« ZurückWeiter »
them; and their incessant boast is that they have accomplished that at least, whatever else may come.
But we said we would explain the right of the citizen, in extremity, to resort to force. While the ordinances of God with reference to society, government, the magistrate, and the citizen, are universal in their nature and applicability, and would be proper and effectual in their application to the whole family of man, if the whole were united into one social system; they are equally applicable and effective upon whatever smaller number of human beings, and in whatever narrower bounds, God's providence toward our race may indicate. The duties and responsibilities of which we now speak, are, therefore, liable to become, and throughout the earth now actually are, local and special, as well as mutual. It is the American citizen—and no one else—to whom the American nation owes protection and defense, of the kind now intended; and it is to the American nation—and to no other nation—that the American citizen owes the special obedience and allegiance spoken of. These great duties, thus shown to be both mutual and special, are also relative. We have shown how God has made force irregularly exerted by the citizen, irrespective of wicked and traitorous magistrates, and even in defiance of them, an ultimate element in the security of society; and how he makes force exerted by the magistrate, the regular and ordinary means, of making the functions of society accomplish, through law, the objects for which, chiefly, governments exist: and the question which remains is, the right, on the part of the citizen, to use force irregularly in his own defense, as before in defense of society. When we say the duties and responsibilities involved are special, mutual, and relative-we have already virtually decided this question. When we examine the Word of God—not only the passage we have printed, but all scripture-we see that the idea continually enforced therein, is that of covenants mutually dependent, stipulations relatively obligatory, upon the magistrate and the citizen. There can be no rational doubt, therefore, it seems to us, that the use of irregular force, by the citizen, when driven to extremity, and to whatever extent that extremity requires, is according to the revealed will of God, and consists with the duties and responsibilities he owes to God, as a member of
human society,--as well as with the lower, mutual, and relative duties and responsibilities he owes to the magistrate and the government. If we deny this great truth, we increase a thousand fold, all the dangers that beset free institutions; and increase, in like degree, the security of all evil and oppressive rulers. If we admit it, we find our conclusion fortified by innumerable statements of God's Word, and multitudes of examples not only of his providence, but of his express commands, recorded therein. If we pass into the wide domain of the history of nations, we shall find no adequate or permanent progress made by mankind, no secure possession of life, liberty, or property, except among armed peoples, who, to a loyal and law-abiding spirit, added a prompt and resolute spirit of self-vindication, which good rulers knew how to respect, and bad ones wisely dreaded. For what end does the magistrate bear the sword, if by his means life is made insecure, property has lost the protection of law, liberty has become impossible, and the most venerable and sacred institutions are abused for purposes at once vile and fatal? Whoever, and whatever, reduces the citizen to such a condition as this, reduces him to extremity; and whoever, and whatever, does that, is responsible for all that follows. We do not pretend to say what is the extremity beyond this, which the citizen may, if he sees fit, endure; nor to point out the extremity below this, at which he may, if he sees fit, take up arms. Such questions cover an immense field, and are surrounded with multitudes of conditions. They must be left, under all circumstances, to the responsible discretion of mankind. Under God, there at last, is the great foundation—there the great risk-the great hope of humanity. There, first or last, all terminates, as to this world—whether we will or not. And never, perhaps, did the responsible discretion of a great nation signify more; never was its deliberate and manful exercise more pregnant with immense results, than is true at this moment, with regard to the people of the United States. And never, as it seems to us, was a clearer duty laid on any human being, than that laid on President Lincoln, to prosecute this war, which we have constantly asserted was an unavoidable necessity on his part, in such a spirit of reverence for the constitution, the laws, and the rights of the citizen, as
would enable every loyal man to keep a good conscience, in lending him the most determined support.
If we have succeeded in establishing the fundamental idea on which this Inquiry has been conducted, namely, that God has revealed his will and our duty, concerning every part of the immense subject embraced in it; we have furnished the means of correcting any errors we may have fallen into, at the same time that we have pointed out, to all men, the way, at once simple and infallible, whereby they may reach and enjoy, whatever assurance is attainable by man. And if the great conclusions we have reached, in expounding, on one side the Word of God, and on the other the sins and miseries of the times, find a response in the heart of this mighty nation—not blinded by fanaticism either for or against the four millions of African slaves, who are made the occasion of a double destruction to the nation; the way is still clear and wide before us, in which if we will walk, present triumph, and future security, freedom, and independence, are still attainable. It is impossible to deny, that the change of policy suddenly announced by the President in September 1862, totally changed the character of the war, and the posture of the nation. And it behooves the free states to understand clearly that their destiny will probably be as fatally involved, under this deplorable change, whether the administration succeeds or fails in the new policy, as the destiny of the border slave states, or even that of the rebel states.
ART. II.-A Commentary on Ecclesiastes, by Moses Stuart, late
Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological Seminary at Andover. Edited and Revised by R. D. C. Robbins, Professor in Middlebury College. Andover: Warren H. Draper. Boston : Gould and Lincoln. New York: John Wiley. Philadelphia : Smith, English and Co., 1862.
The man who can expound God's Word learnedly, judiciously, and in a popular manner, infusing the spirit of the inspired writers into the commentary, stands upon high vantage-ground for usefulness. Learned professors in theological seminaries, have, falling in with their appropriate work, rare opportunites for examining and expounding the Scriptures. Pastors of churches may produce popular, and if they have disciplined minds, learned commentaries. The Presbyterian Church should encourage every honest effort, on the part of her ministry, to write orthodox, wise, and appropriate works expounding the Bible. Her Board of Publication might thus give to the world commentaries in accordance with her Standards, that would not only bless her Sabbath schools, but instruct her elders and ministers.
The Book of Ecclesiastes has been a crux criticorum. Yet several commentaries on this Book have appeared of late—some in the German, some in the English language. The German commentaries are unsafe for readers that are not aware of the dangers of Rationalism and Neology.
In the English language, “The Royal Preacher," by Dr. James Hamilton, of London, was issued some years ago. It is not a critical work. It does not profess to be. Nor is it exactly a commentary. It is a cluster of brilliants, eminently fit to encircle the gifted author's head. The main truths of the Book of Ecclesiastes are presented in a style of unusual beauty and attractiveness.
A more recent work, and far better as a commentary, is that by Rev. Charles Bridges, M. A., Rector of Hinton Martell, Dorset. Nor is this work a critical one. It does not even give an analysis of the Book. But it is full of terse and instructive remarks, and it abounds in Gospel truths. For common readers it stands out as a pre-eminently useful commentary.
As unlike these as it is possible to be, is the work of Professor Stuart. It is eminently critical. It displays great learning and research. But for common readers it is absolutely worthless. It is evident that it was not intended for them. The Hebrew scholar will find much in the work to benefit him. But let him beware of the winding paths which so often cross and recross the true road, with every degree of divergence. Professor Stuart was one of New England's representative men. He was a true specimen of those who, in their desire to be original, call in question those doctrines that had been established as the belief of the church for ages.
They fear not the consequences of unsettling old foundations. They laugh to scorn the man who loves the creed of his church, and walks in the path that his father trod before him. The skepticism so prevalent in New England, may be traced in part to the novelties introduced by her religious teachers. Let others be warned by the ensample. The church may become the very bulwark of infidelity. The Roman Catholic idea, that what is a mere opinion of the church in one age may ripen into a dogma in another, would make truth not fixed and eternal, but subject to the mutations of time.
So Bishop Colenso, the Essayists, and others of high standing in the Church of England, would repudiate the Books of Moses as inspired; and blasphemously insinuate that the knowledge of our Lord was limited, because he quoted them as such. This same disposition to strike out new paths, and reject the old, has done immense mischief in our own country.
Professor Stuart was far from infidelity. But he was bold in his speculations; and his familiarity with German theology and criticism gave wings to his adventurous flights. Were Professor Stuart still living, an exposure of his views would be less delicate. Books, however, are public property; and faithfulness to one's own generation requires that their false teachings should be set in their proper light, though their authors are sleeping their last sleep. Professor Stuart's proneness to reject the plain teachings of the Scriptures for novel and untenable views, is frequently seen in his exposition of the Word of God. It is proposed to call the reader's attention to the Professor's arguments to prove that Solomon was not the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes! God's Word says plainly, that the author of the Book was “the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Solomon was the only person that was both the son of David and king in Jerusalem. Therefore, Solomon was the author. We need no higher authority than God's Word to prove that Solomon was the author. Yet, Professor Stuart, following Grotius, De Wette and others, supposes that a later, but unknown writer, has palmed off upon the world a book as though it were written by Solomon. If this can be believed, then it requires but another step to reject the book altogether as an inspired document. The Professor calls the opinion, that Solomon was the author, an “old tradition, and says: