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such thing as quantity, we have a large body of immutable truths conversant about an impossible object."
In examining Berkeley, he gives his views of sense-perception, which are not so clear and satisfactory as those of "Reid; but are vastly juster than those of his contemporaries. He distinctly separates himself from those who hold that the mind can perceive nothing but its own states. “If our ideas have no parts, and yet if we perceive parts, it is plain we perceive something more than our own perceptions.” He adds “ We are as conscious that we perceive parts as that we have perceptions at all." “The existence of matter in general, or at least of material sensories to which the soul is united, seems to me to be nearer intuitive than demonstrative knowledge.” He declares that the “same perception of parts proves to us both the spirit and a material agency.” This is so far an anticipation of the doctrine of Hamilton as an advance upon that of Reid. As to the manner of the action of matter on spirit, and spirit on matter, he says in the very spirit of Reid, “We are certain this is matter of fact in many instances, whether we conceive it or not." He adds, in his own manner, " the Deity himself moves matter in almost all the phenomena of nature, and the soul of mad perhaps moves some matter of the body, though in an infinitely less degree."
ART. IJ.-Church llistory Illustrated by Christian Song.
7 he Voice of Christian Life in Song. London: Nisbet & Co. The Greek Christian Poets. By E. B. BROWNING. London : Chapman &
Hall. Sacred Songs of Sco!land. Edinburgh : Elliot. Ilymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series. By H. BONAR, D.D. London :
Nisbct & Co.
It is greatly to be regretted that we possess no work adapted to give the general reader anything like an adequate idea of the songs of the church. If the holy church throughout all the world of the old hymn be a fine idea, the holy church throughout all the ages is not less so. But how that noblest, yet saddest of histories, which stretches from Ascension to today, has illustrated itself in the voices of sacred song, remains still unknown, except to those who, at special expense of time and labour, have made it a prolonged study.
The literature of our own and other lands, ha3 generally steered clear of the element of profound interest which church history presents. How little have the poets of the three great
Mrs Browning's Greek Christian Poets.
hau a verilahe - Ven aresentations of that era in his “Clehris
European literatures-- English, German, French-derived from such a source ! Tennyson has given us, in his “Simeon Stylites," a psychological study, interesting indeed, but noways localised, noways reproducing to us the Syrian land and church of the fifth century ; rather is it the Englishman of this age giving us his poetical views of what the old Eastern saint was, than a veritable study after the original. We have, in more than one of the “Men and Women” of Robert Browning, most forcible and telling representations of Christianity at its first outset, as appearing to the world of that era. Thus, in his “Karsheesh," he has given us the more candid, in his “Cleon," the more sceptical and poco carante aspect of the pre-Christianite mind. And we have only to regret that, in his descending series of Pictures from the Past, we have no more such. He who has given us the Ride from Ghent to Aix, and the Incident of the French Camp (to name no more), might well have presented to us some of the more thrilling incidents of church history, from east or west, the Catholic or the Protestant side.
Passages in the church history of our own island have, indeed, received poetical illustration. Unequal, and often, as it were, done to order, as the “Ecclesiastical Sketches ” of Wordsworth are, they yet present many fine groups, as well as many felicitous sketches. The “Martyr's Child," and some othe: of Mrs Stuart Monteath's "Lays of the Kirk and Covenant," most tenderly and beautifully pourtray both sides-the softer and the sterner-of the “Second Reformation ” era in Scotland. In the “ Bishop's Walk and Times” of the Rev. Walter Smith of Glasgow, we have all sides of that most thrilling century of Caledonian history, represented with i rare power and picturesqueness. In a too little known volume, “ Songs of the Covenant, by an Ayrshire Minister,” the whole temper of the Westland Whigs is most poetically represented by one who dwells in the midst of the hill country, once reddened by Covenanter blood, and now dotted by Covenanter graves. But all the outpouring from the pens of living authors upon one epoch (a great one undoubtedly) of North British church history, only makes us the more lament, that, for the most part, the poetic genius of our land has, it seems, so disdainfully kept aloof from the mighty memories and glorious struggles of the ecclesiastic story of the past.
