« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
mean a pure and rational theology. Mr. Fellenberg is deeply imbued bimself with the sense of religion ; and it enters into all his schemes for the improvement of society. Regarding the state of misery in which the poorest classes live, as rather calculated (if I may use his own expression) to make them believe in the agency of a devil than of a God, his first care, upon rescuing those children from that wretchedness, is to inspire them with the feelings of devotion which he himself warmly entertains, and wbich he regards as natural to the human heart, when misery has not chilled nor vice hardened it. Accordingly, the conversation, as well as the habits of the poor at Hofwyl, partake largely of religious influence. The evidences of design observable in the operations of nature, and the benevolent tendency of those operations in the great majority of instances, form constant topics of discourse in their studies, and during the labours of the day; and though no one has ever observed the slightest appearance of fanaticism or of superstition (against which, in truth, the course of instruction pursued is the surest safeguard) yet ample testimony is borne by all travellers to the prevailing piety of the place. One of these has noted an affecting instance of it, when the harvest once required the labourers to work for an hour or two after night-fall, and the full moon rose in extraordinary beauty over the magnificent mountains that surround the plain of Hofwyl. "Suddenly, as it with one accord, the poor children began to chaunt a hymn which they had learnt among many others, but in wbich the Supreme Being is adored as having
lighted up the great lamp of the night, and projected it in the firmament.” – Appendix to Mr. Brougham's Letter, p. 99.
This is a touching incident, very finely told. But, alas, nothing at all resembling it is likely to occur in our crowded cities, where there are no mountains to behold, and where the young and poor too often find occupations in the evening very different from admiring the moon. Natural Religion, such as this, which in its practical influence is extremely feeble always and every where, can have no power whatever in places, from which man has excluded nature. It is one subordinate proof of Christianity, that nothing else than a revealed and positive creed is sufficient, in the slightest degree, to fix the principles or restrain the passions of human beings, whenever they are congregated in dense and fermenting multitudes.
Not so thinks the reverend gentleman, whose discourse we have joined with the anonymous “Outline," and Mrs. Austin's translation. He is implacably at war with creeds and liturgies :
“ What,” he asks,“ what more is there throughout the New Testament, than the broadest and simplest principle as the basis of truth; and the utmost latitude of choice in worship, so that prayer was but the heart's desire, and thanksgiving the grateful melody of the soul ? Such an attempt is alike false to the nature of man and the nature of Christianity. It is a total mistake or perversion of that in which religion consists. Christianity is too fine and etherial an essence to be
thus exbibited in a hard, defined, tangible form ; crystallized as it were, and presented to the senses ; instead of pervading the mental and moral constitution, as do the great and viewless influences of the material universe. When, and where, did the great teacher, who best knew bow to teach, bring forth creeds and articles, containing abstract propositions by dozens and hundreds ?"- The Church Establishment, &c. p. 7.
These poor and Aimsy cavils are too threadbare to need exposure; yet we fear that minds, which cannot, surely, be deceived by their sophistry, suffer themselves to be caught by their treacherous liberality.
In a word, there is not one among these extracts,-some of which, as M. Cousin's, lead only to political religion; some, as Mr. Brougham's, only to natural religion ; some, as Mr. Bulwer's, only to the most vague and fantastic superstitions, which surveys Christianity in its right aspect, and "renders unto God the things that are God's.” Nor do we scruple to re-affirm that almost all we hear, and almost all we read, and almost all we see, assure us more and more that there is no security for the sound religion of the country apart from the ecclesiastical. establishment of the country; and yet, not only that an attempt will be made to divorce and force asunder the National Education from the Established Church, but that National Education will be used as an instrument to strike the first blow at the Church Establishment. For is there no danger? It is, we solemnly believe, the very danger to be apprehended. A Commission of Inquiry as to the Revenues of the Church in Ireland is already set on foot. Of course, a surplus will be found:-it is the object of the commission to find a surplus. And what is to be done with it? The ministers,-more especially Lord Brougham, -deny, with an extraordinary vehemence of adjuration, any intention or disposition to bestow the minutest fragnient of it upon the Catholic Clergy. But it is to be devoted to the purposes of an indiscriminate education, open to all sects alike, and putting all sects on an equality. Such is our conjecture; and we know that, as to ecclesiastical funds, both Irish and English, it is the wish and hope of the Dissenters. Mr. W.J. Fos, the Unitarian divine, the oracle, we understand, of Miss Martineau, in language, imposing from its rhetoric, but contemptible in its logic, says :
" If the legislature should apply to the purposes of a strictly national education an adequate portion of the fund now wasted on no earthly purpose of usefulness, we may indeed anticipate an era of true glory for our country. After the claims of the present life-possessors are satisfied, there is nothing which can fairly impede so righteous an appropriation. Providence endowed the nation with this noble inheritance. Theology is
too divided to possess it for national purposes. What claim, then, is there to which that of National Education is not paramount ? This would, indeed, be an establishment of Christianity in the only sense in which Christianity can consistently be established. Instruction, free instruction, might be brought home to every door. In fact, it should be obligatory ; giving the parent the option, of himself, or by private instruction, of educating his child in preference.”—p. 12.
The discourse is entitled, “ The Church Establishment inconsistent with the Spirit of Christianity, and the well-being of the Community.”
