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We have preferred to adopt the charitable supposition, which Mr. Blunt's habitual inaccuracy seems to us to justify, viz. that he contented himself with a hasty glance at the passage in question, or more probably with second-hand reference to the pages of Fuller, and that he was not aware that the same historian actually alludes (p. 248) to an accusation somewhat resembling that of Mr. Blunt, which, even in Fuller's days, had been preferred against the sectaries, not indeed of the destruction of Holy Scripture in particular, but of the entire contents of “stately libraries” as the result “of a smack or taste of Anabaptistical fury.” So far, however, from arriving at Mr. Blunt's conclusion, Fuller, whilst admitting in some few instances the possibility of the influence of the spirit of fanaticism, observes, in a tone and temper which present a striking contrast to those of Mr. Blunt,-"I am more charitably inclined to conceive, that simple ignorance, not fretted and embossed with malice, or affected hatred to learning, caused that desolation of libraries in England.”
So numerous and so remarkable are the instances of unsupported and inconsistent statements with which the whole of Mr. Blunt's chapter on the alleged "scarcity of the Bible in the ages preceding the Reformation” abounds, that it seems difficult to account for its production on any other supposition than that of its being a farrago of extracts, collected at different times for different purposes, from different writers of different degrees of credit, strung together into the semblance of a continuous narrative, and embellished by fitful sallies of Mr. Blunt's inventive imagination.
The subject, however, thus ignorantly and inaccurately handled by Mr. Blunt, is one of such extreme interest and importance, that we make no apology to our readers for exposing, more fully than we should otherwise have done, some of the very numerous errors which we have observed in this portion of a professed history of “the Reformation of the Church of England.”
Mr. Blunt's account of the life and labours of Tyndale is characterized by a more than ordinary amount of misconception and of misrepresentation. The statement that Tyndale “had been a Franciscan friar," and had “cast off his obligations in early life,” rests upon an arbitrary, and, on some accounts, improbable, identification of this distinguished man with a person of the same name, who made his profession in 1508, in the monastery of the Observants at Greenwich. Mr. Blunt's sneer at Tyndale's disappointment “in his efforts to obtain permanent homes (sic) in rich men's families," betrays either his ignorance of Tyndale's early history, or his incapacity to appreciate the motives which prompted that noble and disinterested
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man to resign his appointment in the family of Sir John Walsh, and expose himself to penury and peril, fearing none of those things which he was about to suffer, rather than relinquish the one cherished object of his life, or involve his patron in the dangers and difficulties which he himself cheerfully encountered in the prosecution of his object. As regards the controversy between Sir Thomas More and Tyndale, Mr. Blunt does not seem altogether clear whether it was the “shocking” language employed by the Reformer which was repugnant to the feelings of the Romanist; or the illogical reasoning attributed to Tyndale, which disturbed the equanimity of the accomplished lawyer. Those of our readers who have taken notice of the scurrilous epithets unsparingly heaped upon his opponents, by which a man so distinguished as More was wont to disgrace both himself and his office, may probably be of opinion, that whatever may have been the characteristics of Tyndale's creed or logic, it was rather the wrath of the controversialist which was excited, than the piety of the theologian which was outraged, by his language. In any case, had Mr. Blunt's profound researches into the history of the vernacular versions of the Gospels left him but a few moments' leisure in which to become acquainted with their contents, it might possibly have occurred to him, as a question capable of a different decision from his own, whether the words - blasphemous fool,” in which he represents Sir Thomas More as stigmatizing Tyndale, be more conclusive of the impiety of the adversary against whom they were levelled, or of that of the controversialist by whom they were employed.
We do not propose to enquire whether Tyndale's views on the Sacraments and on Holy Orders, as set forth in the brief extracts furnished by Mr. Blunt, were or were not in exact accordance with the doctrine of the Reformed English Church. Had Mr. Blunt desired to convey to his readers a faithful representation of Tyndale's opinions on the former of these two subjects, it is but fair to assume that he would have referred them to his Treatise on “ The Right Institution and Usage of the Sacrament of Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ," rather than to his “ Obedience of a Christian Man," which was composed several years earlier. A reference to the former of these Treatises would have sufficed to show either that Tyndale's views on the subject of the Sacraments had undergone some change; or, as we are inclined to believe, that when, in the words selected by Mr. Blunt for reprobation, he expressed his opinion that “to minister the Sacraments which Christ ordained is nothing but to preach Christ's promises," he did but express, in language very open to misconception, a
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sentiment which he afterwards more fully and clearly explained in the words which follow: “And hath commanded His Sacrament to be bad in continual use, to put them in mind of mercy laid up for them in Christ's blood, and to witness and testify it unto them, and to be the seal thereof. For the Sacrament doth nuch more vehemently print lively the faith, and make it sink down into the heart, than do bare words only; as a man is more sure of that he heareth, seeth, feeleth, smell. eth and tasteth, than that he heareth only."*
In like manner, with regard to Holy Orders, we can readily understand that Tyndale's rejection of Orders as a Sacrament, and of the Christian Ministry as a sacrificing priesthood, should be regarded by Mr. Blunt as an error as grievous as his rejection of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as a propitiatory offering for the living and the dead. Had it been Mr. Blunt's design, however, to represent Tyndale's views fairly and impartially, he would, instead of quoting only words which might seem to exclude the imposition of hands in ordination, have referred his readers to those which immediately precede the passage which he selects for condemnation, in which Tyndale not only refers to the imposition of hands in the case of the “ six deacons,” but further expresses his opinion, that “it is not to be doubted but that the Apostles, after their common manner, prayed for him (Matthias) that God would give him grace to minister his office truly; and put their hands on him, and exhorted him, and gave him charge to be diligent and faithful; and then he was as great as the best.”+
(To be continued.)
