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A Treatise on the Divine Sovereignty. By Robert Wilson, A. M. pp. 197. Hatchard. Price 6s. CoNTRoversy is chiefly to be deprecated on account of the spirit in which it is ordinarily conducted, and the unkindly feeling which is too frequently cherished by the opposing parties towards each other; insomuch that indifference, suspicion, and even misrepresentation, commonly characterise their intercourse. Though the common ground which, with good fellowship, they may mutually occupy, is incomparably more commodious and valuable, yet too generally they prefer standing detached on that which is limited and debateable ; and were such the exclusive and invariable result of stating and defending your own sentiments and contesting those of others, it would seem to require the influence of the worst passions of our corrupted nature to advocate the practice. But discussion calmly and temperately pursued, has often contributed to elicit truth and establish its conviction; to detect the weak points of conflicting statements, and to exhibit and harmonize the principles equally adopted on either side. “Of controversy;” the author before us says, “he entertains an opinion similar to that of a celebrated divine of the present day, who says, “Controversy is, indeed, unfavourable to piety, and to every Christian feeling: it is too commonly the food of malevolence, rancour, and obstinacy; but the examination and comparison of the different parts of Scripture, and the attention to the revealed counsels of God, which religious inquiry induces, are favourable to the growth of vital religion.’” Disapproving, as we most decidedly and conscientiously do, of those conclusions to which Mr. Wilson's treatise is framed to conduct us, we nevertheless cannot select terms too unqualified to express our
satisfaction at finding his pamphlet so perfectly in accordance with this prefatory announcement; and as there can be little doubt but his work will receive a formal reply, we sincerely hope, whoever may be the respondent, that in this respect, the rare example of the author will secure practical commendation. We are not aware, indeed, that in the hypothesis of Mr. W. which, generally, is that advocated by our friends of the Arminian persuasion, or in his attempts to illustrate and confirm it, there is any thing which has not been repeatedly affirmed, and as frequently, and, in our judgment, satisfactorily answered. It remains as yet one of the mysteries of the present imperfect state, that persons of equal parts, piety and opportunity, should arise from the contemplation of the same object with sentiments so entirely at variance, that every effort to reconcile and unite their discordant opinions has proved ineffectual; and after all that has been alledged in extenuation of the evils of jarring creeds, the fact of diversity, under the circumstances supposed, continues unaccountable, or at least, has not been adequately explained. From the anxieties of such a state of things we would seek our principal repose in the anticipation of that period of unmingled light to which the hope of every real Christian is directed. The work before us professes to examine the several Scriptures adduced by Mr. Brown, in his Dictionary of the Bible, under the articles Election, Reprobation, and Perseverance—by the late Mr. Scott, in his sermon on “ Election and final perseverance,”— and quoted by Mr. Fletcher in his discourse on “ Personal election and divine sovereignty”—in support of his views of the divine' sovereignty as it regards the salvation of mankind. Besides the examination of these passages, there is a chapter in * commencement F
of the volume, “On the divine sovereignty as manifested in the plan of human redemption, according to the testimony of Scripture;” and one in the eonclusion, “On the economy of the divine influence as it regards the recovery of mankind to the image of God.”
This respectable author does not appear to have intentionally omitted the consideration of any of those scriptures which are usually referred to in supporting the affirmative of the above points of Christian doctrine; but in atnttempting to sustain their negative, though some of his interpretations may be considered ingenious, we feel ourselves compelled to state it to be our deliberate conviction that he has, unwittingly as we believe, in an affecting degree trenched on the majesty of divine truth and the principal sources of Christian reliance and exertion. We are conscious that this is a grave imputation, but it appears to us to be most fully maintained by the following extracts.
“Matth. xxv. 34, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, yo blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." — We learn from the coutext, that the persons to whom the foregoing invitation will be given are the righteous. We also learn from the passage itself, that the kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world, not for particular persons of mankind as sinners, but for such as were righteous. The subsequent context further confirms this distinction — ‘For I was an hungred and ye gave ine meat, &c.” p. 86.
