Images de page

thinks freshly for himself, on important matters, and dares to utter his thought, Public opinion weighs like a mountain upon the individual soul. Every man says to himself, what will happen to me if I go off the rails? Thus every perversion is maintained from age to age. The love of bread and butter is stronger than the love of truth. The generality of teachers do not inquire for themselves, and the taught follow in the beaten track. Besides, the system of over-instruction, over-guidance, over-watching, supersedes and stifles the faculty for investigation. Not enough room is given to the doubtful element, and since it is in the area of the doubtful that honest thought must exert itself, honest thought languishes from deficiency of space and air. It would, indeed, be a most uncomfortable world if all were original thinkers, and if there were no amenable multitudes to govern; but at present the reign of stereotype is in excess. It is the extreme rarity of individualism which render it so interesting and useful in the present distress. In a more thoughtful world original people would perhaps retire into obscurity. W.

THE POOR C U R AT E. (From an unpublished series of “Rural Scenes and Clerical Portraits.'

Yonder he comes with quick and hurried pace,
I meet him often near this well-known place ;
Familiar features thought has paled his cheek,
Those shining orbs benevolence bespeak;
Bold swells his high and arched brow, yet there
Methinks I see a lurking shade of care.

‘Snug livings and poor curates!" how it sounds!
Sharp pinching penury where wealth abounds;
Our starveling workers in the great church hive,
Must moil and toil that parson drones may live.

Our rector rarely to his flock comes near;
He with his easy thousands every year,
Drawn from his parish, wanders as he will;
Hard is the task his weary time to kill.
Now here, now there, in country or in town,
To half our villagers “the great unknown.”

Not thus unknown our curate; him we love,
Blessings be his—blessings from God abovel
Scant are his means, his yearly stipend small ;
Seventy pounds sterling I have heard is all
Our rector's payment for the cure of souls,
While he in luxury and idlesse rolls;
Just half the coin in weekly wages paid
To Edward Crank, who drives the millwright's trade,
And (wealth unknown) has wife and children three;
Our curate he has none; all lonely he:
Yet he hath loved, aye, he loves deeply now,
In fits of musing, wond'ring when and how
His silent breath shall echo with her voice;
Then bright home visions bid his heart rejoice.
His hands have tied the knot for many a pair,
And who shall blame if he hath longed to share

Such joy as fills the bridegroom when his bride
Stands blushing, trembling, vowing at his side?
Now hark what means that loud and merry hum ?
Behind him, laughing swarms of children come.
In days of yore, a shrill and wrinkled dame,
Our sole instructress, till our curate came.
In “raising funds’ full many a month he spent,
Undaunted he, in purpose fixed intent:
And none e'er begged like him for others sake,
What for himself his hands had scorned to take.
All pity's pleadings in his words were felt, ,
While hearts ne'er touched before began to melt.
A school was built, a ‘model teacher' found,
And yonder crowd of urchins gathered round,
Matched against youngsters of a former age,
A very owl, as learned as a sage!
But to our curate—lo! he halts before
Yon cottage, entering its half open door,
IIome of the widow and the ol.
He comes, with words of light and love to bless.
Her boy is sick, is dying, but has caught
The voice of one whose tender love has taught
Lessons of wisdom, promises divine,
That now like stars in death's deep darkness shine.

He turns, he casts his large-orbed lustrous eye
Full on the Man of God, then heaves a sigh,
While back upon the pillow falls his head,
Both start, they raise it, but the soul hath fled.
A tear unbidden wets our curate's cheek,
Yet words of comfort he essays to speak,
Tells her of Heaven, and how its countless throng
Are ever hymning their harmonious song.

There lives her William now, no more to die,
No more to know a pang, or heave a sigh ;
His body sleeps in death, but 'mong the blest
His spirit wakes, in robes of glory drest:

Tells her of Him, the lonesome widow's God;
Bids her bow calmly 'neath His chast'ning rod
Then kneeling on her humble floor, he prays
That Friend above to guide her all her days;
Wishing with all his heart that it were more,
He draws a coin from out his scanty store,
Nor will denial take—nor longer stay
To hear her thanks—he quickly moves away,

Such is the course he daily loves to run;
Light-giving, gloom-dispelling, like the sun.
His windows I have often passed at night,
When others were all darkness, his was bright.
I've seen him bending o'er an old old book,
With fixed, with earnest, with enraptured look,
Or pacing round his well-worn study floor,
Repeat aloud what he had thought before.

