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they to be recited in the hearing of boys and men, whom we require to be freemen, fearing slavery more than death.”
“By all means let us do so."
“And to speak and write after the model which is the reverse of this?"
“Then shall we also strike out the weepings and the wailings of the heroes of renown?"
“Yes, we must, if we strike out the former."
“Just consider, whether we shall be right or not in striking them out. What we maintain is, that a good man will not look upon
death as a dreadful thing for another good man, whose friend he also is, to undergo.”
“ We do maintain it."
“Then if so, he will not lament over such a person as if some dreadful disaster had befallen him."1
This passage in Plato clearly shows that that heathen philosopher had better ideas about death than those which now practically prevail.
But perhaps it may be said that it was the manner of the death of all those persons at the Tay Bridge that was so dreadful.
Now if all those persons had died miserably in their beds after protracted and inexpressible sufferings from chest-disease, the public would not have been at all shocked about their death, and the newspapers
would never have said a word about the matter. From the nineteenth report of the Registrar-General for Scotland, I learn that in a single year no fewer than 28,000 persons die miserably in Scotland of chest-diseases. 28,000 a year is 77 a day. Every day that goes over us sees 77 people die miserably of chest-diseases in this small country. The great majority of these people die by inches, and after incredible sufferings. Well, that is going on every day, and no one says a word about it. If you go abroad into society, the matter is never mentioned. But on one particular windy night, about an equal number of people die in one of the most expeditious and unforeseen, and therefore the least painful, manners possible , and there is a national outcry over it. You see how devoid of reason we are on this subject of death.
Let us cease from these unmanly "weepings and wailings" which we set up on the occasion of our friends coming into the eternal life.
1 Book ii., Davies and Vaughan's Translation.
2 Page 98.
When our friends receive the best gift the Lord can confer, let us not make that an occasion of unmitigated and absurd lamentations.
If we had any heart or spirituality in us we should rejoice, instead of lamenting. Before death comes, there is often cause for lamenting. Sympathy for those who have diseased and decaying bodies may often make us lament with good reason. But as soon as death has come, and has relieved our friends from their diseased bodies, and brought them into the enjoyment of eternal life and immortal bloom, to lament any longer is surely both criminally selfish and insane.
But perhaps it may be said, That accident at the Tay Bridge was surely a very dreadful thing. And of course the destruction of such a fine bridge was a calamity. But you know that is not the ground on which such a to-do has been made over the matter. The thing that has been considered so especially dreadful was that a train with people in it went down with the bridge. Of course it was a great pity that a valuable locomotive and a number of railway carriages should have been utterly destroyed. But that is still not the real cause of the general wail. What caused that wail to arise was that a large number of people were in the train. And the great subject of anxiety since the accident has been about their bodies. The hunt has been for bodies. Bodies have been the great craving and hope of our public mind. If a few bodies could be found there would be great gratification felt.
You see it is evident that the public do not realize the fact that the bodies are not the people. It is thought that the people went down with the bridge to the bottom of the Tay. What may have become of them since is not so clear. But that is the awful reality present to everybody's mind. All those people went down with the bridge to the bottom of the Tay!
To all people who have such an idea of the accident as that, it is no wonder that it should appear a most dreadful calamity. But then what a pity it is that they should entertain such an idea.
The people didn't go down to the bottom of the Tay. Their material bodies did, but they themselves went into the spiritual world. Their life was continued there in a far brighter, better, and more perfect form. They are all alive there to-day, rejoicing in the light of the spiritual world. Whether that is a valid and Christian reason for lamenting, I leave you to judge.
Note.--As an instance of the shocking and extravagant infidelity that prevails in the Christian world, I nay add that since the foregoing discourse was written, a number of clergymen have publicly taught, that the entrance of the departed persons in question into the eternal life, was a punishment inflicted on them by God for travelling on Sunday,
It is the special if not the sole function of the New Church, in re, lation to what we may call the outer world, to endeavour to change man's religious views and principles, not to assail the outward institutions of a Church which are the orderly outcome of the views and principles by which it is distinguished, and which constitute its inward life. Some, however, seem to consider religion to consist in these. We have recently seen the expressed regret of a minister of the Scotch Church that so many of his countrymen who cross the Border and make their home in England give up their religion. But there is no religious difference between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England. The conditions of salvation are the same in both, and salvation is as possible and as easy in the one as in the other. The organization is different, but the religion is the same. It may be a question whether Episcopacy or Presbyterianism is the right or the best form of Church government, but the religious element may be as genuine and sound under the one form as under the other. Nay, it is possible that both may be best, for each may be best suited to a certain class of minds, and may therefore be productive of better results. Whatever external conditions of organization or ritual may have grown out of the religious convictions of a people must be the best for them under the circumstances, although they may not be the best in themselves; and no advantage would be gained from changing them, except so far as the views and principles of the people could be changed with them. Indeed change of form without a corresponding change of state would be in most cases a change for the worse. The members of the New Church do not, for this reason, seek to overturn nor even to disturb the outward institutions of the Churches, but to change their religious views and principles, being satisfied that it is the essential and not the formal that the world needs to be renewed. But while there is an