Page images
PDF
EPUB

which I have written,” (xxiv. 12.) “ And he gave unto Moses tables of stone written with the finger of God,” (xxxi. 18.) These tables were afterwards replaced by others, of human workmanship, (xxxiv. 1 & 27.) As Moses, before the delivery of the two tables at Mount Sinai, was simply directed to write in a book, without receiving any elementary instructions, we are led to suppose that the use of letters was known long before, and that written books were already in existence. Neither is it probable that Moses took the census of “six hundred thousand that were men beside children,” (Exod. xii. 37,) by their tribes, families, households, and polls, without the assistance of ancient and written genealogical tables: “Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls.” (Num. i. 2 & 18.)

The use of genealogical tables had given rise to figurative expressions, which was to be expected, if writing had been long and generally practised :-“ Yet, now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written,” (Exod. xxxii. 32. Signets, also, which had the name or cipher of the owner engraved on them, were of such ancient origin and general use, that other engraved works are referred to the engravings of a signet, as to a general standard : “ With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two onyx stones with the names of the children of Israel.” (Exod. xxviü. 11.) “ Thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, Holiness to the Lord.(xxviii. 36.) I have no doubt that the Egyptians in Moses' time were acquainted with alphabetic characters, and practised the art of engraving them on signets; the ring which Pharaoh put on Joseph's hand was probably a signet of state (Gen. xl. 42); yet it by no means follows that the Israelites first became acquainted with letters during their sojourn in that country. In more ancient times, the patriarch Judah, for the fulfilment of a promise, had pledged his signet, which probably bore his name or cipher after the usual manner of the engravings of a signet. (Gen. xxxviii. 18.)

Having now pointed out the state of the art of writing in the time of Moses, I shall next shew that, before his time, it was the office of certain public functionaries to preserve and add to the existing written books. These functionaries were called shoterim, scribes, or genealogists. *

W. B. WINNING. Bedford.

• The above remarks, and those which are to follow, were already put together, when I observed your notice (Vol. IX. p. 64) of Dr. Wall's work on the Ancient Orthography of the Jews, and the Origin of Alphabetical Writing. As that author, from the very same premises, has come to a directly opposite conclusion, I have given my remarks without any alteration, and add those of Dr. W. for the satisfaction of your readers, who may think differently from myself :

“If from the history of Job we proceed to the Pentateuch, we shall find that no stress can be laid on the arguments which are thence deduced in proof of alphabetic characters being older than the writing on the tables of testimony. An earlier date is not made out for the employment of them by the circumstance of Moses relating

SPONSORS.

SIR,—The correspondent in a former Number, on the subject of Sponsors at Baptism, does not address himself to what seems to me an important part of the subject-viz., against what particular case is the latter part of the 29th canon directed ? The title of the canon shews plainly that its animus is, the non-admission of children too young to communicate to the responsible office of sponsor. Of course I do not mean that the framers of this canon did not both desire and intend that sponsors should be communicants; but I maintain, that, in this particular provision, they had in view another object-viz., that children should not be sponsors, and that therefore it is hardly allowable to quote the canon as prescribing what shall or shall not be our conduct in a case which is not the case contemplated by the framers of this canon, when they drew it up.

The question may be argued on the ground of what is in itself expedient and advisable; or it may be argued on the ground of the obedience which is due to the canons. If it be argued on the former ground, I would contend that, “ until our superiors shall judge it expedient to recommend uniformity of discipline," more harm than good is done by individual presbyters in departing from the practice pursued by the great body of the clergy, and sanctioned, at least tacitly, by the heads of the church. Although the object should be in itself an expedient or desirable one, I conceive it to be in a far greater degree inexpedient for individual presbyters to introduce a practice different from that of their brethren, upon any important point, on which the bishops of the church have not thought it advisable to interfere.

