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ART. IX.-BOOK NOTICES.
NINEVEH AND ITS REMAINS: With an account of a visit to the Chaldean Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yesidis or Devil-worshipers; and an Inquiry into the Manners and Arts of the ancient Assyrians. By AUSTEN HENRY LAYARD, Esq., D. C. L. New York: Geo. P. Putnam, 1849. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 326, 374. New Haven: T. H. Pease.
We shall do no more here than announce the republication, in splendid style, by Mr. Putuam, of these remarkable volumes; remarkable for their own intrinsic interest; remarkable for the light they promise to throw and already reflect upon the history of perhaps the greatest nation of antiquity-of a nation which, though the sun and centre of literature and civilization in its day, has been lost for almost two thousand years; remarkable for their bearing upon the advanced state of our race in the arts at a very early period; remarkable as illustrating and confirming the historic and prophetic writings of the Old Testament; remarkable as effectually rebuking the self-conceit of modern infidels and German speculators, who prate perpetually about progress, and speak of the ancient and patriarchal times as inhabited by barbarians and semi-savages. We are sure we speak the sentiments of learned men, when we say that this work of Mr. Layard is the most important contribution to human science of the age. The author is a thorough scholar, a modest, unassuming man; his volumes are profusely illustrated, and are eminently deserving that profound consideration, which, as we see, they are everywhere commanding. In another part of this number, may be found a more thorough examination of the work-We also read with high gratification the report that Mr. Layard is appointed an attachè of the British Embassy at Constantinople; and that the British Museum have voted an appropriation to enable him to prosecute his researches. This is an excellent movement, as it secures him from a repetition of annoyances, and authorizes the anticipation of still more satisfactory results.
WHAT DOES DR. BUSHNELL MEAN? From the New York Evangelist. Hartford: 1849. 8vo. pp. 28.
We are happy to see this pamphlet, the authorship of which is publicly attributed to an accomplished scholar, a Professor in the Theological Department of Yale College. But why its anonymous appearance? Why, up to this hour, has not a single man, or any body of men, of the Congregational Order in Connecticut come forward to bear responsible witness against and denounce the glaring impieties, the damnable heresies, of this modern school, which Dr. Bushnell in his own person illustrates? This is the question which we stop to raise, rather than to examine the heresies themselves. Dr. Bushnell has been widely known as one of the leading Congregational divines in Connecticut. He has been, and still is, a conductor of, and leading contributor to, the "New Englander." He occupied his position at New Haven when one, and, in our judgment, the worst of the three "discourses," was delivered, by public appointment of the General Association of the State. And yet, up to this hour, not a man of that body has risen in his place to say, that Rev. Horace Bushnell, D. D., of Hartford is not strictly orthodox and evangelical, after the "way of his fathers." We confess that we are staggered at this. And not the less so, that after his book had appeared, and while multitudes were dismayed at his open renunciation, his even scoffing ridicule of the most solemn verities of the Christian Faith, the two leading Congregational divines at New Haven attempt to face down public indignation and the alarm of Christian simplicity, by inviting him to their pulpits.
However all this may be, the author before us evidently regards Bushnellism as we have regarded it ever since his Sermon at New Haven, as out-and-out downright infidelity, of the pantheistic school. But yet why this dodging responsibility under cover of an anonymous pamphlet? If Dr. Bushnell "does sympathize with
the Pantheists to a greater extent than he himself is aware;" if "he takes the sleeping Brahma of the Hindoos as a fit illustration of the God of the Scriptures;" if he "represents all pious and good men as inspired;" if he "argues against the Trinitarian doctrine of three persons in one God;" if he "wholly rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, as held by the orthodox;" if he holds that the person of Christ "was a literal incarnation like that of the Hindoos;" if he "utterly discards the doctrine of the Atonement, as held by the orthodox," -we say if all this is so, as the writer avers, (and more than this he might have said,) then, we ask, why, in the name of Truth, are not such charges followed up boldly and responsibly? Is the system incompetent to rid itself of such gangrene? Is the corruption more extensive than has been generally dreamed, and is an open issue feared?
