« PreviousContinue »
The nonconformists had begun to despair. They had known a long night of terror, and saw no hope of escape but that which the monarch proffered. Had they, therefore, as a body, availed themselves of it, and in the first moment of their exultation have glorified the power by which it was conferred, their relentless persecutors should have been the last to pronounce their condemnation. To have done so would not have been wise, nor far-seeing, nor in the spirit of an enlightened and comprehensive fidelity to freedom; but the slightest charity should have sealed the lips of those wrong-doers who had made their cry ascend to heaven.
The Nonconformists,' says Sir James Mackintosh, were thus acted upon by powerful inducements and dissuasives. The preservation of civil liberty, the interests of the Protestant religion, the secure enjoyment of freedom in their own worship, were irresistible reasons against compliance. Gratitude for present relief, remembrance of recent wrongs, and a strong sense of the obligation to prefer the exercise of religion to every other consideration, were very strong temptations to a different conduct. Many of them owed their lives to the king, and the lives of others were still in his hands. The remembrance of Jeffrey's campaign was so fresh as perhaps still rather to produce fear than the indignation and distrust which appear in a more advanced stage of recovery from the wounds inflicted by tyranny. The private relief granted to some of their ministers by the court on former occasions afforded a facility for exercising adverse influence through these persons,-the more dangerous because it might be partly concealed from themselves under the disguise of gratitude. The result of the action of these conflicting motives seems to have been, that the far greater part of all denominations of dissenters availed themselves of the declaration so far as to resume their public worship; that the most distinguished of their clergy, and the majority of the Presbyterians, resisted the solicitations of the court to sanction the dispensing power by addresses of thanks for this exertion of it; and that all the Quakers, the greater part of the Baptists, and perhaps also of the Independents, did not scruple to give this perilous token of their misguided gratitude, though many of them confined themselves to thanks for toleration, and solemn assurances that they would not abuse it.
About a hundred and eighty of these addresses were presented within a period of ten months, of which there are only seventy-seven exclusively and avowedly from Nonconformists. If to these be added a fair proportion of such as were at first secretly and at last openly corporators and grand jurors, and a larger share of those who addressed under very general descriptions, it seems probable that the numbers were almost equally divided between the dissenting communions and the established church.*'-ib., pp. 189–191.
*The addresses from bishops and their clergy were seven; those from corporations and grand juries seventy-five; those from inhabitants, &c.,
For a time the policy of the monarch appeared to be successful. Both James and his courtiers were deluded, and the reports forwarded to Paris and Rome were full of confidence and triumph. And yet they were on the eve of a fearful tempest. The surface was unruffled, but the waters below were deeply moved. Men's spirits were troubled within them, and the nobility and clergy having, for the first time, sided with the people, the result was not long in being ascertained. Statesmen would do well to ponder over the story of these times. It reads a salutary lesson, and may be studied with advantage by the men of our day. He must be dull of comprehension who does not trace some points of resemblance between the present condition of things and the state described in the following passage :
England perhaps never exhibited an external appearance of more undisturbed and profound tranquillity than in the momentous seven months which elapsed from the end of the autumn of 1687, to the beginning of the following summer. Not a speck in the heavens seemed to the common eye to forebode a storm. None of the riots now occurred which were the forerunners of the civil war under Charles I. nor were there any of those numerous assemblies of the people which affright by their force, when they do not disturb by their violence, and are sometimes as terrific in disciplined inaction, as in tumultuous outrage. Even the ordinary marks of national disapprobation, which prepare and announce a legal resistance to power, were wanting. There is no trace of any public meetings having been held in counties or great towns where such demonstrations of public opinion could have been made. The current of flattering addresses continued to flow towards the throne, uninterrupted by a single warning remonstrance of a more independent spirit, or even of a mere decent servility. It does not appear that in the pulpit, where alone the people could be freely addressed, political topics were discussed; though it must be acknowledged that the controversial sermons against the opinions of the church of Rome, which then abounded, proved in effect the most formidable obstacle to the progress of her ambition.'-ib., p. 230.
Our space is exhausted, and we must reluctantly close. The impeachment and acquittal of the bishops are described with fourteen; two from Catholics, and two from the Middle and Inner Temple. If six addresses from Presbyterians and Quakers in Scotland, Ireland, and New England be deducted, as it seems that they ought to be, the proportion of Dissenting addresses was certainly less than one half. Some of them, we know, were the produce of a sort of personal canvass, when the king made his progress in the autumn of 1687, to court the compliments of the people; and one of them, in which Philip Henry joiued, was not to offer lives and fortunes to him, but to thank him for the liberty, and to promise to demean themselves quietly in the use of it.' Wordsworth, vol. vi. p. 292. Address of Dissenters of Nantwich, Wem, and Whitchurch. London Gazette, 29th August.'
admirable skill, and the tolerant advances of the church to the sects she had persecuted-so disgracefully in contrast with what followed when the danger was past-are faithfully related, and furnish matter for comment, on which we could willingly dwell. We content ourselves, however, with pointing out these portions of the history, as well as the sketches given of the state of our prisons, and of the rise and constitution of the society of Jesuits, to the special attention of our readers.
We need scarcely add that the volumes under review should have a place in the library of every intelligent Englishman.
