Page images

See Josh. xviii. and xxii.- To this inter- single expression that would induce pretation the following objections occur: him, still less oblige him, to think (1.) The terms of the passage do not accord with any facts in the march through

once of the Messiah.” This may the desert, or the occupation of Canaan. possibly be ; for even the Apostles Judah possessed no more authority than did not at first fully understand the any other tribe. The sceptre and legis. Old Testament in its application to lation were in the hands of Moses, a Levite, and the subsequent command was

Christ : but how get over the Newconferred on Joshna, an Ephraimite. To Testament application of this pastranslate ppna (alawgiver) by a · banner," sage, which is abundantly explicit ? as attempted, does not materiały alter Here, we might think, was a diffithe case ; but such a rendering would ill culty ; but Ruperti makes nothing suit other passages where the word occurs, of it. particularly Isaiah xxxii. 22. (2.) The

“ Probably nobody," he standard of Judah had departed from the says, “would have fallen into this army before the transactions at Shiloh: see system of_interpretation, if two Josh. xv. (3.) On the hypothesis as- Apostles, Peter and Paul (Acts ii. sumed, that the passage was written er post facto, the writer would naturally have 25–31; xxviii. 35, &c.), had not used terms descriptive of the greatest applied the words of this Psalm to splendour of the tribe of Judah, the reign Christ. But how insufficient that of David, or, had he lived to see it, that of is to overturn my opinion on the Solomon. (4.) The clause. To him shall be the homage (or expectation of nations,'

sense of the Psalm, I need not now is left without any corresponding circum- spend words in proving.” Now stance whatever.

the younger Rosenmüller gives " This interpretation would not have his unqualified approbation to Rumerited notice, but as a specimen of that noxious pseudo-criticism whose characters perti's assertions ; adding, that the are self-admiring arrogance and manifest Apostles were certainly “most fully irreligion, employing a prodigious machi- persuaded that the only and genery of perverted learning to compress all nuine sense of the Psalm was a in the Scriptures that is most solemn and reference to Jesus ; as appears important, into insignificance and nullity." pp. 251, 252.

plainly from their method of argu

ing from it, as they endeavour to We are glad to find that the shew that the Psalm could not be younger Rosenmüller, who formerly understood of David." Therefore, vindicated this untenable version, they were wrong, and the German has recently abandoned it, as well critics are right ! As the reference as some other of his pseudo-ra- to the Messiah in this Psalm is of tionalist expositions. This learned great importance to the arguments professor and commentator has not, which prove the Divinity and offices however, given up the wretched of Christ, we subjoin Dr. Smith's system of which this misinterpre- reply to this flippant dogmatism. tation is only a slight specimen. * 1. The blessed Jesus and his Apostles, Take, for example, the following taught and constantly guided by the Spirit instance. Ruperti, in his exposition of Truth, were infinitely better judges of of the sixteenth Psalm, had boldly than these persons, who so unblushingly

the meaning of Old-Testament passages, declared, and brought Eckermann, vaunt their own interpretative faculty. Eichhorn, Paulus, Behn, and others, “2. If the Apostles believed that any to support him in the opinion, that passages contained a reference and conthis Psalm does not apply to the contain or convey, they were ignorant of

veyed a sentiment which they did not Messiah. It would be utterly re. what they professed to know; they were pugnant, he says, to the poetic not adequate (ixavos) ministers of the diction of the Hebrews and their

new covenant, and their whole testimony

to the Christian doctrine rendered unnotions of the Messiah : and “


certain. would lay any wager," he adds, “3. If, as Eckermann and others (see “that a person who was not ac- Rosenmüller in Psalm. ii. Argm.) mainquainted with the New Testament,

tain, the Apostles used a wise policy in and with ancient and modern inter

convincing and instructing the Jews by

the adducing of testimonies and argupreters, would hardly find in it a ments which they knew to signify no such

thing as they attributed to them,--they and germinant" accomplishment : were . false witnesses in the name of God' that the “virgin ” meant a young

“4. Were we to admit the hypothesis of these critics; as Christ and his Apostles

woman then living, probably the frequently rested their claims upon the queen of Abaz; that the promised single point of the fulfilment of Old-Tes- son was born within a year after tament prophecy, yea, of the identical the prediction, and was a sign that passages by them assumed to be prophe- the political deliverance promised times have discovered not to be so, they to Ahaz should certainly take place; have failed in that on which they staked and that this was the immediate their cause, and the Gospel is proved to literal ful6ilment. But, whereas be a 'cunningly devised fable.' “5. The fair, impartial, and

