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CHAPTER XVIII.

HINTS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THEOLOGY.

LORD Bacon has remarked, · We find no track in the whole region of divinity that is absolutely deserted or uncultivated, so great has the diligence of men been either in sowing wheat, or tares.' He then notices four things as desirable in his day, and at that time deficient in divinity.

(1.) · The history of prophecy, or the accomplishment of divine predictions to serve as a guide to the interpretation of prophecies.' This has been attempted, with different measures of success, by many writers on prophecy; Mede, Bishops Newton, Halifax, and Hurd, Faber, Davison, and Woodhouse, are especially important. Keith's work, recently published, is a valuable addition to former publications.

(2.) The moderator in divinity, or the true use of human reason in the business of revelation. Boyle, Norris, and Watts have written on this subject, as have others, some of whom have unduly exalted the powers of reason. 1

(3.) The degrees of unity in religion adjusted with a view to preserve the peace of the church.' This subject has also been fully discussed since Bacon's time, by Bishop Davenant, Baxter, Bishop Taylor, and many others.

(4.) · The first flowings of scripture, or a set of short, sound, and judicious notes on particular texts, to use and practice. On this deficiency he

1 There are some good remarks on this subject, in a sermon in Dr. Ryland's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 19.

observes, • That if the choice and best of those SER Nations upon texts of scripture which have been

dispersedly in sermons within this island SIXINT otain, by the space of these forty years

and more, g out the largeness of exhortations and applicaLic. W: had been set down in a continuance, it had been tast nas jest work in divinity which had been written since *.postles' times. There have been several smaller * Heizs and evangelical and devotional works of this 221 at there, but nothing that seems exactly to meet Bacon's

Stackhouse's Body of Divinity was intended to "T, or the ply this defect, but by no means meets the want Te as a which Bacon speaks.

This bë It is with diffidence that the Author would submit of succesy hints, but, knowing how useful a suggestion

Bishop tay be in leading to that which is valuable, and 1, and "oping, by this means, he may assist in giving a work, mertimulus to the efforts of others, he ventures to make Berpe the following remarks.

the tr* The lapse of time has rendered works desirable, Hatice if not needful, of a kindred character with others more this sok eminently useful in the times when they were originally airesas published.

Baxter's Call to the Unconverted and Alleine's djas Alarm have been useful to thousands and tens of thouin bo sands in past days, and are still valuable in a considce bien erable degree, but we need some modern works, with pl

a similar strength of appeal, depth of piety, and force of application, which might be better adapted to the present state of our language and manners.

Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity has furnished, for nearly two hundred years, an invaluable defence of the Church to studious men;. but we want a popular

CHAPTER XVIII.

HINTS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THEOLOGY.

LORD Bacon has remarked, · We find no track in the whole region of divinity that is absolutely deserted or uncultivated, so great has the diligence of men been either in sowing wheat, or tares.' He then notices four things as desirable in his day, and at that time deficient in divinity.

(1.) · The history of prophecy, or the accomplishment of divine predictions to serve as a guide to the interpretation of prophecies.' This has been attempted, with different measures of success, by many writers on prophecy ; Mede, Bishops Newton, Halifax, and Hurd, Faber, Davison, and Woodhouse, are especially important. Keith's work, recently published, is a valuable addition to former publications.

(2.) The moderator in divinity, or the true use of human reason in the business of revelation.' Boyle, Norris, and Watts have written on this subject, as have others, some of whom have unduly exalted the powers of reason. 1

(3.) The degrees of unity in religion adjusted with a view to preserve the peace of the church.' This subject has also been fully discussed since Bacon's time, by Bishop Davenant, Baxter, Bishop Taylor, and many others.

(4.) The first flowings of scripture, or a set of short, sound, and judicious notes on particular texts,

1 There are some good remarks on this subject, Dr. Ryland's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 19.

a sermon in

sermons

tending to use and practice. On this deficiency he farther observes, · That if the choice and best of those observations upon texts of scripture which have been made dispersedly in

within this island of Britain, by the space of these forty years and more, leaving out the largeness of exhortations and applications, had been set down in a continuance, it had been the best work in divinity which had been written since the apostles' times.' There have been several smaller tracts and evangelical and devotional works of this nature, but nothing that seems exactly to meet Bacon's idea. Stackhouse's Body of Divinity was intended to supply this defect, but by no means meets the want of which Bacon speaks.

It is with diffidence that the Author would submit any hints, but, knowing how useful a suggestion may be in leading to that which is valuable, and hoping, by this means, he may assist in giving a stimulus to the efforts of others, he ventures to make the following remarks.

The lapse of time has rendered works desirable, if not needful, of a kindred character with others more eminently useful in the times when they were originally published.

Baxter's Call to the Unconverted and Alleine's Alarm have been useful to thousands and tens of thousands in past days, and are still valuable in a considerable degree, but we need some modern works, with a similar strength of appeal, depth of piety, and force of application, which might be better adapted to the present st: of our language and manners.

Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity has furnished, for nearly two hundred years, an invaluable defence of the Church to studious men; but we want a popular. work of the like sound, judicious, and evangelical character, for the establishment of the young and laymen in general.

In Fry's History of the Church of Christ in general, we have in one volume a history of the Church at large; but we yet want, in a single volume, a history of the Church in our own country to the present time.

After all that has been done, do we not still want a Commentary for families and for the poor? as popular as Hawker's, but far more scriptural and accurate in exposition; as lively as Henry's, but not so voluminous ; as sound as Scott, but more accessible and familiar; as ample in selections as D'Oyly and Mant, but in a larger degree from evangelical sources, and more devotional, simple, and spiritual ; as applicatory as Adam on Matthew, with more explanation and experimental matter?

While one sacrament has had a superabundance of publications, the other, that on baptism, has been too much neglected. Mr. Budd's book has, in some degree, supplied the defect; but invaluable as are its incidental topics, it is too discursive exactly to answer that which seems desirable,--a practical treatise on the nature, use, and due improvement of baptism. At least there seems room for another treatise, equally practical and devotional, and yet exclusively connected with the ordinance. 1

1 Since this was written, Mr. Irving has published his Treatise. The Author has not read it. Matthew Henry's Treatise on Baptism is too little known, and in a great measure answers to the desired character, with a particular reference to Infant Baptism. It is not included in his works, and is only an abridgement of a large Treatise, left in manuscript, and still in the library of a Dissenting Academy at Daventry.

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