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That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.' And their testimony to those and corresponding facts has formed the ground of faith in all succeeding generations, wherever the religion of Christ has been made known. Denude it of these facts and what were Christianity? Where were the Gospel? What good news were there to tell? Shake our confidence in the historical verity of the truth that Christ died for our sins,' and the anchor of the soul is gone. We do not charge Mr. Morell with an attempt directly to invalidate these facts, but his system leads him to depreciate their value, and to displace them from that position, which, to an impartial eye, they must ever hold in the Christian system. Mr. M. would ever exalt the internal, or as he calls it, 'intuitive,' at the expense of the documentary; but a healthful Christianity, we are convinced, will ever demand that the authority of the latter be sustained as paramount.
In the following sentence the possession of a susceptibility seems to be confounded with its exercise, or at least regarded as of necessity involving such exercise: We must suppose that if the Creator would communicate truth to his creatures, he gave them minds originally capable of feeling it, and originally capable of sympathising with it. In one word, the first revelation of God to man must have been an inward revelation' (p. 328). That the human mind possesses an original susceptibility of feeling or apprehending spiritual truth we not only admit but maintain. But does this susceptibility necessarily embody the truth appropriate to it? Or rather may not the susceptibility be possessed and yet frequently not be awakened; as it is certain many minds possess the power of perceiving and recognizing much truth, which yet through life they never discover. If the susceptibility of feeling and appreciating truth, of necessity embodied and revealed all the truth appropriate to it, it would not be merely a susceptibility. It would be a gift rather than a power. And we might ask, is such a gift analogous to any of the other endowments of the human mind? But we content ourselves with this other simple question -Does the history of religion, or rather of the religions of the world evince that man is possessed of any such gift? If it does, what has been its practical value? Apart from the influence of all documentary and traditionary revelation, where even its manifestations?
From a certain party we have heard much recently of 'Catholic tradition,' as the only sure guard against individual error; for this our author proposes to substitute the Catholic consciousness' of the universal Church (p. 348). This, amid all perplexing
controversies and minor perturbations,' is to be the refuge of light and security to the individual Christian mind.'-The Catholic consciousness of the universal Church has gone forward in its development; one point after another has been cleared up, one principle after another brought to light; and the calm, unbiassed, heaven-aspiring mind, standing aloof from the din and passion of controversy, sees the central course through which God is guiding his ark, and falls back upon the great Catholic hopes, convictions, and aspirations of the Christian mind in its upward progress, as its safest guide, its surest resource' (pp. 348, 349). Now admitting this Catholic consciousness' to have an unique adaptation to fulfil these high ends, how is it to be got at? Facts of consciousness, until they are expressed, are known only to the individual mind that experiences them. This 'Catholic consciousness 'must be made up of individual consciousnesses, which can only be expressed by language; and thus it becomes subject, on our author's own showing, to all the difficulties attending the precise expression of mental states and experience, and that in an aggravated measure, as the intuitional experience is of all others the most difficult to express. Even this transcendental light must, unfortunately, stoop to convey itself from mind to mind by a 'letter' as well as the vulgar revelation we have in the Bible. And thus it becomes liable to all the infelicities and incertitude, which our author has, with such keen-sightedness, adduced against that medium of truth.
We have remarked on this work with all the freedom which the importance of the principles at stake demands; but we would not be understood as condemning the entire book. Apart from the vitiating influence of the theory on which we have felt it necessary at such length to animadvert, there is a good deal of valuable, and sometimes beautiful and impressive thinking. As containing examples of this, we would particularly instance the chapters On the peculiar Essence of Religion,' and 'On Fellowship.' But in maintaining and illustrating his favourite theory, the author is often chargeable with palpable inconsistencies, and betrays, sometimes, a strange ignorance of the power of scientific instruments, and of the appropriate sphere of their application. And that peculiar theory, which in our estimation vitiates his book, not unfrequently vitiates also his style, producing, instead of a distinct and perspicuous expression of thought, a cloud of ill-digested and confused verbiage. We can only give one or two examples :
On page 196 he speaks of 'Divine things as reflected on the surface of our spiritual nature,' while on page 197 he tells us that the perceptions we obtain of spiritual things in the vital awakenment of our religious nature, are direct presentations to the
inward eye.' On page 198 he informs us that religion pictures out before us, even to our own awe and astonishment, the wonderful revelations of God to man.' Religion picturing out the revelations of God before us is really a most extraordinary process. If such an operation had been demanded, we should have been inclined to have assigned it to imagination, concluding that religion would be concerned only to receive these revelations, and assimilate them as its life. On page 204, he describes the evangelical narrative as a touchstone whereby to compare the whole complexion of our own religious life with that of the apostles, and the spiritual features of our own character with the image, mirrored to us in the Word of the Saviour himself' !
In addition to such not unfrequent incongruities of style and figure, the incessant iteration of the bald elements of one theory, induces so frequent a recurrence of the phrases Intuitional Consciousness,' Christian Consciousness,' Catholic Christian Consciousness,' as to give them all the offensive savour of cant. And we must protest that in our whole lives we have never been more sick of any form of cant, than, on closing the volume before us, we have been of this; and never felt a greater relief than in making our escape from this hothouse of transcendental exotics into the sharp clear air of our native hills. There we feel ourselves again, not mere theosophic dreamers, but waking, living, individual, Christian men, and with just a plain English reason, heart, conscience, and spiritual emotions.
