Notices of Books

[British Critic, October 1838.]

{484} MR. JACOBSON'S Edition of the Epistles of St. Clement, St. Ignatius, and St. Polycarp, lately published, we suppose, to be the commencement of an undertaking on the part of the Oxford press, which was reported to be in agitation some years since, of editing a number of the works of the Fathers. The University is fortunate indeed, if the editions which follow are executed with one half the pains and critical skill which Mr. Jacobson has evidently taken with this.

Dr. Pusey's Edition of the Original Text of St. Austin's Confessions is just published, as well as his Translation of the same Work, and the Translation of St. Cyril's Catechetical Lectures. Much pains seem to have been bestowed upon all of them. A most elaborate and instructive account of the Manichĉan tenets is added to the Translation of the Confessions. Dr. Pusey's arduous work having now at length commenced, we trust that no obstacles will lie in the way of its regular progress.

We are indebted to Mr. Dowling for one of the most important works to a theological student which has appeared for a long time, "An Introduction to the Critical Study of Ecclesiastical History" (Rivingtons.) It consists of the list of historians of the Church down to the present day, and an Essay upon the sources of Ecclesiastical History generally. The work is the more important, as we cannot but hope we see in it the augury of some more extended and methodical attention to this great subject, than has ever been paid it in our Reformed Church. Mr. Dowling at least has begun at the foundation, and that alone is an omen of a superstructure.

Mr. Dowling's work commenced in the pages of the British Magazine; a publication which, more than any of the day, has been successful in bringing churchmen together, making them feel confidence in each other, and giving occasion to works some of which at least would not otherwise have been written. Dr. M'Caul's instructive Sketches of Judaism and the Jews, which has just been published in a separate form, is another instance of the last mentioned service.

A series has commenced of most interesting reprints from the works of some divines of the 16th century, under the title of "Tracts of the Anglican {485} Fathers." Those which we have seen are "Cranmer's Sermons on Holy Baptism;" on "the Apostolical Succession and the power of the Keys;" on the "Blessed Sacrament of the Altar;" and on "the Gifts of the Holy Ghost in the Holy Catholic Church." If the series continues as it has begun, it will exercise an important influence on the theological points at present in controversy.

Mr. Parkinson's instructive Hulsean Lectures (Rivingtons) have a value even beyond their intrinsic worth, as indicating and promoting the advancement of ethical studies at Cambridge. They are intended to show that the doctrines of the Gospel are but the great conclusions to which the phenomena of this world tend; "that their specific defects are exactly such as meet with their specific remedies in the very revelation which we possess; that they stop short just where revelation begins; and that it appears by the deficiency on the one side being exactly met by the sufficiency on the other, that they each form part of one harmonious plan, and were originally designed by the artificer of that plan to be united together for the great end of furthering the moral advancement of man." Accordingly he brings the testimony of ethical philosophy, of the intellectual powers, of the human body, of man as related to external things, to his fellow men, and to himself. It is curious, as a coincidence, that the same subject has lately, as our pages have shown, been discussed, independently of Mr. Parkinson, by Mr. Woodgate and Mr. Oakeley. The subject is most important.

A third edition has appeared of Mr. Miller's well known Bampton Lectures.

Mr. Faber has published an Inquiry into the History and Theology of the ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, (Seeley and Burnside,) which is conducted, as might be expected, with the research and vigour which are the usual characteristics of his works.

Mr. Townsend, the Master (we believe is his title) of the Peculiar of Allerton, has published a charge, which, were we his enemies, we should delight in seeing run to the "fifth thousand." It is written against speaking with reserve to the world at large on the more sacred subjects of religion! The style is as extraordinary as the matter. In any one else it would be pompous. It is not so in Mr. Townsend. It is his own style.

