Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

« Our

called the Lord's-day) the only day of public worship, and turned the weekly festival of our Redeemer's resurrection into a dismal, cheerless day of austerity and gloom."-(p. 25.)

If ever he shall taste the elevated joy, the heaven-like festivity of that Redeemer's feast-day, as it is weekly partaken of by many a time-wearied saint, waiting the eternal Sabbath of which it is the blessed glad beginning, this heedless writer will wonder for himself, as we do for him now, at the confusion of his strange complaint—at once that Sunday is a day of austerity and gloom, and that it is the only day of public worship. What ! and with the church-service too, which is in the same passage, greatest earthly happiness and comfort ? We trust that he

may live to know that the worship of God is the renewed soul's truest festival.

During 105, out of a book of 223 pages, the pew-system is altogether postponed to the necessity of convincing the reader that if “ Divine Providence had not mercifully interposed, by cutting short the life of King Edward VI., things would have been in a worse condition than they are ; the symbols of Popery would have wholly disappeared :” that “the accession and reign of Queen Mary (bloody as her Spanish advisers rendered it) were great and positive advantages to the Church of England;" and that “but for the elevation of Abbot to the primacy, the followers of Calvin would never have obtained their bad pre-eminence among us ;” (an awkward admission for a disciple of No. 90.) The corollary evidences of which, and many other like statements for Mr. Paget eschews argument—are the fatness of the puritan squire, the coarseness of Cromwell's troopers, the handsome figure of the republican preacher, and the adaptation of Mr. Paget's nomenclature to the characters it suits him to exhibit, and the serious things it suits him to make ridiculous; with, of course a tragic scene or two from the sufferings of the oppressed royalists. These are legitimate tricks of novel-writing, and among its greatest mischiefs when applied to holy things. Our reverend story-teller knows, as well as we do, that if he had become a round-head at page 109, where he jumps over 200 years, lest his book should prove unsaleable, these descriptive evidences could all have been reversed with equal effect, and truthfulness to history. He knows that the acts of oppression were no more confined to one side, than the ribaldry, the snoring, and the fatness.

Worse however in his sight than all of this, and more pregnant still with warnings to the present day, was the blindness of the puritanical window-breakers, who could not distinguish between the tares and the wheat,-it is himself, not we, who so applies a scripture figure,—when they fractured the Virgin Mary with as little remorse as if she had represented a soul in purgatory, defaced the cross wherever they could find it, and dragged the altar from the east-end into the middle of the church !! Mr. Paget apparently does not know that the impulse of these depredators was to remove from the churches whatever they considered to be objects of idolatrous worship; and that whatever a Tractarian may do, they did not think it less a sin to worship the virgin and the altar and the cross, than any other emblem of popish superstition.

Our Author, however, proves more impartial as he proceeds, and treats his “Churchmen," throughout three or four chapters, so called, with as much low irony as his puritans; for it is worthy of remark in Tractarian writers generally, that with all their professed horror of dissent and reverence for episcopacy, it is churchmen, ordained ministers like themselves, and if their doctrine be true, heirs together with them of apostolic sanctity, her bishops not excepted, through whom they have derived it,-against whom their bitterest ridicule is levelled; even when for decency they say “ Dissenters,” they commonly include the evangelical portion of the Church of England. In the present instance about forty pages of most irreverent village gossip are found necessary to show how our ancient church-builders failed to provide accommodation for navigators, engineers and rail-road stations ; how the curate of Milford failed to gain influence over his parishioners, not by vice and immorality, but by seeking to amuse his hearers instead of glorifying God, and how a church may be protected from galleries and shilling subscriptions.

But “All is well that ends well,” says the heading of the last chapter; and he were a poor novelist that could not accomplish that according to his own taste. Mr. Paget's “good ending may best be appreciated in his own words, when it suits him to bring his story to an end by producing a “parish-Priest(tractarian capitals are very mindful of their places) entirely to his own mind. And this is he: “He was one who was thoroughly imbued with Church principles, and who felt that on carrying out the Church-system in his parish the permanent success of his labours must depend,”—“who thinks of himself as nothing, and the Church and the Church's cause as everything." - The state of his church was of course one of the first points to which the new rector directed his attention, and was a subject of much anxious thought.” With a mind thus devoted to the first objects of his ministry, assisted by an architect who “fully understood the

ور

Catholic arrangement of a church,” it is not surprising Mr. Till should have the satisfaction of seeing the nave gradually cleared, till nothing was left to obstruct the view of the altar, and finally enjoy the full fruition of his apostolical labours, in a building no longer disfigured with galleries or pews, where “the eye glanced from end to end through a perspective as beautiful as it was uninterrupted.” Perhaps it is no matter of wonder or regret, that sentences such as these are not intermixed with the slightest allusion to the principle of divine truth—the blessing of God in his success—the influences of the Spirit in his labours—the cause of Christ his Master, or the spiritual instruction and welfare of his parish.

