Page images

formularies we believe there would have been vastly more. We hope Dr. M. will excuse this passing glance at his Anti-stateChurch theories. Query too whether he might not moderate a little such language as the following :

“The science, which is here so expertly studied, (in the military schools at Strasburg) can surely trace no higher origin than in him who was a murderer from the beginning. If liars are of their father, the devil, what will truth call soldiers ? and if no murderer has eternal life abiding in him, what will be the portion of him who hateth his brother? I do not think we are warranted in forming any other estimate of the principle on which is conducted a military school.”—(p. 360.)

To proceed, however, with Dr. M.'s notices of Switzerland. He says :

“I was pleased, at length, to feel myself assured I actually trod the soil of the land of freedom. I advanced with a degree of alacrity and elasticity, from the French boundaries to this first of the Schwyz cantons. I could now gratify the fond wish of many years, that I might see, in their own homes, that ancient people, whose bulwarks were mountains, and whose birth-right was freedom. .... But it was not merely for liberty, its history and associations, that I valued Switzerland. I looked to that land as in some measure the source of the reformation with which our own country has been blessed, .... in many respects I identified its people and history with the brightest period of Christianity, and while the Church was gloriously advancing in its progress of reformation.

"I may mention to my more juvenile readers that the Schwyz cantons are now in number twenty-two : each republic having the power of administering its own affairs, and passing its own laws within itself, subject to a constitutional check in the annual diet of the confederation. These cantons join together in what would be called a federal union, for administering what concerns themselves as a nation or community. The whole country is inhabited by about 800,000 Roman Catholics and about 1,280,000 Protestants : so that there are upwards of 2,000,000 of inhabitants living within the boundaries of the Schwyz confederation.

“The progress of the Schwyz from a degree of feudal despotism to the enjoyment of liberty, is one of the most interesting studies of the historian, or those who desire to know the character of the nations of the earth. The celebrated defences which the heroes of Switzerland effected, .... the splendid achievements, the heroic actions by which they established their liberty, .... these are things which might seem sufficient to stir up the noble and generous sympathies of the mere natural man. .... But, whilst this is the fact, I am happy to confess, that I feel a much greater disposition now than I once did to prefer that heroism which will be willing to suffer rather than to inflict suffering : that heroism which will rather suffer wrong than take revenge: that heroism which will rather do the right in the midst of suffering, and leave revenge to God, than will exhibit itself in selfjustification and in self-defence-by means of warlike weapons and contests between armed troops.-For with all the heroism of William Tell, with all the generous freedom of the Schwyz peasant, and his sacrifice of self for the sake of his mountain home, what did those warm-hearted and devoted patriots achieve for their country? A momentary deliverance from one feudal lord, or pne national aggressor: or to become the servile bondsmen of another :--the chief citizen or burgomaster, as they would be called, of the town, acting the part of the oppressor towards the other inhabitants :-the consistory or civic ecclesiastics, of those that were the oppressors of the dominant religion, persecuting those that were the professors of

the antagonist religion, or the sectaries of a despised and odious faith."(pp. 373–375.

Passing on from this general sketch, we now come to modern Schwyz. A few very brief notes will bring before us its condition, and the views of our author as connected with it.

“Recent events in Lucerne," he writes, “have occupied public attention, and by their extensively ramified and convulsive influence throughout all the confederated republics, have singularly verified my apprehensions, and given strong and unlooked-for corroboration to the views entertained long prior to their denouement. The policy, not only of the encroaching fathers of the Jesuit college, but also of the Catholic party in the cantons, in conceding educational functions to them, would have been comparatively harmless in the organization of the separate republics, had it not been that secular governments have assumed the power of settling such questions by the arbitration of the sword, and have concluded that martial success could determine the morality or the truth of a principle. The ordeal by fire, or the issue of a single combat, would be just as reasonable and conclusive to a rational and philosophic mind. . . ::

"Froin what I could learn from persons conversant with the condition of the country around the lake, it appears that the people, with all their political independence, are socially and intellectually in a state of pupillage. The four cantons (Lucerne, Uri, Unterwalden, and Schwyz) may be described as the focus of an intense spirit of ecclesiastical domination, under which no intelligence can flourish. The progress towards enlightenment, which began to be manifested at Lucerne shortly after 1830, is stopped ; and although the whole education is not yet legally in the hands of the Jesuit fathers, it is substantially overruled by them. It may, perhaps, surprise our readers to learn, that in these) cantons ... the very cradle of political liberty-religious liberty is on so narrow a footing at the present day, that no one can become an artizan in these States unless he profess the Roman Catholic faith. Some of the civil arrangements are in an exceedingly primitive state. Uri and Schwyz have not yet arrived at that principle of political science which delegates the legislative functions to representatives. All the male inhabitants above eighteen or twenty years of age, meet in these representative cantons once or twice a year, in what we should call a parliament: the place of assembly being an open ground, and the proceedings being in some measure presided over by the landamman, or chief magistrate, who decides the passing of any project of law by a general show of hands. The majority carries it: but it is not always safe to belong to the greater number of votes.

