תמונות בעמוד

rival efforts of lyric bards of different Arab tribes. One result of these poetic efforts seems to have been to make the peculiar expressions of each tribe a part of the authorised language of the other; a common language of literature being thus, to some extent, created, while at the same time dialectical differences distinguished the ordinary spoken language of the tribes. It thus appears that the Arabic language, prior to Mahomet's time, was already tending to a fixed form for use in literary productions. The Koran, as you well know, was finally written out by order of the Khalif Othman in the dialect of the Koreishites, who were the dominant tribe in Mahomet's day, and that to which he himself belonged; their dialect also had, it is probable, become the literary standard, by appropriating to itself a larger measure than other tribes of that culture which poetic rivalry put within the reach of all. But it is quite plain that the promulgation of the Koran rather depressed and restricted literary effort among the Arabs. In style, it is far from being as rich and varied as the productions of the earlier poets; and yet it would have been presumption to think of surpassing it in language or manner, since the superexcellence of its composition was claimed by Mahomet as an argument for its inspiration. Now came in, also, the influence of the grammarians, who, though they refer to the earlier poets, yet prove every thing by the Koran; all sorts of pretences are resorted to by them to make out, in every case, that the language of their Sacred Book is without fault. To this is to be added, that all the learning of the Arabs is based in some respects upon the Koran; this book became the First Class Book, so to speak, in all schools. The Arab mind having moved in a sphere so circumscribed, since the promulgation of the Koran, ever turning to that as in prayer the Mahometan ever faces the Kebla, it is true that the written Arabic has been very little changed from that time to this. Even the preservation of the ancient pronunciation has been provided for in the reading of the Koran, by the perpetuation of the rules of early Koran-readers, in a special department of the schools. There would seem to be a strong presumption, that, whenever a body of sacred literature exists, which has been transmitted down from a turning period in the progress of a nation's civilization, and a class of men devoted to its study, the literary language will not deviate from the model of the sacred book. This might be illustrated by the case of the Sanscrit, which, until within a few years, was even spoken by the Brahmins in its classic form ; and which, as written, has changed very little, except in certain works where caprice seems to have driven the fancy mad since its classic age. May it not also be true, that the separation of a written from a

spoken language favours the preservation generally of the ancient purity of the former?

"The ordinary language of social intercourse with the Arabs must have been affected already as soon as it came to be used by foreign nations, upon whom it was forced, or who adopted it with the religion of the Prophet; though in the palmy days of Islamism the Moslem schools would tend to check this foreign influence. But it received still greater modifications in consequence of the less general diffusion of instruction, and the diminished stimulus to learning, and the irruptions of barbarians into Mahometan countries after the decline of the Khalifate. The peculiarities of the spoken Arabic consist chiefly in the intermixture of foreign words, and in abbreviations of pronunciation, by which some of the more delicate distinctions of grammatical form in the written Arabic are lost. Yet I suppose it to be a fact that the Koran is equally intelligible to all who speak the Arabic."

It may be added, that the circumstances of the Syrians and Arabians were very different from those of the Hebrews. The former passed through many stages of cultivation. They appropriated to themselves Greek science, and were compelled to borrow many scientific terms, and thus endanger the purity of their language. The Arabians, too, entered on a career of conquest, subjugating the nations from Spain almost to China. How different was the condition of the Hebrews from the days of Joshua to Josiah, and how almost infinitely less exposed to change was the Hebrew language than its sister dialect !

ART. IV.-God in Christ: Three Discourses delivered at New

Haven, Cambridge, and Andover; with a Preliminary Dissertation on Language. By HORACE BUSHNELL. Hartford:

Brown and Parsons. 1849. Pp. 356. [Dr BUSHNELL is a Congregationalist minister in Connecticut, of distinguished ability, and (hitherto) of considerable influence. His " Three Discourses” have excited no small attention in America, and are at present the source of much trouble to the New England Churches.]

The doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement, are the common property of Christians. They belong to no sect and to no country. Any assault upon them, any explanation or defence of them, is matter of general interest. These doctrines are discussed in the volume now before us. It is addressed, therefore, to the whole Christian public, and not exclusively to New England. On this account we are disposed


to call the attention of our readers to its contents. We are the more inclined to take this course, because the character of the work, and the peculiar circumstances of its origin, are likely to secure for it an extensive circulation. We hardly think, indeed, that it will produce the sensation which many seem to expect. Dr Bushnell says, “ Some persons anticipate, in the publication of these Discourses,' the opening of another great religious controversy. This expectation he does not himself entertain, because he says, “I am quite resolved that I will be drawn into no reply, unless there is produced against me some argument of so great force, that I feel myself required, out of simple duty to the truth, either to surrender, or to make important modifications in, the views I have advanced. I anticipate, of course, no such necessity, though I do anticipate that arguments, and reviews, very much in the character of that which I just now gave myself, will be advanced—such as will show off my absurdities in a very glaring light, and such as many persons of acknowledged character will accept with applause, as conclusive, or even explosive refutations. Therefore I advertise it beforehand, to prevent a misconstruction of my silence, that I am silenced now, on the publication of my volume."

This passage clearly indicates that an effect is expected from these Discourses, such as few sermons have ever produced. We are disposed to doubt as to this point. We should be sorry to think that the public mind is in such an unhealthy state, as to be much affected by any thing contained in this volume. Every thing from Dr Bushnell has indeed a certain kind of power. His vigorous imagination, and his adventurous style, cannot fail to command attention. There is in this book a great deal of truth pungently presented; and there are passages of exquisite beauty of thought and expression. Still, with reverence be it spoken, we think the book a failure. In the first place, it settles nothing. It overturns, but it does not erect. Men do not like to be houseless; much less do they like to have the doctrines which overhang and surround their souls as a dwelling and refuge, pulled to pieces, that they may sit sentimentally on the ruins. "If Dr Bushnell takes from us our God and our Redeemer, he is bound to provide some adequate substitute. He has done no such thing. He rejects the old doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation; but he has produced no other intelligible doctrine. He has not thought himself through. He is only half out of the shell. And therefore his attempt to soar is premature. He rejects the doctrine of three persons in one God. He says: “It seems to be agreed by the orthodox, that there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the Divine Nature. This he

denies, and argues against.—(Pp. 130–136.) In opposition to such a Trinity, he presents and urges the doctrine of a historieal Trinity, a threefold revelation of God. But then, the old house down, and the new not keeping out the rain, and tottering under even the builder's solitary tread, he tries (though too late, except as an acknowledgment of failure) to reconstruct the old. What Trinitarian wishes more, or can say more than Dr Bushnell says on p. 174?—“ Neither is it any so great wisdom, as many theologians appear to fancy, to object to the word person; for, if any thing is clear, it is that the Three of Scripture do appear under the grammatic forms which are appropriate to person—I, Thou, He, We, and They; and, if it be so, I really do not perceive the very great licence taken

I by our theology when they are called three persons. Besides, we practically need, for our own sake, to set them out as three persons before us, acting relatively towards each other, in order to ascend into the liveliest, fullest realization of God. We only need to abstain from assigning to these divine persons an interior, metaphysical nature, which we are nowise able to investigate, and which we may positively know to contradict the real unity of God.” To all this we say, Amen. Then what becomes of his arguments against three persons in the divine nature? What becomes of his cheating mirage of a Trinity-a trinity of revelations? He takes away the doctrine on which the spiritual life of every Christian rests, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and gives us "a God historically three;"

;' and then admits that the Scriptures teach, and that we need, a God personally three! Dr Bushnell cannot reasonably expect to convert others until he has completed the conversion of himself.

This half-ism is manifested also in what he says of the person of Christ.—(Pp. 158–167.) He presents all the usualobjections against the assumption of a twofold nature in the Redeemer. He insists that it is God that appears under the limitations of humanity, and that of the divine nature is to be predicated the ignorance, subordination, and suffering ascribed to Christ. He commits himself fully to the Apollinarian view of Christ's person. And then his heart or his conscience smites him. His unsteady head again reels, and he gives it all up. When categorically demanded, whether he renounces the divine and life-giving doctrine of God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, he falters, and says: “It may be imagined that I intend, in holding this view of the incarnation, or of the person of Christ, to deny that he had a human soul, or any thing human but a human body. I only deny that his human soul, or nature, is to be spoken of, or looked upon, as having a distinct subsistence.”—(P. 168.) But this we all





deny. Who ever heard of two distinct subsistences" in Christ? If Dr Bushnell has got no further than this, he has not got beyond his Catechism. For it is there taught there is but one subsistence, one suppositum intelligens, one person in Christ. He returns, however, to his šiowaov, to his Christ without a soul, a Christ who is no Christ, almost on the next page. We do not gain any thing, he says, “ by supposing a distinct human soul in the person of Christ, connecting itself with what are called the humanities of Christ. Of what so great consequence to us are the humanities of a mere human soul?"—(P. 156.) This saying and unsaying betrays a man who is not sure of his ground. People will never confide in a leader who does not confide in himself. Dr Bushnell has undertaken a task for which he is entirely incompetent. He has not the learning, the knowledge of opinions or forms of doctrine, nor has he the philosophical culture, nor the constructive intellect, required to project a consistent and comprehensive theory on the great themes of God, the Incarnation and Redemption. We say this with no disrespect. We would say it with tenfold more readiness of ourselves. We have the advantage of our author, however, in having sense enough to know that our sphere is a much humbler one. Machiavelli was accustomed to say, there are three classes of men: one who see things in their own light; another who see them when they are shown; and a third who cannot see them even then. We invite Dr Bushnell to resume his place with us in the second class. By a just judgment of God, those who uncalled aspire to the first, lapse into the third.

The characteristic to which we have referred is not so strongly marked in the Discourse on the Atonement. Here, alas ! the writer has been able to emancipate himself more completely from the teachings of the nursery, the Bible, and the Spirit. Yet even here, there is that yearning after the old and scriptural, that desire to save something from the wreck of his former faith, which excites respectful commiseration.

There are but three radical views of the atonement, properly so called: the scriptural doctrine, which represents it as a real propitiation; the governmental view, which makes it a method of teaching symbolically the justice of God; the Socinian view, which regards it as designed to produce a subjective effect, to impress men with a sense of God's love, &c. Dr Bushnell spurns the first, rejects the second, and adopts the third. But then he finds that he has lost every thing worth retaining, and therefore endeavours to regain the first, which he calls the " “altar view." His “constructive logic” will not allow his holding it as truth, he therefore endeavours to hold it as “form. He cannot retain it as doctrine, but he clings to it as “art." He admits that it is the scriptural view; that the whole church

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