ART. V.—The Life of Augustus Hermann Franké, &c. Translated from the German of H. E. F. Guerike, by Samuel Jackson. With an introductory Preface, by the Rev. E Bickersteth. Seeley and Burnside.

[?] "Copy at B.O. has note: 'The last 2˝ pages are Pusey's in substance. J.H.N.'"—Blehl.

[British Critic, vol. 21, July 1837.]

{94} THE Pietists of Germany, to whom Mr. Bickersteth has directed our attention in this Memoir of Franké, one of their principal ornaments, rose out of the orthodox Lutheran School, and terminated in the Rationalists. Every history has its own moral, and every reader draws it in his own way. Mr. Bickersteth would view the Pietists in contrast with the orthodox Lutherans who preceded them; we perhaps are rather disposed to regard them in connection with the Rationalists who followed. He probably discerns in Franké and his associates, that English school of which he is a distinguished member; and here we may on the whole agree with him. But he would proceed to liken the Lutherans, over whom they triumphed, to what is commonly called the High-Church party in England; whereas we should discover in the present state of what are called Evangelical opinions, the more than incipient development of a double tendency, which was realized in the history of Pietism, at once towards that formalism out of which it started, and to the free-thinking system in which it ended. As time went on, Pietism either relapsed or went further; and its English parallel, following its career, is rapidly becoming in one of its portions technical, in {95} another latitudinarian. Now, considering Mr. Bickersteth's publication says not a word about High Church or Low Church, we may be thought unfair and party-spirited thus to interpret it. It may be said that he is simply desirous of doing good, not of making a controversy. Doubtless he is; but then, if we may judge from his usual turn and tone of thought, his notion of religious excellence is such as not to admit of being explained and communicated except through the medium of such contrasts. His main notion of a religious man is of one who relies not on what is outward, but on what is inward; his notion of the Church's warfare with the world, is of a contest between self-righteous and barren orthodoxy, and spiritual faith. Under these circumstances he can but mean Franké's life to be a type of the history of every religious man in his contest with the world; and, inclusively, of every religious man in the English Church.

We have above shown our willingness to agree with Mr. Bickersteth in considering the Pietists of the same religious family with his own friends; yet though this may be granted in general terms, it is by no means true on an accurate comparison between the two schools. Spener and Franké were much more of Romanists than is Mr. Bickersteth. Spener re-published the work of Tauler, an eminent Roman Catholic Mystic; Franké, following his example, translated two of the works of Molinos, "a celebrated pious Spanish Mystic," as the work before us calls him, "who finished his days at Rome in the eighteenth century." As the circumstances of Franké's publication are instructive, we shall present them to the reader in the translator's words.

"In 1687, Franké was induced, by a disputation held in Leipzig, 'De Quietismo contra Molinosum,' in which the antagonist confessed that he had never read Molinos' writings, to translate two of the latter's works—'Guida Spirituale,' 'Manuductio Spiritualis,' and 'Della Comunione Cotidiana,' or 'De Communione Quotidiana,' from the Italian into Latin. This step was taken amiss of him, as if he thereby acknowledged himself an adherent of Molinos, and a friend to Catholicism. To this he replied, 'I have never sought to justify or maintain every thing contained in Molinos. But I have been much displeased that others should fall upon an author, and condemn him, without understanding him, or ever having read him, and attribute sentiments to him, which probably never occurred to him. On the contrary, I assert that there is much of what is edifying and useful in his writings, which I can never bring myself to reject or condemn. Truth must be esteemed everywhere, whether found amongst friends or foes. We ought to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. Am I necessarily a heathen, when I say that many good things are to be found in Cicero's De Officiis? And why must I be vilified and made out to be a Catholic, because I find many useful observations in a Roman Catholic book?'" {96}

But to return. It seems from what has been said, we are at issue with Mr. Bickersteth on a sufficient number of points, as regards the history of Pietism, more indeed than it is possible to treat in this article;—on what is life in religion, what is deadness, whether the Lutherans of the seventeenth century were like the so-called orthodox among ourselves, how far the Pietists are like the so-called Evangelical, how far German Pietism, how far English Pietism, how far in short what is called vital religion, tends on the one hand to formal religion, on the other hand to freethinking religion, as being a transition state, vacillating between one or other of two inevitable issues. Out of these ample topics, we shall set apart a very small field for discussion, still, as we hope, not an unprofitable one. We mean to say a few words on the character of the formal Lutheranism which preceded the Pietists, and to inquire whether there be not alarming signs among our English Pietists at the present moment of a tendency to a similar formalism.

