Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

had fallen? All ecclesiastical establishments may at particular phases become clogged in their movements, or may be drawn from their orbits by the approach of some great disorganizing influence. Would an attempt to preserve

the balance of the church under such circumstances be schismatic? May not those who remain be in fact the schismatics, while those who go carry with them the faith? Such considerations may

have passed through the minds of the more moderate among the catholics, and induced them to quell, as much as they could, persecutions which might feed disagreement into disunion. Leo X. was himself too much absorbed in the fine arts he was restoring, or in the families he was pulling down, to be diverted to what he called the ravings of a German monk. But when the first impulse of the reformation had been received which achieved its earlier victories, a far different horizon opened upon it. The influences of the Pleiades were lost in the fierce and lowering complexion of of the western sky. Adrian VI. was the reverse of Leo, and entered upon the persecution of protestants with the same avidity his predecessor had displayed in the pursuit of the fine arts. When was a league of greater strength established than that under the last years of Charles V. for the advancement of papacy? The emperor himself, whose genius controlled for half a century the destinies of Europe, entered into the hunt with all the skill of experienced royalty, and boasted that at one time he had crushed the snake in its hole. We do not pretend to relate the steps by which, one by one, the advances of protestantism have been met; but is not the spirit of reaction, which arose from the increased exertions of the opposite creed, sufficiently explained without resorting to the supposition of the weakness of the faith itself? The right hand of popery had been cut off ; but there sprang from the wound tendrils which, like the arms of the sepia, clung more tenaciously to the countries that were slipping from their grasp. Was not the mechanism of the hierarchy exquisitely adapted to the purposes of ecclesiastical policy, and did not by the rust and lethargy of the middle ages its joints become relaxed ?--and did they not, when the workmen were replaced at their posts, acquire fresh polish, and recover their inherent vigor? The church of Rome against which Luther fought, possessed but a fraction of the strength of the church that fought against his successors.

If the later protestants lost a part of the vantage that had been acquired

by those who went before them, it was because their enemy was doubled in their odds and not because their faith was weakened in its power.

We are satisfied that the combined operation of the causes which we have run over was sufficiently great to have seriously retarded the progress of a faith whose advent had occurred under far happierauspices than those which dawned upon the early protestants. They fought against a corrupted church in the beginning; but after a while its corruptions were reduced and its constitution invigorated. They overcame the

pope

in crutches; but as soon as he touched the earth, he threw off his tawdry robes and stood before them in the full majesty of his sacerdotal strength. Dominicans and Franciscans, as they came home heavy from the slaughter, were easily vanquished; but there came behind them a reserve guard, whose agility and vigor waged an Indian warfare against their foes. The first principle of the reformed faith was, as its name imported, reformation; and when the most crying abuses were removed, she lost what at first had been her most successful weapon. We must remember, also, that as soon as Rome found herself seriously in danger, she called to her aid the whole temporal economy of Christendom, and by a process of intrigue the most artful and the most complete in history wound herself so around the civil governments of the day that their whole sanction was lent to her support. The protestant cause found marshalled against it a force which, since the destruction of the Roman empire, had never been brought to bear on a single object. Every nerve which priestcraft could strain, every weapon which royalty could furnish, was brought forward to the blow; and men looked forward to the contest as one which should eventuate in the establishment in greater perfection, over the face of the European continent, of a spiritual thraldom the most complete that wisdom and experience could devise.

We do not intend at present to enter into the famous conflict that for thirty years desolated Germany. The watchmen from the tower of Wittemberg, as they gazed on the gathering clouds, thought at one time that their fate was settled. They looked to the everlasting hills whence cometh help, and in the spirit of the ancient Israelites, humbled themselves before God in prayer and in fasting. The German reformers, like the Scottish covenanters at the first struggle of their faith, fought in the rude garb of the peasantry against the polished armor of the chivalry of Europe; and at one time, as battle after battle saw them mowed down in masses by their adroit adversaries, their preachers were about to yield up the ark of the covenant in despair. Who could they turn to for aid? The war had become a war of religion ; but the great body of the protestants, who, a century ago, had held the mastery of Europe, were disabled for the field. In England, they were distracted by civil war; in France, they were crushed by the massacres of the Guises; and in Germany, they had been beaten to the dust by successive defeats. It was in Sweden alone that the faith was unsullied by either oppression or civil war. It was from Sweden that there came forth an army which, small as it was, approached almost to the gates of Rome, and conquered as it went, like those ancient tribes which, ten centuries before, had completed the ruin of the western empire. The same era seemed again revolving; and the country which then sent forth its warriors to level to the dust the sovereignty of Rome before her conversion, recalled them from their slumber to break the darling hopes of Rome after her apostacy. Tilly was defeated at Leipzic, the protestants in Franconia were delivered from imperial oppression, Mentz was conquered, and the standard of the elector of Saxony was again planted at Prague. At last, at the battle of Lützen, the imperial army under Wallenstein was entirely overthrown; and though the king of Sweden was slain at the moment of his victory, he sealed with his blood the final superiority of the protestants in Germany.

We have carried the history of the church on the continent to the period when it was rescued from its perils and placed on a more equal footing against its foe. The day will come, though its advent cannot be fixed by the finger of man, when the great conflict between the faith of the apostles and the faith of the popes will be brought to a close. The peace of Westphalia may have silenced the outguards of the camps; but it was too partial to reconcile the mass of the arries engaged. Their destiny is yet to be settled. The era when a battle may decide the fate of a nation or of a church may be gone; but are there not means still remaining by which Providence, in its own order, shall stamp the corruption of the papacy with its reward? The event may be deferred till distant generations have passed away; it may be deferred to that great consummation which the universal reception of Christianity will afford; but whatever be the time in which it shall occur, we can still look forward to it with the certainty of faith.

The vast phenomena of the heavens are fulfilled each in its appointed hour with as much tranquillity as the flowing of a river or the opening of a bud. There are promises which are based on a rock that can never fail ; and of these, the purification of the church is one. It has been long delayed; but it has been delayed under the provision of an economy which is itself the work of consummate wisdom. The church might have at all stages been preserved by a standing miracle from error or corruption. But the church under such a dispensation would have been the only authority to which the disciple would go ; for, assured of its infallibility, he would have neglected to bow himself before that higher Power from whom the church itself proceeded. God has been pleased — it is not for us to inquire wherefore, but probably for this-to destroy the validity of all such pretensions through the afflictions which have been suffered by Christianity since the time when it lost the stimulus that persecution afforded. The corruption and the crimes of

papacy may have been meant to wean from their idolatry those who exalted the temple above Him to whom it was consecrated. We should bless God that, without the temptations to which the church of Rome has been subjected, we have been spared her trials; and that, while the waters of the stream through which we derive our faith have been untainted by the heresies of the ancient hierarchy, its channel has been preserved entire from the deviations of modern schism.

ART. VII.-1. First Principles of Chemistry, being a familiar

Introduction to the Study of that Science. For the use of schools, academies and the lower classes of colleges. By JAMES RENWICK, L.L. D. New York : 1840. Harper and Brothers.

2. Leçons sur la Philosophie Chimique, Professées au Collége de

France. By M. Dumas, recuellies par M. Bineau. Paris :

1837.

The science of chemistry has undergone such rapid and important changes within comparatively few years, that those who have devoted themselves to the study have been compelled, more than once, entirely to remodel their views, and to use extraordinary diligence in keeping up with the discoveries of their contemporaries. Such being the difficulties in the path of the adept, it is easy to conceive of the disadvantages under which those have labored who have been charged with the instruction of minds less matured in age and philosophical research. The claims of chemistry to a place among the studies intended both for the training and instruction of youthful minds have already been recognised. At an early period, the establishment of a chemical chair in most of our colleges, either as a separate professorship or conjoined to the kindred department of natural philosophy, gave rise to the necessity of clothing the elements of this science in a more popular dress than previous writers had employed. Still more recently, academies and schools of the higher character have also included chemistry in their courses. To meet the demand thus created, several text-books of various degrees of excellence have from time to time been published. Most of them, however, have been originally prepared with reference to the chemical course of medical institutions, and have consequently dwelt more particularly upon the details and minutiæ, highly necessary indeed in such a course, but not even alluding to many of the descriptive and every-day branches of the study, without which chemistry is a valley of dry bones to the youthful pupil

. Others have aimed at producing a manual of reference for the more advanced student, and thus encountered a difficulty common in works on this subject, – the production of a

« FöregåendeFortsätt »