“ Some years ago, when the spirit of the people was roused, the minority in the Cantonal Parliament of Schwyz twice drove the majority from the field with sticks. A general confusion of affairs ensued, in which there could not be said to be any government at all : but matters were finally patched up by the interference of the diet and federal troops.... But it is not merely the political proceedings and relations of the people which are affected by the imagination, that bravery and military tactics are the last as well as the best resort, when a diversity of judgment has prevailed. Intolerance on the great cause of religion has characterized the multitude as well as the priesthood, the democracy as well as the oligarchy: and the truth of a proposition and the validity of a vote have been subjected to the fate of war, just as much among the republics of Switzerland as in the principalities of Germany, or in the ten kingdoms of Europe."-(pp. 375–379.)

Dr. M. then relates the case of the Basel Campagne and the Basel Ville, and adds-

“ The occasion of all this was more than a mere question of secular politics. The aristocracy of the city would not admit the mass of the) people to the same privileges with themselves. Hence, in Protestant or civic Basel, at this hour the Roman Catholics are not allowed to open a shop; they have not the liberty of pursuing traffic, or seeking to benefit themselves, merely because they are Roman Catholics. The same principle would warrant the prevailing, the most numerous class in Manchester, whatever that class may be-Churchmen or Independents, the Methodists or Roman Catholics-would warrant that class in telling all the other sects, 'You shall not open a shop in Manchester; you shall not pursue your trade in Salford. Now, in free Switzerland, in Protestant Basel, this is the fact !-"(pp. 380, 381.)

We regret that we cannot give at length Dr. M.'s account of his first day at Basel, where he “ witnessed a scene which characterized the Protestantism of that country, with its glory about privileges, special and peculiar.” It was the commemoration, on the Lord’s day, of the battle of St. Jacob-a festival which “ had convened many hundreds, perhaps thousands, to its attendant games and pastimes from most of the Swiss cantons.”

I found," says Dr. M., " that the amusements consisted of firing their cannons or pieces of ordnance at a target : that the young men and lads had sharp-shooting, both for amusement and practice, to demonstrate how steadily and direct they could take aim, and how adept they were as marksmen, if they should be called to fight another day at St. Jacob. The children were, of course, witnesses of these scenes, and were identified with these associations and sports. They spent the whole day, the whole of Sunday, till about eight o'clock. I saw them after the day's mirthful revelry, fatigued with their hilarity, or vaunting of their successes, returning to the residences of their families, and carrying to their domestic circles the tales of their own pleasure, or the traditions of St. Jacob's festival, and the bravery of the patriotic Schwyz. Now this is the canton that will not suffer members of the Romish Church to open houses for business because they are Catholics : and this is the Protestantism of Basel, one of the principal cities or cantons of liberal and enlightened Switzerland, of the educated and democratic reform. ...... I walked through the streets, and examined the city, the public. houses, cafés, and restaurateurs.... they were boisterously merry, as if they were fighting the battle of St. Jacob over again.... the entire aspect of society, of the city and its suburbs, had nothing like the semblance or memorials of Sunday.”—(pp. 385, 386.)

How painful to record what follows :“Rifle and target-shooting seemed a special sport in the commemoration; the reason for which I cannot explain. But even from other countries competitors had assembled, and contended for the superiority. An English nobleman, so called, had been a conspicuous leader in the exercises as well as the festivities of the commemoration; and had discovered as great a disregard for divine ordinances or religious solemnities as the most latitudinarian sceptic among the Schwyz, ancient or modern, could desire. I was repeatedly reminded of my countryman, and told of bis achievements : since, as I understood, the proprietor of my hotel had been mixed up in the entertainments; and I was assured that at the grand dinner or banquet on the previous Sunday, while this noble man presided, 15,000 bottles of wine had been drunk, much of which was the richest and most costly juice of the grape. This singular gluttony, or wine-bibbing feat, was duly proclaimed on the Rhine, and confirmed to me when I stayed at the hotel in Basel. There is therefore no room for cynical observations by an Englishman-as from a 'holier than thou' feeling-upon the Basilians. I do not make the comparison between England and the land of the Schwyz; but I call to mind the early history of the Reformation among the mountains of Schwyzerland, and deeply regret, either the decline of primitive religion, or the lax principles which were then too generally avowed even by the chief and more active reformers in that once favoured land. I do not forget they abjured the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath, and the morality of the entire observance. But they had only recently come out of Egypt, and while they repudiated restraint and bondage, they served from love and enjoyment.”-(pp. 386, 387.)

We need not say that Professor Vinet is a great favourite and authority with Dr. M. He met with him at Lausanne.

