the stratagems of a disingenuous criticism. Our author's style is pure and forcible, and admirably perspicuous. It is a little wanting in ease, and in that faculty of creating an interest in the mind of the young, which ease and imagination bestow. The fairness with which his opponents are treated the admissions made against his own argument-the unwearied and minute investigation of the most intricate points-the comparison of authorities—and the conscientious summing up of the cases at last, leave a conviction upon the mind of the unbiassed reader of the most permanent and forcible cha


The volume contains twenty-one notes and dissertations, with a concluding address on the practical importance of faith in the Deity of Christ. The following are the topics:


The canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The preexistence of Jesus Christ before John the Baptist. Christ, the Redeemer -the Living One-in the time of Job. The existence of Christ before Abraham. The existence of Christ when the world was created. The eternal pre-existence of Christ. Christ pre-existent in the form of God, and on an equality with him. The Chaldee Targums, and the doctrine of their authors respecting the Word of Jehovah. The creation of all things by the Word or Son of God. God made the worlds by his Son. The testimony of the Apostle Paul, that the Psalmist addresses the Son of God as the Creator of the universe. The Son the image of the invisible God, the First-born of the whole creation, and the Creator of all things in heaven and in earth. The preaching of Christ to the Antediluvians. The angel who bore the name and displayed the attributes of God. The Deity of the Word. The prophecies of Isaiah in chap. vii. viii. and ix. 1-6. Christ the Branch is Jehovah our Righteousness. The various readings of 1 Tim. iii. 16. Additional observation on 1 Tim. iii. 16. Jesus Christ our great

[ocr errors]

God and Saviour.' Christ who, in his human nature, descended from the Jews, is over all, God blessed for ever.' The practical importance of faith in the Deity of Christ."

Such a work does not well admit of detached quotations, and much of it lies beyond the capacity of judg ment and line of attainment of numerous readers. For these reasons, its sale may be slow and its admirers at first few. But it is not on these accounts the less valuable. To the clergy of every confession in our own country, and on the continent, it will gradually become known: students for holy orders will be directed to it for valuable aid; and even the great mass of unlearned Christians will indirectly derive advantage from the stores which enrich the mind and fortify the faith of their pastors and instructors.

The mere fact of a much-respected member of a body of Christians unconnected with any Established Church, with his prejudices and education rather lying against than in favour of received opinions, coming forward and bearing his decided testimony in favour of the doctrines of Scripture which have ever been accounted fundamental, is of no small moment.

In natural science the great mass of mankind judge from the united testimony of those whom they know to be competent witnesses, as to all the chief facts which are in question. Mistatements may for a time prevail; prejudice and party may obscure certain particulars; but another age comes on without these false impressions; the truth flows out, and the united and concurrent opinion of persons of different classes, without any motive for misrepresentation, and admitted by the best judges to be well informed on the question, decide mankind.

So it is in the great truths of Christianity as they stand connected with the knowledge of the learned languages, of the laws of criticism, the comparison of MSS., the weight of ancient testimony, and similar

points. Few persons can judge of these matters for themselves. But the united decision of those who can, and who are known and admitted to be capable of judging; persons of every religious body, without motive to deceive, living in different countries and educated with every variety of early associations; satisfies, and ought to satisfy, the great body of their Christian brethren. We have, for instance, in favour of the ordinary interpretation of John i. 1-14, the concurrent testimonies of all the ancient Fathers who understood the language in which the passage was written, and lived nearest to the times of the writer. We have the opinions of all the Reformers, as well as of the writers in the church from which they separated. We have the sentiments of all the later critics who have examined manuscripts and compared readings with the greatest care, and the verdict and decisions of the most able scholars of our own day. They all agree as to the reading, as to the interpretation which the laws of common sense and of all language require, and as to the harsh and inadmissible character of the expositions preferred by the Socinian writers. This satisfies, and ought in reason to satisfy, the minds of the unlearned, as to the critical question involved in this sublime passage. But further than this, even the English reader has means of safety which may still more completely calm his mind. A new version is presented to him by the Unitarians, in which the sacred language of the Apostle concerning the pre-existence and Deity of THE WORD, and the creation of all things by Him, is denied. But he receives no new version, without waiting for the sanction of the great body of those whom he knows to be accounted best able to judge. Here is his safety; just as in medicine, law, agriculture, a practical man would receive nothing, on the allegation of a learned person, which controverted all his experience, and proposed novel methods of proceeding,

