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fore, beloved brethren, let it form as prominent a part of our ministrations and hopes, as it did those of the Apostles and Evangelists in the primitive ages ;”—which advice we think much more scriptural than that of Dr. Pye Smith.
Dr. Smith has been bred up, as almost all the Evangelical world of the present day has been, in the system of spiritualizing away the plainest expressions of God's word; which system was first introduced by Grotius, and other Socinians of that school. He finds that this system will not stand the experimentum crucis of comparison with what has been revealed upon the subject; and he therefore, in this sermon, throws every possible discouragement upon submitting this theory to that test. He represents the examination as of little importance, and that it requires more pre-requisites than ninety-nine persons out of every hundred possess. He suggests a doubt here, and a difficulty there ; and draws a distinction between books which relate past events and books which relate future events, for which there is no warrant. The Gospels and the Epistles are as full, if not more full, of predictions, and of details of things to come, as Isaiah and Ezekiel. The very historical books are prophetic, because most of the principal events therein recorded are declared in the New Testament to be patterns of things to come. We cannot understand the obsequious deference to the leader of a religious sect, which should induce such men as Messrs. H. Forster Burder, Stratten, Dr. Collyer, and some others, who have published opinions directly opposed to this system of Dr. Smith, to request the publication of so pernicious a sermon: but there are few men who can venture to think and act for themselves against their party, whether in political or sectarian questions.
At the end of his sermon Dr. Smith has added “supplementary notes.” One of these is as follows, on Dan. xii. 4:
“ • Many will err; and knowledge will be great: i. e. Though all this is expressed so clearly, and though some (probably at the time of the fulfilment) will understand these prophecies with so much plainness and certainty; yet others will understand them very erroneously, or (for so the word might be translated) will despise them.'
“ I cannot but entreat my reader to observe, how expressly the Divine vision declared to Daniel the grand principle pleaded for in this discourse; that prophecy cannot be explained by mortals till after the event of fulfilment. • And I heard, but understood not. Then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things ?. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel ; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end' (Vers. 8, 9).”
We defy barefaced perversion of Scripture to go beyond this. The notes are appended for no conceivable purpose but that of proclaiming to the world that the author of the sermon can read German : and we apprehend that if he never had done so it would have been better for him, since it is evident that he is strongly tinctured with the shallowness of the Neological school. He has given a long extract from Dr. Jabn's Introduction to the Old Testament, in which he has brought forward the old objections raised by Porphyry to the authenticity of Daniel : to these objections, which have been answered a thousand times, and are well known to every schoolboy who has attended a course of divinity lectures, Dr. Smith has given the answers of Jahn himself alone, being about the least satisfactory of all the refutations which have been given.
At p. 67 he says, “It seems necessary here to notice the attempt of some eminent scholars, but who are deeply tinctured with the Neologism of the last forty years, to destroy the received belief of Jews and Christians in the genuineness of a large portion of the Book of Isaiah,” &c. Where this “ necessity was found, we have been unable to discover; and if it existed any where, an equal, or rather a greater, necessity existed “to notice” the answers-the abundant and more than sufficient answers-of much more eminent scholars than the Neological objectors. These, however, have not been given ; but in their stead some which are so unsatisfactory, that any one who knows no more of the matter than what he can gather from Dr. Smith's note will have his faith rather shaken than confirmed. We have already said that Dr. Smith's style shews he has read too many of the writings of the Neological school : his customary phrases are taken from it: his common expression for the Bible is, "the Divine word” (p. 2, 23): God, is the Divine Spirit” (p. 38), or, " the Divine Author of Inspiration ” (pp. 32, 53): Christ, is “the Divine Messiah.” We hope that we are not unjust towards Dr. Smith ; but the very rapid increase of Neology in Germany within the last few years; its extension into France by the translation, for the first time, of some of its worst and most insidious publications ; and its spread into England, induces us to hunt it out in every quarter : while, at the same time, it may induce us to suspect that we sometimes “smell a rat behind an arras,” which at last may turn out to be only an old Polonius.
In order to give our readers some idea of the great increase of Neology, we take this opportunity of laying a few facts upon this subject before them. The two religious journals of most repute in Germany, are the Unveränderliche Einheit der Evangelischen Kirche-that is, the Unchangeable Unity of the Evangelical Church-under the management of Dr. Ammon of Dresden, who, from the year 1794, when he published his Christology, has been the able and indefatigable preacher of Neology: and the other journal is the Allgemeine Kirchenzeitung—the Universal Church Gazette-published four times a week, by Dr. Zimmerman of Darmstadt as distinguished a Neologian as Ammon. The Literary Journal of Göttingen, and some others of inferior note, are equally infidel.
