Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

I will afflict them that afflict thee. For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites and the Hittites, &c. and I will cut them off.” Exod. xxüi. 20—23. The ordinary interpretation of this passage supposes the angel spoken of, to be the angel of the divine presence, who hath the name Jehovah, dwelt in the pillar of cloud and fire, conducted the Israelites through the wilderness, often chastened them for transgression, but brought them at last into the land of Capaan. That they did enjoy the guidance of this angel, and that on him depended all their success, is manifest from many other passages, from the whole strain indeed of the Mosaic history. But it is doubted by some, whether it be this angel, who is spoken of in this passage, because on this occasion he seems to be the speaker himself; the angel of the divine presence being God, the voice of this angel, the voice of God, and his spirit, the spirit of God.* The name Jehovah was not merely “ in him, but properly his own. Besides, it seems difficult to suppose it to be said of him, “ he will not pardon your transgressions," since he is proclaimed as “ forgiving iniquity, and

“ transgression and sin.”+ They are disposed, therefore, to understand the word angel in this passage, in its general acceptation as signifying a messenger, and applicable to men as well as to celestial beings; to understand the messenger in question to be Joshua the son of Nun, who had already been employed to “ keep Israel in the way," when Amalek fought against them), and who was to be appointed to bring them into the land of Cannaan ç; and to understand his not pardoning their transgressions, of the strict discipline which his office must make it necessary for him to maintain, while he should lead the host of Israel to the conquest of Canaan,

• Without affirming any thing positively on this subject, respecting which, both Jews and Christians may entertain a different opinion, we mierely submit for consideration, that the commission of this angel suits the last mentioned interpretation. It is expressed in two clauses. The first is, " to keep thee in the way;" that is, to take charge of thy defence, as in the attack of Amalek. We find this charge given afterwards to Joshụa in the most solenin magner. See Numb. xxvii. 15—29. The second clause is, “to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” This great atchievement Joshua was honoured to perform, when Moses was laid aside. Deut. iii. 21-28. The caution, “ beware of him, &c." is epforced by two reasons.

First, “ he will not pardon your transgressions ;" that is, he will execute the divine orders with all the striciness of martial law, This certainly was the duty of Joshua's office. He succeeded to the authority of Moses, which included the power of life and death, and as such was understood and acknowledged by the people. See Josh. i. 2. 5. 16–18. The case of Achan is a full illustration of the clause before us. Josh. vii. 1C-26. Secondly, “ for my name is in lim." These words are added, not as the reason why he would not pardon their transgressions, but as a second reason why they should ** beware of him and cbey his voice." The name Joshua signifieth “ Je. hovah that saveth," and was not given him by his parents, but received trom Moses under divine direction. Vol. I.

Pp.

190192. Cumpare Exod. xxxiii. 12-23, with Isaiah Ixiii. 7-16. + Exod. xxxiv," Esuit. xvii. 8-16. Nanib:xxvi, 15–23. Deut. i. 38. xxxi. 23.

There is one more extract, or rather class of extracts, from these dissertations, in which an important argument in the Jewish controversy is conducted with so much ability, that we are confident no apology will be demanded for their length. They occur in the second section of the last essay. The entire section is, on the Scriptures of the New Covenant,' in which Mr. Ewing undertakes to prove, that the authen. ticity and inspiration of the New Testament rest on the very same kind of evidence which supports the Scriptures of the Old Testament; that there is a striking resemblance between the Scriptures of the New and the Old Testament, in their peculiarities of style and of subject; that the Scriptures of the New inculcate ihe highest veneration for those of the Old; and lastly, that they produce the same effects on mo. ral character, for which those of the Old have been extolled.' We select the following passages.

