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ing with the Welsh mind, which appears to be jealous and irritable; but we trust that it will be found that dissent in its various shapes has been preparing many a man to become a more enlightened and more zealous Churchman than he would have been without passing through its teaching. The task is most arduous, we admit; but it is very far from being a hopeless one if undertaken in a Christian spirit, and with discretion. · The author of " Artegall" is, we should think, a dissenter; and is very angry at the notion of any interference with the present system of education in Wales. XXXVII.-The Outward Means of Grace : a Sermon, preached in the
Church of St. Mary, Totnes, at the_Triennial Visitation of the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Exeter. By the Rev. W. MASKELL, M.A., of St. Mary's Church, and Domestic Chaplain
to the Lord Bishop of Exeter. London: Pickering. This sermon is marked by the intellectual acumen, and the command of his subject, which might have been expected from the author of writings like those of Mr. Maskell ; and yet we must confess that we have not read it without some degree of uneasiness and regret at the tone of some portions of it, which seem to evidence a disposition to diverge from ordinary modes of thought and expression without sufficient cause. We do not wish to dwell on the questionable expediency of quoting the Vulgate, (although we think it ought to have been avoided under the circumstances of the diocese in which the sermon was delivered ;) nor in that of employing, under the same circumstances, the word “ Sacrament" in the larger acceptation in which it has been sometimes taken; but we rather refer to the author's statements on the head of Absolution, which appear to us to be more dogmatic in tone, and, at the same time, more remote from the ordinary opinions of English theologians, and more approximating to what we must regard as error, than we should have anticipated from the author's writings or position. We think that some of his doctrines on this subject are incorrect, and without sufficient foundation. On what ground he can hold that the benefit of Absolution is restricted to a case in which previous confession has been made,“ by word of mouth, of all known and remembered sins," we are at a loss to conceive. Certainly, Scripture does not teach this doctrine, nor the formularies of the Church of England, -nor, as far as we know, any General Council, or any consent of Fathers. Mr. Maskell's view of the Absolution in the Daily Service, which he thinks may be said by the minister, even when in Deacon's orders, is, at least, unusual; and we regret to see statements of this kind thrown out cursorily in a Sermon.
XXXVIII.-Birch on Shakspeare. London. 1848. To say that this Birch should be birched, were an obviously dreary joke; yet is it only the more suitable to the author of this production. Viler twaddle we never met with. Conceive a man sitting down to maintain seriously, and elucidate by copious illustrations, the theory, that the poet, who may be said to have contributed more towards the formation of the national mind, than all the other poets of his country put together, who has never failed to excite abhorrence of the evil, and sympathy with the good, who has uniforınly written with a moral, and frequently with a religious purpose, who is eminently reverential in spirit, and so imbued with all the first principles of theology and truths of Revelation, as to contain more frequent, and incidental, and apparently inevitable references to them, than any other not directly devotional writer extant; that Shakspeare, in fine, must from the tenor of his writings be held an atheist, and be further convicted of the constant design to instil his atheistic principles into the minds of his fellow-countrymen, and of the world's inhabitants at large. We dismiss this wretched book without further comments on its malevolent folly; only remarking, by way of illustration, that Iago's sneers at Revelation are held to be utterances, intentional utterances, of Shakspeare's own convictions. Further than this, it were impossible for folly to go.
Let us, however, take this occasion to remark, that the deep religious value of Shakspeare's master-pieces is, perhaps, scarcely yet appreciated as it should be. It is not generally perceived that quasi-philosophical indifferentism, and weak negation, (alas ! too prevalent in the present day,) are held up to contempt in “Hamlet, the Dane," who even after the apparition of his own father from the grave, can talk “ of that bourn from which no traveller returns;" can spend his time, when some great decision is required of him, in purposeless misty, barren disquisitions, who scarcely dares to, look the king, his uncle, in the face, yet vents the most cowardly and malignant spite on his helpless mother; who casts the heart-broken Ophelia to the winds without a sigh, and apes sorrow for her loss from a mean prompting of envy and self-reproval; when he sees the true grief of Laertes, who is, in fine, a full-blown specimen of the German of this nineteenth century, (save in the articles of grace and cleanliness,) knowing a little of every thing and much of nothing, mean, low-spirited, cowardly, Hegelian, and decided in nothing but doubting ; fresh from the university of Wittenberg, as Shakspeare informs us, with his usual discrimination, which seemed to give him supernatural knowledge of things past, present,
and future. Men generally suppose that Hamlet is meant for a really great philosopher, and take his doubts and quibbles to be Shakspeare's own; though it is as plain as a pikestaff, to the intelligent reader, that the poet entertained the most supreme contempt for his quasi-philosophical “ nineteenth century infidel” hero. So, again, in King Lear,” people do not appreciate the lesson of moral retribution conveyed in the terrible punishment of the old monarch for a life of selfishness; his very affection for his children having been of the most selfish order, as glaringly indicated in the first scene. They do not see that even Cordelia's earthly suffering and early death are due, her father's miseries having been all occasioned by her stubborn refusal to condescend to his infirmities ; a refusal, despite her real nobility of soul, inexcusable in her, who stood so high above her father's level, and could so well afford to stoop. Again, people do not, or is it that they will not? see the same lesson of moral retribution most powerfully read us in the exquisite“ Romeo and Juliet.” Is it possible not to perceive that Shakspeare wishes to teach us that such love as theirs, such all-engrossing passion, must become sinful in its excess, perverting the most exquisite of human affections to idolatry. It is not once or twice, but throughout, that the lesson is read,
“These violent delights have violent ends." Or as Friar Lawrence still more forcibly expresses it, in rebuking Romeo for his heedless, godless passion, in a severe yet purely Christian strain :
“ Take heed, take heed, for such die miserable." The very catastrophe is brought about by Romeo's crime of suicide, performed with his usual haste, and almost without inquiry. So again in “ Macbeth” we see in “the Thane” and “his wife” specimens of mean ambition and of haughty strength of will, both avowedly free from the influence of religion. “ Were we safe,” Macbeth says with his usual meanness,
“ We'd jump the life to come;" and the nobler, though perhaps direr Lady Macbeth, (who subsequently dies of remorse, whilst her tyrant husband becomes only more and more callous in his detested selfishness,) makes no further reference to Revelation than by a sneer at
“The eye of childhood,
That fears a painted devil.” But we have said enough on this score. Suffice it to assert that the morality, nay more, the religious faith, of Shakspeare is invariable. "To quote as proofs to the contrary, those loose
VOL. X.-NO, XIX-SEPT. 1848.