on the ground of mere hypothesis, which he had no means of bringing to the test of truth. He would wait, to say the least; and in the mean time would go on in his former course. And thus acts the unlearned Christian who cannot make himself master of the intricacies of biblical criticism; and thus, we might add, the learned Christian also, so far as his opportunities do not suffice to investigate for himself every minute point, respecting which he may safely rely upon the testimony of others. An unlettered mechanic acts, and acts rightly, and with perfect confidence upon rules and formulæ which the philosopher and mathematician have laid down and proved; and the whole business of life depends upon this current adoption of demonstrated results.


But faith, divine faith, holy sanctifying faith, the operation of God in the heart, and the source and spring of love to God and man; of victory over the world, of mortification of sin, of hope of everlasting life; gives the sincere Christian a still higher position on which to stand, and which the merely critical apparatus of words cannot reach. great fundamental truths of Christianity have been wrought as principles into his habits by Divine grace. The fall and corruption of man, redemption by the sacrifice of a Divine Saviour, regeneration, and progressive sanctification by the Holy Spirit, reliance upon Christ, prayer to Christ, love to Christ, communion with Christ, are with him practical principles, first elements of religion. They have actually produced in his heart and character, and are producing in his heart and character, those positive blessings,-that peace, that love and fervent holiness, that mortification of sin, that hope of heaven, which as much confirm the truth of the Gospel and constitute its subsidiary evidence, as health produced in one sick of a fever, confirms the value and efficacy of the medicine which professed to heal him.

And yet more, the great truth. of


Revelation do not depend on a few texts, they are woven into the frame-work of the Bible; they are every where supposed; they are perpetually occurring in every form of incidental, as well as of direct notice; they are connected with certain duties to be performed towards Christ and the Holy Spirit; certain affections to be exercised, certain acts of gratitude to be exhibited, a certain manner of life to be followed, certain hopes to be cherished.

Again; nothing is to be found in the Inspired Volume abstractedly stated, no doctrine for the mere sake of the doctrine; nothing is revealed for the purposes of theological science, if we may so speak; but all is connected with our duties, our salvation, the illustration of the Divine glory, the consolation of a troubled conscience, our progress in holiness, our preparation for heaven. But these considerations by no means lessen, they rather enhance, the value of such solid criticism as is found in Mr. Gurney's volume. A single remark, in his preface, is invaluable in this view.

"While I have been engaged in the composition of this volume, and in the previous study necessary for the purpose, one general remark has been frequently suggested to me, and has excited a feeling of gratitude to our Heavenly Father, who has graciously adapted the revelation of his truth to men of every condition. It is, that, as far as regards essential truth, the obvious sense of Scripture.

the sense which is naturally imbibed by the cottager or the school-boy-seldom fails to be wrought out and established by impartial and elaborate research. It stands the test of careful investigation." p. iv.

It is indeed satisfactory to find that the labours of the most learned men in different ages and nations, not only serve to repel the invasions of the rash and unbelieving scholar, but to strengthen on each occasion the main truths which were so rudely attacked. Such works, therefore, as that before us have the highest value. They confirm the grounds of our faith, they prove that all attempts to give novel interpretations to the language of Scripture utterly fail, CHRIST, OFSERV. No. 359.

and that the old and accustomed in-
terpretation is the only true one; they
enlarge the elements of our practical
dependence on fundamental truth;
they thus nourish our faith and hope,
and quicken our love and gratitude
and joy.

