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were, his confident, and to have been told personally what had so often before been surmised, but had never been perfectly ascertained,-that his were the works of genius which "enchant the world!" This to Sir Walter must surely have been an hour worth a life of misery, had such been his. It is recorded in the Memoirs of Schiller, that when his "Maid of Orleans" was performed at Leipzic, as soon as the curtain fell, the whole assembly, having first given vent to their approbation in loud shouts, rushed from the theatre, and crowding round the door through which the poet was expected to pass, uncovered their heads as soon as he made his appearance, and opening an avenue for him, held up their children in their arms, and exclaimed, "that is he!" This was feeble in comparison with the compliment paid Sir Walter Scott. The digito monstrari, et dicier hic est, always implies that there are some who do not know you. The very supposition of such a thing with regard to Sir Walter, in Scotland at least, is almost an insult:
"Not to know him argues yourself unknown-
Thus, then, if ever the living felt what fame was, Sir Walter Scott does. One question still remains behind;it is a dangerous one, but it must be put. Is it entirely by the triumphant merits of his literary works that this fame has been amassed; and if so, is it impossible for the most fastidious to point out any serious imperfection in their execution? We have considered the question maturely, and whatever weight may be attached to our opinion, we answer, with deference, but with firmness, that it is not solely to his intellectual endowments that Sir Walter's fame is to be attributed, and that there is an imperfection pervades his works, which must ever be felt by the reflective reader, not perhaps as a positive, but as a negative weakness,—as a sin not of commission, but of omission. We must explain ourselves a little more distinctly; and let it not be supposed that, while engaged in pointing out a spot on the sun, we are capable of any mean detraction from its general splendour.
In one word, the fault we have to find with Sir Walter Scott, by voluntarily falling into which, we think, he has succeeded in making himself a more universal favourite among those who only see the surface of things, is, an over-degree of cautiousness in broaching new opinions, or in stating his own on matters of literary, political, moral, intellectual, or religious importance. At first sight, this charge may not appear one of so much moment as we think it really is. It may be answered for Sir Walter, apparently with much show of reason, that if he pours forth the stores of his own mind,—if he opens up his rich and varied stock of information,-if he paints the manners of past times, and awakes from the sleep of death,-awakes and sets before us the buried but the unforgotten of almost all ages, he does enough, and is right to stand aloof from the war of opinions, and refuse to mingle in the doubts that perplex, the desires that delude, the fears that distract, the animosities that divide, the strange theories that confuse and lead astray others, throughout all the ramifications and departments of society. To this may it not be replied, that we owe a duty to our fellow-men as well as to ourselves, and that superior abilities and profounder knowledge, unless directed to their edification as well as our own glory, exhibit little else but a more exalted species of selfishness? And is there no edification, it will be demanded, to be derived from the wri. tings of Sir Walter Scott? Much,-a great deal more than from any ordinary mind is to be expected,-but from him not enough. There are two methods by which a reader may be edified or improved ;-the one is by communicating facts, the other is by communicating thoughts. It is true that there is no such thing as abstract thought unfounded on facts; and it is also true that all facts must necessarily suggest thoughts. He, therefore, who supplies facts, supplies the tools with
which thought works. He who farther places these facts in a light so interesting, and clothes them in colours so beautiful, that they at once instruct the judgment, charm the fancy, and engage the heart, performs no mean service to the nobler part of our nature. But from the simplest or the most elaborate statement of facts, a thousand trains of thought must arise, and, such is the variety of mental constitution, that, unless guided to the inferences most consonant with reason, few indeed would spontaneously arrive at the same conclusions. It is here that mental power chiefly exhibits itself. It is not what people know,but what they think, (of course in consequence of what they know,) that ought to be chiefly attended to. He who furnishes knowledge alone, supplies weapons which may be directed against himself, unless he also point out the physical and intellectual use to be derived from that knowledge. Religion itself is little else but a piece of history, unless we are able to perceive, by a process of induction, the consequences which its historical truths infer. One proposition, as soon as proved, ought to lead to another; and he is the great mental pioneer who boldly goes first in the march of intellectual discovery, and who, though he may sometimes lose his way, yet finally succeeds in finding a path where human foot never trode before, which is speedily beaten down into a broad road, by those who had not the courage or the ability to precede him.
