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Deist; but we are puzzled to determine the exact quantity of belief in the sacred books which is required of him. We suspect, from the assumptions which he is called upon to make, that he is expected to allow their genuineness. If 80, he is only one point distant from a Christian. That point might become so extremely fine as not to be distinguishable by mortal perception. Could therefore the Theist be pushed to that extreme, he would be forced to acknowledge the credibility of the Scriptures:---his sense of their authenticity must either rest with his faith, or with his learning. Thus we cannot exactly see the distinction which subsists in Mr. Penrose's mind between the Theist, and that Christian to whom a treatise on the evidences of Scripture miracles is necessary. Nor do we think that the distinction is kept up in the work itself. The argument is often addressed rather to the Deist than to the Theist, or to the hesitating Christian. Those objects, we have before remarked, should have been kept more distinct; or rather, should have been treated separately; and there is ample room for an elaborate treatise addressed to each. The science might be so constructed as to lead the infidel by a sound reasoning process; and the sentiment arising from a clear exposition of the indispensable use of miracles,-the principle of their power, justice, and benevolence,--might be so refined and exalted, as to carry the mind away (as it were) in the spirit, into the presence of Him for whose pleasure all things are and were created. To have united those two objects, would have been the highest exertion of intellectual power ;-of intellect disciplined by science, and purified by faith. An effort of which we have one perfect example in our Church, by him who treating on the apparently dry subject of its polity, says, “ Then are we happy, therefore, when fully we enjoy God as an object wherein the powers of our souls are satisfied, even with everlasting delight; so that although we be men, yet by being unto God united, we live, as it were, the life of God.” It should be the object of every treatise addressed to the Christian, thus to unite him with the source of his being; and this might particularly have been accomplished by a treatise on miracles: and there are in Mr. Penrose's book passages which lead us to lament that such an object was not more decidedly pursued.
Were we called upon to give a character of the work before us in few words, we should say that it is 'a fine and powerful specimen of special pleading: for it certainly exhibits that cha. racter in its arrangement, and in the manner of its discussion; indulging in the laxity of order with which that species of com, position can so easily, and so elegantly, leave the high road of argument, to view the curiosities and gather the flowers on ! The principal points which have engaged the attention of the writers on miracles, are a definition of the word, which might be thought quite easy to accomplish; and the degree of credit, if any, due to the claim which is put forth for demoniacal power. On this latter point we think that Spinoza was rational. Indeed, we cannot conceive how any man can read the confused and contradictory accounts of the ancients, and for a moment contend that there are grounds for supposing that any secondary power was suffered to rule, or to have any influence over nature. Clinia (Plato de Legibus, lib. ii.) confesses that they esteemed statues as animated deities. Now, abstracted from all discussion, a miracle may be properly defined an act exceeding “ the force and power of nature ;” and this definition is the substance of all others; but through those personal views which each writer had before him, each one sought to turn the meaning of the word his own way. For our part, we should be content with the simplest definition, satisfied that whenever the truthshines upon the subject, it will reflect its light upon the evidence of Scripture miracles, and shew their evidence clearer and stronger. Had Mr. Penrose taken the trouble to show where the definitions of preceding writers diverge from a simple definition, he might have added to his own argument by pointing out the testimony which such obliquity of reasoning bears to the great truth. Dr. Hutcheson thus has a forcible remark upon the needlessness of miracles to firmly settle the mind in its reliance upon the goodness and power of the Deity: but which is a most forcible argument in favour of their testimony in promulging and establishing His holy will as revealed in the Scriptures. The argument of Spinoza may be traced down to Hume, and then burns itself out. It flickers a while in the socket, but expires in obscurity, as the rays of truth become more and more diffused through the intellectual and moral world. And we doubt not, but that the clouds and mists of opposition will continue to dissipate until the sun of righteousness rises to his meridian. But we have no hope that even truth itself will prevail with all men. In the mean time it is the duty of those whose eyes are open to the importance of the times, and to the stake which our country holds, to-labour in the cause of truth, as the cause of God. Under this feeling we offer to Mr. Penrose our thanks for his elaborate treatise. To those who will readi it, it must be of service, and we only lament that it will not be of that decided and eminent service to many, 'who would have read ithad it been presented to them in such a form, that its use and its beauties had been as apparent, as it was in his learning and talent to make them.
The Christian Exodus; or, the Deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt
practically considered, in a series of Discourses. By the Rev. R. P. BUDDICOM, M.A. F.A.S., Minister of St. George's Church, Everton ; and late Fellow of Qucen's College, Cambridge. i 2 Vols. 8vo. 11. Is. London. Seeley. 1826.
