« السابقةمتابعة »
examination was also made of the more important works which issued from the American press, in connection with a condensed view of literary and religious intelligence and of political affairs.
In January, 1835, the two publications were united with the intention of maintaining the distinctive character in the plan of both. This arrangement was entered into, not because either of the separate works was unappreciated by the community, but for the purpose of concentrating talent and patronage in one publication, and thus augmenting the power and usefulness of the periodical press. It has been the aim of the editor and of his principal contributors to produce a work which should meet the wants of the mass of the intelligent and of the educated, and, at the same time, sustain a high rank in the estimation of the learned and christian scholar.
As the publication will be, in future, conducted on substantially the same general principles, though with enlargement and modifications, and as the sphere of its usefulness, it is hoped, will be considerably extended, it has been deemed important, that there should be, in a preliminary article, a few general observations on those principles, with some survey of the field to be cultivated. A few introductory paragraphs of explanatory statement will not be deemed out of place by those individuals, at least, who may now, for the first time, extend their patronage to the publication. Our remarks will be necessarily of a miscellaneous character.
1. Biblical Literature. In its most appropriate meaning, this branch of knowledge is of recent origin. In the creation and advancement of its interests, our country, even in the view of some of the more enlightened portions of highly civilized and jealous Europe, has attained an honorable rank. Ever since the revival of learning a few scholars, it is true, have devoted themselves to this sacred study, in its various departments, with equal credit to themselves and usefulness to the church. The names of the Buxtorfs, of Grotius, Pococke, Selden, Salmasius, and a few others, will be held in grateful admiration. But it is only a short period, comparatively, since it assumed a scientific form, developed general laws, and enlarged its points of interest in all directions, -exhibiting itself in a striking attitude, no less by the multiplicity of its ramifications, than the precision of its rules and the fixedness of its principles. The fundamental importance of this branch of study, and its claims upon the attention of the periodical press, may be inferred from considerations like those which follow :
Sacred philology has beer principal christian doctrines on ported in the seventeenth and plicity of arguments, frequently and strictness of logic. Many terpreted with much felicity an ritual meaning, “the hidden expounded and illustrated. Y cy in the knowledge of the tru
Particular doctrines we congruous texts alike. Every in support of every other part, tion to the different nature, sca brought thus into juxta-positio tinence was made up by forn great and various excellencies tions, in our own country
and to none in promptitude to ack they adopted, for the most part method of sustaining those pre sole trust and consolation. TI different. A few texts, provic tably to the point, are justly re support infinitely firmer than a ti sentences, whose only appropr tal, verbal analogy. The doct ty, the deity of the Son of G punishment, are defended by a most rigidly canvassed, and wh lished. The doctrines named from various parts of the Bible texture. Collateral and subor nought. Still, in the last resoj ry foe, or when the pious sou stay, tempted by unwelcome few distinct, unrefutable texts They are equally potent over 1 mies. The obligations of the who have labored in the expo are very great.
This study has no unimport of all true Christians. The ui
(Jan. be accomplished by controversy, nor even by amicable discussion, nor by the reluctant or the willing abandonment of denominational watchwords, nor by lamentations on the miseries of dissension, but, in the first place, by “ seeing eye to eye.” Christians and christian ministers must interpret the Scriptures substantially alike. They must not bring to its explication a system of rules, which would be utterly inapplicable to the deciphering of any other book. They must permit themselves to be under the dominion of common sense here as elsewhere. Before there can be any extensive and permanent unity of feeling, such as is involved in the sublime intercessory prayer of our Saviour, there must be a fixed determination on the part of the great body of Christians to interpret the Bible according to the common laws of language, and then to manfully abide the issue of such an interpretation. A course of this nature would terminate instantly half the disputes which now deface and rend the churches of Jesus. Sacred philology can, with the blessing of heaven, do much in bringing to pass such a result. Already, her efforts have not been altogether unavailing. Existing theological controversies, numerous and violent as they may be, are not to be compared to the gladiatorial exhibitions which were made in Germany soon after the Reformation ; in Holland at the time of the Arminian controversy; or at some periods which might be specified in English church history. Eminent theologians of the present day, belonging to both divisions of the Protestant cause in Germany, to the established churches and the numerous dissenting bodies of Great Britain, not wholly excluding some Quakers even, and to the various christian sects of the United States, are agreed substantially in respect to the rules to be applied in the exposition of the inspired volume. Such agreement is certainly of very auspicious onen. Most assuredly, like results will follow in this study, as in any other branch of knowledge. The labors of Blackstone and one or two other British lawyers poured a flood of light into the previous confusion and intricacies of the English statutes. Occasions of endless strife were, doubtless, in this way, cut off. In precisely the same manner will an intelligible, consistent system of biblical exegesis remove at least some of the causes of ill feeling and of controversy, which have ravaged the fairest portions of God's heritage.