The history of the rise of Pietism may be sketched as follows: Luther died A.D. 1545. His contemporaries, who had acted upon his idea of doctrine and preaching, such as Chemnitz, Bugenhagen and Brentius, were removed from this scene of trouble and error before the end of the same century. What Luther's own idea of Christianity was, we shall not attempt to delineate; the opinions of so great a mind are not lightly and cursorily to be handled. But without definitely ascertaining the views of this or that individual, the idea then floating and prevalent among the Lutherans seems to have been this, that it was a life in the heart, quickened by the Spirit, manifested in faith; that words were of use merely as instruments of implanting this life, that such especially was the office of the word of God, which was the divinely vouchsafed instrument of conveying this supernatural life to the inward man; moreover, that spiritual life, consisting in faith, the word of God was the means of spiritual life, as being the means of kindling faith and similar religious feelings, dispositions, and habits. From this, two conclusions might follow; first, that words, being the means of imparting religious ideas, were only of use so far as they did convey them, that they were dependent on and subservient to the ideas they communicated to the hearer; that they had their proper scope in their effect upon him, and might be fairly estimated by that effect. Words then were, from the nature of the case, of a variable and multiform nature, springing up, doing their work, dying, reproduced, according to the occasion; in a word, there could be no creed in Christianity, that is, no announcements such as to have their end in themselves, to stand on their own ground, to be contained in and depend upon the words conveying them, not on the intelligence of {97} those who used them, as being from the first beyond the human mind, and being simply the words of God, with prototypes in heaven, and addressed essentially to faith, presupposing, not producing it. Next it might follow that sacraments also, not being addressed to the reason or intelligent mind, or calculated to produce faith, but being of the nature of rites, having little or no power to teach, convince or comfort,—were no part of Christianity; or at least belonged to it only so far as they did teach, convince or comfort, so far as they did tend to produce or reassure faith, as signs, tokens, pledges, seals, not means of grace. These two conclusions however seem not to have been consistently drawn out by the school in question, which occupied an intermediate position; maintaining the supremacy of the Mental Life as the essence and end of all true religion, and the measure by which all other parts of Christianity were to be valued and adjusted, and again the power of the Divine Word, that is, of the intellectual meaning or spirit of Scripture, as the Holy Spirit's main instrument in the production of this Life; but not going on to deny the divine origin of dogmatic statements, for it admitted the Catholic Creeds; nor the true virtue of sacraments, for it maintained the benefit as well as the necessity of infant baptism. As naturally follows from what has been said, its characteristic doctrine was justification by faith only; which, while in the first instance it was the doctrinal symbol of a great truth, viz. the imperative necessity of an awakened mind, a tender conscience and a reasonable service, yet might be readily perverted to the denial of all real virtue in sacraments, all divine mysteries in creeds. Such an incomplete theory, it was plain, could not remain many years. A bold and original mind had insisted upon some great truths, which were at the time depreciated and neglected, in a way which tended to peril other great truths, which he recognized also, yet did not defend, nor secure from the force of his own arguments. He had taken the practical side of the Gospel, and thrown his mind into it, but left the doctrinal and ecclesiastical side standing, but not prominent. What was left to his successors, but either from the love of these latter truths to relinquish the principle by which he enforced the former, or to carry out his principle to their overthrow? to discard altogether or to acknowledge implicitly the supremacy of the letter and the ritual? Under these circumstances they fell into a line of conduct, which might be called ingenious, were it not so natural, as to be almost spontaneous in their case, and in which indeed the Reformers themselves had led the way. They retained the principle of dogmatism, but substituted the Lutheran doctrines for its subject-matter in the place whether of the Roman or the Catholic Creed. Instead of the Pope's supremacy as the centre {98} doctrine of the church, another had been already assumed as its vital principle, justification by faith only. Unless men believed that they were justified on believing, they were not in a saving state. A great number of other points of faith was added; till in a short time a theology arose, as minute, as imperative, not as plausible, not as venerable as the Roman; a theology, appealing not to the unanimous voice of the Fathers, but to Luther, in a manner quite inconsistent with that great Reformer's own resistance to the Church in which he was born. Instead of following out Luther's principle, they left Babylon only to erect the old city on a new site. The formula concordić 1580, fixed the character of the Lutheran system, and, in fixing, formalized it. After an interval of about two generations the free principle of Luther's original movement awoke, especially about 1650-1660; but its champions were but as single voices in the desert, which found hearers here and there, but excited no general interest or opposition. At length, towards the end of the seventeenth century, it developed itself in the school of the Pietists, of which Spener and Franké, both eminently pious and practical men, are the chief luminaries. Here then matters were brought back pretty much to the same point in which they stood in Luther's time. Words and forms were pronounced to be subject to mind, that is, to the intelligent, reflective principle of the soul. Again the time came when his school must determine whether they would go forward or backward, whether they would carry out his principle of the sovereignty of reason and the heart in religious matters to its furthest limits, or whether they could modify without destroying it. And the event took place on the whole contrariwise to what had happened at the former crisis. Then the Lutheran Church relapsed into scholastic formality; now it dissolved itself in the licence of freethinking and scepticism. The school of Pietists indeed itself drew back, and underwent the same transformation into rigid and narrow dogmatism, which had befallen the successors of Luther. But it was otherwise with the Church in which they had laboured. The spirit they had kindled in it did its work and proceeded onward to rationalism. What had happened in the preceding age at Geneva was now repeated; Calvin had become in his lifetime the involuntary parent of Socinianism and burned Servetus in disgust. Rationalism was in another country the posthumous offspring of a kindred spirit.

Now, if this outline be tolerably correct, we do not think Mr. Bickersteth would gain much, though the English school which he admires were ever so like the Pietists; and that he holds their resemblance, must be inferred from his editing in his "Christian's Family Library," on the one hand, the life of Franké, on the {99} other, those of Mr. Scott, and Mr. Richmond. If, we repeat, the spirit of Pietism is the inchoate state either of formalism or of rationalism, in whatever degree it is revived in the Low Church School among us, (and that it is in many respects paralleled in them we by no means deny,) the piety of its adherents, whatever it is, is no set-off against its tendencies. That it tends to rationalism is not here to be discussed. It is far too large a field to be traversed within the limits which we propose to ourselves. Besides, persons entitled to all deference have differed in their views on the subject. Mr. Rose imputes the rationalism of Germany to the ill-directed movement of the intellect in that country, to foreign infidelity, and the total want of guiding principles of church government. Dr. Pusey attributes it mainly to a the antecedent stiff orthodoxism, and to the natural tendency to decay inherent in any system of man's device and distinct from the Catholic faith, such as was Lutheran theology in its developed form. Leaving this part of the subject, let us turn to the picture which history presents of that developed Lutheranism, and see whether its lineaments are not discernible in the English school, which thinks its freedom from formalism and its protest against formalism in the High Church divinity one of its especially strong points.

The German author whom Mr. Bickersteth recommends to our notice, speaks as follows in the translation, or rather abridgment, which his editor has sanctioned.

"The light of the Reformation had not long dawned upon Germany, before it became obscured by the pernicious controversies which were carried on in the bosom of the Lutheran Church; so that towards the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, a formal and lifeless orthodoxy, and a mere historical belief, took place of the true and living faith, which the reformation had diffused. People contented themselves with a strict but merely outward adherence to the established articles of belief, instead of regarding with Luther, the practical application of the simple doctrines of the Gospel as the chief and primary object."—pp. 1, 2.

Now, so far, this description may plausibly be made apply to the history of our own Church in the 17th and 18th centuries—plausibly, but not truly. For though no one who knows the writings of our great divines will tolerate even for a moment the attempt to fix on them the charge of formalism here imputed to the Lutherans, yet the many have not looked into them; those who have, sometimes only turn over the pages, and, not understanding them, call them scholastic and technical in self-defence,—look for what they consider eloquence, and find nothing popular or attractive—look to be informed without their own exertion, {100} and find them methodical, deliberate, and accurate. It is plausible then to speak of Laud, Hammond, Bull, and Butler, as formal and lifeless; nor would Hooker escape if he had only written his work on Ecclesiastical Polity. So far, then, they may be conveniently compared to the Lutherans of the seventeenth century; but as our author's description proceeds, general as it necessarily is, some differences begin to show themselves.

