Page images
PDF
EPUB

ARTICLE VIII.

NOTICES OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

LIFE AND TIMES OF John Huss.

We are glad to see these handsomely printed volumes. Tlicy fill a space in our Ecclesiastical Ilistory which had been less thoroughly explored than, perhaps, any other portion of it. With the fourteenth and sixicent! centuries we have been better acquainted; but the fifteenth has beer. passed over as a period of comparatively little interest. And yet, in this century, lived some of the most remarkable men of any age, and in i. occurred some of the most stirring events in the whole history of the church.

The power of the popes, which had been gradually accumulating for almost a thousand years, culminated near the close of the thirteenth century. It was then that the bishop of Rome “cxalted himself above all that was called God, or was worshipped; sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself that he was God.” But several events took place in the next century (the fourteenth) tending to shake his dominion, and show the vaunting creature that he was but a man. There was his quarrel with Philip of France, in consequence of which the seat of the popedom was removed from Italy to Avignon in France, where it remained seventy years. Then there was what is called “the great Schism of the West," a period of some forty years, during which the church had two or three heads at once, and the rival popes were assailing each other with excommunications, maledictions, and all sorts of hostile measures ; above all, there was the rising of John Wiclif, “ the morning star of the Reformation,” whose light was not extinguished till the Reformation

came.

The light of Wiclif's teaching and example shone far beyond the boundaries of the English nation, and flashed (among other places) upon Bohemia. In the year 1394, Anne of Luxembourg, wife of Richard II. of England, and daughter of the Emperor Charles IV., died. She was a native of Bohemia ; and many of her attendants, who, like their mistress, had imbibed the religion of Wiclif, returned thither after her death, carrying the books of the Reformation with them. These were eagerly sought by students in the newly founded university of Prague; and cre long the seed thus scattered among them began to bring forth fruit.

Meanwhile other influences had been at work in Bohemia, preparing

1 The Life and Times of John Huss; or, the Bohemian Reformation of the Fifteenth Century. By E. II. Gillette. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. xx and 632, and xii and 651. Boston: Gould and Lincoln. 1863.

the

wy for the changes which were to fo low. The Waldcases had been there for many years. Indeed, it is said that Peter Waldo himself, being driven by persecution from one country to another, at last found a refuge and a gravc in Bohemia. Ilcre also we find a faithful few, -as Waldhauser, Milicz, Janow, and Peter of Dresden, — whose labors are detailed in the volumes before us, and whose names (almost unknown) should never be forgotten.

Among the students at Prague who profited by the labors of these men, and by the books of Wiclif, was John of Ilussinitz, commonly called John Iluss. Ile was born in the year 1373; entered the university in 1389;

and though, like Luther, oppressed with poverty, received in succession i's highest Lonors. Ile was made dean of the thico!orical faculty in 1401, and rector of the university in the following year. Ile was also the chosen confessor of Queen Sophia of Bavaria, and was appointed preacher in the new Bethlehem chapel, - a position of commanding influence. Among the friendships which Iluss contracted at this time was that of Jerome of Prague, who was ever after his companion and counsellor, and shared with him the honors of martyrdom.

From his earliest years, Iluss had manifested a deep interest in the lives of boly men who had distinguished themselves in the listory of the church. Blameless in morals, and devoted to religious duties, his zeal for an acquaintance with the characters of those to whom he might look as models amounted almost to a passion. Ilis manner of life was plain and simple; his tastes were pure and innocent; while his pale and somewhat attenuated features showed the carnestness of his spirit. llis ambition, if he had any, aimed only at distinction in the paths of devotion and of Christian cffort. He scorned wealth, he cared little for the lionors of the world; but he wished to write his name by the side of those who, by a holy self-denial and virtuous deeds, had adorned the history of the church. It was his special delight, while a student, to poro over the history of the martyrs, to trace the progress of their devotion, and contemplate their sacrifices and susserings. IIc became carly acquainted with the manifold corruplions of the Romish church, and joined his voice and lis cforts with .those who desired and demanded a reformation.

