Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Nor do we despair of seeing much accomplished in this direction ; for already we have, as a national church, taken a greater step in advance than had been done at any previous time since the Reformation. Such at least we cannot but regard the establishment of the two bishopricks in the Mediterranean, to which we have already alluded. Especially important in this view do we regard the consecration of an English bishop, resident at Jerusalem, and commissioned, by the very terms of his appointment, to streteh forth the hand of fellowship to our Protestant brethren of Prussia on the one side, and to the ancient churches of the east upon the other.' Surely it is no vain imagination, which looks upon this as the first step in an onward progress of ever-increasing union and sympathy between all the churches which enjoy a common freedom from the yoke of Rome. Already we behold the seed sown in several quarters, which may, if duly fostered, spring ap and bear the fruit of such Christian unity. We can fancy that we see the causes already in operation, which might surround the Romanist states of Southern Europe with a cordon of free national churches, all united to each other in Christian communion; England, Northern Germany, and Russia, on the North ; Greece and Syria on the East; and the Coptic church (which is already receiving gladly the teaching of our Church Missionary schools) on the South ; with the circle completed by the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, which may well be considered to belong rather to the Anglican than to the Roman allegiance. Surely so blessed a consummation is well worth our most earnest prayers and most strenuous efforts.

1

The clamorous abuse which this measure has called forth from a party among ourselves, only endears it to us the more. And surely never was there a better illustration of the inconsistency of that party, whose very watchword is deference to ecclesiastical authority, than the virulent abuse with which they have assailed our primate for the part which he took in this arrangement. We cannot forbear from mentioning here a case of gross dishonesty committed in the article upon this subject in the last number of the * Christian Remembrancer," p. 97. In order to strengthen his attack upon the Litúrgy of the Church of Prussia, the writer accuses its compilers of changing the clause in the creed, “ I believe in one Catholic Church," into " I believe in a general Church;" whereas the words in the German, “ eine allgemeine Kirche," mean precisely " one universal (or Catholic) Church,"

TALES OF THE TOWN. By Henry WALFORD BELLAIRS,

M.A., Perpetual Curate of St. Thomas, Stockport. London: Burns. 1814.

A FRIEND of ours once professed to feel a respect for any man who had not written a book.' For our part we give it up entirely we hardly expeet to find so exalted a character. Scribimus indocti doctique. We must take a lower standard in these degenerate days, and in a short time we shall be exclusive enough, if we confine our esteem to man or woman who has not written a religious novel. Great men, however, must have imitators, and therefore "Tales of the Village” are followed by “Tales of the Town." The exclamation of the poet involuntarily rises to the lips

O imitatores, servum pecus, ut mihi sæpe

Risum, sæpe bilem, vestri movere tumultus! The volume before us we should not have noticed, had it not been that the author of it holds the responsible situation of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, and hence the small theology of a Tractarian novel may assume a degree of interest; and by presenting some specimens of it to our clerical readers, we shall enable them to determine whether they will voluntarily submit their schools to the author's inspection, or, in any case, without such precautionary steps as it may be competent for them to take.

On the stories themselves we shall not detain our readers; they are utterly beyond the range of criticism, and may fairly be left in all the harmlessness of their own insipidity. Yet, for the sake of any one who may be disposed to become a plagiary of Mr. Paget, we will just say, by way of a recipe for such a production on the most approved model,-Take eight or ten characters of various ranks in life, worldly, self-indulgent,“ tuft-hunting”!--to use a college phrase-irreverent, uncharitable, narrow-minded, and take care they shall all be " low-church,” “ evangelical,” and dissenters in principle or practice; then take as many meek, self-denying, sober-minded, charitable, and, if you please, celibate, persons, who " never go to balls, to political meetings, Bible-societies, or charity-sermons

(rather severe on balls), who shall all by some I don't think, Miss Croft, that I mentioned to you that Lord Duberly is coming ?" "Yes, ma'am,' replied Ann, you told me that Mr. Ford had invited his lordship.?

And did I tell you,' continued her aunt, that the Hon. and Rev. Robert St. Aubin is expected ?""-(p. 82.)

Wherever such shafts may justly be directed, far be it from us to interpose a shield; and we are disposed almost to wish that the author had still further shown his horror of such feelings, by abstaining from inscribing his tales to the Hon, and Rev. Charles Harris.

[ocr errors]

inevitable fatality be believers in indiscriminate baptismal regeneration, the sacramental character of confirmation, the necessity of tradition, &c. Then, as to plot; have a baptism, a confirmation, a church-building; and for your lighter chapters, by all means have the meeting of some religious society, which, like Mr. Ford's “ anecdote from the parent society," may be “worth at the very least five pounds, if properly applied.” Moreover, if you please, you may wind up matters with a marriage.

So much for character and plot, and now for sentiments. And here we approach the serious part of the question. We shall briefly call the attention of our readers to some doctrinal opinions of which Mr. Bellairs has made his tale the vehicle, which, in our judgment, eminently disqualify him for an inspector of Church of England schools. And, first, as to regeneration.

