Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

cept so far as their example and the character of their doctrines might incidentally have had that tendency. Their great aim was to bring the world surrounding them back to the simplicity the gospel, both in doctrine and discipline, in religious and civil matters. They had too much to contend for, that was of real and immense magnitude, to take much interest in subjects of minor importance. It is true, indeed, that they sometimes suffered themselves to be betrayed into trifling controversies. The sacramentarian controversy was of that character. But this, painful as it was in its results, and unimportant in its nature as it was to the great interests of the church at that day, yet took place in close connection with the grand struggle for truth and liberty. It was while bringing back the doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to the simplicity of the gospel, that the dispute arose how that doctrine should be stated, where it should be left; and the work of rescuing the doctrine itself from the perversion of Popery, was surely one of sufficient importance to command the energies of the Reformers. If they fell out by the way, it was in a strife for the redemption of a part of the essential gospel. And if in the controversy in question, there was a subtlety of reasoning resorted to, which savored of the scholastic philosophy more than of the plainness of the scriptures, it is to be attributed, not to the acknowledged authority of that system, as a system, but solely to its remaining influence, silent, unperceived by themselves, though not beyond the observation of others. In general, nothing that did not reach the vital interests of civil and religious liberty, and pure christianity, attracted the attention and commanded the efforts of the Reformers. They stood upon the gospel, and that alone, aiming to exclude all speculation that was not necessary, in their view, to vindicate and establish its doctrines and its principles.

The Reformation may be best and most significantly described, as a revival of the study of the bible. Before that period, for the space of a thousand years, the iron hand of papal despotism had suppressed every thing like the general study and self-thinking interpretation of the sacred oracles. The pillar of hope to that despotism, the talisman of its strength and perpetuity, was wide and far-reigning ignorance—and mainly ignorance of the bible. The entire effort of Popery ally concentrated in this, to keep the truth of God away from the people, and give them in its stead, as the divine message, whatever they thought fit. Its power was enlisted, to its whole extent, for the purpose of keeping the bible, and the

was virtu

right of individual interpretation of its contents, out of the hands of the multitude. Thus were the inhabitants of papal Europe, century after century, kept chained under the most degrading of all despotisms. Conscience was enslaved, intellect benighted and benumbed, and the general mind, in all its powers and faculties, became and remained dead, twice dead. That millenial night of darkness and death would have lasted to these our days, if any means could have availed to keep the bible safe within the walls of the Vatican and the cells of the priests. Without the general and independent study of the bible, whatever else might have been gained, it would not have been the Reformation ; with it, no all-power nor all-presence of the beast and his false prophets could prevent it. The blow was struck, the deed was done, when Luther's indomitable spirit, stirred within him at the shameless traffic in indulgencies, rose in its might and brought that infamous practice to trial at the bar of God's word. That was the movement which made sure the Reformation. It contained within itself the seeds of all other movements-all else of happy change—that was to be accomplished and enjoyed. Throughout Germany, and much of Europe, the foundations were already quaking underneath the existing papal institutions. It was only needed that some one should rise up and set the example of calling the mighty mother of abominations to a reckoning by the book of Jehovah's constitution and laws, and open that book to the general mind. In the providence of God, that office fell to Luther, and he fulfilled it. He might have continued to study Augustine and the fathers forever, and there would have been no Reformation by his instrumentality-not a particle. He would have lived and died, a good, regular Augustinian monk, in his cell at Würtemburg, and left the Reformation where it was, lingering and trembling, just on the point of bursting into life.

[We are unexpectedly compelled to break off in the midst of this article, and leave it thus incomplete. It is our intention, however, to resume the subject in one or more subsequent

numbers.]

ART. X_OLSHAUSEN ON THE New TESTAMENT.

Proof of the Genuineness of the New Testament : for intelli

gent readers of all classes. Translated from the German of Dr. H. OLSHAUSEN, Professor of Theology in the University of Erlangen, etc. With notes, by David Fosdick, Jr. Andover: 1838.

pp. 216. 12mo.

This book, although designed for popular use, that is, for intelligent readers of all classes, in Germany, differs very considerably from treatises on the same subject current in our own country, and contains much information which is far from being familiar even to our theologians.

The subject is an interesting one to serious, inquiring minds. The author is well known to those conversant with German literature, as a commentator on the gospels. The translator is well qualified for his task, and deserves the gratitude of the community for this new product of his useful labors.

We propose to exhibit some of the views contained in this work, as giving the present state of the investigation concerning the genuineness of the New Testament.

The writings of the New Testament existed in the early centuries, not in a volume as we have them now, but in detached parcels, to which were given different names ; as the gospel, embracing our four gospels; the apostle, embracing thirteen epistles of Paul, to which was afterwards added, after its Pauline origin was generally admitted, the epistle to the Hebrews; the catholic epistles, that is, epistles generally admitted, in contradistinction to various rejected writings. Besides these, there were the Acts of the Apostle and the Apocalypse of John.

