« EdellinenJatka »
the ground, where are the reasonings, or the inductions, or the moral presumptions, which would have convinced him that the Deity had ever interfered; whether the effect to be produced by his interference, were, on the face of it, preternatural or not? With him, there can be little doubt, the sole question was, whether any event had ever happened to violate what he calls the experience of mankind. And, if he should be proof against a host of witnesses called to establish the fact, that Lazarus had been raised from the dead, of course he would shut his ears against all attempt to show that the recovery of Hezekiah was the immediate act of the Almighty. No power, according to him, had ever interposed to disturb the usual sequence of events. Whether, therefore, the alleged occurrence were miraculous, or simply prodigious, all the evidence that could be accumulated to establish it would, in his estimation, be nugatory and worthless.
We are not, then, questioning the justness of the distinction here contended for by the Archdeacon. We are merely expressing our doubts whether the distinction is of any value in controversy with Hume. The dispute with him, after all, resolves itself into this-can any proof be sufficient to satisfy us that prodigies, whether effected by God or demon, ever actually occurred in the history of the world. And it does appear to us, that, so far as the christian miracles are concerned, this question is to be disposed of, only as it has been disposed of by Doctor Chalmers. It may be true, that human testimony is, generally speaking, fallacious; so fallacious, that, when we hear of wonders, there is always a natural insurrection of the mind against them: or, at least, of every mind not already distorted or enfeebled by ignorance or superstition. But, although mankind have often been deceived by human testimony, we still may confidently ask, with Doctor Chalmers, was it ever known that mankind were deceived by such a description, or by any thing like such a mass, of testimony as that which has been arrayed in defence of Christianity? We must not let the enemy ride comfortably off upon the easy-paced generality, that witnesses are often dupes or cheats. We must fix him upon the saddle of this roughtrotting, hard-mouthed, question, was there a greater prodigy ever heard of than the phenomenon of Christianity itself, as it now exists before our eyes, on the supposition of its having been the work of weak enthusiasts, or unprincipled imposters ?
In the dissertation which closes this volume we have some new and very interesting illustrations of the principle of Paley's Hora Paulinæ, derived from the Talmud; "undesigned allusions," being substituted for "undesigned coincidences." If our space allowed, we would gladly insert the instances selected by the author. This, however, we trust will be unnecessary. We ardently hope our readers will consult the volume for themselves. We shall, accordingly, conclude our notice with the paragraph in which the use and value of this species of illustration is briefly, but pointedly, stated by the author.
"If we were proposing merely to show how much light might be thrown upon the sense of the New Testament by a reference to the Jewish writings, instances such as the last quoted, might be produced to almost any extent. And they would abundantly prove that the New Testament must have had a Jewish origin; and that to understand fully the import of many parts of it, a
knowledge of Jewish customs and opinions, and forms of speech, is required. This fact alone would afford a strong presumptive argument in proof of its authenticity, and almost demonstrate a Jewish origin. But it has been my wish, in the preceding remarks, to adduce evidence showing, that St. Matthew's Gospel must have been the production, not merely of a Jew, not merely of a person relating real transactions, but of one who must have been a witness of what he relates; and who was recording sayings, stamped with so many internal marks of oral delivery, as no writer who was composing from imagination, and not from memory, could have fallen upon by accident, or have invented through design. Taken singly, the passages produced may perhaps not yield a demonstration of this proposition; but in the whole collective amount of their evidence, they warrant this conclusion, almost as certainly as the proofs which Paley has adduced to the same effect, in his Horæ Paulinæ, relative to the authenticity of the Acts of the Apostles. Any apparent difference between the two cases, is more in the skill with which he has managed the argument, than in the greater probability of his proofs."
ART. II.-The Life of Thomas Burgess, D.D. F.R.S. F.A.S. &c. &c. late Lord Bishop of Salisbury. By JOHN S. HARFORD, ESQ. D.C.L. F.R.S. London: Longman. 8vo. 1840. Pp. xv. 557. THIS is a volume, to the heart's content of every Churchman; setting, as it does, before him the example of one who combined, in an eminent degree, zeal for earnest personal piety, with a humble and reverend estimation of that apostolic system in which such piety is best nurtured and enshrined. It is true, that in the life of Bishop Burgess there are none of those sudden turns, or spirit-stirring events, with which some biographies abound. In the midst of days of great and varied excitement, the even tenor of his life flowed on, scarcely ruffled, upon its utmost surface, by the breath of the hurricanes which swept by him. But this is one charm of such a narrative. It exhibits the tranquillizing power of Christianity and the Church; what a haven she is, even in stormy times, for quiet and humble souls: it calls our thoughts to the ten thousand parsonage houses of our land, around which such quiet home-thoughts and holy tempers may, and continually do, grow up and hang in verdant clusters, even whilst the political horizon lowers with all the storms in which the last century closed, and with all the moral disturbances which agitate our great cities and "populous haunts" of men. For if this be the temper of the Bishop's mind, who, from his very position, must mingle more in the world's throng, what may not be the mind of the humble presbyter.
Nor are such scenes without their peculiar beauty. If there is more majesty about the foaming and stormy flood, there is its own charm in the peaceful stream which reflects continually upon its glassy breast, the broad eye of the heavens, or the verdure and variety of every vale through which it winds.
Bishop Burgess was both a scholar and a divine. Without, as it appears to us, the possession of first-rate talents, without the higher gifts of imagination or analysis, and even slenderly endowed with powers of fancy, he yet, by simplicity of purpose, steadiness of aim, and untiring diligence, made no mean attainments in each of the two great fields in which he laboured.
Born in the middle rank of life (his father was a retail grocer at Odiham in Hampshire), under the ennobling influences of our country's church, he was early trained in heavenly wisdom. His first intellectual culture was at the grammar-school of his native town; and from thence he removed, in 1768, to Winchester School, where he spent seven years. There his "pensive looks," studious habits, and regular conduct, gave promise of his after course. From Winchester he removed, in 1775, to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and entered on college life as a promising scholar, in spite of the classical defects of his late master, Dr. Warton. Before taking his degree, he had edited a new edition of Burton's Pentalogia; and in 1778, when he took his B. A. degree, proceeded to act the same part of foster-parent to Dawe's Miscellanea Critica. English and continental scholars alike hailed the rise of this new luminary; and perhaps his pious mother feared that still higher and holier pursuits might vanish from his sight in the mists with which successful criticism, and the incense of the learned, have so often confounded the eyes of an ingenuous youth. But young Burgess carried with him the powerful talisman of a single simplicity of purpose; and the praises of Spalden, Wyttenbach, and Vincent, could not turn his head; nor the friendship of Mr. Tyrwhitt, or the compliments of Lord Monboddo, seduce him from his higher calling. After following for a time the occupation of a college tutor, he was ordained deacon and priest in 1784 by Dr. Cornwall, bishop of Winchester, and appointed, in the following year, chaplain to Bishop Barrington. To this period of his life the good man looked back, we are told by his biographers, from the peaceful anchorage of his christian age, with regrets for the learned ambition which troubled, as he thought, the days of his ordination to the sacred office. But, however this may have been, he was soon drawn out of such empty vapours, by the path on which he had entered. As examining chaplain, he became immediately a studious divine. He was led by his patron, as well as by his own inclinations, to the composition of various elemental works for the use of Sunday Schools, whilst in the house of Bishop Barrington he met with those who would naturally lead him on in the path which he was so ready to tread. Amongst the rest, Mrs. Hannah More at this time became casually acquainted with "the tall, grave, and sensible young man, rather reserved and silent," who acted as chaplain of the bishop. Such a mode of life was no doubt very useful to Mr. Burgess. The defect of his mind was, perhaps, principally a want of grasp a habit of looking minutely at a part of a great subject, instead of attempting to master its grand proportions: his very fondness for, and skill in verbal criticism, was the fruit of this tendency, which in turn it encouraged. In a reserved man, nothing would have tended more to confirm this failing than the seclusion of a college life; few things would more relax such a contraction of the mind than the society in which he mingled at the Bishop of Salisbury's. In 1791 his patron was translated to the see of Durham; and three years afterwards bestowed upon him the first vacant stall in the cathedral of Durham. This preferment led him to resign the tutorship of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and in 1795 he received the further gift of the living of Winston, a parish romantically situated near the banks of the Tees. Here he at once devoted himself ardently to the duties of a parish
priest. Schools, benefit clubs, and all the other instrumental aids by which the parish minister may most effectually move his parish, were diligently cared for. The study of theology was with him no pretext for practical indolence; or practical activity any excuse for spiritual sloth. He well knew the great truth that the first secret of ministerial usefulness is personal piety; that the first of all rules for doing good to others, is to seek earnestly after the best good yourself. He did not, therefore, shorten devotion, whether public or private, that he might have the more time to give to works of piety or the labours of the study, but at this very time set apart certain fixed hours for devotional exercises, the high tone of which may be seen in an interesting section of the life, entitled " Mr. Burgess's Sacra Privata." After five years of this peaceful and pious life, Mr. Burgess married a Durham lady, to whom his friend Bishop Barrington whispered the parental counsel, "You are about to be married to one of the very best of men, but a perfect child in the concerns of this world; so you must manage the house," &c. He himself, we are told, gave her an early and characteristic proof of this necessity, by making no provision at his rectory for the reception of his wife, who would have found on her arrival the very larder absolutely empty, but for the Bishop's provident kindness. Four years after his marriage, upon the vacancy of the see of St. David's, the bishopric was offered to him by Lord Sidmouth; and in the autumn of the same year, 1803, he was seated in Abergwilly. At the head of his diocese he resumed, upon a larger scale, the labours which he had devoted to his country-parish. Its state was such as to require no little care.
