Obrazy na stronie

Congo or Patagonia, have been avowed from the tribune and defended by the sword. Europe has been threatened with subjugation by barbarians compared with whom the barbarians who marched under Attila and Alboin were enlightened and humane. The truest friends of the people have with deep sorrow owned that interests more precious than any political privileges were in jeopardy, and that it might be necessary to sacrifice even liberty in order to save civilisation. Meanwhile in our island the regular course of government has never been for a day interrupted. The few bad men who longed for license and plunder have not had the courage to confront for one moment the strength of a loyal nation, rallied in firm array round a parental throne. And if be asked what has made us to differ from others, the answer is, that we never lost what others are wildly and blindly seeking to regain. It is because we had a preserving revolution in the seventeenth century that we have not had a destroying revolution in the nineteenth. It is because we had freedom in the midst of servitude that we have order in the midst of anarchy. For the authority of law, for the security of property, for the peace of our streets, for the happiness of our homes, our gratitude is due, under Him who raises and pulls down nations at His pleasure, to the Long Parliament, to the Convention, and to William of Orange.”—II. 668–670.

Among the various merits of this work, its seasonableness should not be omitted. We have not heard much lately of the reproaches which a zealous but not very profound school of politicians were in the habit of bestowing on the men of the Revolution, because they had not anticipated the Reform Bill or the Charter. But in that strange revival of High-church principles which our age has witnessed, they have become obnoxious to much heavier accusations for what they did than for what they left undone. There are evident symptoms that to the Puseyite the Revolution is little less odious than the Great Rebellion, and William III. and Somers little better than Cromwell and Bradshaw. We have never doubted that the life of this monstrous afterbirth of the dark ages would be short; but the shorter the better, both for the interest and the credit of England. The sound philosophy, the acute logic, the eloquence and the wit of Mr. Macaulay, while they render his work classical in our literature, will effectually counteract the attempts which are made to pervert the lessons of history and to bring civil and religious liberty under odium, in order to reestablish the authority of the priesthood.

K. We are admonished by a friendly critic (J. R.) that we have misrepresented Mr. Macaulay in a note (p. 134) of our preceding article, and that the expression “lolling on benches” is not attributed by him to the Dissenters, but to their enemies, whose thoughts and words the historian professes to detail. We had certainly overlooked the connection between these words and the commencement of the passage. Whether we hold it a matter of conscience to read books through continuously, or only dip here and there in order to review them, which our critic seems to suspect, is one of the arcana of our craft which we are sworn not to reveal. It is, however, difficult to conceive of a reviewer so busy, so idle, or so apathetic, as to be contented with dipping into Macaulay's History. If he would amend his hypothesis by supposing that the text of our article was the result of a continuous reading, and the note of a subsequent skimming, he would not be far from the truth.

BIG WORDS OF LITTLE SENSE. In necessariis unitas ; in dubiis libertas ; in omnibus caritas. National proverbs are precious memorials, not of the wisdom only, but of the wit and manners of nations. They constitute the literature of the illiterate, and have sunk in importance as reading and writing and books have spread among men. But one people only have incorporated them with their sacred literature, having added them to the volume of their law, their mythology, their national records and chronicles, their lyric poetry and their prophetic writings. But it is not of these I mean to write, but of a very different, sometimes even a contrasted class of productions,—moral sentences and axioms, a sort of sham or spurious proverb, of big sound and little sense, like that which heads this paper. The genuine national proverb is seldom ostentatious; its ordinary expression is familiar, often satirical, and not unfrequently low. The pompous maxim, on the contrary, looks like wisdom; but, examined, it is found to be in the abstract a mere truism, and in its application worthless, because all churches and sects alike turn it to their own account. The one before us has been brought to my recollection in connection with a character, also of the ungenuine or spurious and commonplace class,-bearing, therefore, a close affinity to commonplace sayings.

It is about forty years ago since I chanced to find myself in the company of an aged retired Dissenting minister and schoolmaster, who in the exercise of his more lucrative employment had managed to accumulate a comfortable independence, while he was contributing to bring that class into the contempt into which they had fallen at the latter end of the last century, out of which the present generation has arisen, and will still higher rise. He was in his day a sort of liberal, such as the Presbyterian ministers then were above the Independents. He had been educated at Daventry, where he was the class-fellow of Belsham; but he lost that position in after life, being left in I know not precisely what region of Arianism, high or low. He had, however, a sonorous voice, a portly figure, and was a friendly, kind-hearted man. respected by those who required little more in their ministers than the faculty of ringing the changes of moral and religious commonplace in scriptural language. In so describing Mr. - I am exposing no individual!