“John X. 28, 29, “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which give them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”—The period, when those who are, in the context of this passage, denominated Chrint's sheep, were given to him, was not before the foundation of the world, but when they were attached to him as his personal followers.— * All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,’ John vi. 37. This giving seems to be synonymous with the divine drawing, thus— * No man ean come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” ver. 44. A gain, this giving and drawing seem to con
Review. — Wilson's Treatise on the Divine Sovereignty.
sist in the imparting of the knowledge of . the Messiah, as he is pointed out in the Old Testament – ‘It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me,’ verse 45. In short, this passage and its parallels are applicable only to our Lord's disciples as his personal followers.” p. 92. “John xvii. 6, 12, 15, 20, 24. We have in the passages here referred to, abundant proof of the strength and durability of Christ's love towards his disciples, and those that should believe in him through their word; but we have no proof that the love of Christ effectually secures abiding in his love, and keeping his commandments.” —“Rom. v. 21. ‘That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”—The meaning of this passage appears to be, that the grace of God through Christ is more extensive in its effects, than was the sin of Adam ; the latter reaching, in its direct influence, only to the death of the body, and the former to the eternal life of both soul and body. But it does not follow that, because eternal life is procured for men, it is sovereignly applied and.secured to individuals. – Rom. viii.28–39. This passage shews, that all things work together for good to them that love God, and that no enemies, how powerful soever, shall baffle omnipotence, or, how subtle soever, shall be able to alienate such from the love of God; consequently, that no circumstances, however adverse, can in the least affect the faithfulness of God's love towards them. But there is here no ground of security for the faithfulness of the believer; his persevering in faith and love being clearly understood.” p. 126. “Eph. i. 13, 14. 'After that ye believed ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.’—The import of this passage seems to be, that the Ephesians, after they believed, received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which had been promised by the prophets of old, and by Jesus Christ before his departure out of this world; also that they became, by the indwelling of the Spirit, the sealed property of God, having been previously purchased by the blood of his son; and that the same indwelling of the Spirit acted as an earnest, on the part of God, for the faithful performance of the promise which had been made in reference to an eternal inheritance. This view of the subject, however, leaves it still undecided, whether or
not the power of God is engaged to preserve
the believer faithful unto death.” p. 134.
In short, the entire scheme of inter
pretation, adopted by the author, is such as involves in tremendous uncertainty the final salvation of the redeemed — the complete triumph of the Redeemer— and the everlasting glory of Jehovah. “There are many devices in a man's heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord that shall stand.”
The Authority of Jehovah asserted; or a Scriptural Plea for the Seventh-day Weekly Sabbath as the only Sabbath eter given by God to Man, &c. &c. By J. B. Shenstone. London. Richard Baynes. 8vo. pp. 47. Price 1s. 6d. It has been whispered to us that this pamphlet should be treated as if it were anonymous, and that it contains abundant internal evidence that the ostensible is not its real author; but whether this suspicion be correctly founded or not, we have no means of deciding. The author, for the purpose of vindieating the Seventh-day weekly Sabbath, says, “My object is to place this subject in a clear and Scriptural light, and to shew that in regard to a Sabbath, which is on all hauds allowed to be of such importance to man, there exists no such apostolic example ; that no civil or ecclesiastical authority, however great, can be binding on the consciences of men like the express command of God; and that he has instituted the Seventh Day, with a view to its universal and perpetual observance by mankind.” p. 3.
