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from which their most vigorous opponents have fled, dispirited by frequent defeats, and hopeless of ultimate success. The defenders of orthodoxy just named were men of great original strength and capacity of mind, possessed of various learning, and disciplined to deep, continued, vigorous thought. Their attainments were such as their age, their opponents, and the general condition of the church required.
Times have now altered, and in this vicinity threaten a still greater change, requiring defenders of the faith of similar intellectual vigor and piety, to the Edwardses and Bellamys of other days, , but trained in a different school, and armed with weapons adapted to the conflict that awaits them. At the head of the metaphysical school of New England divinity, the names of the two Edwardses, father and son, and of Hopkins, have by common consent, for some years, been placed. Their efforts, their success, and their merit, were great. But a new school has risen, the school of philology, of criticism ; the school, in short, of scientific interpretation. Professor Stuart, by his Letters to Dr. Channing, gave the first distinct evidence of its existence to the public, and proved himself in his proper place, as professor of sacred literature in the oldest theological institution in the Union. The present work (to say nothing of his other labors) shows that he has not been idle in the quiet retreat at Andover. We hardly dare trust ourselves to speak of it as we feel, and as we know it deserves. Some of our readers might think we were warped by party or personal considerations, were we to give full utterance to our sober and well pondered estimate of its worth. The tribunal of criticism should be that of inflexible justice. Those who occupy the bench should be blind to everything but law and evidence. With this conviction strongly impressed upon our minds, we have endeavored to judge of the work before us. In the opinion we have formed, and which we shall here express, we are confident that all, who are capable of examining the work, and have done it, will coincide.
This Commentary, we hesitate not to say, will hold the same place in the new school of theology, that Edwards on the Will holds in the old. It is a thoroughly critical performance, and presents irresistibly convincing evidence of the truth of various important questions, that may be considered the basis of the Orthodox or evangelical faith. It is not, however, a work of party disputa
the nature and spirit of the times in which the Fathers lived, and of the exegesis which must be applied to them, he has contrived to make them say many things, which, he would fain have us believe, accord with his own views. I cannot do better justice to such an effort, than in the words of Dr. Muenscher, a consummale patristical scholar, and, at least, one whose testimony will not be thought to be warped by any attachment to orthodoxy. A late work,' says he, (Dogmengeschichte, Rand. 1. s. 80.) • wherein the celebraied dissenter, J. Priestley, aimed to shew the corruptions of Christianity, has through the fame of its author, excited greater attention than its superficial contents, and its ignorance of the sources of history, which ererinchere betray
eriphere betrays itself, deserve.' So judges one of the best patristical scholars now living, from a mere sense of literary justice.” p. 75.
primane, the the Escalinglish laney, that now
tion, but of widely extended inquiry, of independent discussion. Its primary, original character is philological; its theology inserentiał. Erskine, the author of the work on “ The Internal Evidence," has pronounced the Essay on the Will, by Edwards, the ablest theological treatise in the English language. We know of no work except, perhaps, Butler's Analogy, that can be compared with it. We doubt not that Mr. Erskine will now admit, that no critical work on any portion of the sacred writings has ever appeared in the English language, that will sustain a comparison with the vol umes before us. This, at all events, is our opinion, which, though to some it may appear an expression of party prejudice or American partiality, is uttered with a persect conviction of its truth, and after an acquaintance, somewhat extensive, with the best English and American theological writers.*
The only work that can claim to be compared with it, is the Translation of Isaiah, by Bishop Lowth, a work of learning and merit most certainly, but the learning of which is by no means so extensive in its character, nor so critical and cautious in its use, nor is the merit of it so various and unquestionable, as that of these volumes. The merit of Bishop Lowth, who may be considered the parent and liberal patron of biblical science in England, is very great; greater in this respect than that of any other British theological writer, either before or since his day. The defects of his Translation resulted, no doubt, from the fact, that the principles, on which the sacred text was to be settled and interpreted, were not then fixed, as they are at the present time. Besides, his plan was by no means so extensive as that pursued in the volumes of Professor Stuart.t
The first of these volumes contains what is technically called an Introduction; in which the Professor examines the various questions, which have been started relative to the antiquity and canonical authority of the Epistle, its Pauline origin, the persons to whom, the time when, and the place from which, it was written. He also states fully the objections of Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Schulz, Seyfarth, De Wette, and Boehme, and fully shows their weakness, irrelevance, and absurdity. The second volume contains the translation of the Epistle, a general view of its contents, and a more extended analysis of its separate parts, followed by a critical exa
* Dr. John Pye Smith, who deservedly ranks among the first biblical, theological and
lars in Great Britain, writes to an American friend in New York thus: “I have felt it my duty to describe this work on the Hebrews, as the most important present to the cause of sound Bible intr-rpretation that has ever been made in the English lapguage." We introduce this remark to convince every reader, that our judgment bas been formed independent of local considerations, party bias, or personal attachments, which
nfluence even over minds designing to be impartial. The opinion of Dr. Smith is that of a scholar and critic, which, we doubt not, time and posterity will cofirm.
