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dent to do any thing, unless at Quebec; and therefore the Address from the clergy of Connecticut, which arrived here in December last, and that from the clergy of New York and New Jersey, which arrived in January, have not been presented to the King. But he hath been acquainted with the purport of them, and directed them to be postponed to a fitter time. ......
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. “And the sun was darkened :” signifying that the true light had disappeared; the Holy Spirit of God fled from the crucified body of our Lord and Savi. our Jesus Christ.
“ And the veil : ” something through which we see imperfectly is presented to us, as Emanuel, God with us; crucified for us; the holy, harmless, undefiled Jesus, "whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed;" poor words to express light and life. True Christians are nailed to the cross. Christ undertakes to save us his own way : the same, who crucified his own body, through the Spirit crucifies all flesh.
“Of the temple," signifies the body or temple of the Holy Ghost; the church, as it is to be perfected here on earth through suffering. Ask yourselves, Christians, when ye cry out, whether your sufferings were like his sufferings.
“ Was rent,"signifies was wounded for our transgression ; torn with nails, vile instruments used to crucify the body. This was done at the instigation of Caiaphas, the high priest (or type of Christ) that year. This type is to shew the difference of the Divine nature of Christ, and the fallen nature of man, called human nature.
“ In the midst,” signifies amongst the people of God. The Jews were a type of Christians of the present day, when members of the Protestant church suffer death on the scaffold or cross. This law is what God requires of all those who call themselves Christians, Christians are not aware, that the disciples, constituting the true church of God, are taught through their own necessities to say “forgive us our trespasses ;” and that part, “as we forgive them that trespass against us,” must be the prayer of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for who can forgive the sins or trespasses of the church, but God? Christ says, When ye pray, say, Our Father,” &c. When the Spirit prays
* The above fragment was sent us, with the peremptory endorsement, “ to be inserted in the next Number.” As we had not the slightest intention, after perusing it, of complying with this request, either in the present or any future Number; and almost doubted whether our correspondent was serious in his exposition, which we do not pretend to understand; we were about to lay it quietly aside, when it occurred to us that it might be as well to admit it : not, indeed, as a specimen of “expounding," but as an occasion for eliciting the thoughts of someof our valued and experienced correspondents upon that important subject. If by " expounding " be intended making clear things dark, and finding meanings that were never meant, the above is undoubtedly an instructive example of exposition. But if rightly to expound the word of God, be to give the true sense, and to ground upon it such useful inferences as naturally flow from it; can we justly call by that name such unstrung, inconsequential, and farfetched remarks, as are sometimes designated by the title of “ expounding?" It seems to be the opinion of some persons, that to expound Scripture is to find in it recondite meanings and mystic allusions; to unriddle, as it were,enigmas, and to decipher hieroglyphics. They take for granted that every word has two significations—its obvious and literal, and its hidden and spiritual; and that the effort of imagination by which the latter is discovered, or rather conjectured, is the illumination of the Holy Ghost, teaching to the renewed understanding what is not obvious to the natural mind. That the Holy Spirit teaches the believer, is true; and that without bis illumination the Scriptures are a blank as to
ON READING THE BURIAL SERVICE OVER SUICIDES.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. So much has been said, in your valuable miscellany, on Church Reform, and on the revision of our admirable Liturgy, that some apology is due for addressing you in reference to the latter ; but your pages are read by so many of the influential clergy, and the remarks which occasionally appear on church matters are so judicious and well-timed, that I am induced to trouble you with the following particulars of an affair which occurred in my own parish. I am somewhat anticipated by the remarks which appeared in the Christian Observer for January, in the case of the Rev. R. Taylor ; but the subject to which I refer is of so much importance, that it ought not to be lost sight of till something is done for vindicating the honour of religion, relieving the consciences of the clergy, and preventing the many evils which ensue from the present position of the question.
A young man of about twenty-two years of age, of respectability and attainments, but professing infidel principles, became attached to a young lady, with whom he was desirous of entering into a matrimonial engagement. His hopes being disappointed, he attempted, about two months ago, to destroy himself by swallowing a quantity of laudanum ; but the dose being too small to effect his purpose, he recovered, and in a short time regained his usual health. He again resumed his attentions, and at length went to the house of the young lady's parents, with a determination of receiving a final answer. He had prepared himself with a dose of poison sufficient, as he thought, to put an end to his existence : he asked for a pen and paper, with which he wrote two letters, expressive of his state of mind and of his resolution, and made his will. On being told that his visits must be discontinued, he left the house, bent on selfdestruction. He had not proceeded far when he swallowed the fatal potion, and was found the next morning in a senseless condition; but by the aid of medical skill and the stomach-pump he was once more restored
any valuable purpose, is true also; but that the discovery of fanciful analogies is His gift, is a most preposterous invention. The writer of the above inexplicable fragment affirms, that the statement of the inspired Evangelist, that “the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent,” actually “signifies," that is, was intended by the Holy Ghost to mean, the several matters which he mentions, each word being diverted from its ordinary sense; the sun not meaning the sun, nor the veil the veil, nor the temple the temple. And there are those who might imagine that there is something peculiarly sacred in this kind of discoursing; and the ignorant and the fanciful are led away by it, as if they had now discovered “the mind of the Spirit," which they had never discerned before. This is a great and deadly evil, and leads to much serious injury to truth and Scripture. Such a system of “expounding,” would make nonsense of the writings of any human author; and why should it be supposed to exhibit the meaning of the Bible? God intended his word to be clear and simple, and it is sacrilege to turn it into quibbles.
We forbear proceeding with our remarks, preferring that our correspondents, who are well able, should discuss the subject in detail. It well deserves their attentive consideration. Many years since, some of them animadverted upon various popular false expositions of texts; but the subject is by no means exhausted. The particular point however to which the present strain of remark leads us, is the distinction between fancifulness and spirituality, eccentricity and originality, absurd ingenuity and solid edification. A correspondent once complained in our pages, that a minister had expounded Isaiah xl. 20, á He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot,” as meaning that a man who feels his spiritual indigence, and is emptied of self-righteousness, will repair to the Saviour, as the tree of eternal life. The context shews at a glance the absurdity of the application. The Christian will find Christ in every part of the Bible ; but this is not finding Christ, but feigning him. Christ is truly found in a passage when its real meaning is given, even though there be no direct mention of his name ; for all Scripture testifies of him.
to reason; but only for a short period, for the poison had taken effect, and in a few hours he expired. An inquest was held over the body; and the jury returned a verdict of “ Died from the effects of poison administered by himself when in a state of temporary derangement.” The truth and propriety of this verdict I will not stop to question; though, when the deliberate manner in which the misguided and unhappy young man went to the fatal work is considered, I think they may very fairly be questioned. The jury having returned the verdict of “ temporary derangement,” I was of course, in despite of what the Rubric says to the contrary, called upon to bury the corpse. Every conscientious Churchman and Dissenter, who knew of the circumstances, kindly felt for me. To have refused to read the Service, would have been unwise; to have read the whole of it, would have been impious : I therefore read it (but with great pain), leaving out the prayer of thanksgiving to God for taking the deceased. For this omission, I admit, I ran great hazard; but what was I to do? I durst not express thankfulness to God for doing that which the departed did in defiance of the Divine command and will. It is lamentable that our Burial Service does not undergo some revision, or that clergymen are not allowed to exercise their discretion in reading it. For any clergyman to do so, or to alter or amend any part of it, is not at present admissible ; but it is greatly to be hoped that our ecclesiastical rulers will, before long, see the necessity of making some change in this otherwise most beautiful formulary; and thereby spare the feelings of the minister from being wounded, and his conscience outraged.
A CURATE *.
The desecration of the Burial Service over deliberate suicides has been a matter of urgent lamentation by thousands of conscientious clergymen. In our very first volume, more than thirty years ago, a clergyman complained bitterly of having been twice reduced tothe alternative of either violating his conscience by reading the Service, or transgressing his ecclesiastical vows by omitting a portion of it; and from that time to the present we have been constantly receiving letters on the subject. The question ought to be forthwith settled by due authority. The rubric is clear enough; it forbids reading the Service over any suicide ; and we think properly, at least as regards some portions of it; for though a lunatic is not morally responsible, and we may fülly believe his eternal safety, it is too much to thank God on occasion of his having put an end to his existence. Wheatley, and all the ritualists, consider the rubric decisive; but the practitioners in the ecclesiastical courts tell us that they are wrong; and that the coroner's warrant renders it imperative upon a clergyman to perform the whole of the usual service; and the courts, it is taken for granted, would act upon this principle : so that the client is usually recommended by his legal adviser not to risk a formal decision. We cannot perceive the soundness of such a principle; for the coroner's warrant is only a proof that the temporal authority has no hold upon the corpse ; but it does not, therefore, of necessity follow that the Church is obliged to give up her most solemn rules and regulations.
