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We fully sympathize with the noble doctrine, ably set forth in this address, that the field of every man and of every woman's labor is the world. But we would guard against perversion and abuse of the doctrine. Our labors are thus widely and eternally operative, because, under the wise government of God, we are parts of a vast system, in which every moral act in any the humblest soul is felt to the remotest boundary as surely as the falling of a drop into the ocean moves the whole mighty mass of waters. We are not so by our own choice. Our own volition cannot make us more or less so. A power mightier than we entering through our multiplied relations into our feeble acts gives them this wider, this infinite diffusion. The same power, by the same means thwarts and disappoints our largest and wisest schemes. They who have toiled for immortality were laid in their graves, and forgotten in a day, and now no trace of them and
of their great works can be found. Systems laboriously piled up to work the world's weal or wo have shrunken and withered as in a night. While the poor and despised, working solitary and apart, and knowing nothing of the spirit that was in him, has achieved a labor that lives in the daily life of men, or put the first hand to an impulse whose waves are yet circling the globe. We would not discourage any man from acting on this lofty view of universal good. But because that good is not easily measured by our conceptions of it, and a false conception may lead to fanaticism, we would have men remember that God makes our acts long and broad, not we—that our sphere is narrow, and we must look well to its narrow interests, for little as they may be, the world cannot well get on without them. While he looks widely around to refresh him, and gain strength, he must again and ever stoop to his hourly toil.
A true education for the world, in our view of the arrangement of Providence, is that which prepares every one to work for good, humbly and quietly and obscurely if need be, but contentedly to work somewhat, in the faith that Providence, out of the fragments we furnish, will make a harmonious whole. As in doing this work from our complex nature, we must, and rightfully and innocently may, act from many principles, so in education, must these principles be appealed to, that they may act strongly in future life. The sphere of woman is eminently laborious, and always domestic. Let her be trained for home, and her influence shall go out through all the world.
We cannot leave this discourse without bestowing our most hearty commendation on the chaste and transparent style in which it is written. Though the doctrine is deep, the expres
sion is always clear. It is exact, business-like, and forcible. Such a production from such a man, ought to do much to check the prurience of fine writing that is unhappily too prevalent among us.
13.-On the Relation between the Holy Scriptures, and some
parts of Geological Science. By John Dye Smith, D. D., F. G. S., Divinity Tutor in the Protestant Dissenting College at Homerton. London: Jackson & Walford.
1839. 8vo. The distinguished author of the “Scripture Testimony to the Messiah” here appears in a new field. The recent demonstrations made by the science of Geology, have created, it is well known, no little alarm among good men lest its allegations and conclusions should invalidate the testimony of revelation. We cannot doubt that the discussions, by Professors Hitchcock, Stuart and Pond, in the previous Volumes of the Repository, and from which Dr. Smith draws very largely in the volume before us, have done much to remove the fear of any ill-omened antagonism between the records written by the pen of Moses on goat-skins and sheep-skins,' and those inscribed by the finger of God on tables of stone,' dug out of the bowels of the earth. Still it may be admitted that something further was wanted to present the argument in all its strength; to give in a full, yet perspicuous form, as little encumbered as possible by scientific technicalities, the reasons which have led geologists, while professing a reverential regard for Scripture, to assign to our globe such a vastly higher antiquity than the letter of the Mosaic narrative seems to ascribe to it. This work we are happy to say is most ably achieved in the volume before us. The great desideratum so extensively felt is here most happily supplied. Such a view of the whole subject is exhibited as could be exhibited by no one who did not combine in himself, in very unwonted measure, the knowledge of philology and of physics. Without professing to be in the strictest sense of the term a practical geologist, with which his literary avocations are clearly incompatible, he yet shows himself completely master of geology as a science, and appears to be as familiarly conversant with rocks, strata, drifts, conglomerates, detritus, rolled pebbles, bowlders, and all the technics of the science, as if he had never labored at all in the field of criticism and theology. He has evidently explored the whole region of research, as far as its recorded results have enabled him, and he appears SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO, I.
in this work carrying the torch of revelation down into the deep caverns and clefts which the lamp of science had disclosed, and illuminating, with a brighter light, the foundations of the everlasting mountains.'