Neologians and other critics urge

grammatical construction of the passage in that something of this kind was the question is really such as cannot apply to whole fulfilment, and that there was any other than the Messiah. Not that no reference to Christ, contrary to we suppose such passages to have been otherwise than imperfectly understood at

the express application of the prothe time of their promulgation : for that phecy by St. Matthew (i. 22, 23), would contradict a principal characteristic Dr. Smith considers that it most in the plan of prophecy : but that enough certainly did apply to Christ ; and of their meaning was from the first appa

this not merely by way of accomrent, to convince the men of those times that their proper application was hidden modation, but by a designed referin the darkness of futurity.

ence and real fulfilment. The pas“ These remarks, once for all, will serve

sage, we admit, under every view as reasons for not noticing, in every in

involves a critical difficulty; and stance, the cavils of these infidels or semi-infidels." pp. 319, 320.

Dr. Smith's solution of it is to our

minds not the least difficult : for it The critics of whom we are writ- is not suggested that there were ing-call them Neologists, Unita- two miraculous births (which would rians, Anti-mystics, or what we clearly be an untenable proposition); may, for we are not scrupulous as but it is alleged, and Dr. Smith to the minute classifications of infi.

argues, that the word translated delity-finding untenable the wild virgin means only a bride, or young scheme of excluding from the woman ; which interpretation deHebrew Oracles all expectation of stroys all the appropriateness or a Messiah, have had recourse to parallelism of St. Matthew's applianother fiction ; for they maintain cation of the prophecy to Christ. that the passages which are ap- For the express object of St. Matpealed to on the subject refer not to thew is to relate that our Lord's distant events, but solely to circum- birth was miraculous ; and his citastances at hand at the time of the tion of this prophecy is to shew prophecy, so that persons then living that it was prophesied that it should were to witness them. Gesenius be so : but if a birth not miraculous makes this hypothesis a key to his satisfied the alleged primary half elaborate explication of the Pro. of the prediction, why might not phecy of Isaiah. Dr. Smith, in his a similar birth satisfy the other application to Jesus Christ of the also ?-- which brings us back to the prophecy of the virgin who was to borders of Neologism, making St. bear a Son, has some excellent Matthew apply a passage with a remarks

upon this notion, which not peculiar reference which it will not only sets aside the evidence of bear. We would rather remain in prophecy, but stultifies the decla- suspense as to the primary referrations of the New Testament wri. ence, absolutely forming no opinion ters relative to its accomplishment amidst conflicting difficulties, than in Jesus of Nazareth. Dr. Smith's admit a solution which seems to us own view of the particular prediction replete with insuperable objections ; just adverted to is, that it was one which makes a “sign " (that is, a of those which have “a springing portent) of what was no sign, but


only in the ordinary course of na. had witnessed the Babylonish invature; and makes the Evangelist sion, the desolation of Judea, and the apply as a miracle to Christ, what miseries of the almost exterminated is alleged to have been primarily, people ; who merely personated, though subordinately, fulfilled with. that is, falsely assumed, the style out a miracle by the birth of Heze- and manner of one that had lived kiah. The “sign,” Dr. Smith con- long before ; and whose language siders, was not (at least in the of the most solemn and holy preprimary fulfilment) in the event, but diction was nothing but the bold in the prediction of it; which, he utterance of the nation's hopes, the says, was “a manifest proof of Di. fire and enthusiasm of patriotic vine omnipotence and agency," and poetry. This unknown person they therefore "a sufficient sign :" and presume to denominate the Pseudoyet, in the very next page, he con- Isaiah. “ The advocates of this jectures that the female pointed system," justly remarks Dr. Smith,

, out was the wife of Ahaz, and that " belong to another school than that at the very period when the words which will seriously inquire into the were spoken there was reason to evidence of any theological docexpect the birth of a child at the trine." time the prophet predicted : which Notwithstanding their rich literature would reduce the “sign ”to little and their never-failing industry, they have more than a happy guess that it yet to unlearn their pride and self-righteshould be a prince, and not a prin.

ousness; and they have yet much to learn

of the highest concernment for them to cess. But from the political deli. know; their relations to God as the Moral verance to be achieved by this Ruler of men, the holiness of his law, the infant, who was speedily to be born,

consequences of despising it, and the he thinks that the pious Jew might

whole frame and evidence of revealed

grace. Till they have made these moral possibly attach a prospective refer

acquirements, till their reason and their to the true Messiah, of feelings are governed by the belief of the whom it is certain, from St. Mat

