« PreviousContinue »
of the Universe was not the Supreme Being; and as, of course, not a page of Scripture could be taken in its natural sense without exhibiting the blasphemy of such a tenet, they broached the insane theory that the Apostles themselves communicated the real knowledge of divine things not in writing, but orally, and in views utterly opposed to their written teaching (Irenæus, iii. cap. 2.). They based an imputation, at which common sense and common honesty equally revolt, on two passages of St. Paul, 1 Cor. ii. 6.: Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery;' and 2 Tim. i. 14.: That good 'thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. This Oral Tradition' is the genuine ancestor of the technical Tapádoσis (as contradistinguished from ypapń), which has been adopted into the Romish Church, and sanc-` tioned by a decree of the Council of Trent,-the fruitful parent of non natural interpretations and dishonesty of every kind. The Tapádoσis of the earliest Christians is not a technical term at all, but a mere general expression, inclusive of every thing which had been received relative to Christian faith or Christian practice, whether written or unwritten, - a sense in which it is constantly used by St. Paul.
In the first days of the Faith every thing was unwritten ex necessitate rei; not from any especial regard for that mode of communication, but because there was no reason apparent for adopting any other, and this mode was an obvious one. Those who had been made partakers in any degree of the enlightening Word of Truth, went away telling others what they had heard and seen. But of the many who did this, only the chosen few, on whom the Holy Spirit had descended in all his fulness, preserved the divine transaction in all its integrity, -only the SENT were endowed with the constant and unvarying spiritual discernment,—the plenary inspiration, which preserved them, as in a panoply of proof, from all alloy of the astounding errors which were rife in those days. The divine fire which warmed their hearts, remains even to this day, in the records which they left behind them, to be the foundation and pillar of the faith.' But, in the meantime,
This last appears from Tertullian, De Præscript. hæretic. § 25. The verse has since been used for a somewhat analogous purpose by some Anglican divines, who would have found their own theory refuted by anticipation, if they had taken the pains to study Irenæus instead of the preface of his Jesuit editor (Massuet).
Irenæus, iii. cap. 9.
Apostolic Scripture the Foundation of the Faith. 45
from this heavenly gift it resulted, that, although everywhere else heresy and schism, pride and vanity, and philosophy coupled in an unblest union with a bastard Christianity, engendered monstrosities of every kind, whose authors, bringing unhallowed 'fire in their censers to the altar of God, drew down on their heads the judgment of Nadab and Abiud,' the spiritual children, and children's children of the holy Twelve, still possessed the sure blessing of the TRUTH.'* Even in the most barbarous regions, where the merest elements of civilisation were unknown,-where, from the arts of reading and writing not existing, such a thing as a written Gospel had never been seen, even in such countries the unlettered Christian would,' says Irenæus, should the Gnostic theories be named to him in his own tongue, put his hands in his ears and fly to avoid hearing such blasphemies.' The difference between the heresies and the true Church in those early days, was not the difference between the vagueness of oral tradition and the distinctness of written documents, but between Apostolic and non-Apostolic sources for the teaching of whatever kind. The heretics had their written Gospels; and they were much more numerous than the authentic ones.† And, from the Epistles of St. Paul, it is evident that, wherever he went, he preached all the main facts of the Gospel history for many years before the earliest of the existing Gospels could have been composed. It must not be supposed that the infant Church, just leaping from her cradle, immediately took thought for the permanently recording those events which formed her actual life. It is as absurd as to imagine a parent, however wise, while in constant daily intercourse with his child, carefully day by day putting his precepts into writing. It is not until the child has left home and been exposed to the influence of others, and perhaps begins to show the bad effects of that intercourse, that the necessity forces itself upon the parent of putting his counsels into a permanent shape. Just such a case is that which Mr. Alford's theory of the origin of the Gospels implies; or, rather we may say, such are the undoubted historical facts. But this relative order, in point of time, between oral teaching and teaching from
Irenæus, iv. cap. 26. Charisma veritatis certum.
† Ecclesia quattuor habet Evangelia; hæresis plurima.-Origen. Homil. i. in Lucam. preserved in Jerome's Latin version (Opp. vii. p. 248.).
Compare, for instance, the passages, 2 Thess. ii. 15., 1 Cor. xv. 1-8., 2 Tim. ii. 8. with Tertullian. De præsc. h. § 13. De virg. vel. § 1.
Scripture, has no more bearing upon the point at issue between the Romish and the Reformed Communions, than the considerations just now adduced as an illustration would have upon the question whether, if Shakspeare had left descendants, his turn of thought would be gathered with greater probability by talking with them, or by reading his works?
We cannot but think, that, whatever errors of detail Mr. Alford may be chargeable with in the course of his commentary, they are much more than made up for by the truthful and earnest spirit which prevents him from ever patching up the difficulties which occur to him; and, although we do not go with him in his extreme suspicion of the statements which have come down from Christian antiquity, we entirely share his antipathy for the arbitrary proceedings of modern harmonists. He has done good service by giving, we hope, the coup de grace to a system which is productive of more mischief to the cause of true religion than the efforts of any one open enemy of Christianity that ever lived; and, although we cannot but fear that he has exposed himself to unnecessary obloquy by casting off the veil afforded by the common language of the learned, we are quite certain that such censure will not proceed from any one who has made himself competent to give an opinion on the subject.
