« السابقةمتابعة »
consoling service of the Church, arises from that mawkish sensibility, and that false and miserable over-refinement, so prevalent in this our generation; and in part, too, from undervaluing the Church prayers. Did we duly appreciate them, did we know their inestimable value, we should not allow of any exclusion, nor would any one submit to be deprived of this sacred privilege. In England, women always attend funerals, that they may be blessed with the consolation of the appointed office; but in unhappy Scotland, the door of the Church is shut against them; and from the means of consolation which she has provided for them, they are debarred! Among the dissenters from Christ's Church, the funeral ceremony consists generally in meeting the corpse at the door, walking after it to the burying-ground, looking on while it is lowered into the grave and covered up, without one pious word to indicate that it is the body of a professed Christian which they are depositing in its last resting place. Then, indeed, the delicate sensibility of the female mind may be spared the pain of attending such a cold and lifeless act. But the Church, if in a vigorous state, ought to be a living witness against all sectarian error; instead of being led into the absurd customs with which she is surrounded. In all cases where her service is to be performed, she ought, by the voice of paternal authority, to impress upon her female members the duty of resisting customs which she does not sanction, and of seeking the consolation which she has provided for them where it can be found. The burial service being an act of the Church, as many of the congregation, of both sexes, ought to be present, as can conveniently attend. We know as yet but one congregation in Scotland, where the nature and intent of this service is properly understood, and its object practically carried out-we mean St Columba's in Edinburgh. The body is taken to the Church, where it is met at the appointed hour by the friends, and as many of the male and female members of the congregation as can make it convenient to be present the rich making a point, as often as possible, to attend the funerals of the poor, When the portion of the service appointed to be used in Church is said, all then present accompany the body to the burying-ground, where the service is devoutly concluded. The poor are thus made to feel that they are fellow-members with the rich of Christ's Body, and that they are excluded from no Christian privilege to which the others can be admitted,
As to the portion of the service appointed to be said at the grave,
it ought, on no consideration, to be said any where else. however, the house of prayer is inconveniently situated, as must often be the case, in the present depressed condition of the Scottish Church, the psalms and lessons may either be said at the grave with the rest of the service, or in the public room or place where the company are assembled before leaving the residence of the deceased. To admit of its being rightly done in the presence of the people assembled to pay the last honours to the departed, let the coffin be moved into the public apartment before they begin to arrive; and let not the service commence before the hour appointed for all to meet. When refreshments are provided, let it be done in solemn silence, without the mockery of a long Presbyterian grace or prayer. If, however, it be desired that they be blessed for the use of the receivers, let it be done by the officiating minister in as few words as he would use in the case of an ordinary meal; leaving the Church service to supply the appropriate devotions for the occasion. But there is no reason why, if so inclined, he should not preach, or address the company on the service of the Church, to administer such consolation, admonition, or instruction, as he may judge expedient. The Church places no restraint upon the exercise of this duty by her clergy, but rather requires them to be 'instant in season and out of season,' in warning, rebuking, exhorting, and comforting their people. Only in the duty of public prayer, she restricts them rigidly to the use of her own authorized offices.
Before entering on the concluding portion of our subject, we would notice, as by the way, a remarkable instance of the irreligious tendency of the present age, viz.-the practice of keeping aloof from the house of God for some weeks after feeling the visitation of His hand. We can hardly conceive any greater token of a mind thoroughly undisciplined, and uninfluenced by the principles of Christianity. On this subject we feel that we cannot do better than transcribe the words of the devout and holy Kettlewell. When the hand of death removes from you those dear to you as your own souls, 'do not refrain from going to Church for such a certain space of time, or number of weeks, as the manner of some is; which is a very ill chosen expression of grief, or ceremony of mourning. For this looks as if we were out of humour with God, because He has taken our friend from us; and is very unsuitable to that patience and thankfulness which we ought to express, and to that devotion which we not only ought, but need to use on such occasions. For these
changes should not make us less religious, but more; and call us to God, and His house and service, instead of driving us from them. The house of God is the house of comfort; and in our affliction we have the more need to go to it, to be eased of our sorrow, as well as to show our entire submission and service to that most wise and good hand, which has now disposed of our friend, and in His due time, will dispose of us too to His own mercy.'*
The last question we wish to consider is,-who are entitled to claim the last offices of the Church? Have all a right to this privilege? Both the rubric and the principles of the Church are opposed to such a supposition. No one has a right to the services of the Church but her members. Therefore the rubric excludes excommunicated and unbaptized persons from the privileges of Christian burial. Till we are engrafted into the Body of Christ we cannot partake of the spiritual strength and nourishment which flow from Him as the Head of the body; and by His own sacred appointment, Baptism is the laver of our regeneration, the means by which we are made members of His Church, and so of Him. Then occurs the question, what constitutes a valid Baptism? Is it the use of the appointed words and element alone, or must they be used in the unity of the Church, and by one having the Divine authority to act as an ambassador for Christ in things pertaining to God? This is a point of great importance and difficulty, but the Church has, to some extent, decided it for us, and with her judgment we are satisfied. She recognizes the doubt of the validity of lay baptism, and recommends the removal of that doubt by hypothetical baptism when the party can be satisfied of its importance. And in no case does she acknowledge the efficacy of the baptism of Separatists until the person has been formally received into the communion of the Church. Outward acts of communion with the Church are therefore necessary, in Scotland, to give a man any claim to be buried with her service. It is not so in England. The theory of the Church there is, that every man is a member of the Church who has been by any one sprinkled with water in the name of the blessed Trinity, as was lately decided by the Ecclesiastical Judge. There cannot be a doubt, that this has arisen from the alteration of her circumstances, and is not according to her principles, because, at the time her services were arranged, dissent was either not known or not recognized. This is a part of the price she pays for her support * Visitatio infirmorum, p. 629.
by a semi-christian government and legislature. Unfortunately, the Scottish Church suffers from the subjection of her Anglican Sisterby her influence over mere fashionable religionists. Thus, in Scotland, no sectarian could claim Church privileges on any tenable ground; but in England, the friends of a deceased person can claim Christian burial for him, though he has all his life been a notorious schismatic or even infidel, and never once been within the doors of the Church till carried thither. This appears to us, in Scotland, an approximation to solemn mockery. Although a man may be, in virtue of his baptism, a member of the Church, we agree with the English canons, that he may forfeit his privileges, and that by a certain line of conduct he does, ipso facto, become excommunicate. Accordingly, the Scottish Church recognizes no man as a member of her body, or entitled to any of her spiritual benefits, who is not in a state of living membership, i. e. who does not join in formal acts of communion. But for the maintenance of this principle her clergy are sometimes made to suffer. We once knew an individual from England, who settled in Scotland at the distance of a few miles from a Church; the Clergyman, in a period of fifteen or sixteen years, never saw him but once there; yet when he died, his friends demanded for him the rites of Christian burial; and when the Clergyman refused, on the ground that he had no evidence of his living or dying in the communion of the Church, such as she could recognize, they were offended, and have not ceased to manifest their resentment in every possible way. They evidently, from not understanding the principles of the Church, misinterpreted their Clergyman's conscientious discharge of duty, and looked upon it as a personal affront to their family. Such a case could never have occurred, had it not been for the laxity of the Anglican Church, which has brought the burial service to be regarded, not as an evidence of the Communion of Saints,' but as a genteel ceremony, without which no funeral can be properly conducted. When every dissenter and evil liver* can claim this privilege, it must be utterly
* A work has recently been published, the precise title of which we do not remember, but from which we have seen extracts giving a variety of instances of the profanation of this service by its improper use. The following occurred, in the case of a very worthy clergyman of whom we know something, and was related to us by an eye-witness. He was asked by the relatives to bury a man who had lived and died a notorious infidel; he begged and entreated to be spared the pain of violating his conscience, and of profaning
worthless as a mark and evidence that the true churchman has died in the peace and unity of the Church. If every one is admitted to it, no matter though he never worshipped within the sacred walls, what influence can it have upon the living, except to encourage them to go on still in their wickedness, as knowing that they will, at the last, be committed to the grave with all the outward marks of having died in the true faith and fear of God?
If, then, we have in this respect as in many others, privileges which are denied to our English brethren in Christ, let us be faithful to them, even if we should suffer for righteousness sake. stedfastness will certainly bring us peace at the last.
[We have received the following communication from a valued correspondent at Stockholm, and consider that we cannot do better than give the whole in his own words.]
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTTISH MAGAZINE.
SIR, Various occupations have prevented me from writing to you, as I have for some time intended, with reference to the Brief Account' of the SEE OF ST ANDREWs, which appeared in your No. II. for February last, but I avail myself of the first leisure I have to do so.
The notice of the See in question is prefaced by the note
Erected into an Archi-Episcopate, circa 1474.'
I am happy to have it in my power, by the kindness of a friend here, and especially of Professor Munch, of Christiania, to furnish you with the exact date of the erection of Scotland's first Metropolitan See, which took place two years earlier than fixed above, under Bulls of Pope Sixtus iiij, dated 16mo: Kal: Sepis: A. D. 1472. As these
the service; but they pressed their legal right, and he complied. In doing so, however, he used a liberty with the service which made the blood of the hearers run cold :-'We commit his body, &c., in sure and certain hope, that he will rise again at the last day, to reap the awful reward of a life of blasphemy,' or words to that effect. We do not justify this, but we could excuse the indignation of a conscientious clergyman when thus called upon by law to mock God and His Church. We have also heard of an instance exactly the reverse, when a clergyman, in a like case, insisted on reading the service, thinking it his duty, against the entreaty of the relatives who, themselves also infidels, were shocked at the mockery.