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Reformation period, Paul's Cross was the battle field of religious conflict, in which Friar Forest and Father Latimer, the martyr Barnes and the subtle Gardiner, by turns waged controversial warfare. We cannot doubt the Dean's assertion, that "if the Sermons delivered there could be recovered and arranged, they would prove a living and instructive chronicle of the Reformation." When no newspaper press was in existence, these Sermons in some measure supplied its place. The moat distinguished ecclesiastics, especially from the Universities, were summoned to preach there before the Court and the City of London.
Our readers will, we are sure, not be sorry if we add to the Dean's account that curious record of past times, the memorable incident of Richard Hooker's sermon at the Cross. Dissuaded by a friend from " footing" it to London from Oxford, he suffered so much from unusual horse exercise and from cold, that he was hardly able to preach. His sermon provoked controversy; but this was not so bad as the kindness of Mrs. Churchman, who kept the Shunamite's house, and had nursed him in his distemper. She persuaded him that "he was a man of tender constitution, and that it was best for him to have a wife to nurse him." As old Izaak Walton says, like a true Nathaniel, fearing no guile, he gave her the power Eleazar was trusted with, and she married him to her daughter Joan; so he had to exchange the tranquillity of pleasant Corpus, "that garden of piety, of pleasure and peace, and sweet conversation," for contentions compared by Solomon to a dripping house. The quaint reflections of the old angler upon this ill-assorted match are pleasant to read; and his curious speculations why, by a secret sacred wheel of Providence, good wives are denied to good men, and this blessing was denied to patient Job, to meek Moses, and to meek and patient Mr. Hooker. As Hooker himself said, "If saints have usually a double share in the miseries of this life, I, who am none, ought not to repine at what my wise Creator hath appointed me. Such were the difficulties and perils of preaching a Sermon at " the Special Services" in the days of Queen Elizabeth.
Upon the abominations connected with Paul's Walk, which, both in Popish and Reformation times, transformed the nave and aisles of the Cathedral into a mart of business of all kinds, and a sanctuary for knaves and thieves,—so that, as Bishop Earle remarks, it became the general "mint of all famous lies which were there, like the legends of Popery, first coined and stamped in the Church,"—we do not care to dwell; nor upon the miracle plays, or the lotteries, which were first drawn at St. Paul's. For which things at the doors of churches, as the Dean says, we must now go to Rome.
We may notice that, with the exception of Bishops and Deans, few persons of eminence were buried in old St. Paul's until the reign of Elizabeth, and it would have been well if the practice of burying elsewhere had been continued. We might then have had the tombs still spared to us of John of Gaunt, of Lily and Linacre, of Sir Nicholas Bacon, of Sir Philip Sidney, of Francis Walsingham, and Sir Christopher Hatton, and we ought to add of Van Dyck. It is curious that only one Lord Mayor of London should have been buried in the Cathedral Church; the famous citizens of London found their sepulchre elsewhere.
We have thus endeavoured to place before our readers some idea of Dean Milman's volume. As it is a posthumous work of the author, which lacked his own final revision, we would not criticise severely inaccuracies of fact and expression which occur in the course of the narrative; nor can we profess to sympathise with all the views which he propounds. His theological bias was a matter of notoriety, and, if the author had been alive, might have been a suitable subject for comment; he is now beyond human censure or approval, and we would therefore prefer to dwell, as we have striven to do, upon what seemed valuable in this his last literary performance, rather than to detect error and to note shortcoming. His talents and learning have secured him an honourable place among English authors, nor will his name readily perish from among them.
THOEOLD'S "PRESENCE OF CHRIST."
The Presence of Christ. By tlie Rev. Anthony W. Thorold, M.A., Prebendary of York; Minister of Cur ton Chapel, Mayfair, and Chaplain to the Archbishop of York. Strahan and Co. 1869.
This volume contains the substance of some Lectures on the 23rd Psalm, preached in the Parish Church of St. Giles in the Fields during the Lent of 1865. The Lectures were recast and embodied in the form in which they now appear, during a season of "sickness and inactivity"; and it would be well if the sick chamber were in all cases converted, as it might be, into a sanctuary from which, as from that of Elisha, by word, by example, and often, as in the present instance, by writing also, God may be pleased to send forth salvation for Israel, by leading some, whether amongst those who have already known the Lord, or amongst those who have been hitherto strangers to the power of His gospel, "to abide in Him as their Saviour, to walk with Him as their friend, and to look for Him as their King."
Mr. Thorold assumes, and not without reason, that no sound objection can be raised to his exposition of this Psalm on the ground that he identifies the subject of it, "the Lord my Shepherd, with the 'Good Shepherd' who is represented by our Lord Himself as laying down His life for the sheep."
We are not disposed to regard it as a settled point that this Psalm "traces David's history over his entire life" (p. 34), or that the immediate allusion in ver. 5 is "to the touching and bountiful hospitality with which the aged Barzillai welcomed David when an exile from his home and country." (p. 173.) Whilst freely admitting that much may be said in favour of Mr. Thorold's opinion as to the date of this Psalm, we think that much may be said, also, in favour of the supposition that it was written at a period when the incidents of his shepherd life, and of his flight from the face of Saul, were still fresh in David's memory, and ere his life was overshadowed by that cloud which, after his grievous sin, darkened the remnant of his days.
