« VorigeDoorgaan »
welfare of those who make it. It affects as powerfully as it convinces.
“But this wonderful work, thus uniform in its subject and plan, how, and by whom is it written? The Old Testament was written (as regards its human authors) at intervals during a period of more than a thousand years. Its various books were composed by the agency of men of almost every character and position in life. ...... Their style is as varied as their rank, but their subject always one; they thus unite in composing the one grand Epic of which I have spoken. Does not this unity in variety speak of Him who has harmonised, by unity of the simplest laws, the wonderful variety of our external world ?”
It will be seen that thus the author's argument leads him to the subject of the Inspiration of the Scriptures, so far as his own proper subject touches the question. “Unity in multiplicity” has been, by another writer, * dwelt upon as characteristic of a Divine plan discoverable in the order of the world. “Unity in variety' is here rightly pronounced to be a sure mark of Divine authorship in the several books which compose the Bible.
From the peculiar nature of the work before us, consisting, as it does, entirely of parallel passages from the Old and New Testament, it is almost impossible to cite any parts as samples of the whole. To copy any portion of the Table of “ Contents,” or even the heads, would describe the book only in a very stiff way. We are, however, saved from that necessity, by a passage which, interwoven with the author's argument, completely sets forth the matter of which the body of the work is composed. Such a résumé follows an intimation from the author that he may, possibly, hereafter “examine the confident assertions of a self-styled 'high criticism,'” a term which has obtained, of late, an illegitimate currency from the mint of a free-handling philosophy :
“I believe very few persons know how many books of the Old Testament have been stamped with the approval of this really high criticism. For instance, our Lord has not only recognized the whole body of the Old Testament included by the Jews in the threefold division of the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets,' has not only told us that 'they testify of Him,' but has cited or directly referred to passages from every book of the Pentateuch, and has, in like manner, borne testimony to the following books :- the First of Samuel, the two Books of Kings, the Second Book of Chronicles, the Psalms, and to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi. The writers of the New Testament again, as distinguished from our Lord Himself, will be found to cite or directly refer to every single book of the Old
* The Rev. T. Griffith, M.A., Prebendary of St. Paul's.
Testament, with the exception of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, the. Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Jonah, Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah; but, as our Lord refers to Jonah, and as portions of our Lord's genealogy appear to be taken from Ezra and Nehemiah, we have only seven books ont of the thirtynine constituting the Old Testament, which are not referred to in the New.” (pp. 33, 34.)
If we add to this extract a portion of the sentence which immediately follows it, “the writers of the New Testament over and over again refer to the Scriptures as a whole," a perfect sketch will have been presented of Lord Hatherley's work, which we shall probably be thought to describe correctly as an expanded illustration of the principles laid down in the able dissertation which (under the title of the “ Preface”) stands at the head of the work, of which it may be remarked, that it exemplifies the dispassionate style on which its author so earnestly dwells as essential for the controversialist of this day. The spirit that breathes throughout this prefatory essay is “ peaceable” and “gentle.”
An important after-thought in the author's mind led to a “Postscript,” the first sentence of which will explain its design :
“Upon reviewing the preceding pages, it has appeared to me that I should leave the subject of the continuity of God's word incomplete, if I were to pass over its still abiding effect upon the human race."
At the risk of being regarded by some as arguing unphilosophically, the reasons offered having cogency only with “believers in the truth of the Bible,” the author has had the courage to appeal to the consciousness of those who have sought for guidance, or comfort, in the pages of the Bible, in support of the main proposition of his work.
“ The personal sense of this blessed continuity in those who have once heartily welcomed the teaching of their Bible is a matter of experience, which, addressing, as I do, believers in its truth, I may also thankfully dwell upon.”
In this court of final appeal the writer brings his pleadings to an end. This work, which, while unpretending in its form, is evidently the result of labour and mature thought, raises our admiration, as we reflect that it has been produced by one whose high professional engagements might have been thought to claim every moment of his time. Lord Derby, a Statesman and Prime Minister, contrived to rescue hours sufficient to enable him to accomplish a translation of the whole of Homer's Iliad. Lord Hatherley, as a Vice-Chancellor, has been able to do the like, in the congenial task which he had chosen.
usual age, udhood. Afterkable to record
THE LATE REV. CHARLES BRIDGES. The Rev. Charles Bridges was born at Northampton, on the 24th March, 1794. He belonged to a family in which, during two centuries, there have not been wanting many who lived for the glory of God and the best welfare of their fellow men.* His mother was an eminently pious woman, and gifted in no ordinary way. How much he and all her children were indebted to her careful training and unceasing prayers, “the day" alone will fully reveal. Under these and other holy influences he grew up; the seed sown developed itself slowly but surely, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
There is nothing remarkable to record concerning Charles Bridges' childhood. After leaving school, he was sent, at the usual age, to Queen's College, Cambridge. His imperfect health occasioned frequent interruptions to his College course, and eventually he took an ægrotat degree. Queen's College, under the mastership of Dr. Isaac Milner, Dean of Carlisle, was at this time almost exclusively filled with the sons of religious families. Many of the associates of Mr. Bridges afterwards became, like himself, zealous parochial ministers, such as John King of Hull, Francis Cunningham of Lowestoft, Samuel Carr of Colchester, who were summoned before him to their eternal rest. Others still survive. “Charles Bridges,” writes one of his surviving contemporaries, “was among us not like a companion, but like one who had been already engaged in the ministry of the Word. His conversation was serious, often upon the great topic of personal religion. When we re-assembled after a vacation, and recounted our tours or our reading parties, he had to speak of testimony to the truth borne in promiscuous society, of cottage lectures held in dark neighbourhoods, of sick beds visited, of the sight and conversation of eminent Christians,"
The state of his health at this time was such as to cause great anxiety to his friends. At the end of the year 1815 he was ordered to Torquay for the winter, and supposed by many to be in a decline. It pleased God so far to restore him to health as to enable bim to take holy orders in the year 1817. His first curacy was at Gosfield in Essex, where his ministry
.* There is an interesting notice in the Christian Observer of September, 1820, of Mrs. Cooke, the grandmother of the subject of this memoir, who was herself a Bridges, and a remarkable woman.
