« FöregåendeFortsätt »
structions or doctrines, from which it is impossible to extract any one duty, and which cannot be applied to any good purpose What good end can be answered by declaiming on original sin, and telling us, that we are liable to be punished for the offence of Adam? How is it possible to reconcile this with equity ? Is this the judging the world in righteousness ? What should we think of that law, that should subject every man to be punished for the crimes, not of their fathers only, but of their most remote ancestor? Can this be called glad tidings, which is what the gospel offers, and which they, who call themselves gospel preachers, pretend that they alone do publish? What idea can we form of God, if this be his appointment? Will this make him the object of our love? And what practical purpose can we derive from this doctrine ?
• Another of the favourite and popular doctrines is, that man can, of himself, do nothing which is good; but that he is subjected to condemnation for that wickedness, which it is not in his power to avoid. [See Plain Statement, p. 147, 2d edit.] He is represented as destitute of every good principle, of every good wish and desire, corrupted to the very core. Now this is the situation in which man is placed by his Maker.'—pp. 77, 78.
He here triumphantly asks, alluding to the doctrine of universal and original guilt
, “ Can this be glad tidings?" We reply, certainly not; it never was so denominated : but we ask, Is the Gospel, in any sense, glad tidings, but in consequence of the truth of this doctrine? Is it worthy, in any sense, of the high authority which has introduced it with so many remarkable accompaniments, if man is not universally exposed to Divine displeasure, and universally depraved by transgression? We are totally at a loss to conceive what sense that is which may be attributed to the words of Scripture, that may redeem the doctrines of Christ, and especially what is in Scripture called the doctrine of the cross, from the charge of preposterous and egregious trifling, if men are denied to be dead in trespasses and in sins; or if the measure of their moral wretchedness did not amount to their being by nature the children of wrath. It appears to us the only reasonable ground for the valedictory injunction of the Saviour to his Apostles : “ Go ye into all the “ world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
It would be a fruitless and almost an endless task, to follow Mr. Watson through all the forms of error and misconception which he has exhibited. After an unmeaning paragraph, in which he endeavours to distinguish between natural and unnatral vices, be says
• But there are other vices, which, upon examination, we shall see it is no easy task to root out: it is not the work of a moment; but requires much perseverance and strenuous efforts, to obtain from them a deliverance. Apply this, for instance, to a covetous disposition. This is a natural vice, and one, the most difficult to be con. quered. It mingles with the blood and the vital parts. It is, in some cases, a hereditary vice, and flows in the yeins of families. Let a
man try to cure himself of this vice; he will find this not to be the work of a day: in spite of all his efforts and resolutions, it will frequently betray its meanness, and very often its injustice; and I believe the instances are few, wherein you have seen a perfect cure.' pp. 82, 83.
The Author differs bere as much from bimself as from most 1 moralists. For upon his own principles men are not naturally
depraved at all; and we would ask him how that can be a vice, according to bris theory, which mingles with the blood and vital parts,' which is hereditary, and flows in the veins of
families? We have generally been accustomed, however, to consider covetousness as much a vice formed by habit, as drunkenness and gluttony. We must confess, we have never yet seen any vices which were incurable, and very few that bad been long indulged in, from which it was easy to escape, but certainly none that tbe power of the Gospel could not orercome. But the object for wbich the Author made the above remarks, was to shew that sudden conversions could never subdue such' natural • vices' as covetousness, lying, &c. At page 81, he says,
· The doctrine of sudden and instantaneous conversions is another # of the popular and fashionable doctrines of the present day; and may
be set down as one of those very common, but gross impositions, that ensnare the credulous, and deceive the ignorant ; but, in general, procures great credit to those who have the audacity to pass such off upon
the world.' Now, though we are far from maintaining that all conversions are sudden, we should be glad to know what there is either in - philosophy or in Scripture, to discredit the belief that a wicked
man may receive an effectual conviction of truth, as sudden as the lightning's flash, and as powerful as the voice of thunder? Wbat is then to prevent that Almighty Agent, who says, “ wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound " thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometb, and whither it “ goetb ; so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” from effecting those moral changes which are pre-eminently the result of his own power, as suddenly as those physical changes which we continually witness and experience ? Has Mr. Watson never met with such conversions? Has he never read, or if he bas read, does he mean to deny, narratives so well authenticated, as those of Colonel Gardiner, and the Earl of Rochester ?
