, that the bishop would be immediately expelled, amidst revolutionary uproar, from the city which he misgoverns, if the church were not coerced by a French garrison. 2. It has become, by the bold pretensions of its clergy, 'the mother and mistress' of many corrupt churches, which it has subjected to its dominion, and with which it forms what it erroneously terms the Roman catholic church. 3. This Roman catholic church, composed of the church of Rome and its adherents, is a church whose members have murdered one another by thousands in bloody wars. I have shown it to be unholy from its centre to its circumference; its catholicity has been won by force and fraud acting upon mediaval
By this proud claim to be the one true church, it denies the rights of the church of Christ; whom it vilifies as an impostor, whose crown it has trampled in the dust, whose throne it has usurped, upon whose members in all evangelical churches it has heaped its invectives, and to whom it has been through ages an imperious rival and a deadly foe."
These are views with which English Christians ought to familiarize themselves: if they are not acquainted with them already they should make themselves masters of the subject without delay. We shall not repent having given so long a notice of so small a book, if we should learn that in consequence of it, our readers in great numbers purchase and peruse the series of which it is a commencement. Mr. Noel may be trusted. He thoroughly understands the subject, and he perceives its importance. A man in his position has immense advantages too in treating with Romanists, over men who are fettered by articles of human device, or chargeable with unscriptural practices. His sword is "the sword of the Spirit,"
and he wields it with the skill of one who has long been accustomed to the exercise. We are thankful for that providential dispensation which has called him to this engagement, and we hope that wherever our opinion is valued this notice will have its legitimate effect. We are not afraid of baptized believers emigrating to Rome; but we are afraid of houses on the road thither, in which they may be induced to sojourn, and where their children will be prepared for a transfer of their allegiance to "the mother and mistress of all churches."
MIRACLES may be viewed in various aspects. They may be regarded simply as miracles-the production, that is, of results by other means than the ordinary laws of nature. They may be viewed as attesting the supernatural authority of him who performs them. They may be viewed as bearing witness to the disposition of the worker, according as they are beneficent or otherwise. They may be viewed in the light of the influence they exert on the mind of the beholder. They may in some instances be regarded as parabolic; as in the case of the withered fig-tree, and, perhaps, the cleansed lepers, and the restored demoniacs. Dr. Cumming in the work before us regards them in another light; and seeks in this exposition of them to bring them before us in this other aspect. He views them as being all of a typical nature, and as all typifying the same fact-the complete final restoration of nature to its
pristine condition. In his own words, he seeks "to set forth as fully as possible the redemptive character of the miracles of our Lord;" "to show that they were not mere feats of power or proofs of divine beneficence, but installations of the future age-specimens on a smaller scale of what will be realized when the predictions of the two last chapters the Apocalypse shall have become of actualized in full and lasting fact." In corroboration of this view he asserts "that the miracles of our Lord were not simply acts of power, or expressions of beneficence, but that they were earnests, forelights, pledges of the grand and universal emancipation that will yet dawn upon the world." And he further affirms, that "no act of Jesus was finished when it was done; but it was significative of a greater act yet to be;" "whatever Jesus did, especially, was significant of something brighter and better that Jesus will do."
We have given the Doctor's own words, that there may be no misapprehension of his theory. The same statements are made in different parts of his lectures; but unfortunately Dr.Cumming does not think it necessary to advance any authority for this explanation of Christ's miracles, and as we are not aware that there is conveyed to us in the scripture that records them any intimation that this is the correct mode of their interpretation, we find it somewhat difficult to bring our minds to coincide with the arrangement. We understand how the miracles Christ wrought, evidencing a heart grieving over the consequences of man's sin, manifesting amazing compassion for the sinner, and testifying of infinite wisdom and power, suggest to us, as a probability, that He will bring about the complete restoration of a fallen world. But this is by no means what Dr. Cumming says or means. He regards them, and each and all of them,
of what constitutes a type are very vague, or the Bible, to our minds, if it teaches this may be made to teach anything else: ingenuity is required and little beside.
