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the question. Whether they are right or wrong is not material—but this is clear that, had we commenced much earlier, their views would have been more correct. At all events, it is not too early to endeavour to prepare the way for a change which is so essential to the glory of Christ and the welfare of our fellow subjects.”—pp. 203—207.
It will be seen from these extracts, that the reader who wishes to be put in possession of the length and breadth of the subject, can hardly do better than attentively study this seasonable and laborious performance. The industry of its author has been indefatigable, and the fruit of it we cordially recommend for general circulation.
FOREIGN THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE. 1. La Religion expliquée catholiquement, et défendue contre les
Erreurs Theologiques les plus accreditées en Europe. Paris,
1836. 8vo. Tom. prem. pp. 487. Tom. second, pp. 383. The present position of religious affairs in France is very peculiar in its character. While strenuous efforts are being made to circulate the Holy Scriptures, religious tracts, and other works containing sound views of divine truth, and zealous evangelists are proclaiming in the metropolis, and in many of the provincial towns, the glad tidings of salvation, determined and successful measures are adopted for recovering Popery from the prostrate state to which it had been reduced by the revolution, and raising it to the ascendancy and influence which it formerly possessed. According to the most recent accounts, the two parties are in close collision with each other ; and attempts have been made to prejudice the government against the operations of the Bible Society, which, there is reason to fear, may not prove altogether fruitless. There are, however, two other parties; that composed of point blank infidels and atheists, and that which seeks to effect a union of Catholicism and neology. Strange as such a union may appear, it is notorious, that numbers who avow themselves strict Catholics, and zealously contend for some of the gross errors of Popery, have imbibed, and are propagating notions which are utterly subversive of the peculiar doctrines of divine revelation. To this class belongs the author of the work before us.
When first we glanced at the title, we had our suspicions that the book was more or less constructed on infidel principles, and that its design was to undermine, at once, the edifice of Christianity, and the superstitions of the Church of Rome. As we began to peruse it, those suspicions were confirmed; but we had not proceeded far, ere we fell in with passages which, if they were separated from the rest of the work, would gratify the heart of every Papist. What the author proposes, is to consider religion in relation to its doctrines, its ethics, and its ritual observances. In ascertaining these, he professedly confines himself to the testimony of Christ and his apostles, and the fathers of the two first centuries. Christ he speaks of as a “ sage extraordinaire,” the incarnation of eternal reason, the restorer of religious traditions ; but possessed neither of superhuman power nor knowledge. His explanations of such passages as treat of the divinity of our Saviour, are entirely Socinian: indeed, he quotes Belsham in several parts of the work, which evinces the source whence many of his errors have been derived. On no snbject is he more violent, than that of inspiration. Though he admits that the Scriptures contain inspired revelations, yet he asserts that the Bible, as a book, possesses not a single quality indicative of superhuman origin, and that it lays claim, in no one passage, to any such privilege. He goes so far as to maintain, that it abounds with falsehoods, contradictions, heterodox opinions, and irreligious maxims. After noticing some of the miraculous statements made in the sacred history of the Old Testament, he concludes with the exclamation, “ Quelles fables monstrueuses !” Besides reckoning the inspiration attributed to the authors of the Bible among theological errors, he reduces to the same category the following; the infallibility of the church; the legislative power of the church; indulgences; original sin; the damnation of those who die without a certain belief, or without baptism; the system of venial sins; the beatification of martyrs and saints; capital punishments; imprisonment, torture, and conscription : confiscations, imposts, prescriptions, and the annulling of engagements; the legislative power of government; the unlawfulness of interest; the doctrine of transubstantiation; and the divine institution and extraordinary efficacy ascribed to the sacraments of the church.
The author advocates the primacy of Peter, the lawfulness of rendering secondary worship to angels and saints, the efficacy of human merit, purgatory, prayers for the dead, the Latin liturgy, and several other Roman Catholic tenets.