Mr. Vernon Harcourt's Doctrine of the Deluge (Longman) is a work of much ingenuity in its design, and most elaborate research in its execution. Its object is to vindicate the Scripture account "from the doubts which have recently been cast upon it by geological speculations;" and he does so, by setting out to show that the Noachical deluge was the type of the doctrines of "expiation of past guilt" and "regeneration," that it is attested by "evidences impressed {486} not upon the surface of the earth, but upon the memory of its inhabitants, and derived from their traditions, their superstitions, their monuments, and their usages," and that "the doctrine which it inculcated was kept alive obscurely in various parts of the world, till it was finally enlisted in the service of true religion, and obtained a permanent place in the institutions of Christianity, and was consigned to holier purposes and endowed with a more operative practice and exalted to the dignity of a Sacrament." In a word, he proves the fact and doctrine to come under the "quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus." "Ever since," he says, "the family of Noah issued forth into the air and light of a new life, and stepped once more upon the renovated earth now cleansed from its former guiltiness by the waters of the deluge, the providence of God had so overruled the superstition thence arising, that a notion of some mystical regeneration by water and expiation of sin had been kept alive among all the nations, with whose history we are well acquainted; and thus the world was prepared to receive that doctrine of a moral regeneration by baptism and forgiveness of sins, which is the commencement of a new life to every Christian." There is an important chapter at the end, on the view of the early Church concerning the regenerative power of baptism, in which Mr. Harcourt nobly upholds our Church's doctrine and the authority of the Fathers against the schools of the 16th century. "The nearer," he says, "we ascend to the fountain head, the purer will the waters flow; the three first centuries therefore after the Apostles were more likely to know in what sense the Apostles themselves used a theological term, than any three centuries that have since elapsed. I do not say that they are free from error, or that any uninspired writers are absolutely safe authorities for doctrine: but they are unexceptionable witnesses to a mere matter of fact; and in the present instance the fact with which we have to do is this: were the first converts to Christianity in the habit of considering baptism equivalent to regeneration, and necessarily attended with some spiritual grace, or were they not?" What can be desired clearer or more sensible than this? Mr. Harcourt considers Antiquity to supply the comment on the text of Scripture.

Dr. Shuttleworth has taken the opposite side, in a little work (Rivingtons) either on "Not Tradition but Scripture," or on "Not Tradition but Revelation," we are not certain which; for the title-page promises the one, and the body of the work undertakes the other. The advertisements have given both. This, we consider, will perplex editors some centuries hence. We hope we are not uncandid to Dr. Shuttleworth, when we say, that this ambiguity at starting is no unfair symbol of the whole production. For instance, he says, that "the great leading principle of Protestantism" is "the entire sufficiency of Scripture, independently of tradition, as a rule of faith and doctrine." Sufficiency for what? teaching or proving? for the persons Dr. Shuttleworth writes against do not dispute the proposition as he words it. However, in spite of this defect, we rejoice to say, what no one could ever doubt in a work of Dr. Shuttleworth's, {487} that, unlike some other controversialists, who shall be nameless, he uses much courtesy of language towards his opponents. He even extends it to the ancients. He calls St. Irenĉus, for instance, "the good Father," "this good and singleminded man," and "with more honest simplicity than soundness of sense or accuracy of logic" in his arguments. We wish, in turn, to be as courteous to Dr. Shuttleworth. Mr. Holden (Rivingtons) has written a work on the same subject, which we prefer. We do not agree with him, but he sees the difficulties of the subject. All is plain and easy to Dr. Shuttleworth.

The Bishop of Oxford has just published his Charge, which will be read with much interest. The most remarkable part of it is the energetic protest which it enters against the Board of Ecclesiastical Commissioners, "a power," his Lordship says, "as irresponsible as it is gigantic, an imperium in imperio, which, before long, must supersede all other authority in the Church, and whose decrees are issued in such a manner as to render expostulation and remonstrance unavailing." The Charge is also remarkable as giving judgment upon the Tracts for the Times. This is a memorable precedent, and shows what lies before us. The Church is returning her judicial power. We only wish that other parties may defer to her as frankly as would, we feel assured, the writers of the above-mentioned Tracts were there a call made on them.

Sermons by the late Rev. John Marriott (Hatchard) are a collection of earnest, serious, practical Discourses, made still more impressive by the circumstances of their publication. They are especially valuable at this moment, as showing that religious views lately put forward, which many persons would represent to be an innovation on received doctrine, are not only to be found in our divines of the seventeenth century, but even in the popular sermons of divines of the generation immediately before us. We direct attention to the sermon on the Danger of Schism.

