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INQUIRY RESPECTING CHORAL
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. WITHOUT Saying whether I carry my admiration of choral worship quite so far as the writer of " A Visit to a Cathedral," I should be glad to learn from some of your correspendents when this form of service first commenced, and particularly whenthe practice of singing Psalms and other portions of Scripture alternately or by course, was introduced. Perhaps, also, they would inform me what it was in this usage that so greatly offended Bishop Burnet, who wishes "that our cathedrals should be regulated, especially as to that indecent way of singing prayers;" which regulation, he says, could be effected "without inconvenience."
I trust that your readers will not, from my proposing the above inquiry, conclude that I am unfriendly to the delightful and apostolically prescribed practice of " speaking to ourselves in Psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody and singing to the Lord in our hearts;" respecting which I concur with Hooker, that "there were more cause to fear lest the want thereof be a maim, than the use a blemish, to the service of God." So far indeed from having any such wish, I go with Hooker himself to the very height of his descant on music employed in the service of God, than which I scarcely know a passage more sublime in the English tongue. Take a specimen:
Touching musical harmony, whether by instrument or by voice, it being but of high and low in sounds a due proportionable disposition; such, notwithstanding, is the force thereof, and so pleasing effects it hath, in that very part of man which is most divine, that some have been thereby induced to think that the soul itself by nature is, or hath in it, harmony: a thing which delighteth all ages, and beseemeth all states; a thing as seasonable in grief CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 360.
as in joy as decent, being added unto actions of greatest weight and solemnity, as being used when men most sequester themselves from action. The reason hereof is an admirable facility which music hath to express and represent to the mind, more inwardly than any other sensible mean, the very standing, rising, and falling, the very steps and inflexions every way, the turns and varieties of all passions whereunto the mind is subject; yea, so to imitate them, that, whether it resemble unto us the same state wherein our minds already are, or a clean contrary, we are not more contentedly by the one confirmed, than changed and led away by the other. In harmony, the very image and character even of virtue and vice is perceived, the mind delighted with their resemblances, and brought by having them often iterated into a love of the things themselves. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony; than some, nothing more strong and potent unto good. And that there is such a difference of one kind from another, we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more inclined unto sorrow and heaviness, of some more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and settle us, another to move and stir our affections: there is that draweth to a marvellous, grave, and sober mediocrity; there is, also, that carrieth, as it were, into ecstacies, filling the mind with an heavenly joy, and, for the time, in a manner severing it from the body: so that, although we lay altogether aside the consideration of duty or matter, the very harmony of sounds being framed in due sort, and carried from the ear to the spiritual faculties of our souls, is, by a native puissance and efficacy, greatly available to bring to a perfect temper whatsoever is there troubled; apt as well to quicken the spirits as to allay that which is too eager; sovereign against 5 A
melancholy and despair; forcible to draw forth tears of devotion, if the mind be such as can yield them; able both to move and to moderate all affections. The Prophet David having, therefore, singular knowledge, not in poetry alone, but in music also, judged them both to be things most necessary for the house of God, and left behind him to that purpose a number of divinely endited poems, and was further the author of adding unto poetry melody in public prayer, melody both vocal and instrumental, for the raising up of men's hearts, and the sweetening of their affections towards God. In which considerations the church of Christ doth likewise, at the present day, retain it as an ornament to God's service, and an help to our own devotion."
If such be the powerful effect of music, why should it not be employed in all its potency in the public worship of God, and this to a much larger extent than it usually is in our parish churches? Perhaps some of your correspondents, in replying to my queries, may afford some useful suggestions on the subject.
same category; that we have no right to divide them; and that if we think wisdom, knowledge, or faith still necessary, no less so are the other Divine endowments. To this it is sometimes replied, that these gifts are of different classes, and that there are obvious reasons why some might be continued while others have been suspended; since wisdom, knowledge, and faith are needful at all times and in all places; while the others were requisite only in the infant state of the church. The distinction thus made appears to me solid; and I see nothing in it contrary to a just interpretation of Scripture, and the analogy of faith.
But admit that they are all to be dealt with alike, even on this interpretation they do not bear out the idea of the perpetual continuation of three ordinary and seven miraculous gifts; but rather that the wisdom, knowledge, and faith, here alluded to were miraculous as much as the other seven; and that the whole of the nine are discontinued. May it not be that this is the right interpretation; and that by wisdom, knowledge, and faith, were meant extraordinary and temporary manifestations, and not what we understand
ON THE LIMITATION OF THE GIFTS OF by those words in the ordinary course
THE SPIRIT TO TIME AND PLACE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I SHOULD feel interested in seeing from the pen of any of your correspondents who have Scripturally studied the subject, a calm reply to the inquiry, What limitation as to time or place is there in regard to all, or any, of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned by St. Paul 1 Cor. xii. 7-10? The gifts there specified are nine-fold; namely, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Those who advocate the opinion that miracles have never ceased in the church, and of late have been remarkably revived, contend that all these gifts are in the
of the Divine life in the soul of man? If so, the incongruity so often objected to of dividing these nine gifts vanishes; we confine them all to the early church, and this without in any way diminishing from those graces or endowments of the Holy Ghost which belong to all times and all places. May the infinite Author of truth guide us into a right knowledge and unshaken belief in a matter of so much moment-if, as it appears to us, it be of great moment-both as regards his glory and the building up of his church.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. THOSE of your readers who have ever followed the course of the Rhine, must have been struck with the remarkable phenomenon which presents itself at Bingen, where the waters of the Nahe fall into its channel. Down to that point, the Rhine has flowed in the purity of a mountain torrent from the Lake of Constance; while the Nahe comes loaded with the alluvial soil which it never has had leisure to deposit. At the point of junction the two streams, instead of blending together as portions of the same element, pursue their course separate and distinct; and, as far as the eye of the spectator can reach, he beholds the singular phenomenon of two different rivers flowing in the same channel.
The scene which the confluence of these mighty waters exhibits is no unapt representation of what is passing in the moral world; and the union of these rivers, so combined and yet so distinct, presents to the imagination a picture of that union which, as far as our eye extends, prevails over the stream of social existence. The turbid waters of the Nahe resemble the anxious polluted character of a worldly life. The clear blue waters of the Rhine, which seem to reflect the very tint of the sky that is above, represent the peace and purity of a religious course; and while we see these two streams flowing on together in the same channel, hurrying at the same rate towards their common depository, the ocean, we cannot but feel that it is thus that men of different shades of moral character are side by side hastening onwards to eternity.
But, to carry the resemblance farther, it so happens that each of these streams has its peculiar inhabitants; that the muddy Nahe has the carp and the eel, which love such turbid
waters, and fatten on the animalcules they contain; and that the transparent Rhine reveals the trout and char, that seek a purer stream. Now we may imagine that for a time these respective habitants may remain in perfect ignorance of the nature of the stream which is running parallel with their own; and that the carp and the eels of the one, shrouded in their muddy waters, may have no idea of the clear silvery stream which is so near them. We'r e may also imagine, that if any adventurous carp or erratic eel should wander from the dark medium in which he had been basking, and arrive at the confine of the other stream, he would be prodigiously displeased at the change in the element; and would hasten back to his shoal, exhibiting, in some way or other which would answer the end of language, his surprise at the discovery and his distaste at the change.
Now something like this is continually going on among men as well as among fishes. Down the channel of mortality two streams of society are flowing, not less distinct from each other in complexion and in character than these two rivers. Each of these streams likewise has its proper and indigenous tenants; and these, like the fishy tribes, are attached to the waters in which they live and find their nourishment and shelter. The streams are generally known by the designation of the Church and the World: I will not dwell, on the propriety of the appellations, but use them as expressive of the difference which they are intended to convey. Each of these streams also has its tenants. In the former are found those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; men who, under various denominations of religious pro fession, and considerable difference of religious feeling, are still agreed in the conviction that one thing is needful, and that without it they are lost. In the second, are found the various tribes who are occupied with
the pursuit of earthly things, to the exclusion and depreciation of those that are heavenly. An ignorant or careless spectator who sees the contents of a net which has been drawn over the united streams, may say that they are all fish; and in so saying he may speak truth: but a more intelligent observer will know that, though all may be fish, they are fish of very different kinds; so much so, that the one could not exist where the other delights and revels. In the same way, the politician may talk of men as men, and imagine there is an identity of tastes and character in all; but he who knows more, and looks deeper, will be conscious that there are species of men as distinct from each other, though living together, as the trout which plays on the surface, is from the eel which buries itself in the mud.
But as we supposed that now and then a straggling fish from the darker water approaches the limits of the clearer river, and returns horrified by what he has seen, so is it in the great stream of human society. A worldly minded man is occasionally led to take notice of what is passing in the purer stream which flows beside him; and when he does so, he usually betrays the same sort of agitation which a carp might be expected to shew, when suddenly plunged into spring water.
