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require ; and so, to produce the greatest practicable uniformity of action. And yet, it is melancholy to reflect, that the rashness and precipitancy of man has, sometimes, so abused even this conservative reservoir of strength, as to give it an overpowering and dangerous momentum.
But what gift of Heaven is there so gracious or so awful, that the weakness and corruption of man may not misconceive or misuse it! And the history of the Church presents so many melancholy pages respecting the abuse of the doctrine of Ĝrace, from Montanus to Bourignon, or from the Messalians of Syria down to the Methodists of England, that a few passing words of caution may be requisite on this subject. Nay, and they may be requisite even here. Neither the seats of science and learning, nor age and experience, are secure against enthusiasm. The very unbeliever has imagined himself directed by a supernatural vision to send forth to the world his attempt to discredit the existence of supernatural revelation. Swedenborg was distinguished by the successful pursuit of physical and mathematical science, was long engaged in active and official life, and had attained the age of fifty-five, before his supposed call to be the medium of a new revelation, or what was equivalent to a new revelation, and to hold a preternatural intercourse with the spiritual world. And the latest schism which has rent the Church of England was occasioned by the enthusiasm of educated men, members of our own University, admitted to degrees, elected to fellowships, occupied in this place with the instruction of youth, called to the sacred orders of deacon and priest in our own apostolical Church.
It is only not impossible, perhaps, that the actual subject of enthusiasm should be reclaimed from his delusion. Yet even of this there have been happy instances; and, under the Divine blessing, the repeated failure of his own predictions has at length convinced the enthusiast himself, that he had not been prompted by the Spirit of truth. But for ourselves it is very possible, and very necessary, to prevent the danger, by the due culture and religious employment of the whole man, body, mind, and soul: endeavouring always to maintain reason on her proper throne; not to indulge the imagination at the expense of the judgment; not to waste and enfeeble the body by ascetic rigours, lest we mistake feverish fancies for holy inspiration; not to disjoin pious contemplation from active duties and the offices of charity; not to pursue any one single study, not even religious studies, exclusively; above all, to be ever seeking the moral graces of the Spirit, and of these, especially, the graces of “meekness and humbleness of mind.” If indisposition of mind or body may surrender us a prey to a disordered imagination; vain-glory, ambition, and pride, may work far deeper mischief, even opening a ready way to the delusions of the Evil Spirit; whilst it is the reiterated declaration of the Old Scriptures and the New, that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
And whilst we may thus preserve ourselves from danger, it is possible also that we may undeceive the deluded followers of the Enthusiast. Not that we can prove, perhaps--and why should we attempt it?—that new or additional revelations are never more to be expected. It is but too true, on the contrary, and we cannot deny it, that the manifold ignorances, and sins, and divisions, of the christian community still supply the enthusiast with a plausible argument for the probability of his alleged commission to remedy these fearful evils. But every new division is a new evil. Every separation is either a duty or a sin. We are expressly warned that " false prophets and false teachers may
arise." It is therefore our duty to “try the spirits whether they are of God;" nay, and to look well to our own hearts, lest we “heap to ourselves teachers, and, having itching ears, be turned unto fables; not enduring sound doctrine; turning away our ears from the truth." Does the new teacher, then, profess only to disclose a new interpretation, some hitherto hidden sense of the sacred Scriptures ? That at least is a subject admitting of investigation, and
which we are bound to try accordingly, and by the same means with which we are enabled to try the soundness of any other interpretation. Or is he the prophet of a new revelation ? But the method of Divine revelation has become to us, as it were, a matter of experience. Whatever the probability or the improbability that the Christian Revelation was complete and final; that the Holy Spirit did indeed lead the Apostles into “all truth;” that they no longer, like the prophets of former dispensations, “ inquired and searched diligently," prophesying of some mysterious grace not as yet disclosed ;—but that,on the contrary, they “preached the Gospel," of which the end was “the salvation of our souls,” and were enabled, accordingly, to impart to their disciples "all the counsel of God;" and that all which they taught we also at this day inherit without entering into these things, or considering whether we do not, in fact, know every thing which it really imports man to know in order to his salvation, this at least we cannot but perceive and know, it may be said, by experi
revelation has been hitherto attested and authenticated by Him who gave it, and always by the same credentials, and that every succeeding revelation has been found to be consistent with those which preceded it. We are not only authorised, therefore, but obliged to look for similar proofs, internal and external, of the reality of any new communication from the same Divine Being; the same consistency with former revelations, the same evidence from miracles, or types, or prophecies, separate at least if not combined. And, perhaps, it will almost always be discovered, that the enthusiast himself, by some palpable contrariety between his conduct and his creed, his teaching and that of the Scriptures, gives evident tokens of the human origin of his doctrine. Thus Wesley presumed to ordain elders, wantonly violating the order of that Church which he professed to revere; Fox suffered women to teach in the churches, in direct opposition to the precepts of St. Paul; and the latest enthusiasts of our own age and country, with the same literal disobedience to apostolic authority, permit the utterance of unknown tongues, so at least profanely called, where there is no interpreter.”—Pp. 276—281.
