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NEW BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS.
A Visit to Northern Europe: or sketches Descriptive, Historical, Political, and Moral, of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and the free cities of Hamburg and Lubeck, containing notices of the manners and customs, commerce, manufactures, arts and sciences, education, literature, and religion of those countries and cities. By Robert Baird. With maps and numerous engravings. In two volumes. pp. 348 & 350. New York: Published by John S. Taylor & Co., Brick Church Chapel, 145 Nassau St. 1841.
We are disappointed in not being able to furnish our readers with a review of these interesting volumes. The gentleman who had undertaken to prepare a review of them for the present number of our work, was unexpectedly prevented from devoting to it the time requisite for its eparation.
The author is extensively and favourably known, both at home and abroad, for his untiring and successful efforts in the cause of religion and benevolence : and from the excellent opportunities enjoyed by Mr. Baird for becoming well acquainted with the manners, customs, and countries of Northern Europe, while engaged in his tours of philanthropy, we were prepared to receive from his hands a work of more than ordinary interest. In this expectation we have not been disappointed, and we cordially reccommend these volumes as furnishing in a condensed form, much valuable information on the several points enumerated on the title page. These volumes are handsomely printed.
Lectures on the Theology of the Old Testament. By Dr. J. C. F. Steudel. Berlin. 1840. 8vo.
Steudel was for many years a Professor in the University of Tübingen. He belonged to that class of German theologians, which sets itself in opposition to rationalism, without adhering strictly to old orthodoxy. This work contains a systematic view of the religious doctrines taught in the Old Testament. It includes of course a large amount of exegetical discussion. Some of the author's views are very questionable; but as he maintains the inspiraion and divine authority of scripture, the book is favourably distinguished from the mass of German writings on this subject. As a posthumous publication, made up from the notes of academical lectures, it appears under great disadvantages, and justly claims a lenient judgment as to literary merit.
Ueber den Zweck der Apostelgeschichte. Von Dr. Matthias Schneckenburger. 8vo. Bern. 1841.
The particular design, with which the several books of the New Testament were written, has been a favourite subject of investigation with the recent Germans, and in pushing their inquiries they have often gone to an opposite extreme from that which had been previously common, viz. that of treating all the books as if written at the same time, by the same hand, for the same specific purpose. The work before us is an attempt, upon the part of a Professor at Bern, to show that the Acts of the Apostles was written after the death of Paul and before the destruction of Jerusalem, for the purpose of vindicating Paul from the charge of having been unfaithful to his Jewish principles, or at variance with the older and more strict apostles. The author makes the book to be not a mere continuation of Luke's gospel, but written by him as an independent history. After the twelfth chapter he supposes him to write as an eye-witness, or at least to draw his facts from the journal of Paul's travels. The work is both learned and ingenious, though obscurely written.
Versuch einer Charakteristik Melancthons als Theologen. Von Friedrich Galle. 8vo. Halle. 1840.
This work, by a friend and pupil of Tholuck, undertakes to trace historically, and account for, the remarkable changes which are known to have taken place in the opinions of Melancthon as to the doctrines of free will, grace, predestination, and the real presence, as well as in relation to the number of the sacraments and the constitution of the church. The results of the investigation are highly interesting as facts in the history of theology, but cannot be here stated.
Der Geist der talmudischen Auslegung der Bibel. Von Dr. H. S. Hirschfeld. Erster Theil. 8vo. Berlin. 1840.
This is an elaborate and minute account, in systematic form, of the principles on which the Talmud interprets the Old Testament. it is full of Jewish learning, but, as might have been expected from the nature of the subject, very complex and obscure. It might perhaps be highly useful as an aid to those who are called to combat Jewish prejudice and unbelief; but to the more general reader it is likely to be profitable only as a mean of disgusting him still more with the vain subtleties and false refinements of talmudical interpretation.
Acta Historico-ecclesiastica seculi XIX. (Edited by Dr. G. F. H. Rheinwald.) 3 vols. 1835, 1836, 1837. 8vo.
