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the temptation has been strong and reason weak, without the aid of some power above the law? In a few, perhaps, the want of a religious education may be not felt, whose life from first to last is like the unruffled gliding of the New River; but should a man above the mass, and whose education has been of the highest order, feel the hard gripe of pinching poverty, we will not answer, without religion, for his unflinching morality; still less can it be said of the mass, let loose from the influence of that invisible law which binds the heart, that although they may not rob openly, through the fear of a prison, they will not pilfer if they can do so undetected: nay, what but the want of principle, founded on something more firm than expediency, is it that has made Westminster Hall blush so often for the political apostasy of its double-tongued pleaders? What, we ask, is to restrain a knave and coward from whispering away the character of another, and stabbing, Iago-like, honest men in the dark? The men of wigs will reply—the law; but the men of sense know well that the law can no more check backbiting, than the excise can detect adulterations in beer, except through the evidence of an accomplice; and that the only guarantee is in education, based upon the religion that teaches us to keep our tongues from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering. What, we ask, is to restrain a man-monster from grinding his white slave to powder under the piston of a steam-engine, when he can get, or hopes to get, a profit
of fivesixteenths of a penny upon every pound of cotton ?* The loss of a customer, replies the political economist.
We answer, that if a customer can be found at Timbuctoo, nothing but the voice of religion, which bids him love his neighbour as himself, will prevent him from putting the mite into his own pocket, and bidding the Moloch-machine do its work of death. Lastly, we would ask the advocates of the new school, would France have tolerated her fashionable novels, made up, like Bulwer's Eugene Aram, from the pages of a Newgate Calendar, had the education of readers, whose fathers had supped full on the horrors of a bloody revolution, been based upon the religion which tells us that crime consists as well in the covert animus as the overt act?
* At a public meeting convened lately at Manchester, the Cotton Lords signed a petition to the House of Commons for the repeal of the duty on the raw cotton imported into this country, and which is fivesixteenths of a penny a pound, on the plea that if such an enormous tax were not repealed, English goods would not be able to compete with the Swiss and other nations in the various markets of the world. No wonder, then, that the men of Manchester, the friends of the VicePresident of the Board of Trade, are unwilling to trust to the tender mercies of the Poor Law Commissioners, having the fear of a poorhouse Bastile before their eyes, should the profit of five-sixteenths of a penny fail to be realized.
For ourselves, we would rather the tree of knowledge were, if possible, destroyed root and branch, than that it should bear fruit as fatal to the morality of those who pluck it, as the Upas tree of Pantology is to the intellect of those who intend hereafter to repose securely under its shade.
Art. IX. — The Theological Library. 14 vols. London,
Rivingtons. 1837. OUR readers cannot have forgotten the literary crisis, to employ a phrase much in vogue at present, which happened a few years ago, and gave to this immense city an appearance that realized Milton's famous picture in the Areopagitica of the Intellectual Armoury. The flood of popular knowledge, which broke upon the astonished age, took its rise from a chance observation of Dr. Johnson, who is related to have commended those small books, which you can take in your hand and read by the fire. This observation had scarcely been seized upon by some industrious
