Obrazy na stronie
[merged small][ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. "A BOY," says Dr. Goldsmith, "will learn more true wisdom in a public school in a year, than by a private education in five. . . . . . . It is true, a child is early made acquainted with some vices in a public school; but it is better to know these as a boy, than to be first taught them when a man, for their novelty then may have irresistible charms."

If Dr. Goldsmith had told us what he meant by true wisdom," we might more readily have assented to, or dissented from, his proposition, than at present we can. If he mean by it, as a subsequent part of the essay leads us to think he does, worldly wisdom, I am not disposed to dispute the matter with him; for I can readily believe, that a boy who has continually to contend with the selfishness or the wiles of a great number of school fellows, is much more likely to have a sharp eye to his worldly interest, than one who has found nothing but honour and openness in those about him.

But Dr. Goldsmith says, that he is most likely to attain to a virtuous manhood, who has been initiated, at a public school, into "some vices;" or, at least, that he is most likely not to be a slave to those particular vices. Why is he most likely not to be under their dominion? Because habit is second nature? Let us suppose a young man, perfectly accomplished in all those vices which Dr. Goldsmith thinks it so desirable to learn early, to enter into the world at the same moment with another young man who has never had the good fortune to become acquaint

ed with the said vices, or, in other words, according to Dr. Goldsmith, who has never had the advantage of being at a public school. The vices in question allure them both; but which of the two has the best chance of escaping the contagion? One meets in them an old friend, with whom he has been long on terms of familiarity; the other, a new acquaintance, whom he has always been taught to dread, and with whom he cannot associate till the deep-rooted and long-established habits and feelings which his education had given him, are eradicated.

There are who say, that the passions gain strength by indulgence; but it must be inferred, from what Dr. Goldsmith says, that they are weakened as their dominion is extended. This, perhaps, is upon the principle of civil governments becoming less effective the more widely their sway is spread. Dr. Goldsmith has not, indeed, told us that we should learn all vices betimes, but he has omitted to tell us what those vices are which we ought to learn; and, for my own part, I am unable to discover why, if novelty can give "irresistible charms" to " some vices," it should not to all. What, in truth, does Dr. Goldsmith's assertion amount to but this, that a boy, who has lived in the habitual practice of some vice as a boy, is more likely to avoid that same vice as a man, than he who has habitually reverenced virtue and detested vice?

Having endeavoured to shew that it cannot be desirable to acquire any vice early, and that an abhorrence of vice can never result from the practice of it; before I conclude, suffer me to propose two questions, which I shall do without at all meaning to enter into an argument upon the comparative merits of public and private education.

1. Does the moral improvement of a boy form the most momentous part of his education?

2. Is that improvement most likely to be well attended to by a master, whose attention is necessarily

divided amongst a great number of boys; or by a father (and without the superintendance of a father, private education is what I mean not to plead for), whose care, quickened by

his affection, is confined to a very small circle, or perhaps to an individual?

I am, &c.

H. B.


The Excellency of the Liturgy: in four Discourses, preached before the University of Cambridge, in Nov. 1811; to which is prefixed, an Answer to Dr. Marsh's Inquiry, respecting "the Neglecting to give the Prayerbook with the Bible." By the Rev. CHARLES SIMEON, M. A. Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. London: Cadell. 1812. pp. 59, and 111. Price 6s.

We are desirous of making up the very deficient notice of Mr. Simeon's Sermons on the Excellency of the English Liturgy, contained in our late Review of the Marshian controversy, by some general account of that valuable publication in our present number. It is, indeed, matter of regret to us, that our present limits, and perhaps too the appetite of our readers, surfeited, as we apprehend with the matter, and nauseating even the very flavour of that controversy, forbid us to enter widely upon this subject: a subject, however, only invidiously connected with the merits of the Bible Society. It was not the institution of the British and Foreign Bible Society which was destined to settle in our minds, the grand question either of the origin, the antiquity, and the benefit of liturgical usages in general, or of the excellency of our own established formularies in particular. The mode of conducting the worship of God, we conceive to be an inquiry of very different import from the mode of distributing his word: and little as it is expected, we might say intended, to produce uniformity in doctrine amongst the members of CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 128.

the Bible Society; we imagine, that uniformity in worship is still farther from the ken, even of the most sanguine patrons of this justly sanguine institution. And in regard to the much talked-of indifference, we should as much apprehend an indifference as to the mode of conducting any other practical duty, e. g. that of charity, and even as to the duty itself, to arise from the operations of this society, as we should expect from them an indifference either to the act or to the mode of worshipping God; which we conceive to be a duty equally distinct from that performed by the Bible Society, and to be settled upon grounds equally dissimilar: whilst, on the other hand, we must confess we are not sorry to see that degree of liberality and Christian candour, exercised towards those who differ from us upon the mode of Divine worship, which the widest possible diffusion and study of the Sacred Scriptures should legitimately produce. And in that case, we apprehend, the question of liturgies and their use would remain precisely the same, as to its essential and argumentative force; and the only difference would appear in the mildness, the moderation, and the accent of charity, adopted by the liturgical advo

[blocks in formation]

self; upon the universal consent of all Christians, testified in their practice downward from the Apostolical era to that of the Reformation, and since that period, with the fewest possible exceptions, to the present time. It is well known, that our Lord's own divine Prayer, itself a liturgy, was in a great measure selected from the established formularies of the Jewish church. The use of this Prayer (and how could it not have been used when so prescribed?) together with many hints, occurring in the earliest writers, of other observances of the first Christian churches, seems to put the matter out of question, in respect even to that period where it has alone been questioned.

The ancient liturgies bearing the names of St. James, St. Mark, St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, and others, though confessedly interpolated, corrupted, and in regard to some of their reputed authors perhaps spurious, still prove, in a great degree, the opinion and the practice of the early church on this head. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, who was born in the second century after Christ, composed forms of prayer, which, we are told 150 years afterwards, were used by the chuches over which he presided without alteration. And, finally, the councils of Laodicea and Milan; the one held in 367, the other in 402; settled the practice and the form of church liturgies in -the most precise and conclusive


This argument from antiquity has -indeed been put in a still stronger and very just light by Wheatly, in his excellent Essay on the Lawful-ness and Necessity of a precomposed -National Liturgy, where he throws the whole onus probandi upon the opponent. The ground is occupied by liturgies; previously, we mean of course, to the Reformation:-when, therefore, we ask our opponent, had it been otherwise? When was the great and important change adopted; so important indeed, that we should -imagine the whole of Christendom,

if constituted at all according to the temperament of modern times, must have rung with the event, and with controversies issuing from it? But when, on the contrary, was the subject of liturgical usages ever made a question at all? And to come nearer to the point, where is the proof, and we might almost ask the hint, that extemporaneous prayers were used by the primitive church in their addresses to God? There is, as Wheatly well observes, neither the lowest degree of evidence, nor a bare probability of it. "And as he that refuses to believe a matter of fact, when it is attested by a competent number of unexceptionable witnesses, is always thought to act against the dictates of reason; so does that person act no less against the dictates of reason, who believes a matter of fact without ground." On the Common Prayer, p. 16. Oxford edition, 1810.-We verily believe, the more this argument is considered by an unprejudiced mind, the more weight it will be found to possess. Nor will a single expression, used by Tertullian only on a particular occasion, of praying in public, "sine monitore quia de pectore;" nor a still more vague intimation by Justin Martyr, and one by St. Austin, when liturgies were confessedly universal, go any length; we are persuaded, in support of the argument of those persons *, who can bring no other authority, even from the remotest antiquity, to prove the set use of extemporaneous public prayers.

Not that we conceive, if we may here venture a somewhat bold opinion, that the practice of the most ancient Christian churches forms a conclusive appeal, either for or against liturgical usages. The gifts of prophecy and of tongues, with the other " charismata," for a long time accompanying and signalising those privileged assemblies of Christians, might well consist with the practice of conceived, or, we should Vide the controversy referred to in the following note.

rather say, inspired, prayers, even could that practice be proved to have then universally existed in the church. Had not liturgies seemed to have obtained as a matter of course, and of ancient prescriptive right, upon the very first appearance of a regular and organised worship of God, we might have been tempted to fix the proper season of their introduction to that of the cessation of miraculous endowments. When the noisome vapours of Arianism and Pelagianism, proceeding from the lips of turbulent heresiarchs, proved that the imposition of hands no longer conferred the gift of infallibility; and when, in consequence, it became necessary to subject the detached liturgies of particular churches to the revision of higher authority: then, the very concession of our adversaries, that the adoption of liturgies became general, and received the sanction of all the authority and all the wisdom which the church at that period possessed, fully satisfies us as to their propriety. The suffrage of St. Austin to this point, would be more to us than that of Clemens Romanus. The latter might have seen and admired the "beauty of holinesss," in the prescribed forms of liturgical service, whatever this might be, to which he alludes (Ep. ad Cor. i. 41.); but the former might see, in his own degenerate times, the shocking profanation likely to ensue from suffering the name of God to be invoked, and his awful presence invaded, in terms which might be directly derogatory to his majesty or his truth: and whilst the complaint of St. Austin, in regard to the growing burden of useless ceremonies in the church as it then stood, cannot be ours, still his practice shall be ours, who never, for the sake even of that burden, thought of discarding a test so necessary to preserve the worship of God from the danger of repeated and authorised violations. In later times, we apprehend, no one will lay claim to such a revival of the work of the Spirit, as to render liturgies on that

account unnecessary to us, which were necessary to St. Austin: else we must remind thevery quarter from whence such claims would most probably originate, the Presbyterians, Independents, &c. of the authority of their own great Calvin: "Quod ad formulam precum et rituum ecclesiasticorum, valde probo ut certa illa extet, a quâ pastoribus discedere non liceat, in functione suâ*." And we doubt whether this will be more welcome argument to them against their cause, or that which certain advocates for conceived prayers' once urged in its defence, who

[ocr errors]

"Made prayers not so like petitions,
As overtures and propositions,
In which they freely will confess,
They will not, cannot acquiesce," &c.

In fine, we hesitate not to pro be the clearest of all controverted nounce the question of liturgies to points, upon the ground of authority; we mean the authority of precedent, and of the united wisdom of the whole ancient Christian church. To have no liturgy, no established formulary of public devotion, is, if antiquity be at all to be credited, an and an error of great magnitude, error in the public worship of God; attended with many pernicious conThese we sequences. shall not enter

into; but we shall proceed to give our readers some idea of Mr. Simeon's admirable eulogy upon our own established forms; freely confessing, as we do in the outset, that whereas we had imagined the practice of anti

Letter to the Protector of England, 1548, quoted by Bishop Hall, the able, though Calvinistic, champion of the English liturgy, against the hydra-headed Smectymnuus. Pratt's edition, vol. ix. p. 653.-We need not inform our readers, that this Smectymnuus was a fictitious name, made up of the initials of Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, William Sparstow, who wrote a joint answer to Bishop Hall's Remonstrance for the Li. turgy. Vide Neale's History of the Puritans, vol. ii. 8vo. edit. 1733. p. 397, for no very fair account of this controversy; and compare it with Bishop Hall, as above.

quity would be the best ground on which to rest the validity of the Liturgy of the Church of England, we now are almost persuaded by Mr. Simeon to believe that the best justification of antiquity will be found in the excellence, the spirituality, the highly beneficial effects as to doctrine, and as to devotion, the incomparably efficacious tendency, of our own usages.

That we say this upon no light grounds, it will be our endeavour to prove, by actual quotations from these sermons: in the first of which Mr. Simeon displays all his characteristic acuteness, joined with evangelical simplicity, in treating of the true meaning and connection of his general text, Deut. v. 28, 29: "They have well said all that they have spoken: 0 that there were such an heart in them!" The sentiments here expressed by the Israelites, Mr.Simeon declares to be three;-an acknowledgment that they could not stand before the Divine Majesty; a desire to have some person appointed, who should act as a Mediator between God and them; an engagement to yield unqualified obedience to every thing that should be spoken to them by the Mediator. And to these are added, 2dly, the dispositions which God approves; --a reverential fear of God; a love to Jesus as our Mediator; and an unfeigned delight in his commands. Though not in point to our more particular subject, we cannot refrain from giving one quotation from the concluding part, as a specimen of this truly excellent sermon,

ner, take all the precepts contained in the Epistles, and all the holy dispositions which were exercised by the Apostles; and endeavour to emulate the examples of the most distinguished saints. You are cautioned not to be righteous over-much; but remember that you have at least equal need of caution to be righteous enough. If only you walk in the steps of our Lord and his Apostles, you need not be afraid of excess : it is an erroneous kind of righteousness, against which So lomon would guard you, and not against an excessive degree of true holiness; for in true holiness there can be no excess. In this we may vie with each other, and strive with all our might." pp. 23, 24.

We will not say with what sentiments we contemplate these "streams of our Zion" softly stealing amidst academic groves; but this we will aver, that Alma Mater was then fully purged from the Antinomian impurities of Dr.Butler's Commencement Sermon, when these waters of lustration poured their healing influence from her university pulpit.

Mr. Simeon proceeds, in the three following sermons, to apply his text, "in a way of accommodation," to his more immediate subject, the Excellence of the Liturgy. In prosecuting which plan, he arranges his observations on the Liturgy so as to vindicate its use; display its excellence; and commend to the attention of his hearers one particular part, namely, the Ordination Service, which he conceives to be eminently deserving of notice in the place in which he is then standing.

In the first of the three sermons, he vindicates the use of the Liturgy : and this, "generally, as a service proper to be used, and then particularly, in reference to some objections which are urged against it." Under the former general view, he contends for the Liturgy as lawful in itself, expedient for us, and acceptable to God. Its lawfulness he whole hearts. Take our Lord's Sermon on ably founds, as we have already the Mount, for instance: study with care hinted, on express or implied liturand diligence the full import of every pre-gical usages in the Old Testament;

"Whilst therefore we would urge with all possible carnestness a simple affiance in Christ as your Mediator, we would also intreat you to receive the commandments at his hands, and to observe them with your

cept in it. Do not endeavour to bring down those precepts to your practice, or to the practice of the world around you; but rather sirive to elevate your practice to the standard which he has given you. In like man

particularly the use of the Psalms, one of which our Lord himself seems to have used after his last supper. The same practice he recognises as

« PoprzedniaDalej »