Page images

with John and other Apostles. His let will be most serviceable to the ter happily corrects the false impressions reader. They who wish to take a conveyed by those of Ignatius; and as

survey of the whole, must refer to it terminates the writings of the apostolic the work itself. Fathers, bringing them down below the

After a number of extracts on middle of the second century, it deserves the more attention. That so much sim

“the authority ascribed to the writplicity, truth, and humble piety survived

ten word by the early Fathers,” Dr. in Smyrna, down to the year 166, is a

Bennett says, – cordial to the breast that has been wounded by the early signs of reckless - The chief excellence of the Fathers haste towards the apostasy of which the lies in their copious quotations of Scripchurch had been so solemnly warned." ture ; and the best sentences in all the

(Page 23.) volume of the Alexandrian Clement are,

that in which he says the Scriptures were The second Lecture opens with a put into the vulgar tongue of the Greeks, paragraph which states the subjects that there might be no excuse for ignoon which the extracts made by Dr.

rance ; and another, which declares, that Bennett will exhibit the opinions of

truth is to be found by confirming what the Fathers of the first three cen

is demonstrated by Scripture out of like

Scriptures. turies.

“We have enlarged on this part of

the theology of the Fathers, because it is “ The primitive theology, as far as it not only the best, but virtually includes can be ascertained, consists of opinions everything; for if we hearken to them recorded in the various sources of informa here, where they are most copious, most tion; on the Scriptures and tradition ; positive, and most harmonious, we must the divine nature and attributes; the derive our theology from the study of divinity of Christ and the Trinity ; the the word of God, comparing Scripture purposes and works of God, with the with Scripture. creation and fall of angels and men; “ The communion, which prides itself redemption, including the person and on deference to the Fathers, has laboured work of Christ ; divine grace and justifi assiduously to neutralize their finest pascation; the church, with its officers, and sages on the sufficiency of Scripture, by worship, and discipline; the sacraments, insisting, that it must be interpreted to and Christian ethics; the final fortunes us by the Fathers themselves. Now, of the church and the world, including they set up no such claim ; so that he death, the separate state of the soul, the who does this for them, violates his own resurrection, antichrist, the millennium, doctrine by the very act of asserting it. and the consummation of all things.”. Nor is he a friend, but the bitterest foe,

(Page 61.) to the reputation of the Fathers, who

provokes an investigation into their To the opinions on these subjects, claim to deference, as authoritative incollected by reference to the sources

terpreters of Scripture ; for never do they of information already pointed out,

appear to greater disadvantage, than in

the department of exegesis. Allegory, the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth Lectures are devoted ; the ex

without authority, and without rule, is

their universal favourite. The allegorize tracts being accompanied by such

ing of Scripture began early, and became reflections as they were the means rampant. Clement says to the Corinthof exciting in the mind of the Lec- ians, ' In addition, they' (the spies sent turer. And as Dr. Bennett has by Joshua) 'gave her' (that is, Rahab) sought to make the Fathers them 'a sign, that she should hang from her selves the speakers on these various

house a scarlet line; making it manifest, points,-this being the object pro

that through the blood of the Lord there posed by the whole undertaking,– should be redemption for all that believe it would be very difficult to furnish

and hope in God. See, beloved, there the reader with an abridgment.

was not only faith, but prophecy, in the

woman.' This was a favourite conceit Indeed, the Doctor's own state

with the Fathers, who have overlooked ments are given with as much of much better proof of the same doctrine. condensation and brevity, as at all Clement the elder introduces Deut. consisted with clearness. A few

xxxii. 15, which the Septuagint has quotations, on different subjects, strangely paraphrased, rather than trans


lated ; and he adds to the confusion by somehow so connect the Scriptures giving us what is not found in either the with the Fathers, that they expeHebrew or the present Greek : 'That rience an undefinable sort of fear, was fulfilled which is written, The be- whenever any examples of human loved ate, and drank, and was enlarged, fallibility are adduced from the and grew fat,' &c. In the same inanner

patristic writings, as though the he says of Enoch, His death was not

credit of the sacred oracles were at found ;' to which there is nothing correspondent in the original, or the Greek

all affected by them. The truth is, version." (Page 93.)

