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REVIEW.INCARNATION OF THE ETERNAL WORD.
That he may not, however, be misunder. stood, in his departure from common language and general consent, his sentiments are thus expressed in the commencement of the first chapter.
"The operation of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of a sinner is not to be regarded as occasional or accidental, but as essential and uniform. Conversion to God never has taken place, and never will take place, without it. And if this be the case, it is but saying the same thing in other words, to assert that his influence is absolutely necessary to the production of this effect."-p. 2.
But, with all the acuteness which Mr. Hinton has shewn, we cannot but suspect that he has used many terms in what may be called a novel sense, and introduced expressions which, without his own explanation, have a startling aspect. In this character the following passage will perhaps appear to most readers: "The means of repentance, therefore, and all the means of repentance, are possessed by a sinner without the Spirit; but the possession of the means of repentance constitutes the power of repentance; therefore a sinner has power to repent without the Spirit."page 81.
On turning to another part of this volume, we find power thus defined"When may it be said that a man has POWER to perform a given action? To this we answer without hesitation, when he possesses the means of doing so," page 63. This phrase may seem ambiguous, but, on referring to the definition of terms which the author has given, we find that his meaning and distinctions may without much difficulty be understood.
How far the author has been successful in all his speculations, is a point on which his readers will be divided in their opinions. But on which side soever they may give their judgments, all must allow that this volume contains a goodly portion of original matter, is written in an amiable spirit, and displays, without any ostentation of learning, no contemptible degree of theological research.
Mr. Irving, although no direct avowal of any such intention is made. The objects which the author has in view, he thus states in the following words :
"Of the exculpatory explanation of the word 'sinful,' that it is applied to the humanity of our Lord only in a passive sense, that is, I suppose, synonymous with 'peccable,' I have not felt myself called upon to take any notice. For, first, the word has no such meaning. Next, if it had, yet some of the principal arguments in support of the sinfulness of Christ's flesh, are founded upon the active meaning of that word. Thirdly. Many other words, equally offensive, and capable of no such explanation, are applied to the flesh of Christ; so that if the word was altogether abandoned, the tenet against which I contend, remains unaltered. Fourthly. I deny that the word is applicable to Christ, or, if we must separate his bumanity from himself, to the humanity of Christ, in any sense, active or passive; I deny that Christ, or the humanity of Christ, was peccable. Finally. The charge against the tenet of the sinfulness of Christ's flesh is, that this tenet is rank Nestorianism; and nothing can shew a more thorough want of acquaintance with the subject, than an attempt to escape that charge by attaching to the word sinful' a meaning less offensive than that which it is understood to convey."-Preface, p. viii.
In the same preface, Mr. Dods tells us, that he had originally intended to give a complete view of the theology of the primitive church on the doctrine of the incarnation; but that this was abandoned, because it would require a work larger than he had contemplated, or could command time to execute. He therefore found it necessary to direct his attention exclusively to the one point of the sinfulness of our Lord's flesh. And even on this point he found that he must confine himself to the writers of the first four centuries, and, even within these limits, to omit by far the greater number of the passages which he had marked for quotation.
From these statements, partially given in the author's own words, and partly in substance only, the reader will be able to perceive the prolific source whence Mr. Dods has derived his materials, and will cease to wonder how his book has been extended to its present voluminous size. Under such circumstances, the writer may grow weary, but his resources will remain unexhausted. With a little more time and patience, another and another volume might be produced, equal in magnitude, if not in interest, to this which is now under consideration.
In the early stages of his preliminary observations, Mr. Dods has risked some very problematical positions, respecting the existence of moral evil, viewed in connexion with the perfections of God. The truth of these he appears to have admitted, as though they were indisputable axioms; but many readers, perhaps, will be led to doubt their legitimacy, and even to suspect that their truth is more than questionable :
"The actual existence of moral evil can be denied by none. He who proves that good preponderates over evil, if his proof be sound, does something perhaps to remove the unfavourable impression with regard to the character of God, which the existence of evil has sometimes produced; but he has done nothing to account for the origin of evil. He who proves that, through the medium of evil, a degree of happiness and perfection is attained, which could not by any other means be reached, may be admitted to have completely reconciled its existence with the perfections of God, but still he has not accounted for its origin.
