moral blindness which has perverted the minds and hearts of the more respectable abettors of the Colonization scheme,--the iniquities of which we have but half unravelled as a monstrous fraud. Slavery has produced that moral conflict which is now agitating the States, and shaking the very frame-work of the social system; a conflict which, by its issue, will determine the future destinies of this great Republic.

One thing only can save America from political ruin. Judge Jay has boldly proclaimed the truth to his deluded countrymen. The remedy is, the immediate annihilation of slavery--' immediate, total, unqualified emancipation,' such as has been peaceably effected in Mexico, Bermuda, and Antigua. Let all who wish well to the United States unite in strengthening, by their best efforts and fervent intercessions, the hands of those true patriots, the Anti-Slavery Society of America. They have the strongest claims upon our sympathy; nor can Britain be considered as wholly discharged from responsibility, and purged from the guilt and stain of her former iniquities as the great Mandealer, till not only her present dominions, but her ancient colonies, where she planted this upas-tree, shall no longer contain a slave.

Art. II. The Great Teacher: Characteristics of Our Lord's Ministry. By the Rev. John Harris. 12mo. pp. lvi, 397. London, 1835.

WE E have seldom met with a work on Theology, which has afforded us more gratification than the present, which displays more judgement in the selection of its materials, or more ingenuity in combining with its principal subject the various parts of the entire Christian system, without perplexing the argument or diminishing its power. But for a somewhat lengthy preface, in which are treated certain points which, we think, might have been placed with advantage in the body of the Work, together with a few violations of taste in the style and diction, and an occasional reverting to topics which should have been discussed and dismissed under their proper heads, we should pronounce "The Great Teacher" one of the best specimens of theological writing which the press has for many years produced. This, however, is not its highest excellence. The fundamental truths of the

* It may be sufficient to state here, that the annual increase of the slave population in the United States is 54,000. The Colonization Society has exported since 1816, 809 manumitted slaves to Africa, being equal to the increase of the slave population for five days and a half. In 1834, it exported none. And this is the Society which is to produce the gradual extinction of slavery!!

great scheme of infinite grace, which it so clearly states and beautifully illustrates, will be its strongest recommendation to intelligent and enquiring Christians; while the purposes to which they are applied, and the manner in which they are enforced, cannot fail to awaken the conscience and impress the heart. Mr. Harris's theology, as exhibited in these pages, is at once dogmatic, experimental, and practical. It is divine philosophy, propounded by no mean proficient in the science; by one who has learned of the Master himself, by whom he has been imbued with a measure of his spirit.

The leading object of the volume is to shew, that Jesus Christ was the best teacher of his own religion; that his personal ministry, as recorded in the evangelical history, dwelt on all the essential doctrines which were afterwards expanded and more fully explained in the Apostolic Writings; that, on some most important points, he was even more copious and comprehensive than his inspired followers; and that the style and character of his teaching, place him, as an instructor, on an unapproachable eminence.


In his Preface, Mr. Harris adverts to the fact of Our Lord's discourses containing less of the peculiar doctrines of grace than the teaching of the Apostles. On this point he has, perhaps, conceded too much. What distinguishing doctrine of the gospel has the ministry of Christ substantially omitted? The obscurity which some persons imagine Our Lord to have purposely assumed, in order to veil certain truths which his disciples were not prepared to receive, does not in fact exist. There was obtuseness in their minds, but no obscurity in his teaching. Their eyes were not opened; yet the sun shone with unclouded lustre, though not at his meridian. If, as Mr. Harris states, whatever is essential to 'the Christian system, is to be found in semine in Our Lord's 'teaching,' we may well believe that he did that perfectly, for which he especially received the unction of the Spirit: "He anointed me to preach the Gospel". And we may certainly infer, not only from the premises on which Mr. Harris rests his conclusion, but from the entire Work, which confirms it, that the whole 'evangelical system, as developed by the Apostles, lies in its germ in the teaching of Christ; but that such is the fulness, the semi'nal character of his teaching, that even their epistles do not exhaust it.' The observations which follow are too pertinent and too important not to be introduced as a preliminary to our further notice of the contents of this masterly performance.

