Page images

next to our own, there was no nation on earth on whose existence, prosperity, and strength so much of the world's future was staked. These thoughts have been too much stified in the unhappy criminations of the past two years. We rejoice with the deeper thankfulness, if England will permit us to revive them now.

We remember, too, that the proud and powerful nationality of Britain has been forged out of materials hostile as our own, by the battle-hammers of a thousand years ; — the process, like the welding of numberless fragments of metal at white heat; the result, the most tough and obstinate cohesion. Our nationality is at this hour passing the same terrible ordeal of fire and blood : the result, we will not doubt, shall be as solid and enduring. The true destiny of England has slowly dawned upon her people through the dust and shadows of a hundred bloody fields. Our destiny is darkened by the same cloud of civil strife that so long brooded in her sky. Her victories are the surest augury of ours. And one more element of confidence is revived in us when the tides of fraternal feeling flow again in the ancient channels; when something of the old half-loyal sentiment is restored, which has always made our New England proud of its affinity with that noble and imperial isle.


A MISPRINT on p. 175, resulting from an error of copy, is corrected in the following note from the writer of the article :

“ Diophantus was a mathematician of Alexandria. He wrote thirteen books on Arithmetical Questions, of which six remain. He wrote also a book on 'Polygon Numbers. The problems which go by his name belong to the geometry of the square. They are of great variety, extraordinary ingenuity, and of no utility. If they had any use in ancient geometry, the modern calculus has superseded them, as it has nearly all ancient methods. They used to be, however, great favorites with mathematical pedagogues ; and to solve a ‘ Diophantine, – that is, a Diophantine problem, — or to puzzle another with it, was a joy in mathematics such as only pedagogues can know."


THEOLOGY. Though the small volume of “ Sermons preached at Nîmes ” * came to our hand more than a year ago, it would be an unpardonable neglect to omit notice of any work of such a writer as Timothy Colani. The poorest of his sermons is better than most that we find in the volumes even of famous preachers. His thought is always clear while it is profound, practical while it is philosophical, free while it is reverent, and simple while it is noble. His style has glow, strength, and purity, and is wholly free from the tricks of rhetoric. He preaches to the heart through the intellect, and urges upon the conscience no plea for which he has not full reason. His exhortations are always restrained by modesty and good sense, and there is no egotism in his earnest personal address. We are tempted to justify this opinion by

limit ourselves to a single passage in the discourse upon Cornelius, where the efficacy of prayer is alluded to.

66I can understand how any one may doubt the efficacy of prayer, when it is concerned even with the best of the good things of earth, for it may be contrary to the Father's wise and holy love to grant us these; and an eminent Christian (Thomas Adam) has said, that, if God should take us at our word in all that we ask of him, he would make us wretched for time and for eternity. Moreover, experience certainly proves that most of our prayers for earthly good things remain without visible result. But those in which we ask God to save us from doubt and bring us to the light are all and at once answered, if we have offered them with a true filial earnestness.

and in truth But this worship, my dear hearers, has in every case for its fundamental doctrine confidence in the Lord, and for its first condition the thirst for things divine. It consists, then, in prayer itself: in asking God to make us know the true religion, we are already practising it; in throwing ourselves into his arms to implore him to teach us how to fly, we have already taken our flight toward the heavenly regions.”

VERY different, in every respect, from the Sermons of Colani are the Sermons of the Pastor Mouchon, which he has faintly disguised by the title of " Scenes and Pictures from the Story of the Gospel.” † We have no information concerning the writer or his antecedents, and only know, from his dedication of the book, that he has had the care of at least two churches. He dedicates it to the church which he leaves and the church to which he is going, — “to the one as a souvenir, to the other as a promise.” The tone of the discourses indicates an author still young, and the allusions bear witness that the preacher is

[ocr errors]

nominally of the orthodox party. His orthodoxy, nevertheless, is of a very mild type, and, with the exception of a few phrases, there is nothing to indicate any sympathy with Calvinistic theories. Even where dogmatic discussion would seem to be natural, as in the sermon on “ Gethsemane," there is a studied avoidance of any statement which might commit the author to a creed.

The style is often eloquent, but much oftener ambitious. There is no lack of confidence, certainly. The writer comes in with his evangelical volume, like Elihu in the poem of Job, to settle beyond doubt questions which the elders have not been able to decide. He rebukes the philosophers, the logicians, the critics; and professes to have found in his method of florid evangelical sketching the true and high secret of Christian instruction. It is a pity that a temper so kind and charitable should not have for its companion a thought more deep and wise. In mere expression these sermons are good, and, delivered by an orator, could doubtless, even in translation and in our American pulpits, be made very effective. But they belong to a class which is not of the first order. We give one extract, perhaps the most original statement in the volume:

“We have ordinarily very false ideas in this regard; we believe that, when the Peters and the Johns followed Jesus Christ, they knew perfectly what he was and what he wished; we fondly imagine that the centurion and the Canaanite woman, the Samaritan leper and the adulteress, that Zaccheus and the good thief, all had upon the nature, the person, and the work of Jesus Christ notions as exact as we can have ourselves; — yes, that they were orthodox according to the confessions of faith of the sixteenth century. It is an immense delusion. All these men, of whom many are offered to us as models of faith, and who had over us the advantage of seeing with eyes of flesh the living person of Christ, had upon his moral person and his divinity very incomplete, if not very false ideas; - which proves, by the way, that, if knowledge is one of the elements of faith, it is far from being the most important.

