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porter of law' was Moses. These good gentry indeed were not contented with claiming professional descent from Moses, but they must needs identify their law with his. "Our Law " is founded upon the Law of God,' said the Justices in 34 H. c. 4. Nay more : " The Law of God and the Law of ' the Land are all one.' Keyleway, 191. Is it to be expected that men of this way of thinking should cast a very benign eye on the schismatic conceits of those who should venture to im-: peach a legal code of such paramount authority, upon the vague and indefinite principles of moral right, or fitness, or expediency ? Coke's display of scholarship in another place upon the subject of Innovation in Laws, is so truly amusing, that we do not hesitate to transcribe it. Citing the words of an old statute, « Omnes Comites et Barones una voce responde
runt, nolumus leges Angliæ mutare que hactenus usitate ' sunt, et approbate :" he adds, ' As if they had said we will
not change the laws of England, for that they have been (anciently used and approved from time to time by men of mosta singular wisdom, understanding, and experience. I will not recite the sharp law of the Locrenses in Magna Græcia, concerning those that sought innovation in preferring any new law to be made; you may read it in the gloss to the first book of Justinian's Institutes, because it is too sharp and tart for this age; but take we the reason of that law, quia leges figendi et (refigendi consuetudo est perniciosa. But Plato's law I will
recite touching this inatter which you may read in his 6th book . De Legibus ; if any citizen do invent any thing new which
never before was read or heard of, the inventor thereof shall ( practise the same for the space of ten years in his own house • before it is brought into the commonwealth or published to the people, to the end that if the invention be good, it shall be profitable to the inventor thereof, and if it were naught, he himself and not the commonwealth might taste the prejudice. And I like well the edict reported by Suetonius, quæ præter consuetudinem & morem majorum fuint, neque placent, 'neque recta videntur. And I would the cominandment of 'Honorius and Arcadius were of us Englishmen observed, mos 'fidelissimæ vetustatis retinendus est ; and I agree and con'clude this point with the apophthegm of Periander of Corinth, ' that old laws and new meats are fittest for us.'
The dress in which the great luminary of the law has transmitted his sentiments, is of itself so sufficiently ridiculous, that we believe we may husband our remarks. We would that we could persuade ourselves that similar absurdity or irrationality was never to be heard at this day from the lips of men. whose means of intelligence ought to have taught them better. Society is, however, every day becoming more thoroughly
shaken together, and the progress of rationality, and the extermination of bigotry and prejudice so inevitably follow in the present advanced state of public intelligence, that we are convinced that circumstances of more deep-rooted despotism over the mind, must be connected with professional character, than those which are attendant on the profession of the Law, to retard a speedy emancipation from any remaining shackles of so illiberal and degrading a nature.
Art. VIII. A Familiar Exposition and Application of the Epistle of
St. Paul to the Colossians ; in a Course of Eight Sermons; including an Examination of the general Nature and Use of the Epistles of the New Testament. To which are subjoined Two Sermons on Parts of the Example of St. Paul. By Thomas Gisborne, M.A. 12mo. pp. 194. Price 3s. 6d. Cadell and Da
vies. 1816. THE practice of expounding large and connected portions
1 of the Bible, is so well calculated to promote the edification of Christian assemblies, that we are happy in the opportunity of noticing any work which is intended to recommend it.
This species of religious instruction, is, we fear, less cultivated than it ought to be. It has, however, most powerful claims to a share of attention in the regular duties of a stated pastor, whose business includes among its primary objects the explication and illustration of the Scriptures. We are not objecting to the more usual custom of discussing a doctrine, or recommending a duty of Christian obligation, from a short and isolated text : it is a proper and useful method of teaching, and therefore not to be discarded. But we are induced to wish that Christian ministers would more frequently avail themselves of the advantages of expository preaching, for the purpose of conveying to their congregations comprehensive views of Divine truth. The former mode does not require the qualifications which are indispensable to the creditable execution of the latter, and may therefore in numerous cases be preferred. It should, however, be the care of every teacher, to possess the knowledge and acquirements necessary for the exposition of a book, in which the principles of the Christian faith are comprized, and its early history is detailed. So qualified, the Christian pastor may proceed to the delivery of a series of expository discourses, by which he may render more justice, and give more effect to the narratives of the Bible, and especially to the epistolary parts of it, than can ever result from the practice of declaiming from a text detached from its connexion. · Of the kind of discourses which we have taken the occasion of recommending, Mr. Gisborne has furnished some yery VOL. VII. N. S.
