Puslapio vaizdai

"The next fact that must also force itself upon any man who comes to survey this literature from the older ones, or from the oldest of all, God's living literature of nature, and not from the conventional estimates of its dignity and worth, will unquestionably be the extreme scarcity of thought; a scarcity almost amounting to a total absence. That a book is, or should be, simply recorded thought, does not appear to be accepted in these days. We can find traces of a certain plausible argumentativeness; of considerable reflection in the practical branches of Literature; and even of empirical thought, forced upon the utterer by the progress of this* subject; but can rarely or never find any trace of a fierce ebullience of reflection that arose within the deeps of the soul, fermented therein until it gained its points of overboiling, and then only issued forth into public view when it had burnt its way out, so to speak, and could not any longer be contained."

So in the book: possibly a misprint for "his."


A History of Jesus. By W. H. Furness. Boston: 1850. 12mo. pp. 291.

We took up this book with a lively hope and expectation. No religious publication is more needed than a Life of Christ which, while it supplies all the information, and mere learning, necessary for an elucidation of the records, will also make us feel the moral Power that came into the world, and show us a living Energy of the spiritual God, in whose presence, and beneath whose spell, we lose all wonder that it was deemed sufficient for the regeneration of mankind. The Life of Christ that is needed is a Life that will explain the power of Christ's Religion. We have none such in our language. Perhaps Neander's is the nearest approach to it in any language. Ware's "Life of the Saviour" was written for children, with an express intention of accommodation to their understandings, and Christianity cannot be worthily represented in this way. There are obvious indications of the mind letting itself down, and lowering its temperament, and so falling into the unintentional levity of making its theme less than itself. Milman's most instructive life of Christ, in the first volume of his History of Christianity, is all that could be desired, so far as external matters are concerned--but of spiritual intensity there is none; he never seeks to penetrate to the soul of Christ, even so far as to give a unity to his character and conduct; and if the Gospels were withdrawn, and only that Biography left, no one would understand the wonderful results that have ensued. had good reason to anticipate that Mr. Furness, if he attempted the difficult task, would furnish a life of Jesus, sufficient in information, and eminently successful in the delineation of the living Glory, that was the power of God unto Salvation. He has long exerted a mind of no ordinary spiritual sensibility on this high theme. Many years ago he published a work, entitled "Remarks on the four Gospels," in which his principal object was to reach


the springs of Christ's life, to unfold the perfection of his character, and show the moral harmony that pervaded the most mysterious manifestations of its loftiness and beauty. In later years he re-issued this work, greatly enlarged, under the title of "Jesus and his Biographers." Meanwhile, Lives of Christ, both critical and practical, have been appearing in remarkable abundance, and, in their several ways, of an exhaustive fulness. When Mr. Furness, with such aids, and after such repeated trials and preparations, returned a third time to his great task, we looked for a complete work. We had hoped for a book that would enable us to put into the hands of young people a quickening exhibition of the living energies of Christianity, and be a treasure to our children's children. We acknowledge an entire and startling disappointment. Almost all difficulties of an historical kind are purposely evaded. The story of Christ's life is not told, but only remarked upon. A succession of sketches of moral impressions of Jesus makes up the volume, with no more array of events and details than is sufficient to illustrate and verify the moral view. Even the spiritual delicacy and sensibility that were the peculiar charms of his former volumes, are not apparent here. Often in an attempt to remove the deadening power of customary words, he uses a familiar phraseology, which, to employ a strange expression of his own, "belittles" the narrative. Mr. Furness has a strange theory of Miracles. He holds them to be as natural to Christ, as the commonest powers that we possess are natural to us. This view he has elaborately supported in his former publications, but here he proceeds upon it without systematically laying it down, and the consequence is, that all that he says upon miracles bears the mark of mere arbitrariness. His idea is, that what we call miraculous power is only the natural accompaniment of faith and spirituality. If so, then how were miracles natural to the Apostles before the after-facts of the Resurrection had conveyed to them either faith or spirituality? If so, why then do we not witness now some approaches to miraculous power correspondent to the higher measures of faith and spirituality? Why has the holiest of believers no more power over physical causes, or to introduce a higher spiritual cause so as to suspend

physical ones, than a sot or a clown? One thing, however, is both instructive and remarkable, the profound impression of reality and of naturalness which such a theory exhibits as left upon a spiritual and most honest mind by the Character of Christ as presented in the Gospels.

It would really pain us, like the infliction of an injury on a valued friend, to quote from this History, so much more highly do we rank his former publications on the same subject. We can only account for the failure on the supposition that Mr. Furness, wishing to write a complete History of Jesus, and not wishing to repeat himself, was unable, from the large fragmentary contributions he had already made to such a work, to bring his mind again to the task with freshness and concentration, and so wrote loosely from general impression and remembrance. We are far from saying, that this History will not repay a perusal, for it is well to be constantly refreshing our image of the Life of the Son of Man, and viewing it from the lights and positions of all holy and earnest minds; but we sincerely hope that no one will do Mr. Furness the injustice of estimating his appreciation of Christ and Christianity from the "History of Jesus," without also studying "Jesus and his Biographers."





Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Chalmers, D.D., LL.D. By his Son-in-law, the Rev. William Hanna, LL.D. Vols. I. & II. 1849, 1850.

WE had not intended to notice the life and character of this remarkable man until his biography was completed. It appears, however, that life is short, and art is long. Two volumes have appeared, the second more than a year after the first, and we are brought only to his forty-third year. There remains behind the most memorable part of his career, in which the biographer, who has taken the infection of his father-in-law's style and characteristic phrases, will delight to "expatiate," overlaying it with profuse quotations from published and unpublished writings,-the two professorships at St. Andrew's and Edinburgh, and the mighty battle of the Free Church. Lest through long delay some staleness should creep over the subject, we are compelled to forego the gratification of presenting an entire view of Dr. Chalmers' Life, and to make such use as we can of the materials at our command. This will tend to confine us to the narrative, and oblige us to postpone moral criticism and general estimates, for we cannot fully understand the beginnings of life, the developments of character, until we see their end. It is far more true that no man can be understood before his death, than that no CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 50. 2 F

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