Mr. Butt has lately published a volume of Sermons, occasioned, as he tells us in the Preface, by Mr. Keble having said that the view of Gospel Truth given by Mr. Butt, in his Strictures upon Mr. Keble's Visitation Sermon, was such as might "be literally accepted by an Arian or a Sabellian." We do not believe that Mr. Keble had any intention of saying that Mr. Butt's views were Arian or Sabellian; far from it; but that the theory he was in his Pamphlet advocating against Mr. Keble, had actually involved him in the necessity of so attenuating his statement of fundamental truth, that an Arian or Sabellian might agree with that particular statement, as far as it went. And so far we must say we agree with Mr. Keble; but we should be sorry to seem to say more, against so highly respectable a clergyman. Mr. Butt ought, we think, to have quoted Mr. Keble's words. They are as follows:—"May it not be taken as an indication of the tendency [sic] of the theory, that the list of fundamentals, offered in exemplification of it, includes no express affirmation of the doctrine just mentioned? [that of the Holy Trinity.] Is it not a test which {488} might be accepted, as far as the letter of it goes, by an Arian or Sabellian? And this consideration is more serious, the more entirely we are convinced of the orthodoxy and judgment of the person drawing up such a confession. So much the stronger does the argument become, &c."—Postscript, p. 47.

Plain Parochial Sermons, by Rev Daniel Parsons, (Rivingtons,) are written on a very sound view of doctrine, and in an easy popular style. There is, however, a want of maturity, or we might even say, in a certain sense, of reality, which perhaps is unavoidable in the writings of a young man, as the author seems to be. It is encouraging, however, to find the younger clergy speaking in the tone of Mr. Parsons.

Single Sermons, published as they are commonly at the request of bishops and clergy, or of numbers of clergy, are perhaps as good a test as can be of the feelings uppermost in the mind of the clergy, or what in mathematical language may be called their differentia at the time. Those which we have fallen in with give a most satisfactory result, as their titles will show; and we name some of them as well for that reason as for their intrinsic excellence. Such are Mr. Vogan's Sermon, "The Doctrine of the Apostolical Succession developed and proved;" Mr. Fulford's Assize Sermon, "The Interpretation of Law and the Rule of Faith;" Mr. Woodhouse's, on "that Branch of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to which we belong;" and Mr. Maurice's, on "The Responsibilities of Medical Students."

We must draw especial attention to a learned sermon of Mr. Manning's, at Chichester, on the Rule of Faith, which contains a great deal of matter and much useful theological information; and a beautiful sermon of Mr. Christie's, at Gloucester.

Mr. Baxter's Sermon, on Scripture Knowledge the Source of National Stability, is excellently principled, as far as its subject leads it to state principles.

"Laud and Leighton," a sermon by Mr. Mortimer, is written in an excellent spirit. He considers that there are two schools in our Church, of which those two archbishops are the respective representatives. Are there then no Kenns and Hammonds on the side of Laud? Is all the meekness gone off with Leighton to the Record, Christian Observer, the Dublin Statesman, and Mr. Townsend?

But of all the single sermons during the last quarter none is to be compared in importance with Dr. Hook's Sermon before the Queen, which, having since delivering gone through so many editions that we have left off counting them, is the most remarkable instance in our time of a religious protest made to high and low, rich and poor. And the plainness and clearness of its statements make it just the sort of composition which should have such a destiny. {489}

Mr. Wilberforce's Essay on the Parochial System (Rivingtons) gained the premium of the Christian Influence Society. Little as we like the principle of that Society, we feel much satisfaction in finding it recognizing and approving the sentiments put forward in this little work. It is the plain, serious, clear, and most impressive appeal of a sound Churchman to Englishmen to exert themselves for the increase of the Parochial System up to the present state of our population. Under the circumstances of its publication, we suppose it will be largely circulated, else we should recommend it to the attention of the reader.

