« PreviousContinue »
It must be exhausted for that end, and for the sake of reproduction and multiplication. If then the growth of the man does not contrib
. ute to the growth of his religion, it is as when the planted corn of wheat enlarges and hardens itself. It does not germinate, or as the
come up.” The man cannot save himself and still produce a harvest for Christ. For it is only when the corn of wheat dies that it brings forth fruit. Personal and private ends must be ignored, or absorbed under the question : “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” The experience of Paul must be his motto: "In deaths oft.” A religion that does not cost the man anything, is not anything to him or to others. Self-denial, sacrifice, labor, entrenchment on our pleasures, habits, plans, worldly work, this is a fundamental law in the religion of Christ. We are slow to learn it, and yet “ except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone."
Sermons preached in the Chapel of Harvard College. By JAMES
WALKER, D. D. Boston : Ticknor & Fields. 1861. pp. 397.
TWENTY-FIVE discourses discuss as many important topics, in a chaste style, a simple yet scholarly method, with a large amount of ethical truth well stated, and a nearer approach, at some points, to views of Christian doctrine of the evangelical type than has always enunciated the theology of our ancient University. The unincumbered, straightforward, business-like movement of the preacher's thought is worthy of imitation. We could wish that he had employed it, in rather larger measure, upon the central facts of the Gospel system, that firm and direct grasp of which we miss, which bespeaks the highest persuasion of their reality and inspires the most earnest advocacy of their claims. It must be a very delicate and difficult thing to discharge, just in the best way, the office of preacher to students and literary auditors. This volume displays much tact and taste in meeting these demands, as well in the selection as management of its themes. Yet one or two similar volumes at hand (as
Wayland's University and Arnold's Rugby discourses) suggest that a stronger infusion of positive Christianity is not out of place in such ministrations; may not only command respect, but may be used as a powerful influence of moral restraint and guidance. We think that no audience more needs a thorough theological teaching than one which sits in a college chapel; and, given in an appropriate manner, we believe no preaching would be as interesting to those very persons of whom Dr. Walker says so correctly in the excellent discourse on “The Student's Sabbath "
“One thing, however, is plain : in so far as religious instruction is excluded from general and professional education it follows incontestably, that the so-called educated classes are not any more likely than others to be well informed in religious matters."
These discourses are not too intellectual ; yet for want of the emotive element they leave the impression of more head than heart in their preparation, although the running-title of one of them is “ The Heart more than the Head." The sermon on “The Day of Judgment is no exception to this criticism. It is grave but unimpassioned. The nearest approach to an appeal to the moral sensibilities is in this closing admonition, which certainly does not exaggerate the thought :
" It may be said, that the guilty soul will still be in the hands of a compassionate God; and this is true. Beware, however, of making compassion in God what it often is in man — a mere tenderness, I had almost said, a mere weakness. Nor is this all. We must not expect in the next world what is incompatible with its nature and purpose. We are placed here to make a beginning. We can begin here what course we please; and do not like it, we can go back, and begin again. Are you sure it will be so in the world to come? Why first a world of probation, and then a world of retribution, if after all both are to be equally and alike probationary? Let us not run risks, where the error, if it be one, is irretrievable, and the stake infinite.” — p. 396.
This sermon, and the first in the volume, on “ The Mediator," explain our sense of deficiency in handling fundamental facts of the Gospel revelation. In the latter, the omissions amount to very serious statements of error, as we read the record which God has given of his Son. Thus, it is taught that God can forgive sin without a Mediator, that is to say, freely and of his own accord. Why not?” asks the preacher. “I certainly see no reason why he could not if he would : indeed, I cannot see any reason why he would not.” (pp. 8, 9.) This is scarcely the apostolic platform of redemption. Again
“You are aware that the reconciliation to be brought about by the mediation of Christ is everywhere represented in the New Testament as a reconciliation of man to God, and not of God to man. ... The question, therefore, is not whether God needed a mediator, but whether man needed one. When the Scriptures speak of the necessity and use of Christ's mediation, it is always with reference to its benefits to mankind, and especially to mankind in the condition in which they were at his coming.” — p. 10. “I do not say that these sufferings were necessary to make God placable; for this would seem to imply that he had been implacable before. I do not say that they are necessary to make repentance and reformation available ; for it seems to me that ali justice is satisfied on sincere repentance and real reformation, except vindictive justice — the justice of retaliation and revenge.”