ART. II. —Notes on North America, Agricultural, Economical, and Social. By JAMES W. F. JOHNSTON: Edinburgh and London, 1851.
QUITE the most valuable, and often the most interesting books
of travels, are those written by parties who have visited the countries they describe, with a distinct and special purpose; who, having some peculiar branch of study, or subject of interest of their own, direct their attention in a paramount, if not an exclusive manner, to whatever bears upon these matters, and bring home the results of an observation pervaded and enlivened by some favourite hypothesis, and distinguished from the productions of vaguer and more desultory inquirers, by a thorough comprehension of the topics of which they treat. It is true that such men, if not strictly on their guard, are in danger of having their observations somewhat warped and coloured to harmonise with a foregone conclusion, of seeing facts through the spectacles of a cherished theory, of ignoring or overlooking phenomena which might modify or overthrow their views; but we think that this peril is fully counterbalanced by the more vivid reality imparted to their delineations, and the more thorough
British North America.
mastery of the matter in hand, which generally stamp the productions of the writers we are speaking of. America has been more than usually fortunate in the number of such travellers who have visited her shores. If Mr. Mackay's sketches of the Western World comprehend more or less of the entire panorama, she has been represented under almost every special phase and by observers of every class. Men of trained intellect in their several departments have looked at her from all possible points of view, and in the most favourable and unfavourable lights. Hamilton, Basil Hall, and Marryat described American Men ' and Manners' as they appear in general society, and to writers of aristocratic tastes. Stuart and Miss Martineau depicted social life and character according to the estimate of parties of homely and democratic tendencies. De Beaumont confined himself chiefly to the subject of Slavery, and all its widespreading influences. Tocqueville studied the United States with the eye of a profound political philosopher. Reid and Mattheson went out as congregational divines to see how far Christianity can hold up its head in a country where there is no Church Establishment. Sir Charles Lyell regarded the American Continent as a geologist, and examined its features with the acuteness and comprehension of a mind of the highest scientific order. And now Mr. Johnston gives us the aspect in which it presented itself to the investigation of an Agricultural Professor, master of the art of cultivation in the Old World, and setting out with the specific purpose of examining and describing the capabilities and peculiarities of the New.
The most important part of Mr. Johnston's work is that which relates to the Provinces of British North America, respecting which Englishmen in general know far less than of the United States. Vast as is the extent of these colonies, boundless as are their resources, and bright and glorious as we would fain hope is to be their future, they are little better known in the Mother Country than they were fifty years ago, and far less known than portions of Europe wholly unconnected with us, and which it takes twice as long to reach. For one educated Englishman acquainted with Canada or New Brunswick, there are probably twenty who have visited Egypt, and a hundred who are familiar with Rome. Mr. Johnston shall give his own account of his motives and purposes in visiting North America.
Until I personally visited North America, my own notions as to the agricultural condition, capabilities, and resources of the several new provinces and states were, I now find, notwithstanding all I had heard and read, of the crudest, most general, and indefinite character. The exaggerations of interested natives and settlers, and the repe
tition of such exaggerations by travellers who knew nothing of agriculture themselves, and, like myself some dozen years ago, could scarcely distinguish bad land from good: these were all the information our journals and yearly literature afforded us. That wheat and Indian corn poured in upon us at times from those regions, we knew; that some portions of the country were rich and fertile, we could not doubt; and the general conclusion in the public mind was, that these new countries were generally fertile, that inferior land was the exception, that large crops were every where reaped, that the fertility of the whole region was inexhaustible, that the supply of wheat it could send us was without bounds, and that if those who tilled the land and raised the corn in these countries were not so skilful as the average of our own farmers, this was only another evidence that nature there was kinder to the tiller of the soil than she is in our own country, and did not demand at his hands either the same amount of knowledge or the same unceasing toil. One of my objects in visiting North America was to remove the mistiness of my own ideas as to the agricultural character and condition of its several great regions, to test the seeming exaggerations, in which, as if by some natural law, the natives and residents of this northern part of the New World are inclined to indulge. I was desirous also of obtaining a clear idea of the relation which American practice bears to English practice; the prospects and success of individual American to those of individual English and Scotch farmers; American past and future surplus wheat to the state and demands of the English market; the life of the settler in these new countries, to the life he would have led had he remained at home. On a few of these points I have arrived at clear and definite notions - not hastily I believe though some of them may still be incorrect.' (Vol. i. p. 355.)
The immediate cause of Mr. Johnston's voyage to America appears to have been a request on the part of the Governor and House of Assembly of New Brunswick, that he would visit that province with the view of drawing up a Report in reference to its agricultural capabilities.' The state of things which led to this application affords such a curious example of the collateral and unforeseen evils resulting from an artificial and 'protective' policy, that we shall place it briefly before our readers, and, as far as we can, in Mr. Johnston's own words. In the year 1848, the Legislature of New Brunswick began to be seriously uneasy concerning the condition and prospects of the colony. Their import and export trade was declining in an alarming ratio; the timber trade, on which they had been accustomed to rely as their main stay, was rapidly falling off; the labourers who had been engaged in it, a restless but energetic race of men like our navigators, were emigrating to other provinces; and as the New Brunswickers had been accustomed actually to import a large portion of the bread-stuffs' which