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What is that friendship with the world which is enmity with God?
What should be the conduct of a minister of the Church of England as to himself and his family, respecting irregular places of worship?
What are the sources, characters, and supports of hypocrisy ?
What instructions may be derived from a minister being cut off in the midst of his usefulness?
What is that fear of man which
bringeth a snare; and what is its cure?
Wherein consists the right government of the tongue, and the best method of attaining it?
How shall we observe the rule of letting the " tares grow with the wheat till the harvest?"
What is the liberty of the Gospel?
What is meant by "declaring the able uses, how may the object be best whole counsel of God?" accomplished?
What are the dangers to which youth is principally exposed in this day, and the means of preventing them?
Whether we have sufficient reason to place the authority of the Epistles on the same footing as the words of our Lord; and also, what are the sources of the doubts which have been held on that head?
How to improve by the sentiments and conduct of others, without a too implicit submission?
What is the precise difference between the falls of true believers, and those of mere professors?
How are we to understand that text, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin ?"
How shall we best realize the eternal world when encumbered with the present?
Why is it that our sharpest trials usually arise from our sweetest comforts?
What useful reflections may be drawn from the public occurrences of 1790 ?
How may a believer detect in himself and others the remains of Antinomianism and Pharisaism?
How to make old age comfortable and honourable.
What appear to have been the views of the disciples relative to salvation, before the crucifixion ?
The proper use of reason in explaining the Scriptures.
What may be the most advisible method to be observed in visiting the sick?
What are the scriptural ideas of temperance and purity?
How far may a minister properly interfere in the politics of his country?
The nature, means, and advantages of self-anihilation?
What is to be considered an intrusion into the ministerial office? What rules can be laid down for domestic economy?
What is the best way of indirectly addressing the consciences of men? What are the Scripture views of the Sonship of Christ?
What is it to preach Christ? What is Christianity with the Divinity of Christ; and what without it?
What is the dignity of the pulpit? What is the best method of propagating the Gospel in Africa?
How shall we esteem others better than ourselves?
How far may a minister, consistently with the dignity of the pulpit, speak of himself and his affairs?
How shall a minister conduct himself who attempts to introduce the Gospel in a delicate and difficult situation?
What is magnanimity without haughtiness, and humility without
(To be continued.)
IRRATIONALISM OF NEOLOGY.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. THERE is an argument against the absurd system of what is called Neology, that I think has not been sufficiently dwelt upon, but which is fatal to the whole scheme; I mean, that it
gives to the Scriptures a character of subtle complicated contrivance, utterly incompatible with what every unsophisticated mind must discern to be their tenor. A single illustration may serve to exhibit my meaning. In the miracle, for example, of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Neologists find an elaborate scheme to teach the virtue of benevolence: our Lord, they tell us, persuaded a boy who had a few loaves and fishes, either for his own supply or for sale, to distribute them to his neighbours; and that the good example was infectious; those who had thoughtfully taken out a secret store of provisions, knowing they had to go far into the wilderness, divided their stock with others who had not been so provident; and thus all were satisfied: nay, there was more than enough; and an excellent lesson was taught, that if all men would be kind and charitable, there would be a mutual blessing, and the bounties of God's providence would be as it were multiplied.
Now the plain answer to all this gratuitous argument, is, that no person would discover such a scheme from the narrative itself; (indeed it is utterly inconsistent with every part of it ;) or would have thought of such a solution, had he not sat down with a determination to get rid of a miracle by allegorizing a plain statement of facts. The professed infidel is at least consistent: he tells us he does not credit the account; it is a trick, or a fiction, or a mistake. But for a man to say he credits the narrative, and yet to put on it such a construction as the above, is to contradict his own words. Can any person believe that the Evangelists really meant no more? Let the Neologist ask the Infidel, and the reply will be, "Your solution is utterly unfair, if not hypocritical: you ought either with us to reject the narrative, or with the orthodox believer admit the miracle; but no man in his senses can imagine that the narrations were only constructing an allegory, to set forth a moral
truth." I would be content to summon a jury of infidels to settle the point; for no one of them, I feel assured, would allow that the Neologist's version has the least shadow of probability; and all would inevitably resolve it into a struggle between giving up Christianity and really believing it; the disputant, for some unworthy reason, not choosing to avow the former, and yet not really doing the latter, and therefore setting himself to devise a scheme by which he may enjoy his misnamed rationalism, and yet retain his reputation for being a Christian.
