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dered it desirable that as little delay he was born,” the apostles preach as possible should occur in the prepa- the astounding message of God. Dr. ration of the English work,” were the Neander, who has no great objection utility or necessity of supplying a to admit spiritual miracles (this is the proper, comprehensive, and philosophi- very tendency to which we are draw. cal text-book of spiritual religion as ing attention, but is grievously disan antidote to these same views. inclined to every other, boldly mainSo far we are ready to listen with all tains that this means -any thing but attention, for the subject is of the pro- what it expresses ; as for instance, foundest interest. Let us inquire the that probably the multitude were so principles of our new guide. They excited by the divine fervour with are certainly sweeping and comprehen- which the Apostles spoke, that they sive enough. The translator, doubtrapidly translated what was said, and less, conceived that others were merely thus thought they heard them in their assailing the outworks; here was an own tongue ; or that—if we must have author not afraid to storm the citadel. any real alteration of language It may be instructive to examine the many of the preaching disciples had tactics of this adversary to supersti- originally known the languages of tion and priestcraft.
the adjacent countries, and in their We have spoken of the disinclina- state of celestial zeal fell back upon tion of the philosophic ultra-spiritual- their old habits ; but that it is much ists of the continental Protestantism better to interpret the “new tongues," to admit a downright material prodigy as in all cases importing only new and of any kind, such as does not arise out exalted expressions to suit the high of exalted and sublimated states of state of grace they had reached. The mind and feeling. All wonders of this previous miracle of the “tongues kind are unworthy of the lofty “simpli- of fire,” depends only on the depocity of the Gospel ;" magical surprises sitions of those who saw them (toleto which it does not condescend. In- rable evidence one would imagine in fluences and powers which we do not the case of inspired apostles); and ourselves feel, which do not at once the whole affair may have been a false make us consciously wiser and better, objectivity given to what was really are the inventions of a spurious heathen operating within. Dr. Neander obe taste, forced upon pure Christianity serves (and here is the point we insist in the corrupt platonizing and oriental- on) that the miracle would be as great izing times of the ancient church. in the inward form as the outward ; Mysteries, initiations, purifications, but the outward is plainly too material, priestly ordinances, pomp and ritual. too earthly, too magical for his taste. ism, came in then; and with them a It would be a mere “opus operatum.” wretched fashion of interpreting and On the whole, however, he admits interpolating Scripture, so as to make that “there is nothing in the narrative it a little book of wonders to awe and which renders such a supposition neastonish the people. The philosopher cessary"-a concession for which we can rise above this ; the pious simple- hope we feel properly grateful; and hearted believer wants no such mar- declares that for his part he cannot vels, no such opera operata as the look upon the narrative as “ something healing of a disease by touching a purely mythical.” handkerchief, or receiving the shadow Soon after comes the awful venof an apostle—the shadow of a “poor geance on Ananias and Sapphira. Dr. sinner like ourselves."
Neander, having observed that it is Now, as the very outset of the not easy to say whether St. Peter apostolic history meets us with a re- detected the hypocrisy of Ananias " by markable miracle, that of the day of the immediate influence of God's Pentecost, it becomes necessary to Spirit, or by a nutural sagacity derived provide for some mode of meeting from the same source," proceeds to this startling interference of the super- remark that in the death of that unnatural with the course of mere physi- happy man “ the divine and the natucal nature. Every Christian will re- ral seem to have been closely conmember that the wonder of the Jewish nected." And as to Sapphira—“ the visitants from "every nation under words of the apostle were in this inheaven” was excited by “ hearing, stance aided by the impression of her every man in his own tongue wherein husband's fate, and striking the cons
science of the hypocrite, produced the
Dr. Neander ad. same effect as on her husband". mits that “the appearance of the highly rational account of the process, angel may be considered an objecand pleasantly calculated to remove tive event,” and goes into elaborate all idle feelings of surprise at the argument to vindicate that astonishing result. Nor should the expressions liberality of concession. But he soon of the narrator here or elsewhere pro- qualifies this unworthy superstition. duce any difficulty; the biographer of “ We need not suppose any sensible the apostles put together the docu- appearance.
