23 AUGUST 1851, Page 18

DM. vanasan's SERMONS. * CONSIDEP.ABLE knowledge of human nature, and the

earnestness which arises from a strong conviction, expressed in a close and powerful style, are the literary characteristics that separate this volume from the mass of sermons. A more remarkable distinc- tion is in the subjects Dr. Vaughan handles. These frequently raise questions that are now dividing. theologians, or treat of matters that are exciting the laity and disturbing the churches. Whether it arises from the advances made in physical science, which is apt to give a material tone to the mind, or from that activity of intellect but absence of faith which seems to distin- guish society in its full maturity and decline, or from the logical and trying spirit of the age, there is no doubt but that many things once implicitly received by believers, or scornfully rejected by sceptics, are now considered in a philosophical and critical point of view, not to confute but to explain. And whatever may be alleged against the orthodoxy of those who do these things, many of the doers are more- piously minded than those who assail them. The controversy which divided the faithful at Edinburgh when Mr. Humphrey Clinker first arrived there is now going on in other places, though the dispute on the eternity of hell punish- ments may be conducted in a different manner. The embodiment of moral evil in the formof a person or persons is another question that employs the minds of thinking men, whose inquiries pass be- yond doctrines and sectarian dogmas to the fundamental principles of revelation. The nature of human nature—the consequences of the fall, and the mode in which it operates upon mankind gene- rally—is another moot topic, but one which possibly attracts less consideration than future punishments or the "personality of the Tempter," as having a more limited bearing. The fall is, so to speak, a theological question; the others are not necessarily con- fined even to Christianity. A spirit of evil and a. future state be- long to all religions. Besides these topics, Dr. Vaughan treats of some subjects that have either a practical interest—as education, or a bearing upon passing topics—as the character of the priest Two or three ser- mons are upon less special subjects, but treated with a closeness and applicability which gives character and interest to what in its na- ture belongs to the commonplace sermon. The religions opinions of Dr. Vaughan are strictly Protestant according to the Church of England, with a leaning to the Evan- gelical party, but without that tendency towards cant which sometimes accompanies low-church. His views are orthodox, of the old sehool of orthodoxy, before philology, ethnography, and kindred studies, had, in the hands of the German critics, appeared to render some explanation of certain passages in Scripture neces- sary, and to raise doubts as to whether the whole was verbatim et literatim to be received as inspired. To both these opinions Dr. Vaughan is opposed. When- the Scripture speaks of the Devil as a person, we must receive him as such,—that is, such a person as satisfies-theologians, for the definition of person might be hard to settle. The " possession" is an actual possession. The herd of swine is to be implicitly received ; and proves not only " the per- sonality of the Tempter," but that there are "legions" of devils. Any attempt to resolve eternity into long duration or indefinite time is to be rejected : we must take the few references to a future state as they stand, and then we are shut out from all conclusions save one—the eternity of future punishment. In a logical sense, this, no doubt, is the most conclusive. When the whole text is received as inspired throughout, Scripture be- comes an infallible guide. If any portion may be rejected as of human composition, human judgment must be called in to decide upon what is and what is not inspired, the fallible deciding upon the infallible. This part of the subject is not so much raised as assumed by Dr. Vaughan.: his arguments are chiefly directed to meet specious objections, especially that of reasoning from our con- dition to the condition of beings above us. So exceedingly diffi- cult however, is the whole theme, that Dr. Vaughan cannot avoid falling into that very line of argument which it is the direct pur- pose of his discourses to condemn. This is his explanation of the stature of future punishments.

"The notion of the possibility of a future restoration of the wicked to the happiness of the just has been fostered, we cannot doubt, by an unworthy conception of the nature of their punishment. If that punishment consisted only or chiefly in the infliction of external suffering ; if the awful images by which the Scriptures have sought to bring home to the human understanding the realities of that retribution—images of chains and stripes, of a delivery to the tormentors, of an undying worm and an unquenchable fire—were to be literally interpreted, and regarded as constituting the whole of that misery which they faintly typify ; then, certainly, the sentence might vary in its du- ration with each individual case, and admit in every instance of an ultimate however remote termination. If the essence of the wrath to come-were the infliction of a certain amount of retaliation, proportioned to the number or complexion of the sins in each case to be revenged, it might be limited in extent as well as in severity, and its cessation might at once restore the suf- ferer to a repose which it alone had interrupted. But if the true account of its nature be widely different ; if it be more correctly described as a reaping

.after sowing; a harvest gradually matured, a receiving back of things on in the body, an eating of the fruit of our own ways,—and these are repre- sentations of it familiar to every reader of the Scriptures,—if, in short, the