[ocr errors]

For example, the doctrine of the which was with Eternal WORD, God and was God," every humble Christian has received in its essential and consoling character. But let any adequate judge read Mr. Gurney's Notes and Dissertations in reference to this grand topic; that is, let any one, who, with the humility of a Christian, has something of the literary furniture required for such a study, calmly weigh the topics as our author has illustrated them; his answers to the Unitarian writers, his exposure of their version; let him trace, with Mr. Gurney, the whole doctrine of the WORD in both Testaments; let him take in the collateral evidence from the concurring received opinions of the purest doctors, and from the meaning they would necessarily attach to St. John's language; let him consider the testimony of all the early Christian writers, to whom Greek was the native language;-let him do this, and he will rise from the study with a strengthened faith, with an enlarged and deepened conviction of the grand mysterious truth of the Divinity of our Lord.

We can truly say, that after a firm belief in this doctrine, and, we may add, not a short or careless study of the principal controversies respecting it, we have received from these pages a most consoling and heartcheering confirmation of our previous sentiments.

The glaring unsoundness, and even dishonesty, of the Unitarian criticism, is not the least useful part of the exposure made by our author. For example, when the Socinian translator would evade the true meaning of the sublime introduction of St. John's Gospel, by a manner of proceeding which, if any one were to apply to an act of parlia

4 U

ment, or a sentence in any historical composition, or a clause in a deed conveying an inheritance, it would be pronounced the grossest imposition; we feel the obligation which the public owes to the faithful friend who has detected the artifice. But we do not intend to dwell on particulars which admit not well of abridgment. We will only briefly direct the attention of our readers to a few cursory points of observation on some of the critical notes.

The first essay, on the canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is of itself worth the price of the volume-calm, deliberate, conclusive a beautiful specimen of inductive reasoning. The essay on the Chaldee Targums is chiefly important as bringing out the general opinions of the Jews, as to the term, the Word of God. We give the conclusion.

"It appears then, that by the phrase 'Word of Jah,' the Targumists sometimes denote the power or operating energy, and at other times the mind or rational faculty of the Supreme Being-that hence this term is often employed by them as a synonyme for God--that nevertheless it generally points to him, in his peculiar character of the ever present and ever

acting protector and helper of his people and lastly, that there are in the Targums, numerous passages in which the Word of Jah is decribed as a person possessing the attributes and performing the works of Deity, and yet distinguished from Jehovah, as one sent is distinguished from one sending.

"When, therefore, the Apostle John employed the title Aoyos, Word, in order to describe our Saviour, as one, whose name was the name of God, and whose works were the works of God; but who was nevertheless, in some respects, distinct from God, even the Father, with whom he was in the beginning, and by whom he was sent into the world he made use of language which was probably very intelligible to many of his countrymen, and of the signification of which their known views of the subject may now enable us to form a correct estimate." p. 142.

The essay on the Son, the Image of the invisible God, the First-born of the whole creation, and Creator of all things in heaven and earth, affords the best observations we are acquainted with on the important expression, "The image of the invisible

God," &c. (Col. i. 15); and the corresponding one (Heb. i. 3), "The brightness of the Father's glory, and express image of his person.' We have never seen these terms so judiciously and satisfactorily developed.

The essay on the preaching of Christ to the Antediluvians, in reference to 1 Pet. iii. 18—20, is curious and satisfactory; and Bishop Horsley's comment is ably refuted.

In the essay on the Deity of the Word, there is a masterly and complete refutation of the Socinian sophism, that because there are some few places in which the sacred name is applied, under certain limitations, to judges and others, the genuine force of John i. 1, where no such limitations are found, may be evaded.

The next contains a noble explication of the prophecies in Isaiah vii. viii. and ix. 1-6. But no portion of the work gives us more delight than the remarks on Jer. xxii. 5, 6. We remember the triumph which Dr. Blayney's new interpretation gave to the Socinian Monthly Reviewers. We remember at that time, that we determined to wait, till the concurrence of testimony should prove or disprove the professor's criticism, or our own progress in Hebrew enable us to judge for ourselves. It has so happened that Mr. Gurney's Essay is the first that has completely satisfied our minds, that the attempt of Blayney was rash and untenable. We insert our author's conclusions.