But the doubt which we feel as to the correctness of Mr. Thorold's opinion, respecting the date of its composition, does not at all interfere with our admiration of his very able and profitable exposition of the practical lessons with which this Psalm is replete.
If we were to transcribe all the passages to which this commendation is applicable, we should hardly know where to begin, and we should be at a still greater loss to know where to end short of the conclusion of the volume.
We propose for this, as well as for other reasons, to restrict our quotations to the fourth Lecture. The theme of this Lecture is the fourth verse of the Psalm, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."
Mr. Thorold makes some few general remarks, in the beginning of this Lecture, on the presence and the sympathy of Christ. He then goes on to speak of the fear of death—to show that it is a reasonable fear, a fear whioh, whilst it ought not to be overrated on the one hand, ought not to be despised on the other. After some further remarks on the nature and the consequences of death, Mr. Thorold proceeds thus to show what is the nature of that victory which overcomes death and the world; and how He who has destroyed the power of death for us, makes His victory availing in the individual experience of His people:—
"For if death is loss, Christ can make tip for it ten thousand fold. Is our earthly life ended? He gives us a long life, even for ever and ever. Does death sever us from those we love on earth? Christ unites us to those we love in heaven. He takes us from sin to sinlessness, from perfect weakness to perfect strength, from restlessness to rest, from faith to sight, from men to angels, from cold prayers to the song that ceases not day nor night, from a world lying in wickedness to the just made perfect in sight of the throne. If Christ cannot, or will not, do all this for us, then He is nothing to us; and why do we believe on Him? If He can and will, to die is gain." (pp. 148, 149.)
Mr. Thorold's remarks upon the difference which is found to exist in the experience of Christians in their anticipation of the approach of death, are characterized by much sound judgment and discretion. Whilst maintaining, with all becoming earnestness, the great truth, that, by virtue of tho victory of their Head, the sting of death has been extracted on behalf of every believer in Jesus, Mr. Thorold insists, with yet greater earnestness, on the truth, that it is by faith, and not by joy, that we are saved; and he adduces, by way of illustration and confirmation of his position that the fear of death is sometimes permitted to continue even to the end, two of the purposes which we may well believe that God designs to accomplish in the permission of this trial of the faith and patience of His people.
"One is the conversion or edification of those who stand by; the other is the final perfecting of those who suffer. It is a story often told of an eminent servant of God, who had, during his lifetime, frequently prayed that his happy death might be blessed to an ungodly son, that when his time came, fear and sadness overwhelmed him; not so much the thought of Christ's salvation possessed him, as the fact of his own sinfulness; the joy of heaven laded before his sense of unworthiness of admission there. Tet God, who was wiser than he, answered his prayer in a way that he knew not. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.' The careless son, who might not have been affected by his father's happiness, was deeply moved by his father's fear. 'If a man like him, after a useful and religious life, fears to die, what is death likely to be to me? Surely, except I repent, I shall perish.' Now for such an end, who would not welcome such a sorrow.
"There is yet another reason why it may seem good to God, in the last hours of our life, to hide His face for a little moment. We may have been leaning too much on outward helps, or on past experience, or on systems of doctrine; and we have not come quite close to God Himself, to cleave with all our strength to Him, Therefore He must teach us, and through us others, that orthodox Vol. 69.—No. 881. IT
opinions cannot give lis peace; that sermons, and sacraments, and ordinances cannot give us peace; that pious parents, faithful pastors, exemplary friends, cannot give us peace; .... in a word, that all covering of our own must be torn into shreds, that all unsound hopes must be utterly disappointed, that every shelter but the shelter of the Savionr's cross must be swept away before the winds of heaven, that every other name as a way of salvation mnst be as sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, save Jesus, Son Of God. Sooner or later, all this must come to us; it is better if it comes before, bnt better then than never; and dark as the declining hour may be, severe as the actual crisis may be, it comes to an end at last. The fight is won, the cross is clasped, the light comes, the joy comes, for the Saviour comes; and He who waited only to be more gracious, who hid Himself only to shine out more glorious at last, who denied that in the end He might be more bountiful, who seemed to frown only because He purposed to smile, comes and whispers, 'Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee;' and the rough water is passed, the ship glides into harbour, 'and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to po** that they escaped all safe to land.'"
But we have already far exceeded the limits within which we usually confine our notices of books of this character. We feel persuaded, however, that our readers will not think that we owe them any apology for the length of our extracts; and we shall be greatly surprised if the specimens which we have given of the contents of this extremely interesting course of Lectures does not excite within them a desire to peruse the volume for themselves.
BIRK8 ON CHURCH AND STATE.
1. The Christian State; or, the First Principles of National Religion. By the Rev. T. R. Birks, M.A., Rector of Kelshall, Herts. London: Seeleys. 1847.
2. Church and State; or, National Religion and Church Establishments, considered with reference to present ControversiesBy the Rev. T. R. Birks, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge. With a Preface by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Lincoln. London: Hatchards. 1869.
"the subject of this volume," observes the Bishop of Lincoln in the opening of the Preface by which he has endorsed the arguments and conclusions stated in the body of Mr. Birks' recent work, "is acquiring additional importance