Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the Lord come,” (Acts ii. 14.) Many fathers in our church have expressly recorded their opinion, that even the strongest of the terms most assuredly relate in their primary signification to the great object of the prophecy, the destruction of Jerusalem ; but I wish to confine myself entirely to scriptural authority, and adduce, in confirmation, the examples of St. Paul. He writes to the Philippians, " Let your moderation known unto all men, the Lord is at hand;" and yet, without

any

real contradiction, he cautions the Thessalonians “not to be troubled, as though the day of the Lord were at hand, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.” From the striking similarity of these two advents, it seems almost impossible that any prophecy can relate to the one exclusively, and not contain some reference to the other ; therefore, on the other hand, though the whole prophecy of our Lord received a distinct fulfilment in his generation, yet that was merely an inchoate fulfilment; and it has still to receive a more full and perfect completion at the coming of that great and terrible day.

St. Matthew's omission of the circumstance, that Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, and continue so until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled, may be satisfactorily accounted for without at all involving the question of the degrees of inspiration. Salvation was first offered to the Jews, and the first gospel was written exclusively for their use. St. Mathew's is a completely national gospel ; in it, every circumstance is carefully pointed out which might conciliate the faith of his countrymen ; every expression is designedly avoided that might in any way tend to obstruct it. The common Introductions to the study of the Scriptures will afford sufficient information on this head, yet I cannot but give one remarkable instance of St. Matthew's accommodating himself to the national feeling, which has been pointed out by Dr. Campbell, at Matt. i. 11: “ About the time they were carried away to Babylon.” He translates it, “ About the time of the migration into Babylon;" and adds, in a note, “The terms, captivity, transportation, subjection, were offensive; and, with whatever truth they might be applied, the Jews could not easily bear the application. A remarkable instance of their delicacy in this respect, the effect of national pride, we have in John viii. 33, where they boldly assert their uninterrupted freedom and independency, in contradiction both to their own historians, and to their own experience at that very time. This humour had led them to express some disagreeable events, which they could not altogether dissemble, by the softest names they could devise. Of this Sort is μετοικεσία, by which they expressed the most direful calamity that had ever befallen their nation. The word strictly signifies no more than passing from one place or state to another.” The original expression, επί της HETOLKEgiaç Başurūvos, would be more literally rendered, “ during the change of residence to Babylon;" and if any Hebrew translator should render this passage, “during the Babylonian captivity,” he would not only lose an opportunity of conciliating the attention of the Jews, but would throw a gratuitous and unwarranted stumbling-block in their way. To the examples of St. Matthew's attention to the

national feeling, I would add his omission of the circumstance, that the holy city should be trodden down of the uncircumcised nations through so long a period. He is merely recording a delivered speech, and would, therefore, seem to be quite independent of a particular revelation; but he knowingly omitted this, the most humbling passage of their history, either in the exercise of his own judgment, or under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. St. Luke writing for the use of the Gentiles, and consequently being uninfluenced by such considerations, has freely given to us the whole of our Lord's discourse.

W. B. WINNING. Keysoe Vicarage, Beds.

ON MR. STANLEY'S SPEECH.

annum.

SIR,—On Wednesday, June 26, 1833, Mr.Stanley moved the first part of schedule A. of the Church (Irish) Temporalities Bill, as it is called, fixing the yearly tax chargeable on all benefices. The principle of the tax was to be a per centage, increasing according to the value of the living, and commencing at five per cent. on livings of 2001. per

Sir R. Peel moved an amendment, that the tax should commence with livings of 3001. per annum. This he did-1st, on financial principles, that a tax of not more probably than 5001. clear upon the difference of the two, should not be raised in payments of five or ten shillings; 2ndly, on principles of equity,-ihat a gentleman having spiritual functions to discharge with zeal and a due sense of responsibility, being himself of liberal education, and, perhaps, not very capable of managing pecuniary affairs, and with a family to provide for, upon a living of 3001. a year, and, in addition to this, having to answer the demands of charity, was not a fit subject for taxation.

Mr. Stanley, in reply, and in a spirit of lukewarmness and hesitation, which nothing but his deference to men who have not, for the most part, a single sympathy with the church and her clergy could have inspired, said," “ the point was not one to which he really attached much importance, but was one altogether for the feeling and judgment of the House. The grounds upon which 2001. incomes had been made the minimum at which taxation should commence, was, because that was the maximum amount of augmentation.” (How could this be called a maximum, if a bill was immediately to be brought in, reducing it to 1901. a year, by an amercement of one-twentieth part of the whole ?) “And he thought that no injustice was done by the proposed scale of taxation.” (It is melancholy to see such a man, when pressed by the arguments of others, thus shift his ground, and fly to the aid of irrelevant general propositions.) “ The sacrifice of income" (revenue?) “ by the adoption of the proposition of the Right Honourable Baronet, was most certainly trifling in amount.” (Not so, however, to the poor clergyman ; to a man of education, with a wife and six children, brought up himself with every comfort and convenience, having books to purchase, and, in addition to the “paries fumusque domi," a respectable exterior to support, and the piercing cries of many a distressed parishioner to pacify.) “ And the point was one, on which each member might exercise his own discretion ; in short, it was for the House to say," (not for Ministers to recommend,)“ whether the limit for taxation should be 3001. or 2001. incomes. The Right Honourable Baronet had objected to a graduated scale of taxation, and alluded to its application to private property, but that was entirely different from the present case. Private property was too sacred" (but sacred property, it seems, was not too private) “to be interfered with by Parliament. The objection was to the equalization of property between this or that man; and the question, whether one man or another possessed too much property," (it) “ could not, even in the most extended sense of the power of Parliament, decide with either justice or propriety: such an equalization would be a confiscation of the property of the rich for the benefit of the poor. This equalization in the present case was entirely different, inasmuch as it affected only the funds of A BODY, and he must protest against the suggestion of there being any analogy between the two cases. The present principle was a graduation among individual members of a body, and in any other way he should consider equal distribution neither more nor less than unprincipled spoliation. He should leave the question with the House to decide upon, and if it should think that 3001. per annum ought to be the minimum, he should bow to its decision, not only with submission, but with satisfaction. If the House was inclined to be liberal and indulgent, he should be the last man to stand in its way."-(Standard, June 26, 1833.)

It is lamentable to observe this special pleading. Truth is plain and simple, and consistent with itself

. It may be very necessary to lacker over the plunder of the church with the finest varnish ; and we have had some precious instances of late days to prove to us

“ With what authority, and show of truth,

Can cunning sin cover itself withal.” But, thank God, there is yet a tribunal of sound common in the country, before which sophistry has no chance whatever. The “ Hears” and “ Cheers,” of delighted “ Jews, Turks, heretics, and infidels," have no charms with that tribunal.* And Mr.

sense

What a blessing would it be to the cause of real patriotism, that is, of the union of truth, justice, religion, and the love of country, if, in the present most heterogeneous House of Commons, a public “ nomenclator" would be appointed, whose duty it should be, whenever a member stood up to address the house, to mention his name aloud, and the party in politics or religion, or no religion, to which he belonged. This would, in that assembly, and in the public reports of speeches in the newspapers, at once assign to each many a merit, and explain also many a motive, overlooked by numbers of hearers and readers. Nay, still more effect would be given to the opinions and professions of these new legislators, these “ imâ plebe Quirites Facundi,” if some brief conventional designations were at the same time added by the nomenclator, which might characterize the private lives of these senators. Oh ! if the shades of those nightly orators, whose master minds, in the noon-tide of Britain's

Stanley may rest assured, that before these remarks were written, his dialectics upon “equalization,” and “funds of a body," &c., were brought to the “ experimentum crucis," and instantly went off in smoke. Now, I admit that the church is at the mercy of the House of Commons—that it is indeed like the man whom we read of (in a “ Book,” of no authority in such an assembly,) that went down to Jericho, and was in the very predicament of the church at this moment. He was “ stripped of his raiment, and wounded," and those, who should have befriended and succoured him in his illtreatment from thieves, when they saw it, “ passed by on the other side.” I lament to say it, though it is most glaring, that pusillanimous supineness, and a dastardly timidity, in some who

eat the bread of the church, and those time-servers, who, whatever flattering unction they may lay to their own consciences, will not survive her fall, have been the curse and canker of the church, from the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act downwards, to the present moment. « C'est la peur,” says the old French song:

C'est la peur, la peur, la peur,
Qui guide le monde

A la ronde;
Pourquoi prendre un air trompeur ?

La peur est dans le cæur.

QUI FAIT PLIER DEVANT L'AUDACE ? &c. &c. But audacity itself, if it were not too intoxicated with conceit and popularity, and the “sweet nepenthe" of revolutionary excitement, Inight, one would imagine, forecast its own ruin in the consummation which it so devoutly desires. The wealthy are a very large “ body in this country, and many of them have a “ joint-tenancyin the land with the clergy, many have livings by inheritance of centuries in their families, many of them have tithes to a great amount; and yet numbers of these sit complacently by, in the House of Commons, waiting for their cue to shout and vote in favour of a confiscatory statute, which is to cut away the ground from under their own feet at last, by proceeding on the principle, that the oldest, most private, and most sacred property in the kingdom is at the disposal of parliament. As to the suppression of that principle “ totidem verbisin the act itself, nothing is gained to them by that, while so many of his Majesty's ministers profess it openly, and the measure takes for granted that very lemma as an axiom. When its justice is to be upheld by the palliative maxim, that it affects only the funds of a body, let them look sharply to themselves, and

see whether they are not, in fact, members of that body,

glory, held captive within those walls, the accomplished and attentive representatives of her many interests, her landed, commercial, and intellectual greatness, could be supposed to linger still upon the arena of their glorious struggles for her institutions, her honour, and her welfare, how must they regard the gross, the miserable degeneracy of their now Reformed House! “ Sine sole domos, loca turbida !” How must they bewail the nightly bickerings and brawls, the jostling, hallooing, cock-crowing, (Vide Debates of Friday, June 28,) the inattention, levity, profaneness—in short, the worse than vulgar degradation of that which, even in its weakest state, was an assemblage of English gentlemen.

and whether the next house that takes fire will not be their own. But they may rest assured that this convenient mode of reasoning will be applied also, more generally and summarily, to their more profane property, and that by a power intently and exultingly watching all their movements, who will, in due time, take the executive province of all such “ agrarian" legislation into their own hands, and lead out to wide and “ unprincipled spoliation” their own premises of a “graduated" plunder “of the individual members” of one body of society, with whose security, stability, and welfare they were blind enough not to perceive that their own are actually identified.

I remain, Sir, yours respectfully, TARPA.

ON THE CLERGYMAN'S PRESIDING IN VESTRY.

SIR,_Of the various ways in which a clergyman may do good in his parish, not the least important, I think, is that of taking a part in the deliberations of the parish vestry. If the pulpit be the most convenient place for advocating the principles of compassion and kindness, of justice and truth, the vestry room appears to me to be best adapted for shewing the practical application of them. At the vestry meeting, questions are continually arising which involve, in their degree, some essential point of religion and morals; and yet, such is the unhappy bias of our nature, that I fear, in the Rural Parliament, as in some other legislative bodies, there is a danger that a decision may be arrived at on politico-economical grounds, without any exact reference to the rule of right. When such cases arise, the presence of the clergyman is obviously most beneficial, since he will hardly fail to place the question in its true light, and, by so doing, may not improbably influence the parties to prefer truth and equity before expediency and worldly policy. With respect to the poor, the vestry room affords a clergyman the fairest opportunities he can desire of inculcating in them habits of industry, sobriety, fidelity to their employers, prudence, and the kindred virtues, which are no less essential to the good of society than to their own well being, and which also predispose to the reception of more important instruction, whilst it is certain that the absence of these qualities creates a fatal barrier against its entrance. With respect to the richer classes, the vestry room enables him unobtrusively and without offence to bespeak their kindness and consideration towards the people whom they employ; and, by obtaining a kindly influence over both parties, to promote a good understanding between thein, and so to strengthen those bonds on which public tranquillity much depends; but which, in the present day especially, are in danger of being severed. Opportunities are frequently furnished to a clergyman, by these parochial conferences, of performing the most friendly offices to his neighbours, particularly in preventing the ebullition of anger, or in appeasing it, and reconciling those who are at enmity with each other. His presence will itself often be sufficient to check the first beginnings of strife; or, if it should break out, a few words of gentleness froin him, the authorized messenger of peace, will, in all probability,

« EelmineJätka »