Obrazy na stronie
[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


THE Scriptures teach us how we are to enter into public fellowship with other Christians, as clearly as they determine that a visible national Church is agreeable to God's purpose. There are, however, Christians who do not allow that the manner in which members of the Church of England become members is agreeable to the model of the word of God. They say that we ought to enter into the state of a visible Church by voluntary covenant, and from an intelligent wish to advance the kingdom of Christ; and that in no other way can we have a right to the name of a true Church, and to the privileges of it for us and our children; whereas we were forced, in our first planting, by edicts, laws, and proclamations; and yet admitted members, and our posterity after us, by baptism, without properly distinguishing who were members of the Church in a spiritual sense. Now, supposing that this plea were true at first, yet may not the correction of what was first amiss confirm the whole? Things may be ill done at first, which, being once done, may be of force, and, being prosperous in their results, may end with a blessing. If a child marries without consent of its parents, it is a wicked act; yet, when it is done and sealed, shall it not be of force? nay, do not the parents whose will was at first disregarded, if they see good conduct and prosperity, follow the union with their blessing? And shall we make God a harder master? Did he not love Jacob, though he had gained the blessing by deceit? God designed the blessing for him; and, though he came into the



possession of it in a way that was not right, shall his purpose fail? "God forbid: yea, let God be true." Jacob's unbelief makes not the faith of God of none effect. So might God deal with us. He designed for us the covenant of the Gospel; and even if we had not entered into it the right way, yet, if we be entered thereinto, "in the place where it was said unto us, Ye are not my people, there shall we be called the children of the living God" (Rom. ix. 26).

But this is said only upon supposition. Tried by the word of Christ, the members of the English Church can never be proved to have made an illegitimate entrance into public communion with the faithful. The claim of any believing community to be a true Church may be considered in two ways,-in its first planting, and its reformation. How the Church was first planted God knoweth: we know not from his word. The "sound" of the apostles "went into all the earth, and their words into the ends of the world" (Rom. x. 18). "The Gospel is come unto you," says St. Paul to the Colossians (i. 6), "as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit:" and, doubtless, it was brought among us by some apostle, or men of apostolical character, who thereby made our ancient predecessors a true Church. Before this, we were without Christ; now we know him. Before, we were without the covenant; now, we are within it, by baptism. We were, before, not professors of his truth: now, we are; and God "shews mercy to thousands among them that love him and keep his commandments ;" and "is their God, and the God of their seed."

But our case is that of a Church in its reformation. After that the Church in this


land, however planted, had covenanted with
God, it fell into fearful and abominable
errors. When God would raise it up out of
this state, he dealt with it as he had done
with his servant Job of old time, whom he
had made " perfect and upright," but whom
Satan (by God's permission) had marred, and
brought into such a state that he was full of
sores, which so defaced him, that he was
scarcely recognised by his friends, and loath-
some to all. All this while Job was as truly
a man as he was before, however clouded his
character might have been by sinful impa-
tience and when God would lift him up
again, he did not create a new man, but
cleansed and cured him, that he might appear
like his former self; and his end was happy.
It was thus God dealt with the Church: it
commenced in a healthy state, but it became
full of" wounds, and bruises, and putrefying
sores." God, however, did not build a new
Church, he reformed the old, shewing our
forefathers wherein they had erred; that,
having had the truth of Christ in the recorded
articles of their faith, and the profession of
the truth in their public formularies, they had
overlaid it with a mass of superstitions and
vanities. Then he places in their hands, and
in the hands of his ministers, the word and
sacraments of his covenant rightly adminis-ful
tered; and thus, by degrees, we have fallen
into the public profession of Christ's truth by
a union of laws, agreements, and practices.

If it be required of a true Church that
all its members shall have entered it upon
knowledge, or an intelligent faith, then the
members of the English Church have so en-
tered for surely the knowledge of the doc-
trine of salvation by the blessed Trinity is
sufficient for the admission of members,
since Christ saith, "Go, teach all nations,
and baptise them." And what must they be
taught? That into which they must be bap-
tised-faith in the "Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost," which was Christ's first creed that
made Churches. Had not the members of
our reforming Church this intelligent faith?
But, if not, where was the seed of our many
hundreds of martyrs? In the darkest times
that our Church has suffered, it has pre-
served this knowledge, and the profession of
looking to be saved by "Jesus Christ the
Son of the living God;" the confession of
which truth is (Matt. xvi. 16, 18) the "rock
against which the gates of hell shall not pre-be

If it be demanded of a true Church, that its members shall enter into it by covenant, then the members of our Church have complied with this requirement, though not perhaps in the sense sometimes intended. The Scripture gives several instances of God's

servants covenanting with him, when they had previously fallen into a disorderly state. Asa and his people (2 Chron. xv. 12, 14) entered into a covenant and sware unto the Lord. The princes, Levites, and priests made a sure covenant, wrote, and sealed it (Nehem. ix. 38). This was done to bind the consciences of the unruly amongst them; and as the prophets did not condemn the practice, we conclude that it was lawful, when the case demanded such a measure. That it was lawful, however, but not necessary, we know from the fact that there are many eminent Churches spoken of in the Scriptures which never took this course, but which yet entered into covenant with Christ. God, in giving his word, covenanted with them to be his peculiar people; and they, in receiving his word, "covenanted with him to take him to be their God." Baptism is Christ's seal of the covenant upon them that are baptised, even as those that were circumcised were said to be "born to God" by covenant (Ezek. xvi. 20). Every person, therefore, who has partaken of baptism, has made the covenant required. This is precisely what this sacrament means, what the very word "sacrament" itself means, an engagement, upon oath, to continue Christ's faith

soldier and servant to the end of life. There is such a thing as "dealing falsely with God concerning his covenant;" but still the covenant has been made once for all, and completely, in baptism. By that wide. door, therefore, and not by any other private and more contracted gate, is the scriptural entrance into the communion of the Church. E.

CHAPEL-RATES AND CHURCH-RATES.* In a parish in the county of there is a dissenting chapel as well as the parish church. The church, we

know, is kept in repair by what are called "Church

rates ;" and the clergyman is supported by what are
called 66
tithes." But how is the chapel supported?
The general opinion is, that it is supported by the
voluntary contributions of the persons who attend it.
But not entirely so. The chapel was built many years
since by a benevolent lady, who at her death left
money to keep it up: that is to say, she directed that,
out of the rents of a certain estate of hers, 301. a-year
was always to be paid to the minister of this chapel,
which was called St. George's. Accordingly, when she
died, her trustees advertised that the property was to
let on lease, the terms being, that 1407. a-year was
to be paid to them, and 30% in the manner aforesaid.
Various applications were made to rent the estate;
but the person who ultimately hired it was not a Dis-
senter, but a Churchman, who, however, on taking
possession, gave security that he would comply with
the stipulated terms. He has always hitherto done

Published as a tract.

so; but seeing, it appears, that some of his neighbours are resisting the payment of Church-rates for conscience' sake, as they say, it has led him to inquire how far he too can take advantage of a similar plea; and, fancying that he has quite as good reasons for withholding his payment from the chapel, as they have for keeping back theirs from the Church, he has just now informed the collector, that if he insists on receiving the 30%. he must distrain on his goods. It appears that, in consequence of this refusal, he has been shunned by every member of the dissenting congregation; and that the minister has been known to go out of his way rather than meet him in the street. This has led him to publish the following explanation of his conduct :

"My neighbour, Mr. Grant, hired premises at the same time that I did. We were both born in the same parish in a distant part of the country, and were always good friends, though he was a Dissenter and I a member of the Church of England. We were induced to settle in the county of, because we saw advertisements of property there which we thought would suit us. He struck his bargain as I did, but was particular in his inquiries as to what had been the average amount of taxes, and of parochial and Church-rates which had been levied on the premises. The landlord produced his books, and satisfied him on these points; and then said that he would either let the property for 601. a-year and pay these rates, &c. himself, or for 451. and leave it to Mr. Grant to pay them. Mr. Grant took the premises on the latter terms, becoming responsible for the customary rates. For some time he regularly paid them; but after a few years he began to complain that his conscience was burdened by his having to pay for the support of a Church which he did not attend.

"I shewed him passages from Matthew Henry and other dissenting authorities, where the duty of paying such tribute,' when lawfully demanded, is clearly laid down; and I reminded him, moreover, that in every case it must be a matter of contract, and a part of the bargain between the buyer and the seller; and that he (Mr. Grant) had to pay, not as a Dissenter, but as a tenant-as occupying, like myself, the property of others, on terms mutually agreed upon. This seemed to convince him, and for a year or two he paid the rates with a better conscience, I venture to say, than he had when he refused them. But lately he has changed his course, and the reason is because there has been such a stir about the rates, and people have in such numbers refused to pay them, that he fancies he shall be borne out in his resistance; so that he has, conscientiously as he alleges, determined on keeping the money in his pocket. Not, however, that it is likely to remain there; for his landlord, it seems, called on him the other day, and there was a quarrel which of them should have the spoils. The landlord said he ought to have them, because he had let the property for a lower sum than he otherwise should, on account of these rates; but Mr. Grant replied that the landlord could have no right to them, because he had himself admitted, when he let the estate, that he had formerly purchased it for so much less as the average of these rates would come to; and so with the purchaser before him, and the one before him, until we come back to the time, centuries ago, when the legislature of this Christian country, acting in the name of the country itself, dedicated for ever this proportion of its goods to the Church; to which, therefore, it must of course now belong, if only the present tenant's conscience would allow him to pay it. Well, then,' said the landlord, 'give the money to me, and trust my conscience as to the way I shall dispose of it.' But Mr. Grant stoutly declined; so that the interview closed by the landlord

giving him notice to quit, and saying that he would take care, in letting the premises again, to demand proportionably higher terms.


landlord; and it has set me thinking how it would be "Thus matters stand between Mr. Grant and his if every one were to act in this way. One person is a Churchman, and another a Dissenter; or, rather, some particular kind of Dissenter,- -a Baptist or an Independent: and if people are thus permitted to plead conscience for not paying their debts, I don't see how business can go on, or man can place confidence in I am sure it would operate as a premium on deceit. We might all, for convenience' sake, change our religion on the day when the collector comes round for his dues; and I don't see how it could be ascertained whether we were hypocritical or sincere; and then, after the collector was gone, smile at his credulity, and resume our former faith. At all events, I am a Churchman; there is no need to change sides, or deny my belief; so that, on the principle Mr. Grant has laid down, I can't be compelled to pay the 304. to his chapel (though it is in my lease), if I like to say, ' my conscience won't let me. I have therefore, for the present, suspended this annual payment; and though it has exposed me to many severe remarks, and to the displeasure of the minister of the chapel, I feel that the Dissenters persecute me for imitating themselves, and that I must be content to put up with their taunts until they shall set me a better example.

[ocr errors]

There are, it is said, several hundred chapels in this country having endowments similar to St. George's; but if there were only one, the case would be the same: the Dissenters would prove that, as Dissenters, they have no objection to the principle of endowments; and, in letting out their estates, they would of course require, like all other proprietors, that the terms should be complied with, or the property surrendered.

"Let Mr. Grant, then, prove himself to be indeed a man of conscience, by dealing as he would be dealt with, and fulfilling the engagements he has voluntarily made, and he may be assured that his neighbour will not be long behind him; that the 301. will be paid without distraint or delay; and that Churchmen and Dissenters are never so likely to be thought sincere in their professions of religion, as when they act honestly in the common business of life."


NAZARETH is beautifully situated, but though it is termed a city in the sacred volume, it is now an inconsiderable village; and the houses are as much marked by poverty as the inhabitants. It stands on the west side of a valley resembling a circular basin, encompassed by mountains. The houses are small, flat-roofed, and built of a light porous stone. In the centre of the town stands one mosque, the minaret of which daily proclaims that Jesus of Nazareth is not the dominant master here.

The Latin convent stands at the east end of the village, and is built upon the high ground just where the rocky surface joins the valley. Its church, which is called the "Church of the Incarnation," is erected on the supposed spot where the angel saluted the Virgin Mary with the joyful tidings related in Luke, i. 28-38. It resembles the figure of a cross; that part of it which stands for the tree of the cross is fourteen paces long and six broad, and runs into the grotto, which is said to have been the house of Joseph and

From Landscape Illustrations of the Bible, engraved by Finden, with Descriptions by the Rev. T. H. Horne. 2 vols. Murray. 1836.

Mary. The transverse part of it is nine paces in length and four in width, and is built across the mouth of the cave. Just at the section of these divisions are erected two granite pillars, two feet in diameter, and about three feet distant from each other. Tradition represents them as standing in the very place where the angel and the Virgin severally stood at the time of the annunciation. The innermost column, which is intended to represent the Virgin Mary, has been made the subject of a pretended miracle. Near the convent is shewn the workshop of Joseph; it is now a small chapel, perfectly modern. Over the altar is a representation of him with the implements of his trade, and holding the infant Jesus, as if instructing him in his mechanical employment.

Not far distant from the house of Joseph is shewn the synagogue where our Saviour preached the sermon related in Luke, iv. 18-27; and also the precipice, from which the monks of the Latin convent affirm that he leaped down, in order to escape the rage of his townsmen, who were offended at his application of the sacred text. "All they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city; and led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way" (Luke, iv. 28-30).

The Mount of Precipitation, as it is now called, is about a mile and a half distant from Nazareth, according to Dr. Richardson, but two miles according to the observations made by Mr. Buckingham and the Rev. W. Jowett; though Dr. E. D. Clarke maintains that the words of the evangelist explicitly prove the situation of the ancient city to have been precisely that which is occupied by the modern village. Mr. Jowett, however, has, we conceive, clearly shewn that the Mount of Precipitation could not be immediately contiguous to Nazareth. This village is situated in a little sloping vale or dell on the side, and nearly extends to the foot of a hill, which, though not very lofty, is rather steep and overhanging. The eye naturally wanders over its summit, in quest of some point from which it might probably be that the men of this place endeavoured to cast our Saviour down (Luke, iv. 29); but in vain: no rock adapted to such an object appears.

"At the foot of the hill is a modest, simple plain, surrounded by low hills, reaching in length nearly a mile; in breadth, near the city, a hundred and fifty yards; but further on, about four hundred yards. On this plain there are a few olive-trees and fig-trees, sufficient, or rather scarcely sufficient, to make the spot picturesque. Then follows a ravine, which gradually grows deeper and narrower, till, after walking about another mile, you find yourself in an immense chasm, with steep rocks on either side, from whence you behold, as it were, beneath your feet, and before you, the noble Plain of Esdraelon. Nothing can be finer than the apparently immeasurable prospect of this plain, bounded to the south by the mountains of Samaria. The elevation of the hills on which the spectator stands in this ravine is very great; and the whole scene, when we saw it, was clothed in the most rich mountain-blue colour that can be conceived. At

this spot, on the right hand of the ravine, is shewn the rock to which the men of Nazareth are supposed to have conducted our Lord, for the purpose of throwing him down. With the Testament in our hands, we endeavoured to examine the probabilities of the spot; and I confess there is nothing in it which excites a scruple of incredulity in my mind. The rock here is perpendicular for about fifty feet, down which space it would be easy to hurl a person who should be unawares brought to the summit; and his perishing would be a very certain consequence. That the spot might be at a considerable distance from the city is an idea not inconsistent with St. Luke's account; for the expression thrusting' Jesus 'out of the city, and leading him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built,' gives fair scope for imagining that, in their rage and debate, the Nazarenes might, with out originally intending his murder, press upon him for a considerable distance after they had quitted the synagogue. The distance, as already noticed, from modern Nazareth to this spot is scarcely two milesa space which, in the fury of persecution, might soon be passed over. Or should this appear too considerable, it is by no means certain but that Nazareth may at that time have extended through the principal part of the plain, which lies before the modern town: in this case, the distance passed over might not exceed a mile. It remains only to note the expression, the brow of the hill on which their city was built:' this, according to the modern aspect of the spot, would seem to be the hill north of the town, on the lower slope of which the town is built; but I apprehend the word hill to have in this, as it has in very many other passages of Scripture, a much larger sense; denoting sometimes a range of mountains, and in some instances a whole mountainous district. In all these cases the singular word hill,' 'gebel,' is used according to the idiom of the language of this country. Thus, Gebel Carmyl,' or Mount Carmel, is a range of mountains: Gebel Libnân,' or Mount Lebanon, is a mountainous district of more than fifty miles in length: Gebel ez-Zeitûn,' the Mount of Olives, is certainly a considerable tract of mountainous country. And thus any person, coming from Jerusalem and entering on the Plain of Esdraelon, would, if asking the name of that bold line of mountains which bounds the north side of the plain, be informed that it was 'Gebel Nâsra,' the Hill of Nazareth; though, in English, we should call them the Mountains of Nazareth. Now the spot shewn as illustrating Luke, iv. 29, is, in fact, on the very brow of this lofty ridge of mountains; in comparison of which the hill upon which the modern town is built is but a gentle eminence."


[ocr errors]

This intelligent traveller, therefore, concludes that this mountain may be the real scene where our divine prophet, Jesus, experienced so great a dishonour from the men of his own country and of his own kindred.

In a valley near Nazareth is a fountain which bears the name of the Virgin Mary, and where the women are seen passing to and fro with pitchers on their heads, as in days of old. It is justly remarked that, if there be a spot throughout the Holy Land which was more particularly honoured by the presence of Mary, we may consider this to be the place; because the

situation of a copious spring is not liable to change, and because the custom of repairing thither to draw water has been continued among the female inhabitants of Nazareth from the earliest period of its history.

The population of Nazareth is estimated by different travellers at fifteen hundred or two thousand; about six hundred of whom are Christians. No Jews are permitted to reside here. The village is now called Nassera.



It is written that "the Lord hath made all things for himself;" and it is for his pleasure that they are and were created: and among the things created, man stands out "the noblest work of God." It would appear that a council of the sacred Trinity was held respecting his formation. "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our

likeness; and in the image

of God man was created." But, alas! the creature fell -sin marred all his fair proportions. Hence it is now the work of redemption that mainly demands our contemplation, as the mirror in which the glory of God our Saviour is most fully unveiled.

The new creation" on the heart of man is one grand division of this perfect work of God; and often does its display of " the beauty of holiness" constrain the world to a reluctant acknowledgment, and excite the Church to a joyful exclamation, "What hath God wrought!" For not only will the Redeemer's glory be manifested in his saints at the blissful era of his coming-not only will they then be seen as the jewels of his everlasting crown,-but even now they are "the glory of his inheritance," set forth for the conviction of the world," that they may see, and know, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and that the Holy One of Israel hath created it."

It is the object of the following sketch of the life of an eminent servant of the Lord Jesus, to shew forth one of those striking manifestations of Divine power and grace, in the new creation of the soul of man, bringing it out of darkness into his marvellous light, from the power of Satan unto God.

The Rev. John Newton having himself drawn up an account of his early life, and his conversion from the paths of sin to the service of God, some extracts from the highly interesting "Narrative" will afford a better view of his history than any matter that can now be put together. He thus commences:

"I can sometimes feel a pleasure in repeating the grateful acknowledgment of David,- O Lord, I am thy servant, the son of thine handmaid; thou hast loosed my bands.' The tender mercies of God towards me were manifest in the first moment of my life: I was born, as it were, in his house, and dedicated to him in my infancy. My mother (as I have heard from many) was a pious and experienced Christian. I was her only child; and as she was of a weak constitution, and a retired temper, almost her whole employment was the care of my education. At a time when I could not be more than three years old, she taught me English, and with so much success (as I had something of a forward turn), that when I was four years old, I could read with propriety in any common book that offered. She stored my memory, which was then very retentive, with many valuable pieces, chapters, and portions of Scripture, catechisms, hymns, and poems. How far the best education may

fall short of reaching the heart, will strongly appear in the sequel of my history; yet, I think, for the encouragement of pious parents to go on in the good way of doing their part faithfully to form their children's minds, I may properly propose myself as an instance. Though in process of time I sinned away all the advantages of these early impressions, yet they were for a great while a restraint upon me; they returned again and again, and it was very long before I could wholly shake them off; and when the Lord at length opened my eyes, I found a great benefit from the recollection of them. Further, my dear mother, besides the pains she took with me, often commended me with many prayers and tears to God; and I doubt not but I reap the fruits of these prayers to this hour.

"My mother observed my early progress with peculiar pleasure, and intended from the first to bring me up with a view to the ministry, if the Lord should so incline my heart. But He was pleased to reserve me for an unusual proof of his patience, providence, and grace; and therefore overruled the purpose of my friends by depriving me of this excellent parent when I was something under seven years old. I was born July 24, 1725; and she died the 11th of that month, 1782. My father was then at sea: he was a commander in the Mediterranean trade: he came home the following year, and soon after married again. Thus I passed into different hands. I was sent to a boarding-school in Essex (having been previously resident in London); but at eleven years of age I was taken to sea, and made several voyages till the year 1742."

See his own Narrative, Letters to a Wife, &c.; also his Life in the Christian's Family Library, and Memoirs by Cecil.

During this period, Mr. Newton describes himself to have undergone various religious convictions. Before the age of twelve years, he met with "Bennet's Christian Oratory," and endeavoured to walk religiously by means of its guidance. Several remarkable incidents occurring in succession, each aroused his conscience; but were one after the other soon forgotten. At another time, the perusal of the "Family Instructor" put him upon a partial and transient reformation. He thus seems to have taken up and laid aside a religious profession three or four different times before the age of sixteen.

Of his last reform at this age, he thus writes:-"It was the most remarkable both for degree and continuance. Of this period, at least of some part of it, I may say, in the apostle's words, 'After the straitest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.' I did every thing that might be expected from a person entirely ignorant of God's righteousness, and desirous to establish his own. I spent the greatest part of every day in reading the Scriptures, meditation, and prayer: I fasted often: I even abstained from all animal food for three months. I would hardly answer a question for fear of speaking an idle word. I seemed to bemoan my former miscarriages very earnestly, sometimes with tears. In short, I became an ascetic, and endeavoured, so far as my situation would permit, to renounce society, that I might avoid temptation. I continued in this serious mood (I cannot give it a higher title) for more than two years, without any considerable breaking off. But it was a poor religion; it left me, in many respects, under the power of sin, and, so far as it prevailed, only tended to make me gloomy, stupid, unsociable, and useless."

In the year 1743, he was appointed to a post of considerable trust in Jamaica; but on the very eve of starting, an event occurred which changed the whole current of his ideas, and gave rise to the series of uncommon dispensations which distinguished his afterlife. He formed a sudden and violent attachment to a young lady residing in Kent, near Maidstone, then under fourteen, "which," again to use his own words, never abated or lost its influence a single moment in my heart from that hour. In degree, it actually equalled all that the writers of romance have ima


« PoprzedniaDalej »