Page images
PDF
EPUB

lished Church of England ”-habitually looks up to the Holy Ghost as the Divine Author of repentance and holiness; the Bestower of every spiritual gift ; and emphatically of that faith, by which, as exhibited in the very acts of faith which we are considering, the penitent“ relies for eternal salvation on the sole merits and all-perfect sacrifice of his blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The words of Judge Hale—which are prefixed to a very minute account of his testamentary and previous dispositions of property, in which, like Judge Park, he shews the just and tender and conscientious seelings which dictated his allotments—are as follow :-“And first, I do with all humility resign up my soul into the hands of Almighty God, beseeching him, for the sake of his own infinite mercy and goodness, and the merits and intercession of his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the unsearchable operation of his blessed Spirit, to make me a partaker of the inheritance of his saints in light and glory. And, as touching my body, I commit it to the earth, in assurance of a happy resurrection."

BISHOP BUTLER VERSUS LORD BROUGHAM AND THE

USEFUL KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. In the volume of Bishop Butler's Sermons, there is one (the last) upon the ignorance of man. The evils of this ignorance bave of late been strongly described ; and many are seeking a remedy for them in an enlarged and general system of secular education. Lord Brougham has been among

the most zealous and persevering in labouring to put away ignorance by cheaply diffusing useful knowledge. His lordship has frequently declared how greatly science strengthens the mind; and, as if it needed only to be cured of its intellectual weakness, what is called “ useful knowledge” is abundantly poured forth. But how confined is the sphere of this boasted useful knowledge. The Society under Lord Brougham's auspices, which calls itself exclusively the “ Useful Knowledge " Society, views man as needing aid only in the things of this short life—things useful for promoting the well-being of the body. Even in the memoir of Sir Isaac Newton, edited by this Society, no mention is made that he applied his mind to any subject but science. It is kept back, that he thought deeply, and also wrote, on Scriptural subjects. But about the time of his life when he so thought and wrote, it is significantly alleged that his faculties were declining.

Bishop Butler, in the Sermon above alluded to, considers man as an immortal being placed here by God in a state of trial, preparatory to eternity. The Bishop mentions the pursuits and discoveries of science, which are accompanied with much pleasure to the human mind. But he does not attribute the miseries of individuals, or social bodies, to the evils of ignorance of science; but looking into man's heart, as the seat of corrupt passions, he expatiates on the need of another remedy, even that which the Gospel of the Redeemer discloses for the pardon of guilt and the solace of sorrow.

We seem to be on the eve of making new and enlarged experiments respecting the education of the British people. It might be well, just to refer on this subject to the sentiments of so profound an observer of the nature and condition of man on earth, as was Bishop Butler. He shews that to labour to train children upon Scriptural principles, will not, under the Divine blessing, be in vain ; but that much of the unhappiness of men, not arising from the evils of ignorance, will thus be healed; while at the same time they will be prepared so to pass through things temporal, that they finally lose not the things eternal.

If the Useful Knowledge Society would deign to listen to Bishop Butler's sentiments on the value of science, as the employment of man in his state of trial on earth, they might perhaps see cause to fear, that when they had expelled the evils of intellectual ignorance, they might still have done little toward the cure of man's unhappiness, while they had neglected all hopeful preparation for, and approach to, his entrance into an eternal state; a state which, under the appointment of God, must accord with his probationary sojourning on earth.

Those whose aim in education is merely to strengthen the mind by science, may find, in the results foretold by Bishop Butler, that they have drawn men astray from a due attention to those Divine principles and precepts, by which alone God may be honoured in man, and man may be made meet for the inheritance of God's saints in light.

When Bishop Butler speaks of man as being in a course of training for eternity, he shews that the pursuit of science is but a low curiosity, in comparison with that regulation of the heart by religion which alone subdues the evil passions in men's hearts. He says

“ Creation is absolutely and entirely out of our depth, and beyond the extent of our utmost reach. And yet it is as certain that God made the world, as it is certain that effects must have a cause. It is indeed in general no more than effects that the most knowing are acquainted with; for as to causes, they are as entirely in the dark as the most ignorant. What are the laws by which matter acts upon matter, but certain effects, which some having observed to be frequently repeated, have reduced to general rules ? The real nature and essence of beings likewise is what we are altogether ignorant of. All these things are so entirely out of our reach, that we have not the least glimpse of them. Our own nature, and the objects we are surrounded with, serve to raise our curiosity; but we are quite out of a condition of satisfying it. And what if we were acquainted with the wbole creation, in the same way, and as thoroughly, as we are with any single object in it? What would all this natural knowledge amount to? It must be a low curiosity indeed, which such superficial knowledge could satisfy."

