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Gospel of St. Matthew issued not, in the form in which we now possess it, from the hands of the apostle whose name it bears."
Ile then proceeds to the external evidence bearing on the main point in debate, and even before the section devoted to " Remarks on Cureton's Syriac Gospels,”—which we leave altogether out of view, as that work has not come in our way,--he says that “To set up the claims of a Gospel (namely, a Hebrew Original of St. Matthew) which cannot be said with certainty ever to have been seen by any one, and which has left no trace of its existence in the Church, against the claims of another Gospel which has been acknowledged as inspired from the earliest age, which has been constantly appealed to as the genuine production of the Apostle Matthew, from which all known versions, even the earliest, have been made, and which bears in itself the proof of its own originality, appears to us to be the perverting of all evidence, and the turning of criticism into foolishness.”
This may suffice to give a general idea of the scope and design of the treatise. The nature and force of the arguments in support of its theory, and the manner in which they are treated, can only be learned from an examination of the work itself. Before parting with it, however, and wbile expressing our admiration of the research and ability it displays, our acknowledgments of the somewhat novel, and certainly elaborate form, in which it presents the subject of the use of the Greek tongue by our Lord and his A postles, and our conviction that, taken as far as we now regard it, it is entitled to a candid and careful notice at the hands of all who are interested in the study of Biblical criticism, we are bound to say that it has not succeeded in persuading us to adopt its theory. In so far as that theory depends on the historical proof of its first branch, we believe that it is without adequate support. In so far as it depends on the internal correspondences between the first three Gospels, we believe that these may be equally accounted for on the theory of a Hebrew original of the first. In so far as it depends on the invalidation of the ancient testimony to a Hebrew original of Matthew, it wants one of the first claims to acceptance, inasmuch as the question of the language in which a Gospel was first composed is obviously a matter of fact to be witnessed to in the usual way. The weakest portion of the whole book appears to us to be given to this line of proof. And in so far as the theory makes the existence of a Gospel by Matthew at all, that is of an inspired, canonical, and authoritative Gospel, dependent on itself, it makes pretensions which cannot be maintained; because they who are of opinion that the whole body of evidence preponderates in favour of the view that that Gospel was first given to pious Israelites in their own vernacular, the Syro-Chaldaic, can quite consistently, and do conscientiously and devoutly, hold that that Gospel, as we have it in Greek, and as the Christian Church has had it from the first age, is of as true Apostolic authority, and as entirely the unadulterated word of God, as any other book in the Sacred Canon. But though in our humble judgment it fails in these respects, we are far from thinking that the labour, and learning, and talents, which its author has bestowed upon it are in vain. We thank him heartily for them, and feel persuaded that what he has done will command much erudite and serious attention on the interesting and important topics with which he has so manfully grappled. We would fain see the race of ministers who deal with such studies with success like that which Mr. Roberts has manifestly attained, greatly multiplied. The pulpit of our church would gain an element of strength and value in a ministry strong in the Languages, and in the accurate, and devout, and attractive exegesis of Holy Scripture. And we hope that all our students of divinity, and pastors of churches, will remember in all their efforts to reach this, the
words of a venerable man, the Rev. Dr. Alexander Black, of Edinburgh, whose profound learning, whose acute discernment of the meaning of the sacred text, whose choice and felicitous turns of expression as an interpreter, whose deep and retiring piety, whose meek and gentle spirit, whose surpassing reverence for the word of God, and familiarity with its matchless treasures of truth and wisdom, always remind us of the illustrious Bengel: " There is a real Divine influence infused into the living word of God, which it possesses, and will ever continue to possess, in virtue of its continual connection with Him whose word it is, and from whom it is continually deriving the life with which it is fraught. It must be the great, paramount, habitual desire and endeavour of the student and the expounder of the Scriptures, by prayer and meditation, and trust and dependence on the guidance and teaching of the Spirit of God, to have the mind in continual communion with the living truths of these Divine oracles by the direct medium of the living words in which these truths are enshrined. Thus will he, at the same time, and in the same way, be receiving day by day, increasing measures of spiritual lite from Him who is the Fountain of life, that the streams of Divine communication may, by his exertions, be diffused around, and in whose light it is that the spiritual mind beholds that light which is to be made successively to arise and shine, that the darkness of a fallen world inay be dispersed."
COMMEMORATION OF THE THIRD CENTENARY OF THE
PROFESSOR LORIMER'S HISTORICAL SKETCH.
By the Rev. Dr. Burns, of Toronto. Our readers must be well aware of the proposal to celebrate in a suitable manner the third centenary of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. Three hundred years have passed away—not since the commencement of the reformation in that country, but since its publicly recognised completion, In one sense, the seeds of a spiritual reformation were far more early sown in Scotland' than on the European continent, for the successors of the venerable Culdees of lona may be traced in the “ Lollards of Kyle," and the followers of Wickliffe generally in the West, so early as the fifteenth century. But, in another sense, the reformation, properly so called, had made very considerable progress in Germany, in Switzerland, in France, and even in England, before it had taken its rise publicly in Scotland. The learned author of the well-timed work before us, has, with great propriety, marked three distinct eras, or periods, as embracing the early history of the great ecclesiastical movement down to the autumn of 1560, the date of its legalised nationality. These periods, or cras, he has titled, in honour of the prominent leaders in each-the living characters which give action and vitality to the scene—the eras of Hamilton, and of Wisbart, and of Knox; thus, in the range from 1525 to 1560, presenting his readers with a coup d'ail picture of one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the human family.
Professor Lorimer, of the Theological College of the Presbyterian Church in London, though a young man, is already favourably known in the field of ecclesiastical and literary research, by Liis valuable contribution to the history of the precursors of Knos, in his "Lite of Patrick Hinilton," the
proto-martyr of Scotland's reformed Church; in the preparation of which he has encountered no little labour in examining original records, both in Britain and on the continent; and the result has been, a "historical biography” of the “ morning star of the Reformation” in Scotland, far more authentic and complete than anything of the kind which had previously appeared. He has just brought out, most opportunely, the “ Historical Dissertation” before us, in which he has, within very moderate limits, comprised a vast deal of curious and useful information, not only in connection with individual character, but as bearing also on the progress of literature and the history of the Church of God. We have perused the work with great relish; and those who desire an authentic, well-assorted, and popularly condensed view of a most interesting period, will find in this volume a rich repast. The work is accompanied with twenty-five beautifully engraved illustrations of localities associated with the men and the events of the reformation period, reflecting great credit on the rising genius of Birket Foster.
One of the most interesting parts of the volume is the section in which an account is given of the quasi literary struggle on the subject of the free circulation and perusal of the oracles of God in the vernacular tongue betwixt the years 1532 and 1534; a struggle which, although carried on upon a foreign soil, had Scotia exclusively for its subject, and a struggle moreover in which two men in the very foremost ranks of literature took a part; we mean Erasmus and Melancthon: the one, in defence of Cochleus and the Popish decrees against free circulation; and the other in support of Alexander Alesius, the able and much-injured advocate of unfettered diffusion and perusal. The circumstances of the combat are now for the first time brought to light; and the interesting details regarding it, while they deepen our regret at the sad retrograde movements, as affects religion, of the greatest scholar of his age, augment wonderfully our convictions of what was noticed in a late review of Dr. Lorimer's book in the “ Edinburgh Witness,” that “the Scottish Reformation was pre-eminently the child of the Bible."
From another section of this volume we learn, that the most interesting account of the “ Martyrs of Perth," was written by the same noble defender of the perusal of the Scriptures, a most apt illustration being found in the scriptural attainments of these very martyrs. Alesius was settled as Professor of Theology, at Leipsic, in 1544. In December of that year he addressed his vindicatory epistle to Melancthon; and now for the first time has this document been brought to light by the persevering industry of our author amid the dusty shelves of " the City Library of Hamburg.” At the same time with this letter, Alesins published his impassioned “ Appeal to the People of Scotland,” an address little known in ordinary history, but of most energetic effect at the time when it was first put forth. It received the ready imprimatur of both Luther and Melanethon, with their most cordial approval. " How it was received in Scotland,” says our author, "we, are not informed; for, like the other epistles of this long-forgotten patriot i and reformer, it is never referred to in our common histories. Like the others, too, it has made a narrow escape of perishing entirely from human inemory, for it now survives only in a very few copies."
Among the articles of original information in this volume, and which give to it a character of captivating freshness, not the least interesting is the account of a discovery by its author of an erratum in a quotation from the MS. "Mayor's Calendar," at Bristol, which, as usually printed, had been held as genuilie. According to the quotation, as hitherto given, George
Wishart is represented as recanting his denial of the merits of the Virgin whereas it now turns out that the word in the original MS. is not “mother," but “nother," the old form for “neither," and that what Wishart recanted was really not a truth but a grievous error. He recanted not his supposed denial of the merits of the Virgin-Mother, but an averment, to which his name was affixed, that the obedience of Christ himself was not meritorious ; and thus the incident, when correctly stated, goes to illustrate the progress of this martyred hero of the true faith in the enlargement of his views and the conclusiveness of his convictions. It is important to remark that when, soon after, Wishart began his labours as a preacher at Montrose and Dundee, his views were sufficiently matured to permit him to select the Epistle to the Romans as one of his first specimens of expository lecture; and thus he may be held as the leader in that very valuable part of public service which was so long the boast and the glory of the Scottish pulpit
, and to which the people of that country have been so much indebted for their scriptural information. In Switzerland, Zwinglius, and afterwards Bullinger, set, perhaps, the first example of regular Biblical exposition; and the commentaries of the illustrious Calvin may be viewed as the world-renowned results of a practice which we fear is falling into desuetude. Wishart was eminently successful in his Scriptural labours; and, says our author, “so long as Dundee herself, with her evangelical constable, Sir John Scrymgeour, and her godly magistrates and burghers, were willing to hear the words of eternal life, Wishart was resolved not to desert bis post, at the bidding either of regent, cardinal, or bishop."
To all impartial students of the history of the reformation period, the section of this work on the labours of learned and pious Scotchmen within the realm of England must be peculiarly valuable. Here the names of Seyton, Willock, Macalpine, Macdowal
, the Logies, Fife, Charters, the Richardsons, George Wishart, and George Buchanan, stand out to view; but among this group of worthies, no one seems to have been so eminent for piety, learning, and active usefulness, as Alexander Alesius, the able combatant on behalf of the free use of the Holy Scriptures by the people. On the history of this eminent man Professor Lorimer has already thrown much pleasing light, and of his labours and their results we are led to expect from his pen a still more enlarged account. Among the laymen of rank then in | England, and whose services in behalf of the diffusion of the lively oracles
among the people told most powerfully, it would be unpardonable to omit | Lord Maxwell, Warden of the West Marches of Scotland, who introduced the famous Act of 1543 for the free use of the Bible in both the English and Scotch tongues, and who co-operated with Ruthven, Balnaves, and other excellent men who sat as commissioners from burghs in Parliament, in obtaining the first legal recognition of the reformed faith in the land.
It is well known that the name of George Wishart has been associated by some Jacobite writers with the plot to assassinate Cardinal Beaton. The only evidence adduced in the case has been an assertion by the Earl of Hertford, in a letter of 17th April, 1544, that a “Scotchman called Wishart had been then employed to carry letters between the conspirators and the English Court.” Perhaps it might be a sufficient reply in this case just to remind the accusers of Wishart of an instance precisely similar, in the charge brought by Chalmers in his “Caledonia” against John Willock, a distinguished reformer of Scotland, that he was ultimately " hanged for sheepstealing.” Coincidences in names have often led to very absurd and cruel conclusions; and we can have no doubt that, in both these instances, this is the easy solution of the supposed difficulty: Dr. Lorimer has, however,
shown that the proof of George Wishart having been preaching at the East port of Dundee at the very time when Hertford says he was going between England and Scotland with letters, is little short of demonstration ; and he has further proved, by plain matter of fact, that the reforming preacher, who is supposed to have been plotting for the shedding of the blood of the Cardinal, had at that very time given the best evidence of a very opposite spirit, in his interposing to save the life of Crichton, the Jesuit priest, who came with a concealed dagger to assassinate him as he descended from the place where he had been addressing a large congregation in Dundee.
It must be truly gratifying to the friends of literature and theology to think that two such professors as Drs. M'Crie and Lorimer preside over the studies of the Presbyterian College in London. The author of this brief notice belongs to another branch of the Presbyterian family ; but he expresses the warm feelings of his brethren, and of many more, when he says, in conclusion, that a vigorous and a spiritually healthy Presbyterianism in England promises to be the prelude of extensive reform in ecclesiastical management, and of enlightened evangelisation over many lands.
(Original and Selected.)
CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH
At the recent meeting of the Free Assemo , exiles, who were very numerous, were rebly, the deputation from England was not ceived with great hospitality, and many of received and addressed in the manner which them were advanced to posts of trust and
eminence in the Church and universities of has hitherto been usual ; but after the reading England. Let me remind you also of the of the commission, was invited to take part in fact that Henry VIII., after he had finally the celebration of the Tricentenary of the broken with Rome, sent repeated and urgent Scottish Reformation ; this arrangement embassies to James V., to gain him over to only admitted of one of the deputies speak the side of reform, and to induce him to ing, and the following is a correct report of
follow his example of repudiating the supre
macy of the Pope. You will remember Dr. Lorimer's speech on the occasion :
that in the year 1536 Lord William Howard
and Bishop Barlow were both sent down to The single point to which, in the abund. Scotland with this view, and also Sir Ralph ance of your speakers and the narrowness Sadler in 1540, and again in 1541; and of your time, I shall confine myself, is the though all these solicitations failed to preconnection between the Scottish and English vail with the King, they strengthened the Reformations-a topic appropriate to the party of reform in the King's Council and character in which I appear before you as a Court, and for a long time the doctrines of deputation from the English Synod, and to the Reformation were known in Scotland which I have recently been led to pay some by the name of the heresies of England. attention. Let me bring to your remem. Let me remind you also, that, at a later brance, in the first place, a few facts illus- period, when the celebrated Parliament of trative of what England did in the way of 1543 was convened, Henry gave his powerful helping and furthering the Scottish Refor. support to the reforming party in that Par. mation. England supplied an asylum to liament, at which a law was passed, making the persecuted Scottish Reformers for a 'it legal for all the lieges to read the word lengthened period, extending over the reigns of God in their mother tongue. Henry of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. These' also on that occasion pressed earnestly an