We shall detain our readers only a little longer with a specimen of Mr. Watson's doctrine upon worldly amusements.
• From the preceding part of our Lord's history, and indeed, from his history in general, we may infer that our Lord was no enemy to the innocent recreations of society, and that he does not đebar his disciples from such enjoyments. Recreations properly chosen, excite Vol. X. N. S.
cheerfulness; and cheerfulness is favourable to health, and to some, also, of the most amiable virtues.
• My reason for taking up the subject of recreations, is, in the first place, to contribute what I can, to the removal of that gloom, which some professors throw over religion; and, in the second place, to combat those illiberal prejudices, which suppose that nen are guilty of the greatest sin, who countenance the common amusements of society, although among that number, are found many men of the greatest worth, who are not only firm believers in christianity, bet scrupulously exact in the performance of its duties : and thirdly, to point out the unhappy consequences of such gloomy principles, thus operating as a discouragement to real religion.
*. With respect to music, there is no occasion to say much ; for this is the least exceptionable of all amusements. This is a delightful exercise and entertainment to many; it enters into the solemn services of religion, and contributes there to exalt our devotion.
• But dancing is cried down violently. Indecent dances cannot be censured too severely ; and those stage dances have brought the exercise itself under this disgrace. But these are neither encouraged nor practised in our common assemblies, nor in private parties. In such places, all these things are conducted agreeable to the strictest rules of decency; and perhaps there are few entertainments more pure, more chaste and correct in every moral point of view.-Some alledge that this exercise excites bad passions ; but those must have very impure hearts, who can find such incitements in the common dances. And nothing can be better calculated to produce innocent cheerfulness, particularly in an assembly of young people; and nothing can be more wisely contrived to dissipate melancholy, illtemper, and dissatisfaction, than to witness the grace and elegance of this exercise; and thus you share in the innocent joys of the rising generation. That mind must be of a very stubborn sulkiness, and of a texture not very favourable to virtue, which refuses its assent to the general harmony of such company. This exercise has been countenanced by many wise men, and even rigid moralists. Music and dancing, entered occasionally, into the solemn services of the Jews. David danced before the ark of God, with all his might. We find dancing recommended in the Psalm cxlix. 3.- Let us praise his name in the dance." It was practised by the Jews on occasions of re. joicing. The prophet Jeremiahı, xxxi. 13, foretelling the restoration of the Jews, and the approach of happier days, says—“ Then shall the virgins rejoice in the dance.” Socrates mentions it often with approbation. The present morose and gloomy temper which hangs over religion, should be counteracted by directing the amusements oî young people to what is different from sulkiness, to excite cheerfulness, which may be maintained in perfect consistency with purity and the most correct morals.
• The amusement of the theatre has certainly subjected itself to much censure, by countenancing immorality. Several old plays are highly censurable, on account of the looseness of their morals; and this poison is often conveyed in much wit, which causes the venom to pierce deeper. But to the honour of the present age, and for the
interest of morality, we seldom find any thing of this nature in modern plays. They are, in general, chaste and correct in these points ; and the morals which some of them inculcate, are excellent, and calculated to do much more good, and much less harm than many of those declamations which are called sermons, where morality is abused, and the christian virtues treated with contempt.-Amusements regulated by virtuous principles are rational and instructive.
The present theatrical representations are, however, in some cases, highly cen. surable, not for immorality ; but for a great deal of nonsense, and sometimes buffoonery, introduced upon the stage.' pp. 174-177.
