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NOTICES AND REVIEWS.
Lectures on European Civilisation. By M. GUIZOT, late Minister for Public Instruction. 1837, pp. 469. J. Macrone, St. James's-square. WE refer to these lectures in order to bring before our readers some of the observations, on the arrangements of the professing Church, of a keensighted observer of events. M. Guizot, in these lectures, which appear to have excited intense interest at Paris, successively brought under observation the principal elements of modern society; the feudal aristocracy, the church, the communes, and royalty.' Our attention will be solely occupied by his remarks on "the church;" that is to say, the Catholic Church, in its relations to society. We read in the Word of God, that "the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light :" a truth to which ecclesiastical history bears ample testimony, and of which the following preliminary observations are, perhaps, an additional illustration:
P. 149.-"No society can endure a week; nay, more, no society can endure a single hour without a government. The moment a society is formed, indeed, by the very fact of its formation, it calls forth a government- a government which shall proclaim the common truth which is the bond of the society, and promulgate and maintain the precepts that this truth ought to produce. The necessity of a superior power, of a form of government, is involved in the fact of the existence of a religious, as it is in that of any other, society; and not only is a government necessary, but it naturally forms itself. Time does not permit me to explain at length in what manner governments generally arise, and become established; I shall content myself by observing, that when events
are suffered to follow their natural laws, when force does not interfere, power falls into the hands of the most able, the most worthy; those who are most capable of carrying out the principles on which the society was founded. Is a warlike expedition in agitation? The bravest take the command. Is the object of the association learned research, or a scientific undertaking? The best informed will be the leader. In all circumstances, when the world is left to its natural course, the natural inequality between men is openly displayed, and every one assumes the place he is capable of occupying. In religious affairs the same inequality of talents, of faculties, and of gifts, is apparent. One man may be more fitted than another to expound religious doctrines, and to cause them to be generally received. Another possesses more authority in compelling the observance of religious precepts; another may excel in exciting and cherishing religious emotions and expectations in the soul. The inequality of faculties and influence, which is the foundation of power in civil life, has the same effect in a religious society.
is not admitted-although it should even be absolutely interdicted.
"Such, gentlemen, is the government of a religious society. Without doubt, it ought never to employ compulsion; without doubt, its province being the human conscience, the employment of force is illegitimate under whatsoever pretext. But a government still exists. It ought to promulgate and maintain the precepts which correspond with its doctrines; it ought to teach and inculcate them, in order that if the society deviates from them, they may be recalled to its remembrance. Here is no compulsion, but inquiry, instruction, and the promulgation of religious truths; and, if necessary, admonition and cen
This is the office of a religious government; this is its duty.
“The conditions of legitimacy are the same in the government of a religious as in that of any other society. They may be reduced to two. The first is, that power should be possessed and constantly held, at least as far as the imperfection of human affairs permits, by the most excellent, the most able individuals; that those who are most competent to direct society (les supériorités légitimes), and who are dispersed amidst it, should be sought for, brought forward, and invited to discover the social law, and to exercise authority. The second is, that power, when legitimately constituted, respects the legitimate liberties of those whom it governs."
Happy, indeed, would it have been for Christian societies had these principles been respected. Our author proceeds with a sketch of the progress of the Church from the earliest ages, and its effects on civilisation:
P. 159—“How was it possible for the Church, which admitted all men to power, to ascertain their right to it? How did she discover in the bosom of society, how did she separate from it, the legitimate superiorities (supériorités légitimes) who ought to take part in her government?
"Two principles prevailed in the church. First, The election of the inferior by the superior-choice or nomination; Secondly, The election of the superior by the subordinate,
or, what is properly called election, such as we now conceive it to be.
“The ordination of priests, for example, the faculty of constituting any man a priest, was the privilege of the superior-the superior elected the inferior. In other cases, the
principle of true election prevailed. The bishops were for a long time, and, at the epoch we are considering they were still frequently, elected by the clergy: the faithful, or general body of Christians, occasionally had a voice in their election. In the monasteries, the abbot was elected by the monks; at Rome, the popes were elected by the college of cardinals; and, in the earlier ages, all the Roman clergy assisted. You therefore perceive, that these two principles, the choice of the inferior by the superior, and the election of the superior by the subordinates, were recognised and employed by the church, especially at the period we are studying: it was either by one or the other of these means that she nominated those destined to exercise any part of the ecclesiastical power.