Church Stationery Prepared and Published by David Robertson,
EVERY invention that facilitates obedience to the inspired command,
come entangled, its spiritual progress is impeded by such embarassment. Every arrangement in a roll-book that assists a pastor and his deacons in the visitation and inspection of the church, is of utility. In all the more essential departments of congregational business, the forms observed in the books published by Mr. Robertson, will be found to be most useful auxiliaries. Their designations, of which we subjoin a few, will sufficiently indicate their character:-'Communicants' Roll-Book - Elders or Deacons District Roll-Book'Clergymen's Visiting Book '-' Baptismal Register '-' Disjunction Church Collection Certificate Book Certificate Book' Letting Book'-' Minute Book for Sessions and Presbyteries'-' Four Boards for Precentor's desk. Their simplicity is rivalled only by their completeness; there is neither intricacy nor mystery in their arrangements. Their general adoption would both lessen labour and secure regularity, and we doubt not that their cheapness, added to their correctness, will soon bring them into extensive use. We account this Church Stationery' among the many useful novelties of the present day, and sincerely thank the publisher for the care, skill, and taste which he has so successfully bestowed on these ingenious form-books. Congregations using them will find our recommendation to be far less than they merit.
The History of Egypt, from the Earliest Times till the Conquest by the Arabs, A D., 640. By Samuel Sharpe. A New Edition London: Moxon.
WE are glad to see a new edition of this work on our table. It is every way worthy of the distinction, though wanting some of the qualities by which popular favour is most easily won. It is a book of solid and pains-taking research, scrupulously honest, and of liberal views, The authorities relied on are appended, and every facility is given for the detection of error, where it exists, and the further prosecution, when desired, of any branch of the general history. Little comparatively is known of the history of ancient Egypt, though, as is noted by Mr. Sharpe, in his preface, it ranks next in importance to those of Judæa, Greece, and Rome. There is much in it to interest the general reader, and still more to engage the deepest study of those who are concerned, to trace the moral history of the human race. We recommend both the subject and the work to the early and favourable notice of our readers.
The Spirit admitted to the Heavenly House: the Body refused a Grave. Two Sermons, preached on the occasion of the death of the Rev. T. S. Guyer, of Ryde, Isle of Wight. With Notes. By Thomas Binney. London: Jackson and Walford.
WE are always gratified to meet the author of these sermons. Whether we agree with his opinions or not, whether we deem his views wise or unwise, his projects practicable or utopian, we always find his company agreeable, and his cogitations instructive. There is a freshness and honesty, a raciness of thought, and directness of purpose in Mr. Binney's compositions, with which it is eminently pleasing to meet. He is not one of a crowd, but possesses distinct personal qualities, an individual character, which is not to be confounded with the dull tameness about him.
These characteristics are strikingly visible in the present discourses, and give them a great charm. The occasion of the delivery of the sermons is well known, and the improvement here made of it is at once pertinent and effective. The preacher felt both the tenderness and the solemnity which were proper to his vocation, and he has reasoned and counselled accordingly. The first, a funeral sermon, is formed on 2 Corinthians, v. 1., and the other, in which the pretensions of the episcopal church of this country are tested, on Acts xx. 16, 17. We should be glad to see the second of these discourses printed in a detatched and somewhat different form. It deserves to live, and to have a wide circulation Its spirit is thoroughly catholic, its reasonings are cogent, and its rebukes untinctured by bitterness. Would that the spirit it breathes, as well as the intellect it evinces, were more general amongst our churches.
A Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. By Augustus William Schlegel. Translated by John Black, Esq. Revised according to the last German Edition, by the Rev. A. J. W. Morrison, M.A. London: Henry G. Bohn.
THIS volume belongs to Bohn's 'Standard Library,' and will fully sustain the character of that admirable series. The lectures it contains have an extensive and very high reputation throughout the Continent of Europe, and will be read with great interest, and much advantage, by all who are engaged in literary investigations. They were delivered in the spring of 1808, to a brilliant audience at Vienna, and, on their subsequent publication, were received with marked approbation by the literati of Europe. I was at Vienna,' Madame de Staël, when W. Schlegel gave his public course says of lectures. I expected only good sense and instruction, where the object was merely to convey information: I was astonished to hear a critic as eloquent as an orator, and who, far from falling upon defects, which are the eternal food of mean and little jealousy, sought only the means of reviving a creative genius.' The object of the author, is both to take a rapid survey of dramatic productions of different ages and nations, and to develope and determine the general ideas by which their true artistic value must be judged ?
China, and her Spiritual Claims. By the Rev. Evan Davis, late Missionary to the Chinese. pp. 134. Snow.
A USEFUL little work, well calculated to excite Christian compassion for a third of the human race.
Memoirs of Alexander Bethune, embracing Selections from his Correspondence, and Literary Remains. Compiled and edited by William M'Combie, author of Hours of Thought,' Moral Agency,' &c. pp. 390. Aberdeen: George and Robert King.
WE cannot better describe the subject of these Memoirs than in the words of the inscription placed upon his monument. With scarcely any school education, and under the pressure of poverty and the severest toil, he produced several works of much merit, illustrative of the character and manners, and conducive to the improvement, of his own class of society; and was as remarkable for his independence of spirit, and private virtues, as for his literary attainments.' The story of his life, and labours, affords a fresh illustration of what may be done in the cultivation of the mind, and the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, by diligence and energy.' Mr. M'Combie has discharged his task with great judgment.
Old England's Alarum. pp. 51. Hatchard. TRUTH and sense in a garb of vigorous verse.