« AnteriorContinuar »
various passages of Scripture, strictures on Bossuet, and various other writers, &c.
Among the members of the Roman-catholic Church itself, even since the Reformation and the Council of Trent, we see her doctrine and Discipline arraigned; as by Wicelius, in his « Via Regia," Cassander, in his “ Consultatio
“ Consultatio ;” and Barnes, in his “ CatholicoRomanus Pacificus;* not to speak particularly of anonymous publications on various questions,t which tend to shew the want of real unity of which that Church so frequently and vainly boasts.
In the controversy between the churches of England and Rome, the writings of the Fathers of the Church will, of necessity, be continually adverted to. Unfortunately, however, they are both scarce and dear. We have many passages collected from their works in the “Catalogus Testium Veritatis," and the “Loci Communes" of Andrew, and also Wolfgang Musculus, beside others. Scultetus has given us a very useful analysis of the works of the earlier among the Fathers; it is to be regretted that his labours did not embrace those of Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Chrysostome; though, as it regards these and others, Du Pin's “ Ecclesiastical Writers," will be of good service, it being remembered that he was a member of the Roman Church. In reading the Fathers, especially those of the Roman editions, we must not forget the advice and directions of Dr. Cave, in the Prolegomena to his “Historia Literaria ; 'S that the Romanists have corrupted their writings, both by additions and diminutions, is evident from James's work,ll in which many instances are given ; those of Cook and Rivet, ** enter upon the subject more at large ; nor should Daille's “Right Use of the Fathers," which we have in French, Latin, and English, be omitted, though some objections have been made against it.tt
For the present I conclude, and remain, Mr. Editor, your humble servant,
A COUNTRY PARSON.
These, except Cassander, which is published separately, are to be found in Brown's “ Fasciculus Rerum,” Append. p. 703, &c. 826, &c.
† Among these may be mentioned, “ Sure and Honest Means for the Conversion of all Hereticks.” (London, 1688.) “De la Primauté du Pape." (Londres, 1770.) “ An Historical Treatise on Transubstantiation.” (London, 1687.) “ Wholesome Advices from the Blessed Virgin.' (London, 1687.)
“Sculteti Medullæ Theologiæ Patrum Syntagma.” Franc. 1634, &c. Ś Cave, as above, sect. 7, especially n.6, p.31, of the edition at Oxford, in 1740. Asto the Indexes of the Roman Church, see Mendham's “ Policy of the Church of Rome, exhibited in an account of her Damnatory Catalogues, or Indexes, both prohibitory and expurgatory." London, 1830.
|| James's Treatise of the “ Corruptions of Scripture, Councils and Fathers, by the Prelates &c. of the Church of Rome :"—the last edition in 1688. To this we may add, James's “ Bellum Papale, sive Concordia discors Sixti v. et Clementis viïi.” The last edition, London, 1678.
$ “ Coci Censura quorundam Scriptorum, quæ sub nominibus sanctorum et veterum Auctorum et Pontificiis citari solent." Londini, 1623.
“Riveti Critici Sacri,” lib. iv. ; in his collected works, tom. ii. p. 1041-1152, and also separately.
tt Against Daille, Scrivener wrote his “ Apologia,” and Reeves the Preface to his translation of the “ Apologies of Justin Martyr," and others. [Daille's book should rather be called the “ Wrong Use of the Fathers.” Young men especially should be warned against his extravagant depreciation of these great Witnesses and Keepers of the Truth.-Ed.]
The Book of Family Worship. By the Editor of “ The Sacred Harp.” Lon
don : Whittaker and Co. 1835. 8vo. pp. 340. This volume contains morning and evening prayers for a month, occasional prayers, and Jeremy Taylor's “ Devotions for the Sacrament.” Without any affectation, one may say that it is painful to criticize devotional works, whether prose or verse. Many criticisms may arise from mere difference of taste; and it is disagreeable to set up one taste against another. Then the extreme difficulty of devotional composition, on every account, ought to be remembered ; and where the feeling seems right, finding fault with words appears contemptible, if not worse. Yet, on the other hand, it is reasonable and right that greater care and caution should be felt on a subject of such extreme weight and delicacy; and that the young and inexperienced should be warned against a false tone or style of prayer, which may lead to worse errors than those of taste.
