Page images
PDF
EPUB

XXXII.-The Progress of Piety, whose Jesses lead into the Harbour of Heavenly Heart's Ease. By JOHN NORDEN. Reprinted for the Parker Society. Cambridge: University Press. THIS little work had become one of extreme rarity, until the recent reprint of it by the Parker Society, which we have now before us. Its author lived in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and was a layman. The "Progress of Piety" appears to have been published in 1591: it consists of a series of reflections, prayers, and short metrical pieces on various spiritual and moral subjects connected with the Christian life. The Author was a contemporary of Hooker, and we should suppose from the general tone of his work, that he was as faithful a son of the English Church as that great divine. There is not the slightest trace of Puritanism in the work before us; and his loyal devotion to Queen Elizabeth is manifest throughout. He is anxious to engage his readers' prayers in behalf of a sovereign to whom he considers the cause of truth, and of the Church, to be so deeply indebted; and from the simple and devotional character of the whole work, we think it evident that this sprang from higher motives than a mere wish to conciliate the favour of royalty. We extract the following stanzas from one of the poems,

Corrupt and filthy are we all,

The proudest man is dust :

No comfort here; we live in thrall,
And linger here in lust.

The sweetest of delights that we

Can choose to please our will,

What brings it us? Who doth not see
That pleasures turn to ill?

Art thou a man whose state is great;
If pomp exalt thy mind,

What then! Thy mind with sin impleat
Bewrays thy pleasures blind.

A dolefull bell doth wait to ring,
When thou secure shalt die :

What song of glory can'st thou sing,
When corpse in grave shall lie?

What shall avail thy lofty looks,
Whereat the poor do quake?
And what thy Machiavelian books?
Whose cursed sleights forsake.
Thy bravest buildings, high in state,
Thy golden gods but dust:

Thy Thrasos and thy Gnathos mate
No more shall serve thy lust.

As might have been anticipated, there is occasional quaintness in the style, but on the whole we have been very highly gratified and edified by the tone of simple and fervent piety which characterizes this book of devotions.

XXXIII.-The Substance of a Series of Discourses on Baptism, preached prior to a General Confirmation; in which it is shown that the Teaching of the Church of England on the subject is consentient with Holy Scripture. By the Rev. RICHARD HIBBS, M.A., Curate of Corton, Suffolk; late of St. John's College, Cambridge. London Hamilton, Adams, and Co.; Norwich: Charles Muskell, 1848.

WE think this pamphlet chiefly remarkable as a specimen of the attempts not unfrequently made to reconcile the Prayer Book with certain uncatholic views on the subject of Baptismal Regeneration; and we see in such attempts, an additional reason against confining the test of sound doctrine to the Articles; for if people who entertain erroneous notions, endeavour to override the Public Offices, and think they can do so successfully, it is plain that they would be less easily convinced if they had nothing but the Articles to deal with.

Mr. Hibbs, who took his degree in the year 1841, and is, therefore, still on the right side of thirty, has, it seems, "for some years past weighed" a "certain view" of Baptism, and discovered arguments in its favour, "never before propounded." This view is "scriptural" and "consistent," but "least of all known or received." It is, moreover, the Church of England view on the subject of Baptism. Having thus far prepared for its introduction, Mr. Hibbs clears the way in the most summary manner. He allows no authority but Scripture, and (of course) his own interpretation of it. Authorities are equal on all sides (p. 5): what use, therefore, in appealing to them? And as to the "writings of the earliest divines, subsequent" to the Apostles, they are, providentially," very "meagre in all that relates to doctrine; and, for the most part, disfigured by gross conceits and the veriest puerilities." (p. 6.) Having thus a fair field and no favour, we are left to gather up Mr. Hibbs's view; which, however, is not so determined as might have been expected. At page 45 we are told, that "Baptism is an appointed means of Grace;" but at page 17, that it is "a sign or seal of acceptance with God," to be given to those who repent "and believe the Gospel;" and this is adopted by Mr. Hibbs as "a correct defini

tion."

[ocr errors]

Again, page 58, we read, that "all persons who have received

Baptism rightly are born again of God, but that unless they afterwards evince repentance and faith they were not born again;" so that the fact of a man's regeneration does not depend upon the Sacrament, or the right reception of it, but upon its own consequences; which is saying, in other words, that unless a man exhibits signs of life he never was born. And in accordance with this we are told, page 59, that the Church declares our state [of regeneration] conditionally. No doubt, faith and repentance, either expressed or implied, are required as conditions of our receiving Baptism; and no doubt the blessings of Baptism will be forfeited by those who, growing up to man's estate, do not perform their baptismal engagements. Is this all that Mr. Hibbs means? If so, why write a book about it? But Mr. Hibbs has a further meaning; his notion is, that unless a man lives a Christian life, he never was made a child of God. And this being his notion, he denies that infants are necessarily regenerate in baptism; or that they can be so declared, except upon the charitable presumption, that they will afterwards perform their baptismal engagements. After all, there is nothing uncommon in this view, as Mr. Hibbs seems to think, and nothing new in the arguments with which it is supported.

