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INACCURACY OF PARISH REGISTERS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE. SIR, *T BEG leave to call your attention to a subject in which I
I deem the happiness of many to be most materially concerned, I mean the inaccuracy of parish registers.
It is with concern I am able to state, that in many places they are kept in a moft shameful, careless, and inaccurate manner. In my official capacity as curate of a very populous and extensive parish in Kent, repeated applications have been made to me for extracts from the regil. ter, particularly for those which relate to baptisms, and which repeatedly, from the inaccuracy of the entry, I have been under the painful necessity of refusing ; * though in my own mind I was at the moment fully persuaded that the parties applying did not mean to impose upon me. If the name of John is entered inhead of that of George, or Sarah instead of that of Elizabeth, how can the officiating minifter conscientiously grant the certificate required ? Where property is in question, how dreadfully detrimental to the interested party is this disgraceful inaccuracy !-In looking over the baptismal register of my parish, I find that for several years past, the name of the child has been only entered together with that of the father, whereas that of the mother has been wholly omitted in this manner-John, son of Thomas Gordon, born 15th March, 1708. Baptized 15th April. Does it not appear from hence, that the child was illegitimate, from the name of the mother being entirely suppressed ?--As this is the case, should not some serious notice be taken of it ?
But a circumstance has lately been mentioned to me and which I think truly distresling, as by it the legitimacy of the children of a very respectable family is called in question, and that by very high legal authority.---The parties to whom I allude were legally married (by licence) in a church in the
* We know not by . what right, or on what plea of necessity, any clergyman is justified in such a refusal. Ed.
country, and proper witnesses attended the same; the clergy, man howeyer who performed the ceremony was totally blind, and the usual entry was not made of the marriage in the register. Property to a considerable amount was left to the parties by will. Of course the executors required a certificate of their marriage, the clergy man who performed the ceremony was no more, and though the relatives who were present at the marriage offered to swear to the truth of its having taken place, yet as a certificate was not to be liad, it was by strong legal authority declared that the persons could not be entiiled to the property claimed, as only a pre. sumptive, but not a positive proof of their marriage existed. Under this decision then, to which I am willing to pay every deference and respect, the children must be cruelly deemed illegitimate. *
This may be law, but how far it may be consistent with equity I could wish to know from some of your numerous and intelligent correspondents.
I remain, Sir,
* Not if the license be in existence, and witnesses can prove the celebration of the marriage. Ep. .
ON THE CROWN OF THORNS..
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN's
MAGAZINE. SIR, M Y correspondence in your useful and instructive Mis
V cellany, which, for some time past, has, from various causes, been unavoidably interrupted, I am happy in being enabled to renew.'
The conje&ture of your correspondent, in the 25th page of your lait Magazine, respecting the “ Crown of Thorns," is, as you have juftly observed, by no means a novel one. The proposed translation was fuggested, many years ago, by
the the learned Dr. Pearce, bishop of Rochester, in his Com. mentary on the passage in Mait. xxyii, 29. and, notwithstanding he seems inclined to think that this crown was noc platted with thorns, yet he candidly acknowledges, that it was a point in which there was not fufficient evidence, and therefore concludes by saying, that he leaves it almost in the same state of uncertainty in which he found it. '
The only difficulty in which this question appears to be involved, is, whether the word anxy@w be the plural genitive case of anarba or anardos? and this, in my opinion, may be eaGly removed, when it is considered, that the word axxvbos does not so much as once occur in the version of the Seventy, whilft, on the contrary, that of axaroz is found in not less than twentytwo passages of the Greek translation.* This is a circumftance which clearly shews that this word was, at that time, in use amongst the Jews, and the sense in which it was generally understood by them may be readily ascertained, by a reference to the original words which have been respectively rendered by it. These, on consulting that most excela lent and accurate Concordance of Trommius, I find to be seven in number, each of which, considered separately, relates to some tree, plant, or shrub, which is of a thorny and prickly nature. In our Englilh Bible, the Hebrew word Kouts' has, in nine several places, been translated 'thorns ; and, in each of the corresponding passages, the Seventy haye uniformly rendered it by—axxx@cc. Now this word, according to Dr. Taylor, signifies, a troublesome, disagreeable thorn of any kind it and this I take to be the true import of the word axavba. That it is so, is further evident from the testimony of Theodoret, who speaking of the Hebrew Atad, the Rhamnus or Buckthorn, describes it thus, “ H de papavos axayde LEY EFI ueryion XX boy manenoTATOY Badaxoa.-The Rhamnus is the largest of thorns, and shoots forth the sharpest spine." I The Jews, therefore, used it as a general term for thorns; and Leigh has, accordingly, in his “ Critica Sacra,” rightly reprelented it to be taken not only for thorns, but likewise for briers and brambles, and any thing that hath pricks.” In this sense, and in no other, I am firmly persuaded, it was used by the Evangelist in the passage in question, and for the following reasons.
* Trommii Concordant. Græc. Vol. i. 53.
Critica Sacra, 3d. Edit. p, 10.
The word daardo appears to have been used about tenz times by the facred writers in the New Testament, and in its usual acceptation. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we meet with it in three preceding passages, in one of which (cap. vii. 16.) it is in the very same case and number as in the present instance; it is, moreover, twice used in the like case and number by St. Luke ; (cap. vi. 44.-viïi. 7.) and that in each of these pallages, it is the oblique case of anavba, a doubt cannot possibly be entertained. Had, then, the Evangelist,
in describing the materials of which the crown was com· posed, intended any other word than bexavod, we may be certain, that such his intention would have been clearly and distinctly marked, so that the possibility of any misapprehension respecting it would have been wholly precluded; and, “ had a crown of acanthus been meant, the original would,” as you have very justly remarked, “have been olspavos ež axar x and not ακανθων.”
The common Acanthus, or Brank Ursinæ, is supposed to be a native of Italy; it is a plant of a somewhat delicate and tender nature; and is called by Virgil, mollis acanthus; it is not, as Dr. Pearce has observed, of the thorny kind of plants, and it was usually cultivated in the garden.* Travellers, however, have noticed it as growing in certain parts of Palestine; but as it has not once been named in the Scriptures, it may well be concluded, that it was not a very common plant in and about Jerusalemn, so that the foldiers could not readily have had recourse to it for the purpose in quef. tion. I rather think, from the severity of the weather which generally prevailed in Judea, during the night and the early part of the morning, at that season of the year in which this transaction took place, t that the soldiers, as the servants and officers of the high priest had already done, I having made a fire, took of the thorns which were then commonly used for the kindling of fires, and which, on that account, might be deposited near the hall of the Roman governor, where they, with the whole band, were affembled, and platted therewith the crown which they put upon the head of Jesus. The wearing of this crown, the soldiers well knew, would cause the most painful sensations; and that it was their intention to add cruelty to insult is evident, from their striking our
* Pearce's Comment. Vol. i. 196.
+ Frost and snow have been frequently known in Judea, at the time of the Passover. Lightfoot's Works, Vol. ii. 610.
Luke xxii, 55. John xviii. 18,
Lord on the head, at the time he wore it, with the reed or cáne, another mark of their derision and contempt, which they had put into his hand. .
Ás to the silence of the Apostolical Fathers, I consider it to be wholly in favour of the common translation: the general meaning of the word anxvdwr was sufficiently underitood; and had any misconception respecting it been known at the time, they would, no doubt, have been anxious to rec. tify it. Christian writers in the succeeding ages, take no notice whatever of any diversity of opinion which had previously subsisted in regard to the materials of which this crown was composed; but whenever it is occasionally men. tioned, they have uniformly represented it to have been a crown of thorns. · Tertullian, the most ancient of the Latin Fathers, whose skill in Greek was so considerable, that he is said to have written several books in that language, was born about the middle of the second century; and towards the close of it, he speaks, in certain of his writings, of the crown that was worn by our Lord, and describes it to have been made, ex spinis et tribulis, of thorns and brambles.* Cyprian, too, not many years afterwards, having occasion in his Tract on Patience, to enumerate the many and cruel indignities which were borne by Christ, mentions this as one of them that “ Coronaretur spinis, qui martyres floribus coronat æternis—He should be crowned with thorns, who crowns his martyrs with never-fading flowers.”+ In like manner Lactantius, who lived in the third and fourth centuries, ale luding to the sufferings of our Lord, says that he was “ spinis coronatum," crowned with thorns, 1 At the end. of the fourth century the “ Corona ex vepribus contextaplatted crown of thorns,” is likewise expressly mentioned by Chrysostom in his eighty-eighth Homily on St, Matthew's. Gospel. N
Since, therefore, not a single instance, in the whole Bible, can be produced of the use of the word axavdos; since a doubt has not, that I know of, been once expressed by the Fathers, whether the word axarow, in this passage," had not its usual ugnification; and since, moreover, no various reading of axards for axardw, has, at any time, been discovered in the
+ Tertull. de corona Militis.