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“(6.) Never expect I can justify such a procedure as to stay at parties when I should be at religious meetings.
"I feel myself ignorant, weak, prone to violate resolutions, &c. Lord, help me!”
His opinion of the great requisites to good preaching are expressed in another extract:
“(1.) Close union with God.
“(6.) Seek to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit continually."
With more or less of fidelity and earnestness, he endeavoured to carry out these principles and resolutions throughout a ministry protracted to nearly half a century.
I conclude in the words of the editor of the Wesleyan Times :“He is remembered with affection and esteem by those who knew him best; and he has left behind him a memory which will be cherished in the circuits he travelled, as having turned many to righteousness who were serving sin and folly.” J. C. WATTS.
Tbeology and General Literature.
M. GUIZOT'S MEDITATIONS
ACTUAL STATE OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
AND ON THE ATTACKS WHICH ARE NOW BEING MADE UPON IT. A WORK of the nature indicated by the above title, by one of the leading thinkers of the age, and of European celebrity, cannot but be worthy of attention; and, in the conflict of views and opinions amidst which we live, may help our meditations to instructive and profitable results. Our readers will be better prepared for an examination of the book, by obtaining such an acquaintance with its distinguished author as a rapid sketch can give. M. Guizot was born at Nismes, in 1787. His father, a distinguished advocate and a Protestant, for resisting the fury of the revolutionary government, perished on the scaffold. The widowed mother, an admirable and religious woman, removed with her two sons to Geneva, where she could give them a more solid and serious education than they could obtain at that time in any part of France. The teacher of the young Guizots was a minister of the Reformed Church, and under his tuition the subject of our sketch laid deep the foundations of his future power and fame. At a very early age he had obtained the mastery of the learned, and several modern languages. It is said, indeed, that his abstraction in study, in these early days, was such, that his jacket might be torn off his back by his schoolfellows without his being aware of it. After passing through a course of philosophy, he went to Paris to study law. This profession he soon abandoned, and in the house of the Swiss minister at Paris read largely in German literature, and otherwise enlarged his intellectual stores and disciplined his powers. His long and brilliant literary career had a singular commencement. A Mademoiselle Pauline de Meulan edited, with great success, a periodical called the Publiciste. Being seized with a serious illness, she feared her publication must be suspended, when an unknown friend generously offered his assistance. The offer was accepted, and the benefactor of the editress, M. Guizot, several years afterwards, became her husband. His literary activity has been extraordinary. Scarcely had he completed his majority, when he gave to the world a “ Dictionary of Synonyms," with an able dissertation on the peculiar character of the French language; a translation of Gibbon's “ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," enriched with learned and valuable notes ; followed by “ Lives of the French Poets of the age of Louis XIV.” These works were but an earnest, however, of what was to come. Besides many controversial pamphlets and smaller works, all of which were successful as literary productions, and had great influence on public opinion, one production of his rapid pen was a collection of memoirs relating to the “History of the Revolution in England," extending to twenty-seven octavo volumes ; another, a collection of memoirs relative to the “History of France,” in twenty-eight volumes—works "full of sound views and curious faets, retracing the history of our Revolution with the calmness of a philosophic statesman, and a spirit of little less than propheey as regarded his own country." We cannot but pause for a moment, to express wonder at the mental power and the capacity of labour, which could not only disinter the mass of materials required by these works, but reduce the chaos to order by complete annotation, and then elaborate the finished productions on so vast a scale. Even these labours, however, combined with the duties of a professorship, left him leisure for historical essays on Shakespeare and Calvin, and for contributing largely to influential works of periodical criticism.
He was early appointed to the Professorship of Modern History, His lectures delivered in this capacity bave been collected into two publications, the one best known in this country being “ The History of Civilization in Europe," a work evincing a masterly power of generalization, tracing the broad streams of events to their obscure causes, and making the facts of many centuries instructive by placing them in the light of a true and Christian philosophy.
