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NEGLECT OF CONGREGATIONAL
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. YOUR Correspondent T. has opened the question, What is it that hinders our congregations from uniting in the psalmody of the church? The question is important; and your correspondent has certainly offered suggestions which may be of some use in accounting for the evils complained of. But he has omitted to notice that the same tameness which prevails in the singing is observable in the responses. Hence the cause which solves the phenomenon must be one which will apply in both instances; and I am inclined to think that the true cause is the prevalence of a popish feeling, that Divine service is a performance, and that the clergyman, the clerk, the organist, and the choir are the performers. The number of musical publications to which your correspondent refers proves that there is no remissness on the part of many persons in their attempts to counteract this apathy, so far as relates to the singing. But the grand remedy must be found in removing the cause. When one prayer in our Liturgy shall be offered, and heard, throughout the Church of England, there will be a new warmth introduced into all departments of our public service: "Endue thy ministers with righteousness, and make thy chosen people joyful!"
DOCTRINE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, and of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
ON THE SECOND ADVENT.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. "SECRET things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever." Struck with the force of this important declaration, while reflecting on the various and conflicting notions lately put forth by men of acknowledged CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 359.
piety in the Christian church, concerning the second advent of our Redeemer, it occurred to me that, if this were a doctrine of faith, it would be most clearly revealed by our Lord and his divinely inspired Apostles. It further occurred to me, that if it were truly the doctrine of the New Testament, I should find some traces of it in the Liturgy of our church; to which (being founded on the ancient Liturgies that were in use before the corruptions of Popery were introduced) I have been accustomed to refer, as a sound in. terpreter of holy writ. With this view I examined the New Testament and our Book of Common Prayer; and I now send you such passages as appear to me to bear on this question. The result to my mind has been most satisfactory; and the fact is, that both in the New Testament and in our Liturgy the second advent of Christ is clearly announced, together with the purpose for which he will so comenamely, finally to JUDGE the world at the last day.
First, I will copy, without note or comment, a few passages from the New Testament, asserting the second advent of Christ, for the final judg, ment of mankind.
I turn, in the first place, to the declarations of our Lord himself, which are such as the following:
The Son of Man shall come in the glory of the Father with his angels; and then shall HE reward every man according to his works" (Matt. xvi. 27). "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit down upon the throne of his glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats" (Matt. xxv. 31, 32). "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.....And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. The hour is coming, in the 4 Q
which all that are in the grave shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John v. 22, 27—29). "I go to prepare a place for you.... I will come again and receive you unto myself" (John xiv. 3, 28).
Such are the declarations of our Lord I now turn to those in the Apostolical Acts and Epistles :"This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts i. 11). "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God" (1 Thess. iv. 16). "Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things" (Acts iii. 21). It is He (Christ) which was ordained of God, to be the JUDGE of quick and dead" (Acts x. 42). "God hath appointed a day in which he will JUDGE the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts xvii. 31). "We shall all stand before the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST" (Rom. xiv. 10).
God shall JUDGE the secrets of men BY JESUS CHRIST" (Rom. ii. 16). "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death until he come" (1 Cor. xi. 26.) "We must all appear before the JUDGMENT-SEAT OF CHRIST, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. v. 10). "....At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" (1 Thess. iii 13). "....Jesus Christ, who shall JUDGE the quick and dead at his appearing" (2 Tim, iv. 1). ....The LORD, the righteous JUDGE" (2 Tim. iv. 8). ' ....That (i e. Jesus Christ) is ready to JUDGE the quick and the dead (1 Pet. iv. 5). The day of the Lord shall come, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (2 Pet. iii. 10). "....The LORD cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute JUDGMENT" (Jude 14, 15). ....Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him " (Rev. i. 7).
The doctrine of the Church of England, respecting the second advent of Christ, is strictly accordant to the above declarations of Scripture.
Te Deum.-"We believe that thou shalt come to be our JUDGE."
Apostles' Creed." He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty : from thence he shall come to JUDGE the quick and dead."
The (commonly called) Athanasian Creed." He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he shall come to JUDGE the quick and dead."
Collect for the First Sunday in Advent."....In the LAST DAY, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to JUDGE both the quick and dead."
Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent." O Lord Jesus Christ.... grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way....that AT THY SECOND COMING TO JUDGE THE WORLD, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight," &c.
Nicene Creed in the Communion Service.-" And He shall come again with glory, to JUDGE both the quick and the dead."
The Prayer of Consecration."Who (Jesus Christ) did institute, and in his Holy Gospel command to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until HIS COMING again.”
The Fourth of the Thirty-nine Articles." Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven; and there sitteth, UNTIL HE RETURN TO JUDGE ALL MEN AT THE LAST DAY."
Such is the unequivocal language
both of the New Testament and of our Liturgy and Articles; and from them it is clear that the only coming of Christ, which we have yet to expect, is that awful yet glorious advent when he "will come to judge the world in righteousness, and to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe."
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God" (2 Pet.iii. 11, 12). AN INQUIRER.
PHILOSOPHY OF SCRIPTURE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I AM much concerned to witness the flippant confidence with which some of my acquaintance, male and female, apply Old and New Testament prophecies and descriptions to the events of the present day; commenting upon a chapter of Daniel or Jeremiah, of Ezekiel or St. John the Divine, as if the prophet intended expressly to refer to the passing scenes of our own particular age and country. If I remonstrate against such a perversion of the sacred oracles, and shew,verse byverse, that the inspired writer was speaking of circumstances then occurring, or was prophesying of events long since past; the only reply I am favoured with is, that this is frittering away Scripture, for that there is not a shadow of doubt the prophet alluded to our own times, and that we are to construe his words literally without any scruple of locality or anachronism. Upon this principle a chapter of Jeremiah was recently explained from the pulpit, by a clergyman of the Church of England, as an express prophecy of the pestilence now raging on the continent, and advancing, it may be, to our own shores.
The evil effects of such misapplications of Holy Writ need not be recited, since they are too obvious
not to present themselves to every serious and reflecting mind. But what I wish to remark is, that in shunning fanciful interpretations the sober expounder of Scripture is far from frittering away any part of its sacred contents. He expounds first the literal application of a prophecy or narrative; he shews, also, what he believes to be its direct spiritual or mystical application, where he considers it has one; and then, in addition to this, he grasps what I may call the spirit, the moral, the philosophy of the passage; and on this he may dilate as pointedly as if he vouched for its express and intended adaptation. Thus he gains the intended instruction, while he shuns the misappropriation of making the inspired narrator or prophet speak of things to which his words have no reference. If a preacher should take a passage relative to God's national judgments, especially the pestilence, and point out for warning and exhortation its analogy to the circumstances of the present times, dwelling upon national sins, national warnings, national punishments, and the need of national repentance and turning to God, this would be the true scriptural philosophy of the passage; but to overlook all the local allusions, to pass by Israel and Judah, and to maintain that it was meant to apply to Great Britain and the Cholera Morbus, is a mode of interpretation utterly irrational, and calculated to bring the word of God into contempt. The accurate interpreter will endeavour to learn first the direct meaning and allusion of the inspired text; and this forbids not that he should also seize its spirit and apply it for the purposes of religious instruction; which even an ignorant man may do who knows nothing of the primary reference to matters of ancient history. The difference is between saying "The prophet had evidently an eye to the present times," and saying "His words apply, in their spirit, as much to our own times as to those in which he wrote." But this
difference involves the whole discrepancy between sound, sober, edifying interpretation, and rash and fanciful conjecture.
AN UNLEARNED STUDENT.
ONE OF THE CAUSES OF DISSENT.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. As a question has been discussed in your magazine with regard to the increase of Dissent, I may perhaps throw a single ray of light upon the subject, by simply stating the considerations that have more than once nearly tempted myself from the Establishment, and which I know to have made Dissenters of many under the same circumstances. As soon as I began to be really in earnest about religion, my first discouragement arose from the apparent solitariness of my situation. I longed for a friend at hand to whom I might unbosom myself upon the subject, and really felt as if I should have as much difficulty to find a Christian in London, as the philosopher had to discover an honest man in Athens. I wanted to unburden my conscience and to have my doubts and misgivings removed: I wanted encouragement and consolation, and above all guidance; and amidst these conflicting feelings I was as wretched as my worst enemy could have wished to see me. Still I never thought of the clergyman of the parish-I should as soon have thought of introducing myself to an Archbishop: indeed, I could not have spoken freely to any person whom I did not meet on equal terms. There appeared to be no sort of church-fellowship existing in the Establishment, or, at all events, no opportunity for a stranger like myself to obtain admittance. Even at church no person seemed to recognize a friend amidst the multitudes around him; and I felt as if I might saunter on alone in my dreary path, and perhaps not meet with a fellowtraveller till I reached my journey's
end. On the other hand, I knew that
Again, when I began to look upon myself as a mere cumberer of the ground, and to feel a strong desire to use in God's service the few talents with which he had intrusted me, I sought in vain in the church for any society with which I could act in concert, although I saw many schemes of usefulness open to me, in company with others, which I knew not how to set about as an individual. In the few instances in which I have seen any thing like lay-fellowship in the church, it has always struck me as being far too selectas bearing more resemblance to a small circleofacquaintance, in whichall must necessarily be of exactly the same caste, than to a society held together by the single tie of love to the Redeemer, and aiming at but one object
to advance the grand scheme of salvation by every means within their reach. At all events, I have seldom seen any encouragement held out to a stranger to join the society, who, perhaps, though earnestly desirous, and in every respect qualified
to lend a helping hand, is kept back solely by the fear of intruding himself among persons with whom he has no previous acquaintance, and from whom he cannot calculate with certainty upon a cordial welcome. Considerations like these, I am persuaded, are constantly drawing away from the Establishment persons otherwise attached to it, especially young men who have received their first impressions of religion in their parish church. Q.
ON THE DEATH-BED OF HUME THE
resumed, which the lady soon found to be regarding the state of mind persons were in at the prospect of death. One gentleman argued that a real Christian was more likely to view the approach of death with composure, than he who had looked upon religion as unworthy his notice. Another (an English gentleman) insisted that an infidel could look forward to his end with as much complacency and peace of mind as the best Christian in the land. This being denied by his opponent, he bade him consider the death of his countryman David Hume, who was an acknowledged infidel, and yet died not only happy and tranquil, but even spoke of his dissolution with a degree of gaiety and humour. The lady who had lately joined them, turned round to the last speaker and said, Sir, this is all you know about it: I could tell you another tale.' 'Madam,' replied the gentleman, I presume I have as good information as you can have on this subject, and I believe that what I have asserted regarding Mr. Hume has never before been called in question.' The lady continued; Sir, I was Mr. Hume's housekeeper 'for many years, and was with him in his last moments; and the mourning I now wear was a present from his relatives for my attention to him on his death-bed; and happy would I have been if I could have borne my testimony to the mistaken opinion that has gone abroad of his peaceful and composed end. I have, sir, never till this hour opened my mouth on this subject; but I think it a pity the world should be kept in the dark on so interesting a topic. It is true, sir, that, when Mr. Hume's friends were with him, he was cheerful, and seemed quite unconcerned about his approaching fate; nay, frequently spoke of it to them in a jocular and playful way; but when he was alone the scene was very different: he was any thing but composed; his "The conversation among the mental agitation was so great at passengers, which had been interrupt- times as to occasion his whole bed ed for a few minutes, was speedily to shake. He would not allow the
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I INCLOSE a passage relative to the death-bed of Hume the historian, which appeared many years ago in an Edinburgh newspaper, and which I am not aware was ever contradicted. Adam Smith's well known narrative of Hume's last hours has been often cited, to prove how calmly a philosophical infidel can die; but, if the inclosed account be correct, very different was the picture. I copy it as I find it, thinking it possible that some of your numerous readers may be able to cast some light upon the subject. If the facts alleged in the following statement are not authentic, they ought to be disproved before tradition is too remote; if authentic, they are of considerable importance on account of the irreligious use which has been made of the popular narrative; just as was the case in regard to the death-bed of Voltaire, which to this hour, in spite of well-proved facts, infidel writers maintain was calm and philosophical. The following is the story.―
"About the end of 1776, a few months after the historian's death, a respectable looking woman dressed in black came into the Haddington stage coach while passing through Edinburgh.