The consequence is, that while he yields an unhesitating assent to the most stupendous conclusions of the modern geology, and in fact states their evidence in a new and intensely interesting light, he finds no conflict between them and the Mosaic records fairly and rationally interpreted; and by rationally we mean simply in accordance with that sound and enlightened reason which God has given us, the only medium of correctly understanding his word. After two lectures on the origin, design, and importance of geological science; the requisites and methods of study ; the harmony of all science with revelation; the description of facts relative to the crust of the earth; its internal condition, stratified formations, and organic remains; he enters upon the recital of opinions which are by many assumed to be asserted or implied in the Scriptures, but which are contrary to geological doctrines. Of these he specifies, (1.) The recent creation of the earth. (2.) A previous universal chaos over the earth. (3.) The creation of the heavenly bodies after that of the earth. (4.) The derivation of all vegetables and animals from one centre of creation. (5.) That the inferior animals were not subject to death till after the fall. (6.) The ascription of the grander geological phenomena to the deluge. All these positions he alleges to be erroneous, and proceeds to set them aside by a course of reasoning which no one can fail to admit to be of most masterly character, whatever effect it may have upon his convictions. He then enters upon an examination of the various methods which have been proposed for the removal of the difficulties and alleged contradictions between geology and Scripture. Of these he mentions, (1.) The denial of any difficulty, by shutting the eyes to the evidence of geological facts, and representing the inquiry as impious. (2.) Sacrificing the Mosaic records as unintelligible, or as being the language of mythic poetry. (3.) Regarding the six days as designed to represent indefinite periods. (4.) Attributing stratification and other geological phenomena to the interval between the Adamic creation and the deluge, and the action of the diluvial waters.
He then proceeds to consider the forms of language used in Scripture to convey to man a knowledge both of the Deity and his works, and thence to deduce a general law of interpretation to be applied to the narrative of the creation, which leads him into an extended critical exposition of the first chapter of Genesis. The grand principle, which he defends as conclusive and as absolutely indispensable for maintaining the honor of the word of God, is, that the revelations contained in the Scriptures in respect to God and his works were conveyed in representations to the senses, chiefly that of sight, and in words descriptive of those representations. Consequently it is the usage
of the sacred writers to speak of the Deity, his nature, his perfections, his purposes, his operations, in language borrowed from the bodily and mental constitution of man, and from those opinions concerning the works of God in the natural world, which were generally received by the people to whom the revelation was granted. From this principle as an axiom the author argues, that as the Scripture references to natural objects would be in such style as comported with the knowledge of the age in which they were delivered, so at the present time we are fully warranted to translate the language of the Old Testament upon physical subjects into such modern expressions as shall be agreeable to the
reality of the things spoken of. But we must here close our notice of this very valuable volume. After all we have said of its contents, the reader will have but an imperfect idea of the amount of interest and information which it embodies. But by way of amends for the meagerness of our sketch, we are happy to announce that an immediate reprint in this country is under consideration, and that the work will probably soon be presented to the American public.
14.-Lectures on Biblical Criticism, exhibiting a Systematic
View of that Science. By Samuel Davidson, LL. D., Professor of Biblical Literature, in the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast. Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1839. 8vo. pp. 411.
The high gratification we feel in noticing the appearance of this able work is mingled with regret that we can at present do no more than simply to notice it. The more ample and elaborate review which it merits it can scarcely fail eventually to receive. Mr. Davidson's name has been hitherto unknown among us in the walks of biblical literature, but from the sample which he has here given of his ability to fill with distinguished repute the department which he occupies in the Belfast Institution, we cannot but draw the happiest omens of his future achievements in the same sphere. The sternest republican can scarcely be offended with the epithet 'royal? when he finds it attached to an institute which gives scope to labors and researches like those embodied in the present volume. The field which Mr. Davidson here enters with so firm a tread and so manly a bearing is one that has been hitherto for the most part occupied by the German literati, and though we would not detract aught from the just award of their labors which they have so zealously put forth in this department of sacred letters, yet we rejoice to perceive that they are not to be left as its sole occupants and cultivators. Everyone acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of German genius is aware that it shows a continual tendency to spend its energies in settling the letter of revelation rather than disclosing its spirit ; or in other words, a tendency to exalt criticism above hermeneutics. Our author brings altogether another temper to his work. Although he undertakes not to erect his edifice without a scaffold, yet he does not busy himself so much about the scaffold as to forget that he has an edifice to erect; which the German is very apt to do.
The various topics embraced in Mr. D.'s volume are treated in such a way as to show that instead of servilely copying from copyists, he has gone to the sources of authority, and examined and judged for himself. The reader will accordingly find in these pages a real advance in the science of biblical criticism. The whole field of Manuscripts, Versions, Editions, Readings, Quotations, etc. etc., in fine, whatever constitutes the res critica of revelation, is explored with a diligence and discrimination entitled to the highest applause. His reasonings and results are conveyed in a lively and spirited style, at the farthest possible remove from the dry, abstract, barren prosings which usually distinguish treatises of this nature. In the midst of so much that is satisfactory and excellent it were not easy to specify the more attractive parts, but we cannot refrain from pointing to the chapter on the Nature of the Hebrew Language,' as remarkable for the original and luminous views it exhibits of the structure and genius of that ancient tongue. In his chapter on the Greek Article,' he enters into an elaborate vindication of Middleton's doctrine on that subject in which he comes in collision with the views of Prof. Stuart, expressed in former numbers of the Repository. Although somewhat free in his strictures on the Professor's positions, yet he is throughout abundant in indications of his great respect for the value of his labors in the province of sacred literature.