The pamphlet before us, though written courteously, traces the line of demarcation clearly between the system of doctrine of the orthodox, as formerly held, and this shallow, irreverent, supercilious, and infidel philosophy. We have spoken of the views which Dr. Bushnell advocates as "downright infidelity." We speak deliberately, and hold ourselves responsible for the charge. These views are nothing more or less than German Pantheism; and German Pantheism is the latest, perhaps the last, at any rate the most subtle attack ever yet made upon the citadel of the Christian Faith. It is not the infidelity of mockery, as at the first with Celsus; nor of bold denial, as with the Hobbes school; it is the infidelity of treachery, which saps the foundations under the Christian name and garb. And yet it repels the charge of infidelity with great indignation. "Infidelity?" It exclaims, "We believe every thing. Inspiration? Every good man is inspired. Miracles? Nature itself is a perpetual miracle. The Incarnation? The creation of the world was only God outwardly producing Himself." If that is not infidelity, which, whatever its pretensions, effectually denies the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, Inspiration, and every essential feature of the Christian Faith, then there is no such thing as Christian doctrine, and no meaning in language. We ought to add, however, that Dr. Bushnell seems by no means to have mastered the system which he attempts to expound; and has attempted to supply his imperfect conceptions of German philosophy from the crudities of his own erratic imagination. He lacks the solidity and fertility to make him an oracle, and the learning to make him even a clever expounder.
It should be said also, that while the accomplished author of this pamphlet has thoroughly impeached the character of Dr. Bushnell's theology, he has failed to recall the attention of his readers to those great CENTRAL VERITIES OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, which are to be the grand rallying point of disunited Christendom, when Tridentine and German developments shall both alike be discarded.
ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY. By Wilhelm Pütz, Principal Tutor at the Gymnasium of Düren. Translated from the German. Edited by the Rev. Thomas Kerchever Arnold, M. A., Rector of Lyndon, and Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Revised and corrected from the London Edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1849. 12mo. pp. 396. New Haven: T. H. Pease.
At no period has History presented such strong claims upon the attention of the learned, as at the present day; and to no people were its lessons of such value as to those of the United States. With no past of our own to revert to, the great masses of our better educated are tempted to overlook a science, which comprehends all others in its grasp. To prepare a text book, which shall present a full, clear, and accurate view of the ancient world, its geography, its political, civil, social, religious state, must be the result only of vast industry and learning. Our examination of the present volume leads us to believe, that as a text book on Ancient History, for Colleges and Academies, it is the best compend yet published. It bears marks in its methodical arrangement, and condensation of materials, of the untiring patience of German scholarship; and in its progress through the English and Americau press, has been adapted for acceptable use in our best institutions. A noticeable feature of the book, is its pretty complete list of " sources of information" upon the nations which it describes. This will be an invaluable aid to the student in his future course of reading. We are glad to see that this volume is one of a series of
text-books to be published by the Messrs. Appleton, who always do well what they undertake.
VISITS TO MONASTERIES IN THE LEVANT. By the Hon. Robert Curson, Jr. With numerous wood cuts. New York: Geo. P. Putnam, 1849. 12mo. pp. 390. New Haven: T. H. Pease.
We think these "Visits to the Monasteries" one of the most entertaining books of the day. A passionate fondness for old manuscripts, and a love of daring exploits, seem to be stronger traits of character with the author than any very high appreciation of the sanctity of monastic life. His hair-breadth escapes are told with admirable naiveté. He is besides somewhat too jovial, and makes considerable demands upon our credulity. His shrewdness in driving a bargain with some old devout agoumenos for an illuminated manuscript on vellum, must have left a sorry impression of his protestantism. The four years during which he wandered among the monasteries which still dot the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean, have thrown open a rich field to the Christian and the antiquarian, though we could not but have wished for more distinct impressions of the religious life, the present state of doctrinal and practical Christianity among these descendants of the early saints. In his search for manuscripts and illuminated gospels of the earlier ages of Christianity, he visited the Coptic Monasteries at the Natron Lakes, on the borders of the Libyan Desert, the Convent of the Pulley at Thebes, the White Monastery, the Convent of St. Saba on the Dead Sea, the remarkable Greek Monasteries of Meteora at the base of the Thessalian Olympus, and those on the side of Mount Athos.