I might have taken many other illustrations; but this I think will suffice; and honestly do I believe that it were better if those who call themselves Neologians on the continent, and not a few of those who call themselves Unitarians in this country, would at once disclaim the Divine origin of Christianity rather than thus pervert it to their own notions. The infidel admits the words to mean what they imply, but denies miracle and revelation; while some Christians who admit miracle and revelation, may put false allegorical constructions upon various passages : but to pretend to believe the truth of the record, and yet turn it to allegorical nonsense, cannot consist with either piety or the love of truth.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE HEATHEN CLASSICS ON CHRISTIANITY.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It has been observed, that all great and beneficial changes in national opinion have had their origin with the middle and lower classes of society, and have thus worked upwards, winning over, in the end, those who, if they were unwilling to lead, were unable to resist. How far this observation is true, and to what extent it bears upon the subject of the present inquiry, needs not be determined in this place. But it is worthy
of remark, that while the philanthropist is every where at work, devising the most suitable modes of education for the poor; while the boundaries of literature are every where widening, and the claims of science every hour multiplying; while too we have the Bible to go to, to enable us to discern good from evil, the plan pursued in our higher schools remains on nearly the same footing on which it stood in the dark ages, when the only literature extant was confined to the dead languages, when science was nought, and the Bible a sealed book. It may indeed be asserted of this system in the outset, that whatever of abstract value it may retain, it has lost much of its relative; and, in addition, it will not be difficult to shew, that it operates unfavourably to the acquisition of more momentous attainments.
I propose, then, offering some remarks upon that system of education which has, from time immemorial, been considered as indispensable for all persons who are designed to move in a sphere above the commonalty; and as that must doubtless be excellent in itself, as well as useful in the application, which demands the sacrifice of from seven to fourteen of the most precious years of a short and uncertain life, it is first desirable that we should, by a brief analysis of the system, be put in a way to comprehend in what this excellence consists. The system adverted to is that denominated the classical-a general term, embracing a wide field of writings of various design and merit, but all resting, more or less, on a complicated scheme of mythology as their basis, and which consequently claims the first place in the proposed investigation.
To proceed with due respect, as well as for purposes of brevity, we will take the principal deity, the decus et tutamen of the system; just adding, by way of practical injunction, the trite adage, ex uno disce omnes. Here then we are directed, not to the skies, but to a little island CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 359.
in the Mediterranean, called Crete; which is renowned in Pagan story, as the birth-place and nursery of the gods, more particularly of this very personage, Zeus or Jupiter, who was feigned to have been born and bred on mount Ida. Nay more, this prince of the immortals was not only said to have been born and bred on this island, but that here too he died and was buried; and his tomb, visited and described by Diodorus, was shewn as proof of the fact. Nor was this astounding absurdity too much for Grecian credulity. It is true, that many, both of the ancients and the moderns, have attempted to explain this notion of the ancients, by supposing their gods to have been deified mortals, who were worshipped in the countries in which they died. But this is to evade one difficulty, by adopting another as great. If indeed we had found the heathen world unanimous in their accounts, if all had acknowledged the Cretan Jupiter as their Jupiter, we might accept the scheme as satisfactory. But if we should find, that throughout the Gentile world the same account prevailed, with its concomitant local appropriation; that almost every nation had a similar story about an ancestor of its own; that each had its own Jupiter, whom they equally fabled to have been born and bred, to have lived, and died, and been buried, in their country, and who also pretended to shew his tomb, the scheme falls to the ground. We find, in fact, this same Jupiter represented as a native of Troas, of Crete, of Thebes, of Arcadia, and of Elis; and that he was buried on Mount Ida, on Mount lasius, and on Mount Sipylus, where Pausanias says he saw his tomb. Thus also we find a tomb of Osiris at Memphis, at Phila, at Nusu in Arabia, and in other places. The whole of this legend about tombs appears to have arisen from a misapplication of the term Taph, or Tuph, used by the Amonians to denote their high places or sacred mounds, and usually bearing, besides their original name, some title of the deity to 3 P
whose honour they were erected. And, as it was customary in ancient times to bury persons of distinction under similar mounds, Mr. Bryant conjectures, that from hence the allegorical tupha came to be confounded with the literal tombs. But there is another interpretation of the origin of this mistake, more consonant with history and with the religious rites of the Amonians. What these rites were cannot be fully represented here: they will be found described at large in Mr. Faber's great work on the Origin of Pagan Idolatry. Suffice it to say, that in these rites the supposed death and burial of the god formed the chief feature for which purpose, the mound, or other artificial pyramidal structure, whose summit was the altar of sacrifice, had also its cavern or chamber within, the representation of the interior of the ark, and the symbolical tomb of the great father or principal hero-god; and hence, wherever the Greeks found a rapos, ignorant of its true design, they represented it as the literal tomb of the god for whose worship it had been raised. Hence, also the frequent but otherwise inexplicable combination of the iɛpov dɛs kaι Tapos 0ɛs, the union of the temple of the god with his tomb.
