« ZurückWeiter »
the merit of that sacrifice, free forgiveness was obtained for all mankind, consistently with the honour, dignity, and security of God's laws. Christ's death destroyed the power of death :--that is, it has blotted out and cancelled the penalty of eternal death, which sinful man had contracted, and has opened the way to eternal life. He is therefore the true lamb of God, which taketh away the fins of the world ; --He is the sacrificer and the sacrifice : he has entered into heaven, of which the fanctuary in the Jewish temple was the figure, not with the blood of animals, but with his own; and he offered to God once for all the sacrifice of his own deach; which being a perfect, and sufficient sacrifice needeth not to be repeated, like the continual facrifices of the old law, though it must be continued, as perfect and necessary, by our offering it repeatedly in representation and commemoration :--thereby to apply the virtue and efficacy of Chriít's sufferings, in our own persons, to ourselves.
« The naine of Pontius Pilate is inserted in the Creed, that we may continually be reminded by it of the time, and circumstances of our Saviour's death and sufferings; by what means and methods the designs of divine Providence were accomplished, that thus it should be ;---that Christ might suffer, by a foreign power, a particular kind of death, not prescribed by the Jewish law; the sentence of which, the Jews were not permitted either to pronounce, or execute ; being
obliged to refer all capital causes to the Roman Governor.” : The style of this little work is by no means suited to the eighteenth century. A brother critic, who agrees with us, that the performance is light and superficial, would yet have been unwilling to concur with us, in dooming it to oblivion, had it been purged from its herebys and therebys, and heretos and theretos, and herefroms and therefroms, and from hences and from thences.
But we have detected such gramınatical errors; and there is such a want of rhythm in the periods, such a dull uniformity in the con. ftruction of the paragraphs, and such a feebleness in the expression, that we should ill discharge our duty as critics, by recommending « Christian Institutes" to the public attention. in
Art. XV. A few plain Reasons for the Belief of a Chriftian,
By Thomas Robinson, A. M. Rector of Ruan-Minor, Cornwall. 8vo. PP. 44. 15. Robinson. 1800.
IN a sensible and well-written introduction to this treatise, the author remarks: Few, perhaps, are fo ignorant of the history of revelation, as never to have heard of the attempis that have been made to impede its progress, and frustrate its success. Few are there, but must know, that persons have existed, who have laboured by their writings to expose it to contempt as a fabrication and impofture. Bút little was to be apprehended from the dispersion of those unfounded and fallacious arguments, which, too intricate and subtle for common understanding, were confined to the perusal of men of talents and erudition." The infidels, of the present day, have had recourse
to a different, and, unfortunately, a more successful method. By
A few years since, Dr. Beattie published two little volumes, en.
Mr. Robinson's work has the advantage of being much cheaper and shorter than either of these publications; and is, therefore, more accessible to the poorer classes, and more likely to be read and studied by persons who have no great command of time.
The “ Reasons" are divided into five short chapters. In the third chapter, Mr. Robinson adduces his Reasons for believing the New Teftament. «"That these reasons (says he) are of the strongest and most fatisfactory nature, and fully adequate to the conviction of every rational enquirer, I shall endeavour to establish by a distinct confideration of the three following propositions : -it. That the founder of the Christian religion derived his commislion and office from God. zdly. That he was not only invested with divine authority, but was, in reality, that very Messiah who had been so long promised, and fo ardently expected. 3dly. That the accounts delivered down to
as in the New Testament, relative to his life, doctrines, and character,
. When persons relate any matters of fact, it is usual to determine,
to their affertions. When, on enquiry, we find in the witnesses, not only an unblemished integrity, but sufficient knowledge and penetra., tion to ascertain the truth of the circumstances they atteft ; when we are certain, that they could not well be deceived themselves, nor were ' likely to attempt an imposition on others, we may safely acquiesce in the validity of the teftimony voluntarily brought forward. Now, if we apply these rules to the evangelists and apostles, we shall soon be convinced, that they are by no means defective in any such marks of true historians. - If we examine. into their integrity, we muft foon perceive, from the tenor of their writings, that they were incapable ** of propagating a wilful imposture. Their giving an account of their errors and imperfections, of their mean extraction' and employments, their ambitious contentions, and their denial and defertion of their master in his distress, is an argument of great force in favour of their veracity in other respects. They might have concealed every thing that tended to lower theni' in the public estimation with the greateft ease, as it was not essential to the Chriftian faith that it should be transmitted to posterity. If, therefore, they have recorded transactions that were likely to leffen their own characters, we cannot well require a more satisfactory proof of their strict and impartial regard to truth in every other circumstance which they have asserted in their narra. tives. And besides, they spoke of such things only as they had féen or heard, themselves, or had been informed of by others who had had ocular demonstration. They have plainly shewn, by the general strain of good sense and judgment, which runs through their writings, that, they were not likely to be deceived by impofition; and the circum . stances they describe are of such a nature as not to admit of error or delusion. Had they been inclined to impose on the world by the fabrication of a fallhood, they could not have expected to fucceed in the deception. They wrote their accounts but a short period after the death of their Master, at a time when multitudes were still alive, who had been witnesses of the different facts which they related, and who, if an opportunity had offered, would gladly have come forward to detect and disgrace them. It is, indeed, highly improbable, that a set of men should have united to affert, that a person called Jefus of Nazareth had come from God, revealed eternal life, confirmed his doctrines by miracles; suffered death, and after three days had risen again from the grave; and, after this, that the Holy Ghost had visibly descended on his difciples, on the day of Pentecost, and enabled them to speak all languages; that from] thence they had been dispersed through all nations, and liad confirmed cheir preaching by the operation of signs and wonders ; it is, I say, not worthy of the Nightest degree of credit, that such a narrative should have been attempted by
the apostles, or suffered to be propagated by the Jews, (whose interest - it was to put a stop to it) had it not been founded on facts, the exift
ence of which had been clearly and publickly afcertained. But even were we to suppose, that the apostles were inclined to practice such an impofition, with what' possible view could they have been led to at. tempt it? Men are not often found to do mischief for mischief's fake,
even when they may do it with impunity. How much more impio. bable, then, is it, that men should do it, when so far from having the profpect of advantage before them, they were certain of incurring the greatest danger ? Had they wished to acquire the honours or riches of the world, they took the worst possible method that could have been devised to attain them, as the doctrines they taught were in direct opposition to the inclinations of those who were able to promote their private interests. They must have been already convinced, from the fate of their Master, that nothing but evil was reasonably to be exo pected from preaching a doctrine which had been to the Jews a stumbling-block,' and would, probably, by the Greeks' be accounted • fcolishness.' They must have been well aware, that their perseverance in the same cause would eventually expose them, as it before had Him, to contempt, poverty, imprisonment, and death."" Pp. 32-35.