From the introductory chapter, we make the following extract, as affording a glimpse of the contents of the volume:
"The monasteries of the East are beside particularly interesting to the lovers of the picturesque, from the beautiful situations in which they are invariably placed. The monastery of Megaspelion, on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, is built in the mouth of an enormous cave. The monasteries of Meteora, and some of those on Mount Athos, are remarkable for their positions on the tops of inaccessible rocks; many of the convents in Syria, the islands of Cyprus, Candia, the Archipelago, and the Prince's Islands in the sea of Marmora, are unrivaled for the beauty of the positions in which they stand; many others in Bulgaria, Asia Minor, Sinope, and other places on the shores of the Baltic Sea, are most curious monuments of ancient and romantic times. There is one on the road to Persia, about one day's journey inland from Trebizond, which is built half way up the side of a perpendicular precipice; it is ensconced in several fissures of the rock, and various little gardens adjoining the buildings display the industry of the monks; these are laid out on shelves or terraces wherever the nature of the spot affords a ledge of sufficient width to support the soil; the different parts of the monastery are approached by stairs and flights of steps cut in the face of the precipice, leading from one cranny to another; the whole has the appearance of a bas-relief stuck against a wall; this monastery partakes of the nature of a large swallow's nest. But it is for their architecture that the monasteries of the Levant are more particularly deserving of study; for, after the remains of the private houses at Pompeii, they are the most ancient specimens extant of domestic architecture. The refectories, kitchens, and the cells of the monks, exceed in point of antiquity anything of the kind in Europe. The monastery of St. Katherine at Mount Sinai has hardly been altered since the sixth century, and still contains ornaments presented to it by the Emperor Justinian. The White Monastery and the monastery at Old Cairo, both in Egypt, are still more ancient. The monastery of Kuzzul Vank, near the sources of the Euphrates, is, I believe, as old as the fifth century. The greater number in all the countries where the Greek faith prevails, were built before the year 1000. Most monasteries possess crosses, candlesticks, and reliquaries, many of splendid workmanship, and of the era of the foundation of the buildings which contain them, while their mosaics and fresco paintings display the state of the arts from the most early periods."
A firman from the Patriarch of Constantinople, to whom he had letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury, (of whom the primate had never heard, this was in 1837,) gave him free access to the monasteries which crown the beautiful summits of Mt. Athos.
VOL. II.-NO. II.
As a specimen of the style of the narrative, we give the following brief extract from his account of the Coptic Monasteries, near the Natron Lakes, the first place of retirement of the Anchorites.
"While we had been standing on the top of the steps, I had heard from time to time some incomprehensible sounds which seemed to arise from among the green branches of the palms and the fig-trees in the corner of the garden at our feet. 'What,' said I to a bearded Copt, who was seated on the steps, is that strange howling noise which I hear among the trees? I have heard it a number of times when the rustling of the wind among the branches has died away for a moment. It sounds something like a chant, or a dismal moaning song: only it is different in its cadence from anything I have heard before.' That noise,' replied the monk, 'is the sound of the service of the church which is being chanted by the Abyssinian monks. Come down the steps and I will show you their chapel and their library. The monastery which they frequented in this desert has fallen to decay; and they now live here, their numbers being recruited occasionally by pilgrims on their way from Abyssinia to Jerusalem, some of whom pass by each year; not many now, to be sure; but still fewer return to their own land.'
"Giving up my precious manuscripts to the guardianship of my servants, and desiring them to put them down carefully in my cell, I accompanied my Coptic friend into the garden, and turning round some bushes, we immediately encountered one of the Abyssinian monks walking with a book in his hand under the shade of the trees.. Presently we saw three or four more; and presently we saw three or four more; and very reinarkable looking persons they were. These holy brethren were as black as crows; tall, thin, ascetic looking men, of a most original aspect and costume. I have seen the natives of many strange nations, both before and since, but I do not know that I ever met with so singular a set of men, so completely the types of another age and of a state of things the opposite to European, as these Abyssinian Eremites."