Cornelius him. ments before him as he best could, self is the only witness for the objec“according to the means of informa- tive reality of the angelic appearance, tion within his reach ;" nor are we and he can be only taken as a credible bound to any thing he writes further witness of what he believed that he than as detailing his impressions of the had perceived." [The inspiration of course of events. In this respect, the history has been long since utterly however, St. Luke need not complain, exploded by the guides of this contifor he was not far below the apostles nental Christianity.] On the other themselves, who received only a very hand, Cornelius seems to have “congradual enlightenment even in their sidered the pointing out of Peter's written works. Thus poor St. James place of residence not as something “ remained confined in a form of in. that came to his knowledge in a natuperfect doctrinal development" to the ral way, but as a supernatural commuend of his days, and at best was “like nication." But then “it is possible Luther (vol. ii. p. 235) when he (Lu- he had heard it mentioned by others ther) had already attained to a know- casually in conversation, but as he had ledge of justification by faith, but be- not thought further about it, it had fore he was aware of the consequences completely escaped his recollection, flowing from it in opposition to the and now in this elevated state of mind prevalent doctrines of the Church"- what had been forgotten was brought à degrading comparison to a mere back again to his consciousness withapostle with which it is surely quite out his thinking of the natural conunfair to insult Luther, now that he nection." “ After all," adds the speno longer lives to defend himself from culator, “this is only possible, and we the imputation.
are by no means justified in considering When St. Stephen appeared before
The possibility therethe council “they were struck with fore remains, that this information was the heavenly repose and serenity which communicated in a supernatural way;" beamed in all his features, &c.” and that is, observe, “ by an operation on thence it is probable that some of the the inward sense.” As to the corresSanhedrim said he looked like an ponding vision of St. Peter, it is angel. In the dying moments of the utterly impossible to extricate any dismartyr he beheld with a prophetic glance tinct account of it from the mass of & symbolical vision—“ Christ whose words in which the deseription is inglorious image was probably present to volved. The clearest expression we him from actual early recollection” can discover is, that “the divine and an ingenious device to diminish the the natural were intermingled together miracle, which unfortunately cannot not so as to obscure the divine." be wholly expunged.
However, as that miracle was altoThe two stupendous miracles of gether inward, there is not the same St. Peter at Lydda and Joppa might, necessity for the ingenious glosses of one would imagine, demand something our commentator to save the credit of more than cursory notice from a his- spiritual Christianity. torian of the apostles. Dr. Neander We arrive at the awful scene which rapidly notices and escapes them as opened the career of the great Apostle “the cures (one of them a raising from of the Gentiles. Our readers know the dead !) effected in Christ's name at well how Lord Lyttleton and others Lydda and Joppa," which “ drew upon have insisted on the conversion of St. the apostle the universal attention of Paul, taken in connection with all its that extensive district."
circumstances, as adequate of itself But the metaphysical jugglery by alone to bear the whole weight of the which the interview of the Angel proof of the truth of the Christian with Cornelius is disposed of, far religion. Our pious and excellent Dr. Neander has reached a region Dr. Neander thinks that according above the necessity of such cold wate- to the New Testament idiom, the rial demonstrations. “ This event may man would have sufficiently fulfilled strike us as sudden and marvellous, the “prophetic" character in merely only because the history records the preaching the duty of charity to the mere fact, without the various prepa- Antiochian believers, and that as to ratory and connecting circumstances the prediction, “ it is possible that the which led to it; but by making use of prophecy was founded on the obser. the hints which the narrative furnishes vation of natural prognostics.” to fill up the outline, we may attempt Still there are some narratives canto gain the explanation of the whole
not be got over by any ingenuity, and on purely natural principles." Ac- even Dr. Neander must take the Goscordingly, it appears that St. Paul pel subject to them. The healing of travelled to Damascus in a great con- the lame man by Peter is one of these, flict of mind (!) between Christianity and the similar miracle of Paul at and Judaism ; on his way he and his Lystra. On the latter he adds a kind followers were overtaken by a violent of apologetic note, and observes that storm ; the lightning struck Paul, and to any one who has not a mechanical he fell senseless to the ground. He view of nature “it cannot appear attributed this catastrophe to the wholly incredible" that such things avenging power of the Messiah, whom should be possible. in the person of his disciples he was The prophetess at Philippi was a persecuting, and confounding the ob- somnambulist who characterized Paul jective and subjective [Dr. Neander's as “ a servant of the most high God," perpetual resource, it will be ob- from the operation of the most ordiserved], converted this internal im- nary motives in her convulsive fits, and pression into an outward appearance whom Paul seems to have addressed of Christ to him, &c." And as to his as a demoniac from narrow Jewish sudden meeting with Ananias in Da- notions of possession. In the same mascus, it is quite clear that Paul and way the affair of the sons of Sceva at he were previously acquainted; at all Ephesus is slurred over as certain events, Paul had heard of him, and his "unhappy consequences," manifestly imagination formed the whole into a from a disinclination to dwell on the invision ; while on the other hand, just vincible simplicity of the recorded fact. at the same critical moment, the very Some of the miraculous events resame thing happened to Ananias “on counted in the Acts are deliberately similar psychological principles!" omitted. Such are the two angelic
Having detailed all this hopeful liberations of Peter, Acts v. xii., and hypothesis, Dr. Neander takes courage the restoration of Eutychus. In a and affirms that he really does not narrative so minute as that of Dr. think it probable, though we must Neander, what reason but one can be allow the possibility of such pre- assigned for this? The man is plainly paratory circumstances.
