« PreviousContinue »
the clause in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," when used in the later services of the Church and on fast-days, is, we regret to say, characterized by a similar amount of folly, and by a yet larger amount of irreverence; but as the objection has been so fully anticipated and removed in a short document with which we must presume the Bishop to have been once familiar, we will do no more than remind him that, in an “Instruction” required to be learned by those who in days past were presented to him for Confirmation, they at least were taught that, in the petition, to the use of which, at certain times and seasons, he now objects, they were asking of God that He would send them all things needful “both for their souls and bodies ;' and, for our own part, we can discern no reason why, in later services and on fast-days, we should omit a prayer of such universal import.
V. To the force of the fifth objection to “Free Pulpit Discussion,” viz., that it would introduce a disturbing element into our Church Services, it will suffice to observe, that whilst the Bishop is constrained to admit to a considerable degree the force of the objection, he endeavours to re-assure his readers by the prospect that," when the occasion is past,* the Churches .... will return to their normal state ;" and that, whilst the discussion is going on, “the prayers, the sacraments, all that constitute the essential features of the Church services, will remain unchanged and undisturbed.” (pp. 57, 58.)
VI. Lastly, the Bishop addresses a few words to those who think “ that there is no sufficient reason for the advocacy of a free discussion of religious topics in the existing condition of our religious and irreligious world."
The manner in which Bishop Hinds deals with this objection is not the least singular, or the least objectionable, portion of this most unsatisfactory pamphlet. His position, in short, is this, that they only, who claim infallibility for the decisions of the Church, can consistently object to the freest discussion of the doctrines which she teaches. But let us hear his own statement of his case :
“And yet”. (he writes) “it is not unusual to hear a defence of this system” (i.e., of the system which regards the Church of Christ as concerned only with the conservation of truth) “ from those who shrink from that which, if true, would be the only valid argument for it—that the decisions of the Church are infallible. The mode in which it presents itself to their mind is this : the doctrines of the Church have been established, after much inquiry, by men qualified for the work, not without, we may believe, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is something presumptuous and
* The words printed in italics are not, it is almost needless to say, so printed in the pamphlet.
irreligious in setting up ourselves as being wiser than they, unsettling what they have settled, and producing a continued disturbance of men's faith. .... This reasoning would, as I have said, be sound enough, if those from whom we have received our articles and other religious formularies were infallible, not otherwise. Doctrines, on the truth of which onr salvation itself turns, are too serious a matter for any one who reflects justly on the subject, to substitute the convictions of others for his own." (pp. 61, 62.)
Now it appears to us that Bishop Hinds has, in these words, overlooked a distinction which the Church of England has most scrupulously and religiously observed; we mean the distinction between doctrines, for which she claims the direct authority of Holy Scripture, and Articles of Religion and other Formularies, whether regarding faith or practice, which she believes to be consistent with the one infallible source of truth, but the reception of which she does not impose on any, as necessary to everlasting salvation. We have no stronger belief than Bishop Hinds in the “infallibility” of those from whose hands we receive the Articles and other Fomularies of our Church. We thankfully acknowledge, in the case of many of them, their admirable qualifications for their work; and we may, without presumption, entertain the belief that they were under the guidance and direction of God's Holy Spirit. But so far from imposing their contents as necessary to salvation, or as infallibly true, our Church not only expresses, in the sixth Article, in a dogmatic form, her belief that "Holy Scripture contained all things necessary to salvation,” but further exacts from all whom she admits to the order of the Priesthood, i.e., from all to whom she entrusts the cure of souls, a solemn pledge that they are determined to “teach nothing to the people committed to their charge, as required of necessity to eternal salvation, but that which they shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture.”
Our objection, then, to that free discussion of religious topics, for which Bishop Hinds contends, does not rest on any conviction of the infallibility of the decisions of our own or of any other Church or Churches, either in their separate or col. lective capacity, but on our conviction of the immutability of the faith, once and once for all delivered to the saints, as con. tained in that one and only infallible form, to which nothing may be added, and from which nothing may be taken. With all that Bishop Hinds has advanced, as to the importance, alike as regards the Church collectively, and her members individually, of making truth our first and paramount object, we most heartily and unreservedly agree with him. But our agreement goes no further. The rule which Bishop Hinds propounds, with a view to attain this object, and for which he claims (we know not on what ground) the sanction of the Divine Founder of the Church, is "the satisfying ourselves, by the reasoning faculty to which He appealed, of the truth of any and every doctrine which it" (the Church) “ propounds as necessary to our salvation.” The rule which we, as members of the Reformed Church established in this land, and still more as disciples of Him who said, “ Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life,” lay down, with a view to the attainment of the same end, is,-having first satisfied ourselves that the Bible is indeed God's message to man, to enquire diligently what is written in the book, and to receive with implicit faith, whether it approve itself or not to our own “reasoning faculty," all that we find therein, assured that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." Whilst recognizing, as fully as Bishop Hinds, the duty, incumbent alike upon the layman and the clergyman, which is contained in the Apostle's precept, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh ye a reason of the hope that is in you;" we dare not overlook another precept, addressed more immediately to one who was appointed to “ labour in the word and doctrine” of the Lord, “ Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith." Thus only, as we believe, shall we be enabled to recognize the perfect harmony which subsists between the works and the word of God. Thus only, we are persuaded, shall we be prepared to render obedience to that precept, both portions of which proceed from the same source and conduce to the same end : “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”
LEATHES' BOYLE LECTURES FOR 1868. The Witness of the Old Testament to Christ : being the Boyle
Lectures for 1868. By the Rev. Stanley Leathes, M.A., Professor of Hebrew, King's College, London ; and PreacherAssistant, St. James's, Piccadilly. Rivingtons, London, Oxford, and Cambridge. 1868.