in search of the frivolous, before a swarm of youngling authors filled the air with their drowsy hum, as they wandered over the fields of literature to collect honey from other hives. Library succeeded Library; Miscellany trod on the heels of Miscellany; a gulf was dug between Useful and Entertaining Knowledge; all the walks to the Temple of Fame were smoothed and gravelled; and if the student did not obtain an encyclopædic knowledge, he had only to blame his own negligence. Thus were we rapidly approaching the situation of our Scythian ancestors, among whom the number of pens was so infinite, that Grecian eloquence could only express their multitude by saying, that in the regions of the north it was hardly possible for a man to travel, the very air being replete with feathers.* Amidst this unceasing shower of books, some undoubtedly possessed great merit; Mr. Murray's Family Library deserves particular mention; its writers were gentlemen and scholars, prepared to amuse and instruct the public; yet for some reason not explained, the original plan was deviated from, and we have still to lament (we fear we can no longer anticipate its appearance,) Mr. Lockhart's Life of Cervantes. While Miscellanies of every hue were striving to entertain or edify the reader, it occurred to Mr. Rivington that a series of books upon religious subjects, embracing history and biography, and adapted for what is emphatically called general reading, might obtain a satisfactory circulation. The Theological Library, under the superintendence of the Rev. Hugh James Rose and Archdeacon Lyall, was the result of this belief: one of its distinguishing features is a series of Lives of British Divines, by Mr. Le Bas, which already includes the names of Wicklif, Jewell, Cranmer, and Laud. Every person will admit that a biographical history of our Church, presenting the religious and intellectual physiognomy of its early and mightiest builders and defenders, would be an enterprise worthy of the most comprehensive talents. The lives of such men as Wicklif, Jewell, Cranmer, and Laud, are channels through which the histories of their ages respectively flow, so that they are not so much episodes, as chapters, in our ecclesiastical annals. We love to see their figures carved with a bold and monumental sincerity by the hand of a skilful statuary, or sketched by the pen of an accomplished artist. In the embalming colours of genius the lineaments of the preacher retain the bloom, the animation, the sanctity of life; the eye still glows with gospel light; the lip still warms, exhorts, commands; drawing up the soul, as with a golden chain, to those brighter worlds to which he points and leads the way. It is a noble and inspiring spectacle, after the departure of some pure and illustrious spirit, to behold the serene glory of his sunset, gradually melting in golden light along the distant horizon; there to colour many a dark cloud, and cheer the straining eyes of many a future generation. But our delight becomes most intense and unembittered when he, after whose radiant garments we gaze, was less distinguished by pomp, or power, or worldly station, than by the meekness of his disposition, the warmth of his piety, and the depth of his erudition; when the splendour of his character is composed of the mild rays of christian virtues and christian wisdom.' With these feelings we hang upon the works of Taylor, of Hall, and of Norris, and many others whose names are written in the Book of Life. No cloud passes over these stars of Judah. In their pages, as in crystal streams, the meek features of the christian graces are reflected; no whirlwind of passion ruffles their tranquillity, or disturbs the beauty of the shadows. Mr. Le Bas very appropriately commences his Lives with Wicklif, to whose memoirs he has prefixed an Introduction, containing a rapid and luminous review of the foundation of the Church in England, her sufferings and persecutions, her encounters with the fierce hatred and the gorgeous rivalry of Paganism, and the insidious advances of Philosophy. Through these difficulties and temptations she had to make her way, and with calamitous issue; so that if an apostle, exclaims Mr. Le Bas, had revisited the earth at the end of four or five centuries from the period of his ministry, and had looked only at the visible form of the Church, he might have feared that the truth for which he had laboured and bled had been transformed into a gorgeous spectacle-its painful and laborious evangelists into pompous actors—its places of worship into splendid theatres. Chrysostom could complain with all the
* Tale of a Tub, sect. vii.
him a young
indignant sublimity of his golden eloquence, that devotion was departed from the sanctuary, and that the church of God was become the haunt of pleasure and of traffic.