Perhaps we should not have been tempted to speak harshly of Mr. Hibbs, had it not been for a tone of self-confidence and presumption which is only too apparent. He tells us (p. 10) that nothing can be more unfounded than to imagine, as not a few have done, that the discourse with Nicodemus refers exclusively to Baptism. Yet Wall held that opinion; and he refers us to the Fifth Book of the Ecclesiastical Polity, where Hooker has these words:

"Of all the ancients there is not one to be named that ever did otherwise, either expound or allege the place, than as implying external Baptism."

But we forget, Mr. Hibbs has disclaimed appeal to names of acknowledged weight;" and, accordingly,

"Proceeds to weigh doctrines in the balances of the Sanctuary, as provided in God's Word."-p. 5.

From page 16 to 21, Mr. Hibbs has some good remarks upon the subject of Infant Baptism. We cannot, however, agree with him in the opinion, more than once put forward, that errors connected with the time of administering this holy ordinance, are harmless in comparison of the error of those who hold, "that all who are baptized in infancy are necessarily Christ's, as having received thereby his Holy Spirit."-p. 22.

We had always thought that this was the Church of England

doctrine upon this subject; but Mr. Hibbs makes no distinction between this view, and the popish doctrine of "regeneration in baptism, ex opere operato."

We cannot fall in with the idea that "regeneration is presumed to have taken place before baptism" (p. 22), or admit, that it is any argument in favour of this position, that faith and repentance are prerequisites for baptism. It may be enough to remind Mr. Hibbs that repentance is an act, and faith a faculty, regeneration a condition of the soul, and therefore that they are not to be confounded. We entirely agree with Mr. Hibbs in the position, that the final appeal should be made to the Scriptures; but we must be excused if we deny his conclusion, that "the defenders of baptismal regeneration, as it is wont to be called, must for ever be silenced by that appeal."-p. 23.

Mr. Hibbs asserts that, in the case of infant as well as adult baptism, the person baptized is the party with whom the covenant is made; which is a just observation; and he denies that the faith of the sponsors is accepted instead of the faith of the child : -here also we are disposed to agree with him. On the whole, we cannot help believing, that a better acquaintance with certain views which he imagines he controverts, will bring Mr. Hibbs into greater charity with them. They are as far removed from popery as his own, and much more easily reconcileable with the Prayer Book. We venture to say, that for all his tone of confidence, Mr. Hibbs has his misgivings; and in respect of his professed disregard for the countenance of authority, we would recommend to him the example of the learned Joseph Mede, who, in his exposition of Exodus iv. 25, having given his own interpretation with no little force of conviction, is careful to "free it from novelty," modestly doubting his own sense, or, at least, not desiring that others should be tied to it, unless he could free it from the imputation of strangeness and singularity..

XXXIV.-Insanity tested by Science, and shown to be a Disease rarely connected with permanent Organic Lesion of the Brain, and on that account far more susceptible of Cure than has hitherto been supposed. By C. M. BURNETT, M.D. London: Samuel Highley, 32, Fleet-street.

THERE is much in this work which appears extremely well worthy of attention. The author connects insanity with a disordered state of the blood, in which he regards the vital and the mental principle as residing. He remarks how little has hitherto been accomplished in a curative sense by those who have given attention to the subject, and ascribes the want of success partly to the popular

idea that the disease is mental, and that it does not admit of cure in the ordinary sense of the word, and partly to the conflicting evidence furnished by pathology, and particularly by morbid anatomy. He also attributes much to the prevalent misunderstanding of the value and meaning of restraint, which is only one of the means for effecting a cure, and should not receive an undue or exclusive attention. Much of Dr. Burnett's disquisition is employed in tracing the connexion of this disease with the state of the blood; and many curious and valuable cases are mentioned in illustration. On the whole, the work bears the marks of an attentive examination of this highly important subject.

xxxv.-Excerpta Protestantia; comprising a View of the Church of England in the Aspect of her Articles and Homilies, and of her Antagonism to the Church of Rome. London: Hatchards. THIS little volume consists chiefly of extracts from the Homilies adduced in illustration of the Articles. Its object is good, but it is not written in a popular style.

XXXVI.-1. Reports of the Commissions of Enquiry into the State of Education in Wales, appointed by the Committee of Council on Education, &c. London: Clowes.

2. Artegall: or, Remarks on the Reports of the Commissioners of Enquiry into the State of Education in Wales. London: Long

mans.

THE inquiry which has been instituted into the state of education in Wales, by direction of the Committee of Council, has brought to light much which is of very great and serious importance to the Church. It seems that the Church day schools contain a respectable proportion of those children who attend day schools; but the greater part of the people are educated in the Sunday schools; and it is here that the Church fails. It is of great importance, doubtless, to improve the system of education in day schools: the exertions made in this respect in Wales will be most valuable in their results; but we feel convinced that the Church does not bestir herself as she ought in the management of her Sunday schools. We feel assured that this is the point which a clergyman in Wales ought to attend to chiefly. The Church in Wales has permitted the population to become, to a great extent, alienated from her. She has now to re-convert them by persuasion. And we should suppose that the great amount of religious division in Wales affords her a hope of success. Much care and caution, doubtless, is requisite in deal

« PreviousContinue »