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Moses for his arbitration on disputed questions; he pronounced judgment agreeably to established principles of equity, such as God is understood to approve; and this he called “making them know the statutes of God and his laws.” p. 146. It is to be wished the spirit, which dictated the above paragraph, had prevailed more widely in this volume. This is an application of a principle previously laid down, viz. that we are at liberty to suppose any one of these laws really proceeded from Moses, though bearing the name of God. In the same spirit, the
Eagle of the synagogue” says, “when any man feels his powers excited, impelling him to speak, — whether he speaks of sciences or arts, or utters psalms and hymns, or moral precepts, or discourses of political affairs, — he speaks by the Holy Spirit.”
But we must bring these remarks to a close. We have treated Dr. Palfrey's work with freedom, but we trust not with severity. It is not precisely the work the public expected; nor is it such a one as the wants of the public most needed. It is not the work Dr. Palfrey, in justice to himself, to his position, the institution and class of Christians with which he is connected, should have produced. We fear that it will do little to enhance his reputation, or that of the University of Cambridge, to draw young men to the School, in which he is a Professor, or to inspire confidence in the Biblical instructions he is imparting to the future teachers of Liberal Christianity. We do not think it likely to commend the Old Testament to those who have hitherto wanted confidence in it, or to subdue the strong prejudices which exist, far and wide, against that form of Christianity he is generally understood to uphold.
Nevertheless we regard this book as a valuable accession to our Biblical Literature, not indeed because it has accomplished everything, but because it shows an earnest desire to do something. It treats an important subject, and with more freedom and critical sagacity than it has been before treated in
this country, and puts forth principles, which, in other hands, may lead to valuable results. It breaks the ice, and lays open the Jewish antiquities to the free action of reason and philology. It commences a movement, that may continue long, and go far before it is arrested. In these respects the publication is opportune, and should be cordially greeted. Moreover, the book breathes an earnest spirit. The author is serious in what he does. He has evidently aimed to do a service to Biblical Literature, and for this we thank him, and take what he has given us without complaint. For ourselves we wish the work had been different. But we have no right to dictate to an author.
We cannot avoid expressing our belief, that the author would have done himself better justice, had he extended his researches further. It is true he gives us ample proof of zeal and diligence, but there are many valuable works on his subject, which he seems not to have consulted, or which at least he appears to have made no use of. This remark is especially true, as it regards the later German works. It is true he may not esteem very highly what is called German Theology. Yet he can hardly deem it useless to consult, in such a work as this, the best German writers, who treat the same subject. Moreover, there are scholars among us, whose opinions deserve great weight, who are far from thinking lightly of German theology, who_in fact regard Germany very much
a “ New East,” out of which the Bethlehem Star of theology is to arise, and guide us to a place of rest, where we may repose under the branches of the Tree of Life, screened alike from the icy blast of Skepticism, and the red simoon of Superstition and Fanaticism. Inquiry there is thought to be more free, than it is here. In that land men have no fears of Truth, for all truth is known to be God's truth. There each man follows what is right in his own eyes, and utters the word God gives him to utter; while here all follow their leaders, think the same
thoughts, speak the same words, and start at the same shadows. Now the works of scholars, where there is this freedom, this single-eyed pursuit of truth, and this bold utterance of one's own convictions, must needs have no small value over the works of scholars who can see, think, and speak only according to a prescribed formula. No man could fail to be profited by a careful study of them. We regard it, then, as a serious defect in Dr. Palfrey's work, that it shows so little familiarity with the best productions of late German scholars.
Many works have recently appeared in Germany, which treat of the subjects discussed in this volume. Some of them must be admitted by every one to be of great value. De Wette, in a single work, which we have more than once cited in this article, has done more for the history of the Jews, says Professor Leo, than Niebuhr for that of Rome, or Heeren for that of Greece. Yet these works are never cited in the volume before us. It is clear the author has never seen them. This is a grave defect in such a work as this, on such a subject as is here treated, and one we find it extremely difficult to overlook. For such a work as this should not only contain the results of the author's own observations, but those of his contemporaries, as well as those of his predecessors. For aught that appears, this work might have been written a quarter of a century ago. What should be said of a Naturalist, who should write a book on Geology, or on Zoology, connecting only the writings published, at least a quarter of a century before him, thus rejecting the discoveries of all his fellow inquirers ?
Perhaps, in justice to Dr. Palfrey, we should say he probably did not intend to write a work for the learned, nor for that portion of the clergy who do not aspire to that title, but for those who, in his own words, may be called “the better sort” of unlearned laymen. We are inclined to adopt this conclusion from the fact, that what he has given us, that is new or original, will be regarded by theologians as
of no great importance, while the really valuable remarks, he has scattered throughout his work, are already familiar to them in the writings of Clericus, Grotius, or, in a word, in Rosenmüller's well known Scholia. There they have found the same remarks, the same difficulties disposed of, the same authorities referred to, and the same passages cited. Verily, says the Wise Man, there is nothing new under the sun. The thing that hath been, the same shall be. The writings of commentators are like a French saloon, hung round with mirrors, wherein objects “multiform and mix," all the mirrors reflecting the same things. But they create nothing new, save illusions. Still the service rendered by this work is important, though little credit may be due it on the score of originality. It contains essentially the views of Rosenmüller, and gives them to us in tolerable English, instead of tolerable Latin. This work is small, that of Rosenmüller is large. But if the former is more brief, the latter is more satisfactory. If the one is condensed, it has the faults of an abridgment, obscurity and weakness. If the other is diffuse, it is usually clear, often profound, and sometimes forcible. The one is compact; the other orderly. Rosenmüller was indefatigable, ingenious, and learned man. He had lived long in the world of literature; had written more than most men have read. He was at once a natural philosopher, an antiquarian, a philologist, and a theologian. He was an universal scholar. His net swept the bottom of the great deep of theology ; it collected the treasures which all ages
land had contributed. From resources so vast, what gems did he gather! In his treasury were things old and new. Peace to his shade. Other writers have outstripped him, but he taught many to walk, and never lamented when his pupils outran his instructions.
The merit of this work, though mainly that of giving in English what existed in Latin, is, after all, no slight one. For the last quarter of a century what have the English theologians done for the Old Testa
VOL. I. NO. Ill.
ment? Not a ray of light have they shed on the Egyptian darkness, which, to them, overhangs the laws of Moses. Like Ajax they are stumbling in the shade. They even, with creeds and formularies, close up the windows of morning, and repel the light just risen in the East. Dr. Palfrey deserves warm gratitude for his efforts to dispel the shadows, and to enable us to behold the beauty, and to comprehend the worth, the divine worth, of the Jewish Scriptures. Philosophy may not admit all his premises ; nor history verify all his conclusions ; yet his assertions will awaken other scholars ; his principles will guide them to better rules, to a farther light, to a clearer vision, to a juster reverence for the word of God.
“So” books “ appear imperfect, and but given
from servile fear
Art. II. — An Inquiry into the Moral and Religious
Character of the American Government. New York: Wiley & Putnam. 1838. 8vo. pp. 208.
This is a work written with some ability, possibly with a sincere intention, and probably for a good end. Most religious people, - not accustomed to much reflection on the subject it treats, — will think it an admirable book, and be inclined to receive it as a sort of second Gospel. In our judgment it is the production of a man who has very little knowledge of religion in general, and none of Christianity in particular. The author designs to point out the relation which should subsist between Christianity and civil government, and to place certain matters, which