Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

NOTES.

NOTE A. Page 9. When, or by whom, this scion was inserted into the Jewish stock, the writer does not say. If he can fix the age and the author of the book of Job, and the country he inhabited, he will have taken one and the tirst step, which is always the most difficult, towards the determination. If, with one class of critics, we assign this book to Moses, or with another class, we date it still farther back in the patriarchal age, in either case it is the oldest record of human opinion ; and, adopted into thu jewish canon and sanctioned by Christ and his apostles, stands forth as the first revealed expression of divine truth. Its date is thus, from six hundred to a thousand years anterior to the period assigned to Homer by any of the classical critics. But diabolical existence and agency are asserted and reiterated, not in the poetical, but in the historical parts of this book. Was it then “ carelessness or hardihood ” that asserted as an undeniable fact, that “this notion was grafted on the purity of the Jewish faith from the fictions of oriental mythology”? “Did not the gentlem know, that theologians, inferior to none in exact learning, deep research, ardent piety, and studious attention to the word of God,” have discovered, in this first remaining production of the human mind, and original revelation of divine truth, a clear and distinct recognition of diabolical agency? Have they not traced this notion up to the very fountain of truth, to the light of heaven, to the inspiration of the Almighty? Did he not know that they have seen this notion, not merely engrafted into the purity of the Jewish, but ingrained and interwoven with the whole system of the Christian, faith? How then could he assume, with such roundness of period, and fearlessness of consequence, (shall I add, disregard of fact ?) that this notion, presented to human contemplation in the first written record extant, and under the authoritative sanction of inspiration, was “a fiction of oriental mythology”? in other words, a dream, a fancy, an untruth? Need we be at a loss to know “this gentleman's views of the sacred volume"? All acknowledge the writer of the book of Job to have been a genius of the loftiest order, a sun of surpassing brilliancy, before which the lights, greater and less, of Grecian and Roman glory, fade away into dimness, or totally disappear. Why, then, are we constrained to imagine him, so meagre in imagination, so jejune in invention, so derelict of inspiration, that in order to produce this book, he had recourse to fabulous legends, and unreal phantasies? Where is the evidence of the existence, and what was the character of these fictions? Is there any Idumaan history, any Assyrian roll, any Arabian chronicle extant, from which to hazard a conjecture on these points ? Neither Egypt nor Babylon affords a hieroglyphick, or character, by which to pierce the darkness that broods over those remote ages. Be it known, that the first period of authentic profane history commences at least seven hundred years subsequent to the latest date assigned, with any considerable degree of probability, to the author of this book. Is Herodotus to give evidence in this case? What did he know, or could he know, upon the subject ? Would you admit Tacitus and Suetonius to be credible historians in regard to the belief and the practices of even contemporary Jews ? What then could a Grecian historian, removed a thousand miles in space, and a thousand years in time, know of that remote age and distant country? Evidently, nothing. Suppose we could summon Sanchoniathon and Manetho, Berosus and Abydenus, the Ossians of history, and put them to the question, what could they testify? Nothing, nothing at all. Are we then to quit “ the sure word of prophecy,” wherein “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” for the supposititious imaginings of a soi-disant rational Christianity? Is

pure reason,” on a subject wholly and forever beyond its unassisted grasp, of paramount authority to recorded fact and inspired decision ?

Following out the assumptions of the reviewer, we shall soon find ourselves compelled to adopt the rationalism of Röhr, Wegscheider, and their school; and if we pretend to receive the scriptures, it will be as a collection of oriental fictions, an assemblage of traditionary tenets and mythological fancies, by the aid of which, so far as they correspond with enlightened reason, we may elaborate a system of “ divine truth.” “ Theologians, inferior to none in various and exact learning, deep research, studious attention to the word of God, and” (would it not be uncharitable not to add ?) “ ardent piety,” have been unable to discover any thing more than such tenets and such fancies in the volume of inspiration. The sons of the Pilgrims are not yet so bereft of reason as to renounce revelation, and take in its place, they

know not what, dignified, though it be, with the name of “ rational Christianity.”