His serm ons were unwritten, yet gave signs
Of deeper thoughts than those of some divines,
Who read with schoolboy drawl their weary prose,
Nor break their hearers comfortable doze ;'
Fresh from the heart, his glowing words arise,
His tones speak volumes, while his piercing eyes
Have helped to fix the love-directed dart
Of God's own truth in many a smitten heart.
This all his aim, to lead the soul to God,
By that blest path the holy Saviour trod;
That, a reward, more noble in his view,
Than all the honours worldlings ever knew.
Teacher of truth, hero of love, work on!
Thy God be with thee till thy work be done.
Thy guerdon then, richer than jewelled crown,
When the Great Judge thy faithfulness shall own.
But O! ye Churchmen, lolling at your ease,
Blush if ye can at contrasts such as these,


Broughton, Manchester.


Common Prayer and Common Sense: an argument for Church Expansion by means of Liturgical Revision. By T. Davis, M.A., Incumbent of Roundhay. Longman. 1862.

This pamphlet is an outcry of conscience and judgment from a man who could, if any one could, snatch the live-coal of prophetic nonconformity from our lips ;-a laborious student, beautiful thinker, a poet, whose gift

as genuine as the song of the parushes of Roundhay, a brave, liberal, loring soul-but, after all, an Evans gelical clergyman-involved in the portid meshes of the Church of Eng. and formularies. In these pages, shrinking from the charge of unfaithin ness in the use of words, he does ons very best to quash the indictment

giving a long and complicated ac wunt of his method of explaining atas the obnoxious phraseology. We

are obliged to admit that with such views of the meaning of the words as his own it is not necessary to press the charge of dishonour home upon him in its darker form. He raises a vast fog of mystification around the baptismal service, in which it may be granted that nothing can be seen clearly enough to render subscription to it either true or false. But the system carries its own condemnation with it. Here is a man, naturally the soul of honour and a bard of God, reduced, in the explication of his religious position, to a series of arguments and apologies—such as he would be ashamed to apply to the affairs of common life. But he knows inwardly the difference between sunshine and moonshine, and, therefore, with his better nature, calls aloud on Heaven and Earth, on Lords and Commons, to support Lord Ebury and reform the liturgy. But no! The Bishop of

London has already taught us in his speech on liturgical revision, delivered in the Lords last year, that “scrupulous men' are out of place in the Church of England—and, we fear, there is no hope whatever of a victory for the Evangelicals. Besides, many who call themselves Low Churchmen maintain baptismal regeneration in the ‘plain grammatical sense of the words.' The treatise of the late Edward Bickersteth on Baptism contains statements on the spiritual effects of baptism which would satisfy a clergyman of the school of Dr. Hook. It is hoping against hope, but we heartily desire for Mr. Davis, Mr. Fisher, and their compeers, full success in their honourable endeavours. Meantime, though it cost what is dearest in life, we will for ourselves persist in witnessing to the ‘general necessity’ of verbal honesty to salvation.

Seven Answers to the seren Essays and Reviews. By John North GRIFFIN, M.A., of Trinity College, Dublin. Longman. 1862.

Captain Williams, sitting on the quarter deck of the Trent, in the Bahama Channel, reading ‘Essays and Reviews, as the San Jacinto approached and fired her memorable shot athwart the bows of the mail steamer, is a typical picture of the times. We commend it to some artist for the next exhibition of the Royal Academy. Here is an average blundering tar, trying to get his theological notions settled or unsettled, as the case may be, by studying a book which is one of the most curious pieces of black and white chequer-work—of truth and falsehood—that ever appeared at home or abroad. Captain Williams's ‘verisying faculty' will stand him in better stead, with its infallible instincts, five minutes hence, in dealing with Captain Wilkes' boarding party, than it can do in assisting the Admiralty agent to resist the seven theological pirates who are assailing his religious belief, as he sits a peaceful reader and victim, under the awning of his packet

