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DEATH OF THE REV JOHN DAVIES, A. M.
LATE VICAR OF TRINITY CHURCH, COVENTRY.
This highly respected individual accompanied with a devotional imperformed the full duties of his pressiveness that gave full weight church on Sunday, Aug. 17. with to the interesting services of our his accustomed energy and fidelity. church. As a preacher his discourses Towards the close of the week he were well arranged and systematic; felt himself indisposed, and was uniformly doctrinal, experimental, induced to remain at home on the and practical : and while he allowed following Sunday, though free from of no compromise of the truth, he any symptom of an alarming nature. was sober-minded and prudent. As On the evening of that day he a scholar he was highly respectable, assembled his family to prayers, and having obtained various prizes at having requested Mrs. Davies to St. John's college, Cambridge, act for him, he fixed on the 51st where also his talents were rePsalm, and a part of the visita- warded with a fellowship. As a tion for the sick, in which, while pastor he was pre-eminent; and read, he heartily joined, no one his parishioners evinced their high anticipating his speedy removal. estimation of this part of his Prayers being ended all withdrew, character by their tokens of affecwhen almost immediately an un- tion to him during his life, and usual noise was heard, which hur- their deep and unequivocal grief at ried Mrs. D. and the servants his removal. Immense numbers back to witness the lifeless corpse of persons assembled at an early of him who had just before been hour on the day appointed for Mr. joining with them in prayer and D.'s funeral, evincing an ardent thanksgiving to Almighty God. desire to pay the last tribute of
Mr. Davies had often expressed respect to their deceased pastor ; a desire that his removal might be while the tears and lamentations sudden; and lived babitually in of many plainly demonstrated that preparation for that solemn change. they were deploring at once the He had some time before arranged faithful minister and the long-tried his affairs, and made his will, in friend. which be evinced bis kind recollec The event was improved on tions of the neighbourhoods where Sunday, Sept. 7. at St. Margaret's, he had long laboured, by leaving the Broadway, Westminster, of which sum of £50. to the Westminster Mr. D. had been thirty-three years New Charity School of which he minister, by the Rev. G. Mutter, was the Founder, and by a similar from Rev. xiv. 13. I heard a voice legacy to the Blue Coat Charity from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Children of bis Parish at Coventry. Blessed are the dead which die in In adverting to the character of the the Lord from henceforth : Yea, deceased we may observe, that saith the Spirit, that they may rest as a divine, he was stedfast and from their labours ; and their works unmoveable, always abounding in do follow them. the work of the Lord, knowing We are happy to state that Mr. that his labour was not in vain in Mutter has been appointed by the the Lord. As a reader he was not Dean and Chapter of Westminster, to be excelled : there was a solem- to succeed Mr. Davies as minister nity and sweetness in his delivery, of St. Margaret's, Broadway.
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
The History of the Church of
Christ. By John Scott, M. X.
Wycliffe, D. D. illustrated prineipally from his unpublished Manuscripts. By Robert Vaughhan. 2 Vols. 8vo. Pp. xx. and 436, and vi. and 460. Holds
worth. 1828. The Works of the English and
Scottish Reformers, Edited by Thomas Russell. A. M. Vol. ii. Pp. x. 596. Palmer. 1828. The British Reformers. Printed
for the Religious Tract Society.
In noticing these Publications, we cannot but rejoice at the increasing attention now paid to Ecclesiastical History, and the Writings of the Reformers and Fathers of our Church. The characters and sentiments of many most valuable men have been very imperfectly understood, and even those who admired them as the founders and asserters of Civil and Religious Liberty, and as the confessors or Martyrs of a purer faith, have often exceedingly underrated their personal piety, their Christian meekness, holy constancy, amiable deportment, and proficiency in all the tenderest charities of the renewed heart. In proportion however as we be come more intimately acquainted with their writings, correspondence, and conversation, the more shall we be compelled to admire their eminent attainments and distinguisbing excellencies. No one, for instance, can rise from the perusal of the life and character of Luther, as recorded in Milner and Scott's History, without correcting many of the erroneous ideas promulgated by eminent historians of that great and good man; while the account,
given by Mr. Scott, of the amiable Melancthon, in the part now published, demonstrates that eminent reformer to have possessed far more firmness, decision, and consistency of character than has generally been supposed.
