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ground of reproach, and appeals to her authority are discountenanced as symptoms of enthusiasm or party spirit. I must indeed confess, that she is often hardly used; sometimes forcibly beset by prejudice, and error, and ignorance, and bigotry; sometimes dragged this way, and that way, by angry combatants; made to speak according to their fancy, and often the plainest contradictions. In short, misconceived and misrepresented, she is compelled to act as a partisan, and to support discordant opinions, though she bears aloft, on the very proclamation that fixed her title and her rights, that she was born for the purpose of preventing “ disputations, altercations, and questions,” and “ot conserving” men “in unity of true religion and in the bond of peace.” And now, Sir, I ask, is not my sister's a hard case ? But, O Sir, prepare a deeper sigh for me. I hinted before, that I am the most bulky of our family: and I mention this circumstance, Sir, because it operates so much to my disadvantage as almost to exclude me from those scenes in which my sisters are to be found. In our youth, we all received equal attention and respect; for this was our dear mother's intention. A spacious edifice was prepared for our common reception in every district throughout the land, and the attention we then attracted was universal. My elder sister rarely opened the business of the assemblies, but I was expected to close it. Indeed, Sir, at that day, my seat in the assembly was generally above my sister's, and I was received with a rapture little short of enthusiasin. O suffer me for a moment to enjoy the retrospect of those better days. For a time our family had been dispossessed of its rights by a most unjust usurpation, while the whole land lay overwhelmed with papal Jarkness. My grandfather was closely imprisoned, barred, and grated
from the light, and never suffered to shew his face abroad. Indeed, the decree enjoining his confinement was most severe; and if haply one or two friends, lamenting his imprisonment. made any effort to effect his release, or even to confer with him, it was done at the risk of their lives. At length a desperate effort was made by a friend of our family, of the name of Wicklifie, and it succeeded in obtaining for my grandfather a partial release. Still every step was watched with the most jealous caution, and it was not till after much blood was shed that my grandfather recovered the full privilege of his liberty. No sooner was this effected, than my mother, whose growth had been cramped by the privations she endured in consequence of my grandfather's long confinement, grew rapidly, and challenged universal admiration. Her friends became numerous, but, though numerous, they were but little acquainted with my grandfather's sentiments; much less were they capable of explaining them to others. At this juncture I was ushered into the world ; an event which was announced with no sumali form, and hailed with general satisfaction. A solemn ordinance was published for my general reception, as the interpreter of my grandfather's will ; nay, some of the most honourable counsellors were appointed to go throughout the land in circuit, and formally to introduce me to every district. Thus recommended, my right’ to public attention was generally established. O, had you seen how the people then flocked both to see and hear me, you would pity me in beholding the state of contempt into which I am now fallen. I was authorised to explain my grandfather's will more at large than had yet been done. My second sister kept the records of the family estate: it was my office to explain them. If people refused to attend to them, I was appointed to “give a fruitful exhortation to read them.” If the heart revolted against their authority, I shewed “ the misery of man” in this state of revolt. When sensible of his misery, I then spoke of the “ salvation of all mankind,” and the means of obtaining it. Sometimes l inculcated the necessity of a “true and lively faith;” at others, that “ of good works,” and “of Christian love and charity.” In short, Sir, it was my office to insist on the whole circle of the principles and practice recommended by my grandfather; and my teaching was formally stamped with the character of “godly and wholesome.” Even in distant lands men acknowHedged my merits; and one of them expressly said, that “the foundations of truth were so rightly laid by me, that there could be nothing wanting in our family requisite toward the building hereupon sound doctrine and discipline.” Once thus highly honoured, admired, and extolled, both at home and abroad, and confessedly productive of much good, may I not justly complain, Sir, when for these last two centuries I have been gradually falling into disesteem and neglect; not from any change or defect in witnessed in this country, was given by this gentleman on Tuesday last, on this very particular occasion, which, for a cottage entertaininent, may justly be said to vie, in every comparative instance, with the late grand fete at Carlton House. Near one hundred select friends sat down to dinner: the table boasted of every delicacy and luxury of the season, “On the cloth being drawn, the health of the three young Christians (who with the nurses entered the room at the instant, and were placed at the head of the table) was given with an appropriate and beautifully sublime speech, by the Rev. Dr. Morgan, officiating minister on this occasion, the grandeur of which was heightened by the band behind a curtain playing up at the instant, * God save the King,’ which was sung by the whole company, and then changed to an appropriate and lively tune. The finer feelings of the ladies at the time, may be better conceived than expressed ; they appeared more lovely still in tears.” About nine o'clock the ball commenced, which was kept up with great spirit and conviviality till eight o'clock next morning. Beauty and fashion, harmony and friendship, mirth and good humour, pervaded the whole of this select party, the greater part of whom partook of an excellent breakfast, and with regret withdrew. “A temporary room was put up for this occasion, brilliantly illuminated with Grecian and variegated lamps. Too much praise cannot be given to the great skill and ingenuity of Messrs. Dowerings, of Knightsbridge, who, we understand, erected the room, which is portable, and completely weather proof, 60 feet by 18, and which we learnt was built about four years ago, for a grand rout of a nobleman, in Palace-yard, Westminster.”
myself, but from a certain fastidious
refinement, an ungrateful indiffer. ence to my claims, or, what is still worse, a bold contradiction of my rights to present regard, founded on the charge that I am far advanced in my dotage, am rapidly becoming obsolete, and cught, therefore, to pass into oblivion ? But I have already trespassed too long on your time to enter minutely into any specific subjects of complaint at present: I must reserve them for a future opportunity, which I think, Sir, I shall not claim in vain from you, who have ever shewn yourself the decided friend of our house. In the mean time, Sir, by affording publicity to this appeal, you will, l am sure, deserve thanks from all the venerable personages of our family; from my grandfather, the Bible; from my mother, the
Church of England; from my two sisters, the Liturgy and Articles; and from, Sir, though last not least, your aggrieved servant, THE Book OF HOMILIES. -
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. HAppENING, some time ago, to hear that a family of my acquaintances who are by no means destitute of humane feeling, and who would not be thought deficient in regard to the serious subjects of death and judgment, had been so far misled by custom and example, as to give the sanction of their presence to an assize ball, I had it in contemplation to address you on the subject of these unchristian entertainments. On a little inquiry, however, l discovered that the number of provincial towns, in which these minor Auta-da-Fê are still celebrated, was so small, and, from the increase of refinement or of taxation, so continually diminishing, that it appeared useless to load your pages with animadversions on a barbarous custom, now happily become almost obsolete.
I was content, therefore, to witness the glory of assize balls setting in their native obscurity. But, Sir, a new phenomenon has lately arisen in our hemisphere, the progress of which towards its meridian may well arrest the attention of the Christian Observer, although he should in vain endeavour to impede it in its course. The phenomenon to which I allude, is that of a Baptismal Ball. The history of this novel appearance will be found by your readers in the Morning Post newspaper of the 9th instant, from which I have taken the following copy of it.
Now, Sir, being myself the parent of several children, at the period of
whose baptism it has been my wish and prayer, that my own mind might be suitably affected with serious thoughts, I could not but feel shocked at the levity with which the subject of baptism is treated in this narrative. Can we believe, that the persons who were the actors in this scene, or that the writer who described it, were duly impressed with the solemnity of that sacred rite, which is declared by our church to be the “ outward and visible sign of a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness?” Can we believe, that the renunciation on the part of these infants, of the “pomps and vanities of this wicked world,” was very sincerely made by those sponsors, who imme
diately afterwards were partakers in
this unrestrained and untimely festivity : I am aware, Sir, that I may be charged with personality in putting these questions; but I solemnly declare, that, till I read the paragraph, the names of the parties concerned were entirely unknown to me. Neither, Sir, am I am enemy to cheerfulness at any time, nor to festivity on suitable occasions. Even the recreation of dancing I do not condemn, when restrained within reasonable hours, and practised in unexceptionable company. But “there is a time for all things,” and in my humble judgment the dedication of one child, and a fortiori of three children, to the service of God, demands from a parent, from a minister of the Gospel, and from every Christian spectator, far other emotions than those which may prevail with propriety at a royal fête, or at an election dinner. It is far from my wish to impute to the party at Teddington a worse motive for their conduct on this occasion, than that which on the face of the statement appears to have actuated them. I believe, that had it been proposed to them to spend a day and night in jollity, on the occasion of the confirmation of three young Christians, or of their first receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they would all have excused themselves; at least, I feel confident, that the Rev. Dr. Morgan would not have sanctioned such a meeting with his presence. But wherein consists the difference between the two cases, as to their solemnity, unless it be in the minds of the parties concerned “ Knew they not, that so many of us as are baptized into Jesus Christ, are baptized into his death 2 Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Such is the solemn view of baptism which the great Apostle has given us; but is it not obvious that many professing Christians regard this sacred ordinance as a mere civil ceremony, whereby the names of their children are unalterably fixed, and the dates of their birth hereafter to be ascertained I am persuaded, that it any of Mr. Bragg’s numerous friends were to examine himself on this point, he would find, that his visit to Teddington was attended with the same emotions as those which any ancient heathen would have experienced on the naming day of his friend's child. Among the ancients, indeed, a mumerous attendance on such occasions was not without its use, inasmuch as the birth and name of the child were enrolled in no other register than the memories of the company present. And why should not a heathen company be jovial on such an occasion Their joy at the birth of a citizen was unmixed with anxiety about his spiritual and eternal happiness: Gratum est, quod patriae civem, populoque dedisti