The study in question has a favorable bearing on the spread of Christianity. Its efforts in the elucidation of the Scriptures,
are of the very highest importance to all future translators of those Scriptures in the thousand dialects of the earth. rough, grammatical investigation of a word of three letters found in the New Testament, may quicken and direct the studies of some weary missionary translator on the banks of the Ganges, or the Oby. As an interesting fact, in corroboration of these remarks, it may be stated that all our important biblical works find a most ready market in the very centres of the pagan where the missionaries of the cross are stationed. Besides, the wants of the philologist, as he is exploring the antiquities, the geography, the customs, etc., of the Bible, furnish to the oriental missionary, a powerful stimulus to rescue from decay and ruin, whatever he can, which will throw light on the biblical narratives, and which may finally settle long disputed and important passages. Frequently as Palestine has been investigated, eminent as some of the journalists are, who have traversed its hills and vallies, we shall still look for richer harvests, when intelligent missionaries shall have been permitted to establish themselves on various points in that interesting country.
What may not a well-trained missionary do in the country east of the Jordan, in some parts of Arabia, in Babylonia, in Media, and in the whole vast regions of Asia Minor, and of south eastern Europe ? Every locality almost, is fraught with scriptural reminiscences. But the labors of the philologist at home, will be necessary to guide and enliven the footsteps of the explorer abroad. They are fellow-laborers. They mutually act and react on each other.
This branch of knowledge has greatly promoted the study of the Bible among all classes. The labors of the most learned philologists are now, in a measure, accessible to millions of children in all parts of christendom. No sooner does a profound work on sacred literature appear in Germany, than its general results find their way into the literary and religious periodicals. The attention of learned foreigners is attracted; the work is rendered into other languages; the theologian reads it and copies its most interesting thoughts into his essay; the preacher is silently affected by its influence; the compiler of Sunday-school books, by abridgment, by a change of language, by simple explanation, brings the main facts or thoughts, before the eyes of children in numbers almost without number. Thus a recluse-student of the Bible is furnishing nutriment for all the families in christendom — vital air for the spiritual growth of
even untaught pagan nations. He thus becomes in the highest degree, a benefactor to his species. Like the stationary engine at the top of a mountain, he is the source of power and activity to thousands toiling below him. If any one refuses credence to these assertions, we may ask him to take up any well-written Sunday-school book of the day, which professes to be in any way concerned with the Scriptures, and he will find sufficient for the expulsion of his incredulity. The traces may be faint ; the process of dilution may have gone on for a long time, but the evidence of philological knowledge, skill, and tact, is there.
It has greatly increased respect for the Bible as a literary production. Among the mental qualifications of some philologists, has been a healthful poetic taste. Such men as Lowth, De Wette, Herder, have opened a thousand new sources of delight in the oracles of God. The cultivated taste may be gratified, while the most refined spiritual feelings are still further spiritualized and perfected. The Bible, it is true, may be studied without devotion. Its numberless literary beauties may be appreciated by those whose hearts are utterly dead to its regenerating influence. Still, it is something to have removed the prejudices of learned men in relation to it. It is something to have vindicated its claims to the consideration of those whom ignorance or false pride might have kept aloof from its pages. Literary curiosity may be the portal to something higher and nobler. The mysteries of the inner sanctuary may be at length revealed to him, who was attracted to the edifice simply by the beauty of its columns, or the majesty of its proportions.
