Page images
PDF
EPUB

Jerusalem, and they are warned against becoming partakers in their enormous guilt by doing the same thing afresh; not literally, for that was impossible, but virtually, by manifesting a like spirit of hostility and malevolence. The qualifying phrase "unto themselves" (avrois) undoubtedly means, to their own injury. It is an example of dativus incommodi. In Matt. 23: 31 we have a parallel example: wore μagrvoeire έavrois,― "thus ye testify against yourselves." Campbell. See also Rom. 13: 2: Eavrois ngíμa λýpovrai,—“ they shall receive to themselves damnation."

Should they thus fall away, it might be said of them, not only that they had crucified afresh the Son of God, but that they had put him to an open shame, or exposed him to public ignominy and contempt. Having once publicly professed faith in him, and been received by him as his true disciples, been highly exalted in religious privileges, if they should fall away, renounce their faith in Christianity, and, consequently, virtually declare Christ to have been an impostor, who deserved crucifixion; they would, so far as their influence might extend, bring reproach on his name, on his gospel, and encourage others to despise and avoid him. They would declare by their conduct, that having made trial of Christianity, having possessed all the light respecting it which can be obtained in this world, having received Christ by faith, been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, they were convinced that all these things were delusive and contemptible; and that Christ himself, the professed Son of God, was an impostor. They would as really make an ignominious example of him, as those did who literally crucified him, and bowed the knee in derision before him. They did it ignorantly, in unbelief. But if these should apostatize, they would do it understandingly; contrary to their own consciences, to their own experimental and certain knowledge of the truth; and would, therefore, be permanently and unpardonably guilty. To treat the glorious Son of God in this manner would therefore seal their eternal damna

usage." The student may easily satisfy himself by examination. In some cases ava produces no apparent change in the meaning of the verb with which it is compounded. In others it increases its intensity. And again, it denotes repetition of the motive. In proof of this many examples might be cited.

tion. That nothing less is intended is apparent from other passages in this same epistle. "That which beareth thorns and briers is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." "For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." This declaration then, that" it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame," gives an awful emphasis to the Apostle's warning against apostasy, and renders it one of the most alarming and efficacious, ever pronounced. It is one which true Christians cannot disregard. God will cause them to fear and heed it, and so work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

ARTICLE VIII.

CRITICAL NOTICES.

1.-History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Switzerland, etc. By J. H. Merle d'Aubigné, Pres. of the Theological School of Geneva, and Member of the Société Evangelique. Volumes I. and II. First American from the fifth London Edition. New-York & Brooklyn: Robert Carter. 1841. pp. 390, 400.

THE present attitude of Protestantism is altogether anomalous. If we had spoken in praise or in defence of the Reformation, a few months ago, we should have regarded ourselves as giving utterance to acknowledged truisms. But now Protestants are renouncing their birth-right; and, not content with this, they are striving to wrest from others an inheritance which is hallowed by the associations, and enriched by the improvements of centuries. Amid all the light and piety of the nineteenth century, the Reformation is assailed in the house of its friends. Learning, talent and influence are leading on the attack, with the confidence which is inspired by anticipated victory. We are about to be driven back to the stormy times of Luther, Melancthon and Zwingle. Soon we shall be forced to muster ourselves on the old battle-field; and though we shall meet a new enemy, the question at issue will be the same.

In these circumstances we look upon the publication and the success of this History of the Reformation as a favorable omen. It is just the book which we need for general circulation; and it is destined, we have no doubt, to become a universal favorite. To thousands, who are but slenderly acquainted with the greatest event in modern history, it will impart a knowledge, sufficiently accurate and eminently salutary. We hazard nothing in saying that these volumes will be extensively read, and when read they will be remembered; for almost the first thing, which arrests the attention on their perusal, is the vivid impression which they make upon the memory. The author's talent at description is extraordinary. He is like one who holds up to our view a succession of pictures, distinctly drawn and not easily forgotten. As we follow the great Reformer step by step, we are confident that we see the very man,-Dr. Martin Luther, the monk, the preacher, the disputant, the antagonist of princes, kings, emperors, nuncios and popes, always, however, the fearless defender of the truth as it is in Jesus.

M. Merle D'Aubigné has other qualifications,-some that we should hardly expect to find in the same individual,—for writing the History of the Reformation. His long residence in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, his thorough knowledge of the language of these countries give him advantages which very few possess. The original documents illustrative of this interesting epoch have thus been placed within his reach; and it would be superfluous to say that he has been unwearied in his endeavors to arrive at the truth. In addition to all this, the author has a heart that beats in unison with the spirit of the reformers. He can appreciate their love of the doctrines of the cross, for he has felt their power. That great truth, the corner stone of the Reformation, and of the church of Christ,-justification by faith, is as dear to him as it was to the inquiring monk of Erfurt. Expressions and actions, that would be mysterious to another, are perfectly intelligible to him.

