15 MAY 1880, Page 21

The Fathers, for Filiglish Readers. Saint Ambrose : his Life,


and Teaching. By R. Thornton, D.D. (S.P.C.K.)—St. Ambrose is a remarkable proof of how far ecclesiastical order, even in the Orthodox Church, was from the stereotyped regularity to which it has now come. It seems incredible that the civil governor of a city, actually unbaptised, should have been elected bishop by popular acclamation ; and scarcely lees so that lie should have endeavoured to escape the honour, first by a pretence of tyrannical cruelty, and then by a false self-accusation. But Ambrose, though unbaptised, was not unlearned. Dr. Thornton points out that he appears as a practised theologian within a few months of his elevation, and that though as a writer he made great progress afterwards, his first efforts display a knowledge which must have been the result of long previous study. In all re- spects, the life of the great bishop is a most interesting theme, and Dr. Thornton, though there is nothing very brilliant or striking about his style, does substantial justice to it. He has the merit of candour and fairness,—qualities not unnecessary in reviewing the saint's life, for Ambrose, good and great as he was, might well, had he been born in different times, have left the same doubtful reputation as Hildebrand or Innocent III. A specially valuable part of this little book is the very careful review of Ambrose's theological work. The chapter on his poetry is less satisfactory. Dr. Thornton would have done well to tell his readers what share be bad, if he had any share, in the composition of the To Deem.