Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

around, misery, chains, ruin; above is divine justice armed with wrath; beneath is hell, half opened and ready to swallow him up. At the sight of these frightful objects, courage becomes alarmed, conscience strikes, the sinner trembles. O how much he detests his sins! how much he hates himself.?

Before we pass on to the Protestant Preachers, we cannot help expressing our regret, that Mr. Cobbin should bave classed the excellent but mystical Madame Guyon, with the miserable Joanna Southcott. The resemblance has no ground whatever on which it can be sustained. Nor 'can we conceive' where Mr. C. discovered that Desfontaines was

a poet of the first (rate talents.' It is evident that he confounds two different men. The Abbé Desfontaines was indeed a most severe 'critic,' but no poet; while la Fontaine was the mildest and least critical of human beings, though a poet of the highest celebrity. There is an expression also, which reminds us of the celebrated phrase-- one John Milton. In the biography of Claude, Mr. Cobbin speaks of a Dr. Arnauld.' We must be permitted to say, that it is neither liberal nor becoming to speak thus of one of the ablest and best men who ever lived; a man who was the formidable antagonist of Claude and of Mallebranche; who was, and who is usually, distinguished from his two brothers, Arnauld d'Andilli

, and Henri Arnauld, bishop of Angers, both extraordinary men, by the epithet le grand Arnauld, and who was called by Boileau,

Le plus savant mortel qui jamais ait ecrit.' Even where the Catholic orators state the doctrines of Christianity with general accuracy, they give them a false colouring; and where their eloquence is most conspicuous, it is not always sound. It is refreshing to pass from these ambitious rhetoricians, to the Gospel simplicity and strong sense of the Protestant Preachers. In the following paragraph from the admirable Claude, we find, what we scarcely ever find in the Catholies, forcible statements of doctrine, and just applications of Scripture.

• The Spirit which proceeds from communion with the Saviour, is given to us for four purposes; for the plenitude of faith, for perseverance, for sanctification, and for consolation. I say, first, for plenitude of faith; for I distinguish between faith and its plenitude, as we distinguish between life and the perfection of life; an infant lives, a sick man lives, but a person who is in the prime of life and in perfect health, does not only live, but he lives in full vigour, nature uninterruptedly performing in him all its functions and operations. In like manner, a weak and ignorant person, whom God has. honoured with his calling, will be faithful; but he will neither have that extent of light, nor that eminent knowledge, nor that firm confidence, which is found in those whom St. Paul calls perfect, which


I call the plenitude of faith. Now it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ which produces this perfection in us, for Jesus is our teacher and our prophet, who inwardly instructs all believers. Secondly, he gives us his Holy Spirit to make us persevere, for he has received us under his care. And this is the Father's will which hath sent him, that of all which he hath giver him, he should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day, as he himself declares in the sixth of St. John. În the third place, it is his Spirit that sanctifies us; and that forms in us the habits of virtue, that we may bring forth the fruits of righteousness which our vocation demands. Abide in me and I in you, said he to his disciples; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ; no more can ye, except ye abide in

I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. Finally, his Spirit is given unto us for the joy and

peace of our souls; for it is on the communion of our Redeemer that those ineffable consolations depend in which believers rejoice. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not


heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. And because he has given us this peace, by means of his Spirit, his Spirit is called the Comforter ; I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter. St. Paul embraces these four things in that fine passage in the first epistle to the Corinthians. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption ; for wisdom and righteousness are what we call the plenitude of faith, and consolation to the heart is the formal annunciation of sanctification; and redemption ensures perseverance even to the last day.'

This is a long extract, and the following from le Faucheur is much longer, but it is so admirable a piece of reasoning, that we cannot refuse it room.

Christ then, by his merits, having acquired for us eternal life,...... it would be a great sacrilege in us to wish to attribute the invaluable acquisition either to our own merits or to those of any other creature. But it is not our intention, say the adversaries of this doctrine, in establishing our merits, to take away from Jesus Christ the glory of his : for we confess freely, that all the glory of our merits depends upon his, who gives to them all the weight and value that they poseess What do they mean by this? Is it that the merits of Christ may be mixed with ours, and that by this mixture they acquire a value which they had not in themselves ? But would you mix grains of gold with grains of sand, that the mixture might make the grains of sand more valuable? No truly, for sand, mix it with whatever you please, must remain sand, of no consideration, nor value. The gold alone is valuable, and all the sand that we can add to it cannot increase its intrinsic worth. Is it then that our merits, not having a sufficient value in the sight of God to satisfy for what we owe him, the merit of our Saviour ought to be added to them, to give them the

necessary value, as if we owed a thousand crowns, and having only an hundred to pay, another were to add nine hundred to com

