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told1; such as might seem impossible to be accomplished together, at one and the same time, among one and the same people. Yet we seem to behold both accomplished; the one in the tendencies of the Gospel, and what it performs for the faithful privately; the other, in men's ordinary way of receiving it, and what may be called its public failure. The very denunciations against idolatry", by some, perhaps, accounted an outward sin, how well do they apply to the various apostasies, which men contrive for themselves now, and say, to one after another, Deliver me, for thou art my GOD! The summaries of past national mercies', how truly do they represent what is now done for each redeemed and sanctified soul ! And as to the anticipation of mercies and judgment to come, they do not only correspond to the revelations of the New Testament, but we have the express authority of our LORD and St. Paul' for believing, that, of both, language was purposely used, (in the purpose, I mean, of the HOLY SPIRIT,) which literally refers to the life and death everlasting, the sanctions of God's covenant with every Christian singly.

This hasty and brief sketch may serve to point out the thread of warning, which, it is conceived, runs through the Sunday Lessons, and renders it very improper to deal with them as if they had been taken at random, or might fitly be changed at will, for others supposed in themselves more edifying.

Whether Archbishop Parker and his coadjutors had this connexion in view, as it is not, perhaps, possible to ascertain, so neither is it very material. Perhaps the fact of its spontaneous evolution (if such an expression may be allowed,) would make it appear so much the more delicate, and tampering with it so much the more perilous. For, on that supposition, it must be more than humanly interwoven with the very staple of the Scripture History. But, sup

2 Isai. xliv.

1 Isai. xxiv. xxvi. xxxii. xli. xliii. xlix. lv. lx. lxiv. lxv. lxvi. xlvi. 3 Isai. xliii. li. Isai. lxv. lxvi. 5 St. Mark ix. 44; comp. Isai. lxvi. 24. 1 Cor. ii. 9. comp. Isai. Ixiv. 4.

But that they must have had some special rule of selection in their minds is plain, from the fact mentioned above, that they had just before authorized the Clergy, provisionally, to read what each thought, prima facie, most edifying. The idea, therefore, according to which it is now wished to new-model the Lessons, had occurred to them, and the result shows that they did not think it, on the whole, the most instructive way.

posing it designed, it may have been suggested by the tenour of the Invitatory Psalm, commonly called Venite exultemus; which Psalm had been used daily in the Church quite down from primitive times. Many persons, probably, have asked themselves, why that Psalm in particular should be preferred above the many of the same general tenour, for unremitting use in the Church daily. The answer probably may be found in the grave monitory warnings at the end: which, by the case of the Jews in the wilderness, describe so forcibly the position and peculiar danger of a chosen people. That one Psalm may, on reflection, give the key to the arrangement of the Lessons; allowing, of course, for the interruption sometimes caused by the special matter of some great Christian Festival. In general, however, the course of the Lessons will be found adapting itself, with exquisite felicity, to the course of the Festivals also.

Occasionally, the Archbishop's choice may have been influenced, (in subordination, however, to the great principle,) by the connexion of the portion of history with some offence which required warning, but, from the weakness of human nature, was very likely to pass unnoticed. The thirty-fourth of Genesis, and the fifth of Jeremiah, are instances. When men shrink from reading those chapters, they bear witness instinctively to the wisdom and kindness of the Church in ordering them to be read.

Whatever may be one's private opinion, it is not necessary here to maintain, that the general principle suggested above was the very best on which selection might proceed, or that the very aptest chapters of all have been selected in each instance. But clearly, if such a principle be at all recognised, it ought to be most carefully kept in view, whatever insertions or omissions are proposed. Many persons seem to think, that questions of this sort are settled, if on merely comparing the present Lesson with the proposed substitute, it appear that the one, taken singly, is more edifying than the other. But this will not hold, if it be a mistake altogether to take any one singly and apart. The quantity of edification may be greater on the whole by completing the proposed narrative or argument, though on this or that particular day the impression made may be less. To neglect this consideration partakes of the same error, as if one should reckon all preaching nugatory which did not expressly place the highest matters of faith in the most affecting point of view. If Christianity be a great system, such a test of preaching

must be incorrect and if the Sunday Lessons be a series, it will never do to censure any one chapter as unedifying, except you can produce one more edifying, which would come in equally well at the same point of the series.

I will take the example which appears to myself the most doubtful in the whole Calendar. At first sight, almost any one would say, that 2 Sam. xxi. might with great advantage be changed for 1 Kings iii. or viii. the dream of Solomon, or the dedication of the Temple. Not so, perhaps, when we come to recollect, that the melancholy tale of the ruin of Saul's family is completed in the first-mentioned chapter, and with it the denunciation of such perverse conduct as drew down the curse upon him. The other chapters, however instructive in themselves, can hardly with so much propriety be said to make part of the system of warning.

And surely those who, in whole or in part, are for disturbing that system, should look to it, that they be well provided with somewhat, on the whole, more edifying, in its room. Else they may go far towards depriving the Church of a great help to practical knowledge, and to the true use of the Old Testament. Inadequate views of that portion of God's Word have ever been found fruitful in heresy, filling men's hearts with perplexity and irreverence. Can it be denied, that our own times show fearful symptoms in that quarter? There is room for not a little anxiety, surely, lest a clue to many Scripture difficulties, so necessary to the people's welfare, and, (may we not say?) so providentially put into the Pastor's hands, should be let drop, because some of us do not always clearly see which way it is leading them.

It may be said, the alterations proposed would not amount to a disturbance of the general system. This the writer begs leave to doubt; since it is conceived a very moderate alteration, which shall include all the following particulars, "some, (at least three I suppose,) of the Proper Lessons for the Sundays in Lent, five chapters in Deuteronomy, two in Jeremiah, four in Ezekiel," and the principles on which these are made specimens of "omittenda," would as well justify the omission of at least twenty more. Either, therefore, the rule of selection adopted by Archbishop Parker must be renounced, or other chapters must be found, completing his idea as accurately as these do which latter, it is imagined, would prove a difficult task.

2. The other matter proposed for inquiry is less important, and


may be dismissed in a few words. Why, it is asked, should there not be Lessons from the New Testament proper for every Sunday in the year, as well as for a few great days? In answer to which it may be observed, first, that there are, generally, two such Lessons, always one, read in the Communion Service. Only that which is called the Second Lesson, varies with the day of the month. the reasons which, in point of fact, led to the continuance of this latter arrangement, I am not aware that any record remains. But it appears to be accompanied with two incidental advantages, which some may think considerable enough to render alteration unadvisable, without very clear proof of greater benefit likely to arise from it.

One of these advantages is, the standing memorial thus afforded to the people that there was once such a thing as a Daily Service; that such is the system and wish of our Church, and the theory on which the Prayer-Book is constructed. It is an intelligible hint, that a Churchman's devotion was not meant to be all narrowed into the Sunday. The Services of that holy day were but to be a continuance and an expansion of those due on the other days; not a totally distinct thing. This we are weekly reminded of, by the very place in the Calendar, where we must look for the Second Sunday Lesson. The value of the hint people of course will estimate more or less highly according to their sense of the importance of a Daily Service, and of the responsibility which Churchmen have incurred by letting it drop so very quietly in almost every parish of the kingdom.

The other advantage of these varying Second Lessons, (and it will be found in practice a very considerable one,) is this; that it presents the Old and New Scriptures in endless variety of mutual combinations, the more striking because they are unforeseen, and in a certain sense casual. The thought is happily expressed by Herbert, thus addressing Holy Scripture :

"O that I knew how all thy lights combine,

And the configurations of their glory;
Seeing not only how each verse doth shine,
But all the constellations of the story!"

Very much help, both for pastors and people, both for giving and receiving instruction, may be gathered, (if the writer deceive himself not concerning the results of his own experience,) by attending to this hint yearly, as the varying Psalms and Second

Lessons come successively into conjunction with the unvarying First Lessons, Epistles, and Gospels. To note and collect the scattered lights will be found in itself a most engaging and interesting task, and it will serve in no slight degree to impress considerate minds, from time to time, more deeply with the fulness, the harmony, the condescension of the Word of Life.

These reasons are respectfully addressed to those, who, in their anxiety for immediate visible edification, appear somehow to overlook the fact, that the Church Lessons are a scries, arranged according to certain general principles. Scruples, and feelings of different kinds, occurring to this or that person as to the use of particular passages, must be met, of course, on their own grounds; except so far as they ought to be silenced by the overpowering advantage, which may appear to arise by adhering to the general principle of selection.

At any rate, it is much to be wished, that very free talking, and very cheap publishing, in behalf of such changes, were carefully avoided. Is there not something even cruel, in raising scruples and niceties, and unpleasant associations of various kinds, among those who as yet happily have never dreamed of criticising the Bible? If change is wanted, let proper reasons be quietly submitted to competent authorities. But let us not appeal lightly, and at random, to the sense of an irreverent presumptuous age, on one of the most sacred of all subjects.


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