Imágenes de páginas


to the neighbourhood of London were finally successful. suggested themselves to his mind that outweighed all remaining objections. In a wider sphere of labour his influence for good would proportionately increase. In the matter of the commentary he was working for posterity, and as regarding that great work, which he was then industriously proceeding with, it appeared that a near personal superintendence of the printing promised lasting advantage. In the neighbourhood of London, moreover, a ready access to collections of valuable books could be enjoyed, and these under any circumstances were not obtainable at Chester. One other advantage, which the cultured never underrate, was that of congenial and profitable society. The removal to Hackney became a fact in the spring of 1712. On the eighteeuth day of May, Henry inaugurated his pastorate by preaching in the morning from the opening of Genesis, and in the afternoon from the first chapter of Matthew. He entered on a course of incessant pastoral labours, which joined to arduous literary undertakings, would have sufficed to shorten the life of a stronger man. His ministry at Hackney proved pre-eminently successful. Constant occupations so engrossed his attention that time scarcely remained to harbour depressing thoughts; yet such would sometimes intrude unbidden, as he remembered his late beloved people, and cast a longing look towards Chester.

Henry's popularity in London continued to increase till his services were eagerly sought for anniversaries and other festivals. He would even preach two or three times in a single day. On the Sabbath, in addition to his home labours, the pastor assisted at the early morning lecture at Little Saint Helens, besides which he sometimes preached in the evening in the city, evening lectures not being usual outside London. The heedlessness of consequences shown in submitting to these continued strains upon his powers, was, in a way, one evening roughly rebuked by a company of footpads, who relieved the pastor of eleven shillings during his journey homeward to Hackney.

Henry attempted to revive the custom of catechising young persons by promoting that exercise in his own congregation. These services were usually held on Saturday afternoons. In the reign of Queen Anne, similar practices were more urgently necessary than they are in our more favoured days. At the commencement of the eighteenth century, schools, as appendages to Nonconformist Churches, were almost ur known institutions. Even London boasted of but one exception, and that exception so pleased the Hackney pastor, that on New Year's-day, 1713, he visited his friend Marryat, of Gravel Lane, Southwark, for the purpose of giving a discourse on behalf of the innovating venture of a day-school,

Henry revisited Chester during the summer of 1713. The affectionate sympathy and the generous greetings he experienced, both refreshed and rejoiced his spirits. Immediately after returning home, the first symptoms of that decay appeared which was destined to cut short his singularly industrious career, and that too, alas ! so much sooner than any mortal foresight could bave anticipated. But it was not until the succeeding spring that he undertook a last journey to the scene of his early labours. On that occasion, many anxious admirers saw with concern, that the countenance and bearing of the divine were accompanied by those unmistakable tokens which so surely presage approaching mortality. Henry spent his last earthly Sabbath at Chester, where he appropriately preached on the theme of everlasting rest. On the morning following he commenced journeying southward, but imprudently preached again during his progress. Friends vainly attempted dissuading him from taking a service at Nantwich, because by the absence of his usual geniality they judged him to be seriously ailing. But his lifework was finished. It happened to be the longest day of summer. Intending to halt at Doddington, to accept the hospitality of Sir Thomas Delves, the commentator found himself unable to proceed, and therefore stayed instead at the house of a brother minister. The great man had now arrived at the last stage of his busy if rather uneventful career, and life's closing scene was as beautiful as aught that had gone before. An apoplectic fit succeeded, which finally released his happy spirit at five o'clock on the morning of June the twentysecond. When news of the irreparable loss sustained by the entire Church militant reached London, unusual signs of grief became manifest, the mourning extending throughout the Three Denominations. William Tong, of Salters' Hall, and Dr. Daniel Williams, the founder of the library, each attempted to console the sorrowing people of Hackney, in an appropriate funeral discourse.

During his Chester pastorate, Henry habitually preached sets of sermons on chosen subjects. One of these themes was Conversion ; another was, The Penalties of Sin. His people also enjoyed abundant opportunity of profiting by his able expositions of the lessons from the Bible. As he progressed in life, Henry was led to undertake what many of his class in that age were prone to consider their peculiar work: this was simply the prodigious ordeal of composing a body of divinity. At the date of his decease he had proceeded some way into the subject of God's Being and Attributes; and, had life been prolonged, he would probably have published that great work after completing his commentary. The biblical annotations were begun in 1704. Several years previously, however, some notes on the Apocalypse were submitted to the critical judgment of Samuel Clarke, and these obtained a favourable opinion. Fruitless endeavours were probably made to persuade the London booksellers to accept the manuscript; but though left on hand, these, had the author been spared, would, as a matter of course, have occupied their proper place in the commentary.