The Life of Xavier has never been worthily written. Copious materials exist in the shape of his numerous letters, but no one until Mr. Venn * has cared to confute with his own words those who made his life as unreal as an Arabian Nights story. Instead of Xavier's converting a million of heathens in a few months, overthrowing hostile armies by a mere look, outfacing the most formidable perils in the Spice Islands, he never was exposed to serious danger; his ministrations being confined to the seacoast, where he was protected by the Portuguese navy. He was tempted, by possessing unlimited authority in all matters of religion, to adopt the maxim, that missionaries without muskets make no converts of any value. So he endeavored to advance the Gospel by the sword of the civil magistrate, by the terrors of persecution, and the bribes of worldly advantage. But his own letters show that the results of so much expenditure of money,

* The Missionary Life of Francis Xavier, from his own Correspondence. By HENRY VENN, Prebendary of St. Paul's. London: Longman. 1862.

such united and energetic action, such zeal and self-sacrifice, were exceedingly small. As he could not speak the native languages, his influence was confined to baptizing heathen infants by the thousand, and teaching the assembled young to commit the creed to memory. In the Spice Islands, where Christians existed before his arrival, he added to the baptism of children a general visitation of those already baptized, communicating with them as well as he could by interpreters. Only one Brahmin embraced Christianity, and he from the hope of being supported as a teacher. His mission to Japan was for commercial as well as religious purposes; and it was through this fatal taint that, less than ninety years after, Japanese Christianity was extinguished in blood, the reigning monarch believing that the native Christians had conspired with the Portuguese king to overthrow his government. If we may trust Xavier's own correspondence, this Royal Commissioner, Papal Nuncio, and Jesuit Director, with all his energy, generosity, fervor, loveliness of disposition, and self-sacrifice, accomplished nothing which puts Protestant missionaries to shame. He built his spiritual fabric upon the sandy foundation of secular authority; and prepared, in Japan especially, for the signal overthrow which defeated all his hopes at last.

In Marsden's “ History of the Later Puritans ” * a clergyman of the Established Church shows that the best opportunity of uniting the mass of Englishmen in a modified liturgy was cast foolishly away at the accession of Charles the Second. He points out dispassionately the faults on both sides, dating back to the unhappy refusal of Baxter to become Cromwell's chaplain, which would have given Puritanism a more moderate course. He shows fully the mistake of Baxter and his Presbyterian friends in declining, with one exception, the bishoprics offered them by the restored king. He seems to believe that, had not the Covenant been insisted upon, a national Church might have been reconstructed in 1648; forgetting for a moment the duplicity of Charles, the bitterness of the ejected, Episcopalians, the frenzy of the Fifth-Monarchy men, and generally the necessity of such a political storm's blowing itself out before there could be peace. The volume ends abruptly with the ejection of the Non-conformists, to whose virtues and sufferings Mr. Marsden does scanty justice ; but whose removal from the ministry he shows to have been a national calamity, from which England recovered slowly and after many years.

Two years of the most important period in the ecclesiastical history of England are given by Mr. Stoughton, † with studied impartiality and painstaking minuteness, with the aid of fresh materials from the State Paper Department of the Public Record Office. Liberal quotations

* The History of the Later Puritans. By J. B. MARSDEN, M. A. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co. - † Church and State Two Hundred Years Ago. By Joun Stoughton. London: Jackson, Walford, and Hodder. 1862.

are made by Mr. Stoughton from these reliable sources of history, as well as constant references to them; and while very anxious to correct the mistakes of previous historians, he is candid to admit that he may have committed similar errors himself. The lovers of spiritual liberty on both sides of the water will be grateful to one who has contributed in so truthful a spirit a most interesting chapter of church history. Abstaining from homily or disquisition, he has given a lifelike picture of the resurrection of English Episcopacy under Charles the Second ; he has furnished a most convincing argument for freedom of conscience ; and made a thorough vindication of the nobility of soul of those English Non-conformists from whom we derive our lineage and inherit our spiritual liberty.

HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY. The life of Mohammed and the doctrines of Islam, if still regarded with a certain wonder, have yet not failed to share in that steady contempt with which the West now looks back upon the East. Nevertheless, there is something in the character of Mohammed, as in the diffusion of the religion of which he claimed to be the prophet, which will never cease to possess a permanent interest or to reward a careful study.

fusing us by its contradictions, and overshadowing us with its vastness, the origin and the career of Islamism alike invite the ingenuity they baffle and elude the learning they task. More than a hundred millions of men — one tenth of the human race — cherish to-day a belief in the doctrines of the Arabian Prophet. From the banks of the Ganges to the valleys of the Danube, — through this vast Oriental world, with its many races and its diverse speech, with its traditions of civilization and its inheritance of barbarism, — sullen, gloomy, fanatic, sweeping slowly on to decay, there is but one hope, one fear, one destiny, one religion, — one quivering chord of life, one great tumultuous heart.

An historical investigation into the life of Mohammed must of necessity soon become a philosophical study of his religion, if the past is to serve us in explaining the present or in forecasting the future. And therein lies at once the difficulty and the fascination of the subject. The temporal power of Mohammed, of which it is easy to trace the origin and describe the growth, does not explain his religious influence, which it is as difficult to understand as to define. The facts of his life, as known to us, — and nothing, perhaps, remains now to be discovered, — fail to dispel the obscurity which has ever shrouded his personal character. Mr. Muir, in his recent elaborate work, in which all the learning of the subject is displayed with equal ability and zeal, takes refuge in the theory that he was possessed of a devil after the Scriptural manner, which drove him blindly to his work ; while Mr. Carlyle, on the other hand, finds in him only another example of that heroic element by which all human greatness is accomplished and

definite and less dramatic; yet one which better harmonizes, perhaps, the conflicting facts of his life, and more easily explains the peculiar

« PreviousContinue »