« VorigeDoorgaan »
about 1837, he drew up a statement of the chief objections he had met with, and appealed to a clerical friend who attended the Committee of the Society to furnish him with a vindication of the Ecclesiastical relations of the Society. Mr. Bridges was so well satisfied with this paper, that he urged the Committee to adopt it as an official document: as such it was printed as an Appendix to the 39th Report; and it became the basis on which, two years later, the Archbishops and a majority of the Bishops accorded their support to the Society.
In the year 1849, Mr. Bridges was offered the living of Melcombe Regis by the Rev. Edmund Hollond, which, though not bringing any substantial increase of income, entailed at the same time a large increase of labour, and much sacrifice of that retirement which was peculiarly attractive to him. He accepted this enlarged sphere of work, after taking counsel with some especial friends, and laboured in it for some years with equal faithfulness, and under many trials and discouragements of mind and overstrained physical powers.
To a large Bible class, which he held weekly at the Rectory, many have traced their first awakening to spiritual life, and still more their growth and maturity in it; and one well conversant with the facts has lately said that there was not a drawing-room in Weymouth into which he did not carry his Master's message. But it became evident that his health was unequal to the work, and he therefore, in the year 1855, gratefully accepted the kind offer of Lord Shaftesbury to fill the vacancy made by Mr. Bickersteth's removal from the retired living of Hinton Martell, in Dorsetshire. Here he spent, in comparative quiet, the last thirteen years of his life, which were characterized by the same devotedness and holy consistency; here also his Exposition on "Ecclesiastes” was written, a work full of useful and varied thought. But during the latter part of this period there was a gradual failure of his former powers; the tabernacle was being perceptibly taken down, and finally, on the 2nd April, 1869, he fell asleep in Jesus, having just completed his 75th year.
The day before his death had long been fixed for laying the foundation stone of the New Parish Church of Hinton Martell; in the re-building of which he had taken a warm interest, and the funds for which had been collected under his auspices, and with the efficient aid of his curate, who had become his son-inlaw, and to whom he had of late committed the ministerial duties of the parish, to his own entire satisfaction and that of his people. He was himself unable to assist at the ceremony; but, though confined to his room, he was not supposed to be in danger. At night, however, illness came rapidly on, and in a few hours he passed painlessly away.
Among the main and distinguishing characteristics of this excellent man, may be mentioned his very great unworldliness and spirituality of mind, his wise and sober judgment, and his deep aud accurate knowledge of Scripture. Until the closing period of his life, he possessed a remarkably full and retentive memory, out of which, as from a storehouse, he would bring forth, with singular aptitude, the seasonable remark or illustration, so that his words were often as “apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
It was observed by one who spent a short time under his roof so lately as January last, when he was in a state of great feebleness, that even then "he shed out thoughts of beauty in his conversation, the beauty of holiness, the result of a mind steeped in Scripture and mellowed by Christian experience.”
Then, again, we may notice the tenacity with which he ever watched for, and used, opportunities of speaking words of edi. fication to those he met with; words which, in the eyes of some observers, were often considered as “out of season,” but upon which, in numberless instances, God was pleased to stamp His own seal of approbation and blessing.
In the pulpit, Mr. Bridges was solemn, earnest, and impressive. Though not gifted with any special amount of what is commonly thought to be eloquence, his words and manner expressed that deep conviction of the truth and importance of his message which seldom fails of going home to the heart and conscience of a congregation; his language was generally well chosen, and his bearing always sober and dignified. He had a very high view of the ministerial office and commission, and was from conviction a decided Churchman in matters of discipline, while essentially Protestant in all that pertains to doctrine. It is important further to remark how much in his latter years his heart expanded in Christian love towards those who differed from him ; and how he always endeavoured to check in others intemperate and harsh expressions of condemnation, while at the same time allowing no compromise of the high standard he set before himself, and maintaining boldly every fundamental truth against the invasion of error.
NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.
Dies Iroe; The Judgment of the Great Day, viewed in the light of Scripture and Conscience. By R. B. Girdlestone, M.A. London: W. Hunt. 1869.—We have read this volume with deep interest, and have derived much satisfaction from the perusal of it. Its value is much enbanced by its being the production of one of our younger clergy, to whom the rising generation have to look for guidance and instruction in their spiritual life. The topics discussed are solemn and important beyond all others, and have been handled by the author in a very careful and reverent spirit. Many of his suggestions merit serious consideration; and although we might possibly demur to some of the views which he propounds, and to some of the conclusions at which he arrives, it could hardly be otherwise when such deep things of God form the subject of inquiry. His sentiments are generally remarkable for sobriety and orthodoxy, and contrast most favourably with the crude and fanciful speculations which are afloat, wherein men's crotchets are substituted for God's revelations. The circumstances attending the day of judgment, and the results flowing from it, are dwelt upon; eternity of punishment is upheld, and vindicated from many objections which have been urged against it as inconsistent with the mercy and justice of God. The author's views upon this awful subject are distinctly expressed in the following summary of his argument, which we extract from his concluding remarks. After offering suggestions as to the fate “of those vast masses of human beings for whom Christ died, but who have passed away without the knowledge of God's redeeming love," and stating the blessings which will accrue to those "amongst whom the good tidings of the love of God have been proclaimed and believed," he proceeds to say :
“Those on the contrary who defiantly reject or who passively neglect the glad tidings of salvation through Christ, or who profess to accept it but bring forth no fruits answerable to their profession, aggravate their last condition to an infinite degree. They judge themselves un. worthy of everlasting life; they put aside the loving hand that offers them free pardon; they trample underfoot the manifest testimony of God's mercy and pity; and they practically make God a liar. They are like fruitless trees-twice dead: to whom it shall be said, 'Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.' Their penalty for unbelief will be assigned to them at the last day. It will not be extinction, but the second death; not annihilation, but ruin and utter degradation; not remedial chastisement, but endless woe. It was an easy task for God to create man, but it cost much to redeem and to restore him. And if the fruits of man's fall have been so long and so bitter, who can feel astonished at the discovery that those who will not be restored have positively no hope-not even the hope of annihilation-held out to them in the world to come? The wrath of God abideth on them.” (p. 282.)