truth which flows from the divine intellect

into the otherwise forlorn soul of man,thew, that the Prophet spake. We

they may be assured that they still want fear we must leave the difficulty the most essential qualification for underwhere we found it; only not accept- standing and explaining the word of saling our respected author's "probablevation.“ Vol. i. p. 422. conjecture," which, he admits, does The Neologians labour hard to not satisfy his own mind, but which resolve all that is supernatural into he thinks, upon the whole, less open mythology, analogy, and accomto objection than any other hypo

modation ;


no part of their disthesis. The application of the jointed scheme is to our minds prediction to Christ as the Messiah more impious, than that which reis, however, so clear, even amidst lates to what is the subject of the some minor critical difficulties, that treatise before us,-the person, ofit affords a powerful argument for fices, and history of our blessed the Divinity of our Lord; an argu- Lord. We have always declined ment which the Socinian cannot sullying our pages with passages of subvert, unless he can succeed in this kind, even for the purpose of blotting out the first chapter of St. illustration or confutation. Many Matthew from the sacred canon. samples of them have been render

Among other Neological errors ed sufficiently notorious in English, relative to the prophecies of Isaiah, French, and German publications ; our author strongly denounces that and some of them circulated in the of Koppe, Eichhorn, Justi, the continental journals, as the last good younger Rosenmüller, Gesenius, thing of Mr. Professor A. or B.; and some others, who imagine the each vying with the other how he latter portion to have been the pro. may best get rid of all miracle, production of one or more persons who phecy, and spiritualism, and make


the Bible a text-book for profane us, that their design is to exterminate and flippant comment. Their ob- from the domain of religion the whole

doctrine of a Saviour. Thus do they ject is not fairly and naturally to fulfil the very prophetic declarations which explain, but to torture and get rid their vain and impious labours are directed of, its meaning. How otherwise, by to subvert!any perverted ingenuity, could they the best and wisest and noblest of all those

According to these writers, Jesus was contrive so profane and senseless a

master-minds, which have risen far above scheme as the following?

the level of their contemporaries, as the “ The Anti-supernaturalists maintain teachers and examples of virtue, and have that Jesus fainted on the cross, and was laid all posterity under infinite obligations : taken down apparently but not actually he assumed to his doctrines and precepts dead; that he was resuscitated by the a Divine origin, in accommodation to the care and efforts of some skilful Essenes; prevailing opinions of his countrymen : be that he spent about six weeks in close claimed to be their Messiah (–a mere concealment among his tried adherents ; ideal being, the offspring of fond patriotthat, as it became no longer safe or prac- ism and lingering hope, shaped at last into ticable for him to remain undiscovered in personality by the enthusiasm of the latter or near Jerusalem, he took a favourable prophets, - ) because the admission of the opportunity of going with a select body of claim would give him a fulcrum upon his disciples to a retired summit of Mount which he could move the popular mind : Olivet; that, while he was there giving to but nothing was really meant, by his office them admirable instructions for carrying and kingdom as the Messiah, beyond the into the widest effect his virtuous and establishment of sounder principles than philanthropic plan for the improvement of mankind had been accustomed to, and the the human race, it happened, at the op: progressive advancement of truth and virportune moment, that a thunder-cloud

tue, the kingdom of pure reason." Vol. iji, rolled along the mountain and cut him off pp. 123, 124. from the sight of his companions, a few flashes of lightning being mistaken, by his

Dr. Pye Smith gives his reader honest but ignorant and timorous ad- chapter and page for his statements, herents, for visions of angels, or the men which we could also too easily enin white clothing might be two or three large from numerous and prolific of the ablest and most trust-worthy of his

stores; but that which gives unity friends, whom he had privately instructed in this part of his wisely adapted con- and force to our author's references trivance; that, taking advantage of this is, that they bear directly upon the circumstance, he descended into the op- subject of his treatise ; and while posite valley ; that he lived for some years afterwards in the deepest seclusion, they shew the delusions of German shewing himself only on very few occa- (falsely called) Rationalists, some of sions, and to very select persons, but whom have scarcely stopped short particularly to Saul, whom he accosted of Atheism itself *, afford an awful near Damascus and prevailed upon to become a leader of the sect, which wanted warning to those who assume simia man of his character and talents; and lar titles among ourselves. It is our that, in fine, where, how, and when this full persuasion, that nothing prevents distinguished reformer and philanthropist the great body of the Unitarians of ended his days, no historical document Great Britain from fraternizing with whatever has come down to us, and, probably, care was taken that none should some of the lowest grade of the exist.” Vol. jjj. pp. 260, 261.

