« EelmineJätka »
my mind, and on the lines we are thinking just now, nothing is lost or won by the dates, howsoever you fix them. Chronology is nowhere. We acknowledge that we find it very hard to imagine lines of serious exposition upon which it should be no matter whether the report of the Lord's words and deeds came at first or third hand. If, indeed, it were, as Mr. Peyton says, that 'the authority of the Johannine Memorabilia established nothing about the Divine Personality of Jesus : they reflect what had been established. The Memorabilia is [sic] only a reflection of that worship-a philosophy of it or the biology of it' (p. 7)—then we might not care about dates. But do we understand him to say that the discourses ascribed to our Lord are but the reflections of the writer of the Gospel upon His Person? The most thoroughgoing maintainer of tradition as against Scripture could not say more than that 'literature does not create inspiration and institution, but gives explanation or expression to them. We wonder whether Scotch sermons, which were wont to consist at all events of definite and intelligible thought, have come to favour such utterances as the following, which opens the chapter entitled "The Fog Horn and the Storm Signal':-
'In an ideal literature we don't seek time relations. The signal of the ideal given in Cana has a rhythmic relation with the signal given in Jerusalem. We have a rhythin of space, the motion from Galilee into Judæa; the wave from Cana swings round to Jerusalem. A rhythm of sound or of water is like the pendulum, a wave motion. A mental rhythm is a companion phenomena [sic]. The geographical rhythm begins its waye in Galilee, and the wave dies out in Jerusalem. It connects rustic life in Galilee with urban life in Judæa, and one kind of sign with another. What lies in the trough of the wave, or, as the geologist would say, in the hollow of the syncline, is not reported' (p. 189). We believe this to be a fair specimen of Mr. Peyton's book, of which, therefore, we have given our readers as fair means to judge as our scanty space will permit.
SERMONS. 1. Pleas and Claims for Christ. By Canon SCOTT-HOLLAND.
(London : Longmans, Green and Co., 1892.) 2. The Fire upon the Altar. Sermons preached to Harrow Boys by
the Rev. J. E. C. WELLDON. Second series. (London: Percival
and Co., 1891.) 3. Leaves from the Tree of Life. Sermons Consolatory and Practical.
By the Rev. J. RATE. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1890.) 4. Words of Counsel to English Churchmen Abroad. By the Right
Rev. C. W. SANDFORD, Bishop of Gibraltar. (London: Mac
millan and Co., 1892.) 5. In Memoriam : Bishop Lee. By the Right Rev. J. WILLIAMS,
Bishop of Connecticut. (Wilmington, 1887.) VOLUMES of sermons are so numerous that we are compelled to treat them as the secular press treats novels—that is, take them by batches. They have not yet quite arrived at the point where a weekly review
could take them, as it takes the novels, under the general title of Novels of the Week,' but a quarterly review might certainly take *Sermons of the Quarter,' and devote many pages to them, if it gave anything like an adequate account of their substance. We limit ourselves this quarter to five specimens, and give the first place to the volume which is put forth by the preacher who certainly has the widest reputation as such.
1. It is no derogation to the now most famous preacher at St. Paul's to say that his sermons are better to hear than to read, because the primary object of a sermon is to be heard, not to be read. Canon Scott-Holland tells us in the preface to his volume that the sermons "are printed as they were preached, at the risk of repetitions &c., such as are natural to hortatory appeals ;' and that they can only plead for themselves that they counted, at the tine, for getting over the obscurities and roughnesses of which they are profoundly conscious to the preacher's voice and gesture and manner, which would be there to help them through.' Precisely so ; and we have not the slightest doubt that the voice and gesture and manner would not only help them through but render them very effective. But what is the unhappy reviewer to do who sees and hears none of these things? He can but do his duty and treat the sermons as he would treat any other composition ; and reading them thus in cold blood he is bound to say that the author does not exaggerate their defects when he speaks of their obscurities, roughnesses, repetitions, &c., and that a very liberal allowance must be given to what that '&c.'embraces.' It is difficult to give an illustration, because the subjects are so sacred, and treated in so right-minded a way, that criticism might have the appearance of flippancy and levity. But the sentence already quoted from the preface will serve to illustrate the writer's English — the obscurities and roughnesses of which they (the sermons) are profoundly conscious.' The preacher may be conscious, but how can the sermons themselves be conscious of obscurities or anything else? For a contrast which is favourable in point of form, but unfavourable in point of matter, we turn to
2. Dr. Welldon's Harrow sermons. Here the composition is perfect. But we have graver objections to make to Dr. Welldon than any faults of taste and style. What are we to say of such a passage as the following ?
"“No man hath seen God at any time," or can see Him. ... So God sent some one to tell us about Himself. That Person was Jesus Christ. Who or what He was essentially is a difficult question ; but Christian theology, recognizing His unique character, calls Him by a unique name, the Son of God. We are all in one sense sons of God. But He is the Son of God in a pre-eminent sense. . . . He was not altogether such as we are. It is my conviction that, if you study His biography, you will find Him to have been, not only man, but more than man. And if we believe that He came to show us the Father's image, that He spoke in the Father's name and with His authority, and that in the imitation of His example lies and must ever lie the redemption of the world from sin and shame, then it is that we believe in God the Son '(p. 65).
Now is this an adequate recognition of the true Divinity of our Blessed Lord? Is it not very much the same kind of language which Dr. Clarke used nearly 200 years ago, and for which he was remorselessly criticized by Dr. Waterland? And is it sound theology to say that in the imitation of His example lies the redemption of the world? Is the doctrine of the atonement a fallacy? What, again, can be Dr. Welldon's views about the Personality and influence of the Holy Spirit when he can preach a Whit Sunday sermon without once mentioning the name of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity ? It is all the more sad to have to note these grave errors, because Dr. Welldon not only writes admirable English, but is also a true preacher of righteousness; he is thoroughly practical, and, we should imagine, most effective in his appeals to boy nature.
