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except when the incumbent held other lucrative preferments, particularly sinecures. Even as the matter stands at present, our clergy, and even our bishops, are very frequently obliged to take up money the first year, on the security of their preferment; but sinking a whole year's rental, while they may not live to enjoy it a second, would be a very harsh measure.
The Bishop of London has introduced a Bill, which has passed the House of Lords, for amending the church-building Act of 1827. That Act authorizes the church-building commissioners (whose commission extends to July 1838) to give the right of nomination to any person,building a chapel, upon proof of a satisfactory endowment; and this, adds the Act, "notwithstanding no compensation shall be made to the minister of the parish in which the chapel is situate." Any alleged rights of the patron are not even alluded to by the framers of the Act; and we must presume the three estates of the realm which enacted it, considered that, while the incumbent and patron enjoy their own, they have no right to interfere with others; and that no man has, or ought to have, the liberty of preventing the building of churches wherever, or however, they are wanted. This Act, it is matter of notoriety, has, from the moment of its passing, been most ungrateful to some of the very individuals who were to put it into execution; and as their power was only permissive and not imperative, irresponsible and not judicial, they have thwarted every attempt to get churches opened under the Act. The causes of this proceeding have not been cleared up to the public. Some of them may have arisen from the brief wording of the Act, which did not give the commissioners authority to give any promise before a church was built; or to make various arrangements which they might concientiously consider desirable, before they consented to the opening of a new church; and particularly with regard to the allotment of a district to it, so as to secure the benefits of the pastoral care, as well as merely the public services of Divine worship. But the difficulties, we must think, might in most cases have been satisfactorily met by mutual arrangement, had the commissioners really wished to carry the Act in its present state into execution; which however, as a body, we are persuaded they did not. On the contrary, it is currently understood, that they thought it interfered too much with existing regula tions; that it was too lax in reference to the supposed rights of patronage; and, to speak plainly, what has been avowed in some high and influential quarters (though we do not mean that as a board the commissioners admitted the validity of such a reason, or that all its members, for we know the contrary, concurred in it), that the majority of churches built under his Act would be in the hands of what are
called the Evangelical clergy; and many an incumbent would preach sound and sober doctrine to the walls of his church, while his fanatical parishioners built themselves a chapel, and planted a hot-bed of Methodism in the very midst of his hitherto intact domain.
We do not say or think that the Act was sufficiently explicit, or that some fixed regulations are not necessary, in an Established Church, to prevent new chapels being erected in such a manner as to interfere with those parochial and pastoral arrangements which are so highly important, and which the proprietary chapel system does not secure. We could, therefore have been well content that the Act should be so amended as to comprise whatever necessary arrangements it had omitted, and especially to allow of the commissioners giving, and obliging them to give, either immediately or prospectively, a district to every new church; and, above all, to make their office judicial, and not arbitrary; laying down rules by which they were to act, and making it imperative upon them to adhere to them. But, instead of this, the new Bill is one of entire arbitrary power: the commissioners are to have a veto without being obliged to assign any reason; nay, each bishop is to have the same veto in his own diocese: the patron and incumbent also, one or both, are allowed by the bill to intrigue in the matter, and most probably to defeat the object; or should they even fail in dissuading the commissioners, after trying all their arts for that purpose, why then to turn round upon them, and to say, 'Well, then, we will build ourselves," but when, or how, is not specified. The Bill thus shackled is a mere nullity: worse than a nullity: a church may be built and opened, indeed, where the patron and incumbent and bishop and the board of commissioners all approve; but either the bishop or the commissioners may forbid it peremptorily, and the incumbent and patron will in most cases be able to do so indirectly. And thus, while not merely honest Dissent, but vice and ignorance, profligacy and infidelity, radicalism and blasphemy are pressing on every side, and chapels may be opened without delay or difficulty to propagate them, the Church of England is to be stinted and defrauded of the public means of grace by a party-spirited, narrow, sectarian bill like this! If the incumbent is captious or jealous, or the patron views the Church only as a milchcow for his benefit, or the bishop has a pique or prejudice against the person or doctrine of the clergyman to be presented, or the commissioners are over-persuaded by some intermeddler that the new chapel would be inexpedient, the people may perish in vice and ignorance, and live and die without entering the walls of a church or chapel. We are quite willing-nay, anxious that there should be proper regula
tions to prevent any possible evils that might arise in an established church from unlimited licence; but let the rules be known and defined; and let the incumbent, the patron, the bishop, and the commissioners be bound by them. Let nothing be left to caprice, arbitrary power, or party spirit. It is quite easy to lay down regulations as to those cases in which a new church shall be considered expedient. The compound ratio of the population and the distance from the present churches or chapels, would of itself furnish almost a sufficient criterion; and if the commissioners really wish to do the public service, and not to lord it over God's heritage, they will readily bind themselves down by fixed rules; with a power, in any cases which do not come within them, to act by mutual arrangement of all the parties concerned. We trust that the Clergy and the members of the House of Commons will watch over the future progress of the bill,
and prevent it passing into a law in its present shape-in any shape which shall add to that arbitrary, irresponsible power which, considering what human nature is, is already one of the worst evils in our church.
