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fear and love God; SO that we despise not preaching and God's word; but consider that holy, hear it willingly, and learn."
So that the Swedes are taught to keep the Sabbath-day as, generally, they do keep it,—that is, in deeming it right to go to church in the morning, whether they do go or not; and in spending the rest of the day (both priests and people) as their opportunities or inclinations allow or dictate; in smoking, or playing bagatelle or backgammon, as I have seen country Parsons do; in knitting and “laying Patience,” like my old hostess; in feasting, walking, driving, dancing, going to the lesser theatres or the royal opera, and many et ceteras. Yet a Komminister of that Church has lately written the words which have just now met my eyes, and which I transcribe here. “Although,” he says,
66 the Swedish Church has outwardly much remaining which owns a Catholic basis, and would not willingly renounce such, still we are of opinion that with respect to its actual teaching (and this is, after all, the chief thing in our church), it stands on a completely Biblical, or Protestant, and not on a Catholic basis.”
And is it to Biblical or Protestant teaching that what we, English Protestants, term “Sabbath dese
cration” is then to be traced ? Is what in France we trace to a Popish origin, to be traced in Sweden to a Biblical and Protestant one ? Alas ! how the mind gets perplexed by such yain contradictions ! England and Sweden both appealing to the Bible and Protestantism! Does the Protestant teaching of the Swedish Church tend to the omission of the Second Commandment, which we say no Church would give up which did not want to worship images? What strife of words, of tongues, of pens, has raged among us on such questions ! Who then would remove from the true Catholic basis whereon, only, the mind can find rest? That basis has not been removed from the English Church; may she never remove from it!
In fact, if Biblical teaching be the basis of the Swedish Church, it must be lamented that the Bible itself is but little used by its members; a corroborative proof of which may
be found in the nickname of Läsare, or Reader, given to those persons who have turned their minds more to serious religion and Bible reading. I have visited houses in almost all parts of Sweden, from south to north; everywhere, almost in the poorest, I have found a Psalm-book; seldom, seldom indeed, have I seen a Bible. Ask the Priests to give you information as to the benefits obtained by the
Reformation; they will uniformly begin withthe Word of God. Yet, somehow, taking the facilities of our age into account, it is a question whether if by the phrase “Word of God” is meant the Book of God,--that that word was not in as much use in the olden time as it is now. But I think, by that phrase, they imply preaching the Word.
Things will not continue in this state in Sweden. There is a double movement going on-a forward, impulsive one, in which both the political-liberal party and the evangelically-religious one may bear a share-it is true that in all, of what are termed onward movements, they become combined. There is also a retrograde tendency, less strong and less visible, but very sure. Were liberty of dissent allowed, we should soon see the results of both. The issue would probably be fatal to the Swedish Church; and in the present enforced submission to its doctrines, laws and practices, there is at least that good which results from the repression of outward infidelity, and absence of the distracting, life-wasting squabbles which bear the name of Controversies.
One of those practices “which owns a Catholic origin," and still remains in the Swedish Church,
is that of the reception, or restoration of penitents to the Church. It is rather the vestige of a godly discipline once exercised over its erring children, the highest and mightiest, the poorest and lowliest; now dwindled down, and limited to the convicts and prisoners whose term of punishment has expired.
These, when about to be liberated, are brought to their parish churches, wherever they may be. There is a particular place appointed for them, near the entrance of the church; there, during the time of service, and of the sermon, in which allusion is usually made to them—a miserable, wasted man, young
old in suffering, may often be seen, with a keeper, burly and strong standing at each side; there he sits, with his elbows on his knees, his face in his hands, his long wild hair helping them to hide it. The keepers touch him, rouse him up: a Priest, in white, and crimson, and gold, comes down the aisle with a book in his hand, and stands close before him : a crowd of men, women, and children stare, and look with wonder, pity, or scorn at the penitent. The priest reads; asks him if he is sorry for his sin, makes him promise to do so no more, and gives him the blessing
The first person I saw go through this ceremony -for, I fear, performed as it is merely as a part of the judicial punishment, it is a ceremony merelywas an elderly and large woman; there was nothing very touching in her appearance, but-I burst into tears. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord !" were the words that rose to my lips. Could every heart in that assembly be seen, could every life be made known, were there not many who might take the place of the penitents, and let them, in comparison, go free?
Most persons desire the abolition of this practice, even among the clergy as well as laity: we want to have Church discipline restored, however, not annihilated. Yet it is a pity to see this branch of it confined to one class of delinquents, who are often less guilty than many who enter, with unblushing brow, the walls of the same church.
But the intention of this discipline appears in Sweden to be mistaken; it is considered as a penance, and regarded as such both by the law and the people; whereas, in its original use, it was
tly the act of restoration, after penance and excommunication, and on contrition.
Its only practical use now could be in bringing the poor wanderers under the notice and guardianship of