Mr. Scott assigns the following reasons for publishing this portion of his History separately,
1. Because it was ready a considerable time before the remainder of the volume could be prepared ; and, 2. . Because it completes an important division of the work.-In fact, as the title page indicates, the part now published accomplishes three objects : it brings down the history of the Lutheran church to the Peace of Religion, . A. D. 1555—it gives the remainder of Melancthon's story, including a review of some of his principal works, to his death, A. D. 1560; and relates the most interesting among the proceedings of the Council of Trent during the whole of its progress, from its opening, A. D. 1545, to its dissolution, A. D. 1563. . This portion of history relating to a period of great trial and danger, . necessarily excites painful feelings, but the volume contains many interesting and instructive passages which we should gladly extract; but from which we are precluded by our scanty limits, and the claims of other publications. Nor are copious extracts now necessary ; Mr. Scott's style and sentiments are well known to our readers, and the general views of his history recorded in our volume for 1827, p. 386, strictly apply to the part before us. The following is Mr. Scott's character of Melancthon:
Melancthon is a character with whom it is impossible to become conversant without being in danger of contracting even an excessive partiality for him. I have felt that I was exposed to this bias in writing of bim : and I am aware that I have inade a more favourable representation of his course, and of the ground that he occupied after the death of Luther, than is generally received :
but I desire to have my statements two thousand of his letters, and numeadmitted no further than they are drawn rous others of his papers and writings, froin authentic sources. I have endea- I confess that I cannot but regard him voured to trace, not from the fallacious as one of the loveliest specimens of the reports of others concerning him, but grace of God, ever exhibited in our from his own papers, what part he fallen nature. It is quite superfluous actually took in the controversies res- to speak of his talents, his learning, his pecting the Interim, and the adiapho- taste-they are known and applauded ristic points—which I cannot but feel by all.-Pp. 148–151. confident has not been done by many This account of Melancthon's who have censured him: and thus I
character is accompanied with some trust I have satisfactorily vindicated him from numerous charges of pusillanimity,
extracts from his and unworthy concession and compro- letters. mise; and have shewn that, in some Let not those (says Mr. Scott) which of the most important cases, he was he (Melancthon) expresses concerneven heroically firm, where the very ing marriage and the female sex be contrary has been imputed to him. I thought unworthy of a place here. cannot but suppose that many, who Thus he writes to a friend who had just have given currency to disadvantageous formed this union. “ Stigelius calls the accounts of his conduct, have not had married state a divinely appointed recourse to his own writings, or perhaps school of human life. The truth and to other original documents : they rather importance of this representation might seem, having heard the charges of his furnish the theme of a long discourse. opponents, and considered his reputed The establishment of such an order character, to have inferred how it was of things, and the necessity of adhering likely that a man of his temper should to it for the well-being of society, attest act, than to have inquired how he really the government of God, and illustrate did act. Thus to apportion praise or his character. The preservation of human blame upon speculative grounds, and society demonstrates the presence of not upon an actual examination of facts, God with us : and those who live holily it is to be feared, is not uncommon even in wedlock find the proofs of that prewith historians of reputation. My im- sence on many trying occasions. This pression is, that the fault of Melancthon's state brings with it the exercise of character was not, as it is commonly sup- numerous virtues. That you have deposed to have been, timidity, or at least termined therefore to comply with this in the sense of a hesitation to avow his divine appointment is a thing pleasing sentiments, or a dread of personal dan to God, and I pray bim to bestow upon ger--for many facts demonstrate his you and your wife all happiness in your bold disregard even of life itself in the union.”—To another he expresses himcause which he had undertaken ; but self still more strongly : “ I commend rather a morbid fear of deciding amiss; your choosing this state of life, and a fastidiousness which could never satisfy wish you every blessing in it. Married itself; together with such an excessive, life appears to me a sort of philosophical and, considering in whose hands the discipline, training persons to honourdirection of affairs of the church is able duties, worthy of the good and really placed, such a superfluous anxiety wise. Few unmarried people are for its peace and unity, as sometimes affected as they ought to be towards the endangered his making undue sacrifices public good, and perceive what are for this all but invaluable object. Yet, really the most important objects in if any imagine that it was at all a part life."-Pp. 157, 158. of his plan to compromise disputed Again : “ I am quite indignavt at points by the use of anbiguous terms, those misanthropic beings who think it which each party might construe in its a proof of wisdom to despise the female own favour, I can only observe, that sex. Grant that they have their weakthere is no practice against which he nesses: we also have our faults.... If more frequently and more strongly pro- we have superior force, let us shew it tests. He was fully aware, that what is in protecting, not in insulting them. thus unsoundly healed breaks out afresh Though many unfeeling spirits may with aggravated virulence. His con- neglect such duties, God shews in his stant maxim was, “ Ambiguous terms providence a peculiar care of the feebler only generate new controversies.” part of the species. Birds build their
On the whole, after reading nearly nests for their mates and their young: and in like manner cities are fortified, better to have some disorder than the and the labour of governing and defend stillness of universal death. Besides, ing them is undertaken, for the sake no such unity as he boaşts bas existed of women and children, rather than in his own church: as our notice of the of men. As often then as you look council of Trent will abundantly deupon a house or a city, reflect that both monstrate. But the narrative before us of them were erected for the mothers affords most important and seasonable of our children. And, if God in his warning to ourselves. Fierce contenprovidence has made such provision for tions have too frequently followed close your wife, (now in her confinement, upon remarkable revivals of religion, that governments, magistrates, workmen, and have deformed their character, houses, cities, castles are all subservient and arrested their progress. These to her benefit, do not think it burden- contentions have in great part arisen some to bear your part of the common from well-intentioned and zealous men duty, by attending assiduously upon her pushing things to extremes, being too -Finally, since marriage presents an impatient to pause for the purpose image of the love of the Son of God to of defining and explaining, and thus his Church, let the calls made upon you drowning the voice of truth amid the in domestic life remind you, that he has din of loud assertion and impetuous the same care for the church under all dispute. But that which was violent her weaknesses, which you now feel for and extreme could never continue long : your wife. For my part I have often it is not in the nature of things that it thought of composing a history of heroic should do so. With the temperate, and women-women who have endured the calm, and the moderate-provided .greal afflictions with piety and firmness. only that they do not compromise The trials of my own family have sug substantial truth-is wisdom: and with gested this to me : for the temper of them also is endurance; while that mind manifested by my dear daughter which carries things beyond all due has been the great alleviation of the bounds soon passes away; nay, very bitter grief occasioned me by her cala commonly it opens the way for that mity. She has ever exhorted me to which is in the contrary extreme to bear it with greater fortitude ; for that suceed it. The overstrained discipline it was her determination to submit to of the Novatians, refusing to restore the the will of God in all that he might see lapsed, and insisting on rebaptizing good to lay upon her,--May he succour those who had received the initiatory both her, and you, and us all against sacrament from the hands of heretics, our adversary the devil, and supply a was soon generally condemned, and healing balm to the poisonous bites of disappeared. The high presbyterianism, the old serpent."-Pp. 159, 160. which insisted that its form of church
In the course of his narrative government in all its parts, with all the Mr. Scott notices some of those rules for the conduct of public worship, painful controversies which early was to be found in scripture, and that afflicted the reformed church. The
not the minutest observance was to be
admitted which was not prescribed following observations on such
there, has long since given way before distressing scenes are worthy of
the more temperate doctrine for which extensive circulation and serious Hooker contended. The fierce oppoattention.
