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tomed offerings" to the curate. If the expression "and oblations” had then been in the prayer, your correspondent C. C's argument for omitting it would have been as forcible as it is now unfounded.
In the Scotch Prayer-book the corresponding rubric, after giving direction respecting the collecting and presenting of the alms, proceeds as follows:-" And the Presbyter shall then offer up and place the bread and wine prepared for the sacrament upon the Lord's table, that it may be ready for that service." It is to be observed, however, that in the prayer there was no change of expression, the word alms only being mentioned.
In the present English Prayerbook, the rubric respecting alms differs materially from the former corresponding rubric, and a good deal resembles that in the Scotch Prayer-book. A new rubric then follows respecting the sacramental elements, resembling in substance the corresponding Scotch rubric, but omitting the expression "offer up," and simply directing the priest to place the bread and wine upon the table.
At the first view, it might be thought unlikely that the expression" offer up" should have been omitted in the rubric, if the same idea was to be attached to the newly introduced term in the prayer. But Bishop Mant's remark respecting popular prejudice applies particularly to that very omission. William Prynne, in his book entitled "Hidden Works of Darknes sbrought to Public Light," amongst his other charges against Archbishop Laud, dwells largely on the Scotch Prayer-book, and in the course of his strictures, fixes on the expression " "offer up" as symptomatic of Popery. "In which," said he, "we have an offering up of the bread and wine, by the priest at the holy table; just as the priests do in the mass, and derived from them; as Missale Ro. manum, Cæremoniale, Pontificale and Breviarium Romanum, inform CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 245.
us," p. 159. The insertion, therefore, in the rubric, of an expression which had been thus stigmatized, would have been contrary to that prudence which they were obliged to exercise; while at the same time they could not but be anxious to retain a practice which had been universally observed in the ancient church.
In order, therefore, to effect this object without alarm, they appear to have transferred the "offering up" of the sacramental elements from the rubric, to the prayer. In the former, it would have arrested observation, and might have provoked resistance to their general design; which evidently was to restore to our Communion Service as much as they could of that ancient spirit which Bishop Ridley, in the first Prayer-book of Edward, had been so careful to preserve; but which, at the instance of Martin Bucer, and perhaps with a view to advance nearer to continental Protestantism, had been as carefully excluded in the second. How far the revisers effected their purpose, can only be seen on close and distinct comparison. They were evidently confined, by the cautious policy of government, to minutė, and almost imperceptible, changes; but the united import of those changes will be found as significant, as individually they were noiseless and inoffensive. Their common character is the surest key to the meaning of a particular instance: and the offering up of the bread and wine, having been uniformly sanctioned by that standard to which the revisers wished to approximate, as well as placed before them by the model which they had immediately in view, (in default, moreover, of every other imaginable reason for their introducing such an expression,) what can we conclude, but that, by the insertion in question, they wished, not only to do quietly what in the former instance had been done with offence, but also, to do it better; for 20
without doubt the offering up was better provided for, by a significant expression in the prayer, without any mention in the rubric, than it had been by being mentioned in the rubric, without any corresponding expression in the prayer. Perhaps some may be inclined to think, that the object was not of sufficient importance to have been provided for with such studious care. But it must be remembered, that the wish of the revisers was, to bring our Communion Service as nearly as possible to the spirit of the purest antiquity; and that they could not but know, that from the earliest times, the offering up of the bread and wine had been accounted a substantial part of the eucharistic celebration. Mr. Mede, as Wheatly intimates, had established this fact in a trea'tise on the subject, which he justly supposes had due weight with the revisers. But there is another evidence for the importance of the practice, which, though not likely to have influenced the revisers, is, in itself, the most powerful which could be adduced, both for elucidating their purpose, and justifying their solicitude. They could not have overlooked an ancient feature in the eucharist, which even Richard Baxter regarded as essential.
"This sacrament," says Baxter, "containeth these three parts:1. The consecration of the bread and wine, which maketh it the representative body and blood of Christ;-2. The representation and
of commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ;-3. The communion, or communication by Christ and reception by the people."
On the first particular, his words are:-" In the consecration, the church doth first offer the creatures of bread and wine to be accepted of God, to this sacred use; and God accepteth and blesseth them to this use; which he signifieth both by the words of his own institution, and by the action of his ministers, and their benediction, they being the agents of God to the people, in this accepting and blessing, as they are the agents of the people to God, in offering or dedicating the creatures to this use." He adds, that in this act,
we acknowledge that God is the Creator, and so the owner, of all the creatures; for we offer them to him, as his own*.”
