Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

though spirited and mother-like, might lack sufficient reason for its place, but for the admirable skill with which she makes her young boy, in the wreck of her hopes for Italy and liberty, be to her “ with his brave blue English eyes," the prophet of the ever fertile future.

“Now shake the glittering nimbus of thy hair,
And be God's witness; that the elemental

New springs of life are gushing everywhere,
To cleanse the watercourses."

There was some colloquial phraseology, appearing not always very agreeably in some of Mrs. Browning's former pieces, which was not important, because it was confined to the piece in which it appeared, and left others untrespassed on by its intrusion. But in a poem of greater length, and which is one, the appearance of similar phrases is an offence against the whole. We don't like

“When all's said, and howe'er the proud may wince,"

and we don't think at all that Michael Angelo would condescend to return the Grand Duke's vulgarity by being so vulgar himself, and saying “ Outlasting, therefore, all your lordships, Sir!

So keep your stone, beseech you, for your part,” &c.

We don't like " there's room too, I repeat,” in poetry. Why, these are things," "Why the world were wrecked," sound better from the lips of Hotspur reading a letter in a drama--than in a didactic and descriptive poem. The interlocutions at the Exhibition are not at all to our taste, coming from the writer of the Vision of Poets : “ These corals will you please to match against your oaks.”— “Here's sculpture.”—“Methinks you will not match this steel of ours," – loquitur Mr. Rogers, of Sheffield, we suppose. “ Nor you this porcelain,” observes a gentleman from China or Dresden.

Nevertheless, or, as Mrs. Browning would remark, “ when all's said”-here is a picture of the sojourn of a woman of genius and high spirit in Florence, full of colours that will not fade-full of life that will not die-of truth that will not perish.

ART. V.-BLAND'S AND KINGSLEY'S SERMONS.

Christian Charity considered in relation to the Love of God.

A Sermon delivered at the Octagon Chapel, Norwich,
March 23, 1851. By Philip Bland, Perpetual Curate

of St. Martin at Oak, Norwich. London. . 1851. The Message of the Church to Labouring Men. A Sermon

preached at St. John's Church, Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, June 22, 1851. By Charles Kingsley, Jun., Rector of Eversley. London. 1851.

THESE are extraordinary publications-very significant of the strange times in which we live. The former is particularly worthy of notice, from the remarkable conjunction of the preacher and the place. The facts connected with Mr. Bland's occupation of the pulpit in the Octagon Chapel, Norwich, and the correspondence which ensued, are already familiar to most of our readers; but they are so remarkable from the deep-working tendencies which they imply in many earnest minds, that it cannot be out of place even now to recal attention to them. Ten years ago it would have been held utterly incredible without some imputation of mental unsoundness on both sides—that a clergyman of the Church of England, having at the same time the cure of souls in a cathedral town, should preach, on the invitation of their minister, in the pulpit of the English Presbyterians in that same city—a pulpit, time-hallowed for its promulgation of a liberal theology, and now, though restricted to no creed, well known as one of the strong holds of Unitarian Christianity. But so it was—and so every Catholic spirit rejoiced that it should be. The clergyman and the minister felt themselves closely united in Christian sympathy and action, and agreed together that “the time was come to cease from distinctive action, and to trust in the swelling power of truth, and to labour constructively”-for that “the people want the bread of life, not Athanasian, Arian, or Unitarian disquisitions." In this spirit the articled clergyman took his stand in the free pulpit of English Presbyterianism—not to disguise his opinions, nor even out of indifference to opinions, nor because he was not a zealous son of the Church—but because he thought he had some words of Life to speak, and that he ought not to refuse, but rather accept gladly, every opportunity of preaching freely the Gospel of Christ. In this, upon Christian principles, we hold that he was clearly right: and at the time of his taking this step, he believed himself right upon Church of England principles. He then declared, that he knew of no law of God or man, to prevent his preaching to any congregation that might be willing to hear him—"unless it were some black-letter statute which he never saw and never wished to see, and which, he supposed, he must equally transgress every time he lifted up his voice at a prayer-meeting in an unlicensed cottage, or at family worship in an unconsecrated drawingroom; both prayer-meetings and family-worship being quite uncanonical, although, perhaps, not altogether unChristian.” We give in his

own manly and powerful words, the defence of his position which then satisfied him: in spirit it seems to us still unanswerable.