sition which was once made to surplices All these scenes of fierce contro- and bands and gowns is now lamented versy, so soon rising in the reformed by all parties, and some of these churches, present, no doubt, a mournful vestments adopted even by the successors spectacle. They wofully display the of those who had led that opposition. tendencies of human nature, and the And where has ultra-Calvinism ever art and malice of the great enemy long maintained its ground ? In short of divine truth and human happiness. every thing ultra--every thing pushed Defects may probably be pointed out, to an extreme is studiously to be through which the Lutheran church avoided, if we would durably promote failed of opposing the proper checks to the true interests of the church of Christ. a rising spirit of contention and in This is a lesson which may much need subordination: yet even these defects, to be regarded in our day. True religion with all their consequences, afford not has been extensively revived: the that matter of triumph to the Romanist, genuine doctrines of the reformation, · which he affects to find in them. It is which are those of the gospel itself, have spread to an extent. hardly ever youth, and before meditating any before known among us: we are to hostile movement with respect to the guard, no doubt, against those who hierarchy, were in some degree aware would tamper with them, and dilute of its abuses. But the claim to originthem, and frustrate their efficacy by ality and enterprise, must be certainly worldly associations and a worldly awarded to the Englishman. Germany spirit: but we are no less to guard had never ceased to be the asylum against those who would push them to of separatists from the Romish coman extreme; who would overstate and munion, which was far from being the overstrain them; who would vitiate case with England ; and the disputes them by unscriptural inferences, and between our monarchs and the papacy, lay them open to antinomian abuse by were partial, and soon terminated, crude and unwarranted statements; or when compared with those which had who disgrace them by violence of spirit, divided the empire, and the church. and a contemptuous treatment of such There was an advance in the cause as cannot go their lengths. By such of civil liberty, and a revival of learning, proceedings the seeds of decay were observable in the fourteenth century, sown in the Lutheran church at a very which were highly favourable to the early period : and, as Romish super formation of the character of Wycliffe; stition has generated infidelity, so it is but two centuries later, the same causes to be apprehended that the refinements did much more toward inspiring the and the contentions, which followed the genius of Luther. The court of Cæsar, death of Luther, might do much towards had been for ages, the retreat of men gradually preparing the way for the who had most successfully assailed the neology and the other abominations secular ambition of the pontiffs; and of modern German protestantism. “ Be while the living admirers of the Greek not high-minded, but fear. Let him and Roman classics, who had every that thinketh he standeth take heed lest where multiplied, were with few excephe fall."-Pp. 128-130.
tions, impatient to effect a reformation
of the established system, the councils The volumes of Mr. Vaughan of Basle, Constance, and Pisa, had display considerable talent and re- exposed its departing strength. At the search, and their perusal affords a same time Huss, and Jerome, and their more pleasing view of Wycliffe's followers, had supplied examples of character and conduct than would
would resistance, which many a good man
must have been disposed to emulate, be formed by those who adhere
Amid these foreboding appearances also, exclusively to the statements of
the maxims of the papal court continue Milner. They are indeed some- to be characterized by their ancient what diffuse, and discuss the cha- perfidy and avarice: and the German racters and writings of some of ecclesiastics, whose secular character Wycliffe's cotemporaries and disci. had even surpassed that of their brethren ples rather more at length than was
in England, appear to have judged it
better that the loss of their entire perhaps strictly necessary in a bio
authority should be hazarded, than that graphical sketch ; but they contain
any part of it should be surrendered at much useful and valuable informa
the call of the people. But, if in these tion. Perbaps the following com circumstances the professor of Wittemparison between Luther and Wy- burg possessed advantages superior to cliffe may afford a fair specimen.
those of his illustrious predecessor, it is
well known that they were by no means In the school of the reformers, the neglected. With both, the philosophy precedence in honor has been generally of the schools had absorbed some of the given to Martin Luther, and perhaps most important years of life, and if the there is not another in that distinguished elder may be considered as the superior class of men who may be compared of the younger in that branch of scholarwith him to so little disadvantage as ship; this probably arose from the fact John de Wycliffe. Both were nursed that in the fourteenth century, less had in the superstitions which they were been said to impair the reputation destined to oppose, and both passed by of that vain science. In every thing slow and upanticipated steps to the coming within the province of taste, adoption of their final sentiments. Luther is not less defective than They were also devout men from their Wycliffe, though his opportunities for