« PreviousContinue »
claim the note in my pamphlet (which he is pleased to call my verdict) 'as a testimony in favour of Milner, he is, as I said before, quite welcome to do so. I have had the opportunity of publicly explaining my meaning; and I feel pretty confident that no one but Mr. King, and those who hold him infallible, can possibly misunderstand me.
But there is one passage of Mr. King's letter which it would not become me to leave unnoticed. He says that “ it can scarcely be denied that I have placed myself in the dilemma of having libelled the literary capacity of the age, or of having ascribed to Milner higher praise than his friends had ever claimed for him.” In reply to this, I feel called upon to remark, that as I have already denied “having ascribed praise to Milner," so I do now most emphatically deny “ having libelled the literary capacity of the age” [in which he lived.] I certainly did say "that, in the latter half of the last century, there was among our divines a general, and, I suppose I may say, a shameful ignorance of church history.” But I can assure Mr. King, that I was not so ignorant as not to know, nor so silly as to deny, "the literary capacity” of the great men who adorned that period of our annals. I did not allude to what proficiency they could have attained in ecclesiastical history. I did but notice the fact that they made none. I believed this to be a point universally conceded. Nor can I now believe that Mr. King seriously means to call it into question.
But as Mr. King thinks proper to notice my letter, why does he still observe so profound a silence on the only point on which he was ever called upon to notice me at all ? The terms in which he was pleased to speak of me in his last pamphlet will not allow me to suppose that he thinks the “ Letter on the Paulicians” altogether beneath his notice. Why, then, does he not either candidly acknowledge that, having never seen the evidence respecting the Paulicians brought together, he hastily took up an untenable position; or, if he still differs from me, at least afford me an opportunity of inaintaining against him the opinions of antiquity with regard to that remarkable sect?
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, Gloucester, March 7, 1836.
John GOULTER Dowling.
CLERICAL MEETINGS, AND PRAYER MEETINGS.
SIR, — The following account of the clerical meetings which are very generally held throughout one part of Wales may be interesting to some of your readers. The clergymen at the end of morning service give notice that on a certain day in the week a clerical meeting will be held in a particular church; and the country is so divided into districts, that one of these meetings takes place every month, and, in the usual course, it comes round to each church once a year, so that they may be called “anniversary meetings.” That there may be a full attendance of the clergy, invitations and earnest solicitations are sometimes
sent to those living fifty miles distant-especially if they are “popular preachers."
On the morning of the day appointed, the clergy and laity begin assembling in the church about ten o'clock; when the former congregate round the altar, or about the reading-desk. The minister of the parish then asks one of his brethren to pray, (extempore,) after which a hymn is sung. The subject to be discussed (e.g., one of the articles of the Creed, or the Influence of the Holy Spirit,) is then entered on, one clergyman after another delivering his opinion; and happily there is seldom any discordance. I believe there is a rule to prevent laymen discoursing, but it has been sometimes relaxed. The discussion being over, a subject is given out against the next meeting, the day and place of which are then mentioned. The service (sometimes the evening) is then read, and afterwards one of the most popular clergymen preaches, and he is frequently succeeded by another. On leaving church, the clergy, with their families and the most respectable of the laity, retire to the parsonage, or village public-house, where they dine ; the rest of the congregation are entertained by their friends or neighbours. About four o'clock, people begin flocking towards the church, where the evening service is (again) read, and one or two more sermons delivered.
Another assemblage is frequent in the same district, under the denomination of “A Prayer Meeting.”
On Sunday, after the Nicene Creed has been read, the clerk gives notice that prayer meetings will be held at particular places (sometimes at as many as eight or nine) on certain days. In the evening specified, the neighbours collect together at the school-house, farm, or cottage, as the case may be, (should any one be ill, the meeting is generally held at the sick person's dwelling, when, if a clergyman happens to be present, he reads and expounds a chapter in the Bible; afterwards he calls on some one to pray; the assembly then sing, and another person is asked to pray; on his concluding, they sing again, and then the clergyman prays; and, with another hymn, all go home : each prayer lasts ten or fifteen minutes. If there be not a clergyman at the meeting, some one present takes his place; or perhaps, as he does not attend all of them, I should rather say that, when he does, he takes the place which otherwise would have been occupied by some one else. Ignorance of literature is not considered an impediment to a man's praying on these occasions. One of these meetings takes place almost weekly in each hamlet.
