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tute, the observance and operation of which custom has set aside (witness the constant advertisements both of buyers and sellers in the public prints); and that, so long as the party to be benefited is not directly seen in the negociation, no offence is committed for which he needs fear being called to account. It is perhaps added, that where the motive is not the pursuit of gain, but the honest desire to obtain an enlarged sphere of permanent usefulness, the transaction is rather worthy of praise than of blame.
But, apart from its being legally wrong, I wish to inquire, whether such a transaction is not also morally wrong. However slight, or merely verbal, a connection, simony may have with the crime of Simon Magus, is not the practice in question evil in itself, and part of an essentially bad and corrupt system? If an individual, with means sponding to his benevolence, has, perhaps ages ago, built and endowed a church, in consequence of which the right of presentation has been vested in his family, in order that pious, active, and exemplary ministers may from time to time be appointed; do not the family, by selling the presentation, retake what was freely given, and given for the express object of perpetu ating the blessing of a faithful Christian ministry by men of piety and learning, whom it was intended to encourage, but who, unless possessed of private fortune, must now in most cases give way to mere capitalists, the best bidders for a benefice? Surely a sacrilege, of far more mischievous a description than stealing the church-plate, is committed, when the church is deprived of the ministrations of meritorious men, and left to the care of those who claim their tithe as a mere matter of personal and purchased right, rather than as a freewill offering at the altar at which they serve an offering which involves a corresponding obligation
on the part of the receiver, to be instant, in season and out of season, for the spiritual benefit of those who thus supply his temporal necessities. The greater sin in such cases may indeed be charged on the patron; but, as an honest man would not encourage thieves by buying stolen goods, so neither, I think, ought a conscientious Christian and churchman to countenance a system begun and concluded by perjury and dishonesty, and which leads to many evil consequences in its operation on religion and the spiritual interests of the people. The subject is certainly one of great moment; and I am anxious that the insertion of this paper should elicit the sentiments of some, who, from their experience, are capable of viewing the question in a just and comprehensive manner.
Tothe Editor of the Christian Observer.
HAVING lately become a member of the " Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce," a society the very title of which renders any comment on its utility superfluous I was much distressed at observing in their lecture-room, among the works of that celebrated British artist, Barry, a picture which exhibits a principle of a most latitudinarian and exceptionable nature. The motto affixed to this painting is, "Elysium, or the final State of Retribution." The motley groups of characters collected together consist of kings, statesmen, philosophers, literati, poets, painters, and architects: amongst whom I recognised heathens and unbelievers, whose infidelity, however, does not, it seems, preclude them from a blissful mansion in the world of
"final retribution." Here may Pascal and Descartes, like men of congenial spirit, as well as intellect, enjoy sweet communion together. Here may the Mautuan bard quaff a cup of nectar with the Arch
bishop of Cambray: indeed, the one is actually drawn leaning on the shoulder of the other. Here the author of Peregrine Pickle,with its accompanying novels, may enjoy the reflection of having been the instrument of diffusing much hap. piness to mankind. I was, however, disappointed at not being able to descry the faces of any of our celebrated Reformers (and surely in this Elysium there was much need of reform), or of any of our great divines, except Bishop Butler. The author of the Night Thoughts" has indeed a place; but so have also the authors of a Tale of a Tub, and the Sentimental Journey. It is a pity that Luther could not have been here, to shake hands with Erasmus and Leo the Xth: they would have formed a noble triumvirate. In another corner of the canvas our eyes are attracted by an exhibition of Tartarus; the inhabitants of which, however, are more appropriate, being composed of the vices personified, though at first sight I imagined that this place of condemnation was set apart only for poor and ignorant persons.
The picture, I am aware, may be entitled to estimation as a work of art; and, in reply to my objection to it in a religious point of view, it may be urged that it is only an imaginary representation, not intended to exhibit a reality. I should certainly be disposed to put this interpretation on it myself, were it not for the seriousness of the inscription placed over it; and for the circumstance, that, in the catalogue of pictures circulated by the society, the false and mischievous principle which I am reprehending appears in print as well as on canvas, and is comprised in the following words, printed in larger letters than the rest of the page, as if with an intention of giving them greater publicity: "The attain ment of man's true rank in the creation, and his present and future happiness, individual as well as
public, depend on the cultivation and proper direction of the human faculties." Now, I would argue, that if this maxim, in its obvious meaning, be true, religion is false, and ought to be banished from the affairs of human life, as a useless and impertinent intruder. Could the apostles and martyrs have foreseen such an Elysium, they might have spared their blood; and a Greater than apostles and martyrs would never have come down from heaven, and have submitted to pain, and reproach, and an ignominious death, but would have left the human race to find their own way to life and immortality, each one according to his own fancy and inclination.
F. A. S.
For the Christian Observer. ON THE LAWS AGAINST THE PROFANATION OF THE SAB
IN every Christian country, especially where the mild and salutary influence of the Gospel has been permitted actively to operate, the observation of the Sabbath-day has been justly deemed of the greatest importance. "The profanation of the Lord's-day," says Judge Blackstone, in his invaluable Commentaries (vol. iv. p. 63)," is an offence against God and religion, punished by the municipal law of England. For, besides the notorious indecency and scandal of permitting any secular business to be publicly transacted on that day, in a country professing Christianity, and the corruption of morals which usually follows its profanation, the keeping one day in seven holy, as a time of relaxation and refreshment, as well as for public worship, is of admirable service to a state, if considered merely as a civil institution. humanizes, by the help of conversation and society, the manners of the lower classes, which would otherwise degenerate into a sordid ferocity and savage selfishness of
spirit; it enables the industrious workman to pursue his occupations in the ensuing week with health and cheerfulness; it imprints on the minds of the people that sense of their duty to God, so necessary to make them good citizens, but which would be worn out and defaced by an unremitted continuance of labour, without any stated times of recalling them to the worship of their Maker." The remarks of this celebrated man deserve regard, not merely from their intrinsic excellence, but from his known probity and wisdom.
Without entering into an historical view of the progress of Christianity in this country, and of the connexion between that progress and the enactment of laws for the regulation of this sacred day, I shall confine my remarks chiefly to those laws which are at present in operation, with a view to shew their inadequacy.
The laws of Athelstan (chap. 24) forbade all merchandizing on the Lord's-day, under very severe pe nalties. It appears that such restrictions were then peculiarly necessary, and they were eminently useful.
In the 27th year of the reign of Henry VI., an act was passed, declaring "that all fairs and markets upon feast-days or on Sundays (the four Sundays in harvest excepted) should clearly cease, on pain of forfeiture of the goods exposed to sale; and fairs holden theretofore on solemn festivals, should there after be holden three days before or three days after such festivals." In the reign of Queen Elizabeth three statutes were passed, which are still unrepealed, but which are wholly incompatible with those principles of religious liberty, which, hap. pily for this country, all parties unite to recognise, and under the benig nant influence of which the cause of Christianity has rapidly advanced. I refer to the 1st of Eliz. c. 2; the 23d Eliz. c. 1, §. 5, 8, 11; and 29th Eliz. c. 6, §. 7. By the first of
these acts, it is declared" That all persons, not having a reasonable excuse, shall resort to their parish church or chapel (or to some congregation of religious worship allowed by law), on every Sunday, on pain of punishment by the censures of the church, or of forfeiting one shilling to the poor for every such offence." By the other two it is declared, "That every person above sixteen years of age who shall not repair to some church, chapel, or usual place of common prayer, being convicted thereof before the judges of assize, or justices in sessions, shall forfeit twenty pounds a month;-one-third to the King; one-third to the maintenance of the poor of the parish, and the houses of correction, and of impotent and maimed soldiers, as the Lord Treasurer, Chancellor, and Chief Baron of the Exchequer, shall order; and one-third to him who shall sue in any court of record." And the last of these statutes further declares, "That if the penalty be not paid in three months after judgment, he shall be imprisoned till he pay, or conform himself to go to church." The penalty imposed by these latter acts, it was also determined, did not dispense with the forfeiture of one shilling; and the shilling was declared to be immediately forfeited for absence on each particular day.
By the 29th Eliz. and 3d James, c. 4, §. 8, 9, the method of levying the payment of the penalties is specified; and the latter statute also declares, "That every person who shall retain in his service, or shall relieve, keep, or harbour in his house, any servant, sojourner, or stranger, who shall not repair to church, but shall forbear for á mouth together, not having reasonable excuse, shall forfeit ten pounds for every month he shall continue in his house such person so forbearing." To these statutes reference is now seldom made. It' is rightly admitted, that attendance on
a place of religious worship is solely nity. To this fact especial attena religious duty; and that, on the tion should be paid, one hand, no service can be acceptable to God which is rendered only to avoid the penalties inflicted by human laws; and, on the other hand, that no human tribunal has any right to interfere between God and man, and to legislate on matters which are above and beyond all such legislation. The repeal of these statutes would therefore be important, if bigotry and intolerance were likely to venture to enforce them; but the genius of the age renders the repeal no further essential, than that all laws which are useless or improper should be forthwith rescinded.
These, however, appear to be the only statutes which are unnecessary or unwise. With regard to the remainder, however inefficient some of them may be in operation, all are correct in principle, though the penalty may be too trivial for the offence, or the mode of recovery may be dilatory and vexatious. As a contrast to the statutes just referred to, King James I. disgraced himself and his country by his "Book of Sports," in which he declared to his subjects, "That dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting, May-games, Whitsun-ales, and Morris-dancers were lawful;" and commanded" that no such honest mirth or recreation should be forbidden to his subjects on Sunday, after the evening service."
In the first year, however, of the reign of Charles I. chap. 1, such improper and indecent conduct was prohibited, and it was declared that every person indulging in any games should, for every of fence, either forfeit the sum of three shillings and fourpence, or be set publicly in the stocks for three hours. But the inadequacy of this penalty, and the negligence of the police, are at present so lamentable, that in many places, both in London and throughout the country, games of the most improper character are indulged in with impu
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 248.
In the third year of the reign of the same monarch a beneficial statute was passed, declaring, “that no carrier with any horse or horses, nor waggonmen with any waggon or waggons, nor carmen with any cart or carts, nor wainmen with any wain or wains, nor drovers with any cattle, shall, by themselves or any other, travel on the Lord's-day, on pain of twenty shillings; or if any butcher, by himself, or any other for him, with his privity and consent, shall kill or sell any victual on the Lord's-day, he shall forfeit six shillings and eightpence." But, notwithstanding this statute, and another on the same subject, no offences are more frequently committed than those just specified. Throughout the country, cattle are permitted to be driven; and in large towns, and especially in the metropolis, butchers now very generally open their shops on Sunday morning, and frequently during Divine service, to pursue their callings, and openly to violate the laws of God and their country.
These penalties were, however, limited to but a few descriptions of persons, till, by the 29th Charles II. c. 7, it was enacted, that "no drover, horsecourser, waggoner, butcher, higgler, or any of their servants, shall travel, or come into his inn or lodging, on the Lord'sday, or any part thereof, on pain of twenty shillings;" and in general, that "no tradesman, artificer, workman, labourer, or other person, shall do or exercise any worldly labour, business, or work of their ordinary callings, on the Lord's day (except works of necessity, and charity; and except dressing of meat in families, or dressing or selling of meat at inns, cook-shops, or victualling-houses, for such as cannot otherwise be provided:" and by the 9th Anne, c. 23, §. 20, except licensed hackney coach. men and chairmen within the bills of mortality), "on pain of every 3 S
offender above fourteen years of churchwardens, with laudable assiage forfeiting five shillings: and duity, repeated their exertions to also, that no person shall publicly recover the penalty in spite of all cry, shew forth, or expose to sale, the difficulties which presented any wares, merchandizes, fruit, themselves, until at length, subdued herbs, goods or chattels whatso- by their energy and perseverance, ever, on the Lord's - day (except the butchers requested that the crying and selling of milk before beadle might attend on them every nine in the morning, and after four Monday morning for five shillings, in the afternoon; and except mac- which should be regularly paid, in karel, which may be sold on Sundays order to save themselves the troubefore or after Divine service, by ble of attending at a police office. the 10th and 11th William, c. 24, §. 14), on pain of forfeiting the same: and also, that no person shall use, employ, or travel on the Lord's-day, with any boat, wherry, lighter, or barge (unless allowed by a justice of peace, &c. on extraordinary occasion; and except forty watermen, who may ply on the Thames on Sundays betwixt Vauxhall and Limehouse, by the 11th and 12th William, c. 21, §. 13), ચંદ on pain of five shillings: and if any person offending in any of the premises shall thereof be convicted, in ten days after the offence, before one justice, on view, or confession, or oath of one witness, the justice shall give warrant to the constables or churchwardens to seize the goods cried, shewed forth, or put to sale, and to sell the same, and to levy the other forfeitures by distress, to the use of the poor, except that the justice may, out of the same, reward the informer with any sum not exceeding one third part; and for want of distress, the offender shall be set publicly in the stocks for two hours."
The penalties thus inflicted are very trivial, and are also difficult to be recovered. The Christian and surnames of the offending parfies must be ascertained; the person who actually buys must be specified; the money must be seen to pass; and various other formalities must be attended to, before five shillings can be recovered from a man whose profits on a Sunday morning are frequently perhaps five pounds, or even a larger sum. In one parish in London, the
Another example of similarly flagrant conduct is also worthy of attention. In the parish of Covent Garden is held a market, and the fruiterers and green - grocers inhabiting it are pertinacious in their violation of the Sabbath. The churchwardens interfered; they experienced much trouble, and were put to considerable expense, before they could succeed against the legal objections made to the various forms of warrant, conviction, and distress. At length, wheu finally defeated, the offenders, like those just mentioned, directed that the beadle should call on them every Monday for the penalty of five shillings. The only possible method of preventing so shameful a breach of this wholesome statute, is by considerably increasing the penalty, and facilitating its recovery.
It remains for me to specify the Acts which have been passed explanatory of the last-mentioned statute.
By the 9th Anne, c. 23, §. 20, as has been already stated, licensed backney coachmen and chairmen, within the bills of mortality, are allowed to ply.
By the 10th and 11th William, c. 24, §. 14, as has also been stated, crying and selling milk, before, nine in the morning and after four in the afternoon, are permitted; and mackarel likewise may be sold before or after Divine service.
By the 34th Geo. III. c. 61, it was declared, that "no baker in the city of London, or within twelve miles thereof, should, on any pre