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profit both for the particular object, for which it was written, and for the scriptural knowledge it exhibits.]
"There has been much discourse about erecting a house for the reception of penitent women, who have been disorderly in their lives and it has been proposed by some, that they should be called Magdalen houses. But as that denomination is disliked by others, besides myself, I have taken the liberty to address you upon the subject."
I presume, it may be owing to a supposition, that the fine story, recorded in the seventh chapter of St. Luke's Gospel of the gracious reception, our Lord gave to a woman, there called a sinner, relates to Mary Magdalene: and this has been a common opinion. Nevertheless I cannot think, that she is the person there meant.
"One reason here offers from the history itself, at verse 27., where she is said to be a woman in the city, in which our Lord then was: which according to most harmonizers of the gospel was either Capernaum or Nain; whereas there can be no reason to believe, that Mary Magdalene resided at either of those places. Says Dr. Macknight," she is called the Magdalene or Magdalite, probably from Magdala, the place of her nativity, a town situated somewhere beside the lake.'
A passage at the beginning of St. Luke's gospel deserves particular attention: which therefore shall be here recited. "And it came to pass afterwards, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and many others which ministered to him of their substance." Luke viii, 1—3.
This text affords many reasons for thinking, that Mary Magdalene is not the woman intended in the preceding chapter. In the first place, it hence appears, that Mary Magdalene was a woman of quality; but it is very uncommon for such to deserve the character, given ch. vii. 37. "a woman in the city, which was a sinner." Dr. Macknight argues to the like purpose. "Mary Magdalene seems rather to have been a woman of high station and opulent fortune, being mentioned by St. Luke, even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as Herod's steward; and when the other evangelists have occasion to mention our Lord's female followers, they commonly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene.
Grotius speaks to the like purpose, and also thinks, that it was at her expense chiefly, that the spices were prepared for embalming the body of Jesus. To which I would add, that the
precedence, just taken notice of, may have been partly owing to her age.
Secondly, in the text we are considering, Mary Magdalene is mentioned with other women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. And of her it is said, "out of whom went seven devils." She was therefore one of those, who are sometimes called demoniacs, and had been possessed, as we generally say, by evil spirits. Now though we cannot with certainty conclude what was her particular affection, whether a distempered frame of mind, or epilepsy, or something else, it appears to me very evident, that some natural, not moral distemper is intended.
Thirdly, In this text Mary Magdalene is mentioned with divers other honourable women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and who ministered to him of their substance. But it may be justly questioned, whether our Lord would have allowed of that, if Mary's conduct had been disreputable in the former part of her life. For though he received such an one as a penitent, and assured her of the forgiveness of her sins, it would not be easily reconciled with the rules of prudence to admit such a person to a stated attendance. This argument has affected the minds of many learned men.
Nor can it be imagined, that any women of distinction and good credit, would admit into their company one, who had been under the reproach of a disorderly life. By St. Matthew they are mentioned thus. "Many women were there, beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. See also Mark xv. 40. 7. Luke xxiv. 10. John xix. 25. All these must have been women of an unblemished character, and so far was there from being any exception to Mary Magdalene, that she is several times mentioned as the most honourable, and placed first of all.
Jerom says, "They provided, for our Lord's accommodation in his food and garments; and possibly Mary Magdalene is mentioned the first, because she presided in the direction of the affairs, which were under their care.
When they accompanied our Lord in any of his journies, they may have followed at a distance, and in a separate band. And, as may be well supposed, they had some female servants of their own. But the woman called a sinner, was absolutely excluded from having any part in that company. When she came into the room, where our Lord was, and gave proofs of repentance, he graciously and openly received her as a penitent. "He said unto her," thy sins, which are many, are forgiven; New Series-vol. I.
"go in peace." And in all this, our Lord acted agreeably to his great design, which was to bring sinful men to repentance: and he faithfully discharged the important commission, that had been given him, which was " to seek and to save, that which was lost."
But it cannot be reasonably supposed, that he would admit such a person, as he did Mary Magdalene, into the number of his stated attendants. And I believe, that they, who attentively observe our Lord's history, as recorded in the gospels, may perceive his life to have been an example of admirable wisdom and prudence, as well as of the strictest virtue, and the most generous goodness and compassion.
Let us now sum up the evidence, so far as we have gone. -Mary of Magdala was a woman of distinction, and very easy in her worldly circumstances. For a while, she had labored under some bodily indisposition, which our Lord miraculously healed; for which benefit she was ever after very thankful. So far as we know, her conduct was always very regular and free from censure; and we may reasonably believe, that after her acquaintance with our Saviour it was edifying and exemplaryI conceive of her as a woman of fine understanding and known virtue and discretion, with a dignity of behaviour, becoming her age, her wisdom, and high station. She followed our Lord as her Master and benefactor; she shewed him great respect in his life, at his death, and after it; and as appears from three of the evangelists, she was one of those, to whom he first showed himself after his resurrection."
Dr. Lardner then proceeds to some more particular evidence to the same effect, supported by the opinions of several other learned theologians, and concludes as follows.
"After this long argument and so many good authorities, I may leave you to consider, whether they have not some good reason for their judgment, who dislike the denomination or inscription, taken notice of at the beginning of this letter "A Magdalen house for penilent women."
"It appears to me a great abuse of the name of a truly honourable, and I think, truly excellent woman. If Mary's shame had been manifest, and upon record, she could not have been worse stigmatized; whereas the disadvantageous opinion concerning the former part of her life is founded only in an uncertain and conjectural deduction. And if the notion that she was the woman in Luke seventh, be no more than a vulgar error, it ought to be abandoned by wise men, and not propagated and perpetuated."
THE following verses have been republished in our country; but we believe will be new to many of our readers. They breathe throughout a strain of sentiment, wild, melancholy and solemn, the interest of which is heightened by the circumstances mentioned respecting their author. The versification too is peculiar, and adds to the general effect.
From the West of England Journal,
LINES WRITTEN IN A CHURCH YARD.
BY A SCHOOL BOY-SINCE DECEASED.
It is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make three Tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” MATT. XVI. 14.
METHINKS, it is good to be here :
If thou wilt, let us build-but for whom?
Nor Elias nor Moses appear;
But the shadows of eve that encompass the gloom;
The abode of the dead and the place of the tomb.
Shall we build to ambition? ah no!
Affrighted he shrinketh away;
For see they would pin him below
In a small narrow cave, and begirt with cold clay,
To beauty? ah no! she forgets
The charms which she wielded before;
Nor knows the foul worm, that he frets
The skin which but yesterday fools could adore,
For the smoothness it held, or the tint which it wore.
Shall we build to the purple of pride;
The trappings which dizen the proud?
Alas! they are all laid aside;
And here's neither dress nor adornment allow'd,
But the long winding sheet, and the fringe of the shroud!
To riches? alas ! 'tis in vain,
Who hid in their turns have been hid;
The treasures are squandered again;
But bere in the grave are all metals forbid,
But the tinsel that shone on the dark coffin lid.
To the pleasures which mirth can afford,
To the revel, the laugh, and the jeer?
But the guests are all mute at the pitiful cheer,
Shall we build to affection and love?
Friends, brothers and sisters are laid side by side,
Unto sorrow? the dead cannot grieve,
Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love nor fear,
Unto death, to whom monarchs must bow?
Ah no! for his empire is known,
And here there are trophies enow,
Beneath the cold dead! and around the dark stone ;
Then the first unto Hope we will build;
1. Discourses on the Christian Revelation viewed in connexion with the modern astronomy, together with six sermons embracing the last occasioned by the death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales. By Rev. THOMAS CHAL MER'S, D. D. minister of the Tron church Glasgow. Andover Published by Mark Newman. Flagg and Gould printers. 1818.
2. Sermons preached in the THOMAS CHALMERS, D. D. reprinted by Kirk and Mercein.
Tron Church, Glasgow. By
DR. Chalmers was first made known to the public by an ar ticle entitled "Christianity," which was originally published in the Edinburgh Encyclopædia. This has been very generally, and on many accounts, deservedly admired. He has since given to the world a series of Discourses on the Christian Revelation, viewed in connexion with the modern astrono