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THE REVIEWER REVIEWED:
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH;
THE FATHERS, ANCIENT AND MODERN;
HIS OWN CREED;
"His hands against every man."
Printed for the Author by Jackson & Schram.
CH22, 20 C1134.83.95
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRAR
THE BEQUEST OF
THE REVIEWER REVIEWED.
I am persuaded you do the Pope great good service, and he would not miss you for any thing. ARCH BP. WHITGIFT.
There is, to every right minded man, something extremely unpleasant in feeling obliged even to think unfavorably of any one, and especially of one who claims the office, and exercises, in an extended sphere, the functions of the christian ministry. The character of a gentleman occupying a station so high and so responsible, is, by general consent, held sacred, and the world, corrupt as it may be, is inclined to respect it. For no trifling cause, therefore, should the conduct of such a man be arraigned before the bar of the public; nor for any thing short of stern necessity should his motives be called in question. And even when driven, by an abuse of misplaced confidence, to an examination and exposure of injustice and wrong done in high and holy places, and compelled to admit the existence of something more than the ordinary frailties of human nature, it is but the discharge of an obvious duty to give to such delinquencies the most favorable construction, and to attribute them to the least offensive cause.
With these sentiments we sat down to the perusal of the work now before us. We had been informed that Doctor Brownlee had delivered a course of lectures on the state of the departed, and that they were to be published. With this information we were much gratified; anticipating, as we did, from the Doctor's station and celebrity, an able, manly and christian-like exposition of this always interesting subject. But alas! we soon discovered that, in all these respects, we were doomed to be sadly disappointed. The Doctor, we are sorry to say, has fallen far below even our lowest expectations; and in this specimen of his theological erudition, power of reasoning and respect for the truth, has given, if we are not egregiously mistaken, another and decisive proof, that quackery is sometimes successful in the attainment of high stations, even in the church; as, a more striking exhibition of boasting pretension and pitiful failure, we have never seen.
Thus disappointed, yet entertaining towards the Doctor the kindest feelings, we cast around us for some adequate cause of the strange obliquity and melancholy waywardness here dis
closed; and we could not but ask for the motives which could prompt so extraordinary a production. Some intimated to us that this was the Doctor's usual manner; that, being of a belligerent nature, his propensities were all pugnacious, and that his glory was in the field of strife and contention. Others hinted that the Doctor was ambitious of power; that he had even dreamed of the "Tiara," and that notwithstanding his many and fierce collisions with the Romanists, he was yet fond of playing the Papa, and could exercise as lordly a tyranny over a christian community, as ever the Pope did over the Church of Rome. But others, more charitably, and as we think, more correctly, suppose that the Doctor, in some of his mighty conflicts, has experienced a slight mental shock, and is a little shattered in his intellect; or, that in the violence of insatiable cravings for distinction, he has
"" eaten of the insane root That takes the reason prisoner."
That there is something wrong about the head of this singular man-and rash, as he is singular, there can be no doubt. We had heard that, in religious matters, the Doctor was thought to be somewhat brainish; and we are now convinced that he is really laboring under some craniological malformation. We are fully persuaded that an examination by the hands of a skilful phrenologist would discover some enormous bumps, and show the organs pravitive, combative and blusterative to have a most extraordinary developement. And to this " Κακως Φρονειν we are to look, it is supposed, for the cause of the many and abundant out-pourings of rabid polemicks, by which the Doctor has so frequently astounded the christian world, and rendered his name famous.
For what, short of absolute dementation, could have induced the Doctor, in the first place, to preach; then nearly a year after, to print in a Theological Review,* and again still later, to reprint in a weekly religious newspaper,† that strikingly characteristic compound of personal invective, wilful misrepresentation and crazy theology which he has dignified with the name of a Review of the Rev. Mr. Sherwood's sermon on the intermediate state? Pray, what has Mr. S. said or done? Of what upardonable offence has he been guilty, thus to excite the tremendous roarings of this Protestant Bull? We have read his sermon with some degree of attention; and although written many years ago, and with the freedom of a catechetical lecture for the benefit of the youthful members of his parish, and never designed for the public eye, it is yet, in our judgment, a fair sermon, and one, in every way, proper for the occasion on
+Christian Intelligencer, Dec. 1839.
which it was recently preached. It sets forth, as it seems to us, in plain terms, and in an unobjectionable manner, the true doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of common sense, in relation to the state of departed souls.
But admitting the sermon to be heteredox in sentiment, and faulty in style, why should it have so disturbed the amiable. Doctor's placid serenity? For what reason has he been so especially troubled with it? And for the gratification of what kind and catholic spirit, has this great man been induced thus to pour out the vials of his wrath? Yea, admitting, in all its plenitude, the Doctor's pontifical prerogative, that it is his peculiar province to take cognizance of all erroneous doctrines, and punish all offenders against orthodoxy; and further, that he has been sought on bended knee, and even in more humble acts of homage, to avenge some unfortunate suppliant for mercy, yet, could not the anathema have been pronounced in somewhat more gracious terms? Is it not enough to condemn the heresy, and burn the heretic, but must the cruel punishment be aggravated by the harsh language of a vindictive spirit? Alas, alas! how true, after all, "the little finger of presbytery is thicker than the loins of prelacy," or even papacy!
Surely, the chivalrous Doctor, verily, "a knight in the ecclesiastical way," must have been deeply impressed with the responsibility of his high place in the church militant, must have burned with intense desire for some exploit, must, indeed, have been absolutely longing for adventure, when he made so furious a tilt upon the harmless doctrine of this sermon. But where there exist strong natural aberrations of intellect, confirmed by a chronic affection of the brain, things are always seen through a distorted medium. The valorous Doctor doubtless thought the sermon an object worthy of his mighty prowess; and he felt himself called upon to redress this theological grievance, and chastise with appropriate gallantry and grace the temerity of its author. It is possible too, that, in this adventure, the renowned knight may have been moved, in some degree, by his benevolent sympathies for his unfortunate Squire, who, in the honorable anxiety to save himself, by seeking, with instinctive sagacity, the shelter of some redoubtable name, personal or corporate, it matters not, may have been tempted to "play false" with his master. Should there be truth in this suggestion, that worthy gentleman has done wrong, has indeed been ungrateful; and his conscience, we are sure, must drive him on to the stool of repentance. And we are willing to think that, when he sees the sad predicament into which he has helped to lead his valiant and generous protector, he will hasten to disabuse his noble mind of the pious fraud he has practiced upon it.