The study in question has prompted to a remarkable zeal in the acquisition of languages. The Semitic tongues, in particular, have been investigated with a zeal worthy of all commendation. Opulent noblemen, literary societies, companies of merchants, royal munificence, individual enterprise, have vied with each other in efforts to promote the acquisition of the treasures contained in these languages. Recollect what has been done by the expedition under the direction of Michaelis; by the corps of literary and scientific men who accompanied the French troops into Egypt ; by Asiatic societies ; and by the labors of such single men as Pococke and Burckhardt; all, if not directly commissioned for the purpose, yet conspiring in effect to throw light on the ancient Scriptures; on the Hebrew and its kindred dialects. Call to mind the hosts of learned men in Germany, who are now employing the utmost critical tact, the profound
even untaught pagan nations. He thus becomes in the highest degree, a benefactor to his species. Like the stationary engine at the top of a mountain, he is the source of power and activity o thousands toiling below him. If any one refuses credence to
hese assertions, we may ask him to take up any well-written Sunday-school book of the day, which professes to be in any vay concerned with the Scriptures, and he will find sufficient or the expulsion of his incredulity. The traces may be faint ; le process of dilution may have gone on for a long time, but ne evidence of philological knowledge, skill, and tact, is there.
It has greatly increased respect for the Bible as a literary oduction. Among the mental qualifications of some philogists, has been a healthful poetic taste. Such men as Lowth, e Wette, Herder, have opened a thousand new sources of deht in the oracles of God. The cultivated taste may be gratid, while the most refined spiritual feelings are still further ritualized and perfected. The Bible, it is true, may be stud without devotion. Its numberless literary beauties may be preciated by those whose hearts are utterly dead to its regeneng influence. Still, it is something to have removed the judices of learned men in relation to it. It is something to e vindicated its claims to the consideration of those whom orance or false pride might have kept aloof from its pages. rary curiosity may be the portal to something higher and Eer.' The mysteries of the inner sanctuary may be at length aled to him, who was attracted to the edifice simply by the ity of its columns, or the majesty of its proportions. he study in question has prompted to a remarkable zeal in icquisition of languages. The Semitic tongues, in particuhave been investigated with a zeal worthy of all commenn. Opulent noblemen, literary societies, companies of mers, royal munificence, individual enterprise, have vied with other in efforts to promote the acquisition of the treasures ined in these languages. Recollect what has been done le expedition under the direction of Michaelis ; by the of literary and scientific men who accompanied the French
into Egypt ; by Asiatic societies; and by the labors of ingle men as Pococke and Burckhardt; all, if not directly issioned for the purpose, yet conspiring in effect to throw n the ancient Scriptures ; on the Hebrew and its kindred s. Call to mind the hosts of learned men in Germany, e now employing the utmost critical tact, the profound
est acquaintance with antiquity, and the unwearied attention of a long life, in efforts to establish some point in sacred criticism, or to throw light on some obscure text, or to establish the genuineness of some ancient ecclesiastical document; all achieved very considerably by the aid of an acquaintance with the languages in question. In our own country the same cause has operated to excite an increasing interest in the German language, with results, which we cannot but regard as highly favorable to the cause of truth and righteousness, though possibly in a few instances prejudicial to the faith of ill-established believers.
Such are some of the reasons, which, in our opinion, justify, and even require the religious press to be, in a measure, biblical in its character. It is but falling in with a great tendency of the age, the tendency to study God's word on the principles of grammar, common sense, science, and true philology and philosophy. It is the strongest voucher which a publication can give of its soundness in the faith. Its theology is not partizan, but scriptural ; not vaccillating but consistent and stable. Such, we hope, may ever be the reputation of this work.
2. An elevated, christian literature. We do not mean by this the protruding of denominational peculiarities on every possible occasion ; nor the constant iteration of the language of cant and bigotry ; nor the use of authorized theological terms in inappropriate company, or on inexpedient occasions; nor the merging of science and literature into technical or devotional theology. No one of these things is desirable. Either is an offence to good taste and to good morals. A treatise on chemistry is not the place for a moral lecture. Some histories, in many respects excellent, are disfigured by too frequent or perfectly obvious moral reflections, or by ill concealed attempts at religious sentimentalism.
On the other hand, there is an important sense in which every book should be Christian. As an illustration let us look for a moment at civil histories. Setting aside such obviously unchristian books as the historical treatises of Hume and Gibbon, we may ask, How the Rev. Dr. Robertson, a minister of the established church of Scotland, is to be vindicated from the charge of an indifference to Christianity, amounting to little short of positive infidelity? How could a heart glowing with love to the Redeemer -- all which was implied in his ordinationvows — write so frigidly about the glorious Protestant Reformation? How could he display such consummate stoicism while