페이지 이미지

self. When God was only that great, illimitable waste, God had no knowledge of his own existence, no personality, no power. When God developed into stars, and suns, and an earth, there was as yet no personality, because they are not persons but things, .... God realized in forms. .... When however God took this higher form and passed to consciousness, then, for the first time, God saw himself, . ... became fully aware of his own existence, .... God arrived at the knowledge of God in becoming man. Man is a developed form of the Eternal Being, he is that being reasoning, thinking, perceiving, knowing, speaking. That substance never reasoned, nor thought, nor perceived, nor knew, nor spoke before. And that substance is eternal and is the only God; and therefore, God perceives not, nor knows, nor reasons, nor thinks, nor speaks but in man. .... Man is God come to consciousness of himself; and God has no personality, and no consciousness but in man.” pp. 24, 25.

We could not press this smoky, sulphureous cloud into a smaller compass. Whence it issues is obvious. And it is steaming up around us like a choking gas. The antagonism which our author asserts between Christianity and philosophy, meaning by the latter, “the human reason speculating freely without reference to revelation,” we endorse. It is a proud, self-reliant spirit which too many of our philosophers cultivate ; where it is not this, it is due to the sur rounding if not indwelling influence of Christian truth and grace. The very direct track which this unchristian philosophy makes into pantheistic vagaries is clearly shown in these pages. We must dissent, in conclusion, from one idea of this eloquent divine, thrown out in the preliminary note—that we need a class of cloistered scholars to write our religious literature, whether polemical or devotional. That has a musty odor. We need no such order of teachers. The men to guide this age of the world are the men who are doing its hard work; who know, by real contact, what needs to be done and how it best can be done. Dr. Dix would not have accomplished his task half so well, had he done it in a monk's cell instead of amid the pressing pastoral cares of a large parish. The man who preaches at the head of Wall street, other things being equal, is the man to write books for those who need a guide through the labyrinths of fashionable error and fatal worldliness.

2.-A Dictionary of the Bible; comprising its Antiquities, Biogra

phy, Geography, and Natural History. Edited by WILLIAM SMITH, LL. D. In 3 vols. pp. 1292, 1014, 856. London and Boston : Little & Brown. 1864.

A WORK of this substantial and permanent character, designed to teach a whole generation to come, suffers no detriment from a

somewhat dilatory notice. To say that this series of volumes surpasses anything of the kind before given to the English-reading public is to give it small praise. Calmet, in Robinson's edition particularly, has done good service, though for many years very much in the rear of the progress of biblical study. The present work is a rich and almost exhaustless repertorium of the best results of modern exploration of the external aspects and adjuncts of Holy Scripture. Its lengthy lists of contributors, among whom we notice several well known American names, and the industry, learning, and practice in this kind of authorship, of its editor-in-chief, furnish every assurance that this Dictionary is a trustworthy guide. Yet it is not perfect, which is only saying that it is human.

The relative fulness of its articles, and the exact relevancy of some of them to the sacred text, offer points for obvious criticism. We open, for example, to the word “ Philosophy,” and find a page devoted to the references made to this in the apostolic epistles, preceded by nine solid pages which contain a condensed and very excellent account of about everything that bore that name with which the Jewish people, from the beginning, had come in contact. Valuable as this is, it might be doubted if it comes within the limits of the title-page of this work. It is better, however, to err on the side of fulness, if the material, as here, is good. There might seem to be, also, rather more of ecclesiology in these pages than the scriptural citation would always call for, as under the words “cross," “ church,” and a few others; but these are only perhaps matters of opinion. The excellences of the work are so various and indisputable that nothing but thanks should be returned to its enterprising and accomplished writers for so rich a gift to the students of the Bible. We shall indicate briefly its chief features..

It gives a topical explanation of the Scriptures, as its prominent words require, taking every proper name, and every important common name, in the record, and elucidating it from original and most authentic sources. Obscurer names of persons, places and things, have received especial attention. The apocryphal books are included in all these researches.

It explains classical topics and names, so far as these are alluded to in the Scriptures. Its references are very full to authorities both ancient and modern ; and directness and minuteness of information are aimed at under similar headings, without referring from one to another to trace up a line of inquiry. .

It does not aim at entire harmony of opinions on all subjects, but gives its writers some latitude in stating their individual views. The authorship of all its contributions is indicated, so as to show their origin and relationship; and for his own work each author is regarded as responsible.

Beside this elaborate filling in of the details of the work, it aims to give a competent account of the Bible as a whole, and in its great compartments. This is done under . such headings as “ Bible," “ Old Testament,” “ New Testament," " Canon," “ Septuagint," “ Vulgate"; and also under the titles of the different books, as “ Proverbs," " Isaiah," " Job,” “ Revelation," etc. It is thus an Introduction to the Bible as well as a Dictionary of it. It is a biblical thesaurus, invaluable to the scholar, and level to the easy use of any one who can read our language. Our only regret concerning it is, that the tariff of importation is so high as to hinder a sufficient supply of it from abroad. It is almost out of our market just now. We trust this scarcity of so admirable a book will be only for a short time. 3.-Philosophy as Absolute Science. By E. L. FROTHINGHAM. pp.

xxii, 453. Boston: Walker, Wise & Co. 1864.

