and historians, would require a volume. One article, however, we must select, not only on account of its own importance, but of the peculiar sophistry with which it is treated by Mr. Lingard. The doctrine of the Real Presence, in opposition to an host of Protestants, he boldly maintains to have been held by the Saxon church. Here again we are compelled to assert our perfect indifference to the matter in controversy, farther than as a subject of speculation. Englishmen in the nineteenth century will scarcely lend their understandings to the cloudy metaphysics of Paschasius Radbert, Hincmar, Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus. But it is the triumph of the church of Rome to have acquired an empire over the understandings of men, which has compelled them to receive as an article of faith, a proposition that confounds all our ideas of identity, and establishes a test of faith contrary to that of every other miracle.—'The Saxons, we are told, had been taught to despise the doubtful testimony of the senses, and listen to the more certain assurance of the inspired writings. Doubtful testimony of the senses ! Every miracle vrought by Christ, by his apostles, and by the prophets before them, appealed directly to the senses, and to the senses alone. Had our Saviour, in his first miracle, conducted himself, as the church of Rome supposes him to have done in his lasthad he said to the guests at Cana, Your wine is exhausted, but these water-pots contain a supply of more; it retains, indeed, all the accidents of water, wine nevertheless it is, drink and be exhilarated; or when he undertook to feed the fainting multitudes in the desert, had be taken up a clod, and dividing it to those around him, said, this is bread and this is fish; it retains indeed the accidents of earth, but eat, and ye shall be filled—what, we may ask, would such a mockery have produced? In one of these miracles the conversion, in the other the inultiplication of matter was perceptible, and could not fail to be perceived. Without this external transformation, the miracle of Bolsena itself would not suffice to render it credible. That a substance retaining the whiteness, friability, and other secondary qualities of bread, should by the pronunciation of a few words beconie flesh, is no more possible in the nature of things than that a similar process should elterthe relations of number or time. But the testimony of the senses is doubtful. What then is certain ? And how, but through the medium of the senses do we arrive at the evidence of Scripture itself? If it be uncertain whether substances offered to our taste, smell and touch, and by them reported to be bread and wine, may nevertheless be a living body of Aesh and blood, it must at least be equally dubious whether the book, which relates the institution of the Holy Communion be a non-entity, whether the evidences of Christianity be not an illusion, whether in short all human testi



mony be not fable. Greater triumph a Protestant can scarcely enjoy, than to find that the fundamental doctrine of Popery can be defended on no other principle than one which leads to universal scepticism.

The History of transubstantiation, and the differences among the learned of his own communion concerning it are stated by our historian in a clear and masterly manner. In this, beside his principal purpose, of which he never permits himself to lose sight, he appears to have had in view two subordinate objects –The first, to rescue Aelfric from the charge of symbolizing in this article with the Protestants ; the second, to gratify his own spleen by committing Archbishop Secker aud Bishop Porteus with each other. In neither of these has he succeeded. When Aelfric affirms that

the sacramental elements are in their own kind corruptible bread and corruptible wine, but, after the divine word, truly Christ's body and blood, not indeed in a bodily, but in a ghostly mannerthat' certainly Christ's body which suffered and arose from death dies now no more, but is eternal and impassible' (what then becomes of the sacrifice of the mass ?)' that the husel is temporal and corruptible, is dealed into pieces, chewed between the teeth, and sent into the stomach'-our anthor exclaims, how such language as this would sound from a Protestant pulpit, I presume not to determine. We will take upon ourselves to inform him, that it would be in perfect unison with it. With reason then has this archbishop, for such he was, been challenged by our best theological antiquaries in the article of the real presence, as decidedly protestant; and with reason tod does Mr. Lingard, though feebly and ineffectually, make another effort to represent the age of Aelfric as comparatively barbarous. But the Danish invasions, if they dimmished the learning of the ecclesiastics, had not clouded their intellects, nor enslaved them to system ; for in clearness of ratiocination and manly freedom of thought, Aelfric appears to have surpassed the metaphysicians of his own age, and the two preceding, both here and on the continent.

Catholics, from the time of Bossuet, have dwelt with peculiar satisfaction on the variations of the Proestant churches' and their professors. Mr. Lingard eagerly adds his little item. After an attentive perusal (he says) of Archbishop Secker's thirty-six Lectures, I have only learnt, that the unworthy communicant receives what Christ has called his body and blood, that is, the signs of them; but that the worthy communicant eats his flesh and drinks his blood, because Christ is present in his soul, becoming by the inward virtue of his spirit its food and sustenance.' If the reader wishes for more information on this subject, he may consult Bishop Porteus. He believes Christ's body and blood


[ocr errors]

to be verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper, that is, an union with him to be not only represented, but really and effectually communicated to the worthy receiver. If these right reverend divines,' he petulantly adds,' have clear ideas on this subject, it must, I think, be confessed that they also possess the art of clothing them in obscure language.' We shall make no such admission. It was the peculiar merit of Archbishop Secker to have conveyed the profound and frequently, obscure ideas of Bishop Butler, in the clearest and most intelligible style; and as to Bishop Porteus, we may appeal to the recollection of thousands, who are yet mourning his departure, whether his conceptions were not always luminous, and his power of expression such as required no second reflection to comprehend it. Neither is there any inconsistency in these two statements, but an inconsistency intended by both, namely, with the Church of Rome. On the principle of transubstantiation, the real body and blood of the Redeemer must equally be received by the believer and the infidel. But these great prelates evidently meant that in the communjon the body and blood were (not really but) spiritually received by the true believer, and by him alone. At the first institution of this ordinance, the apostles themselves could not have conceived that any thing more was intended. At that moment their master was eating, drinking, and speaking before them, and when they had received from him the sacred elements, accompanied with the words in question, nothing short of insanity could have persuaded them that they were eating that identical person, who, when the ceremony was ended, remained entire and unchanged in their sight.

