My Guided Life. By the Rev. J. Scott Lidgett, C.H., D.D. (Methuen, 10s. 6d.) Reviewed by the Rev. W. E. ORCHARD Dr. Scott Lidgett deserves to be called the "Grand Old Man" of Methodism, for he is now in his 82nd year and few of his denomination can have deservedly received so many honours: president of the Wesleyan Conference, and then first president of the united Methodist Church; important member of the old London School Board, and, because of his work for education, elected alderman of the L.C.C.; vice-chancellor of London University; given the D.D. by Aberdeen, Oxford and Edinburgh, and the C.H. by King George. Not less remarkable has been his output of work in such different spheres as being author of two theological works that have received wide recognition, The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement and The Fatherhood of God, and at the same time, head of the Bermondsey settlement.
The interest any Catholic might take in the career of such a public and respected person will not be gratified by any considerable revelation of the inner spirit of
Methodism. Dr. Lidgett's concern has been more with the practical affairs: the social application of Christianity and ecclesiastical statesmanship. But he will be glad to recognise how Dr. Lidgett's interest and experience in National Education caused him to take a different line from most Nonconformists, and so to recognise the justice and value of the claims of Catholics on behalf of their schools. His interest in Christian unity is marked by a similarly advanced position, for a free-churchman, though he can see no farther than a wide federation, to which he regrets that the Catholic Church will not contribute. His verdict on that refusal shows that his hopes could hardly have considered the position claimed by the Church, or, if so, that he regarded it as unwarranted and baseless. He is only amused at an incident which he takes to reveal Manning's suspicion of Newman. But speaking of the Malines "conversations," he says:
"On every ground it was well to ascertain whether the Roman Church had made any advance towards what we regard as true Catholicity since the Coun cil of Trent. Unfortunately, no such advance has yet been made. Had it been otherwise many other beneficial consequences would have been involved. Rome, however, to this day stands fast in its imperial intransigency, and thus bars the way to any world-wide reunion on a truly apostolic and evangelical basis."
If so wide-minded and sympathetic a man, one who, moreover, was acquainted with early Catholic theology, has no more power of recognising on what scriptural, historical and spiritual grounds the Catholic claims are based, it shows how much has yet to be done to persuade men not merely of good will but of fine Christian mind in this country.
It is easy to see in Methodism in general, and in this worthy representative of it in particular, how much has been lost by its intransigence about Catholicism—and if we can sum up that defeat in one word, it is complacency; but any concerned Catholic must also admit how much we lose when men of such single-hearted devotion stand apart from the Church in misunderstanding, and, therefore, in refusal to return where, nevertheless, there is held the very truth which though in isolation and therefore unbalanced and over-emphasised, they hold and prize.
An Augustine Synthesis. Arranged by Erich Przywara, S.J. Introduction by C. C. Martindale, S.J. (Sheed and Ward. 12/6. Pp. xvi. 496).
Many of our readers will remember the service rendered to Catholic letters by Messrs. Sheed and Ward a few years ago by their Newman Synthesis. That work was an abbreviated edition of Fr. Przywara's well-known book (in many volumes) of extracts from Newman. This Augustine Synthesis, incidentally a paragon of book-production, fulfils the same purpose for the works of the greatest Father of the Western Church.
There are two reasons, if no more, why we should all read this book. The first is that we are all the children of Augustine; no one other man has ever had anything like his influence on the formation and development of Catholic dogma. And the other is because the circumstances under which he lived and wrote are so similar to our own. He witnessed the death of the great civilisation which had ruled the world for some five centuries, and, humanly speaking, the only prospect was one of anarchy. And so, to-day, the governments of the world all seem more or less heading for disaster. In sua volunfade nostra pace; and we prefer any nostrum to that divine healing of our unrest.
Is it too much, in the event of a second edition, to ask for a subject-index? It is really indispensable to the full enjoyment of the book.
Fr. Martindale's introduction contains many good things, but is written in rather too "bright" a tone. De gustibus . . . .! A. T.