Page images
PDF
EPUB

of numerous Clergymen and others of different denominations, a large edition of it was published a few months since. We are glad to see a second and enlarged edition before the public. It is an evidence that the truly catholic views and spirit which it inculcates do not slumber in the churches. We trust the time is not far distant when they will be more justly appreciated and universally embraced. "They should be seriously and prayerfully pondered by all who pray for the coming of the kingdom of God in the earth.

22.-Memoir of the Rev. Edward D. Griffin, D. D. Compiled

chiefly from his own writings. _By William B. Sprague, D. D. Albany. New-York: Taylor and Dodd, 1839. pp. 270. Octavo.

The Memoir and Sermons of Dr. Griffin, in two volumes, were noticed in the Repository for July last.' The memoir is now published in a separate volume, and in a form which we trust will be acceptable to the numerous personal friends and admirers of that great man. It is accompanied with an engraved likeness of Dr. Griffin, which is deservedly admired as remarkably accurate and characteristic.

23.-The Trial of Jesus before Caiaphas and Pilate, being a

Refutation of Mr. Salvador's Chapter entitled The
Trial and Condemnation of Jesus." By M. Dupin,
Advocate and Doctor of Laws. Translated from the
French by a Member of the American Bar. Boston:
Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1839. pp. 96. 12mo.

We have read this little volume with great interest. It places a familiar subject in the clearest and most convincing light before the mind. Salvador, in a work on the “Institutions of Moses and the Hebrew People," published a few years since, expresses the opinion that the trial and condemnation of Jesus, considered merely as a legal proceeding, was conformable to the Jewish laws. M. Dupin, who is one of the most eminent lawyers of the French Bar, immediately called in question the correctness of this opinion. The volume whose title is given above, is the result of his examination, conducted with great legal skill and extensive learning. We commend it to our readers. Both the Christian teacher and the disciple will derive instruction from its perusal.

24.The Theatre, in its influence upon Literature, Morals and

Religion. By Robert Turnbull, Pastor of the Boylstonstreet Church, Boston. Second Edition. Boston: Gould,

Kendall and Lincoln, 1839. pp. 110. The substance of this treatise was prepared and delivered as a discourse before the young men of Hartford, Connecticut, when a measure in favor of Theatres was pending before the Legislature of that State. It is a lively and pointed discussion of the subject, and a deservedly popular little volume.

ADDITIONAL NOTICES.

Several other books are on hand, which we have not room even to name in this No. of the Repository.

They will be noticed hereafter.

Barnes' Notes on Isaiah, in three volumes, have just made their appearance,

and will doubtless be read with interest. The following books are on our table: The “Philosophy of Human Life,etc. By Amos Dean, Prof. of Medical Jurisprudence in the Albany Medical College ; Pictures of Early Life ; or Sketches of Youth. By Mrs. Emma C. Embury; both from the press of Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb: Boston. The Museum of Religious Knowledge, designed to illustrate Religious Truth. Edited by Marcus E. Cross. Published by J. Whetham, Philadelphia, and Robert Carter, New-York.

We hear with pleasure that the Syntax of Dr. Nordheimer's Hebrew Grammar is now nearly completed, and will in the course of the winter be put to press. So far as our information extends, it will fully meet the high expectations which the public are entitled to entertain from the character of the first volume.

AMERICAN

BIBLICAL REPOSITORY.

APRIL, 1840.

SECOND SERIES, NO. VJ.-WHOLE NO. XXXVIII.

ARTICLE I.

RELIGIOUS PREJUDICES.

By Philip Lindsley, D. D. President of Nashville University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Sir WILLIAM JONES, at the commencement of an essay, in which he proposes to draw a parallel between the gods of the Indian and European heathens, makes the following liberal preliminary remark: "I shall remember that nothing is less favorable to inquiries after truth than a systematical spirit : and shall call to mind the saying of a Hindu writer, that whoever obstinately adheres to any set of opinions may bring himself to believe that the freshest sandal wood is a flame of fire."

