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justified in making such alterations in a few expressions of the burial service, as may be necessary to avoid gross improprieties, and the apparent profanation of a sacred office.
The particular parts of the burial service to which I allude, are these three: 1. “ Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit, &c.” 2.“We give thee hearty thanks for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful word.” 3. “ As our hope is, this our brother doth.”. The first I propose to read thus: “ Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God to permit the departure hence of the soul of our dear brother, we therefore commit, &c.” The second I recommend either to be omitted, and to let the prayer after the words "joy and felicity,” proceed,"we humbly' beseech thee, that it may please thee, &c.” or else to be read thus, "We give thee hearty thanks for all those whom it hath pleased thee to deliver out of the miseries of this sinful world, beseeching thee, &c.” The third I wish to be omitted in all cases, in which it is notorious, as in some public executions it unhappily is, that the criminal died in an impenitent and reprobate state.
Nearly allied to the question respecting the burial of criminals, is that respecting the burial of suicides. This has already been repeatedly discussed in your useful miscellany; but it has not, it should seem, yet received a decision, which is likely to be rested in. Let me not be thought to have any intention to offend, when I say, in the course of the discussion, some of your correspondents appeared to me to countenance sentiments, which savour more of Puritanical severity and sourness, than of Christian moderation and charity. That it is the intention of the Church to deny Christian burial to him who dies a felo de se, there cannot be a doubt; but the evidence of any one's being a felo de se is plainly pointed out by the laws, and a minister of religion is not, I think, justified in determining on this point by any other evidence. The rubric, indeed, says, “ The office ensuing is not to be used for any that have laid violent hands upon themselves;" but then it is admitted, that this is not meant to be extended to those who are really non compos mentis. What Mr. Wheatley says on this subject, is very sensible and proper, as it applies to the coroner and
his jury; but not so, I think, as it applies to a clergyman. The coroner and his jury may often decide wrong; but I do not see how a clergyman, with any propriety or justice, can reverse the verdict of a jury; and this he in effect does, when so far as his office extends, he treats a person as a felo de se, whom they have declared not to be so. But though I would not have Christian burial denied to those suicides whom a coroner's jury have declared to be non compos mentis, I think it right, that the alterations in the burial service, which I have suggested in the case of criminals, should also be attended to in theirs.
E. PEARSON. Rempstone, Feb. 8, 1606.
FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
Cursory Remarks upon some parts of the Rev. Thomas Robinson's “ Christian System Unfolded,” 3 vol. 8vo.
" I bear them witness, that they have a zeal for God, but not accord
ing to KNOWLEDGE,” Rom. x. 2.
Tis matter of no little astonishment, and of much
serious concern with men, who are aware of the importance and the value of truth; its importance in promoting human happiness, and its value for this purpose in influencing human conduct (for the perception of truth and the influence of it, though frequently confounded, are very different things, Rom. i. 18.) it is, I say, matter of great concern with such men to observe the generality of pious persons, wholly inattentive to the clearness and accuracy of that knowledge which they are so anxious to promote, and expecting influence equally beneficial from such as is obscure or confused; as if the PROPER influence of knowledge were unconnected with the distinctness and clearness of the truths, of which such knowledge consists. An aversion also to all enquiry and examination is usually found in these persons, although it is the only means of obtaining that purity of truth, upon which its value, its freedom from every mix
ture of error, and its certainty wholly depend; and we almost constantly find in them, a disposition to discourage all proper discussion, and to brand every species of the most cool, cautious, aud temperate inquiry, with the appellations of dispute and controversy: yet nothing is more certain, not only than the benefit, but eyen the necessity of examination in the attainment of truth, how-, ever much, controversy and debate may have been abused; and Mr. Robinson himself besitates not to allow (Scrip. Charac. vol. iji. p. 89, or 108.) that the abuse of any thing is no argument against the right use of it. Mr. R. however, in the introduction to his Seripture Characters, as well as in that to his Christian System, has himself recourse to this affected way of disclaiming all inclination for dispute and controversy; and so, in p. 7, vol. i. of this work, he professes not to come forth as disputer and a controversialist. Now, what are we to undertand by these words? Are we to suppose, that he does not desire to estabish by argument the opinions, which he may think proper to advance? or, are we to imagine, that he does not mean to use the usual language of polemical writers! Yet he tells us, that those who oppose his opinions, are full of the pride of hnman reason, are under a dangerous bias, p. 35, vol. ii. that they proudly and invidiously term their own party, the rational divines, p. 34 ; that they are conceited of their own understanding, and boast of their own abili. ties and erudition; that their pride must be subdued, &c. Surely it would have better become him to have shown the weakness of their arguments, and the strength of his own, than thus to have dealt in unsupported affirmation, But he follows the conduct of those who have ever been esteemed the most violent bigots, the partizans of Maho met and of the Pope; to whom all inquiry and examination is utterly obnoxious; who condemn all discussion and controversy, as useless or injurious to the cause of truth, i. e. to the finding out, and ascertaining, clear and unquestionable knowledge. They teach their fol. lowers to value themselves upon their want of the powers of reasoning, and disavow all use of it; putting one in mind of the country-fellow, who, seeing his townsman going to be hạnged for committing a forgery, congratulaled himself upon his own security, and cried out, "Aye, aye, this comes of your writing and reading thank God, I can do neither.