"The smallest deviation in doctrinal points from the creed of the church was punished with an ardent zeal, which not unfrequently over-stepped the bounds of propriety; and in short, the substance was neglected and forgotten whilst contending for the form. Every part of divinity received a polemical tinge; whilst biblical exposition, the chief object of theological science, was regarded as completely of secondary consideration. Olearius was unable to introduce an exegetical course of lectures at Leipzig; and the learned Carpzovius was compelled to conclude his lectures on the prophecy of Isaiah with the very first chapter. The consequence of such a mode of study at the universities was, that the preachers they sent forth, instead of expounding the Bible to the people, as the means of communicating instruction, edification, and sanctification, disseminated only scholastic dogmas and controversial sentiments, and being mostly destitute of feeling for things divine, frequently promulgated from the pulpit things of a completely extraneous and ridiculous nature; so that the Holy Scriptures were an unknown and a sealed book to the uninstructed people."

Now let us illustrate the text thus given us from a work on the subject of Lutheran theology, published in this country some years since, and then the reader shall be judge which of the two schools most resembles those Lutherans whom the Pietists opposed—the High Church or the Low Church of this day. The work we allude to is Dr. Pusey's Essay on German Rationalism.

This author observes, "It was a natural, though injurious consequence of the great superiority of Luther, that every expression of his upon controverted points became a norm for the party, which, at all times the largest, was at last co-extensive with the Church itself. This almost idolatrous veneration was perhaps increased by the selection of declarations of faith, of which the substance, on the whole, was his, for the symbolical books of his Church. Even in the earlier Lutheran controversies, the question is often, not whether the tenet agree with Scripture, but "whether it be a deflection from Luther's doctrine,"—"whether the individual be fallen away from Luther,"—whether, "if the expression be the same, it be used precisely in the sense of Luther." [Note 1] The Lutherans then were remarkable for their strict adherence to the doctrines of the Reformation, justification by {101} faith only, and the rest. On the other hand, the especial offence in their eyes, committed by Spener, the chief writer of the Pietists, was his protesting against this strictness, and appealing to the spirit of the Gospel rather than to the bare letter of forrnulć and confessions. The author just quoted speaks of Spener's venturing to omit "assertions, which were abused by fleshly mindedness and indolence, but to the letter of which an indiscriminating orthodoxy clung," such as, that "no one can attain to the perfection which the divine law requires,"—in the act of justification on the part of man, faith alone is concerned without good works,"—and of his refusing to "dwell exclusively on favourite doctrines," instead of the whole of Christianity.

What is thus instanced as regards some of the more characteristic doctrines of Lutheranism, intruded into those also still more sacred, which, for the most part, lay beyond its attention. In one of the dialogues of Andrea, the theologist of the day is introduced as "devising formulć that he may for the future believe as circumspectly as possible,"—and insisting on the necessity of knowing "the mode of union of the two natures" in Christ,—of determining whether his passion "had its origin in the preceding or following divine will,"— or whether "the counsel of God" respecting it, "in the order of causes, preceded or followed the Creation." [Note 2]

As to the study of Scripture at the same period, the chief subject of exposition is said by Schröckh to have been the book of Revelations, and that principally in reference to the Church of Rome. Except in this instance, exposition was almost unknown, Scripture being used rather as a storehouse of texts, to be adduced pro re natâ in defence of the Lutheran dogmas, than studied and interpreted in its context and in course. "Since Luther and Melanchthon," as Planck observes [Note 3], "had compelled doctrinal theology again to have recourse to Scripture alone, or, at least, principally for its truths, it should have been the first object to form a new system of scriptural interpretation." But the actual effect of their struggle had been to subject Scripture to the word of man, revelation to reason,—to shred the inspired message into minute portions, and to apply them to the maintenance of controversial positions. The chief use of the great river of divine truth seemed to lie in its feeding the canals and the broken cisterns of men. "Doctrinal theology," continues the same writer, "permitted polemical theology to dictate to it the meaning of Scripture,—found in each passage, which this deemed useful, a convincing scriptural proof, and thus admitted a number of very {102} ambiguous proofs, which were yet further swelled through the errors to which the ease of bringing such proofs together soon led them, namely, of laying an especial value on the number of these proofs." [Note 4] Accordingly, as Spener tells us, many, even very diligent students of theology, who readily followed the guidance of their preceptors, had never in their life gone through a single book of the Bible. Franké also avers, that in all his university years he did not hear any lecture upon Scripture [Note 5]. It is said to be one only out of many instances, that at Leipzig, Carpzov, after completing in the course of one half year the first chapter of Isaiah, did not again lecture on the Bible for twenty years, while Olcarius suspended his for ten. It is illustrative of the character of the biblical exposition then given, that Franké's defence of his reading theological lectures, when it was objected to, lay in this, that his lectures being confined to practical explanations, omitting the theological controversies, were not theological, but philological. It is a more painful fact, that in Leipzig, the great mart of literature as well as of trade, at one time in no bookseller's shop was either Bible or Testament to be found. It will be observed, that in this ignorance of Scripture we are speaking, not of the laity, but their teachers. Catechising of the young was neglected, equally with exposition of Scripture in the case of the more advanced. Spener speaks of its being considered, in his day, ridiculous to maintain its value as co-ordinate with preaching; and he had himself to encounter derision and opposition for attempting it.

These traits of the Lutheran divinity of the seventeenth century certainly do not apply to what has been called the orthodox party among ourselves. Whatever be its characteristics, it cannot be said to have neglected catechism in comparison of sermons, or to have insisted on the peculiar doctrines of the Reformation, as of first and almost exclusive importance in the circle of Christian truths, or to have chosen one or two favourite doctrines to the exclusion of the rest. Nor has it shown any tendency to limit the knowledge of Scripture to the use of a few texts or passages, nor to absorb all exposition in attempts to interpret and apply to the Roman Church the sacred mysteries of the book of Revelation.