Si facis ut patriae sit idoneus, utilis agris, Utilis et bellorum, et pacis rebus agendis. Such would be the natural congratulation of any patriotic and virtuous Roman, when invited to the festivities of a lustric day, and well
might this congratulation be accom" panied with the most patriotic and “lively airs,” to which the ears of Romans were accustomed. Rut have Christians no higher or better wishes for their offspring, than that they should be serviceable to the country which gave them birth: Have they no greater fears for them than that they should be useless members of the commonwealth 2 Is there not an authority which says, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; becausestrait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,and few there be that find it o’’ Perhaps I may be thought by some of your readers, uncharitable, in supposing that such considerations were not present to the minds of the party at Teddington. Had they not taken care, it may be asked, of the spiritual interests of these three children, by praying, in the admirable words of our baptismal service, “O merciful God, grant that the old Adam in these children may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in them. Grant that all carnal affections may die in them, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in them. Grant that they may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh ** Having said Amen to all these prayers, why, it may be asked, should they not rejoice afterwards? To this I answer, that their rejoicing should have been of a kind less dissonant from the tenor of their prayers: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice.” “We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate these infants with thy Holy Spirit, to receive them for thine own children by adoption, and to incorporate them into thy holy church.” Such are the words of rejoicing which our Liturgy provides for the parents of newly baptized infants, and for their friends. But how do these words harmonise with “God save the King, sung by the whole company, and then changed to an appropriate and lively tune?” Is it not plain, that, whatever might have been the case whilst Dr. Morgan was reading the baptismal service, there was nothing very Christian in the spirit of the meeting afterwards Had ten Christian friends been invited by Mr. Bragg, instead of “ near one hundred select ones,” the case might have been otherwise: but then the entertainment would mot have been “one of the most spirited and brilliant ever perhaps witnessed in this country;” nor could it “justly have been said to vie in every comparative instance with the late grand fête at Carlton House;” nor, what were perhaps more disastrous than all, would the account of it have occupied a space immediately preceding the London news in the columns of the Morning Post. There is, Mr. Editor, but one possible circumstance that in my sober judgment could render an animadversion on this Baptismal Fête superfluous, and this is, the possibility that the whole story may have been forged, for the purpose of trumpeting into fame the manufactory of “ portable and completely weatherproof rooms” at Knightsbridge. It must be admitted, that there is a great air of a lottery puff in the last sentence of the paragraph; but still, I cannot believe that any respectable tradesmen (and other than such I have no reason to conceive Messrs. Dowerings to be) would wilfully fabricate a statement af. fecting the Christian reputation of a reverend divine, a father of a family, and his numerous friends, for a mere self-interested, money-getting purpose. Much less can I suppose it probable, that, if the statement could have been fabricated, Dr. Morgan at least, if not Mr. Bragg himself, would not within the week, at the expiration of which I write, have authorised the editor of the Morning Post to expose the faChrist. ORserv. No. 132.
My mind has lately been employed, as, I suppose, that of my countrymen has very generally been, on the supposed rights of the Papists. Of the political tendency of the . cessions demanded, I am no judge. In a religious view, I am decidedly hostile to those concessions. There is one consideration, Sir, which has arisen in my mind on the subject, which I have not seen brought forward by any writer on it;—it is the inconsistency of these supposed rights with the oath commonly called the oath of abjuration. This oath is taken by clergy and laity, by churchmen and dissenters. The latter clause of it is as follows: “And I do declare, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, supremacy, preheminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.” On this clause I beg leave to propose a few questions, and shall be obliged to any of your correspondents for answers to such of them as may require a solution. is not Ireland a part of “ this realm ?” Is not the pope a “foreign prince, prelate, or person ". Is not the appointment of bishops, &c. the direct or indirect exercise of “jurisdiction, power, preheminence, or are: 5 11