Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Art. IX. Letters from an absent Brother, containing some Account

of a Tour through Parts of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Northern Italy, and France, in the Summer of 1823. In 2 vols.

12mo. Second Edition. Price 12s. London, 1824. THE first edition of these Letters was restricted to a private

circulation, but we should much bave regretted their being withheld from the public. Though evidently written with no view to their undergoing the ordeal of the press, being the unstudied and familiar effusions of the moment, they cannot fail to be acceptable to a large class of readers, on account of the specific information which they convey, on points seldom touched on by our Continental tourists. This diary of an • invalid' is not that of the virtuoso or the antiquary, the

geologist or the mere man of taste: it has for its author an English clergyman, who, when he crossed the water, left no part of his character behind him. His apology for the publication, though it may be deemed superfluous, will explain the views and motives which have actuated the Writer.

• The Author confesses that it does not appear to him to be inconsistent with the character of a minister of Christ, to publish a familiar and even imperfect account of a tour rendered indispensable by indisposition, if the tendency of it is to assist the English Protestant to associate religious and moral ends with the pursuit of health or improvement in foreign travels.

* The reader must not expect in these Letters any thing of the studied and minute details of a regular tourist.' The Author makes no such pretensions. He travelled as an invalid and a clergyman, after a life spent in theological pursuits, and his attention was most strongly directed to the beauties of nature, and to inquiries into subjects connected with morals and religion. The facts which he records, illustrative of the superstitions of Popery, or the indifference of Protestantism, of the moral and social condition of the inhabi. tants of different countries, and of the estimate formed of spiritual and vital Christianity, he simply describes as they fell under his own observation.'

Since Mr. Sheppard's Recollections of a Tour on the Continent, no work has come before us, containing any competent account of the religious aspect of the neighbouring countries. The brief notices contained in the publications of the Bible Society and its secretaries, are nearly the only documents that we possess, bearing on this subject. Our tourists describe París, and Waterloo, and the Simplon, and give us anecdotes of Bonaparte and the Bourbons; but the question of paramount interest, which they afford us extremely little aid in determining, is this : What have the last five and twenty years

[ocr errors]

effected for the moral condition of the people? What is Popery, and what is Protestantism, in 1821 ?

Mr. Wilson--for it is no longer any secret that we are indebted for these volumes to the much respected minister of St. John's, Bedford Row--has supplied us with abundant evidence, evidence forcing itself on our observation every where in foreign countries, though here there are Protestants who affect to doubt it,- that Popery is, what Popery ever has been. On arriving at Courtray, he was struck with the cheerfulness and neatness of the town, and its general beautiful appearance.

• But alas! the whole place is given to superstition. At every lamp through the streets an image of the Virgin is suspended, not a Protestant in the town. In England, we have little idea of the state of things in Catholic Europe ; there is a darkness that may be felt.'

At Brussels, the priest who shewed the church of St. Gudule, told the Travellers with perfect sang-froid, that some Jews

having, four centuries ago, stolen the host from the church, • and stabbed it, blood miraculously issued from it, and de

stroyed them !' At Aix, . a priest gravely shewed as a nail and several pieces of the wood of the cross; the sponge in which the vinegar was offered to our Savi. our; a part of the girdle of our Lord; a link of the chain with which St. Peter was martyred ; an arm and some of the hair of John the Baptist ; a tooth of St. Thomas; some bones of Simeon, &c. . I asked the priest if all these were matters of faith. He replied, “ No, but they rested on the most undoubted historical evidence.”. Oh, the gross impositions of this corrupt church !'

At Bergheim, they found the church filled with superstitions. A procession of two hundred persons is stated to have come eighteen miles, only the day before, to sing hymns in honour of the Virgin.

• Under an image of our Lord, we found these words : Thou who passest by, honour always the image of Christ; but'adore not the image, but him whom it represents.” It is thus precisely that a heathen priest would have excused his idolatry.'