That they (the Apostles) have put us in possession of every essential truth, we admit; that any fundamental doctrine remains to be discovered, cannot for a moment be imagined; but it may be suggested, that even with their inspired epistles in our hand, and regarding those epistles in the light of commentaries on the sayings of our Lord, there


3 L

yet remain to be discovered in his teaching new aspects of some truths, the immeasurable compass of others, and harmonies subsisting between them all, beyond the perception of ordinary vision; and the development of which is reserved to reward the pious industry of the devout and vigorous mind.

The church of God has been too generally content with the great surface-truths of revelation,--those which we have only to stoop for in order to possess,—but which are made so obvious and placed so near, not as a premium to indolence, but in accommodation to our moral incuriousness and necessities; not as a dispensation from diligent investigation, but as an allurement to it where it can be made, and to ren-. der it unnecessary where it cannot. "The kingdom of heaven ”—in the sense of celestial truth-" is like treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth; and, for joy thereof, goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field;" and buyeth it in order that he may ransack, and turn up every part of it, and make himself master of all its treasures. And further, it is as if the same man, while digging for coins and concealed jewels, should unexpectedly happen on a vein of precious ore. Hitherto, we have done little more than collect, estimate, and classify the more accessible treasures. But let the shaft which is already begun, be sunk deep enough, and the labours of the mine be properly conducted, and the discovery of many a rich and precious lode will demonstrate that the great globe itself is not more interlaced with golden veins, and filled with precious things, than the field of revelation: the storehouse of the unsearchable riches of Christ.' pp. xx, xxi.

The Work consists of five Essays. The first treats of the Authority; the second, which comprehends a very large portion of the Volume, illustrates the Originality; and the third, fourth, and fifth, are dedicated to a consideration of the Spirituality, Tenderness, Benevolence, and Practicalness of Our Lord's teaching. Under each of these general heads, are embraced a great variety of topics, all tending to establish the main scope of the proposition in aid of which they are introduced. The whole is full and satisfactory. After first glancing at what is familiar to the minds of the most superficial inquirers into the truth of Christ's mission, namely, that at the time of his appearance, a Divine. Teacher was needed, desired, and might have been expected, and that his advent, in all its circumstances, had been foreshewn by the prophets, the Author proceeds to the first characteristic of his teaching, and proves, that it was the authority of goodness, of greatness, of solemnity; and that it was legislative. The last point is managed with considerable ability.

To disturb the majestic repose of the divine law, argues, on the part of him who attempts it, either the final stage of insane impiety, or an authority clothed with the prerogatives of the original lawgiver. In this latter exalted predicament the Saviour claimed to stand; "As the Father," said he, "hath life in himself; so hath he given to the

Son, to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgement also, because he is the son of man." "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." In the exercise of his legal supremacy, he may be said to have revised the laws of heaven. Not only did he put on them his own authoritative interpretation, from which he permits no appeal, and by which he greatly extended the sphere of their jurisdiction, in bestowing forgiveness, he even controlled and suspended their operation; he pronounced what part of the divine code was of perpetual, and what of temporary obligation; he repealed its positive enactments, and enjoined others; while, by laying open the scenes of the final judgement, and speaking as from the mysterious cross, he placed it on another basis, infused into it a new vigour, and augmented its force in the highest degree.