"Not only were these two principles coexistent, but, being essentially different, they were continually in opposition. After many ages, after numerous vicissitudes, the nomination of the inferior by the superior became the practice of the Christian church. But in general, from the fifth to the twelfth century, the other principle, that of the choice of the superior by the subordinate, still prevailed. Let us not be surprised, that two such opposite principles should have existed together. If we consider society in general, if we observe the natural course of the world, the mode in which power is transmitted, we shall perceive that this transmission is effected, sometimes in accordance with one of these modes, sometimes with the other. The church did not invent them; she
found them in the laws of Providence for the regulation of human affairs, and she adopted them from that source. There is truth and utility in both their combination would frequently be the best means of discovering those who should legitimately possess power. It is, in my opinion, most unfortunate that one of these principles-the nomination of the inferior by the superior-should have obtained the ascendancy in the church: the other, nevertheless, was not completely annihilated, and, under various names, and more or less successfully, became frequently reproduced, with, at least, sufficient force to protest against, and frequently interrupt the prescription."
We regret that our limits will not allow more than a transient glance at the remainder of M. Guizot's able comments on the different states of the church, from the eighth to the twelfth century, 66 as an imperial church, as a barbarian church, as a feudal church, and as a theocratic church." But we must find room for an extract on the point which he deems "the radical vice" in the church, "the separation of the Christian clergy from the people."
P. 178-" This evil was introduced at a very early period into the Christian Church. The separation of the clergy from the Christian people, had not been entirely consummated at the epoch we were considering; the people had still, on certain occasionssometimes, for example, in the election of bishops-a direct interference in the ecclesiastical government. But this interference became continually less frequent, less powerful, and even, in the second century of our era, it had rapidly and visibly begun to decline. Even from its cradle, a tendency to isolation, and the independency of the clergy, forms, to a great extent, the history of the church.
"We cannot deny, that from this
cause sprung the greatest proportion of those abuses which, even at that epoch, and afterward, to a much greater extent, were fatal to the church."
P. 180-"We have seen that very early, the idea arose and prevailed, that theology, the questions and affairs of religion, were the peculiar and privileged domain of the clergy; that the clergy possessed not only the right to decide, but even to occupy themselves concerning those questions, and that the laity ought, in no manner, to interfere. ****
"This effect is, nevertheless, more pernicious in a religious, than in any other society. What is the question, concerns the governed? Their reason, their conscience, their future destiny; in fact, every thing that is most secret, most personal, and most free. We can, in some measure, conceive, that a man may abandon the direction of his material interests, his temporal affairs, to an outward authority, although most injurious consequences may thereby be produced. We can understand the philosopher who, when he was informed that his house was on fire, replied, Go and tell my wife, I do not meddle with household affairs.' But when conscience, mind, and intellectual existence are concerned, to abdicate self-government, to abandon oneself to an extrinsic power, is a moral suicide, a servitude infinitely more galling than personal slavery, than, the condition of the serf."
We must now take our leave of M. Guizot, trusting that these lectures, which have produced some considerable effect on the public mind in France, may be productive of good, though we rely very little on any extension of knowledge in reference to what ought to be the arrangements of Christian societies, unless accompanied by a clear exhibition of that "truth" which alone can "make free" the bond slaves of sin and Satan.
