« PreviousContinue »
whole idea, and nothing but his idea.” What he adds in regard to his own work is curious enough.
“ Without overlooking," he observes, “the merit that the several existing translations may possess, even the best of them is not free from inaccuracies, more or less important. Of these, I have given specimens in the preface to the new translation of the former volumes by Dr. White, which has been revised by me, and which will shortly be published by Messrs. Oliver and Boyd. These inaccuracies, no doubt most involuntarily, contributed in giving rise to a very severe contest that took place in America, on the subject of this work, between the Episcopalians and the Baptists on the one hand, and the Presbyterians on the other,-a contest that I hope is now terminated, but in which (as a New York correspondent informed me) one of the most beneficial and powerful Christian Societies of the United States, had been on the brink of dissolution."'-(pp. iii. iv.)
It will be a great satisfaction to the English reader, that he will now have a work of authority to place upon his shelves.
The contents of the present volume, and the Author's views in regard to the continuation of his History, are thus stated :
“ The first two books of this volume contain the most important epochs of the Reformation—the protest of Spires, and the confession of Augsburg. The last two describe the establishment of the Reformation in most of the Swiss Cantons, and the instructive and deplorable events that are connected with the catastrophe of Cappel.
“ It was my desire to narrate also the beginnings of the English Reformation : but my volume is filled, and I am compelled to defer this subject to the next. It is true, I might have omitted some matter here treated of, but I had strong reasons for doing the contrary. The Reformation in Great Britain is not very important before the period described in this volume: the order of time compelled me, therefore, to remain on the continent: for whatever may be the historian's desire, he cannot change dates, and the order that God has assigned to the events of the world. Besides, before turning more especially towards England, Scotland, France, and other countries, I determined on bringing the Reformation of Germany and German Switzerland to the decisive epochs of 1530 and 1531. The History of the Reformation, properly so called, is then, in my opinion, almost complete in those centuries. The work of Faith has then attained its apogee : that of conferences, of interims, of diplomacy begins. I do not, however, entirely abandon Germany and German Switzerland, but henceforward they will occupy me less : the movement of the sixteenth century has there made its effort. I said from the very first: It is the History of the Reformation, and not of Protestantism, that I am relating.
“ It is not, however, without some portion of fear that I approach the History of the Reformation in England : it is perhaps more difficult than elsewhere. I have received communications from some of the most respectable men of the different ecclesiastical parties, who, each feeling convinced that their own point of view is the true one, desire me to present the history in this light. I hope to execute my task with impartiality and truth. But I thought it would be advantageous to study, for some time longer, the principles and the facts. I am at present occupied in this task, and shall consecrate to it, with God's assistance, the first part of my next volume.”—(Preface pp. v-vii.)
Speaking of the two last books of the present volume, the Author observes —
"Should it be thought that I might have described the Reforınation in Switzerland with greater brevity, I beg my readers will call to mind that, independently of the intrinsic importance of this history, Switzerland is the Author's birth-place."
This apology, we have no doubt, will have its full weight with all who have any touch of the amor patriæ, and many, we can easily believe, will regard the 'Catastrophe of Cappel' as the most interesting part of the volume. We must, however, frankly confess, that having forgotten the Author's citizenship, and, as most readers do, the detail of the preface, we were ever and anon brought to a stand, and led to ask —Is this an Ecclesiastical History—or are we reading a fancy sketch ? The circumstances account for the licence Dr. D’Aubigné has allowed himself, and the intrinsic interest of the facts warrants, no doubt, some considerable latitude. The same may be said of other parts of the history. But we venture to suggest, whether the respected Author is not in some danger of indulging a little too freely his descriptive power, and spending himself upon a scene, to the neglect, in part at least, of more important matters. We are aware, indeed, that the graphic force of this popular History of the Reformation is one of its distinguishing merits—and had Church History in general been written with any degree of the like spirit and truthfulness, to say nothing of the Evangelical principles which make it still more a pattern, there can be no doubt we should have had many more students than, unfortunately, we have had, in this interesting and most instructive branch of learning. Here, however, as in other things, the poet's hint is one of great practical value“In medio tutissimus ibis : " and we trust our much-esteemed brother will excuse us, if we recommend him to bear it in mind when he steps upon English ground, and proceeds to that very delicate and important branch of his subject--the History of our English Reformation. Its facts and principles will require all his attention : and we feel anxious that he should give us the full benefit both of his learning and judgment, on points which so nearly affect us.