When the sanctimonious pharisees, impatient to accuse him, but despairing of a charge, alleged against him the trivial act of his hungry. disciples, in plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath day, he not only established the innocence of the deed, but with what an air of inimitable dignity did he cast over it the ample shield of his own prerogative; "The Son of man," said he, "is Lord even of the sabbath day." On another occasion, when the same unappeasable intolerance, and cloaked hypocrisy, construed an act of healing into a breach of the sabbath, he again asserted his superiority to the law. But, beyond this, he expounded his right to that superiority; he declared, that as the operations of the Father knew no intermission, so neither did his; that as the machinery of Providence does not pause in deference to the sabbatic law, but continues, through every moment of time, to fill the universe with its agency, so he acknowledged no restraint, but claimed the same unlimited scope, and infinite freedom of activity for his be neficence: thus clearly placing his own miraculous works on a level with the works of God; demanding the same consideration for their character; and assuming an equality, or rather an identity, with the Supreme, in will, and right, and power. My Father worketh until now, and I work. Whatsoever things the Father doeth, those things the Son also doeth in like manner." But his dispensation with the law of the sabbath was only a specimen of his supreme authority. By issuing the final and sovereign mandate to his disciples, "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," he virtually annulled the Jewish ritual, and repealed a whole economy, casting it back among the things that were; while, by replacing it with ordinances of his own enactment, and sacred to his worship, he proclaimed himself the founder and legislator of a new religion.


The exercise of his supremacy, in the instances we have cited, was accompanied by the most illustrious displays of authority, in developing and enforcing the eternal and unchangeable laws of morality. The morality of the Mosaic code was of divine dictation; but, in revising its statutes and giving it perfection, he introduces his new prescriptions with this preamble, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time-but I say unto you;" thus placing his own legislation on a footing with the authority of Sinai; and, if not actually effacing the original tables, to make room for his own statutes, yet inserting and incorporating these statutes at pleasure, and publishing them as a part

of the eternal law. How tender, yet inconcealable, the tone of authority in which he said to his disciples, when he was only a step from the cross, "A new commandment give I unto yon, that ye love one another." To regard this as a mere republication, seems to impugn the modesty which distinguished his character, for it represents him as claiming originality and novelty for that which is only the revival of an obsolete law. But with that ancient precept which enjoined love to our neighbour, this new command has no affinity except in appearance; it differs in its nature, its objects, and in the peculiar considerations by which it is enforced. That prescribes the love of benevolence; this requires the love of complacency: that enjoins loving kindness, the love of the kind, of man as man; this enjoins the love of character, of virtue, of man as Christian; while its claim to novelty is completed by the divine Legislator proposing his own example, as the model and motive to obedience. But that which displays his superiority to all human, all merely delegated authority, and which places him on a level with the Supreme Power is, that having enacted laws, he can ensure obedience. The highest praise of an earthly lawgiver, is to adapt his laws as nearly as possible to the claims of abstract right, on the one hand; and to the peculiar state of the people receiving them, on the other. He can do little more to promote obedience to them, than by publicly chastising the refractory and disobedient. But the great Prophet and Lawgiver of the Christian Church, having consulted our nature in the requirements he makes, can then conform our nature to his authority; having authoritatively announced his will, he can carry it into all the recesses of the soul, and, in perfect harmony with our free volitions, can so identify it with our thoughts and aims, so blend it with the stream and current of our consciousness, that in yielding obedience to his word, we are only obeying the actings and impulses of our own minds.' pp. 24-28.

[ocr errors]


Under this branch of the subject, we think the Author might have introduced the fine observations in the Preface, on the peculiarity which distinguished the teaching of Our Lord from that of all the prophets who had preceded him. Preceding prophets,' he remarks, (page 29,) jealous for the Divine honour, had scrupu'lously guarded against the remotest suspicion that they spake in 'their own name; while Our Lord, the Great Prophet of Israel, he tells us, in the Preface, was emphatically his own subject." The paragraph thus commencing, we should like to see transferred to this its proper place.

[ocr errors]

Of the Essay on the Originality of Our Lord's teaching, we have not space for a complete analysis, which it richly deserves, for it is by far the most valuable portion of the Work. This Essay is divided into seven sections, and exhibits the originality of Our Lord's teaching, concerning God the Father-Himselfthe Holy Spirit-the Doctrine of the Trinity and a Spiritual Church-Satanic Agency-the Immortality of the Soul-the Resurrection of the Body-the Final Judgement.

« VorigeDoorgaan »