« PreviousContinue »
13. A Popular Commentary on the New Testament. By English and American Scholars of various Evangelical Denominations. With Illustrations and Maps. Ed. ited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL. D. Vol. II. The Gospel of John and the Acts. Charles Scribner's Sons. $6.00.
A more industrious man is not often found than Dr. Schaff. He has a wonderful faculty for Bible work, and always does it well. This commentary is an excellent example of the thoroughness and fidelity with which he discharges his various trusts in this department, as well as the recently completed voluminous commentary of Lange. Of course he works for a class, in the interest of Orthodoxy, and much of his work is useless outside of these limits ; but for all that, it is faithfully done. In this volume, those having in charge the commentary have shown a disposition to state the facts fairly in the case of some disputed texts, without a narrow, special pleading in behalf of the orthodox interpretation. In other cases a correct exegesis is given, but, as if afraid of surrendering too much, conclusions are drawn which the premises do not justify. For example, the terms Gehenna, judgment, damnation, &c., are interpreted according to the facts, much as we explain them; but it is added, at the close, that this explanation “ does not exhaust the deep meaning” of the words or texts, which reach far on into the future life with dark and ominous threatenings.
On the whole, however, this commentary is honestly devoted to the exposition of the entire text, critical, historical, doctrinal and ethical ; and with the intention, evidently, of helping the reader to get at the real thought and aim of the sacred writers. It is intended for the people, and furnishes them with all the aids which the best scholarship can render in the way of an amended text, and a correct translation, in this way partly anticipating the Revised Bible. In fact, the commentators engaged on the work are chiefly from the AngloAmerican Revision Committee. As a specimen of the amended text, the narrative of the Woman taken in Adultery (John vii. 53-viii, 11) is excluded from the text, and the reasons and comments given at the end of the gospel.
Another feature of the work is the frequent excursus or discussion of passages and subjects which require more than ordinary comment to meet the difficulties of explanation. An admirable example of this is found at the end of chapter xxvi., “On the Three Accounts of St. Paul's Conversion,” which is one of the briefest, peatest and most conclusive arguments for the natural truthfulness and fitness of the narrative we have lately seen.
We cannot conclude this notice without a word for the numerous illustrations of this superb volume, many of them from photographs, so beautifully executed that one is constantly reminded of Scribner's Monthly. The publishers have spared no expense in their department.
14. The Critical Handbook A Guide to the Study of the Authenticity, Canon, and Text of the Greek New Testament. By E. C. Mitchell. Illustrated by Diagrams, Tables, and a Map. Andover: Warren F. Draper. $1.75.
This is one of those useful and thoroughly prepared volumes in defence of the historical basis of Christianity which are always welcome to our table, and which we can heartily commend to our readers, lay and clerical. It is something to be thankful for, the numerous attacks on the New Testament which attempt to prove the legendary or mythical character of the most important portions of its records, for surely they have brought out replies at every point of attack, which in turn have brought out so many fresh proofs, direct and indirect, that it is precisely what it professes to be, an honest, literal and true narrative of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and of his disciples, that the fair. minded inquirer, and the half-doubtful believer, cannot turn from the discussion without enlarged faith and settled convictions.
This volume and that of Professor Huidekoper on the “Indirect Testimony to the Gospels,” previously noticed, are admirable contributions to this department of Christian Evidences ; which aims to show that though there may be interpolations, discrepancies, chronological errors, and some historical difficulties, as in all similar narrative works, yet in substance and intent, in all that is important regarding the character, works and words of Jesus, the gospels are History, pure and simple, written by honest and sincere men, who saw, and heard, and were a part of what they wrote — this, or there is no such thing as history.
The argument of this book is as follows: I. Christianity of the New Testament Scriptures — Data furnished by well-known Historical Facts ; by Pagan Literature ; by Christian Literature; by Opponents, Heretical Writings and Monuments. II. History of the Canon of the New Testament; Formation of the Canon; Early Catalogues. III. History of the New Testament, in which are noticed the Form of Manuscripts and Style of Writing; Classification of them as Uncial and Cursive ; Early Versions ; Citations by Christian Fathers, Textual Criticism, Various Readings, &c. Then follows a series of Tables worthy of all praise for their usefulness, containing in smallest compass an immense amount of information, some portion of which the student and preacher need every hour in the day. Among the most convenient of these are Table III., showing what Christian Fathers were contemporaneous ; V. Reterences of the Fathers and their opponents to the Canonical Books; VI. Catalogues of Disputed Books ; VII. Fac Similes of the great Codices, Sinaitic, Vatican, &c.; VIII. Uncial Manuscripts, with descriptive Remarks of a most interesting character.
15. Studies in the Mountain Instruction. By George D. Boardman, author of “ Studies in the Creative Week,' &c. D. Appleton & Co. $1.50.
Here comes an old friend again with a title which suggests nothing as to the character of the book, not quite as rhetorical as usual, but as illogical as ever, and also as thoroughly in earnest as ever.
What we have here is a series of lectures on the Moral, and incidentally the Doctrinal, Teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, well calculated to invite to a moral life, and to encourage a truly religious spirit. Much of it we can heartily approve, while portions of it we as heartily condemn - as his false exposition of "Wide is the Gate, and Broad is the Way,' &c., where his logic, if he has any, leads him inevitably to the conclusion that the great mass of mankind will be damned, and a small remnant only be saved.
16. Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions, and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth. The Remedy. By Henry George. D. Appleton & Co. 75 cts.
This book, of more than 500 octavo pages, is too abundant in material, too strong in its statement of facts, too clear in its exposure of existing evils, too wild and speculative in its statement of the supposed causes, and too bold and heroic in its remedial treatment, to be disposed of in a book notice. _We have handed it to one of our Thinkers, whose study of Political Economy fits him for a discriminating review of the book, which has already commanded serious attention in Europe and in America.
17. A Cloud of Witnesses: Being Selections from the Writings of Poets, Theologians and other Literary and Celebrated Persons, expressive of the Universal Triumph of Good over Evil. By J. W. Hanson, D.D. Chicago.
This volume comes to hand at the last moment, but we cannot suffer it to go over to the next number without a brief notice of its character and merits. It aims to show how widely extended is the hold which Universalism has in some form or other, on noble minds, and truly good, generous and Christian hearts; and this is done by giving the testimony in words of their own choosing, by permitting them to state for themselves just how far they accept it in substance, if not in form. And the list of witnesses is such as to surprise those who have not studied the subject; and even those who have, will probably find many namnes here which they have never before associated with our doctrine.
The author has been a diligent and successful collector, and has shown by his witnesses how great is the multitude of Universalists not known to the world as such, but who, as a matter of faith, or hope, or sympathy, or prayerful desire, are heart and soul with us. Thus does he verify the saying of Olshausen that “Universalism is, without doubt, deeply rooted in noble minds ; it is an expression of the longing for perfected harmony in the universe”; and the equally significant words of Doederlein, that “the more distinguished by erudition any one was in ancient Christian times, by so much the more did he cherish and defend the hope of a final termination of torments."
It will be a pleasant surprise to many to hear even Luther saying, “How it may be with those who in the New Testament are condemned, I say nothing certain,– I leave it undecided ”; and again, “God forbid that I should limit the time for acquiring faith to the present life. In the depths of Divine mercy there may be an opportunity to win it in the future state.” Would it not be wise and Christian for some of his followers to be a little less positive on this point, and in their ordaining councils deal more leniently with those of their ministers who, like the great Reformer, lean to the side of mercy, and leave it an open question ? But it will be a still greater surprise to many more to read the elaborate argument for Universalism by Lange, whose Bible-Work or Commentary has been brought out in this country by Dr. Schaff and the Scribners, and which is regarded as one of the bulwarks of orthodoxy. Surely when our faith invites the defence or the generous sympathies of such men, we need not be disturbed by the doubts or the accusations of others. If this argument of Lange is expressive of his own belief, we do not see why he should not be set down as a Universalist.
But we must pause. We trust this volume will find many purchasers both among our own people and the various orthodox sects. " It will inform and please the first, and encourage those among the last, ready to discard the abomination of endless punishment, to find themselves in the company of some of the wisest and best of their own churches. Let them look over this list of four or five hundred “witnesses," and they will be cheered and strengthened in their struggle for the truth to know that they have the fellowship of such a host of worthies, reaching back through the centuries up to the time of the apostles.
The volume is an immense improvement on the first edition in contents and mechanical make-up. There are occasional errors and omissions. One of the last we specially regret - the important testimony of Gregory Nyssen. The name is given in the index, but his testimony is not given on the page specified, nor elsewhere. We suppose the passage intended was that in which Gregory says it is “by means of everlasting (ai)nios) punishment that those who have gone to the extremity of wickedness are restored.”
Endymion. By Right Honorable the Earl of Beaconsfield. D. Appleton & Co. $1.50. Of course this is a political novel, and now that the publishers have sent out a key to the characters, those familiar with English statesmen and politics, will enjoy read. ing it. If the book has any “moral," it lies in the doctrine that he who resolves to succeed will succeed; though another thought is strongly enforced - that public men who seem to shape and control events, are not half as potent in this respect as some private individuals who burrow out of sight. As Baron Sergius (Bismarck) says, “ The most powerful men are not public men." The pot-house politicians of our own country furnish sufficient proof of this.
The Orthoepist: A Pronouncing Manual, containing about 3,500 Words, including & considereble number of Names of Foreign Authors, etc., that are often Mispronounced. By Alfred Ayres. D. Appleton & Co. $1.00.
Phillips & Hunt send us a revised edition of the “ Outline of Church History," by Dr. Hurst. This is another of those useful compends so serviceable when one is preparing a sermon or an article relating to persons, places or events of any period of ecclesiastical history, ancient, mediæval or modern. Doubtless clergymen and students have, scattered through their libraries, all the tacts embraced in this little volume, but they can cften find here in one minute what it would take perhaps an hour to hunt up without it. The work has been greatly improved, and portions entirely rewritten and brought down to date. 60 cts.
We have from the Harpers a pleasant volume which we shall notice in our next: Smiles' “ Duty, with Illustrations of Patience, Courage and Endurance."
Classical Writers. Livy. By W. W. Capes, Reader in Ancient History in the University of Oxford. D. Appleton & Co. Another of that admirable series for which every lover of the Classics is so much indebted to the Messrs. Appleton. As a critical estimate of the great Roman Historian, and a concise digest of his work, this little book of 120 pages is a very useful and pleasing contribution to the history of ancient liter
Theological Unrest: Discussions in Science and Religion. A. S. Barnes & Co. 50 cts. This pamphlet is a reprint of the following papers: “ Science and Religion, Ancient and Modern,” Parts I., II., by James Anthony Froude, and Part III., "Reply to Mr. Froude,"' by Prof. Tait of the University of Edinburg; and "The conflict of Religion and Science," by Rev. E. A. Washburn, D. D.
Education: Intellectual, Moral and Physical. By Herbert Spencer. D. Appleton & Co. 50 cts. Should be read by all teachers and parents. It is laden with practical wisdom.
The Sin Against the Holy Ghost.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.- Matthew xii. 31, 32.
Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.- Mark iii. 28, 29.
And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven unto him: but unto him that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.- Luke xii. 10.
Interpreted literally, as the orthodox world has generally done, and is still disposed to do, these words of our Saviour teach explicitly that there is one sin from which even He can not save; one sin that is absolutely irremissible, and which must therefore be of a nature so exceptional and transcendent, or which involves such measureless depravity and malice, as necessarily carries with it the unavoidable doom of endless damnation to every one who is guilty of it.
We need not say that such a doctrine, so at war with the whole spirit of the Gospel, is fitted to astonish and overwhelm him who accepts it and in any proper degree apprehends it. It should not be thought singular, therefore, that, venerable and popular as it is, it has always been a stumbling-stone and rock of offence in the Church, the source of almost infinite perplexities to the honest teacher, and of harrassing doubts and distress to many an earnest Christian soul.
Before attempting an exposition of these remarkable words of our Saviour, we beg to call attention to some important facts connected with the subject, the due consideration of which, if it does not clearly prove that the common interpretation is false, must at least show that it is attended by difficulties of the gravest character, and such as seem absolutely insuperable. Whatever else these passages may mean, the popular explanation is confronted and discredited by so many adverse circumstances as to render it in the highest degree improbable, NEW SERIES VOL XVIJI