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ON THE BURIAL OF DEISTS, &c.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
A Correspondent in your number for September, requests information upon the subject of reading tbe Burial Service over the corpse of a Deist, or a Dissenter. If the following obsenrations be worth your attention, they are much at your service for his information.
The burial service is intended, not for persons of assy fort, but for Christians alone: that is, for persons for whom we may consistently and sincerely use all parts of the service, particularly that passage to be read while the earth shall be cast upon the body; calling the deceased " our dear brother,'** which is repeated in the collect after the Lord's-Prayer; and? again, in the last collect of the service. Let this then be tUfe rule: —-that the Burial Service must be read only over them, whom we may call our brethren. Now a brother, in the scriptural and ancient ecclesiastical sense, is another name for fellow Christian. A fellow Christian, is one who is admitted with us into the covenant, and so into the household of Christ, or Kingdom of Heaven; and this is done at baptism: a man is then born of water and of the spirit, and so enters into the kingdom of God.
You ask, if a Deist ought to be interred with our service? I ask in return, can you call him brother in the Christian fense of the word? Perhaps, it was a doubt upon this very point, which caused the doubt respecting his burial. Isa man has been formally admitted by baptism, according to' Christ's positive institution, into his family, we are bound to consider him as our brother: nothing can do away his relationship, but that which will do away his privilege of saying Abba, Father; nothing but that which would do away his baptismal privileges, by casting him out of the family of God. But he denies Jesus Christ, and abjures the advantages and privileges of his church; and shall we call such an one brother? I reply, that as long as one mother has borne Us, I cannot fee by what figure of speech we can call him by
any other name than brother. My brother may be a wicked person, or he may be a Deist, or a Socinian, a Calvinist, or a Churchman; but still he Has been born my brother, by the sacrament ol baptism; and as all the world could never have conferred upon him the privilege of becoming a child of God, and my spiritual brother,—so I cannot conceive that all the world can deprive him of it.
But shall one who actually denies the faith of Christ be called his child, &c.!—Now how know you, in the first place, that the deceased did so?—But grant, that he lived'professedly in Deistical or Socinian principles: How-know you that he did not change those principles before his foul war taken to God?—that he did not fee and acknowledge what you would call the true faith, and so die like the thief on the cross,—a penitent disciple? If this should, have been the case* to deny him the title of brother, and refuse him the charitable hope of resting in Christ, and the decency of Christian burial, surely would be a wrong and a censurable thing.—This I fay merely to she feelings: for the merits of the cafe have nothing to do with this sort of circumstance. You and I, properly speaking, can have little to do with a man's faith, that is, with the secrets of his heart, but as we know it by his profession: the rest must be left to God. But the government of Christ's kingdom, as long as it here remains, must be Carried on by visible acts and means, such as flesh and blood can see and do, and be bound by. The keys of the kingdom of God in this world, are visible;: and those; stewards of Christ's household, with whom they have been entrusted, have in his baptism done their office, and have opened when this man knocked, and, seeing that he was then regenerated and grafted into the body of Christ's church,—in that state he must remain,till the fame keys are turned against him... But he has denied the faith :—Is every one who denies, the faith," ipso facto" excluded from Christian burial? Is every one who provides not for his own, and especially for thole of his own house, to be denied the right of Christian sepulture, and his title of brother, and our hope of his salvation ?" for he," says the apostle, "has denied the faith, and is worse than an infldel." But grant all this, where is your warrant for your treatment of such a person ?—you will find none, I imagine, either in scripture, or in the primitive church. As for our own church established in this kingdom by law, that knows nothing of the sort. By our rule, the burial service is denied to none but those who die unbaptised,
or excommunicate, (that is, with their baptism reversed,) or who have laid violent hands on themselves.
As to the ease os the Dissenter, that, in general will be different, I say, in general, lor it depends upon what fort of dissenter it is, to make it proper or improper to deny the burial service. But we must be determined in the solution of this cafe by the fame rule that governed the other. I ask then, has your dissenter received true baptism? I mean, has he receivtd that sacrament according to Christ's institution, in the form he prescribed, and at the hands of those, to whom he has entrusted that mystery?—If he has, I fee no law, or reason to refuse him the honour of Christian burial: for he has been spiritually born, has been made a member ot Christ, and a child of God, and consequently, if we are children of God, he has been made our brother; and therefore as our brother, we may commit his body to the ground, and profess our hope that he may rest in Christ. Few of our dissenters, however, have had the happiness to receive Christian baptism; few therefore are entitled to that service, which is suited only to such persons. They have been baptised by dissenting teachers, which you may fay, ought to entitle them to the burial service. Nay, this cannot in common reason be allowed: no logic can prove that a man bapiised by the dissenting service, can be entitled to the burial service of the church, the dissenters themselves being judges; for I am sure, that they would never admit it in the case reversed: he can be entitled only to the dissenting burial service. I know the question immediately leads to the validity of dissenting baptism; which certainly puts the question upon its proper ground: nevertheless, I am quite of the excellent Wheatley's mind, who thus speaks upon the subject, " I think that for determining the question before us, there is no occasion to enter into the merits of that cause; (viz. the baptism of dissenters,) for whether the baptism among the dissenters be valid Or not, I do not apprehend that it lies upon us to take nosice of any baptisms, except they are to be proved by the registers of the church. Unless therefore we ourselves betray our own rights, by registering spurious among the genuine baptisms, persons baptised among the dissenters can have no just claim to the use of this office; for the rubrick expresQy declares, that it is not to be used\ for any that die unbaptised: but all persons are supposed to die unbaptised, but those whose baptisms the registers own: and therefore, the registers not owning dissenting
Y Y . *' baptisms,
Vol. XIII. Churehm, Mo£-for November i%oy.
"baptisms, those that die with such baptisms, must be fup"posed to die unbaptised. But indeed, the best way to *' put an end to this controversy, is to desire those that have •' separate places of worship, to have separate places of bu. "rial too; or at least to be content to put their dead into the "ground, without requiring the prayers of a minister, whose "assistance, in every thing but in this and marriage, they "neglect and despise." ■>
I cannot refrain from observing tlwt the opinion of this able ritualist is well supported bv the discipline of the ancient church, and by that of our own. Every person, however, baptised or unbaptised, have a right to a burial place in the church-yard of the parish in which he dies. But the burial service of the church is adapted only (or the baptised, and is allowed to them alone; which is plain enough, I should think, to any man who will take the trouble of enquiring what the church has prescribed in her liturgy, canons and articles. But there is a maxim of the canon law, and equally a maxim of found fense too, which I think is conclusive upon the point. "Quibus non communicavimus, "vivis, nee communicamus defunctis."
I shall be happy if what I have said shall satisfy your correspondent; nevertheless, if he require any thing further upon the subject, and he will have the goodness to state his question in a simple and direct manner, I will endeavour to resolve it, and give him all the information in roy power.
Nov. 1807. - J. W.
ON THE "SPIRIT OF GOD.'
To The Editor Of The Orthodox Churchman's
I HAVE been very much gratified by the greater part of your Review of Mr. Clarkion's extraordinary Portraiture of Quakerism; but I could not help being a little surprised, when I came to your consideration of the Quakers doc
rine concerning the Holy Spirit; "The Quakers'believe," fays Mr. Clarkion, "that when the Almighty created the "universe, he effected it by means of the life, or vital or vi"vifying energy that was in his own Spirit." "And the "Earth was without form and void, and darkness was "upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved "upon the face of the waters." Upon this you observe, *' that before this passage in Genesis was thus conspicuously "produced, it became the author to prove that the word rrn •* in that place meant exactly what the Quakers mean by ** the word Spirit." I here agree with you that what is meant in that passage in Genesis by Spirit, is not exactly what the Quakers mean, as they seem to consider the Holy Spirit only as the operative energy of God, if indeed we can tell what they do mean. But you go on to observe "that Mr, '• Clarkion should have told us what reason there is for pre"ferring the word "Spirit" to the word "Wind" in the "translation of this text." If the original signifies oftentimes "Spirit, it as oftqn denotes Wind, and it could not otherwise *' be rendered, without making nonsense of the passage in "which it (lands." ( It is certainly correct, that nn very often signifies Wind, and that it would make nonsense oftentimes to translate it otherwise; but surely in this passage of Genesis; there is sufficient reason to render it Spirit. I always thought that the bell orthodox commentators considered, and justly, the two. first verses of the first chapter of • Genesis, as a very strong evidence of the doctrine of the Trinity; the two first persons being marked out by the word D'rrJX in the first verse, and the third person designated by that Spirit which is described in the second verse to have moved on the face ol the deep. There is one translator indeed, who has rendered it "the Wind of God," but can I imagine for a moment, that the Orthodox Churchman would follow the authority of Dr. Geddes, especially in the rendering of a passage, where the doctor's prejudices would be certain to blind and mislead his judgment. It is not improbable that "Wind" was one of the agents of the Almighty in the creation of the world, yet in this passage, there appears evidently a design to mark one of the Divine Persons of the Trinity, and that the third, as the two first Persons, were as clearly pointed out in the first verse. I trull you will excuse this liberty, and believe that a love of truth alone a6luates YOUR OCCASIONAL CORRESPONDENT.*
• Our Correspondent has very much mistaken us, if he thinks we intended to give a preference to Dr. Geddes's version, over
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