Those only will acquiesce in these sentiments, who consider man as sinful in spirit and practice; and miserable from this sinfulness, and not from ignorance of science. To give due weight to the expression that the pursuit of science is but “a low curiosity,” we must consider man as made for an endless life, after his short probationary state upon earth. Then it will be seen, that, as science cannot heal his sinful propensities, the pursuit of it, as his chief training, must fall far short of the cure of his miseries, and far short of that training which is needful to prepare him for eterual blessedness.

Again, Bishop Butler says“Knowledge is not the proper happiness of human nature. Whoever will in the least attend to the thing, will see, that it is the gaining, not the having, of it which is the entertainment of the mind. Indeed, if the proper happiness of man consisted in knowledge, considered as a possession or treasure, men who are pos. sess of the largest share would have a very ill time of it, as they would be infinitely more sensible than others, of their poverty in this respect.

Let us now see to what kind of training Bishop Butler would direct those who are anxious to give to man an education suited to his nature, his needs, his probationary state on earth, his responsibilities CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 21.

3 Z

in eternity. Having said, that if “reveries in science serve the cause of virtue and religion, in the way of proof, motive to practice, or assistance in it; or if they tend to render life less unhappy, and promote its satisfactions; then they are most usefully employed;" he says

“ But it is evident that there is another mark set up for us to aim at; another end appointed us to direct our lives to; an end which the most knowing may fail of, and the most ignorant arrive at. • The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.' Which reflection of Moses, put in general terms, is, that the only knowledge which is of any avail to us, is that which teaches us our duty, or assists us in the discharge of it."

What then should be impressed upon the hearts and minds of men, in their early and constant training ? Bishop Butler answers

“ If there be a sphere of knowledge, of contemplation, and employment, level to our capacities, and of the utmost importance to us, we ought surely to apply ourselves with all diligence to this our proper business, and esteem every thing else nothing-nothing to us, in comparison of it.” (The bishop might have quoted those noble words of St. Paul: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, &c.”] “ Thus Job, discoursing of natural knowledge, how much it is above us, and of wisdom in general, says, ' God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdoin; and to depart from evil, is understanding. This is the only wisdom which man should aspire after, as his work and business.-Our province is virtue and religion, life and manners; the science of improving the temper, and making the heart better. This is the field assigned us to cultivate: how much it has been neglected, is indeed astonishing. Virtue is demonstrably the happiness of man: it consists in good actions proceeding from a good principle, temper, or heart.”

It were to be wished that Bishop Butler had here shewn, that this good principle, temper, or heart, is then only effectually produced in man, when the love of Christ constrains him—when he lives by faith on the Son of God, who loved him, and gave Himself for him. Then would the true cure have been declared for that evil state of man's heart which the bishop speaks of; “ the impotencies of fear, envy, malice, covetousness, ambition considered as vices seated in the heart-constituting a general wrong temper; from which general wrong frame of mind, all the mistaken pursuits, and far the greatest part of the unhappiness, of life, proceed.”

The bishop sums up his views of what is needful to clear men's hearts from these evils ; remarking, “ He who should find out one rule to assist us in this work, the clearing and keeping of the heart, would deserve infinitely better of mankind, than all the improvers of other knowledge put together.” While we may desire that he had directed us, on the subject of man's ignorance and misery, to the great Physician of souls, who alone can heal us, we cannot but see plainly, that on the subject of education he would have given his vote for a scriptural and religious training: the introduction of science, to the exclusion of religion and the neglect of his eternal destinies, being, in his view, a wasting of man's days in “ a low curiosity."

The writer of this paper has never seen Lord Brougham, or a good print of his lordship; but as education, habit, and the temper of the mind, are said to trace their impression on the countenance, he will quote, as a useful lesson in good training and discipline, Bishop Butler's excellent recipe for fashioning the human face divine : “ That in all lowliness of mind we set lightly by ourselves; that we form our temper to an implicit submission to the Divine Majesty : beget within ourselves an absolute resignation to all the methods of His Providence in His dealings with the children of men; that in the deepest humility of our souls we prostrate ourselves before Him, and join in the celestial song, ‘ Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints ! Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?'