THE GOLDEN CALF.
Translated from Saurin's 'Discours Historiques, Critiques, Théologiques, et Moraux, sur les Evénemens les plus mémorables du Vieux et du Nouveau Testament.'
By the Rev. F. A. Cox, D.D., LL.D.
VIRTUOUS and holy purposes, which originate in a sudden emotion of fear, are seldom put in practice. The Israelites, while seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder, said to Moses, All that the Lord hath spoken will we do;' but the lightning disappeared, the thunder was no more heard, Moses was no longer in the midst of them to demand the fulfilment of their promises; they forgot their vows, and madly violated them.
Some Jewish doctors have said they imagined that their legislator had been devoured by the flames of Sinai, adding that the devil led them into this error; that he even showed them the rod of Moses, or had caused a phantom to appear in the air to induce the belief that it was his dead body. His absence became the more intolerable to them that the pillar of cloud seemed to be for ever withdrawn with Moses to the mountain, and they had too a mind to worship an invisible God who gross gave sensible sign of his presence. They wished to supply the absence of the cloud, and to have a symbol of divinity among them. They said to Aaron, Make us gods,' or 'make us a god,' for the original admits of either of these translations.b 'Make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him; not that they were so stupid as to believe that the hands of men could give being to the Divinity, but they wished for some outward and visible object where they might deposit, so to speak, the homage they would render to the sovereign God. Thus, some rabbins have explained the words of Moses,— Make us a sensible object of divine worship which shall be before our eyes, and be in the place of God, when reminded of the miracles done for us in Egypt.'
It is astonishing that Aaron should have offered no resistance to the people's proposal, or, if he did so, that Moses should have made no mention of it. It seems necessary that such a circumstance should have been recorded, and that we should have had a better guarantee for it than the testimony of certain rabbins. They have stated, if not as an entire justification of Aaron, at least as some exculpation, that his timidity was the cause of his compliance; that Hur had been massacred for wishing to oppose them; and that Aaron, ready to yield to their violence, said, in appealing to heaven, 'I raise mine eyes to thee, O God, who searchest the heart, and dwellest in the heavens: thou knowest that I act against my wishes.'
But Moses relates the criminal compliance of Aaron, immediately after having spoken of the criminal demand of the Israelites. He says that Aaron replied, Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.'
a Shemoth Rabba, sect. 41, fol. 156.
Some ancient writerse
b It is true the word 'Elohim' is construed here with a plural, but this is often the case when the true God is spoken of (Gen. xx. 13; Exod. xxxii. 1).
c R. Juda, in lib. Cozri, part i., sect. 97, fol. 47.
d Shem. Rab., sect. 41.
August., vol. iv., Quest. 41 in Exod.; Theod., vol. i., in Exod.
have presumed that this reply was given in order to discourage these foolish people, and that he supposed they would not wish for an idol which he fixed at so high a price. If this diminished the fault of Aaron it aggravated that of the Israelites. They felt no repugnance in furnishing these golden earrings taken from the Egyptians, which God had given them by virtue of his sovereign right over the whole earth and all contained in it, and thus anticipated the reproach of a prophet addressed to their descendants many ages afterwards- As a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband; Thou givest thy gifts to all whores; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom' (Ezek. xvi. 32, 33).
The history adds that Aaron took the offerings of the Israelites and made a molten calf.' But the words which he employs immediately preceding these last, furnish one of the most remarkable examples of the ambiguity of the sacred language; for they equally signify either that Aaron received the earrings in a bag, or that he graved them with an engraving tool. One of the most celebrated critics" prefers the former interpretation, and founds his preference on reasons so plausible, that they might have appeared unanswerable, had they not been refuted by another critic of great name, who opposes them with substantial reasons, so that the principal conclusion to be drawn from this dispute is, that it is an argument in favour of critical scepticism.
A more famous question is agitated by the learned, which no less contributes to the same conclusion, and proves there are subjects on which it is possible to advance considerations equally probable in support of the most opposite opinions. It is asked what determined Aaron to choose the image of a calf as an emblem of the Deity? We will state the principal opinions of the learned on the subject; and if they produce the same impression upon the reader as they have upon us, he will remain still in suspense without taking a decided part in the dispute.
Some expositors have supposed that Aaron gained this idea on the mountain, where he was once admitted with Moses; and on another occasion with Nadab and Abibu, and the seventy elders. They maintain that God appeared exalted on a cherub which had the form of an ox; a thought on which the whole treatise entitled Aaron Exculpated turns. But this sentiment is incompatible with that extreme care which God took not to furnish on Sinai any pretext for idolatry, and with his own words to the Israelites in
f In Ps. cvi. 20, it is called an ox.
8 Bocharti Hieroz., part i., lib. 2. c. 34.
h Le Clerc.
Fr. Moncæus, Aaron. Purgat.' at the end of vol. ii. of Criticisms.