This will let most of our readers into the secrets of the Rev. Mr. Watson's theology, which to us has a much greater resemblance to those loose, superficial, and contradictory opinions of modern philosophers, which are made up, partly of the affected sensibility of deism, and partly of the maxims of carnal and worldly men, with some slight assistance from the New Testament, than to that sound and sober theory which is the result of a diligent and laborious investigation into the Scriptures. In short, the whole of his system seeds to be exactly that which is to be met with in fashionable novels and plays. It affects great respect to the Divine character, and great admiration of the moral precepts of Christ, while its utmost aim is to prune off a few of the most unsocial and gross vices, without knowing any thing of the measure of human guilt on the one hand, or of the vastness of Divine love on the other. By divesting Christianity of the doctrines of grace, it becomes a taine, useless, upinteresting system, alike cold and fruitless. It is the grace of the Gospel that makes it a Gospel. The testimony of Christ is, that he came “to call sinners to repentance.” And never will mankind at large receive the faithful saying, and find it worthy their acceptation, but as it discloses to them the grace of that Saviour, who “ came into the world to save sinners.' It is evidently very easy for a writer or a preacher, when he has formed a sort of partial survey of the Gospel, and seen much in it about love, and meekness, and forgiveness of injuries, to imagine that in forming a strong conception of the amiable and moral spirit of Christianity, he has in fact seized upon its most prominent feature, or that by which the whole may be fairly epitomized. But we must be allowed to remind such persons, that in selecting out of a complex object, that one feature or quality, which, on account of its pre-eminence, may be used to designate the whole, we must take heed that our partialities for some one of its qualities, do not betray us into an oversight of its most essential and prominent parts. The Apostles of Christ have, we admit, designated the whole of that assemblage of truths, the Gospel, by one principal fact, and one
principal doctrine, but then it was on account of the supreme and overwhelming importance of that one fact and that one doctrive. It is the cross of Christ which, with them, forms at once the distinguishing glory and the appropriate designation of the whole Gospel. It was the doctrine of the cross, which they beld up above all others; this was first, and last, and all in all, in their discourses. It was a view of this doctrine of atonement and salvation by the sacrifice of Christ alone, as being of somewhat more importance for all mankind to know and believe, than this Author appears to think, that made one of them say, “ I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus “ Christ, and bim crucified.” We recommend to Mr. Watson a little closer attention to the writings of that Apostle, before he ushers his next volume of Dissertations into the world ; and He can assure him that he will appear to us, and we think we may say to the religious public in general, much more in character, when he invests his tbeological productions with a larger portion of the glory of the cross, the doctrine of which at present appears to him to be foolishness, but which, he must be aware, will be the master-theme of those ransomed spirits who are represented as exclaiming, “ Thou art worthy, for thou wast “slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."
Art. V. A Short Introduction to the Greek Language ; contain:
ing Greek Precepts; a Speech of Clearchus, from Xenophon's Anabasis ; and the Shield of Achilles, from Homer's Iliad. Translated into English. 8vo. pp. 178. Price 8s. 6d. THIS small volume was originally composed for the early
instruction of the present Lord Viscount Falkland, and originated in the Editor's apprehension that a child in his first efforts to learn Greek, bas sufficient difficulty to contend with, without being embarrassed with Latin as an intermediate guide. The selection is made with judgement. Tbe Greek precepts, and the extracts from Homer and Xenopbon, are accompanied with a liberal version, and with an exact verbal translation. As examples of the proper mode of proceeding in the lessons, the first ten precepts are grammatically analyzed ; and so much of the Eton Greek grammar is given in English, as relates to the article and nouns substantive, for the sake of a more convenient reference in parsing. Concise but valuable notes are occasionally added by the Editor.
Tbis short Introduction may be recommended to the very young Greek student, as a useful manual to facilitate bis ac quaintance with a language in which are preserved the noblest productions of human genius, and the most interesting portions