Mankind are interested in details of the beginnings, the progress and the endings of great works. What about Matthew Henry's Commentary? In the quiet of eventide, on November the 12th, 1704, the writing was commenced of that celebrated explanation of God's Word, which the Church will prize till the end of time. Henry took up his pen, “After many thoughts of heart and many prayers.” With great precision he noted down in his diary the progress of the work. Exactly two years sufficed to complete the Pentateuch. Then the busy hand of the writer was stayed by death, when by ceaseless industry it had worked on to the end of the Acts of the Apostles. As most readers are aware, the work was finished by several eminent Nonconformist divines.

Matthew Henry may not be the ablest divine of the Revolution era, though his esposition of the parable of the Prodigal Son is regarded as a choice gem in English literature.* If we only except the author of “ The Pilgrim's Progress," Henry is as popular with posterity as the most illustrious of his Puritan contemporaries. Though in some particular literary excellences he was surpassed by Howe and Bates, it may be justly questioned if the present united influence of the two eminent divines mentioned be so great as that still exercised by the humbleminded commentator, who as passing years widen the gulf between his times and ours, is ever extending his province as a religious teacher of the people of England.


Confirmatiou Again.
R. ALFRED POTTER, the Rector of Keyworth, Notts, has

. tion,” and it can be had of Mr. Macintosh, of Paternoster Row, for one penny. It is almost as good a tract as his former one, of which he tells us, “ If you had dismissed my tract on confirmation with the remark that it was worthless, I could have understood your meaning, and remained silent.” Now, our politeness would have forbidden such a remark, but if it will gratify Mr. Potter, we will come down to the level of his understanding, and oblige him by saying that both his first tract and his present reply are worthless. Fearing, however, that the gentleman will not be quite satisfied with the verdict which he invites, we shall be presumptuous enough to add a few sentences more. Evidently he thinks we shall be astounded at his buckling on the harness and coming forth against us, and that our alarm at his publicly exposing us will be extreme. We can assure him that he has no cause to fear for us, our equanimity is unruffled, and no feeling is awakened in us except the very smallest amount of amusement. A worthy neighbour of the Vicar tells us that the remarkable array of texts at the bottom of the pages of the reply has caused no small amusement, since they appear to have been culled at random, and are about as appropriate to the late eclipse of the sun as to the subject in hand. Some writers feel that it gives an air of importance to their pages to stud them with references, but when the references are babyish the. result is one step removed from the sublime.

How does the rector rectify himself in the matter of the maimed quotation from Calvin ? Why, by merely saying that the words were " unintentionally omitted!!! We are bound to believe his reverence, and we do so according to the measure of our faith. It is, however, a singular accident by which a man leaves out that part of a sentence which is not in accordance with his own views. Accidents in the literary world are evidently more propitiously arranged than those upon railroads. The rector feels that the accident was so trivial that he has no need even to say that he is sorry for it; on the contrary, he is the accurate man beyond all doubt, and that wicked Reviewer is the guilty party. What if the rector did accidentally misquote Calvin, he was even then nearer the mark than the flippant being who dared to quote

See the “ Encyclopædia Britannica," eighth edition. Art. Matthew HENRY.

Calvin's utterances concerning Confirmation in the Church of Rome, and show that they were applicable to the immaculate Church of England. The rector has the effrontery to affirm that Calvin approved of Confirmation, as practised in the Church of England, because he (as we admitted) believed in the primitive laying on of hands, and declared that a sort of Confirmation was practised in the early church. To us it is as clear as daylight that the censures of Calvin, which we quoted, are applicable to any Confirmation which pretends to bestow spiritual gifts; they were aimed primarily at the practice of the Church of Rome, they are quite as applicable to the rather more obnoxious ceremony of the Anglican Church. Let our readers turn to the passage quoted in our article and judge for themselves. The confirmation which Calvin would have allowed is widely different from the misleading, injurious, and utterly unscriptural ceremony which Mr. Potter, and his like, try to bolster up. As the Institutes of Calvin were written before the present service-book of the Anglican Community was extant, few persons out of Bedlam would have brought Calvin into the question on one side or the other. Having however introduced that great reformer's opinion, the reverend gentleman was answered by us according to his folly by a quotation dead against him, and now he turns round in devout horror, and cries ont, “ This was meant for the Church of Rome and not for the Anglican ceremony." We cannot help answerinçı, “O sapient rector of Keyworth, of course it was! Who but you would have dreamed otherwise? How could Calvin in his Institutes have formed a judgment upon your precious prayer-book which was not then in exi-tence? But what he said of the Roman Confirmation is true of yours, and more true still, for he who compares the prayer-book and the missal upon confirmation, will find the prayer-book to be the worse of the two."