Allow me to ask, are not these discussions, or expositions, or commentaries, in a church, illegal? or, at least, are they not contrary to the 53rd canon, when one clergyman contradicts the assertion of another? Is it regular to have two sermons immediately in succession ? Suppose the two should be on the same subject, and the clergymen should take dif. ferent views, if it is not contrary to the discipline of the church, it is not in accordance with the spirit of the Prayer Book. Is it proper to allow a layman to take part in any discussion in a church ? or is it seemly that these things should take place in the audience of sectarians and their preachers ?
I am, Sir, your obliged humble scrvant, CERETICUS.
COLLEGE AT LA TOUR.
Sır,—Will you permit me to beg attention, through your Journal, to the new protestant “ College of the Holy Trinity," at La Tour, in Piedmont, for the education of such of the Waldenses as are intended for the ministry, in their own country. Hitherto they have been sent to Switzerland for instruction ; but this establishment, endowed by funds raised in England, and sanctioned by the royal licence of the King of Sardinia, will now enable them to receive an adequate training within their native valleys at less expense, and with less risk to their religious principles.
The object of this notice is to solicit contributions in books for the college. Some very handsome presents in this way have already been made; and Messrs. Rivingtons have kindly consented to receive any books which may be sent to them for the same destination. Classical and scientific works for the use of the students; and theological works, especially the standard productions of English divines, which are read with great avidity by many of the Waldenses who understand English, would be considered a valuable addition to the library. The expurgatorial office is rigidly performed in every part of Italy; therefore no books would be allowed to reach them which are likely to offend the censors of the press.
I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant, W. S. G.
FIRST CHAPTER OF GENESIS. MR. EDITOR.—I hardly ever read a paper, either in your Magazine or in any work professedly written on the subject of the state of the earth, and the inhabitants, immediately after the creation, and after the fall of man, that does not put the case in a most unchristian-like point of view. In the first place, we are expressly told that a thousand years are, with the great Creator, as one day, and one day as a thousand years. Now, the Mosaic account limits the work of creation, clearly and determinately, to six natural days, or, according to the Jewish mode of reckoning time, “ to the evening and morning.” Now, that in those few hours the operations of a thousand years of the common proceedings of nature should take place, in the very beginning of all things, I see nothing whatever to be astonished at; on the contrary, most firmly believe it. I do not believe that a couple of roots of each kind of grass, or a couple of trees of each kind, or a couple of flowers, or a couple of whales, or a couple of oysters, or a couple of lions, or a couple of pigeons only were at first created, merely because we read that a couple of the human race only were then created. But I believe that earth, water, and air were immediately everywhere teeming with life in the greatest numbers, and in the very highest degree of beauty and animation; that everything was put in complete order to receive man, and that all were created in the time that Moses tells us. I never have seen anything stated to stagger this account, by any one, even for a moment; I never have met with any writer who departed from the Mosaic account who did not appear to me to surrender everything in support of some system, at the expense of Christianity and the Bible.
At the present day do we find elephants, rhinoceroses, camels, lamas, kangaroos, tigers, crocodiles, lizards, palms, roses, and heaths universally dispersed through all parts of the earth alike? Or whales, flying-fish, sharks, and dolphins in every sea ? Or peacocks, pelicans, and storks in every wood or lake? If, then, a catastrophe like the deluge should take place in the earth or seas inhabited by these creatures, should we be arguing right in saying that they existed before the other parts of the world received their present inhabitants ? Yet, we do all this in our popular works on geology; and talk about Ichthyosaurus, Plesiosaurus, &c., &c., as proofs of ages intervening when these lived, and man and other animals did not; consequently, that Moses tells us what is not true, and the Bible is not to be believed. Forgetting that we know nothing of the inhabitants of the bottom of the deepest seas, or what the enormous rivers of South America may contain ; nor even on the land, do we know what the centre of Africa, the interior of Asia, South or North America, conceal. I entertain no doubt but that the surface of the earth which man now inhabits, was, before the flood, for the most part, the bottom of the former seas; and that when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, at that period, small fragments of the deepest parts of the bottom of those seas were ruptured, torn up, and cast on our present surface; and accordingly, that we find a fragment of a quarter, half, or perhaps one mile square of this crust here and there -as at Lime, Folkestone, Sussex, &c.—filled with the remains of animals, now, as far as we know, living in the very deepest waters. And that from hence have been hastily derived those systems which ought only to amaze, and never can be, or ought for one moment to be, believed. Let God be true, though every man be mistaken.
Again, that there was a new formation of animal habits and mode of life after the fall of man, I do not for one half-moment believe, nor will I listen to it. It is too absurd an idea for a child, in my opinion, to entertain, and is not required even by their own system. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And He has expressly told us, that one shall not sin and another bear the punishment. That insects, birds, fish, and beasts of prey lived before the fall as they do now, there can be no doubt; or the very face of nature would very soon have been deformed and rendered uninhabitable, even by many of the animals, as well as man. What could have withstood the ravages of the insect tribe, and the locusts, or even of the sheep, goats, and deer? And fishes must soon have exhausted the very seas, and swept them bare of every marine plant, if they had all been created, like men, to be immortal; and had also gone on fulfilling the divine command to increase and multiply. We are told, as clearly as words can convey meaning, “ that only by sin, death entered into the world, and past upon every man.” Now, none of the animal race,
except the serpent, had offended at the fall; nor is there
any mention made of any curse being pronounced against any of them, the serpent only excepted; consequently, they remained as they were. Read attentively the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, where the entrance of death into the world is mentioned, and there is not the remotest reference made to any creature, but man; neither is there in Genesis, the serpent only excepted. The ephemera was not immortal before the fall, I must think, but was as liable to be eaten by a trout, or snapped up by a swallow, as at the present day! That the earth should bring forth briars and thorns, only proves that the Judge of all must do right: for here was employment provided for man, and no idle man was ever either good or happy. In the midst of judgment, therefore, God remembered mercy. So far from believing that the lion eat grass like the ox, or an eagle lived upon mushrooms, I believe the very reverse; and I believe that animals of prey bore a just proportion then to other animals, and ever have preserved it. That these all destroyed other animals after the fall, we have abundant proof in the gigantic remains of these creatures every day brought to our notice. And may they not have been in proportion to the other animals in size? We discover enormous elks and deer, and vegetables of immense size; and perhaps all the productions of the earth and waters before the flood may have been much larger than after it, even man himself; for a slight alteration in the atmosphere would by degrees bring down all creation to a just proportion. Be this however as it may, I still believe that animals of prey lived before the fall, as they live now.
I cannot doubt but that the whole face of the earth was clothed, completely clothed, with woods, grass, herbs, flowers, and fruits, in every part, on the third day of creation. And that fruit, flowers, ripe grain, and seeds were ready in abundance for the millions of new creatures that were to be supported by them. Nor have I any doubt but that the first pikes or sharks instantly dashed amid the myriads of fish playing around them, or that the cats, owls, and weasels tried their prowess on the multitudes of mice and rats; or the hawks, buzzards, and kites picked up many a little bird before they were a day old; or that eagles, vultures, lions, and tigers picked the bones of many a sheep, bull, stag, or hare; or that sea-gulls ate shrimps, or ducks worms, before they were many hours old. Now, there can be no less moral guilt in a duck's eating a worm, than in a lion's eating a stag. In my opinion, the contrary of this is stupid nonsense. Moreover I firmly believe that nothing was made in vain, and that the first woodpeckers instantly found trees filled with worms ready for their support; that no spider was starved for want of a fly, or any fly was at a loss where to blow its eggs in some dead body of a bird or insect; or that fungus could not grow for want of dead wood. We all know, or ought to know, that the death of one creature, whether vegetable or animal, is only the seed-bed or cradle of life to some others; that nothing is destroyed by dissolution; the particles still remain, and give life to something else, or take some other useful form. All the links