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Well as Mr. Pollok has done, we cannot but exclaim with the fervor, and longing, and something of the hope, we believe, which inspired Cowper when he sung,
'T were new, indeed, to see a bard all fire,
Inspires the song, and that his name is love. Yes, we cannot but have the hope, let us say, the faith, that from the earth will yet go up strains that shall mingle with the harps of hymning angels in the heavens.
If we are not to look for another poem so appalling, so magnificent, and yet of such paradisiacal loveliness as Milton's; still every Christian must feel that Paradise Lost is not of a character to answer the great religious end in view. One is dead, who, furnished by God with celestial arms, too often, in his bitterness and scorn, turned them against man, and sometimes, in his recklessness, against his very Maker. There still lives one who might build up a temple into which all might enter with wonder and awe—it is Coleridge.
Whatever he may think of his poetic powers, we believe we are not rash in prophesying, that with the course of thought which bis mind has long held, and with the feelings with which he would enter upon such a work, he would leave behind him a poem worthy of God's cause, and second only to that poetic work which he so reverences.
In speaking of Mr. Coleridge's intellect we are reminded of Mr. Pollok's beautiful passage upon the poet; and it is not his only beautiful one on that theme.
“ Most fit was such a place for musing men,
And incommunicable visions saw." To whom, if not to Coleridge may be applied the words we have put in italics ?
We are not entirely free from hesitation in thus speaking of Mr. Coleridge. Men of original minds, in stretching off in their flight after truth, have so pleasurable a consciousness of intellectual vigor in the exercise of their higher powers, that they sometimes unawares pass by that calm, clear-shining orb, and lose themselves for a season amidst mock suns. If, however, such men sincerely love truth, they are of use to us in the end. They rouse a common mind, give it a longer reach of thought, and here and there open to it a scene so glorious, that the light which comes from it detects the very errors to which they themselves had given life; and the errors shall at last fade and die in that light, while the light itself shall shine on, growing brighter and brighter, and spreading more and more. We must not be impatient because we cannot make every
mind just what we would have it; but should rather reflect upon our own imperfections, and lament, while we consider what it is which gives truth to the words long ago uttered by a remarkable woman, “Nothing is less in a man's power than his own mind.”
It seems to be a law of our fallen natures, that evil should be connected with every great power in man, if in no other way, at least in the very excess : which must needs be; for in whom, but in Him who made us, are all the powers in even balance ? Amongst the great ones of the earth, who, for instance, is there of all the reformers who has not carried overthrow beyond the bounds of error ? This should render the great meek; but let it not make the little proud. Let them remember that they have their weak things too; unnoticed, because there are no mighty ones at hand to show them in contrast.
Mr. Coleridge's proneness to deep speculations upon things spiritual, and the character of his philosophical reading, have led him into some opinions which we cannot think sound. will suspect that when we desire him to take a religious subject for a poem, we at the same time place him amongst those who make up their minds beforehand as to what the Bible should mean, and then go to it with little other purpose than to distort it till it takes the shapes of the deformed progeny of their own brains. Mr. Coleridge's character is too well known to endanger his being numbered with these; but we do apprehend that in his fondness for speculating and refining, he sometimes runs off upon a course that leads him away from the simple meaning of the Bible, though he makes that book his starting point. Other men, truly religious no doubt, have fallen into like errors through this same propensity.
We believe Mr. Coleridge has so deep a reverence for God's Word, that could he but catch a glimpse of danger to it in the path in which, if we do not err, he is sometimes seen wandering, he would shun it as he would the way of death; knowing, as he does,
that error can never be harmless, and, however insignificant in itself, where connected with a great truth, can never be trifling.
May he, with the full sense of his responsibility in such an undertaking, mature well the plan of a poem, and give these his latter days to the work, having for the strengthening of his spirit through his labors, the sanctifying dew of which Pollok speaks,
In his own words to that mountain, made sacred by his noble hymn, we would call upon him,
THE TRINITARIAN CONTROVERSY. A Discourse delivered at the
Ordination of Mr. Daniel M. Stearns to the Pastoral charge of the first Church in Dennis, May 14, 1828. By Charles Lowell, Minister of the West Church in Boston. Boston, N. S. Simpkins & Co. pp. 40.
The object of this Discourse is to discourage “all attempts to investigate the nature of Jesus Christ, and the precise connexion between him and his father," on the ground that there is nothing revealed on the subject. To the accomplishment of this object we should not object, if allowed to put our own sense upon the words. The metaphysical “nature of Jesus Christ” is as inscrutable as is the nature of God; and as to “the precise connexion between him and the Father," no Trinitarian pretends to understand this. We believe that he, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit, are in some sense one, and in some other sense three; we believe this as revealed truth; but of the mode of connexion subsisting between these adorable persons, we profess to know nothing. And if Dr. Lowell had intended to discourage investigations of “the nature of Jesus Christ, and of the precise connexion between him and his Father” in this sense, we should have had nothing to object, but could cordially have united our voice with his.
