« AnteriorContinuar »
must not abandon the first principles of our faith, nor look with complacency upon these who are endeavouring to eradicate them from the hearts of nen. For charity in its highest sense, enjoins us “not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord."
The doctrines of universal atonement and universal grace are very clearly discussed in the third and fourth discourses. The first is preached on Romans v. 7, 8. The second on Acts xi. 39. There is a position laid down in the former, which, however little novelty it may possess, has so much truth, that we cannot see it too often repeated ; and we think it simply, by itself, an effectual answer to every objection of the Socinian school: that although we may be “ required to embrace some truths which surpass our reason, nothing will be found in the Gospel repugnant to it.” In the latter discourse, some striking analogies of expression between the Jewish and the Christian Scripture are cited, to illustrate that branch of the argument which asserts that the ordinary gists of the Spirit were the subject of divine promise long before the promulgation of the Gospel. This line of proof, as here directed, is new to us; collaterally it affords great strength to the position : and it is in this way that the “ ingenuity,” which Mr. Strong with supererogatory diffidence has resigned, may be exercised most fairly and to the best ad. vantage.
The fifth discourse expounds “ the doctrine of predestination as maintained by the Church of England;" and it is highly valuable from the correctness and precision with which, by the aid of the Scriptures, it unravels that which the perverse speculation of man has so fatally perplexed. In the outset it is clearly shewn that revelation proclaims that God has predestined some men to happiness and some to misery in a future state; and that before subscription to the articles of the Church of England a solemn and deliberate assent to this truth is requisite. All hypothesis and conjecture in the enquiry is becomingly rejected; and the plain declaration of Holy Writ are assumed as the only sure and certain basis upon which a doctrinal superstructure can be raised. The viiith and ixth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, and the 1st to the Ephesians are referred to as authorities : from these a deduction is made, which it seems impossible should he denied, that the prescience of the Almighty is represented as antecedent to his decree,” that the foreknowledge of God extends “ to the most minute particulars in the conduct and disposition of every individual of the human race; the decisions which he forms are indeed absolute, for “ with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," but they are neither capricious nor irrespective. “They are founded on the most perfect equity and wisdom, and have a constant regard to the virtue or vice, the humility or pride, the contrition or impenitence of every responsible being.” Thus we are chosen to salvation on the terms of the Gospel. The notion of irrespective predestination as maintained by Calvin and his followers falls to the ground. Heaven is the reward of those whose faith and its fruits bave been foreseen : hell the punishment of such concerning whom there is a certainty, that they will of their own accord reject or abuse the means of grace which may be offered them.
We shall not mutilate nor deform this masterly disquisition by extracts. The whole of it demands the most complete attention; and can scarcely fail to be productive of the most beneficial effects. We baye rarely seen a subject of acknowledged difficulty handled more luminously or more discreetly. If we may be permitted to avow any preference to particular parts of Mr. Strong's volume where all is good, it would be manifestly directed to this discourse (the vth) and the id; we think, however, we can perceive that the vith with which be concludes, is his own favourite; and the one on wbich perhaps he bad lavished most attention and labour. It contains a critical examination of St. Paul's charge to the Elders of Miletus. Acts xx. 28; and after establisbing the integrity of the received text, as appears to us, on good grounds, in opposition to Griesbach and Wetstein, it fixes our attention upon the great qualities which the Prince of the Apostles required in the overseers of the Christian flock.
“ This solemn admonition bears a close resemblance to other passages of Scripture on the same subject, and manifestly .concerns the whole body of Christian clergy in every age and nation. It sets forth in lively colours the importance and sanctity of their commission, and points out those general principles, on which their labours
may prosecuted with the fairest prospect of success. By referring in such marked expressions to the Divinity of the Redeemer to the doctrine of atonement by his blood-and to the personal agency of the Holy Spirit in the government and sanctifi. cation of the Church, the Apostle clearly intimates that these, and other fundamental articles of the Christian creed, must occupy the continual attention of the Christian preacher. Here, indeed, he will find an ample scope for all his talents and assiduity, and the noblest materials for public exhortation and discourse. If he has a
* Joho xxi. 15, 16, 17; 1 Peter v. 1,
K VOL. XVII. FEBRUARY, 1822.
just apprehension of his duty, neither the clamour of enthusiasta, nor the bitter sarcasms of irreligious men, will deter him from maintaining the doctrine of Christ crucified, as it is revealed in the oracles of God. It will be the highest object of his ambition to
shew himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the work of truth' Avoiding on one hand the fearful errors of fanaticism, he will be equally cautious that his speech' upon religious subjects never degenerate into cold philosophy or idle declamation, but . be always with grace, seasoned with salt + ;' and that in doctrine he shew uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity : sound speech that cannot be condemned. Both in his public and private exertions for the propagation of the Gospel, he will regard the truth and purity of the religion he promotes, as a matter of greater consequence than its nominal extent. In every action of his life, and in every sentiment he utters to the world, the honour of Almighty God, and the real happiness of mankind, will be preferred to private interest and fame.”. P. 129.
