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understanding that questions of a controversial nature shall never be agitated.”

There is a more decided tone in this passage than is usually adopted in episcopal charges, touching matters involving a change in the practice of the Church. It may, however, be regretted that the bishop was not still more explicit, and did not take upon himself to decide how far such solemn meetings could be adopted with advantage under the existing circumstances of the diocese. There can be no doubt that his lordship is fully capable of deciding such a question. But on the general question, whether the revival of those assemblies is expedient, he evidently feels no hesitation. His lordship, however, stipulates “that questions of a controversial nature shall never be agitated.” By questions of a controversial nature we suppose the bishop to mean especially questions of faith. Discussions of that nature must indeed be most peremptorily excluded, for this plain reason, that rural synods have no authority to decide matters of that kind. The same principle must exclude from being entertained in the rural chapters all affairs not relating directly to the duties of parish priests, according to the very judicious sixth rule of the chapter of the deanery of Trigg Major. The well-known rules of the civil law concerning statutes, or bye-laws, have a direct bearing on this matter. We refer especially to the rules that statutes in derogation to the general law are void,-and that statutes must not be touching matters extra jurisdictionem statuentis. There are also some wholesome rules in Coke upon Littleton, respecting local prescriptions, which are very much to the present purpose, and to which we refer our readers.* These are somewhat abstruse points of law. By the way, it strikes us that if the system of rural chapters should be brought into use to any extent, the clergy will soon discover the necessity of obtaining a knowledge of at least the rudiments of ecclesiastical public law, from whence alone they can get a sufficient store of general principles to keep them right in their proceedings. While they confine themselves to their churches and pastoral duties they may do without this kind of knowledge; but when they undertake to govern, the case becomes very different.

Great care will also become necessary in the choice of rural deans. If a crochety meddling person were placed in the office, or an overbearing ill-natured man, great injury might be done to the Church within his deanery, and both the dean and the chapter would be brought into disrepute.

Mr. Dansey has collected together in his appendix a number

* Co. Litt. sec. 165, p. 110 b, and n. 1. NO, XLVII.- N.S.


of very valuable and interesting documents, ancient and modern, English and continental, comprising formulæ of appointment, synodical and episcopal instructions, and other documents illustrative of the office of rural dean. We recommend those instruments to the careful consideration of the clergy: they contain a mine of knowledge and experience. And here we must observe a serious omission on the part of Mr. Dansey, that is to say, the omission of an index. His book deserves to be a text-book, and a standard book of reference on the subject on which he treats; but it grievously wants an index, for that very reason. It must go through many more editions, and the learned writer will therefore have ample opportunity of supplying this defect. We, however, feel the defect so strongly (notwithstanding the copious table of contents,) that if we were in Mr. Dansey's place, we should think seriously of publishing an index separately, for the present edition.

Having thus given due praise to Mr. Dansey, we cannot help regretting to find him going out of his way to say,-“the blessing of bells, or other such absurd ceremonies."* Why should the blessing of church bells be more absurd than the blessing of churches or churchyards? In both cases the blessing means no more than a solemn dedication to the purposes of divine service. But, at any rate, why sneer at and apply hard words to the customs of other churches ? It would also have been better to have said St. Charles Borromeo, than the reputed saint Charles Borromeo.” † That great Christian was as holy as St. Augustine, St. Cyrill, and others, who are universally allowed by our divines the title of Saint; and the fact that he lived a few centuries later than they makes no difference; and that title does not necessarily imply anything that our Church refuses to sanction. But these observations are meant to be most respectful to the reverend author, who indeed would probably concur in them on second thoughts.

Mr. Dansey shows that in England the office of rural dean declined simultaneously with the rural synods or chapters; and Blackstone speaks of them as almost grown out of use although their deaneries still exist as an ecclesiastical division. On the continent this ancient office has had its period of decay, though its declension was not so marked and decisive as among ourselves. Our author cites a great number of continental decrees of councils of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, including the Synod of Trent, having for their object the revival of rural deans.

• Horæ Dec. Rur. vol. ii. p. 149.

1 Ibid. par. vi. sec. 1, 2.

Ibid. p. 146.

In our own country no such decisive measure as an ecclesiastical law on this subject has as yet been adopted. Queen Anne, in the year 1710, submitted to convocation, among other heads of business, the establishing of rural deans where they are not, and rendering them more useful where they are; but the dissensions which arose between the two houses prevented the passing of any canon founded on the royal proposition. The letter of George I. to the convocation, about business for them, (A.D. 1715,) contains many heads of matters proper for synodical consideration, but nó allusion to rural deans. Indeed, from the reign of Queen Anne to the present time, there has been no authoritative movement on the part of the State, or of the Church collectively, for the restoration of this portion of our ecclesiastical government.