In the year 1836, the General Assembly of the Scotch Church passed a resolution of friendly sentiments in favour of the Established Church of England; it was a declaration of sympathy in the alarming visitation of the voluntary system, which was at that time threatening both the Presbyterian and the Episcopalian Establish
ments. The expediency of making a common cause was felt and acknowledged by the reasonable men north and south of the Tweed; and Dr. Chalmers has, by his lectures in London, endeavoured to cement the union between the two ancient antagonists. No such union, however, can possibly take place; the English bishops and priests, and other partisans, animated with the Popish spirit-intoxicated with secular power, and holding to the apostolical succession as the very life of their system, cannot endure any approach of the Presbyterians, except in the attitude of suppliant heretics, humbly seeking salvation within the pale of the prelacy, within which alone do they acknowledge that there is any hope of salvation. If the Presbyterian Church of Scotland be acknowledged to be a church at all, it follows inevitably that the Episcopalian Church is not a sine quà non ; that in fact it is a matter of indifference whether the Presbyterian or Episcopalian system be upheld, and that the divine right of diocesan prelacy is a delusion. Animated with these feelings, the Committee of the Christian Knowledge Society, January 15, 1838, passed the following resolutions, which were proposed by Mr. Dodsworth, a well-known leader of
Christ is planted in Scotland. There are not two branches of the Protestant Church. 3. It is implied
that there are two branches of the Church in Scotland, these being the Papal and the Protestant Episcopalian. 4. The other professedly Christian body, popularly known as the Church of Scotland, is no part of the Church of Christ"!!! Here is the voice of the Vatican in all its thunders; here is an excision of all the Christians of Scotland, except the few Papists and the few Episcopalians of the Anglican Church north of the Tweed, and that by a decision of a committee of a society "established for the promotion of Christian knowledge." They acknowledge the Papists as brothers in Christ, because they believe in diocesan bishops; which, indeed, is a disinterested show of affection on their part, as the Papists, with one voice, deny that the Episcopalians of England are part of the Church of Christ, or are indeed any thing but heretics. In the mean time, the Scotch Presbyterians, feeling the insults continually offered to them by the Episcopalians, and remembering well the old controversy which was not settled without bloodshed, are not backward on their part to speak out their sentiments of contempt, aversion, and defiance, against the advocates of that church which their ancestors conquered, and drove out of Scotland. The " centenary commemoration" of the celebrated Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which assembled in 1638, and overturned the Episcopacy of James and Charles, has lately furnished an occasion for a display of the true sentiments of the Presbyterians. This commemoration took place on the 20th of December last.
The Rev. Mr. Lorimer thus uttered his feelings against Episcopacy, in a speech at the public dinner: "I cannot shut my eyes to the fact," said he, "that as a matter of history, the Church of Scotland was reformed, not as some ignorant advocates of Episcopacy imagine, from the Church of England, but came forth directly from the Church of Rome; and that therefore the thrusting of Episcopacy upon her, by James and his unhappy son, was an act of the grossest usurpation, and which was moreover carried into effect by the most base, jesuitical, and violent means. I cannot forget that the bishops were deposed by our noble-minded ancestors of 1638, because their office had no authority in Scripture; because they had been the greatest instruments in the hands of the king in oppressing the people, and because many of them were also notorious for unsound doctrine, Popish learning, and immoral life.
Lord Provost, they and their Church were not indigenous, the nature, the cherished growth of the Scottish soil. No; they were like a miserable party of foreigners, without any hold on, or sympathy in the country; put forth as mere puppets, convenient tools, to serve the purposes of a domineering crown."-" It would be well for such persons to remember that Episcopacy embraces but a small number of the churches of the Protestant Reformation. Who were the Waldenses, those noble men who throughout the dark reign of Popery kept alive the flames of pure religion, and thus fulfilled the Master's promise, of perpetual presence in his Church? They were Presbyterians. What was the Protestant Church of France? She was strictly Presbyterian. What were the Protestant Churches of Holland, Switzerland, Germany-so remarkable for the eminent learning of many of their ministers a learning which Episcopal England is not ashamed to borrow? They were, they are, Presbyterian, What is the Church of the only peace
ful province of Ireland? and what is by far the most eminent and influential Church of the United States of America a Church which has recenty vindicated her discipline, by cutting off fifteen unsound congregational Presbyteries at a strike? They are both Presbyterian. Nay, more, Sir, who were the men to whom England, and her religion and liberties, were in the seventeenth century so deeply indebted? They were the Presbyterian Nonconformists - the Church Establishment men the despised Puritans of England. The truth is, the Church of England stands almost alone in her Episcopacy. I say it without any disrespect; she is an anomaly among the daughters of the Reformation; and high as some of her modern advocates may talk of their peculiar and exclusive privileges, the Reformers of the Church-the moral heroes of the age of Edward VI., with whom the Newmans, and the Kebles, and the Puseys of the present times are not to be namedwould have been ashamed of their modern descendants, and would have disowned them as apostates. Never did they dream of unchurching the Protestant Church of Scotland. No ; they were glad to learn from her; they envied her high reformation; they embraced her with the affection of a sister; they would almost have died for her principles."-Dr. Paterson, D.D. said, "The people knew the natural history of the Beast, and they could recognise him crouching on his muffled paw as well as in his rampant mode, vexing, tearing, and tormenting. They were not to be taken by his gentle look; and the only safety was to see him out of the land; and to see out also a corrupted Episcopacy, which had sheltered and disguised him."-The Rev. J. C. Bown said, "It was monstrous to contend that the civil rulers should be the head of the Church. Why, the supreme civil powers might be in the hands of a female, and were they to