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Our correspondent H., arguing from former instances, despairs of commissions upon the poor laws doing good. And we should despair too if we did not think that circumstances were more favourable now than formerly. Up to a recent period, none of the successive cabinets or oppositions which have followed each other would have dared to originate any adequate measure to meet the evil. The people were not prepared for serious alterations, with a view to ultimate abolition; the poor would have risen in a mass to oppose them; mistaken charity would have taken the popular side, and political party would have found an easy triumph against its luckless antagonists, who had ventured to be just and wise at the expense of their places. Had the House of Commons seriously taken up the question, it would have been considered by the populace, and by some who ought to know better, as a boroughmongering job to injure the poor and save the money of the rich. But, in a parliament chosen by the great mass of householders, the question may be entertained more hopefully. Many of those who will become members are well informed already upon the question, and wish the entire abolition of poor laws; and these include some popular candidates: others will gradually gain information by collision and discussion; and so clear is the case when fully examined, that we have strong hopes that the abolition of pauperism, which will be the abolition of White slavery, will before long be as hopeful a prospect as at this moment is the extinction of Black. The first step to this consummation will be, to legislate upon principle, and not by palliatives. If the cottager finds that he can bring up his son to earn more bread by making hardware and exchanging it for Polish com, than by cultivating a slip of land doled out by charity, he will not long be content with the present arrangement. The legislator and the pauper will then meet upon fair terms. "We cannot, " says the former to the latter, "allow your son, as we have done you, parish relief: the next generation must depend upon itself; the reign of allotments and Lord and Lady Bountifuls has passed away." "Fair enough," replies the pauper; "if my son is to go where he likes and to do what he likes, without an overseer watching his footsteps, or masters refusing him work, and beadles warning him off, lest he should become burdensome to the parish; and if, instead of being upon his good behaviour for an allotment, he may make a spade and get the ship-man to send it abroad in exchange for a loaf; and the labourer being no longer a pauper, may aspire to the dignity of a man and a Christian."
We have put the matter thus roughly; and certainly not in the spirit in which we should wish such a dialogue to be held. The poor will never cease out of the land, and Christian charity will ever be a duty and a pleasure; and gratitude, a duty and a pleasure in return. Besides which, the gradations of society are a part of the providential arrangements of God; and nothing can be more contrary to reason, to Scripture, or to the wellbeing of mankind, than the upstart brutishness of modern infidelity and radicalism. We are anxious for a system under which the labourer shall be contented, and orderly, and respectful, without being dependent or servile. At present the poor are either cringing or insolent; and we know not which is most offensive. We wish to see them independent; but this is perfectly consistent with mildness, courtesy, and a cordial rendering of honour to whom honour is due. Persons thus circumstanced will feel grateful for kindness or assistance; but they will justly spurn patronage, which is to be repaid by a fawning homage. A gentleman is respectful to all classes of persons from eelf-respect, even if he have no better motive; and why should not a poor man be governed by the same principle? There will be less servile slinking down bye-lanes to avoid the squire or the clergyman; but there will be a confiding and respectful demeanour, if the parties deserve it, which, to a man of right feelings, will be far more welcome. We see this daily in the courteous salutation of a well-ordered Nationalschool child, as compared with an abject pauper.
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INQUIRY RESPECTING THE CHARACTER OF THE
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I Have lately seen it stated that Mr. Wesley recorded somewhere in his Journals, his full conviction that the Montanists of the second and third centuries were " scriptural Christians ;" and that the obloquy associated with their name was undeserved, and was in truth the offence of the Cross and persecution for righteousness' sake. The epithet" heretic " is so familiarly connected with the name of Montanus, that I should as soon have thought of dissociating the Goths and Vandals. And yet, upon turning to Mosheim, (the only ecclesiastical historian I happen to have at hand,) 1 begin to suspect that Mr. Wesley had better ground for his exculpation than I had imagined. Mosheim accuses Montanus of being ignorant, weak-minded, extravagant, and fanatically austere; but there is a great dearth of specification as to the real character of his tenets. He says, that whereas former sects had originated in philosophy, Montanus held science and letters in abhorrence ; which may only mean, that he avoided the learned^fallacies of his predecessors. Mosheim admits that "he made no attempts upon the peculiar doctrines of Christianity," but " only" declared that he was'the Paraclete or Comforter, pronounced by our Saviour to give to the moral precepts delivered by Christ and the Apostles " the finishing touch ;" that they had made too many concessions to human infirmity, to remedy which he prescribed rigid fasting, forbad second marriages, refused absolution for enormous sins, condemned ornamenting and pampering the body, banished polite literature, prohibited " the innocent enjoyments of life," and thought that Christians ought not to save their lives from their merciless tormentors either by flight or bribes.
Now, in all this catalogue of crimes, I see nothing positively heretical except the notion that he was the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and was empowered to improve the laws of Christ. As for the rest, it might be that, like Mr. Wesley himself, he thought that too many of those who professed and called themselves Christians were such only in name, and were not living as became the disciples of their crucified Redeemer, and did not take up their cross and follow him. It might be that these charges all resolve themselves into the old complaint of the world, the formalist, and the hypocrite, against those who " walk circumspectly," of being "righteous over much :" and if Montanus was in reality—as perhaps he was— somewhat too austere, it is at least certain that there were multitudes far too lax; and if Scripture be the right standard, the licentious heretics were quite as anti-Christian as the disciplinarians.
But then for the charge of his affecting to be the Paraclete or Comforter. If he did so, he was probably as much a madman as a heretic; but Mosheim admits in his note, that "those are undoubtedly mistaken who have asserted that Montanus gave himself out for the Holy Ghost;" nor did he, adds Mosheim, even pretend that he had received "the same Spirit or Paraclete which formerly animated the Apostles." "He thought there was a distinction," says Mosheim, as did other Christian doctors, "between the Paraclete promised by Christ to his Apostles, and the Holy Spirit shed upon them at the day of Pentecost." That this idea of a promised messenger from God, besides the gift of the Holy Ghost, floated in the early church, is illustrated by the fact of Mohammed's having artfully grounded his false mission upon the notion. Still, I am not even yet certified exactly as to the sentiments of Montanus, go as clearly to understand the extent of his heresies. We know that in different eras of the church, those who have endeavoured to recal the attention of their brethren to the great doctrine of the need and the nature of the Holy Spirit's influences, when it has been practically lost sight of, have been accounted visionaries, and have been asserted to claim for themselves a direct and immediate inspiration, when they only stated, it might be not in the soberest terms, the doctrine of a Divine Paraclete who was to abide with the church for ever. If Montanus meant substantially to distinguish between the ordinaryand the extraordinary influencesof the Holy Spirit, and to set aside the notion that the operations of that Divine Agent had ceased at the day of Pentecost, and to shew that the Paraclete still dwells with the church, he would have meant nothing but what was sound, though many of his contemporaries would have misunderstood his meaning. But Tertullian, his scholar, is his best commentator; and some of your readers who have his works at hand, would perhaps favour me through your pages with a resolution of my difficulty. My present impression is, that Mr. Wesley's opinion was partly right and partly wrong; that is to say, that a portion of the odium under which Montanus laboured was on account of his really scriptural views of the devotedness, the self-denial, and the heavenlymindedness which became the Christian character: but that a portion also arose from the human littlenesses and petty scruples which he mixed up with this great truth; and still more from his assumption, under whatever modification,of the office of the Paraclete; which, if he did it in the plain meaning of the terms, was not merely heresy, but blasphemy; and, if under any other view of the matter, was still so dangerous a delusion that I can only wonder at Mr. Wesley's exculpation. Under all the circumstances, I suspend my judgment till 1 am favoured with better information, which I doubt not some of your correspondents who have their literary implements at hand can readily furnish. For their better comfort in their researches, I will add, that such reviews of ecclesiastical history are not fruitless; and one lesson especially which we are constrained to learn from them is, to distrust the statements of the out-and-out writers of a dominant party respecting the despised minority. Almost all the holy men of every age, if they have been zealous for any neglected truth, have been handed down to posterity by their contemporaries as heresiarchs ; and no heresy is worse in the estimation of a thoughtless person than that of living godly in Christ Jesus. R. L.
VERSIFICATION OF LATIN LINES, "DE AMORE JESUS."
The Latin verses of your correspondent C, in your Number for November may be met with in several Roman-Catholic books of devotion. They were written, I believe, by Drexelius the Jesuit, whose very curious writings will repay the perusal of the admirers of Catholic practical divinity of the school of Kempis and Quesnel. I subjoin a version of the hymn.
To the Editor of the Cliristian Observer.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
WORKS ON FEMALE DUTIES, &c.
1. Woman in her Domestic and Social Character. By Mrs. John SandFord. 1832.
2. Hints to a Clergyman's Wife; or Female Parochial Duties. 1832. 4s.
3. The Annals of my Fillage, being a Calendar of Nature for every Month in the Year. By the Author of " Select Female Biography." 1831, 12a.
4. The Scripture Garden Walk; comprising the Botanical Exposition and Natural History of every Plant occurring [mentioned] in the Sacred Scriptures, with Reflections and Original Poetry. 1832. 10s. 6d.
In return for the kind patience of our readers in accompanying us through many a discussion on topics in which utility may have sometimes preponderated over amusement, we avail ourselves of the volumes before us to close our pages for another year with words of milder instruction and gentler suasion. These four publications, one only avowedly, but all of them without a shadow of doubt really, the offspring of female pens, form a very pleasing and valuable series of lessons and lawful recreations, the study of which may render wives and daughters better and happier women, and the world a better and happier world.
Mrs. Sandford points out with great good sense and simplicity, yet with much acuteness and liveliness, the causes of female influence, the value of letters to women, (why does she write woman ?) yet infinitely more the importance of religion; adding several chapters on Scripture illustrative of female character, female influence on religion, female defects, female romance, female education, and female duties.