The advice gratis which his reverence gives us apon being flippant, etc, is worthy of a man who expects obsequions homage from the downtrodden serfs among whom he is the parson, but we think he makes a slight mistake when he considers unholy familiarity with sacred things to be the right name for plain speech conceruing a Rector and his worthless Tracts.


England and the Pope.

the dignity of the Pope, and to his personal freedom and independence in the discharge of his spiritual functions, to be legitimate matter for their no ice. Indeed, without waiting for the occurrence of an actual necessity, they have, during the uncertainties of the last few months, taken upon themselves to make provision which would have tended to afford any necessary protection to the person of the Sovereigu Pontiff.”

We must confess that we read the above words of Mr. Gladstone with sur. prise and indiguation. We are glad that he has been called to account for them, and we hope that they will be made the subject of grave question as soon as ever the House of Commons meets. Our Roman Catholic fellow subjects will always find us willing to demand for to them their fullest civil rights. We are for religious equality without reserve; but they cannot claim that the Government of our country should play the lackey to their Chief Priest, and if they


claim it the arrogant pretension must be at once rebuked. By all means afford a sbelter to any potentate who needs a refuge from his subjects; England glories in her universal hospitality to the tyrannised and to tyrants alike, but the late Master of Rome is no more a protege of ours than the deposed Lord of Paris. We wish them both security of life and limb as men, but our fleets, our fortresses and our finances are no more available for sccuring the “ freedom and independence" of the one than of the other, Mr. Gladstone misrepresents the nation when he makes the dignity of the Pope a legitimate object of the national notice of Great Britain. The followers of the Pope who dwell in these isles can no more claim that we should become a body-guard for that Italiay dignitary, than can any other body of religionists demand that we shall uphold their leader, if he too happens to be a foreigner and iu danger from his neighbours. The people of England and Scotland have yet to learn that they are bound to maintain the dignity or even to protect the person of a priest whom his own subjects cannot longer endure. We are Liberals, but we cannot brook this even from the most Liberal of cabinets. O for an hour of Oliver Cromwell in the senate house to denounce all truckling of this sort! If something be not said, and said very decidedly too, onr rulers will go from bad to worse ; not intentionally rebelling against the sovereignty of public opinion, but misunderstanding its decree. The men of Scotland are speaking, and it behoves all Protestants, without bitterness, but with much firmness, to repeat their protest. Thank God, Eugland is not Papal yet.

A puzzled Dutchman.


not believe in immersion for baptism was holding a protracted meeting, and one night preached on the subject of baptism. In the course of his remarks he said, some believe it necessary to go down into the water, and come up out of it, to be baptised. But this he claimed to be fallacy, for the preposition “into," of the Scriptures, should be rendered differently, for it does not mean into at all times. ** Moses," he said, “ we are told, went up into the mountain, and the Saviour was taken into a high mountain, etc. Now, we do not suppose that either went into a mountain, but unto it. So with going down into the water; it means only going down close by or near the water, and being baptised in the ordinary way by sprinkling or pouring."

He carried this idea out fully, and in due season and style closed his discourse, when an invitation was given for any one so disposed to arise and express his thoughts. Quite a number of the brethren arose, and said they were glad they had been present on this occasion, that they were well pleased with the sound sermon they had just heard, and felt their souls greatly blessed, Finally, a corpulent gentleman of Teutonic extraction, a stranger to all, arose and broke a silence that was almost painful, as follows:

* Mister Breacher, I ish so glat I vash here to-night, for I has had explained to my mint some dings that I never could pelief pefore. Oh, I so glad dat into does not mean into at all, but shust close by or near to, for now I can pelief manish diugs vot I could not pelief pefore. We reat, Mr. Breacher, dat Taniel was cast into de ten of lions and came out alife! Now I nefer could pelief dat, for de wilt beasts would shust eat him right off; put now it is fery clear to my mint. He vash shust close py or near to, and tid not get into de ten at all. Oh, I ish so glat I vash here to-night!

“ Again we reat dat de Hebrew children vas cast into de firish furnace, and dat air alwaysh looking like a peeg story too, for dey would bave peen purut up, put it ish all plain to my mint now, for dey were shust cast near py or close to the firish furnace. Oh, I vash so glat Ivash here to-night!

« AnteriorContinuar »