Imágenes de página

which almost every person has a sacred interest. In twenty chapters the author treats of the associations, the lessons, the influences, the inspirations of the Sepulchre; and he has placed under great obligations the multitudes for whom the book has a sad and yet happy adaptation. We cannot too confidently recommend this volume to every thoughtful, and especially to every bereaved reader.” The “Puritan Recorder" thus speaks of it: “It is peculiarly rich in consolatory thought, and is altogether a fervent, evangelical, and deeply interesting production.” In the “Easton Argus” we find the following: 16 This work embodies a leading thought of uncommon power and beauty. Every page indicates close observation and deep thought. There are thrilling passages in the work, eloquent appeals, and tender admonitions, all which at once speak to the heart and are adapted to purify and chasten it. The sound taste, devout feeling, and pleasing and new views which characterize the work, give it a high value; it enlarges the bounds of the reader's thoughts and elevates his heart to God." The “Presbyterian” says of it: “A fine tone pervades the volume, and it abounds in just sentiments ornately expressed.” The "German Reformed Messenger” says: "His style is clear and vigorous, well adapted to engage the reader's feelings as well as to convince his judgment. Sometimes it rises into pathos and stirring eloquence; the eloquence of truth and conviction.” The "New York Observer,” among other things, says: “Around the grave the author has grouped those thoughts which rouse the mind to a noble contemplation of the purposes of God, the destiny of the soul, the ends to be answered by afflictions, and kindred topics, so that the several chapters will be perused with profit, not by the bereaved only, but by all who believe that there is a better land beyond the tomb." But we refrain from further quotations of the notices of the work which have appeared so abundantly in every direction. These will suffice to show the reader the general estimation in which the book is held by those who are competent to judge, and at the same time convey some general idea of the character of the book itself.

The work carries upon its pages conclusive evidence of a strong, vigorous, healthy mind in its author-a mind well cultivated and at home in the various departments of learning. In reading the book we at once feel that we are perusing the production of a scholar. Whilst the matter is of the most varied character, and collected from the most varied sources, it is never exhibited under a confused form, or in an improper place. The facility with which it is collected is the measure of the power by which it is re-produced, and neither seems more perfect than the judgment by which it is applied. The strength of perfect ease and calmness underlies every sentence; and such is the greatness of spirit, the piety of heart, and the sombre yet pleasing melancholy instampt upon its pages, that we feel bound to it as by an invisible power. This is no doubt partly the effect of a sad thought, coupled with a beloved object, amid the sacredness of sepulchral gloom; but chiefly is it to be attributed to the skill of the author in adapting the one to the other in such a way as to render the sadness pleasing and spiritually improving.

The theology of the work, so far as its practical character allows this to come to any clear theoretic expression, is in good keeping with the origin and early history of the Church in the midst of which the author stands. It exhibits no sympathy with the puritanic element which of later years has come to occupy such a conspicuous position in that Church in this country. This is regarded throughout as altogether a foreign element, and destructive of those real comforts which the graves of the saints are adapted to inspire. Though the imagination of the author is vivid, and, in many instances is allowed to give deep coloring to his views, yet, underneath the flower which beautifies, may always be found the most substantial realities. Christianity is ever regarded, both in its principle and effects, as a real divine-human life, emanating from the person of Christ, and made to pervade his people in a real way, mind, soul and body, preparing them thus, in a way equally real, for life, death, and the resurrection. The body is regarded as participating in full, in the redemption life in Christ. As sin has corrupted it substantially, so has the righteousness of Christ, through the power of faith, given it a positive relation to the sanctified humanity of his Person. The body is, therefore, sacred, not on the ground of its having been the tenant merely of a pious spirit, or because of the affectionate ties which bound it to its kindred, but because it has participated in the redemption of the Gospel just as really and truly as the spirit itself. Whilst, therefore, we lay the body in the grave, we are taught to do it in the confident belief, that it contains the gem of a new spiritual life, which, in the resurrection, without losing anything essential to it as a real human body, will develop an incorruptible and glorious body, like that of Christ itself. This view is directly the opposite of that of the Puritan faith, which can find no room for the body, in the redemption of Christ, in any real way. As soon as life is extinct, all reverence for it is withdrawn, or if any demonstrations of this character are constrained by the deeper. consciousness of relatives, it is set down at once as weak and idolatrous. The body is carelessly thrown under ground, and either forgotten entirely, or else held in remembrance only as that body which God, by the bare exertion of his almighty power, will change and raise up in the resurrection. Its sacredness, per se, is thus entirely destroyed, except in so far as kindred affection may serve to give it this character. Every thing like real solemn service at the grave is looked upon as vain mummery, and often even as solemn mockery. All vital relation between it and the Church living is at once broken up and destroyed. Whilst the communion of spirits may continue, that of saints has ceased at death. The grave-yard is no vital part of the Church of Jesus Christ; and hence may either be entirely neglected, or given into the hands of worldly corporations whose business it may be made to attend to it and keep it in some decent repair. Reverence, piety or true Christian affection, as such, are laid under no obligation in this direction, whatever, except in so far as outward appearances, in the light of worldly refinement and civilization, may make their exercise necessary in this practical way.

Now is not all this plainly the development of an inward infidelity in reference to the reality and completeness of the redemption of Christ? Is it not arraying one section of the Church against the other ? Does it not make the cemetery, with its silent but potent voices, contradict flatly those of the pulpit, proclaiming faith in the resurrection of the body ?

Against this practically unbelieving spirit, the above work is calculated to do good service. Its tendency is to draw back this wandering thought and make it cluster around the tombs of the departed, and to induce and cultivate such a practical habit of piety as shall make our grave-yards and cemeteries earnest evidences of our faith when we say: “We believe in the resurrection of the body."

This practical tendency of this work, in connection still further with its consolatory character to the bereaved, should insure for it a very wide circulation. Every minister of the Gospel who has a desire to propagate practical views of real Christianity relative to the most solemn point in life, that of dying,

should not only procure this work for themselves, but give it a warm recommendation to all, over whose spiritual interest they have been placed. The effect would not only be to enrich and beautify the resting-place of the departed; to throw - around it a holy element, inviting the bereaved to retirement and meditation, but it would aid in cultivating, also, that true, humble, chastened piety, which is so beautiful in life, so calm in death, and which, from the tomb, speaks with an eloquence which wins the heart for God.

We are happy to see that the demand for this work is already bringing out the second edition: and we are free to say, that, if its circulation shall in any proper measure correspond with its literary, theological and pious merits, it will not only soon reach its second edition, but its fifth and sixth. G.

[ocr errors]

THE WORLD IN THE MIDDLE AGES: An Historical Geography,

with an account of the Origin and Development, the Institutions and Literature, the Manners and Customs of the nations in Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, from the close of the fourth to the middle of the fifteenth century. By Adolphus Louis Kæppen, Professor of History and German Literature in Franklin and Marshall Cola lege, Pa. Accompanied by complete Historical and Geographical Indexes, and six colored maps from the Historical Atlas of Charles Spruner, LL. D., Captain of Engineers in the Kingdom of Bavaria. 2 vols. pp. 851. Folio edition embracing the maps pp. 232. Appleton & Co., New

York. Little Britain, London. 1854. The Middle Ages, sometimes called the Dark Ages, have, until recently, been regarded as a terra incognita, a dreary and sterile territory, unworthy of anything like serious study or active exploration. Other departments of history have been cultivated with the most intense zeal, whilst that interesting interval of time, which divides the ancient from the modern world, has been set aside as it were by common consent, as incapable of presenting a proper arena for the display of historical skill, or of affording anything interesting or edifying to the common reader. It is true, Gibbon has thrown the light of his genius over that period, but it is much more the fading splendor of the Roman Empire, than the dawn of modern civilization, that occupies the foreground in his luminc us pages. The skeptical and irreligious spirit, moreover, which he delights to exhibit whenever an opportunity presents itself, has deterred many persons from reading his able and learned work. Hallam is unreasonably dry, and he has doubtless helped to confirm the impression, that the subject of which he treats, is as dry as his style. More recently Guizot by his brilliant, yet philosophical History of Civilization, has awakened in this country and England a new interest in medieval history, more so perhaps than any other writer. He was himself interested in what he wrote, and therefore succeeded in awakening a similar interest in the mind of his reader. By tracing modern European Institutions back to their origin in the Middle Ages, and by treating his subject in a truly liberal spirit, he made it appear how intimately we, of the nineteenth century, stand related to our ancestors, who lived before the Reformation, and thus did something to restore the current of natural sympathy, which the superficiality of our times had almost destroyed. No one who is willing to divest himself of prejudice, can read him without having his horizon of sympathy considerably enlarged. Corresponding, but more important influences at work in the Theological world, however, have done much more than the labors of single individuals in bringing us to a proper appreciation of the “World in the Middle Ages.” Religious men in various directions have made the inquiry, whether the Christianity of the present day cannot be reconciled and harmonized with the Christianity of the past. In Germany more than elsewhere, Protestantism has sought to set aside the narrow limits in which its history has been confined, and to connect its life more and more with the Church of former days. The Middle Ages, the maternal soil of the Reformation and of modern civilization, has of course begun to be regarded in a new light, and its literary and theological treasures are again brouglit into market. The history of the Church in that period has been carefully studied, and the Christianity then prevalent, if not of such a character as would pass current in our day, has been proved to be Christianity of some kind, and entitled to our charity at least, if not to our respect. A religious interest was thus awakened in a portion of history, from which it had been thought it ought to be excluded. This may naturally be expected to be permanent in its character, and to show itself in the literature of the day.

The work of Prof. Koppen has of course nothing theological in its character or tendency. It is a purely objective representation of the external features of the world during the

« AnteriorContinuar »