It is worth adding, that Baxter's second particular-namely, the of fering up of the body and blood of Christ representative, by faith and prayer, to God-bad been particularly provided for, both in the first Prayer-book of Edward, and in the Scotch Prayer-book; but the prayer of oblation, as it was called in the latter, had been so confidently accused of Popery by Prynne, that the revisers (doubtless much against their will) could evidently not venture to insert it.
*Baxter's Practical Works, fol. Vol. I. p. 469.
For the Christian Observer. MORAL ESTIMATE OF MILTON' PARADISE LOST. (Concluded from p. 218.) HAVING enumerated, under very general heads, some, though by no means all, of the moral excellencies
of Paradise Lost, it remains that notice be taken of a few things, of which the tendency seems not to be of so desirable a nature. The writer will not be confident or positive on some points. He would rather cautiously suggest them as objectionable, than vehemently contend
against them as such. It is not to be expected in the present state of human imperfection, that any work should be produced without bearing that indelible stamp. A good writer suggests, as an argument in favour of the divine authority of the Bible, that while no principles contained in that book are in the experience of mankind ever found to be incorrect, no other book probably was ever written, even under the guidance of the Bible, which did not teach or embody some principles that may be found to be erroneous. In poetry, where imagination, the most lawless power of the mind, is expected to predominate, we should not naturally look for a peculiar exemption from human infirmity. Compared with other forms of writing, it would be apt to have its full share of an earthly spirit. Still, if it is not the privilege of the Christian poet to be perfect, it is his duty to be consistent; and he should aim at an indefectible standard, however short of it he may come. The nearest possible approximation to evangelical requirements should be the object kept in view. In accordance with these remarks, I would first suggest whether Milton's frequent allusions to the fables and mythology of heathen antiquity be not a derogation from the value of his poem, as true religion is concerned. I do not know that an occasional illustration of his subject from this source, in the way of similitude, would be inconsistent with Christian propriety. But, in Paradise Lost, there is such a profusion of these illustrations as to throw over the work too much an air of heathenism; and it will occur to the reader that they are not all made in the form of similitude. An unnatural and unbecoming mixture of truth and fable is the consequence; the aspect of which, to a religious mind, is by no means pleasant, and the effect of which, on any mind, is not entirely harmless. The beauty and elegance with which
these illustrations are made, n doubt conceal somewhat of the deformity of the materials of which they are constituted; but that is a circumstance which only increases their danger. Is it not preferable that the fictions of mythology should be suffered, for the most part, to remain in those repositories of classic fame, where they will interest the mind in their proper connexion -a connexion in which they will be less likely to mislead and corrupt it? In this case, there would be at least but an inconsiderable temptation on the part of the reader to confound these" phantasms and monsters" with the real productions of nature, or the accounts which are handed down concerning them, with the portions of accredited history. Error is never so dangerous as when found in company with truth; and as the fables of heathenism form a family by themselves, so let them not be suffered to mingle profanely in the lovely circle of Christian verities. The poet needed not to recur to error for ornament, when nature and truth at his bidding would have lent him their world of enchantments. The pure mind of Cowper seldom admitted such an amalgamation, and his productions want not any charm that genius or taste can impart to them.
An apology, I know, is offered for Milton, on the ground that what he borrows from the heathen mythology he applies in the shape of similitude; and moreover, as an editor observes, Milton resembled Be-' zaleel, who was to make the furniture of the tabernacle. Like him he was endowed with extraordinary talents and like him, he employed Egyptian gold to embellish his work. But as was above mentioned, the poet's illustrations from the source in question are not always made in the manner alleged,—a circumstance which every reader will recollect. Besides, whatever might be conceded in regard to a very sparing use, in a cautious form, of mythological fiction, it would not
follow that such an abundance of it as would give to a work a sort of heathenish aspect, could be admissible: and with respect to the Egyptian gold, it must be obvious to remark, that such a product could be much more easily worked up so as to lose its profane aspect, than the stories of the gods could be made to accord with the sobriety of religion. The pious commentator, Mr. Scott, in one of his notes on the 23d chapter of Exodus, suggests whether the familiar acquaintance with the heathen mythology which generally accompanies a clas sical education, is not unfavourable to genuine Christianity. But though I should not readily admit that it is so, yet I can more easily believe, that the heathen mythology in a near and studied connexion with the sacred truths of the Bible, is not precisely what it would be in its proper place.
2. It may be suggested whether some of the sentiments and expressions put in the mouths more especially of the evil spirits, do not in a degree offend against the sacredness of religion, the awe with which holy subjects should be approach ed. These sentiments and expressions may perhaps be necessary in order to preserve consistency of character: but it seems unhappy that any circumstance should make it necessary for such depraved creatures to give utterance to all their malignity, and, I may say also, to all their folly. They talk of dethroning, circumventing, disappointing, and vexing the universal Sovereign; as if, even in the view of the most limited understanding, he were no more than the creature of chance, or the sport of destiny. And they detail their malicious and impotent plans with such a fearlessness of front, and in language of such insult and defiance, as a good man hardly knows how to dwell upon long enough to admit into his mind the representation.