Might it not be well for three or four of those clergymen who have been painfully interested in the question, to confer together, and at once procure some member of the legislature to bring in a short explanatory bill of half a dozen lines, quoting the rubric, and setting at rest the doubts which have arisen as to its construction? This measure would be wholly unconnected with the general question of liturgical reform, as it would merely give to the Church a power which she claims, but which legal ingenuity has deprived her of. It would, however, we think, in many cases be better that the rubric should not be strictly acted upon, as to omitting the Service altogether, but that power should be given to leave out a part of it. This would reduce the service to the form in which it stands in the American Episcopal Prayer-book, which was the form recommended by the Commission of 1689, and which has proved perfectly satisfactory to all classes of our trans-Atlantic brethren. Such an alteration would, however, be a step in liturgical reform, and would involve the general principle; but the mere declaration that the rubric is still the law of the land would not have this consequence. If it be said that it is but one small matter not worth an express Act of Parliament, we can only reply that those on whose conscience it presses have not accounted it a small matter. The venerable Bishop Wilson, in a Charge delivered in 1715 to the clergy of Sodor and Man, spoke most earnestly on the subject. His remarks deserve serious attention. “A melancholy act,” said he, “which you have all heard of, obliges DEFENCE OF HUTCHINSONIANISM.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. An aged believer recognised in the headings of your last Number a friend to whom he had been under great obligations in his youth; and on whom, indeed, he has drawn through life, as he thinks, with considerable advantage to himself and others : he means, the Hutchinsonian Physico. Theology. The careful reader of Jones's Syllabus of the doctrine may discover a small spice of Arminianism, when he speaks of these principles turning scholars into Christians; but let that not deter him from proceeding, seeing that question does not form a prominent feature in this peculiar view of Revelation; for eminent believers on both sides have been Hutchinsonians. The Arminians holds as a condition, by which to attain, what the Calvinist considers a mean, through which to receive, the blessing.
The primary object with the Hutchinsonian writers, is to place sacred Scripture on its native eminence; possessing priority to all literary compositions; saying to every other book, "Stand by thyself: I am the true sayings of God.”
The infancy of any art or science is, in the nature of things, rude and imperfect ; and he would be looking for a rare thing indeed, who expected to find perfection in a first essay. Perhaps this will apply to every thing sublunary, but the Bible; the first, the best, and the most important book that ever was or ever will be written. The inspired historian says, “In the
me to require you to take notice of the rules we have set us. The rubrick before the office for Burial of the Dead expressly requires that office shall not be used for any that have laid violent hands upon themselves. The Church does not leave it to every clergyman to erpound this in a favourable sense, that such only are excluded from Christian burial, who with a sound mind spilled their own blood; for nobody ever did so. Nor did she subject her clergy to be governed by the verdicts of ignorant or prejudiced juries : but she designed to discourage such actions as much as may be ; that people under temptations of laying violent hands upon themselves may be more accustoined to go to their proper pastors, to lay open their fears and temptations, and to receive ghostly comfort and absolution, for want of which there are too many of these instances amongst us. Now, instead of making people afraid of hiding their griefs from their spiritual physicians, if we allow them Christian burial we really give them hopes to believe that it is no great matter what way men go out of the world. Nay, we encourage juries to bring in, it may be, unjust verdicts; as their verdict, it seems, encourages us to break the Church's express com. mands. One of the most able divines of the Church of England, Dr. Adams by name, whose book of self-murder is approved of by all that have read it, complains in most serious terms of this liberty of some clergymen, and fault of most juries."