Now, let us apply these observations to Sir Walter Scott. No man ever poured forth from his single mind, or rather from his pen, so inexhaustible a stock of information; but certainly few men, possessed of such information, would have so carefully and systematically avoided entering not only upon any one of those great questions of ethics or metaphysics which have so long divided the world, but also on any of those lesser discussions which from time to time agitate the framework of society. We dispute not for a moment that the calm dignity of letters is better maintained by avoiding all the petty wranglings and contentions into which inferior capacities are so often apt to be betrayed; and so far we give Sir Walter Scott all praise, that from these he has ever stood at a distance. But it will not do to affect the same tone of philosophical indifference in regard to those momentous questions which so deeply affect mankind, and a solution of which must ever be so anxiously sought. We do not ask or wish Sir Walter Scott to become a controversialist or a polemic; but seeing the place he holds in the literary world,-seeing the influence he possesses over all the reading population of Europe, we frankly avow, that we consider ourselves entitled to know what his opinions are upon many subjects which he has been obliged to refer to in his writings, but regarding which he has carefully avoided to give any exposition of his sentiments. And why? Not certainly because he had formed no opinions concerning them, for that is impossible; or because he did not know that his opinions would be esteemed of much value, for no man had ever one half of Sir Walter's extent of knowledge without feeling conscious of the weight that was due to his judgments, and of the importance that would be attached to them. The only other answer, therefore, which can be rationally given to the question, is, that a certain sacrifice has been made of advantages which would have accrued to the world at large, for the sake of greater personal aggrandizement and popularity. Sir Walter is aware, that nothing so effectually shuts up at least one avenue to these, as boldly and manfully stating sentiments which, though they may be considered just by some, have long been set down as erroneous by others. But how are we ever to arrive at truth, unless they, best capable of directing us to it, undertake the task? It is only a very small part of mankind who take the trouble to think at all; and the few who, in the common phrase, think for themselves, invariably think also for all the rest of their fellow-creatures. They fall into errors, no
doubt, but time corrects them; whilst the sparks of in- have endeavoured to illustrate, has been taken, it is hardtellectual fire that are struck from their minds often kin- ly necessary to mention, that nothing else remains to be dle a flame that illumines a nation, and adds a value to done but to praise. The "Tales of a Grandfather" are life. Newton formed erroneous theories; but had he delightfully composed, and embody with admirable simdetermined to avoid all erroneous theories, what would plicity, yet great accuracy and minuteness, all the leadhave become of his glorious discoveries? Byron grasped ing facts of Scottish History. Neither are they intendat shadows beyond his reach, and where he hoped for ed for mere children; they could hardly be read with light only plunged into darkness; but shall not his advantage by either a boy or girl under fourteen or fifsplendid errors be forgiven, for the sake of the new re-teen, while far more advanced students of history will gion of thought which they opened up, and the glimpses find in them much that is new, and much that they had, they afford of light ineffable, like that which shines in all probability, forgotten. The first series brought us through the fissures of the thunder-cloud? Here, in- down to the accession of James VI. to the throne of deed, consists the great difference between him and Scott. England; the second conducts us from that period to Byron was too daring,-Scott is too timid. Byron cared the time when both kingdoms were finally united into not to stem the torrent, if it " roared 'gainst him," one. The parts which strike us as most worthy of comScott is only anxious to float down the easy current of mendation, in the last three volumes, are the Introducpopular applause. Byron uttered sentiments which he tory chapter on the progress of civilisation, the view of knew scarcely an individual would own but himself, the state of society at the court of James VI., the chapScott never once contradicted the opinions of a body of ters on the disorderly state of the Borders, and the wild men, nor yet said that he disagreed with the opinions of state of the Highlands and Islands, the account of Cromanother body to whom the first were opposed. If the well and some of his exploits, and of all the incidents “Letters of Malachi Malagrowther" be cited as bear. which occurred in Scotland during the reign of William ing against this assertion, it would not be difficult to and Mary, as well as that of Queen Anne; including, show, that certain powerful reasons made it prudent for among other things, the massacre at Glencoe, the DaSir Walter, at the time of their appearance, to conciliate rien scheme, and the struggles which took place between the good-will of the Scotch bankers. Not that he on the parties that favoured or opposed the Union. that account wrote what he did not think, but that he expressed his thoughts more freely. We repeat, therefore, that which we stated at the beginning, that our leading objection to Sir Walter Scott's works is, their want of original thought, and of decided opinions. What we mean by "original thought," is clear and new inferences drawn from facts that were not generally known; and what we mean by "decided opinions," is an undaunted statement of the author's own convictions, formed upon extensive research, and consequently comprehensive reasoning.