“I meet the dissenter, and I fraternize with him on a broader basis than the broadest church system that ever was—on the basis of our common Christianity, i. e. our common body and our common spirit and our common calling; our common Lord and our common faith and our common baptism and our common God and Father, who is above all, and through all, and in all. I meet the Christian Unitarian on the same basis which I meet my own Roman Catholic sisters and cousins; and when I have been suspended for crossing the threshold of my own mother's house, I shall think that I am in danger of being suspended for crossing the threshold of any other house where a dissenter lives, or dissenters meet. But to preach! Well! if I must be suspended, then I say, “Suspend me if I do not preach; say that those amongst whom I go dishonour Christ, say that they deny the Lord who bought them; and if Christ be any thing more than a heading for a chapter or a text for a sermon, then the disorderly, the disgraceful, the criminal, the sinful act, must surely be the not confessing Him loudly and earnestly-the going to stare and not to preach—the fulfilling the work of a relation and leaving undone the work of an evangelist-the being where Christianity is supposed not to be, and the not carrying Christianity with you.' But there must be discipline. Ah! would that there were discipline! Would that there were discipline to reach us all, and to correct us, whenever and wherever we neglect our duties and do amiss! Would that the discipline of our Church and of all Christian

CHRISTIAN TEACHER. - No. 53.

2 A

churches was what it should be, acting strenuously and with holy severity against all known and scandalous evil, but encouraging all good and all first and faintest beginnings of good! Where, however, is this discipline to be found ? Nowhere certainly perfected; not in the Church of England, not in the newest and latest establishment of all the churches which are established amongst us. But growing, amongst both ourselves and others, I believe it is. And God be praised for it. To advance it, and not to retard it, is the bounden duty of all. And it is no duty, but a sin, to say we have it when we have it not, or to own we have it not, and yet to boast as if we had. I deem it to be no mark of affection to the Church of which we are members, to cloke over its faults, as if they were faults in some other body and not in our own; no mark of true and deep affection, where we parade it upon all occasions. No; but when our affection to the body of which we are members is called in question, then we may give the rein to our feelings, then may we say, as I say now, from the bottom of my heart, that we love and cherish our Church as we love and cherish our own body."

We think it was honourable to Mr. Bland, that in venturing on this act of liberality and Christian sympathy, he still retained his attachment to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. Had he approached nearer to the doctrines of the English Presbyterians, he would only have receded from them in spirit, in truth and uprightness, by continuing still to hold his place in the Established Church: and the test of his Catholicity would in that case have been far less decisive. We have therefore marked with especial satisfaction those passages in his Sermon, which show, that his theology was such as became his position. Unhappily the result has discovered only too plainly, that there is something in the genius of the Church of England which hinders her from approaching in any sense to the character of a national Church-something which makes it impossible for her ministers to unite a sincere attachment to her peculiar profession and service, with a practical recognition of other religious bodies, and an occasional communion with them in acts of Christian faith and love. Mr. Bland has been induced to consider his position a false one; and has resigned the curacy of St. Martin. Some of his friends, we are aware, regard this step as precipitate and unnecessary. He had been admonished by his diocesan, and might have continued his useful labours in his parish. One thing, however, is clearly proved by the issue of this transaction, that a man cannot remain a minister of the Church of England, and at the same time acknowledge by preaching for them, the ministers of any other communion. She imposes on her sons the painful alternative of either suppressing their fraternal sympathies, or ceasing to be useful within her pale. Practically, we do not see how it can henceforth be disputed, that the Church of England is everywhit as exclusive-as completely assumes the pretensions of the one true Church-as the Church of Rome.

With regard to Mr. Bland's Sermon itself, it is a very striking exhibition of Christian Love as a working principle. It is not free from affectation, and is tinged by the exaggeration and grotesque vulgarity which so much of our modern religious literature mistakes for strength and originality. But the spirit of earnestness and Christian kindness shines clearly out. We give a specimen.

“Do little children when they kiss one another, when they play with and amuse one another, confer or receive favours ? No, Christians: and (for there is more in this question than you may have thought) we shall not be like little children as you know, on the best authority, we are bound to become, on pain of losing our entrance into the kingdom of heaven ; we shall not have been converted from our stiff and unloving nature into the gentle and pliable nature of a little child, until we learn thus to love one another. We shall have learnt to play our cards well in a society so artificial that it loves nothing but artifice, when we have learnt to cloke over our selfishness with a coat of many colours, soft to the touch and pleasing to the eye,

with a mild answer here and a handsome subscription there, with now and then a proper burst of indignation against some oppressor, and now and then an expression of charitable consideration for some indiscreet enthusiast. We shall have learnt to approve our. selves to our church or our party, as it may be, when we have learnt to checker a life devoted to the pursuit of our own interests, with an occasional exhibition of disinterested effort for those with whom we wish to stand well. But assuredly we shall not have learnt to love one another as little children love one another, until we cease to regard those below us as only objects of pity, and those above us as gods to be propitiated, and those of our own rank as alone fit to be our friends, until we come to regard all of all ranks as worthy of our love, and possessed of a claim, of an absolute right, to all that we can do for them. All other love but this is a delusion, a deceit, a trick, a lie. It may preach powerfully in the pulpit or trach re

« ZurückWeiter »