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progress of civil and religious liberty that we are thus minutely tracing in the words and works of its first assertors and earliest pleaders—when it is the cause of Christian truth that we are thus watching as it gradually evolves itself from error, we cannot doubt that our author with such views and with such subjects, will be cheered, and his work heartily and generously appreciated.
Having said thus much of our author's design, and glanced at the mode in which it has been executed, we shall proceed to give our readers a taste of the work itself. The suggestive matter which it contains with regard to the Congregational polity- the moral effect of the system, historically considered, in teaching self-government in religion, and leading to self-government in politics—and with regard to the voluntary principle which is its de facto offspring-whose basis is established in the right of private judgment, and which would, if Christians had relied upon it, have effected a safer and infinitely more complete reformation in this kingdom than that which Henry the Eighth achieved at such cost-must be reserved, as we have previously hinted, to another, and, we trust, not distant, opportunity.
The preface naturally attracts our first attention. Short and simple as it is, there is an air of emotion about it, a blending of modesty with self-confidence, such as might have been expected, and such as every ingenuous mind will appreciate. We could almost write an article on the proper way of reading a preface ! Few sympathize, and fewer still are capable of sympathy, with an author who is just on the point of ushering upon a cold and careless world, the work which has long been his laborious but favorite task-with an author whose task’ is smoothly done,'all but the penning of a few prefatory sentences. We can; and knowing what a work is before us, we read the preface in the spirit in which it must have been written. All efforts to please or to instruct, within the vast range of art, must, we are aware, stand or fall by themselves—but we should like to see a more generous tone prevailing-a more lively sympathy on the part of the world (and the church is just as cold and careless as the world for this matter,) when an individual comes before them with an honest view, in manliness and modesty, to amuse or edify them. This utter callousness of heart in judging of these efforts, of whatever kind, is, we must maintain, by no means so characteristic of professed critics, as it is of mere readers, or mere hearers, or mere spectators, of those who never in their lives made any attempt at such efforts as they are so free to be severe upon. There is enough, in all conscience, of the idolatry of intellect amongst us ; but there is little, if any, of the respect for, or appreciation of honest effort, amongst us. We need be at no pains to patronize the geniuses whose performances compel the instantaneous ho
of all-but we should be better critics if we measured the productions of mere ordinary men, by the amount of effort they cost. Whatever the earnest performance, be it a picture, or a book, or even a sermon, let the reader stay his judgment until he has put himself in the author's position, and we will answer for it that his judgment will be all the sounder. He will, of course, after such a digression as we have indulged in, on the art of reading prefaces, (although Mr. Hanbury's stands in no need of such a round-about, deprecatory apology,) not object to accompany us back to the one before us.
• The project and its execution,' says our author, are entirely his own. Trained to prize civil liberty, of all earthly acquisitions the next to religious freedom, he renders his homage to the 'Father of Lights,' and rejoices in having drawn from their long night of repose, treasures inestimable, retaining the charms of pristine freshness ; relics of mind and conduct in by-gone ages, and testimonies of superior wis. dom, though not always of perfect sobriety.'
After alluding to the desirableness of a historical collectionCorpus Historicum-adequate in all respects to the present and increasing importance of the Christian denomination to which the author is confirmed in his attachment, after a systematic
scrutiny more persevering than perhaps any other layman ever 'engaged in'—which he properly notes to be even yet a defici
ency in ecclesiastical literature - the plan upon which he has proceeded is thus referred to.
• The plan whereon the work is executed thus far, and on which it will be proceeded with, is that which admits of compliance with the dramatic writers,--distingue tempora, et conciliabis Scripturas. Words and deeds disposed in the closest connexion with what occasioned them; the exact and nearest succession of events ; being the most natural and regular, must ordinarily present the best means of arriving at a correct judgment in relation to them. Accordingly so much of what is original and documentary, whether amicable or hostile, is here placed when practicable, in immediate vicinity. Hence they who are dead yet speak for themselves ; and if all they spake to purpose be not adduced, the deficiency is one which could not be supplied.'
The design, we believe, is novel-at least we are not aware of any work which supplies us with excerpts and abstracts from the fathers and founders of this particular polity.
Before giving a sample of the execution, we shall quote the continuing paragraph from the preface.
· So far the author-for he has endured all the labours of authorship -is secure in his self-approbation ; but that he has never erred when selecting and arranging his materials, nor ever misconceived his authorities, he cannot affirm : his desire to be minute has led in more than one instance, to irrelevancies, which were perceived when they could not be expunged. Thus also it may be with respect to the orthography of common names, which he has not hesitated to change when he had discovered what is most authentic. He takes no more credit to himself for having practised impartiality in contrasting opponents, and adjudicating their merits, than comports with those prejudices, or infirmities, infecting every human breast. Some advantages he apprehends, will have resulted from his not being swayed by any professional interest to seek to elevate unduly the pastoral office and character.'