The following points of character still less belong to the High Church. "It was inferred by Edgardi," says Dr. Pusey, "that since Brietkaupt, in two sermons on the Lord's Supper from 1 Cor. x. and xi., had not refuted the Reformed Churches, he must needs hypocritically hold with them. The Pietists were reproached by Löscher for neglecting the office of refutation. In a sermon on a public fast day, we have it hinted that the {103} Pietistic error should not be tolerated, it being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm—nay, a mixture of religions;—heretics they do not refute, but rather excuse then, the usus elenchticus is banished from their pulpits." [Note 6] So technical and sapless was the creed of this era, that because Spener urged practical Christianity, he had to defend himself against the charge of preaching mere morality. "It is," he says [Note 7], "an utterly false imputation on the parts of opponents, that we forget faith, and erect only the moral side of good works." Elsewhere he retorts the following charge upon the pseudo-orthodox. "I have often observed in many well-disposed persons, and some have even owned to me, that it has been a considerable hindrance to them in their course,—that they constantly heard and thought of this only, how that we were poor weak men, who could not advance to the highest point; they consequently became indolent, and did not set decidedly about that which they held it impossible to attain, and began to think that they might remain children of God, although they did not apply themselves earnestly to good." And no wonder; for in the received system the simple position, "good works are present at the time of justification," was at times thought sufficient wholly to invalidate the orthodoxy of the holder; and a professor of theology objected to the Pietists, "that by making holiness of life, a part of the essence of Christianity, they mingled it up with the covenant of grace, and with the matter of justification and salvation." [Note 8] Among the 283 errors which the University of Wittenberg charged upon Spener's writings, one was "that he considered a holy life as absolutely necessary," as the test of faith; another, "that the new man was not less nourished by the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper than the natural man by the natural bread and wine;" and another, "that the Lord's Supper was the chief means of becoming partakers of the divine nature." Consistently with these notions, it seems to have been considered, that such doctrine as Spener's was fatal to the eternal prospects of those who held it. Arndt, who in the beginning of the seventeenth century had been the precursor of the Pietists, and whose work on "True Christianity" was intended to show that it "consists in the manifestation of a true, living, active faith, in genuine piety and the fruits of righteousness," was accused "of the heresy of requiring from Christians angelic perfection, and of practising alchemy," and "his extensive benevolence was attributed to the discovery of the philosopher's stone." "The clergy of Brunswick issued warnings against his 'poison.'" L. Osiander pronounced that his writings could not be read by the ignorant without risk of salvation; that they were full of heretical {104} poison, and pestilential; that he has blasphemed against the Holy Spirit; that he used expressions belonging to the mystics or fanatics of an earlier period. Calixtus, who flourished a few years later, a man, according to Weisman, "of great talent and comprehensive views," gave great offence to the upholders of the degenerate system under review by "allowing to the fathers of the five first centuries a secondary authority in fundamental articles of faith." [Note 9] "This," continues the writer of whom we have availed ourselves all along, "which in no respect differed from the practice of all Protestant writers, who have uniformly referred to the agreement of the early fathers, as witnesses of the primitive faith, was imputed to him as involving the Romanist error of setting human authority co-ordinate with Scripture [Note 10]. Though his office as teacher of theology was conferred on him for his success in controversy with a Romanist, and though by one of them he is named as their ablest antagonist, his Lutheran brethren charged him with secretly favouring them." Even Mr. Bickersteth's publication speaks favourably of Calixtus, as commencing that movement which issued in Pietism, and seeking "to redirect the attention of the students of divinity to its historical department." [Note 11] Of Arndt also it speaks as one of the "pious and learned divines," who came forward to "provide for the spiritual necessities of the people;" while in Spener, as might be expected, it declares "the new epoch of evangelical vitality began." Far different was the reception which these individuals met with from the religionists of their day, loud clamourers as the latter were in praise of the Reformation, and idolators of the dicta of Luther. Professor Fecht, a learned theologian of the age, justified the refusal of the title of "beatus" or "der selige," [Note 12] "of blessed memory," to Spener, (though he asserted it was applicable even to Lutherans, who had led notoriously irreligious lives, and on their death-beds had not given the slightest indication of repentance,) because Spener had not revoked his many grievous errors, or repented of the confusions he had caused in the Church. And Calov, in like manner, denied it might be given to Calixtus, on the ground, that if so, we must in consistency say Beatus Bellarminus, B. Calvinus, and B. Socinus.

We are far from supposing that Mr. Bickersteth would not denounce and condemn formalism wherever it is to be found. He is too candid, too reasonable, too experienced, not to know and allow that it can exist under the strictest profession of Calvinism, Lutheranism, or of any still more spiritual religion. We have drawn out the above account of the Lutheranism of 1600-1700 by no means as a reductio ad absurdum against him, as if he were {105} himself advocating a creed which in other cases had become formal and technical. He would admit that every creed might so become. Nay, perhaps he would object in toto to creeds being made the essence of religion, when they were but the accidental development of it. He would say with the Reformers, that the heart and the spirit were everything; that they naturally developed in a certain outward form, but that the existence of that form, however accurate, was no voucher or safeguard of the inward principle. How far we agree with him in this, and where we begin to differ, is not now the question; but this he would certainly say. He would say, that if our orthodoxy in England has been, or is, technical or formal, it matters not of what nature it is, and that, though it be formalism on Laud's or on Tillotson's basis, the formalism of bigots or of latitudinarians, it may be viewed as in a type in the formalism of Lutheranism in the seventeenth century. We admit all this; and, as admitting it, have had a different purpose in the above account of Lutheranism,—a purpose which the reader may have discerned. We would maintain, not that what is familiarly (but improperly) called at this day evangelical religion may become technical, but that, in a great measure, it has so become; that, whether or not, the High Church system has ever fallen into the type of Lutheran formalism, Mr. Bickersteth's own particular creed is fast running into formalism in Great Britain at the present moment.

