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state, that the clergyman already referred to says, that, according to his present view of the case, if placed again under similar circumstances, he should urge the parties, supposing them to have made up their minds to continue their connexion, (the wickedness of which he would not fail to set before them,) to license it by the legal means now afforded. In this way he thinks that, though they would not be really married, the profligacy of their connexion would be, in a great degree, obviated, and they would be in a state in which, if they conducted themselves decently, they might be judged, on their repentance for past sin, fit for the church's blessing, should they desire to receive it.
And now, without further remark, I would commit the subject to those who will examine it attentively in all its bearings, according to the dictates of sound church principles, and remain, Sir, yours, &c.
AN INQUIRY RESPECTING THE CHURCH OF ROME. SIR,-Will
have the kindness to indulge me with a short space in your columns to make an inquiry which appears to me deserving of attention ? Supposing—as is usually held and maintained that our church considers the church of Rome as a church of Christ, I wish to ask, how the nineteenth of our articles can be reconciled with that view? From the practice of our church, in admitting Romish priests, who have recanted their errors, as lawful ministers of her communion without re-ordination, (which in respect of other dissenters would take place,) it is reasonably enough concluded that she regards the church of Rome as a church of Christ. But the nineteenth article, “on the church," appears to me to convey an opposite conclusion. It expressly says, “ The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." The necessary and immediate consequence from which is, that if “the pure word of God is” not “preached, and the sacraments be” not “duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, a "congregation," in such a case, is no “visible church.” Now, our church declares against the church of Rome in both the particulars referred to in the article; inasmuch as she says in one place, that “ the church of Rome hath erred in matters of faith ;" consequently “the pure word of God is” not “preached” in her; and in another, that the cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay-people;" consequently, as the church of Rome withholds “ the cup” from the laity, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not “duly ministered” by her “according to Christ's ordinance," in the sense of the church of England. Hence, one who takes the import of an article in its “ literal and grammatical sense,” would, I think, upon reading the article above referred to, conclude that the church of England regards the church of Rome as no part of Christ's church. How is the difficulty between the two different conclusions, from premises equally plausible, to be reconciled ? It
certainly would not do to sacrifice one at the expense of the other. Should this letter be thonght worthy of an insertion in your periodical, I should be greatly obliged by having the subject elucidated and explained by any one of your numerous and intelligent correspondents. And I do not think that I should be the only one who would be gratified by a satisfactory explanation. I remain, Sir,
I , your obedient servant,
CLERICAL ATTENDANCE AT BALLS. Sir,-In Number LXXIV. you declare your wish to receive the opinions of a highly respected individual, mentioned by name, upon this question, or of others.
Perhaps if I explain the grounds upon which I, as a clergyman, am not unwilling to be present on such occasions, it may induce those who think differently to pause awhile ere they condemn us,—to sift the matter carefully before they judge their brethren.
In the first place, it may be well to observe, that if convocation or the bishop of the diocese were at once to forbid the presence any clergyman in a ball-room, as used according to the present habits of the laity, those who think and act as I do would feel the whole responsibility removed from themselves, and would simply have to obey without a murmur.
But no such peremptory command having been issued, it remains for us to how and why we have used our Christian liberty respecting this custom; which, if ungodly, must be proved so by some weightier arguments and higher authority than I have hitherto seen employed against it.
I say, then, that in the present state of society there are many persons whom I am glad to meet, who perhaps are also glad to meet me, without the ceremonial of an actual visit. We choose, therefore, the neutral ground of the assembly-room for the expression of our kindly feelings toward each other, which without such intercourse might fade away. Nor let it be said that other means of intercourse, equally effectual and more spiritual, might be devised or do now exist. As for the future possibilities, I cannot say; but I utterly deny the present existence of other means equally direct or effectual. For on such occasions it is quite certain that in one half hour more of social kindness, or casual but useful information, may be enjoyed or obtained than in a whole month of calls and visiting. It surely would not be expedient for the clergy to devote their time to a perpetual search after society; that would indeed be unclerical, whether carried on in the ball-room or elsewhere; yet their occasional attendance at balls in their own neighbourhood will afford them at once almost all that general intercourse with people of their own rank which is the real origin of common sense in every man.
