Page images

bave access to the original sources of instruction. Many who are desirous of possessing the means of understanding the Scriptures, are unable to purchase large and costly volumes, while their situation precludes them from the use of the most celebrated works of Biblical and Theological literature. Those who are furnished with these, are little aware of the difficulties with which their less favoured brethren have to contend, while perplexed with a geographical or a chronological question, which they have no means of solving. A Dictionary of the Bible,’ or a Biblical Cyclopædia', would be to many inquiring and excellent men, an inestimable acquisition.

That such works should answer their purpose, in the best manner, it is necessary that they embody only the most useful articles, and that they be of a moderate price. Calmet's Dictionary is a most valuable book, but to many it is altogether inaccessible by its price. The rich may command literary works; it is for a very different class of persons that such a compilation as we are alluding to, is wanted. Mr. J. has we thok somewhat overlooked the pecuniary incompetencies of many scholars, in extending some of his biographical articles to an unnecessary length, as in those of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, &c. A simple reference to the inimitable history of Joseph, as described in Genesis, would have been amply sufficient. This Fristory can indeed be read only in the Bible. We state this objection simply for the purpose of suggesting an appropriate brevity in the insertion of common topics.

The Geographical part of the work is very respectably executed, though not by any means faultless. Many of the articles in this division might have been enlarged with advantage, as in the examples of Philadelphia and Smyrna, of which, and of some other places, more particular and interesting accounts might easily have been furnished. The distance of places should have been regularly noted. We shall extract the description of Corinth.

Corinth, a renowned city, the capital of Achaia, situated on the Isthmus which separates the Peloponnesus from Attica. This city was one of the most populous and wealthy of all Greece. Situated about the middle of the Isthmus, at the distance of about sixty stadia from the sea, on either side, it drew the commerce of both the east ☛nd the west from all parts. The surrounding country being mountainous and rather barren, the inhabitants were not much addicted to agriculture, but from their local situation, they possessed singular advantages for commerce which they carried to a great extent. The natural consequences of an extensive commerce were wealth and luxury; fostered in this manner, Corinth rose in magnitude and grandeur, and its elegant and magnificent temples, palaces, theatres, and other public buildings; adorned with statues, columns, capitals, and bases, not only rendered it the pride of its inhabitants, and the

admiration of strangers, but gave rise to that order of architecture which still bears its name. Besides the citadel, built upon a mountain, which overlooked the city, and which was called Acro-Corinthus, the works of art which principally displayed the opulence and taste of the Corinthians, were the grottoes raised over the fountain Pyrené, sacred to the Muses, and constructed of white marble: the theatre and stadium, built of the same materials, and decorated in the most magnificent manner: the temple of Neptune, containing the chariots of that fabulous deity and of Amphitrite, drawn by horses covered over with gold, and adorned with ivory hoofs: the avenue which led to this edifice, decorated on the one side with the statues of those that had been victorious at the Isthmian games, and on the other, with rows of tall pine trees.

Corinth was scarcely less celebrated for the learning and ingenuity of its inhabitants, than for the extent of its commerce and the mag. nificence of its buildings. The arts and sciences were here carried to such perfection that Cicero terms it," totius Greciæ lumen," the light of all Greece; and Florus calls it, "Grecia decus," the ornament of Greece. Seminaries abounded, in which philosophy and rhetoric were publicly taught by learned professors, and strangers resorted to them from all quarters to perfect their education. Hence the remark of the Roman poet Horace, "Non cuivis homini contigit adire Corinthum." It does not fall to the lot of every one to visit Corinth. The lustre, however, which this famous city derived from the number and genius of its inhabitants, was greatly tarnished by their debauched manners. Strabo informs us that," in the temple of Venus at Corinth, there were more than a thousand harlots, the slaves of the temple, who, in honour of the goddess, prostituted themselves to all comers for hire, and in consequence of these the city was crowded and became wealthy." Lib. viii. p. 581. It is accordingly known that lasciviousness was carried to such a pitch at Corinth, that the appellation of a Corinthian, given to a woman, imported that she was a prostitute.

