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It is a substantial aid, which we most heartily commend to every teacher, and student, as a table companion to lie beside his Lexicons and Grammars. A familiarity with such a work, through an academic and collegiate course, cannot fail to enrich the mind with a fund of classical knowledge, and impart additional zest to the study of the Greek and Roman authors. A long time has not elapsed, since a student would have been compelled to spend whole days, in a large and well selected library, to obtain the information, that is now presented to him, in one well arranged volume. Prof. Fiske deserves the thanks of every one, who is interested in the advancement of classical learning. The external appearance of the work is neat and attractive.
3.-Aids to Reflection, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with
Preliminary Essay, by James Marsh, D. D. From the
octavo. Aids to Reflection, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with the Au
thor's Last Corrections. Edited by Henry Nelson Coleridge, Esq. M. A.; to which is prefixed a Preliminary Essay, by John McVickar, D. D., Professor of Moral Philosophy, in Columbia College, New York. London, William Pickering ; New York, Swords, Stanford & Co. 1839, 12 mo. pp. 324.
These two editions of Coleridge's "Aids to Reflection” are before the public with conflicting claims. It is with reluctance that we speak disparagingly of either; and yet the reasons urged by the Editor of the latter, for its publication, are such as render it impossible to commend the one without an implied censure of the other. In these circumstances we cannot hesitate to express our decided preference of that by Prof. Marsh.' We are happily relieved, however, from the necessity of stating the grounds of this preference, by the following strictures on the edition by Prof. McVickar, furnished by a respected correspondent, who is not a disciple of Coleridge, but “as a friend of truth and fair dealing," claims to speak freely.
The publication of this new preliminary essay, by Dr. McVickar, will be unfortunate to the reputation of its author, for fairness of mind, for accuracy, we had almost said honesty, in his statements and quotations, and we may add, for a manly and honorable spirit. It will be received with disapprobatiori, by all who are acquainted either with the merits of the essay for which it was substituted or with the principles and spirit of Coleridge himself.
The Essay of Dr. Marsh, had been read and approved by Mr. Coleridge, who was able, if any man is, to judge of its merits as a true exposition of his own system of Christian philosophy, and also of the importance of the suggestions which were designed to secure for it a faithful and unprejudiced study. It was also prefixed to the edition which was "recently put forth in London by his nephew and executor with the author's final amendments.” None but reasons the most substantial and imperative could authorize or justify the opinion on the part of Prof. McVickar, that the essay of Dr. Marsh thus consecrated by the dying wishes of a man like Mr. Coleridge, was open to so many exceptions, as to demand a
The reasons given for this opinion, and for the attempt to substitute another introduction, are five. 1. “That such Preface is mainly occupied in justifying Coleridge and his philosophy, against objections which have no place except on the Calvinistic scheme of Divinity. But these obviously are difficulties in the way of the reception not of Coleridge's but of his commentator's opinions, objections therefore not with churchmen, but with dissenters from the church.” On p. xxviii. he represents Dr. Marsh as laboring to reconcile his author with the Calvinism of Edwards, and adds, “ to reconcile Coleridge with Calvinism, is that fruitless task which places him ever in a false position with regard to his own faith, and in a needless one in the light of all others.” Allowing the fact here stated to be true, what then? Are there no Ca] vinists within the Church ? Are there none who would be al. lowed by Prof. McVickar to be “called of God as was Aaron," who are yet Calvinistic in their views of Theology is a Calvinist of necessity not a Churchman but “a dissenter from the Church ?"
Besides; this Stereotype Edition is not only addressed to that communion of which its author “was an affectionate and faithful son," but also “to the church at large,” unless indeed the latter phrase was penned by its author in a moment of forgetful and inconsistent Catholicity; and surely the church at large might not suffer by an effort to justify the system held by Coleridge from objections on the score of Calvinism.
But the fact stated is not true; Dr. Marsh is not a Calvinist of the school of Edwards; and a large portion of his preliminary essay is an attempt to show that his views of the will, etc., are inconsistent with right reason and spiritual religion, and that the views of Coleridge are the only substitute. How any man could have thought or said the contrary, we can with difficulty understand.
Reason 2. “That it [i. e. the Preface] inculcates what is deemed a false and dangerous principle, viz. that some system of metaphysical philosophy is essential to soundness in Christian doctrine.” To this we reply, that it inculcates no such thing--and nothing in the least inconsistent with the views of Coleridge himself. With Coleridge Dr. Marsh indeed teaches—" that we can have no right views of theology, till we have right views of the human mind." This his master taught with all his might ; inculcating that there can be no consistent scheme of scientific theology, which is not founded on a right division of the powers of man, and a judg. ment thence derived, as to what man can and cannot know, in the way of science. To construct a scheme of Christian philosophy was the aim and aspiration of his later years.