We shall present our readers with two extracts, which will not lessen their anxiety to get possession of the volumes themselves. The first we shall entitle
A HIGHLAND FEUD OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. "The principal possessors of the Hebrides were ori. ginally of the name of MacDonald, the whole being under the government of a succession of chiefs, who bore the name of Donald of the Isles, as we have already mentioned, and were possessed of authority almost independent of the Kings of Scotland. But this great family becoming divided into two or three branches, other chiefs settled in some of the islands, and disputed the property of the original proprietors. Thus, the MacLeods, a powerful and numerous clan, who had exten. sive estates on the mainland, made themselves masters, at a very early period, of a great part of the large island of Skye, seized upon much of the Long Island, as the isles of Lewis and Harris are called, and fought fiercely with the MacDonalds and other tribes of the islands. The following is an example of the mode in which these feuds were conducted:
The observations we have just made, and made, we hope, in a spirit of candid criticism, not of paltry carping, were partly suggested by the work before us, "The Tales of a Grandfather." Both in the First and Second Series of this work, we have remarked the most scrupulous anxiety, on the part of the author, to avoid stating his own sentiments, on most of those historical questions which are considered of so much interest, and on which it would certainly be of importance to the old, as well as the young, to have the benefit of his judgment. We may mention his extreme caution, in the first Series, not to commit himself regarding the character of the un"About the end of the sixteenth century, a boat, happy Mary; though one would think that a grandfather manned by one or two of the MacLeods, landed in Eigg, would naturally endeavour to point out to his grandson, a small island peopled by the MacDonalds. They were either the hideous and shameful guilt of that princess, at first hospitably received; but having been guilty of or the unmerited and treacherous cruelty heaped upon an some incivility to the young women on the island, it was innocent and lovely head. We may advert especially to so much resented by the inhabitants, that they tied the his account, in the second Series, of the origin and pro- MacLeods hand and foot, and putting them on board gress of the civil war between Charles 1. and the people of their own boat, towed it to sea and set adrift, leaof Scotland, by which it is impossible to discover whe-ving the wretched men, bound as they were, to perish ther the king or the people were to blame,-whether the by famine, or by the winds and waves, as chance should king was an encroaching despot, or the people idle mal- determine. But fate so ordered it, that a boat belongcontents and rebels; though one would think that a ing to the Laird of MacLeod fell in with that which grandfather would naturally endeavour to show to his had the captives on board, and brought them in safety to grandson, either that tyranny had been exercised towards the Laird's castle of Dunvegan, in Skye, where they coma sincere and devout people, who fought for the faith in plained of the injury which they had sustained from the which they trusted, or that a good, but unfortunate mo- MacDonalds of Eigg. MacLeod, in great rage, put to narch, had been driven to destruction by the wilfulness sea with his galleys, manned by a large body of his people, and bigotry of a mob. "In medio tutissimus ibis," which the men of Eigg could not entertain any rational says the Latin poet; and no man ever wrote more strict- hope of resisting. Learning that their incensed enemy ly in accordance with this advice, than Sir Walter Scott, was approaching with superior forces, and deep vows of when he says, (vol. 2d, p. 28.) "the war must be justly revenge, the inhabitants, who knew they had no mercy imputed to a train of long-protracted quarrels, in which to expect at MacLeod's hands, resolved, as the best neither party could be termed wholly right, and still chance of safety in their power, to conceal themselves less entirely wrong; but which created so much jealousy in a large cavern on the sea shore. on both sides, as could scarcely terminate otherwise than in civil war.