In France, Neology is also making rapid strides. The French, too frivolous to wade through the dull pages of Döderlein's Institutes, and Wegscheider's Dogmatik, have had their taste more suitably supplied by translations of the Stunden der Andacht—that is, Hours of Devotion-an insidious work written by Popish priests; and Mutter's work on Gnosticism. A religious journal is also established at Paris, either newly, or, if it be an old one, it is revived under new management, with the same principles.
In England, Gesenius's Hebrew Lexicon conveys its subtle poison with the elements of the sacred language, and though the octavo edition is not so flagrant as the quarto, the former contains abundant evidence of its character: yet of this quarto edition, the Evangelical Magazine, of which Dr. Smith is one of the principal directors, says,
“We have no hesitation in affirming that Mr. Leo, in effecting a translation of this incomparable work, has conferred a distinguished blessing on mankind, and more especially on those who aim at a critical study of the Hebrew Scriptures. We trust that theological students in our Dissenting Colleges will be furnished with the assistance which this Lexicon will afford them in mastering the Hebrew tongue. Their respective committees ought to see to this matter; it is one of great consequence. Henceforward, we trust that a single missionary will not proceed to the heathen without this Lexicon.”
Milman's History of the Jews, written for the Family Library, shews that the professors at Oxford are not exempt; and a more than half-encouragement to such doctrines is found in the mode in which Davison has handled his argumenton primitive sacrifice. At Cambridge, the Translators of Niebuhr, and Professor Lee's perversion of Exodus vii., shew that that University cannot take the mote out of the eye of the other. The treatment that Mr. Bost experienced at the hands of the Bible Society and Eclectic Review, prove the leaning that the Evangelical world has to favour Neologians, rather than those who expose them.
On the other hand, a valiant band has been raised in this country to meet the enemy. Mr. Rose, Mr. Pusey, and Mr. Evanson, have done their part ; and the Edinburgh Christian Instructor ably defended Mr. Bost. Dr. Faussett, the Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford, has ably exposed the infidelity of Milman, in a sermon which we strongly recommend to our readers.
The danger of Neology spreading in this country arises from the Religious World here being precisely in the state which is described to be that in which the religious world of Germany was when this moral pestilence broke out there; the essence of which consists in spiritualizing, or giving a mystic sense, at variance with the plain meaning of the language; which is the root of the system of Dr. Smith, and the spiritualizers of the Bible. The following description, by Mr. Pusey, with which we shall close these remarks, might be supposed to be that of England.
“ The means adopted to preserve and extend this spirit (that of piety) were meetings for the practical study of Scripture, for mutual consultation and assistance, and for more than ordinary domestic and public devotion. The strongest hold of formalism is iu the very means employed to promote devotion. Great watchfulness is requisite against self-deception, from considering them as more than means; greut discrimination in the recommendation of these means to others. In both, lamentable mistakes were committed by the later members of this school; hypocrisy was engendered, by the too great stress laid upon private. edifying and Christian conversation ; their indiscriminate and too frequent employment, where the mind was yet unprepared to profit by them (the use of • strong meal' where 'milk' alone could nourish), often produced reaction and disgust. In other cases, religious conversation was engaged in as a mere act of duty and as a test of religion ; and the probably but half-conscious hypocrisy, which employed the expressions of religion without a correspondent feeling, deadened the heart. The actions, finally, in which the religious spirit manifested itself, wer in part only liable to perversion. Neither the zeal for plans of benevolence, nor the resignation of expensive gratifications to promote them, which distinguish the school of Halle, nor the highly prospered efforts to extend Christianity among the heathen, were well susceptible of it. The degree of value, however, attached to the abstinence from amusements, whose character is derived solely from their influence upon each individual, became a source both of self-deception and of breaches of Christian charity ;- a deflection invariably occurring as soon as the abstinence is regarded as being in itself a Christian duty. A legal yoke is then substituted for Christian freedom; and things, in the first instance acknowledged by the party itself to be of subordinate importance, become the test of Christian progress. It thus became common to exclude from the communion persons known to have danced, or to have played at cards. The great object, lastly, of the early school, the promotion of practical living Christianity around them, became a mere external duty; and, being consequently pursued mechanically, alienated too often, instead of winning to the Gospel.
