Page images
PDF
EPUB

what was said in the Scripture, “He that is not with me is against me,” it might be fairly said of these things, “ He that is not against Infidelity and against Tractarianism is decidedly with it.” !—The Record, May 6.

Now, first, with respect to the charge which Lord Shaftesbury brings against--we will for brevity's sake borrow his term-the • Tractarian' School. It may be quite true that writers of that school have exercised great mildness and forbearance in particular cases of scepticism, where they thought that circumstances warranted and called for such treatment. They have felt for the difficulties and temptations which beset particular minds, and they have seen in the great commotion of thought which characterises the age of the world in which we live, a general predisposing cause to a sceptical temper, which ought to be taken into account in judying individuals. In particular cases, they may even have sympathised with a zeal and enthusiasm of which they lamented the misdirection, and with a devotion to the cause of truth, as the individual supposed it, fatally as he erred in so supposing. It may suit the oratory of the platform to pass a rough and indiscriminating censure upon all opponents; but those who, in the process of forming judgment, bow to an inward sense and conscience, and not to an audience, and who express their opinion according as they themselves after consideration believe, and not according as a roomful of people can without any consideration understand, must act differently. They must make allowance where allowance is to be made, and they must acknowledge and appreciate the good, whatever it may be, that mixes with the evil. Christian charity and Christian policy alike dictate such a course. No one pays attention to another whom he sees not to understand him, not to appreciate his difficulties, or enter into his case : and the coarse judgınent is received with a smile by an arrogant antagonist, with disgust by a sincere and zealous one, but with respect by neither. A long career of platform services, however useful and public spirited some may have been, leaves one disadvantageous result behind them, of which, unfair as it may appear,

their liberal donor is the victim. His mind becomes too much accustomed to one particular mode of passing judgment, viz, the wholesale one. He thinks no agreement or disagreement real which is not vehement and unqualified, not to say irate. He brings the habits of the platform into his study, and judges books that thoughtful men have written, by that standard. A writer is set down as a crafty traitor, and at heart an infidel. For what reason? He has been guilty of the unpardonable offence of being cool. A distinction here, an admission there, are quite enough to stamp him as a person who is not sincere or hearty on the side on which he professes to write. Lord Shaftesbury may have dipped here and there into • Tractarian' books, or pamphlets, or reviews, when some sceptical work may have been under comment. He may have seen some sympathy expressed with the sincerity of the author, some pity for his temptations, some appreciation of his talents: and he has, in consequence, immediately set down the writer as not a real disapprover of sceptics; he has inferred some fundamental sympathy between scepticism and • Tractarianism.' We need not say how controversy would lose by such a standard. Active, and earnest, and deep thinkers on all sides will respect each other for that earnest, active, and deep thought, and so far as it is concerned: it is only those who do not think at all that have no respect at all for thought. Even Lord Shaftesbury must in his calmer moments allow that the deepest disagreement may go along with such sympathy, and may be all the better expressed for it. It would be, indeed, a lamentable conclusion to arrive at, that the only test of sincere opposition was virulence, and the true expression of disapprobation, abuse.

So much for one-half of Lord Shaftesbury's charge, viz. • the tenderness with which Tractarianism looks upon Infidelity.' Into the other half we do not feel ourselves called upon to enter. For the tenderness with which Infidelity looks

upon Tractarianism,' let Infidels themselves answer ; we have nothing to do with their looks, whether they are tender or whether they are severe.

We cannot control their opinions either about ourselves or about others. And if it is replied that a favourable opinion from such a quarter is a bad sign, still it is to be proved to what part of the Tractarian’ it applies, to his creed or to his conduct. We have never heard yet of an infidel who entertained a favourable opinion of the • Tractarian creed; he must therefore have been thinking of his conduct, if he entertained such an opinion. But an infidel, if he is only an honest man, may be a fair and competent judge of conduct; that is, he may see that one side is overbearing and abusive, and that another is patient and calm, and he may sympathise with an ill-used party as against those who ill-use them. But, lastly-for there remains another question not wholly irrelevant—do infidels look tenderly upon • Tractarians ?' Lord Shaftesbury brings no evidence, and till he brings some, we shall beg leave to doubt a fact which he has so boldly stated.

But what is the position which Lord Shaftesbury himself occupies, when he brings this charge against the • Tractarians,' of an alliance with scepticism? In what company is he himself when he makes it? That, and not the charge itselfabout which, on its own account, we should not have troubled

a

a

ourselves to speak-is the point to which we call attention. There is that specimen of moral blindness and obliquity, of a man accusing others and doing the very same thing himself, which we have thought so curious, so valuable, and so instructive, as to deserve a distinct notice in this Review.