we do not so much receive the

Scriptures from the Fathers, as In reference to this same subject through them : the difference bethe Doctor adds,

tween the expressions may seem

slight; but, on so important a sub“ The principles of interpretation ject, it is best to have the most adopted by the Fathers, come out dis accurate precision. And we do not tinctly to view in the writings of Origen, receive the Scriptures only on the who avowed a threefold method, -bisto- testimony of the Fathers. It is a rical, allegorical, and mystical, or ethical ; fact, that the proof of the divine though it is not easy to discover that he origin of the Scriptures is compli. kept these distinct. He was not, how cate; and one portion of it consists ever, the author of the allegorical me.

in the testimony of the Fathers; thod, which appears not only in the

but still, it is only a portion. Trawritings of his master, Clement, but as

velling up to the time of the Fathers, early as the days of the Roman of that We have heard Irenæus argue,

we find them possessing these books, that there could be no more than fout and using them as we use them, Gospels, because there were four quarters namely, as the inspired records of of the heavens,-east, west, north, and

the religion which they professed. south ; and the cherubiin on the ark had Now, surely, they may be compefour faces, of a man, a lion, an eagle, tent witnesses to the facts, that they and an ox. As interpreters of Scripture, possessed the books, and regarded then, so far from being oracles, even the them with this religious reverence, wisest of the Fathers often astonish us

and yet employ such inistaken prijby their puerile absurdities; and no

ciples of interpretation, that their public instructer, who has any credit to

explanations of certain passages maintain, would venture to adopt, as his

shall be inadmissible. In the former own, the comments he might defend by an appeal to their testimony. If of this

case, we look on them as faithful we have not adduced more numerous

witnesses to a matter of fact; in the proofs, it is because the fact will come latter, we call in question their cri. out to view in quotations on other

tical judgment.

The Fathers tell points; and the truth is admitted by all us, that they submit to these writwho have either learning or sense to ings : we also submit to them, not which we could appeal." (Page 95.) because the Fathers did so, but for

the reasons which led the Fathers to The Romanists endeavour, con submit to them ; namely, their cealing all this, to connect the re divine origin. When the mistakes ception of the Scriptures, with the of the Fathers are pointed out, we testimony of the Fathers; and, con have instances of error in judgment; fining themselves to general terms, but this is perfectly consistent with to insinuate, that unless we submit undeniable veracity, in bearing testito the authority of the Fathers, mony to a fact. from whom we receive the Scrip Dr. Bennett introduces “electures, we can have no security as to as one of the subjects emthe Scriptures themselves. And braced in the theology of the early there are not wanting, even among church. If he is satisfied with what Protestants, those who, deceiving he has said on the point, we are themselves, or deceived by others, – quite content to let him be so. or, more precisely to express the 'That the Fathers use the word state of their minds, bewildered by “election," no one denies; so do vague and ambiguous phrases, – the Scriptures. The question is, as


to the meaning of the word. How. given for the mistakes into which ever, we are not now going to enter uninspired men, not unnaturally, upon this controversy. Dr. Bennett fell. Our limits this month, how. may think that he has proved the ever, will not permit further exearly church to be Calvinistic and tracts, which, otherwise, we should Congregational : we think differ- have given. The reader will easily ently.

see the course of observation purThe seventh Lecture is a very sued in the Lecture. valuable one. Dr. Bennett-having But to what does all this tend ? shown, by a series of classified Simply and exclusively to one single extracts, what were the opinions point ; namely, that the Fathers are constituting the theology of the not authoritative judges in religious early church, and having, in various controversy. Their character as reflections, pointed out wherein he Christian men, their fidelity as witconceived the Fathers to be mis. nesses to important facts, are not in taken, and wherein he believes them the slightest degree affected. It is to be right-now proceeds to de- painful, indeed, to be driven, by scribe the causes of the peculiar cha these claims, to put the Fathers in a racteristics of early theology. He position which they never thought says, –

of occupying ; to prove, by a refer

ence to their own writings, that the “ The reflecting reader must frequent claims cannot be substantiated. ly have asked, How came so much error

But incompetency for one particular to be early mingled with Christian truth; function, is not to be confounded and whence arose that false sanctity and with incompetency on all points real impurity which debased the character of our religion ?” (Page 352.)

whatever. There is no depreciation of the Fathers, considered in their

real character, by the proof that To this question, the reply is they are not, along with Prophets divided into these six parts, each of and Apostles, the foundations of the wbich is explained by judicious church. We admit that there is observations :

always a danger of ascribing too

Jittle to those for whom too much is “ Part 1. The disadvantages of the demanded : but a large share of the Fathers were naturally, and almost

blame of this, whenever it happens, necessarily, great." (Page 352.)

