Page images
PDF
EPUB

in speaking of this part of the country, he says, The wealth of the Jewish nation arose from the Opobalsamum, which only grows in those countries; for it is a valley like a garden, environed with continual hills, and as it were enclosed with a wall. The space of the valley contains two hundred thousand acres, and it is called Jericho. In that valley there is a wood, as admirable for its fruitfulness as for its delight; for it is intermingled with palm-trees and opobalsamum. The trees of the opobalsamum have a resemblance like to fir-trees; but they are lower, and are planted and husbanded in the same manner as vines. On a set season of the year they sweat balsam. The darkness of the place is besides as wonderful as the fruitfulness of it; for although the sun shines no where hotter in the world, there is naturally a moderate and perpetual gloominess in the air.'*

"JOSEPHUS says, "This is the most fruitful country of Judea, which bears a vast number of palm-trees, besides the balsam-tree, whose sprouts

JUSTIN'S Hist. 1. 36.

they cut with sharp stones, and at the incisions they gather the juice, which drops like tears.'†

"At the present time there is not a tree of any description, either of palm or balsam, and scarcely any verdure or bushes, to be seen about the scite of this abandoned city; but the complete desolation with which its ruins are surrounded, is undoubtedly rather to be attributed to the cessation of the usual agricultural labours on the soil, and to the want of a distribution of water over it by the aqueducts, the remains of which evince that they were constructed chiefly for that purpose, than to any radical change in the climate or soil." (pp. 299, 300.)

This description of the Balm of Canaan illustrates the allusion made to it by the Prophet JEREMIAH, (viii. 23,) and at the same time proves the costly nature of the present sent by the Patriarch JACOB to the Governor of Egypt, when his sons went down into that country to obtain a fresh supply of corn.

A. B.

+ JosErn. Ant. Jud. 1. xiv. c. iv. 1.

SELECT MAXIMS:

(From "LACON, or Many Things in few THE Christian does not pray to be delivered from glory, but from vain glory. He also is ambitious of glory, and a candidate for honour; but glory, in whose estimation? honour in whose judgment? not of those, whose censures can take nothing from his innocence; whose approbation can take nothing from his guilt; whose opinions are as fickle as their actions, and their lives as transitory as their praise; who cannot search his heart, seeing that they are ignorant even of their own. The Christian, then, seeks his glory in the estimation, and his honour in the judgment, of Him alone, who "From the bright empyrean, where He sits, High throu'd above all height, casts down his eye,

His own works, and man's works, at once to view!"

Words: By the REV. C. COLTON, M. A.”) remediless, it is vain. But a Christian builds his fortitude on a better foundation than Stoicism; he is pleased with every thing that happens, because he knows it could not happen, unless it had first pleased GOD, [at least to permit it to happen,] and that which pleases him must be the best. He is assured that no new thing can befall him; and that he is in the hands of a Father, who will prove him with no affliction that resignation cannot conquer, or that death cannot cure.

He that can please nobody is not so much to be pitied, as he that nobody can please.

A perfect knowledge of the depravity of the human heart, with perfect pity for the infirmities of it, never co-existed but in one breast, [that of our SAVIOUR,] and never will. (To be continued.)

Murmur at nothing;-if our ills are reparable, it is ungrateful; if

The Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns.-Nos. I. to VIII.—By THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D., Minister of St. John's Church, Glasgow. Svo. pp. 358. 8s. 6d. bds.

(Concluded from page 177.)

DR. CHALMERS, in the close of the last Extract from his Work, quoted in our Number for March, has referred to Methodism, with his usual liberality; and we are reminded by this reference of the manner in which precisely the same views and principles, which are unfolded in the Eighth Chapter of this most valuable Work, formerly operated in the hesitating mind of MR. WESLEY, and waged sharp but happily successful conflict with the habits of his order, and the prejudices of his education. In the dearth of clerical labourers, in so vast a field, he set open the door, under judicious control and superintendence, to lay-administration; he encouraged the agency of the pious, in every direction, in spreading the light through their respective neighbourhoods; and by this means, under the divine blessing, he increased his own usefulness a thonsand fold, and, instead of operating individually, powerful as that individual operation was, he became the director of a vast system, which remained at work in his personal absence, and was continually pouring into the Church of CHRIST its contributions of conquest from the world. Nor can we omit to remark how fully his conduct in this respect, so often the subject of ignorant or unthinking obloquy, is justified by the conviction which is at last forcing itself upon the minds of so many zealous Ministers, in both the Establishments of the empire, that the moral want of the nation is so wide and pressing, that it cannot be supplied, but by calling forward in aid of the Ministry those very persons, of different ranks, whom that Ministry has already brought under an effectual religious influence, to enlist themselves under its banners in an offensive warfare against the "darkness of this world." And now, when so many excellent per

sons of different denominations begin to feel for the spread of true religion, just as he, and a few others only, felt, in the opening of his career of apostolic labours, the same means of usefulness, substantially, though not in form, appear indispensable to yet more large and general success.

Nothing indeed has been so unfortunate for the Protestant part of Christendom, and for England in particular, as the prejudices which have prevented the adoption of that auxiliary and subordinate agency, by which the usefulness of the regular Ministry might have been so much extended. How pitiable is the sight, which may be so often witnessed in our own country, of a faithful and zealous Minister of the Establishment, tracked with the eye of jealous distrust through all his walks of usefulness, lest he should carry the services of preaching and exhortation out of the precincts of his own church, and encourage a lay-administration even in the humblest departments of devotion and zeal! A body of Christians, the fruit of his labours, rise up around him; but the use he can make of them is extremely limited. Would he be authorized to suffer the oldest and most experienced of them to engage in extempore prayer in a meeting for that purpose, even when he himself should preside? Would he be authorized to encourage them, in any systematic manner, to visit the sick, and the families of the vicious, in his parish, however large it might be, as his auxiliaries, and there to pray, exhort, and read the Scriptures,-though the end of their efforts would be to increase the congregation at Church, and to root the Establishment in the deep affections of the poor? Such measures, alas! would not be generally approved; and thus is the usefulness of the best of our National Clergy greatly limit

*

ed, as well as that of many sober and prudent persons who have been the fruits of their ministry.

We are no friends to the violation of any order, in a Church, which can be founded upon the Holy Scriptures, or upon fair inferences from them. Waving controversial points, we hold it to be quite clear, that it was the design and appointment of the HEAD OF THE CHURCH, that there should be men set apart, in every age, from all worldly pursuits and cares, in order to be, in a special sense, the Ministers of the Churches, and the Evangelists of the world. With DR. CHALMERS, we think that learn ing is necessary for Ministers, though not for all Ministers in the same degree; and that, both for the acquisition and application of this, and for the full execution of all the duties of the Ministry, an entire devotedness to the office is absolutely requisite. Hence the Ministry, properly so called, becomes a profession; and an Order is created by divine appointment. With the men of that order, whatever difference of opinion there may be as to the method of admission into it, the doctrine of the Gospel is deposited as a trust, under special obligation to teach and to defend it. The rule of the Church of CHRIST is also placed in their hands; not indeed as an unchecked and unadvised executive power, but still as an efficient and an official one. To them pertains, not only the preaching of the Word, in its highest sense, but also the administration of the two Sacraments; because they both suppose an authority to allow or to deny their administration, which authority can be lodged no where but in the Pastor, however different churches may guard or direct its exercise. But whilst we hold these principles to be sacred, because clearly scriptural, and feel them to be of incalculable importance, we still contend, that there is a wide field for the usefulness of many other pious persons, who are not called to this office, but remain in their respective worldly professions and pursuits. It is perfectly consistent with this, in our view, that where the number of true Ministers is inadequate, experienced Christians should read and

explain GoD's holy Word; and exhort their fellow-men to flee from the wrath to come. They cannot do this with the peculiar authority of Pastors; but they may do it, and by GoD's blessing are effectually doing it, as men judged qualified for this subordinate office by their Pastors, and by portions of the Church of GOD. It is consistent with this, that one neighbour should instruct and warn another; that one experienced Christian should "teach the way of GoD more perfectly" to humble inquirers; that Christians should have their meetings for social prayer; and that in conducting educational, or mere alms-giving Charities, they should instruct, admonish, and pray with those who are placed under their care, or brought accidentally under their notice. All this ought to be done, and, if it is to be a permanent benefit, must be done, in connexion with some branch of the Church of CHRIST, and under the direction of its Ministers; for otherwise, the order which CHRIST himself has established is broken down ;-but, in subserviance to that order, it ought to be encouraged, as the only means of making the Church "the light of the world" in the full degree of its efficiency.

DR. CHALMERS admits the possibility of evils resulting from calling this subordinate agency into operation; and this must be granted. In the present state of human nature, it is impossible to excite any kind of active power, without incurring some danger. Miraculous gifts, in the primitive Church, were by some, as at Corinth, exhibited for ostentation; and probably became fatal to some of those who were endued with them. The liberty of teaching, then enjoyed, led in some instances to schisms which were founded on no principle, and might be resolved into the mere vanity of the teacher, and impatience of discipline among his hearers. But the number and magnitude of the evils anticipated are often much magnified, and the remedy is nearer and more effectual than has been allowed. If, indeed, the regular Ministry of any church should have become generally supine and worldly, and erring in doctrine,

while an active subordinate agency should arise, and spread itself by its energy, and if the power, which ought to adopt, encourage, and direct whatever is good, should rather despise and persecute it,-a virtual separation might ensue. But, even in such a case, supposing that the Truth is really revived, taught, and practised by the subordinate agents, this occurrence, so far from being an evil, may be a good of no ordinary kind; though not so great a good as if the Church, in which it first sprung up, had cordially adopted it. This has been, in some degree, the case with Methodism. It professed, for many years, a strict subordination to the National Church. Its agency was offered to that Church for many years; but it was rejected and persecuted. It has now gradually acquired, at least in many parts of this country, the form of a regular Church; but certainly, with no injury even to the National Church itself, to which it yet bears a strong affection, and which it has powerfully

excited to exertion.

Where, however, the regular Ministers of a Church remain generally sound in doctrine, and fulfil the duties of their station, all disposition to separation, and to the multiplication of sects, grounding their separation on no sound and scriptural principle, or being too hasty to separate, even when that can be pleaded, is a great evil; as it may lead to indefinite divisions, may sink the character of the Ministry, may encourage real fanaticism, and tend to destroy, good discipline. The great remedy for all this, though to some extent it may happen after all, is furnished by DR. CHALMERS. He would not encourage either the superior or the subordinate agency exclusively. Either is an evil, if it be alone. If the regular Ministry grasp every thing, the work will not be done, for their number is too small;-the "out-field population," to use DR. C.'s phrase, will not be reached. If, on the other hand, the subordinate agency only be impelled to activity, the order of CHRIST'S Church is broken; the proper offices of the Pastors of the Churches are either invaded, or fall into disregard; errors, irregularities,

fanaticism, become triumphant; and, by a re-action which always follows, paralysis succeeds to convulsive and morbid activity. DR. CHALMERS, therefore, wisely looks on both sides; and were what he calls his "beau ideal" realized, none but vincible dangers could occur. He would still further encourage learning in the Clergy; he would replenish their ranks with wise and zealous Evangelists, as the only men whose

preaching and living" can give them influence; (and they are the only Clergy who in fact obtain it ;) but he would call every Christian, who can be useful to others, into some department of exertion.

going and a well constituted church, there should be among its ecclesiastics the very highest literature of their profession, and among its laymen the most zealous and active concurrence of their personal labours in the cause. The only check upon the occasional eccentricities of the latter should be the enlightened judgment of the former: and this, in every land of freedom and perfect toleration, will be found enough for the protection of a community against the inroads of a degrading fanaticism. It is utterly wrong, that because zeal breaks forth, at times, into excesses and deviations, there should, therefore, be no zeal; or, because spiritual vegetation has its weeds as well as its blossoms, all vegetation should, therefore, be repressed. The wisest thing, we apprehend, for adding to the produce of the christian vineyard is to put into action all the productive tendencies that which may come forth will wither and may be found in it. The excrescencies disappear, under the eye of an enlightened clergy: so that while, in the first instance, the utmost space and enlargement should be permitted, for the manifold activities of christian love, upon the one hand, there should be no other defence ever thought of, against the occasional pruriencies that may arise out of this operation, than the mild and rective of christian learning, upon the pacific, but altogether efficacious corother." (pp. 335, 336.)

"According to our beau ideal of a well

We have dwelt the more largely upon this topic, (in this and in our last Number,) both because of its general interest, and because of its application to our own body. We may see in the principles so ably

[ocr errors]

advocated by DR. CHALMERS, not only a justification of our system, that might merely gratify us,-but a high road of duty most clearly laid down. We have a large subordinate agency at work in every part of the kingdom, and, in most cases, with the greatest benefit to the cause of true religion; but its lasting benefit and efficiency consist in its connection with the order, discipline, and direction of a Christian Church. These powers are vested in its Ministers. They must rise with this auxiliary agency, and work with it. To them belong the careful cultivation of ministerial talent and ministerial zeal and devotion,-learning, at least in a few,-sound biblical knowledge, and powerful and instructive preaching, in all,-and an ever active and wakeful zeal, prompting every subordinate agency, and, by the legitimate influence resulting from office, gifts, and graces, at once maintaining it in activity, and giving to it its right and safe direction.

Our limits will only allow us another topic, and that is the very gratifying one, to which we before have briefly alluded, of DR. CHALMERS's liberality. As a zealous Minister of an Established Church, he is the advocate of an Establishment; and as he holds such an Institution,-an Establishment with full toleration, we perfectly agree with him. Speaking of the importance of external mechanism for the transmission of Christianity, he observes,

"We hold the very same principles to be applicable to the question of religious establishments. It is true, that our present goodly apparatus of churches and parishes was reared and perfected in days of thickest darkness. But when the light of reformation arose, it broke its way with greater force and facility, because of the very passages which Popery had opened; and let our ecclesiastical malcontents ascribe what corruption they may to the establishments of England and Scotland, we hold them to be the destined instruments both for propagating and for augmenting the christianity of our land, and should never cease to regret the overthrow of this mighty apparatus, as a catastrophe of deadliest import to the religious character of our nation. The doctrine of a

celestial influence does not supersede, but rather calls for, a terrestrial mechanism, to guide and to extend the distribution of it; and it is under the want of the latter, that a mass of heathenism attained to such a magnitude and density, has deepened, and accumulated, and in our large towns. The healing water is a treasure which must be looked for and prayed for from heaven; but still, it is put into earthen vessels, and is conveyed through the whole body of corruption by earthen path-ways." (pp. 23, 24.)

The following passage affords a further view of his argument on this point:

"It is perhaps the best among all our establishment in a country, that the more general arguments for a religious spontaneous demand of human beings for religion, is far short of the actual interest which they have in it. This is not so, with their demand for food or raiment, or any article which ministers to the necessities of our physical nature. The more destitute we are of these articles, the greater is our desire after them. In every case, where the want of any thing serves to whet our appetite, instead of weakening it, the supply of that thing may be left, with all safety, to the native and powerful demand for it, among the people themselves. The sensation of hunger is a sufficient guarantee for there being as many bakers in a country, as it is good and necessary for tional establishment of bakers. the country to have, without any naorder of men will come forth, in numThis ber enough, at the mere bidding of the people; and it never can be for want of them, that society will languish under the want of aliment for the human body.

"But the case is widely different, when the appetite for any good is short of the degree in which that good is useful or necessary; and, above all, when just in proportion to our want of it, is the decay of our appetite towards it. Now this is, generally speaking, the case with religious instruction. The less we have of it, the less we desire to have of it. It is not with the aliment of the soul, as it is with the aliment of the body. The latter will be sought after; the former must be offered to a people whose spiritual appetite is in a state of dormancy, and with whom it is just as necessary to create a hunger, as it is to minister a positive supply. In these circumstances, it were vain to wait for any original movement on the part of the receivers. It must be made on the part of the dispensers. Nor does it follow, that be

« PreviousContinue »