“ Instead, ashamed of them, writing as he does therefore, of following this explana- for the perusal of his German fellow tion, which is attended with great theologians. . And yet how miserably difficulties, we might rather conceive inconsistent is this cowardice! For the whole, independently of all outward two or three downright external miphenomena, as an inward transaction racles he is forced to admit without in Paul's mind, a spiritual revelation qualification; and if two, or one such of Christ to his higher self-conscious- event be possible, five thousand are. ness, &c.” Still, he grants, this will We need scarcely add that Dr. scarcely explain the manner in which Neander adds the weight of his judgthe attendants were affected. And so ment to sink the reputation as inhe leaves it.
spired of almost every portion of the From St. Paul we descend to the New Testainent which they have ever prophetic personage named Agabus, been accustomed to hear brought in at Antioch. St. Luke instructs us, question. who are old-fashioned enough to take The twenty-first chapter of St. words in their ordinary meaning, that John's gospel is of course not his. this man was inspired to predict a The second epistle of Peter is plainly certain famine, which is known to have apocryphal. The epistle of Jude is afterwards taken place about A.D. 44. by no apostle, The epistle to the Hebrews is not Paul's, but the work but as the act of one who, revealing of some Alexandrian Jew, who “ar- the eternal divine essence in human bitrarily explains some things." The nature, and exhibiting, the perfect Apocalypse is not only not the work of union of the divine and human in a the apostle John, but is a figure holy human life, verified it also in founded chiefly on an absurd notion death as the termination of a life among the Christians of the resurrec- which had been the revelation of the tion of the Emperor Nero; Nero eternal Spirit of God in a sinless, being the beast " which was, and is holy humanity." And all through, the not, and yet is ;" and he coming from teaching of the different apostles is “the east" with his ten satraps, who distinguished and individualized as the are the ten horns of the beast, the “ doctrine of Paul," the “ doctrine of waters of the Euphrates being “ dried John," of " Peter,” of “ James," in a up" to make way for them.
way which certainly is not calculated Nor will it be very necessary, we to impress very deeply the conviction should state that Dr. Neander's views (which, however, is fairly stated) that upon the mysterious truths of Chris- these men were all but organs of the tianity are altogether indefinite. We one Holy Spirit. But in point of fact, it only request our readers to observe is wholly impossible to draw any accuthe continued operation of the prin- rate line of distinction between Dr. ciple we have hinted already—the Neander's conception of the kind of recognition of nothing in religion ex- inspiration they possessed and that cept what can be shown directly to enjoyed by any holy man of a compreaffect the mind and feelings of man by hensive and powerful intellect,- for some easily intelligible connexion. At instance (though he would be the last the close of a voluminous exposition to suggest the comparison), by the of the apostolic doctrine, in which the pious and highly gifted author hiinself. minutest connexions of moral theo- The thought may occur to the logy are (and sometimes with great reader of these criticisms—why direct ability) traced, we are informed in a attention to such heterodoxies? Our passing remark, that “from this tri- answer is plain and decisive. From nity of revelation, as far as the divine no sneering infidel would we stoop to causality images itself in the same, cite them. We cite them because, the reflective mind, according to the such as they are, they are a developanalogy of its own being pursuing this ment of a real religious tendency; track, seeks to elevate itself to the idea because this man is, with all this, one of an original triad in God;" in other of the loftiest living expositors of his words, that the really revealed doc- own peculiar side of Christianitytrine is that of a threefold operation the purely spiritual and internal; in the mind of believers, the corres- gifted in the highest degree with keen ponding doctrine being all intimation and sensitive apprehension of its beauand inference and the analogy of ties, and exemplifying them in the our own being." The divinity of the beauty of his own life. He is “ the Logos Dr. Neander seems to admit, holy Neander.” It is out of the very but so involving it in all the abtrusest intensity of these spiritual apprehenforms of metaphysics, that we cannot sions (insufficiently counterbalanced by clearly perceive whether he allows it the proper antagonist force) that the any distinct personality; of the per- views have grown which we have sonality of the Holy Spirit nothing thought it a duty in the present remore satisfactory is discoverable than markable religious crisis to notice. the sentence we have cited. The The office of an honest guide in these Atonement in like manner is accounted days, indifferent to all things but truth for in such fashion as to make the and the