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History of the Reformation. By George P. Fisher, D. D., Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Yale College. Octavo, pp. 620. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company. 1873.
Dr. Fisher is favorably known by his Essays on the Supernatural Origin of Christianity, and his frequent contributions to periodical literature. This volume on the great Reformation of the sixteenth century will be welcomed by a large class of readers. It is symmetrical, clear, and thoroughly readable. Full enough to allow something more than a mere skeleton of dates and facts, and to admit the introduction of contemporary, social, and political events, it is yet brief enough to attract those who are repelled by more voluminous works. Some of the biographical sketches are fine examples of description. The tone of the work is cheerful and hopeful, as of one who believes in the providential guidance of history, though at times perhaps a little too optimistic. The writer is evidently desirous of being strictly impartial, while never disguising his real sympathies, and it will be generally thought that he has succeeded. The Appendix contains a valuable chronological table, and a select list of works on the Reformation — specifying the desirable editions. There is also an excellent index. The work will doubtless commend itself to many teachers as a text-book on this period of Church History. As a specimen of Dr. Fisher's style we extract the following:
In the concluding years of Calvin's life, he had the satisfaction of seeing Geneva delivered from faction, and the institutions of education which he bad planted, in a flourishing condition. The grievous maladies that afflicted him did not move him to diminish the prodigious labors which, to other men in like circumstances, would have been unendurable. II had been his habit when the day had been consumed in giving hissermous and lectures; in the sessions of the Consistory over which he presided; in attending upon the Senate, at their request, to take part Iu their deliberations; in receiving and answering letters that poured in upon him from every quarter; in conferring with the numerous visitors who sought his advice or came to him from different countries — it had been his habit, when night came, to devote himself, with a sense of relief, to the studies which were ever most accordant with his taste, and to the composition of his books. For a long time, in the closing period of his life, he took but one meal in a day, and this was often omitted. He studied for hours in the morning, preached and then lectured, before taking a morsel of food. Too weak to sit up, he dictated to an amanuensis from his bed, or transacted business with those who came to consult him. When his body was utterly feeble, when he was reduced to a shadow, his mind lost none of its clearness or energy. No complaint in reference to his physical sufferings was heard from himHis lofty and intrepid spirit triumphed over all physical infirmity. From his sick bed, he regulated the affairs of the French Reformation. When he could no longer stand upon his feet, he was carried to church to partake of the Lord's Supper, and to a session of the Senate. Seeing that his end was near, he desired to meet this body for the last time. A celebrated artist has depicted the interview upon the canvas. The councilors gathered about his bed, and he addressed them. He thanked them for the tokens of honor which they had granted to him, and craved their forgiveness for outbreakings of anger which they had treated with so much forbearance, lie could say with truth, that whatever might be his faults, he had terved their republic with his whole soul. He had taught, he said, with no feeling of uncer. tainty respecting his doctrine, but sincerely and honestly, according to the Word of God. . . . He died on the 27th of May, 1564. His piercing eye retained its brilliancy to the last . Apart from this, his face had long worn the look of death, and its appearance, as we are informed by Beza, was not perceptibly changed after the spirit had left the body. His last days were of a piece with his life. His whole course has been compared by Vinet to the growth of one rind of a tree from another, or to a chain of logical sequences. He was endued with a marvelous power of understanding, although the imagination and sentiments were less roundly developed. His systematic spirit fitted him to be the founder of an enduring school of thought. In this characteristic he may be compared with Aquinas. He has been appropriately styled the Aristotle of the Reformation. He was a perfectly honest man. He subjected his will to the eternal rule of right, as far as he could discover it. His motives were pure. He felt that God was near him, and sacrificed everything to obey the direction of Providence. The fear of God ruled in his soul; not a slavish fear, but a principle such as animated the prophets of the Old Covenant . The combination of his qualities was such, that he could not fail to attract profound admiration and reverence from one class of minds, and excite intense antipathy in another. There is no one of the Reformers who is spoken of, at this late day, with so much personal feeling, either of regard or aversion. But whoever studies his life and writings, especially the few passages in which he lets us into his confidence and appears to invite our sympathy, will acquire a growing sense of his intellectual and moral greatness, and a tender consideration for his errors.
Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century. By John Tulloch, D. D. Vol. I. Liberal Churchmen. Vol. II. The Cambridge Platonists. Blackwood and Sons: Edinburgh and London. 1872. Octavo, pp. 463, 488.
Like the former works of Principal Tulloch, this new production is characterized by clearness, strength, and candor. It differs from Mr. Hunt's "Religious Thought in England," in the shorter time which it covers, and the smaller number of men and influences which it discusses. The student who is interested in investigating the course of religious thinking in England, will find here satisfactory solutions of some of the perplexing questions which present themselves respecting the transition from one stage of opinion and life to another, and how much in this change is due to general influences on the one hand, and to personal forces on the other. A synopsis of the volumes will indicate the nature and worth of the discussion: 1. Spirit of Rational Inquiry in Protestantism; 2. Course of Religious Opinion and Parties in England—1500-1625; 3. Lord Falkland — A Moderate and Liberal Church; 4. John Hales of Eton — Religion and Dogmatic Orthodoxy; 5. William Chillingworth— The Bible the Religion of Protestants; 6. Jeremy Taylor — Liberty of Christian Teaching within the Church; 7. Edward Stillingfleet — The Irenicon of a Comprehensive Church; 8. Historical Position of the Cambridge School, Philosophy and Christianity; 9. Benjamin Whichcote — Reason and Religion; 10. John Smith — Foundations of a Christian Philosophy; 11. Ralph Cudworth—Christian Philosophy in conflict with Materialism; 12. Henry More — Christian Theosophy and Mysticism; 13. Minor Members of the Cambridge School — Culverwell, Worthington, Rust, Patrick, Fowler, Glanvill, Norris; 14. General Estimate.
Publications of the Narraganselt Club. Volume V. George Fox Digg'd out of his Burrowes. Edited by Rev. J. Lewis Diman. pp. 503.
In the Quarterly for October, 1872, a contributor gave some account of the first four volumes of the publications of this Club. The fifth volume has since appeared. It contains the last work of Williams, and in some respects the least valuable. The first fifty-eight pages are occupied with a copious and carefully prepared introduction from the competent and skillful hand of Professor Diman, of Brown University. Into it he has gathered whatever historical or biographical matter will illustrate the book, or the controversy to which it is devoted. While insisting on the substantial agreement of Williams in doctrine with the. New England churches, he thinks "it is plain that he did not regard himself as having the least connection with" the Baptists. This whole series of reprints has much historical value, and is admirably executed.
1. Michael Faraday. By J. N. Gladstone, Ph. D., F. R. S. New
York: Harper and Brothers. 1872. Duodecimo, pp. 223.
2. The Life of Charles Dickens. By John Forster. 1812-1852.
Volumes I, II. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott and Company. 1872, pp. 418-494.
We do not put these books together because they are at all related, or for the sake of drawing a contrast, to which there is some temptation. Both men were remarkable in their different ways, and each, while living, was the first in his kind of work. They were certainly very remote from each other in employment, in mental structure, in general character.
Mr. Gladstone's book is a supplementary memoir of Faraday, using and adding to previous materials, putting them into a compact, portable form, and unfolding with more fulness and sympathy the beautiful religious spirit of the illustrious scientist. It is the story of a life worth any man's knowing, and adds another to the long list of charming biographies which contribute so much to the moral improvement of men, by bringing their example to the knowledge and imitation of a large number to whom they were otherwise unknown. It seems one of the oddest things in the world, that the foremost man of science of his day in England should be a worthy and sincere member of one of the smallest of Christian sects—the Sandemanians. So far as appears, nothing in the broad range of his scientific knowledge moved him out of the simplicity, even the peculiarities of his faith.
