Page images
PDF
EPUB

bining the loftiest contemplations on the glories and beauties of Deity and eternity, with many useful observations on human conduct, evincing much practical good sense and knowledge of the world.

The third volume contains an admirable selection of his invaluable Sermons, of which it was the privilege of the writer to have been for many years an auditor, as it was also to hear many of his thoughts and reflections viva voce, having been ever a welcome guest at his house.

Mr. Woodward in his sermons, and indeed in all his works, though occasionally using the Old Church phraseology, is far in advance not only of his own day (if a man who lived so long can be properly associated with the past) but of the present time. He does not appear even to have met with those writings which unfold the spiritual sense of the Word, nor does he attempt formally to expound the internal meaning of any passage of Scripture; but he often displays a wonderful presentiment of the inner sense—it looms, as it were, before him on the horizon: we can almost perceive the natural ideas brightening and becoming semi-transparent from the spiritual ideas within them, like the eastern cloud in the morning redness. However, of that which constitutes the inner sense, viz., the doctrine of the regenerate life and the nature of that heavenly world and state to which it leads, he was a profound master, as would readily appear did our present space admit of extracts. These we may be able to give at some other time. Meanwhile we would observe, in conclusion, that these volumes are beautifully got up, and the memoir appended to the first volume is worthy both of the subject and the writer, and is enriched with some of Mr. W.'s most delightful letters. And last, though certainly not least, the munificence of the excellent gentleman, at whose instance and expense this edition was brought out, should be recorded with gratitude by all who appreciate this valuable accession to the archives of pure and spiritual theology.

“ THE GATES AJAR" is a work which has recently been published in America, and has been so well received as to have passed throngh twenty editions in a few months. Soon after its appearance it was re-published in this country, but the English publisher, wise in his generation, had taken the liberty, in order to adapt it to the English, perhaps we should say to the orthodox taste, of cutting out here and

1 The Rev. J. M. Hiffernan, Rector of Newport, in the county of Tipperary, for twenty years Mr. Woodward's curate, and over forty years his intimate friend, and in every way a congenial spirit.

toning down there. Among the parts deleted were some extracts from Swedenborg, and parts that might be thought too much like what his writings say on the subject of the future life. Mr. M‘Geachy, of Glasgow, a member of the New Church, has published an edition of the work as it came from the pen of its talented authoress, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. The work is to the treatise on Heaven and Hell what a gate ajar is to an open door, a glimpse to a full view. To make the book more attractive, the views are interwoven with a story, simple but touching, intended to show how full of comfort to the bereaved are just conceptions of the nature of the world into which their beloved ones have entered, and to which they themselves are journeying onwards. It seems designed to divest the spiritual world of the vagueness and uncertainty in which it is regarded, and the future life of the sublime monotony which is supposed to characterise it; and to lead to the conviction that heaven and the life of its blessed inhabitants are but higher and purer forms of the earth and the virtuous life of those who dwell thereon. We commend the book to our friends, who will do a service to their neighbours by aiding in its circulation.

A lay sermon on the signs of the times, by Launcelot Cross, brings out the character of the Romish Church, and of Ritualism as Romanistic, and tending Rome-ward.

A sermon on the principles of Christ's Kingdom, by the Rev. E. W. Shalders, B. A., states it as a fact, in itself full of instruction, that there is a close analogy between the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of grace, so that the laws of the one are ladders to help us to rise to the laws of the other, and the visible facts and processes of nature are material pictures of spiritual things.”

“A defence of some of the leading Doctrines of the New Church, by James H. Moore,” contains a critical examination of “Gilbert on the Atonement,” which is well deserving of perusal. It is in the form of a letter, addressed to the Rev. S. Fisher, Minister of the Independent Chapel, Gore Street, Boston, Lincolnshire, who had given Gilbert's work to Mr. Moore, to show him the error of the doctrine of the Atonement as held in the New Church. It appears from the concluding paragraph of the tractate that Mr. Moore had been summarily ejected from the School and the Union, and the letter is a vindication of the views, “ too horrible to mention,” for the adoption of which he was cast out of the synagogne. The little work has passed through six editions.

565

Miscellaneous.