We conclude our notice with the following valuable cautions against the peril of confounding high theological attainment with proficiency in true and saving christian knowledge :
I would not derogate from the just praise of theological learning. When Theology holds her subordinate station, and serves as a handmaid to scriptural truth, elucidating the sacred text, opening and enforcing its doctrines, disclosing the harmony of the divine dispensations, she is to be highly esteemed. And to this very end have teachers been appointed, and various talents entrusted to our use by Christ himself, that we may minister to the edification of our brethren, and smooth their path to truth. Neither would I disparage the utility of exact statements or elevate sentiment above doctrine. Without some statements of the truth we could not apprehend it ourselves, much less convey it to other minds. And without exact and cautious statements, seeing that all are not teachable and well disposed, nay rather that we are all disposed to evil, and prone to self-deceit, we may minister unconsciously to error or to sin ; wherefore the negative as well as the positive uses of Theology are very great. And we must study the history of error, that we may check its growth or prevent its revival ; and be acquainted with exact statements, as of the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, that we may repress the daring speculations of heresy; and with cautious statements, as of justification, or of the extent of human corruption, lest we secretly favour licentiousness on the one hand, or pride on the other, and assist the self-deceit of the strong, who would build upon their own merits and be saved without Christ, or of the weak, who would be saved by Christ, but without holiness.
Still the means may become insensibly confounded with the end; and theological truth, or what is supposed to be such, with the genuine truth of Christianity. We may pass from exact definitions of doctrine into dogmatism, or from speculations upon the sacraments into mysticism, or mistake curious refinements, peremptory decisions, presumptuous and irreverent reasonings, for progress in the truth of Christ. That our “ Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,” that He" did no sin,” but suffered for our sins, “ the just for the unjust," these are christian truths, if elementary yet most momentous; but there is a theology which dilates without authority upon the consequences of that mysterious union of the Divine and human natures, and analyzes the causes of that sinless perfection. That we are “ justified by faith" in Jesus Christ, and that He is “ the Lord our righteousness," are all-important christian truths; but that “ our Saviour was obedient to the law not only for our good but in our stead; that all His obedience to the law is imputed to us, and our justification consists not only in the remission of sins, but also in the imputation of Christ's active righteousness,"—these are the speculations of the theologian. That it was of the “ eternal purpose of God which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” that we should be “ chosen in Him before the foundation of the world,” is a christian truth, most gracious and most' consolatory; that in order to magnify the grace of God in our election, we must also believe in the decree of reprobation, by which some were to be passed by, left in their sins, touched with no grace, condemned and punished eternally in order to set forth the Divine Justice, this is the peremptory decision of a presumptuous theology. That “all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works,” that“ we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;" that "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him—and the dead in Christ shall rise first : then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord :"—these are the simple but ainazing truths of the Gospel; but theologians, passing above and beyond them, have determined that “ the souls of men after death (which neither die nor sleep) immediately return to God who gave them; that the souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day."
There are theological conclusions then which are not christian verities, and a progress in theology, real or supposed, which is no progress towards the perfection of christian knowledge. And what has been here advanced was not designed to assist your progress in theology properly so called, except, perhaps, by here and there an occasional suggestion ; whilst with that supposed theology, which is but a vain exercise of the human understanding grasping at things above its reach, we have no concern except to restrain it. Nay, christian truth itself has suffered so much from its very contact with speculative controversies and this spurious theology, that our great problem often is to restore it to its proper simplicity. But in order to our progress in genuine christian truth, the self-same means will avail us most which also suffice for its attainment. That truth has salvation for its end, and our progress towards perfection in the truth must be a progress at once, in grace and in knowledge. There is no study like the study of the Sacred Scriptures to promote this twofold progress in knowledge and in holiness. So shall we « have more understanding than all our teachers, when thy testimonies, O Lord, are our meditation. We shall understand more than the ancients, if we keep thy precepts." That very structure of the sacred Books, which presupposes another introduction to the truth, makes them the very best of all our means in order to progress in the truth. And the canon of Scripture was providentially closed, not indeed until various errors and ignorances of great inoment had appeared and had been corrected, but before verbal controversies began, and any specious theology was known. Yet are the Scriptures so rich in various and copious treasures of heavenly truth, that they are not to be exhausted even by daily study throughout our threescore fleeting years. Only let them not be studied for purposes of vanity and display; nor let Christian truth be sought as a thing to be admired, or commented upon,
us a thing external to ourselves, but, as indeed it is, as a subject in which we have each of us a deep, vital, personal interest, by which we must live, in which we must die, with which we hope to rise again. Let it be our prayer and our desire not only that God may • grant us in this world the knowledge of His truth,” but also “ in the world to come life everlasting." Then will the Holy Spirit assuredly bless the study of those Scriptures which He has inspired, and every day will give us a more and more distinct apprehension of our own corrupt nature, more vivid and enlarged conceptions of the ways and providence, and promises, and grace of God, will confirm our faith, and strengthen our hopes, expand our charity, till we desire nothing so much as that we ourselves may live in christian truth, and all mankind may unite in it, “ that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."-Pp. 298–303.
