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among his equals, and own that the truth from God, which can knit the man of highest science so intimately with the comparatively uneducated, soul to soul, casts men in a finer and nobler mould, making them capable of a friendship as much higher and more durable than that of the world as Christ is above the world and its interests and ties.
The genius of Schleiermacher was of a destructive character, that of Chalmers out-and-out conservative; yet here we see the conservative, when the truth was at stake, ruthlessly cut himself loose from all his moorings, while the other could compromise to have private indulgence. As a boy, Schleiermacher doubted historical fact; Chalmers built on trustworthy testimony as on a rock, and on the first bruit of the Irvingite miraculous tongues, declared himself ready to believe all that was credibly attested. Chalmers had a childlike veneration for all the great and good before him, and could not pronounce the names of Augustine or Bacon, or “Sir Isaac” or Bishop Newton, or Pascal, or Haly burton, without special emphasis
. Schleiermacher's overweening confidence in the resources of his own mind led him to perceive little else than the defects of others, and he confesses to admiration for none other than Plato and Homer, so that we must think he has lost sight of Paul and John (Isaiah he seems not to know!). Chalmers held so high the substance of the gospel, that he could overlook all incongruities in the men or institutions that were loyal to it. Schleiermacher felt a resistless impulse to assail whatever could yield shelter to an abuse as outwork or defence; and the supranaturalists who professed to receive revelation because its contents were agreeable to reason were no less the butts of his scorn, than the rationalists who seemed to show regard to the substance of Christianity, while making havoc of all its facts and evidences. Chalmers was forced to be a reformer from zeal to brush away all that dimmed the lustre of the gospel
. Sincere Calvinist as he was in all the five resolutions of Dort, he had frequent tirades against that buckram Calvinism that would stint the full and free offer to the sinner. The one inconsistency that Schleiermacher's disciples find in him is that he makes the Christ, from whom the Church's salvation emanates, a historical person rather than an ideal. It will be easily admitted that it gave Schleiermacher an advantage
with the more aspiring of his contemporaries that he appeared to produce a novel gospel on the ruins of that teaching which had proved effete, and that Chalmers had the more arduous task to invest with a new charm what all knew to be the old doctrines that had been from the beginning. The Bible record was with Schleiermacher a subordinate thing, and he mainly gave currency to the treacherous phrase that revelation existed before the Scriptures, separating Bible and Revelation. To Chalmers the Word of God in the Bible was the revelation of Divine love and truth for the redemption of a lost race, a scheme which the mind, blinded by sin, ever inclines to misconceive, over the purity and perfection of which the teacher has to watch with ceaseless assiduity. Schleiermacher projected a union, founded on general indifference, whereby Lutherans and Reformed were to lay aside concern about those weighty. truths that had severed them. Chalmers led the way to a permanent union by persuading Christians, while holding high every tittle that is revealed in the conscience, to look above and beyond this to the grand verities that are represented in their common name.
The lamentable aberrations of the great German, whose life was a searching after truth which he never found, are to be traced to the same root as those of the apostle of the Gentiles before his conversion-ignorance of the law. For this we must hold the Moravians, among whom he was educated, in great measure responsible. Their aversion to the law is the explanation of the abounding of the phraseology of grace, in combination, in many cases, with a worldly and unsanctified life, such as makes it possible for the aristocracy to delight in the connexion. It is, however, a fierce and systematic antagonism that Schleiermacher discovers to the law of God; 80, while accommodating himself in general to orthodox phrases, he will not suffer it to be said that Christ fulfilled the law for us. But the law is God's schoolmaster to bring to Christ. The vision of Christ would have availed Paul nothing, unless the law, applied by the Spirit, had“ come” inwardly, as the result of which “coming” the apostle tells us, “ I died.” Without this all the grand things Schleiermacher saw and taught of Christ were in vain-for Christ is a Saviour from sin, or nothing. Those who are not judged by the law in conscience must and will cast it off. We are told of Spinoza that he was in the habit of prayer, till one evening, when going over the alphabetical confession of sin more Rabbinico, the thought occurred, “But why confess murder, stealing, lying, etc., when you were never guilty of any of these?” The alternative before this age is the law leading to Christ, or the discarding the Divine gift, and returning to a pantheistic life with the tinsel of Christian phrase and circumstance.