The present volume contains a great deal to like. But who could write fifty-six long prayers well? One of the ordinary faults of prayers is, mistaking meditation, reflexion, and even instruction and rebuke, for prayer; and this volume cannot, of course, from its length, escape this fault. For a single example of this and other faults, take the following, (p. 110) :-“When a few more of these weekly periods have rolled away, our flesh will be laid beneath the cold stone or the green turf, and our spirits will be returned to God who gave them; and the solemn decision will have passed, he that is holy, let him,” &c., &c. How is this prayer ? (See again p. 45, at the bottom, and p. 66.) Again, the giving our Maker information is another everlasting fault of prayer-makers, as for example (p. 172,3)—" Thy goodness, wisdom, and power shall be exerted through all eternity, in giving life and intelligence to innumerable beings; and the plans of thy providence shall receive a more perfect accomplishment in higher worlds, than that which is given to them amidst the irregularities and imperfections of this earthly scene.” Under one or other of these heads come the everlasting explanations in prayers, why we pray. All these matters should be touched on, if at all, in a short exhortation before prayer, (after Bishop Wilson's manner,) and not in prayer.
Again, the language is sometimes over fine, sometimes vulgar, sometimes vague and unmeaning. Thus, for the over fine,~" May we feel more of the tender and benevolent agency of the gospel,” (p. 112.) This is vague, as well as fine. “Thou hast given thy Holy Spirit to breathe as a renovating energy over the wilderness of life,” (p. 175.) May holy converse with thee give us a disrelish for the society of those who are strangers to thee,” &c. (p. 205.) “ At the same cross—we would—find resources for all the exigencies of the divine life,” (p. 107.) The whole preceding paragraph is intlated and unnatural. “This day ride forth in the chariot of thy everlasting gospel, conquering and to conquer,” (p. 61.) For the vague, unmeaning, or absurd« Oh, teach us to fear nothing so much as to be made everlasting monuments of thy vengeance,” (p. 212.) “To enable us for our respective duties, and to furnish us with a sufficient provision of grace, (!) that we may make thy glory the ultimate end,” &c. (p. 27.) “Oh, for more of—the hidden life of Jesus,” (p. 77.) Does this mean “ the hidden life wbich Jesus led," or the inward and spiritual life of devotion which a follower of Jesus in spirit ought to lead? There is a great tendency to this half-figurative language, in which scripture phrases are often used without any propriety. “The love and beauty of Jehovah Jesus,” (p. 78.) What is the meaning or propriety of this? “ May we remember that thou hast bereaved us, (this is after a funeral,) not as an aggressor, but as a proprietor,” (p. 287.) Vulgar—“As
those who are near and dear to us are daily dropping off the stage of life," (p. 51.) It is curious to find the pious author praying at Christmas that
our festivities may be harmless and holy," and that we may not “ disgrace the season by reviving those works of the devil,” &c.—i. e., may we not be gluttons and drunkards as soon as we get off our knees! And so again, p. 238, of New Year's Day.
All this is said, not in unnecessary disparagement of the book, but as pointing out ordinary faults in prayers which one who sets down to compose fiftysix prayers cannot avoid. There is really a great deal of good in the book, and a great deal of good prayer ; but in so many, it is impossible to avoid talking, and observing, and reflecting, and exhorting instead of praying. The reviewer would give the author the same advice which is applicable in so many cases :- Let him cut out half his book, and get merciless friends to criticize the rest. It will then be a valuable work.
Family Commentary upon the Sermon on the Mount. By the late Henry Thorn
ton, Esq., M.P. London: Hatchards. 1835. 8vo. pp. 220. The reviewer fully and cordially agrees with the truly excellent and valuable editor of this work, (one to whom every churchman owes a great debt of gratitude,) that it displays real knowledge of the human heart, and experience of human life ; strong good sense, with the higher gifts of heavenly wisdom, Christian love, and Christian faithfulness. There is a calm, quiet, Christian character in the whole tone of the reflexions, which will make it an acceptable and useful work to those who are wise enough to be contented without stimulating and exciting harangues. The whole tone of it will incline the reader to give full credence to the editor's declaration, that Mr. Thornton lived in the spirit of his Commentary. That this may not seem to be the mere general language of compliment, the reviewer will venture to animadvert on a passage or two.
