« הקודםהמשך »
of right appertains to the place. The different members of a sentence are not platoons that should be distinguished, by the plumes of their officers above the heads of the privates.
The Doctor is too fond of obsolete, technical phraseology; and hence we have the distinction of objective and subjective religion, objective and subjective emotions, objective assurance, subjective enjoyment, subjective grace, and similar expressions, over and over, until we could wish the writer as weary as we are of the terms. See pages, 295, 298, 300, 332, 333, 336, 350, 64. In the instance, in which he says, “we disapprove of making subjective enjoyment the ultimate end of your exertions in Christianity,” he must intend your own enjoyment;' and we confess ourselves unable to conceive of any enjoyment of which some one is not the subject. On the 378th page he states, that God's complacency is on account of our subjective piety. Here the word is an icile expletive; for our piety, is that piety of which we are the subjects.
Of Nicodemus he says, “no wonder he would be struck by the pointed application, which our Saviour made to him." P. 43. It was not a matter of will on his part whether he should be struck or not; yet we agree, that it is “no wonder he should be struck.” “No other man ever hath borne himself again;” p. 53, is rather a queer expression. He seems to compare regeneration, p. 68, to some infectious diseases, for he speaks of things “highly subservient to the progress of sanctification, when regeneration has actually taken.” A physician might adopt the same language on the subject of "vaccination. The impersonal verb behoove he spells behove, and uses like an active verb, thus; “ we behove to de. pend upon him,"4" believers behove to walk according to their Christian profession;” and “men-behove to consider the peculiar kind of evidence;" in which instances it behooved him to have said, “we ought to de. pend,” “ believers ought to walk,” and “men ought to consider;” or else to have employed the common form of expression. See p. 189, 191, 198, 233, and other places. He speaks of “a state of society where profes- . sors have the most religion," instead of the state in which, or wherein. p. 103. “You would require,” (he means it would be requisite for you)“ in a special manner, to remember, that there are different degrees of grace.” p. 225. It is somewhat vulgar to say of infants, that they are “snatched off from the evil to come,” and worse than some inelegance to attribute snatching to Jehovah. His providential dealings are all deliberate, and have no. thing in them analogous to the sudden and passionate actions of mortals.
He speaks, p. 343, of “engaging, in a vow to the Searcher of hearts, that we shall henceforward promote his glory.” We engage that we will, but foretel that we shall, perform any work. “I shall,” and “we shall,” are declarations concerning something future; whereas “I will," and " we will," are promises, or expressions of determination. “ Thou wilt, he will, ye will, and they will” on the other hand, are simple assertions concerning some future actions of the persons denoted by the pronouns; but “thou shalt, he shall, ye shall, and they shall” are expressions of the determination of the speaker, to con. strain, or compel, or persuade, some person or persons to perform some action. These distinctions we wish the descendants of Scotch and Dutch ancestry particularly to consider, because they most frequently confound their readers by the neglect of them. Even the celebrated Dr. Blair, (more celebrated for his fine writing than any thing else,) is sometimes censurable on this point; but then, he was a Scotchman, dever naturalized in America, in which the English language is more generally spoken with purity and accuracy than in any other country.
The general division of the third Sermon is a clumsy one. “We are both enlightened and invigorated for our journey, hy a knowledge of the power of his resurrection. This, brethren, is the doctrine of my text: And I shall, I. Make that appear by an exposition, and II. Lay before you the several degrees of progress in the religious life.” p. 80. What he intends to make appear is rendered doubtful by the manner in which he has introduced the demonstrative pronouns this and that. After the word 'resurrection,' he might have said, “ That this is the doctrine of my text, I shall, I. Make appear by an exposition,” &c. which would have prevented any misapprehension of his meaning.