The only account of these matters which is at all intelligible, that which alone can reconcile inconsistencies and lead us to the truth, is, that the worship of the great hero-god of the Gentile world, of him who was first raised to this post of false honour by the apostates of Babel, was carried by them, with different names for their deity, into the several countries which they colonized, even into Greece itself. But the Greeks, who preserved no histories, and cared nothing for those of any country but their own, and who in process of time falsified even these to accommodate them to their national vanity of making themselves the first of the nations, set about to appropriate to themselves whatever came to their hands, either from tradition or from
their intercourse with other nations. And thus, regardless of the palpable contradictions and absurdities into which they were led, they strove to make Greeks of the Cuthite leaders, real personages out of mere titles, and to convert the actions of the great Cuthite deity into those of their own Zeus, or Hercules, or Apollo, or Adonis, or Deucalion, and to make their principal god a Greek; although they could not agree amongst themselves whence he came, or, according to their senseless scheme of mythology, where he was born or where he was buried. It is probable, that the Amonians, or Cuthites, in their progress westward, planted an early colony in this island of Crete, as they appear to have done also in that of Samothrace; that these two islands were the chief seats of their priesthood in these parts; and that from the latter, and from Grecian ancestors, the Greeks pretended to have derived the rudiments of their theology, which in fact were brought to them by a colony of foreigners from the banks of the Euphrates; and which, in every instance, they contrived so to misinterpret and misapply as wholly to lose sight of their original meaning, and out of them to fabricate a scheme of divinity as preposterous as it was unintelligible.
If such be the history of the father of the gods, what may we expect to find in that of the rest of the celestial assembly-the Herculeses, the Mercurys, the Bacchuses, the Junos, the Venuses, &c.? What do we find, but the same mistakes about terms, the same confusion of persons and places and events, and the same awkward attempts at national appropriation? Yet to the hopeless task of reconciling the inconsistencies, and lessening the absurdities of such a scheme, have many of the learned prostituted their time and their talents, and have laboured to give, both to the actors in these fables and to the fables themselves, historical verity and chronological order.
Such is the scheme; and if this were all, we might smile at its ex
travagancies, and teach them to our children, as examples at once of the stultifying blindness of idolatry, and of the necessity and value of revealed religion, without the slightest apprehension that they would be thereby either infatuated with the one or estranged from the other. But with this scheme is incorporated a system of morals so abandoned, yet so adapted to the passions and propensities of unregenerate man, that contamination attends its every step, and which never would have been looked on with complacency by people calling themselves Christians, had it been found only in the works of historical and ethical writers. It had indeed, in all likelihood, met with no better fate than the mythologies of China and Mexico, had not certain men of genius, who lived under its influence, and who believed, or pretended to believe in its authority, given it life and favour by the refinements of fancy and the charms of elegant composition.
Let us for a moment endeavour to divest ourselves of the prejudices of education, to strip the scheme of its adventitious charms, and inquire what there is in it which should so bewitch the fancy, and pervert the understanding of Christian men. Is it the beauty or the harmony of the scheme itself, or is it the character and the deeds of the personages of which it is compounded? No one can deny that the one is a clumsy contrivance, made up of the most monstrous incongruities and absurdities, and that the other presents little else than a hideous mass of vice and pollution. What, then, we may ask with wonder, can have brought us to look with complacency on such a system, and to make it the basis of a Christian education ?the fine arts; which grew up out of this abyss of corruption, and whose fairest productions have been prostituted to the service of impurity and delusion. Not by any thing which it possessed in itself to recommend it to the waste of an hour's reading did this system obtain the admira
tion of the civilized world, but by the borrowed aid of the poet, the painter, and the sculptor; by the meretricious ornaments with which these have severally dressed it up, by the beauties of language, by splendid imagery, by the magical creations of unrestrained fiction, by the materials which it furnished for fancy to revel in, by gratifying the senses, and exciting the passions; in a word, by all the machinery of poetry, and the more vivid illustrations of the sister arts. A fascinating style will always give force and prevalence to the sentiments which it conveys, especially if these be in unison with the corrupt passions of the human heart; and those fictions, which in plain prose would only disgust by their deformity, when submitted to the seducing and transforming power of poetry beguile the understanding by first leading captive the imagination.
It is curious to see the learned of a Christian country defending a system which the better informed of the heathens themselves ridiculed and condemned. The philosophical poet Lucretius, throughout nearly the whole of his poem exposes the superstitions of his countrymen; and Cicero, with still greater boldness, arraigns the folly and impiety of the whole system as fabricated by the poets; specially noting the mischievous tendency of its noxious but seductive principles *. The worst passions, lust, pride, malice, revenge, reign throughout; passions, natural to fallen man, which require no incitement to develop; passions too, which must reign alone, and leave
indicia, sed delirantium somnia. Nec * Exposui fere non philosophorum enim multo absurdiora sunt ea quæ poetarum vocibus fusa, ipsa suavitate nocuerunt: qui et ira inflammatos, et libidine furentes, induxerunt deos: feceruntque ut eorum bella, pugnas, prælia, vulnera videremus: odia præterea, dissidia, discordia, ortus, interitus, querelas, lamentationes, effusas in omni intemperantia libidines, adulteria, vincula, cum humano mortali procreatos.-De Natura Deorum, genere concubitus, mortalesque ex imlib. i.