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Essay on the Composition of a Sermon, which he enriched with the wittiest and most amusing notes; and he declared that had he a human oracle in religion, perhaps Saurin would be the man—but one is our Master, even Christ. Other examples will readily occur of the manner and degree in which the active and superior minds of England have sought wisdom and mental health at the fountains and streams of foreign lands; not to mention the grand scheme which was entertained and discussed by English divines in the earlier days of Protestantism, of a union of all the Reformed Churches of Europe in one connected and uniform plan of government and profession of the faith. But this is a large subject; nor dare we touch upon the quantity of sound and important theology which the scholars of England owe to the professors and students of the Continent from the time of Erasmus and Father Paul to our own day.
To facts and inquiries of this nature we fear the well-meaning English, who have interfered in the affairs of French Protestantism, are utterly insensible. They trouble themselves little with any thoughts or views calculated to disturb their confidence in the efficacy of their saving faith or the infallibility of Calvinistic dogmas. Hence they inquire not into the history, character, political relations or moral influences of the existing Protestant institutions of France; still less would they give that patient and logical attention to such a work as M. Coquerel's “Christianisme Experimental,” which is absolutely necessary to form a just estimate of its value. The charming, though short, brochures of M. Reville, “Le Vieux Pasteur”-“La Veuve du Vieux Pasteur,”— and the “ Lettre a M. l'Archeveque de Dublin,” —might perhaps produce some salutary reflections, if they fell into their hands, as in their wide circulation may be hoped.
The religious intercourse between France and England began in the year 1815, immediately after the Peace. Then English travellers in search of pleasure and improvement poured themselves forth upon the shores and into the towns of “ la belle France." Religious institutions of course attracted the attention of the thoughtful and the zealots; but it was not till after the Revolution of July 1830, that English zeal and money were actively employed. Then clergymen of various denominations, members of various committees, representatives of divers religious opinions, paid visits to France; offers and proposals of different kinds were made; experiments of all sorts were tried; societies were framed. The peculiar school and church of Albury Park, in Surrey, the seat of the Drummonds,-famous in the biography of Mr. M'Neil, of Liverpool,-was the source from which not the least considerable portion of this active interposition emanated. The alumni of that school were as little likely as any men to understand the difference which M. Coquerel has so well described, between French manners, society and opinions, and those of England. They might comprehend something of the difference between St. Paul's in London and the Oratoire in Paris, when they saw it. They might perceive that in Paris there is no such place as Exeter Hall, and deplore the absence of a building which a great parliamentary orator has designated the Grand Temple of Nonsense; which noble musical performances have made sacred to glorious Sound; and which continual declamatory addresses to the feelings and imaginations of the fair sex, from gentlemen in black coats and white cravats, have vindicated for sound alone. But their comprehen. sion and perception would probably stop at such a limit. Their penetration would hardly discern how different a thing a gift of the Bible might be, according as it was given on the one side or the other of the British Channel, in Dover or in Calais. Let us consider that case closely, as M. Coquerel has admirably put it.
“ In England, a Protestant and religious country, the man who receives a Bible, or is induced to purchase one for a trifle, may be a profligate in character, an infidel, a man without any pious habits, any Christian knowledge. But there are some things at least he is perfectly aware of: he knows that this same book is every Sunday opened and read' in all the churches of the country; he knows that the most respectable and numerous portion of the community at large look upon this book as sacred; he knows that on this book oaths are taken as on the word of God; and he may, to be sure, forget the gift of the holy volume and never seriously turn over a page of it; but it is a hundred to one that this indifference will be his worst sin,--that he will not try to learn out of the Bible a lesson of lewdness or of impiety,and, if he reads it, it is probable that some remembrances of his education, however faint, will enable him to understand enough of what he reads. In France, when a man, totally unprepared, receives a Bible, he has never in his life seen it opened in a place of worship; it has never been under his sight as a schoolbook or a church-book; no early associations are recalled to his mind; no dim recollections of his youth remind him of a time when the volume was put into his innocent hands; he knows that it is considered by thousands, far more learned than he is, as a collection of oriental fables thrown together at random ; if ever in his life he has heard or read any thing about it, it is a hundred to one that he has only studied it in Voltaire, whose most abominable and impious volume can be purchased too at a reduced price, for a few farthings; if he opens it, it is but too easy to guess what books and what pages he will curiously glance at; and if unfortunately companions are at hand, the dismal probability is greatly strengthened, that the sacred volume will become a stumblingblock of perverseness, scandal and infidelity; lastly, to hope for the best, if he turns over the book seriously, what can he make of it in that state of complete and absolute ignorance of religion in which he has been left, after partaking of the sacrament and receiving confirmation at ten or twelve years of age? Is the
conclusion to be drawn from all this, that the Bible is not to be distributed in France ? God forbid! The only conclusion is, that a Bible Society must be conducted in the one country on a plan different from that adopted in the other."
