« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
whole, either applicable or practicable under any other circumstance than that of Church fellowship.
Such is the religion of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament, and such are the characteristic and essential principles of the Church of God, as established by divinely-appointed messengers. To become a Church of God, one only and obvious means exists, or ever did, or could exist,--acceptance of the conditions propounded by God through his messengers. These conditions can be learned nowhere but in the New Testament. He who prescribed these conditions alone can change or modify them,-no such power exists on earth; apostolical descent is a fiction, the spiritual authority claimed by hierarchies, priests, or their agents, mere assumption. If in the days of the apostles any Church, which set aside the commands of God, as inconvenient or inexpedient, or which adopted any invention of man as a religious duty, ceased to be of the Church of God, so must it be in the present time. The blessings of the gospel can be received only by complying with the conditions of the gospel, and the advantages of revelation realized only in the proportions in which its truths and principles are correctly understood and faithfully applied.
Notice.--The Public Meetings of this Church are held every Sunday morning, at Eleven o'clock, in their Meeting-house, St. John's Square, Clerkenwell.--The elder will be at all times happy to give further information to those who may desire it.
NEWINGTON-GREEN CHAPEL. Another monument to departed worth, exciting feelings not less agreeable than that recently erected to Mrs. Barbauld, has been placed in this Chapel. It is to the late eminent Dr. Price, a man who occupied much attention in his day; and whose pulpit labours were of sterling value, though unsurpassed in modesty, both at Newington Green and at Hackney. Not many such men, perhaps, have toiled in our cause : but we could wish the practice more frequent in our chapels, of thus honouring by-gone ministers, even though they should not have acquired all the literary, scientific, and professional notoriety of Dr. Price. The monument in question is both chaste and handsome : consisting of a white marble tablet on a black ground, and surmounted by an elegantly draped vase. The inscription, from the pen of the Rev. Thomas Cromwell, F.S.A., the present minister, is as follows :
To the Memory of
Twenty-six years Minister of this Chapel :
Friend to Freedom as to Virtue ;
Brother of Man;
Lover of Truth as of God;
Simplicity, and Goodness of Heart;
Or more valued by the wise and good ;
Honoured be his Name!
(From a Correspondent.) The University of Giessen in Germany has conferred the title of Doctor in Divinity on the Rev. J. R. Beard, of Manchester, on account of his theological writings. This seat of learning has about four hundred Students, is in the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and may be recognised by some of our readers as the place in which Kuinoel, the author of the commentary on the historical books of the New Testament (which many Unitarians are accustomed to use), is engaged in teaching Theology. Dr. Credner, the Dean of the Theological Faculty, is translating into German a publication of Mr. Beard's on Methodism, originally published anonymously by the Unitarian Association.
Art. 1.-VIVIA PERPETUA; a Dramatic Poem. By SARAH
FLOWER ADAMS. 12mo, pp. 200. London: Charles Fox.
In a late number of this Periodical we gave the historical account of the martyrdom of Vivia Perpetua, as it is related in Milman's History of Christianity. The tale itself is a poem of the deepest power and beauty, and we cannot say that even as poetry, the Drama supersedes the History. We say this in no spirit of depreciation of the volume before us, but because in the simple and unencumbered narrative of the Historian, there is a directness, a reality, an absence of unnecessary and confusing accessories,—and the Martyr is brought before us with a distinctness that leaves an image in the soul, which is itself the highest poetry, the purest ideal. We are not sure that the subject is at all fitted for dramatic poetry. It admits of no plot that would not spoil and dim the single interest of the holy faith and courage, the divine strength in woman's weakness, which is the soul and spiritual essence that shines through and glorifies the horrors of the martyr's death. The struggles indeed between the inward sentiment of faith and duty, and the conflicting affections which rend the bosom of the daughter and the mother, and, for a moment, counsel concealment and disloyalty to Christ, afford the genuine materials for dramatic effect, but this, which is really the only dramatic feature in the poem, occupies but an inconsiderable portion of its contents, -and by a great error, as we think, in the conception of the piece, we feel so little interest in the character of Perpetua's father, and indeed despise him so heartily, that we can scarcely sympathize with the struggle of affections in the daughter's bosom. Had Vivius been truly a "noble Roman,” as he is outwardly styled
Vol. III. No. 14.—New Series.
mother, affections which timent of faith. The struggh and glo
in the Dramatis Persona, one bound in loyalty and devotion of soul to the “ Antient Gods," whose piety and patriotism, long blended into one sentiment, would have made him too a willing martyr to his highest faith,—had he been a father with a father's heart, with his love for Perpetua unstained by selfishness and ambition,—had the bonds between them been those of the immortal affections, a child's veneration and a father's unsearchable tenderness,—then would our sympathies with both have engaged us too in the struggle between nature and conscience, and instead of the reader's indifference and contempt, we should have felt towards Vivius with the daughter's distracted heart. Such a character too, reflecting the noblest lights of the old religion, would have brought Christianity into fair contrast with Heathenism, and shown its superior inspirations of strength as of tenderness,—that the love of Christ dared more than the Stoic temper, and that the power to suffer for Christ's sake and the Gospel's was the strongest in the gentlest breast. As the Poem now stands, there is not one representative of Heathenism in whom we feel the slightest interest; for Cæcilius and Attilius have faith in nothing, and represent merely the kind affections which Nature implants in Jew, Gentile, and Christian. Christianity does not need such partial contrasts. It should have been brought into comparison with the purest and noblest form of the old Faith.
The subject of the Poem, however, though not eminently dramatic, is one calculated to afford scope for the introduction of the highest sentiments of our nature, ennobled and elevated into a divine energy by Christian faith,—and the author has availed herself with much power of these capabilities of her subject. Perpetua is brought before us, too much so indeed for dramatic effect, in the strength of perfected faith and resolution, and with the traces only of past conflict and suffering. Thus the terrors of the martyrdom which awaits her, and here the author has brought in the highest spirit of her art, make less impression upon our sympathy than the unblenching firmness and trusting quiet of soul, with which she drinks of the cup her Master drank of, and passes through the baptism he was baptized with. Her father is proud, ambitious, insolent, and selfish: his very love has interested objects. We learn from his own lips that he had compelled his daughter to submit to a marriage, to gratify his pride, at the expense of her peace and happiness. She had endured much, and in this martyrdom of her dearest affections, suffering some of life's bitterest griefs, and experiencing the utter insufficiency of her religion to bring comfort and support to her weary and heavy-laden spirit, we see that she would be the more easily led to embrace the consolations of Christ. Her husband is dead, and she is left with one child. She conceals from her father her conversion to Christianity. The discovery is made by Barac, a Jew, a sort of Shylock, who hates the Christians, and for some wrong or insult hates Vivius with even more than his Christian hatred, and takes a fiendish delight in torturing him with dark intimations of the terrible secret,
“ Those vipers that you hate—those Christian vipers,
Have crawld over the threshold of your house ;
Perpetua joins the Christians in their secret worship, and this Barac makes known the fact to Hilarianus the Præfect, and offers to conduct him to the cave where the worshippers are privately assembled. This Præfect is an indolent and sensual, but not cruel man, and Vivius, professing great indignation at his leniency towards the Christians, entertains ambitious projects to displace him. Nothing, however, affecting the fate of Perpetua, or the development of the drama, arises out of this disposition of characters and passions.
The first introduction of Perpetua is perhaps conceived more truly in the dramatic spirit than any other passage in the poem. A conflict of internal feelings is indicated, and expectation forcibly excited.
“ Vivia, alone.