Dr. Cumming in this theory of interpretation supplies us with a criterion of the divine origin of miracles; and this he does in so many words, and repeatedly. "All true heavenly miracles have this one grand feature: they have a redemptive character; they go to counteract and reverse the effects of the fall." Now is this criterion the result of independent and sufficiently extensive
as intended specifically to convey the one truth, that this restoration is to be effected; and though in many cases unquestionably the possibility of such significance holds, in other instances it requires, we think, all the Doctor's ingenuity and rhetorical ability to draw it out and make it plain. We confess that in the miracles of turning water into wine, of feeding the five and the three thousand, of the draught of fishes, and of the withered fig-tree, the relation to this truth is not self-evident to our minds; and in the case of Christ's hushing the tempest and bringing the ship immediately to land, we will pre-induction; or is it a hasty generalization sent our readers with the author's own explanation. "When he walked upon the yielding waves, and beckoned to the obedient winds, and the former slumbered at his feet like gentle babes, and the latter came to him like his own hired servants, he then showed that he was creation's Lord, about to retune creation's tangled strings, and bring it back again like an Eolian harp, to its ancient order and perfection when God's Spirit shall sweep over it, and bring out glorious and inexhaustible melody." All this may be true; but we still doubt whether it was the intention of Christ to teach it when he performed the miracle. Dr. Cumming, however, states it; and his faith in the significance of miracles goes even further, for we afterwards find him saying, in reference to the expression, "He delivered him to his mother," in the narration of the raising the widow's son from death-"there may be in this-and I am sure that there is in it-a type and foretaste of that which shall be at the grand resurrection of the pious dead," "when every restored son shall be delivered to the rejoicing mother, and the joy that was felt in the house at Nain shall only be a dim, dim forelight of that intenser joy that shall be felt in the heavenly home," &c. Now either Dr. Cumming's views
thrown out to support his hypothesis? obviously the latter; for its effect must be to set aside the vast majority of the Old Testament miracles. Where, for instance, is the redemptive character of Moses' leprous hand, of the plagues of Egypt, of the sun and moon standing still, of the earthquake engulfing Koran Dathan, and Abiram, of the sun going, back on the dial of Ahaz,-of a host of others? But passing by this, he says, "If we try every miracle performed by our Lord by this test we shall find it stand." Is this so? We acknowledge we wondered how this should be made to appear in the case of the withered fig-tree; and this is the solution we found. "The selection of this tree, even by its sacrifice and destruction, to convey a new lesson to mankind, is an instalment and foreshadow of that glorious epoch when nature shall hear the last trump, and rise from her degradation and her ruin, and become the mighty lesson-book from which a vast and redeemed population shall learn new and glorious lessons of the goodness, and mercy, and beneficence of God." Is this sufficient? does this constitute a redemptive character? we are at a loss then to know what miracle is not redemptive. Our author, however, in another lecture supplies us with
such an instance. He says of the feeding the five thousand, "But in this miracle that was not a restorative or redemptive act, but clearly a creative act of power." According to Dr. Cumming, therefore, were he consistent with himself, this was no "true, heavenly miracle."
We assure our readers that it has been with much reluctance that we have been compelled to write as we have done. We took up the book with a somewhat firm hope that though we differ from Dr. Cumming on some points, yet that in treating of the miracles of Christ, his great power of representing and re-animating absent and bygone events, and his ability to draw out interesting lessons from everyday life, would have produced a book which we should peruse with pleasure. To say that there is not much instruction and much valuable practical remark to be met with in the volume, would be as far from the truth as to say that the volume, on the whole, commends itself to us. There is too much unsupported assertion; too much assertion supported by mere shadowy arguments; too frequent an intrusion of altogether extraneous matter; and to our minds, what is of far less importance, a too
great heaping up and mixing of not very original or tasteful figures. Dr. Cumming might perhaps excuse his lectures on the ground that they were printed from a reporter's notes taken as they were delivered. But we submit this is not enough. The world was not so anxious for another of his volumes as to prevent him from revising it before he committed it to the press. And no man, and especially no man occupying such a position as Dr. Cumming, has a right to thrust his crudities upon the public; and emphatically so, in relation to religion and religious evidences, and at a time like the present, when every false plea is eagerly seized upon by the opponents and the corrupters of Christianity. To us it appears that such a work as that before us is calculated to shake rather than to confirm the faith of the intelligent young men who may come within the sphere of its influence. This remark does not refer only to the main idea on which we have been commenting; but to many other subordinate matters treated of (as on page 337,) to which we have not time now to refer. Dr. Cumming announces a companion volume on the Parables, in which we hope he will take the opportunity to correct the erroneous impressions which his present work is calculated to leave.