Several of the bishops have, however, revived the office of rural deans in their dioceses; and we believe that they have been uniformly found to be a useful addition to the ecclesiastical system of the country. So far a decided improvement has taken place; and the augmented number of commissions issued by the bishops to rural deans of late years, shows that further progress in the carrying out of the institution may be hoped for. But as yet the use made of the office has been narrow in its range, and confined chiefly to the inspection of fabrics. As the subject obtains more public interest

and attention, people will enlarge their ideas in this respect. They will see how many things are needed in the Church, of which they previously had no idea. They will discover the imperfections of the practical working of the government of dioceses in England ; and, in some particulars, the absence of all government of a real and practical nature. As the progress of civilization causes new wants to be felt, and stimulates men to improve their social condition by providing for the satisfaction of those wants; so the increase of ecclesiastical learning will, by raising the standard of the perfection of government and Church polity in the minds of the clergy and laity, lead them to extend, improve, and revive institutions which they have hitherto neglected, and apply them to a variety of purposes discovered in the rich mines of ecclesiastical antiquity. Thus, when once the institution of rural deans is fully established and understood, a more enlarged view will be taken of the office. It will become evident that its uses are far beyond what those who first revived it imagined ; and then this portion of the Church's economy will be made to produce all the fruits which ancient experience, and the principles of ecclesiastical public law, justify us to expect.


Art. II.— The Historical Geography of Arabia ; or, the Patriarchal

Eridences of Revealed Religion ; with Maps, and an Appendix containing Translations, with an Alphabet and Glossary, of the Hamyaritic Inscriptions recently discovered in Hadramaut. By the Rev.C. FORSTER. In 2 vols. London: Duncan and Malcolm.

1844. MR. FORSTER, who has been for several years known to the public as the author of Mahometanism Unveiled, has in the present work followed out into detail a matter touched upon in the appendix to that book; viz. the descent of the Arabs from Ishmael, a point (as is well known) which Gibbon and his imitators have contested. To add one more to the many

evidences by which the research of modern days has fenced round the holy Scriptures, was his object; for, to use his own words,—

“ If infidelity could be silenced, and revealed truth vindicated, by exact scrutiny, at a single point, into the Mosaic accounts of the origin of the Arab tribes ... [sic] it was clear that the most valuable results might justly be anticipated from exact scrutiny into those accounts on an extended scale, and as comprising the patriarchal origin of all the primitive tribes of Arabia.”Dedication, p. iv. Accordingly Mr. Forster occupies himself with endeavouring (and we are inclined to think successfully) to prove, by a process of laborious investigation, that the four great patriarchal stocks, who (according to Moses), together with Ishmael,* peopled the Arabian peninsula—the descendants of Cush and Joktan who preceded, and of Keturah and Esau who followed the son of Hagar-are all extant, (whether we regard them under the appellations of classical or of modern geography) “in the very localities, and along the very lines, where they are placed by • Moses and the prophets.' And it may be mentioned that, in the course of his inquiry, he enters into the long disputed point of the derivation of the word Saracen, and concludes by vindicating the Scriptural origin of that celebrated name from the wife of Abraham. For Jacob (he observes) having become sole heir to the spiritual fulfilment of the promise in Gen. xvii. 16, its extended temporal accomplishment will naturally be sought in the family of Isaac's first-born, Esau; and this will at once account for the minute and reiterated exhibition of the sons of Esau, or Edom, which we find in Gen. xxxvi. —a genealogical exhibition, in the first part of which (Mr. Forster very pertinently remarks) the sacred writer “ enumerates the Edomite

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* It will be recollected that he proved the descent of the Arabs from Ishmael, in his “ Mahometanism Unveiled,” vol. ii. App.

patriarchs individually," while in the second he “

represents them as the founders and chiefs of potent tribes or nations.To this race of Esau, then, peopling the whole Arabian peninsula, and not (as we have been too long taught) limited to the neighbourhood of Mount Seir ; to this multitude of Edomite nations is to be assigned the distinguished generic matronymic Saracens ; just as the Ismaelites were called Hagarenes from Hagar, and Abraham's other wife furnished their appellation to the Ketureans.

We feel bound to declare, that we consider this vindication of the old—though of late well nigh exploded—derivation of the celebrated name in question, to be conducted and established in a very masterly manner, opposed, as it is, to the opinions of the learned Pocock and Asseman, and the affected research of the sceptical Gibbon. (See Pocock, Specimen, p. 33. Asseman in Raheb. Chron. Orient. p. 233. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ix. 233.)

These geographical disquisitions occupy of course the larger portion of the two volumes before us; but interesting as they undoubtedly are, it is not our intention to enter further into them at present. We will merely observe, that in several cases to which we turned (for we have not been able to bestow on this part of the work in hand the attention it deserves), the results at which Mr. Forster has arrived, coincide with the native tradition at this day; as, e.g. that the region of Hadramaut answers to the possessions of the sons of Hazermadeth, (mentioned in Gen. x. 26,) and that the children of Uzal (ver. 27) are represented by the modern Sanâa. Now we confess tó entertaining a very deep respect for the traditions of a country; we believe them, generally speaking, to be of great value; and therefore we are concerned at perceiving the position assigned to another place. Speaking of the sons of Joktan (Gen. x. 30), Moses says, “ Their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East.” Now, we believe that Mesha, according to constant Arabic tradition, answers to modern Mecca. Yet what says Mr. Forster ? He rejects (and rightly) the theory of Bockart, which would make Sephar to be the Djebal, or hill country of Yemen, and Mesha to correspond with Muza, near the mouth of the Arabian gulf; and he sets out by inquiring “ in what opposite quarters of Arabia the Meshả intended by Moses and his mount Sephar lay ?" And then, because he admits the position assigned by Bockart to Sephar, that being near the south-western extremity of the peninsula, he looks for the other boundary in the truly “ opposite," or north-eastern, quarter, and fixes upon the Zames Mons of Ptolemy, in lat. 26°, long. 47°, as the site of the Mesha of the

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