We need not reply to the truism, that nothing in religion enjoined by civil or ecclesiastical authority is binding upon men's consciences like the express commands of God . The assertions, that there exists no apostolic example for the observation of the Lord's day, or the first day of the week, as the Christian Sabbath; and that God has instituted the Seventh day with a view to its universal and perpetual observance by mankind, are the only points of debate in this controversy. A considerable part of this pamphlet consists of what the author calls “a complete refutation of all the arguments in favour of the first-day claims brought by the Editor of the Baptist Magazine.” We have nothing to add to the statements in our
number for August, 1826, in proof of apostolic precedent in favour of the first-day being the Christian Sabbath, and must therefore let the reader decide as to the replies to those arguments: we do not certainly consider them as furnishing a “refutation,” much less a “complete refutation t” There is an attempt by a kind of special pleading to evade the force of the Scriptures adduced, but in our opinion it contains no argument. In this part of the pamphlet is a note, which we conclude was written by Mr. Shenstone. It is in reference to a statement of Mr. Burnside, that the words in Rev. i. 10, “on the Lord's day,” were an interpolation. “Mr. B.” says Mr. S. “informed me that he had a copy of the New Testament which did not contain the passage, and expressed his regret that he had omitted to mention that fact in his work on the Sabbath!”. The executors of Mr. B. are respectfully intreated to produce this copy of the New Testament 1 It must surely be an unique – printed, doubtless, from some manuscript more ancient than the Aler. andrine in the British Museum, which, as also all other manuscripts of posterior date, contains the passage It is not wonderful, admitting that the nomory of Mr. S. has not misled him, that Mr. Burnside should have regretted that he had omitted to mention his having such an invaluable New Testament in his library We are not of Milton's opinion, quoted p. 27. that “no one day is appointed for Divine worship in preference to another, except such as the church may set apart of its own authority for the voluntary assembling of its members.” We consider that as the apostles, in every thing which they taught the churches, whether by precept or example, acted in obedience to the directions of their Divine Master and Lord; that as there is no instance of Christians ever assembling on the seventh-day after the day of Pentecost, and an explicit mention of their meeting on the first day for preaching and administering the Lord's Supper; and an exbortation to the churches to attend to actions of benevolence when they assembled on that day; as also from its being designated “the Lord's day;” that the principles and practices of inspired men point out the first day as the Christian Sabbath, and furnish us with authority equal to a divine command, for observing it to the Lord: and thus to “Remember the Sabbath,” (but not now the seventh) “day to keep it holy.” Our author says, in reply to these arguments, and respecting the universal and perpetual obligation of the Jewish or Seventh-day Sabbath: (his assertions are sufficiently confident)—
“There never has been any command, or any intimation or example produced from scripture, in which it could be fairly inferred that the First day was substituted in the room of the Seventh. There is something in the l'ourth Commandment as a circumstance peculiar to it alone. It is evident by the manner of expression, that it was not to the Jews a new command. They had known the Sabbath from their earliest infancy, but it had been by them, and especially by other nations, shamefully neglected. God here afresh commands them to REMEMBER it : reminding them of the manner in which it should be sanctified; and of the origin of its institution. All the rest of the commands, except the Fifth, are prohibitory. This Fourth is as old as the creation, and had been enjoined on all the posterity of Adam, and must be of perpetual obligation as much, if not more so, than the rest. The ceremonial law, as consisting of types and shadows, of course would fade away when the substance was come. But there is nothing in the law of ten commands but what must be eternally binding on the children of men. James speaks of the law of command as a royal law (chap. ii. 8.) and plainly teaches its perpetuity and obligation on man, which our Lord also strongly enforces in his sermon on the Mount. “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all ; for he that said Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill : now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” And thus, we may reason respectiug the Sabbath.”
This last sentence is jumping to a conclusion with a vengeance. Had our Lord said, “whoever shall offend by not keeping the seventh-day as the Sabbath,” the argument would have been conclusive. On the contrary, by his asserting, “The Son of Man is Lord
also of the Sabbath-day,” to windicate his conduct against the charges exhibited against him for having violated the law of the Sabbath, he intimated that the Sabbath day under the Gospel would be of another description. Our limits prevent us from giving our reasons at present for concluding that the Fourth Commandment was given to the Jews as a nation, as part of the Sinai Covenant; that its peculiar regulations as to their servants, strangers, oxen, asses, &c. related to the Israelites alone; that as this Sabbath is repeatedly called a sign, even as the rite of circumcision also is, that it was as Paul expressly calls it, “a shadow of good things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Col. ii. 17.