A division of the New Testament writings by the early fathers into homologoumena or universally admitted writings, and anti-legomena or disputed writings, has served to instigate inquiry in modern times, and tended greatly to confirm the genuineness of the whole.

The gospel, (our four gospels,) the most important part of the New Testament, seems to have been received from the first without a dissentient voice. The coincidences and dissonances of the evangelists, which have been a subject of great interest to the German theologians, Dr. Olshausen ascribes partly to oral tradition and partly to other causes. The different exhibition of our Savior by John and by the other evangelists, he thinks, may be easily explained without detracting at all from their credibility

The Pauline epistles, with the exception of the two to Timothy, the one to Titus, and the epistle to the Hebrews, are so intimately interwoven with the Acts of the Apostles, that no candid mind can entertain a doubt of the genuineness either of the historical narrative or of the epistolary correspondence.

The two epistles to Timothy and that to Titus, which critics comprehended under the title of Pastoral Letters, are not confirmed, like the other Pauline epistles, by comparing their historical allusions with the Acts of the Apostles. But they have ancient tradition wholly in favor of their genuineness; their historical allusions are too specific to have proceeded from an impostor; and the tradition of a double confinement of St. Paul at Rome supplies exactly the point in his life, at which we may suppose these epistles to have been written.

The difficulty as to the epistle to the Hebrews respects its Pauline origin, and not its canonical authority; questions which have no necessary connection. Dr. Olshausen maintains, that this epistle, although not penned by Paul, was perhaps written by Apollos, or some other under Paul's superintendence, and in any case has decisive historical evidence in its favor.

As to the catholic epistles, the first epistle of John and the first of Peter were universally received in christian antiquity ; and the second and third of John have as much evidence in their favor as we should expect from compositions so brief and of so little general interest.

The second epistle of Peter, Dr. Olshausen considers destitute of decisive testimony either for or against its canonical authority. He believes that attempts to remove the doubts in regard to this epistle will probably always prove vain, from the want of historical accounts respecting the use and diffusion of it in primitive times.

Dr. Olshausen ascribes the epistle of James, not to James the apostle, son of Alpheus, but to the brother of our Lord, mentioned Matt. 13: 55. Gal. 1: 19. Now as this Janies was in high esteem and a pillar of the church, the ascription of the epistle to him detracts nothing from its authority.

The epistle of Jude, Dr. O. supposes to have been written not by Jude the apostle, but by Jude, the brother of James, the author of the epistle. The canonical authority of the epistle he considers less certain.

In regard to the Apocalypse, Dr. O. is peculiar in maintaining the doctrine of Christ's kingdom on earth, which he thinks no one who receives the Apocalypse can reject, and in holding the opinion, that the Apocalypse was written long before the gospel Vol. X.

62

and epistles by the same author. He holds also, in unison with most other critics, that at the earliest period, both the friends and the opponents of the doctrine of the millenium received the Apocalypse as a work of John the apostle; and that it was not till the controversy on this subject raged high, that its apostolic origin was denied.

În a concluding chapter our author sums up the results at which he had arrived, and makes some important remarks as to the mode of reasoning in respect to the authenticity of the books of the Old Testament.

Our aim has been simply to exhibit a brief synopsis of the volume. We are not prepared to coincide with all the views which Dr. Olshausen has here advanced; nor do we propose at this time to enter upon a discussion of them. Readers of discrimination will easily see what is or what is not the truth on the subjects which are treated.

ART. XI.-BARNES ON THE SUPREMACY OF THE Laws.

The American National Preacher, Vol. XII., No. 8, Aug. 1838.

This is a noble and timely vindication of the supremacy of the laws. We are rejoiced at its appearance in that truly valuable periodical, The American National Preacher, through which it will have an extensive circulation. It has been stereotyped for distribution, and we are sure no discourse better deserves it. Would that it might be read by every man who can read, and heard by every one who cannot, throughout our whole land. Scenes of violence and outrage have of late become fearfully frequent in every part of the nation, and unless vigorously checked they will inflict upon us the worst of all despotisms—the despotism of a lawless mob. The people should be taught to estimate aright the dangers they incur in abetting in any degree so vile a spirit as that which is thus exhibited. Intelligent patriotism ought at once to array its entire strength in a united and decided expression of abhorrence of whatever is lawlessly done, by whatever party or class of persons it may have been originated or is approved. No one can seriously reflect on the growth of popular violence within a few years past, without just feelings of alarm. A spirit of insubordination is gaining among us. It is manifested in almost every section of

« AnteriorContinuar »