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that he, who would overcome the world, must believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We are not hypocrites, nor are we indifferent about what we believe the truth. We are ready to use earnestly every fair and honourable means for its promotion. We are ready to devote to this object our time, our talents, all that we can offer; to encounter defamation and reproach, and to make, if need be, the sacrifice of a fair reputation.
We return for a moment to the sermon, of which we have taken notice in the commencement of this article. We should be doing, we conceive, not a little injustice to the citizens of our metropolis, if we were to imagine for a moment, that the circumstances attending its publication would have any effect to check that spirit of liberality, by which they have been so honourably distinguished. We should do injustice also, we believe, to the inhabitants of St. John's, it we did not suppose that they would regard this sermon with stronger reprobation, iban any one among us has thought it worth while to express. We hope and we trust that our fellow-citizens will always retain the character which they have established, for the disinterested employment of wealth in private charity, and to promote objects of public utility. On this subject we may be permitted to add a word or two before we conclude. Religious knowledge, literature, and science must look to the liberal among us for the means of their advancement. But it is necessary to exercise not only liberality, but judgment. Without the latter, he who gives his money, as well as he who devotes his time and talenis, with the intention of serving his fellow-men, may entirely fail of his purpose. Inconsiderate and ill-directed liberality often produces almost unwingled evil. In our charity to the poor we may be giving to their vices, and not to their pecessities. In contributing to purposes, called religious, we may be promoting error and not truth. Nay, a man may give bis mopey to wbat is called a religious object, and do no more service to the community, than if he were to contribute towards erecting a distillery, for the purpose of supplying the poor with ardent spirits, gratis. But from well directed liberality, we may look for the best and happiest effects. From the union of this with the exertions of piety, talents, and learning, we may hope to see just and honourable notions of our religion generally prevailing, and producing all those consequences which are their natural result.
An Alphabetical Explication of some terms and phrases,
which occur in Scriplure, in hymns and psalms, and other books of devotion; intended to promote the profit and pleasure of those who use them. By the late Rev. NEWCOME CAPPE. Boston, 1818. Printed by Joseph T. Bucking, bam. pp. 21.
Is not religion something simple, level to ordinary capacities, and intelligible by the unlearned ? Is it not a record “made plain upon tables, so that he may run wbo readeth it?"' Is it Dot “a high way, in wbich the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err?” Is it not a gospel for the poor, and therefore necessary to be clear and explicii ? Is it not addressed to the illiterate who bave not the capacity, and to tbe busy w bo bave not the leisure, to engage in remote researches ? Is it not practical ? and is not its appeal direct and distinct to the affections and consciences of men ? Where, then, is the need of laboured explications, or of any displays of acuteness or learning? Truly, if the bible is not to be understood without all the dictionaries, and notes, and commentaries, thai are employed in its behalf, it might almost as well be in the bands of the priests again : for it has no suitableness to the wants and opportunities of those wbom it is to instruct.
This representation is partly true, and partly erroneous. If we mean by religion a rule of life and a ground of hope, it is certainly most plain. There is no obscurity, no difficulty. The scriptures set in the strongest possible light the perfections of the Deity ; the moral dangers and resources of man ; what we must do, and what we may expect ;--whatever, in other words, is essential to our religious knowledge, obedience, and faith. They do not teach more evidently that there is a God, than they do that virtue is his service, and a happy immortality “the recompense of its reward.” What it is to be virtuous they leave no opportunity for mistaking. The will of God is as manifest to the humblest in condition, and the most limited in education and privileges, as it is to the most distinguished, intellectual, and learned.-But if we mean by religion whatever is contained in the writings of the Old and New Testaments, we must instantly perceive that it is by no means simple, nor easy to be thoroughly understood. This name is, indeed, improperly used in such an application. Those writings are bistorical of events connected with religion, or devout exercises, or religious documents : they contain the materials of our belief, and are the authority, to which we refer and in which we rest. But they are not religion itself. They are in many places difficult and perplexing; but so are not the leading truths, which they unfold and enforce. They are obscure in many places; but not so are Christian morality and the Christian promises. They may suggest doubts and speculations; but all that is vital to religion is plain enough. They may be, and very often are misunderstood; but an upright conscience, and a humble faith, can never fall into dangerous errour. The Bible is a book ; therefore to be interpreted by the same principles as other compositions :--a miscellaneous book; therefore requiring an unusual share of discrimination :-a translated book; therefore needing the aids of human learning, and an acquaintance with other tongues :--a most ancient book; and consequently demanding a knowledge of antiquity, and familiarity with manners, modes of thinking, forms of expression, very different from those of our own country and age. Language itself is imperfect and ambiguous : even our own, and on common affairs." Controversial writers, in the same, and that their native tongue, are perpetually mistaking each other, and half their disputes are merely verbal. Think then how many difficulties must arise here; when the language is foreign, very peculiar, and no longer spoken:—when it comes from a strange people amidst strange institutions :-when it is employed often on topicks that are local, involving circumstances but partially transmitted to us; and often on controversies that have ceased and are forgotten :when it now bides its meaning in allegory, and now rises to the boldest flights of poetical rapture. Beside all this, the Bible has come down to us through the midst of conflicting sects, through ages of ignorance and superstition, through the hands of system-makers. It is so prescribed to us from infancy what meaning we are to affix to its expressions ; every word and phrase of it has become so appropiated; that we scarcely know how to exercise our reason on the subject; scarcely know how we should have interpreted the scriptures, bad no human creeds and confessions condescended to direct us how we must. It is a great source of errour, that we annex to the words of holy writ the meaning that early habit, and not personal inquiry, has led us to apply to them. This is in effect to choose for our religious teachers, in a greater or less extent, and with more or less directness, the disputants of the most benighted times, that the gospel has ever looked upon. There is a large list of terms, which Christians most commonly misunderstand, from having heard them always used in some peculiar acceptation, and in connexion with certain theological opinions. Thus, " to
be saved,” conveys to us instantly the idea of being received to heaven after death; "to be condemned,” to be doomed to eternal punishment: though this is far from being the usual import of those expressions. When we hear of " the day of judgment,” our fancy kindles at the thought of a simultaneous resurrection, and assembled worlds, but there are several passages, in which it cannot mean this ; and our Swedenborgian brethren are not the only Christians, who do not believe that it ever does.