The lecture on “ Judge not” seems very much to omit one very large branch of the subject-viz., that we ought to abstain from judging because we have such very confined means of judging rightly,—with the all-important corollary, that therefore we are not, either openly or, as far as we can avoid it, even secretly, to judge unnecessarily. Half the sin of uncharitableness, in fact, arises from unnecessary judgments of those whose case is in no way brought before us. In the next lecture (connected with this), Mr. Thornton seems to consider only one side of the picture- viz., the censures of religious men by the irreligious. The other deserves, at least, our serious consideration. The pronouncing (unnecessarily) very many to be irreligious, when we really have not the means of judging accurately except of a very few, and the habit of thinking and speaking hardly (when duty does not require it) of those who are really irreligious, are habits against which great caution is needed. There is a tendency again to think of the religious as one small party of the highest piety and strictness, (pp. 170, 171,) to excuse all their failings, (p. 147,) and to condemn the rest in the lump, which is not pleasant. Nor could the reviewer agree with Mr. Thornton's notions, as implied as well as expressed, as to the mode of dealing with Christian ministers. (See pp. 178, 179.) The office of censuring, warning, and exhorting, is not a popular one; and if we may always decline it from all whom we do not please wholly to approve, it may as well be given up. Besides, can charity suggest no beiter hopes of the minister? Is he the only one to be shut out of the pale of charity? Is it beyond hope that, with decency, learning, eloquence, soundness of teaching, regular ordination, there will more probably than not be higher gifts and graces ?
Essays, Thoughts, and Reflections, and Sermons on various Subjects. By the
Rev. Henry Woodward, A.M., Rector of Fethard, in the diocese of Cashel.
London : James Duncan. 1836. 8vo. pp. 486. This book is heartily recommended to general notice, as likely to be useful, and certainly amusing, to all persons who like to think on subjects worth thinking about. It will be useful, not because they will agree with Mr.Woodward, perhaps, once in ten times, but because they will find the reflexions of a very clever, thoughtful, pious, and ingenious man, as full of amusing paradoxes (and often of false conclusions, drawn from right and philosophical premises, not unfrequently the results of real thought and accurate reflexion) as heart can desire. Why it will be entertaining, after this remark, need not be explained.
As an example, we have two essays (12 and 13) on the question—why the children of religious parents TOO OFTEN turn out ill? This would not seem a very difficult question, nor one requiring two essays, especially as Mr. W. sets out with saying that the children of religious parents turn out well abundantly more often than those of irreligious ones ; and, when they do go wrong, in many instances, shew afterwards the good effect of early instruction; so that, considering what human nature is, these allowances reduce Mr. W.'s own difficulty within somewhat narrow limits. However, he starts boldly with saying that, not from mismanagement, but in the very nature of the case--i. e., in the fact that parents are religious—there are hindrances to their children turning out well. As how? Why thus :- All human beings are self-willed and independent. Now, a religious father, being anxious to lead his son to religion, by that very fact gives him a distaste to it, because his self-will and independence, which lead every one to resist what he is taught, lead him unluckily to reject religion. This is amusing enough, but Mr. W. goes farther, for he tells us (p. 141.) that “the children of the irreligious have in their favour the opposite advantage, for it is clear that, in their case, to choose religiously is to choose altogether for themselves. The natural dislike to trammels and dictation is all on the side of separation from the world, with them. Nor could the most wayward youth originate a bolder scheme, or make a stouter declaration of independence, than to tell a worldly parent that henceforth he would serve the Lord.” This is really comic. Mr. Woodward shuts his eyes to the broad fact that the irreligious parent teaches his child nothing at all about religious matters, and, being careless about them himself, is quite careless and easy about them for his child; whereas Mr. W. supposes that every careless or irreligious parent sets out with telling his son—"you shall be irreligious and good-for-nothing, and I will flog you every day till you are !" It is rather curious that Mr. W. did not see that, his observation as to human nature being universal, if this funny rule of his about religion going by the “ rule of contraries” were true, the greatest blessing in the world would be to be the son of the greatest rogue in it, and the greatest curse to be the son of the greatest saint.
