Page images
PDF
EPUB

hood of our religion upon the other. For, granting them all their organs, it no more tells either to the confirmation or disparagement of our historical evidence for the visitation of this earth by a messenger from heaven, than it tells on the historical evidence for the invasion of Britain by Julius Cæsar. And we venture to affirm of all the other sciences, that no discovery has been made in any of them, which is not in every way as inconsequential to the point at issue; and that the truths of all Philosophy put together, as little interfere with the truths of the Gospel, as the discoveries of the astronomer interfere with the discoveries of the anatomist. But so it is. While each science rests on an evidence of its own, and, conhning itself to its own legitimate province, leaves all the other sciences to their own proper credentials and their own claims, the science of Theology has been converted into a sort of playground for all sorts of inroads, and that from every quarter of human speculation. Nor are we aware of a single science in the vast encyclopedia of human knowledge, which has not, in some shape or other, been turned, by one or more of its perverse disciples, into an instrument of hostility against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, it too has an evidence of its own, alike unassailable and beyond the reach of violence from without. It is not by the hammer of the mineralogist, that this evidence can be broken. It is not by the telescope. of the astronomer, that we can be made to descry in it any character of falsehood. It is not by the knife of the anatomist, that we can find our way to the alleged rottenness which lies at its core. Most ridiculous of all, it is not by his recently invented cranioscope, that the phrenologist can take the dimensions of it and find them to be utterly awanting. And lastly, may it be shewn, that it is not by a dissecting metaphysics, that the philosopher of the human mind can probe his way to the secret of its insufficiency; and make exposure to the world of the yet unknown flaw, which incurably vitiates and so irreparably condemns either the proofs or the subject-matter of the Christian faith. All these sciences have, at one time or other, cast their missiles at the stately fabric of our Christian philosophy and erudition; but they have fallen impotent at its base. They have offered insult, but done no injury, save to the defenceless youth whose principles they have subverted, or to those men of ambitious vanity yet imperfect education, whose little learning is a dangerous thing. If pedantry be defined the untimely introduction of science, with its imposing nomenclature, either into companies that

cannot understand it, or into subjects where it is wholly inapplicable, then is this the most mischievous and unfeeling of all pedantry. It were well to expose it, and disarm it of its power over the imaginations of ignorance,-to prove that Theology has an independent domain of her own, where, safe in her own inherent strength, and in the munitions by which she is surrounded, she can afford to be at peace with her neighbours, and, free from all apprehension or envy, can rejoice in the prosperity of all the sciences.

Analogous with these repeated attempts on the part of a vain philosophy to destroy the credentials of our faith, is the attempt, and under the guise of lofty science too, of that transcendental Scripture-criticism which flourishes in Germany, to vitiate and transform its subject-matter. Now the way to meet the ignorant pedantry of this attempt, is to make distinction between such a scripture-criticism as that which accomplished the English translation of our Bible, and that very best and highest scripture-criticism, which, if brought to bear on this our own popular version, might confer on it the utmost improvement or rectification of which it is susceptible. The one might be termed the ordinary scripture-criticism of which we enjoy the benefit in our own land, the other, the transcendental scripture-criticism, most cultivated in Germany while comparatively unknown among ourselves. Now what we affirm is, that the ordinary scripture.criticism brings the whole substance of theology within our reach; and that in our authorized version, the product of that scripture-criticism, not only are all the articles of theology accurately rendered, but that every article of the least importance, whether estimated practically or scientifically, is therein to be found. And it further admits, we think, of sound and impregnable demonstration,— that it lies not within the power of the transcendental scripture-criticism either to change or to undermine this theology. It might make certain infinitesimal additions to our former knowledge, in things minute and circumstantial, and by all means let us have these; but we utterly mistake and overrate its powers, when we think that by its means we shall ever be able, either to make any material additions by which

* We all the more willingly advert to this topic, that it furnishes the opportunity of expressing our regret, in not having been hitherto able, from want of room, to fulfil our intention of discussing the subjects of Scripture Criticism, and Systematic Theology, a discussion that we must now postpone to a future volume of the series.

to enlarge, or any material alterations by which to transform the system of doctrine, that, with slight variations, has been espoused by all the reformed Churches of Christendom. It might defend the faith; but it will not enlarge the faith. As an instrument of defence it is most valuable; but as an instrument of discovery it is a microscope, and not a telescope,→ dealing in things that are minute, but not in things that are momentous. There are certain nuga difficiles which it can master, certain scriptural enigmas which it can resolve, certain eclaircissemens which we should like it to prosecute to the uttermost; but, as to the capita fidei, as to all the moralities of the Christian practice, or all the heads and articles of the Christian faith, it can make no additions to these, it can make no changes on these. It is powerful as a protector of the great truths we have; but not as a discoverer of more,—as a shield to our existing orthodoxy, but not as an architect by which either to take it down, or to substitute another orthodoxy in its place. We are not refusing its pretensions to a very high place in our schemes of ecclesiastical education; for by its means, we repel the inroads of heresy, and raise a bulwark to the faith. But we utterly refuse the mischievous pretentions which have been made for it, to amend, or to alter, or even to subvert that faith. They who put forth such extravagant pretensions wholly misunderstand the instrumentality and the functions, not of the ordinary, but of the superlative scripture-criticism; and this attempt to injure and to unsettle, by means of the science of scripture-criticism, is of a piece with the attempts to turn to the same unhallowed purpose all the other sciences.

