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might be deemed suitable to a subject which is not new to the public, we shall not enlarge it by extracts from our author's comparative view of life and manners. He seems to prefer Oriental to European fashions; which mighjtbe expected from his unfortunate prejudices against Christianity, and from that sensuality which is an usual appendage, if it be not rather an occasion, of infidelity. Too many-fruits of these kindred evils appear in various parts of his work, to authorise our recommendation of it in- a moral view: and an affectation of the style (connected with an adoption of the principles) of Gibbon, often involves his language in bombast or ambiguity. This volume, notwithstanding, with all its imperfections, and faults, is highly valuable for geographical purposes; and by persons whose religious and moral principles are fully established, maybe perused with advantage, though not with satisfaction. Too much of it is borrowed; and some anomalous subjects are introduced: but the author cannot justly be accused of prolixity; as it would probably have been more easy for him to have expanded his work to several volumes, than to have completed it in one. It is more exposed to the charge of deficiency than of redundancy: and the author seems to be more prone to negligence, than to vanity. He doe3 not appear to have written enough on the spot, or to have possessed a sufficiently distinct recollection of subjects which he trusted to memory. We apprehend him to have attempted what was beyond his powers, and therefore to have failed of. its accomplishment: but with .qualifications inferior to many of his predecessors, he is irititled to the praise of having penetrated to an unknown and barbarous country, and of having obliged the public with information by far more desirable than that which can usually be derived from modern voyages and travels.
Art. IV. The leading Features of the Gosficidelineated,'m an Attempt to expose some unscriptural Errors, particularly the absurd Tenet, that mistakes in Religion are of trifl'ng Consequence. By the Rev. Nicholas Sloan, Minister of Dornock, Dumfriesshire, 8vo. pp. 438. Price 7s.6d. boards. Law. 1806.
•"THE utility of s}'stems of divinity, has been called in question by many persons who were well affected to the truths of Revelation. Aware of the injurious consequences which often result from a bigoted attachment to human creeds, they have been induced to view such effects as necessarily connected with the very nature, instead of flowing from the abuse, of certain forms of sound words.
From an early age of the Christian Church, it appears that the adoption of such formula; was considered very beneficial. The Scriptures, no doubt, contain a perfect system; but, from ■meny causes, a simple declaration of adherence to the truths contained in the inspired volume has been thought not sufficiently explicit Liable as such an avowal is to equivocation, it became necessary for Christians, before the bond of Union could be complete, to state what were the precise doctrines which they believed; or, in other words, had been able to derive from the only infallible standard of truth.
But that systems of divinity are on the whole extremely useful, cannot we think be disproved, and the Christian world is certainly under great obligations to those who have bestowed labour iiv reducing to a clear methodical order, the component parts of evangelical doctrine. Such systems, however, must invariably be considered in their true character, as the production of fallible men, and never allowed to arrogate the authority of divine revelation.
Mr. S. does not propose to give a full delineation of the gospel, but only to describe its leading features. To do this well, indeed, is a task of no inconsiderable difficulty. It requires a clear and accurate perception of the nature and connection of divine truths, a talent'for arrangement, a happy share of discrimination, in order to determine the exact degree of attention which each demands, and a facility of expressing them in precise and .appropriate language.
All the truths revealed in Scripture, not only deserve, but imperiously claim attention. Some parts of that revelation^ however, may be fairly called principal truths.; because they are essential to the being of the system, resembling the foundation of a building, without which that building could not exist.
Mr. Sloan, as bis title intimates, is decidedly adverse to the notion which asserts, that erroneous opinions in religion are of trifling importance. We fully agree with him on this general principle, though we might be inclined to make several exceptions that he would dispute. A great part of the Scripture js composed of books which almost solely treat of what have been called speculative truths; and it is not to be supposed that so very considerable a part of revelation would have been occupied in unimportant discussion. Two observations should be added on this subject; one, that a great number of the -persons who strenuously maintain the sentiment which Mr. S. explodes, are themselves remarkable for the bigotry of their attachment to their own peculiar tenets; the other is, that there is need to caution those who agree with our author, on the importance of doctrinal truth, against relying on the supposed accuracy of their religious knowledge, as if the advent of the Redeemer had no object but to teach a system of theology.
This book is divided into seventeen chapters. After a few preliminary observations, the author offers some forcible remarks on those whom he calls Moralists, and successfully shews that the gospel alone is suited to the condition of man as a sinner. In the second chapter he treats of the depravity and consequent imbecility of man; redemption by Christ is next considered, which introduces the proofs of his divinity. The fatal errors of those who deny original sin, are described. Objections against preaching the doctrines of free grace, &c. are answered. The error of inculcating Morality to the total exclusion of Faith and Gospel Holiness is exposed. The new Birth—The Personality and Divinity of the Spirit—The Assurance of Faith—Perseverance of the Saints—Election—are briefly defended. Mr. S. then treats of the second coming of Christ—of the Resurrection of the . Body—of Heaven and Hell: and after giving a specimen of evangelical preaching, analysing this specimen, and remarking on the discourses of Jesus, recommends a diligent and impartial perusal of the Scriptures, which, combined with a desire after truth, and sincere prayer, he asserts to be an excellent antidote against error.
Mr. Sloan is warmly attached to the essential doctrines of the gospel; we approve the zeal which he has discovered in defending his views of evangelical truth, and think his work capable of instructing and benefiting the serious reader. But we particularly wish, that he had displayed some candour toward those who differ from liiin on particular tenets, and that he had abstained from the use of coarse and low invectives, which in several places disfigure his book. Perhaps we ought to impute some of his failings in this respect to ignorance, rather than bigotry; we will allow him to condemn Use dangerous errors of Pelagian and Socinian heterodoxy; but he should not charge these on 'Arminiuns.'' If he knew the persons to whom this term properly belongs, he would blush at the thought of bringing railing accusations against them.