The author of “ Bernard Leslie" is a graver person : he takes his mottos from Wordsworth instead of Hudibras : treats his subjects seriously and argumentatively, and affects no cover for his anti-protestant designs. If he had entitled this volume “ How to become a Puseyite," we might have recommended it to a class of persons—we fear a large class—who are making venturous steps upon a road, of which they perceive not the tendency and guess not the issue. We do recommend the last chapter strongly to some, who are thinking to unite what God has for ever separated—the darkness of human inventions with the pure gospel light, popish practices with protestant doctrines : who are bent upon finding what God has never made, a middle-way between life and death-dead works and living faith : who have even invented a name by which to call their impossible amalgam-Evangelical High-churchmen. To such Mr. Gresley's “Recapitulatory Remarks” are worthy of all attention : he knows the two denominations are irreconcileable; and we know that all the Church of Christ or the Church of England has to fear from the Tractarian heresy, is through the incautious sufferance of its leprous touch, and the unperceived influence of its deathly atmosphere. We agree with Mr. Gresley; and we would have it deeply graven upon every serious mind, that "there can be no doubt that a great crisis in the church has arrived. The two systems (High Church and Evangelical) are in a manner on their trial before the nation, and it rests with each individual to decide whether he will aid the good work which has begun, or be found among those who vainly set themselves against it.” “It is for the body of Churchmen to decide which portion of their clergy they will trust in as their spiritual guides." From the bottom of our hearts we respond to his appeal —"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”

We are afraid of nothing but indecision.

Leslie Bernard's first lesson on Oxford Divinity is, how to clear his conscience of having taken orders, merely as a profession, without fitness or preparation for it. Many' a pious and devoted minister has so entered the Church, and subsequently made him clean of the iniquity in the blood of Jesus, and meet for his office by penitent invocation and reception of the Holy Spirit; but never we believe attempted to justify himself in what he did. Nevertheless, it is very easy, and our stripling clergy will find Mr. Gresley's logic useful. “The office of deacon, he argues with himself, is a good work, and I feel a desire to undertake it,-to desire a good work is a good desire,-every such desire is from the Holy Ghost, from whom all good desires come,”—ergo, “I am inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon me this office and ministration.” That the next lesson should be disappointment in his ministry might have been supposed without being explained, had not this opportunity been wanted for rodomantading and sneering at district-visiting, missionary societies, tracts and weekly lectures, with some more sacred and more awful things; the remedy for all, as it is the first step always, being to open the churches every day, and duly keep to the calendar. It is unnecessary to mention that it suits the novelist to make his hero at this time preach evangellicaly, with just such effects on his parish as serve his purpose, under an evangelical rector, whose arguments may be made as weak and flippant as seems to him good.

However, Mr. Gresley is no trifler, and comes straight to the discussion of the important doctrine of regeneration by baptism: the recital of which the curate thus concludes—"I verily believe it was this discussion about the doctrine of regeneration that saved me from evangelicism, into which I was fast descending.” We believe it too, and we call attention to the truth undesignedly exhibited. Evangelical religion stands on that foundation-stone: shake it, remove it, and the whole is gone—aye, even to the precious corner-stone itself.

The curate's next step-is it not always the next ?—was to read the “Tracts for the Times," just merely because he discovers that nobody who abuses them has ever read them, which wounds his sense of justice. Of course he found both his “understanding convinced,” and his “feelings carried along with them.” Lest his readers should not be quite so facile, he next finds an Oxford adviser with whom to argue the matter out step by step, and remove all remaining difficulties. Apostolic succession first, and the church service : of the joint value of which this is the inferential sum :-“ For instance, if a clergyman neglects to preach the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, still the people have it in the baptismal service; so that it cannot be altogether lost while that service remains unmutilated; or if he shrink from setting forth the scriptural doctrine, that we are judged and rewarded according to our works, still this vital truth will be continually brought before the people in the Bible and the Prayer Book, and cannot be withheld from the congregation by the error or deficiency of the preacher.”

Tradition follows next of course : respecting which, the chapter leaves the fast-growing disciple of the Tractarian school prepared to acknowledge that, “If men take the Bible alone, it is evident from experience that they will fall into pernicious errors, for this simple reason, that they will not interpret it aright.”

Then the value of church-ordinances, which Mr. Gresley declares to be “the grand stumbling-block of the evangelicals, and the cause of the comparatively little effect of their exertions upon the mass of the people;” which subject, viz., the faults and failures of the evangelical clergy, occupies many pages; whereof we shall attempt no criticism, because in story-telling, facts are ad libitum whatever their sequiturs may be : it is perfectly comformable to the laws of fiction, to empty the Church of a gospel minister by contact with dissent, and bring out a crowd from morning-service on the feast of St. John the Baptist; being withal the direct route to a "train of reflections, all tending to the great question, which for so long had occupied my mind : namely, how to bring my parishioners to repentance and holy living," -of which the result is “That, as the Church was the instrument whereby the seed of life was first conveyed by baptismal regeneration ; and as by her ordinances she is the means of keeping alive in the heart, and quickening the spark of divine grace—so also, in the case of those in whom the grace of baptism has been corrupted and lost, the ordinances of the Church are the surest means of restoration."

At this point of his progress our Oxford graduate finds himself in difficulty; he is getting into deep waters. True, he has dismissed in a few pages the vulgar difficulties,-regeneration-justification—imputed-righteousness, &c., with this appropriate question printed in italics,—“How can we wonder at the perplexity which exists in men's minds, when such subtleties as these are broached ? Why cannot we believe simply, that we are regenerated by baptism, justified by faith, and rewarded according to our works; as it is plainly revealed in scripture, and taught by the Church?” Whereupon he takes his next degree, determining to give himself to the study of the Fathers, because “If a doctrine is only found in scripture, we might suspect that we were wrong.”

True also, he has proved, by the story of a maniac, what he might as well have taken for granted without proof, viz., that,-August, 1842.

4 H

« ÖncekiDevam »