We have spoken already of “the great Schism of the West,” and of tho scandals and abominations growing out of it. Various plans had been proposed for putting an end to this state of things, but all in vain. One partisan council after another had been convencd, and yet nothing cffictual was accomplished. Each of the pontiffs insisted that he was the truc bishop of Rome, and neither would consent to yield his claims to any other. Meanwhile Iluss liad been growing in knowledge and in grace. IIo had been getting his eyes open to the terrible state of things in the Tomish church. Ile had been studying Wiclif, and, instead of shunning lim as a detested heretic, had come to love him as a brother in the Loril. By lis preaching, his lectures, and more especially by translating and cir«ulating

the works of Wiclif, he had himself incurred the suspicion of leresy and the censures of the church.

To bring to an end the lamentable and long protracted schism in the popedom, to meet the incessant calls for a reformation in the church, and to decide uron the case of Iluss and others who were suspected of h resy, it was at length dctermined to call a general council. This council was convened at Constance, a city of Baden, situated on the lake of Constance, on the third day of October, 1414, and was the largest council ever brought together in Christendom. Of the ecclesiastics assembled, there was ono pope, thirty cardina's, twenty archbishops, one hundred and Gifty bishops, a multitude of abbots and doctors, and eighteen hundred priests. Among the sovereigns who attended, besides the Emperor Sigismurd, there were the Elector Palatine, the Electors of Metz and Saxony, and the Dukes of Austria, Bavariz, and Silesia. There were also a vast number of margraves, counts, and barons, and a great crowd of noblemen and knights. Each prince and nobleman was attended by his train, so that the number of persons from abroad was estimated at 50.000. Among these were found per ons of almost cvery trade and profession, and many whose profession was their shame, but whose tastes and interests led them to seek a welcome in the miscellaneous crowd.

Before this great council Huss was summoned to appear; and, fortified by a “safe conduct," i.e. a written and solemn promise of protection and a safe return, from the Emperor Sigismund, he went. But before the emperor arrived, he was seized and cast into prison ; nor could the emperor be persuaded to release him, or to regard at all the promise of protection which he had given. He was made to believe that he was under no obligation to keep his word to a heretic; and Iluss was left to languish in his dungeon as before. The work before us details bis several interviews before the council; his unwavering constancy under every trial; his farewell speeches and letters to his friends; and his triumphant martyrdom. Ilaving been degraded from his priestly office, and delivered over to tło secular arm, he was burned at the stake on the sixth of July, 1415. Tho closing scene was exceedingly touching and sublime. His last words, like those of his divinc Lord, were a prayer for his murderers: " O Lord Jesus, for thy gospel I would endure with humility this cruel death; and I beseech thực pardon all my enemies."

Following the death of Huss, we have a full account of the trial and execution of his friend Jerome; of the indignation awakened by theso proceedings among the Bohemians ; of the terrible war which followed, in which the armics of the emperor were defeated; of the disastrous division which was at length excited among the Bohemians, and of the perseveranco of the better portion of them, under every form of persecution, until tho Protestant Reformation, and the close of the succeeding thirty years' war. From the remains of this noble band of Taborites, sprang tho Moravians, or the United Brethren, of our own times, — worthy successors of a most Vol. XXI. No. 81.

27

worthy Christian ancestry! A nobility of descent more to be valued than any which the world could bestow !

The account here furnished of the proceedings of the council of Constance is full of interest. In the deposing of three popes, and the election of another to take their place, the holy fathers established, on the highest Roman Catholic authority, that the decisions of a general council are superior to those of the pontifical court, a point which the Popes of Rome, even at this day, are scarcely willing to admit. They also established, on the same authority, the most detestable of all the principles of the Jesuits, viz. : that public faith is not to be kept with heretics.

The volumes before us contain, not only a Memoir of Iluss, but a de tailed history of the Romish Church for more than a hundred years; a period, too, which, as we have said, is comparatively little known. It is a valuable acquisition therefore to our church literature; a gift, which the religious public will receive with gratitude, and which we hope they will repay by a liberal patronage.