The condition of the diocese, as respected the education of the Clergy and the due enforcement of discipline, was lamentable. The ancient collegiate seminaries had long been stripped of their revenues, and fallen into utter decay. Scarcely one among those who presented themselves at the Bishop's first ordination had enjoyed the privilege of an university education. One youth, who proved peculiarly ignorant and incompetent, had occupied, only a short time before, the situation of a livery servant. The general custom was for young men to continue at the plough till the year before they attained the age of twenty-three, when, after spending a single twelvemonth at the seminary of Ystrid Merug, they were deemed competent for ordination.-Pp. 225-6.
To remedy this wretched state of things was his earliest care: first, by appointing certain Clergy to receive into their houses all candidates under the process of training for the ministry; and then, upon a wider scale, by the foundation of St. David's College, at Lampeter, in South Wales.
To effect this he laboured steadily, and, in the end, successfully. He had the joy of seeing his college buildings rise under the skilful hand of Mr. Cockerell; whilst the King, the Universities, the Archbishop, and many others, endowed it with becoming liberality. Upon his Clergy too, his steady kindness, his brotherly affability, and his fatherly care, won greatly; and he was delighted by seeing them improve yearly around him.
His situation was singularly fitted for the useful exercise of his peculiar talents. In one that required more activity or a greater knowledge of the world and men, he would probably have failed. But here
he could mix continually with his Clergy; he could conduct his own ordination examinations (and the whole turn of his mind fitted him for the duties of examining chaplain); and he could fill up his sphere without the absence of decided power ever manifesting feebleness.
The diocese of St. David's, to the latest generations, will have abundant cause to remember with gratitude the name of Bishop Burgess.
In the year 1825 he was translated to the see of Salisbury. He entered on the duties of this new post, already an old, and in some degree, enfeebled man; yet his discharge of them was laborious, and, on the whole, efficient. An interesting letter from the Rev. L. Clarke, late Archdeacon of Sarum, pleasantly records the character of these exertions. Still pre-eminent amongst them were various efforts to raise the ministerial standard of his Clergy. One part of his plan was the institution of a preliminary examination of the candidates for Deacon's Orders, about three months previous to the ordination. This appears to us a point of very great importance. When the examination immediately precedes the ordination, there must be much danger of diminishing both its spiritual and intellectual efficiency. The spiritual impressions which are likely to arise in such a season spent under the eye of a devout bishop, have not time to grow into habits of patient preparation. As soon perhaps as the candidate has looked the full responsibility of his office in the face, he is hurried off to the distracting cares of a parish. The season of earnest preparatory prayer, the selfcommunings, the fastings, the up-bracings of the mind, which, in many cases, might be the fruit of such a season, if it were followed by three months of patient waiting and immediate expectation of the holy office, are now rendered impossible; and too often we fear the hasty resolves of the ordination period, not having had time gradually to mature themselves, sink before the first realities of practical difficulty. So also as to the intellectual character of the examination: Bishop Burgess required the student to come well acquainted with certain prescribed books; the only way to make the examination close enough to secure previous attentive preparation; now such an examination immediately before an ordination, may certainly discover the fitness or unfitness of the candidate, but it cannot leave room for the correction of unfitness, if it should be found,—or for the better direction of studies under the eye of the experienced guide; and it is not therefore to be compared in practical usefulness with one, which, being followed by a period of leisure, may lead as much to the supply as to the discovery of previous
It may, moreover, seem more than doubtful to many, whether a searching intellectual examination is the very best immediate preparation for such a solemn spiritual season; whether it is not likely to quicken intellectual strivings which were better allayed, and to turn the humble earnestness of prayer and self-abasement into the sharpness and eagerness of an intellectual ἀγώνισμα.
It was probably in some such view of things as this, that the plan of Bishop Burgess originated: for no man ever felt more deeply the importance of the ordination season as a seed time for lasting spiritual principles. "What books have you read," such were some of his questions, "to enable you to judge of the fitness of your disposition for the ministry of