+ Bishop Lowth was a good Hebrew scholar, as well as a thorough master of the Latin and Greek, but with the exception of Hebrew, he seems to have been wholly deficient in the Shemitish languages.
mination of the original Greek, in all passages of doubtful import, or susceptible of various renderings. At the close of the second volume, the Professor has embodied, in the shape of an excursus, and after the minner of Heyne, various most important theological and philological disquisitions. The whole work is conducted according to the soundest critical canons, and in its execution the Prosessor has explored the different sources of information which the searching criticism, and the extensive various inquiries of continental scholarship, have recently brought to view. The Old Testament and the New, sacred history and profane, antiquities, climate, customs, and character; the languages and literature of Judea, Syria, Chaldea, and Arabia, friend and foe, the early fathers and the Jewish rabbins, the pious critics and critical sceptics of our own days, are all laid under contribution to illustrate, in one respect or another, the numerous questions he discusses. Yet we are happy to add, there is no mere parade or ostentatious display of learning. The work is designed for the highest class of critically investigating minds, and, to them, nothing which it contains will be superfluous.
After this general statement of the contents of these volumes, our readers will see the propriety of the remark already made, that we cannot enter into a very critical examination of them. Yet, considering the efforts now making in this vicinity to destroy the canonical authority of the epistle to the Hebrews, we deem it suitable, in this connexion, to present a summary view of the evidence, on which it still claims, and will forever claim, to be a part of the sacred writings, a part of the inspired Word of God. In expressing our sentiments, we shall adopt freely the language of others, especially of Professor Stuart. Yet as our limits require abridgement and occasional alteration, we alone must be considered responsible for the words we use, except where marks of quotation are given. We premise these remarks, both in justice to our author, and to avoid the charge of plagiarism.
From among the various inquiries instituted and answered by Professor Stuart, we propose the three following : When was this epistle written? How early and how extensively was it received as canonical? By whom was it written?
When was this epistle written ? To answer this question, we apply, first, to the epistle itself. We consider it, now, simply as a literary relic, the production of an anonymous author, published in an age confessedly long past. Does it, then, contain within itself any traces of the time at, or about which, it was written? It is adınitted on all hands that it does. We will quote only one passage, and that, as it stands in the common version ; “ For if he
Jesus] were on ea, th, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.” Heb. viii. 4. This passage clearly implies that the temple rites were performed, VOL. I.
when this epistle was written. As the whole temple service ceased with the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70, it is clear that this epistle must have been written before that period. Of course, it belongs to the apostolic age.
Another argument, tending to the same point, is, that the particu· lar views, which this epistle throughout gives of temptation to apos
tacy, are grounded on the then existing rites of the Jewish templeworship. The state of feeling among the Jews at large, (which resulted from strong attachment to these rites, and the zeal with which their views of these things were maintained,) and their extreme jealousy of everything which had a tendency to diminish the supposed importance of their ritual, together with the imposing splendor and magnificence of the Levitical ceremonies, as then practised, all concurred to tempt those Hebrews, who had embraced Christianity, and renounced the common views of their countrymen, to relapse into their former views and habits. The shape in which this whole subject presents itself, in the epistle to the Hebrews, manifestly implies that the Levitical institutions were then in full vigor. But this was the case only in the apostolic age. Of course, the epistle must have been written during that age.
