« PreviousContinue »
As watches the wand'rer for way-pointing fires,
As the maid for her love by the moon's dewy light,
So wait I the slow-coming footsteps of night.
The voice of the wind through the sad piny grove,
When shrowded in gloom, make the music I love.
Where the sleep-frighting footsteps of day never tread,
cold eye of pride scowls on misery's face,
Where Death makes the weary and friendless a bed ? Having paid more particular attention to the two religious Annuals, we may, perhaps, be allowed to take a short glance, at parting, at some others of the class. Of those, which we have yet seen, the Literary Souvenir stands facilè princeps. Lawrence's portrait of Lady Ellis is unquestionably the most finished and beautiful engraving which has yet appeared in any of these periodicals; and it is accompanied by a series of embellishments of very superior excellence, though they must lose greatly by a comparison with this exquisite unique. Next to the Souvenir, we place the “Friendship's Offering,” which we noticed hastily in our last number. Ackermann's “ Forget Me Not" follows at some distance both in literature and illustration. The“ Gem" has some very highly finished and beautiful pictures ; so has the “Cameo.” The “ Keepsake,” &c. &c. at the time of going to press, we have not seen.
Of the Juveniles, we give the preference to that of Mrs. Hall; chiefly because it really is, what it professes to be, a book of instructive entertainment for the young.
The “ Letter from London," “Impulse and Amiability,” “The Nutting Party;" and, among the engravings, the Frontispiece, and “Me and My Dog," are capital. Mrs. Watts has been devoting a great portion of her time to the “ Talisman;" but she has, nevertheless, not forgotten her young friends, though her catering, on the whole, has been less successful than that of Mrs. Hall. The “Infant Samuel,” in the “Juvenile Forget Me Not," is a pretty picture; and its companions are generally in good taste, and well executed : but the contributions are somewhat above the comprehension of children, and so unsuited to the work. And now, with a hearty wish for merry
Christmas and a happy new year,” to each and all the editors and readers of these said and sundry little “ Trifles, we take our leave of them for the present
Art. III.—The Scheme and Completion of Prophecy, wherein its Design
and Use, together with its Sense and Application as the Grand Fundamental Proof of Religion, specially adapted to all periods of the World, and all stages of the Church, are considered and explained; together with an Enquiry into the Shechinah and the Cherubim in the Holy of Holies, and the Visions of the Prophets. By the Rev. John Whitley, D. D. T.C. D. Master of the School of Galway. London: Rivingtons. 1890. 8vo.
8vo. Price 12s. “ It is of the greatest concernment in the church and commonwealth, to have a right vigilant eye how books demean themselves, as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors; for books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them, to be as active as that soul was, whose progeny they are ; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and, being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.”* Some such feeling, as dictated this sentence of our immortal Bard, seems to have influenced the learned author of the work before us. He condemns, with one sweeping anathema, repeated ever and anon with augmented violence throughout the progress of his labours, almost all modern expositors of prophecy, “ from Napier and Brightman down to Dr. Hales and Mr. Faber.” (Sect. 7, p. 258.) The fiercest spirit of his censure is directed against those expositors especially, as having warped and bent the straight and parallel lines of prophecy to particular objects and pressing contingencies, Who seek for the key of prophecy in the now obsolete and antiquated constitution of the German empire and its seven electors, or in the casual and shortlived effervescence of the atheistical infidelity and impiety of the French Revolution:—Sect. II. p. 86.
Dr. Whitley characterises modern expositions, with almost no exception, as "incongruous," " inadequate,” “ unjust,” “illegitimate," "contentious," "disputatious," " litigious," "fanciful," "distorted," — " as the low and pitiful employment of partisans ;" and tells us, moreover, that the difficulty of interpreting the prophecies, and the obscurity so much complained of, do not perhaps arise so much from the subject itself as from defects more immediately in ourselves, and more in our power to remove, -as from confined and inadequate conceptions of the church, from narrow and unjust views of religion,—from party zeal and undue prepossessions,—from the love of con
* Milton's Areopagitica. edit. fol. Amsterdam, p. 424.
troversy and of victory rather than of concord and of peace, and the preference of opinions or of party to the catholic faith and the whole body of the Church.Sect. I. p. 41.
Nor is he content with pointing out the deficiencies of those writers, who have mischievously misconstrued the prophecies, (from which, doubtless, the Master of Galway School is exempt,) but he condescends to enumerate the qualifications, (possessed, we presume, in his own judgment, by himself,) which entitle a man to handle so perplexed a branch of theology. Prophecy must be approached with great reverence and with sacred awe, and be investigated with minds amply enlarged and enlightened by the spirit and truth of religion, and profoundly versed in the study and the theology of the New Testament, the apt and adequate elucidation of whose prophecies is the last result and perfection of deep piety, sound discretion, extensive learning, and of great theological tact and acquirements; but before all and above all
, of just apprehensions and extensive acquaintance with the history and constitution of the Church of God,—with its vast extent and utmost limits,—with its different interests and various members,—with its numerous and watchful enemies,—with its ever shifting, never-ceasing conflicts and dangers. And this is a work not merely of labour and of application, but much more of candour and of impartiality, and, above all, of charity.-Sect. II. pp. 86, 87.
"Quid signum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu ?" His whole “ scheme" is comprised in the position, that Prophecy, whether it is more immediately engaged in advocating the rights of the one Jehovah, against the idle pretensions and unfounded usurpations of Baal, and of the countless hordes of Deities which swarmed in and ruled the heathen world; or whether it defends the faith and cause of Christ against infidelity and imposture, is solely concerned for the honour of the one true religion, and the interest and establishment of the one true Church, without any reference to the variety of the opinions, or to the differences of parties or of denominations which may be in it.-P. 60.
