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home are convinced that, by the laws of nature as well as the higher law of Christianity, no man should be the property of another man, and that no man is fit to possess another as his property. I heartily wish prosperity to the planters: I have enjoyed the society of many of them; I have benefited by their kindness, and partaken of their hospitality; and, in return, I long to see them, as well as their slaves, free. I long to see them free from tyrant custom free from the fear which is inseparable from that power which can be tyrannically abused.
I have known, and I have often read, that at the season of Christmas there is always a peculiar dread of the rising of the happy slave population; that they might shew their gratitude by cutting the throats of their benefactors. Did not the angels, then, include Jamaica in their song of "Peace on earth, and good-will towards men?" Must not that system be indeed unchristian, which has made the dread of a Jamaica Vespers fill all hearts, instead of that solemnly cheerful joy which the season should call forth? Are even the harshest of British masters obliged to double their guard, and increase their vigilance, lest the commemoration of Him in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, should be celebrated by their assassination? Is not this a retributive plague? And if, instead of keeping back all religious instruction (as was long done, and as I know to have been the case; endeavouring to keep the slaves in the most brutal ignorance), the poor creatures had been instructed as Christians, such fears would have been groundless. For, when the time comes that the owners of slaves truly endeavour to promote Christianity among themwhen they do this for conscience sake then they will be Christians indeed; the Negroes will be treated as Christians by Christians: and when men do unto men as they would that men should do unto them, there will be no slave in the Christian world.
In this letter I have mentioned Jamaica only: for I am of opinion that Jamaica is the strong-hold of slavery; and the reduction of this strong-hold would liberate every slave that breathes under European sway: great, therefore, is the importance of the pertinacious resistance of Jamaica. I have long thought, sir, and often expressed my opinion, that Jamaica bondage may be well compared with Egyptian bondage in the time of Moses. The hearts of the planters are hardened; they have hardened their hearts, so that they will not let the people go. Pharaoh and his servants had many merciful warnings: for such would each plague have proved, if it had taken away the hardness of their hearts; and then the overthrow of the whole host would have been prevented. Many are the alarms which have made the planters tremble; but still they will not let the people go; and when all the warnings which will be allowed are given, and without effect, then will all the host perish.
Such are my fears. The crimes which our forefathers committed, in peopling the colonies with Blacks, cannot fail to be visited on their children, unless they repent, and bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, and shew mercy unto thousands, remembering the many millions to whom no mercy has been shewn.
If you think my remarks useful, I will add a few instances in proof of them. I remain, sir, your constant reader from your first Number, V.A.
ON THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST AS A TEACHER SENT. FROM GOD.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. THE consideration of the manner in which our Lord Jesus Christ supported his character as a Teacher sent by God from heaven, not only tends to confirm the faith of be
There is this peculiarity in our
The Prophets and Apostles knew the will of the Father by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to whose agency they ascribe all their Divine knowledge. Christ did not ascribe his Divine knowledge to the Holy Ghost; but in those instances in which he declares the Father's will as the result of a revelation, it is as the result of an immediate personal communication. He knew the will of his Father from having been with him. Speaking of his disciples, in prayer to his Father, he says, I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 360.
have known surely that I came out
Much of the information which
The Divine knowledge revealed to the world through the Prophets and the Apostles was generally mysteri ous, described as dark sayings, and at best as a light shining in a dark place. Much of the revelation given to us by Christ, was of the most simple and distinct character. He described the past, the present, and the future in connexion, and fre quently in terms easily intelligible to his hearers.
If we judge of the character of Christ as an ambassador from heaven, in the same manner that we should judge of any person who professed to come from a distant country but little known, we shall be able to form a correct opinion of His authority. We should expect such a one to speak the language of the country, to be able to describe its government and productions, and the habits and cus toms of its inhabitants. We should examine the consistency of his descriptions, and should discriminate between what he said as the result of observation, and what he might de scribe as the offspring of imagination, or the result of communication. In all respects Christ's mission bears the test.
There was a consistency, a perfect knowledge, and a simplicity of narration, which proved that he really came from another country; that he described what he had seen, and heard, and done in heaven. With such an earthly ambassador we should treat with confidence; enter on the object of his mission with willingness; and if it presented any advantage to our future interests, we should not hesitate in accepting his offers. 5 C
ON THE SUPPOSED FAILURE OF SUN-
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. In reply to the inquiry as to the causes of the supposed failure in the good effects expected from Sundayschool instruction, I answer, Because Sunday-schools are not what they were, nor what they should be.
They are not so, as to the objects at present embraced by them. When Raikes formed his first Sundayschool, it was among the poor; the poor only; children, perhaps filthy and half clad, whose parents could not or would not instruct them, or take them to a place of worship; and who were consequently neglected, and left to wander about the obscure parts of our towns and cities corrupting each other, and giving pain to the more religiously disposed part of the community.
From this class spring a large portion of our agricultural labourers, and persons employed in manufacture.
And these are the proper, and I think ought to be the exclusive, objects of Sunday-school instruction. But are they so? Observe the teachers and children of schools connected with churches, chapels, and meetings as they parade the streets from school to the place of worship. Are the latter the poor and neglected children of our population? Do the former appear of that class whose principle of self-denial could endure the task of instructing, and disciplining into order, the unruly neglected children of the really poor?
Formerly the children of respect able persons were taught at home by their own parents. In order to instruct them in the principles of religion,catechising, reading, and explain
ing the Scriptures to them, and teaching them prayers and hymns, were a part of the Sabbath-day's employment of the careful mother; and a delightful and beneficial employment it doubtless was. But now these children are sent to the Sunday-school. The parental duty is passed off to a stranger, and whether the child is really at school or about the streets cannot always be known. It was also the practice for the minister occasionally to examine these children, which gave a wholesome stimulus, both to them and their parents. But the practice of sending children of this class to our Sunday-schools has had on the community this ill effect, that it has well nigh banished the very poor from them.
It was formerly the practice also, and a most wholesome practice, for the country minister to assemble the poor children of his parish, either in the church or the vestry, between the morning and afternoon service, to catechise them. Now so far as Sunday-schools under the present system have superseded pastoral and parental religious instruction and discipline on the Sabbath, and have been diverted from the proper objects of such friendly interference, to respectable and well clothed and educated children, so far have they been an evil. No one can suppose while things are thus managed, or mismanaged, that great ardour for promoting education should be found to co-exist with an increase of crime in proportion to the increase of a poor, unemployed, and in fact uninstructed, population: for those who are instructed in Sunday-schools would for the most part be so without them, while the proper objects of such institutions are for the most part in reality as untaught as ever.
Then as to the course pursued with regard to those who do attend, I might mention, among other defects, that the attention is chiefly directed to the over-excitement of the memory. To the mere committing to memory considerable portions of Scripture are sacrificed the far more import
ant objects of informing the mind, and endeavouring by the blessing of God to impress the heart. The most vicious child in the school, if he can repeat the largest number of verses, too often carries away rewards, and on public occasions is put forth as a prodigy. These things ought not so to be; and while they are so, Sunday schools cannot but fail of producing the important ends which we desire, and, through the Divine blessing on the use of the prescribed means, might confidently expect
THE BISHOP OF SALISBURY ON
For the Christian Observer.
The name of Sir Isaac Newton
See Dr. Henderson's Mystery of
nians and Unitarians, in opposition
Dr. Brewster, in his very interesting Life of Sir Isaac Newton, published in a recent volume of the Family Library, has, it is much to be regretted, done the same injustice to the memory of Sir Isaac by his re-statement and revival of the general contents of the suppressed Dissertation on the controverted verse of St. John, and by omitting to notice Sir Isaac's suppression of the tract.
The revival and re-statement of these abortive criticisms is injurious to the memory of Newton, because it omits to notice that the tract which contains them was deliberately and anxiously suppressed, and never published by him, though he lived nearly forty years after the date of its suppression. He died in 1727.
The criticisms were founded on an erroneous assertion of Father Simon, in his Histoire Critique, that the ancient Fathers generally interpreted what is said in the eighth verse of "the Spirit, the water, and the blood," allegorically of the Trinity.
This assertion was refuted, and the seventh verse defended, by 1690. Smith and Ittigius in the In the early part of this year, or in the year preceding, the criticisms were written. They were sent to Locke in November, 1690, for publication, and recalled and suppressed in 1692, after the refutation of Simon's assertion by Smith, Ittigius, and others.
In the general statement of the criticisms it is asserted, that the seventh verse had its origin from the allegorical interpretation of the eighth verse by the Latins, among
In a letter to Mr. Locke, he says, "Let me entreat you to stop their translation and impression as soon as you can, for I design to suppress them:" and in another letter, "I am glad the edition is stopped."-Lord King's Life of Locke, vol. 1. pp. 409, 415.
whom Simon asserted it was gene. rally prevalent. So far is this assertion from being true, that there are very few of the Latin Fathers (and none of the Greek) who so interpret the eighth verse. This interpretation is not found in the writings of Tertullian or of Cyprian, who lived before the time of Augustine; or of Jerome, who was his contemporary; or of Victor Vitensis, Cassiodorus, or Fulgentius, who lived after him. Augustine was certainly the first who applied the allegorical sense to the eighth verse; and even he understood it literally to mean the human spirit which Christ yielded into the hands of his Father, and the blood and water which issued from his side.
Sir Isaac had no doubt of the authenticity of the seventh verse, till he was misled by Simon's assertion respecting the general prevalence of the mystical interpretation of the eighth, and his consequent supposition that Cyprian's words were quoted from the eighth. "These places of Cyprian" (says Sir Isaac) "being, in my opinion, genuine, seem so apposite to prove the testimony of the Three in Heaven, that I should never have suspected a mistake in it, could I have reconciled it with the ignorance I meet with of this reading in the next age amongst the Latins of both Africa and Europe, as well as amongst the Greeks." This notion of the ignorance of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries he collected, by inference, from the asserted prevalence of the mystical interpretation, which I have before shewn to be unfounded. Indeed, the "absurd hypothesis," as Mr. Porson calls it, of this futile, nugatory, and puerile interpretation (as it is called by Mill), is alone a sufficient warrant, that it could not have been generally prevalent in the church.
In the statement it is asserted, that "the spirit, the water, and the blood were interpreted by the Latins to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in order to
prove them one." There was no want of proofs in abundance from Scripture of the unity of the three Divine Persons. And we know from Augustine, the author of the mystical interpretation, that it was proposed by him, not to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, but to deprive unbelievers in that doctrine of an argument against it.
"With the same view" (says the statement, that is, to prove the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be one) "Jerome inserted [the verse respecting] the Trinity in express terms." This is a most gratuitous assertion, without the slightest authority from history or tradition; and contrary to Jerome's own most explicit testimony that his version was a scrupulous and faithful transcript from the Greek text. It is evident, too, from the general tenor of the Epistle and the context, that the object of the seventh verse is not to prove the unity of the three heavenly witnesses, but the Divinity of Christ by their united testimony. Inattention to this distinction has, I think, been a principal cause of opposition to the seventh verse.
"In the twelfth and following centuries, the [Jerome's] variations began to creep into the text in transcribing." The whole of the seventh verse is quoted many centuries before the twelfth, by Fulgentius, who was very learned in the Greek language, and before him by the Fathers of the African Council, A. D. 484.
The statement proceeds: "After the invention of printing, it crept out of the Latin into the printed Greek." It appeared first in the printed Greek text early in the sixteenth century; but it is found in two Greek manuscripts, now extant, of the fourteenth or fifteenth, or, according to Dr. Adam Clarke, of the thirteenth. It was also in the Greek text of Bryennius, at least a century before the first printed edition of the Greek text.
After the general statement of Sir Isaac's criticism on the verse,