Till this next part of the work appears, and till we have an authorized edition of the former volumes, any detailed analysis or observations would perhaps be premature. We shall therefore reserve our remarks for the present—simply repeating our assurance of the high value which we put upon Dr. D’Aubigne's labours, and the anxious wish we feel that his work may serve, or rather, continue to serve, as a corrective to the pseudo-catholic and essentially Popish dogmas, which have of late been the disgrace of our Church, and if unchecked, must eventually be
subversive of our Protestant constitution both in Church and State.
But while we content ourselves with this general notice for the present, being anxious, on the one hand, not to overlook the work, and, on the other, not to do it injustice by taking partial or disputable ground, there is a single collateral point to which it may not be unseasonable to call the attention of our readers,—we mean, the view which Dr. D’Aubigné takes of our present position in Church and State, as expressed at some length in his recent letter to the Bishop of Chester. Without at all committing ourselves to the various principles, theoretical or practical, which that interesting letter either propounds or supposes, we must say, that it appears to us to abound in suggestions of peculiar moment at this time, and which the course of events will, in all probability, ere long force upon every man's attention. We think, therefore, it may not be amiss to put upon record, Dr. D’Aubigné's “impressions in regard to some matters which relate to ( England's) most precious interests, to its religious and Protestant character.” We have been much struck, in reading his fourth volume, with the marked prominence which he has given to similar views, similarly expressed, though with a more general application. This particular class of ideas is evidently uppermost in his mind, as it is in the minds of most men, who take any interest in the prospects of their Church and country; and, on this account, we hardly need apologize for reverting to the subject. We purpose, first, to give an ämple quotation from the letter alluded to, and then to append a few parallel extracts from the volume before us.
Omitting the introductory part of the letter, in which Dr. D. has made statements touching the German Reform, which, it is probable, he would now see reason to modify, we shall confine ourselves to the part which more immediately concerns ourselves. The letter thus proceeds —
“Such, my Lord, is the state of the Continent. A great Evangelical and anti-Roman movement is going on there. This is a fact which must strike the mere politician, not less than the man of religious conviction.
“Now, when a foreign Christian arrives amongst you, what does he see in Protestant England? What is his astonishment when he hears of a directly opposite movement, and when he sees it with his eyes? I will not give way to exaggerated fears: England is Protestant, and she will remain so. But he that desires the end must also desire the means. There are doctrines maintained in England, with much zeal and courage, which are the doctrines of the council of Trent, and not those of the Reformation. At the same time, a tone and appearance even more and more Romish are sought to be given to your public worship. I will cite one example more important than it may at first appear. The day before yesterday I wished, before leaving, to see your magnificent Castle of Windsor. In returning I entered the chapel of the school at Eton. I was struck at seeing above the altar a large picture, painted
on the glass of the window, representing the crucifixion, with the women at the foot of the cross, and above this another picture representing a subject of the same nature, recalling to me most vividly the Romish chapels in Italy. On inquiry I was told, that the one of these pictures had been there for little more than one year, and the other for little more than two weeks, and that the expense had each year been defrayed by a collection among the boys of the school, and that it was expected that every year a fresh picture of a like description would be added by a similar contribution. Thus, then, having little hopes of the parents, do they attack the children; here is the religion of images, instead of the religion of the Bible, impressed on the minds of the sons of the first families in England. The same day the newspapers announced the conversion to Romanism of two Protestant clergymen. So we see that in many respects the movement in England is in an opposite direction to that which is going on upon the continent of Europe.
“Should not such a state of things arrest the serious attention of the wellwishers of their Church, and the friends of their country? Is it not to the Reformation that England owes her dignity and her power? In the sixteenth century Spain was all-powerful, and England feeble. But thanks to the gospel, Popish Spain has fallen, and Protestant England extends her power even to the ends of the world. Will she lose what constitutes her greatness, her prosperity, her life, her glory? * “ Allow me now, my Lord, to mention three properties, or peculiar quali. ties of the Church of Christ, of which I should desire to see more in the Church of which you are one of the rulers and guides.