outward condition that has grown out of the inward state of the Church' and of religion that ought to be respected, there are certain abuses that have grown up under the influence of Churches which all right-thinking men are interested in removing. And as an evil cannot be removed until it is seen and acknowledged, therefore all right-principled men are justified in exposing it and protesting against it. In the Nineteenth Century for January an article by John Martineau treats of purchase in the Church. While bribery and corruption in every other department of the public service have been gradually removed, and may now be said to have entirely disappeared, strange to say, a system of corruption in ecclesiastical affairs has as gradually been increasing in the Church, until it has reached a height which is at once dangerous and scandalous. In 1547 it was enacted by the Injunctions, and confirmed in 1559, that “to avoid the detestable sin of simony, because buying and selling of benefices is execrable before God, therefore all such patrons as buy any benefices, or come to them by fraud or deceit, shall be deprived thereof, and be incapable at any time after to receive any spiritual preferment, and such as sell them, or by any colour sustain them for their own gain and profit, shall lose their right and title to the patronage." Yet it has come to pass that presentations and advowsons, the spiritual charge of parishes, to sell which was execrable in Queen Elizabeth's time, are now bought and sold as readily as sacks of corn in the market, or shares on the Exchange. A modern clerical agent, when he has a “highly desirable preferment” to dispose of, puffs its various recommendations--the advanced age (it may be) of the present incumbent, suggesting a charitable hope that he may soon be removed to a better world ; the salubrity and beauty of the neighbourhood; the condition of the society; lastly, perhaps, the small number of inhabitants, and consequently sinecure nature of the investment. Such advertisements are seen in the newspapers almost every day. But the writer of this article, wishing to know something more about the mysteries of the traffic, wrote for a copy of a Church Preferment Register which he saw advertised in the Times, and which, after some delay, he secured. The cause of hesitation on the part of the proprietor was explained in the Register itself, which states that “the important and very often intricate nature of these negotiations requires that they should be placed in the hands of a responsible and experienced third party! that the essential feature in the sale of church property is undoubtedly privacy, and this is entirely frustrated if the matter is indiscriminately published about.” This is followed by about 150 advertisements, one of which, as a specimen, offers the advowson of a rectory, with more than all the usual attractions, for £5300, with immediate legal possession, the rector having the offer of other preferments. And besides these, the proprietor of the Church Register“ begs to remind intending purchasers that he has always many desirable and cheap livings passing through his hands privately, and which do not appear in this register.” One would naturally think that so monstrous and glaring an iniquity as this would find a swift and complete remedy. Yet it appears there is no existing remedy for it. A committee of the House of Lords has received evidence on the subject of Church Patronage, and a Royal Commission has sat upon it. In 1875 the Bishop of Peterborough in conjunction with other bishops brought in a bill embodying the recommendations of the Church Patronage Committee. The bill, which went but a little way towards remedying the evil, passed the House of Lords, but was lost for want of time in the House of Commons, and since then nothing has been heard of it. The last act of the drama that has been played on this important subject is the Report of the Royal Commission on Church Patronage, which, it is encouraging to know shows a marked advance of opinion on the main question, and we must now wait to see what action will be founded upon it.
Sovereign being its temporal head, and superintended by an imposing hierarchy, in which a degrading and illegal practice is systematically and openly carried on, which neither Parliament nor Convocation, neither the legal nor the episcopal bench, neither the Queen nor the Prelate of England has the power to stop, and which must be allowed to follow its usual scandalous course till some remedy be provided by a new Act of the Legislature. Does it not show something rotten in the state of the Church itself when patrons can have come so extensively to turn what was placed in their hands as a sacred trust into a means of personal profit, without the slightest regard to the spiritual interests of those for whose benefit they hold it, and clergymen themselves being parties in the shameful transaction?
It is not perhaps of much importance for Bible students to know, at least it cannot lend them material aid in the interpretation of the Bible to know, that some additional light has been shed by a recent discovery on the religious character of Cyrus the Great. According to the principles of interpretation laid down in the Writings of the New Church, the personal and the representative character of a man have no necessary connection. Priests and kings represented the Lord, as Priest and King, whatever their personal character. It is the function and not the man that represents. Cyrus, as a king, could represent the Lord as Divine Truth whether or not he himself knew the Truth which he represented. And he represented the Lord in this character, and especially as manifested in the flesh for effecting the work of redemption, in being the deliverer of the children of Judah from the captivity of Babylon. The prophecy of Isaiah respecting Cyrus, delivered before he was born, is a very remarkable one. Cyrus is called the Lord's shepherd and His anointed; his characteristics and doings are described, the nations and the idols that bowed before him are named; of certain of these nations it is said, “They shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour." One of the clearest and most expressive proofs of God manifest in the flesh, and yet hidden by the flesh in which He was manifested, is thus put into the mouths of these heathen nations and addressed to a heathen king. But the most remarkable parts of the prophecy respecting Cyrus are those which speak of him as breaking the brazen gates of Babylon, as building the Lord's city, and letting His captives go free; as doing all the Lord's pleasure, and saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundations shall be laid (Isa. xliv.xlvi.). In the Book of Ezra the fulfilment of this prediction is recorded ; and Cyrus is there represented as ascribing his conquests to the Divine power. « The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let