Abbildungen der Seite


that rightfully belongs to the several towns of the Commonwealth; if the Board has no power, it is of no use. It interferes with the voluntary efforts of friends of Education, and seeks to control by law, what is best left to individual enterprise. It seeks to prescribe reading to the schools, and must either countenance partisan or sectarian books, or else recommend works so devoid of all reference to politics and religion, as to be utterly vague and useless. The objection brought against the Normal Schools is, that there is no need of Schools for the Education of Teachers, since every good Academy or High School is a Seminary for Teachers, and every good scholar will be a good Teacher. It is moreover argued, that the State now pays for the Education of Teachers without any assurance, that the Teachers thus educated will remain in the State, and will not give their services to other parts of the Union.

The Minority Report ably meets the objections to the Board of Education and its plans. It either denies the truth of the pretended facts alleged by the objectors, or triumphantly refutes their pretended arguments. No man, however, who reads the first Report can believe, that the whole ground of objection is stated. The true causes of opposition lie far deeper, else we value too highly the wisdom of the majority of the Committee. We sincerely hope, that no groundless sectarian prejudices, no authors' jealousies, no instructors' piques, no political ranor will be allowed to stop one of the noblest enterprises ever started in the noblest of our enterprising States.

However, should the enterprise be now stopped, the good already done would not be wholly destroyed. The Proceedings of the Board of Education must make the most valuable treasury within reach of the friends of education throughout our land. The Secretary has already had much of his reward in the motive that has prompted him to his work; he cannot be defrauded of the rich fruits that must follow his efforts in the cause nearest his heart.

We are very happy to know, that the sentiments of the Majority Report have been emphatically rejected by the majority of the House of Representatives.

The Religion of Jesus Christ defended from the assaults of Owenism. In nine Lectures, by J. R. BEARD. Manchester. London: 1839. 12mo. pp. 240.-Did our space allow it, we should gladly devote several pages to these able Lectures of Mr. Beard. They are particularly adapted to a state of things existing rather in England than in this country, but are not without application here. There is in every community an element of

irreligious dissatisfaction, which more or less openly and coarsely sets itself against the order and faith of society, and imagines that it has only to overturn everything established, in order to secure a paradise for men. In Great Britain this spirit is goaded to a mad activity by the inequalities and privations produced by the artificial state of society and the operation of antiquated institutions. Every one fancies that he knows how to mend the Commonwealth, and is ready to put his hand to the work; one imagining all the evil to lie in the aristocracy of the government, another in the distribution of wealth, another in the system of education, and another in the church; and so all together ready to overthrow all and burn up the whole, not doubting that a Phoenix will rise spontaneously from the ashes.

In this state of things comes forward Owen, with the plausible talk of philanthropy and demonstrations of much disinterested benevolence. He proposes to remodel the whole social state. He offers his plan, not only, like others, for pulling down, but for building up. He exhibits his whole plan, lays down the form and style and architecture and arrangements of the entire future building, and like some of our schemers of magnificent metropolises in the western wilderness, which look so fine on paper that half the farms in a county are mortgaged for the promise of a building lot in streets that are never to be built, he deludes not a few to put their trust in his "New Moral World," and fling away their hope of a Christian heaven, that they may secure possession of the heaven of New Harmony.

The delusion is sufficiently threatening to warrant the notice of those who are set for the defence of the Gospel, and with it of all that is solid in the prospects of humanity. Accordingly Mr. Beard addresses himself to the work, and repels the pretensions of the new and boastful infidelity. He does this by first vindicating Christianity from the charges of imposition and persecution, which these new friends of man bring against it, and by strong argument and fair distinctions confutes their unworthy cavils. He then, laying aside the defensive, turns the assault against the novel scheme; shows it to be based in barren Atheism and an ignorant and puerile philosophy; and to aim with direct and inevitable tendency to the destruction of whatever is most beautiful, desirable, and pure in the natural condition of man and the affections which constitute his happiness. For a complete analysis of this seasonable and useful book we have no room. If we had we should gladly impart to our readers something of the satisfaction with which we have ourselves perused its fair and well reasoned and sometimes eloquent pages.

Ancient Christianity and the Doctrines of the Oxford Tracts. By ISAAC TAYLOR, author of "Spiritual Despotism," &c. London: 1839. This is one of the most valuable and pertinent of numberless publications which the Oxford "Tracts for the Times" have called forth. After the full exposition, which we have given in a former number, of the design and contents of those Tracts, not many words will be required to define the place which this publication has in the great controversy. Its author is well known to us by his five former works, all of which have been reprinted in this country. Their style is peculiar and in some instances objectionable, from apparent inflation and turgidity. Their sentiments exhibit a fervent and speculative religious spirit, making the most of facts and illustrations. The author, educated as a Dissenter, became by conviction and inquiry a moderate Churchman of the school which abhors the novel enterprise of the Oxford divines. We have already represented their fundamental theory to be as follows, proceeding upon a broad but wholly unwarrantable predicate. Previ ous to the inventions and corruptions with which Rome sealed her apostacy, they say, that the pristine church, under the nurture of apostolic men, was altogether fair and lovely. Its purity and devotion, its reverence for the written record and the hallowed tradition, its martyr endurance and its unquestioning obedience of order and discipline, were wholly unmarred and complete. It presented a spectacle on which angels could look down with joy. Popery defiled this primitive beauty of the Church. Though it did not repudiate the truth, it mingled the truth with noxious error. It gathered to itself abominations, but still it lost not the divine treasure which was committed to its charge. When the mystery of iniquity was completely unveiled, and God and men could no longer bear to behold the corruptions of heavenly truth, Reformers and Martyrs were raised up. With the zeal of their cause they were in a measure blinded. They were holy men, but not without error. Their leading idea was the reformation of abuses, instead of the restoration of primitive Christianity. Consequently they lopped off as Papistical branches, some of the original and still green boughs of the tree of life. The reformation went too far -we must turn back. We must restore to the Church its original purity, by recalling the usages and the subordination of apostolic times. This is the theory which has so alarmed the whole of the Evangelical and of the moderate parties of the Church of England. Mr. Taylor alone has pointed his argument against the only vulnerable point in this fair show of theory. He denies utterly this fancied completeness and purity of the VOL. XXVIII. 3D S. VOL. X. NO. II.


ante-Papal Church. He dates the origin of Popery even in apostolic times, and incontestably proves that if the Nicene. Church could be set up in England in its completeness, we should have, if not an entire restoration of Popery, at least a vigorous action of all the elements which would rapidly work out Popery. Mr. Taylor says he possesses all the Greek and Latin Fathers, and what is more, he says he has read them. He thinks the Oxford theory alarming and dangerous, and from his retirement he has blown a blast which will scatter all the airy phantoms" of the monks of Oxford." If the theory under which they promulgate their doctrines be true, if the primitive Church was pure and complete in its doctrine and discipline, then there is a standard to which all Christians may appeal, and by which they may measure their deficiencies and excrescences. But if it can be proved that even before the apostles died, dissensions and inventions had both disturbed the harmony and corrupted the faith of Christians, then we are left with no other standard than the New Testament, and can deny all argument and authority which is not based upon it.

As Unitarians we have been satisfied with the latter conclusion. We find in the apostolic Epistles the proof, that the elements of discord began to work upon the day of the gift of tongues, and have discovered in the prevailing sects of Christendom the influence of heathen philosophy, oriental asceticism, and of Papal dogmatism. Mr. Taylor would not agree with us in our conclusions, but he starts from the point whence we derive them.


The argument of the work before us may be expressed in two of its sentences, 'There is absolutely nothing in the ripe Popery of St. Dominic (certain elaborate modes of proceeding excepted) which is not to be found in the Christianity of the times of Cyprian or of Tertullian." "I boldly say that Popery, foul as it is, and has ever been, in the mass, might yet fairly represent itself as a reform upon early Christianity."

These positions Mr. Taylor fairly substantiates. He begins by appealing to the prophecies of the Saviour and his apostles, that dissension and corruption should be among the earliest fruits of the preaching of Christianity. He takes the melancholy history of the early Church as the commentary and the proof of these predictions, while he cogently asserts that the Oxford divines, by insisting upon the purity of primitive times, flatly dispute the prophetic truth of the New Testament warnings. A large body in the establishment profess to despise all use of Ecclesiastical History, denying appeals to it, and lightly estimating the study of it. With this party Mr. Taylor is far from

consenting. He largely expatiates upon the benefits of a thorough knowledge of all ancient Christian lore, and upon the obligations of the clergy to master it, though he freely characterizes its often repulsive details. He then discusses the degree and the conditions on which the modern Church depends upon the ancient, and finds that, as far as testimony is concerned, our obligations are complete, but as to authority and example, we are free to improve upon it.

[ocr errors]

By a line of rigid and irresistible demonstration he undertakes to prove that Popery, so far from being a corruption of Nicene Christianity, was but a development of principles and tenets which, for at least two centuries, had been recognised as of equal authority with any apostolic precepts. To follow out this argument in all its bearings, and to illustrate it by extracts for the mass of readers, would require at least one folio. He therefore selects one topic, not of an incidental, but of an intrinsically important nature one which is peculiarly associated with the entire history and system of primitive Christianity, and which must therefore bring into view the prominent traits of that boasted golden age of faith. To this end Mr. Taylor chooses the subject of " celibacy -the glorified virtue of monks and nuns. With admirable surprise, he asks the authors of the Oxford Tracts why they have so scrupulously avoided all mention of this prime element of ancient Christianity. They must be aware that the celestial, or angelic excellence of virginity was the most luminous point in the piety of the ancient Church. He then vindicates his general position by proving on this particular point that the progress of eight hundred or a thousand years exhibits but little if any progression in the ideas which sanctioned, or in the abuses which attended the practices of religious celibacy-that in the earliest accredited mention of them we find they were no novelties, but had come from an earlier date that they prevailed over and affected the Church universal. - that they were solemnly authenticated and sanctioned by all the great writers and doctors of the ancient Church that they were the causes and the effects of errors in theology, of perverted moral sentiments, of superstitious uses, of hierarchical usurpations; and that they furnish us with a criterion for estimating the General Value of Ancient Christianity.

The Teacher Taught; or the Principles and Modes of Teaching. By EMERSON DAVIS. Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, & Webb. 1839.. The most difficult of all treatises on education are those, which attempt not only to give principles, but to make

« ZurückWeiter »