Page images

readers that “the power of pardoning offences with feebleness and defeat. But what their is granted to an earthly sovereign, and denied own country's literature, and, we may add, to the Supreme." But excess of light seems their own critical learning and acumen, calito have blinded our philosopher, for he per not supply to them, they are seeking in the ceives not that, if an earthly sovereign would newly-constructed arsenals of German in fimaintain the stability of his government, and delity, and from thence they are fetching the order of his empire, be must not com those weapons with which they are now $0 promise law in pardoning offences, or, in other vigorously, though so vainly, assaulting the words, he must have a reason for the exercise citadel of our faith. of his clemency. If Mr. Alison can perceive The writer of the work, the title of which this, and if “nature” and “experience” will we have placed at the head of this article, is permit its entrance into his understanding, he one of those minor stars row seeking to shed can have no difficulty in admitting the doctrine their borrowed and disastrous light on what of an atonement; for atonen, ent is simply a valid they regard as the religious darkness of their and suficient reason for jardonirg offences. country. Mr. Greg possesses some little acLut we fear Le is so inflated with a sense of quaintance with the writirgs of the German his own in.measurable superiority to all other lllun.inati, and he has got ihis good quality men, and so deeply rooted in his prejudices in him, that he is a most docile learner. He against the Christian atonement, that every sits at their feet with the simplicity and with thing in the form of argument or reason has the credulity of a child. De Wette is with lost its power upon him. What, indeed, can him a “first authority.” For Strauss he be expected of a man who forbids all appeal las evidently the very highest reverence. to the Scriptures on this great subject, simply They and their compeers are “men of the because he has the audacity to affirm that highest eminence in this very difficult branch our translation is incorrect; and who bas the of intellectual research.” “In the conclusions hardihood to declare that Luther and Calvin arrived at by this scientifc process," we are had no right conception of the doctrine, be- informed that, “ unlearned students must cause they either did not know, or overlocked acquiesce, as they do in those of astronomy, the perfection of the Creator ? Surely, with or philology, or geology.” “Very few, in out any detriment to our readers, or any this country, even of our educated classes," violation of charity, we may say,

“ He is it seems, are at all acquainted with this joined to his idols-let him alone!”

scientific criticism, though it proceeds on This volume abounds with other absurdi- established and certain principles." Mr. ties, to which cur space does not permit us Greg, therefore, who has got beyond our eduto advert. We can only, in conclusion, ex cated classes in this respect, is here doing press our astonishment that a man so utterly “ all that can be done, which is to give them destitute of candour, and so devoid of all ne a very brief glimpse of the mode of inquiry cessary qualifications, should set himself up adopted, and the kind of prco adduced." as a teacher of mankind on the most moment pages 35, 36. The following are the concluous questions.

sions he arrives at, as stated in bis preface:

" That the tenet of the Inspiration of the THE CREED OF CHRISTENDOM: its Founda- | Scriptures is baseless and untenable, under

tion and Superstructure. By WILLIAM any form or modification which leaves to it RATHBONE GREG.

a dogmatic value;- that the Gospels are not London: John Chapman.

textually faithful records of the sayings The great controversy between Christianity and actions of Jesus, but ascribe words to and Infidelity, in that peculiar aspect of it him which he never uttered, and deeds which has so long been exhibited in Germany, which he never did; and that the apostles is now evidently extending itself to the soil only partially comprehended, and in perfectly of Britain. Increasing acquaintance with transmitted, the teaching of their Great continental languages and literature is pro- Master." ducing among us, as miç ht be expected, this In the outset of our observations, we think fruit- that, with some amount of gocd, there we had better give our readers one or two is imported among us a large measure of specimens of this “scientific criticism," as what is positively noxious. The infidel adopted from his German masters by dir. writers, which the last century produced in Greg. They will find, if we mistake not, this country, have long siree been routed that its science is akin to that of the ancient and driven from the feld. They sleep now sophists, who knew so well how to overlook in morited ollivion. Their works are to be all the main points of an argument, and in found now only in the libraries of the curious. spite of obstacles, which other men would have Their successors of the present day rarely found to be impassable, to find their way to mention their names, and vever quote from the conclusions they wished to arrive at. their writings.-a fair ackrowledgement that Take the following from the Old Testament. an alliance with them would be an alliance Mr. Greg is endeavouring to prove what

xii. 22,

erroneous one.