.. We may not be permitted to open the sealed book, and to answer the question, whence cometh evil? But while it standeth before us in all the undeniable reality of its actual existence, we may be able, with the light of revelation for our guide, to trace it to some of its beneficial results, and to see how, instead of unfitting the creature for the manifestation of the divine perfections, it furnishes the means of a manifestation which never otherwise could have been given." -p. 7.
Mr. Dods seems hardly to be aware, that while, in these positions, he has made moral evil necessary to the attainment of good, and ascribed to it beneficial results, he has so far annihilated its character, and changed its nature. Moral evil cannot be the cause of good, without ceasing to sustain the name by which it is distinguished. God may take occasion to work through its instrumentality, but moral evil can never be the real cause of any good whatever. It is a fallacy in argument to contend, that disease should be tolerated, that the skill of
medical men may thereby appear to the greater advantage. Moral evil was not necessary in paradise, to furnish Adam with all the blessings which his state required; neither would it have been necessary in heaven, to the consummation of eternal bliss. The benefits resulting from the interposition of divine mercy when man had fallen, was but a remedy to heal the wounds which sin had made. All good is capable of shining by its own inherent lustre, and requires not the agency of moral evil to give it either existence or adventitious brightness.
On the great subject of his volume, Mr. Dods has been eminently successful. He has proved it necessary, by irrefragable arguments, that Christ, in his mediatorial character, should be "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." These essential qualifications he has guarded by fortifications which cannot be stormed, and the evidence he has adduced would have been declined complete, even though he had all appeal to the primitive writers of the christian church.
That he might not, however, be suspected of advancing sentiments which were unknown in the pure ages of Christianity, he has brought forward the testimonies of the ancient fathers, whose views coincide with his
own; and from the whole has accumulated a mass of evidence, which it would be the height of folly either to gainsay or resist. This evidence, however, is chiefly restricted. to two points; namely, that neither original nor actual sin was included in the nature of Christ; but beyond these, the force of his reasoning appears with considerable diminution:
"If he had no sin, either original or actual, then he was not fallen and sinful, and we draw from his life, and especially from his death, a knowledge of God which we can never exhaust. If he bad either original or actual sin, then indeed he was fallen and sinful, and in this case we can learn no more from his death, than we can learn from that of any other man."-p. 101.
The positions contained in the preceding passages, few will be disposed to controvert. Yet it must not be forgotten, that Adam, when created, was an entire stranger both to original and actual sin. Yet even this state of primeval rectitude did not place him beyond the possibility of sinning. On this point we should have been glad if Mr. Dods' arguments had been more energetic, and perspicuously applicable. The momentous question-"Was it within the reach of possibility, that Christ might have yielded to the temptations with which he was assailed, and of thus defeating the purposes of redemption; or was it absolutely impossible?" is one to which we could have wished that the author had given a specific reply, supported by the reasonings and arguments which he is so capable of adducing. Let this awful question be set at rest, and the disputations respecting
peccability" and "sinful," used in a "passive" sense, will soon cease to be sufficiently important to demand a volume of nearly six hundred pages.
That this work contains a vast fund of valuable matter, on subjects of vital importance to the christian cause, no one, who examines it with attention, can for a moment doubt. The arguments are power. ful, comprehensive, and diversified; yet we cannot divest ourselves of the idea, that its innumerable excellences might have been retained, although the whole had been compressed within a much narrower com
REVIEW-DELIVERANCE OF SWITZERLAND.
rences of life. Many others appear in this drama to great advantage; but, as may naturally be expected, the deeds of this patriotic deliverer always shine forth with the greatest lustre.
Among the acts of wanton despotism which disgraced the oppressors of the Swiss, the tyrant Gesler had ordered a pole bearing a hat on its summit to be erected as his representative, in the marketplace, to which all who came near it were compelled to do homage. Tell comes to the place, ignorant of the mandate, and, on hearing some mysterious expressions from the townsmen, inquires the meaning, and receives the following information :
"Why then, I thus unriddle thee my riddle :-
TELL (starting furiously.)
"Now, by my father's resting-place I swear,
Having delivered this speech, Tell
The choice of instant death, unshrived and sinning,
"Thou purple-mantled tyrant! I accept
The name of monster will be written of thee:
And when the sun shall tumble from his throne,
" Tyrant, I have-I take the trial!
"My noble lords, on the third day from this,
On the arrival of the third day, we are introduced to the following scene, in which Merta, the wife of Tell-Tell-Gesler the tyrant-and Werner the son of Tell, sustain their respective parts.
