Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

March, 1817.]

Sunday.

85

would crumble it to pieces, then again of the law, often took the place of divert with spectacles and sports the that “ liberty wherewith Christ had mind already half revolted by its de. made us free." We need not recur votion. But if the mind is to be ra- to the relentless severities, the sixtionally worked upon and soberly hours' sermons, the “ crassa et car. influenced by a sober and rational nalis superstitio," condemned even by religion, we should again be glad to Calvin himself

, of those strange times. see the man who would tell us, that Suffice it to know that these have one afternoon in the week, of retired passed away; and with them, also, meditation and domestic or friendly let the recollection pass of that most converse, would be an over-grant to absurd measure of policy intended to such an object.

counteract them, the Book of Sports. The foregoing observations may - That grave divines, and a religious lead us to some conclusions respect- court, should have set forth and coming certain phenomena in the prac- manded to be read in all parish tical history of the Christian Sabbath churches, such a true libel on the in this and other countries, both at Sabbath, as a book prescribing the present and in former periods of mo- use, and maintaining the lawfulness, dern history. The Roman Catholic of Sunday sports, which was the case religion became, in process of time, in the reign of James and Charles, more or less a religion of forms; and is sufficient to stamp the madness what recompense, what coaxing was of that period, and to prepare the not necessary to keep its misguided mind for the worst mischiefs which votaries within the pale of open profes- could happen as the reward of duwn. sion and cordial attachment? Hence right fatuity. Out of the ruins of by degrees arose the Roman Catholic Church and State arose at length, Sabbath; partly because the Church after many struggles, in subdued itself, restricting the practice of re- but sound and stable majesty, the ligion to the Church ceremonies, let genuine Sunday of the Church of loose her votaries, like so many school. England. boys, to play after their lesson was This, as might be expected, taking done; and partly because the body of the exact medium between opposite the people willingly accepted such an extremes, has found a place equally agreeable return for the compara- distant from Jewish scrupulosity, tively small payment of matins, mass, Roman laxity, and Puritanical seand vespers. Infidelity appropriately verity. It has vindicated its own anconcluded what superstition had be cient and firmly established rights, gun; and the Sunday of Christian as the great weekly festival ; and nations fast hastened to its acme of has learnt how to minister at once desecration.

to the honour of the Creator, and Extremes generally produce each the best interests of his creatures. other; and to the ancient abusers of The Church of England, conscious the Lord's day we doubtless owed of having a religion to impart to the Puritan Sabbath. Here every her children worth learning, and, at thing was on the principle of Jack the same time, requiring, like " truth” in the tale, “Tear away, brother herself, to be the offspring of siMartin;

for the love of heaven tear lence and unbroken meditation," has away!" We could not recede far wisely seized this “ holy restful day" enough from popish abuses : their for such a purpose. Though she very antipodes were too near neigh- forbids the superstitious retention of bours. In the observation of the certain ritual formalities, which havLord's day, as in other institutions, ing served their end, are done away; something of a Jewish leaven, which yet, as she speaks in her own Homisecretly worked in the heart of Chris. lies, “ whatsoever is found in this tendom, now began to make its ap- commandment, appertaining to the pearance ; and adherence to the letter law of nature, as a thing most godly,

[ocr errors]

:

most just, and needful, for God's acts to engender habits of devotion, glory, onght to be retained and kept practice to settle into principle, and of all good Christian people. There- the allotted task, now no longer a fore by this commandment we ought task, to take possession, as a new to have a time, as one day in the nature, of the soul. After the public week, wherein we ought to rest, yea acts of religion in the day, she places from our lawful and needful works.” the children of the family in orderly And, again : “ God's obedient chil- arrangement around, their natural dren should use the Sunday holily, instructor, and conveys from father and rest from their common and daily to son the inestimable treasures of business, and also give themselves Christian instruction, the wealth of a wholly to heavenly exercises of God's thousand generations. The lessons true religion and service.The