The most judicious plan for a Bible Society, whether in England or France, is itself a subject of serious consideration. M. Coquerel may not be aware that there is in this country a Trinitarian Bible Society, formed by those who could not consent to be associated with any Christians not agreeing with themselves in certain fundamental doctrinal interpretations; the very parties, we suspect, who have carried their exclusiveness into France, and sown the seeds of dissension among its Protestant people. Even the parent Bible Society, in our estimation, has done its work. The age demands something more than the circulation of the Authorized Version of the Scriptures for its religious instruction. The Bible is a dark book to the unfurnished mind; and if half the large income of the Bible Society were spent in the solid education and advancement of youth, far better results would accrue to society than are now traceable to the multiplication and diffusion of Old and New Testaments among a people incompetent to value or to use them.
But leaving this topic and returning to the reciprocal influence which the Protestantism of England and France may have exerted over each other, it is lamentable to think how little has been done by this country, in proportion to her means, for the advancement of the Protestant interest and principles. The very different position of Protestantism in the two countries, relatively to their respective governments, has no doubt operated as a cause of estrangement. The ministers of the Established Church in England are the allies and servants of the State. Its chief and wealthy functionaries are attendants at Court and the companions of Peers. Its humbler officers are scions of, or dependants on, the aristocracy and landed gentry. The Church of England is so emphatically and purely the Church of England,—having its constitution and life settled and marked by its own Liturgy, Rubric and Articles,—that its ministers hardly understand, and certainly cannot sympathize with, any religious principles, any devotional feeling, not embodied in their own forms. They know nothing of Protestantism beyond these. The supremacy of Scripture, the right of private judgment, is virtually disowned and practically discountenanced among them. Hence the Church-people of England, when settled in foreign towns in any considerable numbers, instead of attending and enjoying the services of the Protestants around them, must have their own Church service performed by their own ministers; and when a few of the inconsistent Protestants who make their own notions the measure of other people's salvation, and walk about as so many little infallibles and conscious popes, stray into other folds, it is to detect the marks of heresy upon the sheep, to divide the flock from each other, destroy confidence in their shepherd, and to make a miserable scene of discord and dissension, where before there were peace and affection.
An interference of this kind is so admirably told and exposed in one of the charming pamphlets by M. Reville, entitled, “The Aged Pastor of the Country” (“Le Vieux Pasteur de Campagne"), that our readers will thank us for giving it them at length.
" It was a beautiful morning in the month of May. The worthy pastor, according to his custom, had risen early to meditate on his text in the midst of the apple-blossoms of his orchard. The fresh and balmy air he breathed, the rural magnificence that gladdened his sight, prepared his mind sweetly for the adoration of the God of grace, and for the worship of Him who manifests his eternal providence in the calix of the flower and the nest of the sparrow,-when his meditations were interrupted by the appearance of two strangers.