From this excerpt it will be judged, that Mr. Robinson's style and manner are serious, argumentative, and impreslive. The author affects no beauties of language ; no sentimental refinement; but is, every where, simple and unadorned. And, as he professes, that his “design in this publication was to render himself useful to the middle classes,” his plainnels does credit to his professions; and a sound judgement is equally discoverable in the intention and the execution. In the mean time, he has displayed a considerable degree of scriptural erudition. He has compressed within the small space of forty. four pages, as large a quantity of theological matter, as we have seen expanded over two hundred, even in works of great merit and celebrity. And he hath contrived to throw an air of familiarity over 'arguments that have seldom been introduced into popular treatises.
Though close in the argumentation, yet he is never logically formal : though scarcely admitting into his pages a superfluous word, yet he never offends for want of ease or fluency.
In Dr. Beattie's Treatise too many infidel objections are brought forward, for those who are debarred, through their occupations, from entering deeply into the study of the scriptures. For though such objections may be satisfactorily answered, in the opinion of men of sense and learning, they often leave a disagreeable impression on the common mind, excite a wish for farther inquiry when the opportunities of investigation are wanting, raise doubts and suspicions where not a sceptical idea had ever before intruded, and disturb the tranquillity of many an honest Christian.
In the Summary of the Evidences," &c. by the Bishop of London, there are various passages (especially the comparison, beautiful as it is, between the Bible and the Koran not very happily adapted to such persons as “ boaft neither taste nor literature.” But we scruple nor to affert, on the most attentive perusal of it, that Mr. Robinson's little work is calculated for all, high or low, rich or poor, who are required “ to give a Reason of the hope that is in them.”
Art. XVI. A Sermon preached before the Archdeacons and Clergy of
the Deaneries of Hartsmere and Hoxné, in Suffolk; at the Vijita-
THE main object of this discourse is to impress on the minds of the clergy the necessity of additional zeal in “ Looking diligently left any man fail of the grace of God" (the words of the text), in these disjointed times when infidelity rears her unblushing front in the different nations of the earth, and when the spirit of innovation or rather, of demolition, is widely diffused with all the pride of vanity, and with all the energy of wickedness. Mr. Brand marks the character of this mischievous spirit, traces its progress, and describes its origin. He bestows just commendations on the moderation displayed by the original reformers of our church, and contrasts their conduct with that of the pretended reformers of the present day,
He makes a distinction between what he calls the rights of extreme necefity, such as were called into a&tion in this country in 1688, and the imaginary rights of expedience, on the dangerous question of resistance to civil authority. He quotes, (in a note) for the. benefit of those who assert the existence of these latter rights, the words of one of the whig managers, on the trial of Sacheverell, who are favourite authorities with Mr. Brand ;-" Resistance is what is not, cannot, nor ought ever to be described and affirmed, in any positive law, to be excuseable; when, and upon what never to be expected occasións, it may be exercised, no man can foresee; and ougbt never to be thought of." This doctrine is unquestionably found, much, very much, as it differs from the precepts and practices of modern whig's.
Mr. Brand has an aptitude, almost peculiar to himself, in the application of events, of ancient times to the transactions of the present, proceeding from a rich store of knowledge, acquired by extensive reading, and deep meditation. Of this a remarkable instance occurs in a note to the latter part of this discourse. After Thewing the origin of the pernicious principles now afloat in the world, he lays;
" It is thus that those bad principles have been engendered, which prevail in this day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; and the characters and arts of their propagation seem predescribed in the second epistle nf St. Peter, when he censures a set of men, with whom fome followers of the gospel were mixed, 'spots in their feast of charity,' who, among their other evil deeds and difpositions, were ' presumptuous, self-willed, not afraid to speak evil of dignities, and of things they understand not, beguiling unitable fouls: for when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure those that were clean, escaped from them tbat live in NO. XXV, VOL, VI,