" Part 11. The advantages possessed belongs to those who put forth the by the Fathers, however magnified by ill-founded claims, in replying to some, were few and small.”

which, it is perfectly possible that

(Page 358.) unjust censures may be applied. “ Part III. The Fathers were se. Let the Fathers be placed in their riously, and even culpably, defective in right position, and then let full biblical science." (Page 365.)

justice be done them. But, first of " Part IV. Both adversity and pros- all, justice must be done to holy perity, however they may have been ulti. Scripture. The sacred

penmen mately overruled for good, operated inju

wrote as they were moved by the riously on the theology of the early Holy Ghost; and their writings are church.” (Page 371.) “ Part V. The controversies to which

not to be virtually deposed from the heresies of the earliest ages gave

their high sovereignty by the introrise, seriously injured the church."

duction of an uninspired comment, (Page 378.)

to which we are always to listen “ Part VI. The Fathers lived during when we ask for the meaning of the rise of the predicted apostasy, which the sacred text. The whole history included a corruption of the doctrine, as of Popery shows that the “Mayor well as of the morals, of the church.” of the Palace,” sooner or later, takes

(Page 383.) the title of the office, the authority

of which he has been accustomed to These different assertions Dr. exercise, and thus changes thie Bennett makes good; and, in their dynasty of the kingdom. The exestablishment, abundant reason is clusive supremacy of the word of

God is to be guarded with sacred he had omitted,) and for the pleajealousy. This is a duty incumbent sure and profit we have found in on the whole church, to which, as a perusing them. Those who wish to heritage for ever, the oracles of God enter more fully into the subject, are committed.

than the brevity of our notices will We must not take leave of Dr.

permit them to do, in the volume Bennett, without thanking him for itself will find a large quantity of his Lectures, (notwithstanding a few important information, and of espeinjudicious remarks, that we wish cial interest in the present times.



With Characteristic Notices.

[The insertion of any article in this List is not to be considered as pledging us to the approbation of its contents, unless it be accompanied by some express notice of our favourable opinion. Nor is the omission of any such notice to be regarded as indicating a contrary opinion; as our limits, and other reasons, impose on us the necessity of selection and brevity.]

A Compendium of the Laws and explanation. Dr. Doddridge is said to Regulations of Wesleyan Methodism. have received his earliest religious know. With Notes, and an Appendix. By ledge and impressions from the instrucEdmund Grindrod. 12mo. pp. 464. tions of his mother, who explained to Mason.--The laws of the Wesleyan him the principal facts of holy Scripture, Connexion are contained in the Minutes as they were portrayed upon the Dutch of the Conference, to which the signa tiles which ornamented the fire-place of tures of the successive Presidents and their dwelling The ingenious author Secretaries of that body are affixed. of the work before us has attempted to Those Minutes now amount to several supply the place of Mrs. Doddridge's large volumes; and hence the desirable- pictures, by a series of elegant engravness of a compendium of the rules which ings on wood, accompanied by the facts are now in force, for the convenience of to which they refer, drawn up in plain reference. Various attempts have been and easy narrative. To Christian momade to supply such a compendium; thers the volume is earnestly recombut we have seen none that will bear mended, as an interesting and valuable a comparison with that which Mr. help in the responsible task of religious Grindrod has produced. It is at once instruction. With intelligent children, accurate and comprehensive, and will be we have no doubt, it will be a general of great utility to the Preachers, and favourite. The engravings and the letother officers of the body. It will be an ter-press are both executed with singular indispensable article in the library of neatness. every Superintendent; and will greatly The Vital Union : or, a Treatise on assist young Ministers in obtaining that Fellowship with God. By A. Wat. accurate knowledge of Methodistical mough, Author of A Practical Essay rule, upon which their future comfort on Entire Sanctification.12mo. pp. and usefulness SO materially depend. 292. Mason.—This deeply-important The respected and esteemed author, we subject is here discussed in a manner doubt not, will receive the very cordial creditable to the author's industry and thanks of his brethren for this judicious abilities. The volume contains a consi. and seasonable compilation.

derable portion of theological informaDutch Tiles : being Narratives of tion, given in a devout and serious spirit. Holy Scripture ; with numerous appro Not only natural phenomena, but even priate Engravings : for the Use of Chil dreams, in the author's hand, become dren and young Persons. 18mo. pp. full of evangelical instruction ; for, when 202. Mason. To some readers, the put in their proper place, in the divine title of this beautiful volume will need cconomy, they appear preceded by a

scries of gracious and preparatory acts of appear in a form of great beauty and God, and designed to issue in “ vital impressiveness. The work is printed union” with himself. The book will be with singular neatness and accuracy: it found a useful companion in the closet, has the advantage of being divided into ani deseries a place in juvenile libra- paragraphs; and the poetical parts of the nies.

