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moments. It is a pity that soment expositors. We do not know good a book should be dis- any work for the family by which a figured by so enigmatical a title, clearer insight may be gained into requiring for its explanation a the scope and general meaning of passage from Bacon: “ Theology this epistle, and the student will consists: 1, Of sacred history; find some things well deserving of 2, Parable or Divine poesy; and his respectful consideration. 3, Of holy doctrine." This is It is needless to say that the only one example of a bad practice theology is not Maurician, but that has lately come into fashion solidly orthodox, on the questions with authors and bookmakers. of sacrifice involved, and that the We were a little startled on open- style is clear, captivating, and ing the part before us, at finding popular. It is impossible for Mr. some introductory extracts « On Dale to write without teaching teaching by parable, metaphor, many things besides the chief &c.," headed by the word “Pro- lesson which he has in hana. legomena.” This savours of a pre. His mind is most fertile, and his tentiousness with which the book remarkable faculty for explanais really not chargeable.
tion makes him more than usually
interesting. And when you have The Jewish Temple and the Chris
said that a book of sermons on tian Church. By Rev. R. W.
the Epistle to the Hebrews is DALE, M. A. Birmingham :
very interesting, you have said a Jackson, Walford, and Hodder.
good deal. MR. Dale tells us in a pleasant, unpretending preface how this Daily Bible Text-Books. 6d. each. book came to be published, and
Knight and Son. what to expect from it. He had THESE six little volumes, sebeen preaching through the Epistle lected and arranged by the author to the Hebrews, and his congre- of “Sunset Thoughts," are colgation very naturally desired some lections of texts from Scripture, record of so valuable a series of arranged under such titles as discourses. This book embodies “Daily Bible Questions," "Prothe result. It is not a dry cri- mises and Precepts," “Prayers tical work, but is alive from and Praises," &c. Some have two end to end with the fire of prac- texts to each day, the second antical exposition. It traces the swering to the first; others consist thread of the argument with con- of a portion of Scripture and a spicuous ability, and seizes upon verse of a hymn by way of com. the principal knots with an edify- ment on the text. The texts are ing zeal, for special operations of well selected and arranged, and untying, or tying up again in a the volumes will make excellent worse tangle than ever, according presents for children. to the usual habit of New Testa
ON THE SUPPOSED AND REAL NECESSITIES OF
THE MODERN CHURCH.
The present is a time when, from every side, we hear incessant and loud demands for some kind of reform in the Church. If anyone were suddenly made acquainted, for the first time, with all that is written, spoken, and printed on the matter of Church Reform, he would be disposed to think there was nothing at all right in the Church, and the best thing that could be done with it would be to sweep it away altogether and begin afresh, starting, as fairly as could be, from the principles of the New Testament, without any theoretical prejudice, or any historical prepossession,
One set of voices is clamouring that the creeds are all wrong, departures alike from Scripture doctrine and the teachings of common sense. “They are too big, and want cutting down;" or, “ They are too little, and need large supplements ;” or, "They are too straight and rigid, keeping out of the Church many good men who ought to be in, and fettering the understandings of those who are in;" or, “They are too lax and flexible, admitting crowds who ought to be kept out, and giving no guarantee that truth is anywhere taught, or even believed.” "Sweep them all away,” says one; “Let us make them more rigid and binding,” says another. “As they stand, they do more harm than good,” shout both sides together.
« The form of the Church is defective," we hear another set of voices proclaiming. “It is not simple enough in its arrangements;” or, “It is far too simple for the times in which we live, and the civilization to which we have attained.” “The clergy have too much power-let there be a larger infusion of the lay element;" or, “There is already too much of this lay
element, there is needed a re-arrangement of the whole constitutional structure of the Church, so that there shall be more clerical power and authority visible and felt among men.”
All the official arrangements of the Church are wrong—there are too many of one, too few of another kind of officers. “Let us have more bishops.” “Multiply the kinds of officers,-give usevangelists, deaconesses, sisterhoods, preaching fraternities, ruling elders, managing committees.” Increase and classify the deacons, ordain all sorts of agents to all sorts of work. “Go back to apostolic times, and let us see once more in living operation the ancient orders of Christian ministry.” “ Readjust the entire official frame-work of the Church, so as to make it fit the new condition of things, and let the expansive spirit of free Christianity escape from the iron rigidity of a strict adherence to apostolic practices.” Thus, men unite all round to clamour for some reform, and to declare that things ought not to go on as they are, but never unite as to any one plan of improvement.
Then, as to the discipline of the Church ; why, what a state that is in! “In fact,” says one, “there is no discipline.” The Church is, indeed, a net in which there are all kinds of fish, and some of the queerest sort ; let there be a restoration of the ancient discipline, that, with a good conscience, we may excommunicate and refuse to bury the publicans and sinners, the heretics and sectaries, who now torment our souls. “Make the door wider, and keep a sharp look-out upon the people when you have got them in, exercising a sterner discipline upon them,"exclaims one section of reformers. “Make the door narrower, and never mind what they are when you get them in,” is the practical issue of the demands of another section. “Oh that this Established Church were out of the way!" cry the sects; “this huge incubus of semi-Romanism, Rationalism, patronage, Privy Council, supremacy, Easter dues, fat bishoprics, lean curacies, and all manner of legalized oppression, in the name of things sacred. What a gain it would be to our common Christianity !” “Would that the sects were dead, or banished from the parishes, that the Liberation Society was safely locked in the Tower, all political Dissenters sent to America, or anywhere,” groans the Church in Convocation, visitation, Church defence meeting, Parliamentary debate, or miscellaneous Congress. Then, Christianity would thrive, and England would be a happy place.