BIBLICAL NATURAL SCIENCE.

We are glad to see this great and promising work fairly begun. It will extend to 24 numbers and 1152 pages of the largest octavo, if it be not rather quarto. We have received only two numbers, and these afford very creditable specimens of the typography and the numerous maps and woodcuts the work is to contain. The work is to have alternately two and three plates in each number, besides numerous woodcuts; the first number containing over fifty. The price of each number is two shillings.

A few sentences from the author's preliminary address will give an idea of some of the most important points he means to discuss :

“A full exposition will be given of the first eight chapters of Genesis: and, in connection with the exposition, recent Geological Theories of Creation,' the · Theory of Development by Natural Laws,' and that proposed by Mr. Darwin, on • The Origin of Species,' will be carefully reviewed and set in popular aspects. Questions touching the ‘Presence of Death in the World before the Fall of Man,' the hypothesis of a · Race of pre· Adamite Men,' • The Unity of the Human Race, and the · Extent of the Deluge,' will all be considered in the introductory pages of the work.

Again, those only who have studied the scriptures from the points of view of advanced science can be fully aware of the great light which can be shed on their meaning by Geology, Botany, Zoology, and Physical Geography. Nor is this to be reckoned of little moment,” etc.

1 Biblical Natural Science; being the Explanation of all References in Holy Scripture to Geology, Botany, Zoology, and Physical Geography. By the Rer. John Duns, F.R.S. E. Super-royal 8vo. London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh: Willia:n Mackenzie.

This is a wide and noble field, and one at present unoccupied by any. competent explorers. It needs eminent qualifications. He who enters it should, in the first place, possess an extensive and accurate acquaintance with all the branches of natural history and physical science ; secondly, with the principles of the exegesis of scripture; thirdly, with the principles of natural and revealed religion; and finally, he should be a man of consistent and humble piety. Rare as it is to meet all these qualifications in one man, we are satisfied that Mr. Duns possesses them in a higher degree than any writer in Europe with whose works we are acquainted. He is, we understand, the faithful pastor in the Free Church of Scotland, of a parish near Edinburgh at Torphichen, and lectures on the natural sciences in connection with religion, in the new college of that city, as the successor of the late eminent Dr. Fleming. His appreciation by scientific men may be seen in his membership in the Royal Society of Edinburgh ; but his attainments in science may be learned still more satisfactorily, in numerous articles on science and religion in the North British Review, of which he was editor for several years, but left that chair in order to prepare the

present work. Some of the articles to which we refer, are “ Genesis and Science,” “Scottish Natural Science,” “ Comparative Anatomy – Professor Owen,” “ Aquatic Zoology,” “ Birds,” “ Origin of Species,” etc. One cannot read these without being amazed at the extent and accuracy of the author's scientific knowledge. His attainments are obviously directed into the right channel, and we cannot but anticipate a standard work on this all-important subject.

We are happy to welcome the author of this work among the contributors to the Bibliotheca Sacra. An Article from his pen appears in the present number of our Review.

LYELL'S ANTIQUITY OF MAN. It is no new thing for the claims of geological discoveries to disturb for a season Christian faith. From the time when the apparent disagreement between the Mosaic account of the Deluge and that given by geology was first promulgated, this science has made its attack, at intervals, upon the earlier Biblical record. In the work before us, there is no such formal attack, for neither the Bible, nor any of its writers, are named, or alluded to; but the whole drift of the book is designed to show that man has existed on the earth many thousands of years longer than the Biblical account warrants us to believe; how many thousands of years we are not informed, for the author gives us no clue to his own belief on this point.

1 The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man, with Remarks on the Thcories of the Origin of Specics by Variation. By Sir Charles Lyell, F. R. S. Illustrated by Woodcuts. Second American from the latest London edition. &ro. pp. 526. Philadelphia: George W. Childs. 1863.

« PreviousContinue »