The Pastor's Sketch-Book; or Authentic Narratives of real Characters. Edited by George Redford, A.M. London. Holdsworth. 1826. It has been often said, and we believe truly, that real life presents almost as many remarkable scenes, as the writers of fictitious narratives fetch from the resources of their own imaginations. The truth is, there is less of the inventive faculty employed in the composition of such narratives, than is generally presumed. Stripped of a few embellishments, of a little of the drapery of style, the theatrical management of a few incidents, and the surprise of a final denouement or catastrophe, a little out of the course of human events, most of these productions are actually taken from real life, and many of them derive their deepest interest from this circumstance. We have no doubt, that were any person of even moderate observation, and possessed of the power of writing with accuracy and elegance, to compose a volume of mere facts, with which he had been himself conversant, and veiling only incidents, places, and personages, in the garb of other names, he might without difficulty produce an interesting narrative: and although it may be a sentiment not exactly in unison with the received opinions on the subject, we have no hesitation in affirming that the interest, as well as the value of a fictitious narrative will increase in the ratio of its approach to the truth of character, and the habits of life. We always feel most strongly what is true to nature; and we feel it most permanently. If professedly conducted into the regions of fancy, there it is nevertheless necessary to any deep or lasting impression, that we are presented with the essential features of domestic and of social existence. The little volume before us, however, is only fictitious in the names assumed : the characters are all real, and there is the super-addition of a more than moral, a direct and powerful religious tendency. The very title itself, indeed, might well lead us to anticipate the general nature and design of the book; and we have not been misled in this respect. It contains many internal evidences of truth, and the whole is fully and satisfactorily authenticated by a responsible editor. It is not improbable, were a considerable number of works of this description to be produced by competent writers, that religious novels would be superseded; a result which without pronouncing upon them as illegitimate modes of communicating instruction, we should nevertheless hail. For if truth can be substituted for the pictures of imagination, and exhibited in a form equally inviting, an important end is secured; the mind being thus familiarised with history, instead of merely fascinated with description, becomes possessed of the most substantial materials of improvement. In fact, there is a similar differemoe between the one and the other, to that which is so palpable between the fine paintings of an original master, and the mere imitations of the artist, who, however skilful, must fall inexpressibly short of those inimitable graces and touches which bespeak the master hand, and make the canvas glow with a kind of living reality. With regard to the particular merits of this compilation, it is not necessary that we should minutely investigate them. Our general opinion is favour
able. They rise above mediocrity; but do not aspire to extraordinary excellence. They may be safely recomended for their piety, if not highly extolled for their superiority. In a word, they may be read with advantage in the domestic circle; and will, we hope, do much good, even if they should not acquire extensive fame. If we were in a critical humour we should find fault with the editor, who might have corrected some inelegant words and phrases, and who might possibly have improved the composition of the preface.
On the Power of Christ in the Administration of the Affairs of His Kingdom By Thomas Mann. Baynes. London.
In an Advertisement prefixed to this Sermon, the Author says, “The intelligent reader will perceive, throughout, that it might easily have been enlarged.” We are of opinion such readers will feel no wish that it had been enlarged. He adds, “There were reasons for condensation in the delivery, and there are others for a similar attempt in the publication of the Sermon.” Whatever other talents are displayed, the author has certainly failed in the power of “condensation.” We cannot imagine, if the Hampshire Association, before whom it was preached, did not request its publication, why he should have complied with the wish of “the Ministers and Deacons of Christchurch in their separate capacity.” The publication of such a Sermon was not necessary for any valuable purpose of which we can conceive. There is a sentence in p. 41, which, perhaps, was intended to be a beautiful antithesis / which in our estimation is an horrible conception. If the author wished to regard the publishing this sermon as a suitable occasion for literary display, and, he should have given the above sentence in Latin /