to a certain extent, we are not inclined to who are alive and remain unto the coming of dispute with him, that the Theism of the the Lord, shall not prevent them which are Jews was progressive. In order to exhibit the asleep,” &c. He takes no notice, however, of advance of one period on another, he ar what the apostle has written in his second ranges in parallel columns a series of quota- epistle, for the purpose of correcting the tions from the different books. In connection erroneous interpretation which the Thessawith the well-known passages in Exodus, lonians gave to his words in the first epistle, about the Hebrews, on their departure from 2 Thess. ii. 1-3: “Now we beseech you, breEgypt, borrowing from the Egyptians, and thren, . that ye be not soon shaken in the Egyptians lending to them, he gives Prov. mind, as that the day of Christ is at

Lying lips are an abomination to the hand. Let no man deceive you by any Lord, but they that deal truly are his de means. For that day shall not come, exlight.” We need hardly inform our readers cept there come a falling away first,” &c. The that this transaction was not one of borrow- apostle then goes on to describe a long train ing and lending. This is evident on the very of events wbich were to happen prior to the face of the narrative. That the Egyptians, coming of Christ, and which, we think any when they were driving the Hebrews from candid reader will at once admit, he must their country, and were urgent with them to have regarded as destined to occupy a long depart, with no expectation and no desire for series of years, if not centuries. The apostasy their return, should lend to them, is utterly in the Christian church, the removal of the incredible. We can understand how, in their obstacles that hindered, viz., the heathen terror, they might give to them to hasten their empire of Rome, and then the full revelation departure, and we think that the Hebrews of the man of sin, were events which the were perfectly justified both in asking and in apostle could not possibly have imagined were receiving all that they carried away of Egyptian destined to happen during his own lifetime; property. However much it was, it could be and as he warned the Thessalonians against but a miserable tithe of what they were justly supposing that the day of Christ would come entitled to, in compensation for their long, until these events had transpired, it is perand precious, and unrequited toil. It is well fectly clear that the assertion which we have known, however, that the translation is an quoted above, regarding the apostolic belief

Even "unlearned students on this point, is entirely erroneous. Mr. are aware of this. The word which is trans Greg, however, takes no notice of this paslated borrow should be rendered ask. It oc

sage. It seems to be quite in accordance with curs, for example, in Psa. ii. 8: “ Ask of me, the principles of his "scientific criticism” and I will give thee for thine inheritance the quietly to ignore it, though the criticism of heathen.” We should be quite as much justi- common sense and common candour point fied in rendering this passage, “ Borrow of me, it out as of first importance in connection and I will give thee the heathen," &c., as our with this branch of the controversy, translators were justified in so rendering the We are the more particular in alluding to word in the passages in question. As for the this point, in as much as the infidels of the expression “lent,”—“The Egyptians lent to present day make use of it as one of their them”.

- we find Hannah, the mother of main arguments against the inspiration of the Samuel, making use of the same term with apostles. Of course, if they really believed reference to her infant son, 1 Sam. i. 28: that the world was to end during the lifetime “ Therefore also I have lent (given) him to of the then existing generation, the question the Lord.” Now, Mr. Greg, who takes no as to their inspiration is settled at once. It notice of this criticism, was either acquainted would be impossible to maintain it in the face with it, or he was not. If he was not ac of sopalpable a mistake. There is not, however, quainted with it, his ignorance would prove in the writings of any one of them, a solitary his utter incompetence to deal with the sub- passage which will fairly bear this meaning. ject at all. If he was acquainted with it, his The circumstance of Paul using the language dishonesty in passing it over will suggest we find him employing regarding the coming another application of the passage from the of Christ, when he evidently did not believe book of Proverbs, — "Lying lips are that coming would take place till after the abomination to the Lord, but they that deal lapse of a long series of years, if not of ages, truly are his delight.”