But though the language is so constructed as to admit of this sense, and perhaps convey it to the unwary reader; still, this is not the sense intended—at least it is not all. By the nature of Christ, Dr. L. means the person of Christ; for he says, “ They have no cause for anxiety, who, after all their inquiry, are unable to arrive at definite notions respecting the person of Christ. They may be content to be ignorant of what they cannot know. If I could tell them, I would gladly do it. Others, with great ingenuity,
and with perfect sincerity, may attempt it, but they know no more than we do.” p.
But is it true, indeed, that we have no revelation in regard to the person of Christ? Will Dr. L. come before the public and confess that he knows nothing respecting the person of the Saviour? Will he presume to say, that there is nothing revealed, and that he has no means of forming an opinion on the question, whether Christ is a mere man, or an angel, or a superangelic being, or a strictly Divine person? Whether aware of it or not, he virtually does say this, in the Discourse before us. And having said it, he virtually contradicts the declaration, by describing Christ as an “inconceivably exalted Being”—which he could not have done, had he found nothing revealed, and had he formed no opinion relating to the subject.
There are two considerations presented in the Discourse, to shew that nothing is revealed or known respecting the person of Christ; one is the text ; •No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and the other is the diversity of opinion which has been entertained in relation to this point.
• No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father.' Is this passage to be taken in its strictest sense; or does it require, like many other of our Lord's declarations, to be measured and qualified by a comparison with other passages—comparing spiritual things with spiritual? None originally knew anything pertaining to the Son of God, except the Deity; and none now know anything more of him than God has been pleased to reveal. But has he revealed nothing? And is it strictly true that there is now nothing known? How came Dr. L. then to know so much about Christ? Where did he learn that the Lord Jesus is "an inconceivably exalted Being”—“the Mediator between God and man, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and to whom the Spirit was given without measure”? If we have no revelation concerning Christ, what are we to understand by the record which God hath given us of his Son'? And what are we to think of all that is written respecting the person and offices of Christ, in different parts of the Bible?
Says Dr. L., Christ “came not to reveal himself, but the Father." But is it true that Christ made no revelations respecting himself? When he said, “Before Abraham was, I am’He that hath seen me hath seen the Father' -I and
Father are one'—'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last—'I am he that searcheth the reins and the heari - Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven;'-in all these, and similar declarations, did he reveal nothing concerning himself? If Christ did reveal himself—if the Father also has revealed him if the Bible is eminently a revelation concerning him; then the passage, selected by our author as the foundation of his Discourse, cannot be taken in its strictest sense. None can pretend to know who the Son is, any farther than he is revealed; but a revelation has been made; and the great and only question for men to decide is, What is the purport of this revelation ? What does the Bible disclose and teach, respecting the person of the Saviour?
And here we are brought to that diversity of opinion, on which the writer of the Sermon enlarges, and which he regards as demonstrative proof of the correctness of the position he has assumed. The Socinian interprets the Bible to mean that Christ was a man, and nothing more. The Arian places him something higher than angels. He was “an inconceivably exalted Being," savs Dr. Lowell. While the Trinitarian honors him as strictly a Divine person. The Word was God.'—" The various opinions which have existed in all ages respecting the person of Christ, might have been sufficient,” says our author,“ without the declaration of Scripture, to demonstrate that no man knoweth who the Son is.?"
Dr. Lowell's views of demonstration must be widely different from those of the generality of men, or he could not have hazarded an assertion like this. On what subject, we ask, whether of natural or revealed religion, have not men held a diversity of opinion. The existence, the perfections, and purposes of God; the inspiration of the Scriptures; the character and state of man; the offices and work, as well as the person of Christ; the promises and threatenings of the Gospel; the conditions of salvation; and the retributions of the world to come ;-on all these great subjects men have differed, and differed variously and widely. But does this “ demonstrate” that these are not subjects of revelation, and consequently that nothing can be known respecting them? We admit there have been different opinions, all professedly founded on the Scriptures, touching the person of the Saviour; but what does this prove? Not that the Scriptures afford no light, and contain no revelation on the subject; but that men have darkened minds and hardened hearts, and are liable now, as they were in the days of the apostle Peter, to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.'
Dr. L. gives us the sentiments of “some of the earliest Christian writers after the apostles,” relative to the person of Christ. And it is evident, from the passages he has quoted, and from many which he has failed to quote, that these holy confessors and martyrs were decided believers in the Divinity of the Saviour. Clement, described by our author as “the companion and fellow laborer of Paul, who is mentioned with so much honor in the epistle to the Philippians," speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ" as “God,” and ascribes to him “glory and majesty, forever and ever.” Polycarp represents Christ as one “whom every living