This day, indeed, has far too much of kindly and polite feeling to imitate the excesses of the Lutherans in Calixtus' and Spener's age, to scatter about curses in open words, to persecute the body, or to exhibit the grosser forms of technicality and superstition. The same causes which hinder the development of Romanism in image worship, restrain the energies of Ultra-Protestantism also; yet, if we make due allowance for the influence of the resisting medium, we shall be able to detect in the Ultra-Protestantism of our own Church many signs of the bigotry and narrow pedantry of that continental theology, which equally prided itself in the name, and thought it understood the principles of Luther.

We cannot help giving these titles to some of Mr. Bickersteth's own well-meant efforts to purify (as he considers it) the publications of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. In his little book against Popery, which, as Mr. Barter truly observes, seems really levelled against those publications and the views they embody, he objects (p. 27, note) to it being said that "a life of everlasting happiness after death" is to be "expected" upon the "conditions" of "doing those things which our godfathers and godmothers promise for us in baptism." He says, "Here everlasting {106} happiness is made to depend on the righteousness of the sinner, and not on the righteousness of Christ; it is no longer the gift of eternal life to us in Christ Jesus:" and this he maintains, though shortly after, as he quotes, the same work from which this is an extract declares that "the performance of these conditions," the serving and obeying God, and living according to the Gospel of Christ, will not "obtain eternal life" on account of "the doer's" own deserts, but for the sake and through the merits of Jesus Christ. He argues as if, because Christ is the meritorious cause of eternal life, there can be no other cause of it at all, or, at least, that the individual receiving it cannot be in any sense a party in the eventual acquisition of it; as if the righteousness—not "of the sinner," as he words it, but of the regenerate, and that not his own, but wrought in him by the grace of Christ, cannot be made, not a meritorious price, but a necessary condition of eternal life, without excluding the glory of that grace. "Thus the glory of the Gospel," he says, "free salvation, is shut out, and the true place of good works, as the fruit of faith through the Spirit, and real holiness, as flowing from the belief of God's love in Christ and our union with him, are wholly unknown and undescribed. It is the law, and not the Gospel; and though 'for the merits of Christ' is added, it is still in reality 'do this and live.'O miserable exposition of the Protestant faith, teaching all our scholars the very elements of Popery, &c.!" Now, is not this something like the Lutheran divines, who accused the Pietists of "forgetting faith" and "preaching mere morality" because they urged practical Christianity? Has not the Gospel two sides? Is there not both an efficient cause of salvation and a sine qua non—a positive and a negative requisite, God's part and our part? Is it not true that we are saved through Christ, yet true also that we are saved not without our own exertions? Must we be excluding the former of the two because we mention both the former and latter? It is bad enough to be accused, as the Pietists were, of denying faith, because they were not led to mention it; but it is worse fortune still to be considered to deny it merely for mentioning works also. Mr. Bickersteth will not allow works to be directly preached at all. They may just be hinted at, as virtually existing in faith, but as cautiously and briefly as possible, as if it were a dangerous secret, scarcely safe to breathe,—as if, though the mother were fruitful, the birth was sure to be fatal, or the offspring unnatural, and destined to be a matricide. According to him, to mention works is to deny faith, even though in the same sentence one enforces it. Surely this is technical, and unlike the largeness of the Apostles. St. James and St. John, not to say St. Paul, do not thus fetter and formalise the free spirit of the Gospel. {107}

Soon after he takes notice of the following sentences, in the same work from which the foregoing are taken. "Think on the account thou must give hereafter, and thou wilt never do amiss." "O grant that when I depart hence, to appear before thee, in the other world, I may give a good account of myself, and be received into thy favour and the kingdom of heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord." On these he observes, " a mind at all enlightened by the truth, brought home to his heart by the spirit of God, will be deeply pained by such exhibitions of human self-sufficiency and self-righteousness," as if he would say, This is a case in which there is no need of reasoning, in which reasoning will be of no service, where the defect is at once perceived by the spiritual mind without analyzing it logically, and where an analysis, however correct, would not persuade those who are not spiritual. There are such cases doubtless; the perplexity and mistakes of persons who have not in their minds the principle of a certain science, taste, or character, their hopeless struggles to be correct, their failures where they thought to be most correct, their infringing upon words and phrases which those who have the principle in them reject as alien, and which at once detect them as pretenders, and their complaints, in consequence, against the particular science in question, are technical, unintelligible, and absurd; all this may happen and the science not be to blame. Doubtless; let us grant to the full that spiritual-mindedness, as it is called, may be such as to develop itself only in certain peculiar and recondite phrases, and this, moreover, with what appears caprice and fantastic nicety to those who are not spiritual. Let us grant it; but then how comes it that the Apostles are not possessed of this delicate sensibility? How is it that St. John or St. Peter do not shrink from phrases in which Mr. Bickersteth would scent death ever so far off? But it is too serious a matter merely to view in that character of strangeness which really attaches to it. It is most serious and painful to think, that did such a thinker as Mr. Bickersteth meet by chance the following words, not knowing whence they came, "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only;" "Blessed are they who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life;" or "Work out your own salvation, for God worketh in you;"—he would not argue about them, nor go to prove they were wrong. No—he would quietly put them aside; he would calmly and silently disallow them, without discussion, without effort, without misgiving, confiding in the inward feeling of his mind that they were unspiritual; he would trust in his own heart against those who knocked there, thus rejecting angels unawares. He would know and feel himself to be superior to them; to have that which {108} they had not; to have a gift within; and he would, in his own words, "be deeply pained by such exhibitions of human self-sufficiency and self-righteousness:"—and all this without arrogating any great spirituality or faith to himself,—no, though he thought himself the lowest of the low, the weakest and feeblest saint that walks the earth, (and we have no wish or thought of saying that he considers himself higher than the lowest and weakest;) but provided he did but think he was in God's favour at all, thus must he judge of those Apostles, thus he could not but judge, for as if to allow himself no loop-hole, he speaks expressly of "a mind at all enlightened by the truth, brought home to his heart by the spirit of God." Alas! we have no wish at all, we say it sincerely and sorrowfully, to impute any thing wrong or sinful to Mr. Bickersteth personally. No, it is his creed; it is his technical, arrogant, boastful creed—which, equally with that of the degenerate Lutherans of Germany, relies on itself that it is right, and despises others, and is scrupulous about mint, anise and cummin, and tyrannizes over that great gift of God, speech and utterance, loading it by fetters, and subjecting it to rules which God has no where imposed, not in Scripture, not by antiquity, not by the Church; nay, rules which, as is undeniable, would convict the whole college of apostles of heresy and spiritual blindness, and that, all upon the secret confidence of the individual's heart that he knows, as if infallibly, the savour of true and untrue statements of Christian doctrine.

One or two instances of formalism, such as the above, are more than enough to convey our meaning to readers of this day, who will see others in abundance before their eyes, without the trouble of looking out for them. Another age, indeed, might not understand or believe what the real state of the case is without a thousand. We have certainly been viewing the ultra-Protestantism now current in the most favourable light, in taking a man like Mr. Bickersteth for our specimen of its religious fruits; a man of kindly and amiable feelings and candid mind, and conciliatory bearing; who, we are persuaded, thinks as charitably of others, and approaches as nearly to them as his creed allows him. We have viewed it to the greatest advantage, in assigning as the explanation of its pedantry and technicality, that it considers words as developments of a certain internal spirit or temper, which is itself one, definite, and discriminating. This is to view it as coinciding in theory with Luther or Spener, in maintaining the practical infallibility of the regenerate mind, in its judgments between truth and falsehood; whereas, in truth, the great mass of ultra-Protestants are fast sinking into that unmeaning and superstitious adherence to words and phrases which characterized {109} the successors of each of those reformers. Indeed the fantastic and strange distinctions between word and word, phrase and phrase, and the portentous judgments passed on individuals, in consequence of their use of them, in what is improperly called the religious world, rival in their own line, any the most extravagant codes of honour, usages of chivalry, or absurdities of fashion, which the world of arms or the gay world has ever sanctioned. The Norman baron's punctiliousness, when, in consequence of an idle word of promise, he sallied out of his strong-hold to be slaughtered by an overpowering enemy, or the pilgrimage of high-born knight or lady to the Holy Land, whatever may be imputed to it on the score of good sense, is abundantly compensated by the seriousness of purpose, the courage and the suffering therein manifested. But there is nothing great in "strifes of words," arbitrary definitions, and subtle distinctions. There is nothing in nature to ennoble, or in reason to defend, or in Scripture to hallow, or in antiquity to recommend, nor in Church authority to enforce, the miserable squabbles about the miserable subtleties which choke up the thoughts, and hinder the religious advancement of this Christian people; —we say it deliberately, which hinder our advancement in religious truth and obedience. Spener complained that in his age men heard they were "poor weak men, who could not advance to the highest point," and became in consequence indolent, and "did not set decidedly about that which they held it impossible to attain;" and surely a similar complaint lies against the popular system of our own times. Men have contrived to block up the way to higher excellence, by forbidding it to be preached. So it is, a Christian minister cannot find words to enforce it, which are unexceptionable to ultra-Protestants. All the words of the language, by which he might enforce it, are forbidden, bought up, forfeited, as damaged or unlawful. If he says, "Work out your own salvation," he is self-righteous. If he says, "God will render to you according to your works," he is legal. If he says, "Have respect unto the recompence of the reward," he has fallen from grace. If he enlarges on the beauty of moral excellence, he is heathen. If he enters into those details, which are the very life, the sole conceivable channel of obedience, he is forgetting Christ. He is forbidden to speak of "gaining God's favour," of "receiving a reward," of "securing his, love," of "observing the conditions of salvation," nay; of "acceptance by faith." The vision of the saints of God, as an angelic creation, as great, and noble, and supernatural, is considered a mere earthly dream, is gravely censured as the idle romance, the carnal poetry, of minds who never tasted the truth of the Gospel. Two or three phrases comprehend the whole of {110} religion. If a man has not learned the due use of them, it is as if he "had not charity," he is "nothing;" if he has them well by heart, he may do any thing. One cannot specify them without using sacred words in a like irreverent way with the persons we are censuring; the reader therefore must supply for himself instances, which indeed will readily occur to him. There is no doubt at all that Spener's and Franké's language would have subjected them to the suspicion of our ultra-Protestants, in spite of those points in which they really resemble them, such as their unsettling things established. They were called Romanists in their day; they would be called Romanists now. If men so candid as Mr. Bickersteth can detect in Mr. Crossman's or in Bishop Wilson's language a latent Popery, surely others less considerate may account Franké or Spener hopelessly dark or dangerously inconsistent. What indeed could Spener be in the judgment of such religionists but very ignorant of the truth, when he declined saying, that "in the act of justification, faith alone is concerned on our part without good works?" As to Franké, the work which heads our present article contains sufficient grounds for suspicion and exception, unless the spirit of ultra-Protestantism shows towards him most unusual indulgence. The following passage might be taken for the words of a Romanist, had not Mr. Bickersteth put his imprimatur upon it; there is nothing in it of faith, of human corruption, of Christ, or of the warfare of flesh and spirit. It is upon love; and the tone is exactly that of a Roman writer.

"'Love to God is a thing which a person must himself taste and experience in his heart, in order rightly to know what it is. Hence, although one may describe to a person, what love to God is—yet he cannot duly and salutarily understand it as he ought, unless his heart be really inflamed with love to God.'

"But perhaps you think, 'Can you then give us no description whatever of that love, with which we ought to love God?' I answer, 'Yes; some description may be given of it; but experience is requisite duly to understand the description. When I tell you that love to God is that real angelic sweetness, which entirely fills the heart, you cannot understand me, till God gives you to taste a drop of this sweetness; but if you had only tasted a single drop of it, your eyes would become as bright and clear as those of Jonathan, (1 Sam. xiv. 2;) so that you would see and know what love to God is.

"'This love to God is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, by which we regard God as our supreme good, feel a cordial desire after him, seek our joy and sole delight in him, endeavour to please him alone, and long to be more intimately united with him, and cleave continually to him, that we may become, as it were, one heart and soul, and as the Scriptures express it, one spirit with him.' {111}

"See, my dear children, that you have now such a description of it, as is suitable for the present life; for in heaven—if you abide in Christ and thus attain to it—no description will be requisite. Duly consider this description of it, and you will perceive what an extremely excellent thing love to God is; yes, you will then at the same time understand how very different it is from the love of self and the world."—pp. 189, 190.

After this, he proceeds to speak of our Saviour's merits; but this is no excuse in ultra-Protestant eyes, for his not having expressly mentioned that most sacred subject before; and after all, he says not a word about faith; but proceeds, instead, in the passage which follows, to speak again of "the Holy Spirit's peculiar work, to shed abroad the love of God in the heart;" the very text which is the main stay of Romanism.

Or take again the following passage of Franké's from Mr. Bickersteth's Appendix:—

"What more could be possibly desired, O my soul, which thou mayest not find in this love? That the Son of God should be thy Creator, should be thy life, thy light, which illuminates thee; that commands his word to be revealed to thee by the prophets and apostles, as a testimony of himself, the true light; that the angels themselves should bring thee glad tidings, and rejoice to minister unto thee; that thou shouldst become a true believer, obtain pardon for thy sins, and be again born of God, and from the fulness of his grace and truth, such in all divine riches: that he bath brought forth to thee the knowledge of God from the bosom of his heavenly Father, from the inmost and most secret divinity; that he hath, as the true Immanuel, led thee into communion with God; that thou being baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, admitted into an eternal covenant with God, shouldst be anointed with the Holy Spirit, and illuminated with his gifts, be sanctified, and by him preserved in the true faith, and be powerfully strengthened in all conflicts against sin, the world, death, the devil, and hell; that nothing should ever be able to withdraw and separate thee from the love of him; nay, 'That thou art come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly, and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.' (Heb. xii 22-24.) That thou mayest obtain all these felicities, here indeed by faith, and a comfortable foretaste; hereafter, by a most perfect intuition, and everlasting glory: and when Christ thy life shall be made manifest, thou also mayest be manifested with him in glory. I say, all these things, and whatsoever else can be entitled to the name of salvation and blessedness, thou entirely owest to this infinite love, which manifested itself to the world in this, that the Son of God himself became the Saviour of men, in such a manner, that he was made man; and his most exalted Majesty dwelt in flesh, as in his temple, among mortals: {112} of which St. John says, 'He dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."—pp. 284, 285.

This is not ultra-Protestant, but rich and glowing Catholic language, as far as it goes. Of this our amiable editor seems somewhat sensible, and, accordingly, in his preface says—

"There is much that is very instructive in the account of his conversion, and in the description which he gives of that faith by which he was led to the knowledge and enjoyment of the true and living God; and the editor hopes that the reader may find real help from this statement of Franké's spiritual experience ... It might have been well to have opened more the struggle between our fallen nature and divine grace, which, it is very clear from his own confession, Franké deeply felt, lest any should think too highly of a man whom God so greatly honoured with extended usefulness, and either be led to despair or to glory in man."—pp. iv. v.

Still dwelling on the sin and misery of our unrenewed nature! still anxiously turning to the corruption and odiousness of the flesh, and refusing to contemplate the work of the Spirit, lest grace should fail of being exalted, lest glory should be given to man, lest Christ's work should be eclipsed! What a strange and capricious taste, to linger in the tomb, to sit down with Job among the ashes, by way of knowing him who has called us to light, to liberty, to perfection! How eccentric and how inconsequent,—how like, (unless sometimes seen in serious and well-judging men,) how like an aberration, to argue that to extol the work of the Spirit, must be to obscure the grace of Christ? Yet this is firmly held,—held as if in the spirit of confessors and martyrs,—held, mordicus, as a vital, sovereign, glorious, transporting truth, by the dominant ultra-Protestantism. Regenerate man must, to the day of his death, have in him nothing better than man unregenerate. In spite of the influences of grace, there must be nothing in him to admire, nothing to kindle the beholder, nothing to gaze upon, dwell on, or love, lest we glory in man. Grace must do nothing in him, or it is not duly upheld. The triumph of grace is to act entirely externally to him, not in him. To save and sanctify is not so great a work as to save and leave sinful. There must be nothing saintly, nothing super-human, nothing angelic in man regenerate, because man unregenerate is the child and slave of evil. Sin must be his sole characteristic, his sole theme, his sole experience; or, as Mr. Bickersteth words it, "the struggle between fallen nature and divine grace" must be "opened," that is, like "wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores," as the most acceptable sacrifice, the noblest, pleasantest, fittest return to God for the great gift of regeneration. Faith is to be made everything, as being the symbol {113} and expression of this negative or degraded state; and charity, which is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment, and the greatest of Christian graces, must not be directly contemplated or enforced at all, lest it be thereby implied that the Christian can be better with grace than he is without it. Such is supposed to be, [kat' exochen], spiritual religion, the religion in which the Spirit is supposed to do little or nothing for us.

Here we shall part with Mr. Bickersteth, whom we heartily wish we could agree with better than we do. It may be well, however, before parting with the subject he has introduced to our notice, briefly to obviate a misconception which may arise of what has been above said on the subject of dogmas. A dogma, in the objectionable sense of the word, is a doctrinal statement of man's making, imposed by man's authority as necessary to salvation. Such are not those statements of doctrine which we hold by the right of private judgment, without enforcing them upon others; as, for instance, the doctrine of justification by faith only, which, though true, is a human deduction from Scripture, and is not made a condition of church-membership among ourselves. On the other hand, neither are those in any respect dogmas, which, though imposed, have a divine origin, for this is a sufficient reason or call for such imposition. Such, for instance, are the catholic doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, which can be proved to come from God, as stated in the creeds, in the same sense in which the Gospels are proved to come from God. Neither then human statements, if private, nor enforced statements, if divine, are dogmas in an objectionable sense; but a dogma is a human doctrine enforced, such as the doctrine of purgatory as enforced by the Roman, or consubstantiation as enforced by the Lutherans of 1600, or justification by faith only as enforced by the ultra-Protestants, or the millenium as enforced by one party in the present religious world, or personal assurance by another. Nothing then that has been above said about the dogmatism of Germany interferes at all with the due strictness incumbent on us in maintaining the Catholic Faith. It is when men, rejecting their Divine Master, make themselves the servants of men—when they will not have "the Lord for their King," and fall under the Philistines—when they supersede or encumber the true creed with their self-devised additions—when they hide the atonement with purgatory and pardons, or the incarnation with justification by faith only, then they become dogmatical. We, of the English Church, hold justification by faith only; we do not hold purgatory; but we neither anathematize those who do hold purgatory, nor those who do not hold justification by faith. Thus we differ {114} widely from the stiff orthodoxism of Germany, and the present Low Church school among us approaches towards it, inasmuch as we are not dogmatists, and our Low Church brethren are.