The life of Wicklif is a drama performed in our own land, full of the liveliest interest, and abounding in incidents coming home to all our hearts. Whether we look
upon student at Oxford, by his learning and piety obtaining the title of the evangelic or gospel doctor, and already arming himself, as it were, unconsciously for his future combat; or with the trumpet at his lips, in after times, denouncing the mendicantorders, with their letters of fraternity, "powdred (to employ his own emphatic words,) with hypocrisie, covetise, simonie, blasphemie, and other leasings;" as an indefatigable and zealous parish priest, labouring with a faithfulness, a charity, and a devotedness, which have occasioned him to be esteemed the original of Chaucer's picture of a village clergyman; or as the great forerunner of the Reformation—the brazen hammer, beneath whose ponderous strokes the jewelled pride of the Papacy began to tremble—in all these situations his character cannot be contemplated without emotion. But it is to the English Luther that the memory usually reverts; it is upon the first translator of the Bible into the English tongue, that the Christian delights to meditate. It was this blaze of holy light which dismayed the Italian enchantress, amid the clouds of her incense and the magnificence of her array; it was the opening of the fountains of this great deep that caused a revolution in Europe. Dr. Lingard, the Catholic historian, while confessing that the Scriptures became, in the hands of Wicklif and his “poor priests,” an engine of wonderful power, attempts indirectly to lessen his claims upon our admiration, by affirming the existence of several previous versions. This assertion is incapable of proof. Mr. Baber, in his learned and diligent account of the Saxon and English versions of the Scriptures, previous to the beginning of the fifteenth century, has satisfactorily established the claims of Wicklif
. The fragmentary versions of Cædmon, of Alfred, and Elric, are evidently not entitled to contest the priority. Mr. Baber dispels also the doubts thrown upon Wicklif's labours, by a little book under the title of Elucidarium Bibliorum,“ Prologue to the complete Version of the Bible.” A very excellent summary of his arguments is given by Mr. Le Bas at p. 225. Chateaubriand, in his Essai sur la Littérature Anglaise, proposes as a subject of great interest, both with respect to criticism and the philosophy of the human mind, an inquiry into the comparative merits of Catholic and Protestant literature since the Reformation. The world, he says, is covered with monuments of the old religion; to her we owe an architecture, which has rivalled in its duration, and surpassed by its magnificence, the glory of Phidias; the Reformation has given us an Inigo Jones to compare with Michael Angelo;
a Tillotson to place by the chair of Bossuet. But surely this eloquent declaimer might have brought forward, in an essay upon English literature, some name more famous than Tillotson-albeit one of the masters in Israel-some architect more distinguished for sublimity than Jones. If a path of literature were to be pointed out, in which England has vanquished all the nations of Europe, it would certainly be in the oratory of the pulpit: in a future paper we hope to support our assertion by a cloud of witnesses. Bossuet, and Bourdaloue, and Massillon, and Flechier, will dwindle by the side of Taylor, of Hall, of Barrow, and of Horsley; and these are only a few of the christian knights who in their gorgeous equipment have done battle for the Cross of Christ : nor is the advocate of Catholicism more happy in his poetical claims; he lays his hand upon Shakespeare—"Shakespeare, selon toutes les probabilités, s'il était quelque chose, était Catholique” -and embraces Dryden and Pope. No person can admire more ardently than ourselves a poet, of whom Gray said to a friend, “Read Dryden, and be blind to all his faults." We love his masculine strength, his harmonious eloquence, his idiomatic truth; but alas, what religious pride is to be gratified by the possession of one of whom a fellow-poet and a fellow-believer exclaims,
“Unhappy Dryden! in all Charles' days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted lays !"- Pope. Chateaubriand cannot feel too acutely the elaborate elegance, the inimitable polish, the exquisite art of Pope ; but surely in a religious controversy his compositions are not of that style most calculated to display the influence of a creed. It was a Puritan, not a Catholic, who sang of Paradise Lost. Chateaubriand seems to have been sensible of this difficulty; and how does he meet it? Hear his own words:—“Milton a imité quelques parties des poëmes de Saint Avite et de Masenius!” How decisive of the inferiority of Protestantism! But let the truth be spoken; we owe a debt to the Roman Babylon, a debt so eloquently acknowledged by Mr. Le Bas, that it would be presumptuous to seek other language than his to express it; yet even among the despised Huguenots of his native land, the French critic might have remembered Bochart, the most learned orientalist of his age; Basnage, whom even Voltaire declared more fit to govern a kingdom than a parish; and the theologian Claude, in whom even his antagonists acknowledged a meet opponent of Pascal and of Arnaud. * Let us return to Mr. Le Bas: “It was itself, (speaking of the Romish church,) a most gigantic abuse ; but then it had the merit of frequently controlling other abuses and enormities, which might, between them, have torn the whole structure of society in pieces. It was, in some
See History of Reformed Church in France, vol. iii. p. 243.