It is often the hard fate of reviewers to be compelled to pronounce, contrary to their inclinations, that sentence of condemnation which critical justice requires. Every work, the professed end and object of which is to advance the best interests of man has, on that very account, a claimi upon our regard, which the most rigid critic finds it difficult to resist. Who that is not destitute of the common feelings of humanity can observe the intention to do good, without wishing to commend the deed ? Who that is a sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can witness the attempt to propagate and enforce the doctrines of the holy Gospel, without a secret desire to approve of the performance? The design in such cases has a powerful influence upon generous minds in recommending the execation. It forms a passport to our affections, which rarely fail by an impulse, sometime unperceived, to incline the understanding in favour of the object by which they are excited. " But if it be an acknowledged truth in the moral conduct of man, that the end does not always justify the means, nor the motive always sanctify the deed, it is no less so that a literary performance should be judged by its literary merits. Here no partiality should be allowed to bias our judgment. A book, however praise-worthy the design, is submitted to the ordeal of public opinion, by which alone it must stand or fall. Reviewers, in common with the rest of the world, have no concern with the motive of the author; and, though they may admire and commend 'the design of the work, it is the execution only upon which they are called upon to pronounce a decision.
to We have been led into this train of reflection by the volumes announced at the head of this article. The object of the revetend preacher every faithful Christian will be forward to com mend; numerous passages will find an echo in every believing heart, much, too, will claim, and with justice, an unqualified approbation ; but much, we regret to say, will be disapproved by the more judicious part of the Christian community. This is not the first time that Mr. Buddicom has appeared before the public as an author; and the tone of fervent piety which pervades the present volumes, the many eloquent enforcements of Christian faith and Christian morality, the general aim of the whole, as well as all that we have heard of his zeal as an able minister of the Gospel, and of
the excellence of his private character, strongly incline us to offer the humble meed of our entire approbation; but some things there are, on the other hand, which we cannot view in so favourable a light; and we feel that we should be deceiving our readers, if we did not lay before them those objections to some of Mr. Buddicom's views which are so strongly impressed upon our own minds. We shall therefore endeavour fairly, but fearlessly, to discharge our duty to the public by an examination of the volumes before us, and of the general principle of interpretation by the aid of which the author has intended to illustrate and to recommend the doctrines and duties of religion.
Without staying to question the propriety of the title " The Christian Exodus," which might savour more of cavil than of candour, we observe that, as we are informed in the preface, in these Discourses the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt is systematically treated, and applied to the vicissitudes of Christian life, not less than to the wonders of Christian redemption. With this we have no disposition to find fault; the Old Testament history may be applied to the situation of believers in this world, and the various events there recorded may be so illustrated, such reflections made, and such inferences drawn, as to be a fruitful source, of that usefulness and edification which ought to be the grand aim of the preacher. But without much care, it is a mode of propounding the truths of Christianity, and the rules of holiness, liable to the most flagrant abuse. , Unless it be directed by a sound and chastised judgment, it will degenerate into forced applications, fanciful analogies, and into those wild and incoherent deductions, which are the natural result of an attempt to trace imaginary resemblances. It were easy to name sermons, in which the anxiety. to apply the events of the Jewish history to the Christian life, has been productive of such strange conceits, inconclusive argu
ments, and whimsical comparisons, as unavoidably to excite the risibility of the thoughtless, and the scorn and indignation of the serious. This method of teaching has its limits, of which we know no other criterion than a correct taste sober judgment; beyond these it becomes wild and incongruous; rather the sport of a wayward fancy, than the earnest labour of a well-directed zeal.
If there be danger in what may be denominated the historieab application of the sacred Scriptures, there is still much greater in the spiritual and typical interpretation. This myst tical
way of interpreting the inspired writings has prevailed in all ages of the Christian Church, particularly since the days of Origen, who has been not unjustly styled the father of allego, rical, spiritual, or mystical interpreters. But it was much more ancient than Origen. It abounds in the writings of Philo Josephus, and it was unquestionably of still greater antiquity than this learned Jew; for both be himself and Eusebius attest, that the Therapeutæ of Alexandria, had several ancient books of their founders full of the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures *. Clement of Alexandria probably derived this mystical art, which he appears to have cultivated very assiduously, from Philo, whom he transcribes largely, and very frequently imitates. As he was Origen's master, it may be reasonably presumed that the pupil leárned it from the preceptor. This mode of expounding not only prevailed among the Jews, but likewise among the Gentiles, from the latter of whom, it is thought by some, that it was introduced into the Jewish and Christian Churches. And this opinion is very probable, since we know that the Iliad of Homer, long before the birth of Christ, was made the subject of allegorical expositions, a collection of which is still extant, and published under the title of Heraclidis Allegoriæ Homericæ. But from whatever source derived, it was undoubtedly too much practised by Clement and Origen; the latter of whom especially carried it to a most culpable extent, and in imitation of whom many subsequent writers have adventured into this dangerous and seductive scheme of interpretation, a scheme which has been the source of much error and fanaticism. .
In the number of those who have pushed the system of typical interpretation beyond its just limíts, we hesitate not to say, that the general voice of theologians will place the author of “ the Christian Exodus." His best exertions, he tells us, have been used to guard against an error, at once so seductive, and
Philo, De Vita Contemplat. p. 893, Eusebius Hist. Eccles. 1. 2, c. 17.