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ARTICLE IX.-NOTICES OF BOOKS.
Tue Concord Of Ages.*—This work is a pendant to the “Conflict of Ages," and, as such, completes the exposition of the views of the author, which, in that work, were given to the public in part only. In the dedication he gives a brief exposition of the origin and relations of the work thus :
“I have ever felt the assurance that the greatest and most comprehensive prin. ciples are always of necessity most simple, intelligible, and sublime. The allpervading law of gravitation, which holds not only our solar system, but also the universe together, is as simple and intelligible as it is sublime. I felt assured that the great organic law of benevolent sympathetic attraction, by which the moral universe is to be organized and held together around God, is equally simple and intelligible, and still more sublime and glorious.
“Yet, when I came to examine the Christian system as now taught, I found that, although such a law was proclaimed in words, it was denied in fact, and a law of repulsion substituted in its place, and that God was virtually represented as holding this universe together by naked power, in opposition to the great law of repulsion, which by false doctrine has been made to pervade all things.
“This repulsion exists in two respects,-between God as represented in his dealings with our race through Adam, and the moral affiuities of the mind, as sensitive to honor and right; and no less between God represented as an unsym. pathizing God, and the benevolent sympathies of the mind as sensitive to reciprocal affection.
" It was my great aim, in the Conflict of Ages, to convince the church of the real existence of the first great cause of repulsion, although I also indicated the second.
" It is my purpose in this work to prove the existence of the second, and in opposition to it to develop and apply the true law of benevolent sympathy between God and his creatures, without which the organization of a vital and concordant universe would be impossible.” pp. iii, iv.
It would seem, from this announcement, that the central theme of this volume was to be “God, a suffering or sympathizing God.” In examining the volume, however, we find that this is by no means the
* The Concord of Ages : or the Individual and Organic Harmony of God and Man. By Edward BEECHER, D. D. New York: Derby & Jacksod. 186012mo. pp. 581.
central topic that the author discusses and enforces. It is true he resorts to it often, and discusses it in various relations, and applies it to the most important and far-reaching consequences. But there are manifold other truths to which he seems to attach equal importance in bringing to pass "the Concord of Ages," and the discussion of which extends over very large portions of the volume. We can find no better statement of these topics in the language of the author than in the following exposition of the system of those revealed truths which in his view are most nearly related to the consummation of the work of redemption.
"In the first place, it is distinctly asserted that by the redemption of the church the universe is to be reorganized, under one head, composed of God and the church.
" In the second place, this reorganization is called the restitution of all things, implying that by it the universe was brought back to its original plan of organization.
" In the third place, it is distinctly declared that this original organization of the universe was broken up by Satan, and the universe thrown into two great contending parties, leaving no neutrals in the great warfare.
" In the fourth place, it teaches that Christ became incarnate to destroy the Forks of the devil, and that he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
"In the fifth place, it is revealed that the triumph of Christ over these principalities and powers is effected by his cross. Also that it was by his death that he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
" In the sixth place, it is no less clearly revealed that the redemption and sanctification of his church were effected by the same instrumentality.
"In the seventh place, it is revealed that of the increase and of the peace of God's kingdom, thus reorganized, there shall be no end.
“In the eighth place, it is revealed that the church of the redeemed shall be joint beirs with Christ, of God and of his kingdom, in an eminent and peculiar sense, sitting down with him on his throne, as he overcame and is set down with the Father on his throne, and reigning with him as kings and priests forever.
“ In the ninth place, the analogy of husband and wife, father and mother, by which the relation of God and the church is designated in eternity as well as in time, carries with it into eternity the same clearly defined sense which it has received in this world, in the word of God. The birth, nurture, education, and government of children, are the primary duties of a wife and a mother, in the family. The duty of the church in this world has been analogous. A similar duty will be therefore assigned to the church in the reorganized family of God; that is, to educate and train the future generations whom God shall create.
“ In the tenth place, not only does the restored system refleet back light upon the system that Satan disorganized, but the process of restoration throws back light on the principles of the original disorganization. Christ conquered Satan, and was perfected by suffering, according to the will of God. The main discipline of the church has been in all ages, by suffering, like that of Christ. Thus God VOL. XVIII.
produces faith, patience, obedience, energy, heroism, in union with all that is mild, tender, and gentle, as in himself.
" What Satan revolted from and endeavored to break down must have been this discipline of suffering and obedience, which Christ made it his main end to build up again, and to fortify; and the immemorial principles of Satan's kingdom in all ages show that such was the fact. Here, then, we have the deep root of the great revolt, and of that origin of evil which Satan would have us regard as so profound a mystery. I have shown, in its place, that God's power of infinite and benevolent suffering, without irritation, bitterness, or corruption, is in his own judgment his highest glory and perfection ; and that he desired, and that for the best of all reasons, to form in his own image, in this respect, those who were to be united with himself in founding an eternal kingdom, and training its coming millions. How he formed Christ and the church by suffering, we know in fact. That Satan and his fellows needed in some way an equivalent discipline of suffering, and were called to it, and also that they revolted from it, renouncing faith, obedience, and patience, and enthroning self-will and self-indulgence, the very nature of the case, and their spirit and policy in all ages since, most clearly evince.
In the eleventh place, the very nature of God, and of created minds, shows that the reorganization of the system of the universe must be simple, and easily understood. Such is God, and such are the relations of creatures to him and to each other, that a proper organization of the universe around and in God must be simple, just as in the solar system the organization of the planets and their satellites around the sun is simple. So, too, the idea of a division and disorganization of the universe, by a great leading spirit and his associates, is simple, and the ruin to which it leads is obvious. No less simple is the idea of a reorganization and a restitution of the original system of the universe, and of the defeat and destruction of the disorganizers. It is no less plain what must have been the need of Christ when be undertook the great work of reorganization. It must have been to destroy the power of disorganizing principles, and to give intensity to the true organic principles of the systein, and to establish and perfect the universal system on its original plan; and so to effect the restitution of all things to their true and primitive order.
“Not only is the conception of the spiritual system of the universe simple and intelligible, but God has taken special pains to make it popular by incorporating the idea of it in the form of an analogy, in the fundamental organic element of social life—the family. In man, as the head of the system, we see the image and glory of God; in woman, the image of the church, in the peculiar and intense reciprocal affection on which the union is founded, the peculiar reciprocal love of God and the church.
“Now, what can be more popular, what more simple, what more intensely affecting, than the system of the universe presented under this analogy ?
“It is the reorganization of the universe by the prostration of Satan, and the marriage of God to his redeemed and sanctified bride, through whom he may train all coming generations to love and obey himself.” pp. 261-255
These positions are enforced and illustrated with more or less interest; soine of them occupying much attention, and others being passed
over more lightly. Besides these, there are other questions fundamental to all our knowledge, -questions of logic and metaphysics, criticisms of all antecedent theologies and theodicies, and replies to the critics of his former volume. These various subjects are handled with the author's well known ability, and in his well known manner, and under the influence of an earnest love of truth, a glowing zeal for Christ, with a spirit which at times seems transfigured with light freshly caught from communion with the Master. There are many grand and glorious truths concerning God and man, and the principles by which God governs, and the methods by wbich He is redeeming and will finally restore humanity,-many just, forcible, scorching, and yet much needed, criticisms of the falsehoods or half truths wbich underlie many of those pretentious theologies and sanctimonious church organizations by which the simplieity of Christianity has been corrupted and its efficiency has been greatly hindered.
Withal there are certain infelicities of phraseology which will offend many sensitive Christian minds, because of the tendency to degrade sublime and awful themes-irreverent because colloquial phrases, which, though they help the logical apprehension, are strangely out of keeping with the author's higher estimate of direct spiritual impression. There is also not a little ponderous and cumbrous phraseology, by which simple truths are made complex, and familiar principles are obscured. An air of confidence, almost amounting to pretension, certainly bordering on egotism, is rather out of place in a book which makes its especial object to magnify humility, to abase arrogance, and extol the modest virtues. But the book was written by a great and good man, and will repay for the reading any one who has the capacity to comprehend its import, and separate the wheat from the chaff.
We do not review this work at length for the following reasons : The positions taken in it are none of them new. Consequently, there are no novelties to be attacked or defended. Some of them are expressed in peculiar language, which is occasionally open to criticism, but when translated into more familiar and appropriate phraseology these will be easily recognized as having been propounded before, and earnestly vindicated by able and fervent theologians. Others, though true, are made quite too much of in their relative importance as parts of the scheme of Theology. But the good sense and good feeling of the author's friends will readily assign to these their lawful place and importance. The minor defects of the work to which we have already alluded, will be overlooked without the intervention of apologetic or friendly criticism. Finding no occasion either to criticise or to defend the work, we dispense with the necessarily somewhat difficult task of following it in detail, and leave it to the judgment of our readers.
GRAHAM Lectures. DIVINE ASPECTS OF HUMAN SOCIETY.* -Messrs. Robert Carter & Brothers send us one of the most beautifully printed volumes of the season, containing the second series of “The Graham Lectures.” This course of Lectures was founded by the bequest of the late Mr. Graham, and inaugurated by the eloquent series of Dr. Storrs on the Constitution of the Soul. These have been given to the public in a voluine uniforin with the one before us Professor Huntington follows Dr. Storrs in a course of Lectures on Society as a Manifestation of the Divine Wisdom and Goodness. The subjct is discussed under the following order of topics : Society as a Divine Appointment; as a living Instrument of Divine Thought; as a Discipline of Individual Character; as a School of Mutual Assistance; in its Relation to Social Theories ; as a Motive and Incentive to the Intellect; as holding in itself Laws of its own I'rogression; as the Sphere of the Earthly Kingdom of Christ.
The theme is a noble one, opening as it does the widest range for philosophical and ethical discussion, and admitting also the enforcement of important practical truth. Into the philosophical discussions appropriate to his theme Dr. Huntington does not enter as profoundly as was to be desired. We would not insist that all the metaphysical questions involved in a truly religious theory of society should be raised before a popular audience; still less would we absurdly require that they should be discussed with the technical language and abstract refinements that are appropriate to the schools. But in times when the faith of men is so extensively disturbed in regard to society, and the designs of nature and of God as revealed in it, it seems almost a duty that those who have the opportunity should clearly and sternly enforce those great truths which the light of nature clearly reveals, and which the mirror within the human heart most distinctly reflects. Dr. Huntington does not indeed neglect this duty, but it seems to us that he has not made his lectures as instructive on these points as he might and ought to have done. We doubt not that these lectures served to pass the hour for his
* Graham Lectures. Human Society : Its Providential Structure, Relations, and Offices. Eight Lectures delivered at the Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y By F. D. HUNTINGTON, D. D. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers. 1860. 8v0