Notices of Books

[British Critic, April 1841.]

{490} Dr. Mill has published his "Christian Advocate's" publication for 1840 (Rivingtons), for which we have been some time looking with great interest. It is the first part of a profound reply to the Pantheistic Principles of Strauss.

To Dr. Wall's very interesting volume (2nd) on "The Ancient Orthography of the Jews," (Whittaker), we cannot do more in so brief a notice as this than direct the reader's attention. As his former volume was intended to establish the miraculous origin of alphabetic writing, so this illustrates the value of the gift by showing the low state in which learning must have remained, had mankind been confined to the use of such means of writing as they have invented for themselves. A third volume is to follow, principally on the subject of China.

The subject alone is sufficient to make "Egyptian history deduced from Monuments still in existence," (Fraser), deeply interesting. The first part, which is all that we have seen, extends from Menes to Osirtesen. We are glad to see that it observes that reverence for Scripture history which is often wanting in such investigations.

Mr. Girdlestone's "Commentary on the Old Testament," Part V., on Job and the Psalms, (Rivingtons), is written with a careful attention to the details of moral duty, which is particularly seasonable in this day, and which, we may trust, cannot fail of a beneficial result.

"The Book of Illustrations," by the Rev. H. Salter, (Hatchards) is condemned by its very length, which runs to 532 closely printed octavo pages. Illustrations should be written in a terse and pithy style; so large a book therefore must either have a great many indeed, or they must be spun out. Again, it is condemned by its being original and selected, for illustrations are not likely to be expressed vigorously unless thrown off by the author. Mr. S. seems too to belong to a bad school in religion; yet we cannot help feeling kindly towards him for his advocating the principle, which is most philosophical and true, that teaching should proceed by means of visible things, or that religion is mystical.

Dr. D'Oyly has, in his second edition of "Sancroft's Life" (J. W. Parker), added some extracts from the Archbishop's letters, the three sermons which he published himself, and the celebrated treatise called "Modern Policies," attributed to him. {491}

Mr. Pope, in his "Roman Misquotation," (Holdsworth), shows that the Roman work called "The Faith of Catholics," used by Dr. Poynter, the Bishop of Strasburgh, &c. is not at all to be depended on in certain of its extracts and translations of the early Fathers.

We observe that "Geraldine" has got to the third edition, and really do not know how to be sorry for it. It contains incomparably more truth than error, and is far more powerful against the Protestantism of the day than in behalf of Rome. Some few converts it may make to its own creed; but on the whole we doubt not its circulation will work beneficially for our Church; and even as regards its converts, we have always to inquire what they were before conversion. The chance is that they will be found in the judgment of the sober Anglican to have gained by it. We are no palliators of superstition, but England is not in so orthodox a state, that Romanism is the worst of heresies.

Two new Tracts have appeared in the series called the Tracts for the Times, No. 89, "On the Mysticism attributed to the early Fathers of the Church;" and No. 90, "Remarks on certain Passages in the Thirty-nine Articles." The latter is creating a great sensation.

Mr. Bickersteth "completes a series of theological works begun in 1815," with "a Treatise on Baptism" (Seeley). This looks like "labor actus in orbem," and perhaps indicates the beginning of a new and improved cycle. The spirit which dictated the following words is progressive: "Let us be led by these considerations to a more full and entire confidence in the Lord, and a more diligent, believing, and practical observance of every direction of our God, though at the time we may little discern its full meaning and importance."

"The Case stated," with reference to the late meeting of the subscribers to the Curates' Fund at Leeds, is a little tract, published at Leeds, in defence of the vicar of that parish, who it seems had been attacked by Mr. William Sinclair and another clergyman of the Parish of Leeds, and Mr. Atkinson, a solicitor, for some observations he had made on the Pastoral Aid Society. It is noticed here for two reasons, to express our satisfaction at finding that church principles "have progressed" in Leeds, and that with the progress of church principles, there has been a progress of church temper. The assailants of the vicar of Leeds seem to have displayed some asperity of temper, and to have indulged not in hard arguments, but in hard words, from which the writer of this pamphlet has carefully abstained. As to Dr. Hook's speech itself, if we may judge from the report of it given in the Leeds Intelligencer for Feb. 6, a more impressive and beautiful one never was delivered at any meeting.

We are glad to find that Dr. Biber disclaims the views which we gathered in our last number from his late work, "The Standard of Catholicity." We understand that some remarks will be appended by the author to our present, by way of explanation. {492}

Mr. Clay's "Explanatory Notes on the Prayer Book Version of the Psalms" (Parker, London) are carefully done, but prolix. It has however often occurred to us, that an edition of the Psalms on this plan, but with no more than two or three lines of argument and explanation to each Psalm, is a desideratum.

Mr. Painter is carrying on the very seasonable reprints called "Tracts of the Anglican Fathers," which had come to an end, with a new editor and against the wishes of the old.

"Twelve Sermons on the Faith and Practice of a Christian," by C. Gregory, B.A. (Rivingtons), will be found earnest exhortations to general obedience and holiness.

