since it is not pretended that reason can explain [attain to] it. But this foolish. ness is wiser than all the wisdom of men; for the foolishness of God is wiser than men." I Cor. xv. 25.

Surely this is clear enough; but the Oxford Tract would imply the very contrary; that Pascal makes opiniated men readily admit that they are sinners, and eagerly embrace an atonement and justification; but that it is practical holiness which is an offence to them.

But let us test Pascal's meaning-and more than that, the truth of his statement-by a striking appeal to facts. His genius, eloquence, and the philosophical character of many of his writings, seduced Voltaire and Condorcet to enrol themselves among his admirers and annotators. Now if it were true,"according to the Oxford Tractator's adopted translation, that it were the easiest task in the world to convince men of the truth of Scripture if Christ had come only for the work of “justification,” then these two infidels would not be found fighting against this; it would not be the doctrine of the atonement which proved to them “ in scandalum,” but the severe morality, the self-denial, of the Gospel ; or, taking the passage in Isaiah in its context, the pure worship of the Creator. But so far from this being the fact, Voltaire himself does not find fault with revelation for teaching us to obey God or to benefit man. Thus, when Pascal exclaims, “ No other religion ever commanded men to love and imitate God;" Voltaire replies, “ Epictetus, a slave, and Marcus Aurelius an emperor, speak continually of loving and imitating God.” When Pascal says, that “ Pagan philosophers never accounted as a virtue what Christians mean by humility;" Voltaire asserts that they did : " Plato recommends it, and still more Epictetus.” When Pascal speaks of the excellent morality of the Gospel, Voltaire affects to find it among the Chinese, and we know not where. But how does he speak of topics connected with the atonement and justification? We will not contaminate our pages with answering the question as we might. Is it the easiest thing in the world to convince him of the fall of man? He treats it as an irrational notion; an invention of the ancient Brahmins, and imported from them into the western theology. “ No doubt,” he says, ironically, '“ faith and revelation, which are far above the light of man's understanding, assure us that we are fallen creatures; but nothing is less manifest to reason. “ According to you (Christians) every body ought to accuse Providence of injustice, (because they are not in a happier condition) except the metaphysicians who reason from original sin.” In part (abating the impiety of the language) he is right; for if it were not that men are sinners it is not possible to see why God has permitted them to be sufferers; but the doctrine of original sin solves the difficulty. It did not however make Voltaire a believer, notwithstanding it is connected in Scripture with the doctrine of the atonement and the way of justification.

We have stated what the passage misquoted in the Oxford Tract appears to us to imply; but it ought to be remembered that Pascal's Thoughts are only a posthumous collection of shreds, which his editors arranged as well as they could; but they are often but fragments of detached sentences which do not clearly exhibit the meaning of the writer. Neither ought it to be forgotten that Pascal did not use theological terms with the precision of Evangelical Protestant divines. We say Protestant,” because Romanist writers do not usually attach clear, much less scriptural, ideas to the technical terms of Christian theology, such as faith, justification, sanctification, and salvation; and we say “ evangelical,” because not a few Protestant divines have evinced similar ignorance, as any person must know who recollects the sort of sermons which were preached some thirty years ago in numerous parishes in England. We remember an aged and amiable head of an academical house, who having heard enough to be aware that there are many controversies about matters of doctrine, but not understanding clearly their nature, seemed to wish to be quite right by combining all systems in one; so that he would use some such omne-tulit-punctum jargon (we give the effect of his remarks without professing to quote accurately one specific sentence) as “ May we all be saved, redeemed, and justified by goodness, virtue, faith, God, and religion.” The ancient Fathers themselves used theological terms very loosely; and it was only as heresies and controversies led to precision that systematic theology was reduced to scriptural accuracy. It would, for example, be very difficult to extract from the writings of the Fathers those clear Pauline statements respecting justification by faith which are embodied in the Articles of the Lutheran, the Calvinistic, the Anglican, the Scottish, and all orthodox Protestant communions. We do not mean that the Fathers did not catch the spirit of the doctrine; but that they often employed the technical terms of theology with much laxity, even when their idea was correct. Every student may illustrate this remark for himself by contrasting the ambiguity of some of the early orthodox Christian writers in speaking of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, with the precision of others who wrote posterior to the Arian controversy. The Romanist theologians in general are wanting in accurate definitions; even the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent are exceedingly vague; nor do their popular writers at the present day lucidly explain what Protestant divines are accustomed to call “ the scheme of sal. vation.” Nay, to come nearer home, it would be easy to find even now in this our own land, notwithstanding the general extension of religious knowledge, thousands of persons well read in devout books of the class of the “ Week's Preparation,” the “Whole Duty of Man,” and Nelson's “ Fasts and Festivals,” who attach no distinct ideas to the leading terms used in Christian theology; who consider justification and sanctification, redemption and salvation, as two pairs of synonymes; and who only know “ faith” from “ good works” in that some persons have contrived to set up a quarrel between them, and have made St. Paul and St. James leaders of the hostile squadrons.