In entire consistency with this great principle both teachthe one as the other, that Religion as distinguished from speculative Theology is not a speculation but a life, not a phile losophy of life, but a life and living process. Prof. McVickar has here displayed a singular facility in misunderstanding both Dr. Marsh and Coleridge--as well as misquoting the latter.
Reason 3. “That it tends to a misapprehension of Coleridge's religious views, by identifying them with what among us,” says Dr. Marsh,“ are termed the evangelical doctrines.".-“ Now the term used as a party name, in which sense alone it can be here understood, is one peculiarly inappropriate as applied to Coleridge,” etc.
The word Evangelical is not used here in a party sense. certainly not in the party sense in which it is quoted by Prot. McVickar. The phrase "the evangelical doctrines," is used by Dr. Marsh, as synonymous with the great truths of revelation which are held in common by those Christian denominations who are regarded as believers in serious and spiritual religion. It has nothing to do with opposing parties or opinions, in the English or American Episcopal Churches, respecting, "the church, the sin of schism, the doctrine of the sacraments, or conversion.”
Reason 4, is, in substance, its unqualified eulogium of Cole
ridge and his opinions. Dr. Marsh does not eulogize his author excessively for we know that there are some of his peculiar opinions of men and things which he does not adopt. He did not however deem it necessary to state every point, in which he differed from him. This he regarded doubtless as too trivial an occupation for one who had at heart the further. ance of his principles of Christian truth-and not a bigoted or blind devotion to the foibles of the man.
“Lastly, it is rejected as being a preface which takes too much knowledge for granted, on the part of the reader, to answer the present demand of an edition fitted for popular use." Of this reason we can only say, that the man who has not sufficient knowledge to grapple with the essay of Dr. Marsh, need not expect to grapple successfully with Mr. Coleridge. If he is deterred by the introduction it is a sure indication that he had better remain a while, in the schools of ordinary teachers.
The truth of the matter is this : Coleridge was an Episco. palian--a devout and reverent son of the established church; therefore it was a thing to be desired that his work should be taken under the patronage of Episcopalians—and that his name should be turned to its account in promoting the extreme doctrines, that are now so fashionable on both sides of the Atlantic. Prof. McVickar and his associates can ill endure, that “a dissenting clergyman from Vermont," should have had the penetration to discern the high merits of this remarkable man, and the courage to avow his convictions, at a time when it cost some boldness to do so. They feel that a believer in a self-constituted ministry has no right to connect his name with an Episcopal author; and when they witness this outrage they feel not a little unlike the famous Dennis, when he cried, “How these rascals use me ;-they will not let my play run, yet they steal my thunder !”
We deem it important to add a brief statement of the views of Coleridge in reference to the church, and especially those most offensive doctrines at large, with which the effort has been made to connect the authority of his name, in the pitiful spirit of sectarian partisanship.
Coleridge was a friend and a zealous supporter to the national church in England, and was vexed and grieved with the efforts of the modern dissenters to bring the establishment to an end. In the same spirit and for the same reasons, not a few in our own country were the avowed supporters of the more liberal establishments of Virginia and Connecticut-and this independently of the fact that Episcopacy was supported by the one and Congregationalism by the other.
SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO. II. 22
He also held “that Christianity without a church [not visi: ble church as Mr. McVickar quotes him), exercising spiritual authority, is vanity and dissolution.” So did all the Refor. mers hold; so do the divines of the Lutheran and Reformed churches at the present day. Coleridge has no where said that “ Christianity without a church episcopally constituted is vanity and dissolution,” but has every where implied the contrary.*
He holds in regard to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, what the Reformers held, not of the English or Episcopal church, but of the church of Scotland as well as those upon the Continent. If in this point he approximates to the opinions of the Oxford divines, it is no more than just that it should also be stated, that in their views and the views of Prof. McVickar respecting the administration of Whitgift and Bancroft, and Laud and the Puritan defection, he differs from them widely.
He was also an affectionate son of the English church as the church in which he was born and baptized, for the reason which Richter gives in his saying—“your church may be a very good church but she is not my mother."
He has no where avowed himself, the foe of “a self-constituted ministry," i. e. a ministry not episcopally ordained, and there is not a passage to be found in his writings from which there can be gathered the conclusion that he held the divine right of Episcopal ordination, and the Apostolical succession. From hundreds the opposite might be derived. Nothing would be more offensive or unpleasant to the high churchmen of the present day, than the even-handed justice which he metes out to the two parties in ihe great strife of Puritanism, and the high terms in which he speaks of those whom they load with contemptuous epithets.
Not to speak of the unfairness of the quotations made by Prof. McVickar-we must be content with requesting the reader to look them out for himself.
The writer of this notice is not a partisan of the philosophy of Coleridge, and would not be owned as one of his disciples, It is therefore with the greater freedom, that as a friend or truth and fair dealing, as well as of the high moral and Ide tellectual worth of Prof. Marsh, he has made these strictures.
* In his book on the Church and State, which has never been reprinted in this country, he represents the Primitive Church as Congregatione or Presbyterian.