« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
employed, if it is only in exhaling oxygen and removing the poisonous carbonic acid from the atmosphere. Each plant has, doubtless, its useful position assigned it, in connexion with the other parts of nature, and its work allotted by the Creator. They are not the less interesting as objects of study, because we know so little about them. The chemistry which forms from earth and air green leaf and coloured petal, will it ever be thoroughly understood? At present, our best naturalists are obliged to express themselves in the most general terms on such subjects.
A flower folded up to slumber for the night, or awakening under the influences of the morning sunbeam, is a study not only for the naturalist, but an object well calculated to awaken the devout feelings of the Christian. God watches over slumbering flowers, wherever situated. When He hides from them the light of His sun, they sleep securely until “ He commands the morning, and causes the day-spring to know his place.” All this teaches us a lesson :
“ As flowers their op'ning leaves display,
And glad drink in the solar fire,
So may Thy influence us inspire ;
DR. HODGE'S COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE
ROMANS.* Some thirty years ago Dr. Hodge published a learned and elaborate Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which was well received in the United States, especially by men who approved of the author's creed. An abridgment of it soon after appeared, designed for popular use, and therefore omitting the more recondite parts of the original work. This abridgment has often been reprinted, both in this country and in America. The original Commentary, thoroughly revised, and to a considerable extent re-written, is that which now lies before us. It is a work of great labour, and manifests throughout a laudable desire to ascertain the exact meaning of the Apostle's phraseology, and will afford valuable aid in the critical study of this most important book of Holy Scripture. On the vital subject of our Saviour's divinity and atonement, on original sin, and justification by faith, the author's views are in accordance with those of orthodox Christians in general ; but in respect of predestination, and other points connected with it, he agrees with Calvin and the Westminster Assembly of Divines, though he does not always appear to be consistent with himself; and his reasoning on these subjects is sometimes singularly
* Commentary upon the Epistle to the Romans. By Charles Hodge, D.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey. New Edition, Tevised, and in a great measure re-written, Edinburgh : Andrew Elliott, 1864.
weak and inconclusive. He maintains, for instance, and that justly, that Christian election is an election, not merely to church privileges, but to the personal enjoyment of spiritual blessings in this world, and endless happiness in the world to come; and because it is said to be “of grace," and “not of works,” he contends that it is absolute and unconditional : a conclusion which certainly is not warranted by the premises. He might have remembered that the justification of sinners is “ of grace," and " not of works ;" yet it is not unconditional ; for sinners are justified by faith : so that without faith they can never realize that all-important blessing. He
says, indeed, that this makes no difference, because faith is "the gift of God.” But here again we think his logic is at fault. Faith is indeed " the gift of God;" but it is something more. It is an act as well as a gift ; and the act of faith is the act of the sinner himself; for it is the party beliering that is justified. In the same manner, God's election of men to be holy in this world, and happy in eternity, may be “of grace," and yet be suspended upon the condition of personal faith in Christ, especially as they are said to be “chosen in Him," and faith is the well-known bond of union between them. And such, it would appear, is really the case ; for the Apostle, addressing a man belonging to “the election of grace,” says, “Thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear : for if God spared not the natural branches,” the tribes of Israel,“ take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity ; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” (Rom. xi. 20–23.) According to St. Paul, then, the election of grace" is obtained by faith, and is forfeited by unbelief, as well as by highmindedness.
