Page images
PDF
EPUB

narrow causeway attached to a “catena" of the fathers, but unfortunately it has no solid buttresses of critical authority by which the catena itself can be hung. Puseyism is to Romanism what an hereditary aristocracy is to the encroaching power of the first lords. It holds its own only by prescription, and has no life within it by which it can annex new territory. Romanism has a present principle of expansion, as well as a claim to inherited possessions. Whoever will look through Mr. Gladstone's characteristic book on church principles will see that he nowhere considers it necessary that the church should have a power of self-adaptation to the necessities of new times. We can neither wonder at Puseyites for going to Rome, nor at their remaining in the church. Rome is the only church with a power of movement in her which holds their sacramental system; and consequently where men crave to see their principles active, conquering, unfolding to present exigencies,—they go to Rome. But the greater portion of the Puseyite party desire nothing so little as any sign of movement. They dread and fear Rome exactly for the same reason for which they dread and fear Protestantism. They desire the “primitive" in form as well as essence. They reverence authority as a cohesive, not as a moving force. They are all for what the mathematicians call the principle of the Conservation of Areas. They eulogize authority when it denounces change. They condemn it as not "primitive" when it issues a new decree. They would love to have a government that makes fast everybody else's thoughts in the stocks first, and then takes its place beside them.

Finally, in protest at once against Puseyism and Bibliolatry, there has arisen of late years, that school in the church from which all its richest life in the future bids fair to spring, unless the entangling formularies, of which they seek to gain the deepest and truest meaning, should prove too literal and fettering to leave consciences at ease while faith reasserts her freedom. The following are amongst the last words of one whose large wisdom and profound faith have endeared the Church of England to many who cannot find in her their present home. We quote from the last charge of Archdeacon Hare :

“As time advances, circumstances change; new wants spring up, and multiply ; that which may have been perfectly suited for one form of society, for one mode of human thought and feeling, becomes, in certain respects, inappropriate for others. According to the old illustration, the clothes of the boy will not fit the man; and the attempt to force them on him will only disclose their unfitness more and more. Nor, when manhood is attained, is the pro

gress of change arrested-it is continually going on; wherefore fresh adaptations are continually needed. Now, let anybody call to mind what the English nation was in 1660, when the last revi. sion of our Common Praver Book took place, or in 1604, when our Canons were framed, and what it is now, in the middle of the nine. teenth century. How enormous is the difference in the extent of the empire, in the mass and distribution of the population! And it is scarcely less in their social, moral, intellectual condition. Hence those forms and rules, which were drawn up with immediate adaptation to the former age, can hardly be equally well adapted, in all respects, to the latter. Indeed, this truth was fully recog. nized and acknowledged by the framers of our Liturgy themselves. Being men of a living faith, they knew that whatever lives must move and work, must shed its leaves and its plumage; and that while it assimilates new elements, it parts with those which had previously been assimilated. They knew, too,--and their work had directly taught them, -that even Religion itself, through its manifold relations with man, had entered into the region of human mutability, and that, in addition to the other causes which might produce a necessity for change, it was corruptible through the corruptibleness of mankind. ...... On the other hand, as of course it would be impossible to prohibit our Ecclesiastical Synod permanently from the examination of our Liturgy and Articles, it may be after a time, when it felt itself at home in the work, and looked around on the manner in which the nation is divided among so many religious denominations, it might take thought whether a large number of the Nonconformists in the land might not be gathered into the unity of the Church. However inaccurate the official Religious Census may be in a multitude of its details, the broad fact is undeniable, that a vast part of the nation-if not half, a third or a fourth-are not joined with us in that unity: and every true lover of the Church, all who remember our Lord's earnest prayer for that unity, all who bethink themselves how St. Paul speaks of it, all who see daily how our work is cramped and hindered by the want of it, must needs yearn for the reconciliation of our brethren who are now worshipping apart from us."