It is true they make some proper concessions respecting the Divine
perfections, and speak, at times, the language of self-reproach. The reader, however, more than keeps pace with them in these relentings of nature; and he cannot but feel conscious what a tremendous defeat they must at length experience from the exertions of sleepless intelligence and almighty power. This is so much the case, that it seems not altogether natural that beings so purely intellectual should be made to possess such confidence in their ill-concerted designs, and exult so much in only the appearance of success. Their partial concessions, moreover, do not destroy, so much as might be desired, the effects of their contumelious and insulting language. The effusions of their depravity are master-pieces of eloquence in their kind. They are emphatically to the purpose, as addressed to the ear, and to the feelings of consummate impiety; and they come to the heart of man with an energy which it would require some piety to resist. Would not the soul delighted with war, sympathize a little, and mingle while it hastens its movements with the strong and frantic tide of feeling in Moloch the "homicide," and with him fondly brood over its schemes of revenge, even in the face of utter ruin? And would not satan's famous apophthegm speak, and almost elicit, the congenial language of the illimitable heart of ambition,
To reign is worth ambition, tho' in hell." "In my choice
If there is danger that our corrupt propensities may be roused into greater efficiency by such represen tations, they should be either altogether spared, or more lightly touched upon. At least the remedy should be at hand, and be made to bear upon the evil. I am not certain but that in the conduct and issue of the story is to be found all the corrective that justice demanded of the poet; although it can hardly have escaped observation,
that human depravity is far less satisfied with that which is designed to eradicate, than with that which is calculated to excite it. Perhaps also moderation in this department, that is, in the delineation of character by speeches, might be construed into tameness of genius; yet even this fault might be more easily forgiven than the necessary (if it be necessary) ministration to unhallowed feeling.
Under the present head, may be included not only the taunting and punning language of the evil angels in the sixth book, but also some thing there exhibited which falls short of the dignity and unruffled feelings of purity and gentleness, which must be supposed to prevail in the bosoms of good angels. Their "fierce desire of battle" and "inextinguishable rage" are too couspicuous. The scenes in this book seem to be unpleasant on this account. We do not easily associate the agitation, fierceness, and vauntings of war, with the hallowed serenity and sweet charities of heaven, The martial spirit loses none of its unsightliness, though displayed in that pure region by "brightest seraphim." Perhaps, however, the representations in this book should not be objected to in an entire view, since they seem to be not altogether unauthorized by Scripture; although some parts might have been spared, without offence to our better feelings.
3. The nature of the subject, as well as the poet's design, led him to give a prominent agency to satan, the prince of the evil spirits.-In the representation of such a character, perhaps no human skill was adequate to do it entire justice, and to cause the mind of the reader, in each successive development, to assent to its worthlessness. In order that he might compass his objects, the prince of darkness is made to appear, at times, not altogether destitute of qualities which mankind both venerate and love. Public spirit, honour, attachment to his
associates, a considerable share of self-denial, and the movement of sympathetic feeling, he occasionally manifests. In some instances, at least, he does not appear so evil as he ought to appear. There is not a proper correspondence between the collective amount of his character, and the several items that are intended to constitute it. Hence a degree of interest, probably contrary to the main intention of the poet, is attached to this evil agent, which is not a little unfavourable in its moral influence. He is sometimes shielded from our indignation under the sacredness of misfortune, To excite our pensive admiration of him, his form appears not less than" archangel ruin'd, and the excess of glory obscured." We almost pity him, when we learn that " care sits on his faded cheek," and that "his eye casts signs of remorse and passion," on the associates of his rebellion. We almost forgive him, when in addressing them,
"Thrice he essay'd, and thrice in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth.”
He appears, when occasion requires, with a noble and dignified demeanour-is pensive, and touching, and eloquent, and prodigal of suffering; and like no inconsiderable representative of him in the Roman history, Mark Anthony, he is the idol of those who are sacrificed to his flagitiousness.
This relief to his awful character, though happy as to poetical effect, is not otherwise pleasant or salutary. Under such appearances, the heart—that is, if it enters into the spirit of the representation-favours him more than is consistent with the entire detestation which is due to sin. Owing to the particulars that have been mentioned, an abatement of our abhorrence takes place, without a proportional corresponding conviction, that from his general character aud conduct he is entitled to it. Whether such repre