sufficiently accounts for and explains the The following is another specimen, from the language made use of by the rest. Some of New Testament. He asserts, p. 181, that the passages have reference to the predicted “ The apostles unaniinously and unquestion-coming of Christ in the exercise of power and ingly believed and taught that the end of the judgment, at the destruction of Jerusalem, world was at hand, and would arrive in the and others of them to his coming to individual lifetimne of the then existing generation.” In men in the article of death. support of this assertion he quotes, among It will be seen, from the specimens we have several passages, 1 Thess. iv. 15—17: “We given above, of the way in which this writer


deals with the sacred volume, that nothing coarse, low, and unworthy; that among them, like either candour or fairness is to be ex as among all other nations, the conceptions of pected from him. A man of truly honest God formed by individuals varied according mind would be incapable of thus passing over, to their intellectual and spiritual capacities, without notice, the main difficulties in the way being poor and anthropomorphic among the of the conclusion he wishes to establish. But ignorant and coarse-minded, pure and lofty Mr. Greg is constantly doing this. We among the virtuous and richly gifted ; and, hardly meet with anything even approaching finally, that these conceptions gradually imto fair argument in the entire volume. This proved, and became purified and ennobled as will become more apparent as we proceed. the Hebrews advanced in civilization-being,

The following is Mr. Greg's judgment in re generally speaking, lowest in the historical ference to the Pentateuch:-“ It results from books, amended in the prophetical writings, inquiry, that the Pentateuch assumed its pre- and reaching their highest elevation among sent form about the reign of King Josiah, the poets of the nation.” B.C. 624, eight hundred years after Moses; Here, then, Mr. Greg himself supplies us that the book of Deuteronomy was probably with a standard, which, for the present, we composed about the same date; that the other may make use of to enable us to form a judgfour books, or rather the separate documents of ment as to the time when the books in queswhich they consist, were written between the tion were written. According to this standtime of Samuel and Solomon, or from four to ard, those books of the Old Testament in five hundred years after Moses; that they | which the conceptions of God-to use his record the traditions regarding the early his own language - are “low and unworthy," tory of the Israelites then current among the must have been written at a very early pepriesthood and the people, with such material riod. Now, as it is chiefly in the Pentateuch additions as it seemed good to the priests of that he finds those unworthy notions of God, that period to introduce; and that there is not the Pentateuch must have a very early date the slightest reason to conclude that they were assigned to it. Mr. Greg, however, thinks anything more than a collection of the that he fixes a date sufficiently early, when national traditions then in vogue.” Page 42. he gires, for the first four books, the times

Here then are some of those conclusions in between Samuel and Solomon ; and, for which “unlearned students must acquiesce as Deuteronomy, the reign of king Josiah. Let they do in those of astronomy, or philology, us inquire, then, how his dates harmonize or geology." Nine pages, not very closely with his theory. printed, and not entirely devoted to this sub It is quite a truism that Mr. Greg proect, is all the space Mr. Greg needs in order pounds, when he says that the Theism of the to establish them,—that is, to his own satis- Jews was progressive. Though he announces faction. We are not going to occupy our this as a discovery, it is nothing more than is space with any examination of the three or generally believed and maintained among four arguments by which he endeavours to Christians. It was only gradually, and, as it sustain them. Those of our readers who were, step by step, that God unfolded to man feel interested in the subject, will find them his character and purposes. The light which most ably refuted in the pages of Havernich began again to shine after the knowledge of and Hengstenberg. Our purpose at present God had been lost, did not at once burst forth is to contrast the conclusions stated above in all its fulness. It dawned gently on man with the theory advanced by our author in at first, and slowly increased as age after age another chapter, on the progressiveness of the rolled on, until the perfect day of the ChrisTheism of the Jews. We wish to show how tian revelation. This gradual discovery of completely his theory upsets his conclusions, God's character and purposes to man is quite and what valuable matter Mr. Greg himself in harmony with the gradual advance of man supplies for his own refutation.

himself in knowledge and intellectual capaIt is part of our author's creed, then, that city. A wise teacher will suit his instructhe Theism of the Jews was progressive; that tions to the attainments of his pupil. No during the early periods of their liistory, their one would address himself to a child in the conceptions of God were crude, contracted, same way in which he would address himself and grovelling; but that they gradually ad to a man of advanced intelligence. So with vanced with the advance of the national mind, classes of men. Instruction communicated till they attained the lofty and pure standard to them must be adapted to their capacity for to which we find them raised in the writings ' receiving it. We find this principle acted on of the later prophets. He informs us, page in the successive revelations made regarding 71, " That the Jews, as a nation, were not God in the Old Testament history. The monotheists,-i. e., b-lievers in the exclusive ' revelations of God in the Mosaic age advance existence of one sole God, till a very late on those of the Patriarchal times. Those of period of their history; that their early and the era of David and Solomon advance again popular notions of the Deity were eininently on those of the era of Moses; and those of the