plete the sum? By no means; for were it so, our merits considered in themselves would have their own value before God, at least in proportion to the quantity that we had furnished on our own account, and the merits of Christ would have their value, although in a much greater degree; and notwithstanding that he would be by far the largest contributor in the work of our salvation, we should always have a right to say, that in part we were our own Saviours. He for example would have nine parts of the glory of having obtained our salvation, and we should have the tenth, and thus he would not have the whole. Or rather, do they mean to say that our merits may be perfumed with the odour of the merits of Christ, as a mass which of itself has no scent, takes the scent of the perfume with which it is mixed; or as a water which is insipid and inefficacious in its own nature, takes the tincture and the virtue of a medicinal drug that we infuse into it? I do not think that they would wish to say this. For besides that the merits of Christ are not material things which may be mixed and incorporated with our works to influence them, and to give them some inherent quality which they had not before in themselves, were his merits to render our works meritorious, they must impress upon them the infinite dignity of his person, and the immaculate holiness of all his affections, which are the things upon which his merit is properly founded. Then they neither communicate nor can communicate the one nor the other to us, or our works; for could it be so, they would make us gods, equal to our Lord Jesus Christ, and our works divine and equal to his. We cannot then say with propriety that the merits of Christ render our works meritorious. What then, in fine, do the merits of Christ produce those of believers, because Jesus Christ is the vine, and they are the branches? They cannot indeed say any thing more specious, but who does not see that this ruins their cause? For as the branches do not bring forth fruit, partly by the virtue of the vine, and partly by their own, seeing that all the sap they possess, and all the fruit they bear, proceed from their root, to which all the glory is due, neither can believers, in whole or in part, attribute to themselves the honour and praise of their good works, nor pretend to any merit on account of them, since they all proceed from Christ and not from themselves. There remains yet another manner in which we may understand what they say, namely that the merits of Christ are imputed to ours, that the justice of God might accept them as good and valuable, though they may not be so in reality. But this they cannot justify. For if our works could only become merit by the imputation of the obedience of Christ, they would not then be such in themselves, but only by a gratuitous acceptance; and if they became such only by gratuitous acceptance, how could they be real merits! You perceive then that these are only frivolous excuses and delusive words which are without sense. How much better is it to strip ourselves freely of all these proud pretensions of our own merits, to give glory to those of our gracious Saviour, and to acknowledge with the great Apostle that the torments of eternal death are indeed the wages that they merit who are the servants of sin; but that as to eternal life and blessedness, it is a pure gift of

• It is


God, which has been procured for us, acquired, and merited by our Lord Jesus Christ only.'

Among the French Preachers whose lives are inserted in the Biographical list at the end of this volume, we find the name of the Abbé Maury; and in the subjoined article we find a sentence which we are entirely at a loss to understand. supposed (says Mr. Cobbin) that if the influence of his eloquence had been employed in behalf of Louis the Sixteenth, he would have saved the monarchy.' If this be meant to imply that Maury ranked among the assailants of the monarchy, it is in exact opposition to the truth. The Abbé was among the foremost in the contest, it is true; but he distinguished himself as the persevering, zealous, and eloquent defender not only of the Altar and the Throne, but of every existing abuse. If these words are designed to convey the idea that the emigration of Maury and his absence from France during the trial of Louis, were fatal to the monarchy, they are equally inaccurate, for though the Abbé was a ready and able debater, he never possessed the confidence of the National Assembly, and never, as we believe, succeeded in turning the scale in one single debate. The fact seems to be, that Mr. Cobbin has misunderstood his authority. The first half of his article is translated from the Bibliotheque Portative, which uses the following language on

this point.

Si la raison revêtue de tous les avantages que lui donnoient la justice, la vérité, & le sentiment, avoit pu l'emporter sur le dechainement de toutes les passions, seul il eut sauvé la monarchie.'

Now the meaning of this is, in reality, the opposite of that assigned to it in the volume before us. The passage just quoted affirms, that if argumentative eloquence armed with the powers of justice, truth, and feeling, could have subdued the unbridled fury of the passions, the monarchy would have been saved by the Abbé Maury, who actually, but vainly, addressed the eloquence of reason to the passions of the French people. If we recollect rightly, Maury and Barnave were the only two conspicuous men of the early legislatures of Revolutionary France, who spoke d'abondance and without preparation; Mirabeau always prepared his harangues.

Mr. Cobbin, when mentioning the fact that Bourdaloue preached with his eyes shut, speaks of it with hesitation, as matter only of report. It is so little uncertain, that his portrait represents him in the act of preaching with his eyes closed, and his hands folded in each other. The engraving to which we now refer, and the only one which we have in our possession, is prefixed to a volume of his sermons translated into Spanish,

Art. V. The City of the Plagre, and other Poems. By John Wilson,

Author of the Isle of Palms. 8vo. pp. 300. Price 10s. 6d. Edin

burgh, Constable and Co. and Longman, London, 1816. THERE is no question in criticism more curious than that

which respects the pleasure which we derive from the description of objects in themselves by no means pleasurable. That pains and passions, from a view of which we should in reality shrink,—that the paroxysms of anger or despair, the gibberings of madness, the throttling agonies of death, --should, in description, whether by pen or by pencil, or on the stage, afford gratification to a well-regulated mind, is indeed in no inconsiderable degree paradoxical. We have, on a former occasion, stated some of the theories that have been advanced in explanation of this curious fact; and also our reasons for acquiescing in that of Hume. We shall venture just to go over this ground again, because we think that the whole matter may be put in a much less mysterious light than it is by that Author himself,

It will be readily granted, we suppose, on all hands, that, in a state of passion, not only are the feelings more impressible, but the imagination is more active. A state of passion is nothing but a state in which reason loses its predominance; a state, of course, in which the imagination is turned loose, in all its native vagrancy. And in fact we find this to be the case. When under the violent influence of any passion, we forget time and place; we call upon the absent and the dead; tell out our sorrows or our joys to the trees of the field and the stars of the sky; invoke heaven and earth as witnesses of our wrongs ; conjure

• Eternity, as men constrain a ghost,

To yield us up an answer.' It will, likewise, we suppose, be granted us, that the exercise of the imagination, as of every other faculty whether bodily or mental, is, in itself, and in no small degree, pleasurable. We do not mean to assert any thing so absurd, as that a man suffering under violent grief, is a happy man, because he has an opportunity of exerting his imagination. But this we do assert, that in this exercise of the imagination consists his chief pleasure, in such a state, and that that pleasure must needs . be very great which can, in so great a degree as we believe it does, counterbalance feelings of so opposite a nature.

To the imagination the poet applies himself,—then surest of producing the greatest delight, when he can apply himself to that faculty in the highest state of excitation. To excite it in a very high degree, we have seen that it is necessary to quicken feelings by no means pleasurable. If a poet would

« PreviousContinue »