Lord Brougham's splendid bills for the correction of the abuses in Chancery are slowly passing the House of Lords, to the great satisfaction of the country, but with no small share of factious opposition from those who profit by the abuses, or who make these bills a handle for political warfare. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought in a bill for the abolition of the game laws, and allowing not only the sale of game, but also that every person may kill game on his own property. We earnestly trust this much-wanted and valuable measure will pass through Parliament in all its amplitude.
We have not a line left for foreign matters this month.
A COUNTRY RECTOR; B.; C. S.; W. D. C.; D. B. B. ; G. J.; A. H. H.; J. P. T. N. H. E.; A CONSTANT READER; A FRIEND OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE; D. M. P.; BEZALEEL; and 665; are under consideration.
One of our Correspondents will see that we have availed ourselves of his communication.
LITURGICUS (Jan. No. p. 13) wishes the reader to correct the misprint "at the eagle," to "before the eagle;" that is, as he had just stated, at the low desk, "between the porch and the altar," where the Litany is read.
We have seen the papers on miracles to which D. D. D. alludes, but we are so wearied (and we fear our readers also) with this neither pleasant nor very profitable controversy, that we feel unwilling to re-open the discussion. It is vain to hope to attempt to track folly and fanaticism to all their mazes, and other matters are pressing. We recommend D. D. D. to peruse an excellent pamphlet just published by the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel, shewing, on Scriptural grounds, that there is no warrant for the belief in the manifestation of miracles in the present era of the Christian dispensation. As to what our Correspondent says on another part of the subject, we may reply, in the words of another Correspondent, who does not concur with us that miracles have been withdrawn from the church, that, however this may be, "Miss Fancourt's case, even if fully established, differs infinitely (because it differs in kind) from those of the Apostles. It differs in this (all minor considerations dropped), that there was no commission given to him who was said to have wrought it. The Apostles knew when they were going to perform a miracle: they had received a commission to do it; that commission was communicated to their minds; and they had no more doubt or hesitation about the matter than we have in any of the ordinary affairs of life."
We continue to receive letters re-asserting the truth of the report that one of Mr. Fancourt's daughters, afflicted like her sister, recovered in an extraordinary manner; being carried helpless on her couch on board a vessel at Devonport, and restored to the use of her limbs very suddenly, in consequence of an alarm from a storm. On the other hand, Mr. Fancourt again states that there is not the slightest shadow of foundation for any such story; that it is altogether a fabrication; and he considers that those who have asserted it are bound to retract their statement. Mr. Fancourt's veracity is unimpeachable; and on his authority, conveyed through H. S. C. H., we contradicted the report in our January Number, and here the matter ought to rest.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
We regret that our exhausted limits do not allow of our introducing the following mass of Philanthropic and Religious Documents, with a summary of their contents. We can, however, confidently commit them to the diligence and discrimination of our readers. 1. British and Foreign Bible Society. | 4. Sunday-School Society for Ireland. 2. Anti-Slavery Reporter (No. 77). 5. Reformation Society. 3. London Hibernian Society.
6. Society for Observance of the Lord's Day.
RELIGIOUS & MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS.
For the Christian Observer. SKETCHES OF ORIGINAL SERMONS BY THE REV. ROBERT HALL.
(Continued from p. 183.)
Phil. ii. 5-8: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
FROM these words I shall, First, state and establish the doctrine, as to the character and dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is apparent from them; and, Secondly, consider the practical view for which the Apostle
I. In establishing the scriptural doctrine of our Lord's dignity, let us first weigh the force of the expressions here used, in connexion with the argument of the Apostle in
Many other passages ascribe attributes to Christ, and contain descriptions of his dignity and glory, as high as those in the text; but I am doubtful whether any other passage speaks of his pre-existent glory in a way so conclusive as this passage does. Other passages
• Delivered on Sunday, Nov. 12, 1826 CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 352.
contain similar statements, so far as the terms used are considered: they contain assertions of certain characters and attributes and names of Deity, and acts of power, belonging to Christ; but these assertions are not brought to support any particular argument, concluding in the manner which this does; they are not adduced to illustrate any particular disposition in the mind of the Saviour, which involves the necessity of his having been in a preexisting state of dignity and glory. And therefore, if any lower sense is attempted to be put on the separate terms, there is nothing in the argument of the passage which absolutely, and on the very face of it, forbids such an interpretation.
But if such a lower sense should
be attempted to be put on the words before us, so as to make Christ, for example, a mere creature; yet, unless that lower interpretation answer the obvious purpose of the Apostle in the argument, the solution would be utterly unsatisfactory. It is not sufficient to shew that the words themselves will bear the lower interpretation which is proposed; but it must be shewn that under such
lower interpretation the avowed end from a certain disposition of mind of the Apostle's argument, drawn in Christ, would be equally served.
Now the end of the Apostle's argument is to illustrate the nature andobligation of condescension. This appears from the context: "Let nothing be done through strife or 2 C
vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." The Apostle then proceeds to enforce these exhortations by the example of Christ: "Let this mind," this temper, this disposition of heart, "be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." And then he goes on to state those parts of the character and history of Christ which illustrate that condescending mind which he attributes to him.
Whatever interpretation, then, does not illustrate in some remarkable manner the condescension of Christ, the condescending disposition of his mind and acts, of his life and character, must be wholly inadmissible, because it will not support the Apostle's argument.
What, then, is condescension? It differs from humility. Humility is a virtue of constant obligation: condescension is a disposition to perform certain occasional acts, for certain purposes, beneath the usual course of our station and duties. Every man should be humble, and at all times, because it is only a just estimate of our own moral weakness and unworthiness; but every man should not always be in a state of condescension. Condescension has respect to two states of being: a state which any one possesses, and which he justly claims as his own; and a state to which he sinks, for certain defined purposes, and for a given time. The order of society is better preserved, generally, by each one keeping his own rank, but by performing occasional acts of condescension. The duty of the good man is to be always clothed with humility; but not always to be in a state of condescension, because this would be forsaking his rank and position. All that the virtue of condescension requires, or indeed admits of, is, that he should always be ready to do acts of condescension, when the duties of benevolence cannot be discharged without them; that he
should ever be willing to lay aside all regard to his station in the community, on certain occasions which call for it. For instance, it is not generally the duty of the rich and learned to attend in person the beds of the sick and dying. They may far better procure these attentions to their distressed fellow-creatures by the support of infirmaries and hospitals, and by remunerating such aids and such services when done by others. This is doing more good, and doing it in a better manner, than if done by themselves; because they may set many designs of good a-going, by munificence and encou ragement and advice, which they would not know how to accomplish themselves. But if on any particular occasion a rich man, however elevated in rank, should find a fellowcreature so oppressed by a sudden sickness, or by other accidental calamity, as to require immediate and personal aid, then it is the duty of the man of dignity and wealth not to consider for a moment the station which he ordinarily fills, but at once to condescend with joy to the state of the sufferer, to put himself on a level with him, and cheerfully undertake for his sake the most degrading offices.
Such was the condescension of the Saviour, such the disposition of his mind, in his incarnation, sufferings, and death: his abode here on earth was an occasional act of condescension. He continued, indeed, some years amongst us; but this was but the flight of a moment, compared with the eternity in which he dwelt before. It was a transient act. He did not abide here; it was not his natural home; particular circumstances required this occasional condescension. He had a mighty difficulty to meet. He had to relieve men from an abyss of misery and woe, into which they had sunk by apostasy from God. "He looked, and there was no man, and he wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteous
ness it sustained him." This act of condescension is consistent with all the views we can entertain of benevolence, as filling the Divine mind. Condescension must be voluntary. Many are hurried from a pinnacle of glory and power into an abyss of poverty and disgrace, whom we never think of praising for their condescension. The act, to be an act of a condescending mind, must be voluntary: the descent from one station to another must be intended, spontaneous, the effect of volition, choice, design. And that design must be proportionate, in some way, to the act performed in furtherance of it. It is not sufficient to find out, in the person and character of our Lord, circumstances which mark a descent from one station to another; but all must be spontaneous. Christ must appear to have been in a state in which he was not bound to undertake the act of mercy and descent. We must find in his history two stations: an elevated and grand state, and a low and mean one; a state which may be termed rich and glorious, and one which was poor and abased. And it must appear that he voluntarily descended from the one state to the other, for certain purposes of benevolence and grace.
After these remarks, let any one, first, look on the history of our Lord on the supposition of his being a mere man, like other men, as the Socinians assert; born in a mean state at Galilee; brought up in ob scurity; endowed with miraculous gifts; and receiving the Holy Ghost at his baptism, and there hearing the heavenly declaration, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He heals diseases; he raises the dead; he rises from obscurity to be the object of admiration and wonder; the multitude follow him with acclamations, saying, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosannah in the highest!" In the temple he acts as a sovereign, driving out the changers of money, and claiming the place as his Father's house. He speaks of
heaven as his home, and assigns mansions there to his followers. He claims God as his Father, and bids his disciples repose their full confidence in him.
Here, then, is no descent whatever in the history of Christ: on the contrary, all is a gradual emerging from original obscurity. The only circumstance of degradation is his death. But this was no such uncommon thing: many sovereigns have devoted themselves for the good of their country; and many founders of new religions have sealed their sincerity by martyrdom. Besides, the Apostle represents Christ's condescension as displayed chiefly before his death. The main circumstance in his condescension is-not that he, being a man, died, but-that he who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." This is his condescension, of which his death was only a subsequent part: "And, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
The Apostle here represents two states of Christ, long previous to the act of his death on the cross-an estate of glory and dignity, and an estate of depression and shame-and he supposes all to be well acquainted with these states, and to require no information about them: he takes them for granted. But if Christ was a mere man, there are no such two estates: a Jewish peasant bursts forth from obsurity to brightness. If we shut out his pre-existing and Divine nature, we have no elevation from which he descended.
Then observe, further, the force of the expressions here employed by the Apostle: "Who, being in the form of God, did not snatch at, covet, anxiously and eagerly retain, the appearance of God," (for such is the Unitarian version, which I here adopt: it sufficiently serves the argument, and may perhaps be fair