It was in the company of this good man that I repeated the axiom that heads this paper, with an object which he defeated; for he sprang up, expressed his delight at this wise saying, and begged me to repeat the words, that he' might carry them away in his waistcoat pocket. I was thus stopped in the remark I was about to make, and contented myself with saying that it was found in the writings of I forget which of the early Fathers. This rather puzzled my old friend. Of course it would have been disrespectful to do what I wish now to do—make use of this famous Church maxim in order to illustrate the worthlessness of such moral commonplaces. I would use it as a specimen only, not doubting that every reader will call to his mind some other commonplaces equally specious and high-sounding, and equally worthless.

In necessariis unitas. There can be no doubt that all rational beings ought to unite in maintaining all the truths that are necessary to the

He was

well-being of men. But then what are necessary? There's the rub! And in this there will be a universal and interminable warfare. The Romanist has the shortest and easiest answer. It is necessary to acknowledge whatever the infallible Church has declared to be true. He who sets up his own fallible judgment in opposition, merits death from the civil magistrate, and will assuredly be doomed to everlasting misery hereafter. The Anglican Churchman is in this, as in other matters, embarrassed by the admission of two principles hard to unite--an acknowledgment of Church authority and a reference to the Bible as an independent source of truth. The Evangelical or Calvinistic Dissenter, who refuses to acknowledge any Church having authority to command assent to its doctrines, while he refers in general to the Bible as his guide, would probably limit his necessaria to faith in redemption through the atoning blood of God the Saviour. To proceed at once to the other extreme of the religious scale,—the Unitarian may safely rest on the concession of a liberal Churchman, by no means kindly disposed towards him. It is recorded in the Life of Dr. Arnold (p. 414), “ If a man follows Christ's law, and believes his words according to his conscientious sense of their meaning, he is a Christian.”...." the purpose of his heart and mind is to obey and be guided by Christ, and therefore he is a Christian.” It must be assumed that the Doctor meant also to admit that as a Christian he might be an object of God's favour, and that no more was necessary to include him within the field of unity. But is this the extreme of Christian liberality? Perhaps not. He who has advanced thus far may surely advance a step further, and thus far extend the sphere of brotherly union, at all events so as to render the confessor an object of social respect, viz., that he recognizes and has a practical sense (a somewhat better expression than faith) of the distinction between right and wrong, and the obligation to live in conformity with the moral law. He who affirms that this only is absolutely necessary, may be allowed to add that he cannot imagine how any one, in the present state of the world, can arrive at this knowledge without the aid of the Christian scheme as the best-known exposition of divine truth, or perceive the excellence of that scheme without also perceiving the divine authority of its Founder. This, however, may be distinguished as an opinion on a matter of fact-an unessential addition to the absolutely necessary doctrine.

In dubiis libertas—that is, you may think as you please about doubtful matters. This does not call for as much remark as the correlative proposition; and the worst that is to be said of it is, that it means nothing. But if the question be asked, What is the test of that uncertainty that gives liberty ?-a very different answer will be given by the Church-Christian and the Bible-Christian. The one will say, Where the Church is silent, anybody may speak. The other will say, Any thing may be said that does not contradict Scripture. How much the best of it the Churchman has in this case is obvious, because the Church has definite words, and the larger portion of it an infallible interpreter of its words to boot. But Scripture is a field of everlasting contest, less on account of the text than the interpretation. The test is an attempt to prove the uncertain by the more uncertain.

Let me illustrate the Roman Catholic test by an anecdote. I saw in the Church of the San Pietro in Vinculis at Rome, a priest present the veritable chains in which St. Peter was bound, and which miraculously dropped from him, to the warm embraces of a very pretty child. “ Is it believed,” I said to the priest, “ that these are actually the chains of St. Peter?" The priest was evidently embarrassed. * You are not called upon to believe them genuine; it is not an article of faith to believe in them.” “Do you then," I asked, " allow children and uneducated people to believe, though you do not yourselves believe?" He replied, “We do not know that they are not the real chains. We know that our forefathers believed in them; and as the belief does no harm, but promotes piety, we do not object to others believing in them. We let them believe-it does them good.” This I have heard on other occasions also. This remark may be added—if uncertainty and liberty were in all respects correlatives, then uncertainty would be proved by the liberty given to deny. But the proposition must be confined to spiritual matters; otherwise it would follow that there would be some uncertainty about the Multiplication-table, since its correctness has not been supported by any penal statute. I do not believe that an open denial of this truly catholic or universal document would expose the infidel to any indictment or criminal information,-a fact that suggests this awkward suspicion, that it is not the perfect conviction of the truth, but a secret suspicion of the falsehood, that has kindled the zeal of religious persecutors and the framers of penal statutes in matters of religion. Were the Athanasian Creed as indubitable as the Multiplication-table, it would not require a penalty of £500 on the omission, to secure its formal promulgation on stated days.