It may seem strange to have introduced these remarks in connexion with the name of Blaise Pascal; the mathematical Pascal! one of the great founders of the school of inductive philosophy; and who, in his chapter on the Art of Persuading, urges most strenuously the necessity of accurately defining the meaning of every obscure term, and of using no term in the definition which is not itself perfectly known, or previously explained. But either he did not allow his mind to become free in matters of faith from the nebulosity of the school in which he had been educated; or he took for granted that all persons would understand the theological terms which he used in the conventional sense in which he used them; not foreseeing that Protestants who use those terms differently would be his readers, as well as members of the church of Rome. But whatever may be the solution, the fact is certain ; and his translators seem to take it for granted, since they consider themselves at liberty to rectify his expressions to the latitude of the place -licence highly culpable. If Calvin, who is known to have used theological words in a definite sense - be it right or wrong- had written " sanctifier,” Kennett and the Oxford Tractator would never have thought of rendering it “justification;” or Mr. Craig, " sanctify and save;" or Mr. Taylor, " the purpose of redemption."



In concluding this long note, it is but right to say that A. B. K. had good prima facie cause for accusing the Oxford Tract writers of unfairly translating Pascal; though he will, we doubt not, thank us for shewing that they are chargeable only with the smaller blame of adopting a very à-propos mistranslation without referring to the original text.

Another correspondent, who signs himself “ Anglicanus,” addressing us upon the paper in our March Number, which gave rise, it seems, to our trial and acquittal in A. B. K's clerical circle, says:

" As Mr. Churton, in his letter at the end of Dr. Hook's sermon, entitled Popery Refuted by Tradition,' seems to approve of the plan of bringing forward facts to shew (which he things impossible) that so-called high Churchmen have been sometimes converted to Popery, will you allow me to remind you of another instance in point.”

As Anglicanus gives only a reference, we pass by the illustration. But he adds :

“ One word regarding Dr. Hook's Sermon. Dr. Hook reluctantly allows that in some instances the Romanists have pretended,

(for he evidently considers it merely a pretence,) to be pleased with the Oxford Tracts; but he takes care not bring forward that astounding paragraph from a foreign publication in a foreign language, and in a foreign country, and which was therefore evidently written for the exclusive perusal of Romanists, and not to mislead Protestants, which is cited at length in the Appendix to Dr. Faussett's Sermon on the revival of Popery, from L'ami de la Religion, Janvier 13, 1838. Surely this should be enough to make Dr. Hook himself pause, and calmly and fairly ask himself. What is the ten. dency of these publications ?!"