excellent specimens in the small volume before us. Minuté and laboured criticism is not conspicuous in these discourses, nor are they remarkable for a splendid diction. Their value consists in the higher and better qualities of evangelical sentiment, conveyed in a style eminently adapted to the capacities of a mixed assembly. Plain and familiar, it is never mean; accommodated to the minds of the illiterate, it is never offensive to the most refived taste; and it is a very proper vehicle for the conveyance of the serious and most important instruction communicated by the highly respectable Author.
The first of these discourses, is almost wholly occupied with the discussion of the two opposite opinions which include the comparative insignificance of the Epistles, and their supposed importance as communications of religious doctrines not previously disclosed. Both these opinions are considered by the Author as erroneous, though he acknowledges that they
prevail even in the bosoin of our national Church :'-a strange circumstance, certainly, since there exists an Act of Parliament binding the ministers of this Church to uniformity of religious • sentiment.'
In opposition to the opinion that the Epistles are to be regarded as relating mainly to circumstances, tenets, doubts, and controversies, of a local and temporary nature, Mr. Gisborne asserts their general and permanent authority and utility, After disposing of the question of probability, he advances to the question of fact, which he states in the following manner.
* Take the Apostolical epistles no longer for cursory inspection, but for detailed examination. Subduct from the Epistle to the Corinthians the portions which relate to the propriety or the impropriety of partaking of meats which had been offered to idols. Subduct from the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians every portion which in reality refers exclusively to the ceremonial law. Subduct from the Epistle to Titus every allusion to the established character of the Cretans. Withdraw from every epistle every verse, of which justly, or but with decent plausibility, you can affirm that it : treats solely of concerns and interests attached to the first ages of the Christian Church. Observe, as to quantity, what a mass remains upon your hands; a mass of which you are totally at a loss how to dispose! Observe what potent sanctions, what grand illus, trations, this mass contains of every component part of Christian belief, of every division of moral duty! What models of love to your Redeemer; what exhortations to holinesss; what denunciations against sin; what heavenly minded affections; wha: examples of a life according to godliness! Take the epistle by far the most abundant in discussions appropriate to primitive times, the Epistle to the Hebrews. Yet where shall we discover more conclusive avowals, more magnificent developements of the eternal existence, the perfect Godhead, the all-sufficient atonement, the omnipotent and ever-present protection, the unbounded and immutable love of
our Lord; and of the indispensable and universally offered sancti. fication of the Holy Spirit, through Him, who by the grace of God tasted death for every man ; or more enegetic exemplifications of the necessity and the efficacy of stedfast faith in God,"faith proved by holy obedience? Are all these things topics merely of local and transitory moment? Are they topics interesting only to the infancy of the Christian Church? Are they topics of little importance to the faith and to the practice of modern Christians? Are they topics of little importance to your faith, to your practice. pp. 9, 10.