If the question be argued on the ground of obedience to the canons, then, first, I would deny, that the 29th canon speaks expressly to the point; next, (admitting, what is clear, that the canon does take it for granted that all sponsors would be communicants, or rather, that all

God's command to him to “write for a memorial in a book,” (Exod. xvii. 14,) before he describes the delivery to him of the tables-viz., on occasion of the victory over the Amalekites; for the very next event related in the history of the Israelites is their arrival at Mount Sinai, and the command may not have been given till after that arrival, though the historian, in the order of his narrative, records it before, in immediate connexion with the transaction which gave rise to it. The same observation may be applied with still more force to the directions to grave on the plate of pure gold" Holiness to the Lord,” (Exod. xxviii. 36 ;) and on the two onyx stones the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, (Ex. xxviii. 9;) for these directions were not given till after Moses bad actually ascended the mountain; and there is no necessity for assuming, that the events which took place on its summit are related by him in the exact order of their occurrence. However, even if it were conceded that the above directions were given to Moses before he received the tables, all that could be thence inferred would be, that he had a previous knowledge of some kind of writing, but not necessarily of such as was alphabetic. This writing might have been only hieroglyphic, learned by him from the Egyptians, and he would at first understand the commands in reference to the graphic system with which he was already acquainted; though, as soon as he was taught an immeasurably superior method of recording words, he would, of course, avail himself of that method in obeying the divine injunctions.” (p. 340.)

(The editor has reason to hope for a communication on this curious and interesting subject from another valuable correspondent, whose perfect knowledge of Hebrew will make his remarks peculiarly valuable.)

Vol. IX.—June, 1836.

4 N

professing Christians, at a proper age, would communicate,) I would say, that, to be consistent, we must render to all the canons the same strict obedience which is insisted upon in the case of any single canon. And, with reference to this question, we must require, according to canons 21 and 22, that every lay person, " under the penalty and danger of the law,” shall receive the communion three times a year. And, doubtless, at the time when the 29th canon was drawn up, this penalty of the law was enforced for non-attendance at the communion far more strictly and severely than any person would think it advisable, were it possible, to enforce it at present. Surely, sir, in reasoning on the animus with which any canon is framed, it is only fair and candid to take into our account the bearing which other canons have upon it, and to recollect also what were the usages and circumstances of the times when all the canons were drawn up. On the whole, it seems to me, that unless a person is prepared to enforce the 21st and 22nd canons,“ under the penalty and danger of the law," he has no right to act upon such an interpretation of the 29th canon, on his own private judgment, as would involve an exclusion from the offices of sponsor of every person who has not actually communicated. I may agree with “ Alpha" in wishing that a better discipline were established on this as other matters; but differ from him as to the conduct which, in the absence of some general regulation by competent authorities, individual presbyters should pursue.

Before I conclude, may I be allowed to advert to the very unsatisfactory ground on which the whole subject of the canons seems to rest at present. A prelate, of whom it is impossible to think without veneration, the Bishop of Chester, has not hesitated to assert, in his last charge, that several of the canons are universally neglected. He instanced three: the 31st was one; the 21st, I think, another ; but I quote from memory, not having his charge by me. The bishop proceeded even to question the authority on which the canons claim our obedience, as compared with that belonging to the rubric. It should seem, I think, that their authority is precisely the same; but, however this may be, it is really not a little distressing to those who would willingly remember their oath of obedience to the canons of the church, to be told, on such high authority, that they are only binding so far as enforced by the ordinary, and to find that many of them are universally neglected. The bishop's object was to shew that the practice of holding cottage-lectures is not inconsistent with the 71st canon. The mere fact of such a question being raised by such authority, would seem to call for a satisfactory revision of the canons, or at least a positive definition, by competent authority, of the degree in which they are binding.

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,

A COUNTRY CLERGYMAN. Take again the case of the 75th canon, in which ministers are forbidden to play at dice, cards, &c., by day or night. Is not this neglected or explained away by many, from an idea, thus sanctioned by the Bishop of Chester, that the canons are not strictly binding? Surely a settlement of the question one way or other is called for.

In my former letter, No. xlix., p. 48, for « Communion Service" read “ Commination Service.”

[ocr errors]

CHURCHING OF WOMEN. SIR,—Your correspondent “ Davus” has put the following query :“ Is there any authority for introducing into the Litany, after all women labouring with child, all sick persons,' the clause, especially those for whom our prayers are desired, as it stands parenthetically inserted in the prayer for all conditions of men?”

There is a slight error in this quotation : the expression is “of child," not “ with child,” in all the editions that I can at this moment recollect.

I know of no authority for the insertion of the clause “ especially those for whom our prayers are desired," except the Cambridge edition of the Common Prayer-book, printed in 1814; and perhaps you will excuse my asking, whether you know upon what authority that authority is grounded? I have consulted the Letany and Suffrages of Edward VI., A.D. 1549; the Letanie of Edward VI., A.D. 1552 ; the Letanye of Elizabeth, A.D. 1559; the Letanie of James I., A.D. 1604 (a very scarce book); the Letany of Charles I., A.D. 1637, (for Scotland); and the Litany of Charles II., 1662. This list, I believe, comprehends all the authorities we can properly refer to; and in no one of them can I find the insertion of the words in question. If I remember rightly, the prayer for all conditions of men-in which these words properly appear-was not introduced before the year 1662. any

your readers are curious in such matters, the different methods of spelling the word Litany may be interesting to them.

Yours, obliged, in great haste, WM. RILAND BEDFORD.

If

of

SINGING BEFORE SERVICE. SIR,—The practice in many of our churches and chapels of singing at the commencement of divine service,* appears to me to be contrary to what was intended by the compilers of our excellent liturgy, as well as destructive of those solemn feelings which the opening of the service seems to be intended to produce. I therefore beg, through the medium of your excellent Magazine, to draw the attention of your clerical readers to the subject, and to inquire whether I am correct in supposing the practice to be irregular. For two reasons I am inclined to think it would be better to refrain from it: first, it is not directed by the rubric; second, it is calculated to prevent or interfere with those feelings of humiliation and self-abasement which ought to possess the mind when the minister is reading those portions of the divine word which are intended to remind us as well of our being grievous sinners as of his precious promises of forgiveness, if we heartily repent and turn to him. I speak from experience when I say that this practice tends very much to destroy that feeling of lowliness and self-abasement with which we ought to approach the divine Majesty, and with

Singing before and after divine service is allowed by the injunctions of Queen Elizabeth ; but this does not seem to justify the making of it a part in the beginning of divine service.

which it seems intended that in our public service we should approach him; and I know that this evil is felt by many sincere worshippers in our churches. It seems to me, therefore, desirable to call attention to the subject, which is all that I, a layman, wonld presume to do.

Yours, &c. A.

SAINT WORSHIP IN THE CHURCH OF ROME. SIR, -As you kindly inserted a letter of mine last month, you will, perhaps, should you have space, allow me to occupy another place in your Magazine. It appears to me to be of immense importance rightly to ascertain how far the church of Rome is justly chargeable with idolatry in her saint and image worship; because if it can once be satisfactorily proved against her, it is evident that it must be a duty, at whatever cost, to remain separate, and that this ground of separation must in itself be amply sufficient. Of course it is quite right for those who have abilities and leisure to bring forward all those evidences against the supreme ecclesiastical dominion of Rome which antiquity and ecclesiastical history affords, and these may form excellent supplementary proofs; but even if these did not exist, the idolatry of the Romish church must be a full justification for deserting her communion. Now, as you justly observe, the Romanists, when pressed on the subject, always maintain that they merely ask the saints to pray for them. This is the plan specially adopted by Bishop Baines, of Prior Park; but as is remarked in a subsequent part of your last number, speaking of popish miracles, there is one doctrine for the educated, and another for the uneducated classes. As it is with miracles, so it is with saint worship: there is one doctrine for the Italian peasantry, and another for troublesome English inquirers. In the first place, we do not intend to deny that many of the Roman-catholic prayers are directed to the saints merely as mediators, or to deny that the church of Rome holds real and independent omnipotence to be the attribute of the supreme God alone; but in doing this, what does she more than was done by most of the leading systems of polytheism, which, though they worshipped gods many and lords many, did yet acknowledge one God supreme over all ?' But although the Romish church in many cases addresses the saints as mediators, we maintain that in others she addresses them directly to bestow those favours and blessings which God alone can grant. I thought that I had adduced a satisfactory instance of this from the highest living authority of the Romish church-an authority which, when no general council is assembled, must be paramount to the authority of the Bishop of Liga, of Usula, of Dr. Wiseman, or any other; an authority to which they cannot but bow; and I ask again whether we ourselves, if we were offering up a prayer to the Redeemer of the world for our own hier. archy, could ask more for them, or could ask it more directly than in the following words :-“We will] implore, in humble prayer, from the Saviour of mankind, that you may all stand as a wall”—“We will implore, in humble prayer, from Peter the prince of the apostles, and from his fellow-apostle Paul, that you may all stand as a wall"?

« PreviousContinue »