“ The first, who might have been about thirty years of age, presented an aspect grave and composed. He was clothed in black; his dress was neat and even recherché; his glossy hair set off a rosy countenance, indicative of a life, if not of leisure and soft indulgence, at least comfortable and without privations. But, as if Nature had wished to give herself the lie, she had joined to this plump and rosy visage some traits which harmonize only with countenances thin and pale,-namely, a forehead square, eyes shining with a dark fire, and a disdainful lip, the ordinary marks of obstinacy, of inward pride, of intolerance and of fanaticism. As to the rest, although it offered such striking contrasts, the countenance of the stranger was not deceitful; for the same contradictions were reproduced in his life, which exhibited a strange alliance of devotion and indulgence, of frequent prayer and material wellbeing. Although he had often on his lips the Saviour's holy name, in his own food and lodging he was far from imitating him who had not where to lay his head; and it was often at the close of à nourishing repast that he launched unpitying anathemas against the brethren, whose only crime was not adopting his opinions. The aged pastor was not mistaken. He recognized immediately one of those ardent Methodistes' whom he had met with in England, who compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and return to boast among their friends of the conversions, real or pretended, which they have obtained.
“ After the first salutations were exchanged, the young man without preamble addressed these unusual questions to the aged pastor. 'Are you of Christ? Do you preach salvation by free grace? Have you put all your trust in the blood of the Lamb ? "I am,' replied the old man,' the earnest disciple of the best and most merciful of Masters, and I endeavour to 'feed his sheep' in the simplicity of my heart. For the rest, my young friend, if you wish to know the doctrine which I unfold to my flock, follow me, you and your companion, into the church where my audience is waiting.' The pastor preached at first, Jesus upon Calvary; and the stranger said, It is well.
" In the afternoon the pious minister, having again mounted his pulpit, preached Jesus on the Mount, and the stranger cried, It is bad. He was disgusted with preaching which spoke only of morality and good works; and yielding to a movement of sectarian irritation, which he mistook for an inspiration from above, he went about among the principal families of the parish, and accused their pastor of not being a Christian. What do you say, Sir P' cried the parishioners in amazement. Our venerable pastor speaks to us every Sunday of Jesus Christ; his life is that of an apostle; and do you accuse him of not being a Christian ? • Appearances deceive you, my good friends; for this pastor preaches to you neither the total corruption of the children of Adam, nor salvation without the works of the law; he dares to tell you that children are pleasing to Jesus Christ on account of their innocence, whilst the word teaches us that they are born in sin, that all flesh is corrupt, that we are all dead in our trespasses, but that those whom the Lord has chosen out of this mass of corruption live by Jesus Christ. He is a proud man, who prefers his false wisdom to the foolishness of the Cross. In truth, dear friends, I tell you this pastor of yours is not a Christian.'”
In excellent style, M. Reville goes on to describe the little effect which this accusation produced among the mass of parishioners well grounded in their faith and warmly attached to their pastor. But the grave air of the stranger, the lofty strain of his discourse, the frequency and length of his prayers, and the rigour of his creed, made a deep impression upon some ladies already disposed to pass the limits of Christian prudence, who, while they preserved still some respect for their pastor and doubted not the sincerity of his zeal, yet believed him less advanced than the stranger, and a guide less safe in the path to the kingdom of heaven. Soon, however, the stranger departed, to plant in a neighbouring parish the standard of division, and he left his companion to continue the work,-a salaried agent of the “Methodistes ;" a man of action rather than an orator; who, save a few hackneyed phrases, never gave utterance to an intelligent or rational observation,-a simple peasant from a village of Picardy, who, clothed in a blue blouse and carrying a heavy knapsack, announced himself as the chosen of the Lord, and laid on the pastor's table some tracts, among which might be distinguished, “Father Clement,” “The Shepherd of Šalisbury," "The Poor and Humble,” &c. “And how do you induce people to read the Bible and these tracts ?" asked the pastor. “By insulting their consciences an infallible means which they never resist," was the answer, which M. Reville records as matter of history, having heard the conversation word for word. Bayswater. (To be continued.)
“I AM NOT ALONE, BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME.”
THOUGH the things I lov'd are fled,
And all earthly friends have gone;
Leave me,-I am not alone:
Though Joy's summer-beams are clouded,
And Grief sighs in saddest tone;
I am not, though sad, alone :
Where the strongest are o'erthrown;
I must fight,--I'm not alone :
And in Sin's base thraldom groan,
Fallen-I am not alone:
And dark tempests round me moan;
There I shall not be alone :
Through the vale, where light is none,
In Death's dreary, starless night,
To Thy heaven's eternal light;
And dwell evermore with THEE !