The desire of my heart, and my prayer to God for England, is, that a scriptural education, in the principles of her Established Church, may be given to the youth of all her dominions, and at all times, so long as the sun and moon endure:

J. H.

CRITICAL REMARKS ON ROMANS VII. 1-4.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer, We read in Romans vii. 1, 2, “ The law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ; for the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth ; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband." I have often thought that this reasoning seemed inconsequent; though I imputed the non-sequence to my own dullness of apprehension ; being assured that no such charge could lie against the sacred text. The meaning indeed is plain ; that the Christian is dead to the law (the converted Jew to the ceremonial, and every believer to the moral), as a code of justification, though it continues a rule of life.

But I could not see how this meaning logically results from the text. When the Apostle says, · The law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth; it seems to be required in sequence, that the next verse should run, for the woman who is under a husband (uzavèpoc) is bound by the law to her husband so long as she [not he] liveth.” But this is not the meaning; for the words are to a living husband ; ” and it is added, “ if the husband be dead, she is loosed.” Seeing then that the second clause is fixed, the first would require alteration to keep up the sequence.

It would then run, “ The law hath dominion over a person as long as it lasts,” just as a husband has dominion over his wife as long as he lives; but when the husband dies, or the law is rescinded, the obligation ceases.

Now, upon turning to the original text, I find that there is no nominative case to the verb " liveth” in the first clause, and that “ law" may be as properly the subject as man; which makes the meaning clear : “ We are under the law as long as it remains in force, as a woman is under her husband as long as he lives.” The word“ live," both in Greek and English, is used not only literally, for animal or vegetable life, but tropically, for continuance or endurance; as when we say, that a boat in a storm will not “ live." I am not aware whether any commentators have given this rendering, as I came to it independently; but if they have, their opinion will strengthen mine. I have, however, turned to Tyndale's Testament, and there find : “ The law hath power over a man so long as it [not he] endureth ; for the woman that is in subjection," &c. I think it had been better if so excellent a rendering had been retained.

R. E.

ALLEGED NEGLECT OF ONE OF THE COMMON PRAYERS.

To the Editor of the Christinn Observer. Will you give me leave to ask why it is that the beautiful prayer in the Communion Service, beginning, “ Almighty and everlasting God, we most heartily thank thee," &c., is not sometimes used instead of that beginning, “ O Lord and Heavenly Father,” &c. ? I do not remember ever to have heard it used, although it is one of the most beautiful and sublime pieces of devotion in the Prayer Book.

PHENIX. Surely Phænix must have been peculiarly circumstanced. We have very frequently both heard this prayer and used it; but we insert our correspondent's complaint, in order that if any of our clerical friends have overlooked so beautiful a devotional composition, they may repair the deficiency.

The substance of this prayer was in use in the liturgy of Antioch, the Alexandrian of Basil, the Cæsarean, and, Mr. Palmer says, in all the ancient sa. cramental formularies. That of Cæsarea, still extant, goes back fifteen hundred years, perhaps longer. Wheatley has the following remark upon the special character of this prayer.

“When we communicate often, it may be very grateful, and sometimes very helpful to our devotions, to vary the form ; for which cause the church hath supplied us with another prayer; which, being more full of praises and acknowledgments, will be most suitable when our minds have a joyful sense of the benefits received in this Sacrament: as the former, consisting chiefly of vows and resolutions, is most proper to be used when we would express our love and duty.”

RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE FROM PRUSSIA.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. INCLOSED I send you a letter from Berlin, which contains some cheering religious intelligence from the capital of the Prussian dominions. If you consider its contents in the same light with myself, you may insert it in the Christian Observer.

I am, dear Sir, yours,
With much Christian esteem and affection,

C. T. A. STEINKOPFF.

Extract from a Letter from the Rev. Mr. Kuntze, Chaplain to the Or

phan-house Church at Berlin, dated June 1, 1839. A revival is taking place in our Protestant Church ; the number of true believers in Christ increases; many applications are made to our clergy for spiritual instruction and advice; in addition to four churches built a few years ago at Berlin, another is soon to be erected. Among our clergy the want of a closer and more intimate connection is deeply felt, and I trust before the present year expires, an association, embracing all the city clergy, shall be formed for the express purpose of mutual consultation on important ecclesiastical and ministerial subjects. The Missionary cause extends further and further, and begins to exercise a mighty influence. On the 29th of May we celebrated the anniversary of our Missionary Society, at

« PreviousContinue »