The instructress of the clergyman's wife, herself apparently bearing and adorning that responsible character, devotes her truly spiritually-minded and practical pages to the duties of a particular class of her female friends, pointing out to them the right use of influence, and the necessity of consistency of conduct and self-examination, with valuable suggestions respecting visiting the sick, the poor, schools, religious instruction of children, cottage readings, tracts, parochial libraries, and the employment of the poor, all most Christianly grounded upon " love to Christ, the constraining motive to action."
But neither women nor men, and still less young persons, can keep the bow always strained; and, therefore, a third kind instructress, whon dulged us some years since with a very interesting little volume of "select Female Biography," takes the family party by the hand and leads them round her village; pointing out to them, in a very interesting manner, and with beautiful pictorial illustrations, its rural annals,—not the gossip of its two-footed idlers, but the notes of its birds, the hues of its meadows, the habits of its winged insects, the localities and virtues of its plants, and the thousand minute observables which the amiable Mr. White, of Selborne, has rendered so popular: though, in truth, as bird's nesting aud butterflyhunting are rather light employments, we are glad the labour has in the present instance fallen to the task of a lay lady, rather than to a clergyman, or even " a clergyman's wife;" who, if our authoress No. 2 is right, has almost as little time for extra professional employments as her husband. Our annalist has, however, made so rational and entertaining a book for every month in the year, and interspersed it with such pleasing reflections upon the wisdom and goodness of God in the works of creation, that we should be glad to see it scattered upon many a sofa and table, to the extrusion of those useless, and often baneful, works of fiction, which enervate, and too frequently deprave, the minds of young people of the present generation.. We rejoiced to see the Penny Magazine, though it did not profess to he religious, because it was calculated to set aside, among the poorer purchasers of literature, those pestilential cheap publications which abound in the hawkers' baskets and the shops of small traders. The Saturday Magazine we thought still more valuable, because, while, like the Penny Magazine, it was abundantly entertaining and instructive, and even exceeded its contemporary—we will not say more—in the beauty of its embellishments, it was so arranged, that without professing to be a religious magazine, many of the amusing articles had a religious tendency, and every Number, we believe, has contained some papers or paragraphs of a directly devotional character. We were among those who thought that there was room for a publication of this kind, of a decidedly religious character, and that the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge had facilities for instituting one; but we can well appreciate the object of those who judged a publication upon the plan of the Saturday Magazine best for the particular office assigned to it, of excluding infidel, blasphemous, obscene, and anti-social publications, which cannot compete in type, paper, and decoration, with either the Penny, or the Saturday, some fifty thousand of which must sell to pay even the prime cost of publication. Our objection to the publications of the Useful Knowledge Society is, that by systematically excluding the subject of religion, (the Penny Magazine has, we believe, occasionally relaxed in this matter) they would leave the impression upon the mind of a man who should read little else, that religion is a matter of no importance. He may wade through twenty tractates and never hear that he has a soul, or that there is a heaven or a hell, or that Christ died for sinners, or that the Holy Ghost sanctifies the elect people of God. The effect of this studied omission is in the end highly injurious, and hence the value of those recognitions in the Saturday Magazine, which prevent the most cursory reader concluding that religion is one of those subjects which may by common consent be banished from popular reading. We hope that this publication, now that it has worked its way to public acceptance, will open its columns yet more widely to the most momentous of all topics, and fear not to set before its readers, strikingly, and with vigorous application, the great matters of faith and salvation. We however fully appreciate the object of its conductors, who, having for their immediate design, the supply of instructive and innocently entertaining reading, with a view to interest and elevate the popular mind, and to expel obnoxious publications, probably considered, and with truth, that a work more directly theological, would fail of this end, and that they might better supply the defect in other ways, and, among others, by the projected monthly publication of several family sermons.
But we are wandering from our subject, except so far as the Annals of my Village, and similar publications, were the precursors among the richer classes of a useful and amusing species of reading which may help to work the same effect in driving out novels, as penny magazines in expelling penny blasphemies. Beautifully and affectionately does the excellent author remark as the summing up of her volume:
"Now, courteous reader, I have brought my pleasant labours to a close. Perhaps these labours may excite within you a love for similar pursuits, and then, if placed in scenes of rural quiet, you may thank me for directing your attention to the great museum that surrounds you. But if your lot is cast in a crowded city, even then it may not displease you to retrace with me the sites of those fair flowers, that open to the purest air of heaven; to hear something of the loves and friendships of such gentle creatures, as frequent our woods and meadows, and much that I have seen and felt among the hills and valleys of my own sweet village. Beautiful they were in spring, in summer, and in autumn: even now, that winter has wrapt them in her snowy vest, they are still beautiful; and I have thought them so, reader! when not a leaf was heard to rustle on the trees, and when careering clouds were driven by gusty winds