Notices of Books

[British Critic, July 1838.]

{230} SINCE our last number the long anticipated Life of Mr. Wilberforce by his Sons has made its appearance; we hope to have an early opportunity of reviewing it, meanwhile it will be enough to notice, what is on the surface of the work, the exceedingly great pains which have been spent upon it, and its importance as an addition to the historical records of the times to which it belongs.

The most important theological work which has lately appeared is Mr. Palmer's Treatise on the Church, which also will, in due time, receive from us the careful attention which it claims from all Churchmen. Whatever judgment be formed of the conclusions to which he has come on the variety of points which he has had to consider, we cannot contemplate without admiration, and (if it were right) without envy, the thorough treatment which his subject has received at his hands. It is indeed a work quite in character with the religious movement which has lately commenced in different parts of the Church, displaying a magnificence of design similar to that of the Bishop of London's plan of fifty new Churches, and Dr. Pusey, of Oxford's, projected translation of the Fathers.

This latter arduous undertaking, we rejoice to know, is now beginning to show fruit, the original text of St. Austin's Confessions, for which five Oxford MSS. have been collated or re-collated, is now through the press, all but the index; the translation also will issue from the press in the course of a short time, as will also the translation of St. Cyril, of Jerusalem. A portion of St. Chrysostom's Comment on St. Paul's Epistles has been printed since Christmas; but an important reason for suspending it has lately occurred in the researches which have been made into the Paris MSS. which Montfaucon used in the Benedictine text. Nothing has been found to throw suspicion on his theological honesty, but enough to show that readings may be materially improved by re-collation. Re-collations are proceeding for the same reason in the Oxford text of St. Cyprian; but they will not interfere with the translation, which is ready to go to press at once. Meanwhile Mr. Bickersteth has brought out an interesting little volume of portions of the works of the Fathers of the first and second Century. The work is conceived in the best spirit, and can but elicit kind and respectful feelings even from those who consider that Mr. Bickersteth does not enjoy in full measure the pure light of catholic truth. May there be {231} less difference year by year between such men as him and them, and we think he is taking the way to fulfil the wish!

In Oxford, Mr. Parker's series of select Religious Works continues. Bishop Taylor's Golden Grove, Archbishop Laud's Devotions, Bishop Patrick's Heart's Ease, Dr. Sutton's Meditations on the Lord's Supper, and Hymns from the Paris Breviary, have already been published. These volumes present an appearance most appropriate to their contents, being beautifully printed and embellished, yet without an approach to the bad taste of the day. We are not quite satisfied with the judgment on which the Breviary Hymns are edited, A selection has been attempted; now this seems to be impossible. In such compositions Romanism obtrudes itself sometimes in a mere word, where the hymn is otherwise catholic and beautiful; and thus reduces a selector to the dilemma of omitting it altogether, or of seeming to countenance what is erroneous, We incline to think that in a second edition, which we hope soon to see, all should be printed, and the task of discriminating between them, which is not difficult, left to the reader. It is a curious coincidence, considering how little Dr. Sutton's works have been known of late years, that while his Meditations were publishing at Oxford, his Disce Mori (Learn to Die) has appeared in London, without any understanding between the respective editors. Our readers will not be sorry to have had this little work also warmly recommended to their attention.

Archbishop Laurence has published a third edition of his celebrated Bampton Lectures, also of his Treatise on Baptism, which is scarcely equal to them, and of his Translation of the Book of Enoch.

The little tract called "A Catechism on the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church," has, in the course of a few months, reached a third edition. As its sale shows, it is well adapted to distribution. In connection with which, though with no real connection beyond that of subject, may be mentioned a small Catechism, "Of Scriptural Episcopacy," published at Belfast. It contains much information in the course of a few pages.

A volume of Poems has been published at Oxford called the Cathedral, with a number of elegant wood cuts. These Poems have obscurities, as a great deal of poetry must have, and ever has had; but we are greatly mistaken if they have not a long course of prospective influence in store for them.

No. 81 of the Tracts for the Times, which has been long expected, has at length appeared, and forms, by itself, a volume of above 400 closely printed pages. It is a catena of our divines on the subject of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and is preceded by an historical sketch of the doctrine in our Church during the last 300 years. It completes vol. iv. which, though the longest, contains {232} fewer Tracts than any of the former. We wish to draw particular attention to the deep thoughts contained in No. 80, on the right mode of preaching the Gospel.

The first volume has appeared of a uniform edition of the Theological Works of that lamented prelate and most excellent man, Bishop Van Mildert.

We grieve to have to notice that Dr. Faussett, Margaret Professor, who is favourably known to the world by a volume of Bampton Lectures before he was Professor, and a sermon against Mr. Milman since, has preached and published a Sermon against Mr. Froude's Remains. We trust this ill-advised step will not plunge the University into a new controversy. It is indeed deplorable that at a time when our enemies are at our gates, Dr. Faussett, without being able to point out one doctrine of our Articles or Prayer-book as infringed, should choose such a moment above all others for suddenly breaking silence in an attack on some of our Church's most devoted sons. No step more acceptable than his to Dissenters and Papists, Liberals and Destructives, can be conceived; and the more so as taken by a man who, however he himself may draw subtle distinctions, is in their eyes quite as much a bigot and a formalist as those whom he attacks. At this time of day the word of no one man, unsupported either by argument or by appeal to authority, can stop the course of thought in the University, or deter inquiring minds from following the paths of Hooker, Andrews and Bull, or of their masters, Irenĉus or Cyprian. It is understood that a letter is being addressed to him by Mr. Newman. Before our next number it is to be hoped this lamentable affair will be at an end.

Dr. Adams, of Cambridge, Lady Margaret's Preacher, has published a Treatise to show that the "sealed book" in Rev. v. 1. is the Old Testament; that its unsealing is still to come, and will be equivalent to a new revelation; that its authentic copy was carried from Jerusalem to Rome, is still in the Vatican, and when brought to light will be the means of converting the Jews.

Various volumes of Sermons, some from distinguished persons, have been published in London during the last quarter. Bishop Mant's Sermons, on the Church and her Ministrations (Rivingtons), are but a specimen of what that excellent man is and has been all through his life, a witness for catholic truth against innovation and heresy.—Dr. Moberly's "Practical Sermons" (Rivingtons) unite singular clearness and exactness of thought, with the earnestness and profitableness which their title promises.—Mr. Smith's, preached at the Temple Church (Fellowes), are sound Sermons, sometimes deep, and sometimes rather dry, on the subjects to which he limits himself. It is that limitation which occasions this dryness so far as it exists.—Though we have pleasure in agreeing with Mr. Melvill on many most important points, there certainly are others on which we differ from him. Yet in spite of this we should feel his {233} Sermons (Rivingtons) as impressive as they are beautiful, were it not for his never-ending use of the word "we," "we," "we;" which, as often as it occurs, unpleasantly draws one back from his subject to himself, and makes his volume like a series of reports of speeches and sermons extracted from a newspaper.

In Mr. Harness's Sermons (Moxon) there is much that is sensible and useful, and "calculated for being read aloud in families," which he proposes as his object in publishing. When, however, he calls the Church "a party," p. 81, and the Lord's day "the Sabbath," p. 272, he shows himself tainted with the religious peculiarisms of the day. Nothing is more common in every age than sacrificing one part of Christian truth to another; or buying off general strictness of life by attention to one particular duty. At present this temper shows itself in endeavouring, by laying a stress on the duty of sanctifying a seventh of our time, to make up for the neglect of all other positive ordinances, such as the Apostolical Succession, Church Communion, the Priesthood, Sacramental Grace, and Tithes and Offerings. We do not mean to include Mr. Harness in this censure, but are speaking of the system to which he has in one point given in. It is this circumstance which makes Sabbath Societies, Sabbath Bills, &c. so hypocritica1, if we may use the word; "these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone."

Mr. Bennett's Sermons (Cleaver) are not to be confounded with the run of such publications at this day, than which nothing can be more feeble. They are the composition of an able and thoughtful mind, and contain earnest and practical remarks, clothed in plain and natural language. However, they are not written as if he had a clear and consistent grasp of the truth. We do not mention as more than symbols of what we mean, that he, too, calls the Lord's day the Sabbath, that he confuses together the Catholic and Sectarian ascetics of the Primitive ages, and quotes Doddridge and Chrysostom in the same Sermon.

Mr. Fulford's Course of Plain Sermons on the Ministry, Doctrines, and Services of our Church (Rivingtons), are among the pleasing evidences of the growth of sound Catholic principles among what are called "the working Clergy." Here is a laborious parish priest, showing that it is possible to stand his ground in a mixed population without sacrificing principle. His Sermons contain a good deal of sound matter in a small space.

Mr. Vogan, known already by his Bampton Lectures, has published five sound and useful Sermons, apparently as a companion to them.

Mr. Poole's Testimony of St. Cyprian against Rome is a careful and perspicuous Essay, showing that Rome is not legitimately what she claims to be, {234} "the Mother and Mistress of all Churches." He considers that, in St. Cyprian's judgment, St. Peter was a symbol and not the instrument of unity, that all bishops are such instruments, and are what St. Peter typified; that Rome, as being the sedes Petri, has a natural primacy of honour and of deference in faith and practice among the Churches, not a power of jurisdiction; that over those Churches, which trace their orders to Rome, she is in some sense the instrument of unity as being the witness of the truth, but loses her privilege when and so far as she declines from the truth. Mr. Poole will allow us to ask why he says "Peter" instead of "St. Peter;" the usage of Latin and Greek divinity is no authority; give us back the early ages and we can dispense with such ceremonial observances; but in times when irreverence is rife, we must make up for what we have lost as we may; and this is one of those means which remains to us of preserving a tone of mind which the world would fain take from us.

Mr. Cape, B.A., of Balliol College, Oxford, has added to an "Inquiry into the Use of Church Authority, &c." a catena of English Divines, "who have regarded Scripture as the only test of the divine will," and thereby incurred an ignoratio elenchi in the controversy in which he engages; the point in dispute being, whether, in interpreting that "only test" as regards matters of faith, an individual is to be guided by his own private judgment or by Catholic tradition. However, we highly approve of the principle of such undertakings; and though we think his to be defective, both as regards the point to be proved, and testimonies to prove it, we desire nothing better than to see others of the same kind. Let us know how and where English divines stand by all means. The persons he opposes have too much candour to aim at making the body of our divines more consistent than they really are, or at appropriating a Chillingworth and a Whitby, or even a Hall and a Cranmer. At the same time we feel assured, that at the end of the examination, those writers among our divines "whom all the people count as prophets," those whom they read and consult, know and revere, will not be found with Mr. Cape.

The Third Part of Mr. Girdlestone's Commentary on the Old Testament (from Joshua to Samuel), has been published; and to judge from the portions we have read, contains much sensible and useful application of the sacred narrative.

Mr. Lathbury's State of Popery and Jesuitism in England, forms a useful volume of reference for the series of historical events, connected with the subject, since the Reformation; but we fear we must say we agree in opinion with scarce a page of it.

We are glad to observe, that Mr. Knox's Treatises on the Sacrament are published (Duncan) in one small volume. So original a thinker as Mr. {235} Knox, and with such deficient opportunities of instruction in the full "deposition" of faith, cannot of course be unreservedly recommended. But we believe this highly-gifted and religious man to be an instrument (if it is right so to speak) in the hands of Providence, of extensive good in the Church at this moment; and we are sure that, even granting he might mislead if followed exclusively, he will be found to impart most valuable information, and to suggest many deep, important, and practical views on a variety of subjects.

We invite attention to an Abridgment, just published, of Bishop Hall's "Episcopacy by Divine Right asserted" (Hatchard). The Bishop's name stands so high with a large portion of the religious public, and is so respected by all, that the republication of this Treatise promises to be very useful at this moment.

Another very important publication is that of Leslie's Case of the Regale and Pontificate (Leslie, Great Queen Street). All persons who have their minds to make up on the subject of Church and State, should study this celebrated work of one of the clearest and most powerful of our Divines.

It is encouraging to witness so many reprints of specimens of our standard theological and devotional works. A third reprint, which needs no notice of ours to recommend it, is Bishop Cosin's Devotions for the Hours of Prayer. It both indicates and, we trust, will further the growth of a devotional temper among us.

And another valuable reprint is a small Tract of the beginning of the last century, called Pietas Londinensis (Burns); from which it appears that at that time there were daily prayers in no fewer than seventy-one London churches and chapels.

In connection with this last subject may be mentioned a most cheering occurrence, the re-opening of Lincoln's-Inn Chapel for daily service; on occasion of which an excellent Sermon, since published, was preached by the Rev. R. W. Browne, Assistant Preacher and Classical Professor in King's College, which deserves attention, both from its contents and the reputation of its author.

Mr. Irons, a young clergyman of great promise, has published a second series of Parochial Lectures, which, besides their intrinsic excellence, exhibits an additional instance how mistaken the common idea is, that the recent spread of Church doctrines is connected with any one place or set of persons, instead of being, as it is, the necessary effect of increased theological reading. In the case of the clergy this effect must follow, if they are honest, or a necessity of retiring from their existing engagements. Mr. Irons observes, in his {236} Preface, that his religious views, which are in accordance with those of the first ages, were formed quite independently of those sources to which the present improved tone concerning Church doctrine is commonly ascribed.

Mr. Coxe, of St. James's, has published an impressive Charity Sermon, under the title of "The Lowly Station dignified." Nothing can convey more strikingly the low standard of religious knowledge and principle in the Metropolis, than to find from the author's preface that so unexceptionable a composition has been accused of being too political and too high Church.

We are in expectation of two interesting works by Mr. Wigram, "The Schoolmaster's Manual," which is a collection of Practical Hints for the information of National Schoolmasters; and "Occasional Papers," on the same subject. The intimate knowledge of his subject, which Mr. Wigram's situation as Secretary to the National Society gives him, will add great weight to his opinion.