With earthquake or with fire, who only look'st,
"As thou didst stay
The patriarch's uplifted knife, when poised
Nerve, nerve my heart, O heaven!
O God! I'll say no more, my heart will burst,
"Count, tyrant, art thou ready?
Slave, look to thyself. Inspect his arrow's point,
See it be sharp.
Infernal monster! demon! art thea ready?
Measure one hundred paces-take this apple,
And on the boy's head place it!
(The crowd murmur.) GESLER, (fiercely.)
Insolents, what mean ye? dare ye murmur?
The sun full in his face!
TELL (to Werner.)
Come hither, boy! they say man cannot look
I will do both for thee, father.
Thanks, generous boy, my noble-hearted child,
Guards, strike the prisoner's fetters.
[Tell takes his place-the boy has
and the three younger children' fall on their knees; she throws
her arms around them, and bows her head-a dead silence prevails -the crowd simultaneously kneel, and while Tell is adjusting his arrow, and during the flight of it, Werner exclaims,]
Nerve thou my father's arm, O Lord! protect
[The arrow flies-the apple is split,-
turns, and sees his wife senseless on the ground. He rushes to
her, and, leaning over as he half
supports her, exclaims,
Merta, our child is safe-the apple's split:
The preceding extracts cannot fail to place this dramatic poem in a favourable attitude. The concealed arrow dropping from beneath Tell's mantle, the developments which followed the discovery, the commitment of Tell to prison, his escape, and the death of Gesner, are events both pathetic and interesting. Yet we cannot forbear thinking, that, on the whole, the poem is lengthened out beyond what the materials will fairly justify. Hence, some portions become tedious, and we pass from page to page with scarcely any occurrence to relieve the monotony of the
REVIEW.-A Vindication of the South Sea Missions from the Misrepresentations of Otto Von Kotzebue, Captain in the Russian Navy, with an Appendix. By William Ellis. 8vo. pp. 164. Westley, London. 1831.
OTTO VON KOTZEBUE may be a good seaman, and a very able navigator; but if he has not been more successful on the watery element than in his descriptions and historical observations respecting the South Sea Islands, and their inhabitants, it would have been creditable for his reputation if he had slept among the bears of the arctic circle, or had never attempted publicity beyond the boundaries of his native land.
As an adventurous voyager, transiently touching at the islands of the Pacific, it was not to be expected that his information could be very extensive; but common prudence might have suggested the propriety of silence on subjects which he could not accurately examine, nor, perhaps, fully comprehend. Unfortunately, however, for his reputation as an author, he has neglected that salutary caution, and committed himself, not only on topics im
mediately connected with the missionaries, but also on many others, on which correct information might have been easily obtained. This is the more inexcusable when his errors refer to the harbours, shores, and bays which he describes; and also the more dangerous, since the misrepresentation may deceive others, and be attended with fatal consequences.
Von Kotzebue's work having been translated into English, some of our leading journals readily availed themselves of his unfriendly remarks on the labours of the missionaries; and, without questioning the truth of his statements, exulted in the discovery, that the natives had rather been injured than benefited by the introduction of Christianity among them. This book, and these exultations, falling into the bands of Mr. William Ellis, who had been a resident in these islands nearly ten years, were examined by him with much surprise; and the result is, the appearance of the "Vindication" now before us.
In this work, he follows Mr. Kotzebue through his numerous allegations, and adduces an overwhelming multiplicity of instances to prove that, as an author, he is unworthy of credit, and that those who have praised his production, have done so at the expense either of their integrity or their understanding. A few references will fully illustrate these assertions.
In Von Kotzebue's map of Matavai village and bay, Port Papeite and Motunta are placed to the eastward of Point Venus, when, in fact, both these places are situated seven miles to the south-west!
The tides in this part of the Pacific invariably present a remarkable phenomenon. At noon and midnight it is always highwater; and at six in the morning, and at six in the evening, the tides are at their lowest ebb. With a circumstance so very peculiar, it would be natural to suppose that every circumnavigator would be intimately acquainted; yet, on this curious fact, Von Kotzebue observes as follows
"Every noon, the whole year round, at the moment the sun touches the meridian, the water is highest, and falls with the sinking sun till midnight." From this assertion it would appear, that these islands have only one tide in twentyfour hours, which all who have visited them know is not the case. On this fact, Mr. Ellis makes the following observations
"Kotzebue must have paid little attention to the tides, for, instead of continuing from noon to fall with the sinking sun till midnight,' after six o'clock in the evening they rise, and continue rising till midnight; 'so that, instead of being highest at noon and lowest at midnight, the whole year round,' the tide is highest at both these times, and lowest about sunrise and sunset every day. So uniform and wellunderstood is this ebb and flow of the sea, that, throughout the islands, during the whole year, the
REVIEW.MEMOIRS OF MR. CHARLES-NO FICTION.
time between evening twilight, and midnight, is designated by a term expressive of its advancing height; and the hours from midnight to the appearance of the
morning star, are distinguished by terms descriptive
of a corresponding fact."-p. 7.