The hollow nature of the Christianity Schleiermacher taught comes to light in the doctrine of his disciples. They teach that the pre-eminence of Jesus over other men is only so long to be recognised till such advances be made in civilisation, that the Messiah of progress be outstripped by those of a maturer age. To our view, he was as clearly the false prophet of the nineteenth century, as Mahomet was of the seventh. As the latter, looking round, saw all religion in danger of being swallowed up by a luxuriant polytheism, Schleiermacher, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, saw this province of humanity in danger of disappearing under the wild hand of rationalism, and thought himself called to undertake the work of reconstruction. The one had as much honesty of purpose as the other. Schleiermacher does not profess to have revelations ;—that is not his style, but he does, in one place, lay claim to have a gift of divining, and we think it could be proved that he considered himself the vehicle of Divine inspiration, when he consciously, and with the best conscience, remoulded the religion of Christ, so as to accommodate it to the temper and complexion of the age in which he lived. This religion of Schleiermacher is spreading like a snare over the nations, undermining and subverting truth, and leading men to content themselves with a vague devotion or profession, which is evacuated of the substance and power of the truth from heaven. God lifts up voices to wake men, like that of the Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, in our own day, who, after entertaining Paris and all Europe with genial blasphemies, had the confession wrung from him, in the paroxysms of his fearful disease, that, to be an infidel, men need to be in health, to be rich, and in comfortable circumstances; but men go comfortably and carelessly forward in their godless speculation. For Chalmers, Jesus Christ was the Son of David,
the promised Seed that bruised the serpent's head, and his Church one from Abel downward, whose "neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” For all this Schleierınacher had no comprehension ; for him the Jewish revelation was but a higher level than that of the heathen; and the inference was at the door, if he did not draw it, that the future may show a stage of illumination higher still than that which is introduced by Christ.
ART. V.—Professor Robertson Smith on the Pentateuch."
PROFESSOR ROBERTSON SMITH tells us on p. 216 of his
recently published lectures on Biblical Criticism, that "the discrepancy between the traditional view of the Pentateuch and the plain statements of the historical books and the Prophets is marked and fundamental.” This view is accordingly discarded by him and another commended to us as representing "the growing conviction of an overwhelming weight of the most earnest and sober scholarship.” He asks us to believe that Deuteronomy made its first appearance in the reign of Josiah, and that the Levitical law was not in existence until the time of Ezra.
The hypothesis which the Professor has undertaken to unfold and to defend has only very recently attracted any serious attention. Professor Reuss of Strasburg claims the credit of having given the original impulse to this newest school of Pentateuch criticism, by propounding this view in his lectures as early as 1833. His pupil, K. H. Graf, elaborated it more fully in his treatise, “De Templo Silensi,” in 1855; in his "Prophet Jeremiah” (1862); and in his “Geschichtliche Bücher des Alten Testaments” (1866). As proposed by him, however, it was burdened with fatal inconsistencies which
From the Presbyterian Review. 2 “The Old Testament in the Jewish Church.” Twelve Lectures on Biblical Criticism, by W. Robertson Smith, M.A. New York, 1881. 12mo, Pp. 441.
were speedily pointed out by its antagonists. The divisive critics, who parcelled out the Pentateuch among different writers, had previously conducted their analysis and based their conclusions upon literary considerations chiefly, the style and diction and quality of thought and acquaintance shown with other parts of the work. Graf drew his arguments from legislative considerations, the supposed development of laws, and the order in which successive enactments may be thought to have been made. And conceiving the legislation of Deuteronomy to be simpler and more primitive, and that of Leviticus to be more complicated and developed, he inferred, contrary to the prevailing sentiment of preceding critics, that Deuteronomy is of earlier date than Leviticus, and belongs to a prior stage in the history of the people. Meanwhile he allowed the conclusions of the critics in relation to the narratives of the Pentateuch to remain undisturbed, conceding a higher antiquity to the Elohistic portion which is in the closest affinity with Leviticus than to the Jehovistic portion to which Deuternomy attaches itself. This self-contradiction Kuenen undertook to remove by reversing the relation of the Elohist and the Jehovist, thus boldly challenging the position which all preceding critical investigations had been supposed to settle beyond peradventure.
To disinterested spectators of these hostile critical camps, this looks very like a fresh demonstration of the precarious and inconclusive nature of their entire process of argument. Experiments without number have been made of running the dissecting knife through the Pentateuch; and each fresh operator has pronounced, with the utmost positiveness, upon the various age of its several portions, and has pointed out the influences under which each was written and the condition of affairs when it was produced. And now everything has been thrown into a fresh jumble again; the whole order of production, confidently insisted upon before, is suddenly declared to be a mistake; everything must be reconstructed on a new basis. In the midst of this jargon of voices, clamouring on the one hand for the priority of the Elohist, and on the other for the priority of the Jehovist, it may be safe to wait a while before
a attaching ourselves to either party. Possibly the next critical discovery may be that they were contemporaneous.