Dr. Hook, of Leeds, has published a carefully considered Tract on the Athanasian Creed: in which he has shown the coincidence between it and Scripture on the doctrines which it expounds. A controversy has arisen in his neighbourhood about some of those points of doctrine which are now so generally under discussion. The Rev. Miles Jackson opened the controversy with an attack on Dr. Hook, on the ground that persons in Oxford had written Tracts which Mr. Jackson considered Popish; and which Dr. Hook approved, so far as he considered them not Popish but Anglican. In an unassuming and effective Pamphlet Mr. Ward, of Leeds, has shown that the several propositions, gathered from the Tracts by Mr. Jackson, in favour of baptismal regeneration, &c. &c., are all held by Bishop Jeremy Taylor, whom Mr. Jackson had spoken of as "a very Shakspeare in divinity," an authority "to which it would be fatal to stand conspicuously opposed." Mr. Poole has published a learned answer to the same charges, in which he clears up the misrepresentations and sophistry on which such statements are commonly based. From the same place has appeared an Appeal on the Doctrines of Sacramental Efficacy, Apostolical Succession, and Church and State, by a Dissenting Minister named Ely. Of him we know nothing; but we are bound to state that he writes in a subdued and thoughtful spirit (though, of course, with most erroneous views of the Gospel), and far surpasses any pamphlet on the same side which has proceeded from Churchmen.

We have to thank Mr. Pratt, of Cruden, for Three excellent Sermons on Scottish Episcopacy. It being very important to circulate information in England concerning our deeply injured sister Church, we are glad to be able to refer our readers to any publications, like the present, which are devoted to that object. Mr. Ramsay has published his Sermon preached at the consecration {237} of the Bishop of Glasgow and the Bishop (assistant) of Brechin. It is one of those testimonies to the doctrine of the divine origin and privileges of the Church, which are now happily so common.

Several interesting publications have reached us from Burlington (New Jersey). Bishop Doane's eloquent Sermon at the Ordination of Mr. Wolff; the Journal of the Fifty-fourth Annual Convention of the Church over which he presides; and Translations of the Epistles of Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp.

The importance of the Christian Knowledge Society makes it necessary to attend to their proceedings in proportion as it is painful to do so; for this reason, we subjoin the following short account of what has taken place in the last several monthly meetings. A few months ago Mr. Clarke brought forward a motion, the purport of which was to expunge from the list all the tracts which had been suffered to go out of print within a certain period. The feeling of the meeting was strongly against this resolution; when Dr. Russell moved, as an amendment, "that all tracts which at any time shall have been out of print for five years shall be considered as no longer on the list." This was carried.

A more injurious regulation cannot well be conceived, since it obviously tends to destroy the permanency of the character of the tracts; e.g. if any subject should not excite attention for a few years, and the tracts relating to it go out of print, the lovers of old opinions will be placed under the disadvantage of having to get new tracts on the list, instead of having merely to revive the old ones already there. There would be no hope in this day of getting on the list a tract entitled "The Christian Sacrifice;" Nelson's, to wit.

At the April meeting, Dr. Spry brought forward a resolution to the effect that it shall not be lawful for any member to furnish to any newspaper a report of the discussions which took place at the Board. An amendment was moved by Mr. Tyler, extending the prohibition to all periodical publications. This was carried in a very large meeting, about two-thirds of the members present supporting it.

At the meeting in May, a Report from the Standing Committee was taken into consideration; the purport of which was to recommend "that the Tract Committee should be empowered, with the approbation of the Episcopal Referees, to place Books and Tracts on the Society's Catalogue." The object of this resolution was to get rid of the unseemliness of taking a ballot in the general meeting on the admission of tracts, which had already received the sanction of the five Bishops. The recommendation of the Standing Committee was adopted, 210 members voting in its favour, and 65 against it.

Notwithstanding the resolution passed in May, the "Record" newspaper continued to report the discussions; this being noticed at the meeting, Mr. Gordon, on June 5th, moved "that the resolution entered upon the minutes of {238} the April meeting in regard to the non-publication of reprints of any discussions which take place at the meeting of this board is altogether null and void."

Mr. Gordon's resolution was discussed and negatived, by a majority of about 2 to 1.

In the course of these meetings much miserable wrangling, much boisterousness and unseemly confusion occurred: such exhibitions are, unhappily, no novelty now in the Society; but what is a novelty, and demands serious notice, is the introduction of the principle of parliamentary divisions. It was once the aim of the Society to pass every thing without division at all, even by showing of hands. Then division was only called for when the decision was doubtful; but now it is called for the purpose of showing the strength of parties, an object altogether inconsistent with the character of such a meeting.

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