The two first essays, however, present the fairest specimen of Mr. W.'s excellences and defects. They are on the present state of the religious world. The plain truths which Mr. W. tells are not likely to make him popular with some portions of the world he is describing. He holds that there is too great a disposition to study the epistles rather than the gospels, the sayings and character of St. Paul rather than those of our Lord, and to make the holding the doctrine of justification by faith the whole of Christianity-to think too much of what we are to believe, and what bustling activity in converting and correcting others we are to shew, and too little of what we are ourselves—to think that as soon as we have got what we esteem a right faith, we are to set about converting the world, instead of improving ourselves ; whence arises the ceaseless activity of ill-prepared agents. On the other hand, as he justly says, the great object of the Gospel being to improve the man, we are to look
especially to see that we are growing more holy and heavenly in spirit and temper, as well as that we are active and stirring in this place and that ; and, indeed, that until we are holy and heavenly ourselves, we are very unfit to take upon ourselves to teach others. All this is most true and valuable ; all this, one may say, “I do most potently believe.” But Mr. W. cannot stop here, but goes a great deal farther. First of all, he tells us that we are taught to love our neighbour, not on his account, but for the sake of our own salvation—that if we presume to think we are to do good to any one else, it must be because we think that God wants help—that we are to do well to others, because it is our duty, for if we preach the Gospel to any one, we are not at all sure that it will not be so much the worse for him, but still we shall gain God's blessing for obeying him, and the main point will be gained, although our good intentions to others may be defeated—that it is presumptuous to engage in any enterprise where the interests of others are concerned without a sufficient warrant from Divine Providence.
All this is mere exaggeration and extravagance. Certainly we are to do well to others because God has so commanded us ; but he in his mercy bas given us many motives instead of one. He urges love to others, as the fitting and best temper here as well as hereafter, and calls on us to feed the hungry and visit the prisoner in the spirit of love to him. As to our thinking that God wants help, Mr. W. answers that difficulty himself in one of his sermons, when, in speaking of the conversion of the miserable prostitutes, for whose asylum he is preaching, he replies to some one whom he supposes to say, “ Leave them to God,"—that God acts by means. Doubtless there will be always meddling presumptuous people; but did Mr. W. think that God wanted help when he preached for that and other asylums ? No; he exerted himself for a cause which he believed to be a Christian cause, in the certainty that God alone could give the increase, but that he will give it, if the cause be a good one. As to not speaking the truth to others for their sakes as well as because it is our duty, imagine a clergyman saying to one of his people"My good friend, do not think that I am going to warn and advise you for your sakeyour soul is nothing to me. Indeed, you are very likely to be in much more danger from my speaking to you; but that is not my concern. I am bound to speak to you for my own safety-not for your good, or from any wish to benefit you.” This may be putting Mr. Woodward's notions into plaider language than he would, but if what he says has any meaning at all, it is no exaggeration of his doctrine. Then, as to obtruding ourselves where we have no warrant and no concern, and thinking that because a thing ought to be done we are the people to do it, nothing can be more true than that there is, and ever will be, much presumption; but what cure for this is there but good sense and good feeling, under the control of a Gospel temper? Are all the institutions for which Mr. Woodward goes to Dublin to preach, the Orphan Asylum, and the Deaf and Dumb, and the Magdalene, &c., in the parish of Fethard ? If not, has he a warrant from Divine Providence to interfere? It is very good that orphans should be protected and prostitutes reclaimed, but is he the man to do it? It need not be said that the writer of these lines would say Yes, to these questions--Mr. W. himself ought to say No. The truth is he is arguing against an abuse, and extends his argument to the use. Meddlers will meddle, and presumptuous men will be presumptuous still. But the calm and wise Christian will exercise a sober judgment, and having done so, will do whatsoever his hand findeth to do, not in selfconfidence, but in reliance to God, and not for his own sake only, but humbly desiring to exercise and cherish that spirit of love to God and man which God requires.
In conclusion, let it be said that the reader will find in Mr. Woodward, not only an ingenious and amusing, but an eloquent writer, and a true and sincere Christian.