Before this writer again decides with such oracular authority, it may serve to refresh his memory and shape his periods, to review his chronological tables. He might consult Niebuhr to learn what authority is attributed by the learned to the first five centuries of Roman history. How much in Grecian history, previous to the first Olympiad, is not fabulous ? Eusebius, in his Chronicon, shows, according to the chronology of the heathen historians just mentioned, whose works, soine fragments excepted, have long since perished, and also of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Diodorus Siculus, that Moses lived prior to the worship of Jupiter, to the birth of Latona, of Bacchus, Apollo, and most of the heathen deities, to the flood of Deucalion, to the fall of Phæton ; and centuries prior to the first poets, philosophers, and historians of Greece. The first Olympiad was instituted in honor of Jupiter, B. C. 776. Moses was eighty years of age when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, B. C. about 1500.

NOTE B. Page 13. The writer is not ignorant that “ rational christianity,” carried out to its legitimate results, (that is, pure rationalis:n,) has denied the existence of good as well as of bad angels. Nor does he see how a man can pretend to reason upon the subject and deny that the existence of the latter class is revealed, and yet believe in the existence of the former. Consistent rational criticism must sweep away both classes together, and it were idle to deny it. This has been the result, where liberal minds have been unlaced from creeds, unfettered by authority, and at liberty to speak out their undisguised sentiments, fearless of offending popular opinion. Theologians, inferior to none in” extent of information and compass of research, profoundly versed in the original languages of the scriptures and the kindred dialects, and loaded with stores of classical and oriental learning, men “studious of nature” in her permanent and her ever-varying forms, have blotted out, with unsparing hand, every vestige of angelic existence from the sacred page. This is consistent inconsistency, an honor, to which the American supporters of a kindred system cannot yet lay claim. Should the descent of opinion, however, be as rapid for the next ten years as during the ten years past, (not to speak of an accelerated velocity,) it may be questioned whether “ the lowest

depth" of German rationalism will be more than a step to “ the deeper still” of American rational Christianity. A new illustration, it is to be feared, is about to be given to the adage, corruptio optimi pessima. If this be thought severe, let the reader remember that in 1815, the views of the atonement given by Butler, in his Analogy, were said by Dr. Channing, to be as generally received by the Unitarian clergy as any others; and that ten years afterwards, “a central gallows” is erected, by which to hold up those views to scorn and detestation. A descent, equally rapid, cannot be paralleled in Germany, from 1750 to the present moment. With Dr. Priestley, this divine, accomplished and eloquent though he be, may well say, “I do not know where my creed will be fixed.” The remark of the satirist, nemo repente fuit turpissimus, can apply only to manners, not to sentiments.

[ocr errors]

NOTE C. Page 23. What American Unitarian interpreters suppose the three evangelists to mean by their narratives of the temptation,” remains to be seen. They are of age, and can speak for themselves. It is not probable that any of them are yet ready, openly, to take the ground of Professor Schleiermacher, a name, though unknown here, of great learning, and of great authority throughout Prussia and all Germany. He thinks “ the most natural explanation of the temptation is, that it is a parable, delivered by Christ to his disciples, which might easily have been misunderstood historically, and yet as easily, notwithstanding this misconstruction, pass through a great number of hands.” Putting this into intelligible English, it reads thus, the disciples, each and all, misunderstood Christ, and have perpetuated their misconception in a volume said to be inspired. In this “most natural” opinion, we see the reverence felt for the scriptures by this learned and most rational member of the German Lutheran Church. “He avails himself,” as another distinguished German writer has said in his reply to Rose, “ of the Established Ecclesiastical System, as, in some way or other, the envelope of his philosophical system.”

All this may be disclaimed by American rational inquirers, as irrelevant. But how can we know what is considered rational in Boston, if the advocates of rational inquiry here, will maintain an astringent silence on such topics, but by learning what is thought rational by Unitarians, where the lips are unclosed, and communication of opinion is free and unrestrained ? Whence is it, that in a monarchy, and with an established religion, the principal writers are

[ocr errors]

1

« FöregåendeFortsätt »