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'Religious Affections," through the varying modes and attitudes of the spurious and the true, they have opened the most complicated forms of self-deception, and have brought into the clear light of scripture and of sound reason that "candle of the Lord," the essential characters of the "Sincere Convert" and the "Sound Believer."
To the doctrines of sacred truth, also, they have applied their powers of investigation with correspondent advantage. Never had the most important facts and principles been placed in a clearer light of illustration and of proof, than those which relate to the nature and effects of man's alienation from God, the value of redemption, and the power of divine influence, have been by the two Edwardses, Dwight, Beecher, Woods, and other names, beloved and reverenced in both hemispheres.
But, to complete the circle of theological knowledge, one great portion remained without its due observance: the Criticism and Interpretation of the Scriptures. To this, not exclusively of the others, but in close connexion with them, the Andover school has attached itself. It is refreshing, and it fills us with hope and expectation, to observe what great exertions have been made over so wide a field; and yet how deep and thoroughly searching, in the laying down of principles, and in their impartial application to the philology and exposition of the Bible. In the foremost rank of these "fellow-helpers to the truth," stands Mr. Stuart. His example of indefatigable diligence and generous frankness of communication, his official lectures, and his numerous publications, have fixed, we may reasonably trust, upon a basis which cannot be shaken, the knowledge and practice of a correct system for unfolding the meaning intended by the Spirit of God in the writings of inspired men. In this science of interpretation, indispensable to solid divinity, the Reformers in general, and preeminently Luther, Calvin, and our martyred countryman Tyndale, set a noble example; but their successors, through the whole seventeenth century, fell lamentably back, and, deserting the principles upon which alone safe interpretation can be grounded, surrendered themselves, in a great measure, to be governed by reasons of conveniency, taste, and fancy, the authority of parties or of eminent men, or preferences derived solely from the idea of favour or disfavour to a theological system. As the persons
who adopted this arbitrary course were in general the friends and polemical defenders of the doctrines of grace, redemption, and sanctification, as maintained by the nearly unanimous consent of the Reformed Churches, the deplorable consequence was, that deep injury was inflicted on the cause which was thus unworthily managed, partly by its defence being sometimes rested on untenable grounds, and partly by the inducement and facility thus afforded to its adversaries to apply themselves to Bible-criticism, and boast of it as their peculiar domain.
Happily, this is no longer the state of things. The advocates of genuine Christianity are agreed, and are zealous in maintaining, that no doctrines are entitled to be received as divine which do not rest upon the sense and meaning of the Scriptures, elicited by the impartial application of the same instrumental methods that are employed to determine the sense of any other ancient written documents. The universal recognition of this principle is a happy and momentous circumstance; and in its union with vital godliness-a union which ought never to have been weakened, and which is its just and natural association-it furnishes our only rational expectation of a determination to the most important controversies, and of a conciliatory and mutually affectionate disposition with regard to all others.
In this field of Christian labour, the Professors and Associates of the Andover Theological Seminary have laid both their own and the mother-country under great obligations. This they have done, both by translating and republishing some of the most useful labours of the German philologists, and by original compositions of their own, partly in considerable volumes and partly in smaller treatises and papers contributed to periodical works.*
In each of those kinds of literary and sacred labour, Mr. Stuart occupies an eminent station. Some of his works have been reprinted in Great Britain, of which the principal are his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, and his Grammar of the Hebrew Language, books, the value of which is highly appreciated by those who know them. To these is now added, by the author's appointment, the following Commentary on the Epistle
Of these, our attention is particularly drawn to the Biblical Repository, published quarterly, by Mr. Robinson, one of the Andover Professors.
to the Romans; an epistle which, to borrow the words of the illustrious reformer, "besides many other excellencies, and those of the highest order, possesses this unrivalled and inestimable quality, that the man who has attained to a genuine understanding of it, has the doors wide open before him for entering into the deepest treasures of holy writ."*
The great difficulty of obtaining in our country an adequate supply of the theological literature of the United States has been lamented by many who know something of the master-spirits, from the benefit of whose productions we are, in a great measure, debarred. Considerable pains have been taken to remove this obstacle, but without the desired success. It appears that there are difficulties in the way of obtaining an adequate supply of works in theology and sacred criticism, greater than what exist in relation to other branches of literature. I conceive, therefore, that the English publishers of this work are performing a valuable service to the cause of religion in printing this new edition. This they do in conformity with the express appointment of the author.