Such was the state of Corinth when the great apostle of the Gentiles came to preach the gospel there, in the year of Christ 52.'

Of the Biographical articles we give the following sample.

GALLIO, the proconsul of Achaia, was brother to the celebrated Seneca, the philosopher, who dedicated to him his treatise on Anger. He was a person of a mild and amiable disposition; and seems to have conducted himself with considerable prudence in his official capacity. While Paul resided at Corinth, the unbelieving Jews, enraged at the progress the gospel was making in that city, particularly among the Jews, "accused him of teaching men to worship God contrary to thei law," Acts, xviii. 12, 13, and dragged him before Gallio's tribunal, who, as proconsul, then took up his residence at Corinth. But Gallio refused to hear their complaint, and told them that if the matter in question respected a breach of the public peace, or any act of injustice, he should think himself obliged to hear it patiently, but as it merely regarded a question of their law, he declined to interfere in it. So far Gallio may have acted right; but when the rabble proceeded to seize Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue,

and beat him before his tribunal, without trial or proof of guilt, he certainly ought to have interfered, and protected an unoffending man from their violence: and in that instance his conduct was censurable.'

The view which is given by Mr. Jones, of many subjects included in the Bible, is very different from that which has been taken by some other writers, whose early formed prejudices have perverted their minds from the proper means of forming a correct determination on their merits: such are the questions which involve the character of the Christian Church, its Institutes, and its Ministers. To judge of these aright, the New Testament alone is sufficient, and is exclusively the testimony and the evidence which we must consult for principles and practice of Christian obligation. Instead however of endeavouring to obtain the knowledge of Christian law from this depository, for the purpose of defining and maintaining the external relations of Christian societies, the actual usage of communities over which a secular spirit has diffused its influence, has supplied the means of settling the question; and hence, with but few exceptions, there is found, in modern churches, an order of things different from that which marked the constitution and practice of the primitive societies of believers. It has been but seldom that a recurrence to first principles has guided religious Reformers. Some of the early Puritans, the Brownists, and the Baptists, seem to have struck out the proper lights for their conduct, as persons diligently inquiring the way in which they should go. They however had but few followers, and in the churches of the Nonconformists much is still wanting to purify their usages and to complete their resemblance to the primitive societies of Christ's followers. The social feature of Christianity is in some communities entirely lost, and in others scarcely discernible. With these defects in their character, the persons who have contracted the responsibility attached to the oversight of Christian churches, are yet quite satisfied with them! And could this be, if the laws of the Christian economy exclusively were adopted and applied to practice? A comparison of ourselves with others may induce a feeling of complacency in regard to ourselves; but the method to be adopted, as of prime utility in effecting our radical amendment, is a comparison of ourselves with the rules prescribed for our obedience. Christians will therefore never bring their institutes into the form which it is intended they should bear, till, discarding every other mode of determining their character, they examine them by the delineations exhibited in the Scriptures. To these Mr. Jones has paid particular attention. Many of the articles in his present work, are directly relative to the subjects of Christian fellowship and discipline; and though, as we have already intimated, some doubt as to the propriety of their insertion may be felt while the


Biblical Cyclopædia is regarded as a Dictionary of the Bible, such is their excellence and their importance, and so seasonable do we consider the publication of them, that, without pledging ourselves to an unqualified approval, we do most seriously and strongly recommend them to the perusal of Christians. Under the article Edification, the Author remarks, that