If, unfortunately, any of our readers have been unsettled upon such subjects by erroneous teaching, or they would wish to furnish friends whose minds have been so unsettled with some useful treatise, we can safely recommend Mr. Girdlestone's book to their attention.
From Athens to Rome. By the Rev. W. R. Fremantle. Nisbet. 1869.-- It is a common enough complaint, both among the clergy and those to whom they minister, that it is a difficult matter to present old truths in a fresh and attractive form. We fear that many are in consequence tempted to deliver some message of their own, which their Master has not entrusted them with, hoping thereby
to win attention, because they think Christians in the nineteenth century crave to hear some new thing. If, however, they would, as Mr. Fremantle has done in the unpretending little volume before us, manifest that they are always watchful and about their Master's business, even in holiday times and seasons of enforced rest, they might gather, as he has, materials for thought and freshness of illustration which would render most palatable the great and saving truths which are, and must be, old as the perpetual hills. We can well imagine that the congregation of East Claydon were as pleased to hear from the palpit the account of their pastor's rambles in scenes famous in Bible story, as they were to welcome him back among
The Preaching of the Cross. Sermons by the Rev. John Richardson, M.A. London: W. Hunt. 1869.—God's ministers have gifts differing according to the grace which He sees fit to bestow upon them. It is plainly the especial vocation of some to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints ;" it would seem to be the peculiar province of others to “ lead forth their flocks by the still waters," and in the good pasture of the Word of God. This last is more peculiarly the inclination of Mr. Richardson's mind, so far as we can judge him by these sermons. Not that he fails to warn faithfully and wisely against the prevailing errors of the day, as for instance in his Sermon on Phil. iii. 3, and on Luke xxiv. 27. Still the prevailing characteristic of the volume is what we have indicated, and we can commend his meditations as both pleasant and profitable to those who delight in dwelling upon “the word, and truth, and person, and consolations of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bleek's Introduction to the Old Testament. Translated by G. H. Venables, Esq.; Edited by the Rev. Edmund Venables, M.A., &c. London : Bell and Daldy. 1869.—In his preface, the Editor of this work informs us that Bleek's orthodoxy is unquestionable—from a German point of view. He further tells us that the orthodoxy of a German writer is not to be estimated by an English standard. We feel, therefore, somewhat at a loss how to review this book. We do not want to judge harshly a distinguished German scholar who has bestowed a great deal of pains in collecting a mass of information about the Bible, and who certainly abstains from writing about it in a flippant and irreverent spirit. The two volumes, especially in the Preliminary Remarks, and in the concluding portions abont the History of the Canon of the Old Testament and Text of the Canon, contain a great deal of useful information presented in a very intelligible form. If, moreover, any one wishes to make himself acquainted with the distempered dreams, ægrorum somnia, which German speculation indulges in as to what is, and what is supposed not to be, the Word of God, he has a conspectus furnished to him of the theories of such men as Semler, De Wette, Ewald, Bunsen, which may save much unprofitable research, and give a sufficient idea of the conflicting fancies now so much in vogue. Bleek himself has his own fair share of these crotchets about the origin of the Pentateuch, about the Prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel, and contributes his further solution of such topics to the "twenty different modes, each put forth by their authors, with equal confidence in their own theory and contempt for those of others.” The spectacle of the Bible surrounded by a body of German critics, never fails to remind us of Rembrandt's wonderful picture in the Hague, of the Dutch Professor with his pupils dissecting a dead body; or perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be Samson called in to make sport for the choice nobility and flower of Philistia. Among this crowd of anatomists, Bleek is not the most unfeeling ; among these flouting mockers, he betrays marked symptoms of sympathy and reverence. What, however, the value of a Bible can be to a German or any one else, after it has undergone a process of disintegration similar to that attempted by the well-meaning critic before us, passes our understanding.
THE Irish Church Bill has passed through Committee with no material alteration. The remonstrances of opponents and entreaties of friends have been alike disregarded, and Ministers have been supported throughout by majorities varying from 90 to 120. Even the Maynooth endowment-for such in fact it ishas been carried, notwithstanding the pledges given last year both by Mr. Gladstone and many of his supporters; and before these pages are in the hands of our readers, the Bill, in nearly its original shape, will probably have been read a third time. It remains to be seen what will be the course pursued by the House of Lords. That a large majority of that House are as much opposed to the principle of the measure as they were last year, there can be little doubt; but it seems not improbable that, yielding to the declared sense of the people, they may hesitate to reject a Bill supported as this has been, and may content themselves with removing some of the more glaring wrongs embodied in its provisions.
We learn from occasional notices that the members of the Ritual Commission still continue to meet. Of the probable result of their deliberations the public know nothing. One thing is painfully clear, and that is, that while they have been deliberating, the evil they were appointed to remedy bas increased tenfold. Moderate men are beginning to think with Lord Shaftesbury, that the time for action, with or without the recommendation of the Commission, has arrived. - America. -Our attention has again, during the past month,