It is evident that Mr. Bellairs views spiritual regeneration as inseparable from baptism. We do not now intend to enter upon this subject, further than to repeat the recommendation in our last number, of Mr. Bridges' admirable manual, “Sacramental Instruction.Of course, in a given instance, where the parents are represented as exercising faith and prayer, and seeking for their child "first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," Mr. Bellairs has a right to express a trustful confidence, that the child was indeed regenerate in baptism, and that he would, in answer to the continued prayers, first of his parents, and then of him. self, be enabled to lead « the rest of his life according to this beginning." But beyond this we are at issue with Mr. Bellairs. We know from the highest authority, that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Now "it shall seem somewhat extreme that we shall speak,” but we confess it does by no means answer our ideas of a regenerate child, that it should be “full of all sorts of childish fun and mischief." To say the least, how unguarded is the latter term! That a spiritual child should be full of all sorts of fun, is surely asserting quite as much as we should venture to do, taking the standard of the Bible and our Church. We delight in seeing children in high spirits; we would on no account deprive them of all fun; but we scarcely could represent a spiritual child as full of it, without one single word being added, to indicate the development of spiritual life. What shall we say when, besides this, a child is represented as full of mischief? Is a little Samuel, one lent unto the Lord, really expected to be no better than a monkey? or is it because childish mischief is so innocent ? We imagine Mr. Bellairs, in his examination of a school, asking among his first questions, “Can you tell me whether God takes account

of the doings of children?” A score of little voices are immediately ready with the answer, “Even a child is known by its doings, whether his work be pure, or whether it be right.” Or he may question them as to their understanding of one of the simplest petitions of our beautiful Litany, and, from its wording, peculiarly adapted to children, “From all evil and mischief,&c., and requesting illustrations of the term, may be answered, “ Hiding Henry's slate ;” “ Pushing Betsey into a puddle," &c. Now we say nothing of single acts; but what should we say to a child's being full of such tricks? Surely good Peter Howard and his wife must have been very uneasy about this child of theirs, who was thus approaching the age when he was to renew his baptismal vow. That we may not appear extreme here, let us appeal to one who must be an authority with Mr. Bellairs,—the accomplished author of the “Shadow of the Cross,” of whom we feel disposed to say, Talis cum sis, utinam noster esses.

Now it will be supposed we do not recommend this last-named little book, although we admire it, because we cannot admit the foundation on which it is built ; but we mean to say that Mirth, in the allegory, pictures to our mind a child full of fun, and Wayward, little more than a child full of mischief. The difference between these two characters is obvious.

Let us, before leaving this part of the subject, entreat our readers to beware of lowering the standard of true religion even in children ; and, after the word of God, we recommend to parents such books as, “The Infant Brothers," and a volume containing records of Juvenile Piety, by Mr. Baptist Noel; in one of whose Sermons on Baptism there are also some excellent remarks on the subject.'

Next for Mr. Bellairs' view of Confirmation. We shall simply give the following extracts, and ask, Is the writer of them to be accredited to our national schools, as teaching the doctrine of our Church?

In answer to the questions--"How is this ordinance undervalued ?" and, “ How to be raised to its proper position ?”

"' In many ways,' answered the other ; ' but as sufficient for our present purpose, I will say, first, in the low views as to its nature, which they frequently hold and teach; and, secondly, in the careless way in which they very often prepare their children for it. In my own case, I remember that the one idea I had of the nature of confirmation was, that I confirmed the vows and promises I had made at baptism: the consequence was, that I looked upon this holy rite as a simple ceremony of the Church, not intended to convey grace ;? but merely to press upon my mind the remembrance of what I had promised at baptism; and I thought that the presence of the

There is a pleasing little tract, “ A Folded Lamb of Christ's Flock.” Jackson, Islington Green. This really regenerate child was not like Peter Howard's. ? The italics in this and other passages are our own. 1845.

N

bishop, and the laying on his hands, was only intended to make the ceremony more imposing."

'But do you imagine,' asked the vicar, 'that such is a common impression, or rather that you were placed under unfortunate circumstances, where your clergyman was but imperfectly acquainted with this subject ?'

• I fear,' replied Bradwell, 'that such a low view is very commonly entertained and taught by the clergy, and that its sacramental nature is very often overlooked.'

“It is difficult,' answered Bradwell, 'to reply satisfactorily to your question ; but I should say, that the mode you adopt in these cases appears to me as good as any. With regard to the holy rite itself, I have ever heard you speak of it as a high and holy ordinance, sacramental in its nature, and conveying grace ; and in your catechisings on Sundays and holy days, together with your private instructions to the young, I see that preparation which should fit all that properly use it for a due reception of the great blessings that doubtlessly attend upon this holy ordinance of the Church

“' I thank you,' replied the vicar, ' for the kind way in which you speak of my poor attempts to do my duty in this instance, which I must set down to your feelings of friendship; but, indeed, with regard to what you have said generally, I most fully concur; I do think that, for some reason or other, probably from a fear of appearing to favour the Roman Catholic view as to sacraments, we of this day have lost sight, to a very great degree, of the sacramental nature of some ordinances in the Church, among which confirmation may justly be adduced.''

We pass on to Mr. Bellairs' doctrine of Tradition; and, in doing so, cannot but remark the nugatory distinctions he draws between the Romish traditions, and those which are claimed by the Tractarian school; and his repetition of the oft-refuted fallacy, that the canon of Scripture is a traditionary truth.

"I fancy,' replied Henry, ‘you must have mistaken Charles, as he cannot suppose that I place anything on terms of equality with the written word of God.

Oh,' said Charles with a smile, interrupting him, I have told her almost fifty times, I think, what you said of the traditions of the Church, and how you considered them valuable, as witnessing matters of fact, and teaching us the proper interpretation of the Bible; and, indeed, I must say that after much reflection, and the inquiry I have made of the books you recommended yesterday, I am disposed to agree with the view of the Church of England (?) in respect of tradition, in preference to that of the Church of Rome.",

Again :

“ With regard to Rome's supremacy, we think that it is contrary to tradition."

Again :

“He had identified these false traditions with the true traditions ad. mitted by the Church of England.”

Here is one indeed literally at sea, without rudder to guide or anchor to fix,” and with nothing to decide between conflicting traditions, but “I am disposed "_" We think.”

But let us hear a little further :

« VorigeDoorgaan »