" I should be very ill used,” continues the Bishop, “if what I have now said should be made use of to add further sorrow to the affliction of those that have sorrow enough for the late visitation they have had on this account. I have as compassionate a concern for the living, and am as far from passing a rash judgment upon the dead, as any of my brethren, but I would have us all to govern ourselves by the rules set us by the Church, and in doubtful cases to take advice; a thing which has been very imprudently overlooked in this late instance, which is such an irregularity as shall not be passed over so easily for the future."
In another Charge, the Bishop says, “ There is another affair very well worthy of our most serious consideration at this time. There have, since our last meeting, been several instances of persons dying drunk. You all know that the rubrick requires that the office for the Burial of the Dead shall not be used for any that lay violent hands upon themselves, which no question was designed to discourage self-murder. Whether this sin I have mentioned does not come under that denomination, is fit to be considered. I am sure, if I were desired to read the office on such an occasion, I could not do it, whatever should be the consequence, for reasons very obvious to any body who reads that office with attention.”
Now, if Bishop Wilson could not read the office over a person guilty of constructive sucide by “dying drunk," what shall be said of actual and deliberate suicide ? and is it not truly afflicting, that the courts should force the clergy to this alternative, against the very letter and spirit of the rubric?
beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We find him afterwards addressing his countrymen, “ Hear, O Israel: Jehovah thy God is one Jehovah.” It might be asked, Why was it not said that Jehovah created, &c. ? And it may be answered, that, while in modern language words are often arbitrary sounds, in the Hebrew they possess an appellative meaning. Jehovah, signifies to be, or I am: and the word which we translate God is a Hebrew noun plural, from the verb to swear, or take a solemn oath, by which a party enters into a covenant.
A word or two more on the same verse.—“The heavens.” This does not mean the abode of the blessed, but the material expanse, in which the planets perform a twofold revolution around the sun, or the fire at the centre. The word is from the verb to place, and is a noun plural, and may be rendered the placers. This expanse is a plenum, arising from the conflicting ethers that proceed from the fire at the centre ; and which, by laws given them by Him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, keep every thing in order and harmony. The word which we render “earth,” is a noun singular, from the verb to run round. The Hutchinsonians positively assert that nature will have no vacuum. As they have no desire to be wise above what is written, they know nothing of the other planets being inhabited, or of other suns and other systems, as poets and certain preachers have feigned.
The Rev. Samuel Pike, a Dissenting minister, in his Philosophia Sacra; and the above-mentioned Rev. William Jones of Nayland, in his First Principles of Natural Philosophy; have done much honour to the cause, and are thought by some Hutchinsonians to be incontrovertible. There have been writers before the time of Hutchinson, who have studied this peculiar significance of the Hebrew Scriptures. Dr. Smith, a pious and learned physician of the seventeenth century, wrote a book on anatomy from the xiïth of Ecclesiastes which he calls “ King Solomon's Portraiture of Old Age,” every word of which carries its own evidence with it. Hutchinsonians have endeavoured to correct a mistake in reference to Greek and Roman learning Classical students in general are too fastidious to admit that their far-famed historians and poets owe much, if any thing, to the Bible. It is to be feared that some superior men as scholars have still a misconception about the origin of language. From the low place the Bible used to hold in the colleges, prejudice will hardly allow them to think that language came into the world by inspiration, although it cannot be accounted for reasonably in any other manner. The farther the mind goes back into the infancy of the world, to find the period when such a labour was performed, the greater the difficulty will be found to determine the point upon natural principles. Experience teaches us that man is born only with a capacity to receive impressions from external objects, and that only up to a certain and early period of his history—for, that passed over, he appears incapable of being taught to reason, as in the case of Peter the Wild Boy, and the Savage of Avignon. Upon examining the early records of the world, it will be found that letters, and every thing that is important and valuable to man, as a fallen, rational, and accountable being, were derived from God's chosen people. Excepting Palestine, the earth was barren of literature, up to within about 600 years of the Christian era. Sanchoniathon, who is supposed to have lived about the time that Gideon judged Israel, is thought to be the first profane writer : the five Books of Moses, and Joshua, must of necessity have existed for ages before that. The translation of the Septuagint must have poured a flood of light upon the world. Plato says, that he, together with the rest of the Grecians, received their choicest traditions and learning from certain barbarians more ancient than themselves; but that they put them into better mode-that is, dressed them in the Greek fashion,