• The writings (of the New Covenant) are found to correspond with all the circumstances of time and place to which they refer. Although the books are many, written by different persons, at a distance from one another, at various periods, and in all the diversity of the historical, the epistolary, and the prophetical style, they are perfectly harmonious in doctrinc. The divine commission of the writers was attested by miracles and prophecy; of which the former convinced thousands of the most acute and jealous observers, and confounded the most determined opposers at the time ; while the latter, with continually increasing clearness and force, confirms by its successive accomplishment, the accounts of the miracles, and the whole doctrine with which it is interwoven. The writings did not originate in subsequent ages of darkness ; they were avowed and published while the events of which they treated were recent, and universally known to have happened. The testimonies were published while the witnesses and their contemporaries were alive. Unless they had borne evident marks of veracity, such writings could never have been received. Conscious of inability to resist, adversaries have often sought to destroy them ; but the believers have been honoured to preserve, to translate, and to circulate them through all the world, in spite of every torture which has been employed to punish their vigilance. The intelligent Jew will easily perceive, that such remarks as these are the very arguments which he would urge against an infidel, in support of the Jewish Scriptures. We feel their force and propriety when so applied. But if they are applicable to our Scriptures, we beg that it may be considered, whether they are not, in that case, equally valid and conclusive.'

• In the histories of the acts of Jesus, and of his apostles, is there not a beautiful simplicity, a conscientious faithfulness, a modesty, a meekoess, and a devotedness to God, which breathe the spirit of Moses? In the apostolic epistles, do we not find an affectionate concern, a sacred antho. rity, an undaunted fortitude, an irresistible reasoning, an overwhelming reproof, an unwearied exhortation, which remind us of the composia sions of David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah? And what a resemblance is there of Daniel and Ezekiel in the book of the Revelation of Joho?" • The Scriptures of both covenants harmonise in matter as well as in manner. The one collection of writings is a continuation of the other. In history they tell the same story ; in precepts they inculcate the same piety and morality; in promises they present the same way of reconcilia. tion, the same ground of hope ; in prophecies both recognize the appunciation and the concurrence of the same grand events. In short, both testify the same leading truths, on the same important subject, namely, the coming of the Messiah ; his character and work, as the incarnate God, the Prophet, Priest, and King of his people ; his bloody conflic: and glorious victory ; the nature and happiness of his everlasting kingdom. The very change of dispensation in the New Covenant is sanctioned by the prophecies of the Old.' Vol. 1. p. 56–61.

p . In these and the preceding extracts, the intelligent reader will not fail to have observed a cast of reasoning, and a tone of seriousness, of “ sinplicity and godly sincerity,” which afford no equivocal indications of a powerful and a pious mind. There are publications on the Jewish controversy no doubt more splendid, more artificial, more caustic and declamatory; but we have seen none of a character more dispassionate and persuasive. And this, we humbly conceive, is the only mode of impression, by which a Jew can be encountered with any hope of success. He is too obtuse to be amused by refinement, frightened by denunciations, or melted by an affectation of pathos ; too shrewd to be imposed upon by plausibie periods, and too prejudiced to be reclaimed by acrimonious censure. If any mode of discussion be within the order of means calculated to produce conviction in a Jewish mind, it seems to be that which is adopted by Mr. Ewing. He reasons exclusively from the Jewish Scriptures, deduces all his principles from their own sacred authorities, and employs the argumerit of analogy with uniform and complete success. At the same time, we are by no means disposed to consider his volumes as faultless. The diction is often careless, and the structure of composition deficient in compactness, elegance, and accuracy. We should imagine the work was composed at distant intervals, and in unequal states of feeliug, the author being sometimes remarkably heavy and uninteresting, while at others he is acute and energetic. We are of opinion, too, that he has neither cited with sufficient frequency, nor referred with sufficient minuteness to the opinions and traditions of the Jews; and it is also to be wished, that he had noticed some recent productions on the other side of the question. But when all these deductions have been made, the work will still be found to possess no ordinary value : for while its criticisms on many parts of the history and language of the Old Testament, render it of great worth to the biblical student, its manly arguments, luminous statements, and impressive appeals must find their way to the heart, as well as the judgement, of every unprejudiced and reflecting mind.

Ag

Art. IV. Account of the Life and Writings of Robert Simson, M. D.

late Professor of Mathematics in the University of Glasgow. By the Rev. William Trail, LL.D. F. R. S. Edin. Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and Chancellor of St. Saviour's, Connor. to. pp. viii. 192. with a Portrait of Dr. Simson, and one folding Plate. Nicol and

Co. 1812. DR. TRAIL is one of the very few remaining pupils of Dr.