We would not recommend the dry scholastic method of treating theological topics, in preference to the engaging and illustrative style of lecturing, which has prevailed in recent times; but we. must say that Mr. Sloan is very deficient in the article of arrangement. There is little connection of thought iii the several chapters, and little connection of the chapters in the work. He should take more pains in digesting his plan, arranging his thoughts, and improving his style. He expresses himself with clearness; but abounds too mucii in epithets, and is defective in point and vigour.
He concludes all his chapters with some original verses of sacred poetry ; of which the piety cannot be disputed.
The author has given us a specimen and analysis of a • Missionary sermon composed on evangelical principles. This is rather a novelty in its way, for few authors venture publicly to criticise their own writings. He " purposely waves its defects and merits- as far as these respect arrangement and composition." How then is it an analysis? and why does he nevertheless commend his own arrangement? The greater part of his analysis is a recapitulation and explanation of the arguments advanced in the sermon.
The following extract may be deemed a very fair specimen of the author's manner.
'The first argument of certain Moralists against justification by free grace, and the doctrine of sanctification through the divine Spirit is, that such views have a tendency greatly to debase our natures. This opposition to the work of the holy Spirit, the more strongly proves the doctrine of his gracious influences to be an evangelical truth. For it is the very design of the gospel, as hath been already shewn, to humble, what is fondly called, the dignity of human nature. As, in the method of justifying sinners, Christ will have all the praise; so, in cleansing them from, allpollution, and giving them a meetness for glory, GOD the SPIRIT will admit no rival. Thu% Ezek. xxxvi. 25. / -willsprinkle clean mater upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your jillhiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new s/iirit ivi/l 1put within you: and I will take away jhe stony heart out of your flesh, and J will give you a heart of Jlesh. And I will put my SPIRIT within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keefi my judgments, and do them. The words are not, "you will do, and /will do."—No; /and I alone will bring about these necessary,—these saving changes, / will, and / will, run through the gracious promise, like the woof through the warp.
'Fain would man w. rk. It suits his legal spirit. Instead of nuorlinv, as the ground of our justification and consequent change, the gospel always recommends believing.—Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, is the divine mandate. The apostle Paul, having placed before the eyes of the Corinthians a black catalogue of sins, of which they, in their unrenewed state, had been guilty, immediately subjoins, Such were some of you ; hut ye ere washed, ye are sanctified, ye are ju.tified in the name of ike Lord j~csus, and by the Spirit of our God. What becomes of the dignity of human nature? What encomium is ht-te pronounced on human merit? No honourable mention is made of either. The justification of the Corinthian brethren is said to be in the name of the LORD JESUS; that is, in virtue of his meritorious righteousness and obedience, and no less meritorious death. Tbey are declared to be sanctified by the SPIRIT of our God; that is, by His illuminating, renewing, and strengthening energy.' pp. 228—230." °
Art. V. The Antiquarian Repertory: or, Miscellaneous Assemblage of Topography, History, Biography, Customs, and Manners. Intended to illustrate and preserve several valuable remains of old times. Chiefly compiled by, or under the direction of Francis Grose, Esq. F. R. and A. S. Thomas Astle, Esq. F. R. and A. S.; and other eminent Antiquarians; adorned with numerous Views, Portraits, and Monuments. A new Edition, with a great many valuable Additions. In four volumes, 4to. Vol. 1. pp 414. Price 31. 3s. — /. p. 51. 5s. Jeffrey, Longman and Co. &c. 1807.
*~pHE ingenious and facetious editor of this work (whom we well knew) introduced it to the public, more than thirty 3'ears ago, with a serio-comic vindication of its subject.
* It has long been the fashion to laugh at the study of Antiquities, and to consider it as the idle amusement of a few humdrum, plodding fellows, who, wanting genius for nobler studies, busied themselves in heaping up illegible Manuscripts, mutilated Statues, obliterated Coins, and broken Pipkins ! In this, the laughters may perhaps have been somewhat justified, from the absurd pursuits of a few Collectors: But at the same time, an argument deduced from the abuse or perversion of any study, is by no means conclusive against the study itself: and in this particular case, I trust 1 shall be able to prove, that, without a competent fund of Antiquarian learning, no one will ever make a respectable figure, either as a Divine, a Lawyer, Statesman, Soldier, or even a private Gentleman, and that it is the tine qua non of several of the more liberal professions, as well as of many trades; and is, besides, a study to which all persons, in particular instances, have a kind of propensity; every man being, a: Logicians express it, " Quoad hoc" an Antiquarian.' p. xii.
Captain Grose certainly made good his pretensions: but to accomplish this, he necessarily included every department of historical science, among the qualifications of an Antiquary. Those, however, who have made that title a butt of ridicule, (and few have done so more than himself) evidently separated the minutiae of the science from its grand principles: and \vc fear that this is too commonly exemplified by zealous and learned members of the profession. Almost every thing that is old, may, on some occasion or other, become useful to the illustrations of ancient history. Hence, no relic of past ages, however trifling, escapes the professed antiquary: and a mass 'of apparently insignificant materials is consequently collected and preserved, the utility of which can only become manifest, when they are skilfully applied to the elucidation of his inquiries by a discerning and indefatigable historian.
We are, however, inclined to extend antiquarian researches farther than Capt. Grose himself appears, from the following paragraph of his preface, to have thought them valuable.
* In cultivating the study of Antiquities, care must be taken net to fall into an. error, to which many have been seduced ;—I mean that