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results from the veracity and wisdom of the Creator; and when we consider that this truth respects much sublimer relations and concerns than those which subsist in the material world, that it regards the ways and counsels of God respecting man's eternal destiny, is it surprising it should embrace what greatly surpassed our previous conjectures, and even transcends our perfect comprehension? To a serious and upright mind, however, its discoveries are no sooner made than they become supremely acceptable; the interposition of the Deity in the great moral drama is seen to be absolutely necessary; since none but Infinite Wisdom could clear up the intricacies, nor any power short of Omnipotence relieve the distress it produced. These very truths which some ridicule as mysteries, and others despise as dogmas, are to the enlightened sweeter than honey, or the honeycomb," apart from which, whatever else is contained in the Bible, would be perfectly tasteless and insipid. Though he receives every communication from God with devout and grateful emotions, he feels no hesitation in confessing, that it is in these parts of Revelation, he especially exults and triumphs; it is these, which in his estimation entitle it to the appellation of "marvellous light.”
If it is no small gratification, to find so perfect a concurrence in these sentiments, on the part of our author; to find them stated and illustrated in so able a manner as they are throughout this work, is a still greater. The first letter in this volume is devoted to a general view of the Christian Doctrines, designed to obviate certain prejudices, and to prepare the mind for that serious inquiry into their nature and import, which cannot fail, under the blessing of God, of conducting it to the most satisfactory conclusions.
Our author never loses sight of the gospel as a restorative dispensation. This is its primary and most essential feature; and the most dangerous and numerous aberrations from it, may be traced to the neglect of considering it in this light. It is not the prescription of a rule of life to the innocent, but the annunciation of a stupendous method of relief for the sinner. Overlooking all petty varieties, and subordinate distinctions, it places the whole human race on one level; abases them all in the dust before the Infinite Majesty; and offers indiscriminately a provision of sanctification to the polluted, and of pardon to the guilty. These are the glad tidings; this is the jubilee of the whole earth, proclaimed in the songs of angels, celebrated in the praises of the church, alike in her militant and her triumphant state, whether toiling in the vale of mortality, or rejoicing before the throne.
The second letter in the series which composes this volume, is on the Depravity of Human Nature; where the reader will find the evidence of that melancholy, but fundamental truth, exhibited
with much conciseness, perspicuity, and force. The third is employed in stating the arguments for the Atonement of Christ under the four divisions of typical, prophetical, historical, and declamatory proofs; and the whole is closed by a very luminous and satisfactory answer to the most specious objections against that momentous truth. In adverting to the objection to a vicarious sacrifice, founded on the notion of its being unjust that the innocent should be appointed to suffer in the room of the guilty, we meet with the following admirable passage of Archbishop Tillotson, remarkable for that perfect good sense, simplicity, and perspicuity, which distinguish the writings of that excellent prelate.
'If the matter,' says he, were searched to the bottom, all this perverse contention about our Saviour's suffering for our benefit, but not in our stead, will signify just nothing. For if Christ died for our benefit, so as some way or other, by virtue of his death and sufferings to save us from the wrath of God, and to procure our escape from eternal death,-this for aught I know, is all that any body means by his dying in our stead. For he that dies with an intention to do that benefit for another, or to save him from death, doth certainly, to all intents and purposes, die in his place and stead. And if they will grant this to be their meaning, the controversy is at an end; and both sides are agreed in the thing, and do only differ in the phrase and manner of expression, which is to seek a quarrel and an occasion of difference, when there is no real ground for it; a thing which ought to be very far from reasonable and peaceable minds. For many of the Socinians say, that our Saviour's voluntary death and sufferings procured his exaltation at the right hand of God, and power and authority to forgive sins, and to give eternal life to as many as he pleased; so that they grant that his obedience and sufferings, in the meritorious consequence of them, redound to our benefit and advantage, as much as we pretend to say they do; only they are loth, in express terms, to acknowledge that Christ died in our stead; and this for no other reason that I can imagine, but because they have denied it so often and so long.' Vol. II. p. 64.
We have only to say, on this part of the subject, that we heartily commiserate the state of that man's mind, who, whatever Socinian prejudices he may have felt against the most glorious of all doctrines, that of the atonement, does not feel them shaken, at least, if not removed, by the arguments adduced in this letter.
The next is devoted to the defence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, which our author evinces in a masterly manner, from the predictions of the ancient prophets, compared with their application in the New Testament,-from the conduct, the miracles, and the discourses, of our Lord,-from the declarations of his apos
tles, and from the concurrent testimony of the early Christian writers and martyrs, before the Council of Nice. Under the last head, the reader will meet with a copious induction of passages attesting this grand doctrine, selected with much judgement, and applied with great force. The author all along contends for the divinity of Christ as a fundamental tenet; and, of course, will forfeit all pretensions to candor with rational Christians, on whose approbation, indeed, he appears to set very little value.
In the next letter, which is on Conversion, he has treated of the nature and necessity of that new birth, on which our Lord insisted so strenuously in his discourse with Nicodemus, in a manner which will be as offensive to mere nominal Christians, as it will be instructive and satisfactory to serious and humble inquirers after truth. He shews, from well known and indubitable facts, the reality of such a change; and evinces its indispensable necessity, from the express declarations of Scripture, the corruption of human nature, the exalted character of the Deity, and the nature of that pure and perfect felicity to which good men aspire after death. In illustrating this subject, he has made a happy use of Bishop Burnet's narrative of the conversion of the Earl of Rochester,has carefully guarded his readers against the pernicious error of confounding regeneration with baptism,-and has closed the dis,cussion with solving certain difficulties arising out of the subject, which have often perplexed serious minds.