Neologians of Germany, but their “ To exterminate, if possible, any ideas

not knowing what a very convenient of miracle from Matt. iii. 16, some of the German critics affirm that, our Lord hav

scheme these philosophists have dising prayed on coming up from the water, covered for melting down Chris. his countenance was, as it were, brightened tianity, without rejecting it in name, with resolution and dignity, cheerfulness to a mere system of ethics, and and pleasure ; that at this moment a cloud discharged a flash of lightning, or several

these not of the best quality ; for finshes in succession ; that of course it thundered ; and that John and the by- * For example, Dr. Fichte, a professor standers put their own interpretation upon of philosophy in the university of Berlin, these natural phænomena. In a similar says, in a theological journal edited by the way they interpret the narrative of the late Dr. Gabler, professor of Divinity in transfiguration." Vol. ii. pp. 473, 474. the university of Jena, “God himself is

“ Dr. Bertholtd, and some of the wri- the vital and operative moral order: we ters who follow his steps, have not dis- need no other god, and we can compresembled their object. They plainly tell

hend no other.''

deceit and imposture do not appear . Being had actually communicated to them, to be viewed as crimes by these in a supernatural manner, discoveries of new moralists, since they boldly that this was not the fact, they delibe

religious truth, and duty; or, knowing tell us that the Apostles of our rately, consistently, harmoniously, and Lord, nay, our Lord himself, prace with perseverance to the end of their tised them to serve a purpose. Let lives, said so to the world, and were, what Dr. Smith bear witness on this sub- supposition of, false witnesses of God!'

one of them expresses horror at the bare ject ; and we grieve to say his wit. And this latter side of the alternative is ness is too true.

put with the utmost coolness, and with“Wegscheider, in his chapter on the

out any apparent, or at least adequate, Divine method of effecting the salvation perception of its moral turpitude!” Vol. ii. of men by Jesus Christ," remarks, By Pp. 482, 483. his excellent teachings and his illustrious

We have now, with much pain to actions, Jesus soon became so celebrated that he was by many regarded as a pro

ourselves, laid upon our readers a phet, and even as the Messiah, for whom heavier burden of unhallowed senthe Jews of that age were most anxiously timent than we have before dared looking. Nor did he hesitate to profess to introduce into our pages, or inhimself to be the Messiah or Son of God, tend to introduce again. And we and the messenger of God; since God, in his providence, had so directed that the have so done, not merely because mind of Jesus should be induced, princi- the passages are most properly adpally by some passages of the 0. T., to duced by our author, and are apt take up a most firm persuasion, that this dignified Messiahship belonged to him, to the argument in hand ; but beand that God had especially conferred

cause the study of German theology, upon him the office of a Divine teacher; from " the admirable volume of both these notions being in accommoda- Gesenius” to the very worst spetion to the opinions his age and coun

cimens of the class, is becoming try.'" Vol. iii. p. 385.

“Great minds,' says Eberhard, ' who common among British theological with the noblest enthusiam pursue so holy students, and has already begun to an object as the intellectual and moral reformation of their age, cannot but be great- dread lest, both in the Dissenting

pervert our literary theology. We ly inclined to ascribe the origin of those rapid coruscations, which out

of the dark theological academies, and at our profound suddenly dart into their_souls, own Üniversities, some of these to immediate operations of the Deity.' « admirable volumes

may prove If therefore Jesus, the sublimest, the noblest enthusiast that ever was upon earth,

the bane of many a hopeful stuconceived a personal conviction that he dent. One such work as Professor had been called by God to the holy work Milman's “ History of the Jews,” to which he had devoted his life, he by no though its Neology is copiously dimeans merited the base appellation of a

luted, and even then has excited deceived person ; neither was he a deceiver, when he uttered this conviction to universal pain among all pious readothers. He spoke according to his own ers, is a sign of the times which a most inward conviction, of his heavenly CHRISTIAN Observer ought not to mission and the divinity of his doctrine. — overlook : and we, in sincerity and Röhr's Letters.Vol. ii. p. 289.

. The same notion pervades the ad- affection, submit to our respected mirable volumes of Gesenius, so rich in author, as a theological tutor, and philological and historical elucidation, and spiritual parent to the young men generally so faithful in giving the genuine under his charge, whether the fa. may be to his own theory of the prophetic miliar domestication of such critics character. That theory, alas ! stands in- as those alluded to, in divinity classsolently independent of the words or belief rooms and studies, is not an expeof Moses or Isaiah, Jesus, John, or Paul. riment fraught with danger, even To them it im putes that, being among the wisest and best of men, and being the ind under the most anxious correctives struments of God's most beneficent plan from the professorial chair. We fear for promoting virtue and piety, and en- that in some quarters a degree of hancing the present and eternal happiness latitude in this respect is allowed, of the human race, either they were mistaken, though noble enthusiasts,' in

which bodes no good to the next conscientiously believing that the Supreme race of students. We are not ad.

« PreviousContinue »