It is a question that merits the serious consideration of both the pastors and churches of the present day, how far their external onder of worship is that which is best adapted to call into exercise the various gifts which Christ hath bestowed upon them, and which are conferred with a view to their mutual edification; or, which amounts to the same thing, how far their order is consonant to that which the wisdom of God ordained in the first churches of the saints; for we may rest fully assured that, if the order of our churches in the present day varies from that which was instituted by the apostles, it is for he worse. And I the more readily suggest this hint, inasmuch as it is a fact too obvious to be disputed, that some of the greatest men who have. arisen in the Christian church since the times of reformation, have perceived the matter in this point of view, and been greatly dissatisfied with the present prevailing plan which confines the conduct ng of public worship on the Lord's day, to the prayers and preaching of the pastor. The complaint has been echoed by many who yet know not how to redress the grievance or apply the remedy. The duty however is incumbent upon them: for, in vain shall they complain of the want of edification among the churches, the scarcity of gifts for qualifying men for the work of the ministry and the great dissimilarity that there is between the churches of the present day and the first churches of the saints in the fervency of their zeal, the holiness of their lives, their conformity to Christ, and their unfeigned love to the brethren, so long as they are regardless of the means which his wisdon and his love have instituted to promote their spiritual prosperity That which first of all demands their concern is, to disentangle their minds from an undue deference to the custon's of their forefathers, and to follow the latter no farther than they can perceive them following Christ and his Apostles.'

The acuteness of the Author appears in many of the articles in this Cyclopædia, though the pro undity of his metaphysical knowledge will not be conceded by every scholar who may examine it. Locke's definit on of Conscience 'art. Conscience) is severely censured by Mr. Jones, who substitutes the following in its place: Conscience, is the testimony or secret judgment of the soul, which awards its approbation to actions that it thinks god, or blames those which it regards as evil.' Now, in what respect does this definition differ from Locke's ?—' Con" scence is our own opinion or judgement of the moral rectitude


or pravity of our own actions.' We do not profess principles of theology at variance with the Author's, but as a question of moral science, we should be glad if he could give us the satisfaction

which we are prepared to expect from the manner in which the following proposition is announced.

That the author of our nature has furnished us with infallible principles of judging concerning right and wrong, in giving us certain instincts and feelings, and in establishing a certain order and course of nature, to which these instincts and feelings are adapted, is a point almost demonstrable.'



In comparing the present work with Calmet's Dictionary, we have observed some articles which Mr. Jones has omitted, that should have had a place here; they are however neither numerous nor important. Under Pinnacle' the reader is referred to the article Temple,' where nothing on the subject occurs. We suppose the design of Mr. Jones was to describe the scene of a part of Christ's temptation. In the account of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, there is obviously some confusion. It would have added to the value of the work, if the import of names of Hebrew origin had been uniformly given. Much time and labour have certainly been consumed upon the work, which altogether possesses qualifications sufficient to justify our recommendation of it as a compilation of interesting and useful articles from our most valuable Biblical writers, mixed with no inconsiderable portion of original matter relative to the faith, the practice, and the discipline included in the New Testament.

Art. X. A Letter to an English Nobleman, respectfully submitted to the serious consideration of both Houses of Parliament. Containing an Analysis of the British Constitution, and a Review of the Catholic Question, as it relates to Ireland in particular, and as it stands connected in its Consequences with the Happiness and Security of Society in other Countries. By LIBERATOR. 8vo. pp. 316. Pr. 98. 1817.

THE circumstances in which the discussion of the Catholic Question originated, and the embarrassments which have attended its progress, afford decisive proofs of the radical evils of a union between civil authority and religious profession. The injustice of such a connexion must be considered on other grounds, but the impolicy of it is apparent in the consequences which have created so powerful an opposition between the adherents of the Papal hierarchy, and the partisans of the Protestant Ecclesiastical Establishment of England. The enjoyment of exclusive secular patronage by religious professors, is not demanded by any just claim they can make in that character; and as it can be obtained only by the violation of social right, it ought not to excite surprise that the results of the encroachment should prove perplexing and mischievous. If, at the period of the rupture with the Romish See, in the time of Henry the Eighth,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »