Notices of Books

[British Critic, April 1839.]

{499} ANOTHER volume of the "Library of the Fathers" is on the point of making its appearance, containing the Translation of St. Cyprian's Treatises; the translator is the Rev. C. Thornton, of Margaret Chapel.

To Mr. Lancaster the Church is indebted for some of the most striking and original views which have appeared in this day. His "Alliance of Education and Civil Government," and Bampton Lectures on the "Popular Evidence of Christianity," entitle him to respect and gratitude. Having said thus much, we hope he will not take it ill if we express much regret at the present publication, which consists of a Sermon preached against Dr. Hampden, with a Postscript; and a Correspondence which has arisen out of it between him and several university authorities. We will not enter into the merits of the question between them and him, because we are not so much reviewers of deeds done in Oxford, as of books published. Such a publication should not have come from such a quarter.

Mr. Merivale has published four beautiful Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge (J. W. Parker), to show that the Established Church is well adapted to impregnate the nation with the "spirit" of Christian truth. It is impossible to read them without feeling interest and respect for the writer, and being profited by his remarks; at the same time there is much fear lest such views of the character of the Christian Church as he implies should lead to the substitution of a secular spirit and mere literary taste for faith and practice. Mr. Merivale perhaps is in so little danger of such a calamity himself, that he does not see its likelihood in the case of others.

Mr. Crosthwaite has performed the very important service of editing Archbishop Potter's "Discourse of Church Government" (Tegg, where, however, Mr. Crosthwaite's edition must be inquired for.) He has corrected the Scripture references, examined the notes, printed at length the authorities, and added remarks of his own; besides appending at the end of the volume, indexes of texts, of authors, and of the principal matters. We earnestly recommend all students in divinity to avail themselves of the assistance afforded them in this valuable and authoritative work.

We are very glad to be able to rectify a misapprehension of ours relative to Mr. Palmer's views of Articles of faith in No. xlviii. of this work. We will give his own words as they occur in a supplement to his volumes which he has just published:—"I have not any where maintained," he says, "that the whole Catholic Church does even at this day preach every where one and the same {500} doctrine, except in very minute secondary points, or except as popular errors interfere with it.'—British Critic, p. 364. A reference to what I have above stated, p. 567, will show that I am not on principle bound to sustain this position; nor do I practically admit it, because, in my opinion, several of the errors and abuses of the Roman Church are of a very important nature, and very detrimental to Christian piety, though they be not, strictly speaking, contrary to the articles of faith.

"I know not what part of my work has led to the notion that I hold ‘that the faith of the Church admits of addition,' and that ‘any doctrine which has once been generally received must be apostolic, or, in other words, that the majority cannot be wrong.'—British Critic, pp. 368, 369. I have expressly argued against the latter position (vol. ii. p. 136, &c.); as to the former, I have distinctly stated that the articles of our faith were but once revealed and admit of no addition (vol. i. p. 89). Perhaps it may be supposed that in admitting that, before the universal Church has decided some question of controversy different opinions may be held without heresy, while I hold that, after the judgment of the Church, there should be no more diversity, I may seem to admit the articles of faith to be capable of addition. This was not my intention; I only mean that in the heat of controversy, when different opinions are supported by men of learning, it may for a time be doubtful what the revealed truth is, and therefore persons may for a time not receive that truth, may even hold what is contrary to it; and yet, until the authority of the universal Church has decided the question, and left then without excuse, they may be free from the guilt of formal heresy. I only speak here of controversies which the Church had not decided in former ages; or in which the testimony of tradition as well as Scripture is disputed."

Mr. Oakley has just published a volume of Sermons preached at Whitehall Chapel (Rivingtons), which makes us very grateful to the Bishop of London for having ended the delicate and difficult arrangements, of which the preacher-ships have been the subject, by such an appointment. In a brief notice of this nature, we cannot do more than direct the reader's attention to the preface, in which the Internal Evidence for the divinity of the Church system is drawn out from the tendency of its doctrines to produce those graces which Scripture especially inculcates; in other words, he shows that to be Catholic is the way, and only way, to be evangelical.

That mild-tempered and candid man, Mr. Bickersteth, has lately published three works, all of course characterized by his peculiar views, viz., "Christian Truth," "A Voice front the Alps," and "Dangers of the Church." The second of these will be valuable to those who wish to know the state of the French and Swiss Protestant Home Missions, or "Evangelical Societies." Mr. Merle D'Aubigné, whose Discourses are embodied in it, upholds the three first centuries as the time when the Church was "a living form." Mr. Bickersteth seems to be of the same way of thinking from his volume of extracts from the early Fathers.

How remarkable a contrast to such thinkers does the author of "The Natural {501} History of Enthusiasm" present, who, speaking of the Fathers' views about celibacy, "says boldly," in a new work which we have noticed in another place, that "popery, foul as it is, and has ever been in the mass, might yet fairly represent itself as a reform upon early Christianity."—p. 79. We may here add how much we are obliged to this latter writer for his seasonable production, which must do good. He gives high praise to the authors of the Tracts for the Times for their opposition to Rationalism, summarily disposes of Dissenters and Ultra-Protestants of all sorts, and brings out usages and opinions in the early Church which the Oxford writers have been amiably reluctant to insist upon.

We have several other pamphlets to announce in the same controversy, one is on the "Idolatrous Tendency of the Oxford Tracts;" another, on the Heathenism of the Reserve inculcated in them (by Mr. Bird), we have noticed above; a third is, it seems, to show that their writers are not members of the Church of England; a fourth, by Mr. Fitzgerald, has the appearance of being the work of a young man, which the affix of B.A. to his name would confirm. It is not very deep, but the tone is good and Christian. Mr. Bird also exhibits an improved temper in the controversy, which is encouraging, and deserves the thanks of all lovers of peace.

Dr. Pusey, in a Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, discusses at length most of the subjects in controversy, under the heads of the Rule of Faith, Justification, Sin after Baptism, the Sacraments, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Apostolical Succession, Prayers for the Dead in Christ, Invocation, and Celibacy.

Two more Tracts for the Times have been published, No. 85, "On the Scripture Proof of Church Doctrines," and No. 86, "On the Indications of a Superintending Providence in the Preservation of the Prayer Book, and in the Changes which it has undergone."

Mr. Pugin has written an intemperate attack on the Cranmer Memorial, which its supporters have very rightly not answered. The subscriptions to this "national work" amount to more than £5000. £25,000 are wanted for the whole design, including the decorations on the exterior. In consequence some prominent persons on the committee propose to pull down St. Mary Magdalen Church, which lies nearest to the place of burning, and to rebuild it with the money subscribed; this would be a saving of site and endowment. We are glad to see that some Wesleyans have contributed their mite to this truly Protestant undertaking.

"Reminiscences of Rome" is a Roman Catholic production forming a superfine illustration of that species of talk which Mr. Burchell recognised in Miss Carolina Wilhelmina Skeggs, or viewed at the best estate resembling the courtesy dropped by Sisters Angelica and Seraphina to the Pretender, which was "so profound that the hoop-petticoats which performed the feat seemed to sink down to the very floor, nay, through it, as if a trap-door had opened for their descent." If we are to be converted to Romanism, we certainly shall bargain for something in the way of argument more manly and robust, less puffy and mawkish than is exhibited in this and other productions of the same school.

A valuable work has been commenced called "The Voice of the Church" (Burns), being selections from Divines and other writers of the Church. The {502} part now published contains a great deal of matter and is very moderate in price.

We recommend to notice "Letters of a Reformed Catholic" Nos. 1-3, on the leading Principle of the Reformation, on Private Judgment and Authority in matters of Faith, and on the Apostolical Succession; they are written clearly and solidly, and will prove useful for distribution. The last of these advertises, as likely soon to be published, "The Tree of Apostolical Succession, from an Engraving published in 1672." Such a table has been long a desideratum, and it promises to be an appropriate decoration for the chimney-piece or closet of the Churchman.

If any one wants information on this last subject, he should read a bold and striking publication called "The Church, the Bishop, or Corah, which?" (Roake and Varty.) It is not always written in good taste, but it contains enlarged and noble views becoming an Anglo-Catholic, and suited to these times.

Maclaurin's "Plea for Primitive Episcopacy" (Bell and Bradfute, Edinburgh), is a spirited but not very discreet or well-judging composition. We have no doubt it will do good among Dissenters.

Mr. Oldknow's essay on "The Catholic Church" (Rivingtons) is a work of the same kind in a very calm and pleasing spirit. It was to have been dedicated to Mr. Rose, instead of which the author has been forced to satisfy himself with an announcement, of which we cite the first sentence:—"The English branch of the Catholic Church has recently lost one of its greatest ornaments, who devoted to its service, and to the maintenance and spread of that religion which it is its object to perpetuate, the rare endowments of commanding talent, extensive learning, high and undeviating principle, and Christian piety; and whose exertions in its behalf, both in removing misapprehension and prejudice, in exposing the designs of its enemies, and in furthering plans for its greater efficiency, it may be safely said, were not less effectual than those of any living man." The concluding words might well be made stronger than they are.

The "Vox Ecclesiĉ" (J. W. Parker) is a collection of the Judgments of our Bishops against the Ecclesiastical Commission. It is well worth attention.

Dr. Dealtry has published a Charge "On the Obligations of the National Church." It is full of interesting facts, and contains in an appendix Remarks on our Church by an American Writer, in which there is much that is valuable, not a little that is inconsistent.

Mr. Molesworth's "Domestic Chaplain" (Rivingtons, London), is a collection of sermons on family duties for every Sunday in the year. Mr. Molesworth's name is known and respected by all Churchmen; and these Sermons are in the tone and on the principles of his former works. He is always instructive, but we could wish there were always consistency in his theological and ecclesiastical views. Consistency, he may be quite sure, is the only strength and security of doctrine in an age of inquiry; all other teaching jars and cracks.

Mr. Scott, Fellow of Balliol College, has published an excellent sermon (Rivingtons) on the important subject, which elicited Dr. Pusey's and Mr. Oakeley's {503} sermons noticed in our last number, the Claims upon Churchmen of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

We have to notice also Mr. Wilberforce's sermon on "The Power of God's Word needful for National Education" (Rivingtons), Mr. Dodsworth's on "Romanism successfully opposed only on Catholic Principles" (Burns), and Mr. Gray's on "Church Union" (Southampton).

Mr. Bartlett has published "Memoirs of Bishop Butler" (J. W. Parker). There seem to be such slender materials for a life of this eminent man that we ought not to severe but rather grateful towards those who attempt it. At the same time we must confess for ourselves, that we had rather read but a little of Butler than much of Butler's admirers and critics. We care less than Mr. Bartlett does what Sir. J. Macintosh, Dr. Parr, or the Edinburgh Review thinks of Butler's Sermons (ch. 2), or of the Analogy (ch. 3); and we scruple at his devoting a chapter to Secker's character and habits (ch. 12), and another to Berkeley (ch. 13), in so brief a memoir.

"The Pilgrim's Staff," (Ball, London) is a pleasing and useful collection of meditations and prayers from the most various sources adapted for every day of the year. It is compiled, however, on the delusive notion that men of opposite doctrinal sentiments think and feel alike. St. Cyprian, Romaine, Hopkins, St. Anselm, Wesley, and the present Bishop of London, among others, are made to contribute their portion.

Mr. Bosanquet's "New System of Logic" (J. W. Parker) is not a work which can be despatched in one or two sentences. We are not prepared to say that we should agree with all he advances or that he has placed his argument upon its simplest principles; but it bears the marks of an original, and (what is better) a deep and true thinker. We thoroughly acquiesce in the statement with which Mr. Bosanquet opens:—"Aristotle's system of reasoning is not consistent with Holy Scripture. The sacred writers adopt a style of reasoning which is wholly opposite to it in character."—p. v. No one can doubt that the Aristotelian system provides an adequate analysis of the reasoning process; but so might theories of physical astronomy before Newton solve adequately the motions of the heavenly bodies. The question is not whether it is not sufficient, but whether it is the most simple, natural and Christian.

Mr. Smart in his "Beginnings of a new school of Metaphysics" (Richardson) agrees in criticising the Aristotelian logic: but excels neither in his metaphysical principles nor his tone.

Collins' "Cheap Edition of Select Christian Authors" (Glasgow) has started with giving us two good works and spoiling them by introductory essays. Why administer Thomas-à-Kempis in a dose of Chalmers and dash Mr. Wilberforce with the present Bishop of Calcutta?

"Christian Literature" (Fraser and Crawford, Edinburgh,) is a work apparently of the same kind. It has published "Leslie's Short and Easy Method with the Deists," Bishop Taylor's "Holy Living" and Witherspoon on "Regeneration."

"Pascal's Thoughts" have been newly translated and published at Glasgow {504} (Collins), but here again we are haunted with an introductory essay, though from the pen of an able man, Mr. Taylor.

"An attempt to illustrate the Connection between the Catechism and Articles of the Church in a Letter to a Friend" (Parker, Oxford,) is well calculated to remove the difficulties which certain minds find in understanding the latter.

Mr. F. W. Faber's Tracts on the Church and Prayer Book are now published in one volume. They are, what some persons would call, young; but that does not interfere, to say the least, with their being eloquent and interesting, as well as instructive. They are well adapted for distribution.

Bishop Henshaw's "Horĉ Succisivĉ, or Spare Hours for Meditations," have been republished (Darling). The volume consists, as its title implies, of short reflections upon religious subjects. It is one of those books which have been condemned to an oblivion of years, and which changes in the religious world have brought down from the book shelf. The profits are to go towards defraying the expense incurred lately in erecting a chapel in Edinburgh. It is a pleasing publication for an excellent object.

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