Would this same Society had done as well in the prizes awarded to another subject! There is a passage in one of them, which, though not uncommon in this day, is rank Apollinarianism, and gives sad and anxious warning of the (unconscious) growth of heresy among us. The author says, "Deity dying in the flesh as the commutation for man's eternal punishment." In like manner the author of Essays on the Church, in a new edition of his work, avows Nestorianism, and, we are sorry to say, involves in his implicit heresy others besides himself. "The Christian Knowledge Society," he says, "has latterly erased from one of its publications the phrase ‘the Mother of God,' rightly judging it to be Popish." It is easy plausibly to account for such mistakes in the individual instances, but, we may depend on it, there is a more serious leaven at work at bottom.

We welcome with much satisfaction a reprint of Wogan on the Proper Lessons, (Cowie,) a work of a very primitive cast, and full of instructive matter. It is truly a Church of England book. We think our readers will not be sorry to have their attention called to it.

"Plain Conversations concerning the Church of England" is a series of dialogues between a clergyman and one of his farmers, on the Church contrasted with Romanism and Dissent. It is written on the soundest principles and with a good deal of careful research, and is well adapted to give instruction on the important subject it handles.

An unpretending volume of poems has made its appearance, consisting of "Translations from the Lyric Poets of Germany," by Mr. Macray, (Black and Armstrong). They show a good deal of poetical taste, and a power of easy versification.

No. LXXXIII. of Tracts for the Times has appeared under the title of "Advent Sermons on Antichrist."

A pleasing little book has just appeared, called "A Voice from the Tomb" (Longman). It is a sort of lament over the existing state of things; it abounds in beautiful Catholic sentiments, and will interest a great many persons. {490}

A "Companion to the Book of Common Prayer" (Low) is a useful analysis of its contents, with a view of adapting it to private or social devotion.

An instructive Pamphlet written by a Dissenter has reached a second edition, called "What! and who says it?" (Ward). It is to show the coincidence of judgment about the Anglican Church, between Mr. Binney, who thinks that it has destroyed more souls than it has saved, and Dr. Chalmers, &c. &c.

We are very sorry to have to allude again to Dr. Hampden, but the present letter, addressed to a contemporary Magazine, as bearing upon the theological views of the late Mr. Davison, claims a place in our pages.

"TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER

"SIR,—I presume to trouble you in consequence of a paragraph in a published letter from Dr. Hampden, the Regius Professor of Divinity in Oxford, to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which Dr. Hampden states that ‘the late Mr. Davison, the highly gifted and excellent author of the "Discourses on Prophecy," had both read and expressly approved his Bampton Lectures.'

"I have the best reason for believing that Dr. Hampden is mistaken in his impression upon the subject. I was never absent from Mr. Davison but for one short interval after the period of the publication of those Lectures, and am well satisfied they were not read by him. Mr. Davison never mentioned the work to me, with approbation or otherwise: and I possess the presentation copy, received in August, 1833, which was uncut at the time of Mr. Davison's removal from me, with the exception of two leaves; and it remained so till the year 1836, when it was seen by several friends in its unopened state.

"I have thought it hard upon me, and upon the friends of Mr. Davison, that his name should, at a distant period, be implicated in the controversy arising out of these Lectures; and under the circumstances, I felt it to be due to his memory to ask of Dr. Hampden his authority for the assertion contained in the letter to the Archbishop; but to my surprise and mortification, I have had from him a positive and final refusal. I am therefore obliged to take the only means within my reach of relieving Mr. Davison from the responsibilities in which Dr. Hampden has involved his name.

"I shall feel obliged to you to give this letter a place in your CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER for the following month.

"I have the honour to be, Sir, your very obedient humble servant,
"MARY DAVISON."
"College Green, Worcester, 7th August, 1838."

We think it may interest the reader to have a few remarks set before him on the State of Theological Literature at this time in Germany. If we may judge by the space which it occupies in their periodical publications, the discussion caused by Dr. Strauss's late work still excites great interest in that country. Most of our readers are probably aware that this work consists of a critical examination of our Saviour's life, which ends in his {491} reducing those events which he considers to be based on historical truth to a most meagre outline, and treating as mythical and legendary all those sacred facts on which are built the faith and hope of a Christian. We do not propose to put either ourselves or others to pain, by entering into the nature of Dr. Strauss's theory in detail, but only to make two or three remarks on the general subject, and on the mode in which the controversy is being carried on.