3. It must be confessed that our next preacher chose rather an ambitious title when he called his volume Leaves from the Tree of Life, when it is in fact only a collection of his old sermons. We say advisedly ‘his old sermons,' because some of them were written, so far as we can gather, half a century ago. They are all of a type which was more common at that date than now. Of portentous length-unless rattled off at railway pace they must have taken each at least three-quarters of an hour in the delivery--rather colourless, but perfectly unobjectionable, with the old-fashioned divisions into 'firstly, secondly, thirdly, and lastly,' they will carry back the minds of elderly readers to the memories of their childhood, when the brisk little sermonette of these degenerate days was a thing almost unknown. In this view they have a sort of antiquarian and historical interest; and, as they can do no kind of harm, and to some class of minds may possibly do good, we heartily wish them.God speed,'though we cannot honestly say that the leaves from this tree of life will be for the healing of the nations.
4. We rise to a higher level in Bishop Sandford's Words of Counsel to English Churchmen Abroad. The Bishop has not the lightness or delicacy of touch which render Dr. Welldon's style so fascinating ; but he writes like a scholar and a gentleman, and, better still, like a sound Churchman, which is more than can be said for Dr. Welldon. There is a fine, healthy, manly tone about this volume ; and the special sermon on manliness reminds us of the Sandford in the Rugby eleven fifty years ago, quite as much as of the Bishop of Gibraltar.
5. The last specimen on our list is only a single sermon, but a remarkably good one. It is a 'Memorial Sermon'-which strikes us, by the way, as a much better name than ‘Funeral Sermon,' which is, or used to be, the designation of such sermons in England - preached by the venerable Bishop of Connecticut, Dr. Williams, on the death of his brother prelate, Bishop Lee, of Delaware. It is a model of what such a sermon ought to be ; full of tenderness and affection for one to whom the preacher acted as assessor for several years, and yet not in the least degree fulsome in its panegyric. It will give the English Churchman a brief but instructive glimpse into the working of the sister Church in America.
CHURCH QUARTERLY REVIEW.
NO LXXII. JULY 1893.
ART. 1.—THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE
FATHERS: ST. ATHANASIUS.
A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the
Christian Church. A New Series. Translated into English, with Prolegomena and Explanatory Notes, under the editorial supervision of HENRY WACE, D.D., and PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., in connection with a number of Patristic Scholars of Europe and America. Vol. II. Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories (1891). Vol. III. Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, Rufinus : Historical Writings, &c. (1892). Vol. IV. St. Athanasius : Select Works and Letters (1892). (Oxford and New York, 1891, 1892.)
A LITTLE more than twelve months have passed since we invited the attention of our readers to the first volume of this important series. The second volume was then indeed in our hands, but our space admitted of only a passing reference to it, as we deemed it more important, in view of the original treatises, as well as of the contributions made by the translators and editors, to deal almost exclusively with the Historical Works of Eusebius. Now we have before us three large volumes, and another has already appeared ;2 and again we must adopt a principle of selection. Leaving the latest arrival over for such treatment as may be possible on some future occasion, except in so far as a general reference to it may help us in a view of the series as a whole, we find our
i Church Quarterly Review, April, 1892 : Eusebius, Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine, 1890.
2 Vol. V., Gregory of Nyssa, Dogmatic Treatises, &c. VOL. XXXVI.-NO. LXXII.
present terminus ad quem in the fourth volume, which contains the works of St. Athanasius ; and whether we regard the importance of the writings in themselves, or the value of the additions now made by the translators and special editors, it is this fourth volume which has first claim on our thoughts. We hope that we shall not be considered wanting in respect to those who have devoted their labours to the intervening volumes if we are obliged to pass over them somewhat hastily ; but three or four volumes a year—and such volumes as these-of one series of works are too heavy a demand upon our space and our power of criticism, as they are proving, in our judgment, too heavy a demand upon the controlling force of the general editors.
It was a special pleasure to us in welcoming the appearance of this series of patristic works to be able to write in terms of warm praise of the erudition and labours of the two young American editors, Dr. McGiffert and Dr. Richardson, though our commendation was not unaccompanied by the warnings of a candid friend ; and we are glad to note that our criticisms have afforded satisfaction to the veteran Dr. Philip Schaff,' to whom, though we often find ourselves in disagreement with him, we and all students of theology and ecclesiastical history owe a debt of deep gratitude. He will not, we hope, think us unmindful of that debt if we find ourselves unable to write in similar terms of all the volumes now before us, and he will be prepared by what we have already said ? for a further expression of our opinion that watchfulness on the part of the general editors must be given in an increasing measure if approximate uniformity of treatment is to be arrived at, and if the high standard of excellence which is set in the first volume is to be maintained.
We have pointed out in general terms that the exact scholarship which is necessary for a good translation—and, let us add, nowhere more necessary, though this fact is often ignored, than in patristic Greek—is sometimes found wanting even in the first volume, and subsequent use of this volume has confirmed our opinion. It has at the same time confirmed the general impression that Dr. McGiffert has given to us an English translation of the History of Eusebius which stands to previous English versions in a similar relation to that in which the translation of Valesius stood to the Latin versions which had preceded it, and that Dr. Richardson's revision of the Bagster translation' is a marked improvement upon its
1 Cf. Vol. III., Editorial Preface. ? Ubi supra, p. 120 sq. 3 Ubi supra, pp. 116, 127.