He brings this charge while he himself is acting publicly in company and concert with a very distinguished and accomplished sceptic; acting with him not for any object of secular utility for which men of all religious sentiments may without reproach combine, but for a strictly religious object-the spread of religious truth, the dissemination of the Bible. It is, while receiving such a sceptic for a religious ally, acknowledging him as a brother, putting him forward as a supporter and patron of a religious cause,-it is with the Chevalier Bunsen on his right hand, on the platform of the Bible Society, that he brings this charge.

In attaching this epithet to the Chevalier Bunsen, we do not mean to pronounce any personal censure upon him. He may simply have imbibed the tune of society in which he has been brought up on such subjects. He may even have-and we give him credit for it-a sincere desire to raise the tone of German society on such subjects. His wish, however qualified, for an alliance between the English and German communions through the medium of the episcopacy, may have had that motive. In calling him a sceptic, we only mean to say that his opinions on the subject of the inspiration of Scripture, stated to any ordinary Churchman or even dissenter in this country, would be considered sceptical opinions. He takes a licence in his treatment of the Bible, from which Christian society in this country would shrink as fatal to the bond file reception of that book as an inspired one, the word of God; considering that, with respect to historical facts, even those most intimately connected with the scheme of man's redemption, it may be in error, and that its information is not to be depended on. That he may reconcile such want of inspiration in the matter of history, with a certain inspired substance or central truth contained in it, in his own mind, we can easily believe; but we say, nevertheless, that such a want of inspiration as he attributes to Scripture in the field of history, would be considered a sceptical conclusion by ordinary religious society in this country. We will give, by way of illustration, two instances, one a less and the other a more important one-if on so serious a subject we can admit degrees of importance—of his method of treating Scripture history.

It is stated in Exodus xii. 40, that 'the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and

a

thirty years.' And in Genesis sv. 13, a prophecy is stated to have been made, during the lifetime of Abraham, and to that patriarch, announcing that period as the time that such sojourn would last, the only difference being that in the prophecy the round number of four centuries is given, in the historical relation, the specific number of four hundred and thirty years. Now this period of four hundred and thirty years does not suit the Chevalier Bunsen's chronological system, as gathered by him from the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Accordingly, he treats it as a mistake of the inspired writer. In the absence of eminent names during the sojourn in Egypt, and consequently of a genealogical basis on which to determine the length of this sojourn, the inspired writer is supposed to have adopted the summary method of doubling the patriarchal period. The patriarchal period, including the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was 215 years: the historian knew that the period of the sojourn in Egypt was longer than that, but he did not know how much longer. As a convenient mode, therefore, of settling the point, he supposed it to be twice as long; that is to say, 430 years. Such is the treatment of the sacred narrative; that of the prophecy corresponds. The prophecy is supposed to have been made ósomewhat earlier or later, for this is doubtful,' than the event to which it related, viz. the termination of the sojourn in Egypt. That is to say, the statement which the Bible says was prophetical, the Chevalier Bunsen says was not.

The other instance of the Chevalier Bunsen's treatment of the historical Scriptures is a more important one, involving, as it does, a whole set of facts, intimately connected with the scheme of man's redemption, its promise, its type, the family selected as the instrument of its fulfilment, and appealed to constantly throughout the New Testament, with such reference. The sacrifice of Isaac was the significant type of that higher sacrifice which God the Father made in sending His only Son into the world to suffer death upon the cross for man's redemption. The Messiah is declared throughout Scripture to be the veritable seed of Abraham. The relation, then, in which the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stand to one another and to the Jewish nation, is an iinportant fact in Scripture history. Nevertheless, the Chevalier Bunsen destroys it, coming, as it does, into collision with his chronological system. To Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he allows a personal existence, but without a family relationship. • The genealogy of the chosen friend of • God is historically to be looked upon as exhibiting great and • long-enduring commotions of the old population of Asia ; it ses-š the point to which we call attention. :: Terme e Doral blindness and obliquity, of a Rasmi ding the very same thing himself,

1 Christian Remembrancer, vol. xii. p. 300.

Curies so valuable, and so instruc-
Szerce in this Review.

je kinself is acting publicly in

Bished and accomplished cje rritject of secular utility

my without reproach

-the spread of relia xe tle. It is, while

LUIS L. cowledging him THIS IS Trier and patron of

de Uerie basen oa his right :53_ice che brings this

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][subsumed]
« PreviousContinue »