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PEROWNE'S HULSEAN LECTURES. Immortality. Four Sermons preached before the University of
Cambridge; being the Hulsean Lectures for 1869. By J. J. S. Perowne, B.D. Deighton, Bell, & Co.
CAMBRIDGE Hulsean Lecturers have had to learn the art of compressing what they want to say into a small compass. The office was at one time of considerable pecuniary value, and its comparative importance was great, as the lecturer held his office for several years, and gave some twenty lectures during the year. Dr. Mill's work on Pantheism is one of the fruits of this golden period. But successive inroads have been made, both
* Tyndale’s Doctrinal Treatises, Parker Soc. Ed., p. 360.
wisheh, as he sayse this naturalicate some br. Pe
branch manches. Thereen, as med timerelatio
on the stipend and the time allotted to the lecturer, until he is now reduced to the small allowance of four lectures, and would not therefore, to the outward eye, be distinguishable from one of the usual special preachers at St. Mary's.
We think this contraction is a subject of regret. Considering the diffuseness naturally expected in a sermon, it is scarcely possible to select a subject of any peculiar importance or interest to which real justice could be done in four discourses; and it is well that the University should have amongst its annual preachers, one at least who is not thus hampered in his choice of subjects. We think that Mr. Perowne, like any one else who had much to say, must have keenly felt the impossibility of treating the selected subject so fully as he would have wished. That subject is Immortality; one of those questions which, as he says, are ever old, and yet ever new. .
A subject like this naturally divides itself into several branches; we will briefly indicate some of the principal of these branches, and then comment upon Mr. Perowne's treatment of them. There is, then, first the purely historical ques. tion,- What have been, as a matter of fact, the views of mankind, from the earliest recorded times, on this subject? Have they generally accepted, without Revelation, the doctrine of a life after death; and if so, in what special form, and with what degree of conviction? Secondly, as a continuation of this, what are the views of men upon the subject at the present day, now that the light of Revelation has so clearly shone, that at least we have not got to originate the conception of immortality ? To Christians, the doctrine is settled decisively in the affirmative; but many reject Christianity, or at least shrink from appealing to its authority in support of such a doctrine : do they therefore reject the doctrine of immortality ? In a word, what solutions of the problem have been proposed by the various modern systems of philosophy ? Thirdly, there is the ratiocinative or evidentiary aspect of the question; what are the various arguments by which such a doctrine can be proved or supported ? What is their relative force, and their mutual connection ? Fourthly, the descriptive or expository view, as we may term it, for want of a better expression. What does a future life imply; can we know anything about its nature and purpose, and the mode in which it will be spent. Connected with this is of course the doctrine of everlasting punishment. On all these questions Mr. Perowne has touched, but his lectures are mainly devoted to the discussion of the first and second.
The first lecture is devoted to the various modern attempts to answer the question, Whether we are to live after death or not; the attempts, we mean, of Philosophy, which rejects the aid of Revelation. These attempts he divides into three, those reVol. 68. No. 378.
spectively of Materialism, Pantheism, and Spiritualism. The. reply of Materialism is simple and abrupt, that there is no future life. It is the answer which the poet has put into the mouth of mere Nature :
“ Thou makest thine appeal to me,
I bring to life, I bring to death,
I know no more." “This is all that there is in man, the material elements of which the body is composed, and the forces which have helped to build up that body. What then, according to this theory, is the soul? It is an organic function of the body, whose seat is in the brain. .... In short, the thesis of materialism is this, that beyond matter and the laws of matter there is nothing; and that, consequently, mechanics, chemistry, and physiology suffice to explain all phenomena, the production of thought as well as the production of the flame of a candle, the sentiments of the human heart as well as the colour and weight of a stone or a tree.” (p. 8.)
The obvious and necessary conclusion from such a doctrine, is that when the organized body decays after death, the spirit, as we call it, which is nothing more than a consequence of that organization, ceases to have any further existence. With an excess which seems at first sight strange, though it is not unnatural, those who have begun by repudiating the doctrine, go on to denounce it and express their abhorrence of it. Thus we have the assertion of Büchner (the principal modern exponent of Materialism in Germany) that he would not for an instant hesitate to prefer everlasting annihilation to everlasting life. An assertion with which we may couple that of Strauss, that the last enemy from whom man is to be delivered, is the belief of his own immortality.
We are not aware that this system of Materialism has any advocates of much weight in our own country, though some rather ambiguous expressions, which Mr. Perowne quotes from Professor Huxley, in his preface, approach dangerously near to it. Certainly some of the prominent leaders of that sensationalist philosophy, which would be thought most likely to tend that way, have denounced such inferences as altogether fallacious. Mr. Mill, for instance, after classing among fallacies the attempts to resolve sensation into motion, states of conscious. ness into states of the nervous system, and vital phenomena into mechanical or chemical processes, remarks as follows: "Where our consciousness recognizes between two phenomena an inherent distinction,- where we are sensible of a difference which is not merely one of degree, and feel that no adding one of the phenomena to itself would produce the other,-any theory which attempts to bring either under the laws of the other