As soon, however, as this general exception, which we
"This place was particularly well calculated for that purpose. The entrance resembles that of a fox-earth, being an opening so small that a man cannot enter save
by creeping on hands and knees. A rill of water falls from the top of the rock, and serves, or rather served at the period we speak of, wholly to conceal the aperture. A stranger, even when apprised of the existence of such a cave, would find the greatest difficulty in discovering the entrance. Within, the cavern rises to a great height, and the floor is covered with white dry sand. It is extensive enough to contain a great number of people. The whole inhabitants of Eigg, who, with their wives and families, amounted to nearly two hundred souls, took refuge within its precincts.
the miserable creature had, by the oddity of her manners, the crossness of her temper, the habit of speaking to herself, or any other signs of the dotage which attends comfortless old age and poverty, attracted the suspicions of her credulous neighbours, she was then said to have been held and reputed a witch, and was rarely permitted to escape the stake.
"It was equally fatal for an aged person of the lower ranks, if, as was frequently the case, she conceived her. self to possess any peculiar receipt or charm for curing diseases, either by the application of medicines, of which "MacLeod arrived with his armament, and landed she had acquired the secret, or by repeating words, or on the island, but could discover no one on whom to using spells and charms, which the superstition of the wreak his vengeance-all was desert. The MacLeods time supposed to have the power of relieving maladies destroyed the huts of the islanders, and plundered what that were beyond the skill of medical practitioners. property they could discover; but the vengeance of the "Such a person was held a white witch; one, that is, chieftain could not be satisfied with such petty injuries. who employed her skill for the benefit, not the harm, of He knew that the inhabitants must either have fled in her fellow-creatures. But still she was a sorceress, and, their boats to one of the islands possessed by the Mac- as such, was liable to be brought to the stake. Such a Donalds, or that they must be concealed somewhere in doctress was equally exposed to such a charge, whether Eigg. After making a strict but unsuccessful search her patient died or recovered; and she was, according for two days, MacLeod had appointed the third to leave to circumstances, condemned for using sorcery to cure or his anchorage, when, in the grey of the morning, one to kill. Her allegation that she had received the secret of the seamen beheld, from the deck of his galley, the from family tradition, or from any other source, was not figure of a man on the island. This was a spy whom admitted as a defence; and she was doomed to death with the MacDonalds, impatient of their confinement in the as little hesitation for having attempted to cure by myscavern, had imprudently sent out to see whether Mac-terious and unlawful means, as if she had been charged Leod had retired or no. The poor fellow, when he saw with having assisted to commit murder. himself discovered, endeavoured, by doubling after the manner of a hare or fox, to obliterate the track of his footsteps, and prevent its being discovered where he had re-entered the cavern. But all his art was in vain; the invaders again landed, and tracked him to the entrance of the cavern.
MacLeod then summoned those who were within it, and called upon them to deliver up the individuals who had maltreated his men, to be disposed of at his pleaThe MacDonalds, still confident in the strength of their fastness, which no assailant could enter but on hands and knees, refused to surrender their clansmen. "MacLeod then commenced a dreadful work of indiscriminate vengeance. He caused his people, by means of a ditch cut above the top of the rock, to turn away the stream of water which fell over the entrance of the precipice. This being done, the MacLeods collected all the combustibles which could be found on the island, particularly quantities of dry heather, piled them up against the aperture, and maintained an immense fire for many hours, until the smoke, penetrating into the inmost recesses of the cavern, stifled to death every crea. ture within. There is no doubt of the truth of this story, dreadful as it is. The cavern is often visited by strangers; and I have myself seen the place, where the bones of the murdered MacDonalds still remain, lying as thick on the floor of the cave as in the charnel-house of a church."-Vol. I. p. 111–117.
Our next quotation is upon a subject almost as peculiarly national, and not less revolting to common sense, than the above is to the feelings:
WITCHES.--REMARKABLE TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT.