Art. III.-The Principles of Population, and their Connexion with
Human Happiness. By ARCHIBALD Alison, F.R.S.E., Advocate,
Blackwood & Sons. 1840.
It seems to be written with most excellent views, and in the best possible spirit. Its main object is to discuss and develop the various causes, which, in the progress of society, have retarded the increase of population ; and in pursuing this inquiry the author enters into the histories of different countries, so far as they have any bearing upon his subject, in order to show how population has been differently affected in them by circumstances peculiar to each.
The work contains a great body of valuable information, and many useful details, a large portion of which is of a statistical nature. It discovers likewise a great extent of reading and of research ; abounds with excellent remarks and discussions on the various workings of society, in its different grades and stages; and contains many judicious observations on the state and management of the poor, and the best mode of improving their condition.
Among the causes which have, of late years, tended to their demoralization, the author specially notices the reduction of the duty upon ardent spirits ; and we fully agree with him in condemning the policy of our legislature in thus tampering with the health and morals of the people for the sake of a little additional revenue.
Perhaps [says Mr. Alison] there never was a measure which, though well intended, has turned out so ruinous to the lower orders, as the reduction of the duties on spirits in 1826, especially in Scotland, where the duties, by a strange and groundless exemption, are only three-fifths of those paid in England. By lowering the tax to one-third of its former amount, the means of intoxication for twopence in Scotland, or threepence in England, have been brought to every man's door. The effect of this in increasing the consumption of spirits has been most important. The quantity of spirits that paid duty in Ireland in 1823, was 3,982,000 gallons ; in 1837, it had increased to 12,248,000: the quan
VOL. XXII. NO, X.
tity in England in the first year was 1,976,000; in the last it was 7,875,000. This prodigious increase has done more to demoralize the lower orders than any other measure in the memory of man. It is amply sufficient to account for the great increase in the amount of crime during the same period. The number of persons that were committed in England in 1823 was 12,263 ; in 1837, it had increased to 23,612. In Scotland the number committed for serious offences in 1823 was 1479 ; in 1837, it was 3126. In Glasgow and Edinburgh the number of crimes has been more than quadrupled since the reduction of the duties on ardent spirits.
The concurring testimony of all the official persons who have been examined before the committees of the House of Commons, demonstrates that this great increase in delinquency is mainly owing to the increased use of spirituous liquors. In Scotland, it may safely be affirmed that four-fifths, probably seveneighths, of the crimes which are committed originate in the effects of, or the desire for, whisky. Not only are the interior of families disgraced by an incessant recurrence of drunken habits, assaults and brawls of every description, multiplied by the facility of procuring this ruinous indulgence, but the incessant craving for it is the strongest incentive to the commission of crime. The habit of intoxication both disqualifies the frame for hard labour, and unfits the mind for regular occupation ; while the lassitude and depression which it leaves call loudly for a renewal of the stimulus. The assemblage of the young and the profligate of both sexes, in public-houses, at once furnishes the means of concerting plans of depredation, and offers the strongest inducements to their commission. The motives which lead to crimes are apparent from the gratifications which immediately follow them: articles of great value, obtained by theft or robbery, are instantly pawned to procure drink, or deposited with the keepers of spirit-cellars for the license to enjoy them; and the female associates of the delinquents reward their hardihood by indulgences of another sort, and extract from their passions, finery to entrap others into the ways of sin.-Vol. ii. pp. 113-115.
Mr. Alison strongly advocates a legal provision for the poor ; and many of the arguments which he adduces in its favour must be allowed to have great weight. In what way, indeed, it tends to prevent the growth of redundant and indigent numbers, we do not exactly see; but, when judiciously administered (as we have reason to hope it now is in some of our provinces), we have no doubt it is attended with salutary effects; one of which, and perhaps not the least, is, that it creates a bond of union between the higher and lower classes of society.
One of Mr. Alison's best chapters is on the Church Establishment and the voluntary system. He justly insists upon the importance of religious instruction for the people.
“ Education ” [he says, in the words of M. Coussins], " if not based on religious tuition, is worse than useless ;” and every day's experience is adding additional confirmation to the eternal truth. The Almighty has decreed that man shall not, with impunity, forget his Maker, and that no amount of intellectual cultivation—no degree of skill in the mechanical arts-not all the splendours of riches or the triumphs of civilization, shall compensate for the want or neglect of this fundamental condition of human happiness.- Vol. ii.
And after showing the inadequacy of the funds which can be provided for this object by the voluntary contribution of individuals, he truly remarks
It is a mistake to say that an established church taxes or burdens the members of one communion for the support of another. What it does, and what it professes to do, is, to set apart a separate estate for the support of the clergy of a particular denomination. Its grand object, its leading and inappreciable