TALES OF A TRAVELER. By Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Author's revised edition. New series. Vol. VII. New York: Geo. P. Putnam. 12mo. pp. 456. New
Haven: T. H. Pease,
It is refreshing to turn from the sickly sentimentality, the strained metaphors, the inflated stilted mannerism of the Headley school, just now so much in vogue, to the quiet, rich vein of wit and humor, which runs through all Mr. Irving's wri tings. And we are also gratified to see, that this new and uniform series of his vari ous works, which Mr. Putnam is furnishing in such elegance, is duly appreciated by the public. The "Tales of a Traveler" are, we think, in a style the most nervous of any of his productions, and show that the author, who seems always so much at home in nature's gentle and quiet moods, is equally capable of delineating the mad war of human passion. We again announce an intention of paying, in due time, a more becoming tribute to the genius of our distinguished countryman.
THE CRAYON MISCELLANY. Complete in one volume. London: 142 Strand, 1849. Besides the sportive and playful description of life on the western prairies, which on its first appearance was devoured with great avidity, this volume contains also the author's racy recollections of Abbotsford," and "Newstead Abbey," immor talized by the genius of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron; as well as notes of the "Great Unknown," "the mighty minstrel of the North," from whom Mr. Irving was favored with marked personal attentions.
By Washington Irving. Author's revised edition. New series. Vol. IX. New York: Geo. P. Putnam. 12ino. pp. 380. New Haven: T. H. Pease.
LECTURES ON THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL. By Stephen H. Tyng, D. D., Rector of St. George's Church, New York. Sixth thousand. New York: Carter & Brothers. 8vo. pp. 404.
A volume which is already so widely known, and which is commanding such a permanent sale, needs not our commendation to the notice of our readers. In it, the author distinguishes clearly between the Law and the Gospel as ground of justifi
cation in the sight of God, and shows the reflection of each upon the other; the Law as a schoolmaster leading men to the Gospel; and the Gospel as magnifying the Law. If there is in it the constant recognition of a system of doctrine which multitudes of the most pious and devoted Christians of all names have not received; and if there is in it the want of recognition of the Christian Covenant with its Sacramental signs, and seals, and pledges, as found in most of the theology of the Church, still, throughout the work, we do not find the presence of a controversial tone or spirit; it is also eminently practical and earnest; and many portions of it are written with great force. That it will drive multitudes from a reliance upon the Law, to which, by nature, men are so prone, to a humble and alone dependence upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is our confident belief and earnest hope.
THOUGHTS ON THE GOSPEL MIRACLES. By the Rev. John Williams, D. D., Rector of St. George's, Schenectady. Stanford & Swords, 1849. 12mo. pp 164
We are pleased to welcome a new and neat edition of this valuable work. We regard Dr. Williams as among the very best of American Church writers. Some of our carping critics, who can dance a hornpipe of an hour around a supernuinerary conjunction, might speak of a sentence now and then as carelessly framed. But it is only the carelessness of a great mind marching on to its conclusions with stately gracefulness. Of this book, we can say that it is, more than it seems. It shows that our blessed SAVIOUR's works, not less than his words, were “full of Grace and Truth." There is a deep significancy in His whole life, which an earnest confiding faith alone apprehends, and of which the irreverent infidel philosophy of the day knows nothing. We commend this book to those whose humility renders them capable of receiving instruction on such high and holy themes.
NARRATIVE of the late Expedition to the Dead Sea. Edited by Edward P. Montague. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1849. 12mo. pp. 336.
We are reluctantly compelled to speak of this book, notwithstanding its attractive title, as barren almost alike of good taste, interest, and information. Its preface however informs us that an account of the Expedition is in course of preparation by Lieut. Lynch, under whom, as commander, the Expedition was undertaken.
POEMS. By Clement C. Moore, LL. D. New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844. 12mo. pp. 216.
We hope to be pardoned by the venerable author of these poems in speaking of them editorially, though his modest and retiring nature has given us no such permission. There is a rich vein of humor and naturalness characterizing his muse, which has given to some of his effusions a wide circulation. His "Visit from St. Nicholas" is familiar to all our readers. We cannot do better than quote the following lines from Philip Hone, Esq., of New York, sent to Prof. Moore, in return for a bunch of flowers and a charming little sonnet :
"Filled as thou art with attic fire,
And skilled in classic lore divine,
In Flora's gorgeous wreath to shine?
Lessons of wisdom seek t' impart,
The feelings of a generous heart?
And welcome, shall thy steps attend;
More dear to me than all, as friend,