« PreviousContinue »
when the conduct of the Reformers is reviewed, for the fact, that sincere men, on both sides, verily thought that they were doing God service, whilst committing to the flames those who dif. fered in creed from themselves. The most rigorous, and, as we believe, a false, interpretation is affixed to the persecuting clauses of the proposed Revision of the Ecclesiastical Laws ; and the most incorrect and exaggerated accounts are given of the laws enacted* during the reigns of Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth, and of the proceedings against those who were unfavourable to the Reformation.
It has been very far from our intention, or even inclination - for assaults such as that of Dr. Littledale provoke contempt rather than anger — to return evil for evil, or railing for railing. We have deemed it our duty, however, to express without reserve our strong sense of the very gross and palpable perversions of the truth with which this Lecture abounds, of the distinctly Romanizing doctrines which it contains, and of the manifest inconsistency of the position of the writer with the first principles of dutiful allegiance to that Reformed Church of which he professes himself to be a member.
MOULE'S POEMS ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. Poems on Subjects selected from the Acts of the Apostles. With
other Miscellaneous Pieces. By H.C. G. Moule, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College. Deighton, Bell, and Co., Cambridge.
This volume is the work of a Christian student, and of a scholar who, in addition to his other University distinctions, has just won the Seatonian Prize for the best English poem on a sacred subject.
The main part of the volume is taken up with a series of detached pieces intended to illustrate the Acts of the Apostles. And the writer says:
“ The scheme of the work was suggested by a strong impression of the peculiar importance and interest of the Book of the Acts. By its nature, as well as by the ordinary arrangement of the Canon, it stands between the Gospels and Epistles ; a keystone, so to speak, in the midst. On the one side, it illustrates in magnificent historical relief the living power and faithfulness of the Divine Redeemer;
who had died; yea, rather was risen again; who was also at the right hand of God. On the other side, it introduces, and so far explains, the growth and appearance of that bright subsequent revelation—the apostolic Epistles.”
* Dr. Littledale asserts, p. 53, that be their meaning, it is somewhat superdeath (by burning) is the penalty de- fuous to provide that persons convicted nounced in the Reformatio Legum for of heresy should be incapable of afterheresy. We admit that the words are wards giving evidence in courts of law, ambiguous; but we submit that if such (De Judiciis contra Hæreses, cap. x.)
Every poem breathes the same deep reverence for Holy Writ indicated in the above extract from the Preface. And there are passages which will, we trust, fulfil the writer's great and first desire of enabling his readers to realize some sacred scenes more vividly. Such appear to us some of the lines on “When they were come in, they went up into an upper room." (Acts i. 13.)
« Eleven returned
Was Cephas, not the Lord.” (p. 7.) It is in these minute touches that the poems excel. Nor are some of them wanting in rhythmical Row and power. We might instance such stanzas as—
“ Old is that promise now: the years
Have circled wide since then :
Renewed the face of men.
Restrained by other bars;
The never-setting stars.” (p. 2.) Or the opening lines on Stephen's Burial, which seem to us among the most melodious of the volumen
“ From Cedron to Antonia's tower,
The sudden darkness hush'd the hour;
Their melancholy strain.” (p. 23.) The foregoing specimens may serve as examples of the excellencies of these poems. But we must own that many of them appear to us of very unequal merit. We make this remark in the confident hope that Mr. Moule will enrich our literature by further contributions of religious poetry; and in the same spirit of friendly criticism we direct his attention to some bald expressions; as,
“And 'this same Jesus,' cried the Pair,
'Should so return again.'” (p. 1.)
“Phlegon, Apelles, Hermas, Aquila
Perhaps, and Prisca.” (p. 64.)
Of the Miscellaneous Pieces, the Missionary Hymn of Praise, which stands last in the volume, appears to us fucile princeps ; and this notwithstanding two or three weak lines, as “ Swift as the solar radiance,” which is so manifestly dragged in as a rhyme, though an imperfect one, for “ The strain of rapturous cadence.” Despite these feeble lines, there is an onwardness and a glow about this Missionary Hymn which betoken rich promise of future excellence. But let our readers judge for themselves. We give the hymn entire.
“ Chief Shepherd of Thy people,
We own with joy the union
The Spirit's blest communion.
The strain of rapturous cadence,
Swift as the solar radiance.
The Sabbath wakes in glory,
In China sing before Thee :
The daylight speeds the chorus,
From Araby to Taurus.
Begins her loud devotion,
To Moorish gates of Ocean :
With voices gathering ever
Where Niger pours his river.
Atlantic waves embraces,
Ascend Columbia's praises :
On southern waters flying,
From rock to rock replying.
. “ All, all as one we praise Thee,
Great Giver of salvation !
Nor language knows, nor nation.
Thy hour of final favour:
And o'er us reign for ever.” (p. 137.) There are few readers but will be reminded, by these lines, of Bishop Heber's matchless hymn. But to have written a single hymn, which follows even longo interrallo in the wake of such a leader, is no mean achievement, and the writer of it deserves our cordial thanks.
Since the above notice was written, the Seatonian Prize Poem, to which allusion was made, has come into our hands. It is a work of very different calibre from any in the volume of poems before reviewed. And we should be doing Mr. Moale bat scant justice if we brought one, and not the other, under the eye of our readers. This Prize Poem gives proof and promise of far higher power.
The subject proposed was “ Christian Self-denial.” It is always most difficult to write a poem on an abstract theme like this. But Mr. Moule has, with the happiest art, brought before us, in a few masterly lines, the administration of the Lord's Supper in a rural church, and the prayer of Selfdedication.
* • We offer and present, O Lord, to Thee,
Ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be Thine.''
“ Confessed once more
It was the row
From every fear : rather a will to abide
Not self-determined, but as pleases Him.” This truest theology is truest poetry; and the lofty virtue of self-denial, thus admirably defined, is illustrated by examples of the prosperous man, who,
“ Still bent to occupy with all for Him,
Stands ready to retain it or resign,
And either in His name :" of the bereaved aged pilgrim,
“Now sickly, poor, alone : children and wife
Long gone, and he, the latest of his line,
Suspended 'twixt the orbs of either life :".
“With such a smile as may conceal The long distress within, and shadow out Faith's silent victory, bearing the Cross
She enters, and in love :" of the Sunday School Teacher, and of the Visitor in the crowded city.
The first portion, to line 144, seems to us eminently success, ful; and we believe the pictures thus sketched will cheer many a weary labourer in the Master's vineyard,
From this point Mr. Moule appeals to historical examples of Christian self-denial, Marinus, Augustine, Ridley, Herbert-and lastly Henry Martyn, a sketch of whose life occupies nearly half the poem. Though we doubt whether this biography of Martyn is of equal merit with the rest of the poem; though we find it difficult to invest the names of London, Cambridge, Madingley, with poetic associations; though some details seem to us too common-place, “Hark, the wheels roll near, &c.," “ The horse led to the door,” &c. &c.; yet this sketch of one of the noblest of the Missionary band has a peculiar interest as written in that University, to which we look so earnestly for volunteers to swell the ranks of those who are storming the many breaches in the crumbling ramparts of heathenisın. It was more than thirty years ago that the gifted Hankinson wrote his noble poem on “Ethiopia stretching out her hands to God," which likewise obtained the Seatonian Prize, Who shall say in how many hearts that poem hąs fostered and fanned the Missionary flame? We cannot but hope and pray for like issues from Mr. Moule's poem on Christian Self-denial, Vol. 68.-No. 381,