« السابقةمتابعة »
E. W.-The church would be well enough, I | tion for her members; but suppose I am placed allow, if all the clergy really preached as it directs; in a parish where an unfaithful clergyman but many of them do not. I do not believe there is preaches, can I be wrong in such a case to sepaone in a hundred of them that preaches the pure rate from the church, and unite myself with some dissenting body.
J. D.-Even this would not justify your sepa
gospel..If such is your belief, Edward, it is plain that you are ready to believe any thing, how-ration. The unity of the church ought not to deever ridiculous or monstrous, which your new associates choose to tell you. Not one in a hundred of the established clergy preaches the pure gospel! Think, for a moment, Edward; and you will surely feel ashamed at having uttered so rash, and uncharitable, and slanderous an accusation. Consider what it would be necessary for you to do, fore you could with any show of justice or reason use such language as this. You must have heard all the ministers of our church preach: you must be fully competent to decide what is and what is not agreeable to God's word: you must be infallibly certain that your opinion is right, and that ninety-nine out of every hundred clergymen are wrong; that is, that out of twelve thousand, or more, well-educated men, who have solemnly devoted their time and talents to the service of their God, and have bound themselves by the most awful sanctions, to preach nothing but what is agreeable to the gospel of Christ, only one hundred and twenty are faithful to their pledges! All the rest are either too ignorant to understand, or too wicked to preach, the doctrines of the gospel!
pend on the worthiness, or to be broken by the unfitness of individual ministers. The bond which connects its members together is their belief that the things which our church has stated to be necessary to salvation have the warrant of holy scripture. These essential things cannot be be-changed by the want of faithfulness in some of her ministers, but are continually proclaimed as the principles which her members should embrace and ever hold fast, although false teachers, or even an an angel from heaven, should teach any other doctrine. Believing, then, that there is nothing in the prayer-book, the articles, and homilies of the church of England, which is contrary to the word of God, and that her rites and ceremonies not only promote decency and order, but also conduce to spiritual edification, by stirring up "the dull mind of man to the remembrance of his duty to God," her consistent members regard it no less a duty than a privilege to continue in her bosom. No institution, however excellent, could long endure, if it were to be judged, not according to its own intrinsic value, but according to the conduct of a few of its servants. In the common affairs of life you would pursue a very different course from the one which you are now following. For instance: you are a member of a club, or benefit-society, from which you receive, during sickness, a certain weekly allowance. Now, suppose the manager of the affairs of the society should be found very unfit for his office, would you think that a sufficient reason for withdrawing from so useful an institution? Would you and the other members separate from, and thus dissolve, a confessedly beneficial sobecause you found an individual, or even several individuals, not trustworthy?
E. W.-Why, really, James, I allow I went too far in what I said just now; though it is no more than I have heard some of the people, with whom I have lately associated, say over and over again. But don't you think there may be some clergymen who do not preach the gospel?
E. W. No, indeed; that would be very fool ish. We should turn the unfit person out of his office, and procure a suitable one in his place.
J.D.-Very possibly. As there was a Judas among the apostles of our blessed Saviour, we need not be surprised if some unfaithful persons creep into the portals of our holy and apostolic church. But this affords no ground for separation from the church. Her doctrines are still pure and scriptural, although some of her unworthy ininis-ciety, ters may strive to conceal or to pervert them. And, whatever such faithless servants may preach in the pulpit, they are not able to adulterate the evangelical purity of the liturgy, or to alter the language of the scriptures, which are publicly read in J. D.-Then why not act in the same way all our churches. So that, even under the un- with respect to the church? The church is a sohappy circumstances which you have imagined, ciety of professing Christians. If in that society the members of our church have still a faithful any persons be found whose conduct is very reguide in the bible, and also in the liturgy, to prehensible, would it not be far better to seek the direct them into the way of salvation. This is an reformation, or, if that were unattainable, the readvantage which you cannot have at the meeting-moval of such unfit persons from the office which house. If a dissenting teacher be ignorant, or unscriptural in his religious views, he may go on for years teaching false doctrines, and can read just as much or as little of the bible as may suit his purpose. He may thus lead his followers, as too many have done, to "deny the Lord that bought them"*.
É. W.-It would be unfair not to allow that the church of England provides the very best instruc
It is a well-established fact, that more than two hundred meeting-houses, which were founded by persons who firmly believed in the divinity of Christ, and held the doctrine of the atonement by his blood as the only ground of salvation, are now in the possession of Socinians or unitarians, as they call themselves. See the "Eclectic Review," Feb., 1832.
they held in the society, than that you, by withdrawing from communion and fellowship with the other members, should deprive yourself of the benefits and privileges of this venerable institution? Now you will find, on looking at the twenty-sixth article of our church, that provision is made for suspending or removing wicked minis ters: "It appertaineth to the discipline of the church that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those who have knowledge of their offences, and finally, being found guilty by just judgment, be deposed."
E. W.-That may be done in very bad cases. But there are some ministers who are not indeed immoral characters, and yet their lives are alto
a lion: "Sampson doth not disdain these sweets, because he finds them uncleanly laid. His diet was strict, and forbad him any thing that savoured of legal impurity; yet he eats the honey-comb out of the belly of a dead beast. Good may not be refused, because the means are accidentally evil. Honey is honey still, though in a dead lion. Those are less wise and more scrupulous than Sampson which abhor the graces of God because they find them in ill vessels. One cares not for the preacher's doctrine, because his life is evil. Another will not take a good recipe from the hand of a physician, because he is given to unlawful studies. A third will not receive a deserved contribution from the hands of a usurer. It is a weak neglect not to take the honey, because we hate the lion. God's children have a right to their Father's blessings, wheresoever they find them."
gether unsuited to their holy calling. In the church perhaps they discharge their office decently and orderly, and do not preach false doctrines; but out of it they live as if the world and its pleasures were their chief object. What good can I expect from sitting under such a minister? J. D.-It is far from my intention to defend those ministers whose life and conversation are at variance with their sacred profession. Nothing so much tends to bring religion itself into disrepute as indifference or worldly-mindedness in those who are appointed to minister in holy things. It occasions the deepest sorrow to every real Christian. It discourages the weak and wavering, who cannot distinguish between the unworthiness of the messenger and the value of his message; and it confirms the infidel and the scoffer in their fatal prejudices against the truth. Few ministers, however, it is to be hoped, are so very forgetful of the solemn vows which they made E. W.-Why, really, James, this puts the at their ordination. And there is every reason to matter in a very different light to any in which I believe that the number of such faithless servants had ever viewed it. This thought never entered of the sanctuary is fast diminishing. For such my mind about the great truths which we conduct is universally discountenanced. Even taught in the prayers, psalms, epistle and gospel, those persons, who are not very scrupulous as to and the two lessons from the holy scriptures. their own conduct, often plainly express their dis- How often have I heard these read without conapprobation_and_contempt of such inconsistent sidering what they were teaching me! I am afraid ministers. But, I repeat, the unworthiness of a that the most important part of the service was minister is no just cause of separation from the generally neglected by me, because I was thinkchurch. It is a mistake to suppose that no gooding chiefly of the sermon which was to follow. can be received from the ministrations of clergyman whom we may consider insincere or inconsistent. God can, and often does, produce good out of evil. He may, therefore, even by very unlikely instruments, promote his own work, and advance the best interests of men. The evil conduct of unworthy ministers brings a heavy load of guilt upon themselves; but their flock, who come to the house of God with a hearty desire to serve him truly, will not be involved in the punishment of the unfaithful shepherd.
E. W.-And yet it is said, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch."
J. D.-And by this negligent and sinful conduct you deprived yourself of all benefit from either the liturgy or the sermon. But I was endeavouring to show you that, if a clergyman's preaching in the pulpit should not be so clear and scriptural as is desirable, the flock would not be left without suitable instruction. The people would still hear the gospel; would have "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, of divine truth, during the reading of the appointed service. At the beginning of the morning and evening services of our church, we are told that the scriptures admonish us "to acknowledge J. D.-That is true. And were the clergy of and confess our manifold sins." We are exhorted the church of England left entirely to their own to "confess them with an humble, lowly, peniresources and discretion, as all dissenting teachers tent, and obedient heart;" and, after beseechare, the flock, in some cases, might be in dangering the congregation to join in his supplications of perishing for want of wholesome food. But at the throne of grace, not only with their lips, the case is far different in our church. The way but with a pure and sincere heart, the minister of salvation is so plainly pointed out in our repeats a confession well suited to every class of liturgy alone, that he that runneth may read and persons. In this confession the minister and peounderstand. I trust that this may, without irre- ple declare that they have committed many sins, verence, be said of it, since it is composed almost and left undone many duties. They confess that entirely of scriptural language and expressions."there is no health"-that is, spiritual health— However inconsistent, then, a clergyman may be in other respects, he must be consistent during the greater part of his public ministrations. He is obliged to proclaim to all his hearers the vital truths of religion. He must tell them of their corrupt nature, their helplessness, their need of faith and repentance. He must repeatedly direct their attention to Jesus Christ, as the "only name given among men by which they can be saved." We should bear this in mind when we are disposed to think about the unworthiness of the minister. We should endeavour to forget the earthen vessel, and to look at the treasure of which it is made the bearer. As the eminent and holy bishop Hall observes, in allusion to the honey-comb that Sampson found in the carcass of
in them; and they beg for mercy in the name of Jesus Christ, through whom the promise of pardon and salvation was declared to penitent and believing sinners.
E. W.-How little have I thought of the meaning of this confession when I have heard it repeated by the minister! Instead of kneeling down, as the church directs, and joining in this confession both with my lips and with my heart, I used to sit down, and sometimes repeated carelessly the words, and sometimes neither opened my lips, nor thought about the matter, as if this humble acknowledgment were no concern of mine.
J. D.-Alas! multitudes act in the same thoughtless and offensive manner, as is too plain to be seen from their irreverent habit of sitting
honour him either with their bodies or their minds,
J. D.-It is a sad proof of man's fallen condition, that he should ever be ashamed of doing homage, even in the lowest attitude, to his Creator; and it would be well if men would bear in mind, that they, who are ashamed to seek the pardon of their sins through Jesus Christ, by an humble confession, must not expect to be acknowledged as his servants at the great day of account. If pride be the cause why any persons will not kneel down and join in this solemn confession, let them remember that the time is fast approaching "when the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low; for the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low" (Isa. ii. 11, 12). But, in order to shew you how strictly scriptural is the direction of our church respecting the posture in which prayer should be made, I will read to you a few verses from the bible: "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Ps. xcv. 6). When Solomon prayed at the consecration of the temple which had just been completed, he "kneeled
down, and looking quite unconcerned during the
upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven" (2 Chron. vi. 13). This was also the posture used by Daniel. He was neither afraid nor ashamed of openly paying homage to his God, and praying to him in the lowliest attitude; for it is stated that, "his window being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" (Dan. vi. 10). "I fell upon my knees," says Ezra, "and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens" (Ezra ix. 5, 6). Even our blessed Saviour, though God as well as man, used the same humble posture when he prayed: he "kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke xxii. 41, 42). Stephen, when praying with his dying breath on behalf of his murderers, fell upon his knees before God: "He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts vii. 60). St. Paul used the same humble and reverential posture during prayer: he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all". And in another place it is recorded: "We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed" (Acts xx. 36; xxi. 5). These quotations are sufficient to show what was the posture used by the servants of God during prayer from the earliest times; and, unless we endeavour to tread in their steps, and to worship God in a lowly and reverential manner, us not expect that we shall "obtain anything of
the Lord." The state of the heart is, indeed, the chief thing to be regarded; but external reverence ought by no means to be neglected. And he, who refuses to follow the example of the patriarchs and prophets, and apostles, and even of the Lord himself, under the plea that this is a matter of no consequence, has reason to fear lest his heart be not right before God. Sitting down during prayer has certainly an appearance of familiarity and irreverence; and we are commanded to abstain from every appearance of evil.
E. W.-I am quite convinced, James, that this is a most unbecoming habit, and highly offensive to God. Had I tried more to correct my own fault with regard to this very thing, as well as my many deficiencies in other respects, instead of seeking blemishes in the church, I should have become a more consistent character. I will not plead ignorance in this matter; for ignorance which arises from inattention or indifference can hardly be excusable. Had I paid due attention to the directions given in the prayer-book respecting this point, I could hardly have been guilty of so unseemly a practice; and I trust that the conversation I have had with you this evening will be a means of curing me of so irreverent a habit. Before I wish you good night, James, I should like to hear your opinion of the absolution which is pronounced by the minister immediately after the general confession. Do you not think that there is something popish and unscriptural in this absolution, as it seems to teach that the clergyman can forgive sins?
J. D.-If you examine this part of the liturgy, and carefully compare it with the bible, you will find that it is quite agreeable to the word of God; and therefore it is of no consequence to us what the adversaries of the church say concerning it. It is merely a declaration that God-not the minister-"pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel." The clergy of our church do not claim the power of forgiving sins: that power they know and acknowledge belongs to God alone; but, as ambassadors of Christ, they are authorized to declare, in the name of their divine Master, that all who truly repent are absolved from their sins. This is quite in accordance with scripture: Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts iii. 19). "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts x. 43). "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin....If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John i. 7-9).
E. W.-What a pity it is that people do not seek for some explanation of any part of the liturgy to which they object before they condemn it! I have heard dissenters speak so often against this form of absolution, that I began to think it must be a remnant of popery; but I am now satisfied that it is quite agreeable to the word of God. I now also see how careful the church is to guard her children against erroneous notions respecting remission of sins, by declaring that pardon is extended only to those who "truly repent and unfeignedly believe the gospel." I have a few other questions to ask; but as it is getting late I will
A BENEVOLENT mind cannot find a more agreeable object of contemplation than the character of a man whose life is spent in acts of public and private good, done without any view to worldly Foreigners, who visit advantage or to fame. our country to study the character of its inhabitants, are struck with nothing so much as with the vast quantity of money, labour, and time, which are voluntarily bestowed on works of public charity and utility, by persons who reup no other advantage from thus contributing to the good of others than the consciousness of discharging a high Christian, or moral, or social duty. It may be a question, whether the frequency of such examples has not led to their being overlooked amongst ourselves, and to their real merit not being duly estimated. Be that as it may, we feel no hesitation in asserting that there have been, and are in every county, and in almost every parish of this our noble country, persons freely devoting the leisure, the substance, and the talents with which their Creator has blessed them, to the good of others, who can make no return for the advantages so imparted to them.
The "Man of Ross" has been immortalized by our great poet, Pope; but the lines which record his praise do not communicate enough. They are a sort of a riddle, enumerating works great and expensive, which they conclude by informing us were all executed with an income of five hundred pounds a-year. A reader, who should seek to understand the merits of the Man of Ross by Pope's praise, would be apt, when he arrived at the end, to "give it up." We propose, therefore, to present a solution of the puzzle. ample information be desired, it may be found in Mr. Fosbrooke's elegant and entertaining volume, the "Ariconensia," which is our authority for many of the following details.
John Kyrle was descended from a highlyrespectable family, and was born in the parish of Dymock, in Gloucestershire, on his father's estate. His grandfather married a sister of Waller, the poet, whose mother was sister of John Hampden. He was a gentleman-commoner of Baliol college, Oxford, to which he presented a handsome silver tankard on his admission. His father had purchased a house and a few pieces of land at Ross; and here Mr. Kyrle chose to reside, adding to his property by repeated purchases, made after his fallages in Dymock Wood.
The title of "The Man of Ross" was given to him by a country friend, in his life-time; and Mr. Kyrle was highly-pleased with the appellation, because it conveyed a notion of plain honest dealing, and unaffected hospitality." The principal addition to his landed property was an estate, called the Cleve, consisting of fields that
* Extracted from "Chronicles of the Seasons.”
extend along the left bank of the river, but raised considerably above its level. Along the skirts of these fields, Mr. Kyrle made a public walk, which still bears his name: he planted it with elms, and continued the plantation down the steep sides of the bank, which overhang the graceful ever-winding Wye. It is to this plantation that Pope alludes in the line
"Who hung with woods the mountain's sultry brow ;" but the poet indulged in a bold licence when he gave the title of "mountain" to the Cleveland bank, or conceived that the well-wooded hill of Penyard, which forms a remarkable back-ground to the landscape, was part of Mr. Kyrle's property, which it never was.
ornamenting, the "Man of Ross" was wont to go forth, with his spade on his shoulder, and a wooden bottle of liquor in his hand, assisted by two or three, or sometimes more workmen, according to the task to be performed. The bottle served his fellow-labourers as well as himself. On one occasion, his companion so thoroughly enjoyed the draught, that he did not part with the bottle from his head till the last drop was drained. In vain did the Man of Ross call aloud to him to stop his draught: the workman's thirst was too intense to listen. When he had done, Mr. Kyrle said: "John, why did not you stop when I called to you?" "Why, sir," said the man, "don't you know that people can never hear when they are drinking?" The next time Mr. Kyrle applied the bottle to his head, the man placed himself opposite to him, and opened his mouth as if bawl
Mr. Kyrle's income has been pretty accurately stated at 500l. a-year. His favourite occupations were building and planting, in which his skilling aloud, tiil Kyrle had finished. The draught and taste were as freely exerted for the benefit of his friends as on his own improvements: he frequently planned and superintended architectural works for persons who gladly availed themselves of his skill and taste.
While improving his own property, he added to the beauties of his favourite spot, and freely imparted to his townsmen the advantages which he had provided for the enjoyment of the lovely scenery upon him,
The churchyard was planted with elms by Kyrle; and a gate was erected by him leading to a field, called "The Prospect," from its commanding a noble view of the rich scenery of the Wye. In times when the art of conveying water by pipes, for the accommodation of all the dwellers in a town, was yet in its infancy, a great benefit was conferred on the inhabitants of Ross by the skill and enterprise of Mr. Kyrle, who made in this field an oval basin of consider able extent, lined it with brick, and paved it with stone, and caused the water to be forced into it by an engine from the river, and conveyed by underground pipes to the public cocks in the streets. When a more effectual mode of supply was introduced, the use of the fountain was abandoned, and the basin was filled up.
This public work is recorded by the poet in the lines
"From the dry rock who bade the waters flow-
Or in rroud falls magnificently lost;
But clear and artless, pouring through the plain
The next work noticed by Pope is a causeway, which was constructed through the exertions of Mr. Kyrle, and paid for by a subscription, to which he largely contributed. It crossed the low ground between the town and the bridge, on the high road to Hereford and Monmouth. This causeway has been since extended, and rendered permanent by the commissioners of turnpikes, who have converted it into a spacious driving way, better adapted to the more frequent and rapid journeyings of modern times.
The walk in the Cleve-fields above alluded to was not only beautified with the elm, his favourite tree, but seats were placed at intervals, where weary traveller" might "repose," or the lover of fine scenery contemplate at his ease the beauties before him. To his work of planting or
ended, Kyrle asked, "Well, John, what did you say?" "Ah, you see, sir,' said the man, "I was right: nobody can hear when he is drinking."
The passage which relates to the church of Ross is calculated to convey an erroneous notion of what was actually done by Mr. Kyrle. The line
"Who taught that heaven-directed spire to rise," coupled with another,
"Who builds a church to God, and not to fame,"
has led many to suppose that the church of Ross was built by Kyrle. The facts are as follows:
The elegant spire which ornaments the landscape, from whatever point it be viewed, was at one time in a dangerous state, which Mr. Kyrle's knowledge of architecture led him to discover. A parish meeting was convened at his special motion, and about forty-seven fect of the spire taken down and rebuilt, himself daily inspecting the work, and contributing, over and above the assessment, towards its speedy conclusion. The great bell was given by Kyrle, who attended when It was cast at Gloucester, and threw into the melting-pot his own large silver tankard, having first drunk his own favourite toast of "church and king."
"Behold the market-house, with poor o'erspread:
The distribution of the "weekly bread" at the market-house is a circumstance of peculiar interest in the life of Kyrle. The donation of bread was furnished by a grant, renewed by successive lords of the manor, of certain tolls on all corn brought to market. The Man of Ross acted as the lord's almoner. Tradition reports, in homely language, that "it would have done one's heart good to see how cheerful the old gentleman looked while engaged in the distribution." At length the toll, thus voluntarily transferred to the poor at the will of each succeeding lord, was claimed by the townsmen as their's of right. The question was referred to the Man of Ross by consent of both parties; and he, preferring truth and justice before popularity and self-gratification, determined, as the evidence compelled him to do, that the toll belonged to the lord. So are pride and covetousness found in communities as well as individuals. Unwilling to acknowledge an obligation, lest they should be compelled to own a