The favorite theory of some of our more liberal religionists-to let a child grow up without any educational bias, that he may select or invent a system of faith for himself—would seem here to have come about to its fullest form of strange speculation. This is not professedly a work on theology; but its bearing upon spiritual being and belief, in the theological sense, gives it its chief importance. The present volume on Ontology is, in fact, announced as preparative to a second upon Theology and Psychology. What the system of divinity thus projected will be, it is beyond our inferential powers to conjecture with any precision. The prophecies of this opening volume are very Orphic to our ear. It is more than we are sure of, that we fully comprehend the present deliverance; much less can we forecast what may be coming.

A certain type of mind seems to be irresistibly drawn to thinking out exhaustive schemes of the universe—theories of universal nature, being, production, including the infinite and finite, which shall leave nothing unaccounted for, or unexplained. In the first article of this number of our Review, one of these more recent attempts to fathom eternity is taken in hand. Here we have another, as unlike to that, in most of its features, as is well conceivable. This is as extreme an outshoot from the Unitarian church, as that is from the Orthodox school-neither showing a very close resemblance to their typical origin. It matters not much where a theory may start from; it depends on the individual's mental organization who starts it, how

far 'into cloudland it shall be carried. Given an indefinite amount of fancifulness and audacity, and the ballooning may be as indefinite. Mr. Frothingham's voyage bids fair to be among the most aerial.

He claims to be his own teacher, his own master in philosophy. He holds with no great name, or schools, in mental or theological science. He is not an eclectic from them all, but rather a creator of a new heaven and earth, both of which look to us much like the geologic period of the early part of the first day. He sets forth to rescue philosophy from atheism, pantheism, scepticism, immorality and general disorder ; but good as this purpose is, we see thus far small progress toward that end. His first position, if we understand it, is wholly unsound. It is, that there are two universal spiritual Causes or Absolutes, which are opposite and mutually excluding, as states or spheres of being, but by their working together, their action and reaction, these produce, by a kind of ontological matrimony, the ground and method of universal existence. The one of these is the Infinite, the other the Finite. Neither can do anything alone. The first is the vital power in nature; the second, the fatal or destructive. They draw to their opposite poles, respectively, the principles of life, light, truth, goodness : death, darkness, error, evil. The Infinite and Finite are necessarily attracted by the instinct of productiveness, the latter obeying the superior will of the former by what seems to be a very highly sublimated application of the connubial law as laid down in Genesis iii. 16. This reminds us of the wedlock theory of Dr. Edward Beecher's Concord of the Ages. So far as Mr. Frothingham has disclosed his system of the universe, this is its seed-vessel—the assuinption of two causative powers or laws, absolute, unlimited, or rather indefinite, the lower (if lower can be predicated of an absolute) marked by divisive, destructive, deforming, false, hateful adjuncts or elements ; the higher by unific, universal, wise, good, beautiful characteristics. Out of their interaction comes forth existence, divine and human, and all things dependent thereupon. The author is a thinker of marked ability. But if he has not taken his idea from the old Persian myth of Ormuzd and Ahriman, the features of it, as above shown, bear strongly that family likeness. 4.-Broken Lights; an Inquiry into the Present Condition and Fu

ture Prospects of Religious Faith. By FRANCES POWER COBBE. Boston: J. E. Tilton & Co. 1864. We have neither time, space or inclination to hunt up or hunt down a multitude of smaller deflections from what we consider to

Religious Faith the Present Co.,

[ocr errors]

be Christian truth and virtue, but we hold ourselves to be religiously obligated to expose, so far as we can, great and fatal errors. We wish always to do this with courtesy and a fair concession of real authorial merit, yet with entire frankness and freedom. The lady who writes this volume has distinguished herself as the foreign edi. tor, biographer, disciple and eulogist of Theodore Parker. She has some literary gifts, an apparently strong sympathetic nature, much which we might love of womanly sensibility ; but she is not a theologian or a metaphysician, nor is moral philosophy her forte. She is drawn to these high studies by a certain inner craving for knowledge and repose. But she is not able to handle these great subjects satisfactorily. “Broken Lights” - her book is to us literally as though, on this cold morning, some one had smashed in our study windows, chilling us through and through with the freezing, outside


The reader can be put in possession of its drift, in very few words. She builds her structure of life and immortality on these three principles : God's absolute goodness; the final salvation of all souls ; the divine authority of conscience. This is Parkerism, and it is theistic naturalism. This is to be “the religion of the future.” The statement of it is perfectly intelligible. It is confessedly anti-Christian, and the author makes provision for the necessary inferencethat Christianity must pass away among the things which are “ waxing old.” She waves her wand gracefully, however, to clear the stage of the old actors, that the new may march in splendor across it. We give a sentence, to show the animus of the whole.

“Let it pass away — that grand and wonderful faith! Let it go down calmly and slowly, like an orb which has brightened half our heaven through the night of the ages, and sets at last in glory leaving its train of light long gleaming in the sky, and mingling with the dawn. Already up the East there climbs another Sun."

This is different enough from Voltaire's and Paine's iconoclasm within the Christian temple, but it is as visionary and false. That sentence is enough to show the author's unfitness, as a thinker and writer, for theological discussion. It is the style of a sentimental novelist. She is as wrong in her time of day, mistaking the middle of the forenoon for almost sundown. When Christianity has passed its zenith, it will be time enough to talk about its sun-setting. Miss Cobbe writes beautifully many pages concerning Christ, regeneration, holiness in humanity, the Gospel, duty, love. We would judge from these indications that she is rather a warm-hearted than strongminded woman, in the unpleasant sense of this last phrase. We would hope that she is more of a Christian than she avows herself

« 이전계속 »