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Hoping, Sir, that some one will point out plainly whether there be any and what authority for such irregularities as are complained of,and, if no authority for them, who are the proper persons to prevent and abolish such variety of practice,-I remain, your obliged well wisher, A LAYMAN.
P.S. I am aware that the practice of deviating from the directions of the rubric in the administration of the Lord's supper is defended and justified on the ground that some bishops deviate from it in celebrating the rite of confirmation; but I do not feel satisfied that the example of any person can justify a breach of any order in the rubric.
SIR, I have great reason to be thankful to the Almighty Disposer of men's hearts for the proportion which those who attend the Lord's table bear to my congregation. I attribute this encouraging fact, in some degree, to the habit which I have for many years adopted, of allowing no opportunity whatever to escape me of pressing the performance of this duty from the pulpit. I am convinced that the incidental mention of this duty, when the subject-matter of the discourse will admit of it, in a few paragraphs of an ordinary discourse, has a far greater effect upon the minds of general hearers than a set quarterly or even monthly discourse upon the text, "Do this in remembrance of me;" or, "They all, with one consent, began to make ex
I frequently, moreover, read the second stirring Exhortation to the Communion; I take care, too, that it shall be mentioned in the afternoon and evening service of the Sunday preceding, as well as at my Wednesday-evening lecture; and, above all, I administer this holy sacrament on the first Sunday of each month, independently of the great festivals, which is as seldom, I think, as it should anywhere be administered. I have found another practice, also, attended with advantage, in leading those who absent themselves from the Lord's table, and separate from their brethren who feed on the banquet of this most heavenly food, to feel that they are depriving themselves of a blessed privilege, and guilty of a neglect of God's command. On the morning of the Lord's supper being administered, I leave the pulpit immediately after the ascription of glory, at the end of my sermon, without any prayer whatever. The clerk and people sing, as their usual custom is, one of the doxologies of glory to the Trinity; and, by the time this is ended, I have changed my gown for my surplice, and am standing at the altar, looking at the members of the congregation as they turn their backs upon the sacred elements. My own inward aspiration is," Will ye also go away!" Theirs, I doubt not, that it would be good for them to be there!
CONDITIONS OF SALVATION.
DEAR SIR,-It strikes me that many of our modern theologians are apt, unreasonably, to find fault with us, when we use the words "conditions of salvation," as applied to good works, and when we say that "a sincere though imperfect obedience is accepted under the new covenant for the sake of the Redeemer." For the data of some of these objections, it may not be amiss to call attention to the following extract from the works of one of the most enlightened and able writers, out of the church, which this age has produced. I do not suppose that Robert Hall will be accused of “ legality," "indistinct views of the gospel," &c., and yet the following is his description of the teaching of evangelical ministers :
"None lay more stress on the duties of a holy life, or urge with more constancy the necessity of their hearers shewing their faith by their works; and they are incessantly affirming, with St. James, that the former without the latter is dead, being alone. Though, in common with the inspired writers, they ascribe their transition from a state of death to a state of justification solely to faith in Christ previous to good works actually performed, yet they equally insist upon a performance of those works as the evidence of justifying faith, and, supposing life to be spared, as the indispensable condition of final happiness. The law, not altered in its requirements, (for what was once duty they conceive to be duty still,) but attempered in its sanctions to the circumstances of a fallen creature, they exhibit as the perpetual standard of rectitude, as the sceptre of majesty by which the Saviour rules his disciples. They conceive it to demand the same things, though not with the same rigour, under the gospel dispensation as before. The matter of duty they look upon as unalterable, and the only difference to be this: that whereas under the covenant of works the condition of life was sinless obedience, under the new covenant an obedience sincere and affectionate, though imperfect, is accepted, for the sake of the Redeemer. At the same time, they do not cease to maintain that the faith which they hold to be justifying comprehends in it the seminal principle of every virtue;-that if genuine, it will not fail to be fruitful;—and that a Christian has it in his power to shew his faith by his works,' and by no other means."