SCOTTISH MISSIONARY SOCIETY.

NEGRO SCHOOLS.

WE again beg to call the attention of the friends of Missions, of Education, and of the Negroes, to the Subscription carrying on by the Scottish Missionary Society for the erection of Schools in the island of Jamaica. His Majesty's Government has agreed to grant to the Society £1500 for this object, provided the directors raise other £750. In consequence of the appeals already made, many liberal contributions have been received; but they are still far short of the sum required as yet, indeed, they amount only to about

S

£300. This sum has been raised chiefly in Edinburgh: comparatively little has been received from other parts.

We feel persuaded, however, there are many friends of this most interesting and important object, who have not yet subscribed to it; and we earnestly call upon them to contribute with as little delay as possible. We would also entreat the friends of the Society, in the principal towns, to set on foot a subscription for it, feeling assured, as we do, that there are numbers in all or most of them, who will be ready to contribute towards it, if a particular application is made to them. For this purpose, it is only necessary that some individual should take charge of the subscription, and adopt effective measures for carrying it into effect. We would also call on the various Auxiliaries throughout the country to appropriate part of their funds to this object, though, if possible, without diminishing their ordinary contributions to the general funds of the Society, which, of course, requires them as much as ever, for the payment of the salaries of the Missionaries, and the other expenses of their Missions. It has been "proposed by the Directors to erect TEN Schools in connexion with the various stations in Jamaica, so far as the united sum allowed them out of the Parliamentary grant of last session, and the £750 pledged by themselves, will provide for the building of this number. It would be a stain on the character of the country, were the funds necessary for this purpose to be withheld; but this we will not permit ourselves for one inoment to suppose. Our countrymen, we feel assured, require only to have their attention roused to the importance of the object, to be induced to contribute with liberality to it. It has, however, been stated, on high authority, that there is not the same zeal manifested throughout the country for Negro education, as was shewn for Negro emancipation; but the friends of the Negroes should recollect that emancipation is only a small part of the duty which we owe to them. Without education, they will remain a degraded race,-debased in the scale of human beings,-sunk in ignorance, in error, in immorality, in irreligion. It is also to be recollected that emancipation is as yet only a partial measure; it is limited to the British Colonies, where the slaves a few years ago amounted only to 773,205: but there are millions more in the United States of America, in Brazil, and in the colonies of Spain, and France, and Deumark, and other parts of the world. It has indeed been said, that, by the British Act of Emancipation, s'avery has received its doom throughout the world; but whether the prediction shall speedily be accomplished, will ma

terially depend on the success of this great measure in our West India Colonies, to which the eyes of the civilized world are now directed, to see the results of the grand experiment which is there making,—an experiment on a scale unexampled in the history of the progress of human society. Let this experiment in any considerable degree fail, and the friends of slavery in other parts of the world will draw from its failure a powerful, and, in their eyes, an irrefragable argument for wreathing the chains still more firmly around the necks of their unhappy slaves. Yet fail it will to no inconsiderable extent, unless immediate and efficient measures are adopted for communicating to our emancipated Negroes intellectual, and moral, and religious instruction. At the present moment, no class of human beings has such powerful and urgent claims on the sympathy and benevolence of British Christians, as the Negroes in our West India Colonies; and if we only do our duty to them, we may hope that, at no distant period, they will be able to a great extent to provide the means of instruction for themselves, and even to send the Gospel to St. Domingo, and Cuba, and Brazil, and to Africa itself, their common father-land. The British Government is doing its duty in providing them with the means of education: let British Christians also do theirs; and with the blessing of God on their united efforts, we need not fear the result. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land; wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time."

JAMAICA.

Extract of a Letter from the Rev. Mr. Waddell, dated Cornwall, 5th December, 1836.

SCHOOL S.

IN this letter, Mr. Waddell mentions two places where he wishes to erect schools. The one is at Easthams, where he has lately obtained ground for the site of a Church, about a mile and a half to the westward of his present residence. "I expect," "" says he," that children to the number of 150 or perhaps 200, would attend it daily from the following estates:-Cinnamon Hill, Cornwall, Spot Valley, Easthams, Rose Haill, Crawle Spring, Tryall, Running Gut, the farthest of which is not more than two or two and a half miles distant,

« PreviousContinue »