"On the whole, then, it appears,

"That the construction of this verse, proposed by Blayney, a construction which detaches Jehovah' from the name of the Branch,-is neither justified by the example of the LXX, nor required by the rules of Hebrew grammar.

"That, on the contrary, the usually received construction of the passage agrees with an idiom of frequent occurvarious critical considerations, is proved rence in the Hebrew Scriptures, and, by to be correct.

"That, were Jehovah-Tsidkenu the proper name of the Messiah, it might possibly admit of that circuitous explanation, which has been adopted by the Jews; but that, on the ground of its not being

his proper name, (and that it was not so, we learn from the New Testament,) we must conclude, that it is an emphatic description of his person and character. "That this method of interpretation is abundantly justified by the phraseology of the Hebrews, as appears from numerous other passages of Scripture.

"Lastly, that in the present instance, its correctness is confirmed by the evidence of the context." p. 361.

We cannot but add the protest which Mr. Gurney enters against a cursory remark of Blayney, that the Divinity of our Saviour draws its decisive proofs from the New Testament only.

"I must now briefly enter my protest against the assertion of Blayney, that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ draws its decisive proofs from the New Testament only. Until reasons are adduced to the contrary, far stronger than any which he has urged, I shall always believe, that decisive proofs of that doctrine are contained in those evangelical prophecies, which have formed the subject of this and the preceding essay." pp. 363, 364.

We remark only, further, that the essay on the various readings of 1 Tim. iii. 16, appears to us amongst the most lucid and calm specimens of critical investigation with which we are acquainted. All is laboured out with a patience, a fairness, a force and acuteness of intellect, which are not often met with. The result is thus given :

"On a mature consideration of this comparative statement, I deem it to be indisputable, that the evidences in favour ofs, which include many of the Alexandrine, some of the Western, and nearly all the Byzantine authorities, greatly preponderate over those in favour of is; and although a considerable allowance may reasonably be demanded for is, on the ground of its being the most probable origin of 6, I cannot avoid concluding, that Griesbach, on his own professed principles of classification, had no sufficient reasons for the expulsion of ds; but that this long-received reading ought clearly to be retained in the text of the Greek Testament." pp. 391, 392.

The dissertation on the various readings of 1 Tim. iii. 16, is the more valuable, as it exhibits some of the defects of Griesbach's system of classification-a subject to which we called the attention of our readers in our volume for 1814-and leads to caution the young student

against implicitly following that renowned critic. This excellent dis

sertation will fully warrant the Christian minister in dwelling on the sacred passage, as it is rendered in our English translation, without throwing in any doubts as to the reading, or hesitating to adduce the testimony thus unequivocally borne to the Deity of our Saviour; a result of great importance in practical theology.

A few general reflections shall close our observations.

And, first, it is surely a striking circumstance, that Providence raises up defenders of the Gospel in a day like the present, from every class of Christians. This work, together with our author's accompanying essays on Christianity generally, and on the holy Sabbath*, form a highly valuable and seasonable accession to our stores of sacred litera

ture. There is a manliness, a candour, a reasonable deference to antiquity, a moderation on doubtful points, a force and energy on main truths, a solidity of literary acquirements, a practical submission of faith to Divine revelation, a holy practical reliance on the efficacy of redemption, throughout the work, which must command attentionwhich the unbeliever cannot affect to despise-and which, in our author's own particular body, must be productive of the highest advantages. The very sect, also, among whom, a few years since, the Deity and sacrifice of our Lord were supposed to have been too much lost sight of, is by this publication recalled, by one of their own members, to the standard of truth. This circumstance calls for gratitude to Almighty God; and when connected with other great works on the same momentous subjects, both by Churchmen and Dis

* A small book which has just appeared, and which we cannot too strongly recomIt will form an mend to our readers. appropriate companion to Mr. D. Wilson's inestimable work on the same topic, which we are glad to see has already arrived at a second extensive impression.

« VorigeDoorgaan »