The case of the Hon. and Rev. G. Spencer, which Mr. Churton and Dr. Hook treat so lightly, is one strongly in point; nor has the statement of Dr. Nolan been disproved, that Mr. Sikes, or ours, that Mr. Vaughan of Leicester, prepared his mind for his direful perversion to Popery. As to the more immediate agency it was so inadequate to the suasion of a mind well-fortified against the sophistries of Rome, that we cannot congratulate that Church upon the accession of its amiable and devout but not strong-minded convert. A Roman Catholic clergyman published, in 1834, a letter written by Mr. Spencer to himself, in which he betrays his own weakness in a manner that sufficiently accounts for the easiness of the conquest over him. He had signed the Thirty-nine Articles, he says, believing, as he attested, that the doctrines in them could be proved “by most certain warrant of holy writ;" but he soon found that “ he was obliged to have recourse to arguments from reason, independent of the Scriptures; or to appeals to the traditions of the Church.This only shewed his ignorance of sound theology and biblical interpretation; not that the proofs were not to be found in holy writ. When he once began to make " the traditions of the Church” a portion of his Bible, the descent to Rome was easy. The direct means which led him thitherward were the arguments of a young lady and a young gentleman. Listen to his own statement :

“ The first thing which changed materially my views of the Catholic faith, was a correspondence, which I kept up with an unknown person for about half a year, This person stated, that he had been travelling abroad, and having frequently entered the Catholic churches, and surprised to see how devout and holy the services were, be was led to examine further, and began to entertain doubts of the wisdom of the English reformation. I thought I could soon set him right by pointing out to him, what I had for some time thought denunciations against the Catholic Church, in the Apocalypse, and in other parts of the Scripture. In the course of our correspondence he forcibly opposed those ideas, and so far from allowing that they could be proved from Scripture, he treated them as the mere inventions of men. I was then led ask myself, whether I had drawn them simply from Scripture, and found tbat I had never entertained them, before some Protestant commentators had put them into my head. My principle was to attend to the word of God alone : I therefore determined no longer to pay regard to those ideas, unless I should find the Scrip. ture of itself lead me to them. From that time, those ideas never made any impression on me. I never knew who this correspondent was, until I went abroad, to prepare for my ordination. I then learned that it was a young lady, who was on the point of becoming a Catholic, but who for further satisfaction wrote to me, and to one or two other Protestant clergymen, to hear what we could say in defence of our religion. You may naturally suppose, that our answers, instead of weakening, would rather confirm ber attachment to the Catholic faith."

We can readily believe that if her other correspondents were not better advisers than Mr. Spencer, this would be the result. The young lady (who by the way assumed a false character) died as she was about to enter a nunnery. She might be a well-meaning devout young person, who had been entrapped by cobweb fallacies, which Mr. Spencer also could not break through.

Of the other correspondent we read : “I had made acquaintance about the year 1829 with Mr. Ambrose Phillipps, eldest son of the Member for Leicestershire. The conversion of this young gentleman to the Catholic faith, at the age of fourteen years, (about seven years before I knew him,) had very much surprised me, when I first heard of it. His character and conversation interested me, and with pleasure I accepted his invi. tation to spend a week at his father's house at Garrenden Park. I was in hopes that I should have an opportunity of inducing him to think more correctly about religion. I had indeed no great hopes of being able to dissuade him from the Catholic religion altogether, nor did I earnestly wish it, for I had been already convinced that men might be good Christians in that religion. I left home for Garrenden Park, January 24, 1830, on Sunday night, after preaching two sermons in my Protestant church at Brighton in Northamptonshire, of which I was Rector ; and little did I think then, that those two sermons would be the last I should ever preach in a Protestant church. All the time at Garrenden was nearly devoted to religious conversation, and I soon found, that instead of my being able to teach Mr. Phillipps to think more correctly about religion, I was obliged, in many points, to acknowledge that I had to be a learner myself. I found him well able to stand bis ground in defence of the Catholic faith against me, and some other more experienced Protestant divines, who occasionally joined our conversation. At last, finding that I was contending with obstinacy, and not with the candour I professed, I made up my mind to look into the affair with a new feeling, and with a real determination to follow the truth. This resolution gave me immediate comfort, and the consequence of it was, I was soon delivered from all my doubts. I had intended to have gone home on Saturday, to resume my duty at Brighton; but I first went with Mr. Phillipps on Friday to Leicester, where we dined and spent the evening with Mr. Caestrick, an old French Missionary, who had been stationed at Leicester for several years. The kindness and patience with which he met my objections, made me more willing to listen to correction: his statements and reasonings came upon me with an authority and conviction which I felt I could not, and must not, resist; and before night I declared my submission to the Church of God."

