Page images
[blocks in formation]

He discusses at length, in opposition to the Epicureans, the superiority of man as compared with the inferior animals, showing how reason in the former is calculated to supply the place of all the natural advantages of the latter. "Ita fit, ut plus homini conferat ratio, quam natura mutis," which is not merely said but proved; as the "ita fit" implies. Theodoretus is not less particular than Lactantius, in speaking of the extraordinary structure and uses of the human hand, and in abundance of very curious instances, brings forward such strong proofs of the providence, power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator, from the formation of the universe to the incarnation of the Son of God for the redemption of fallen man, as to be highly deserving the attention of all persons desirous of knowing how much more we owe to the diligence, attention, learning and eloquence of ancient writers than modern wisdom would seem to allow. I could almost wonder that Lord Bridgewater, who was apparently a man well acquainted with the authors of antiquity, did not at once direct the discoveries of modern science to be engrafted, as it were, on such treatises of former ages, as those to which I have alluded; for there are many more of a similar description still extant, though several have fallen a sacrifice, as might be expected, to the ravages of time.

No. V.

Having had occasion in the first section of the foregoing work, to treat rather largely of the manhood of Jesus Christ, as an assumed manhood, and by no means implying that he was no more than man, but indeed the contrary, though Dr.

"Ex ipso

mary of the views he has taken of vertebrated animals. autem vasculo corporis quatuor fecit extantia, bina posterius; quæ sunt in omnibus pedes; item bina capiti et collo proxima; quæ varios animantibus usus præbent. In pecudibus enim ac feris sunt pedes posterioribus similes; in homine autem manus; quæ non ad ambulandum, sed ad faciendum, operandumque sunt natæ. Est et tertium genus, in quo priora illa neque pedes neque manus sunt; sed alæ, in quibus pennæ per ordinem fixæ volandi exhibent usum : ita una fictio diversas species,

[blocks in formation]

Priestley in his "Corruptions of Christianity," would have us believe, that" our Lord's mere humanity is the clear doctrine of the Scriptures, and that the apostles never taught any other;" I think it not amiss to observe, how remarkable a circumstance it is, that the celebrated confession of Peter, that he knew Jesus to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God," Matt. xvi. 16., should have originated in an inquiry on the part of our Saviour, in which he had particularly called himself, the "Son of Man." The whole passage is very striking. "When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of MAN am? And they said, some say, John the Baptist; some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets," plainly showing that they looked to the manhood only, as the subject of general opinion; and which furnished therefore, no complete answer; for," he saith unto them," the Scripture proceeds to tell us, "But whom say YE that I am ?" This more home question, so to speak, immediately drew from Peter a full acknowledgment of his divinity. "And Simon Peter answered, and said, Thou art the CHRIST, the son of the LIVING GOD. And Jesus answered, and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but MY FATHER which is in HEAVEN." Peter does in no manner deny the manhood, but peremptorily asserts the Godhead; he affirms, in short, three things of Jesus; that he was the CHRIST; that he was the SON of MAN ; and that he was the son of the living God. It is to be noted that the appellation of Son of Man, is applied to Christ by himself, but by no other person throughout the four Gospels: it occurs seventeen times in Matthew, twenty in Mark, twenty-one in Luke, and eleven times in John, and always with this restriction. See Paley's Eridences.

That our Saviour by calling himself "the Son of Man," never meant to deny his heavenly Sonship is evident from the account we have in Matthew of his betrayal by Judas. When the false disciple had given the sign he had pledged himself to give, Jesus said unto him, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" But when, upon his surrendering himself up, his other disciples would have rescued him from the power of his enemies, he checked them, by reminding them of his higher character;

[blocks in formation]

"Thinkest thou, that I cannot pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of Angels ?" and again, when carried before the high priest, and adjured to tell him whether he were the Christ the Son of the blessed God, he refers them to a proof, that may be said to have included both Sonships, and to have been so understood. "And Jesus saith, nevertheless," (that is, notwithstanding the despised and lowly form in which I now appear at this tribunal,) "hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power of GOD, and coming in the clouds of heaven;" which was considered to be so explicit and clear a declaration that he claimed to be the proper Son of God, that they at once pronounced it to be a blasphemous assumption of divinity, and a pretence for all that was to follow-in fact, our Lord knew, that as the Son of Man, he was THAT Son of Man, exclusively, that was revealed to the Prophet Daniel in his "night visions, as coming in the clouds of heaven, and to whom was assigned an everlasting dominion, which should not pass away; a kingdom that should never be destroyed." Dan. vii. 13, 14.