If his views were a mere individual extravagance, they might well be left unnoticed, but it seems to be allowed by many of his countrymen, that they are symptomatic of the tendency of their modern theology, and do but embody its inevitable results. To us it certainly appears that the germ of Dr. Strauss's work lay in such productions as Schleiermacher's essay on the Gospel of St. Luke, only he has had the boldness to extend to the whole history those principles which had before been applied to its outset. And we think we can trace a half-consciousness of this in the minds of that section of German writers who seem to have felt themselves more especially called upon to meet the work in question, and who have done so the most elaborately.

In one of a series of Polemical Tracts, which Dr. Strauss has begun in defence of his work, he divides his opponents into three classes; —the Pietists, or those who believe the Scriptures to be divinely inspired, and that their truth must be received in faith, not submitted to criticism; the pure Rationalists; and an intermediate School, who, proceeding on a supernatural basis, give a large license to criticism in details. As regards their opinion of the matter before us, the first and second classes are easily dismissed. The former considers that the truth of the sacred volume approves itself at once to the spiritual mind, and that not to accept it unreservedly is a moral transgression, to be met by reproof rather than argument. The latter hail all speculation whatever as the only mode whereby truth, hitherto undiscovered, can be evolved. But the third class, which forms, we apprehend, the chief portion of the German learned world, and may not unfairly be taken as the representative of the tone of their Theology, have not so compendious a mode of dealing with the subject. They have given up the possibility of defending every thing in Scripture as literally and historically true; they have admitted the mythical principle of interpretation; so that they are obliged to go into the subject, and vindicate each event, which they consider as real, from the grasp of this tide, the floodgates of which they have themselves set open, and which they now find advancing upon them. Whether they will succeed in this attempt; whether they will be able to show that the mythical principle may be admitted, yet the fundamentals of the Gospel-history maintained in their integrity,—that many of the Old Testament miracles, and some of the New, may be given up without detriment to the remainder, is still sub judice. Meanwhile, what a strange and saddening thought it is, that in a neighbouring country the science, which so intimately concerns us, should be in so undetermined a state that the professors of it should feel themselves obliged, on the appearance of every new theory, to lay aside their ordinary studies, and to hasten to its examination; that there should be nothing placed out of the reach of discussion, {492} no question which may not be reopened and investigated! What an impediment it must be to the acquisition of learning, what a constant source of labour and anxiety to the disputants, and of excitement and instability to all! And from this thought the mind naturally proceeds to another. Must there not be something radically wrong in a system which affords scope for such extravagances? and what (over and above differences of national character and the like) is our own safeguard against such evils? And when we consider that the fundamental difference between us appears to lie in this—that whereas they contemplate the Bible as a self-dependant and isolated fact, it has been placed in our hands with an accompanying guarantee and testimony of its truth, and its great outlines have been arranged, defined, and fixed for us in the creeds and services of the Church. And if this be so, we cannot but feel apprehension that without this safeguard, that elaborate structure of external and internal evidences, which was raised with such care in the last century, would avail but little against the assaults of scepticism; that whether they furnish in their result proofs intellectually conclusive or no, they would never lead to practical conviction. This consideration should make us thankful for the blessings we of this country enjoy in the Apostolical Church; and we would suggest to those, who, yielding to none in their devotion to the Sacred Scriptures, nay, making such devotion their peculiar watch-word, are disposed to look with jealousy on the upholders of what has been well called "Transmissive Religion,"—whether these last are not in fact fighting their battle for them, only on ground more advantageous than they could themselves occupy? What we mean is, that the spirit which in Germany attacks and questions the authority of Scripture and the credibility of its contents, is one and the same with that which at home impugns the authority of Catholic antiquity, and rejects the doctrines of which it is the witness. And further, that the only solid and convincing arguments for the former, have equal force and applicability to the latter; and could they be overthrown in this latter case, and the doctrines which rest upon them discredited, it would only be a signal for a similar attack upon the canon and contents of Scripture itself.

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