« ElőzőTovább »
present time. "Say not then, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.'” (p. 19.)
Those who were in the exercise of their ministry at the period indicated by Professor Farrar, can well confirm that brief period of rest from controversy. An attack upon the Established Church by the Dissenters had helped to drive the High Church and the Evangelicals into a more compact body. The great success of the Church Missionary Society had conciliated the esteem of such men as Bishop Blomfield. The elevation of Daniel Wilson to the metropolitan see of Calcutta, as well as the presence upon the English bench of Evangelical men, had stilled the waters of strife. There was a spirit of brotherly sympathy and a desire for co-operation, for a few years, such as many a septuagenarian clergyman can testify has never before or since existed. The outburst of Tractarianism changed the scene. It is clear that the contrast between these former days and the present has proved a matter of severe perplexity to the mind of the preacher. And no wonder, when he gives us his view of the present state of our Church in these words :
“If the Church of the sister isle is on the point of undergoing revolution from without, the Church of our land seems threatened with dissolution from within ; if the one is brought, as an endowed institution, face to face with circumstances of difficulty which have had no parallel since the time of the civil war, the other is so weakened by the strife of tongues, by the struggle of party, that the centrifugal force seems in danger of overbalancing the central attraction which hitherto has united the heterogeneous materials in firm cohesion, and has kept the collective mass moving in orderly revolution in the path assigned to it by Providence. We cannot wonder that young men now tremble as they take the irrevocable vow of Orders; we cannot wonder that devout men, staggering at their post of difficulty, well-nigh doubt whether they have not made a life-long mistake in assuming the ministerial office.” (p. 6.)
But Dr. Farrar derives comfort from the contemplation of certain benefits which have accompanied this sad transition from a peaceful Church, gaining great social, as well as religious, victories over the evil that is in the world, to a distracted Church, threatened with dissolution from within. Dr. Farrar thinks that the Sacraments were not sufficiently appreciated by the Evangelical clergy, and that imputed righteousness was too often substituted for righteousness infused; and that more correct views now prevail in the Church upon these points.
It is very probable that, in such a large body as the Evangelical clergy of a generation ago, these blemishes may have existed in some of its members. But are these to be mentioned as offsets against the great religious and social triumphs
of Farmats; butast upoeffable.com
recorded of the body at large ? And is the removal of these blemishes, if they did exist, to be counted as a gain to the Church, when purchased by its reduction to a state of almost internal dissolution ?
From the second party in the Church—the Tractarian-Dr. Farrar thinks we have learnt the great lesson that there is a Church as well as a gospel, and to them we owe the resuscitation of the idea of Christian worship, and especially to set & higher value on the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, Here is a very common mistake; it is supposed that the Evangelical party were all Low-Churchmen. Romaine and Biddulph, of Bristol, and many others, held what were called High Church views. And in regard to public worship, and espe. cially to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the solemnity and fervency which marked the leading Evangelical congregations have never been exceeded. So that we do not owe the introduction of these truths to the Tractarian movement. Though they may have awakened the zeal of some in this direction, they have driven others to an opposite extreme by their extravagance and relapse into Romanism. We are thankful that Professor Farrar repudiates the idea of an objective presence in the elements; but we regret that he should have used language bordering at least upon superstition, when he says, “ Christ is really present in an ineffable and miraculous manner by means of the Holy Ghost to the soul.” (p. 13.) Wherein does the miracle of the Holy Sacrament differ from any other Divine operation upon the soul ?
The third party in the Church is described by Dr. Farrar in very shadowy terms, but Bishop Colenso is clearly indicated as a leader, and the author of Ecce Homo is classed among them. From this party, it is said, we may learn the importance of accurate investigation of truth, and obtain new aspects of truth from their critical sagacity and freshness of spirit.
Again must we put the question, in all seriousness, whether these supposed benefits, derived from the second and third party in the Church, are to be mentioned as any counterpoise of the disasters which the preacher confesses those parties have brought upon the Church ?—whether, if the Evangelical movement had worked out its course unchecked by the Tractarian movement, we might not have continued an united and peaceful Church, and have achieved far greater triumphs in the cause of Christ than we can now recount.
In conclusion, we must again point to the very remarkable testimony which Dr. Farrar has borne to the Divine power and excellence of the Evangelical movement. The testimony is the more emphatic because it was beside his purpose, which was evidently to exhibit the advantages of the Tractarian and Rationalistic in combination with the Evangelical movement, and so to establish his theory, that truth is to be gathered out of contending sects and parties in successive ages. But what is his statement ? It is, that the Evangelical movement awakened the Church of England from its torpor, that it unveiled Christ to man,—that it wrought out great enterprises for the extension of Christ's kingdom and for the good of man. Of the other two movements no beneficial results are recorded, no triumphs of Christian benevolence or of missionary enterprise. They have introduced disunion into the Church, and well-nigh reduced it to dissolution. Of the Tractarian movement, the preacher says, “When we track the long controversy which has marked the movement, we see, amid the wreck of hopes, a few great truths emerging to view, like islands appearing after tempest.” (p. 13.) But in the specification of these great truths, they turn out, not “the great central truths of Christianity," as the preacher rightly characterises evangelical doctrine, but only more correct sentiments in respect of Church principles and Divine worship. Surely matters are here brougbt to a practical issue? The way of safety is clearly pointed out—Let those who desire the peace and prosperity of the Church rally round the great central truths of Christianity which accomplished such an awakening, and such triumphant results in our Church in the past age. Let us not fear or countenance movements which can show no practical results of any benefit to the Church.
The great central truths of Christianity are plainly written in the Word of God. These are not the truths to which the Professor's theory applies, which we must wait for till contending sects have shown their many sides, and the criticisms of successive ages have prepared them for our use! These stand out boldly in the facts of Christianity; these, we trust, form the staple of the Professor's theological lectures, though, as we would hope, an attractive train of thought beguiled him into speculations unsuited to the solemn occasion of an ordination.
NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.
(1) Changed Aspects of Unchanged Truths ; Memorials of St. Andrew's Sundays. By the Author of Recreations of a Country Parson. London : Longmans. 1869.-(2) Lessons of Middle Age, with some Account of Various Cities and Men. By the Author of Recreations of a Country Parson. New Edition. London: Longmans. 1869.—There is
not much in these volumes to call for especial notice. Those who have read the author's former productions have read writings of more interest in a literary point of view. Those who have not read any will not lose much by not reading these. We are glad to find that the accomplished author thinks it due to his reputation to put forth volumes of sermons; and that his literary success has not blinded him to the solemn responsibilities of the holy profession to which he devoted himself at his ordination. The chaplet which he bas won would have been very worthless if it had led him to “ neglect the gift which was given him by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." As to the sermons themselves, we cannot say that the changed aspect of the unchanged truths, so far as it is changed, has communicated to us any fresh or original views concerning them. The doctrinal statements are, in general, sound, but might, with much profit, have been more distinctly dogmatic. There is a constant tendency to the recurrence of a few favourite ideas and trains of thought, but that is characteristic of all the author's writings. Two pet crotchets, in especial, are perpetually cropping up. One is a great longing for the introduction of organs into Scotch churches : to this, of course, we can have no kind of objection; and we are bound to say for him that, unlike our Ritualists, he holds that “no wise minister, whatever his own personal likings, would ever seek to press these upon a congregation, to even a small part of which they might give pain.” The other, in our judgment, is a more serious one, and cannot be dismissed so lightly. Even in his sermons he cannot refrain from putting it forward. “I believe,” says he," that there is no more becoming way of spending some part of the holy day than in a quiet walk .... (let me repeat) a quiet walk, without noise or levity; and at such a season of the day as shall neither interfere with attendance at church nor with the duty due to the family at home.” The same notion is more fully developed and dwelt upon in the Essays, fortified by the authority of that “devout and enlightened judge,” Lord Kinloch, who would not have Scotchmen make “a ghastly idol of the Sunday." Yet in the sermon upon “ Inferior Expedients,” there seem indications that even already“ too loose ideas are now taking place" about the Lord's day, and that Scotchmen already are disposed to “ treat God's day as Ahaz did Solomon's sea-take it down from the elevation on which wiser and better men were fully assured that God's Word had placed it, and set it on a lower level and a meaner place." With these indications apparent, with this little cloud, perhaps yet no bigger than a man's hand, perceptible in the distance, is it the part of the faithful watchman to be found in any measure casting discredit, however slight, upon the jealous observance of God's commandments, or sanctioning deviation from them? Has he any reasonable assurance that Scotchmen will continue to walk on Sundays without noise or levity, at the hours which he would prescribe? We hold that he might as well undertake to put a hook through the nose of Leviathan. We are quite willing to believe that it would make his heart ache if the scenes which we witness in our English towns were enacted in St. Andrew's; and yet a great French preacher, Romanist as he was, when he came amongst us, looked with wonder and humiliation for his own people on our com. parative observance of the Lord's day. “ Progress” beyond the letter of God's commandments, may surely be left to those who are already starting down “ the ringing rails " of the incline, and if he, as an ordained minister of God's word, does not see occasion to apply the break, he may be well content at least to be still and refrain himself, so that when, even to his own apprehension, need arises, he may be enabled to use it with energy and influence unimpaired by doubtful utterances, among the souls committed to his charge.
Alford's Greek Testament, with English Notes, Abridged. By Bradley II. Alford, M.A., 8c. Oxford and Cambridge: Rivingtons and Deighton. 1869.—This volume is intended for the use of the upper forms of schools and passmen in the Universities, and supplies, in an extremely abridged form, the results arrived at by Dean Alford in his Greek Testament. What those results are, and what value is to be ascribed to them, it would be superfluous to discuss with reference to the present publication. We have our doubts as to how far the critical and exegetical apparatus here provided will meet the wants of the majority of boys in upper forms and ordinary passmen, valuable as it is in many respects; and whether (we judge from our own experience) something more elementary, and dealing more immediately with the difficulties which perplex unripe scholars, would not have been more welcome and more useful. Theological students, however, will find the book a very serviceable compendium of Dean Alford's labours; general readers, also, who have not the time or the inclination to wade through the perplexing mass of discussion which the Dean's notes often present, will not be sorry to have the results he arrives at placed at their disposal in a volume which, from its price, is within the reach of many who could not afford to purchase the larger work.
A Home for the Homeless; or, Union with God. By Horace Field, B.A. Lond., Author of " Jesus Christ the Saviour of the World," 8c. London : Longmans. 1869. — Some idea of the views of the author may be gathered from the following' extract from his book :“When I need knowledge and philosophy to secure my victories and establish my footing, I invariably find the knowledge and philosophy I require in the exhaustless and too much neglected quarries which Swedenborg's writings present. I have indeed a friend far better versed in them, and perhaps more reverential in his regard for Swedenborg. To him I often appeal in any philosophic doubt, stating my view with the question merely, Am I right? If his answer be “Yes,' by which is always meant-'Your view accords with Swedenborg's teaching ;' if he thus answers ‘Yes,' I feel certain of the correctness of my view, and that it is invulnerable.” (p. 186.) One of Mr. Field's theories is, that “The substances that compass the body are becoming more subtle, more fine, more susceptible in responding to God's voice, and hence we at once at our birth inherit an organization that can drink in more rapidly the holy influences that surround us, and pass in a few infant days through changes which took our early progenitors years or a life.” (p. 55.) A little farthor