Mr. Forster does not succeed in separating himself far enough from his subject to make a good biographer. He is quite as prominent a figure as Mr. Dickens. It seems as if he were the only correspondent of the great novelist. He must have written letters by the thousand to his other literary friends, which would enrich his biography, if not give it better perspective. But we are compelled to see him almost entirely through his letters to Mr. Forster, and through a medium of mutual admiration, in which Mr. Forster bears a part he is at no pains to conceal. There is, too, an excess of critical remark, seeing we are promised a full examination of Dickens's works at the end. And yet Mr. Forster is a practiced writer and bookwright, and has put his materials together with much literary skill. We are admitted to a view of Dickens at home and at work. He does not leave the impression of any great nobleness or elevation of character. He has a sharp eye for money. He works with prodigious energy. He is restless and fond of change, especially when the fever of composition is on him. We have not yet reached the point of his domestic trouble, and alienation from his wife. A third volume is to cover the period since 1851. Through these two volumes are scattered allusions to his intercourses with others, though no letters are given. We have no space to pick plums from the book, but we can hardly withhold one which gives the sanction of ripe scholarship to one of our particular verbal aversions. "M. Van de Weyer will probably remember a dinner where he took joyous part with Dickens in running down a phrase which he learned in books. Mr. Cogswell, on a mission here for the Astor Library, had startled us by denouncing as an uncouth Scotch barbarism—open up. You found it constantly in Hume, he said, but hardly anywhere else; and he defied us to find it more than once through the whole of the volumes of Gibbon."
The Missionary World, Being an Encyclopaedia of Information, Facts, Incidents, Sketches, and Anecdotes, Relating to Christian Missions in all Ages and Countries, and of all Denominations. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph and Company. Duodecimo, pp. 567.
This is a book full of useful information, cordially endorsed by the Secretaries of three of the English missionary societies, Mr. Boyce, Dr. Mullens, and Dr. Underhill. It gives the early history of missions and missionary effort in all countries, some account of the various methods employed, and a brief survey of some of the results of missionary labor. The volume abounds with facts and incidents collected from a wide field, illustrating all departments of the great work of missions. The section treating of Missionary Literature is specially interesting and valuable.
History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age. By Edward Reuss, Professor in the Theological Faculty, and in the Protestant Seminary of Strasburg. With a Preface and Notes by R. W. Dale, M. A. Volume I. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1872. Octavo, pp. 424.
The author of this history is an Evangelical Lutheran, whose sympathies are with the more moderate section of the liberal party. He has eminent qualifications for the work he has undertaken which is not critical or theoretical, but historical. His discrimination and impartiality are cordially admitted by theologians of all schools. The main lines of discussion are Judaism, the Gospel, the Apostolic Church, Juda?o-Christian Theology. In common with the great majority of the Continental writers on the earlier years of the Gospel history, M. Reuss finds in the New Testament the cardinal principles of the Baptist Churches.
It is not difficult to show that Christian baptism embraced far more than mere repentance. It was to be conferred only when faith had been already manifested as the result of preaching. So soon as a confession of faith is made, baptism is added, to seal and confirm it in a positive, and, so to speak, official manner. If this baptism were intended to be anything more than a symbol, we cannot comprehend how it could be placed after all the rest. Clearly it is not baptism which produces or ensures the pardon of sins. Repentance and faith mast first be actually present; forgiveness, their necessary and direct consequence, is then bestowed; and baptism is the outward and material representation of a spiritual fact already consummated in the soul.
Thus baptism is the external and symbolical act of admission into the community. It is based upon the three fundamental ideas of the religion of Christ, the religious and moral trinity of the Gospel, which must not be confounded with the metaphysical and speculative trinity of theology. It supposes, 1st, Confession of faith in God the Father, holy and merciful, the two attributes upon which morality and evangelical religion rest; 2d, Communion with the Son of God, which is the seal of pardon for the past, and the pledge of triumph for the future; 3d, Fellowship with the Spirit of God, by which the new relation between man and his Maker is nourished and sustained, so as to bring forth fruit unto eternal life. This is the meaning of the well known words in Matthew xxviii. 19, which, thus understood, are no longer open to the reproach of a scholastic formula borrowed from another age, and inexplicable as uttered by Jesus. Even if we suppose the succinct, and, so to speak, sacramental form of words to be due to an ecclesiastical usage of earlier or later date, the idea which it contains and expresses may unquestionably be regarded as belonging to Jesus himself, since it characterizes the whole of his teaching.
If baptism is the rite symbolical of the introduction of the believer into the church, the Lord's Supper is that which symbolizes the abiding fellowship of the members with each other and with their Head. It may be regretted that the account of its institutiou has, from its very brevity, become an apple of discord in the church, rather than a symbol of unity; but the texts quoted enable us to ascertain, beyond a doubt, what was the intention of the rite. We