The election and reprobation concerning which the Apostle discourses in the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is clearly the reprobation of the great body of the Jewish people, because of their unbelief, in the rejection of Christ ; and the election of the Gentiles, considered as believe ers in Him, including also a “small remnant” of the Hebrew race, who also received Christ Jesus the Lord. This is manifest from the concluding verses of the chapter, where the Apostle sums up the argument. Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, are not adduced as examples of absolute and personal election to eternal life, and of absolute reprobation to eternal misery, but as types of two classes of people, believers and unbelievers, spiritual and carnal men; and are intended to prove that God will accept mankind upon His own terms, and not upon terms which they may choose and prefer. The case of Pharaoh shows the fearful consequences of a presumptuous opposition to the Almighty's will, and is an impressive warning to the unbelieving Jews. The men who do this are abandoned to their own perverseness and folly, and plunge themselves into irretrievable misery. Dr. Hodge acknowledges that such is the Apostle's general design ; yet he expounds the chapter upon the principles of absolute and
unconditional election and reprobation, as they are laid down in Calvin's Institutes. He maintains that no injustice is done to the reprobates. They are merely passed over in the great scheme of redemption, and punished for their sins. In this manner one half of the Bible is ignored, which declares in the strongest terms the universality of God's love to fallen men, and the fact of their redemption by the death of Christ : and no account is made of the oath of God, who swears by Himself that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked should turn, repent, believe, and live.
It is worthy of special observation, that the advocates of Calvinian reprobation, somehow or other, always persuade themselves that they belong to the elect class ; and are therefore fluent in their attempts to silence the complaints of the reprobate, who, according to this theory, is, through the entire course of his being, placed in such circumstances that his salvation is impossible, and endless inisery his inevitable doom. He is born only to sin and perish ; for the corruption of his nature is an evil which he could not by possibility avoid ; and to divest himself of that nature, and to attain to a state of pardon and holiness, by any means that he can either devise or command, is equally beyond his power. As well might he attempt to stop the course of the sun, or to arrest the progress of time. Were Dr. Hodge to regard himself as one of Calvin's reprobates, we think his tone would be very different from what it is; and that he would be ready to address the advocates of Calvin's merciless theory in the terms which Job applied to his loquacious friends, when he appealed in vain to their compassion : “I have heard many such things : miserable comforters are ye all.” “I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you."
Our author's views of personal sanctification, we think, are far short of the teaching of Holy Scripture, and are as objectionable as his views concerning the extent of God's mercy, and of Christ's redemption. The latter part of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, in which an affecting description is given of the power of sin in the human heart, he applies to St. Paul himself, and to all Christian believers to the very end of life ; so that every regenerated child of God is “carna), sold under sin;" is compelled to do what he hates, cannot do what he would, and can only groan, in the bitterness of his soul,“ wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" St. Paul adds, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord ;” and Dr. Hodge acknowledges that the grace of Christ is the only means of deliverance. But when that grace will be vouchsafed, so that the deliverance will be complete, he does not say. He holds out no hope of entire freedom from sin while the soul and body remain united. We are thus indirectly taught that the unregenerate sin willingly, and the regenerate unwillingly ; so that both are actual sinners, and as such remain till the end of life. Yet this state of hard bondage to sin, according to the Princeton Professor, is the state of spiritual liberty and salvation which is so highly extolled in the New Testament, wherewith Christ makes His people free, and in which they are exhorted to “stand fast." Those who cannot receive this doctrine are honoured with the name of “ Pelagians ” and “ Arminians.” Be it so ; they will still look to Christ in the hope of present salvation from all sin ; believing that when He “ makes them free, they shall be free indeed."
Such is the character of Dr. Hodge's “ Commentary upon the Epistle to the Romans," the whole of which we have carefully read. It contains much valuable criticism, and much sound divinity, with an admixture of doctrines, however, which we cannot but regard as erroneous, and injurious in their tendency; doctrines which we are persuaded St. Paul neither believed, nor intended to teach, either in his Epistle to the Romans, or in any other production of his pen.
SELECT LITERARY NOTICES.
[The insertion of any article in this list is not to be considered as pledging us to the approbatika of its contents, unless it be accompanied by some express notice of our favourable opinion. Nor is the omission of any such notice to be regarded as indicating a contrary opinion; as our limits, and other reasons, impose on us the necessity of selection and brevity.]