We say the same of ordinances. It is a bigoted and schismatical spirit which enforces them for their own sake, on human authority.. Such as are of human origin may be adopted by particular Churches at their discretion, but not imposed upon other Churches; but over those ordinances which come from Christ and His Apostles, we have no power, either to alter or dispense with them. We are obliged to keep and to impose them. Hence we might change our postures in devotion, the ministerial vestments, our saints' days, our times and forms of prayer; or again, the constitution of our chapters or schools; and ought to bear with differences as to these points in other Churches. We may not dispense with the sacraments, or the ministerial succession, or the sacramentals, or social worship, or the Lord's day, or the visible Church.

One word, before concluding, as to the author and the translator of the work which has been under review. The author was, when his work appeared (1827), a very young, but able man, (probably about twenty-one,) and he has since given proof of his sincerity by being put out of his office in the university, rather than give up the strict Lutheran doctrine which in Prussia is now proscribed, Lutherans being in Prussia allowed individually to retain their opinions, but not to exist as a body.

In its English dress the character of the work is of necessity much altered by the omission of nearly five-eighths, these omissions being larger or smaller, from passages or pages down to members of sentences. We do not suppose that in so doing the translator has been guilty of wilful garbling; his object was doubtless to produce a popular book, which should inculcate the views which he thought useful for the Church; and so he has omitted what bore especially on the Lutheran body. Yet if history is to be of any use, it must manifestly be as a whole; a fragment of history, however small, is instructive, if complete: even details of single facts are useful in their way, as illustrative of principles; but a view of a period, if incomplete, is worse than useless. Thus the following passages, omitted in page 2, were certainly a desirable addition, when the character of a century is condensed into a single page, at the same time that they tend to destroy any similarity which might be wished to be established between the rigid Lutherans and any body which ever existed among ourselves [Note 13].

"The favourite theological study everywhere was controversy." Biblical exposition was made altogether secondary, "because they confined themselves to the doctrinal system once established by church authority; and this they treated only in the logical manner of the schoolmen." "At some of the most celebrated universities, the only lectures given or heard were on doctrinal systems, controversy, and the art of preaching." Calixtus sought to bring back theology to a more historical basis, —(this is translated "to re-direct the attention of the students of divinity to its historical department,")—"whilst most theologians of his time would only admit of one form of doctrine, that established by the Church, by which means an unhistorical tendency might easily be given, which will pay no regard to the historical tradition of that which belonged to true Christianity, in varied forms, through all, and especially the first, centuries, and which threatened to rend the Lutheran Church entirely out of its connection with the development of the whole church from its first apostolic foundation onwards."

These passages, whether as illustrative of the character of the times, of the individuals, or of the author, ought not to have been omitted. Again, at p. 3 is omitted a chronology of Spener's life, which, if history had been any object, of course would have been necessary, and also the following: —

"Spener made many propositions for the improvement of theological study in his excellent work, Pia Desideria, which first appeared in 1675, as a preface to J. Arndt's Homilies. But Spener naturally wished to influence not the theologians only, but, and that principally, the non-theologians, and the members of his own congregation: he wished religion to be the chief concern of every individual Christian. With this view he brought out again, in especial prominence, the primitive notion of a priesthood common to all Christians, which, through the erroneous way of handling theology, had almost wholly sunk into oblivion the notion, namely, that all Christians had, through their common union with the one High-Priest and Atoner, Christ, received equally free access to God, so as to be admitted to consecrate their whole life as an offering of thanksgiving to God."

Again, p.4, on the meetings in Spener's house, there is added in the original, "The evil principle which readily creeps into such assemblages, namely, that those who take part in them account themselves better than other, men, or consider  the attendance on them as a work which, by its very performance sanctifies men, he set himself to counteract with great wisdom." Certainly a very necessary caution. {116}

Again, the description of the rigid Lutheranism is generalized, (ibid.); and for "a dialectic-scholastic theology and letter of an orthodox system of doctrine, a dead faith," we have only "the letter of a lifeless orthodoxy of scholastic controversy;" as in p. 3 we have "divests the study of divinity," for "bring it back from the scholastic path which it was pursuing."

We said that we did not accuse the translator of wilful garbling, but we think that he is probably a person deficient in practical character, and so has inadvertently given a colour to things. Thus, p. 3, "much which is fanatical," is stronger than the translation, "something of an imaginary and fantastic nature;"—"Christian life," more practical than "evangelical vitality." P. 4,—"Spener," we are told, "wished to enter into closer connection with those of his hearers who were most susceptible of divine truth, that they might be a salt to the Church." In the original, certainly with a more Church notion, it is, "those members of his congregation, that they might become as salt to the whole congregation." Again,—"those who attended these meetings," for "those members of his congregation." "The great truths of religion and the state of their souls," is substituted for "cases of conscience and Christianity." P. 11,—"hold religious converse," for "edify himself (build himself up) in Christianity;" "first impressions," for "first-fruits of grace." P. 12,—"grant him a real change of heart and make him His child,", for "fully to alter him, and make him wholly His child." P. 13,—"I began to come to myself," for "to enter into myself;" "to place me in another state of mind," for "character of life." P. 15,—"a zealous professor of religion," for "Christian," (as "religion" seems to be throughout substituted for "Christianity.") P. 16,—"I felt that I myself was still devoid of that faith which would be required in my sermon," for "it came into my mind that I could find in myself no such faith" [i.e. such degree of faith] "as in my sermon I should require of others." P. 32,—"a mere outwardly moral walk," for "reputable." In other places the translator is either imperfectly acquainted with German, or has translated very carelessly.

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1. Theology of Germany, part 1, p. 21, note.
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2. Part 2, p. 173, 4.
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3. Part 2, p. 170.
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4. P. 145.
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5. P. 148.
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6. P. 200.
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7. P. 209.
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8. P. 298.
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9. Part 1, p. 59.
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10. Ibid.
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11. P. 2, 3.
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12. P. 164.
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13. We have marked the omissions by inverted commas.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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