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PHARISAISM AND LAY TEACHING.
SIR-On looking lately into the British Magazine for September, 1836, I met with an original article, certainly from a very able hand, entitled, “ Thoughts on Pharisaism as a Lay System." is of considerable length, and designed to establish an analogy between pharisaism and the proceedings of unordained teachers, under the auspices of certain influential parties at the present day. The modern plan of lay-teaching has ever appeared to me, notwithstanding the names of many good men arrayed on its side, to be scarcely reconcilable with the prerogatives of the Christian ministry; while the necessity for its adoption may now, at least fairly be disputed, and the dangerous consequences are at once obvious and difficult to be avoided. But the conduct of the Pharisees under the Mosaic dispensation does not, I own, appear to me in so unfavourable a light when considered merely on the score of right, without reference to the evil tendency of the doctrines which they inculcated. In a word, the learning and ability displayed in the “ Thoughts, &c.” have failed to convince me that the Pharisees, in presuming to act as public teachers, were guilty of an unlawful usurpation of the privilege of the priesthood. Unless the Jewish clergy possessed the exclusive right of communicating religious instruction to the people, I see no reason why the Pharisees, or any other sect, religious or philosophical, might not lawfully undertake to expound the doctrinal and moral parts of their religion. And what proof have we that such an exclusive right was vested in the clergy? The author of the “ Thoughts, &c.” cites as their commission Deut: xxxiii. 10; Malachi, îi. 7; and Levit. x. 9-11. But if this commission were exclusive, how is it to be reconciled with the saying of our Lord, (Matthew, xxiii. 2,) “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat : all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do"? Lightfoot, it seems, understands “Moses' seat" in a limited sense, as signifying the legislative seat, rather than the doctrinal. But why may not the same liberty be taken with the words “law, judgments, statutes," in the texts cited as a clerical commission? Why may not they be as reasonably understood, in a limited sense, as signifying the ceremonial law, rather than the doctrinal ? And what authority is there for supposing that the Pharisees, as such, possessed any legislative or magisterial power in the time of our Saviour? The ceremonial institutions of Moses were undoubtedly committed to the guardianship of the clergy alone; and that the exercise of their respective privileges might not be usurped, or even confounded, with impunity, is testified by the prompt punishment inflicted on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and on Uzzah, and perhaps upon Sanl. (1 Sam. xiii. 9—13.) But I greatly doubt whether the right of teaching was confined to them with equal jealousy. We know that the synagogue service, which consisted of prayer, scripture reading, and preaching, was not conducted by the priests; yet that this service involved no unlawful usurpation is plain, from its being sanctioned by our Saviour's presence, and by his condescending to officiate in it,
(Luke, iv. 15;) as did also Paul and Barnabas, (Acts, xiii. 14; xiv. 1.) Now, public preaching in the congregation is an act of greater authority than domestic or scholastic instruction. If the former right, therefore, were legitimately exercised by laymen, it is a strong argument that laymen and Pharisees, among others, might exercise the latter.
Jahn, whose authority stands high on subjects of scripture antiquity, contends at soine length against the supposition, that the office of public religious teachers (Volkslehrer) belonged to the Jewish clergy, in any sense analogous to that in which it is ascribed to the Christian ministry. I here subjoin his arguments, from the fifth volume of his Archäologie, not knowing whether they are contained or not in the English abridgment of that work. If they have any weight, it is but right that the Pharisees should have the benefit of them. Modern Pharisaism will but appear the more inexcusable.
“The priests and Levites were not properly instructors of the people (Volkslehrer), as they did not, indeed, live scattered up and down in the cities and villages, like ordinary teachers, but formed communities of their own in forty-eight cities. In regard to religion, they were ministers of the altar and the sanctuary; and in respect of the theocracy, court functionaries, and state officers of the invisible King Jehovah. Hence they were obliged to lend their services gratuitously in all the civil offices which they discharged. They were partly judges, partly guardians of the public health, (aerzte der polizey,) partly genealogists, partly gens-d'armes, (polizey soldaten,) especially about the tabernacle and the temple. Čare must be taken not to confound these ministers of religious ordinances, who, by reason of the theocracy, were at the same time officers of state, with ecclesiastics like ours. This caution has often been given, and it has often been forgotten to be profitably applied -exempla sunt odiosa. They were teachers only so far as that they had the superintendence of the laity in every part of divine service; and it was consequently their duty to instruct all men to offer sacrifice, not to idols, but to the true God, as well as to teach with what dispositions of mind sacrifices should be brought, what ceremonies should be observed, what was unfit for sacrifice, what was the distinction between things clean and unclean, lawful and unlawful, what the requisite mode of purification, and how, in certain cases, to make atonement for transgressions. It was their business to prevent all idolatrous practices; and therefore, the whole system of sacrifices was placed under their surveillance. There are certainly some passages of scripture, in which they are spoken of as instructing the people; for example, Deut. xxxiii. 10; Mal. ii. 6; but they did so merely in discharge of their above-mentioned offices--when, as judges, they taught the people the law, and the distinctions of legal right and wrong, (recht und unrecht ;) when, as directors of medical police, without actually healing the sick, they decided upon cases of legal purity or uncleanness; and when, as ministers of the sanctuary, they gave notice of festivals, conducted the religious solemnities, and explained, on every occasion, the nature and method of the appointed offering ; in short, it belonged to them to answer all inquiries of the Israelites, as to the injunctions or prohibitions of the law, whence they were obliged to be well versed in the law, not only that they might be exactly acquainted with their own official duties, but also that on all emergencies they might be able to declare what the law commanded or forbade, as well as in what manner the prescribed observances were to be carried into effect. Hence the prophet Micah, chap. iii. Il, reproves the priests because “they teach for hire ;' i. e., in their capacities of jurists and judges. Azariah, the son of Oded, in the time of King Asa, certainly says (2 Chron. xv. 3,) that “Israel had been for a long time without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.” But the teaching priest taught only that which has been above specified; and that, too, only occasionally, not after the manner of a regular instructor of the people, coming forward at regular seasons to impart to the congregation a knowledge of God, and of their duties as God's creatures, and to exhort them to fulfil these duties. Thus, also, must we plainly understand what we read, (Hos. iv. 6,) that "the people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because the priests reject knowledge, and that therefore God will not have them for priests ;" that is, the priests studied the law too little, and in answer to the people's inquiries told them just what they pleased, or what suited their own purposes. When it is said, (? Chron. xvii. 7,) that King Jehoshaphat “sent to his princes to teach in the cities of Judah, and with them Levites, who had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people," it is clear that this is related as an extraordinary circumstance, as a proof that the want of regular teachers was felt, that a desire was entertained to remedy this want, and that such an event was not of common occurrence. We read, (Nehem. viji. 7.) that the Levites translated into the Aramæan dialect the passages of the law, which Ezra read aloud, be cause the Levites had studied the law more than others; but they were far from being on that account regular teachers, like the office bearers of the Christian church. When they chanted instructive psalms in the temple, they undoubtedly edified the people by such means; but no one will compare them for that reason with our spiritual pastors.
Now if by " teachers" we understand nothing more than has been described above, it cannot be denied that they were very different teachers from those whom Christ has introduced into his church ; who, besides the dispensation of the mysteries, have to afford regular instruction, and are bound to regard the pastoral office as the principal concern of their lives, (1 Cor. i. 17 ;) and are thereby --that is, by virtue of their office-precluded from intermeddling in state affairs. If the priests and Levites are to be considered as popular teachers, we must seek the subject of their teaching in the particulars above mentioned, and in the ceremonies over which they presided at the altar; for these had all their symbolical, or, to use the old term, their typical meaning, though the types were not always of that prophetic character which many formerly supposed, but rather of a morul signification, inasmuch as everything in the law had for its object the support and elevation of morality.
“ The prophets, indeed, bore a nearer resemblance to our religious teachers; but they had, 1, a higher importance, for they were the immediate ambassadors of God; 2, as ambassadors of the invisible King Jehovah, they gave directions also in affairs of state ; 3, they made their communications only to a chosen circle of the more edu. cated class ; 4, they did not act as ordinary and permanent teachers, but merely as occasion required. The prophets, therefore, were not ordinary, but extraordinary teachers, who taught the Hebrews under a divine authority, and maintained the knowledge of God and of religion by prophecies and miracles. They approached our teachers more nearly when they held religious assemblies on the sabbaths and new moons, and strove to instruct all who attended, and to encourage them in the practice of piety and virtue."-Biblische Archäologie, vol. 5, sec. 91, pp. 356, et seq.
If the Pharisees were guilty of an unlawful invasion of the clerical office, in undertaking to instruct the people in their religion, it is somewhat remarkable that our Saviour, who so unsparingly reproved many of their vices and crimes, passes over this offence unnoticed. He rebukes them, not for teaching, but for teaching amiss ; not for supplanting the priesthood, but for “making void the law”-i. e., the moral and spiritual provisions of the law, by insisting upon trifles, and neglecting its weightier precepts. He who was so anxious "to fulfil all righteousness," that in miraculously cleansing the leper, he failed not to comply with the ordinance of Moses, by bidding them "Go, and shew themselves unto the priests," (Matt. viii. 4, Luke, xvii,
. 14,) would not have tolerated an assumption which struck at the root of the priestly authority, if that authority were, indeed, so extensive and so exclusive as the author of the “ Thoughts on Pharisaism" contends.
But I am exceeding all reasonable bounds in the length of my communication. Beseeching you, therefore, to pardon my presumption in questioning the views of a writer to whom I am in every way conscious of inferiority, but who seems to me to have greatly diminished the strength of his cause by relying upon an erroneous principle, I am, Mr. Editor, yours, &c.
BEGENSIS. P.S.-Grotius, on Matt. xxiii. 3, supposes that our Saviour intended to give a general sanction to the interpretations of the youikoi, which he considers to have been useful, nay, necessary, although frequently too rigid. I have no room to quote his words.
THE ACTUAL STATE OF THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE IN ENGLAND
IN MAKING ECCLESIASTICAL CANONS,
In reference to the Fifth of November. SIR,* _I am glad to find you of opinion, that the difference between us can be resolved into a question of fact, and not of principle.
Let us endeavour to clear the facts. The submission of the clergy to Henry VIII. in the year 1531, by. which, as I conceive, the extent of the royal prerogative, as regards the making new ecclesiastical law, must be determined, runs thus :“We, your most humble subjects clergy of England,
do offer and promise, in verbo sacerdotii ... that we will never from henceforth enact, put in use, promulge, or execute, any new canons, or constitutions provincial, or any '
new ordinance, provincial or synodal, in our convocation or synod, in time coming, (which convocation is always, hath been, and must be, assembled only by your high commandment or writ) unless your highness, by your royal assent, shall license us to assemble our convocation, and to make, promulge, and execute such constitutions and ordinances as shall be made in the same; and thereto give your royal assent and authority.--Collier, Eccles. Hist. Vol. II. Collection of Records, 20.
This submission of the clergy was soon after ratified and enforced by parliament very nearly in the same words, and forms the terms of the concordat which the spiritual rulers of the church of Christ in England have made with the civil power, as the condition of their being unmolested by the state. And that this might continue to be binding
• The Editor, on receiving this letter, wrote much longer paper in reply to it than even this unfortunately turns out to be. But, on consideration, he feels that the reader must be so wearied with the subject, and it is so unspeakably odious to hiin to talk of himself and his opinions at great length, as if they were of the least consequence to any body, that he suppresses it, and contents bimself with doing what is enough for protecting his own character, regretting that even this is such a long and wearisome affair.
It would perhaps be a want of proper respect to " Alpha,” to say that the paper on which he founds his letter gives no ground for the assertions and opinions
he has, in consequence of it, ascribed to the Editor. But it would be also unjust to himself if the Editor did not say, that while he concludes there must be some carelessness or obscurity in a paper which has thus given rise to a mistaken view on part of so acute and clear a person as “ Alpha,” he cannot even now conjecture what the grounds are. This is, however, of little consequence. However careless or obscure the paper may be, (and he is quite willing to admit any degree of either quality which may be ascribed to it,) he begs leave distinctly to deny that he ever dreamt of maintaining, or believed, or even thought of, the following propositions ascribed to him by “ Alpha:”
1. That convocation has no authority, when duly authorized, to make canons, Vol. XIII.- March, 1838.
upon all future ecclesiastics, our canons require the clergy to subscribe the first article in the thirty-sixth canon, which is as follows:
“ The King's Majesty under God, is the only supreme governor of this realm, and of all other his highnesses dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes, as temporal, &c."
Now, to what extent does this submission reach, and the statute confirming it extend ? Is it that the spiritual officers of Christ's church have renounced the "authority" which, according to the terms of the consecration service, they “have by God's word” to govern the church? And that the civil legislature has confirmed and enforced this act of surrender ? God forbid! And yet such must be the case,
which, when confirmed by the crown, are binding in law on the clergy at least ; and moreover, that this is the opinion of lawyers.*
2. That the crown has the whole power in the church, and that the bishops have lost all theirs.
3. That the crown by itself can overturn laws made by convocation and the crown together, and can enforce these proceedings by law.
He begs most distinctly to disclaim all belief in each and every one of the said propositions, and should just as soon have thought of maintaining that the pope was head of the Anglican branch of the church. These (to him most surprising) propositions never once crossed his mind. He has, therefore, no answer whatever to give to “ Alpha's” letter, but leaves “ Alpha's” propositions to maintain themselves. All that he did say was-1, That on A SPECIAL OCCasion (the last act of uniformity) the crown commissioned a body of divines first, and then (and not till then) convocation, to revise the liturgy, and to submit its work to the crown for approval; 2, That the natural inference from this seemed to him, that convocation acted ON THIS OCCASION (not always) ministerially only, and with the full knowledge that other ministerial aid had been called in before ; 3, That (without even thinking of its power of making canons) convocation had not, from its constitution, nature, or origin, any inherent right of meddling with the liturgy, which (i. e., the inherent right) would naturally (if a proper occasion arose) belong to a body differently constituted, both on primitive grounds and on the ancient principle of our own church; 4, That ecclesiastical lawyers hold, that the crown's prerogative (whatever it may be, great or small, a question never hinted at) is not touched by an act of parliament unless specifically mentioned: 5, That the right of the crown to appoint fasts, thanksgivings, &c. &c. (not its right of doing away with ecclesiastical laws) has been long exercised and admitted. All this he said, all this he still says. It may be very erroneous; but still, as it is not even noticed in “ Alpha's" letter, it cannot be disrespectful to that writer to say, that it seems to the Editor still to be all correct in fact.
It may be as well for him, perhaps, to confess both his disinclination and his ina. bility to discuss the questions proposed in “ Alpha's” letter, even had what he said had any natural connexion with them. The exact boundaries of the respective power of crown and church, whether in theory or practice, whether as matter of fact or of right, are beyond him to assign, in his present condition of knowledge. There are certain great questions of churchmanship (happily the vital ones) quite clear ; but when one gets away from them, the obscurity and difficulty are considerable. In practice, when the hour of trial comes, an honest and faithful heart will doubtless be assisted on these, as on all other questions, to maintain a good conscience; but the tangled maze of human affairs and circumstances will often so perplex the matter, that two honest minds (see Ken's Life, p. 22,) may conscientiously come to different
The Editor is more puzzled by the attribution of this opinion to him than even by that of the others. How could he say more distinctly that the proposition which ecclesiastical lawyers hold is, that the prerogative is not touched by an act of parJiament, except it is mentioned? What proposition can be more limited than this? What has it to do with the extent of the prerogative? What, most especially, with the tremendous proposition ascribed to the Editor ?