80 acquired she bids descend to other same plain-spoken Homily is equally members of the household; and like explicit in condemnation of Sunday the fertilizing dew which, first' atsports and pastimes: and the intelli- tracted by the mountain of Hermon, gent reader cannot fail of observing afterwards visits the peaceful vale the application of its remarks to all beneath," she would shed the spirit parts of the day alike. In short, our of her 6 holy and restful day”, in venerable Church takes her stand regular gradations from the station upon this divine institution, as upon of command to the lowest in the the last refuge of the Christian faith house, and the poorest in the field. in a licentious world. Her spirit She inculcates in very plain terms rises with indignation at the slightest the responsibility which attaches to attempt, at the very “ look, that masters for the conduct and principles would threaten it with insult.” She of their servants, and in general to considers it an ordinance as stable as the higher ranks of society for the the day and night itself, and estab- dispositions of the lower: and it is lished for the very same purpose, that impossible not to feel the necessity of perpetuating with almost vocal of strict consistency, in order to give energy the glory of the Creator. to example, or even to authority, its On that day she summons, her hardy due influence on the minds of infesons of labour into the presence of riors. Half-observance, half-profanathe great Supreme; and having bid tion of sacred ordinances, are a sure them kneel in suitable equality with method of destroying all their sancthose who, for the best of purposes, tity in the minds of the illiterate and are for a time placed above them in indiscriminating majority of manrank; she dismisses botii to reflect kind. in secret, and with profit, on the pe- Once establish the duty of keeping riod when all distinctions, but those the Christian Sabbath in moral and of virtue alone, will be extinguished preponderating evidence, and the for ever,

On the other hand, she duty then stands in its full force, like admonishes the higher classes to show revelation itself, notwithstanding all an example worthy of imitation to the possible or even plausible suggesthe lower and the less instructed. tions which may be brought to inShe enjoins for a while "the mirth validate it. And further, let it apof tabrets to cease," and the roll of pear to be obligatory on a Christian, the " unnumbered idle” vehicles of as such, to observe this holy day, then pleasure to give place to the silence he is equally bound to do so, as long of meditation, and the repose of as he retains the name and hope of wearied nature. She acts upon the a Christian, in every soil and clitruest and best understood principles mate, in man's economy, in forbidding the impressions of the morning to be "Or by the lazy Scheldt, or wand'ring Po:”' worn out by the thoughtless gayeties nor will he refuse to hail it even as of the evening. She gives time for his best friend, in terms resembling

March, 1817.) Religious Education.-Christ's Sufferings for Sin. 87 the address of the home-loving my ·xtravagancies of any youth, my mad “ Traveller” to his brother:

foilies and wild jollities, come see my “Where'er I roam, whatever realms I see, guilt began to make approaches towards

Saviour yonder, how he swoons when My beart untravellid fondly turns to thee."

him! and can I make myself merry with nothing else but that which made himi

die ? tickle, cheer, and heighten myself Religious Education.

with agonies ?. You, my intemperate In the Schools of the National Educa- draughts, my full bowls and the riotous

evenings I have passed, look yonder what tion Society, and in those of the Society

a sad night do these make Christ pass ! for promoting Christian Knowledge in look what a cup he, holds, which makes England, the children are instructed in him fall lower to deprecate, than ever my the principles of religion as professed by uries, fulness of bread, and idleness, where

à

excesses made me lie. You, my lazy luz. the Church. An objection sometimes. by I have controlled God's curse, and only made to this mosle of education, is for in the sweat of others faces eat my bread, cibly answered in the following extract

and in that dev drank up the spirits of

those multitudes that toil to faintings to from a British publication.

maintain my dissolute life, see how he is We are wearied in refuting the hack forced to bear the whole curse for me : niedl objection, that this is to trap the how the thorns grow on his head, and mind ia favour of a particular system of how he sweats all over! You, my supine religion. True; but that system we be- devotions, which do scarce.afford my God lieve to be the system of the Gospel; and a knee, and less a heart, not when I am if there be harm in this, we are content to deprecating an eternity of all those torplead guilty to the charge. We believe ments which killed Christ; look yonder that we are consulting the best interests how he prays, behold him on his face pe. of the rising generation in so doing, with titioning, see there how he sweats and the hope, that He who commanded little begs! You, my little malices and my vex. children to be brought unto him, will atious angers, that are hot and quick as approve and assist our work. But let us fire itself, and that do fly as high too, suppose a child sent to school with many that are up at heaven strait for the least others, with a Bible in his hands; a strict wrong on earth; look how he bears bis, charge is given to the preceptor to teach how his patience seems wounded only in only its general doctrines; injuction is a wound that fell upon his persecutors! laid upon the parents to keep any particu- and when one that came to apprehend lar system out of his sight, (for unless this him wrongfully was hurt, as if the sword be done, why send him to such a school, of his defence had injured him, he threatand not to one whose plan accords more ened, and for ever cursed the black deeds with the parents' own ideas :) when he of that angry weapon, and made restiticomes out into the world, can it be sup- tion of what he had not taken, made his posed that they who are stirring heaven adversary whole whom he had not hurt! and earth to gain one proselyte, would See how with his .cruel judges he is as a leave this child to foliow its own inclina. sheep, that not before his shearers only, but tions, and not set before the peculiar before his butcher too, is dumb. You, my excellencies of their own creed? It may scorns, and my high stomach that will take be, the person who first gets hold of him is no satisfaction but blood and soul for the a Churchman; but whoever it be, it comes faults of inadvertency, for such as not the to a particular system at last, and it may wrong, but humour makes offences; look come to one which we do not think so how they use him, they buffct, and revile, good as our own. Let those who dissent and spit upon him! Ye, my dreadful oaths from us educate their children in the and bitter imprecations which I use to way they think best. We blame them not lace my speeches with, or vent against for it; all that we require of them is to any one that does offend me in the least, be conscientious and consistent. But let making the wounds and blood of God, and them permit us to do the same.

other such sad words, either my foolish modes of speaking, or the spittings of my

peevishness; there you may see what it The Guilt of Sin displayed in the Suffers

is I play with so; you may behold the life ings of Christ.

of Christ pouring out at those wounds If I might have leave to go before you which I speak so idly, of; and what I and to let you into the example, draw the mingle with my sportive talk is agony, curtain from before the Passion, I would such as they that beheld afar off struck. call my sins out, drag them to behold their breasts at, and to see them only was that prospect, hale them into the garden, a passion. Ye, my atheisms and my irreshow them how he was used there. You, ligion-but, alas! you have no prospect

TREE.

[ocr errors]

yonder ; it is but faint before you who thine, when thou cricdst out, " My soul outdo the example; whatsoever Judas is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death ?" and the rest did to the man Christ Jesus, It was not thy body that suffered now you attempt on God, you invade heaven, yet thou who wert best acquainted with sentence, crucify Divinity itself. ALLES. the nature of thy sorrows, declarest thy

self not only assaulted, but possessed, by grief-grief so vehement as to be with

out relaxation, and as it were without reTHE AGONY.

medy-exceeding sorrowful unto death. From Bishop Hall, altered by Glasse.

O blessed Saviour, what was it, what

could it be, which thus lay heavy on thy Now the Saviour of mankind is entering divine soul? Was it that thou didst fear into a dark cloud of anguish—"He began to die? Was it that thou didst shrink to be sorrowful, and very heavy.". Many with horror from the pain, and shame, anxious thoughts for those whom he came and torment of thine approaching crucia to redeem, had on former occasions been fixion? O poor and base thoughts of subdued by his divine fortitude; at last, weak and impotent mortality! How many his grief is too great to be concealed- thousands of thy blessed martyrs have

My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even welcomed no less exquisite tortures with unto death.” Blessed Lord, what must smiles and congratulations ? how many thou have felt, at the moment of thy com- have triumphed in the midst of those plaining ? Feeble minds are apt to be sufferings which their very persecutors moan themselves on slight occasions- thought were intolerable! If their weakbut that grief must needs be violent, ness was thus undaunted, and could thus which causes a strong heart to break prevail, how could thy power fail of the forth into passionate lamentation. Alas! victory? No. it was the grievous weight what a word is this for thee, the Son of of the sins of a guilty world-it was the God, to utter! Where is that Comforter, burden of thy Father's wrath in. consewhom thou didst promise to send to quence of that sin, which thus pressed others? Where is thine eternal Father, down upon thy soul, and wrung from the Father of all mercies and God of all thee these affecting lamentations.' comfort, in whose presence is the fulness What can it avail thee, O Saviour, to of joy, and at whose right hand there is tell thy grief to man? Who can afford pleasure for evermore! Where is thine thee succour, but He of whom (speaking undaunted resolution, that thou wouldst in thy human character) thou saidst walk through the valley of the shadow of “My Father is greater than I?" Lo, to death without fear? O Lord, thou couldst him thou hast recourse. “O my Father, not thus have suffered, had not the face if it be possible, remove this cup from of thy God been for a while withdrawn from thee, that thou mightest tread the Was not this the prayer, blessed Lord, wine-press alone. It was night, as in the which in the days of thy filesh thou offer. material world, so in thy soul. It was the edst up, with strong crying and tears, hardest portion of thy misery, that thou unto him that was able to save thee from wert disconsolate.

death? Never was any voice so strongBut to whom dost thou reveal thy sor. never was God so solicited. O thou who rows, O Saviour of mankind ? Wretched saidst, " I and my Father are one," dost is he who must unbosom himself to his thou suffer ought from thy Father, but inferiors. Had Peter, or James, or John what thou hadst consented, hadst deter. uttered such a lamentation to thee, they mined to suffer? Was this cup placed in would at once have found rest to their thy hands by accident, or by compulsion ? souls-thou wouldst have been both ready Away with these mistaken suppositions to show compassion and able to afford re- of ignorance and frailty. Thou camnest lief. But now, while thou makest thy la- to suffer, and thou wouldst do what thou mentation to them, what issue dost thou camest for. But since thou wert willing expect? They might be astonished and to embrace the whole of our human na. filled with horror at thy grief, but they ture, sin only excepted-since it is human, had no power to give thee assistance, or and not sinful, for the heart to recoil at even to mitigate, while they shared thy suffering—thou wouldst both show what woe. Indeed, what could all the angels of the nature which thou hadst' assumed heaven, as of themselves, do to succour would be inclined to wish, and what, in thee? What strength could they have, regard to the salvation of mankind, thou but from thee? What creature can help, hadst deliberately fixed on.

- Not as I when thou complainest ?

will, but as thou wilt!" The venerable Simeon prophesied to While thy mind was thus agitated by thy blessed mother, that a sword should varied emotions, no marvel if thy feet pierce through her soul.

were not fixed-thy place is changed, but $words in one moment pierced through not thy thoughts: now thou awakenest

me!

[ocr errors]

How many

а

March, 1817.]
Christ before Pilate.

89 the vigilance of thy disciples—now thou O Saviour, thou didst fulfil thine own returnest to thy ardent prayer. Again : word, “I gave my back to the smiters, thou art prostrate on thy face-thy soul, and my cheeks to them that plucked off as well as thy body, is brought low even the hair--I hid not my face from shame to the earth-it cleaveth to the dust. As and spitting;” Lord, how can we be suffithy sorrows increase, so doth the vehe- ciently sensible of those sins which occamence of thy supplication—" Being in an sioned thy bitter sufferings! Thou wert agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his wounded for our transgressions—thou sweat was as it were great drops of blood wert bruised for our iniquities-the chas. falling down to the ground." O thou tisement of our peace was upon thee, and Lover of souls, what pain, what fear, by thy stripes we are healed. what strife, what horror, was in thy sa- Now, into what a world of reproaches, cred breast ! How didst thou struggle indignities, miseries, art thou entering! under the burden of our offences, while To an ingenuous disposition, unmerited thou wert encountering the indignation of ignominy is torment enough ;-but here, Heaven in our behalf! Till thou camest bodily anguish is added to mental suffer: to take our human nature, all was peace ing—and both conspire to gratify the dewith thee--thou wert one with thy co- spite and malice of thine enemies. eternal Father--all the angels worshipped The perpetrators of these savage cruelthee--all the powers of heaven and earth ties are fierce and merciless soldiers acknowledged thy supreme dominion. It men inured to blood-in whose very faces was thy condition, as man, which ex- were written the characters of murder. posed thee to this misery and torment.

These are called together with eager In that, thou didst sustain thy Father's haste-each man has his appointed office wrath. If eternal death be intolerable each man, joining insult to barbarity, if every sin deserve eternal death-what hastens to add more sorrow to a heart were those sufferings, which i: one tre- that is grieved. mendous hour made atonement for a guil.

Was it not enough then, 0 Saviour, ty world! Teach us, oh teach us, to

that thy sacred body was stripped of its abhor our own wickedness--to admire, garments, and disfigured with bloody and to bless thy mercy.

stripes; but that thy person must be thus indignantly treated by thine inhu

man enemies-thy back disguised with CHRIST BEFORE PILATE.

purple robes-thy temples wounded with

a thorny crown-thy face spat upon-thy PILATE would have chastised, and re. cheeks buffeted—thy head smitten-thy leased, his prisoner. Even this had been hand sceptred with a reed--thyself de. an act of cruelty-for what evil had Jesus rided with bent knees and scoffing accla. dlone ? but the cruelty of Pilate was ten- mations? Whence are all these mockder mercy in comparison with that of the eries, but to insult Majesty? Whence Jews: no punishment would satisfy them are the ornaments and ceremonies of royal but the death of their victim.. While the inauguration, but to cast scorn on the Roman governor again proclaims our Sa- despised and persecuted Jesus ? Was viour's innocence, his enemies more loudly that head fit for thorns, which every eye proclaim their inveterate malice. They shall hereafter see crowned with glory cried the more, Crucify him, crucify and supremacy? Was that hand fit for him!”

a reed, whose sceptre controlleth all the As their clamour increased, the justice world? Was that face fit for contumeliof Pilate declined. His feeble and dubi- ous spittings, from whose dreadful aspect ous virtue was carried away by the tide impenitent

sinners shall fee in guilty conof popular tumult. Thrice had he de. sternation, when he shall arise to shake clared our Lord guiltless; now, "willing terribly the earth? to content the people," he prepares to In the mean time, whither dost thou sentence him to death. O wretched slave abase thyself, O thou Son of the Father, to human ambition ! Not God, not his whither dost thou abase thyself for manconscience meets with regard, but the kind! We have sinned, and thou art pugiddy multitude-that senseless idol of nished—we have exalted ourselves, and the proud man's adoration, whose anger thou art dejected-we have dishonoured is but a fleeting shadow, whose applause thee, and thou art scorned—we have is as the wind that passeth away, and smitten thee, and thou art smitten for us cometh not again.

We have clothed ourselves with shame, Now must the Gentiles complete the and thou art covered with robes of ignobloody deed, which these remorseless hy miny. pocrites had begun. The cruel Pilate, Thus disguised, thus bleeding, thus though he knew that Jesus was delivered mangled, art thou brought forth to the for envy, falsely accused, basely and slan. furious multitude, presented to their de. derously traduced, no longer refuses to rision and reproach. “BEHOLD THE MAN! yield to Jewish bigotry and superstition, Behold him, Oye Jews, the man whom ye

« PoprzedniaDalej »