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THE DEAD IN CHRIST.
'In your sympathetic heart
We, and our earthly griefs, may ask and hope a part.'
The Christian Year-St Barnabas.
SIR,-AS you have been so kind as to admit my last communication, I now tender a few further remarks, hoping from time to time will allow me to renew the correspondence.
The attention of catholic-minded Christians has of late years been more especially drawn to the subject of the faithful departed: our communion with them, and their's with us, in the one mystical Body of Christ.
Allow me to observe, in the first place, that as the religion of Christ was designed to refine, sublimate, and ratify, but not to cancel, the ties of nature and affection, we should, a' priori, have expected that the earnest desire which we all experience, that our intercourse with those whom we love, both in the flesh and in the Lord, should not be terminated by death, would be sanctioned, and at least in measure gratified, by the provisions of the Christian covenant. Hence we find it has been a common persuasion, in every age of the Christian Church, that the departed do, as a matter of fact, entertain, amid the joys of Paradise, a remembrance of their brethren upon earth; that they offer up for them perpetual intercessions; that they have, on some remarkable occasions, been even permitted to re-visit them; that they are more or less conversant with what transpires in the Church below; and that these persuasions are derived, not merely from conjecture, reason, or experience, but are countenanced or authorized by the Word of God.
Before referring more particularly to some passages bearing on this interesting topic, it is well to bear in mind that we are not to expect to find in Scripture explicit statements of all which is, and has been, piously believed and practised in the Church. Many things are taken for granted in Scripture; many things were taught by the apostles by word of mouth, but not incorporated into any of their Epistles. It is sufficient to allude to infant baptism, and the observance of the Lord's-day.
Again: Single instances in Scripture are to be taken as illustrations of God's general dealings with man, and of our relation to Him,
and to one another, both in this world and in the next, Hence, even a single intimation given in Scripture relative to the world of spirits may be, and very often is, of very great importance, and a key to the interpretation of many passages which, without it, would be obscure.
1. Now, in referring to the Old Testament, we find (1 Kings xxii. 20) that the Host of Heaven,' and we have no ground to assume that this Host included the angels only, knew that a lying spirit, in the mouth of all the prophets, should go forth and persuade Ahab, that he might go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead.' In other words, the inhabitants of heaven were then cognizant of certain events occurring upon earth.
2. The first passage which I shall adduce from the New Testament, as bearing upon this subject, is from the well-known history, for I will not call it parable, of the rich man and Lazarus. From this it would appear at once evident, that the departed take cognizance of what occurs upon earth. Father Abraham knew that the rich man, in his lifetime, had received his good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, and that Dives had five brethren still on earth. (St Luke xvi.)
3. Again we are expressly told by our Blessed Lord, that those whom He calls His 'friends and neighbours,' in heaven, know of souls which turn from the error of their ways, when He calleth them together, and there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.' (St Luke xv. 10.)
4. St Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, says, that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.' If, then, principalities and powers are so conversant with the economy of the Church of Christ, is it probable that departed members of that mystical body, while in Paradise, lose sight of their brethren in the flesh?
5. Again: it is clearly deducible from the Book of Revelations, that the souls of the martyrs who are at rest, have a foresight of persecutions coming on the Church below, for it has been said unto them, that they should rest yet a little season, until their fellowservants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.' (Rev. vi. 11.)
6. And, still further, that the inhabitants of heaven in general sympathize with their brethren in the flesh, and are conversant with their spiritual history; for they are described as singing at the time
of the end,Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the powers of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night, and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.' (Rev. xii. 10, 11.)
I shall adduce but one passage from the Fathers, and that from St Ignatius, who lived in the times of the apostles, and was intimate with those who had stood near the Sacred Person, and listened to the teaching of our Lord Himself. In writing to the Trallians, he says, 'My spirit saluteth you, not only now, but when I shall have gone to God.'
Thus it would appear that, like racers in a Grecian amphitheatre, 'we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses' (Heb. xii. 1), who are concerned for our trials, and animate our fainting spirits, and quicken our speed, and rejoice in our attaining an everlasting crown.'
How beautifully does the poet Cowper express a feeling which must spontaneously suggest itself to every pious heart!—
My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?
Perhaps thou gavest me, though unfelt, a kiss ;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss:
Ah! that maternal smile! it answers-Yes.'
The devout author of the Christian Year' speaks still more confidently. In describing a Church, he says,
The mother of our Lord is there,
And saints are breathing hallow'd air,
Living and dead, to waft on high our feeble prayer,
And with His mother and his saints
He watches by; Who loves the prayer that never faints.'
Should these brief remarks, which at present I refrain from expanding, lead any of your readers to ponder this subject in a thoughtful spirit, it may tend to the eliciting of further truth, and my object will have been abundantly answered.-I remain, your faithful servant,
To the Editor of the Scottish Magazine.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.-We gladly admit the preceding letter, and shall be
happy to hear again from our correspondent on these subjects. We hope and believe, that the prejudice is fast dying away which connected these high and holy sentiments with presumed superstition, because they were maintained by some whom the Church no longer contains within her fold. So far from their having any tendency to superstition, which debases the mind, we think nothing more suitable than these meditations to purify the heart and elevate the thoughts.
BAPTISM IN CHURCH.
To the Editor of the Scottish Magazine.'
SIR,-Having solemnly promised at my ordination to give my 'faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments as this Church hath received the same,' and having further signed the Canons of the Church, thereby promising to follow the rubrical directions of the English Liturgy, I have not felt myself at liberty to invent new modes, or in any way to depart from the said directions. The sacrament of baptism, therefore, I have always ministered in church at the font, after the last lesson, and with three sponsors, all communicants.
Now, in giving my faithful diligence to carry out the views of the Church, I have had much to encounter, not only from the laity, but from several of my brethren in the ministry. Some have no font, others no sponsors, or at least non-communicant ones. One prefers administering in a private house, even, it is said, when the parent wishes for it in public; another has the child brought to church, indeed, but, so far from performing the solemn rite when the most number of people come together,' waits till the congregation has departed, and then receives their child into the congregation!' How is all this to be reconciled with rubrical directions and ordination vows?
Besides this laxity often reduces the consistent clergyman to a most painful position. Every baptism becomes a battle; one parent objects to the font, another to the publicity, a third to the sponsors. And when the clergyman explains the true state of matters, the practice of a brother is quoted against him; and, should he still resist the usual arguments, flattery is tried, and finally threats. these failing, the parties leave the congregation, and have it done' by some more compliant minister. And this is by no means limited
to the poor and ignorant; indeed, the middle and upper classes, those who are too aristocratic to bend to the Church, but who wish the Church to bend to them, are by far the most difficult to convince. The clergyman's oath must be broken, that the layman's prejudice may be gratified! May I beg the views of your correspondents on this point. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
To the Editor of the Scottish Magazine.'
DEAR SIR,-Both your correspondent E. B., in the November Number, and your correspondent at Stockholm, allude to the singular practice in Scotland of styling some of the bishops by the names of their dioceses, instead of their cathedral cities.' And the former, citing the instance of Ossory in Ireland, satisfactorily shows that the custom does not prove the want of cathedrals. This, indeed, is shown by the magnificent ruins of Elgin; for, had it been only for want of a cathedral that the Bishop of Moray bore the title of his diocese, why should he not, on the building of this stately northern church, have taken the name of the city?
May not the real cause have been the want, or rather smallness, not of cathedral churches, but of cities?
The Council of Sardica (Can. vi.) ordains μη εξειναι ἁπλως καθιςαν επισκοπον κωμῃ πινι n Bрaxela model*-lest, adds Bingham (Orig. Eccl., lib. xxii. cap. 12), the name and authority of bishops be brought into contempt.' That author enumerates, nevertheless, many woλixvα or country towns having bishops, particularly in Egypt and Arabia. In the former country we find mention (by St Athanasius) of Agathodaemon, Bishop of Schoedia and Menelaites, the Village, and Nouos or District: in the latter, of many village sees, unтpoxwμial, and of one diocese, Clima Orientalium, the name of whose μпτроkwμα is unknown-of one styled itself Metrocomia, the name of the village having apparently been merged in the honour conferred on it.
Is it not possible, therefore, that the honour of the Episcopate was consulted in certain of the Scottish bishops receiving their designa* It was not lawful to institute a bishop simply to a village or little town.