Here, according to Mr. Spencer's own shewing, he was contending “with obstinacy, and not with the candour he professed,” and with no “real determination to follow the truth ;” and can we then wonder that he was retributively left to his own wayward devices? God will not be mocked with impunity. If any man will do the will of God he shall know of the doctrine; but not if he is contending with obstinacy, and not with a determination to follow where God leads. What were the arguments which persuaded the young lady, or the young gentleman of fourteen, or which the French Missionary so successfully clenched in a single evening, we are not informed. It does not follow that they were very powerful because they came “ with authority and conviction ” to the mind of an individual so ill-prepared to grapple with them. Mr. Sikes and Mr. Vaughan never went over to the Papal church; nor did Archbishop Laud; nor we believe will Dr. Pusey, Mr. Newman, or Mr. Keble; but they marshal the way for the Spencers, who having quitted Protestantism in effect, long before they have by intention, cannot stop at Appii Forum, but advance straight to Rome, as soon as a subtle companion invites their company. We are very far from impeaching Mr. Spencer's motives : he acted honestly upon his conviction; and he sacrificed much that his family influence and patronage might have commanded; but Rome never gained a convert, or the Church of England lost a son, the gain or loss of whom involved less of argument,


To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I PERCEIVE in your February Number, on the subject of the Ten Virgins, that it is said of the foolish, in the first page, that “their lamps equally with those of the wise were full and burning;" and in the second page, in reply to the question, “In what then do these foolish virgins differ from the wise ?" that “they equally, we see, go forth with lamps full and lighted." In what then did the foolish differ from the wise, for this appears to me the only point in which any difference consisted, namely, in their wanting oil, having only sufficient for the immediate and present use of coming with their lamps lighted? As I understand it, the only difference consisted in their not being full. They had the lamps, the symbol of Christianty, but no vital principle, of which the oil is the emblem. Now, though the whole bent of this essay is to shew the difference between the bare professor and the true believer, yet the parable has not been shewn to convey this so directly as it appears to me it might. Matthew Henry says, " by what they are judged of.” “ It was the folly of the foolish virgins that they took their lamps and no oil in them.” “Thus hypocrites, they have the lamp of profession in their hands, but they have not in their hearts the stock necessary to carry them through the services and trials of the present state." And again, “ It was the wisdom of the wise virgins that they took oil in their vessels with their lamps."

All I mean to say is, that the absence of oil has not been shewn to be the distinguishing feature of the foolish virgins.


** To avoid a lengthened discussion, we requested J. M. H. to inform us if Clericus had rightly apprehended his meaning; and if so, whether he still adhered to it. The following is his reply:

The Editor of the Christian Observer. There is nothing to which Clericus alludes in my paper on which he and I more differ, than his conception that I do not entirely agree with him as to the “ only point in which any difference consisted' between the wise and the foolish virgins, “namely, in the latter wanting oil ;” and I must add, his conception “ that the absence of oil has not been shewn to be the distinguishing feature of the foolish virgins." His misconceptions arise from his not marking the clear distinction which the parable makes, and which I have endeavoured throughout my paper to preserve, as of main importance, between the vessels and the lamps. Hence he seems to conceive that whatever is asserted of the one is alike predicated of the other : and that if the lamps were once full, though the vessels were always empty, there could be no lack of oil. I have indeed said, in the two passages from which he quotes,

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