In the cathedral of Cologne, the principal raree-show consists of the heads of the three wise men who visited our Lord, with their names inscribed over each, Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar ; not in pickle, like the heads of the New Zealanders at Sur"geons' Hall, but enshrined in massy silver gilt, adorned with

precious stones.' Another church in this city boasts of the relics of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand British Virgins!

These are but specimens of German Popery, We amazingly over-state, 'remarks Mr. Wilson, the comparative amount

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

# of good effected by our Societies ;--the world is still “dead «« in trespasses and sins :” vast tracts of barren Protestantism, • or untilled and fruitless Popery, stretch all around us. The importance of the Holy Scriptures and of the Bible Society, forced itself upon his mind at every step. He adds, however, that: • the state of true religion is, on the whole, improving in Switzerland and some parts of Germany. Truth, holiness, and unity increase; hundreds of Catholics receive Bibles, and attend Protestant churches. The Lutherans and Reformed have begun to unite in the common term Evangelical, The Antistes and most of the clergy preach and live according to the Gospel. On the other hand, the Court of Rome threatens; the Pope is aroused : he thinks the Protestants have begun to propagate their views by Bible and Missionary Institutions, and he is determined to oppose em. The Jesuits are the Pope's household troops; they are spreading every where, and resisling, in the most open manner, every attempt at Scriptural edu. cation. The Holy Alliance is thought to favour the Pope and the Jesuits, by acting on the idea that all societies are dangerous.'

Vol. I. p. 111. So; the Holy Alliance, now that Lord Castlereagh is gone, is found out to be but a political juggle, even by the warmest admirers of that most Irish statesman. How long ago is it since to have breathed a suspicion as to the purity of the motives by which that august triumvirate of despots were sactuated, would have subjected us to the imputation of radicalism? Let us have patience, and in a few years, even the Alien Act will be reprobated by the most loyal, and Bonaparte himself will be extolled in the Quarterly Review, as next to Cromwell among the illegitimates. We could scarcely believe our eyes, when we read the following daring panegyric upon the usarper, from the pen of Mr. Wilson.

! History will soon sit in judgment on this extraordinary man. His scepticism as to all religious truth, his unbounded ambition, his

human life and happiness in the prosecution of his projects, the injustice and treachery of his invasions, the icon yoke which he imposed on the subject nations, his unmitigated hatred of England, his individual acts of cruelty and blood, are points vow generally admitted. But it is impossible to travel on the Continent, without being compelled to witness the proofs of his admirably policy, and of his zeal to promote, in many respects, the welfare and moral advancement of the people over whom he reigned. Not to dwell on the liberty of public worship which he nobly granted the Protestants of every confession ; there is something so splendid in his national works, there are so many monuments of his legislative wisdom, so many traits of grandeur in his projects, that you do not wonder that his name is still every where revered. He, in fact, brought royalty and talent into such close contact, that there was some danger of men beginning to estimate the value of a sceptre by the mere ability of the hand that wielded it. The unfavourable tendency of this unnatural union of splendid vice and glorious ambition, on the public morals and the religious habits of Europe, is obviousit debases the best principles of the heart. Of Bonaparte, as an unconscious instrument of Divine Providence for scourging guilty nations, for shaking the papacy to its base, and arousing those dormant energies in the mass of the population of Europe, which may probably issue in the general diffusion of a reasonable liberty, and of all the blessings of the glorious Gospel of Christ, I will not trust myself to speak. This view, though the most correct perhaps, has been far too exclusively taken already by religious persons.

Vol. II. p. 233. If this view be the most correct, it ought at least never to be lost sight of; but we do not think that it has by any means been too exclusively taken by religious persons,-or even sufficiently attended to, till now, of late, that the tide of opinion is beginning to turn in favour of a more English and Christian policy. The following remarks are highly deserving of attention.