Biblical Antiquities, with some Collateral Subjects, illustrating the Language, Geography, and Early History of Palestine. By the Rev. F. A. Cox, D.D., LL.D. With Maps and numerous Engravings. London: Griffin and Co. Crown 8vo. Pp. 502.
This volume constitutes one of the valuable series now being issued in the form of the Second Edition of the "Enclycopædia Metropolitana." It furnishes us with the results of the most recent investigations in this most important field of biblical inquiry. Many portions of the volume are very valuable; in
particular those relating to the geography and natural history of Palestine. The account of modern Judaism also, which the author fears may be regarded as somewhat irrelevant, is in our view so excellent and bears so closely on the general subject as fully to warrant its insertion. Nearly two hundred well executed wood-cuts add very greatly to the utility of the book; which for its condensed comprehensiveness is the best, as it certainly is the most readable, book on the subject in our language. Chronological tables and an index enhance the worth of the volume,
The New Biblical Atlas, and Scripture Gazetteer; with descriptive Notices of the Tabernacle and the Temple. London: Religious Tract Society. Imp. 8vo. Pp. 96. Twelve large and well executed maps are comprised in this Atlas. The atlas is based on the "Bible Atlas" of Heinrich Keipert, of Berlin, who executed the maps for Dr. Robinson's "Biblical Researches; the works of Berghaus, Ritter, Schubert, &c., having also been consulted. A peculiarity of the work consists in a valuable map of the physical geography of Palestine and the adjacent countries, constructed expressly for this Atlas by Petermann. An accurate and interesting description of each map accompanies it; plans of the tabernacle and temple, and a copious scripture gazetteer also adding to the utility of the work. It is a pity, however, that such valuable maps should be sent out into this rough world protected only by a paper cover. The Synoptical Dictionary of Scripture Parallels and References: being an Index of the Texts of Scripture, classified according to their Sense under an Alphabetical List of the Various Subjects contained in the Bible: each Article being concluded with an illustrative Series of Appropriate Historical Examples: forming thus a Methodical Summary of the Principles, the Doctrines, the Precepts, and the Facts of Scripture: and comprising the most complete Collection of Parallels and References. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 8vo. Pp. 302.
The elaborate title-page sufficiently explains the nature of the work, and it only remains for us to say that the author has in general wellexecuted the task he assigned himself, and that in our opinion, the volume is calculated to be of good service to the biblical student. The book differs from the ordinary common-place books of the scriptures in that they are generally founded on some theological arrangement, whilst this is based on a simple alphabetical classification; and in that they put before us the language of the texts quoted, whereas this presents us with its purport in a few words. It thus furnishes at one view, in a sort of tabular form, the meaning of the various passages of scripture relating to any given subject; having thus a very great advantage over the ordinary lists of parallel texts. In the execution of the work the author has shown great impartiality, and so far as we have followed him, and this somewhat minutely, great general correctness. We should have been pleased had there been in some cases a somewhat more logical classification of the various subjects,-genera and species being frequently made co-ordinate; for instance, God, and Titles of God, Christ and Human Nature of Christ, Holy Ghost and Gift of the Holy Ghost, &c. His choice of some terms also is not happy;-Heaven, not appearing, but instead, Felicity Eternal. To some little extent, too, there is manifest what almost invariably characterizes works of this class,-a too close attention to words rather than things; thus we do not find Christ called Brother, Intercessor, Example, or Friend. These, however, are small blemishes, and we mention them in
Hoping to induce sabbath-scholars to study
The Tried Christian; a Book of Consolation
The purpose of the author in the composition of this volume has been, to present a manual which should exhibit the teachings of scripture on the subject of afflictions, and be of service both to ministers and private Christians. He has furnished to the reader a book, clear, impressive, and eminently consolatory in its exhibition of those scripture truths which have special reference to affliction and trial; and which, if it have not the pretensions of some others, will not, we feel assured, be the least useful of his works.
Philip Doddridge: his Rise and Labours. A
This volume was read in a somewhat condensed form by Mr. Stoughton before the Congregational Union at its session at Northampton last autumn. The aim of the author was to present an outline of the character and the times of Doddridge; and all who know the writer's previous productions will be prepared to expect such a volume as we have before us-a graphic and life-like sketch, sure to interest and well calculated to instruct.
State Education: What is its Principle? A