網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

dent on circumstance. What ? Have Arundel, Bonner, Gardiner, little or nothing to answer for ? Was there ever yet a persecutor that persecuted from mere speculative inhumanity ? Even through Clarendon's account we may discern, I think, that Laud's private passions, in part at least, engaged him in the cause of Intolerance. He had been exasperated, before he attained power, by Puritan molestations and oppositions, -hė became the persecutor of Puritans after he attained it; as schoolboys that have been torinented while they were in a low form, torment in their turn when they get into a high one-not their tormentors, but unfortunates who represent them to their imagination. An eminently good and wise man is above his times, if not in all, yet in many things ; but Laud was the very impersonation of his times—the impersonated spirit of his age and his party. (Compare his over ceremonious consecration of St. Catharine's Church, gloated over by Hume, with Archdeacon Hare’s remarks on his neglect of his diocese, in The Mission of the Comforter.) They who are of that party still, who would still swathe religion by way of supporting it, and dizen by way of dressing it, and gaze with fond regretful admiration upon the giant forms of Spiritual Despotism and Exaggerated Externalism, as they loom shadowy and magnificent through the vapory vista of ages, to them no wonder that he is a giant too. And there are others, far above that or any other party, who, in their love and zeal for the Church, abstract the how and the why of Laud's public warfare, and see him abstractedly as the Champion of the Church of England. “God knows my heart,” says Mr. Coleridge (in a marginal note on Mr. Southey's article on the History of Dissenters, in the Quarterly Re ew of October, 1813), “ how bitterly I abhor all intolerance, how deeply I pity the actors when there is reason to suppose them deluded; but is it not clear that this theatrical scene of Laud's death, who was the victim of almost national indignation, is not to be compared with bloody sentences' in the coolness of secure power ? As well might you palliate the horrible atrocities of the Inquisition, every one of which might be justified on the same grounds that Southey has here defended Laud, by detailing the vengeance taken on some of the Inquisitors.” I do not see that here my honored Uncle defends the Primate : he says, “We are not the apologists of Laud; in some things he was erroneous, in some imprudent, in others culpable. Evil, which upon the great scale is ever made conducive to good, produces evil to those by whom it comes.” And how wise and beautiful is this sentiment a little further on ! " It especially behoves the historian to inculcate charity, and take part with the oppressed, whoever may have been the oppressors.”

As some excuse for my Father's expression, “theatrical scene,” I

allege that sentence of Laud's ; “ Never did man put off mortality with a better courage, nor look upon his bloody and malicious enemies with more Christian charity.” My Father adds: “I know well how imprudent and unworldly these my opinions are. The Dissenters will give me no thanks, because I prefer and extol the present Church of England, and the partisans of the Church will calumniate me, because I condemn particular members, and regret particular aras, of the former Church of England. Would that Southey had written the whole of his review in the spirit of this beautiful page." (Page 102.) In that very interesting collection of meditative Sonnets by the late Sir Aubrey de Vere is one upon Laud, against which I ventured to write, “ If anything done in the name of principle must reds be righteous, then the tortures and long languishing of Leighton are no impeachment of Laud's righteousness.” There was a second edition of the Aids in 1831, a fifth in 1843.

The little work on the Constitution of the Church and State,' according to the Idea of each, first appeared in 1830, and went into a second edition in the same year. It is now joined with the Lay Sermons in one volume. To the Church and State are appended Notes on Taylor's History of Enthusiasm, and A Dialogue between Demosius and Mystes.