Simson, and is, in many respects, extremely well qualified to write memoirs of his respected friend and tutor. more than forty years, however, have elapsed since the death of Dr. Simson, every reader will be ready to ask, why the publication of this account has been so long postponed? To this question our author furnishes the following reply.

• Above thirty years ago, the late earl Stanhope honoured me with a request, to draw up an account of the life and writings of the late Dr. Simson of Glasgow, which might be published in the new edition of the Biographia Britannica. The slow progress of that great work left me much at liberty, as to the time of preparing an article which could appear only near the end of it; and for a number of years, having been occupied by engagements of a different kind, I was in some measure compelled to postpone the execution of my undertaking, much longer than I wished to have done. As there is not at present any near prospect of the completion of the Biographia, I could not properly, at my time of life, defer any longer embracing the opportunity afforded me of paying this small tribute of respect to the memory of that eminent man, by whose friendship and instruction I was honoured during some of the last years of his life.' Advert. pp. v. vi.

The body of Dr. Trail's work is divided into five sections, which contain 'l. a general account of Dr. Simson's life; 2. a particular account of his mathematical studies, and of the works published by himself; 3. an account of his posthumous works; 4. an account of bis unpublished papers and cor. respondence ; 5. a sketch of his character.' These are followed by nearly fifty pages of notes, in a smaller type; and three appendices, of which we may have occasion to speak more at large, as we proceed.

The life of Dr. Simson, like that of many other men of literature and science, furnishes little more than a collection of dates*. Robert Simson was the son of John Simson, of Kirkton Hall; in Ayrshire, and was born Oct. 14, 1687, 0. S. His father intended him for the church, and for that purpose sent him to Glasgow; but he had little relish for theological studies, and soon directed the whole force of his in

* In the present work, several of the dates given by the late Professor Robinson, under the article Simson, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, are corrected.

VOL. VIII.

4 Y

[ocr errors]

tellect to geometry, though this propensity was anxiously discouraged by his father. He did not, however, entirely neg. lect the other branches of learning taught at the college; and, in particular, acquired a knowledge of botany, and a tolerably critical acquaintance with the Greek language, which he soon found would be of extreme service to him in examining the works of the ancient geometers. Before he had completed his eighteenth year, he had studied with close attention Euclid's Elements, Oughtred's Clavis, Raphson's Tracts, Jones's Synopsis, Kersey's Algebra, and some other of the best mathematical works then to be procured ; and in 1710, when he was only twenty-two years of age, the members of the college, without any solicitation on his part, made bim an offer of the mathematical chair, on the vacancy which was then expected very soon to take place. Unwilling, however, to undertake so important an office at his early age, he solicited permission to spend at least one year in London, that he might profit by a personal intercourse with the English mathematicians, who were then the most distinguished in Eu. rope.' Accordingly, he carried this plan into effect; and became intimately acquainted with Mr. Jones (the father of Sir William Jones), Mr. Caswell, and Mr. Ditton; and, through their instrumentality, obtained the most correct information relative to the progress of the mathematical sciences, both in England and on the continent of Europe.' The vacancy in the professorship of mathematics at Glasgow, occurred in the spring of the succeeding year; and our young geometer, after regularly passing through all the due formalities, was admitted Professor on the 20th of November, 1711. He did not receive the degree of Doctor from his own university ; but from that of St. Andrews, which, in the year 1746, wishing to confer upon him that distinction, made choice (as he was a layman) of a degree in medicine, from the circumstance of his knowledge of botany; though, says Dr. T., he had no other pretensions to distinction in medical science.'

Upon being admitted to the professorship, he lost no time in entering on the engagements of his office, and "both from duty and from inclination directed his exclusive attention to mathematics,

• From 1711, he continued near fifty years to teach mathematics to two separate classes, at different hours, five days in the week, during a continued session (or term of seven months ; besides giving occasional instruc. tion, which he was ever ready to communicate to those students who wished for more particular explanations of his lectures, or to make further progress in the study of mathematics. Though the duties of a professor soon became familiar and easy to him, yet they occupied a considerable portion of his time, and divided it so as often to interrupt the course of his private Kudies.

« AnteriorContinua »