The Dean of Chichester has published a sermon on "the Decoration of Churches" (Parker). Mr. Alexander Watson, a farewell sermon, preached at St. Andrew's, Ancoats (Burns). Mr. Stafford, a sermon on "The Offertory," a subject to which we are glad to observe a growing attention (Rivingtons). Mr. Frere, a sermon on the "Ember Weeks," preceded by a discourse upon "Fasting" (Rivingtons). We had intended before this to have called attention to an excellent Sermon of Mr. Nelson's, lately published.

We recommend Mr. Dodsworth's three excellent "Discourses on the Holy Communion" (Burns).

Mr. Fryer's Sermons (Cadell) is a volume of excellent principles, somewhat wanting in definiteness.

"Sermons by the Rev. W. H. Tucker," (Fellowes), contains a good deal of thought not always adequately enucleated.

We are glad to observe that "Fuller's Characters," taken out of the "Holy State," have been published (Burns) in a small volume.

Bishop Jeremy Taylor's "Practical Works," (Ball and Arnold), comprise all his Sermons and the "Holy Living and Holy Dying" in one volume and in a very clear type.

We are not particularly fond of Bishop Burnet, but his "Pastoral Care," (Washbourne), has always been reckoned useful, and Mr. Dale has put an excellent preface to it, which it will do most people good to read.

"Felix de Lisle," (Seeley and Burnside), is the history of the conversion of an Englishman, bred-up abroad without baptism, from heathenism to Christianity. He grows up, his mind expands; his father, who is an unbeliever, dies with sudden assurance of salvation; he finds Deists all ignorance, Roman Catholics all form and mystery, Jews all cheating, and high Churchmen all morality. He studies the Bible and Prayer-Book; thinks no sect conducts worship so admirably as the Church of England, yet baptizes himself, from not being clear what communion it is best to enter. Then he falls into a consumption, receives a more {493} regular baptism from the clergyman of the parish, and dies with an assurance which he felt before receiving it.

Dr. Molesworth has published an excellent Letter to the Bishop of Chester, on the "Pastoral Aid Society" (Rivingtons).

Mr. Burns has published a series of books for children, with woodcuts, which will be found very suitable for school prizes.

Mr. Soames's edition of "Dr. Murdock's Translation of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History," 4 vols. (Longman), must any how be a great improvement on a translation like Maclaine's.

"Baptismal Regeneration" (Burns) is a tract on that subject, written in a very serious and practical spirit, and adapted to help persons in their difficulties.

We would not pronounce anything magisterially in so sacred a matter as grief, and we know how wonderfully all things are transmuted to good by the recipient mind; but we will only say with respect to "The Christian Mourner," (Seeley and Burnside), that if a volume of [number illegible] closely printed pages [be found to?] assuage sorrow, it is the first time that such a host of words did anything else for the unfortunates upon whom they fell but inflict a desperate headache.

"Aids to Devotion," (Dalton), is a selection of texts and hymns arranged under heads; the plan is simple and good; the selection somewhat objectionable.

"Tendrils Cherished, or Home Sketches," (Houlston), 'is a tale for the young, drawn, apparently, after life. It has considerable merit, and will be useful, in spite of its title being somewhat sentimental, and of the little girls who are its subjects inventing and writing down "Aphorisms," p. 37, at the end of every day.

"The Temperance Emigrants, a Drama, by John Dunlop, Esq." (Houlston and Stoneman), is a vulgar, outrageous story conveyed in vigorous and striking dialogue.

"Ecclesia" is a volume of poems by the Rev. R. S. Hawker (Rivingtons), marked by good feeling, elegance and grace, with some want of severity and awe, considering the subject treated of.

"Sketches of Country Life and Country Matters," by One of the Old School, (Rivingtons), is a little work of excellent principles written in a pleasing style.

The Baron Geramb's "Journey from La Trappe to Rome," (Dolman), is a lively, interesting, and (making allowances for his creed) instructive narrative.

We think it right, in justice to Dr. Burney, and for the satisfaction of our musical readers, to correct an error in the article on Chanting, in a late Number. It was there stated that Dr. Burney could trace no difference between the {494} Ambrosian and Gregorian chants. This is correct; but in the errata at the end of the second volume he corrects his error, and says that Padre Martini informed him it was "in the finals." "The principal difference (he says) which I can discover in these finals, from those of the Gregorian chant, is the frequent use of the favourite Greek interval, the fourth, with which, descending from the octave of the key of C or D to the fifth, almost every close is made."

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At a general meeting of the Board of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge on the 9th of February the following Report from the Foreign Translation Committee was laid before the Meeting:—

"The Foreign Translation Committee beg to state to the Board that they have had a report made to them by the Secretary, the Rev. G. Tomlinson, of the journey which he made to the Levant, in the autumn of last year, at their request.

"In the Report which the Committee made to the Board in July last, they stated that they had received some communications respecting the Translation both of the Holy Scriptures and of Books and Tracts for use in the Levant; but that they had found it difficult to obtain such information upon these subjects as might enable them to come to a satisfactory conclusion respecting the course which ought to be pursued. They agreed, therefore, with the approbation of his Grace the President, and with the concurrence of the Standing Committee, to request the Secretary to go out to the Levant to make inquiries personally in the different localities, and to ascertain, as far as possible, the opinions and views of the authorities of the Oriental Churches and communities respecting these matters.

"The Committee had afterwards the satisfaction to learn that his Grace the President, and the Lord Bishop of London, had been pleased to give the Secretary commendatory letters to the Bishops of the Oriental Church.

"The Secretary has now reported to the Committee, that in accordance with their wishes he visited Malta, Athens, Constantinople, and other intermediate places, but was prevented from extending his visit to Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, on account of the war which broke out whilst he was in the Levant. He has stated that he met with a friendly reception from the heads of the Oriental Church generally; and in particular, that he was kindly and cordially received by the bishops and principal clergy of the kingdom of Greece, who are willing and desirous to receive such assistance as the Society may be able consistently to give towards the Christian instruction and improvement of the members of the Greek Church. In the conferences which he held with some of the Greek clergy, it was suggested by them that the Society would render much service to the Greek Church and to the cause of pure religion generally in the East, if it would print an edition of the Holy Scriptures in ancient Greek, and also of some portions of the works of the ancient Greek Fathers, so that they might be distributed, either gratuitously or at a very small price, particularly to the clergy. These are represented as being the works of which {495} they at present stand most in need; and a supply of them would be most gratefully received by the bishops and clergy in Greece.

"The Committee have therefore agreed, with the approbation of his Grace the President, to print an edition of the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament and an edition of the New Testament in ancient Greek, with the marginal references and the sections of Eusebius, according to the edition of Bishop Lloyd, for distribution in Greece and the Levant.

"The Committee also consider it advisable that the Society should print, for the same purpose, the Apostolic Fathers, the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, and the Homilies of St. Chrysostom; and they request that they may be empowered, with the approbation of his Grace the President, to print editions of these works for circulation among the clergy and other members of the Greek Church.

"The Committee are happy to learn that the authorities of the Greek Church will be glad to avail themselves of the offer made to them by the Secretary, of translating and printing any of the Society's publications, which they can consistently approve of, for circulation in Greece. But as the Standing Committee already possess the power of ordering such translations to be made, it will not be necessary to make any application to the Board for that purpose.

"It having been moved that the Report be adopted, and some discussion having taken place, it was moved by way of amendment by the Dean of Chichester,

"'That the consideration of this Report be deferred till the next meeting.'

"The Rev. R. Monro seconded this.

"The amendment was lost.

"The Rev. J. Endell Tyler then moved, as an amendment to the original motion,

"'That the Report be adopted, with the omission of the words "the Apostolic Fathers."'

"This amendment was seconded by the Rev. Dr. D'Oyly, and carried."

In explanation of these proceedings it may be stated, that certain members present objected that the term "Apostolic Fathers" was too indefinite, and begged to be informed what writers were intended to be included under it. The Secretary replied that those Fathers were contemplated who were so termed by Archbishop Wake; whereupon a discussion arose on the question of what writers were entitled to the name, and on the comparative merits of those recognized by Archbishop Wake. Some members strongly protested against this discussion as contrary to the rules of the Society, which prohibit all debate on any theological subject. The objection however was overruled, and the Board proceeded at considerable length to entertain the questions. As might have been anticipated, no decision was arrived at. And hence, partly to evade the difficulty, and partly, it may be feared, from a wish to get rid of the "Apostolic Fathers," it was proposed to leave them out from the Report. {496} This proposal, it will be seen, was carried, notwithstanding a strenuous opposition on the part of a few members present.

These facts are painfully illustrative of the character of this Society's proceedings, and of its very faulty constitution. The simple facts are these:—The Primate of the English Church entered into communication with the heads of the Greek Church; and after diligent inquiry into the the wants of that Church by the Secretary of the Society during a personal visit, it is proposed to print certain books for circulation amongst the Greek clergy. This proposal is maturely weighed by the Foreign Translation Committee, who, under the sanction and approbation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, draw up a Report recommending the adoption of the plan as above detailed. This plan is brought forward at a public meeting. By chance there happens to be present a majority unfavourable to a very important part of it. And on the spur of the moment, in an assembly as little deserving the name of deliberative, as can well be imagined, the proposal of the Committee, who, it must be supposed, had maturely considered it, and the sanction and approbation of the Archbishop are set at nought.

It cannot be said that this was merely a slight upon the Committee; because their recommendation was understood to have the approbation of the Archbishop. Besides, all they asked was, "to be empowered, with the approbation of his Grace the President, to print editions" of the proposed works for circulation in the Greek Church.

As the Report appears above, a stigma seems to be thrown on the Apostolic Fathers. Let the clergy of the Church of England observe the terms of the amendment which was carried; "That the Report be adopted, with the omission of the words 'Apostolic Fathers.'" Is this resolution in harmony with the general sentiments of the clergy? We confidently answer, no.

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