It will also be noticed that Hall asserts here, that true faith comprehends in it the seminal principle of every virtue, a statement which has also been vehemently objected to by rigid theologians of a certain school. May we hope that the authors of the "Two Memorials to the Christian Knowledge Society" (which are now, I see, advertised for sale,) will soberly consider whether they are not doing most serious mischief by such ultra statements as they have put forth in these productions? Let them object, as they justly may, to any ascription of "merit" to creature obedience, however sincere; but let them not discard the scriptural doctrine of reward, nor present that one-sided view of the great doctrine of justification by faith which, I fear, has too often had the effect of lulling men's conscience asleep, and standing in the way of that active diligence in God's service which, we know, is absolutely necessary to "make our calling and election sure." I am, Sir, yours very truly,
London, August 22, 1837.
SIR,-It will probably be one of the few things universally allowed by your readers, that dying-beds and sound doctrinal notions, as connected with them, are severally very serious things. Under this impression on my own part, I was much struck with the following paragraphs, extracted from the Standard of yesterday. The subject of them is the late Mr. John Lawless; designated in both instances alike as "Honest Jack."
1. The first is from the Morning Chronicle :—
"Mr. Lawless's 'ruling passion strong in death' was powerfully developed. He raised himself from his pillow, and, with his wonted animation, REPROBATED the conduct of the Middlesex electors toward Hume; at the same time expressing his firm conviction that the boys of Kilkenny' would do their duty. A friend who sat by his bed-side delicately hinted that other subjects ought to engross his attention, and inquired whether the reading of a prayer would be agreeable. Lawless thanked the gentleman, and while in this communion with his God he expired—
"No groan, no sigh, to speak his soul's release."
This, perhaps, is chiefly noticeable as a specimen of the religious taste of the ascendant ministerial journal.
2. The second is a much more serious affair; professing to be an authentic narrative. It is given in the shape of a letter to the Dublin Record, and has the date of 25, Cecil Street, Strand, August 9th, 1837, with the initials " G. W. R." subjoined by the editor (to whom the writer had given his name.) The letter is too long to quote entire, but the following is the important paragraph. Mr. Lawless's death was now close at hand :
"Mr. L. received the intimation with composure, and apparently with becoming resignation, and did not express any desire to send for a Roman-catholic clergyman, although the subject of religion had been forcibly brought under his consideration. Mr. Shee asked him if he would like him to read a passage or two from scripture, to which he readily assented. That is the protestant Bible from which you are reading,' said he. Mr. Shee said it was. Mr. Lawless said, 'It is very good.' And as Mr. Shee proceeded, Mr. L. paid the most profound attention, frequently saying, Yes, yes; beautiful! He turned to Mr. Alley, and told him to go to his desk, and he would find a Bible. Mr. Alley took up the book; it was the Book of Common Prayer! (sic) which he remarked to Mr. Lawless, who said, Yes, it is; and the best edition of it: it is mine.' He now began to sink apace. I was sent for, and instantly attended. I was only in time to witness the last effort of expiring nature. He died ten minutes before noon, on Tuesday, August 8th. Nor have I a single doubt upon my mind that he died relying on the alone merits of his Saviour's blood. The 12th and 13th verses of Rom. x. were read to him several times, and he pressed the hand of Mr. Alley, feebly saying, Yes, yes!' I examined the books upon his table, and singular to say, though there were five or six of a theological character, not one of them was of the Roman school. Paley's Natural Theology, Milton on the Trinity, the Book of Common Prayer, and Channing's Sermons. The last work is, I believe, in support of Socinian views."
It is not my object to offer comments, but simply to submit such statements of dying hours to calm reflection. Is this the protestantism that is to vanquish and supersede popery?
I am, Sir, yours respectfully, X.
OUR ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
DEAR SIR,-In several communications addressed to you, on subjects of practical importance in the ceremonies and discipline of the church, there has appeared, I think, sufficient proof that many of her members, both clerical and laical, are dissatisfied with the present state of our church government. Your pages have presented, from time to time, complaints on the administration of the sacraments, and the celebration of public worship, as well as on the "commissionery" and parliamentary interferences, which appear to have been witnessed by the church at large rather with silent astonishment than with any real approbation or contented acquiescence. If any portion of our brethren have watched with partial approval legislative efforts to improve and to strengthen any part of our system of church polity, what has their indignation become on hearing those ministerial "leaders" (?) in parliament, who have ever on their lips the boast of attachment to our church, declare, with one breath, that their own judgment and opinion were decisive on the beneficial tendency of measures which had been matured, and almost passed into the form of law; while, in the next breath, these measures were meanly and whiningly abandoned by the very same sworn guardians of the church, merely because the radical once M. P. for Middlesex, and the dissenting M. P. of Leeds, had announced their intention to oppose the passing of the said church bills into law! Such weakness and recklessness of legislators cannot but have disgusted every pious and sincere lover of our apostolic church, and brought every one, that considers unity of purpose in the governors and the governed to constitute the strength of a Christian church, to the conclusion, that the house of commons is utterly unfit to be trusted with legislative powers over the property, and the discipline, and the spiritual offices, of our
But if we cannot look up with anything like confidence to our parliaments for good ecclesiastical laws, nor to the ministers of the crown for that friendly patronage in the executive department, to what other support may we turn our expectation? If the ministers are either adverse to the church, or deem ecclesiastical as secondary and subservient to party considerations,-and if the temporal head of our church is so shackled and coerced by her own ministers that of herself she can do nothing either for or against us, what remains for the church to depend upon now in the days of hostility and conspiracy against her very existence ? Surely, Sir, some of your able correspondents will direct the attention and guide the efforts of your readers to accomplish something towards an amendment of this strange anomaly of the church's position, by which her laws are left without executive, and her society without any but dissenting, infidel and popish legislators. Surely some one among your learned contributors could inform us, without much trouble to himself, where ought to commence our reformation in these matters, and what are the actual lets and hindrances which retain so noble an array of saints as our church contains from asserting their rightful independence as a Christian society, and the church's title to manage her own resources, and distribute her own
officers over her territory, as best may suit the grand objects of conversion and salvation, for which she has been chartered and incorporated of old by Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
I will only add, that if you deem my request such as may be made known through the medium of your " Correspondence," and if any one of your talented correspondents shall be induced to treat the subject at length, he may be assured that he will greatly oblige many who wish, in knowledge and practice, as well as in profession and desire, to be everything implied in the designation of A SINCERE CHURCHMAN.
FOX'S BOOK OF MARTYRS.
SIR,-Being possessed of an old edition of Fox, I have been little solicitous to know how its recent editors accounted for that monstrous list of blunders which an acute correspondent of yours has detected. But, opening the advertisements of your July number this afternoon, I saw an attack upon him, and also a "specimen page." This specimen page I have been at pains to compare with my own edition. Several alterations occur in a passage impugning the efficacy of the mass to deliver souls from purgatory. The old text was, "Neither can you tell where to find it [i. e., the soul] when you go to mass, nor where you leave it when the mass is done; how then can you save the soul?" The new edition reads, "Neither can you tell where you find it when you go to mass, nor where you leave it when the mass is done; how then can you have the soul?" Can this new text be as Fox penned it? And even if so, is it sense? What do the editors mean by "having the soul"?
Again, on what authority is "Whitsunday even" substituted for "Whitsun-even"? The day meant is the seventh, not the first, of the
"St. Pulchri" is put for "S. Pulcher's." Is there such a saint as Pulcher? Is not S. Pulcher's an abbreviation, or a mistake, for Sepulchre's?
"Baily-arrant" for "Baily-errant." This spelling is surely both obsolete and inaccurate.
For " Wye," a large village near Ashford, the new edition reads inaccurately" Wey."
These, except the first, are trifling faults, but they occur in the new specimen page.
I find also an interesting particular of a graphic kind left out. "As he was brought to the town one night, there to be set in the stocks, it happened, as God would, that a young maid of his house coming by, and seeing her master, ran home and told her mistress."
Having entered on this subject, let us ask whether Senibalde, in Grostete's address, may not have been meant as a pun? [Canusini more.] Matthew Paris writes Senibalde, though he calls the pope Sinibaldus. I suppose, too, that Cave must have had some authority for calling the Bishop Groshead. At all events, the example of Matthew Paris justifies Fox's change of spelling. W.B.