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tuated, as that between
of the castes in India. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Druses, with whom travellers for the most part come in contact, are unable to give any satisfactory intelligence respecting the faith which they profess to follow. And when we consider that the great mass of them are excluded altogether from religious worship, we can scarcely be surprised at Burckhardt's statement, that they are mere deists, with few sentiments or feelings, and no exterior forms, of a religious nature. In the opinion of the same traveller, we must also be content to acquiesce, that little can be known with certainty, respecting their religion, till some of their ecclesiastics shall be prevailed upon to make a full disclosure. In consequence of this exclusive appropriation of religious knowledge to a single order, the character of the nation at large has been formed by political, rather than religious, circumstances. In language, and in many of their habits, they strongly resemble the Arabs. Like them, they are hospitable, generous, vindictive, adepts in horsemanship, and fond of military exercises ; while the comparative liberty which they enjoy, and their total exemption from the capricious tyranny which grinds the faces of their miserable neighbours, has given them a character of frankness dignity, and independence, which is equally unknown to the oriental Christians and their Moslem masters. They are all tillers of the ground, but are able to raise on an emergency a militia of forty thousand able-bodied men. Their manners are characterised by primitive simplicity combined with a delicate politeness, occasioned probably by their elevated notions respecting the female sex. In a word, in whatever light we view this singular race of men, we cannot but regard their history and manners as among the most interesting objects of inquiry which the Eastern world presents.
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Four Discourses on the Sacrifice and Priesthood of
Jesus Christ; and on the Atonement and Redemption. By John Pye Smith, D. D. London. B. J. Holdsworth. 1828. pp. 316. 8vo.
The author of these Discourses has long held a distinguished place mong the Dissenters, in England, as a learned and orthodox theologian and accurate biblical scholar. As an able writer, also, Dr. Smith is well known to the religious community, especially by his important work on the divinity of the Saviour, entitled, SCRIPTURE TESTIMONY TO MESSIAH. And it is to us a matter of some surprize that this production has never been re-published in this country; as the subject treated is of the highest importance, and one carnestly discussed among us.
It is known to our readers, that Dr. John Pye Smith is professor of theology, in the Academy at Homerton, where a large number of the pastors in the Independent churches of England, receive their education. This important station he has filled, with great respectability and usefulness, for many years. In his theological opinions, he may be denominated, without impropriety, a moderate Calvinist; though his creed is not derived from any human system or hum authority, but from a careful, critical, and conscientious study of the Scriptures. The trait in his character which appears most conspicuously in his writings, is an ardent love of truth. To this he seems to be willing to pay supreme deference; so that he will avail himself of no argument or interpretation unless he is convinced that it is sound. Under
the influence of this noble disposition he is sometimes led to concede some points, which others on the same side have strenuously maintained; and has thus appeared, occasionally, to weaken his own cause. But after all, it is probable, that he gains more than he loses by such a course. Truth needs no aid from error and sophistry; and every defender of truth should be scrupulous, not to admit any suspicious auxiliaries. It has a mighty influence to disarm the prejudice and conciliate the favour of the reader, when an author makes it manifest, that he would not willingly mislead him, if he should have it ever so much in his power.
Dr. Smith appears to be extensively acquainted with the writings of the best theologians, both of ancient and modern times. He has not overlooked, in his various reading, the celebrated writers of the new school of theology, or rather neology, in Germany. The opinions of these subverters of pure Christianity, he treats, as they deserve, with little respect; but he does not disdain to derive aid from the profound and critical researches of these indefatigable scholars.
The first of the Discourses in the volume before us, was originally published as early as the year 1813, and was well received by the public, and highly esteemed by the friends of sound doctrine, notwithstanding that it followed the learned and popular work of Dr. (now Archbishop) Magee, on the same subject. On the general doctrine of the vicarious sufferings of Christ, Dr. Magee's Discourses and Dissertations, produced an extensive and salutary impression on the public mind. Perhaps, no publication, in the English language, for a century past, bas had a more beneficial operation, in settling the sentiments of men on this important doctrine. But excellent as this work is in establishing the main point relative to the atonement, yet if we look to it for satisfaction on a number of subordinate but important points, we shall be disappointed in our expectation. Clear and definite ideas of the necessity, nature, and end of the atonement, are much more satisfactorily exbibited by Dr. Smith, in these Discourses, than in the more popular work of the Archbishop. In our own opinion, however, the old work of Dr. Outram, De Sacrificiis, is superior to both of them, in just and accurate views on this important subject. This valuable treatise has been long known to the learned, and within a few years, has been rendered accessible to the English reader, by the translator of Calvin's Institutes.
Dr. Smith has adopted a practice in the citation of testimonies from the Scriptures, against which we feel constrained to enter our protest. Instead of quoting the words of the authorized version, he gives us his own private interpretation. In his preface, he has assigned his reasons for pursuing this course, but we are not satisfied with the apology. If one person may use this liberty, so may every one, and the consequence would be, interminable confusion. Every smatterer in Greek and Hebrew literature, and every wild errorist, would come forward with their improved versions, of such parts of Scripture as they wished to turn to the advantage of their own cause, and thus the word of God would be rendered contemptible, and the confidence of the people in it as a fixed and infallible standard would be greatly shaken by seeing the sense of the same passage so differently represented. We do sincerely hope, therefore, that this example will not be followed. We do not say, that our English version of the Bible is infallible, or that it has any authority, where it departs from the true meaning of the original; but
; the correct method of proceeding, in our opinion, is, to cite testimonies, in the words of the commonly received version ; and then, if the writer is of opinion that the sense is not fairly or fully given, let him exercise his critical skill, as much as he pleases, in endeavouring to elicit and establish the true meaning.
The style of these Discourses is, for the most part, perspicuous, and sometimes forcible and animated; but in our judgment, too much minute and dry criticism is introduced into them, which should have been referred to the Notes and Illustrations. As they are now constructed, they cannot possibly be of any use but to the learned reader; whereas by throwing the greater part of the critical discus. sion into the Notes, the principal argument would be level to the capacity of any intelligent person.
We think it also a fault, that the learned author, by endeavouring to render his definitions very accurate, in the abstract, often introduces obscurity into a subject, otherwise plain. Of this we have a remarkable example, in the Third Discourse, (p. 183.) where he formally gives the definition of holiness and sin. “ Holiness," says he, " is the respecting of the due relations, or the objects of intended reference, which ought to be, in the performance of actions." And, “Sin is the absence of respect to the due relations of actions." Now, we believe, that these definitions are accurate; but do they elucidate the subject? If the words defined were removed, would any mortal be able to divine, what the subject of the definitions was? It would answer just about as good a purpose, to exhibit holiness and sin in algebraic signs.
Indeed, the greatest dcfect which we have observed in this truly learned and respectable author, is, too great a fondness for abstract reasoning, in cases, where the simple declaration of God is of more weight than all the reasonings in the world.
Our object, in the review of these Discourses, is merely to bring them to the notice of our readers, to furnish thema with a general analysis of their contents, and to give some extracts of sufficient extent, to enable them to judge for themselves, not only of the author's style, but of his theological views.
The text on which these Discourses is founded, is, Heb. ix. 14,-The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.