In his political he was not less active than in his literary life. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, the number of his speeches was extraordinary. He had brilliant speakers in opposition, but seems, on the whole, to have been the master and superior, as a debater, of all living Frenchmen. Into the consideration of his character as a statesman we do not here enter, although, when we reinem ber his diplomacy in reference to Tahiti, we cannot, by any means, pronounce it without blemish. By the course which events have taken in France, however, he has for many years been detached from guvernmental connections, and in his advancing age has devoted himself more exclusively to religious activity. He takes a leading part, we believe, in church administration, but his mind is of too active and comprehensive an order to be restricted to the affairs of his own community. His eye ranges afar. He looks as from some lofty post of observation upon the condition of Christianity in the world, but more especially in his own country, and profoundly “meditates” on the work it has to do, and the opposing forces it has to encounter. He watches the progress of the strife, marks whither the tide of battle is rolling, and in this work announces the results of his observations.
To learn what a veteran like M. Guizot thinks on the actual condition of Christianity, and the great questions which affect its progress, is both interesting in itself, and may shed some light on the perplexed state of things in our own country. He is struck, first of all, with the growing earnestness and the more clearly defined position of all parties in relation to Christianity. “ Beliefs become firmer beliefs ; opinions hostile to them receive fuller developments.” “ Between the adversaries of Christianity and its defenders the discussion grows each day in importance and gravity.” “A noble work of progress, a hideous work of destruction, are in operation simultaneously in men's opinions and in society. Humanity never so floated between heaven and the abyss.” Perhaps the most hopeless state of society is that of utter indifference. Let stagnation prevail, and instead of growth and beauty there will be a desolate and lifeless scene. John Foster mentions a Turkish fort, constructed of mud. On this material the cannon-balls of a besieging army could make no impression; they simply disappeared in the mud, and the fortress remained unmoved : a fit illustration of the futility of reasoning with the utterly indifferent as with the utterly ignorant. In an awakened state of society, on the contrary, when its moral as well as its intellectual sensibilities are aroused, there may, and will, be resistance to the Truth; her advance may be disputed at every step, but the opportunity is also given for those conquests she is sure, in the end, to achieve.
In these “Meditations” a chapter is devoted to each of the following topics :- The Awakening of Christianity in France in the Nineteenth Century; Spiritualism ; Rationalism ; Positivism ; Pantheism ; Materialism ; Scepticism; and Impiety, Recklessness, and Pexplexity.
In discussing the “Awakening of Christianity,” &c., M. Guizot takes as his starting point the failure of that memorable and fearful experiment made for all time by revolutionary France—the attempt to abolish Christianity. It was soon found that Atheism could be no resting-place. The “ Theophilanthropism,” which was to supersede Christianity, disappeared as a dream of the night. The wild orgies which supervened, the sea of blood into which the nation seemed to be dissolving itself, rendered the restoration of Christianity clearly necessary to quiet and control the agitated elements of society. “ The strong hand of Napoleon again solemnly set up in France the religion of Christ crucified and Christ risen ; and in the same year the brilliant genius of Chateaubriand again placed before the eyes of his countrymen the beauties of Christianity. The great politician and the great writer bowed each of them before the cross. The cross was the point from which each started—the one to re-construct the Christian Church in France, the other to prove how capable a Christian writer is of charming French society and stirring its emotions” (p. 2). Napoleon was, doubtless, gifted with clear and far-reaching perception, and what he saw was, in all probability, something more than the blank which had been made by the attempted abrogation of Christianity: it was that the Christian religion could not be abrogated ; that it had an indestructible life, which would certainly and soon again manifest itself; and he but gave practical expression to the feeling which was moving at the heart of the nation. Lamartine, writing of this period, says—“ The theocratic reaction was prompt and universal, as it ought to have been. Impiety does not fill the heart of man. A faith destroyed must be replaced by a faith. It is not given to irreligion to destroy a religion on earth. The earth canuot remain without an altar, and God alone is strong enough against God.” In re-establishing Christianity, therefore, Napoleon was only giving proof of his superior sagacity. To those who have had the interests of Christianity most deeply at heart, it has been matter of regret that she has had so much of imperial patronage. The purple of Constantine could adıl nothing to a beauty which was already Divine; whilst the worldly associations into which she has thus been brought have dimmed her native lustre and crippled her energies, and often dragged her into the dust of deep humiliation. And some of the most able and eloquent Protestant writers of France of the present day, as M. E de Pressensé, regard the step taken by Napoleon as an untoward incident: as the revolutionary fever was subsiding, Christianity was rapidly recovering its power, “spontaneously regenerating itself;" and if it had been left free and uncontrolled, it would have risen by its own strength, and exerted a far greater influence than the action of Napoleon permitted it to do.