We should be glad to quote more of it, and show that it contains some fine strong language, some extremely clever images and illustrations; for the Sectarians know the value and the power of style, and scorn the bald jejune stuff, which some of us Churchmen call simplicity and adaptation to the vulgar understanding. As to its argument, however, nothing in the world can be so unfair or so preposterous; as to its exhibition of Scriptural doctrine or ecclesiastical polity, nothing in the world can be so so outrageously mistaken.
But we must stop. We have only room to extract part of a petition appended to the Sermon, which was presented to the House of Commons from “ the Protestant Dissenters of both sexes, assembling in South Place Chapel, Finsbury, of which the Rev. W. J. Fox is Minister.” We do entreat our readers to weigh and digest the extracts well; to bear in mind that one main object of all the Dissenters is the spoliation and subversion of the Church under the pretence of instruction for the people :-and to recollect, that we are beset by active and intriguing enemies, governed' by vacillating coquetting ministers, and sometimes embarrassed by timid compromising friends.
“That the adoption of Christianity as a State Religion has impaired the purity, and impeded the progress, of its principles ; has promoted despotism, persecution, and bloodshed; has brought suspicion and contempt upon the character of its Ministers, and contravened its beneficent object of advancing “Peace on earth and good-will amongst
That the investiture of any sect with exclusive political privileges is utterly at variance with the spirit of the Christian religion ; obstructs the intellectual and moral improvement of the people ; is detrimental to the public peace and the harmony of social intercourse ; invades the civil rights of individuals, and tends to subvert the liberties and prosperity of the nation.
“ That the appropriation by the Episcopal Church of the funds which the pious munificence of our ancestors set apart for the relief of the poor and the spiritual culture of the entire population, is totally inconsistent with the accomplishment of those purposes, and deprives the
community of its intended heritage of gratuitous and universal instruction ; your Petitioners, therefore, respectfully submit to your Honourable House that, in the present state of religious opinion and of society, the most legitimate upplication of those funds, after due provision for their present recipients, would be the establishment of a wise, liberal and comprehensive plan of National Education.”-pp. 14, 15.
Art. XI.-1. A Discourse on the Studies of the University.
By Adam Sedgwick, M. A., F.R. S., Woodwardian Professor, and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Cambridge,
Deightons : London, Parker. 1833. 2. Thoughts on the Admission of Persons, without regard to their
Religious Opinions, to certain Degrees in the Universities of England. By Thomas Turton, D. D., Reg. Prof. of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, and Dean of Peterborough.
London: Rivingtons; Parker. 1834. 3. On the Admission of Dissenters to reside and graduate at the
Universities. By the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, M. A., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Cambridge: Deigh
tons and Stevenson. 1834. 4. Some Remarks on the Dean of Peterborough’s Tract. By
Şamuel Lee, D. D., Reg. Prof. of Hebrew, &c. Cambridge:
Deightons. 1834. 5. A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Turton, D. D. By Connop
Thirlwall, M. A., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Cambridge, Deightons : London, Rivingtons. 1834. 6. Remarks on Mr. Thirlwall's Letter. By William Whewell,
M. A., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge.
London: Rivingtons. 1834. 7. A Letter to Earl Grey on the Admission of Dissenters to the
Universities. By W. Sewell, M.A., late Fellow of Exeter
College, Oxford. 8. Extracts from Examination Papers. By W. Selwyn, M.A.,
late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Wé half reproach ourselves with neglect, as we refer our readers to the eloquent address which we have placed at the head of our article.
We are conscious, that to many, if not to most of them, it has become familiar, and that by them it has been long since read with
pleasure and with profit. The reputation of its author has always been great in the scientific world; but the part he has recently taken in a question of vital importance has given to this address a peculiar interest; and can we now say, that its perusal has been attended with unmingled delight? do we not now feel that it has been mixed with anxiety, as we have dwelt upon the passing and the past? and have we not with tenfold eagerness desired to look into the gloomy future?
Had we noticed this address when first it appeared, with what different feelings should we have dwelt upon that glowing language, in which the studies of the University are so nobly set forth! We should have placed our readers, where imagination has already placed us, in that Chapel of the monuments of the illustrious dead, amidst a youthful and rapt congregation, listening with profound attention to the words of one, who has ever possessed, and, what is still better, has ever deserved, their affectionate esteem; and who is the ornament as well of the University as of his College. And we should have pointed out the preacher as one, who, although greatly zealous in the pursuit of scientific truth, valued far higher than all other, religious truth; and who would have sacrificed his very existence, rather than that, through his means, any one of those whom he addressed, should have wandered from, or wavered in his attachment to, the pure faith of that Church whose doctrines he was then inculcating. And yet, it is with grievous disappointment we confess it, how fallible our judgment would have been, when we find it admitted, that in a moment of disappointment he lent his name to a scheme, nay, was one of its authors, which might have for its result the destruction of the Church of which he is a member and a minister; and the promulgation of which scheme has thrown into present wrathful contention the University, the peace of which he so recklessly endangered, has greatly interrupted the studies of its youthful members,* and has been the fruitful cause of a schism, which has split into adverse factions the college to which he belongs.
The evils produced by that ill advised petition are tremendous ; it is the first step to the separation of Church and State. And that separation implies the downfal of them both, the consequent destruction of religious knowledge, first among the lower classes, and then the upper; and lastly, it will be followed by the lowering of infidelity over the land.
These latter awful consequences, we admit, are dependent upon the abolition of an Established Church; but, we assert, that once
* We observe that neither the Members' Prizes nor the Chancellor's Prize for the best English Poem have been awarded this year.