I can understand why the incarnation of the Son of God should appear a mystery to many minds, because in fact it has never yet been made known to us otherwise than as a mystery; a 'great mystery,” 1 Tim. iii. 16. But I am at a loss to conceive how it can be supposed that the two characters ascribed to our Lord in the holy Scriptures, could possibly be given to any being possessed of a simple nature1.

No. VI.

That no wrong impressions may be left upon the minds of the readers of this small volume, I must, in conclusion, request it to be understood, and recollected with some indulgence, that it was written by an author, born some years before the Baron Cuvier 2, and of course many years, before his very curious

1 See this admirably discussed in the Sermons of President Dwight, of Yale College, in Connecticut. Sermon xlii.

2 It would seem as if the author had been partly kept alive by his own personal insignificance, since besides Cuvier, who was his junior,

[blocks in formation]

and extraordinary researches, had produced that excitement and enthusiasm amongst naturalists, which ever since his labours became known to the world, have been at work, are now at work, and are likely to continue so, as long as ever new discoveries may be made in the mineral kingdom, particularly in such parts as shall be found to contain organic remains, whether animal or vegetable.

It should also be remembered that the author is old enough to have been in communication with naturalists of great name in their day, whose opinions upon some points were confessedly approved, and fully adopted by Cuvier himself; points of great importance in regard to the credibility of the Mosaic history. I very naturally regarded Cuvier, for instance, as a host in support of some of the principal conclusions of his predecessors De Luc and Dolomieu, particularly with respect to the low antiquity of our present continents; the sinking of former continents at the time of the deluge, and the course of things since. I also considered him to be a firm believer in the Genesis of Moses, and I am extremely happy to make out from Mrs. Lee's most interesting Memoirs of Cuvier, just published, that in all likelihood his opinions remained the same to the hour of his death. She has been careful to introduce into that work, the following passage cited in a former part of my book." I think with MM. De Luc and Dolomieu, that if there be any thing positive in geology, it is, that the surface of our globe has been the victim of a great and sudden revolution, the date of which cannot be carried back further than from five to six thousand years; that this revolution has buried and caused the disappearance of countries formerly inhabited by man, and animals which are now known; and on the other hand, has exposed the bottom of the water, and has formed from that, the countries now inhabited."

I shall now copy what is said of his belief in Moses; premising only that having in a former part of this work observed that Moses was compelled to write of, or introduce, emblems at the very beginning of the Book of Genesis, he soon laid them aside for plain history.

there were born, it appears, in the same year as Cuvier, Napoleon Buonaparte, the Duke of Wellington, Mr. Canning, M. de Chateaubriand, Sir Walter Scott, and Sir James Mackintosh.


[blocks in formation]

"The second lecture gave a sketch of the four great nations constituted at the remotest period before Christianity, and of which history gives us any certain information. The extent of their knowledge was measured; the influence of that knowledge appreciated; and in speaking of Moses, M. Cuvier said, that although Moses was brought up in all the learning of the Egyptians, he foresaw the inconveniences of, and laboured much to abolish their practice of veiling the truth under mysterious emblems. That Moses was in possession of that truth, was evident from his system of cosmogony, which every discovery of recent times serves but to confirm."-[Memoirs of Cuvier.]

I am sorry to look upon the present state of things, fancying I see the approaches of something like a contest between revelation and science; which every prudent person would wish to prevent, and which in my own mind, I think, might be prevented, without any hazardous concessions.

I have observed in the course of my reading, that our most respectable geologists in the midst of their enthusiasm, (for enthusiasm there certainly is) profess to entertain an unshaken veneration for the sacred writings, provided, that is, and this proviso gives offence to some, that they be considered as exclusively the vehicle for instilling Divine truths into the minds of men, and to have nothing to do with the "laws and structure of the material universe." The origin of the earth and man, they say, so far from having been co-incident, as the Book of Genesis would seem to intimate, was in reality so totally distinct, as to have no assignable connection whatever. Man, they allow, appears to be of recent origin, but the earth itself of a perfectly incalculable age, though for a very great length of time, stored with vegetables and animals; the latter of orders and classes inferior to man, and some, of species entirely extinct long before man appeared.

It has struck me, that if this theory be altogether correct, we, as human creatures, can have nothing to do with such a state of things. Such vegetables might as well have grown, and such animals have existed in quite another world-a world therefore which we may very harmlessly give up to the cultivators of physical sciences, as they themselves seem to propose. I do not however see that we are bound to give up a letter of the

« PreviousContinue »