A case of this kind was lately noticed in your pages (see Christian Observer for October, p. 633). The Edinburgh Review, in one of its rambles, has been led, it seems, to notice what it courteously calls "the pretensions of the Evangelical class." Now whatever may be the feelings of any supposed member of this reprobated class as to the article in question, he cannot but consider it as a favourable omen for the world that our northern censor is constrained to notice such a class at all. For many years, writers of the stamp of the Edinburgh Reviewers scarcely condescended to imagine that there was such a class in existence; and this
notwithstanding it numbered in its list some of the most eminent scholars of the kingdom, many of the individuals most distinguished for public spirit, and a large proportion of the rising talent in the universities of England. For many years the existence of this class has appeared to escape the observation of the perspicacious northern critic; or if ever it happened to be alluded to, as it might chance to be by some facetious gentleman in his peregrinations from the Foundling to St. Paul's, it was in a tone of sneer, as if its members were as contemptible in their qualities as in their supposed number.
The case is, however, altered. This obnoxious class can no longer be overlooked. It may be said of them, as was said by the early apologists of the Christians, "We are of yesterday; yet we have filled the forums, the courts, the towns, and the villages;" and as the sophists in the time of the Antonines could no longer affect that well-bred ignorance on the subject, which Seneca or Tacitus maintained, so the Edinburgh Review is at last compelled to notice the existence of those on whom it has long been glad to shut its eyes, because it saw nothing in them that it loved. Well, I own I rejoice in the fact, and in the inference which it seems fair to deduce from it: Either the purer waters are predominating when the natives of the muddy stream are beginning to complain; or else the sordities which the latter stream was carrying along are beginning to subside: and either hypothesis would be delightful, if it could but be substantiated by the result.
The cause of the reviewer's deviation from his usual stern silence is stated to be the appearance of a pamphlet at Edinburgh, containing some remarks on theatrical amusements as inconsistent with the habits of religious society; and, though there does not appear any thing in the pamphlet calculated to excite peculiar indignation, the result has been a violent tirade on what the
reviewer is pleased to denominate "the pretensions of the Evangelical class." As to the gentle critic's statement of these pretensions, it would be unnecessary to trouble your readers with it. It is the mere repetition of that "trash," (I use this word emphatically, as I find it employed in West-Indian classics, to designate the dry, sapless, refuse mass left after the crushing of the sugar cane; all husk and no sweetness, and fit
First, can you garble well?
Flourish in compliments?
Cut up an author well?
The answers are honest, bold, and free;
Yet ere, little critic, you list with me,
Prate when you're ignorant?
The answers are honest, bold, and fair,
your pen in this gall, and my critic
only to be burned;) that trash, that Dip your pen in this gall, and a critic verbiage which is heard in every quarter, from St. James's to St. Giles's, whenever the character of this obnoxious class has been discussed. It exhibits the same ignorance of the subject, and the same hatred of the cause. It assumes all that the writer wishes to have supposed; and having made out a character for the religious world about as much resembling it as the effigy paraded before my window, while I am writing, resembles the original Guido Fawkes, the reviewer then proceeds with laudable fury, and "faggot and stake," to consign the object of his hatred to the bonfire he has kindled, and shouts over the auto-da-fe he has so nobly performed. Who is the critic, I know not; but his performance reminds me of a playful effusion attributed to the present Bishop of Llandaff some twenty years ago, at the time of his controversy with the Edinburgh Reviewers, who in allusion to Dr. Copleston's office of professor of poetry, had sarcastically closed their scurrilous attack upon him with,
I nunc et tecum versus meditare canoros.
The professor, if it were he, proved that he could meditate, not only " versus canoros," but verses of a humbler order, yet in their way not to be despised; for thus, in a parody on an old ballad, did he depict the mighty master of the Edinburgh Review enlisting some unfledged co-adjutor; I will not say the prototype of the writer whose "trash" has called forth my remarks. I quote from distant memory, and not perhaps
But to be serious, in a matter which requires seriousness; I think that I shall perform a more useful service to your readers, and to the community at large, if, instead of pausing to answer the reviewer's inuendos in detail, I endeavour to consider the subject which he has introduced, in the character of a Christian Observer, convinced that it is one which involves consequences of too much importance to be ever discussed without advantage.
That Scripture does authorize the idea, that there are two great classes under which all mankind must be arranged, is a fact too clear and too familiar to require any laboured proof. Even in the earliest ages of which any record exists, in those preceding the Deluge, the children of God and the children of men are named, as constituting distinct and separate classes in society. For a time the children of Israel continued typically, or in reality, to be the people of inheritance; when the Gospel broke down the distinctions of nations, and the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, the division was not lost sight of; the two streams were still traced as they emerged into