« VorigeDoorgaan »
to newness of life. The heart and
Because other communities affections are now expanded, and all increase, the Church of England bigotry against religious persons, as does not on that account lose ground. such, is removed. They now love all It is ours, in the simplicity of faith those who love the Lord Jesus ; they to sow the seed ; to the Lord our seek their society, and find it delight. God we must leave the increase ; ful to them. In this state of mind, and we may rest assured that the for want of that communion of saints Church of England, though she may which, though recognised in our lose all by the lukewarmness and increed, is too little thought of in our activity of her ministers, can never practice ; for want, further, of that be injured in her best interests by godly discipline and mutual watch their humble zeal and persevering ing of the faithful over each other, activity.
F. F. which are unhappily obsolete within our pale ; and from the neglect, also, of that affectionate intercourse which To the Editor of the Christian Observer. should subsist between the spiritual I fear that your correspondent pastor and his flock, and by which E. S.L. is too correct in his conjecture the most timid might be encouraged that the accession ofa pious and zealous to apply to him in all their doubts clergyman to a parish may indirectly, and difficulties; they are perhaps and for a time, increase the opponent led to form a connexion with the ranks of Dissent; especially where Methodists, or some other religious the parish had been pre-occupied by community
a very different kind of pastor, or The best remedy for the Church where a very different kind of pastor of England, under such discourage- succeeds after his departure. But I ments, I conceive to be the adoption doubt whether yourself or your readof a well-arranged system of lay- ers, especially your clerical and episagency, recommended by the copal readers, would venture to exBishop of Chester, and in other ju- plore with me the real origin of the evil. dicious and influential quarters, and That origin I must honestly assert to often urged in your own pages; par. be, the corruptions and secularization ticularly by B. C., in your Number of our whole practice—I do not say for last November. E.S.L. mentions our system, for the Church encouonly “the piety and pastoral activity rages no such system. A Dissenting of the clergyman," and omits “ the Congregation chooses for its pastor organized system of lay-agency.” one whom the members believe to be His remark, therefore, will only a man of God, anxious to save himstrengthen the advice of B. C., who self and those that hear him. This recommends the use of the latter in plan has many attendant evils, and addition to the former, to counteract I do not wish to see it generally in the effect of which he complains. operation in our own church; for
Yet, after all, even supposing that if private patronage is a bad thing, the zeal of a clergyman does for popular elections are usually a worse. a while tend indirectly to increase But the Dissenting plan at least sethe number of Dissenters ; is it not cures, generally speaking, what the better that a man should be a pious flock to be ministered to consider a Dissenter than an ignorant, worldly, true basis of piety, and a fair measure Churchman? If out of twenty per- of ministerial competency. But in sons, awakened from a state of spiri- our Church, thousands of boys are tual lethargy by means of a pious and educated for the priest's office for a active clergyman, nineteen were to morsel of bread. All our grammarbecome Dissenters; the Church would schools, scholarships, fellowships; the have more reason to rejoice in the sale, purchase, and pecuniary value one that remains, than in the whole of presentations and advowsons; the twenty in their former state of dark- permission of pluralities; the bait of
too large livings and splendid dig. for throwing overboard all the partial nities ;-all tend to force into the splendid baits that attract ambition Church a majority-1 say advisedly and avarice ; for making the Church a majority-of clergymen not su- a really spiritual and supremely benepremely attached to the office. They ficial institution ; and for giving to may be persons highly respectable in the public, without fear or favour or character and attainments, and act affection, without preference to this up to the average standard of clerical or that school or party or college, performance; but they are not men the most pious and zealous ministers who, at years of discretion, if all they can procure,—sound divines, other things had been equal—if there attached friends of the Church, and had been no bonus upon the Church; men anxious for the immortal interif they had not been trained for it; ests of the people. The difficulties and if they could have attained as in accomplishing such an object would respectable and influential a station be formidable ; but they would be in society, and rather superior ease nothing, compared with those which or emolument, without assuming the were arrayed against the Catholic sacred office—would have been im- Question, or the new Reform Bill. pelled to it by the whole current of Those who have lived upon the cortheir affections; have taken to it as ruptions of the Church; those who West did to painting, or Professor look to the perpetuation of them, for Lee to languages. There are not a the emolument of themselves, and few men in the land who would do their families, and children's children so, but the door is not open to them; —from the higher class of claimants, and many of them in consequence who would think it a gross injustice become Dissenting ministers. Now, if they could not always command a while the majority is constituted as mitre and a few splendid pluralities above alluded to, the inevitable con- and sinecures for their connexions sequence will be, that the spiritually- and dependants, to the lowest grasper minded minority will incidentally for corporation preferment, and the generate dissent; and this in the sordid trader in advowsons-would exact proportion in which they create stand aghast at such a second rewants which their brethren do not formation : and oh what predictions addict themselves to supply—in fact, would there be of ruin to church do not understand, and never made and state ! what complaints of robany part of their studies.
bery, spoliation, and sacrilege ! what The remedy for all this is obvious; contention for vested wrongs ! what but it is, I fear, too sweeping, too horror of mind, that a man of zeal “revolutionary,” too much opposed and learning and ability and piety, to the whole existing corrupt system without a friend, might chance to be of patronage, private interest, aca- provided for, and probably would be demical prejudice, secular partizan- provided for ; while an ecclesiastical ship, and churchmongering, to allow lounger, with a host of patrons at any hope of its speedy adoption. But his back, could not get beyond a we live in wonderful days; and the family living ! But all this would time may therefore possibly arrive, soon blow away, and the good would when an arch-prelate shall stand up remain to future ages. The great in the House of Lords, and state mass of the British public—all that is that himself and his brethren have sound, honest, intelligent, and relideliberately planned, and determined gious among us—would rise up as a to carry into effect, or to be crushed man in defence of the measure. The in the effort, a measure for the effec- bishops would be more popular, with tual regulation of the whole church: a good, a virtuous, and not ephefor giving to every parish a resident, meral popularity, than their seven fairly-remunerated clergyman ;. for predecessors of former days: the abolishing sinecures and pluralities; outcry against tithes and offerings Some persons
A REAL FRIEND TO THE CHURCH.
would be silenced, or would lead to stronger and clearer terms the very such regulations in favour of the doctrine which had been so offensive Church as would rejoice the hearts to his Jewish hearers. of all her faithful children ; the best To the same purpose may be cited welfare of the people, the real dignity John vii. 27, 28. and honour of the Church, and the present at the Feast of Tabernacles happiness and respectability of the make the following remark upon the clergy, be greatly enhanced; and, pretensions of Christ: “We know above all, the glory of God, and the this man whence he is; but when eternal interests of the souls of men, Christ cometh, no man knoweth be abundantly promoted. And is not whence he is.” This opinion may this a consummation to be wished ? have arisen from the words of Isaiah Is there no man who will devote (ix. 6); “ Unto us a Child is born... himself to secure it? One single and his name shall be called Wonderprelate, dedicating his life to the ob- ful, Counsellor;" or from a fixed ject, in a manner worthy of its mo- expectation that some appearances ment, might live to see it accom- of mystery must attend the advent plished.
of one so illustrious. But however this be, they were not prepared for a Christ sprung (as was commonly reputed) from mean parents in a dis
reputable village of Galilee. Now, ON THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL had these Jews, instead of listening
to their prepossessions, inquired into
the real circumstances of the case, To the Editor of the Christian Observer. they would have learned that Christ In your Number for September last was not, as they supposed, a native I laid before your readers some in- of Nazareth, and that his birth was stances of the simplicity with which truly attended with circumstances the Evangelists record the objections the most mysterious and supernatural. of our Lord's enemies, and then leave Now, had our Saviour been an orthem to their own merits, without dinary teacher, he must have perany attempt at reply or explanation. ceived that the safety of his cause The same characteristic appears in a was at stake, and would doubtless passage of St. John's sixth chapter. have taken care to provide a full, The Jews are, in ver. 42, represented clear, and elaborate answer to this as murmuring because Christ had cavil of his enemies; or, at least, if declared himself “ the Bread which St. John had been an ordinary writer, came down from heaven" “ Is not he would not have failed to have put this,” they ask, “ Jesus the Son of such an answer into the lips of his Joseph, whose father and mother we Master. It is difficult, on that supknow? How is it, then, that he saith, position, to discover for what reason I came down from heaven? Not he could have introduced this remark; the slightest confutation of this at- but, when inserted, to leave it untack is attempted, either by the Sa- answered, would be a proof of extreme viour or his biographer. He enters carelessness, if not of infatuation. It immediately upon an awful decla- is true, a careful and candid reader ration of the nature of that unbelief of the four Gospels might readily to which his opponents were en- extract from them a refutation of the slaved ; leaving his hearers to draw quibble ; but all, especially in those the inference, that no arguments, times of struggle and difficulty, were however clear, could have overcome not such readers. It was admitted, the perverseness of their will. With- on all hands, that Christ was the out any further notice of their cavil, reputed son of a carpenter of Nazahe then again “ takes up his parable” reth. St. John himself had given no of the " living Bread," expressing in relation of his wonderful conception,
or birth at Bethlehem : all informa- when considered abstractedly, seem tion on this point must be gleaned of little moment; but which unlearned from the writings of his brethren ; writers, who feel a vivid interest in and a reference to these was a cir- . their subject, would be likely to recumstance upon which the Evangelist cord. We are apt to attach a minute could scarcely venture to calculate. and familiar interest to things we Would it not, then, appear altogether have ourselves witnessed ; we relate incumbent upon him to remove the them in the simple order in which difficulty he had started, if we sup- they occur to our minds, without pose he trusted to any thing but the comment, often without connexion, miraculous evidence of his cause? or even apparent object. A writer Let us see, then, whether the answer who has any sinister design is differof Christ undertakes to confute this ently circumstanced. He will be Rabbinical cavil : “Ye both know anxious that every thing should conme, and ye know whence I am.” tribute to his main design; that These words, as they are here re- nothing should be lost; that there corded, appear ambiguous. It is true, should be no appearence of omission, the manner in which they were ut- inadvertency, or incoherence; that tered might have made them suffi- he should not be charged with an ciently intelligible to the Jews; but impertinent or needless remark. Let this was a circumstance which the this test be applied to a passage in Evangelist, in committing them to the xvth chapter of St. Mark. It writing, could scarcely have had in was the ordinary Roman custom for view. Commentators are rather di- criminals to bear their own crosses vided respecting the proper mode of to the place of execution. Furcifer explaining their import: Beza and became a term of the most extreme Camerarius suppose them ironical: ignominy. As the Redeemer was to Doddridge would throw the phrase drink to the very dregs the cup into an interrogative form : while which his Father had given him, and Whitby and Macknight seem to un- as he makes a remarkable and inderstand it literally. But there ap- structive allusion to " taking up the pears, in some degree, an intentional cross," it would appear most proambiguity in the words: it was bable that his biographers should doubtless one of those occasions on represent him in that degraded siwhich our Saviour did not choose to tuation. Nevertheless, without assign“ cast his pearls before swine,” by ing any reason, St. Mark, in the affording his enemies that light which, 21st verse of the chapter just cited without dispelling their prejudices, in which point he is also confirmed would aggravate their unbelief. But by Matthew and Luke), devolves this the point upon which I would more office upon another: not upon one of particularly insist is, that his reply the soldiers, not upon any prisoner, displays no solicitude to take off the nor inhabitant even, of Jerusalem, edge of the preceding objection. The but upon "one Simon, a Cyrenian, question between Christ and his who passed by, coming out of the enemies is fearlessly left to its own country.” Nor is it mentioned in merits. In short, if we consider the order to lend verisimilitude to the Evangelist as any thing but an in- story that he was known or suspected spired recorder of the truth, the to be a disciple of Christ. One parremark of the Jews becomes at once ticular, indeed, is added by St. Mark, unnecessary and inconvenient, the which, while calculated to draw the answer vague and unsatisfactory: attention of his readers to this peran untaught writer would never have son, seems yet nothing at all to his thought of either, an artful writer main purpose : this Simon, he tells would never have risked them.
us, was the father of Alexander There are many circumstances in and Rufus." Had he related that the lives of eminent individuals which, he was the son of such a one, there
would have been nothing surprising; long-expected Messiah. But, if I for this phrase is extremely common mistake not, the insignificance of in the Eastern languages, and also their question, though perhaps less in Greek ; but why add the names dignified, was more natural. They of his children ? Either they were were simple fishermen, unpractised in persons well known among the an- courtly phrase, or learned inquicient Christians, or otherwise. If reis; the appearance of Christ had they were well known, it must also heightened that impression of awe have been known whether Simon with which John's portrait had inhimself was really treated in the spired them; something more than manner here described : there is a curiosity induced them to follow tacit appeal to the knowledge which his steps, timidly, at some distance. he and his family possessed of the When, therefore, our Saviour unexdeath of Christ, and of the prodigies pectedly turned round and questioned by which it was accompanied and them, they were probably disconfollowed. From whence, then, could certed, and, suppressing their real this proceed, but from the boldness feelings, contented themselves with of conscious truth? But if Alex- simply asking, “ Where dwellest ander and Rufus were unknown, thou ?” Yet, in part from this inwhy introduce their names ? Such cident, apparently so trivial, resulted an allusion must then not only have (as we frequently experience in real appeared vain and impertinent, but life) consequences the most extensive must naturally have led to the ques
and momentous. tion, among contemporary persons, John xx. 2.-It would have reflectwho are these individuals spoken of ed more credit upon the first disciples as familiarly known in the church? of Christ, if Mary Magdalen, who we never heard of them. Hence was remarkable for her faith and would have arisen a suspicion little affection, had at this juncture discreditable to the Christian history. covered some suspicion of the truth Upon the whole, I cannot think that of the resurrection ; but if we exa writer anxious to produce rather amine further into the feelings of things probable than things true, the human breast, we shall find it would have entangled himself with natural that a powerful prejudice an allusion so apparently superfluous (especially one which interests the and inconvenient.
passions and imagination) should The following passages appear take such possession of ignorant characterized by marks no less de- minds as to sweep away or smother cisive of ingenuousness and plain the suggestions of reason and comdealing
mon-sense. Such a feeling becomes John i. 37, 38.-From the picture a partial madness, and imparts its which John the Baptist had drawn of colour to every object which is prethe Saviour, it is far from surprising sented to the understanding. Prethat the disciples here mentioned possessed with the idea that Christ should be inclined to follow him ; was about to assume his kingdom, but when Jesus turns round with and that he could not possibly subthe sudden question, “ What seek mit to death, they were thrown into
e?” we seem to expect that a more dismay and perplexity by his actual important answer will be returned crucifixion. The discourse of two than, “ Rabbi, where dwellest thou?” of their number on the road to EmAs these individuals are hereafter to maus, may express the state of their occupy a prominent place in the minds upon this interesting subject. history, most writers would have Their affection, indeed, for their been glad to put in their mouth some Master's person still subsisted, but confession of faith, some avowal of they entertained no hope of his retheir spiritual wants, or at least of appearance upon earth, and were ina desire to witness the glory of the clined to shut up their ears and un