From the variety of matter and the closeness of its contexture, we feel it to be no easy task to present our readers with a sample of the work. Each page of the 585, of which this first volume is composed, presents materials for reference and consultation, rather than quotation and extract. There are numberless independent passages from the fathers and founders of the sect, of great force and pathos--passages which thrill us by their simple energy and truth, and at the same time make our English blood boil in our veins, to think that they should have been uttered with all humility and heartfelt sincerity, before mitred judges, who rewarded their authors with racks, banishment, bonds, and death ; but being intimately connected with the argumentative or narrative portions of the work, it will be better to defer reference to them to our proposed analysis. It must be evident also, that any attempt to abstract a volume which is itself a well-compacted series of abstracts, would not answer any useful end. We had prepared, at some pains, a rapid outline of contents, but unless accompanied by explanatory details, for which we cannot afford the requisite space, such a plan would not meet our immediate object in this brief article. We shall, perhaps, best perform our promise of giving the reader a taste of Mr. Hanbury's manner, without violating the continuity of his subject, by a brief examination of one of his teeming chapters. The introductory chapter will serve our purpose,
It is entitled a · Dissertation on • Terms and Principles,' and embraces the following topics, which we take from the table of contents :
*Congregationalists; Independents—Their rise-State Church, Re. formers, Presbyterians, or Puritans—Their rise-Progress-Subscription, when first enforced-Enforced again—Precisians the same with Puritans-Martinists—Brownists—Conventiclers—The People's power - Under Anglo Episcopalians- Under Presbyterians-- Bishop Hall and Milner deny Independency –Gibbon affirms it-Tindal shows itAgain—Mosheim confirms it-Result—Scripture Bishops-Defined - Isaac Barrow and Whitgift, of the First Churches—The most apos
tolical, which-Barrow's argument, in seven particulars-Condemns a political Church-Not divine-Hallowed boast of IndependentsEffect.'
At first sight this appears to be any thing but a dissertation, and more likely to perplex and confuse than to settle and define, Terms and Principles. But the author has executed his design; and albeit, that in our corporate capacity of Protestant Eclecticians, we have not sworn allegiance to Independency, or to the Congregational, or any other Union, we are prepared to assert that he has successfully executed his design, which was of that mixed character already referred to. Instead of repeating the stale argiments on behalf of this particular polity, we have the blending of fact with them, and an agglomeration of authorities ; so that the argument itself, in favor of the system, stands out in bold relief, as a logical conclusion, based upon sound scriptural exposition, illustrated and confirmed by opponents, and at the same time invested with historical reality.
After briefly referring to the rise of this denomination of Christians, which is commonly limited to the sixteenth century, but which in all probability may claim an earlier origin, we come to the State-Church reformers, Presbyterians, or Puritans,'—and from an old tract, by Josiah Nichols, an humble servant of the English Church,' published in 1602, for the common good of the Church and commonwealth of this realm of England,' we have set before us a concise and perspicuous account of the pro
of these affairs. But we are favored with a note before Josiah Nichols is permitted to speak, on the succumbing of the state-clergy to state dictation, or in other words, on the fluctuations of the state-church,' which we shall quote.
· Fifty years had discovered four entire changes of the Established religion, as it is called. Popery prevailed until 1533, when it was superseded by Protestantism; twenty years after Popery was restored; and, in the short space of five years more, Protestantism became predominant. So in days of yore, “The times under Dioclesian were Pagan ; under Constantine, Christian ; under Constantius, Arian; under Julian, apostate; under Jovian, Christian again ; and all within the age of man—the term of seventy years! Would it not,' asks Thomas Fuller, ‘have wrenched and sprained his soul with short turning, who, in all these, should have been of the religion for the time being ?'-Holy State, 1663, fol. p. 200.
As to the points indicated in table of contents, under the topics of the State-Church reformers, Presbyterian or Puritan — Their
rise-Progress-Subscription, when first enforced-Enforced again Precisians, the same with Puritans — Martinists— • Brownists—Conventiclers,' our friend Josiah Nichols is largely quoted.
The popular power of the church, or as it is called in the table, the people's power, is then discussed.
* Among the controversies of the age thus passed under review, that which the Puritans instituted concerning the office of lay-eldership induced some who had watched the progress of its rigid investigation, or who had themselves engaged in it, not to stop short in their scriptural deductions ; not to halt where the larger number had agreed to rest. For the Prelatical body disdained then, as now, to permit any co-operation on the part of the people, in disseminating religion by teaching; or to admit them to exercise any ecclesiastical authority. And the Presbyterians, intercepted, on their part, the rights of the people, by admitting only certain of them to a kind of co-ordinate jurisdiction. Engrossment of power is the essence of either system.
• Bishop Hall and Milner deny independency, but then we have a powerful passage from Gibbon, à rank Tory, who “af
firms it,' and a still more lucid statement from Tindal, who shows it,'—a most pertinent extract from Mosheim, who confirms it.' The quotations that remain would be sufficient, one would imagine, to convert even the candid and unwily lord of London.
Barrow distinctly says: “At first each church was ósettled apart, so as independently and separately to manage its
own concerns; each was governed by its own bead, and had its 'own laws.' What says the doughty archiepiscopal champion,' Whitgift? When I said that the state of the church was 'popular,' in the apostles' time, I spake of the outward form,
show, and government of it, which therefore I call “popular, because the church itself, that is, the whole multitude, bad in‘terest almost in every thing, especially whilst the church remained at Jerusalem. But the clenching quotation is from Barrow's work on the Unity of the Church. Mr. Hanbury says, we rejoice at being able to draw our materials from the writings of that preeminent son of the establishment already cited, Dr. · Isaac Barrow, whose subsequent words and augmentation show 'clearly the very constitution of Independent churches, and whence ‘we challenge the affinity of their discipline to be far more accordant to scriptural institution, and therefore far more apostolical than that of any ecclesiastical system which has ever been incorporated into, or allied, in any way, to secular governments. Yes, we cannot but rejoice that the pen of a divine of such a * large and comprehensive mind should have been providentially made subservient to a faithful exhibition of truly primitive . Christianity, and still more, as it is entirely free from suspicion of collision or designed accommodation.'
The extract is singularly valuable. The last of the seven arguments is worthy of Milton himself; and as it may not be familiar to many of our readers, its quotation will not be uninteresting: