16 OCTOBER 1847, Page 16


THE present times are not favourable for scholastic theology, at least in this country. It may be that the rapid-moving and practical character of the age, which drives directly to its object, has neither time nor taste for abstruse speculations ; or we may feel the distinction, which Arch- deacon Hare rather draws than exemplifies, that theology is not religion : but the attractive theology is that which deals with morals, history, bio- graphy, or doctrines illustrated by imagery and applied to life,—unless, indeed, we except the half romantic half mystical character of the Tractarians. The world is not at leisure to split hairs, to pursue the wiredrawn exposition of points which however they may be necessary to a system do not seem essential to salvation, or to hunt theological thoughts through the Patristic ages and each successive century from the fourteenth to the eighteenth. Hence, this volume of Archdeacon Hare's Sermons, with its attendant and more bulky volume of Notes, are scarcely likely to meet with the attention they deserve from the extent of their learning, the weight of the thoughts, and the powerful vigour of the style, though the last is somewhat overladen. The whole is for the pro- fessed divine who may wish to get at abstruse views and a collection of opinions by celebrated theologians by the shortest cut, rather than for the world at large. At the same time, looking at the scholastic audience before which the principal sermons were preached, and the scholastic class for which the Notes were written, this peculiarity is perhaps a merit. Still, "the end" of the writer will not change the nature of his work ; and the form of this publication is popular though the treatment is scientific. In fact, the book has long lain before us ; attracting by its merits, but repelling by its peculiar character.

The series of sermons which give to the work its title of The Mission of the Comforter are five in number, and were preached before the University of Cambridge. The texts are taken from the sixteenth chapter of John's Gospel, verses 7-11, where Christ is telling the disciples of his approaching departure and its necessity, as well as describing the coining of the Comforter and his operation. The first sermon is on the Expe- diency of Christ's departure; which expediency, by reference to the course of man's training in this everyday life, at home, and at school, with his after dismissal into the world, is sufficiently illustrated : it is shown how blind the disciples were whilst Christ remained with them. But the logic seems to us defective. Where the argument is not an illustra- tion, it is a conclusion from the lesser to the greater; nor is the necessity of the coming of the Comforter shown beyond the results drawn from the mere facts. The three next sermons are on the main work of the Comforter, "to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." These exhibit more of logical theology; the fundamental position being, that without faith through the influence of the Spirit, man cannot attain to a perception even of sin or righteousness, much less of judgment. The arguments, however, are well supported by facts drawn from history and the practice of the world. The fifth sermon is in some sense a recapitu- lation of the three former sermons, but urging the continuous necessity of the Comforter to assist the church and to resist the flesh.

In these and in all the other sermons, the theology is rather in the germ, and is not predominant enough to render them generally dis- tasteful. The want of popular character arises less from the matter than the treatment. The composition is not minute, for the grasp and largeness of Archdeacon Hare's mind prevents anything of littleness; but it is often rednndant. The argument is sought to be impressed by cumulation. The blows are repeated, when one or two would have suf- ficed. The true encumbrance, however, for popular purposes, is in the Notes. These, extending to double the bulk of the Sermons, are very various, elaborate, and extensive. One note, on the curious subject of the different operations of the Spirit under the old dispensation and the new, is much longer than the sermon in which the passage occurs that it is to illustrate; and the reader is led through the opinions of the moat eminent theologians from St. Augustine down to the German writers of today, largely quoted and copiously commented on. A reference to Luther and justification by faith involves a note of two hundred pages and more, (pp. 656-878,) in which the theological life of the Reformer is passed in review ; and he is defended against the slanderous attacks of Bossed, and, as Archdeacon Hare alleges, his modern imitators, who ground their judgments on Bossuet's garbling, not on original learning. The Archdeacon's defence of Luther in his opinions on marriage, &c. partakes somewhat of the casuistry he censures in the Romanists. There is a vast difference between a defensible thing and a thing excusable in consequence of a man's times.

The theological or church views of Archdeacon Hare are independent, but not heterodox ; and perhaps derive their character as much from the tone of his mind as from the views themselves. His opinion of the great doctrines touching faith and works are those of Paul and Luther,—that faith must be proved by works ; without works the faith is false, but without faith works are useless. He is as hostile to the Church of Rome as the stanchest of the old Scotch Presbyterians, but his learning and largeness elevate his censures and remove them from coarseness. To the Tractarians he is equally opposed, but with more of calmness, if not of contempt. In his views of church forms and rituals he is liberal : he regrets the Act of Uniformity, and the treatment which drove Whitefield and Wesley from the Church ; to foreign Protestants Churches he is friendly ; but, if we read him rightly, he is so far an Anglican as to look with a disapproving eye upon sectarians, though he does not seem to go the length of denying them to be churches.

In saying that the Notes are theological, we mean that this is their pre- dominant character. Intermingled with them are many specimens of curious literature and original criticism. The following estimate of Lu- ther and Calvin follows some choice translation from Luther, which has much of the force and richness of Milton's prose.


Well indeed did Luther know the power of God's Word, the power which goes along with it when it is truly the sword of the Spirit. He knew it, as he here tells us, from what be himself had felt: in fact, he could not have spoken of it as he does except from personal experience. He knew it too from the effect which he had often seen itproduce, when it issued with the power of the Spirit from his own lips. And so far as any written words can yield us a conception of that power, and realize the description he gives of it, his do: as he himself has some- where said of St. Paul's words, they are not dead words, but living creatures, and have hands and feet. It no longer surprises us that the man who wrote and spoke thus, although no more than a poor monk, should have been mightier than the Pope and the Emperor to boot, with all their hosts ecclesiastical and civil— that the rivers of living water which issued from him should have swept half Germany, and in course of time the chief part of Northern Europe, out of the kingdom of darkness into the region of evangelical light. No day in spring, when life seems bursting from every bud and gushing from every pore, is fuller of life than his pages; and if they are not without the strong breezes of spring, these too have to bear their part in the work of purification. The foregoing extract is taken, as has been stated, from a course of homilies on three chapters of St. John, which was published by Aurifaber as a running commentary; and most of his exegetical works had a similar origin, the marks of which are apparent in their vivid practical applications to the circumstances and exigencies of the Church in his age. Calvin's Commentaries, on the other hand, although they too are almost entirely doctrinal and practical, taking little note of critical and philological questions, keep much closer to the text, and make it their one business to bring out the meaning of the words of Scripture with fulness and precision. This they do with the excellence of a master richly endowed with the word of wisdom and with the word of knowledge; and from the exemplary union of a severe masculine understanding with a profound insight into the spiritual depths of the Scriptures, they are especially calculated to be useful in counteract- ing the erroneous tendencies of an age when we seem about to be inundated with all that is most fantastical and irrational in the exegetical mysticism of the Fathers, and are bid to see Divine power in allegorical cobwebs, and heavenly life ui artificial flowers.

The following passage is from the Sermon on the Conviction of Righteousness, where the writer is arguing for the necessity of the Com- forter, as laws, or philosophy, or men in society, or man by himself, had Mot only failed in producing righteousness, but even in ascertaining what it was.

" Yet philosophy itself has been utterly unable to convince the world of right- eousness; nay. it has been utterly unable to convince itself thereof. From the very first, indeed, as soon as man began to make his moral nature an object of reflection and examination, philosophy endeavoured to lay hold on some idea of righteousness, and to claim the homage of mankind for it: and almost contem- poraneous with this attempt on the part of philosophy was that of sophistry, to stick up some carnal notion in the room of the spiritual idea.' which notion, as being nearer akin to man's carnal nature, has ever met with readier acceptance than the idea, which approached nigher to the truth. One of these false and idolatrous notions, which, as you will remember, was set up by some of the bolder sophists, and which the great Athenian philosopher laid on the rack of his search- ing dialectics, was that might is right. This is the doctrine of righteousness which, one may suppose, would be proclaimed by a conclave of wild beasts; the lion's doctrine and the tiger's. Yet, amid the ever-revolving cycle of error, it has been promulgated anew of late years. As though Christ had never lived, as though the Holy Spirit had never come down to convince the world of righteous- ness, it has been again asserted in our days that might is right. Do we then need that the son of Sophroniscus should rise from his grave to expose this mis- chievous fallacy over again? Surely he has exposed it thoroughly, not for his own age merely, but for ever. Surely, my friends, you, in this Christian land, in this seat of Christian learning, will none of you allow yourselves to be imposed on by so gross and glaring a delusion. This is, indeed, merely another expression of the same carnal mind which would merge all the attributes of the Godhead in naked power. But we know that though the strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks, yet the Lord was not in the strong wind. Nor was He in the earthquake; nor was He in the fire. In what, then, wile He? In the still small voice: and this is one of its holy utterances,—right is might. As sure as God liveth, as sure as the Holy One of Israel is the Lord of Hosts, the Almighty, right is might, and ever was and ever shall be so. Holiness is might: meekness '8 might: patience is might: humility is might: self-denial and self-sacrifice is might: faith is might: love is might: every gift of the Spirit is might. The cross was two pieces of dead wood, and a helpless unresisting man was nailed to it: yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but no pure holy deed, or word, or thought. On the other hand, might, that which the children of earth call so, the strong wind, the earthquake, the fire, perishes through its own violence, self-exhausted and self-consumed ; as our age of the world has been allowed to witness in the most signal example. For many of us remember, and they who do not have beard from their fathers, how the mightiest man on earth, he who had girt him- self with all might except that of right, burst like a tempest-cloud, burnt himself out like a conflagration, and only left the scars of his ravages to mark where he had been. Who among you can look into an infant's face and not see a power in it mightier than all the armies of Attila or Napoleon? "