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A Question far young persons, before their first admission to the Lord's Supfler.
"Whereas you were in your infancy baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, do you now upon distinct knowledge, and with firm belief and pious affection, own that Christian faith of which you have given an account, and withal your baptismal vow of renouncing ihe service of Satan, and the world, and the lusts of the flesh, and i*f devoting yourself to God in all holiness of life?
I do sincerely and heartily declare my belief of that faith, and own my engagement to that holy vow, and resolve, by the assistance of God's grace, to continue in the careful observance of it »!1 my days*" [Leightsn's Works, vol. iv. p. 198.
FROM THE SAME.
Answer To The (juery Respecting The Burial Service.
ONE of your correspondents having, in your last number, Requested a reply through the channel of your Miscellany to the scruple of a young friend, at present among the Dissenters, but who wishes to return into the bosom of the Church, relative to the burial service, I beg leave to transmit to you what I deem a fair statement of the case. Oh that part of it, where it is said that the body Is committed " to the ground, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life," I will give you the words of Mr. Wheatly, instead of my own, as being probably more to the point. « We do not," says he, "cast it, (the body,) away as a lost and perished carcass, but carefully lay it in the ground, as having in it a seed of eternity, and in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life; not that We believe that every one We bury shall rise again to joy and felicity, or profess this sure and certain hopfe of the person who is now interredt It is not »fs resurrection, but The resurrection, that is here expressed; hot* do we go on to mention the change of jfiS body, but of our vile body, Which comprehends the bodies of Christians in general. "That this is the meaning af the words may be shown from the other parallel form, which the Church ha* appointed to be used at the burial of the dead at uea;m and this being a principal article of our faith, it is highly easonable that we should publickly acknowledge and declare our steadfastness in it, when we lay the body of any Christian in the jrave." Wheatly, isfc. in loco.
Another expression in the same service to Which some persons save objected, is the prayer,t' that when we shall depart hence We
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* " We therefore oommit his body to the deep, to be turned into corruption, .'iking for the resurrection of the body, (when the sea shall give up her dead,) and ta life of the world to come—who tt his coming shall clinHge Mr Tile budy," Jcc.''
Vol. L—No, II.' 3 » "•
may rest in him, (Christ,) as our hope is, this our brother doth." And why we may not conscientiously adopt this language in the exercise of that charity which " hopeth all things," I cannot perceive. The expression is modest and diffident. It is not " an unequivocal declaration of the truly Christian state of every one who departs this life," (the words used by the objector,) but a mere charitable profession of our hopes respecting the deceased; and these we need not scruple to express, except in cases which are absolutely hopeless, and of which neither the meekness nor the charity of Christianity will lead us to form a different estimate. But such cases must be very rare. A clergyman cannot positively decide that such a one has actually died in his sin beyond the possibility of pardon, and the most he is required to express respecting any, is a hope of his pardon."*
Our offices, it may be further observed, were intended to go hand in hand with such an administration of discipline, as would preclude the possibility of the occurrence of very hopeless cases. Were the inconvenience, therefore, greater than it is, it would be no valid objection against the Church of England, nor could it violate any man's conscience to consent to such a form of words, though in very extraordinary cases he may feel some reluctance to make use of it.
Such a case, however, may never occur to a minister through the whole of a long and active life; and by the bare presumption of its occurrence, surely no pious man, who wishes to enter into the Church of England, would be prevented from prosecuting his purpose.
Though the lad relaxation of discipline is much to be lamented amongst us, yet during near twenty years experience, I do not recollect to have felt any painful hesitation in reading the office in question but once or twice, when reading it over persons to whom I have been compelled by the warrant of a coronerf to give Christian burial. On these occasions I presumed on the tacit allowance of my own diocesan, too distant to be consulted in proper time, and too good, I was assured, to wish to restrain me in so moderate and reasonable an exercise of discretion, for omitting the whole of the last prayer in the burial service. This is an omission not authorized indeed by the Rubrick, but which I doubt not would be readily allowed in extraordinary cases to any conscientious minister consulting his diocesan. Sincerely wishing your correspondent's friend to be delivered from his scruples, and admitted a member of the Church, I remain, with much esteem for your valuable publication, kc. &c.
* I make no comment on the indiscriminate use of the terra "The soul of our dear brother and sister;" as the expression evidently intends no more than that relation in which we all stand to each other. "Who then is our brother?" and " »ho is my neighbour?" are questions which admit of the same solution.
j- Mr. Wheatly is of opinion that a coroner's warrant doet not compel. He pie*!' also for some discretion in the use of the prayer here considered; and the whole of what he has said on burial service will be worthy the perusal of the gentleman who*' doubts have occasioned this letter.
FROM THE SAME,
IN the British Critick for December, 1801, there is a Review of Mr. Greatheed's Sermon, occasioned by the death of Mr. Cowper, the celebrated poet; on a passage of which I wish to make a few remarks, through the medium of your instructive Miscellany. The passage is as follows: "We have read with earnest attention these interesting and affecting memorials of a man most eminently distinguished for abilities; and we cannot but consider the discourse, and the facts it relates, as an awful warning against the errours of Methodism. Cowper, of an anxious and melancholy disposition, after shrinking from publick business, and being overwhelmed with a morbid desperation in consequence of that step, fell under the tuition of an eminent Methodistical divine. From the progress and nature of his sufferings, it appears almost demonstrably certain, that they arose principally, if not entirely, from this cause. His active imagination, too attentive in some respects to its own movements, exaggerated both his religious eomforts and his religious fears; and both were regarded according to the doctrines he had unfortunately imbibed, as actual intimations from heaven. Of consequence, when his constitutional infirmity inclined him to melancholy, it became a religious melancholy of the blackest and most oppressive kind, and thirty years of an innocent and very pious life, were passed under the horrours of habituate desperation. Had he conversed at first with a divine more able to give him sound instruction in the Gospel, all this misery would, most probably, have been avoided; and the violent derangement of his mind, which occasionally recurred, would never have happened."
It is here acknowledged by the conductors of this respectable work, that Mr. Cowper was " of an anxious and melancholy disposition; that he had shrunk from publick business, and was overwhelmed with a morbid desperation in consequence of that step, previous to his falling under the tuition of an eminent Methodistical divine." But if this were the fact, as it certainly was; it appears somewhat extraordinary, that in the very next sentence the Reviewer should assert, That from the progress and nature of his sufferings, it appears almost demonstrably certain, that they arose principally, if not entirely from this cause, viz. his having fallen under the tuition of an eminent Methodistical divine.
It is further stated by the Reviewer, that the black and oppressive melaneholv, under which Mr. Cowper laboured, would pro
bably have been avoided, and the violent derangetaent of his mini •would never have happened, had he conversed at first with i divine more able to give him sound instruction in the Gospel, But this is surely a very gratuitous assumption.
I am not in the smallest degree concerned, Mr. Editor, to vindicate the Divine in question from the accusation of Methodism. My object is merely to point out what appears to be the real state of the case, and to guard the publick against being led to imagine, that those animating and scriptural views of Christianity which are exhibited in Mr. Cowper's works, were, in any measure, the cause of his unhappy disorder. If we attend to facts more than to mere assertions, we shall find, that so far is it from being almost demonstrably certain that Mr. Cowper's sufferings were the effect of his particular views of religion, that it will admit of very satisfactory proof, that to those views, however acquired, he owed a considerable alleviation of his malady. His religious opinions may have given to his melancholy a new direction; but at no subsequent period of his life did it wear so black an aspect, nor produce such a degree of morbid desperation, as previous to thai change of sentiments from which the Reviewer deduces its in creased malignity. The extremity of his mental suffering before that time, had thrice led him to make an attempt upon his life The fact remains recorded in his own hand-writing: but it does noi appear that he was ever afterwards driven to a similar act of desperation. On the contrary, he seems to have derived from the soothing influence of his religious belief, the only lucid interval, (an interval of very considerable duration,)—the only happy and peaceful hours he enjoyed, subsequent to his first severe attack.
Had Mr. Cowper manifested no symptom of mental derangement previous to his embracing those religious views which the Reviewer considers as Methodistical, still it would not have been almost demonstrably certain that he owed his malady to those views. This, however, is so far from being the case, that it is demonstrably certain that his malady had an earlier origin; and it is probable that it was interwoven with the constitution he brought with him into the world, although it may have received a tinge from the prevailing sentiments of his mind.
The British Critick, in saying that Mr. Cowper's views were Methodistical, pays, we apprehend, a higher compliment to Me-s thodism than he intended, and which, if just, would doubtless tend to raise it in the estimation of those persons of judgment, taste, and piety, who see in Mr. Cowper's writings sound and scripturaj Christianity ably and faithfully delineated.
FROM THE SAME.
IN the times of the apostles, the vast extent of the RomaD empire facilitated greatly the propagation of the Gospel. Not only various provinces of Europe and Asia were visited by the apostles, but also several of the islands scattered about in the Me. diterranean sea. Among the rest, the large and populous island of Crete, now called Candia, was not neglected. There were Cretes as well as Arabians at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was poured largely on the disciples of Jesus. (Acts ii. 11.) These men returned, and reported in their native country, the things which they had heard and seen. St. Paul visited the island in company with Titus, at an early period of his ministry, before he was made a prisoner; and he left Titus among the island, ers, to water the Church which he had planted. "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." (Tit. i. 5.) We derive much information from various incidental hints which are given in different parts of the New Testament. Here, for instance, is a fair specimen of the order of the primitive Church, left us by an inspired writer.
The island of Crete is celebrated by the ancient classical authors, for containing a hundred cities.* Titus had the governhient of Christian assemblies throughout the district, as St. Paul " had appointed him." He was to set in order the things that were wanting in every city. And he was to ordain elders or presbyters for the whole island. Individual Christian societies in Crete seem to have claimed no right to set in order their own affairs, independently of Titus; nor were the neighbouring pastors called in by the different congregations, to ordain such as they had chosen. Whatever assistance Titus might require from other pastors, the whole management of their affairs seems to have been committed to him alone. It avails nothing to say, that Titus is never called exclusively the bishop of the island, or that he was an evangelist, and an assistant to the apostle. The word bishop signifies nothing more than an overseer. Common ministers were overseers of the flopk, and Titus was their overseer. He is no where called an evangelist in the New Testament. But it is not the name or the title, but the office, which is under consideration. Were Titus,. to rise from the dead, and visit the Church militant again, we' could find an office in the English Church, which, when stript of those appendages which a change of times and circumstances has introduced, would be very similar to that which he sustained in the island of Crete. His ancient diocese was as large as some