Von Kotzebue asserts
"Here are neither ants, musquitoes, nor any of the tormenting insects so common in tropical climates; no destructive worm nor serpent; even the scorpion, of which a small sort is to be met with, loses its poison."
On this, Mr. Ellis has the following re
"Centipedes are large and numerous, and their bite often occasions swelling and pain. How Kotzebue could remain in Tahiti from the 14th to the 24th of
March, and frequently on shore, without discovering the myriads of musquitoes and ants that swarm in every place, it is not easy to imagine. Few visitors remain a day on shore without the greatest annoyance from both. So numerous are the ants, that the resident foreigners can only secure their food by having the place, on which it is deposited, surrounded by water."-p. 8.
On the manners, customs, and general character of the inhabitants, Von Kotzebue is equally unfortunate; and the numerous instances in which he has been detected, throw an atmosphere of suspicion over other portions of his work, in which it is possible his statements may be correct. It is, however, in the missionary department that he appears to the greatest disadvantage, and here Mr. Ellis enjoys an unmolested triumph. But we cannot follow him in his victorious march. This, to every reader who wishes success to the missionary cause, will appear in every page, on a perusal of the Vindication. We must conclude, by observing, that a more complete refutation of glaring error, deviations from truth, and of misrepresented facts, has not been presented to the public for many years.
THIS is not a life of adventure, of exploit, of incident; of hazard and escape, but the personal history of a pious minister of the gospel, active and zealous in his Master's cause, and remarkably useful in his day and generation, to multitudes who were favoured with his ministry. A considerable portion of this volume is composed of extracts from Mr. Charles's diary, in which he delineates, with much plainness and simplicity, the commencement and progress of his serious impressions, the dealings of God with his soul, and his call to the ministerial work.
No one who peruses these extracts, can, for a moment, doubt the sincerity of Mr. Charles. Fidelity appears in every sentence; and all his letters bear testimony to the consistency of his character. The whole volume is a body of christian experience
and practice, in which he instructs by precept and example; and both private individuals, and those who fill public stations, may find in its pages much that is worthy of imitation.
So far as the biographical sketch has been given by Mr. Morgan, from his own resources, the character of his friend is placed in an equally amiable light. Towards his latter days, Mr. Charles seemed prepared to leave the world, and to be ripening for glory. The account of his death is pleasing and highly satisfactory. He appears to have met the last enemy with calmness and christian fortitude, and to have expired in the full assurance of faith. The lives of such men are deservedly recorded, for it is to these that we are indebted for nearly all that is experimentally and practically valuable in christian biography.
REVIEW.-No Fiction, a Narrative founded on recent and interesting Facts. By Andrew Reed. 12mo. pp. 440. Westley and Davis, London. 1831.
FOR a considerable time this work appeared without its author's name, and obtained a very extensive circulation. To this, the interesting occurrences detailed in the narrative, and its title of "No Fiction," most essentially contributed. At length the Lefevre of the tale, provoked at the unwarrantable liberties taken with his character and conduct, on finding himself an object of notoriety within a large circle of his own and of the author's acquaintance, broke from his cerement, avowed his name to be Francis Barnett, published a memoir of his life, drew the veil from "No Fiction," and exposed the nakedness of the land. No Fiction having thus been discovered to be far more fictitious than its author had taught the public to believe, soon lost a considerable portion of the reputation it had gained, and fell at once full fifty per cent. in the estimation of all who had been captivated with "No Fiction, a narrative founded on recent and interesting facts."
Independently, however, of the question, whether FACT OF FICTION be the predomi nant feature in this work, all must allow that it possesses more than an ordinary share of merit, and displays the author's talents to great advantage. In each department the character is well sustained; the digressions are diversified and appropriate, and, throughout the whole, the interest that was first excited, is kept alive, and rendered powerfully attractive.