“ This painful detail is fruitful in admonition to our own and to all times. Without it, the want of resistance from the school of the Pietists to the subsequent invasion of unbelief would be unaccounted for."
“On the Attention due to unfulfilled Prophecies: a Discourse; by
Joseph Fletcher, A. M.” The sermon which appears next in succession to that of Dr. Pye Smith's, is by Mr. Joseph Fletcher. It forms a striking contrast to its predecessor : instead of being pedantic, it is plain and unaffected; instead of discouraging the study of unfulfilled prophecy, it declares such study to be an imperative duty: while the truisms which the preacher inserts--such as declaring that those only who know their letters should try to read-seem intended merely to obviate a charge of opposing the opinions of the “Theological Tutor of Homerton. The text is 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. The preacher observes, at p. 10,
“ Revelation commences with an announcement of the first coming of the Messiah, and it closes with the solemn assurance of his second coming. Between this first announcement and the final consummation, are included all the dispensations of revealed religion, all the revolutions of time, and all the operations of nature and of grace, in order to the ultimate accomplishment of the designs of mercy, and the manifestation of the Divine glory through eternal ages. Between those two periods all who have ever lived, or who may hereafter live, are or ought to be interested in the contemplation of unfulfilled prophecies; and the lapse of time, by increasing the materials of knowledge, and supplying additional facilities for research, should stimulate to diligent and devout investigation.
“ Prophecy puts us in possession of some of the great purposes of the Inanité Mind. It is that part of revelation, which at all times leads the mind onwards. It carries us from the past to the future; it connects the past with the future: it leads us to regard the faithfulness of God exhibited in the past, as warranting our confidence for the future. It would be therefore ingratitude to Him who has thus revealed his will, to act as if the past were sufficient, and we had no interest in the contemplation of the future.”
At p. 13, he again observes, “ Consider, my friends, the general command applicable to every part of revelation : Search the Scriptures: in them ye think ye have eternal life ; and they are they that testify of me' (John v. 39). Now this injunction was addressed to the Jews, for the very purpose of recommending an attention to prophecies, then actually fulfilling, or about to be fulfilled : and if it be regarded not as an injunction, but, as I am inclined to think, a declaration, which should be read rather indicatively, than imperatively; thus referring to what was the practice, or what from their profession might be presumed to be the practice of those addressed by our Lord, its force is not only unaffected, but augmented. It is solemnly recognized as an important duty, at all times binding on those who profess the oracles of truth, and applying therefore to the church in every age: It requires that on every subject, the word of Christ should dwell in us richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.'"
At p. 15, we read,
“ There is an attention to this subject unquestionably claimed by its intrinsic excellence, and the Divine authority enforcing it. And if any of the servants of Christ, from peculiar circumstances, or an aptitude for such researches; or, above all, a devout and commendable interest in the prosecution of the subject, devote even a large portion of their time to these investigations; far be it from us to look on them with the frown of disdain or the smile of derision. Far be it from us to sympatbise with the idle or the careless, who lose more time in the work of basty censure, than ever they spent in the labour of honest research. If this portion of revealed truth had been more generally studied, and more of the resources of sober criticism and sound discretion had been applied to its elucidation, there would have been less of extravagant hypothesis and daring speculation; and unquestionably less of rash dogmatism on the one hand, and unwarrantahle scepticism on the other. What might have been known, would in this case have been more profitably brought under public notice, with less of fiction to gratify the curious, and more of truth to edify the humble.
“Some prejudices against the study of prophecies yet unaccomplished have been supported, not only by referring to the extravagancies and absurdities of ancient and modern speculations, but because great obscurity attaches 10 all prophetic representations; and it is assumed that we cannot understand them, till the event explains them. If it were said, we cannot understand them fully, there would be more truth in the statement. But will not such an objection apply to the predictions fulfilled, as well as to those which are unfulfilled, and to some of the doctrines of Scripture, as well as to its pred ions? It has been said that God has put the times and the seasons in his own power ;' still, as far as he has given us intimations of their occurrence, it is not vain curiosity, but commendable and legitimate research, to endeavour to ascertain the predicted periods. A seemingly oracular caution is sometimes cited, as if it were