From the above notices, our readers will be able to form some idea of the hotch-potch character of a work, which, from the style in which it is composed, and the subjects of which it treats, is likely to command very extensive circulation in France, in the present unsettled state of that country, and, we must add, is calculated to deceive multitudes whose minds are totally unsettled in regard to religious truth. Before concluding, we cannot omit noticing the views of the author with respect to the Sabbath. “ Individuals," he says, “ frequently occupy themselves on the Sabbath, without any scruple, in certain games, or intellectual occupations, far more reprehensible than many works, called servile. Such are the teaching and learning of the arts and sciences, the sitting of tribunals, the consultation of lawyers, the deeds of notaries, the labours of scholars, drawing, painting, embroidering, gardening, hunting, fishing, cardplaying, &c.; journies of business, and such as are promoted by the labours of coachmen, postillions, sailors, inn-keepers, ostlers, &c. As to simple excursions in a carriage, or a boat, which give no fatigue to the coachman or boatman, but prove a relaxation, in which freedom of mind is still left them, they cannot be sinful.” The bearing of this extract, on the manner in which the Lord's day is spent in France, especially in Paris, must be obvious to all who have visited that capital, or who have read of the desecration
which it exhibits. “ It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law," Psalm cxix. 126.
2. Sion; a Roman Catholic periodical, for 1836.
The February number of this publication contains the following ac. count of the wonder-working relics of the virgin Philumena, who died as a martyr in the reign of Diocletian. These relics were found on the 25th of May, 1802, in the catacomb of St. Priscilla, at Rome. On the monument were the symbols of virginity and martyrdom, and beside it was an earthen vessel, with dried blood, which, being touched, began to shine, and its particles to assume the appearance of diamonds, emeralds, &c. The virgin appeared thrice; to a young artist, to a zealous priest, and to a pious nun. In 1805, the Bishop of Potenza obtained the relics, took them to Naples, and opened them in the private chapel of Don Antonius Terres. The bones were all placed in their natural order, covered with an artificial body of papier maché, and decked out in beauteous apparel. They were then placed in a church, and attracted great crowds of people; but, though exposed for the space of three days, no miracle took place. They were then taken back to the chapel, and now the wonders commenced. A female, who had been sick twelve years, the lame advocate, Ulpicella, and a lady, who had a cancer, were healed. At present they are in our Lady Church at Muguano, and innumerable miracles are performed by them, especially on certain festival occasions. The holy virgin rewards faithfully the vows made to her; but those who neglect to fulfil their vows, are visited with exemplary punishment. The neglect of her worship she has even punished with death!
All this, Protestant reader! and much more, is described in a book, published by authority, at Rome and Lausanne, entitled, La Thaumaturge du xix. siecle, ou St. Phil. vierge et mart, 1834.
3. In the number for January, 1836, is an account of a wonderworking medal of the Virgin Mary, which is creating great noise in France. It originated in the following circumstances: about the end of 1830, sister M., one of the Society of the Merciful in Paris, beheld, while in prayer, the sacred virgin, in an erect posture, with her arms extended, while out of her hands went forth rays, which fell on the globe on which she stood. The sister then heard the words, “ These rays are a symbol of the grace which Mary supplicates for mankind, and this point of the globe on which they descend, is France.” Around the virgin was a bright circle, in which were written in letters of gold; 0 Marie conçue sans péchè, priez pour nous, qui avons recours à vous! On this the picture was reversed, when a cross arose to view, at the foot of which appeared the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one pierced by a sword, and the other crowned with thorns; and the words were heard : “ According to this, a medal must be struck.” Some time elapsed before this was carried into effect, during which the virgin appeared, and complained that the order had not been attended to. At length, in 1832, the Archbishop of Paris authorized the striking of the medals, and desired that one of the first might be sent to himself. They were circulated with great rapidity, especially by the soeurs de
la Charité, and sent in great numbers to the South of France, the Pyrenees, Belgium, and Ireland. They have been introduced into Smyrna and China; and it is supposed that about a million have been sold in different parts of the world. Bulletins of the miracles performed by them in all these different parts are regularly published in Paris. One of the instances of miraculous preservation, was that of Louis Philip, on the 28th of July, 1835. Before leaving the Thuleries, he was induced by the Queen to suspend the medals on himself and the two princes; having done which, Maria Amelia said, “ You may go now, for you have a shield that will ward off the arrows of your enemies." Almost immediately after, the King acknowledged to his Confessor, that he was indebted for his life to, the protection of the blessed Virgin !!!
Will any person, with such facts before him, maintain that Popery is changed? The time, we trust is come, when Protestant Dissenters will, in common with other Protestants, fairly look the evils of the Romish system in the face, and, apart altogether from political considerations, combine to eradicate them from the earth. We do not for a moment admit the charge of sympathy with Roman Catholics in any thing beyond the acquirement of equal civil rights, and freedom from ecclesiastical taxation. To these we are pledged, and for these, as matters of pure and even-handed justice, we do and will contend. But let us never forget the anti-christian and damning nature of their system ; let us deeply feel for the millions of our fellow-subjects, who are groaning under priestly domination; a yoke incomparably more heavy than any municipal or fiscal grievances ; let us not be blind to the multiplex efforts that are being made for the spread and re-establishment of Popery; and especially let our ministers make a point of instructing their flocks, particularly the young, on the grand points for which the Reformers contended, a thorough acquaintance with which will prove an effectual barrier against the errors and superstitions of Rome.