judgment of his God, is to death nowise more efficacious in this check violent re-actions in either exrespect than the life of Christ; and treme; and this is one of them. Minds all, that we may have nothing in reli- ardent and comprehensive, given to gion which is not directly "spiri- search the principles of things, and tual.” “ The sacrifice of Christ ob- unsatisfied without sweeping and absotains its due significance only in this lute generalizations, are above all moral connexion, not as an opus ope- others exposed to the danger of exratum [a favourite term of oppro- tremes. Their tendency is to form a brium], as the sacrifice of animals, system by whatever self-flattering title they please to call it, still a sys- foundations of that one eternal body tem; and the spirit of a system is, to of connected truths which it was the avoid or deny exceptions. A perfect privilege of the Church of Christ in system is that which has no excep- the beginning to receive, and is her tions; and men in proportion as they duty for ever unaltered to transmit? invent and idolize their systems, are And who that sees such results as betrayed into wilfully neglecting or these among men of unquestioned sindistorting the exceptions which they cerity and unquestioned holiness—who cannot fairly reconcile. That ten. that is capable of looking at the matdency can be manifested by all schools; ter for one half hour without prejuthe proof is, that every man sees it in dice or the spirit of party, and has his adversary, though blind to its work. common gratitude for the immeasyings in himself. Mere ritualism can rable mercies of Providence - but be carried to a frigid and disgusting must rejoice to think that it is not left extravagance, but it is not the only to us, each for himself, to begin a extreme assuredly; nay, the alarming voyage of discovery, as these men do, spread of accomplished and scientific in the Scriptures ; but that the true Socinianisın on the Continent and in system of scriptural truth comes down America, shows us too plainly that it is to us in the Scriptures and with the not even the more dangerous one. Scriptures—the inheritance of the Our present example is short of this ; Church of Christ for ever, fixed at it is not the less instructive on that the first and fixed unto the end ; the account. Here is a man who has ad- deposit which popery may corrupt by vanced in the religion of faith and her gross additions, rationalism enemotion until he has felt an utter and feeble by her as groundless subtracmanifest repugnance for all which does tions, but which God still graciously not directly relate to the conscious life of preserves among ourselves, when he faith and of the Spirit. Other men of bestows on us, all unworthy as we are, less philosophical comprehension, and a free Bible to learn, and a faithful therefore more easily satisfied by in- Church to teach it! determinate views, would travel the Oh that, understanding this our same way, and only forget the awful inestimable felicity of position, we mysteriousness of religion ; he could were all fully alive to the high duty not be content with this indecision. He of earnestly defending it—more soli. must refer in some way to the point ; citous to call out the special advanfinding it written in every page of the tages we possess, than needlessly impaNew Testament, he must attempt tient to ally ourselves with other com. some solution of the phenomenon. munities, in whatever extreme they He tries to do so. But the practical dwell! Oh that, on the other hand, has at last all but absorbed the histo- with humbleness and affectionateness rical. Eagerly and earnestly he cries of spirit, based upon the conviction of to the contending parties to come with the one holy truth we hold, we could him to the mount of holy contempla- all rise above the dishonesty of mutual tion, and leave below them, as they slander, the misery of mutual recririse, these varying and fantastic clouds mination, and rejoice to receive ad. of " dogmatic" speculation. This is monition of whatever form each from “the spirit of true freedom, exalted the other, knowing that God has so above all the strife of human parties.” planned his Church as to bind its mem
God grant,” he cries, “ (what is far bers in the very sense of their mutual above all theological disputations), wants and mutual assistances,each being that the highest aim of our labours the supplement of the rest, and he the may be, to produce the image of Christ inspirer and protector of all! For in the souls of men . . each open manifest error let there be no one in his own sphere unmoved by the quarter ; but let cautious charity vicissitudes of opinion and the colli- guide our judgments as to what truly sions of party!" Amiable man! who deserves the name. If any man dare will not echo the prayer ? But who to say, I will not so dishonour the that knows the unspeakable precious. Faith of Christ as to preach the obliness of a distinct creed as the basis of gation of his Law, sternly be such a true devotion, will not lament that one condemned; but not for his sake such zeal should class among the let the thousands of excellent men “ vicissitudes of opinion” the very through our land, who console sinners