From this part of M. Guizot's volume it is evident that, even with all the encumbrance and rubbish with which Popery overlays Christianity, it has manifested no small power in France. Within the last fifty years it has built thousands of churches, and originated charitable associations and institutions of many kinds, which appear to be zealously supported. As the vital force of Christianity enabled it to rise again from the grave into which Atheism had flung it at the Revolution, so the same vital force enables it to work in the grave-clothes with which Superstition has bound it. It is evidently, indeed, difficult to keep the French mind within the rigid bounds which Popery prescribes. It has an activity not easily represserl, and which occasions no small amount of trouble both to its political and its ecclesiastical rulers. Gifted, eloquent, earnest men occasionally arise, anxious “to drag France out of its rut of incredulity and irreligion, and at the same time to extricate Catholicism from its rut of impolicy, its alliance with absolutism,” and to promote at once Christian faith and liberal institutions. Rome rebukes and condemns them, and they manifest a spirit of submission which shows how absolute is their faith in her authority, but they nevertheless exert an influence which is widely felt. The Catholic Church in France has evidently taken large strides in the direction of libertyliberty of conscience as well as civil and political liberty, showing that her religion is not altogether a dead letter; a fact so unpalatable to the Pope that he endeavoured to stop the rising tide by the publication of an Encyclical so lately as December, 1864—a document which displays the wiliness, the assumptions, the hostility to the ideas and influences of modern civilization, and the hatred to liberty, which are the essential spirit of the Papacy. M. Guizot thinks, however, that these fulminations are becoming ineffective in France, a mere imbecile policy-a fact which gives a hopeful character to the future of even Catholic France. As in Italy, it has not been found possible utterly to exclude the Gospel ; and as the germs of what is in reality Protestantism are in many places springing up, so, as these germs are being widely scattered in France, from this good seed of the kingdom there may in the end be a glorious harvest.
Turning to the position of Protestantism, we find a touching reference to the “two centuries of persecutions and of sufferings, of which we cannot, in these days, read the accounts without mingled sentiments of astonishment, indignation, and sorrow. Faithfully should men guard the memory of such outrages; they would be infinitely better than they are if they had always present to their minds the vivid pictures of the iniquities and woes which fill the page of their history; and evils would not so soon recur if they were not so soon forgotten.” A lesson applicable to the Catholic revival in England. The bitterness with which Protestantism is spoken of by the promoters of the ritualistic movement, which is essentially a Romish one, betrays the old persecuting spirit, which favouring opportunity might develop into the dread shapes of inquisitorial terror with which our forefathers were but too familiar.
After its own bitter experiences during the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was glad to be again permitted to exist, and Protestantism was placed in a position of liberty which was felt as "a taking possession of the promised land." It was still a liberty far from perfect; and the activity which now displayed itself in Bible colportage, and the circulation of religious tracts and books, and other kindred forms, had to encounter many obstacles. “The activity of the Protestant societies created uneasiness in bishops and priests, who strove, not merely to counteract their influence, but to interfere with their liberty of action. Mayors of towns, judges of the peace, sometimes, too, magistrates and judges of more elevated rank, lent their aid to these exceptionable proceedings.” Happily, these and other unfriendly influences have been unable to arrest the progress of the work. Statistics are not given by our author, but the number of Protestant pastors is many times over what it was twenty or thirty years since. The congregations must, on the whole, be in proportion, whilst many associations and agencies are putting furtha unremitting efforts to promote the temporal and spiritual interests of the population.
In connection with this awakening, M. Guizot has some striking remarks on the sources of its power. To regard religion in the light of a great political institution, or a moral police force, useful in