ROMAN CATHOLICISM. The approaching council continues to make manifest the diversity of sentiment which obtains in the various sections of the Romish Church. Among those expected to be present unanimity cannot be calculated upon. “The Vatican," we are told, “is dissatisfied. It is secure of a majority ; but this will in some cases be very narrow, and there is reason to believe that the political ques. tions will be warmly, if not passionate. ly, discussed." These “signs of the times," as affecting the council itself, are more strikingly displayed in the utterances of others who will not be present. One of the most remarkable of these is a letter published by Father Hyacinthe, the popular preacher at Notre Dame de Paris. It is addressed to the General of the Order of Barefooted Carmelites in Rome, and is a remonstrance against the command “to speak a language, or maintain a silence, which would no longer be the full and faithful expression of my conscience." He withdraws, therefore, from the pulpit of Notre Dame, and from the monastery, which under the new circumstances in which he finds himself placed, is changed “into a prison of the soul.” “The present moment,” he writes, “is a solemn one. The Church is passing through one of the most violent, the most obscure, and the most decisive of its existence here below. .... It is not at such a moment that a preacher of the Gospel, even the humblest, can consent to keep silence ;” and, accordingly, he enters a protest against the proceedings of the leading authorities of the Catholic Church. “I raise,” he says, “before the Holy Father and the council, my protest, as a Christian and a priest, against those doctrines and those practices which are called Roman, but which are not Christian, and which by their encroachments, always more audacious and more baneful, tend to change the constitution of the Church, the basis and form of its teaching, and even the spirit of its piety. I protest against the divorce, as impious as it is insensate, sought to be effected between the

Church, which is our eternal Mother, and the society of the nineteenth century, of which we are the temporal children, and towards which we have also duties and regards. I protest against that opposition, more radical and more frightful still, to human nature, attacked and outraged by these false doctors, in its most indestructible and most holy aspirations. I protest, above all, against the sacrilegious perversion of the Gospel of the Son of God Himself, the spirit and letter of which are alike trampled under foot by the pharisaism of the new law. It is my most profound conviction that if France in particular, and the Latin races in general, are given up to social, moral, and religious anarchy, the principal cause undoubtedly is not Catholicism itself, but the manner in which Catholicism has for a long time been understood and practised.”

This letter has produced a profound sensation in France, and not a little commotion among the dignitaries of the Church. The Archbishop of Paris, who has had to complain of the tyrannical interference of the Pope in the affairs of his diocese, is said to sympathize with the writer, though disapproving his act. The Bishop of Orleans writes expressing his sorrow at the evil deed he has perpetrated, and conjuring him to stop on the slippery downward path on which he had started. “You have suffered,” he writes, “I know it, but allow me to say Father Lacordaire and Father de Ravignan suffered more than you have, but they rose higher in their patience and love for the Church. How is it that you have not felt the injury you inflict on your Mother the Church, by daring to accuse her; and the injury you do to Christ by thus presuming to place yourself alone in His presence without the interference of the Church? Go, cast yourself at the feet of the Holy Father; his arms will open to receive you, and while pressing you to his paternal heart, he will restore peace to your conscience and honour to your life.” The General of his order has commanded him to return to his monastery within a limited time on pain of excommunication. He has disobeyed the sunimons, and sailed for America to ascertain the feelings on the questions he has raised of Germans and Americans in the New World.

The exhibition of the spirit of the Papacy is not confined, however, to those who detect its evil and writhe under its repressions and its tyranny. Its professed friends manifest its unchristian spirit and pretentions while expounding its principles and recommending them to public acceptance, An example of this is given by Archbishop Manning, in a sermon on the “Syllabus,” which was reported at length in the Times newspaper. Describing and defending the attitude of the Pope in his opposition to modern civilization, he says, speaking in the jerson of the Roman Pontiff, “You say I have no authority over the Christian world, that I am not the vicar of the Good Shepherd, that I am not the supreme interpreter of the Christian faith. I am all these. You ask me to abdicate, to renounce my supreme authority. You tell me I ought to submit to the civil power, that I am the subject of the King of Italy, and from him I am to receive instruction as to the way I should exercise the civil power." I say I am liberated from all civil subjection, that my Lord made me the subject of no one on earth, king or otherwise, that in His right I am sove. reign. I acknowledge no civil superior, I am the subject of no prince, and I claim more than this-I claim to be the supreme judge and director of the consciences of men-of the peasant that tills the field, and the prince that sits on the throne-of the household that lives in the shade of privacy, and the legislature that makes laws for kingdoms-I am the sole, last, supreme judge of what is right and wrong." Are not these expressions the manifestation, not of Christian meekness and charity, but of the lust of dominion over the souls and bodies of men? Are they not the utterances of the spiritual Babylon, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall not see sorrow?” And is it conceivable that either council or any other earthly power can permanently sustain such a fearful usurpation and abominable wickedness in high places? May not indeed the very means adopted for its support hasten

its overthrow, and issue in the fulfil. ment of the Divine prediction, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God whojudgeth her.”

THE POPE AND THE COUNCIL. From a Correspondent. - This topic is assuming greater importance daily. The latest and most remarkable “Sign of the Times" is a work, entitled “The Pope and Council,” which has lately appeared within the Roman Catholic communion itself, and a translation of which has just been published in this country. The work is anonymous. A few extracts are here given, by which an opinion of its character and scope may be formed. It is impossible to read them, bearing in mind at the same time the exposition given in the “ Apocalypse Revealed,” of the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation, and not feel that the Papacy is on the eve of a visible crisis.