As every effect naturally invites us to contemplate the cause, he passes from conversion to the consideration of Divine Influence, which is the subject of the succeeding letter; and were we to give our opinion of the comparative merit of the different parts of this volume, we should be inclined to assign the palm to the disquisition on this confessedly mysterious subject. In no part, certainly, is the vigor of the author's very powerful understanding more eminently exerted; in none are the prejudices founded on a pretended philosophy more triumphantly dispelled. He has shewn, in the most satisfactory manner, that the belief of an immediate divine influence on the mind, not only accords with the sentiments of the wisest men in Pagan times, but that it is rendered highly reasonable by the close analogy it bears to the best established laws of the material world. Though there are many admirable passages in this portion of the work, which it would gratify us to lay before our readers, we must content ourselves with the following.
'No person can look into the world with the eye of a philosopher, and not soon ascertain, that the grand theatre of phenomena which lies before him, is naturally subdivided into two great classes of scenery; the one exhibiting constrained, the other voluntary motion; the former characteristic of matter, the latter as clearly indi
cating something perfectly distinct from matter, and possessing totally opposite qualities. "Pulverize matter (says Saurin,) give it all the different forms of which it is susceptible, elevate it to its highest degree of attainment, make it vast and immense, moderate or small, luminous or obscure, opaque or transparent, there will never result any thing but figures; and never will you be able, by all these combinations or divisions, to produce one single sentiment, one single thought." The reason is obvious: a substance compounded of innumerable parts, which every one acknowledges matter to be, cannot be the subject of an individual consciousness, the seat of which must be a simple and undivided substance: as the great Dr. Clark has long ago irrefragably shewn. Intellect and volition are quite of a different nature from corporeal figure, or motion, and must reside in, or emanate from, a different kind of being, a kind, which, to distinguish it from matter, is called spirit, or mind. Of these, the one is necessarily inert, the other essentially active. The one is characterized by want of animation, life, and even motion, except as it is urged by something ab extra; the other is living, energetic, self-moving, and possessed of power to move other things. We often fancy, it is true, that matter moves matter; but this, strictly speaking, is not correct. When one wheel, or lever, in a system of machinery, communicates motion to matter, it can, at most, only communicate what it has received; and if you trace the connexion of the mechanism, you will at length arrive at a first mover, which first mover is, in fact, spiritual. If, for example, it be an animal, it is evidently the spiritual part of that animal from whence the motion originally springs. If otherwise, if it be the descent of a weight, or the fall of water, or the force of a current of air, or the expansive power of steam, the action must be ultimately referred to what are styled powers of nature, that is, to gravitation or elasticity; and these, it is now well known, cannot be explained by any allusion to material principles, but to the indesinent operation of the Great Spirit, in whom we live, and move, and have our being-the finger of God touching and urging the various subordinate springs, which, in their turn, move the several parts of the universe. Thus God acts in all places, in all times, and upon all persons. The whole material world, were it not for his Spirit, would be inanimate and inactive; all motion is derived either from his energy, or from a spirit which he animates; and it is next to certain, that the only primary action is that of spirit, and the most direct and immediate that of spirit upon spirit.' P. 154.
We doubt not the intelligent reader will be of opinion that the author has gone to the very bottom of this subject, and will feel himself highly gratified in seeing it placed in so clear and convincing a light; the more so, as he has taken care to guard against its most obvious abuse, by shewing that the influence, for which he contends, is not to be expected independent of means,—-among which he considers prayer, and conscientious regard to known
duty, as the principal. We earnestly recommend this part of the performance to such of our readers as have, upon too light grounds, imbibed philosophical prejudices against the doctrine contended for; a doctrine which lies at the foundation of all spiritual religion, though treated by many with an excess of insolence and scorn, which can hardly be accounted for, without adverting to the injudicious conduct of its advocates.
The important doctrine of Justification by Faith, forms the subject of the next letter in the series. Here, after confirming the position he means to defend by the authority of the Homilies, he proceeds to a more particular discussion of the subject, under three heads of inquiry: What is meant by justification-what by faith-and what is the genuine import of "justification by faith." Under each of these, the reader will meet with much instruction, arising from a very luminous statement of truth, accompanied with happy illustrations. The charge against the doctrine pleaded for, of its tending to licentiousness, is very successfully combated and refuted.
The exhibition of the leading doctrines of Christianity is completed in the three following letters,-on Providence, the Resurrection, and the Eternal Existence of Man after Death. We perused with much satisfaction, the author's masterly defence of a particular providence, the denial of which is, to all practical purposes, equivalent to the denial of a providence altogether. Trust in God is the act of an individual, as all the exercises of piety must necessarily be; so that if the providence of God embraces not the concerns of individuals, no rational foundation can be conceived for expecting protection from danger, or relief under distress, in answer to prayer. The denial of a particular providence is, it must be confessed, the best possible expedient for keeping God at a distance-and on that account so vehemently insisted on by certain periodical writers, the poison of whose impiety, prepared, is generally understood, by hallowed hands, and distributed through the nation in a popular and seducing vehicle, has met with a powerful antidote and rebuke from Dr. Gregory, who, himself a layman, will be honored as a champion of that religion, which a clergyman has insulted and betrayed.* How is it that the conductors of the publication alluded to, allot to this clerical associate the province of libelling religion? Is it that its alliance with nominal sanctity gives rank impiety a new zest, at the same time that its total dereliction of principle more perfectly incorporates the specific design of the article with the general character of the work?
In treating of the Resurrection of the Dead, the author has hap
See the Article on Methodism in the Edinburgh Review.