" To so profound a Christian philosopher,” he says, " and so eloquent a champion of religious liberty, and ecclesiastical reform, and emancipation, I felt constrained to shew gratitude and respect. I therefore visited Professor Vinet at his own house, where he was so kind as to afford me a most gratifying interview. He was, as I understood, not a pastor of any parish, or, by ecclesiastical functions, subject to the tribunes or government of the established church of the canton. So far, therefore, as he had proceeded, there appeared no inconsistency in his taking the collegiate provision of his state in consideration for the civil services he rendered through his office in the academy. However, I imagine, if what I have understood since my visit has occurred be correct, his views have changed as to the propriety, or some incompatibility has appeared to the ruling authorities, of an avowed argumentative and philosophical voluntary holding a professor's chair, and teaching theological principles in a state-endowed institution. I have been informed that M. Vinet has from such considerations resigned his chair and office as a professor, but acts as commissioner to remodel the constitution.... While in connection with (the) established, he occasionally preached in the parish, churches; and I have in my possession several minor publications, copies of which he presented to me, in which he combats the principles involved in a Church Establishment, and shows them to be neither scriptural nor philosophical; conducive neither to religion nor to civil liberty... I had been one of the company who took what may have been deemed a rather adventurous and prominent part in the advocacy of kindred principles and arguments in the Anti-State-Church Conference only three months before; and the Professor was as anxious to know, as I was willing to explain to him, our relative position, and the prospects and duties of advocates of our great cause at such a time. I had with me, and afterwards lent him, the first authorized publication of that Conference, and urged him to set us right before his countrymen, who had been misguided and made to misapprehend our position, by the distortions or inventions of the Record newspaper, both as to the object and principle of our confederacy. I did what I could, but not so much or so well as I should have desired, and as such a cause deserved at such a crisis.... I would cheerfully rehearse whatever passed on so interesting a subject, and I feel assured that M. Vinet would welcome the opportunity of being faithfully reported to his fellow-men. But I may state, that as nothing more passed in our interview than what was confirmatory of his opinions already published, I shall most safely and truthfully represent him by giving an extract from his work-(Essay on the Profession of Personal Religious Conviction, and upon the separation of Church and State, consi. dered with reference to the fulfilment of that Duty.) Having proved that every human being ought to possess religious convictions, which I wish every nominal Voluntary would remember; and that he is under a divine obligation to avow these convictions, he demonstrates that, for the civil magistrate, or civil society acting by the magistrate, to interfere with religion, is to in

1 846.



terfere with the duty divinely imposed on the individual, and is, therefore, to oppose human law to the law of God. Whatever be the form in which a religious establishment can be conceived to exist, and in all past experience of such human institutions, M. Vinet evinces its opposition to the will of God. He examines and disposes of every conceivable objection, and leaves his demonstration irresistible by argument on the principle of truth."(pp. 422—425.)

Such is Dr. M.'s opinion of M. Vinet and his work. He believes that, practically and by principle, he is as thorough a Dissenter as himself. "To be consistent with his premises and arguments, he would also expect him to be a Congregationalist.” But we must not pursue this subject. The work of M. Vinet has been reviewed in our columns, and therefore we need not here do more than reiterate our entire dissent from the theory of which he, and Dr. M. among his English admirers, are such zealous advocates. We must confess that it would have been more gratifying to us to find so prominent a member of the Evangelical Alliance as Dr. M. a little less enamoured of the theory in question, and somewhat more moderate in adjudicating between the Record and the Patriot. It will indeed be difficult, with such elements of strife, to preserve the unity of the Spirit, and avoid the offences which so many anticipate. It is not surprising that gentle spirits stand aloof, or that prudent men should fear to commit themselves. We are persuaded, however, that the animus of the Alliance, as publicly professed, is but a faint expression of the intense desire which is cherished by thousands in this country, to see all sincere believers united on a broad and common basis. But this by the way. A very few additional words must close our notice of Switzerland.

Having, in connection with Geneva, glanced at the case of Servetus, Dr. M. adds :

" The transition of opinion has been complete, but the authorities are, so far as they have been the election of popular suffrage, the representatives of intolerance still-only Trinitarians are now the victims in their turn. The syndics are Unitarian, the venerable company, the Consistory, are all leagued to propagate Socinianism, and to suppress by persecution the creed of Calvin. The revenues of the Church, or rather of the republic for the Church, which Calvin organized, are now administered for the propagation of Socinian dogmas, and the suppression of the principles which Calvin inculcated; while denunciation and deposition follow those who adhere to Calvin."'(p. 438.)

In other words, both Church and State have been unfaithful to their trust, and we see the fruit : but we are not therefore to declare them irresponsible, or to affirm that a nation professing Christianity is to be without a creed or an order of religious worship. Dr. M.'s own Presbyterian fathers of the Kirk of Scotland thought otherwise, and we think there are reasons not a few to make us

« PreviousContinue »