prophetical era, on them all. What is this, however, will wonder at this, who looks at however, but God, in wondrous condescen- modern India, and sees how tenaciously the sion, adapting the discoveries he makes re- inhabitants of that country cling to their garding himself to the measure of man's capa- abominable superstitions, in spite of all the city. Abraham, previously to his being called light that has been poured on them by the by God, had been an idolater. This is ad- | aid of all the combined facilities which the mitted by Mr. Greg, and is taught in Josh. present day enables us to make use of, and xxiv. 2. He had grown up to manhood in in spite of their constant intercourse with the ignorance of the true God, and of true reli most advanced nation of the age. gion. Let it be remembered, that the human We have made the above observations for race was then in the infancy of its advance two reasons. One is, that we may exhibit to ment, and that this remarkable man must our readers—for a purpose which will soon have occupied a very different intellectual become apparent—the gradual advance of the position from that occupied by those who knowledge of God among his ancient people; lived many generations after him. He was the other, that we may expose the absurd standing (if we may use the figure) at the foot and ridiculous notions advanced by this writer of that ladder of Divine knowledge which regarding the early Theism of the Hebrews. was gradually to be climbed by his posterity He informs us (pages 72, 73) that “the repreas they became capable of the ascent, till at sentations of God in the history of Abraham length the summit should be gained, and man leave little doubt that the God whom he should have learned all that in this life could worshipped was a family God, selected, for be learned of the character and plans of some reason unknown to us, out of a number God. The discoveries of God which were of others who were worshipped by his fathers made to Abraham were thus just what were and his tribe. . . . . In process of time, the suitable to Abraham's stage of advancement. descendants of Abraham became a numerous

So with the manifestations of God which people, and naturally continued the worship were made to the Israelites in Egypt, and at of that God who had done so much for their the Red Sea, and afterwards in the wilder- forefathers. Thus the family God of Abra

They were just what were then suited ham gradually enlarged into the national for the people. The great mass of them were God of the Israelites. As the history rude and ignorant, prone to idolatry, and as proceeds, the conceptions of this God become thorough slaves to sensuality and vice as purer and loftier, till, in the mind of Moses, they had formerly been slaves the Epyp

they reached to a sublime simplicity tians. To win such a people from idolatry, of expression rarely surpassed. Still there is to destroy in them the evil tendencies which no reason to suppose that Moses disbelieved had been the growth of centuries, and which in the existence of other gods. The God had been nourished and strengthened in them whom he serves is still the God of Abraham. by the degrading bondage in which they had He is never asserted to be the only 80 long been enthralled; to accustom them to God." Nothing can be easier than to manijuster views of truth; to train them, in short, fest the utter absurdity of these statements to be witnesses to the world for the true and and their inconsistency with Mr. Greg's own living God, and the future expounders to the avowed sentiments regarding the origin of the world of the true religion ;-this could be no Pentateuch. The language from which he easy task. It appears to us, that the train- deduces the novel idea, that Abraham and ing which they received was just the kind of Moses were polytheists, is precisely the same training which they needed. The signs and as we find repeatedly used in the New Testawonders which were wrought in Egypt and ment, and as we are in the constant practice at the Red Sea, would tend to convince them of using ourselves. Christ speaks of "the that Jehovah, he was God. The destruction of God of Abraham.” Was Christ, therefore, a Pharaoh and his army would impress them believer in other gods ? Paul speaks of "the with a sense of the Divine justice. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." awful displays at Sinai were precisely adapted Was Paul, therefore, a Polytheist ? We to awaken in them the conception of the Di- speak, at the present day, of “the Christian's vine holiness. These ideas regarding God God," and of “our fathers' God.” would be more deeply impressed on them by therefore, admit a plurality of Gods ?

Our the teachings of the Mosaic law; while, at the Missionaries, in addressing idolaters, often same time, a way was discovered to them by compare our God with their gods. Do they which the mercy of this awful God could be hus allow their gods to be really gods ? reconciled with his purity and righteousness “But,” says Mr. Greg, "we do not find the in its exercise toward themselves. This expression, the only God,' in the Pentateaching, indeed, produced its legitimate effect teuch." What of this, when, throughout the on the Israelites but very slowly. They con whole of the five books, the Divine Being tinued, in spite of it, for many successive is constantly named, in sublime simplicity, ages, obstinately prone to idolatry. No one, God? This, of itself, implies that he is the