We think it must be obvious to all, that a philological, not a party explication, of the words that have been the most subject to abuses, must be of great service in assisting men to an intelligent use of the sacred Scriptures : for it is those abuses, tbat are the fountain head of sectarian extravagance. The sermon of the excellent Paley "on caution in the use of Scripture language,” has done, we doubt not, great good; although confined to a few popular religious phrases. The posthumous little work of Mr. Cappe, which has given occasion to the preceding remarks, tends to the same end, though entirely different in plan and form. It aims at nothing but to give, in words as plain and few as possible, the different significations, belonging to those expressions, which are important, and of frequent occurrence in the bible and religious writings drawn from it. Every thing from the pen of so enlightened and devout a man deserves respect: we have only to regret that his list is no larger, and that he has not been more full on those words, of which he has found occasion to take notice. As a short manual for those, who would read “with the spirit and with the understanding,” we cannot but think it may be of considerable utility. We will offer but two or three short extracts, and close this article.
“ ATONEMENT. Removal of that, by which incapacity or disqualification for the service of God has been contracted : reconciliation with Gop: declaration of it: sanctification : cousecration to God, or to his service.”
“ To come, TO COME FROM GOD, TO COME INTO THE WORLD. These phrases, in scripture, frequently refer to the mission of a prophet, and are to be interpreted of his assuming his public character, coming forth in the name of God to exercise his ministry in the world, and to discharge the commission with which he is invested.” “ To come down from heaven, figuratively, to be given by God, to be sent from God, by him authorized, and furnished for the errand."
" Hell. The grave ; death; the state of the dead; the unseen world ; the place or state of those, upon whom a sentence of fipal condemnation has been passed and executed; sometimes temporal ruin and destruction; deep distress and trouble of this present life.”
“SALVATION. Deliverance ; preservation ; in the language of Scripture it often signifies deliverance of Jews and Heathens from the disadvantages of the dispensations under which they lived: from the burdens of the Mosaic law ; from superstition, idolatry, ignorance, siu, fear, doubt; by
the Gospel of Christ. It sometimes signifies God the author of salvation ; Christ the minister of salvation; the gospel the instrument of salvation. See REDEMPTION."
“Sin. To be made sin: to be judicially condemned, whether legally and righteously or not; to be treated as a sioner; to be hardly thought of; to be accused unjustly; to be singularly afflicted; to suffer by the hand of the magistrate, by the unkind judgment of other men, or by the deed of providence."
Several interpretations are here given to one word: but the intelligent reader will seldom, if ever, be left in doubt which he should apply to the several passages which need the assistance of the “Explication."
The pamphlet of which we are speaking contains but twentyone pages. Within such narrow limits much must be omitted, and nothing can be dwelt upon. Conciseness and simplicity, however, are rarely carried to faults; and the very rudiments of rational interpretation are duco wanted among us.
A practical view of Christian Education in ils earliest sta
ges. By T. BABINGTON, Esq. Member of the British Par. liament. First American from the third London edition. To which are added translations of the Lutin sentences and notes. Boston: Cuminings & Hilliard. 1818.
Of the importance of the subject, to which this little work invites us, there can exist no reasonable doubt. It is inseparably connected with the best hopes and prospects of society; and every attempt to illustrate or recommend it is entitled to respect. Indeed it may be regarded as a leading feature in the moral history of the present day, that this subject has excited so much attention. It has called forth some of the finest powers and purest feelings in its cause. In nothing has female taleni been more happily exerted; and to the labours of Mrs. Hamilton, and More, and Edgewortb, we should in justice ascribe the important changes, which have taken place since the commenceinent of this century, and which may be particularly seen in the simplicity, practical good sense, and freedom from vulgar errors, witb which the great subject of education is now generally regarded, and its acknowledged principles applied.
The author of this work is well known in the political and religious world ; having frequently distinguished himself in the British Parliament as the advocale of freedoin and humanity.