"Most of the poor creatures who suffered death for witchcraft were aged persons, women in general, living alone in a poor and miserable condition, and disposed, from the peevishness of age and infirmity, to rail against, or desire evil, in their froward humour, to neighbours by whom they were abused or slighted. When such had unwittingly given vent to impotent anger in bad wishes or imprecations, if a child fell sick, a horse became lame, a bullock died, or any other misfortune chanced in the family against which the ill-will had been expressed, it subjected the utterer instantly to the charge of witchcraft, and was received by judges and jury as a strong proof of guilt. If, in addition to this
"The following example of such a case is worthy of
The devil scratch out both thine eyes,
"It was evident that those who were cured by such a spell must have been indebted to nature, with some assistance, perhaps, from imagination. But the users of such charms were not always so lucky as to light upon the person who drew them up; and many unfortunate creatures were executed, as the poor ale-wife would have been, had she not lighted upon her former customer in the character of her Judge."-Vol. II. p. 115-20.
The work is very handsomely printed in duodecimo, each volume containing about three hundred and twenty pages, and two spirited engravings by Lizars.
Notes on Religious, Moral, and Metaphysical Subjects.
their rules of conduct; and we should be sorry to think, that in a country like Scotland, encouragement should not be given to an attempt to discuss, from time to time, with a philosophical and sound religious feeling, much that relates to interests beyond the amusements and concerns of a passing day. Why should the times of the "Spectator" and "Rambler" be gone for ever?
Without farther preface or apology, we proceed to say a few words of the work whose title we have copied above. It is published in Aberdeen, and is there generally understood to proceed from the pen of a neighbouring landed proprietor. Aberdeen is now a large, elegant, and increasing city. Improvements with stone and lime are going on in all directions, and many more are contemplated; and we hope also, in the course of our labours, to give good proofs that the inhabitants are not forgetting the cultivation of their minds, amid the polishing of their granite; and that, whether connected with its universities or not, its townsmen and alumni are not unworthy of the ancient reputation which has so long been maintained by the capital of the Don and the Dee.
The author of the book before us, having abandoned the busy scenes of life, the "endless round of counting and computing," appears now to be viewing them at a distance with the eye of a philosopher, "indulging in a generous misanthropy," and casting" a moralising eye, more in sorrow than in anger, over the moving mass of folly, vanity, and vice," which constitutes the great world now at a distance. "The inquiry," he says, "was undertaken solely for private information, to satisfy pri
more consolatory pillow than a glorious hope (as Plato has it) beyond the grave." In pursuit of this object, he proceeds to take a view of the opinions entertained on religious subjects by the sages of Greece and Rome, giving a good abstract of their different theories. He then comes to Christianity, and finds evidence of its truth in the agreement of its precepts with those which he had previously examined. He next replies to the objection, that if they are so similar, what necessity was there for revelation? This he does so far well; but he might, perhaps, have taken higher ground, or at any rate pushed his conclusions somewhat farther. After ascertaining, from its various evidences, the authority of revealed religion, he should have proceeded to consider its nature and great leading objects. He would then have perceived more satisfactorily its beautiful and comprehensive reference to this world of sin, vanity, and death-its glorious announcement of a mode of reconciliation with the Creator of all things, and of life and immortality. He would thus, too, have discovered that the sages inferred their duties after a long process of reasoning, while the Apostles instantly deduced theirs from a doctrine; and both agree, merely because both are trueboth proceeding from the fountain of truth. This would have been taking the just and full view of revelation; and in consistency with it, our author would have had, perhaps, a heightened pleasure at finding the moral truths of Christianity corresponding so exactly with his own opinions, and with those of so many wise and good men.