I shall be excused for taking upon me to say, that this volume will be found especially useful to students for the Christian ministry, and to young ministers. Besides the more obvious qualities of a valuable book, it furnishes a course of practical lessons, and is itself an ample illustration, upon the indispensable rule of solid exposition, that we should possess our minds with a clear conception of the general design of an argumentative work, and of the scope of the larger parts which compose
CALVINI Argum. in Ep. Rom. It is among the many encouraging signs of our times, that, in the Lutheran church, where, a century and a half ago, the name of Calvin was rarely mentioned without some accompaniment of reproach, such encomiums as the following are now honourably given and favourably received. "In his Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans, are united pure Latinity, a solid method of unfolding and interpreting, founded on the principles of grammatical science and historical knowledge, a deeply penetrating faculty of mind, and vital · piety."-Tholuck's Exp. Ep. Rom. 3d ed. Berlin, 1831, p. 19. "John Calvin well merited the epithet, often given to him, of THE GREAT DIVINE. Independent in the highest degree of other men, he most often discerns, with piercing eye, the spiritual mind of Paul, and with his masterly command of language, makes it so clear, that both the most learned student of theology and the plain affectionate believer are equally benefited and and satisfied.”—Böhmer's (one of the Divinity Professors in the University of Berlin) Introd. to the Ep. to the Colossians, Berlin, 1829, p. 205.
the whole, and are subordinate to its ultimate end; and that the resolution of sentences, and the interpretation of the clauses and terms which form them, must proceed under the direction of that comprehensive and commanding view. Should it be objected that we have no means of acquiring that total comprehension, except through the investigation of the component parts, we reply that such investigation needs not to be, in the first instance, anxiously minute, and that a rapid yet closely attentive reading through of a single and brief composition will put us into possession of this general view. As, in the entire domain of nature and providence, there is an action and a reaction which accompany each other, so in the example of this Commentary the reader will see the process in both ways, and will find that both the analysis and the synthesis, in the work of exposition, elucidate and prove each other.
To some readers, the frequent introduction of grammatical observations, both Greek and Hebrew, may appear extraordinary. Those who least need such transient remarks will not be the first to disapprove of them. It must be recollected, that the matter of the Commentary was previously delivered by the Professor in his lectures to the Students of the American Theological Seminary at Andover. They are therefore interesting, as affording, in this respect, a very exact exhibition of his mode of tuition. These are points to which the attention of such as desire to be well grounded in the art of sound Bible-interpretation, ought to be constantly and closely directed. Moreover, many of them are of a kind which has not been within the common range of grammarschool learning; at least, not till such books as those of Buttmann, Matthiæ, Thiersch, Winer, and Alt, were brought into general use. For similar reasons, I am grateful for the frequent reference which Mr. Stuart makes to the figures and forms of technical rhetoric and logic. The artificial terms expressing these objects are never, indeed, or very rarely, to be brought into the pulpit; but the use of them in private study deserves every recommendation and encouragement. To a considerable extent, they are an abridged notation of the operations of thought; and they greatly aid clearness of conception, and the management of the reasoning process. In their application to the exposition of the Scriptures, they bring much advantage, not only for elucidating the immediate
subject, and of leading the mind to satisfaction in the conclusions, but for the furnishing of lessons and examples in order to future practice. They belong to the manual exercise with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD;" but, when any man has attained the utmost dexterity in this exercise, let him the more seriously and practically remember, that the wielding arm must be nerved with the power of devotional piety, or he will misuse his weapon, and, it may be, wound himself to death.
The excellence of this work does not only lie in the general felicity of the translation, in the unfolding of the design of the epistle, in analysing its contents, and in shewing their order and dependence. These are invaluable qualities; but, along with them, we find in this volume many instructive and excellent dissertations, both occurring incidentally in the Commentary and formally treated in Excursus at the end. In particular, eminent clearness and judgment, always under the guidance of an humble and pious disposition, appear in educing the causes of condemnation resting upon mankind, the nature and effects of the connexion between the first man and his descendants, the formal reason of restoration to the divine favour, and the necessity, progress, and ultimate perfection of a real acquisition of the divine holiness. Penetrating and judicious, also candid and conciliatory, are the investigations and reflections concerning the decrees of God, and the manner in which the will of God has any relation to the sinful dispositions and actions of men.
Mr. Stuart is one of the last men in the world to entertain the wish, that any should receive his sentiments without an independent conviction of their truth. I know that it is his warm desire to have his views, especially those in which he differs from divines and scholars of high character, subjected to the most rigorous yet upright examination; and that it would afford him the most sincere gratification to have any mistaken argumentation rectified, and any errors disclosed, by the proper evidence.
On this account I entertain no apprehension of displeasing my honoured friend, when I acknowledge myself not convinced by his very able discussion of the question, whether the case put, and the description so pathetically drawn, in the seventh chapter of this epistle, refers to an unconverted man or to the apostle himself as a sincere and practical Christian. To my humble