.tormentors then to be encountered are the sins themselves 1 the habits of mind formed in this life ; the evil lustings which possessed us here, and to which all gratification will be there for ever denied ; the reproaches of an evil don- , The Personality of-the Tempter, and other Sermons, Doctrinal and Occasional; including a Sermon preached in St. Paul's Cathedral, at the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy. By Charles John Vaughan, D.D., Head Master of Narrow School, Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. Published by Parker and Son. science, which no hope of repenunice or amendment can then allay or pal. hate ; the remembrance of opportunities irrecoverably lost, of time and tas lents irremediably wasted, of grace fatally resisted, and now abhorred as well as withdrawn ; if thought be thus the chief minister of vengeance, the sinner his own tormentor, and the absence rather than the presence of God the main instrument of His wrath ; what room is then left for a diminution or cessation of punishment ? what agency can then be imagined capable of effecting a moral change which Christ and His Spirit long offered in vain ? what gradual, what sudden softening of a hardened heart can then effect a result impossi- ble but on the supposition of holiness—a holiness never of spontaneous growth, and in this case deliberately refused while conscience still retained its vitality.? Without holiness no man can see the Lord ; without holiness, happiness is a contradiction, an impossibility : misery is in the mind, not in the circumstances : misery can only be removed by the removal, alleviated by a diminution, of moral evil; and that removal, that diminution, can only be effected with the consent, with the will, of the moral being who is its sub- ject. A compulsory, an imposed sanctification, is none : yet what machinery can be then in operation to effect auy other ? When these things are re- membered, the supposition of a reversible doom, an exhaustible perdition, a changing eternity, will become as unreasonable as it is unsexiptural." Nothing can be more philosophical than this • it is an applica- tion of the law of consequences upon the largest scale. Yet, surely, if we may quench the "fire" altogether, and, turn the

" worm " into an allegory, there seems no reason why the same method may not be applied to other expressions of a similar kind. In the two sermons on the nature of the priesthood and the cha-

racter of the priest, Dr. Vaughan takes a view directly opposite to the Popish and Tractarian idea upon the subject. His opinion upon education is that of most people. He would not separate re- ligion from education, and he would educate by means of his own church ; but then, education is not what the generality mean when they talk about it, instead of instruction. The followinc, passage, from the preface, speaks more directly to the point, perhaps, than

the sermon.

" Schools (such as that which formed the subject of the sermon) can scarcely be said to educate: they can instruct , they can instruct in religion as in arithmetic or geography ; they can furnish therefore materials for edu. cation to work upon ; and they can do something within very narrow limit; but on some essential points, towards the formation of moral principles, and the regulation of language and conduct. But when they profess to educate— I am speaking now of day-schools for the poor—when they profess to edu- cate, in other words, to supersede almost or altogether the office and the responsibility of the parent, then they transgress their proper province, and must no longer complain if they are tried by a standard which, however un- just., they have themselves challenged. Those who have long used an ex. aggerated language as to the miracles to be wrought by an extension of edus cation—in other words, by the multiplication of schools—have no right to re- monstrate against that interpretation of their words which would make it an act of infidelity or of profaneness to omit from their system the direct ins culcation of religious truth. If all schools professed to educate, then from none could religious instruction be excluded, in none could it be optional or even subordinate. A school based on any other than a definite system of res ligious teaching would then be an affront to the understanding as well as the conscience of the place or the country in which it was set up. "But is there not, in fact, room for a distinction which would justify the claim of a wider latitude ? Where the young are entirely separated, during long and continuous periods, from the personal superintendence of their pa- rents; where they are formed into societies composed of strangers and mans aged by strangers, their intercourse with home being thenceforth of an Oc- casional if not desultory kind ; it is obvious that in such cases, if education (in the highest and truest sense of the word) is to be carried on at all,. it must be carried on, in part at least, at school : and the school which fails in the direct inculcation of the truths and requirements of revelation, is as des fective, as culpable, as that which should disregard the health or the morals of those committed to its discipline. But there is another case with which the question of national education is more frequently and practically con- cerned. There are schools in which the teacher does not wholly supersede, for any one day, the exercise of parental discipline. The child starts from home in the morning, visits home ordiharily at noon, returna• home in the evening. Only the hours of actual work are spent at school. Now surely, in a ease like this, nothing but the neglected and degraded condition of so many English homes could even suggest, as an indispensable necessity, the transfer to the schoolmaster of the religious responsibilities of the parent. Who among the higher classes of society would scruple to send his child to an astronomical or historical lecturer, on the ground that no directly. reli- gious instruction would be combined with the information to be received? Nor do I see why the extension or multiplication of such lectures, professing to communicate nothing but secular knowledge, professing to leave entirely to the parent or the pastor the religious instruction and training of the child, Should make that an act of profaneness or of indifference, which, up to a Certain point, all allow to be safe and Christian. Such is precisely the posi- tion occupEed by a day-school in which religious instruction is not given, but has only room left for it."