27 JANUARY 1900, Page 36


(Under this heading we notice such Books of the week as have not been reserved for review in other forms.] Church Questions. By Gilbert Kearney. (Elliot Stock. Ss. 6d.) —We find ourselves in general agreement with Mr. Kearney in most of his contentions. As long as he has the Prayer-book and the Homilies to argue from, he can show a very powerful case. But when he comes to deal with the " Prayers for the Dead" he dogmatises with too much confidence. He quotes texts, it is true,

but surely we ought to have got by this time out of the " proof by texts" stage. He requires us to believe that at death all human beings are divided into two classes,—the "spiritually perfect" and the wholly lost. This he thinks to prove by such expressions as "Just men made perfect," " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord," " To die is gain," and so on. The absolute certainty with which he expresses himself is nothing less than amazing. As for the practice of the Church, there is much more to be said than he seems to think. " Baptising for the dead," a practice from which St. Paul argues, and does not con- demn, was in all probability a rite performed with the intention of benefiting the dead. Let there be no dogmatising, we should say, one way or the other—certainly no system such as we see in the Roman Church—and even no public service, but private liberty to satisfy the demands which piety and love seem to justify.