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reasons why he should withhold explanation, and refer them to their knowledge of his character to conclude that he acted rightly. But the chief object of the present remarks was to suggest one single point, which has been overlooked in the parable, and the notice of which obviates the only real difficulty. That difficulty is in reasoning from man to God, and from God to man. Man is in a degree accountable to his fellow-creatures, as a member of the human family, for the moral aspect of his actions: he cannot even appear to act capriciously without feeling that his neighbours, in proportion as they respect his character, naturally seek an explanation of his conduct; apparent moral incongruity would be a blot upon his public fame. But God is not accountable, either, so to speak, morally or legally; and the parable, if examined carefully, leads us to this very distinction, for it speaks of the "householder and of his steward," and what is said of the one does not apply to the other. Had the steward acted as his master acted, he would have been bound to explain to his master the cause of his seeming caprice, because he was dispensing the property of another; but the householder was dispensing his own. Now the above-mentioned objections tacitly substitute the steward for the householder. When the objector, speaking of the parable as a literal history, finds fault with the lord of the vineyard, it is from a feeling that he was morally, though not legally, accountable for his actions s; that not only ought an act to be right, but that it ought also to justifyitself to the popular sense; and this idea of accountability involves the notion of stewardship in the individual, and also that no man lives or dies to himself. But when we refer the parable to the Almighty, this idea does not apply, for he is not accountable: he is not a steward, but the householder: he has only to do what he himself
wills, for his will is not only the highest law, but the perfection of reason. The parable, therefore, so far fails; but it only fails as all finite similitudes must fail of setting forth the properties of the Infinite. We cannot think literally of a "householder" dispensing his property, without remembering that he is spiritually a steward to a Higher Power, and also a member of the human family; but God has over Him no master. The parable is thus only a proximate resemblance, for analogy cannot go fur
ther. The householder was not legally responsible: the inference is, that God is not morally so.
ON THE MOSAIC ACCOUNT OF THE
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
IN considering the first chapter of Genesis, an idea occurred to me, which, if found to be reasonable, might remove some of the difficul ties which are said to have arisen in attempting to reconcile the discoveries in modern geology with the Mosaic account of the creation. Not that I attach much importance count is much too brief and general to the objection; for the Mosaic acto be subject to the proof either of positive consistency or inconsistency with any system which may be inferred from geological discoveries; but I am not aware that sufficient attention has been given to it, and particularly to the second was without form and void, anddarkverse, where it is said, "the earth ness was upon the face of the deep." The Septuagint may be translated, "the earth was invisible and unfurnished." Both expressions appear to imply that the earth had a previous existence. It is true, the first verse says that "God created the heavens and the earth; but one of the days of the Mosaic creawe may suppose that it was not on
tion; for it is said, the heaven and the earth were created" in the beginning;" and this verse has not the invariable announcement of the heavenly day's works, as it may be called, "And God said."
Now, if it be admitted that the earth had a pre-existence, may it not have been inhabited by those tribes of animals whose remains have been discovered? And may it not have been overwhelmed by the waters of a flood, and have been made void? And may not the light of the sun have been darkened, and darkness cast upon the face of the deep? It may be said, that the creation of the sun was part of the work of the fourth day: but I cannot think that reasonable; for may we not suppose it was the revolution of the earth on its axis which divided the light from the darkness, and created even the first day? But if we admit that the sun (though, like the earth, it was originally created by God) had an existence previous to the Mosaic creation; when the Almighty command went forth "Let there be light," the sun was instantly illuminated; and the same Divine authority causing the earth to revolve on its axis, the light was divided from the darkness. And this does not appear to be inconsistent with the mention of the sun on the fourth day, when God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day from the night." If it be necessary that the sun should have been created on this day, it is equally necessary that the light should then, for the first time, be divided from the darkness, but indisputably that was performed on the first day; and why, therefore, may not the sun have been created on the first day? and then the work of the fourth day will be the appearance of a plurality of lights, when the moon was created, and they were appointed "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years;" the moon being then ordained to move round
the earth, and the earth to take its annual course round the sun. And in that case the sixteenth verse should be in a parenthesis, in which the creation of all the greater and lesser lights is recapitulated, as they were all necessary to complete the signs and the seasons, and so to perfect the Divine arrangements for the rule of the day and the night as to induce him to pronounce that it was good. And perhaps it is worth observing. that when God illumines the sun by his Divine word, and simply divides the light from the darkness, the fact is only stated; but when he completes his merciful arrangement of signs and seasons for the use and comfort of man, he pronounces it is good.
I would make only one remark more. God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the fruit tree yielding fruit;" and it is added, "And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed;" the waters, too, "brought forth the living creatures that have life, and the fowls that fly in the open firmament of heaven;" and God commanded the earth "to bring forth the living creature after his kind;" and it is added, "God created every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly," and God made the beast of the earth after his kind. We have here a regular gradation. In order to produce the vegetable tribes, the Divine Word merely endued the earth with the powers of vegetation: He also commanded the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures, and that the earth should bring forth the living creatures after his kind; but these were also created. Of man alone it is simply said, "God created man in his own image," after a Divine consultation, which determined that he should have dominion over the whole creation.
ON THE FORM FOR KING
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. IN these days of restless innovation, a man who is attached to the cause of religious and political order scarcely dares open his lips to propose the most innocent and necessary amendments, lest he should give countenance to the agents of misrule and destruction. I must, however, in the face of this observation, express the pain I have felt this month in performing the septennial task (for I speak of the -Sunday recurrence of the service) of reading the form of humiliation on the Martyrdom of Charles the First. Without entering into any political discussion as to the service itself, it appears quite clear that it has long since become obsolete, and that it can scarcely be read with proper feelings by the minister, or listened to with patience by the hearer. Unhappily, the service being specially directed to be read on Sunday, contrary to the usual habit for fast days, the clergy had this year no option but to use it. The language of the service was, to say the least, strong, even when it was first penned; but nearly two centuries after the event it becomes exaggerated, unnatural, and, to nine-tenths of the people, unintelligible. My farmers and labourers, I am sure, could make little of it, except that it was a service appointed by Lord Grey and Lord Brougham, about the rick burnings and machine breakings. I do not specify particular passages, but refer to the whole tenor of the office. Ought not the Privy Council to rescind the obligation to read this service, which does not rest upon Act of Parliament, or form any part of the Prayer-book, but is merely enjoined from reign to reign by an Act of Council. Many of the clergy omitted it this year of their own discretion, but they have no such discretion given them: others for
got it, or took for granted, without reference to the rubric, that, being a fast service, it was not to be used on Sundays: and one of my acquaintance pleads that he did not know that the order of council, which lapses with the reign in which it is given, had been renewed by his present Majesty. The feeling both of the clergy and laity is so strong on this subject, that the order ought not in future to be revived, and I trust will not. In acts of national humiliation, it is of the first importance that the public feeling shall go along with them, otherwise they are but a solemn mockery.
ON THE APPOINTMENT OF FAST
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
In reply to an inquiry which I have heard made among some of my clerical brethren, whether, in the event of the public authorities not instituting a day of fasting and humiliation, as many among us have desired, it would be proper for those of the clergy and laity who are anxious for the measure to fix publicly upon a day for that purpose among themselves, I request permission to refer my Reverend Brethren to the seventy-second Canon, which is quite explicit upon the question. The clergy differ widely in opinion respecting the proposed measure of a national fast at the present moment; but they must all, I should think, see the wisdom of the Church in the regulation to which I allude, and upon their oath of canonical submission they are bound to obey it. The canon enjoins, that "no minister or ministers shall, without the licence and direction of the bishop of the diocese first obtained and had, under his hand and seal, appoint or keep any solemn fasts, either publicly or in any private houses, other than such as by
law are, or by public authority shall be, appointed; nor shall be willingly present at any of them; under pain of suspension for the first fault, excommunication for the second, and deposition from the ministry for the third."
This canon does not, of course, interfere with acts of private humiliation; but most properly does it inhibit partial associations of clergymen, for a purpose which, however excellent in itself, the majority of their brethren, and the constituted authorities of their church, do not, under all the circumstances, consider well-timed or desirable. The question of a national fast at the present season may, probably, before these lines reach the eye of your readers, have been authoritatively settled; and I, for one, should rejoice to find it settled in the affirmative; but if not, the duty of those of the clergy who are anxious for the solemnity, is, I think, clear;—not to foment a spirit of division or disorder, in their promotion even of a good object; but in secret, without ostentation or invidious association, to humble themselves before God for the transgressions of the land, and to endeavour to stir up a kindred spirit among their flock;-a spirit far more likely to be attended with a blessing than disparaging their brethren or their rulers as insensible to the national sins, because they do not concur with them in this particular measure. Popular meetings and petitions to Parliament to effect a spiritual object, are apt, through a frailty of our nature, to degenerate into weapons of earthly mould, and to take a colouring of party spirit. Let us beware of this, and not seek, as it were, by clamour, to force our rulers, civil or ecclesiastical, into any measure the value of which depends on its religious character. This caution does not interfere with a proper degree of public excitement; but it comes in where the excitement would lead to the vio
lation of apostolical order, and cheerful submission for conscience sake to the powers that be.
CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION TO
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Ix endeavouring to reply to the request of Clericus Lancastriencis, in the latter part of his letter in your number for December, I shall not attempt to furnish the hymns and prayers which he 'solicits. hymns there exists such a variety, that a proper selection can hardly be a point of difficulty; and the constant use of the same, however excellent the choice, cannot be recommended. Let me not be thought to deviate from a regard to due order, if I recommend that the prayer be extemporaneous; sober however, serious, fervent, condensed, and connected with the instructions of the hour. It ought to be considered as discreditable to a clergyman not to have acquired some facility in such a habit, by use in his closet, his family, and at the bed-side of the sick. At all events, each clergyman who attempts the plan recommended by the Bishop of Chester may draw up a prayer suitable to his own circumstances, from which he may vary as he sees occasion. Incompetency to frame a suitable form, would argue little competency for the undertaking with which it is connected, and which is confessedly one of the most arduous, delicate, and important efforts of the ministry. If I should be wrong in my view, probably some other correspondent will supply the liturgical help requested.
Although I have had some, yet it has been so limited an experience, in this department of my work, that, had I not been encouraged by a more sufficient judgment than my own, I should not have solicited an appearance in your pages as a guide
to others, when I am conscious of having myself much to learn. I will arrange my remarks under two heads the formation of the classes, and the management of them-although it is only to the latter, strictly speaking, that your correspondent refers. The former, however, may suggest hints to those who have the plan yet to commence. In reference to the first point, the catechumens whom it is wished to assemble are unmarried young persons, between the ages of fourteen or fifteen, and twenty-five or twenty-six. The first difficulty, generally, will be to get them assembled once; to obtain a nucleus around which new accretions may form. If the difficulty exists, it may be possibly surmounted in this way. Let one or two individuals, of the highest class of such as can be expected to attend, and if possible of the age of twenty-four or twenty-five, be engaged first: younger lads and men will be more easily induced, and consider it honourable, to join a class composed of those just above them in age and station. The young women will be more easily assembled under the minister's wife or daughter, or any other female of piety, capacity, judgment, and zeal, whom he may select. It is of the first moment, that the classes of young men and women should be kept perfectly separate and distinct; and watchfulness on this head is indispensable. In collecting a class of young men, the only plan is by invitation, allurement, and interesting the minds of the few with whom the beginning is made. A drop of honey, as Mr. Bridges justly quotes in this connection, will catch more flies than a pint of vinegar. set out with giving the class the character of a privilege. I spoke to a few persons more immediately in connection with the young men, giving a sketch of my plan, and inviting any to attend who were desirous of availing themselves of the opportunity of gaining scriptural
knowledge. I requested that none would join the class reluctantly. In fact, I endeavoured to put the individuals assembled rather into the position of receiving, than of conferring, an obligation. A remark, which I made at the first time of the class meeting, "that I expected myself to derive great improvement from reading the Scriptures with them," produced very considerable effect. What was simply truth, was received as condescension, and I could perceive that their opinion of the importance of our employment was instantly raised.
The second point which I desire to notice is, the management of the classes. The first question will be, "When shall the classes meet?" In a large sphere, or in a public situation, the Sunday is preoccupied. In more retired positions, a part of that day may be most profitably appropriated to this labour of love and hope. There is in all cases, however, this advantage in the choice of an evening in the middle of the week, that it secures some recollection and impression of Divine truth amidst the active employments of life;-a circumstance well adapted to corroborate any impressions produced by the public labours of the Sabbath. bath. The time I have appropriated to the work is the Tuesday evening, from seven till a quarter past eight o'clock. An hour and a quarter I consider to be amply sufficient for the object. Interest in the employment is its life. The impression with which the class should separate, ought to be that of surprise that the time has passed so quickly and pleasantly. If the service be protracted to the point of weariness, no good is done, and the plan will fail. On this account I have no singing in my class of young men. In the female class, which is managed by one of my family, the singing, however, is introduced, and the service is in a slight degree prolonged. If the business is commenced with prayer,