It has often been a matter of complaint and lamentation, that the materials of history are seldom cared for or collected, until after the most favourable time is past. It is a very natural illusion to suppose that what we now see clearly, feel intensely, and remember vividly, will still continue
to be seen, felt, and remembered; the consequence of which is that men are never less awake to the importance of perpetuating testimony, than at the very time when it may best be done. It is impossible to say how much has been lost to history from this one cause, how many facts have been suppressed or rejected as improbable, and how many invented or conjectured which had no reality. In this respect, the history of our own times is likely to fare better than that of former ages; partly because men have become aware of the necessity of securing the materials of history at once: partly because the materials themselves are more susceptible of preservation, being now more generally written than of old. As this last change is not of very recent date, much may be done, even retrospectively, to perfect, rectify, or verify the current history of preceding centuries, by the publication of important documents, which have long been in existence, but unknown to the many, and sometimes inaccessible even to the few. Thus while the uniform publication of state papers, both in England and America, is forming a vast accumulation of materials for future history, the measures taken, in the former country, to perpetuate, by means of the press, the documents preserved in her public offices, promise no small improvement in the accurate minuteness of history which has been already written. The folio volumes, which have been presented by the British government to many of our public libraries, might seem to superficial readers to contain a mass of useless trash; but it is not at all improbable that out of this apparent trash, important truths will yet be gathered by historical investigators even in America. These remarks apply with equal force to civil and church history. With respect to the latter, there are some peculiar reasons for desiring that all public documents of such a nature as to form a part of the church history of any period should be preserved in their original form. Such collections have been made in different countries, and with various success, according to the diligence and skill of the collectors, and their opportunities of free access to the sources of necessary information. One of the most important undertakings of the kind is that begun at Weimar in 1736, and continued under several successive editors till 1793, containing, in fifty-three volumes, the Acta or Documents, relating to the ecclesiastical affairs of Europe during nearly sixty years. The execution of the same plan was substantially continued by the historico-ecclesiastical journals which began to be published in Germany near the close of the last century. To per
form the same important service for the church history of the nineteenth century is the object of the work before us. The editor is nominally Professor at Bonn, but really resides, if we are not mistaken, at Berlin, where he enjoys unusual advantages for the execution of a work like this. Beginning with the year 1835, he proposes to go back as well as forwards, bringing up the arrears from the commencement of the century, and at the same time keeping pace with the advance of time. volume is allowed to the Acta of each year. The arrangement is a mixed one, being both geographical and ecclesiastical. That is to say, he gives the documents relating to each of the great commu
nions separately, and in each, arranges them according to the countries they belong to. Thus the volume for 1835 gives first the documents relating to the Church of Rome in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the German States, and France; then those relating to the Protestant churches of Prussia, Hesse, Geneva, and France; and lastly, one relating to the Greek church. The other volumes are arranged in a like manner. The documents thus collected are of course very various in their character. Some contain very valuable materials of history, while others seem scarcely to deserve a place in the collection. It is better however that the error, if there be any, should be one of excess than of defect. It is not always easy, or even possible, to determine beforehand what will be of interest or use hereafter. That which seemed, at the time, too insignificant for preservation, has in many cases, proved of great importance. The accidental preservation of a paper which no one ever thought of intentionally keeping, has frequently thrown light on great events. The editor of such a work is therefore not to be severely judged, if he admits what many readers look upon as trifling and devoid of all historical importance. The last volume which has reached us, contains the documents belonging to the year 1837. This volume is considerably larger than the two which preceded it, as might have been expected from the increasing efforts of the editor and the multiplication of his means and opportunities. In the preface to this volume he records his obligations to the ecclesiastical department of the Prussian government, and to the governments of several Swiss cantons. Such, however, is the latitude of the subject that, notwithstanding this enlargement, some important documents are wanting, as the editor admits, with a promise to supply them in the volume for 1838. It is evident, as he says, that with respect to some, it is a matter of indifference to which of two or more successive years they are referred, whether to that in which the series of events, which they illustrate, had its beginning, or to that in which it had its end. Among these omitted or deferred articles, we are sorry to see mentioned those relating to the measures of the Dutch government against the Separatists or Dissenters. We may hope, however, to receive hereafter a continuous view of the whole matter in some future volume. At the close of his preface the editor complains, indirectly, that some sources of information had been closed against him by a love of mystery, which he speaks of as belonging to a period now past, and which he hopes will be corrected by the great examples of a contrary disposition which his work affords. The closing sentence of his preface is remarkable as coming from a person high in favour with an absolute administration. "The true and most honourable secret of states, if I am not mistaken, is publicity." We look forward, with much interest to the continuation of this valuable work.
Elements of the Science of Government: being an Outline of a portion of the studies of the Senior Class in Miami University. By R. H. Bishop, D. D., President of Miami University. 8vo. pp. 164.
The venerable author of this work is a native of Scotland. His early studies
were conducted under the direction of the celebrated Dugald Stewart, and other contemporary professors, of little less fame. He was, for a number of years, the beloved and honored President of Miami University, in Ohio. From this station he retired, on account of his advancing age, a few months since, and was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Junkin, late President of La Fayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania. Dr. Bishop still occupies a Professor's chair in the Institution of which he was once President.
This work contemplates man as "a member of human society," and takes a comprehensive view of the science of government under its various aspects. Of course, it treats of some of the most important and delicate questions that can engage the attention of Christian statesmen. In discussing these questions, the author manifests a degree of good sense, piety, and attachment to republican principles, which cannot fail of being in general gratifying to American citizens, and to all who respect the Bible, however they may differ from him in some of the details of his subject.
Themes for the Pulpit; being a Collection of nearly three thousand topics with Texts, suitable for public discourses, in the pulpit and lecture-room, mostly compiled from the published works of ancient and modern divines. By Abraham C. Baldwin. New York: M. W. Dodd. 12mo. pp. 324.
Such a volume as this is exceedingly convenient for lazy ministers; and especially for those who, from either fastidiousness, or scantiness of resources, find it difficult to suit themselves with subjects and texts for the weekly returns of pulpit instruction. To those who have sufficient wisdom and decision of character to use such a help as they ought, it may prove a safe and va. luable aid. But we cannot help fearing that many may be tempted to go beyond this guarded use, and to indulge in the habit of borrowing more largely for help in the composition of their sermons, than the compiler of this volume seems to contemplate. We would warn, with emphatic earnestness, every preacher against the indulgence of this habit; as a practice more unfriendly to the invigoration and improvement of his own mind, and more insidiously destructive to his acceptance and usefulness as a preacher, than can easily be told. As there is no "royal way" to knowledge; so we are persuaded there is no way of attaining much of either excellence or usefulness in sermonizing, but by patient, indefatigable labour; by taxing our own powers to the utmost and by communing much with God at a throne of grace, and with the Bible as the richest source of instruction; and looking as little as may be, in ordinary cases, to human authors. Men will not be likely to learn the art of walking with alacrity, grace, and vigour, when they make much use of crutches. We would advise every preacher who is called statedly and frequently to address the same people, to form and pursue, for himself, a sYSTEM OF SUBJECTs-to do this without formally announcing that he means to be systematic, and without making the members of his system immediately to succeed each other; 46
VOL. XIV.NO II.