To the other opinion, that the Epistles are entitled to regard as the depositories of original doctrines, as displaying the perfection of a systein, of which the four Gospels contain merely the rude outline, the Author, as in the former case, opposes con-. siderations of antecedent probability, and considerations of fact. In his statement of the question, there is evidently a want of precision; nor is there any essential difference between the conclusion of his argument, and the sentiments maintained by the persons against wbose tenets it is directed, as to the design of the Epistles, whatever discrepancies may be found in their interpretation of them. They, we believe, do not assign to these Apostolic writings, the office of communicating new doctrines; it is therefore inappropriate to the point of discussion, to ask what is the new article of faith revealed for the first time in ony one of the Epistles. They admit that a declaration of every truth of the Christian scheme, already existed in the Gospels. The importance therefore which they attach to the Epistles, is, in their estimation, connected, not with the originality of their communications, but with their superior clearness and fulness, and this, we apprehend, will be conceded by every fair and serious inquirer. The doctrine of the Resurrection, for example, is very explicitly taught in the Gospels, but does it not receive important illustrations from the writers of the Epistles, by the arguments founded on Christ's resurrection, which they have so copiously employed ? We do not perceive, therefore, the propriety of Mr. Gisborne's allegation, that an error of momentous magnitude' attaches to the party by whom the Epistles of the New Testament are considered as further developments of previously declared articles of faith and practice. He refers to the Calvinistic tenets,' whieh he frankly avows he is unable to discover in any part of the sacred volume, as the doctrines which, in the estimation of many pious men, are signally developed in some portions of the Epistles. Granting the correctness of this representation of their sentiments, it is surely very different from the position included in Mr. Gisborne's inquiry, that the Epistles impart a religious doctrine not previously and clearly revealed in the Gospels. Some of the most powerful passages from which the • Calvinistic tenets' are deduced by their advocates, are in
cluded in the Gospels. No Calvinist, we apprehend, would object to the following account of the epistles.
They fill their station as additional records, as inspired corroborations, as argumentative concentrations, as instructive expositions of truths already revealed, of commandments already promulgated. In some few instances, a new circumstance collateral to an established doctrine is added : as when St. Paul, in applying to the consolation of the Thessalonians the future resurrection of their departed friends, subjoins the intelligence, that the dead in Christ shall rise first to meet the Lord in the air, before the generation alive, at the coming of our Saviour, shall exchange mortal life for immortality. In the explication of moral precepts, the Epistles frequently enter into large and highly beneficial details. And as one of their principal objects at the time of their publication was to settle controversial dissensions, to refute heresies, and to expose perversions of scriptural truth, they in consequence abound in discussions illustrating the nature and the scope of sound doctrine; and guarding it against the false and mischievous interpretations of the ignorant, of the subtle, of the unholy.' p. 23, 24.
In the explication of the words “ That ye might be filled with " the knowledge of his will.” Coloss. i, 9. the Author represents the knowledge without which we cannot thoroughly possess either the power or the desire to serve God in spirit, and in truth, as including the holiness of God, the purity of His law,
the heinousness of sin, the stupendous mercy of pardon, grace, and salvation, through the blood of the cross, the required extent and the universal obligation of obedience :' a representation which in our judgement is perfectly correct; but in the assertion, that 'the Spirit of God vouchsafed some perception to sincere enquirers after truth in the Pagan world, of several of
the branches of this wisdom and spiritual understanding,' it seems very clear that Mr. Gisborne speaks without authority, A gratuitous assumption is here peripitted to stand as a declared fact. Of the vouchsafements of the Spirit of God to Pagan inquirers after truth, we are most profoundedly ignorant.
Several passages occur in the second elapter of the Epistle, which furnish the occasion for a preacher's cautioning his hearers and readers against corruptions of Christianity, and admonishing them not to depart from the simplicity which is in Christ. It is not omitted by the present Expositor, whose remarks are worthy of the most serious attention.
· Guard against the common delusion of substituting the forms of religion in the place of religion itself. Imagine not that a multitude of outward observances will in any degree be accepted instead of holiness of heart and life. You may attend religious ordinances without number: you may presumptuously add new commands and new prohibitions to those which are established in the Bible : you may intro. duce into your outward conduct unrequired and unauthorized seve, rities : you may cherish with punctilious exactness, absurd scruples and imaginary distinctions ; and under all this show of wisdom and vo: