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too vehement and affectionate to be expressed. When once-how long wilt thou refuse to forsake thy unrighteousness-as I live, faith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live-wherefore turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will you die, Oh! house of Israel ?”.
After all, it should be particularly observed, not only that this passage is applied to the Jews of that day, with a peculiar force and propriety, when their idolatries and crimes had been so many and aggravated, that they had wearied out the patience of God, who had now determined to punish them with a seventy years captivity—and therefore it shonld, with great caution, be applied or recommended to any other perfons; this is not only to be observed, but we must remark, that it is a proverbial expression; and proverbs, we all know, are never to be received or interpreted in their extenhve sense: they serve to convey general truth, but applied to individuals, are often found not only falle, but prejudicial. We mighe easily produce examples enough of this froin our own language, which abounds with proverbs ; many of them wise and excellent, but many of them cruel and malevolent; and by which, if we were to judge or act, we should wander far from the paths which Chriftian truth and benevolence would approve. Indeed it is a common rule with all commentators on the Scriptures, never to Irain proverbial expressions, but to soften and reduce them. I remember a passage in Archbishop Tillotson's sermons, where, speaking of our text, he says; “ That this expression of the Ethiopian, &c. is much to be mitigated, will appear by confidering some other like passages of Scripture. As where our Saviour compares the difficulty of a rich man's salvation to that which is naturally impossible, “to a camel's passing through the eye of a needle;' nay, he pitcheth his expression higher, and doth not only make it a thing of equal but of greater difficulty : I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.'" And yet when he comes to explain this to his disciples, he tells them, that he only meant that the thing was very difficult ; how hard is it for those that have riches to be saved-and that it was not ab. solutely impossible, but speaking according to human probability=" with men this is impossible, but not with God." And thus also it is reasonable to understand that severe paf. fage of the apostle to the Hebrews, “ It is impossible for them, who were once enlightened, if they fall away, to renew
them again to repentance.” It is impossible, that is, it is very difficult. In like manner we are to understand this high, expression, (which is very hyperbolical,) “ Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots—then may ye also do good who are accustomed to do evil: that is, this moral change of men, settled and fixed in bad habits, is very difficult; though, as the archbishop goes on to shew, there is great ground and hope of encouragement that it may be done
And when we consider the Christian religion, and the power of divine grace, there is all the reason in the world to believe that it will be done, when we heartily set about it, and use every necessary and proper endeavour. Indeed I remark once more, that the text itself may be translated and understood differently. You will observé, by referring to your Bibles, that the word then is printed in Italic cha. racters, which is always a certain mark that there is nothing for that word in the original Hebrew; and I conceive the passage may well be understood thus: “ Can the Ethiopian, &c." no, that is impossible ; "but you who have been ac. customed to do evil, may learn to do well; and for this purpose he proceeds, “ therefore will I punish you with temporal trials and affli&tions, to bring you to this true re. pentance; and he adds in conclusion, “ How long-when will this true reformation and repentance take place ?" Many similar modes of expression might be produced from the prophets; but I lay no stress upon this criticism, as the former arguments are quite sufficient to shew the genuine sense of the passage,
ACTS RELATING TO THE CLERGY.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN's
MAGAZINE. Sir, T CONSIDER your publication as a repository of every I hint and observation that regards the honour and the comfort of the established clergy; and I do most sincerely Jament the modern practice of palling new acts and explana
tions or amendments, as they are falsely called, of old acts, without consulting the clergy at large. I also lament, that certain individuals, who should be their benevolent fathers, are ready to become themselves, and to render others, their oppressors, persecutors, and tyrants. The Curates' Act of 1796, has been reprobated by the majority of the clergy, and very juftly and reasonably so. A curate, who has officiated for some time, can go without the consent or privity of the incumbent, and be licensed by the ordinary. What advantage can accrue from such an arbitrary procedure, let them explain who introduced the clause.
There are innumerable circumstances which may induce an incumbent to withhold his consent, which yet no ordinary can take notice of in his visitatorial capacity; and why he should, in any case, be thought a better judge than the incumbent, who has personal knowledge of the individual to be licensed, is not easy to say. A friend of mine rejoices that this law did not pass sooner; for if it had, he must have retained a curate, who was very ill qualified for the duties of the church, though of irreproachable life and conduct. There might arise also a misunderstanding between the parties; and, as in the case of Martin versus Hinde, the curate might remain to harrass the rector. A license would have the same effect, in all cases, which the title had in that.
Another curious act of the present day, is that which annexes a penalty of disqualification to every one ordained deacon, under the age of twenty-three. Practice and experience convince me, that no evil ever did, or ever can, arise from the cuítom of admitting deacons half a year sooner. Indeed, no harm would ensue, if some indulgence beyond this were allowed in particular cases. I once con. versed with a prelate who has been long dead, but whose diocese was very extensive; and he had the good nature to say, "" whenever particular necessity is pointed out, I admit under the age of two and twenty and a half; but without proof of such a necessity, I cannot do it, because I should be subject to innumerable solicitations.” Let those who have fabricated this rigorous act, say what evil there existed before.--I set them at defiance to prove any. But let me also remind them, that the present times demand all reasonable indulgence; there are fewer persons educated for the church, and curates are difficult to be found. In each university, earlier attention is paid to theology. Books havé been printed, lectures arc. read, and the way is 'inuch more
fmooth and easy than it was two centuries ago. But we shall be told, nay we have been told, what a wonderful effect the additional half year's ftudy has had upon candidates for orders. The loss and inconvenience they sustain, must be absorbed in the contemplation of their improvement. Now, fir, the degrees of competency need not be so ftri&tly ex, amined into, if a person take care to be moderately compe. tent. It is not considered, that he is to undergo a fecond trial for prielt's orders, when his qualifications will be the same, whether he became a deacon at the one age or the other. How many are obliged to assist in schools, and if their pit. tance can be improved by a curacy, even the salary of half a year would be an object. How many more, after taking their first degree, are obliged to live with their friends, who, perhaps, have already laid out more than they could well afford ? Nor is the want of fated employment more detrimental at any age than at this.
For many years, the old residence act was an engine of tyranny and oppreffion. I will allow, that the judges are not to inculpate, but administer the law; but, in the course of time, they were rigorous beyond the ftatute. Residence any where but in the parsonage-house, was non-residence, when thousands of houses were too small for a family, and the incomes also too small to admit of enlarging them, The operation of what is called Gilbert's act, cannot extend to such cases as there to which I allude. But the incum. bent is to keep hospitality:—What a senseless individual must be be who does not consider, that the hospitality which the aêt intended, is done away by a regular and stated provilion for the poor, that in hard times swallows up a cons fiderable part of the clergyman's income. I might also mention, that the obligation to this duty is diminished, by the marriages of the clergy, notwithstanding the malevolent publication of Thomas Thomson of Hull. It was also laid down as law, that for an incumbent to board in his parfon, age-house, was not residence, because this was not keeping hospitality. But, where was it learnt, that boarders live necessarily without hospitality; in myself, and in many others, I can prove the contrary. But sublatâ causâ, tolletur effectus; and therefore, what time has abolished in the origi, nal sense of hospitality, a judge should not attempt to revive, And is a clergyman to be dragooned into house-keeping, when his income is contracted ; and decent furniture would swallow up the receipts of three or four years. By the way, under the new residence act, an incumbent of a living, in
Somersetshire, has been convicted in the penalty of thirty pounds, one-third of his income, for not living in the parfonage-boule, which was let to the patron of his church, froin which the incumbent resides about the distance of two miles, and does his own dutý. Let any man fay, what sort of hospitality can be kept in these days for ninety pounds per annum; and further, let him explain why it is not fair and equitable, that such an income should be improved by the rent of the house and premises. It may be said, that a licence might be had. I contend, that it ought never to be necessary, where, a person resides so near, and under a narrow appointment. Is there no other method of taking care of parsonage-houses, than by enforcing the residence of the incumbent? Of what use are parochial visitations? Of what use are presentments at the common visitations ? An opulent tenant will often be able to do more than a pooč owner, as was the case in the living of Farleigh, above alluded to. Suppose I should admit this exploded idea of hospitality, the more commodious' a house is, the better reception will all the guests experience. An incumbent, with a private fortune, has a right to all the comforts which his good fortune will justify. If the parsonage be kept in repair; it will neither insure the bodies or souls of his parishioners, that he relides where he can receive them with more fatis faction. The licence of the bishop, we are told, is the panacea. I do not like so much of this school-boy ireatment; neither, for the same reason, do I approve of the injunction from the privy council. Where was it learnt that the bishops are inattentive to their duty ? Why are they to be treated like school-boys also ? In contempt of these martinets, whoever they may be, and who make dupes of the candid, humane, and unsuspecting part of their aslo. ciates, I contend, that there are many instances wherein abfence is not culpable, and yet cannot be positively admitted and allowed. I therefore hope that the bishops will not be intimidated into any rigorous monitions, and that benignitywill supply the ornislions of the act.
I must now advertito another instance of harsh interpretation of the old act. It was laid down as law, that, when there is no parsonage house, the incumbent must reside in the parilh. I know many instances where that is impofsible: and if the incumbent be near, of what moment is it whether in the parith, or out of it? Will not the usefulness of his example and labours extend to several miles around
VOL. XIV. :!' : A A n tr... him? Chm. Mag. March 1808.