WE were well aware, that in proposing to admit occasionally into the Literary Journal" discussions of religious subjects, ideas might in consequence suggest themselves to the minds of some of our readers, not of a nature calculated to increase their favourable anticipations of our work. Controversy, especially regarding any of those matters which have of late so disagreeably occupied the attention of the religious world, might be expected necessarily to form an essential part of the dis. cussions to which we alluded; and thus, instead of all the charms of literature, a considerable part of our pages, it might be concluded, would be devoted to the Apocry-vate scruples, and to compose the mind to rest on some pha, and written in the spirit of " Anglicanus" and the Christian Instructor." Our excellent and talented friend Mr Hogg, in particular, seems to have been terrified at the annunciation; but his sentiments and ours upon this subject are in perfect unison. We have higher and more sacred views of the manner in which religious topics should be discussed, than to think of descending to mere polemics. Religion and polemics are, at present, terms too easily convertible; and it would be as unwise for ourselves, as it would be worse than unprofitable for our readers, to lend the slightest countenance to an evil which we are anxious to see repressed. Our design in making the intimation contained in our Prospectus, was founded on the consideration, that periodical works of the class to which our Journal belongs, had confined themselves rather too exclusively to subjects of Belles Lettres, and had not given encouragement to such as might have been made as interesting, as they unquestionably are at least as important. Our wish was to endeavour occasionally to give a better direction to the desire at present existing for literary knowledge; and instead of confining its gratification to those works which excite attention from local or temporal associations, to mingle amusement with instruction-instruction with knowledge, and knowledge with its highest aim and end-religion. Nor is there any thing incongruous in this design; on the contrary, we conceive that a right discussion of such graver matters will, by giving strength to the mind, and purity to the taste, at once fit ourselves for doing more justice to less momentous subjects, and at the same time, by the introduction of a wider and more varied range of topics, enable our readers to enter upon each with a keener relish. And surely religion embraces many subjects, in which all men are so agreed, and which are so intimately connected with the pursuits and wishes of every individual, that they may be considered, in a work like this, not only without prejudice to its other departments, and without any manifestation of a spirit of controversy, but with the soundest propriety, and the approbation of all reflecting persons. There are many who will no longer be "pleased with rattles, and tickled with straws." If they are to have literary papers at all, they must have those which exert some salutary influence upon their minds, and may tend to strengthen
There is only one doctrine, in so far as we observed, upon which the author is at variance with what is generally thought to be the truth of the Bible. He calls in question the eternity of punishments, and brings forward a variety of arguments to prove that he is in the right. Upon this subject we will not enter; but we may be permitted to suggest the propriety of considering it with that humility and self-diffidence which our ignorance of the divine nature, plans, and proceedings, renders so necessary. Punishment of some sort or other, we are assured, will be awarded to the wicked; and it more becomes us to spend our lives in endeavouring to guard against deserving it, than in useless arguments as to its probable duration.
Having stated these things, we have no hesitation to add, that the book of which we have been speaking is ably and classically written, and that every page of it proc'aims the author an amiable man. As a specimen at once of his piety and his talents, and of his successful mode of treating a subject, we make the following ex
"He that searches this subject dispassionately, will discover that the authenticity of the sacred writings has been examined again and again, with the utmost diligence, and found to res, I apprehend, on evidence superior to that which supports the credibility of any ancient volume. The characters of the sacred witnesses have been sifted with the most searching scrutiny; they have been weighed in the balance, and have not been found wanting in any particular. Nor can it remain a question, that if we are to disregard such evidence, we must apply a sponge to all historical record. The misfortune is, we measure the evidence not by its own strength, but by the importance of the intelligence it supports; yet the evidence is what it is, sufficient or insufficient, be the information what it may. It is of very little consequence to me to know that the hero of Canne was crushed at Zama, and found refuge at last in a dose of poison—that the conqueror of Asia was driven before the legions of Cæsar at Pharsalia, and was thrown a headless trunk on the shores of Egypt;-these are but the shifting scenes in the tragedy of conquest and ambition. That Socrates perished through the injustice of the Athenians,-that Seneca fell under the cruelty of Nero,-that the Father of his country was butchered on a litter by the man whom he had saved these are but images of the atrocity, and tyranny, and ingratitude of man, which are ever passing before the magic-lantern of life; and these I can believe without scruple on the word of a Roman historian, or the testimony of a Greek sage. But that Jesus of Nazareth delivered to us the commands of our God,-that he suffered ignominiously on a cross the pains of our transgressions,-that by stooping to death he conquered death,' rising from the dead and bringing life and immortality to light by his resurrection, that he was thereafter seen, touched, heard, and handled, satisfying all misgivings, that he lives to intercede for us now, and will in mercy judge us hereafter;-these are truths which lie out so far in the distance beyond all sublunary occupations, which reach so far into infinity above all earthly cogitations, that we lose the evidence of the fact in the immensity of the subject; we look to the thing asserted, not to the proof given, which is positively stronger for any one of these positions than for any of the historical events we have noticed."