“ It indicates something unfavourable” is an expression preferable to “it indicates unfavourably to those that remain.” p. 398.-" The meaning of the expression,
rejoice under the shadow of his wings,' is this. Enjoying the shelter and the refreshment, provided for those over whom the divine perfections are providentially exercised, there is cause of joy; and as this is the case with all Christians, they all have, with the life and power of personal religion, both safety and comfort." p. 349. If this unhappily constructed sentence could be reduced to a few words, and those few, the period being banished, could be transposed, we should have our author's meaning thus; " to rejoice under the shadow of his wings, is to rejoice in the safety and comfort which the divine perfections graciously provide for all Christians.” Dr. M'L. sometimes carries his attempts to give descriptions and definitions too far. Had he remarked, that the wings of fowls are designed to bear them through the air, and to protect their young, it would have been enough; but hear him:
Wings are those feathered members of the fowls, where. with they fy through the air, and protect their young.” p. 348.- We are fond of systematic divisions in a discourse from the pulpit; but still we think our author has some formal heads which are needless. For instance he says, p. 341, “ I shall, with divine assistance, explain the words of my text; and then, describe the consolations of true religion. I. I shall explain my text.” To "explain the words of his text,” is the duty of every preacher, if the words need explanation. We deem it expedient, however, ordinarily, to make the explanation of the words of a text a part of the introduction. Under this first head, nevertheless, instead of explaining the words, he intro. duces a lecture upon five distinct verses, which occupies eight pages of the sermon.
It appears to us to be a fault, both in Dr. M‘L, and in Dugald Stewart, whom he quotes on the subject, to confound the passions and affections of the human mind, by calling the affections "agreeable passions." He might as well have written an account of agreeable sufferings; for passion, when properly used, always denotes a painful emotion of some kind. Among the passions which govern the will, "instead of leaving it to be directed by wisdom and piety," he enumerates Avarice, Ambition, Emulation, Anger, Grief, Fear, Jealousy and Love. p. 312, 367. The last we consider to be the name of a passion, only when it is used to denote lust, or. some inordinate attachment; in other cases it is the name of an affection. The want of discrimination on this subject would be nothing in the greater part of sermonizers, because we do not expect them to be precise, and meta. physically accurate in their language; but in Dr. M'L. it is something remarkable, since he is unquestionably one of the best reasoners of our age and country. But, before we speak of his merits, let us remark, thai two of the sermons occupy more than one hundred octavo pages; that each of the ten discourses might, with propriety, and greatly to the satisfaction of most readers, have been divided into two distinct discussions, from separate texts; that the style of them is sometimes dry and stiff; that he brings not the true philosophy of the human mind so much to his aid in describing faith as other thing»; and that he uses the word principle, fre. quently, without rendering the idea attached to it suffi. ciently obvious. He introduces, we confess, Stewart's opinion, that those circumstances which make a part of our constitution and influence the will should be called active principles. p. 310. This excludes the notion of acquired principles. We could wish our author had been more explicit, p. 55, 56, especially about the NEW PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. It is denied by many, that there is any such thing as a principle of action, or of life. Those who maintain what they call “ the exercise scheme" in theology, assert, that the Calvinists use the word principle without meaning: and it is too true that many of them have never sufficiently defined the term. Although we come not into the secret of those who main. tain that all man's exercises, good and bad, are immediately created by God, yet we cannot help thinking that the source of any motive to volition is a principle of voluntary action, whether it be something in our original constitution, or something acquired. The word active may be omitted without any detriment to the doctrine of principles; for there are principles of mechanical, chemical, animal, mental, and spiritual action, of which one is no more active than another. The word principium, from which principle is derived, signifies a beginning, an antecedent, an axiom, an original. Thus the ingredients of bread, which are flour, water or milk, and yeast, are the component principles of bread. Those gases to which our atmospheric air may be reduced, are the first princi. ples of the fluid which surrounds our globe. In accounting for any mechanical or chemical operation, those things which are antecedent and essential to the operation, and beyond which we cannot go in assigning a reason for it, are called the first principles of the operation. That in the constitution of an animal which to us seems to be the beginning, or ultimate animal cause, of a purely animal action, we call the first principle of that action. The first principles of human reasoning are self-evident propositions, or our constitutional judgments. Those things in the constitution or condition of the human mind, which we judge to be the most remote cause of any mental operation, we call the first principles of that operation. That, in any man's nature, or state, or acquirements, which appears to be the origin of, or ultimate reason which we assign for, any motive that regulates the will, is called a first principle of voluntary action. And in the same manner, should we attempt to account for spiritual actions, or for such mental operations of every faculty as renewed men perform, that which should appear to us to be the origin, or the beginning in man, of his holy, or spiritual exercises, we should call a principle of spiritual action. Fixed principles are such as are permanent, and originate any continued course of action. All those principles of action which are some part of our constitution, are fixed principles.