The movement which Archdeacon Hare led and represented —which began with him in the reassertion of Luther's Protestantism, probably in too unqualified a form—but which, in passing out of his hands into that of his disciple, Mr. Maurice, has received that more practical mould which was wanting to rescue it from the risk of its former perversion, has not yet probably attained its destined power. Mr. Maurice seems to us still to follow Luther and his friend too strictly in the theory of faith, though no one assigns a richer practical influence to the power of the will in co-operating with God than he. He still preaches that the act of grace by which God reconciles man to himself, is finished and perfect without relation to our surrender to its influence, and this he would seem to deprive of all element of freedom. Such at least is the general tenor of his teachingthat the reconciliation is complete—that no free and individual act of will in us is a necessary condition of its inclusive power. Practically no one will accuse him of holding the results of such a teaching. But we believe the true safeguard against Puseyism on the one hand, as against Calvinism on the other, is to preach what may be termed the sacramental power of common every-day duty—to preach that a real eucharistic grace goes forth from the unconscious action to the spirit-unless that influence is destroyed by “receiving it unworthily,” i.e., by a conscious self-trust. Luther was wrong in saying that all pure life goes forth out of conscious faith. Rome and the Puseyites are right in affirming that unconscious actions are often the sustaining power of faith. Common minds, and English minds especially, are not equal to a constant strain on their conscious relation to God. Many can do their duty who cannot do it out of a life of faith,-i. e., out of conscious and living dependence. But Luther was right in asserting that all conscious trust in ourselves is tainted with sin, that all conscious attitudes of our moral nature, must be attitudes of trust in One higher and purer than ourselves. The unreality of Puseyism lies in its restricting the real communication of an unconscious divine influence to symbolic and ritual actions; the unreality of Lutheranism in restricting it to conscious spiritual attitudes of mind. Mr. Maurice has got hold of this truth practically; he does not yet seem to hold it consciously. He is so afraid of conceding any power to the human will (even a power of co-operation in working out its own salvation), that he has neither met the falsehood of the vicarious theory, nor gleaned from Puseyism its truth with that full success for which there are ample resources in the ten. dencies of his present noble and genial faith. The true adjustment of the relative claims of responsible action and conscious trust, is reserved for a theology that can enter at once into the Roman and into the German faith—while guarding against the official, ritual tendencies of the one, and against the too introspective spirit of the other. In this respect, the late Mr. Robertson, of Brighton, appeared to us to take a maturer line of thought than any of his fellow-labourers. With a mind that was never satisfied without penetrating the deepest truths which the formularies of the English church enshrined, he had perhaps attained a fuller conviction than they that these formularies do not comprehend the whole truth, especially in that deepest question of theology, the relation of faith to action. With a thoroughly Catholic spirit, that accomplished man had a clear appreciation that the excessively inward theology of Luther had injuriously affected the practical nature of the English people, and had led to an insincere compromise between the real religion of law and duty which is the nation's natural worship, and the religion of incessantly conscious trust at which they were taught to aim. He was content often to build faith upon duty, and not inclined to insist with Luther and his modern English disciples on the partial truth asserted in the Articles, that duty must spring out of a clear life of faith. Indeed, we believe that the tongues of many stammerers would be ready to speak plainly" as his, but for the constant reminder, that not out of the abundance of the heart, but out of the abundance of the formula, the English clergy are bound to speak. The land of formula in which they are captive, may be rich and plenteous in all manner of wisdom, as they are not slow to discern. But the range of the prisoner on parole is not freedom, though the hills which mark his limits are but faintly visible in the blue horizon. Not till the church has “set their heart at liberty,” will the life of the highest and best in her communion cease to be the most painful and constrained. We certainly can freely admit with Archdeacon Denison that the nation has not been duly thankful for the deliverance of the church from the strong grasp of Rome's patiently uncoiling power. But England would best prove her thankfulness, not by forbidding her

own church to unfold at all with the unfolding purposes of God, but by giving her faith that freedom of growth which is no less the condition of perfect service, than is perfect service the condition of perfect freedom.

. See especially the apparently not very perfect record of a fine sermon on the Roman character, in the volume of sermons recently issued by his brother, Sermon XIII.

ART. VII.-GOETHE UND WERTHER,

Goethe und Werther. Briefe Goethe's, meistens aus seiner

Jugendzeit, mit erläuternden Documenten. Herausgegeben von A. Kestner, Königl. Hannov. Legationsrath, MinisterResident bei dem Päpst. Stuhle in Rom. Zweite Auflage,

Stuttgart und Augsburg, J. G. Cotta'scher Verlag. 1855. (Goethe and Werther : Letters of Goethe, chiefly from the time of

his Youth. With Explanatory Documents. Edited by

A. Kestner.) THE publication of the “Sorrows of the Young Werther,"

and the profound and wide-spread impression it produced, were accompanied by an eager curiosity to ascertain the foundations of fact on which it was based. Numberless and complicated were the German discussions on the subject. In his “ Dichtung und Wahrheit,” Goethe himself afterwards furnished an explanation which is not very precise, and apparently not very accurate. Now, however, the respective limits of truth and fiction have been pretty well defined by the book before us, and the account is interesting and attractive. As a romance, indeed, Werther occupies us no longer; and Englishmen particularly find it difficult to form a conception of the commotion its appearance excited and the effect it produced. This was due to the time and the conditions under which it was published; and though amply marked by the great genius of its author, its exaggerated reputation was necessarily evanescent. But a permanent value attaches to any records which throw light on the life and character of Goethe and the conditions under which his works were produced ; and the present documents possess a subordinate attraction in the lifelike impression we obtain of German character in the “golden Lotte," as he loves to call her, the charming object of Goethe's transient adoration, and in her lover and future husband, the simple, manly Kestner.

Wetzlar is a small, old-fashioned city, pleasantly situated on the river Lahn, about five-and-thirty miles north of Frankfort. Thither, in the year 1767, came a young Hanoverian of some six-and-twenty years of age, named John Christian Kestner. Wetzlar was then the scene of a “visitation,"--a court of inquiry into the abuses and delays of the Imperial Chamber of

« PreviousContinue »