Old Testament are given in their approThe Holy Bible, containing the au priate form, after the example of Lowth's thorized Version of the Old and New “ Isaiah,” and similar works. It is Testaments, with twenty thousand Emen- greatly to the honour of the editor, that dating. 80. Longman.-The author. he has sacredly preserved, throughout, the ized version of the holy Scriptures, general character of the authorized verwhich was published in the year 1611, sion, the beauties of which he has justly was a wonderful effort of piety and sound appreciated ; and whatever exceptions laming. Competent judges, of all de- may be taken to particular renderings, Dominations, have united in its praise ; no one can say that he has impaired the as being conscientiously faithful, and, in evidence of any doctrine of revelation, or te rain, elegant and forcible. Not weakened the force of any divine precept withstanding its antiquity, it is still, as or promise. a whole, the very best standard of the The Divine Rule of Faith and PracEnglish language. It has impressed an tice; or, a Defence of the catholic Docincelible character upon the theology of trine, that Holy Scripture has been, the nation, and upon its general litera since the Times of the Apostles, the sole tare; and we hope never to see it, as an Divine Rule of Faith and Practice to esturized version, superseded by any the Church, against the dangerous Erother. It is, indeed, extremely doubtful, tors of the Authors of the Tracts for whether the various bodies of Protestant the Times," and the Romanists : as, Christians, in this country, could be particularly, that the Rule of Faith is brought so cordially to agree in any made up of Scripture and Tradition other translation that could be made. together," &c. In which also the DocAnd yet, what Jr. Wesley said of the trine of the Apostolical Succession, the Nez Testament is equally applicable to Eucharistic Sacrifice, &:c., are fully disthe Old: “I do not say, it is incapable cussed. By William Goode, M. A., of of being brought, in several places, nearer Trinity College, Cambridge: Rector of to the original. Neither will I affirm, St. Antholin, London. Tuo Volumes, 8vo. that the copies from which the transla

pp. 644, 802.

Hatchard. This is by ton was made are always the most cor far the most comprehensive and elaborate feet." There is, therefore, ample scope work that has yet been published in for sured criticism ; and those learned opposition to that form of Popery of man whose labours assi-t the general which Dr. Pusey and his brethren of the reader in more accurately discovering the Oxford Tracts are the determined advoDeaning of the inspired books, are enti cates, and which is unhappily enterted to the highest gratitude. The de- tained by a considerable number of the Foat and excellent man to whom the national Clergy. The accomplished aupablic are indebted for this revision of thor has entered largely into the importthe English Bible, has employed his ant subjects which are specified in the beisure hours, during the last thirty title of his book, and with a depth of years, in collecting, and comparing toge- feeling which is worthy of a successor of ther, the pri posed emendations of the the martyred Fathers of the Protestant Test approved critics of all denomina- Church of England. He has also tors; and has in this work embodied brought a rich fund of sacred learning the result of his very extensive and labo to bear upon the several topics. If the rious researches. Every alteration that questions at issue were to be decided by he has introduced has the sanction of argument, not another Tract need be high literary authority ; yet, as no human written ; but the Oxford heresiarchs, suthority is infallible, doubts may be like true sons of Papal Rome, seem refairly entertained, whether some of the solved to carry their point by a bold alleged " emendations " really are such. pertinacity. The doctrine of transubWe confess, that we ourselves are not stantiation has been refuted a thousand satisfied in every instance; yet truth com times; yet it is as confidently asserted as pels us to acknowledge, that great light is ever, by the Remish priesthood. Seveshed upon a large portion of the sa ral able and decisive answers to the ered folume ; and that several passages, peculiar tenets of the Oxford Tractarians in which the meaning of the inspired have been published; yet these wily writer was imperfectly expressed, here men pass over most of these answers in

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »