« السابقةمتابعة »
parent however, cast aside anxiety, under the shallow and poor pretence that you do but " put bad things into the minds of young men," by discovering to them your concern upon the subject.
But I wish chiefly to address young men themselves, and the principal advice which I would offer is, to beware of the beginnings of sin, and to remember always, that the eye of God is upon them. When temptation of any kind arises, the difficulty of resisting it is encreased tenfold, if we can but persuade ourselves that, in yielding to it, we yield but for once, and that no human eye shall see us. Let us illustrate this observation by the case of the robber. A man ventures, as we will suppose, on the highway. In doing this, he risks an ignominious death; and the utmost profit which he can gain is small. What induces him to this step? His chief inducement is an idea that he shall transgress but once; that no fellow creature shall detect him; and that the purse which he shall take will therefore be clear gain having obtained this one purse he will return to the paths of virtue, since he is well aware that if he should resort to robbery as his trade, he must eventually be found out. The highwayman, however, like every other sinner, soon finds that one criminal act is introductory to another; that the temptation strengthens as he proceeds; and that to the first inducement to break the law is now added the habit of violating it: and the power of habit who can conceive! Let the young man whom I am addressing apply this case.
I will offer only one additional remark.
In whatever degree we dread sin, in the same degree shall we commonly be disposed to guard against it. Many parents of a worldly character are somewhat apprehensive lest their children should fall into vice; but they are not sufficiently fearful of it. They are willing, therefore, to permit a son to expose himself to
some few temptations. For example they allow him to frequent a thea-、 tre; although there are some bounds to the liberty which they grant. But that parcut alone, whose mind is tremblingly alive to the dangers which surround his offspring; and that son alone whose conscience is tender, and who shrinks at the very approach of sin, will be disposed to adinit the necessity of the extreme caution which I am recommending. There are some animals which approach their adversary without being observed, but which, if once permitted to advance, spring suddenly upon their prey, and there is then no possibility of escape. From such insidious enemies it is prudent to fly on perceiving even the least scent of them in the wind, or on hearing the most doubtful sound of their feet. And does not every sin advance upon us in the same manner? Are we not made captives to it while we are yet doubting whether it is so near, that it has become necessary to begin to fly? I submit this subject to the serious consideration of those whom it
may principally concern; requesting them at the same time to add to their vigilance and circumspection, earnest prayer to God for the efficacious influence of his grace.
to the practices of religious men in former times, and agreeable also to the laws of the Church of England. Let us attend to what is said by the pious Mr. Nelson. In the preface to his Companion for the Festivals and Fasts of the Church of England, he commends the devout practices of certain religious societies; and afterwards argues thus: "I see no reason why men may not meet and consult together, to improve one another in Christian knowledge, and by mutual advice take measures how best to further their own salvation, as well as promote that of their neighbours; when the same liberty is taken for the improvement of trade, and for carrying on the pleasures and diversions of life. And if at such meetings they shall voluntarily subscribe any certain sums, to be disposed of in such charities as shall seem most proper to the majority of their members, I cannot imagine how this can deserve censure, when the liberal contributious of gentlemen to support a horse race, or a music meeting, have never been taxed with the least illegality. And as for those objections which are urged against these societies from some canons of the church, they seem to be founded upon a misunderstanding of the sense of those canons, viz. Can. 12 and 73; the first whereof, was designed against the pernicious opinions of the Anabaptists, and the latter only against such meetings and consultations, as tended to the impeaching or depraving of the doctrine of the Church of England, or of the book of Common Prayer, or any part of the government and discipline now established in the Church of England; neither of which consequences can be justly charged upon a body of men, who make it a chief qualification in the electing their members, that they be such as own and manifest themselves to be of the Church of Eng. land, and frequent the public holy exercises of the same." The societies to which Nelson here refers are those, I believe, of which Wood
ward has given us an account. far as I am acquainted with the private religious societies of the present day, very few of them are in all respects similar to those referred to by Nelson, though most of them resemble them in some points, and some of them differ only in a small degree.
When I observe the traits of character which distinguish the present age, I think that in private religious societies, extemporary prayers, exhortations, and expositions of Scripture are generally, though perhaps not universally, productive of evil. The opinions and actions of men, from age to age, have continually given the clearest proof that they are strongly inclined to go to extremes. Religious professors, particularly in the lower classes of society, are disposed to a species of mysticism. Because in religion, many persons contented themselves with a body without a soul; they will not be satisfied unless they have a soul without a body. The necessity of fervour and spirituality in divine worship, is a point which cannot be soberly denied: but to suppose that the man who makes use of a form of prayer, and reads a homily or sermon, is not as earnestly or spiritually employed, and does not enjoy as much of the influences of the holy Spirit, as any other person;-to expect such divine assistance as excludes the necessity of using diligently all human heips;-and to conclude that extemporaneous prayers and sermons are dictated by the Holy Ghost in a manner which is not ordinary;―are palpable errors of no small magnitude. But religious professors have manifested some disposition to fall into these errors, and therefore it is the duty of the clergy to oppose them; to rectify the judgments of the people, and to correct their vitiated taste. And, in order to effect this, it is requisite to abstain from certain practices, which under difficult circumstances may be innocent, or even laudable and necessary. My first argument therefore, is of a general
kind; the object of which is, not only to discourage, but also effectually to oppose and eradicate a prevailing error, which has diminished in the people their esteem of the services of our church.
In the 2d place, regard ought to be had to the consequences which frequently follow the death or removal of a pious clergyman. It is a lamentable evil that a succession of pious ministers cannot generally be secured in different places. If a wicked and careless clergyman succeeds an exemplary and zealous pastor, it is not to be wondered at if many persons in the parish, unable or unwilling to estimate probable future consequences, guided by their feelings more than by their judgments, and continually assaulted by the assiduous attentions of dissenters, should leave the Church of England. This is a serious evil, against which every clergyman ought diligently to guard. Now I apprehend that private religious societies will produce directly contrary effects according to the manner in which they are conducted. If their existence and continuance depend solely on the present officiating clergyman, it is evident that his removal will occasion their dissolution. And in this case, the parishioners will find a greater want of religious instruction, than if they had never enjoyed the benefit of these societies and this deprivation will appear to them to afford an additional cause for frequenting dissenting chapels. Now if, in such societies, the prayers and instructions which are delivered be extemporary, the whole must depend upon the clergyman of the parish, unless laymen be allowed to officiate. I am aware that there are laymen whose abilities, piety, and prudence, qualify them for such a charge; but the number of such is very small indeed. Some few pious men possess sufficient prudence, but their abilities and at tainments are not equal to the undertaking: but in general, there is a, much greater want of prudence than
of ability. How many men have begun at first to conduct private societies, and discontented with this narrow sphere of usefulness, or perhaps, more probably, discontented with this obscure display of their abilities, have ultimately become dissenting preachers! In such a state of things we may reasonably ask, How shall a line of separation be drawn between those laymen who are qualified and those who are not? How shall a clergyman encourage some to engage in this undertaking and discourage others? Is it not much more easy to cause a man, who is really able and pious, to desist from regard to the general good, than to persuade an ignorant conceited man of his want of qualifications? Who is most ready to offer his services? The man of ability or the conceited person? The venerable veteran in the service of Jesus Christ, or the ignorant religious talker?
But let us proceed to consider the manner in which religious societies may be conducted, so as to produce the most permanent good. It is not my intention to attempt to decide whether in all cases such societies be necessary and useful: but when they are established, it is the duty of the person who conducts them to attend to several points of importance; to guard against any the least relaxation of the discipline of the Church of England; to encrease in the minds of the people a veneration and love for our public services; and to adopt a plan which the people shall be able to pursue, when their pious pastor is removed, and which shall, as far as possible, enable them to obtain spiritual food in the church, when the instructions they hear from the pulpit are not pure and scriptural, are not agreeable to the articles and homilies of our church. If this can be done, then these societies, instead of indirectly promoting separation from the church, will prove a sacred barrier fortifying our ecclesiastical establishment.
Persuaded that some good may be
ing which each member was at liberty to deliver b's opinion; and that therefore, they do not exclude extemporary discussions. This must be allowed: but I must request the reader to consider the difference between our own times and the age in which Nelson lived. In the present day, men manifest a sad neglect of the Church of England, of its services and discipline: but a century ago, there were but few dissenters, and the church was regarded with affection and veneration: and from Nelson's Introduction it evidently appears that the members of the societies of which he speaks frequently joined in the public prayers of the church, not only on the Sundays, but also on the other days of the week. So long as such sentiments and practices prevailed, there was no fear of harm arising indirectly from the societies: but things are altogether different in the present day. Many of our duties vary considerably, and are dependent on circumstances; and what is necessary and prudent now might not be so in former times.
done in this way; I will beg leave to offer you a few outlines of a general plan for a religious society. The members should all be strict churchmen, who do not attend dissenting chapels or meetings: the prayers made use of should be some well selected form: nothing extemporary should be admitted; but at each time of assembling together, a chapter or sermon should be read from some judicious publications of our own divines. And in order more fully to guard against every evil, I would recommend that the society should meet in the vestry of the church, according to the plan pursued by Woodward's societies. And as many pernicious consequences might arise, were the members to choose the books which are read in the society, it would be proper and highly necessary that the clergyman who establishes the society, should select, for its use, from 20 to 50 volumes of the best religious publications; and it should be appointed that these books, and these only, should be read when the members meet together. This regulation, if adhered to, would exclude heterodox opinions, and prevent any departure from the sound doctrines of our church; and would, at the same To the Editor of the Christian Observer. time, afford sufficient variety of instruction for all persons whose sincere object is religious improvement, and not unmeaning gratification. And if I were consulted concerning the prayers proper for such a society, I would recommend that many of them should be taken from the book of Common Prayer; and that in order to excite and keep alive a fervent earnestness in devotion, a suitable litany should be appointed: and indeed, throughout the whole form, it would be advisable that at proper intervals, between the prayers read by the president, suitable responses should be made by all the members.together.
It is probable that some persons will remind me that the societies recommended by Nelson were accustomed to propose subjects, concernCHRIST. OBSERVER, No. 51.
I SEND you a bibliographical account of three editions of a work of considerable importance, but involved in much obscurity, The Erudition of a Christian Man, published by authority in the time of Henry VIII. If your readers will contribute what further knowledge they may possess on the same subject, you may, in some future number, be able to give a tolerably complete list of the different editions of that curious and interesting production.
The editions, of which I here give a short description, are to be found, and were examined by me, in the British Museum.
The first is in 18mo. The title is as follows: "A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Chrysten Y
Man, set furth by the Kynges Maiestye of Englande, &c.," with two verses from the xixth and xxth Psalms. The date on the title page is 1534; an evident mistake, the two last numbers being transposed. It has a preface by the King. The pages are not numbered. The work itself consists of ten articles. The colophon: "This boke bounde in paper bourdes or in claspes, not to be sold above xiiiid. Imprinted at London, in Fletestrete, by Thomas Berthelct, Printer to the Kynges Hyghnes the xxix daye of Maye, the Yere of our Lorde M. D. XLIII. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum."
The next is in 4to. The title the same. The leaves only are numbered, and amount to 94. The colophon is the same exactly, excepting the price of the book, which is here "xvid."
The third is a Latin translation of the foregoing work in 4to. with the following title," Pia et Catholica Christiani Hominis Institutio. Londini apud Thomam Bertheletum. Anno M. D. XLIIII." The preface is not that of the king, but one by the translators. It is evidently a translation of the Erudition, not of
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. In answer to an inquiry of one of your correspondents some months ago respecting Hebrew and Italian Bibles, I observe that Foster's and Vanderhooght's Hebrew Bibles seem to come nearest to what he is in quest of; the former is in two volumes, 4to, the latter in 2 vols. 8vo. both excellently printed, correct, and not very expensive. Of Italian Bibles there are four different translations, three by Papists, and one by Diodati, which is far superior in purity of language to the former. See Simon's Critical History of the Old Testament, book ii. chap. 22 and 23; and likewise the Encyclopædia Britannica under Bibles. have seen a later translation than these, but had not an opportunity of discerning whether it were papist or protestant. The whole Bible of Diodati sells dear, and it is difficult to procure the New Testament by itself.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It was with much pleasure that I observed in a late Number of your Miscellany (that for December last, p. 740,) a just tribute of commendation paid both to the purity, and to the exquisite beauty of Mr. Scott's "Lay of the last Minstrel." Fregretted that the " Suthron" who did honour to his taste by recommending to the notice of your readers this elegant production of a Caledonian bard, did not fortify his recommendation by one or two extracts. He would at once have
adorned your work with lines which might furnish a convenient contrast to those which have flourished their day on your blue cover; and have gratified such of your readers as have had no access to the Poem itself. He would also have given you an opportunity, of proving that you know how to distinguish and to value poetic excellence.
In undertaking to remedy the deficiency of which I have complained, I feel myself, however, under some difficulty: for such is the multiplicity of passages which court selection, either on account of the fas