Such are the principles, and such are a few of the misrepresentations of the work before us. To have noticed the whole, we must have stopped at every page. With respect to the composition, though the author is a mannerist, and a copyer of Gibbon, yet he is no servile copyer. He has simplified the style of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His knowledge of the Saxon language, though he has not always used it fairly, is very considerable, and the industry of his research into original authorities, is greatly to be commended.

We have now done with Mr. Lingard, but not wholly with the subject

The proselyting spirit of the Church of Rome is now employed amongst us with a zeal and activity which meet with little counteraction but from the good sense and general information of the age. At the same time the bulky volumes of controversy which load the shelves of our public libraries, are become harmless on the one side and useless on the other. But well written, compact and


tangible volumes, like the present, are capable of no little mischief. The real merits of the question are comprehended by few; - and he who is understood to have proved, that, in the first centuries of the Saxon æra, the doctrines and discipline of our national church were, with few exceptions, those of Rome, will also be understood to have, at least, authority and antiquity on his side. Meanwhile the unwary and uninformed will fail to perceive, that there is, properly speaking, no authority where there is no inspiration, and that while the Catholic refers to the dark ages, the religion of Protestants appeals to the authority of apostles, and to the antiquity of the first century.

While we are thus assailed from without, it is foolish to be squabbling about metaphysical and often unintelligible points of doctrine among ourselves. Let us unite to repel that enemy against whom Luther and Calvin were united. For this purpose some short, clear and popular refutation of the errors of the church of Rome would have great effect. Of this kind we have nothing at present. The old version of Jewell's apology would not be endured; and no man of taste or modesty would undertake to transfuse into a modern translation the vigour and graces, the indignant declamation and heartfelt earnestness of the original. Both parties, we rejoice to say, bave equal command of a free and unlicenced press; but in the mean time, we rejoice still more in the reflexion that the established clergy have the ear of nine-tenths of the people, and though they should ordinarily be employed on better things than routing Bellarmine and confounding Baronius; yet clear and simple expositions of the scriptural principles of our own church, confronted with the errors and absurdities of Popery in places where the propagandists are at work, would be neither unseasonable nor ineffectual.

In the present circumstances of the country, we cannot suppress our apprehensions that the watchmen slumber while the city is threatened. Death has indeed recently deprived us of many able men ; but a proper stimulus, we are convinced, might even yet bring forward others, with talents not inadequate to the task at which we hinted. Great emergencies produce great abilities : but in common prudence, something short of the actual establishment of a religion like that of Rome, ought to arouse us; and, while its ministers, after a concealment of more than two centuries, obtrude themselves on the public, and avow the wildest absurdities of the darkest ages, it surely concerns us to see that our countrymen are not deceived. The unread and almost unreadable volumes of our Reformers contain mines of precious materials, unwrought indeed, but capable of being moulded into symmetry and grace. Their qualifications were pertinacious industry and laborious accumula

[ocr errors]

tion : qualifications not then misplaced; for they had readers like themselves. If attention is now to be awakened, compression, brevity, arrangement, lively illustration, and elegance, will be necessary: such however are the attainments of the present race of scholars, that these attractions may be united with the utmost precision and severity of reasoning. To men of such powers we earnestly commend the catholic controversy.

Art. V. History of the Reformation in Scotland; with an In

troductory Book and an Appendix. By George Cooke, D.D. Minister of Laurence Kirk. 3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, Constable.

London, Murray. 1811. THAT 'HAT Scotland has more abounded in valuable historians than

any other country of equal extent is partly to be imputed to the spirit and intelligence of the people, and partly to the genius of liberty, which, during a period of three centuries, prompted them first to resist the aggressions of civil or ecclesiastical tyranny, and afterwards to record with truth and spirit their own exploits or those of their forefathers. But as in national struggles men of genius and research, whether from interest or principle, will always be found to range themselves on both sides, the hierarchy and the presbytery, the court and the commons, have had their respective advocates. In the first contest for the overthrow of popery, the fire and genius of Buchanan were opposed by the subtle sophistry of Lesley; and, at a later period, the calm and courtly Spottiswood was employed to counteract the rude and persevering, but sometimes justifiable, opposition of the presbytery to the restoration of the episcopal order. In one respect the historians of Scotland stand pre-eminent and alone. The rugged and unformed state of their native tongue at the most interesting period of their history, drove them to the adoption of a foreign idiom, while their superlative taste and talents, from imitating, gradually taught them to rival the great models of antiquity. The unfortunate Mary is calumniated by her powerful detector in language which would not have disgraced the accuser of Verres, while the regent Murray is recorded and deplored in a style, little inferior to that which has immortalized the elder Scipio. On the other side Lesley and Dempster, though far inferior to Buchanan, may be permitted to rank with Camden and Thuanus, the best contemporary writers of historical Latinity in the other countries of Europe. This talent did not expire in the reigns of Mary or the sixth James, nor was it born with them. Almost a century before, when the first effort was made in Scot


« VorigeDoorgaan »