was remarkably blessed among the young. On his marriage, in 1821, to her who now survives him, and who ever rejoiced to be his fellow-helper in every good work, he removed to Wooburn in Buckinghamshire; here also the Lord gave large testimony to the power of the Gospel, through his instrumentality, and his name is still held in remembrance. In the year 1823, he was presented, by the Rev. J. T. Nottidge, to the living of Old Newton, in Suffolk, where he laboured for twentysix years. This was entirely new ground requiring to be broken up, and his ministry, both public and private, was signalized by abundant fruit to the praise and glory of God. Circumstances attending his first residence here gave birth to the work by which Mr. Bridges is best known, his exposition of the 119th Psalm, which has passed through twenty-five editions, and been translated into many languages. While the vicarage was building, Mr. and Mrs. Bridges lodged in the house of a Christian farmer, who begged permission for his household to join with them in Family Prayer. Mr. Bridges felt the opening too important to be declined, though, in order that all the members of the household might be included, the devotional exercise had to be carried on at half past six in the morning, and this during the winter months. As it was necessary to limit the duration of it to ten or fifteen minutes, the idea suggested itself of taking each day one verse of the 119th Psalm, and bringing out his thoughts upon it as concisely as possible. At the request of his excellent motherin-law, who was occasionally present, he wrote down afterwards what had been said, but without the remotest view to publication, to which he was eventually urged by some near relations. Mr. Bridges' life at Old Newton was not much diversified in its character, but he kept up a large correspondence with the clergy and others, and his advice was much in request and was freely given to many who were in doubt or difficulty. Were a record to be kept of those who derived guidance, help, encouragement, and consolation in their varied circumstances from his wise and thoughtful judgment, it would fill many a
volume. It was during the first few years of his ministry at • Old Newton that Mr. Bridges wrote his very instructive and
useful work on the “Christian Ministry," which was so completely recognized as one of the most valuable treatises on the subject, that at least one of the bishops of our Church was constantly in the habit of giving it away to his candidates for ordination. Here also he afterwards produced his justly esteemed exposition on the “ Proverbs," and other works.
This valuable treatise, as Mr. Bridges observed in his Preface, grew out of several excellent papers inserted in the Christian Observer for the years 1828 and 1829; it is there
fore with no ordinary interest that, as another instance of the incidental services which our pages have rendered to the cause of Evangelical truth, we recall the fact that the germ of the “ Christian Ministry” is to be found in them. Its chief value consists in the union of practical good sense and deep spiritual views of the Gospel of Christ : it is equally suited to instruct the man of action in the secrets of ministerial success, and the man of high spiritual attainments in the necessary accompaniments of a successful ministry. Every topic is touched lightly but impressively. There is not a tedious page in the book; it is enlivened throughout by a profusion of literary anecdotes and of quotations from valuable writers in all ages of the world.
The system adopted by the great religious Societies, of sending deputations to advocate their claims throughout the country, opened out a new sphere of usefulness to many a retired country clergyman. It is scarcely more than fifty years since this system was commenced. Mr. Charles Bridges, for many years after his settlement in Suffolk, undertook such journeys for different Societies, especially for the Church Missionary Society. By the conductors of that great Society he was highly valued as an advocate for their claims, and was sent to their most important Associations ; for his conciliatory spirit allayed opposition, while he never failed to urge the spiritual principles upon which the Missions are conducted, and the Evangelical motives upon which alone a missionary zeal can be sustained. Sermons or speeches at meetings were but a part of the benefits conferred by these visits. Many a country clergyman has borne testimony to the refreshing influence of his visits upon their ministry. For his private intercourse in the drawing-room or study was no less marked by a high tone of Christian feeling than his addresses in public. In later years the custom has sprung up of large gatherings of the clergy at such anniversary meetings, or in special conferences. As long as Mr. Bridges' health would permit, his addresses on such occasions were frequently sought, and much prized. In 1847, he was appointed by the Committee of the Church Missionary Society to preach their annual sermon, in May. He chose for his text that which was the motto of his own life, “ To me to live is Christ.”
Another service which he conferred upon the Society may be mentioned as illustrating the good which he was able to do by an extensive correspondence which he kept up with friends in all parts of the country. In the earlier years of his deputational visits for the Church Missionary Society, when the heads of the Church gave it only a cold sufferance, he had often to defend its principles as a true Church Society. At length, Vol. 68.-No. 378.