The object proposed by the illustrious founder of the Boyle Lectures was the defence of the Christian religion against the assaults of “notorious infidels,” not the discussion of controversies amongst Christians themselves. Although unable to concur in Mr. Leathes' opinion that the interest in three of the kinds of infidelity specified in the will of Robert Boyle, amongst which he includes atheism,* “ has died out,” we entirely agree with him in the two following points: (1) that, in the case of all endowments of this nature, where the object of the founder is undoubtedly better attained by an adherence to the spirit rather than to the letter of his directions, such deviation from the literal terms of the endowment is both lawful and expedient; and (2) that, had the pious and learned author of “ Some Considerations on the Style of the Holy Scriptures" been able to foresee the nature of the assaults which have recently been made upon that volume in the house of its professed friends, he would have desired that the attention of the Boyle Lecturer should be specially directed to those modern forms of infidelity which are by so much the more dangerous, in proportion as they are more subtle and disguised, than those which were prevalent in his own days.
As regards the vital connexion between the Old Testament and the New, we do not think that Mr. Leathes has in any way overstated his case. Whilst entirely coinciding with the justice of Paley's remarks as to the inconclusiveness of any attacks made upon Christianity “through the sides of Judaism,” so far as regards the stand-point of the assailants, their difficulty in dealing with the direct evidence derived from miracles, from prophecy, and from the contents of the writings of the New Testament, being in nowise diminished on the supposition of the detection of any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in the Old, we think that Paley has failed to discern with his ordinary acuteness the relation in which the Old Testament stands to the New, and consequently that he does not insist with sufficient force upon the intimate and inseparable connexion which subsists between the two portions of Holy Scripture, or rather upon their essential unity as parts of one and the same revelation to mankind of the mind and will of God.
It is to this connexion that the attention of Biblical students has been specially directed of late, as the result of that “free handling” of the Bible which has been going on for many years in Germany, and which, as Mr. Leathes observes, "has at last been naturalized, and bids fair to flourish on our own shores." We trust that the strong national dislike of Englishmen to the vain disputations of science falsely so called, and
* With reference to the advocates words; and to undertake to explain of natural selection and progressive the origin of all forms of life by anodevelopment, a modern writer observes, ther and a totally different hypothesis." -"The new method is to discard the See the Darwinian Theory of Developbelief in a Creator, to reject the om- ment examined by a Cambridge Graniscience and omnipotence of a Maker duate, p. 355, quoted by Dr. Fairbairn of all things, to charge us who believe in his Revelation of Law in Scripture, in it with endeavouring to conceal our p. 18, note. ignorance by an imposing form of Vol. 68.-No. 382.
the more powerful influence of that supreme reverence for the unadulterated Word of God, which the authority of Rome long strove, and still ineffectually strives, to extinguish within our land, may raise so effectual a barrier against the wider diffusion of this refined form of infidelity, that, like those phases of unbelief which it has now superseded, it may, ere long, be consigned to the same oblivion.
Much weight is due, in our judgment, to those considerations which have induced Mr. Leathes to deal, in these Lectures, with the criticism of the Old Testament rather than with that of the New. Whatever may be the amount of attention directed to the study of the Old Testament Scriptures on the Continent, it is impossible to deny that, notwithstanding the marked im. provement which has been made in this department during the last twenty years, Hebrew scholarship in England is for the most part, even amongst theological students, at a very low ebb.
We would not, in any degree, underrate the value and importance of the Septuagint Translation of the Old Testament.
The very considerable, though far from exclusive, use which is made in the New Testament Scriptures of that version, stamps it with a degree of authority, and entitles it to an amount of reverence, which can be challenged in behalf of no other. When tried, however, by this single test, the most cursory reference to any complete list of citations from the Old Testament contained in the New, will soffice to show that, whatever its value as an aid, the translation of the LXX can never serve as a substitute for the original Hebrew, even in this one department of Biblical criticism. We need go no further than the first three quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures which occur in the New, in order to establish our position. The first quotation, St. Matt. i. 23, compared with Is. vii. 14, will show that the evangelist, with two slight alterations, adopts the version of the LXX. The second citation, St. Matt. ii. 6, compared with Micah v. 2, will suffice to illustrate that class of quotations which agrees, precisely, neither with the Hebrew nor with the LXX, and with regard to which it is equally, or nearly equally, important to consult both ; whilst the third quotation, viz. St. Matt. ii. 15, compared with Hosea xi. 1, will suffice to illustrate a third class, consisting of those cases in which the translation of the LXX not only differs very considerably from that of the New Testament writer, whilst the latter accords exactly with the Hebrew, but in which the translation of the LXX would have been quite inapplicable to the purpose for which the citation is made.
In proportion, therefore, to the importance of a just appreciation of the connection between the Old and New Testaments,