humorous speeches or half-comic references to religious truths, which are to be discovered in his plays, would argue only want of sense in the quoter. The first class are altogether objectionable: we can only palliate their errors by the example of even religious writers of those days, who scrupled not to joke on matters which are now banished from polite literature: with regard to the latter class, such as honest Slender's declaration that he would only get drunk again with honest, civil, godly company, “with those that had the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves ;" these to us are, we confess, sometimes pleasurable, and very rarely offensive: they could scarcely ever be injurious. But if any more direct proof of Shakspeare's own religious convictions be demanded, let it be noted, that the obviously highest favourite with the Immortal Bard of all his heroes, Henry V., is also the most directly pious. Here be it remarked, too, that Shakspeare's theology is essentially Catholic and antiRoman, on the all-important subject of " Grace versus works :" for
“In the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation." His énergetic protest against the Papacy, and its claims to supremacy, in “King John,” also speak trumpet-tongued against the imputation of Romanism to our "Swan of Avon.” That he was a Churchman and a true Catholic, his habitual and remarkable reverence for all ecclesiastical dignities, as well as his universal sympathies for authority and order, do abundantly testify. We may even observe that he was a “true blue” tory, in the modern sense of the term, witness his objurgations of mob folly and tyranny in “ Coriolanus” and “ King Henry the VIth,” and his noble-hearted loyalty, contrasting so strongly with the spirit of his contemporaries, manifested even in the portraiture of Hamlet's royal uncle, and of the weak and unfortunate Richard II. And so we arrive at the conclusion, which we of course desiderate, that our own convictions, and those of the great majority of our readers, religious, moral, social, and political, were shared and plainly expressed by “ the applause, delight, and wonder” of all ages, the Glorious and Immortal Shakspeare.
XXXIX.—The Triumphs of Practical Faith, set forth in a Series of
Twelve Discourses.. By the Rev. W. SPENCER Philips, B.D.
Vicar of New Church with Ryde. London: Rivingtons. SOUND, earnest, and practical. We quote a striking observation :
“ The heathen was astonished that the mere element of water should constitute so essential a párt of the Sacrament of Baptism ; and when
the early Christian talked to him, in exulting strains, of the blessed effects of regeneration, he would exclaim with the captain of the host of Syria, 'Are not Abana and Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel ? may I not wash in them and be clean ?' and like him would turn away offended. When again he spoke to him of the spiritual comfort and holy joy imparted in the Lord's Supper, he could see nothing but the broken bread and the cup of wine; so true it is that faith alone can give to unostentatious ceremonies their true and vital efficacy."
But the general tone and spirit of this volume of discourses is especially to be commended for its freedom from all excess. Faith is assigned its due place in the Christian economy, as the foundation of holy obedience, but it is not lauded at the expense of works, nor otherwise exalted above charity. Surely those who confound that primary justification yielded in Baptism, and to faith, with the by no means inevitable sanctification that may or may not follow, according to the use of the grace granted in the Christian covenant, must close their eyes to that remarkable decision of St. Paul's; “ And now remaineth these three, Faith, Hope, and Charity: but the greatest of these is Charity Nevertheless, it is true, that the faith which justifies must include incipient charity, whilst the faith which sanctifies, must work by love. We have been especially pleased by the discourses on the patriarchs Abel and Noah.
XL.—“Our Holy and our Beautiful House :” a Sermon. By
WALTER FARQUHAR Hook, D.D. London: Rivingtons. The preface to this very admirable sermon recounts a striking example of the stratagems practised by the schismátics in this land, and more especially by the apostates from our Anglican communion. We here find a former clergyman of the Church of England, who had been formally enrolled as one of that Church's adversaries, with his wife, returning to her service without the slightest intimation of his apostasy, subsequently officiating for a period of two years at her altars, then retiring for a month from motives of health, and finally writing an insulting letter, announcing himself openly to be a Romanist. In sympathising heartily with Dr. Hook on this melancholy occasion, and admiring the firmness, moral courage, and moderation he has displayed, we cannot refrain from awakening a slight reminiscence of our old difference concerning his views on national education. We trust that there is now no difference of opinion amongst churchmen on this subject. We, ourselves, are not satisfied with any system of national education which votes a farthing