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sophistry, and from every attempt to confound things which are essentially different, I will endeavour to show how the remark applies to the case under consideration.
My foreground, then, is the following. Man, however depraved in consequence of the "great apostacy," and governed as he naturally is by his evil lusts and passions, will nevertheless, for temporal objects, deny himself. This he does with a view to his eventual enjoyment; whether, in the time of sickness, he submits to medical restriction, or, under pecuniary difficulties, adopts a severe economy. In these and like instances, self-denial may be practised for the ulterior purpose of selfindulgence. In the Church of Rome, it is notorious that persons who exhibit no symptoms of devotion will severely fast, for a few passing hours, on the two-fold principle of satisfying the requisitions of the priest, and of compensating themselves for such restraint by a larger participation than usual of what is pleasing to the appetite. The Carnival, (Carni vale-farewell to flesh-meat, in allusion to the Lenten fast,) is a season of the most profligate authorised indulgences; of which our own Shrovetide jollities (after the shriving or absolving by the priest) till recently perpetuated some of the follies and vices in the popular sports. Romanists in their very fasts so adroitly order their tables, that, while every kind of flesh meat is scrupulously excluded, every other species of food is abundantly provided, and indeed not sparingly used even by the most rigid of their communion who have not yet entered into a monastery. I was well acquainted with a Papist of this very stamp, who, when dining on a Friday with a Protestant, so remarkably observed this rule, that on the removal of the cloth he could not help inquiring, with a playfulness which the occasion warranted, "Do you call this a fast? I must denominate it a farce!" So singular was the contrast between the refusal of one kind of food, and the free use of every other pleasant and nutritious article.
I am not tracing a connection between self-denial and self-indulgence apart from a religious, though a falsely religious, motive. It is that which reconciles the Papist to his self-inflicted mortifications, consistent as I have shewn them to be with what is gratifying to the senses, and in some sense absolutely conducive to it. To the dread of incurring "the censure of the Church," on the one hand, and to the hope of securing some available merit on the other, is principally to be ascribed that sacrifice of self, which I am now considering. Yet the issue of such severities is not unfrequently self-indulgence.
How far some of our Tractarians may be influenced by such considerations, or governed by such principles, must be decided by the testimony of each man's own conscience. Yet, without invading the office of that vicegerent of the Most High, or transgressing the bonds of charity, taken in the most expanded sense, I may observe that those of whom I speak are trained to bodily mortification on the unsound principles of the Romanist, which do not forbid a certain measure of counterpoising self-indulgence, even on the prescribed fast day. With the exception of Passion week, would not they also partake of every viand on the table that is not purely animal? And, on the conclusion of the day, would not they also sit down, without hesitation, to a repast that might be deemed luxurious? When such is the closing scene of the prescribed abstinence, it comes "in such a questionable shape," that it is difficult to regard it as the result of that true religion which is animated by "the love of Christ," or indeed as anything else than the creature of superstition or selfinterest.
That the Tractarians, in common with the Roman Catholics, do not extend their self-denial to every portion of the week, but on the intervening days will more than sip the cup of secular amusements, can be questioned by those only who are altogether ignorant of their habits. Í happen, and more than once, to have been "behind the scenes," and I have marked the readiness of those persons to devote hour by hour to such "amusements," on the Tuesday in Lent, who deemed it a profanation of the season to sit down at the table of a friend upon the Wednesday following. Under these circumstances, and in the midst of these contradictions, where is the spirit of self-denial? Some, it may be replied, there are who prove by their emaciated forms that their self-denial is severe. Such instances, I believe, are rare. And I am yet to be convinced that after having implicitly submitted to the rigours of a fast, they neither seek a compensation in scenes of worldly gaiety, nor make the discipline that they have practised a ground of spiritual hope, and even a title to salvation.
Self-denial, to be genuine and Scriptural, must prove consistent with itself, and also leave unimpaired our simple reliance upon Christ, as author of eternal salvation." Therefore the Apostle Paul, while he kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, (1 Cor. ix 27) desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, (Philippians iii. 9). And so far was his self-denial removed from the principles and practice of the world, that he was accounted a "fool for Christ's sake," and even "the off-scouring of all things." Of men he sought not glory. Such, I conceive, is the best human model that is presented to us in the school of self-denial. For in Christ alone is to be found the perfection of each Gospel virtue. His example may teach us much in all our spiritual undertakings, and even in our severest trials. Be Christ, then, the centre of our self-denial; and under those mighty influences of His Holy Spirit, which we cannot too earnestly implore, nor too vigilantly use, it will be uniform, cheerful, and profitable not only to ourselves but to others; and vast will be our advancement in that "holiness," which is the great preparation for our enjoyment of" eternal life" and glory.
** Our correspondent might with advantage have touched upon some particulars which he has omitted. He might, for instance, have guarded himself from the possibility of being misrepresented, as intending to disparage the solemnization of seasons of peculiar humiliation, accompanied by prayer, fasting, or abstinence, as in the observances of our own Church. We understand him to mean to shew the abuse, and not to undervalue the use, of such observances. We may add, that we would not impute a secret intention of indulgence connected with austerities in the cases he alludes to. believe that such men as Froude often inflicted upon themselves severe penance; and that really honest Tractarians abstain from all "pleasant food" on their days of fasting; and one, a clergyman, is credibly stated to substitute castor oil for butter upon his bread, by way of mortification. Some, however, who take up Tractarian notions, do so from affectation, ostentation, or sheer silliness; and such, though they practise certain rites, and perhaps abstinences, are to be found in the ball-room, and other scenes of vanity, and exhibit no traces of real devotedness of heart to God. Such may doubtless keep their seasons of abstinence in the manner our correspondent describes, as vast numbers of
Romanists assuredly do. But the chief dangers are of another sort, as our correspondent also shews-such as superstition, spiritual pride, reliance upon supposed merit and the value of penance, and thus disparaging the cross of Christ, and building on a sandy foundation.
"REVIVALS" IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
New York, March 30th, 1843.
MY DEAR SIR,-During the last three months, I have had occasion to visit several of the largest cities and towns in our Middle and Northern States; and I am sure that it will be highly gratifying to you to know that amid all the turmoil and confusion which the conflict of political parties occasions in a country where freedom has almost, especially on certain occasions, run into licentiousness, the voice of God's Spirit is still heard, and in some places, or rather in very many, in a remarkable manner. There is no little distress, not more among the poorer classes, than among those who once esteemed themselves "rich and increased in goods," but whom a great revulsion in commercial affairs, and derangement in the financial, has reduced either to comparative or real poverty. But amid all this, and notwithstanding all our national and individual sins, our Heavenly Father is visiting us both in mercy and in judgment. Never since my earliest recollection have so many revivals of religion taken place in our churches. Nor have these precious seasons of Divine favour ever been more tranquil, or less attended with injudicious human agency. These revivals seem to resemble much more those of the days of Edwards, and, still later, of Dwight, than some of those which occurred about ten years ago, when certain men among us undertook to "conduct" revivals after their favourite theories, philosophical and theological. In almost all parts of the country there are churches which have been, and are still, blessed with those gracious outpourings of the Holy Spirit. In some parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Ohio, the work has been wonderful. In some villages and neighbourhoods it has seemed to reach, to a greater or less degree, almost every family. There is infirmity in everything which man does; but no Christian well-informed as to the facts, and well-instructed as to the nature of the human mind, and especially in relation to the work of His Spirit, will deny that the "finger of God" is clearly manifested in these things.
You must have been gratified to see the numerous attestations to the excellence of the "Christian Observer," from so many distinguished ministers of the Gospel, of almost all our evangelical denominations. Where in the world, I would ask, could a finer specimen of true Christian liberality be found? There is not one man among the many ministers who have so highly recommended that valuable periodical, who does not know that it is decidedly, though not illiberally, episcopalian in its character, and also an advocate for the union of Church and State (which it would be difficult to find ten ministers in all the denominations among us, including episcopalians, who approve or desire); and yet notwithstanding all this, they have rendered a noble testimony to a work which, whilst it is truly Christian in its spirit, is in a sense also "sectarian." In this I greatly rejoice. But I must conclude. Ever yours most truly,
THE POET COWPER ON DR. JOHNSON'S "LATE CONVERSION."
For the Christian Observer.
THE Quarterly Reviewers must have possessed intrepid powers of assertion, to describe as "romance," "pious fraud," and "bungling quackery," the facts of which an account was condensed in our last Number, respecting what Dr. Johnson himself called, in a prayer for Divine mercy, his "late conversion." To the corroborations which we stated had been brought to light of the remarks upon Johnson's dying days, in "Christian Essays," printed in 1817, we might have added a passage in a letter from the poet Cowper to the Rev. J. Newton, first published in 1824, in the two volumes of Cowper's "Private Correspondence;" being a portion of Cowper's letters, which Hayley, in his superfluity of materials, had passed over, though many of them are quite equal to any in his collection. The following is the passage :
Olney, May 10th, 1784.
"My Dear Friend,-We rejoice in the account you give us of Dr. Johnson. His conversion will indeed be a singular proof of the omnipotence of grace; and the more singular the more decided. The world will set his age against his wisdom, and comfort itself with the thought that he must be superannuated. Perhaps therefore, in order to refute the slander, and do honour to the cause to which he becomes a convert, he could not do better than to devote his great abilities, and a considerable part of the remainder of his years, to the production of some important work, not immediately connected with the interests of religion. He would thus give proof that a man of profound learning and the best sense, may become a child without being a fool; and that to embrace the Gospel is no evidence either of enthusiasm, infirmity, or insanity. But He who calls him will direct him."
Will the Quarterly Reviewers affirm that this letter of Cowper's also is surreptitious? They ask who were Mr. Storry, Mr. Latrobe, and Mr. Winstanley, whose names are now so late introduced into the story of Dr. Johnson's latter days? Why, they say, did no contemporary state the alleged facts? In the above passage we find a contemporary, a London clergyman, writing to Cowper upon the subject, and Cowper replying as above. Cowper foresaw that there were those he uses the expressive Scriptural term "the world"-who would be angry at the facts, and comfort themselves with the thought that the venerable doctor "must be superannuated." The Quarterly Review has a better solution; it comforts itself that the statement is romance and pious fraud. The dates here again are worthy of notice, as were those mentioned in our last Number; for in February 1784 Sir John Hawkins finds Dr. Johnson expressing horror at the thought of death; yet on his deathbed in December following, notwithstanding "the loathing he felt of sin and of himself," saying, "At these times I have had such rays of hope shot into my soul, as have almost persuaded me that I am in a state of reconciliation with God." It is between these dates-namely, in May -that Cowper wrote as above. But we have not merely this letter in which he alludes to the altered state of Dr. Johnson's mind; for in his epitaph on Dr. Johnson, written in January 1785, he says,
many a noble gift from heaven possessed; And faith at last, alone worth all the rest."
UNAUTHORISED PUNCTUATION OF A PASSAGE IN THE
For the Christian Observer.
OUR attention has been directed to a statement made by the Rev. J. B. Hearne, at the anniversary meeting of the Prayer-Book and Homily Society, respecting the unauthorised punctuation of a passage in the Catechism. He said that there are considerable variations in the punctuation of some of the modern Prayer-books, though many of the differences are of no importance. He had conferred with the conductor of the press at Oxford, and found him anxious to rectify any errors of that nature. He would point out one important instance. In the Catechism, to the question "What dost thou mean by the word sacrament?" the answer, as it used to be read, was,-"I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof." That was the way the Catechism was taught forty years ago; but now the Prayer-book was differently printed, the comma after the word "grace" being taken away, so that it read, "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us." He viewed this alteration with great suspicion; because, if grace is given to us as often as the sacrament is given to us, it appeared to him something very like an approach to the doctrine that the sacrament operates necessarily ex opere operato. Was this stop found in the authentic copies? He found from Rymer's Foedera, that before any alterations were made, there was the stop after the word "grace;" and the words, "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," contain all the meaning intended to be conveyed; the sign being outward, the grace within, and given by Christ; not the sign, which was ordained only to be the means and pledge thereof. It is in the Latin, upon the authority of Tertullian and Augustine, Signum visibile sacræ rei latentis." It is said that the Latin Prayer-book sanctions the modern punctuation. Not so. There are two Latin versions; one makes the the words "given unto us" agree with "grace," and the other with "sign." Archbishop Wake considers that version which makes the giving agree with grace, to be the principal authority. But, added Mr. Hearne, without going into details, it must be clear that no alterations whatever should be made in the punctuation of the Prayerbook.
Whatever may be the meaning of the passage, or whatever punctuation may best bring out that meaning, Mr. Hearne is clearly right in saying that no change ought to be made in the authorised punctuation of the Prayer-book. Without therefore inquiring when, how, by whom, or for what purpose, the alteration was made, our simple duty is to state that it is an alteration. Upon Mr. Hearne's remarks being sent to us we turned to Dr. Nichols, who professes to follow the sealed-book, and in his text we find the comma after " "" grace. But having experienced that even Nichols is not always minutely correct, and not choosing to assert upon secondary authority, we have referred to the sealed-book in the Tower of London, and there we find the comma. There can be no question that the delegates of the Oxford press will amend the unauthorised punctuation. It were, however, unjust to imagine that the alteration has been made in consequence of any recent discussions; for