The Christian Keepsake, and Missionary Annual. Edited by the Rev. William
Ellis. “ 1838. 12mo. London: Fisher, Son, and Co. This tasteful volume is elegantly bound in morocco, and is embellished with sixteen exquisite engravings.
Art, for many an age, was allied to superstition or sensuality, and lent its fascinations to strengthen their dark and dangerous dominion over the minds of men. It is a happy circumstance that its justly increasing influence in this country is no longer prostituted for such purposes, but that it is mainly occupied to depict the forms or to exhibit the actions of the benefactors of our race. The beautiful embellishments of the Christian Keepsake, from year to year, will illustrate this remark : for in them we have had specimens of the highest style of art employed on the portraits of Christian philanthropists, or the scenes of Christian pbilanthropy. The portraits in the present volume, of the Rev. John Harris, author of “ Mammon," Mrs, Fletcher, better
known by her maiden name, M. J. Jewsbury, and of Mrs. Harriet Stewart, the elegant and devoted wife of a distinguished American missionary, are highly characteristic and interesting likenesses.
The landscapes that have most interested us are, the Church at Violins, built by Felix Neff ; the Village of Dormilleuse, one of the dreary scenes of Neff's indefatigable labours in the High Alps; and the Tree commemorative of John Huss. The Christian's Death-bed is an affecting historical picture : but that which beyond all others is most gratifying to us, is the African Witnesses giving evidence before the Aboriginal Committee of the House of Commons; the beautiful original of which adorns the walls of the Mission House, Finsbury.
Nearly sixty literary compositions in prose and verse, occupy the pages of this volume, and it is delightful to mark the catholicity of spirit displayed by the Editor, in securing contributions from eminent clergymen and able dissenting ministers, and writers of different evangelical communions. Important facts or just sentiments are to be found in every page, and where there is so much general excellence, it would be invidious to individualize.
Sermons on various Texts. By the Rev. John Jack, Pastor of the Church in
Castle-green Meeting, Bristol London : 1837. 8vo. pp. 247. These sermons are of a plain and practical character, and exhibit sound and lucid statements of Divine truth. The preacher places, and keeps, himself constantly in contact with his hearers. He makes it evident, that it is not his own fame, but their present and eternal benefit which he has in view. His object is to edify believers by a full and uncompromising presentation of the testimony of God, and to win the unconverted from the paths of transgression to Christ-the only way to eternal life. “ The good will of Him who dwelt in the bush," and “ Jabez's prayer," are interesting specimens of the manner in which Old Testament topics may legitimately be made to bear on the instruction and practical improvement of a Christian audience.
The discourse on “ The Groans of Creation," from Rom. viii. 19-23, preached at the Monthly Lecture of the Associated Ministers of Bristol, possesses more of a critical character - arising out of the difficulties connected with the interpretation of the text. Mr. J. is, we think, right in explaining KTIOLG of creation in general, or the whole economy of matter and mind pertaining to the globe which we inhabit, and not of the rational, or the new creation in particular; but we do not agree with him, in referring the manifestation of the sons of God to the millenial state of the church. Against this view, the contrast of the glory to be revealed with the present time, ver. 18; the glorious liberty mentioned, ver. 21; and the adoption, the redemption of the body, ver. 23—all decidedly militate. Add to which, that being glorified with Christ, ver. 17, which gave occasion to the introduction of the subject, compared with Coloss. ii. 4, shows the reference to be to his second coming. The principal difficulty in the way of this interpretation is removed by rendering éis, ver. 21, AT: i.e. at the time of the liberty, instead of into the liberty of the sons of God. At that glorious period a complete termination shall be put to all the sufferings of the present world. With this exception, we think highly of the discourse, and hope that its circulation, with the others contained in the volume, will prove extensively useful.
Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, for 1838. By L. E. L. 4to. London. This polished visitor fully sustains the character and reputation of its family, and is as beautiful and entertaining, and we may add, as elegantly attired too, as any visitant of a drawing room need be.
It consists of thirty-six quarto plates, with poetical illustrations by Miss L. E. L. and thirty-six biographical, topographical and historical notes, which greatly increase the interest of the volume.