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I do not recollect a much better extract than this amongst all which the man of letters thought worthy of a place in his port folio ; but it certainly would not have done to produce it together with his sarcastic rebuke of the devout author's supposed sycophancy; nor was it likely to be treasured up by one whose mind and manners were so little softened by all his literature, as to ieel any pleasure in representing the consolations of religion, to have been so administered by one of its moss exemplary servants, as to create only disgust and aversion in a dying penitent.
I am Sir, yours very sincerely Southampton, Dec. 7, 1807. ■ ERMAS.
ON THE APPLICATION OF SCRIPTURE.
To The Editor Of The Orthodox Churchman 3
Magazine. . Sir,
I HAVE been a reader and admireV of your Magazine from its first commencement, and beg leava to give you a hint, the execution of which I conceive would much increase its usefulness, great as that usefulness is already. I have no doubt but you have observed and lamented with myself, the great carelessness in quoting and applying passages from scripture in many modern publications of divinity, and particularly in sermons, which seems to me to set at defiance all precision of language and ideas on that most important of all subjects, and to make the word of God a fort of legerdemain that may be made use of dexterously according to the sound without any regard to the sense, jusi as it may happen* to suit the writer's purpose, and serve to establish his own preconceived opinions. Nay, it is no uncommon thing to fee a passage produced to confirm a doctrine, which so far from establishing that doctrine, would if fairly interpreted, prove the directly contrary position. And it is the more to be lamented that this is often done by writer* of acknowledged reputation, from whom one might have expected better things. From this source I apprehend many readers are in danger of being very much misled, and particularly young divines; and I think you cannot allot a few pages o£ your publication every month to a more beneficial purpose than to counteract this danger.
The mode of doing this, is the hint which I have, with great deference to your judgment, to offer. It is this: to select a passage which has been repeatedly misapplied, and which there will be no difficulty in doing. To settle the sense according to the context and the rules of found criticism. To produce passages from writers of the most reputation where it has been rightly applied, and also from those of the like estimation where it has been wrongly applied. I am aware this is a task which requires great labour and judgment, butl knowthat you and several of your able correspondents are fully equal to it. This plan, I should have great hopes would do something towards checking, if not lessening the prevalence of those strange and unscriptural notions which are dailygaming ground amongst us, and he more particularly useful to young students in divinity.
If you should think proper to adopt it, I should have great pleasure in seeing the 8th, 9th, and 10th verses of the second ch. of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephefians, so treated.
I am, &c.
Dec. 3, 1807.
THE winter of 1785 is memorable in the annals of meteorological observation, as having been a season of the most intense and continued severity ever known in England. One day during this gloomy period, as his Majesty, regardless of the weather, and never more happy than when in action, it might be added also, never more so than when doing good—was taking a solitary walk, and unbending his
mind mind from the cares of state, he met two little boys (the eldest seemingly not more than eight years of age) who though ig.. norant it was the king they saw, fell upon their knees befor* him, deep as the snow lay, and wringing their little hands, prayed for relief, "the smallest relief," they cried, " for they were hungry, very hungry, and had nothing to eat."
His majesty was affected at the sight, ordered the lktle suppliants to arise; and having with that amiable affability which so peculiarly distinguishes his character, encouraged them to proceed with their story, they added that their mother had baen dead three days, and lay still unburied; that their father himself, whom they were also afraid of losing, was stretched by her side upon a bed of straw, in a sick and helpless condition; and in fine, that they had neither money, food, nor firing at home.
In this detail of woe, ingenuoufly as it had keen given, there was somewhat more than sufficient to excite pity in any bosom; and the question now was, whether, simply as the tale had been told, there could possibly be any truth in it?
His majesty adopted the resolution of ascertaining the truth in person, accordingly he ordered the two boys to proceed homewards, and following them till they reached a miserable hovel, he there found the mother dead, and that evidently from the want of necessaries,—and the father literally as described, ready to perish also, but still encircling with his feeble arm the deceased partner of his woes, as'it unwilling to remain behind her.
The king felt the tears rising fast into his eyes, nor doubtless, did he think his dignity lessened by giving a loose to his sensibility; but feeling that no time was to be lost, he left behind him what cash he had about him, which rarely amounts to much, and hastened back to Windsor; related to the queen what he had seen, but declared himself totally incapable of expressing what he felt; and instantly dispatched a messenger with a supply of provisions, •louthing, coals, and every other accommodation which might afford immediate sustenance and comfort to a helpless family, groaning as he said, under afflictions more piercing by far than he could have supposed to exist in any part oshis dominions.
Revived by the bounty of his sovereign, the father soon recovered; and the king finished the good work he had begun, by giving orders that till the years of maturity, the children should be cloathed, educated and supported at his expense, pense, with the promise of having such situations provided for them as their conduct might qualify them 'for.
THE DANGER OF SCHISM.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN S
THE alarming increase of sectaries, and particularly tlw additions continually making to the number of illiterate teachers, calling themselves ministers of the gospel, ought to be feelingly considered not only by the members of our own communion, but by every one who has the interests of ra* tional religion and of social order at heart. If the evil is suffered to go on without a check, the consequences may be such as not merely to affect the Established Church, but the state itself. Should the one fall into contempt, the other would not be long respected or obeyed. Of this our own annals furnish a striking and an awful example, which our legislators, and all who arc in authority, or who have influence, will do well to profit by in time. In proportion as Schism is increased, the Church must be weakened, and whether in such a situation, the civil government would long preserve its power, let those who read the English history, or who have any insight into human nature determine. Certain it is, that the ruin of the Church in the middle of the seventeenth century, hastened the murder of the king, the fall of the house of lords, and the establishment of an arbitrary government under a military despot.
Then human learning was undervalued, the order of the priesthood was set at nought, and no other qualification for the Christian ministry was regarded than the immediate direction of the Holy Spirit, to which every ignorant and impudent enthusiast laid a claim. In the picture of those distracted times, this is a leading feature, and it is well known that Cromwell encouraged this pretension to inspiration, and the consequent right of every man to teach by his own practice. And so fond were the common soldiers of shewing their gifts this way, that they not only prayed and preached
among among themselves, but did the fame in all churches to the people, nay, they scrupled not to declare, "that if they might not preach they would not fight."
To such a degree arose heresy and blasphemy, that the most solemn ordinances of religion were slighted and profaned. The neglect of the Lord's Supper was general, and at Christ-Church, Oxford, where the noted Dr. John Owen presided, it was not so much as once administered during the whole time of the usurpation, and the same person who administered it before his expulsion by the visitors, at his return after twelve years, administered the next sacrament in that great cathedral.
I shall conclude this letter with the following curious article extracted from Dr. Grey's Notes to Hudibras, which exhibits an accurate portraiture of that miserable period, and holds out a warning against the encouragement of Schism, highly deserving the serious attention of those who prefer order, peace, and piety—to confusion, rebellion, and blasphemy.
I am, Sir, &c.
"Mechanics of all sorts were then preachers, and some of them much followed and admired by the mob. "I am to tell thee, Christian reader," fays Dr. Featley, Preface to his Dipper dipped, wrote 1645, and published 1647, p. 1, "this new year of new changes, never heard of in former ages; namely, of stables turned into temples (and I will beg leave to add, temples turned into stables, as was that of St. Paul's, and many more), stalls into quires, stiopboards into communion tables, tubs into pulpits, aprons into linen ephods, and mechanics of the lowest rank into priests of the high places—I wonder that our door posts and walls sweat not upon which such notes as these have been lately affixed: On such a day, such a brewer s clerk exerc'seth, such a taylor expoundeth, such a waterman teacheth.—If cooks, instead of mincing their meat, fall upon dividing of the word; if tailors leap up from the fhopboard into the pulpit, and patch up sermons out of stolen (hreds; if not only of the lowest of the people, as in Jeroboam's time, priests are consecrated to the Most High God:—do we marvel to see such confusion in the church as there is?" They are humourously girded, in a tract entitled, The Reformado precisely charactered, by a modern church-warden, p. 11. Pub. Libr. Camb. xix. 9, 7. " Here