In conclusion we beg to remark, that here is a work written by one who possesses many of those requisites which enable him to give a sound opinion upon the subject to which it relates, a sincere desire to know the truth leisure, ability, and considerable learning; who is, moreOver, swayed by no professional or other motives to make his testimony suspected, and whose conviction is often, and warmly, and unaffectedly recorded of the truth of the Gospel. There are not wanting still more illustrious instances of a similar kind; but this is a recent and obvious one, and surely might well dispose sceptics to suspect that an impartial and candid examination of the Scriptures, such as our author's has been, might lead them, as it has done him, to an honest and sincere conviction of their truth."Turn and twist the question as we will," say the "Notes," "there is no way of giving the go-by to the evidences of our holy faith, but by some desperate plunge, in default of all argument. And I wish to God, that every man who meditates the leap would but well consider whither it may carry him
'Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck.'" We recommend this work to the attention of our readers.
"The Reception due to the Word of God;" a Sermon preached before the Society in Scotland for propaga. ting Christian Knowledge. By the Rev. James Henderson, minister of Ratho. Waugh and Innes, Edinburgh, 1828.
SINGLE sermons, and pamphlets in general, can scarcely be considered as legitimate subjects of criticism; for it is always difficult, and sometimes impossible, from such scanty materials, to form a just estimate of the author's general talents. Some exceptions must, however, be made,-as when the subject discussed is of much importance, or when the occasion which suggested it is interesting, or when the author has displayed considerable ingenuity in illustrating it. Some or all of these reasons must be our apology for noticing the present publication. This sermon was preached before the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge, at their anniversary meeting in June last. Its subject, viz. the reception due to the word of God, is happily chosen; and had the author confined himself somewhat more strictly to this his professed subject, we should probably have felt ourselves more at liberty to praise his discourse. Instead, however, of giving us its evidences, Mr Henderson has dwelt principally upon the mode of receiving God's word, and the manner of the Spirit's efficacious working. And here we are sorry to find the reverend author falling into what we think a very great error; for his principal object throughout the discourse seems to be, to depreciate the external evidences, or perhaps we should rather say, to exaggerate the force of the internal evidences, of religion. He grants, indeed, that a knowledge of the external evidence is useful, but rather as furnishing us with a weapon wherewith to combat the avowed enemies of Christianity, than for our own private satisfaction. He seems unwilling to admit, nay, if we understand him rightly, he positively denies, that the Spirit ever converts an unbeliever by means of the external evidences. Now, this appears to us an erroneous and a dangerous doctrine. We believe that the external evidences do of themselves furnish a very sufficient ground for belief in the truth of Christianity, and that they may be, and in fact often are, the means of conversion, through the divine energy of the Spirit. It even appears to us very evident, that all other means of receiving God's word save through its external evidences, are not a little unsafe and unsatisfactory. Christian faith is not the slave of reason; but far be from us the creed that contradicts reason. There is nothing unreasonable in our religion,—and it is just because it is consistent with reason's noblest dictates, that Christianity has ever had a triumphant answer to the arguments of the infidel. After all, it must depend upon circumstances to which species of evidence an individual will, in his own particular case, attach most importance. We will hope, that as God has been pleased to establish his word upon the double foundation of external and internal evidence, he will bless either indifferently for our salvation.
Having thus pointedly expressed a difference of opinion with the author upon a very important subject, we must now do him the justice to confess, that we were much struck with some of his reasonings and illustrations. We are greatly tempted to extract a passage or two, towards the end of the discourse, of singular beauty and eloquence; but Mr Henderson is already too well known to the public, as an interesting and a popular preacher, to make this necessary; and his sermon, we doubt not, will be extensively read and admired.
The "Society for propagating Christian Knowledge," before which this sermon was preached, and for whose benefit it has been printed, is both worthy of public support, and deserving of public gratitude. By confining its labours to the less enlightened districts of our own country, it is distinguised as a patriotic institution;