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ignorant credulity of their benighted followers; and the Creator is robbed by the creature of the honour due unto his name.
It would have been impossible for a man of Mr. Turner's reflective habits to have overlooked, in a work of this nature, the extravagant, not to say insane systems of Geological Chronology, which the pseudo-philosophers of the age have originated. He justly ridicules the idea of natural agencies forming the world without a directing intelligence.
Be not deceived by words which really have no meaning. No laws of nature have constructed any part of the essential frame of our globe; for they arise from its construction, and could not cause that which has caused them to be what they are. They are the offspring of creation in every department, and not its parent. They are the inventions, the planned agents and instruments of its Author; the appointed derivatives from his system of things; the chosen subordinate operations which he willed and ordained to arise from it, and therefore has caused to arise from the compositions and dispositions, and regulated state of the constructed fabric. They were selected and appointed to continue and carry on the chosen and framed scheme and course of things; to actuate or accompany the movements of each specific part; to produce the effects that were ineant to follow, and to be the usual and consistent order of nature on the earth. They act to uphold and preserve this, and to do from time to time what, in the great plan of its subsistence, and for the time of its duration, was to be consecutively effected.-Pp. 368, 369.
The whole letter, which treats upon this particular point, merits an attentive perusal, for many men of real talent and acknowledged proficiency in geological science, persist in maintaining that our rocky formations and earthy strata are solely the effect of the natural laws and properties of things; and from such erroneous data, they arrive at the conclusion that the earth must have occupied thousands of ages in arriving at its present matured state. In such a train of argument, material substances and their properties are alone considered the CREATOR is forgotten-Nature is appealed to— Nature's God contumaciously overlooked. But we appeal to the common sense of reasoning man ; we direct the eye to that portion of creation which comes more immediately within human ken; and we ask, is it consonant with our rational perception to think for one moment that the Creator left it to material things to create for him ; or, as the atomists maintain, to move sluggishly and casually into the masses of the globe. No! God formed the earth as designed to form it; and his omnipotence has, in all its structure, been exerted to carry into effect the mighty plans of His omniscient and all-providing and all-adjusting sagacity.
It was not our intention to have entered into a discussion of the metaphysical theories propounded by Mr. Turner. Even where we differ, it must be confessed that he advances no objectionable principles, and in points of minor importance it is scarcely worth while to provoke a controversy; such, however, does not appear to be the feeling of some of our contemporaries. For instance, Fraser, in an article written in
bad taste, with bad feeling, and worse ignorance, indulges in a most unseemly attack on the Sacred Historian ; who, we are facetiously reminded, was preceded by Moses in that particular department.
We will present our readers with two or three specimens of the “ Canons of Criticism,” by which the writer is guided in speaking of a superior dignitary in the walks of literature. “The Sacred Historian " is accused of maintaining his opinions “ with increased emphasis, violent dogmatism, and obstinate assertion." That is, he differs from his critic.
“ The Sacred Historian" is next charged with the high crime and misdemeanour of not having read " the judicious Hooker." His critic may have done this, but he has not imbibed the spirit of the “divine.” “ The Sacred Historian,” however, is allowed to keep good company, as we are informed that he might "have avoided much wilful absurdity, that he, in common with the Bridgewater Treatise people, and the professors of physical science in general, have unconsciously fallen into.”
The sneer at the Bridgewater people is capital, and only equalled by the funny manner in which our author is continually alluded to as the rival of Moses, “ The Sacred Historian.”
But Mr. Turner is charged with inculcating low notions of the Deity; let the subjoined extract with which we close the subject, decide how far his reviewer is justified in making such an assertion.
And this will be our actual perception and conviction of his wisdom, bis goodness, his greatness, his moral and intellectual perfections, and therefore of his unceasing benevolence, beneficence, righteousness, and sanctity. We must feel that he is glorious in these, as he is in his material creations and celestial effulgencies. We must convince our reason that he is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works." We must study his principles, and providence, aud sacred revelations, until we individually and distinctly perceive that he is gracious and full of compassion : slow 'to auger, and great in mercy.” And above all things, that he is “righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." These last-mentioned feelings are those, which we should be most careful to acquire and most steadily cultivate. For a conviction of the justice of God, of his perfect equity and righteous dealings with us all, and of his being pure from all partial wrong, or capricious, malign, and selfish motives, is that impression, which is the most vacillating and imperfect in the minds of many of our fellow-beings. Yet it is that, from which his greatest glory will always arise from his intelligent creatures.
He is so tremendously great and so irresistibly omnipotent, that nothing but his most perfect righteousness offers to the human spirit any safety or protection from destruction or undue infelicities. We see and feel that pain is abroad in this world, and that we are very sensitive to it here, and frequently suffer from it. What we thus know to be here, may also be elsewhere. It becomes, therefore, of vast consequence to us to discern and know, that however petty we are compared with him, yet that he is so perfectly just, that we never shall receive pain from hiin or under his administration, that is either unnecessary or unequitable to us. He must be as perfect in his righteousness as he is in all his other moral and intellectual qualities. For us, therefore, to perceive this and to present our conviction and acknowlegment of it to him, as the decided, and firm, and abiding conclusion of our knowlege, experience, and reason, will be the highest tribute of glory, which the human soul can offer to him, and of which, as far as what we do can please bim, is niost likely to be the most acceptable to him, most desired by him, and most honoring on our parts to him,
Let us then at all times do him this justice; to cherish in our minds an unrelaxing certainty, that we shall always find him perfect in his justice to us all and in every thing, and individually to each of us, as soon as we obtain sufficient knowlege of his operations with respect to us. Let us wait with patience, until what we do not perceive or cannot comprehend, shall be satisfactorily elucidated to us. We expect this equity and consideration in our intercourse with each other. Let us also so conduct ourselves in all our thoughts and feelings with reference to him, whatever may be his present or future dispensations personally to ourselves. These convictions and feelings will form the greatest glory which the human spirit can offer spontaneously to its Creator : and the grandest result of the great day of the judicial consummation of all things will be, the complete demonstration, to all existing intelligences, of the perfect equity and justice to all of their almighty and allgoverning God. It will be a day of trial, and proof, and conviction of his universal righteousness, as it will be of our qualities and conduct; and the final award to each of us will be in manifested and undisputed harmony and unity with this Divine perfection in himself; and this will be the triumph of his INTELLECTUAL GLORY,- Pp. 581-583.
L'envoy, we hope Mr. Turner will live many years to enjoy his well-earned pension, and to add new laurels to his already numerous wreaths; and we will not despair of seeing Volume III. before this day twelvemonths; for despite his critic before alluded to, no living man, not even young Milton, could execute such a work, except our author.
Art. III.- Doctrinal Errors of the Apostolical and Early Fathers.
By William Osbury, Jun. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co. Hatchard & Son ; & Seeley & Son. Leeds : T.J. Knight. 1835. Pp. xxiv. 337.
As witnesses to the state of discipline and doctrine in the primitive Church, the testimony of the early Fathers is highly valuable; and those who were the cotemporaries and immediate successors of the apostles, may reasonably be regarded as possessing considerable authority in deciding matters of faith. It is the evidence, however, which they afford to facts, which is chiefly important; and that not only in their direct assertions of the existence of certain usages, and their maintenance of certain doctrines, but in their silence respecting tenets, which have since been advocated by different sects in modern times. To receive them as infallible expositors of Holy Writ, or as unerring guides in practical religion, is to raise their authority far above its legi. timate value; and we are ready to allow, that " like the opinions of authors of any other period, it is to be received so far as it is agreeable to God's word, and no further.” But that “ the tradition of the early Fathers is possessed of no power of prescription whatever over the church of Christ in succeeding ages,” is a position which Mr. Osburn, with all his dogmatical assurance, and self-complacency, has by no means succeeded in establishing. Of the Fathers, whose writings and opinions he has professed to examine, many were doubtless wrong in their opinions ; and, as they frequently differ, they could not possibly be always right. Without the gift of inspiration, with which they never pretended to be endowed, they were necessarily liable to errors in judgment; and there are many proofs in the work before us that they can neither always be safely followed in their interpretations of Scripture, nor justified in the practices which they sanctioned or approved. At the same time we are disposed to believe that many of the passages which our author has cited, are very far from bearing him out in his assertions, if indeed they do not sometimes disprove the very fact which he is labouring to found upon them. It is mainly, however, with reference to some of his own opinions, and his manner of enforcing them, that we shall take leave to examine his work; and, having frequently directed attention to the legitimate use of the Patristical writings, we conceive that this course will enable us to form a correct estimate of its value.
Here, however, we would premise that there is much valuable illustration, and some important discussion, in Mr. Osburn's volume. In many points he exhibits a depth of research into the prevalent opinions of the early ages; and we may instance his chapter of “ Angels," as worthy, in many respects, of an attentive perusal. That on “ Baptism," which follows, contains the most untenable, and even contradictory positions. With respect to the Sacrament itself, he observes that it most plainly appears from Scripture, “ that all the regenerating graces of the Spirit may precede the rite of baptism; that in every instance upon record of the apostolic use of this sacrament, the outward sign was applied to confirm the inward grace, not to convey it." Again, two pages onward, we have the following description of baptism, of which the concluding sentence is somewhat difficult of reconciliation with the otherwise unobjectionable portion of it.
It is the divinely appointed rite of initiation into the Christian religion; occupying (as the Scriptures inform us) under the gospel dispensation, the place of circumcision under the law; both which ceremonies are therefore equal in point of obligation, upon those to whom they were respectively imparted, as initiatory rites. They likewise closely resemble each other in the figurative meaning attached to them; both are acts of bodily purification, shadowing forth a similar act upon the heart, by the divine agency:- but, neither in the one case nor the other, do we perceive the slightest scripture ground for concluding, that this inward grace necessarily and irrespectively accompanies the outward sign.-Pp. 77 –78.
According to the views here developed, the outward sign can have nothing whatever to do with the inward grace, which it is understood to
signify: for if this inward grace was necessary, as we are here led to infer, before baptism, the rite becomes a mere form, without any inherent efficacy. This is what Mr. O.'s argument proves, if it proves anything; and his ideas upon the subject, which are sufficiently confused, and not very clearly discernible, have arisen out of his zealous opposition to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. He quotes abundantly from the Fathers to prove that this error, as he is pleased to denominate it, is maintained in their writings; “ an error, which, originating in some of the earliest departures from scriptural truth, has rooted itself in the very heart of all the ancient churches, and from which even Protestantism, at this day, is far, very far, from being expurgated." In our poor simplicity, we should have imagined that the fact of a doctrine taking root in the very heart of all the ancient churches, was somewhat presumptive in favour of its truth, rather than attributable to "an invariable process of error producing error.” It was therefore with some little surprise that we found Mr. Osburn, in the very outset of his discussion, boldly asserting the impossibility of admitting baptismal regeneration, without at the same time receiving the popish doctrine of transubstantiation.
The visible church has long halted between two opinions upon the nature of the Sacraments which Christ has ordained therein. One of these opinions, which would seem to have a considerable advantage over the other, on account both of its antiquity and of the present number of its adherents, maintains that there is a spiritual efficacy inherent in the elements of either sacrament; and ibat, provided they be administered according to the divine institution, the receiver must necessarily partake of the benefits they are intended to convey. The waters of baptisın undergo a certain change, which renders them instrumental to that inward washing from corrupt and evil dispositions, of which the rite itself is the symbol; so that regeneration follows baptism, as effect follows causc. In the same inanner, there is an actual transmutation of the elements theinselves in the other sacrament; they become, during the performance of the eucharistical service, the material body and blood of Jesus Christ, of which he who partakes is therefore necessarily apprehensive.
The other opinion, wbich, according to its opponents, was scarcely heard of before the Protestant Reformation, and which, even now, bas but few adherents, in comparison of the forıner, asserts, that the elements are the mere out. ward, visible signs of certain inward and spiritual benefits, the cominunication of which depends altogether upon the will of the blessed and eternal Spirit who is the giver of them. Consequently, the sacramental graces are imparted with exactly the same regard to the frame of mind in the partaker of the outward rite, as obtains in all the other ordinances and means of grace prescribed by the New Testament. The unworthy receiver neither experiences spiritual regeneration in baptism nor discerns the Lord's body in the eucharist; for the same reason, that the prayer which goeth forth of feigned lips fails to obtain the answer which God is pleased to give to the right performance of that Christian duty. We shall presently review the whole of the Scripture testimony to the point in question : independently of it, however, the latter opinion would seem to be most in harmony with the general spirit of the Christian doctrine ; which, in the matter of distribution of gifts and graces, always brings prominently forward the divine omniscience, regarding scrupulously the heart of him who seeks, and giving or withholding them, accordingly. This analogy is certainly violated, if we account the sacramental elements as means of grace in VOL. XVII. NO. VII.