• It is very observable, that where Popery is now reviving in its influence, after the French revolutionary struggles, or the iron laws of Bonaparte, it returns with all its folly about it. It is not learning a lesson of wisdom, and silently following its Pascals and Fenelons, and dropping some of its grosser corruptions; but re-assumes all its arts, its impositions, its ceremonies, its incense, its processions, its pilgrimages, its image-worship, its exclusive claims, its domination over the conscience, its opposition to the Scriptures, its hatred of education ; and this in the full face of day, and in the nineteenth century, and with infidelity watching for objections to our common Christianity. And what is the general moral effect of this system? It neither sanctifies nor saves. A depth of vice, glossed over with outward forms of decency, eats as doth a canker. Voluptuousness, impurity, dishonesty, cunning, hypocrisy, every vice prevails just as Popery has the more complete sway. The dreadful profanation of the Sabbath has by prescription become fixed. All the holy ends of it are now forgotten, unknown, obliterated. It is the habitual season of unrestrained pleasure. I speak generally, for there are doubtless multitudes of individual Catholics who serve God in sincerity and truth ; and who, disregarding the accumulations heaped on the foundation of the faith, build on Jesus Christ and him crucified. There is one class of persons in Catholic countries, which I compassionate from my heart. They are not sunk in superstition, nor have they imbibed the piety of true disciples of Christ'; but, having been ! educated during the Revolution, they have acquired a general boldness and liberality of sentiment; see through much of the mum-' mery of Popery: detect the spirit and aims of a worldly minded

priesthood ; are disgusted at the revival of the Jesuits, the opposition to the Bible Society, the resistance to education, the disturbance and removal of the inost pious and worthy masters and professors, the persecution of the Protestants, &c. And yet, they are not in earnest enough about religion to take a decided part: the objections of infidels dwell upon their minds; the fear of reproach prevents their quitting the Roman communion ; there is nothing in the Protestantism they are acquainted with, to shew them a more excellent way. Thus they glide down the fatal stream with others, dissatisfied and yet unconverted.' Vol. II. pp. 252—254.

Some noble exceptions, however, stand out in bold relief amid this gloomy picture. Our readers are familiar with the name of Leander Von Ess. He was unfortunately from home, when Mr. Wilson arrived at Darmstadt; a severe disappointment. This admirable man, now in his fifty-second year, has had a spitting of blood for above four years, which prevents his preaching, but he gives himself up to the propagation of the Gospel. He has left the university of Marburg, where he was professor, and now lives under the Protestant Grand Duke of. Hesse Darmstadt. He remains, however, a Catholic priest, but with the spirit of a Reformer. He has printed fourteen large editions of his New Testament, and circulated altogether 494,860 copies. The desire for the Scriptures among the Catholics, priests as well as laity, continues to increase; and sometimes, he circulates as many as 7000 in a single month. Lately, a priest iu one parish sent for 2000 New Testaments : the parish is in the Black Forest.

A very interesting account is given of the conversion of a Catholic priest, named Henhöfer, who became a true Christian by reading the Scriptures, and with his whole congregation, consisting of forty families, with the lord of the village at their head, ' turned from the Catholic to the Evangelical • Lutheran Church.'

- M. Aloyx Henhöfer was Catholic curé of the communes of Mule : hausen and Steineyg (between Carlsruh and Stutgard). In proportion as he studied the sacred Scriptures, with a conscientious desire to fulfil his pastoral duties, his preaching began to savour of the doctrine of Christ ; and he gradually proclaimed the Gospel with so much unction and force, that multitudes came from the most distant villages to hear him. He was soon cited to appear before the Ecclesiastical authorities at Bruchsal, to give an account of his doctrines. It was on this occasion he published his “ Christian Confession of Faith, in which he declares, that, all the time he was curé of Mulhausen, he never said a word contrary to the principles of the Catholic Church; and when he preached against the abuse of ceremonies, it was only to combat the error of some of his parishioners, who thought to satisfy their consciences by merely observing the ex.

« ПредишнаНапред »