" The first is Apostolicity. I think that apostolical authority should reign in the Church, but I cannot conceal my astonishment and grief in observing that many doctors substitute, for this apostolical authority, a synodical, patristical, theological, episcopal, in a word, a human authority. I do not deny that the traditions of the times which succeeded the days of the apostles may be usefully consulted; but in no case can these be put on the same rank with the apostolical tradition itself, and, as St. Augustine has said, the declarations of the fathers are of no valué, except in so far as they are conformed to the canonical writings. Indeed, the apostolical tradition has been preciously guarded for us in the sacred writings of the New Testament. This is the only source from which all ages are called to draw the knowledge of true Christianity. The Church of Rome boasts of enjoying the instructions of the successors of St. Peter ; but we have much more than a successor of successors, we have St. Peter himself in the midst of us, teaching us immediately by his writings, and by the power of the Holy Spirit which dictated them. And we have not only St. Peter, we have in the midst of us St. Paul, St. John, St. James, St. Matthew. The apostles of our Lord Jesus at this day still exercise their functions in the Church, and no one is needed, nor has any one the right to take their place. They preach remission of sins and conversion ; they declare the resurrection of the crucified One; they teach missionaries and ministers; they extend the Church and preside in its councils. Let us leave it to the Church of Rome, which is a human Church, to support herself on the authority of men, of St. Thomas, St. Gregory, and St. Basil. But let your Church, my Lord, claim no other authority than that of the apostles of the Lord.; let her desire no other power than that word of God " which is sharper than a two-edged sword ;' let her become more entirely, sincerely, exclusively, apostolical. She is so, without doubt, in her Articles; let her become so entirely, without excepting any of her ministers or her members. This is, I think, the first of her wants.
“The second is Catholicity. This was one of the most plainly-expressed desires of the Reformers of the sixteenth century; they wished a Catholic Church of Christ, embracing all those who confess the Lord. This is still the spirit which animates you, my Lord, you and so many other respected ministers of Christ in the Anglican Church; but I cannot tell you how I have been grieved at meeting on many occasions with a bigoted and sectarian
spirit, instead of this Catholic spirit. Never, however, was it more necessary, Until now, and for nearly three centuries, great importance has been attached to the nationality of the Church. I think that now this importance should be attached to its catholicity. The vocation of the Church is to assemble all the families of the earth in but one family, to re-unite in one body the dispersed members of humanity. Every thing announces that the moment when this great work should commence has arrived. But how can the Church perform this duty if she be herself troubled with so many divisions? The catholicity of the Church must be re-established. But what our times demand is not an exclusive sectarian catholicity: it is a universal, a catholic catholicity. Let us leave sectarian catholicity to the Greek Church and to the Roman Church, and let us not establish amongst us a third sectarian catholicity still more ridiculous than the two first. The cause of these sectarian and external catholicities (one might count more than three of them) is always the same. That the Church ought to be one is what all admit. But when the unity does not consist in vitality, men seek to establish it by formality. All sectarian catholicity comes from the want of the spirit of Christ in the body of the Church. It proceeds from the want of love, of faith, of hope,-in one word,- of life.
“ If false catholicity comes from the spirit having left the body of the Church, true catholicity will be re-established by the return of this same spirit. The Greeks, the Romans, and other sectarian Catholics, say that the Church is first external, and then may be internal. For us, we say that the Church is first internal, and then external.
“ The false Catholics say— The connection of each Christian with Christ, depends upon his connexion with the Church.' True Catholics say—'The connexion of each Christian with the Church, depends on his connexion with Christ.' Oh, my Lord, let me implore every minister, every member of the Church of England, or rather every Christian of Great Britain, to be united, really and cordially united, with whoever is united to Jesus Christ. Why should we separate and draw off from those to whom the Lord draws near? I have not a doubt that were this spiritual union established, external divisions would gradually diminish. Who would not desire to see extinguished the spirit of sect and of party, and to see established in its place a peaceable and holy union among all the Christians of England? But we must force nothing. We must seek first of all unity of spirit; then, perhaps, unity of confession and action. As to unity of incorporation, I do not think it should be sought with impatience, or by human means; but why should we not conclude that the Lord himself will give it up to his people, according to his promise? (John x.) Let us more and more allow the barriers which separate us to fall, - Dissenters their ancient prejudices, and the ministers of the Established Church those doctrines which stop the union of Christians, and which, like apostolical succession, and the necessity of Episcopal ordination, are unknown to the Articles of your religion.
“I can assure you, my Lord, that one of the most agreeable remembrances that I carry with me from England is, that of having tasted the first-fruits of this precious union. I have found myself as a brother in the midst of all denominations. Some of the most esteemed men in your Church have recalled to mind that three centuries ago Christians from the continent-the Bucers and the Peter Martyrs, had received a cordial welcome in the Church of England, and without allowing themselves to be arrested by the new ideas, have shown themselves faithful to the ancient principles of the Anglican Church. It is true that Bucers and Peter Martyrs have taught in your Universities, wbilst I have not even thought of such an honour, of which I am too unworthy. But I shall ever recollect with gratitude that I have been welcomed with affection by Englishmen of every Christian denomination, and I carry with me the sweet remembrance of having been seated at the hospitable table of Independents and of Presbyterians, of Baptist Noel and of