Do we,

only God, the true God, the living God. Is , cles, of the most formidable kind, to the most he not represented, at the opening of the astounding results ! However this may be, Genesis, as creating the heavens and the Mr. Greg's whole reasoning proceeds on the earth ? The Pentateuch was not written to supposition that the Theism which we find in prove that that Jehovah alone was God. It the Pentateuch is far behind that of these takes this for granted. It proceeds through two Hebrew monarchs. How, then, can he out on the supposition that this is true. Yet, account for the books which contain the Thebecause Jehovah is not called "the only God” | ism of a former age being written in a later in the Pentateuch, he was merely “the family age? How is it that, while we find in them God of Abraham, selected from a number of only the Theism of the era of Moses, they others, worshipped by his fathers !" Will were not written till the era of David ? It Mr. Greg tell us, how those writers, who, would help Mr. Greg a little to establish his according to him, between the times of Samuel conclusion as to the post-Mosaic origin of the and Solomon, wrote the first four books of books in question, could he point out in them the Bible, could have represented God as the traces of a post-Mosaic Theism. But he does creator of the heavens and the earth, and yet, not attempt this. On the other hand, the at the same time, as only a god selected by simple man occupies not a little of his space Abraham out of a nuinber of others? Is it in proving that they contain nothing of the a different God they speak of in relating the kind. He tells us, in effect, that they conhistory of Abraham, from him whom they tain not a trace of a Theism in advance of exhibit to us as “finishing the heavens and the era of Moses, though they were not writthe earth, and all the host of them?” What ten till the era of David! We grant, then, Mr. Greg has written on this point gives us a to Mr. Greg, that the Theism of the Jews very mean idea of both his head and his

was progressive ; that that of the Davidic age heart.

must have been in advance of that of the But we return from this digression to our Mosaic age ; but this conveys, to our mind, a main argument. If the first four books of most convincing proof, that the Mosaic age Scripture were written between the times of was the age when the books in question were Samuel and Soloinon, and Deuteronomy was written. written in the reign of Josiah, as Mr. Greg The same argument is applicable, with still affirms, then they must contain traces of the greater force, to the book of Deuteronomy, Theism of these periods. The national mind, which, according to Mr. Greg, was not writaccording to his own theory, must have made ten till the reign of king Josiah; that is, eight great progress during the four hundred years hundred years after Moses, four hundred after that elapsed between the era of Moses and David, and one hundred after Isaiah. What that of David.* And we are not without the he aflirms, therefore, of Christ, must have means of judging as to the degree of advance been true of the author of this book. He, ment in Divine knowledge at which the Jew. too, must have been “nourished on the wisish people had arrived at the latter of these dom of Solomon, the piety of David, and the eras. We have them in the Psalms of David, poetry of Isaiahı.” Is there any trace of proof, and in the writings of Solomon, - men in then, in the book of Deuteronomy, that the whom, we are justified in affirming, was em author of it enjoyed these advantages ? On bodied the religious sentiment of the most the other hand, is not its Theism identical advanced minds then in the nation. Mr. | with that of Exodus and Leviticus ? We Greg himself admits David and Solomon to venture to affirm, that it would be utterly have been the authors of at least much that impossible to adduce any proof of this kind is attributed to them. He speaks (page 227) in support of the notion that Deuteronomy of Jesus as having been “nourished on the was written at a later period than the era of wisdom of Solomon, the piety of David, the Moses. We defy Mr. Greg, or any one of poetry of Isaiah.” [Iere, then, in writings his school, to bring forward a solitary vestige which he himself acknowledges to have been of such proof. All the indications of this composed by David and Solomon, he had the kind, which the book of Denteronomy conmeans of applying a test of the very highest tains, go to show that it was written during kind to his ideas as to the time when the the Mosaic age, and therefore at the same Pentateuch was written. But he has not time with the books that precede it. applied this test. Perhaps he did not think

We may give our readers a specimen of the of it. Or perhaps he had a secret conscious. way in which Mr. Greg refutes himself in ness that it would fail to sanction the con conducting his argument. We have stated clusion he was anxious to arrive at. Or, it that, in exhibiting the advance of the concepmay be, that he wished to show how this

tion of God among the Israelites, he arranged " scientific criticism,” of which he boasts so

a series of passages in parallel columns from much, could enable him to vault over obsta the different books. On the render's left, are * We mention the era of David as the middle

the passages which contain a low and unpoint between Samuel and Solomon.

worthy” conceptions of God. On the right,

« PreviousContinue »