The Church is “ too high,” “too low," “ too broad," “ too narrow,” says one and another. “There are too many sects," say some; Christ's body is divided. “More sects are needed,” reply others; "all the truth is not yet represented or proelaimed. Christ has not a body yet on earth; we must make Him one."
"Hush your babble, cease your strife !” says the Romanist, " and come back to Holy Mother Church, who will give you all as much truth as is good for you."
So again, nothing that is done in the Church is really right and what it ought to be. The friends of any particular section of the Church can always see something better in other sections than their own. There is always more freedom, breadth, culture, piety, adaptability, out of that section than in it. Everybody is right but themselves. Other ministers are more efficient, other officers more fitted to their service than their own. Thus, by turns, all are regarded as right and wrong, efficient and inefficient. Everybody knows how to preach except the parsons, and nobody visits the sick except, here and there, an unworldly-minded deacon. The incomes of ministers are poor; but, then, the recipients are unworthy—there are no additions to our churches, except from the Sabbath-schools, and yet, it is said, all the scholars drift away into the world—the poor are neglected, and the rich and educated are gradually lapsing into formalism and scepticism.
What is to be done? Let there be a radical reform, so that everything, root and branch, shall be brought into accordance with our desires and the necessities of the times. The points thus gathered together are what we hear and read of every day, and, except in the columns of official organs and reports, and at certain meetings devoted chiefly to self and mutual laudation, there is nowhere any sign of contentment with anything belonging to the Church.
Whence arise all these demands for reform?
Some spring from a desire of logical and theoretical completeness. Certain arrangements appear necessary consequences of already admitted principles, and therefore ought to be adopted ; or necessary to the theoretical completeness of some system supposed to be scriptural or philosophical, and so they must needs be made. Many notions and demands respecting Church organization, Church life, Church activities, have nothing more or less than this character. They have nothing to do with the actual necessities of the Church. They are the result of a brooding over literary statements—not of a brooding over the living relations of the Church and the world. We may, therefore, set them aside with very little heed..
Some of these demands for reform originate in a belief that present arrangements and existing officers are to a considerable extent inefficient or unsuitable. This remark especially applies to the various outcries about preaching, ministers, colleges, and deacons. The preachers in every sect are found fault with for their inefficiency. To a young man just commencing his career the aspect of this business is sufficiently discouraging, especially
be a broad evangelical, him his own we to a pett
if he be very conscientious, yet withal not very independent in his judgments and action. He will hear such things as these said about him. If he preaches doctrinal sermons, "He is dry and legal ;" if he dwells chiefly upon the practical side of religious life, “He ignores the cardinal truths of the Gospel ;” if be follows old examples, “ He is a slave to a petty orthodoxy;" if he preaches naturally, in his own way, “He is heterodox.” Should he be evangelical, he will be reputed stupid and dull; if he be a broad Episcopalian or a liberal Dissenter, his discourses are not sermons, but lectures and moral essays, which had better be delivered on the week-day, when his auditors would take good care to be conspicuous by their absence. If he takes pains to make his sermons simple and clear, there is no thought in them ; if he endeavours after some degree of culture, he will be told that culture is not wanted, but something simple and to the point. Let him try to educate the minds of his auditors, and he will be told that they are too wearied with business for that—he must aim at their feelings; but if he be one who appeals to the emotional nature, people will shake their heads and significantly say, “That kind of thing cannot last long;” or if, in some pointed way, he aims at the conscience, he is sure to become personal, or be thought so, which is quite as bad. If he reads he cannot possibly do any good, and if he does not read he talks twaddle. Should his sermon be three-quarters of an hour long, people wonder when he is going to have done ; if he makes it shorter, they wonder for what they came out. If he puts his material together formally as a sermon, he is laughed at as a pedant, and sent to the Times and Saturday Review for examples of what a sermon ought to be; but if he shapes his discourse on the model of a daily leader or a weekly essay, his hearers think they could have spoken quite as good commonplace themselves; and Idaresay they could. So, again, he must go to the wall, either as a good preacher but a bad pastor, or as a good pastor but a very sorry preacher. Every week, in all kinds of newspapers, in monthly magazines and quarterly reviews, both religious and irreligious, the poor parson is told how to do it, and that all attempts hitherto are miserable failures. Alas, poor Prediger! For the congregations read these journals, and should any of his congregation be dissatisfied with their minister, they write to the religious and secular journals to give their mite of discontented criticism, and offer their vexatious suggestions of reform, All the magazines and newspapers write to tell him that he ought to preach like the last new volume of sermons. I dwell at length upon these demands for reform, because they indicate the prevalence of a critical spirit ; and criticism is not the highest kind of life; and the kind of criticism which prevails respecting the