After Mr. Coleridge's death in July, 1834, four volumes of his Literary Remains were published by his late Editor. Vols. i. and ii. appeared in 1836, Vol. iii. in 1838, Vol. IV. in 1839. Vol. i. contains The Fall of Robespierre and other poems, and poetical fragments, Notes of a Course of Lectures delivered in 1818, Marginal Notes on several books, Fragments of Essays, Mr. C.'s contributions to the Omniana of Mr. Southey, published in 1812, and fifty-six other short articles on various subjects. Vol. ii. contains more Notes of Lectures on Shakspeare, including criticisms on each of his Plays, with Introductory matter on Poetry, the Drama, and the Stage, prefaced by Extracts of letters relating to these Lectures ; Notes on Ben Jonson, on Beaumont and Fletcher, on Fuller, on Sir Thomas Browne, an Essay on the Prometheus of Æschylus, and other miscellaneous writings.

Vol. iii. contains Formula Fidei de S. Trinitate, A Nightly Prayer, Notes on the Book of Common Prayer, on Hooker, Field, Donne, Henry More, Heinrichs, Hackett, Jeremy Taylor, The Pilgrim's Progress, and John Smith, and a Letter to a Godchild.

Vol. iv. contains Notes on Luther, St. Theresa, Bedell, Baxter, Leighton, Sherlock, Waterland, Shelton, Andrew Fuller, Whitaker, Oxie, A Barrister's Hints, Davison, Irving, and Noble, and an Essay on Faith.

14 The inaccurate report of Niebühr's opinion of this work, which appeared in a letter of Dr. Arnold, published in his Life, has been corrected, I am told, in a new edition

The present edition of the Literary Remains is nearly exhausted. In a fresh edition new matter will be added from marginal notes, probably in a fifth volume. Archdeacon Hare speaks of The Remains in the Preface to his Mission of the Comforter in a passage which may fitly be produced here.

“Of recent English writers, the one with whose sanction I have chiefly desired, whenever I could, to strengthen my opinions, is the great religious philosopher to whom the mind of our generation in England owes more than to any other man. My gratitude to him I have endeavored to express by dedicating the following Sermons to his memory; and the offering is so far at least appropriate, in that the main work of his life was to spiritualize, not only our philosophy, but our theology; to raise them both above the empiricism into which they had long been dwindling, and to set them free from the technical trammels of logical systems. Whether he is as much studied by the genial young men of the present day, as he was twenty or thirty years ago, I have no adequate means of judging; but our theological literature teems with errors, such as could hardly have been committed by persons whose minds had been disciplined by his philosophical method, and had rightly appropriated his principles. So far, too, as my observation has extended, the third and fourth volumes of his Remains, though they were hailed with delight by Arnold on their first appearance, have not yet produced their proper effect on the intellect of the age. It may be that the rich store of profound and beautiful thought contained in them, has been weighed down, from being mixt with a few opinions on points of Biblical criticism, likely to be very offensive to persons who know nothing about the history of the Canon. Some of these opinions, to which Coleridge himself ascribed a good deal of importance, seem to me of little worth ; some, to be decidedly erroneous. Philological criticism, indeed, all matters requiring a laborious and accurate investigation of details, were alien from the bent and habits of his mind; and his exegetical studies, such as they were, took place at a period when he had little better than the meagre Rationalism of Eichhorn and Bertholdt to help him. Of the opinions which he imbibed from them, some abode with him through life. These, however, along with everything else that can justly be objected to in the Remains, do not form a twentieth part of the whole, and may easily be separated from the remainder. Nor do they detract, in any way, from the sterling sense, the clear and far-sighted discernment, the power of tracing principles in their remotest operations, and of referring all things to their first principles which are manifested in almost every page, and from which we might learn so much."