boat. Indeed, there is something pitiable in the condition of ordinary readers under the present system of publication. ... Books of all sorts lie about by millions. Treatises which ought never to pass a college door are offered as the common aliment of life to ignorant, positive, and credulous multitudes; and books which in their condensed virulence of false assertion may require twenty volumes to answer them, are thrown into the midst of society, to work their mischief on minds which are too impatient to look for a single reply. It is impossible to calculate the number of the persons whose faith has been shaken by the ‘Essays and Reviews.' The good things in the volume, and they are many, have recommended the evil, and we fear that the evil greatly preponderates. It is true that the serious and connected reading of the Bible is the best, simplest, and the most effectual counteraction to all the assaults of unbelief; but it is precisely this reading of the Scriptures for which men are least inclined in this day of excitement and amusement. The mind, too, is filled with objections against these sacred writings to such an extent as to indispose the half-learned crowds to examine them for themselves. Nothing remains, therefore, except to invite replies to the assailants, in the hope that seven essays, leaving only a general result of doubt, may call forth, if need be, seventy times seven rejoinders of a nature to restore and enlighten the popular belief. That belief cannot now be restored without some modifications, but we have no fear that the final issue can possibly be fatal to the influence of the Scriptures. When good men have at length learned to claim no more for the Bible than it claims for itself—when they have learned that minute church formularies dishonestly subscribed are the ruin of the religion they are designed to conserve — when they have learned that state-patronage and control of the Church, being necessarily encumbered by such subscriptions, is fatal to honest inquiry, and fatal to the independence and

[ocr errors]

moral authority of either the gospel or its teachers, perhaps Christianity will rest on a stronger foundation than ever in the public faith. It is the exaggerations of faith which have caused the exaggerations of scepticism, and a return to moderation and truth will serve the cause of piety better than either the most desperate radicalism of doubt, or the most malignantly orthodox attacks on the doubters. The present volume is a highly creditable performance, though weakened by the suspicion which will cling to the defence of a clergyman who has strorn to believe. The suspicion inevitably arises that the good man's oath governs his understanding. The position of the established clergy is a serious loss to the side of Christianity. If half their learning, ability, and zeal were enlisted on the side of the gospel, apart from their political and social advantages, they would produce far more faith in the public mind than can at present accrue from the diligent use of all their resources. Wrong never comes right, and that which is wrong in principle works evil on a wider scale than ever occurs to the wrong-doer. We much fear, therefore, that the new ‘Aids to Faith' of all sorts which come from beneficed clergymen will not have that full weight which they deserve. Secular and social advantages of such attractiveness are by law conjoined with a certain line of opinion and belief that it will require more trust in human integrity than usually prevails to persuade the multitude of the impartiality of the counsel for the defence. The Bishop of Oxford's exhortation, to ‘throw doubt from us like a lighted bombshell, is in itself sufficient to undo the Christian advocates of a whole university. Mr. Griffin's volume is prefaced by an introduction from the pen of the Right Honorable Joseph Napier, late Lord Chancellor of Ireland. We do all honour to this Joseph of Arimathea, faithful found among the faithless, openly consecrating the influence of a great name and position to

the service and glory of Christ. At the same time we do not like his style of thinking—the style of a great Chancery lawyer stopping argument by precedents, and extinguishing the human reason by the aid of “Butler's Analogy." On this head we cannot too strongly recommend to the notice of all similar thinkers the words of Mr. Goldwin Smith in his resent treatise on Rational Religion, in reply to the unfortunate Mr. Mansell:—he says, “I have lived in a university where Butler is worshipped almost as a fetish ; on which his authority has weighed like an incubus, and where through the weak side of his system he has become the unhappy parent of a pedagogic philosophy which is always rapping people on the knuckles with the ferule of analogous difficulties,’ instead of trying to solve the doubts and satisfy the moral instincts of mankind. When Mr. Napier tells us in this preface that he finds in Bishop Butler ‘ample materials for a sufficient, if not complete reply' to the seven essays, we consider that such replies are “analogous' to the efforts of Mrs. Partington to sweep away the rising ocean. The proper answer to the seven essays will be found only in a more correct and fully detailed exposition of the Bible, and such an exposition will not quite accord with the doctrines of the Church of England. Christianity rightly interpreted, is its own all-sufficing defence. The principal objections which are made against the Bible and Christianity are made against theories of inspiration and dogmatic propositions which are not to be found in either. If the present struggle were for the Bible only against scepticism, the result would be neither distant nor doubtful. But it is a contest for church-doctrines as footnotes to the Bible, which introduces a new and dangerous element into the controversy. There are not many men in Bond who would think the bible worth saving if the Church must be destroyed, and it is this fatal complication of interests and authorities which renders the prospect of the

« PrécédentContinuer »