« ForrigeFortsett »
affixed to a declaration recently issued by a moderate party at Birmingham, who sought to mediate between the Conference and the more ultra-reformers. In the most emphatic sense this meeting of laymen was packed. The only way of securing a fair representation of the opinions of the body was deliberately rejected.
In the speeches made at this meeting (as reported in the 'Watchman'), there is no formal reference to the book we are now reviewing; but there are unmistakeable proofs that the book has been read, and has troubled the thoughts both of preachers and laymen.
We fear it has done little more than leave them without excuse. A layman ' does not think the text of Scripture can be so clear as many of the ministers think it to be, when every other Protestant church holds a policy different from their own in this respect.' The ministers scarcely attempt to deny that they have Rome, and Rome only, on their side. One of them, the Rev. Thomas Jackson, actually goes the length of avowing his sympathy with the men whom Mr. Taylor calls the malcontents of the Church of England—with the Bishop of Exeter and his party—with the men who are striving for what they call ' synodieal action.' 'These men,' says Mr. Jackson,' want to exercise the pastoral charge as it is laid down in the Neio Testament! F
Here, then, must issue be joined. Is the popish-puseyiteconference doctrine of the pastoral authority the doctrine of the New Testament? It is marvellous to see on what slender scriptural evidence this gigantic claim is made, and how completely the scriptural contradictions to it are left out of sight. The texts referred to are those in which ministers are styled 'pastors,' ' overseers,' ' rulers,' and are commanded to ' feed the church of God,' and ' to take the oversight of it.' There is not a syllable in any one of the texts referred to (except the admonition to Titus—' a man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject') which might not be addressed to class leaders and local preachers with even more suitableness than to itinerant preachers. The leaders and local preachers are very often men who have long ministered to the flock, and are known and very highly esteemed for their work's sake; the itinerant preacher is always, comparatively, a stranger. Injunctions exactly identical with that given to Titus, taking Mr. Wesley's note upon it as fairly expressing its meaning, are repeatedly given to the members of the church at large (Rom. xvi. 17; 2Thess. iii. 6).
Throughout the New Testament, it is on the members of the church, collectively, that the responsibility for the purity of the church is made to rest. The Methodist preachers speak of this responsibility as a heavy burden, which they would gladly lay down, if they might. Christ, in his word, lays on them no such burden. Obeying the principles and precepts, and conforming to the examples, of the New Testament, they will be relieved of it at once.
There are passages in the inspired statute book of the ehurch which expressly prescribe and exemplify the scriptural rule of excommunication. Our Lord himself requires that the offender's fault should be told 'to the church,' and requires him to ' hear the church.' Mr. Wesley, in his notes, makes the unauthorized addition ' the elders' of the church; but distinctly recognises the passage as the permanent rule of discipline. St. Paul requires the church of God at Corinth to * gather' and 'to put away from themselves the wicked person.' The punishment was inflicted of many. The many—the saints—the whole church, were to restore and receive him to their fellowship when he had become a true penitent After this manner, excommunication is inflicted in independent churches. The church is gathered. The pastor is president The New Testament is the only statute book. The punishment is inflicted of' many,' though pronounced by the pastor's voice, and therefore it has solemn, moral, and spiritual power. The VVesleyan excommunication is by one, often against the many who constitute the church; and therefore is utterly destitute of power over the conscience, and awakens no response from Christians, except it be the response of indignant disapproval.
Earnestly do we commend the work now reviewed, and Mr. Taylor's former book on ' Spiritual Despotism,' to the study of the Wesleyan clergy and laity. These books contain principles by the adoption of which Methodism may yet be saved. These principles are not democratic—not the principles of Independency—not our own principles. They are the more likely to gain a hearing from the Methodists. Even Mr. Taylor distinctly holds that' the presence and concurrence of the people, in acts of discipline,' is one of the great rudiments of ecclesiastical polity; and ' that there can be no security and no liberty, and scarcely any purity and vitality in a church which says to the laity, 'You have nothing to do with theology but to receive what we teach you; (this is the popish dogma), and nothing to do with rules of discipline, or laws of administration, but to yield them obedience.^ This last is the dogma which, we fear, the next Wesleyan Conference will maintain. Sincerely do we pray that, from this infatuation, a body so important to Christianity, and in many ways so honoured and so useful, may yet be saved.
Aht. III.—Observation! on the Social and Political State of Denmark, and the Duchies of Sleswick and Holstein, in 1851; being the third series of the Notes of a Traveller on the Social and Political State of the European People. By Samuel Laing, Esq. 8vo. pp. 446. London: Longman and Co.
Mr. Laing's former volumes will insure a favorable reception to the one now before us. Little need be said in his commendation. Whatever differences of opinion exist respecting some of his views, all are agreed in regarding him as an able, well-informed, and instructive companion. He must not be confounded with the general herd of travellers. He has little in common with them, and that little is so intimately blended with qualities of which they are wholly destitute, that his pages fill and gratify the mind which turns with disgust from their inanity. A more insipid and sickly class than our summer-tourists cannot easily be imagined. They travel from fashion or mere vacuity. Satiated with the quiet of home, they seek excitement abroad, or else aspire to the poor distinction of having as long a list of the towns and countries they have visited as any of their associates. Were this all, we might be content. Under the inflictions of their absence we should find some consolation in exemption from their unceasing garrulity and foppishness. But when they return with the airs of travelled-men, affecting the appearance, garb, and manners of foreigners, assuming to know much, and prating dogmatically, though politeness may prevent a contemptuous expression from passing our lips, we inwardly loathe their silliness, and turn from them with disgust. In many cases, unhappily, these tourists are as vain as they are insipid. Their ignorance is only equalled by their self-sufficiency, and they therefore imagine that their travels, the record of what they saw and heard, cannot fail to interest—it may be, instruct, the general public. Abounding more in money than in wit, they speedily produce one or two volumes, as the case may be; and in this mercenary and unscrupulous age there are not wanting means of securing for them a little temporary eclat. Their productions, however, soon pass to the general receptacle of such worthless wares. They are known only for a day, and then numbered with the things that are not.
One bad result of such publications is the general prejudice raised against the class to which they so unworthily claim to belong. Men now turn from the books of modern travellers, as amongst the most vapid and worthless productions of the press. They have been so often disappointed, have had their temper so frequently ruffled by the manifest feebleness of those who have undertaken to instruct 'stayers at home,' that they turn from such volumes as from poor poetry, or forced wit. Nor is this a light evil. It should not be treated thoughtlessly. It is fraught with bad consequences, and ought to be put down. The great majority of our countrymen are restricted from foreign travel. A thousand circumstances prevent their visiting distant lands, and it is much to be deplored that the information brought home to them by those who are more fortunately situated, is, for the most part, so worthless in character, or so feeble and unattractive in its mode of exhibition. There are, of course, exceptions. We speak only of the general fact, and are clear that we do not overstate it.
With such a class Mr. Laing has no sympathy. He stands apart, and his isolation is his honor. Instead of filling his pages with trifles, describing what hundreds have described before, or repeating the stale records of the 'Guide Book,' he looks with a keen eye on the facts around him, notes the more important of them in brief and appropriate speech, and seeks to combine the general mass in illustration or enforcement of principles which bear on the welfare of society. There is little or nothing of personal incidents in this volume. It makes no pretension to anything of the kind. It is a collection of observations, or rather of disquisitions, on a few facts clearly stated, and these recur so often—are so perpetually coming up—as to give an appearance of repetition to some portions of the work. We feel continually that we are in the companionship of a sound-minded reflecting man, one who looks intelligently on the order of things about him, is quite competent to follow out what he deems its natural sequence, and who actually does so without regard to the acceptance or disfavor of his reflections. Mr. Laing is a reasoner more than an observer, a philosopher rather than a mere traveller. Not that he is deficient in the latter of these capacities. He has a keen perception and a discriminating judgment, bat the ratiooinative faculty is so predominant, that it is needful to look carefully at his premises. Give him these, and his conclusions follow; but we are not always prepared to do so, and are therefore compelled, in some eases, to differ from his views. We do this, however, with hesitation. Infallible as critics are, we suspect our own judgment when it stands opposed to his conclusions, and feel inclined to review, again and again, the grounds of our decision before finally adopting it In a few instances we suspect that
a tendency to hasty generalization, founded on a partial array of facts, has led him astray; while in others, the severity of the judgments pronounced, seems to indicate the absence from his thoughts of some mitigating circumstances which candor should have noted.
The volume before us is specially interesting to Englishmen, as pertaining to the home of their forefathers. The Juti, Angli, and Frisi, mentioned by Bede, who invaded England in the fifth century, came unquestionably from Denmark, three districts of which are still called Jutland, Angeln, and Friesland. There are numerous points of affinity between the character and habits of the Danish people and those of the Anglo-Saxon race. Mr. Laing visited Denmark with the expectation of finding such to be the case, and his inquiries, he tells us, 'proved that this handful of people, not exceeding a million and a half in numbers, had not degenerated from the bravery, perseverance, and spirit of their ancestors, and were still, in mind and character, similar and equal to the descendants of the same stock in England and America.' Our author possessed sufficient knowledge of the Danish and German languages to communicate freely with the people, and the information he obtained is set forth with clearness and precision.
The peninsula, extending about 300 miles in length, and which separates the Northern Ocean from the Baltic, is less known probably to Englishmen than any other tract in Europe, of similar extent; yet it has strong points of interest, capable of amply rewarding the closest and most continuous attention. 'It is,' says Mr. Laing, 'one of the most remarkable and important, physical and geographical, features of the land of our continent.' But it is not to the geologist only that this portion of Europe is fraught with instruction. The history of Denmark, so far as it can be traced, is rich in the materials out of which philosophy is formed, and to our countrymen especially it is important and most suggestive. The tribes which invaded England soon after the departure of the Romans, and established separate and independent kingdoms, are still found, distinct from each other, and in the same locality as is described by our venerable historian.
* It is remarkable,' says Mr. Laing, 'that the three tribes, with their distinct usages, languages, and idiosyncracies, still exist separately, and miamalgamated, in their original homes in this peninsula. The Jutlanders speak their own Danish dialect, live apart, and are physically and socially a different tribe of people from the Angli, or inhabitants of the south of Sleswick, and of Holstein, who speak the Piatt Deutsch. The Frisians, who occupy the islands and west coast of the peninsula, from the Eyder to the Elbe, are a distinct people in dialect, customs, and all that distin