The last posthumous work of Mr. Coleridge, published September,

1840, is entitled Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit, and consists of seven letters on the Inspiration of the Scriptures. It should be understood that this work is intended not to undermine the belief that the Bible is the Word of God, or in any degree to lessen the deep reverence with which it is regarded by Christians, but to put that belief on a better foundation than it commonly rests upon. “ Let it be distinctly understood,” the author says, “ that my arguments and objections apply exclusively to the following doctrine or dogma. To the opinions which individual divines have advanced in lieu of this doctrine,"_for instance, I suppose, the strange fancy that the words of the Bible are not divinely dictated, that the language is human and yet exempt, by divine power, from any possible admixture of human error,—“ my only objection, as far as I object, is—that I do not understand them.--I said that in the Bible there is more that finds me than I have experienced in all other books put together; that the words of the Bible find me at greater depths of my being; and that whatever finds me brings with it an irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy Spirit. But the Doctrine in question requires me to believe, that not only what finds me, but all that exists in the sacred volume, which I am bound to find therein, was not alone inspired by, that is, composed by men under the actuating influence of the Holy Spirit, but likewise-dictated by an infallible intelligence—that the writers, each and all, were divinely informed as well as inspired. I can conceive no softenings here which would not nullify the Doctrine, and convert it to a cloud for each man's fancy to shape and shift at will. And this doctrine, I confess, plants the vineyard of the world with thorns for me, and places snares in its pathways.” He proceeds to show how the doctrine in question injures the true idea of the spirituality and divinity of the sacred volume, and directly or indirectly tends to alienate men frorn the outward Revelation. A second edition of this little work will soon be prepared.

The book has been denounced in strange style by some who do not profess to have read it. These reasoners assume in the first place that both the tendency and object of it is to overthrow Christianity—whereas any one who reads it, and not merely what a hostile spirit has predetermined to find in it, cannot fail to perceive that at least the writer's object is to guard and exalt the religion of Christ. But, secondly, forgetting that the book is intended to overthrow Christianity, they urge that Christianity has done very well hitherto without such views as it propounds, and that very great thinkers and good men have lived and died, in the faith and fear of the Lord, without the knowledge of them ;-as if the wants of the Church were in all ages exactly alike; or as if there had not been in all ages clouds over the sunshine of faith, occasioned by the

difficulties which the writer seeks to remove; or as if it were not true that the more light men obtain on one side of the region of thought the more they need on other sides; as if greatness and goodness, in their application to men, were not relative terms, and the best and wisest of mortals, that have appeared upon earth, had ever been free from error and imperfection! I should think there is hardly a foolish or evil notion on any subject which might not be screened from attack by such arguments as these. And, even were they not such mere weakness, of what force can they be with those, who take for their motto, as Mr. Coleridge did from first to last : That all men may know the truth, and that the truth may set them free? Religious truth and religion are identified in Scripture, or at least represented as one and inseparable ; and how can a man obey the truth or minister to it, except by setting forth, what, after the widest survey of the subject which he is capable of taking, he believes to be the truth?

The suggestion that no man should examine such subjects or call in question prevailing views in religion save one who starts from a high station of holiness and spiritual light, can be of little value unless accompanied by a crilerion of holiness, both as to kind and degree, admitted by all men. Prevailing notions are often utterly erroneous, and if none might expose what they believe in their hearts to be wrong and injurious views, till it was proved, even to their adversaries' satisfaction, that they were far advanced in true sanctity, wrong views would be the prevailing ones till the end of time. Providence works by finer means than enter into this sort of philosophy, inaking imperfection minister to the perfecting of what is good and purifying of what is evil.

Whether or no the views of St. Jerome and other ancient Fathers concerning Inspiration are, as has been affirmed, something far deeper and higher than we, in our inferior state of spirituality, can conceive, I do not presume to decide ; but yet I would suggest, that high and spiritual views in general are capable of being set forth in words, and of gradually raising men up to some apprehension of them. They do not remain a light to lighten the possessor, and mere darkness, or a light that closely resembles a shade, to the rest of the world. Things that pertain to reason and the spirit appeal to the rational and spiritual in mankind at large; they tend to elicit the reason and expand the understandings of men ; deep calleth unto deep; and if the teaching of Paul and John is now in a wonderful manner apprehended by peasants and children, who hear the Gospel habitually, St. Jerome's notions of Inspiration, if truly divine and evangelical, would by this time be generally apprehended by Christians in the same way, and by the wise and learned would be comprehended more intellectually and systematically.

« 上一頁繼續 »