The work of Mrs Browning on the Greek Christian Poets is à republication, under her widowed husband's auspices, of a series of papers which were written so long ago as 1812. They make us regret that that foremost of all poetesses has written so little in prose. There is, or it would not be a genuine production of Mrs Browning, an occasional obscurity or turgidity
of phrase—the word-picture assuminga sensational overcolouring or untasteful pose; but that is a small fault when compared with the power, the freshness, the taste, the eloquence, which mark the whole series of articles. Mrs Browning's special admirers need no notice here ; to others we say, Gain your first impressions of the old Greek Church past, in its poetic side, from one who, as of finest scholarship, and of foremost poetic gift, has every title to be listened to by you on such a theme. Before proceeding to the next volume on our table, let us express the hope that, for the land which witnessed, and for a while arrested, her slow decay; when, again, that land is one ; when the guns of the Quadrilateral are in native hands; when the Queen of the Adriatic shall rebaptize by a happier name her Bridge of Sighs ; when Rome and Venitia shall partake with their sister provinces a pulpit untrammelled, a post unsearched, a press unfettered; when the cringing spy shall be a past tradition, and the alien mercenary a vanished pressure; that then, in the voice of a non-Romish and purely Christian song, as well as otherwise, shall a church arise, racy of the Italian soil, and instinct with the vivacity of Italian genius-that, looking back to that distant past, long ere, for Ravenna, the Lombard had crossed the Alps; ere, for Sicily, either Saracen or Norman had sailed the main ; before the stormy days of the caroccio and the iron crown ; while yet the old empire lasted, and the Roman consulship survived; when, fruitful seed plot of spiritual life to many, the greatest of Latin theologians found a verse of the Romans the means of his conversion ; looking back over a millennium and a half to that Milanese scene, when Augustine became a believerman Italian Church, Augustinian in theology, we say not Protestant, but non-Romish in its discipline, shall furnish the best of all fulfilments of that liberated future, which our gifted and lamented poetess has not, for her loved Ansonia, been privileged on earth to see
“The Voice of Christian Life in Song " fulfils several of the desiderata, which, at the outset of this paper, we specified. But its omissions, its generalities, and, though in a smaller measure, its inaccuracies, compel us to delegate to another eclition, its claim fully to meet our wishes. The contrast, for instance, drawn (p. 72) between the Greek and the Latin, to the disadvantage of the latter, is an exaggerated one. Does the gifted author suppose that the training process of Latin was less thorough than that of Greek, that the lingua Latonis et Enni had undergone slight polish and development, when it had passed through Catullus and Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Tacitus, to the early Christian Latin muse? We have the English element of hymnology dwelt upon to the exclusion of the Scotch. While, and even that too briefly, and without spe
Sacred Songs of Scotland.
cialising eras of thought, the Swedish hymns liave a chapter to themselves, we have nothing said of the Dutch, or (to take samples from the Romish Church) the Italian, and the Spanish. Less of generalised reflection, less of occasional biography, and more of criticism and historical development, would have greatly improved the volume. Yet it is eminently valuable, as an unbiassed, well-written, and evangelically devout manual of many parts of church history in song.
The next work, “Sacred Songs of Scotland,” edited by Dr Rogers of Stirling, is very useful, as giving in a volume, handsome in exterior, and moderate in price, the chief sacred pieces of a land, where, until lately, the hymnic element of public praise was altogether overshadowed by the biblically psalmic. The sacred poetry of the Reformation, in all its hoary quaintness, is here given, with the hymns of Bonar, George Wilson, and others of our own time. Ralph Erskine and Logan, stand side by side, contrasted elements of the last century Scottish faith.
As an indefatigable preacher, both of the congregational and evangelistic order, or an unwearied penman of popular evangelical prose, Dr Bonar is too well known to need introduction here. He is less known as a man of wide, varied, and unfettered reading, as one at home in the (in Scotland too little cultivated) anteReformation past. The Second Series of Hymns of Faith and Hope" contains several translations and imitations of ancient hymns-Latin, Greek, and Syrian; and also a number of poetic Memories of the East. Does not the following give us reason to regret that he has given us so few biblical pictures in verse ?
But leaves your solitude doubly bleak;
Cliff frowns upon cliff, and peak on peak.
What lip3 of man can your grandeur speak!
« Splinter'd and blasted and thunder-smitten,
Not a smile above, nor a hope below;
No earthly lightning has scom'd your brow
Horror and ruin, and death and woe.
“The king and the priest move on unspeaking;
The desert priest and the desert-king;
Fit end of a great life-wandering;
This desert-eagle must fold his wing.
“The fetters of age have but lightly bound him,
This bold sharp stccp he can brarely breast;
With his six score wondrous years around bim,
He climbs like youth to the mountain's crest, :
Willing to tarry, yet glad to rest.
"Tis a Bethel pillow that love has given ;
The death-bed fetters have all been riven;
And this is to him the gate of heaven.
Of rocks and sands, till the glorious morn,
Waysore and weary, and labour-worn;
From the vale beneath thee is upward borne." In Dr Bonar's poetry, we could desiderate somewhat more of the human element. Christianity destroys the sinful, and introduces the gracious element in man; it consecrates the human. More of this linking to family and fatherland would relieve Dr Bonar's pages from the somewhat ascetic appearance which, at times at least, they now present. This world is not simply to be viewed as the prelude to a better, but as something to be both used and enjoyed in itself. Was not the great apostle one to whom the sunsetand the sunrise, theschoolassembled or the school dismissing, the workmen singing in chorus, or the individual workman coming home to family evening life, all of nature and of man, in short, most thoroughly dear? And was not his very geniality what made him everywhere so useful ?
The Greek Church has been much less studied among us than the Latin. Chiefly a church of another continent, she has not taken much hold of the modern European mind. Even Dean Stanley's fresh and vivid volume will hardly, with the popular mind, recommend an ecclesiastical community, or rather series of communities, so diverse from the religious bodies with whom we agree, or with whom we are immediately called to antagonise. In the poetry of the Greek Church we everywhere see the church of the creeds—the church by whom the Christological heresies, from the Arian to the Monothelite, were encountered and overcome. This gives often a stiff and cumbrous appearance to what ought to be the free outpouring of the pious songster. You see, also, in the accumulation of epithets, and the crowding of incongruous images, the proofs of the predomiDance of a style of rhetoric, which, even in the hand of Chrysostom, had an Asiatic, rather an Attic type. There is not in the long series of Greek Christian verse, anything that can take rank with the highest productions of the Christian Latin muse. Yet he would neglect a most interesting department of sacred study who neglected to consider the remains of the Greek sacred
style of rhetoric: her an Attic typening that can