To rise above vulgar prejudices, lis generally esteemed an evidence of an enlightened and superior mind. If by this, nothing more were meant, than a rejection of error for the sake of truth, or an honest disposition to seek and to embrace truth to the utter renunciation of error, in defiance of all our previous opinions and habits, we should not object to the position. Such a determination, if rigidly adhered to, does certainly evince much candor of temper and strength of intellect. But if the declaimers against vulgar prejudices, expect us to be divested of every prejudice before we can be qualified for the fair investigation of truth or for its reception, we humbly conceive that they quite overshoot the mark, SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO. II.

1

by making a demand on poor human nature which it neither can nor ought to yield. All men have prejudices. They imbibe them unconsciously and imperceptibly from the first moments in which impressions are made on the senses from any causes.

Prejudice is a prejudgment—or a judgment formed beforehand, without examination-an anticipation of knowledgea preconceived opinion-on an opinion embraced without proof, or, at least, before the mind has ever comprehended the proof which supports it.

The majority of every man's sentiments and principles may, with much propriety, be denominated prejudices. He has received them from his parents, from his nurse, from his teachers, from his associates, from accidental circumstances, from the peculiarity of his position and rank in society, from the particular form of government and religion of his country, from partial reading, and from all those numerous and nameless causes and influences which give variety to life, and which impart a specific coloring to every man's character and destiny. Many of these prejudices are doubtless good and well-founded, though we máy never trouble ourselves at all about the foundation on which they rest. The mass of mankind, in every country, are actuated and governed by their prejudices. They neither reflect nor reason for themselves. If their prejudices happen to be correct, they generally prove orderly and useful citizens or subjects. And we certainly feel no desire to interrupt the tranquillity of such virtuous well-meaning persons, by suggesting a single doubt, or by throwing a single difficulty in their way. Let them live and die under the salutary influence of prejudice. Let the Laplander love his freezing snows, and the African his burning sun. It is a happy prejudice which inclines him to prefer his dreary native regions to every other country. Were it not for this prejudice, this invincible amor patriæ, half the globe would be destitute of inhabitants. It is therefore an innocent and very beneficial prejudice. This is one instance. Many more of a similar kind might be mentioned. Happy would it be for the human family were all their prejudices equally harmless. Happy if their prejudices on subjects of deep and lasting moment were always in favor of truth.

But the fact is far otherwise. The ten thousand totally dissimilar and contradictory political and religious systems which prevail in the world, and which command the affections of men, incontestably prove that the prejudices of the far greater proportion of our race are erroneous. These prejudices, too, are inveterate. It is scarcely possible to eradicate them from the minds of any considerable number. And it is always dangerous to attack the prejudices of the multitude in an open and direct manner. Such an attack generally tends to bind them more strongly to their errors : or if it should produce an opposite effect, the consequences are oftentimes much more deplorable. This is eminently the case with regard to religious prejudices. The falsest views and notions of religion are better than none. Without the fear of God, in some form, operating on the mind and conscience of men, human laws become nugatory, and society is at an end. Witness France—so often cited on similar occasions—soon after the commencement of her rev. olutionary tumults. Her ignorant volatile people were so powerfully wrought upon by the disguised enemies of truth, that they were at length induced to trample in the dust the entire fabric which papal tyranny and superstition had erected among them, to burst in sunder the chains by which they had been for ages fettered, and to rush into all the extravagancies of atheistic licentiousness. No substitute was offered them for the absurdities of a religion which they so hastily abandoned. The result was natural, and might have been anticipated. Every benevolent oppugner of popular religious prejudice will proceed with cautious steps ; and endeavor to give at least an equivalent—something true and salutary-for what is false and mischievous. Otherwise he had better be content to let prejudice reign undisturbed.

These hasty and desultory remarks we have thought proper to premise as illustrative of the subject generally. We profess not, however, to be the advocates of prejudice any

further than the welfare of society and the frailty of our nature seem to render unavoidable. The ignorant multitude are, and necessarily must be, under its dominion. Let them therefore be excused, and pass without censure or rebuke.

But can we extend the same indulgence to men who claim the distinction of scholars--of free inquirers after truth,

-who, notwithstanding their superior opportunities, and their high pretensions to science and liberality, do yet entertain partial and bigoted sentiments on any subject which

« PreviousContinue »