But our author's sympathy with the Reformers has not been allowed to interfere with his fidelity. At the close of his Preface, he remarks: "From what I have said, it will be seen that I believe the Reformation to be the work of God. Nevertheless, as its historian, I hope to be impartial. I think I have spoken of the principal Roman Catholic actors in the great drama,-Leo X., Albert of Magdeburg, Charles V., Doctor Eck, etc., more favorably than the majority of historians. And, on the other hand, I have had no wish to conceal the faults and errors of the Reformers."

We have been so much pleased with these volumes that we are disinclined to qualify our praise. We will barely observe that the author is sometimes unnecessarily minute. The vividness of his sketches would have been increased by condensation. We should have also preferred a more frequent reference to authorities. This, we are aware, is not essential in a popular history; still it would have enhanced the value of the work.

2.-The History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire. By the Rev. H. H. Milman, Prebendary of St. Peter's, and Minister of St. Margaret's, Westminster. With a Preface and Notes. By James Murdock, D. D. New-York: Harper & Brothers. 1841. One Vol. large 8vo. pp. 528.

The author of this work makes a distinction between the history of Christianity and the history of the Church. The former, he says, "has usually assumed the form of a history of the Church, more or less controversial, and confined itself to the annals of the internal feuds and divisions in the Christian community, and the variations in doctrine and discipline, rather than to its political and social influences. Our attention, on the other hand, will be chiefly directed to its effects on the social and even political condition of man." He accordingly endeavors to portray the genius of Christianity, in every age in connection with that of the age itself; to show the reciprocal influence of Christianity on civilization and of civilization on Christianity. The work, then, was not intended to be an ecclesiastical history, in the ordinary sense of the term. And yet it bears a genuine historical character. It enters into those details of actual occurrences which the author judges to be the most generally interesting in their secular relations and influences; and thus in fact gives a pretty full history of the Church, as well as of Christianity. But the grand peculiarity of the author's plan, and his leading object, are to trace the influence of Christianity on the individual and social happiness of man; on the polity, the laws and institutions, the opinions, the manners, the arts and literature of the Christian world.

From the first announcement of this plan, it has struck us as a design of great value to the cause of Christian knowledge; and from the character of the author, as well as from several favorable notices and reviews of his work which have appeared in the British periodicals, we were prepared to welcome its appearance from the American press. It is brought out by

Harper and Brothers, in good style, and the "Preface and Notes" by Dr. Murdock, though not voluminous, add not a little to the historical value of the work. We have read a large portion of it, and most gratefully acknowledge that our raised expectations have been fully answered. The learning and the indefatigable industry of the author are worthy of the highest praise; and his style, though sometimes obscure, is often glowing and splendid, in keeping with his reputation as a poet, as well as a historian.

The work begins with the history of the state and forms of Pagan religion and philosophy, at the coming of Christ, and takes up, in their order, the following leading topics: The Life of Jesus Christ, with the state of Judea and the belief of the Jews in the Messiah; the successive years of Christ's public life; the Resurrection; Christianity and Judaism ;—and Paganism; and Orientalism; then, after following the history of Christianity through all the changes of the Roman empire to the close of the period indicated on the title-page, he takes a general review of that empire under Christianity, and closes with a succession of chapters on the public observances, spectacles and ceremonies of the church and the empire, the history of Christian literature, Christianity and the fine arts, with a Čonclusion embracing valuable reflective remarks upon the history thus far, and the providential preparation of Christianity to enter the dark ages of European history as the great conservative principle of religion, knowledge and humanity, and of the highest degrees of civilization of which the age was capable, during centuries of violence, of ignorance and of barbarism."

66

In the filling up of this outline the most difficult and delicate part of the author's work was his attempt to write the “Life of Christ." The language, the method, the simplicity of the Evangelists are so incorporated with our earliest associations and with the thoughts and language of Christendom, that to exhibit them under new forms, excites in most minds a sense of incongruity and desecration; and Mr. Milman's effort to reconstruct the materials of this portion of Scripture strikes us as a failure. This, however, is perhaps a proof of the impracticability of the subject rather than of any deficiency of talent in the author. But we doubt the necessity of the attempt in carrying out his general plan. The materials, as they stand in the Evangelists, were as available for his purpose as in the form which he has given them. Mr. Milman, however, remarks in his preface that if, at any time he "entertained doubts as to the expediency of including a historical view of the life 20

SECOND SERIES, VOL. VII. NO. I.

« PreviousContinue »