“ The immediate object of this work is to investigate by the light of history those questions which, we are credibly informed, are to be decided at the Ecumenical Council already announced. ... We have written under a deep sense of anxiety in presence of a serious danger, threatening primarily the internal condition of the Catholic Church. ... This danger does not date from yesterday, and did not begin with the proclamation of the Council. For some twenty-four years the reactionary move. ment in the Catholic Church, which is now swollen to a mighty torrent, has been manifesting itself, and now it is passing, like an advancing flood-tide, to take possession of the whole organic life of the Church by means of this Council."

“To us the Catholic Church and the Papacy are by no means convertible terms, and therefore, while in outward communion with them, we are inwardly separated by a great gulf from those whose ideal of the Church is an universal empire spiritually, and, where it is possible, physically, ruled by a single monarch-an empire of force and oppression, where the spiritual authority is aided by the secular arm in summarily suppressing every movement it dislikes. In a word, we reject that doctrine and idea of the Church which has for years been commanded by the Roman Jesuits as alone true, as the sole remaining anchor of deliverance for the perishing human race.” ...

“Papal infallibility, once defined as a dogma, will give the impulse to a theological, ecclesiastical, and even political revolution, the nature of which very few-and least of all those who are urging it on-have clearly realized, and no hand of man will be able to stay its course. In Rome itself the saying will be verified, “Thou wilt shudder thyself at thy likeness to God.'”

The above are only a few brief hints of the real spirit and purpose of this very remarkable book. It is doubtless destined to produce a new reformation in the Papacy. Things cannot much longer remain as they are in that communion. An open collision of thought is inevitable. What a commentary is to be found in these facts taking place before our eyes on the various statements made in the “Apoc. Rev.," and elsewhere, touching Babylon, e.g. chap. xvii. 5, “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” signifying the inner hidden quality of the Roman Catholic religion; its selfish aspiration after dominion over the holy things which pertain to the Church and Heaven ; the authority it claims over the souls of men, and all that belongs to their worship ; the love of ruling over Heaven implied in the “power of the keys;" the love of ruling over what relates to the Lord, which is involved in the dogma of the vicarship; the love of ruling over all things which pertain to the Word, inasmuch as they reserve to themselves exclusively the right of its interpretation, with numberless other shocking perversions of Divine Truth. Well may we exclaim, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

REV. C. VOYSEY. A distinguishing feature of episcopal government has long been the effort to avoid litigation, and to act in the most conciliatory manner towards the various schools of thought that confessedly exist in the Established Church. Occasionally the liberty thus accorded to the clergy exceeds the bounds of moderation and prudence, and leads either of the freewill of the bishop, or the urgency of

others to litigation and attempted repression. A case of this kind has occurred in the diocese of York. The Rev. Charles Voysey, rector of Healaugh, near Tadcaster, has long been accused of departing from the standards of the Church, and efforts have been made to induce the Archbishop of York to institute proceedings against him. This has at length been accomplished, and the articles of accusation set out the specific charges which Mr. Voysey will have to answer. “The first general charge is that Mr. Voysey denies that there was any sacrifice for sin, any need of reconciliation, or for the mediation and intercession of Christ. As illustrations, the following extracts are given :-In a sermon on the words, “Thou, Lord, art merciful, for Thou rewardest every man according to his work,' Mr. Voysey says, Of all the errors which have misled, there is not a more dangerous or infectious error than that God's justice and mercy are opposite feelings which have to be reconciled by a compromise ; that His justice demands what His mercy would deny; that His mercy can only be exercised when His justice has been first appeased. There could be no mercy in letting the sinner go free if the penalty had been exacted from some one else all the same. In a sermon on the text, “My soul truly waiteth still upon God, for of Him cometh my salvation,' Mr. Voysey says, “The doctrine of God's pouring out His wrath upon His beloved Son for our sakes, is perhaps the most revolting of all the popular beliefs.' In a sermon on “Justification by faith,' Mr. Voysey says, “Sincere sorrow for sin is, or ought to be, enough to make a man quite reconciled and at peace with God; at least, so our Lord teaches. We do not, therefore, need any atonement nor any justification. We need no atonement, for God requires none. We do not want to be justified. We do not want to be accounted righteous at all when we are not righteous ; we only desire to be made righteous in God's good time. So we leave these Pauline doctrines for those who need them.' Again, The God who can save all men from their unrighteousness, and yet hereafter will not do so, is one with whom to dwell would be everlasting torment. The God who

« PreviousContinue »