In omnibus caritas-in all things charity. This may be considered as the quintessence of hypocrisy, when it is recollected that religious persecution has always been pompously proclaimed to be an act of Christian love; and yet, on the other hand, assuming the truth of two doctrines which the most furious Protestant revilers of Popery strenuously maintain,—that is, that damnation follows of necessity the maintenance of false doctrines in religion, and that damnation involves everlasting torment in hell,-it ought to be in candour admitted that the autos-da-of the kings of Spain were acts of mercy, not of cruelty; for by these occasional acts of terrific severity the professors of false doctrines were deterred from entering Spain and perverting the minds of the people, and heresy was for centuries shut out. It being indisputable that the everlasting damnation of a single soul supposes greater suffering than that inflicted upon all who ever perished at the stake or within the walls of the Inquisition, surely the kings of Spain, in their strong conviction of the truth of their religion, might be justly proud of their singular consistency in these the most glorious acts of their reign, and by which, more than by any other of their acts, they were entitled to the glorious title of Most Catholic Kings.

How utterly without real meaning, therefore, is the word that ought to import Christian love, Caritas, which without violence may be conscientiously applied to acts otherwise of the deepest atrocity, and most repugnant to the religion professed by those who perpetrate them!

H. C. R.

THE PEOPLE'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE. To compose a good Dictionary of the Bible, especially one intended for popular use, what a multitude of natural gifts and acquired attainments are necessary! How richly should the mind of its editor be stored with knowledge, how well disciplined in the pursuit of truth, how ous and reverent, how clear and how conscientious in its exhibition! But if the work be one that calls for intellectual and moral qualities of a high order, it is also one whose usefulness, if well performed, will reward their exercise; for few undertakings can be conceived more likely to benefit the church of Christ, or to advance the best interests of humanity, than a really good People's Dictionary of the Holy Bible. In the work named at the head of this article, we recognize an able and meritorious effort to place such a book in the hands of English readers of all descriptions; and although we cannot concur in all the opinions expressed by the learned author on the many and multiform subjects which he has discussed, we believe that his is, on the whole, the best work of the kind which has yet made its appearance among us. We perceive that he has addressed himself earnestly and zealously to his task; that he has brought no small share of learning and intelligence to bear upon it; we are sure that the student of the Scriptures will derive much help and be saved a great amount of time and labour by the information here brought together for reference ; we think the book is calculated to increase the number of those who read the sacred volume with interest, with understanding and with profit; and we wish it that high measure of success and acceptance to which it seems to us to be entitled.

The author thus states the design and object of the book :

“ The Dictionaries of the Bible circulating in this country, however useful they may have proved in their several spheres, are either too much derived, as to their materials, from the old and, in the present state of Biblical knowledge, in some measure antiquated Dictionary of the celebrated Calmet, or, without exception, are too expressly designed and constructed in order to support established opinions, to appear to the author of "The People's Dictionary of the Bible' altogether suitable to afford to the public, especially to its more intelligent members, either such information as they need and may receive with confidence, or such views of the nature and evidence of Divine Revelation as may in the present day be least open to assault. Not without hesitation and a deep, consciousness of insufficiency, did he in consequence take on himself the task of endeavouring, so far as his humble abilities allowed, to supply what in his judgment seemed required. The result will be found in the following pages; the great object of which is, to afford a digest of trustworthy information necessary for the profitable study and the right understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

“Such information exists in great abundance and variety in the works of learned German divines, on whose treasures the writer has drawn so far as was needful, and so far as was compatible with the exercise of an independent judgment. In a List of Works given at the end of the Second Volume, intended to afford to the English student aid in the study of the rich treasures of Continental theology, are mentioned many authors to whom the writer is under obligations; to no one, however, in such a degree as to require the mention of his name in this place, save Winer, from whose invaluable ‘Biblisches Realwörterbuch, 2nd and 3rd edition (Leipzig, 1846), materials have been freely drawn. In two or three articles, the work is indebted to the kindness

• The People's Dictionary of the Bible. 2 vols. 8vo. London-Simpkin, Marshall and Co. 1848.

« PoprzedniaDalej »