An explanation is due to several ton; Author of “ The Bible and its authors and publishers, on account Critics,” “ The Soul's Life,” “The of the delay which has occurred in Family of God,” &c. 8vo., PP. noticing publications, some of them 562. 1864. London: Hamilton and important, which have been for- Co.- Modern scepticism alleges warded to us during the last twelve that the Bible presents a merely frag. or fifteen months. The unusual mentary character, being composed duties, abroad and at home, which of many books, written by different devolved on the late Editor during men, at different periods, without the last year of his life, forbade his any ascertainable connexion; and giving such attention to this depart- therefore cannot be justly acknowment as he was wont to give ; ledged as possessing a Divine auwhile his sudden death will still thority. It is confessed, indeed, to further account for the irregularity embody principles of truth; but which has taken place. We pur- these, it is said, are so mixed with pose, however, devote a little errors and merely human opinions, extra space, for the next two or as to require a high order of schothree months, to “Literary Notices;” larship and of critical acumen to 60 as to be able to give proper atten- separate one from the other. tion to the works which have accu- In opposition to these allegations, mulated on our Library Table. the accomplished author of these
Lectures maintains that a striet The Divine Plan of Revelation : unity of design pervades the whole an Argument from Internal Eric of the sacred books, notwithstanddence in Support of the Structural ing their diversified authorship, and Unity of the Bible. Being the Boyle the remoteness of the periods at Lectures for MDCCCLXIII. By which they were written: and as the Rev. Edward Garbett, M.A., the indubitable marks of adaptation Incumbent of Christ Church, Surbi- and design, which are seen in all
the objects of nature, demonstrate of the modern Rationalists, as the the existence and agency of an sceptics of the age affect to be almighty and wise Designer ; so the called. His reasoning is triumphunity of purpose which pervades ant, and his theology thoroughly the books of Scripture, from the orthodox. In addition to his genewritings of Moses to the Revelation ral argument, he has thrown a of St. John, no less demonstrates beautiful and interesting light upon their emanation from the blessed several periods of Old Testament God, who is "the same yesterday, history. It is gratifying to find to-day, and for ever," and whose that while sceptical and Romantruth and mercy endure through all izing clergymen nestle in the Estabgenerations. The several books of lished Church, there are in her pale Holy Scripture prepare the way for upright and able men who earnestly those which follow; and few of and manfully “contend for the faith them can be understood but by a which was once delivered unto the reference to those which precede saints." We cannot but wish them them. The books of the old Tes. “good luck” in the name of the tament declare the manner in Lord; but we fear the day is gone which sin was introduced into the by when all her sons may be exworld, to the ruin of mankind; and pected to stand forth as faithful contain the promise of a Saviour, witnesses for the truth. The floodoften repeated ; together with the gates of evil have been opened by preparation that was made for the some recent decisions of the civil fulfilment of the promise, by the authorities; and it is not likely election of the Hebrew race, their that they can be closed again by separation from all other people, the any earthly power. All that can now institution among them of a typical be hoped for is, that the destructive form of worship, and the delivery errors propagated by faithless clerof a series of predictions by their gymen may be neutralized by the Prophets, announcing, with in- dissemination of a sound literature, creasing clearness and precision, the of which the author of these Lecincarnation of a Divine Person, tures has furnished an admirable who should put away sin by the specimen. sacrifice of Himself, rise from the dead, and introduce a new dispensa- Outlines of Theology. Outlines tion of religion, fraught with the of Philosophy and Literature. By richest blessings; in which Jews Alexander Vinet. London : Straand Gentiles should equally parti- han.—The writings of M. Vinet cipate. The New Testament de need, to many of our readers, no clares the fulfilment of these pre- introduction. The volumes bedictions by the manifestation of the fore us are composed of extracts Son of God in the flesh, His death from his various works.” Compoupon the cross, His resurrection and sitions thus strung together may ascension, the descent of the IIoly well present, as the publisher intiSpirit, the abolition of the Mosaic mates in a note, some discrepancy ceremonial, the spread of the Gos- between passages brought from pel among all nations, and the different works into an “unintended institution of the church upon the proximity” with each other; and principle of faith in Christ, instead the more when the disjecta membra, of lineal descent from Abraham, thus collected, are made to assume Isaac, and Jacob.
the shape of regular treatises on These facts Mr. Garbett has such important subjects as “ Theotraced with the hand of a master, logy” and “Philosophy.” Yet we to the confusion and utter routing are bound to say, the task under