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three grounds, the passage may be defended either that it does not assert what is supposed; or that, if it does, a different insect to what we construe an ant may be intended; or, what perhaps is the best and true solution, that Solomon referred to a popular opinion. In any case the moral is the same, and the Divine word remains unimpeached.
The modern students of geology, in reconciling their science to the sacred text, do not admit of so much latitude of interpretation as their opponents themselves assume in other instances. They do not say of the Mosaic account of the creation, what every one admits respecting the sun's standing still, that the sacred writer spoke popularly and not astronomically; but they say that the narrative admits of one or more explanations consistent with fact, whereas the popular interpretation is opposed to facts. The days of creation may be successive periods of time, or a lengthened interval may have elapsed between the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. i. 1), and the successive stages afterwards described; either of which solutions allows of the geological phenomena, without prejudice to the Mosaic narrative. In all cases truth is wisdom, honesty the best policy; and no persons are so well fortified against infidel objections as those who have early learned that the word and the works of God must invariably agree, and that no truth of Scripture is hazarded by the deepest researches of true science; whereas a prejudiced mind, that strives to bend clear facts to hypotheses, lives on the very verge of scepticism and infidelity.
THE BISHOP OF FERNS.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
In your Number for January, in allusion to the Bishop of Ferns's
injunction, you observe, and I think justly, that "whatever may be modern law or practice, the Canons of the Church never meant to make as many religions as dioceses." Now though it cannot be expected that our bishops and clergy should all be lawyers, yet it seems desirable that they should possess as much knowledge of the law as their particular situation may require. When a dignitary of the church permits his zeal to outrun discretion, some limit becomes necessary to prevent evil consequences; and for such an emergency, in the case in question, the wisdom of our law has provided. The case of Gates versus Chambers, Clerk, in the Arches Court of Canterbury, Trinity term, second session, June 21, 1824, before the Right Hon. Sir John Nicholl, Knt., shews what is the law in the opinion of that learned Judge; and it coincides with the professional opinion of Dr. Phillimore, in your last Number.
The case was this:-The Rev. James Chambers, a licensed curate in the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, was requested by a neighbouring incumbent of the diocese of Peterborough, to do duty for him in his church, on a certain Sunday, during his temporary absence under peculiar circumstances. Mr. Chambers did the duty as requested, in consequence of which proceedings were instituted against him in the Court of Arches, for a violation of the forty-eighth canon he having read prayers and preached without licence from the bishop in whose diocese he was officiating. In the issue of this case, the promoter of the suit was condemned in the costs. Sir John Nicholl, among other observations, said: "The fifty-second canon seems to shew, that to give a minister in holy orders such an authority as that in question, the licence of the particular diocesan within whose diocese he might preach was not requisite. And this appears from the very terms in which the head of the canon is put,
on some occasions performed at all, owing to the inability of curates to obtain such licenses."
'strange preachers' (that is the language), their names to be noted in a book,' that the bishop may understand, if occasion SO require, what sermons are made in every church of his diocese, and who presume to preach without a licence; the churchwardens and sidesmen shall see that the names of all preachers which come to their church from any other place, be noted in a book which they shall have ready for that purpose; wherein every preacher shall subscribe his name, the day when he preached, and the name of the bishop of whom he had licence to preach.'"
Such then is the law of the case, which I must presume the Bishop of Ferns was unacquainted with, or he would not have attempted to terrify his clergy with an injunction, which, notwithstanding its high, authoritative tone, is a mere brutum fulmen, and would be laughed out of court, if the bishop should attempt to prosecute any of his clergy for disobeying it. A bishop has certain powers conferred by law, and others belonging to his episcopal character; and the two ought never to be confounded. He may often effect by his "godly monitions," what he cannot by the arm of the civil power: and least of all are these the days in which any friend of the Church of England would wish to see the salutary exercise of episcopal authority weakened: but when a prelate sees fit to appeal from his spiritual influence to the temporal magistrate, he wholly changes his position, and must not be surprized to find it replied, "Thou hast appealed unto Cæsar; to Cæsar shalt thou go." If the Bishop of Ferns appeal to Cæsar, the result is not doubtful: his wisdom therefore is to withdraw his authoritative mandate, and to appeal to his brethren by the weapons of Scripture and argument; and if he can convince them by these of the utility of his regulation, and induce these from conscience to obey it, he will have gained the point which he cannot accomplish by threats of prosecution.
"Now what is the object on account of which he is thus to state the name of the bishop of whom he may have received his licence, if it be not for the information of some other bishop within whose diocese he may happen to come? And therefore, if the canon had really required the licence of the minister to be from the bishop of the diocese to which he himself belonged, there would be no occasion for the name of the bishop from whom he had his licence to be thus set forth, as required by the fifty-second canon. As far therefore as this canon goes in its collateral bearing on that part of the question, it does not seem that a person needs to have a licence from that bishop specially in whose diocese his particular cure may happen to be. And certainly it would be attended with singular inconvenience, both to incumbents themselves, and to their friends, who might happen to be ministers resident in their neighbourhood, if the case were otherwise. And, what is still more important, it would be of obvious inconvenience to the inhabitants of parishes: for they, supposing it were necessary for Clergymen of this description to be licensed each of them by the bishop of his own diocese, (which Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. bishop might be absent attending his duties in London, or in some remote part of his diocese,) might very probably go without having the public service of their churches
REPLY TO A COMMITTEE-MAN ON
I WISH to make a few candid remarks on the letter of "A Committee Man," which appeared in your last Number, and contained
some animadversions on the preach ing of that zealous and indefatigable missionary, Mr. Wolfe. Few, or none, I suppose, will be found ready to vindicate the prudence of that gentleman, in adopting such a mode of proclaiming his sentiments on the time and manner of the accomplishment of prophecies yet unfulfilled. Still, however, I am disposed to think your correspondent has visited his offence too severely. Mr. Wolfe's peculiarity of expression has excited more than usual attention; but in substance he has done nothing more than what has been done before by many writers, respectable both for learning and piety, from the time of Lactantius to the present day. That any of them have shewn their wisdom in fixing on particular years for the fulfilment of prophecies, I am far from asserting; but they have not usually been arraigned by their more cautious brethren of any thing beyond an error in judgment. Of this, let Mr. Wolfe stand convicted with the rest; but let it not be thought that he is thereby rendered unworthy the countenance of a Christian missionary society. With the highest veneration for a Swartz and a Martyn, I do not concur in the implied assertion that every man must necessarily be wrong who promulgates opinions which they had not received, and perhaps never attentively considered. I doubt not the directors of the society with which Mr. Wolfe is connected, will admonish him in future to abstain from publishing any thing on subjects connected with his mission without their previous knowledge and sanction; and this I think is all the correction which is called for. If societies were to dismiss every missionary who holds and preaches sentiments on certain controverted subjects, at variance with the opinions of some portion of their subscribers, they would soon have no missionaries remaining in their service.
After all, it is easy for us committee-men (for I also belong to
I HAVE read, with much satisfaction, what has appeared in your pages respecting the Apocryphal Lessons; but all that yourself and your correspondents have said, falls short of the enormity of the case. I earnestly trust that the present session of parliament will not close without strong petitions against this relic of Popery and blasphemy - blasphemy, because, being the word of man, they profess to be inspired by the most high God. But it is said, and justly, that our church "doth not apply them to establish any doctrine," but only for " example of life and instruction of manners." I grant that some of them may conduce to this effect, though not in the same way as lessons from the inspired page which they thrust out; but what shall we say of others? Who, for instance, would take his sons and daughters to church on the 22d of November, to have their minds purified by the story of Susanna and the Elders? I specify this legend in particular, because it seems to be a sort of parody upon Solomon's judgment. But how different from the original! Solomon appealed to the natural instincts implanted by the Creator in the maternal breast, and the test was unerring; but Daniel is made, by the fabulist, to put to death two elders and judges of the people," men of high estimation for character and veracity, on the sole and single evidence of their
misnaming a tree. Such a trivial discrepancy might easily happen, without impeaching the integrity of a witness's statement: they might not have noticed the trees at all; or holm trees and mastics might have grown mingled and close together. Besides, what would the Apocryphalist have done, if by chance they had named the same tree; but this was not intended to be the story, and we must not blame fiction writers for predisposing their plots to their projected conclusion; only let not men receive their fables as facts. Shakespeare's Daniel is worth a hundred of the Apocryphal novelist's, at least in this story; though in the next, that of Bel and the Dragon, which follows next day at church, a very good stratagem is devised, namely, the sprinkling of the ashes in Bel's temple, to detect the footsteps of his priests, and their wives and children, who consumed his provisions. I own there was cleverness in this; but the holm and mastic tree is a sad failure. If the nature of the story did not prevent my dilating upon it, I could easily undertake to prove from internal evidence that every line of it is a fiction; yet this and the other absurd fictions of the Apocrypha are believed, not only by Papists, but by the poor and illiterate in our own church, as firmly as the inspired text. My silence, however, enforces my argument; for can those passages be fit for public reading at church, which cannot even be alluded to in print?
I did not mean to write in mirthful guise, for it is no mirthful subject. I lay it solemnly to the consciences of our bishops, and clergy, and laity, that sin is upon them if they seek not promptly and zealously to deliver the house of God from the contamination of these legendary fables.
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 339.
REASONS FOR NOT GOING TO CHURCH.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
BARBARA Gadabout lately gave us her reasons for going to church late; but these were not so cogent as the following, which I lately saw in a foreign publication, for not going to church at all. Excuses, it seems, are much the same under all latitudes.
"Overslept myself-Could not dress in time-Too cold-Too hot Too windy-Too dusty - Too wet-Too damp-Too sunny-Too cloudy-Don't feel disposed - No other time to myself-Look over my drawers-Put my papers to rights
Letters to write to my friendsMean to take a walk-Going to take a ride-Tied to business six days in the week-No fresh air but on Sundays-Can't breathe in church, always so full-Feel a little feverish-Feel a little chilly-Feel very lazy-Expect company to dinner Got a head-ache-Intend nursing myself to day-New bonnet not come home-Tore my muslin dress coming down stairs-Got a novel, must be returned on Monday morning-Wasn't shaved in timeDon't like a liturgy, always praying for the same thing-Don't like extempore prayer, don't know what is coming-Don't like an organ, 'tis too noisy-Don't like singing without music, makes me nervousCan't sit in a draft of air, windows or doors open in summer - Stove so hot in winter, always get a headache-Can't hear an extempore sermon, too frothy-Dislike a written sermon, too prosing-Nobody to-day but our minister, can't always listen to the same preacherDon't like strangers-Can't keep awake when at church-Fell asleep last time I was there, shan't risk it again-Mean to inquire of some sensible person about the propriety of going to so public a place as church. Will publish the result."
If all my readers conscientiously say they never breathed to themselves any one of these excuses, I will acknowledge that the enumeration of them might have been spared; but if they learn from this silly catalogue of pleas to avoid every species of tampering with conscience, I shall not have transcribed them in vain.
ANSWERS TO QUERIES ON BRIEFS,
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
zine, the following remarks, intended to correct some statements given in your Number for November, page 709, relating to the condition of Unitarianism in this kingdom, and professedly taken from an article in the Monthly Repository. What requires correction is contained in the ensuing statements made by you on the alleged authority of " the official organ of the Unitarian body in this kingdom." I. "The Unitarian Missionary Association, during the last for which you ought to have written is almost a total failure:" year, as you found it in the Repository"The missionary labours of the Unitarian Association during the last
In reply to "A Christian quary," in your last Number, I beg to inform him, that in my researches for Forms of Prayer, not only have I collected the "Old Briefs and Exhortations to which he refers, but many other curious documents of great rarity, which will all be given in the appendix of my collection, whenever the completion of my series shall embolden me to bring them before the public.
Your correspondent, "A Friend to Old Times," who inquires "when the printing of Bibles and Prayerbooks for church use in black letter was left off, and the Roman type adopted," is informed, that it was in the year 1760 that this change took place in the occasional state prayers; and, as these forms were then, as are now, the King's printer, who also then printed most of the Bibles, it is very likely, that the change in the type he speaks of took place in that
J. W. NIBLOCK.
THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER ON
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
You will, it is hoped, from a sense of justice, admit into your maga
must be pronounced an almost entire failure." II. You pretend tarianism is not a missionary spirit:" again to quote, "The spirit of Uniinstead of which you read, and of Unitarians in this kingdom is not ought to have written, "The spirit the missionary spirit." And it detion to your pretended quotation, serves notice, that in direct opposiit is asserted in the running title, “Unitarianism fit for making prosethe tale is brief and mournful :" you lytes." III. "That of their chapels ought to have written, "of many (of their chapels) of both classes, the tale is brief and mournful." IV. "That their assemblies for public here, again, asserted that as a geworship are ill attended:" you have neral fact what, in the Repository, is asserted only of some (I grant many) instances. V. "That they periodical publication." It is lacan with difficulty support a single mented, in the article alluded to, that the Monthly Repository is not adequately supported; but not a word is said of this being the only periodical publication among Unitarians in this kingdom. In fact, there are three others possessing each an extensive circulation. VI. You have committed an error similar to the last, when you asserted, that "in India they are without a missionary, and unable to keep up a single chapel." Had you written Calcutta, instead