We are not surprised to find, on these pages, this customary ignoring of the true relations of justice to the government of a holy and truthful God. Nor do we take it ill that the last sentence quoted virtually charges our doctrine of redemption with holding the monstrous tenet of a divine revengefulness, which of course is a self-contradiction as far removed from the Westminster Confession as from the Epistles of St. John. But carefully considering the dogmatic disclaimers and forth-puttings of this volume, we do find ourselves greatly wondering where precisely our “ Congregationalist” neighbor would engineer the track of “a perfect sermon as lying somewhere midway between Dr. Walker and Mr. Spurgeon." Is midway half-way? Mr. Spurgeon we conceive to be no more than sound as an expounder of Christian salvation. Dr. Walker's doctrine of atonement is merely the “at-one-ment” of the Unitarian school of the better type. (p. 8.) We fancy the new-laid via media of our neighbor would be something like a line drawn between England and France, for example, starting from Land's-End and running west by north around the Hebrides to John o' Groats. Our weekly contemporary has done some curious navigation in its day. It has a genius for "splitting differences.” But this is a voyage of exploration into parts unknown, whither (we opine) the clear-headad ex-president of Harvard will be about the last one to go along either as pilot or passenger. We more and more incline to the persuasion that, in theology, the “in medio” is not the "tutissimus ibis,” by several degrees of spiritual longitude. It is quite too variable for our use, having slid in a few months from a compromise between Arminianism and Calvinism to this present “ somewhere midway between” Mr. Spurgeon and what does not decline the name of Unitarianism, but holds it as a title of honor and praise. Is the “in medio” to still further towards an extremer left?
The Constitutional History of England, since the Accession of George
the Third, 1760-1860. By THOMAS ERSKINE MAY, C.B. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. Boston: Crosby & Nichols. 1862. pp. 484.
A New candidate for historiographic honors here comes forward in the neatest of “ Riverside" costume. The author undertakes the continuation of the political progress of his country from about the period where Mr. Hallam's standard work on the same topic was suspended. Constitutional history must labor, in the nature of things, against the inherent dryness of its subject, wanting by necessity the aids of that varied detail of stirring events, and of the elaborate portrait-painting, which give such fascination to the pages of the best general historians. But it is second to no branch of the historical art in importance. Mr. May has brought to his task an ample information, a clear method, a natural style. Instead of carrying forward his inquiries side by side through the period under review, he takes each subject through the whole century, thus grouping his facts and conclusions in an easily comprehended survey. The author professes a sympatlıy with “ the development of popular liberties," but aims to write not as the partisan of any political school. Several very iinportant questions are reserved to the second volume.
Boston : Soule & Wil
Montrose, and other Biographical Sketches.
liams. 1861. pp. 400.
We have here four papers, La Tour, George Brummell, Samuel Johnson, and James Grahame, Marquis of Montrose. They are all Review articles, and worthy of Blackwood or the North American. The writer draws richly from a varied reading, and carries a graceful pen. La Tour strikes a vein in Provincial History that will well repay this unknown author for farther working. Maine and the Provinces are singularly neglected by our historical societies and authors. The article on Johnson is a rich mélange on the burly autocrat in the literature of a past reign. “Ursa Major" always interests, pleasantly
” , or otherwise. We have enjoyed the whole book.
The Book of Psalms, in Hebrew and English. Arranged in Parallel
ism. Andover: Warren F. Draper. 1862. pp. 194.
A HAPPY design, and beautifully executed in its typography. The eye of the scholar is never satisfied with seeing so rich a Hebrew text and the original of the great classic of the Christian.
The advantages of this Hebrew and English parallelism are obvious in so convenient a form, and it is rare that two such worthies are so fairly united.
The Confessions of Augustine. Edited, with an Introduction, by
William G. T. Shedd. Andover : Warren F. Draper. 1860. pp. xxxvi., 417.
The best commentary which was ever written on the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans, from an experimental point of view, is contained in this autobiography of one of the most keenly metaphysical, intensely poetical, and withal sensuously enthralled natures that ever submitted to the power of sovereign grace. The book has for centuries beer. a Christian classic. It is a study worthy of one's closest application who would master the subtleties of the sinful heart, and understand just how that chain is linked which holds the will in bondage to evil. It is the narrative of a most “surprising conversion” to God by a marvellously skilful analyzer of the process and progress of his own emergence out of darkness and death into light and life.
We scarcely know of a better book for daily devotional perusal, especially by ministers, in these days when the regenerating work, in its preparatory convictions of sin and in its own significance as a spiritual change, is taking on, in many quarters, so superficial a character. The Introduction is lucid and sufficient; appreciative in its spirit, and unambitious in its execution.
Historical Lectures on the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ: being the
Hulsean Lectures for the year 1859; with Notes, Critical, Historical, and Explanatory. By C. J. ELLICOTT, B.D. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1862. pp. 382. 12mo.
The thorough scholarship of this eminent exegete has applied itself in this volume to the difficult task of a practical and popular, and, at the same time, a critically learned presentation of the Gospel narrative. By supplementing the text of liis Discourses with more than its amount of notes, the author has well succeeded in accomplishing his aim. Those acquainted with his previous labors in the Pauline Epistles will recognize on these pages the same neat, concise, perspicuous method of explaining the books of the Evangelists. He does not stumble at the supernaturalism of their records. Thus, concerning the disposing of the Gergesene demoniacs, he writes : “ with this miracle before us, with expressions so unqualified, and terms so distinct, a denial of the reality of demoniacal possession on the part of any