Our author, after telling us what he does not profess, Pol. X. Churchm. Mag. for March 1800.
proceeds 10 tell us what he does; and we shall find one just as difficult to understand as the other. He professes himself to be a plain practical man. Now, first, what are we to understand by a plain man ? Are we to suppose this plain man to be a plain writer, who uses only plain literal language, and avoids all figurative and metaphorical expression ? But this is not the case with Mr. Robinson. His book is filled, from one end to the other, with almost every metaphor used in both Testaments, without a single explanation of any one of them. And what is a practical man? A man, who deals only in precepts, and rules given for conduct ? No writer deals more largely, or professes to deal more largely, in the doctrines to be found, as well as in those not to be found, in Scripture, as we shall sec by and by. At p. xiji.of thein troduction, he professesto acknowledge no other character than that of a “ regular and consistent minister of the Church of England.” Consistent with what? Not with the established constitutions and uniform practices of the go vernors of that church. When his diocesan intrusted to his care the souls of his own parish, that diocesan gave him no spiritual power over the souls of any other parish; nor did he give him authority, or make it any more his duty, to watch for the souls of half a score parishes round his own, than he made it his duty to watch for the souls of the Hottentots at the Cape of Good Hope, or those of the savages of North America, Nor is he either qualified or authorized to alter the appointed and received forms and modes of worship, or infringe those rights to comfort and convenience, which his own parishioners have a just claim to, by introducing, or encouraging the introduction of, crowds of foreigners, who have no right at all to the constant use of a church, in the parish of which they do not reside, and to whom he stand; in no spiritual relation; nor can he justly entail expences, which must ultimately fall upon those who reside in the parish, for the accommodation of hearers who have not the least claim to his services, unless it be that they buy what is not his to sell : much less can he, in consequence of this unlawful increase of his congregation, impair the integrity of the worship established in the Church of England, and cut off in the administration of the Communion, that most awful, because most solemn application to every individual, which is directed by the rubric to be made, upon the delivery of the sacred elements; thus mutilating that most important part of
the service of Almighty God. Nor is his consistency with the doctrines of the Church of England, more remarkable than his consistency with the rules and regulations of it; for he affirms (vol. ji. p. 59.) that “it is not enough, that the Holy Spirit has made an external revelation of the will of God in his written word.” We meet with the same affirmation in his Scrip. Charac. vol. iv. p. 286, or 345. Now this accords just as well with the established doctrines of the Church of England, as his practice does with her established customs; for the sixth article says, “ Holz Scripture containeth All things necessary to salvation.” This favourite fancy is indeed as opposite to common sense, as it is to the article; and no less
so, as we shall presently see, to his own assertion in another place.
It pleased God to vouchsafe extraordinary knowledge to mankind. It was extraordinary, þecause mankind could not attain to it by the natural, the usual, the intended operation of those rational faculties which God had given them, nor derive or collect it from any experience they had of God's providential government over this world. This knowledge was, in the first place, miraculously conveyed to a few chosen persons by that inexplicable mode of communication, which we call inspiration from God himself, and which mode I call original revelation, and was conveyed by them to the rest of mankind by the common and usual mode of conveying all human knowledge the words of their mouths, or the writings of their hands; and this latter mode, in respect of the subject, I call transmitted revelation. Now, unless the knowledge, which they received miraculously, was capable of being fully and clearly conveyed by human language, they could not with either TRUTH OR HONESTY have called what they spoke or wrote the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and the accuracy of their own knowledge would have been of no use, if this knowledge could not have been accurately cominunicated. But, as God does' nothing in vain, we may be assured, that what Mr. R. speaks so lightly of, under the affected appellation of the external revelation of the will of God, was fully sufficient to convey all necessary knowledge to mankind.
Again, the perceptions excited in the inind by words spoken or written, i. e. the ideas annexed to such words, are all known to those who are acquainted with such language; for this is the meaning of understanding a lan