We cannot better conclude than with the above correct and animated passage, which conveys as favourable an impression of Mr. Strong's manner, as it does of his opinions. The views which he has taken of Revelation evince a mind of considerable natural strength, improved by diligent cultivation, and adorned by all the graces and the suavity which spring from Christianity when rightly understood.
ART. III. Elements of Political Economy. By James
Mill, Esq. Baldwin, and Co. 1821.
This is a compendium of what may be called the new doctrines on Political Economy, and which of late bave been recommended to public attention with some talent and much zeal, by Mr. Ricardo, and the Edinburgh reviewers. We have, as our readers are aware, occasionally combated the conclusions of this active school of economists, and attempted to expose the gross inconsistency of their tenets, not only with all sound principle, but more particularly with the actual condition of things and the practical opinions of the whole human race. In pursuing that irksome task, we have indeed, sometimes found it extremely difficult to ascertain the precise bearing of the doctrines so confidently pro
Tim. ii, 15.
+ Coloss. iv. 6.
# Titus ii. 7, 8.
pounded as recent and valuable discoveries, by the several writers just alluded to; and we may add, that in many instances, after a good deal of analysis and comparison, we have observed the apparent novelty resolve itself into nothing more than a paradoxical statement of an old and indisputable truth; the ingenuity of the author having exhausted itself in the construction of a mere verbal enigma. In the present case, however, we are returned from this useless labour and studied obscurity: for as Mr. Mill has composed an elementary work, or as he himself expresses it, .." a school-book of Political Economy," he has necessarily confined his reasonings to essential principles, and his statements to such a series of propositions as seemed to embody those principles in a scientific order and connection. Not a few of them, indeed, are given in the form of axioms or apophthegms, and are thereby stripped of that darkening and bewildering accompaniment of exposition, through which it is sometimes extremely difficult to find out what certain authors of the new school intend to bold, and what they mean to relinquish.
Mr. Mill divides his subject into four chapters, as they treat respectively of Production, Distribution, Interchange, and Consumption. Perhaps the third of these might have been omitted and placed under the fourth, as interchange is but one of the steps in the process of consumption : still we should be the last to recommend the sacrifice of perspicuity to the attainment of a vain simplicity in arrangement, and therefore, although Say has set the example of the division which we have now suggested, we have no fault to find with our author for adopting a different one.
The first chapter is very brief, and not very remarkable for information, or even common sense.
Mr. Mill tells us, for example, that “ labour produces its desired effects only by conspiring with the laws of nature ;" and that “ there is no commodity, or thing produced for consumption, which labour effects in any other way than by co-operating with the laws of nature.” Now, we have simply to ask this philosophical economist, what is the law of nature which conspires with the artist when he makes a wig? or what law of nature it is that co-operates with the slater when he mounts to the top of a house, with a load of slates balanced on his head? But wigs and houses perhaps are not the commodities which are " produced for consumption." Well, let us take an example from Mr. Mill himself. Man, he assures us,
do nothing more than produce motion :" and that the properties of matter perform all the rest. « In strictness of speech it is matter itself which produces the effects." All that man can do is to place the objects of nature in a certain position. “ The taylor when he makes a coat, the farmer when he produces corn, do the same things exactly." " Each makes motions: and the properties of matter do the rest." “ It would be absurd to ask, to which of any two effects the properties of matter contribute the most; seeing they contribute every thing, after certain portions of matter are placed in a certain position.”
This being the case, would Mr. Mill have the goodness to tell us wbat, after the taylor has“ made all his motions," with needle and with goose, remains to be done by the said " properties of matter.
The taylor and the farmer, says he,“ do the same things exactly. Each makes motions, and the properties of matter do the rest.” When a coat is finished, and has had the last “ motion” given it, by being sent home, we know no other effect likely to be produced upon it by the properties of matter, but that of wearing it into holes : an event which will at least prove that the commodity “produced for consumption by labour, conspiring with the laws of nature,” is bona fide a consumable commodity.
This is, it will be owned, most arrant trifling; but it is, notwithstanding, the kind of trifling in which Mr. Mill chooses to indulge, under the semblance of deep thinking, and of a piercing philosophical discrimination ; and it is besides the very species of trifling which we encounter from time to time in ihe works of some grave authors who affect great powers of abstraction, and in certain periodical publications which by dint of mere effrontery have induced the public to listen. What possible analogy is there between the motions made by a farmer and those made by a taylor, in reference to the qualities or endowments of matter. The motion of sowing brings seed in contact with the prolific powers of the soil prepared to receive, and in due time vegetation follows according to the established laws of nature: and in this case, there can be no doubt but that man comes to possess the raw productions of the earth by co-operating with the laws, the powers, or the qualities of matter which have just been specified. When the farmer has done all that he can do, the great work is still to begin : he bas merely performed certain conditions, or as Mr. Mill would express it, made certain motions, as preparatory to that wonderful process by which the fields bring forth some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold. When he has done so much, Lowever, “ the properties of matter do the rest.” Such is