I have known arguments upon the weightiest matters both in science and morals carried on with perfect ease in the midst of a ball-room, when the animation of the surrounding scene appeared only to give
more steadiness to the minds of the reasoners, and more gracefulness to their mode of expression. For my own part, I can sincerely say, that on examining the state of my feelings after a moderate participation in such a scene, I have usually found a greater kindness of heart, and, let me venture to add, a higher degree of Christian charity, resulting from it. And how could it well be otherwise ? For had I not, within the space of two or three hours, conversed with many whom I should not have met excepting on that occasion ? Had I not heard of their welfare, or partaken of their anxieties? Had not the wholesome conflict of opinions been carried on without that bitterness which in private life it is too likely to produce ?
Again, it may chance to be the case that a clergyman is possessed of private property far greater in amount than his clerical income. Will it be thought his duty to issue his anathemas against the ballroom, and withdraw himself entirely from all places of public resort except the churches ? I cannot bring myself to this opinion. Such does not appear to be my duty to my neighbour. I am aware that the whole subject requires delicate handling; for on this point we have no ancient or direct examples to guide us, and we must argue from difficult and remote analogies.
How are those clergymen to act who are the owners of large lay properties, involving them in the secular affairs of their neighbourhood, and subjecting them to various claims from the society in which they move ?
It is evident that there are three ways of acting in such a case. 1. The behaving altogether as a layman; which, in a priest, is an offence punished by excommunication. 2. An outward and (if I may so say) a carnal separation from the world, which, if enforced upon the clergy, might induce fathers to prevent their sons taking orders, and the legislature to prevent lay property from falling into ecclesiastical hands. 3. The difficult, yet, as I conceive, the only safe course, the via media, the temperate exercise of our discretion, in short, such conduct on our part as would render neither our absence from, nor our presence in, the ball-room at all unusual or unpleasing to the laity.
Suppose it should be considered likely that at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee there was music and dancing, (both of them common at Jewish festivals,) as well as a plentiful supply of wine; would it not be fanatical, or something worse, to make his example of no effect who chose with his disciples to be present there?
At the same time, if an ordained person has really convinced himself that he becomes worldly-minded, or selfish, or sensual, by partaking in any degree of those amusements which are one feature of modern society, to him doubtless they are sinful; but let him beware how he condemns his brother, to whom they are not so. If he says, “ they cannot be otherwise,” his ipse dixit will not satisfy me. If he quotes Alexander Knox or Bishop Jebb as his authorities, these also are not sufficient. For who is there at all acquainted with the lives of those excellent men that is not aware how unfitted they both seem
to have been, from bodily disease and infirmities, for entering into general society ? Many such individuals exist among us, and retirement is their vocation, their safety, their usefulness, their glory. When they attain high degrees of learning as well as godliness, their still small voice engages the attention of the church, and fills the entire circuit of the temple.
But apply to their opinions on this point that sublime rule which they, above most others, acknowledge as the test of truth ; and the quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, will avail them little or nothing. We shall find the gospel silent, and the judgment of the church uncertain.
That wicked world which the scriptures condemn is a much more substantial and seductive thing than the outward mask of society which it is in the habit of wearing, and under which it is frequently but not always concealed. We may fight against that mask, we may succeed in tearing it into pieces, but the real enemy remains unhurt, laughing at our mistake. That enemy will follow us into comparative retirement, the worldly mind will work mischief in the most secluded families, and is then most effective and venemgus when veiled under the semblance of separation from the world.,
Moreover, some of those who take (what shall I say ?) the monastic side of this question are in the habit of magnifying to an absurd extent the pleasures, or the beauties, or the luxuries, of refined society. By this, they rouse the envy of the lower orders; but those who know better, cannot be influenced by arguments which betray a childish ignorance of the matter in dispute.
We may examine the ancient rituals, which enter into almost every circumstance of life in the earlier church, we may note every passage in the fathers that can be brought in any way to bear upon this question, and I believe the result will invariably prove an utter failure as to shewing how far intercourse with general society should be carried on by a Christian. In all that I have said, I am speaking of general rules. Exceptions to these will, of course, occur. Individuals will feel themselves called upon to take a higher line than that which belongs to many thousands of their brethren. As an individual, my feelings might be such as theirs, or I might feel uncertain as to the path into which a merciful providence may be directing me. The question before us, however, concerns not individuals only, but the whole clerical body, which cannot be far short of twenty thousand ordained members, embracing within the pale of our establishment the children of the peasant and the peer.
Lastly, should it be objected that those who continue to attend the more festive meetings of general society dare not withdraw from them, as being afraid of worldly reproach and ridicule, it should also be remembered that in the present state of social manners those who advocate an outward separation from the world are quite as willing to use those modes of warfare as the world which they condemn. It may indeed be fairly doubted which line of conduct would expose a clergyman to most obloquy. Perhaps the light-hearted satire of the laity may be found easier for him to bear than the darker feelings of dislike which are engendered among those who not only consider this compliance with worldly custom inconsistent with his profession, but are seeking by all means to compel him to act otherwise.
I have no hesitation in saying that I believe this feeling alone has induced several clergymen to profess retirement from the world as being their safest and easiest way of acting, as being a refuge from the persecution which the so called religious world would otherwise carry on against them, and as the ticket of admission to a society whose discipline, whether good or bad, is, like that of the monastic orders, useful to some individuals, but injurious to many more.
ATTENDANCE OF CLERGYMEN AT BALLS.
Sır,—I should have loved to have seen so great a man as Dr. Pusey give us his opinion on clerical ball-going in reply to the humble request of “ Clericus Juvenis” in your number of the last month. I am one who venerate the good old paths of Christianity, and therefore would inform your correspondent that the authority of councils and canons is as much against dancing as against sporting; and I do wish that the excellent bishops of the present day would not overlook the subject in their pastoral charges. Meanwhile, and in the absence of an abler pen, I merely point out the following authorities:
“ Christians must not go to weddings, and (balare vel saltare) bleat or dance, but sup or dine chastely as becomes Christians.”—Conc. Laod. c. 52, habit. A.C. 364. The universal council of Constantinople, &c., forbad dancing, especially at weddings.-Alsted.
Concilia choreas damnant, ut Basiliense, Carthaginense, quartum; Agatheuse, &c., et decreta prohibent. lege institutum Zachariæ, caus. 26, q. 7, can. Siquis, &c. De Conciliis, lege distinct. 34, can. Presbyteri, et de consecratione, dist. 1, can. Qui die, et de cons. dist. 5,
Non oportet. Steph. Tzeged. Loc. Commun. p. 438 ; who quotes also S. Augustin contra Petilianum, c. 6, et in psal. xxxii. and St. Chrysostom. Hom. 56, sup. Genes. and in Matt. xiv. &c. Marlorat (in Matt. xiv.), Calvin (in Matt. xiv.,) &c.
In another table, Tzegedine cites against dancing the councils of Laodic., Agath., Ilerdian., Altisiodore. Besides canons de quibus caus. 26, q. 7, can. Siquis. Also lib. 3, Decr. Gregorii. cau. cum decorem, &c., et lib. 3. Clementinarum. Tit. 14, ch. 1; as also philosophers, Plato in Protag. 17, Cicero pro Murænå, Æmilii probi in Vit. Epaminondæ; and in another table, Pet. Martyr, Erasmus, Pellican, Calvin, Aristotle, Seneca, Macrobius, Sallustius, Plautus, Pollux, &c. Pope Clement the Fifth, Innocent the Third, &c.
I may probably gain some more information for Clericus Juvenis," which, if you will allow a small space, shall appear in your pages. I take great interest in the question of the impropriety of the ministers of God being present at such ignoble exhibitions, and I am glad to perceive an increasing seriousness and acknowledgment of the awful Vol. XII.—May, 1838.