It is also plain that it was written late in the apostolic age. Those whom it addresses are represented as having been Christians long enough to be qualified, had they been properly attentive to their duty in learning the principles of Christianity, to become teachers of it, v. 12. The former days, in which they were first enlightened, are spoken of by the writer, x. 32, in distinction from the time then current. They are addressed also as having witnessed the death of their first teachers, xiii. 7; and their then present teachers are commended to their affectionate regard, xi. 17. All these circumstances imply, that some time must have passed away since the Gospel was first preached among them, and they had been converted to Christianity. In other words, the epistle must have been written in the latter part of the apostolic age. We have already seen that it could not have been written later than A. D. 70; so, probably, it was not written before A. D. 63. It is, we think, impossible to fix upon the precise year, between these two periods, in which it was written. Prosessor Stuart seems to think the most probable period about A. D. 66. We have then indubitable evidence of the great antiquity of this epistle, that it belongs to the age of the Apostles. On this point there is no dispute. Critics of very different creeds agree here. In the Improved Version, the editors speak thus : “ This epistle, however, which contains many important observations, and many wholesome truths, mingled, indeed, with some far-fetched analogies and inaccurate reasonings, was probably written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple." p. 531. Am. Ed. We shall find additional evidence of this antiquity as we proceed.—But the fact that an
epistle was written in the age of the apostles, by no means proves that epistle to have been written by an apostle.
We proceed, then, to inquire, how early, and how extensively, this epistle was received as canonical? This, it will be seen, is an important question, on which much depends. Happily we have an intelligent witness, perfectly competent and unexceptionable, whose testimony is conclusive upon both points involved in the inquiry before us. The epistle of Clement of Rome, (commonly called his first epistle,) * Professor Stuart says,
“Is the most considerable, certainly the most important and best authenticated relic of ecclesiastical antiquity, which belongs to the first century of the Christian era. According to the general voice of the ancients, the author of this epistle is the Clement, whom Paul mentions as one of his fellow laborers, and as having his name written in the book of life, Phil. iv. 3. He was the third bishop of Rome, according to Irenaeus, Eusebius, and Jerome.”
In the name of the church at Rome, and as their bishop, he addressed an epistle to the church at Corinth. This epistle, as all agree, must have been written within the first century. Professor Stuart is willing to adopt the latest period, assigned by any respectable critic, which is A. D. 96. This will bring us within thirty years after the epistle to the Hebrews was, as we have already seen, most probably written. .
Professor Swart enters into an extended and careful examination of the quotations by Clement from the epistle to the Hebrews. Our limits will not allow us to follow him, nor is it necessary.
“It is a singular circumstance,” says he, “that no book of the New Testament should have been so frequently quoted by Clement, as the epistle to the Hebrews. That such is the fact, any one may satisfy himself, who will take the pains to examine his quotations, as referred to in Wotton's edition of this author, or the detail of them as exhibited in Lardner.”
The Professor closes his examination thus : “ The fact that Clement appels to our epistle more frequently than to any other part of the New Testament; that he nowhere appeals (so far as we can discover) to any apocryphal writing of the New Testament; above all, that he appeals to our epistle by quoting passages from it in order to confirm and impress the truths he is in
*" It is called first, because there is a second, which bears his name, and which has usually been printed in connexion with the first. The first was so greatly esteemed by the churches in the early ages, that it was read publicly to the Christian assemblies, in like manner as the books of the New Testament. It is very often cited with great encomiums hy nearly all the Christian fathers. It has been assailed, indeed, by a few critics, in modern times; and what relic of antiquity has not? It doubtless, like most ancient books, has suffered somewhat in regard to the purity of its text, by frequent transcription and by negligence. But, on the whole, it is a venerable and a precious relic of the primitive age of Christianity; and it is very generally admitted to be such. The second epistle is quoted by none of the early fathers, and it differs in style and method so much from the first, that there can scarcely be a doubt of its spuriousness."