And that Having solely for its object and aim the defence of the catholic faith, and the interest and weal of the whole body of the Church, it can take no notice of its various distinctions and almost endless subdivisions, and extends not to the reformation, but only to the propagation of religion.—P.9.
Hence we are again and again reminded by our author, that the prophecies should be applied “ to the definite and particular purpose of advocating Any and EVERY profession of the Christian faith, and of defending any and Every part of Christ's Church against infidelity and apostasy, (p. 13); for that their “ object is the whole body of Christ; their aim and end the diffusion and establishment of the one true religion, which was preached by our Lord and his Apostles, and has been continued and handed down to us by those who heard them, and succeeded them in the Catholic Church: Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus ; in which all Christians of all ages and of all places are agreed." (P. 44.) Hence we are taught that prophecy " is not the advocate of national and subordinate Churches, but of the
universal Church, and defends not particular opinions or professions, but the Catholic faith, and the profession of Christianity;" (p. 63,) and that "the notion, so fondly cherished and so strenuously maintained by the splendid talents and the great names of Warburton and of Hurd, that prophecy was particularly designed and conferred by the Head of the Church, for the purpose of giving its suffrage and verdict in favour of Protestantism, however plausible and ingenious, is utterly untenable and fallacious.” (P. 64.)
In the first place, we beg the privilege of asking, (to look at the point in the abstract,) whether the principle here advocated by Dr. Whitley has any prima facie probability of truth to recommend it to our adoption ? Granting, for the sake of argument, that the prophecies contemplate the fortunes of the universal Church, and direct our principal regard to her external enemies,-and more especially to the opposition of Mahomet,—we cannot understand upon what ground it is contended, that the foes “ of her own household” should be excluded from their purview. The divine prescience would be as clearly manifested in the one case as in the other; and the prophetic evidence to the truth of Christianity equally strong ; nor does it seem a whit more alien from the guardian care of Providence to premonish the disciples of the cross of their perils from “ false brethren,” than it is to forewarn them of hostilities from without. Seeing, indeed, that treachery within the camp is more to be feared, because generally less suspected, than the open assaults of declared foes; we know not but that the stratagems of adversaries in the mask of friends, are more likely to be the theme of prophetic wisdom than the violent attacks of recognized infidelity.
To say that “inferior controversies and party bickerings degrade prophecy," (p. 65) is begging the question at issue, or is mere declamation, to notice which would be a waste of time. Does Dr. Whitley hold the vital disputes upon religion, which compelled Protestants to resist the monstrous abominations of popery, and to separate themselves from her idolatrous enormities,-to be the mere fringes of the garment of the body of religion?" (P. 83.) If the papal heresies, and the damnable errors of the Latin church ;-if her sanguinary usurpations, and her lust of power,-her gross perversions of the truth, and her abominable deceptions, and her self-destroying practices,—were foreseen of heaven, (and who can doubt that they were ?) why should not God forewarn us of her machinations, and hold up the torch of prophecy to manifest her iniquities? The principle, for which Dr. Whitley so zealously argues, is utterly ridiculous and untenable :yea, it is contradicted by the express words of holy Writ, and stands in glaring contrast with the practice of St. Paul, who deemed it no degradation of his prophetic character to premonish the elders of the
church of Ephesus of the intestine divisions which should harass the members of her communion : “ Take heed unto yourselves, ... for I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. ALSO OF YOUR OWNSELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts xx. 28, 29, 30.)
Our learned author, (we use not this epithet as a common phrase of courtesy,—for Doctor Whitley has displayed no ordinary acquirements, and his style, we take this opportunity of observing, is remarkably chaste and vigorous ;)-our learned author has told us that “theological discussions are not to be mixed up with the evidences of religion.” (p. 7.) We deny this maxim as applied to the interpretation of prophecy, and are prepared to maintain that prophecy cannot be separated from such “ theological debates as concern the characteristic marks of the persons or communities, the history of which it has pleased God to foretell. We would venture to ask Dr. Whitley how even Islamism, on his own view and scheme of prophecy, can be proved to form the theme of so many predictions without consideration of the tenets of its author ? And if " the Church be the standard, the interpreter, and the completion of prophecy,” (p. 24,)-(and we have grave authority for stating that “the visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly administered according to Christ's ordinance,")-again we ask, how is it possible to separate the notice of theological points from prophetic testimony to the truth of Christianity? How are we to judge of the apostasy (v ’Atooraoia) which was predicted as the forerunner of St. Paul's “man of sin," whether such apostasy be total or partial, without an accurate knowledge of the standard of doctrine, from which men should fall away? (2 Thess. ii. 3.) If, lastly, to use Dr. Whitley's words,“ Prophecy have solely for its object and aim the defence of the catholic faith,” (p. 9.) and that faith be "
ONE ;” (Eph. iv. 5.) it follows, we think, as an undeniable consequence, that heretical deviations from it, by whatever name their advocates may designate themselves, or wheresoever they may be found, may be the legitimate theme of prophetic annunciations. What offence such interpretations may give to papists, on the one hand, or to infidels, on the other, a sincere lover of truth will take no pains to inquire ; and, therefore, we dismiss all that our author has said upon that topic, p. 14, &c. without a remark.
We have thought it right to say thus much upon the great principle which our author has adopted as the foundation of his “Scheme and Completion of Prophecy." Having sapped that, -we leave the superstructure to fall of itself; and are little anxious to expend our ammunition upon an untenable post, whence the master of Galway school