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108 Mr. Polwhele's Illustrations of Scriptural Characters seemed to me that your account of it, tho’laudatory, did not give an idea of excellency adequate to that which I received from a perusal of the work itself. You will, I am persuaded, be ready to make amends for this deficiency, or my opinion of deficiency, by inserting the following extract from his reflections on the character of St. Peter, in which, according to my judgment, are many masterly traits. I may the more easily be excused for making this request, because I have no personal knowlege of Mr. Polwhele, and make it merely from my sense of the merits of his work. Rempstone,
I am, Sir, your's, &c. July 10, 1805.
"The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” Luk. xxii. 61.
WE see Peter in many striking attitudes. We perceive his courage and his cowardice, his heavenly faith and his human imbecility, his Christian holiness and worldly-mindedness, his spiritual aspirations, and carnal desires, alternately prevailing. But perhaps we observe him in no attitude more striking than where he is attending on his Master at the palace of the High-Priest; especially as he there brings us to a nearer view of our Saviour's divine nature; as (in an instance, that seems to have been little regarded) he momentarily lifts the veil that hid from mortal eyes one of the attributes of the Deity. Here we see our Saviour, though involved in a business, that would sufficiently occupy the “ heart and soul and strength” of any human being, yet all along attentive to St. Peter, for the most part not within hearing of our Lord in his human character, and sometimes not within sight, and marking the very moment when his prediction of the three-fold abjuration was fulfilled with a LOOK, the expressiveness of which noimagination can conceive, and the effect of which no language can describe!. Even ad: mitting that during the whole process of the examination St. Peter stood very near our Saviour, and in that position thrice denied him, we can hardly reflect without astonishment on that presence of mind, that mental grandeur, that serenity and versatility, which at such an hour of cruel persecution could pay a becoming regard to two objects at the same instant, and advert to either as occasion required. Could a mere man have exclaimed, in answer to his inenacing judge, to a judge whom he saw thirsting for
his blood, and resolved on his destruction, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven?” Could a mere man have uttered an apostrophe so awfully sublime at the moment, when he heard his most affectionate friend, his once zealous disciple, abjuring him with oaths and curses? Would a frail mortal, who had avowed himself to be the Christ the Son of God, conscious of his hypocrisy, sensible of his blasphemies, (for in this case he must have been a hypocrite and a blasphemer) would a child of the dust have stood before the high-priest composed and dignified for so long a period as is stated by the Evange, list; have calmly observed the murderous rancour of his judges; have meekly, yet not timidly, submitted to mockery and blows, as they spat in his face and smote him with the palms of their hands; have attended, in the mean time, to the faithlessness of a follower deemed beyond example honest,-a faithlessness enough to reud a human heart asunder, and then, to close up all, have turned round and looked on that apostate friend? Could an earthly criminal, at the very crisis of condemnation and desertion, have supported his simulated character and concealed his guilty terrors, his confusion of soul, under the masques of intrepidity, patience, and innocence: Impossible. No mortal could have thus stood before his judge; no mortal could have thus looked upon his disciple.
We are thrilled with fear and gladness at the portrait. “ With trembling we rejoice” at the glance of an omnipotent Deity. How various then, how piercing and how deep must have been St. Peter's feelings at that look, which instantaneously declared the Prophet, and disa covered the God!”
PLAN OF SCRIPTURE-READINGS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE, Sir, A Sa knowlege of the Scriptures is the best, and in
(deed the only effectual means to root out all errors both in opinion and in practice, I have been much gratified by the proposals which have lately been laid
thes so stropsons particular Mr. Resibles omni-jack
before the public for the promotion of that knowlege. Without inquiring whether these proposals are likely to be carried into effect with all that judgment which is Decessary to render them of the greatest possible benefit, I rejoice in the idea, that tbe necessity of such a measure is so strongly impressed on the minds of so many respect. able persons.
I have, in particular, been much pleased with the ingenious suggestions of Mr. Reeves in his “ Proposal of a Bible Society for distributing Bibles on a new plan," of which an account is given in the Anti-Jacobin Review for June last. While however I was thinking on this subject, I could not be unmindful that the present low state of learning among a great proportion of the people is such as to render the mere possession of a Bible of but Jittle use to them, and it occurred to me, that a plan of reading it to them more frequently, and in larger portions at a time than is now usually done, might be a far more efficacious means of diffusing a knowlege of the Scriptures, than any which has yet been devised. Even of those among the lower orders of the people who car read, many read so ill, that the sense of what they Tead cannot possibly be understood either by themselves or their bearers. Now, as but a small portion of the Old Testament is directed to be read in our Churches on Sundays, and as but few people attend, or can attend divine service on the other days of the week, it thus comes to pass that a great many persons, without any fault of their own, may remain all their lives in total ignorance of a very considerable part of the sacred volume; that volume, which may justly be termed the book of life and death, as being the book which ought to be our guide here, and by which we are to be judged hereafter. Even with respect to the New Testament, the whole of which (except the book of Revelation) is, in the course of time, read in our Churches on Sundays, the hearing of a detached chapter or two once in the week is by no means sufficient. In order to remedy this defect, I have lately adopted a plan from which I hope for very benefical consequences; and I apprize your readers of it, in the hope that such of my clerical brethren among them as can do so without material inconvenience to themselves, may be induced to follow my example. I repair to my church every morning at eleven o'clock, and a few minutes after the sounding of a bell, begin a little service, which I call a Scripture
Reading Reading, consisting of the Psalms for the morning of the day, a few Collects, and three or four chapters of the Bible*. I began with the book of Job and the Proverbs, and shall go on with such other parts of the Old Testament as are not directed to be read in church on Sundays, and as [ deem likely to be most edifying to my hearers,
I intend, afterwards, to go regularly through the New Testament, and may perhaps go on to read some of the Apocryphal books, particularly the Wisdom of Solongoni, and the book of Ecclesiasticus. In some cases it may be most adviseable to keep entirely to the books of the New l'estament; but of this every clergyman, taking into con sideration 'the wants and capacities of his particular hearers, must judge for himself. 'I am of opinion that such an exercise as this would be no less benefical to the clergy than to the laity; for though it is the duty of the clergy, from the nature of their office, and the express obligation they entered into at their ordinations, to be very much employed in the reading of the Scriptures; yet, what may be done at any time, is too often so deferred from one time to another as not to be done at all. A public call therefore to the performance of such a necessary duty at an appointed and recurring time, though it may occasionally be attended with some little inconvenience, cannot fail to be ultimately useful. Besides, there is a sympathy excited by social reading which causes the beauties of the holy penmen to be tasted with a higher relish, and their instructions to make a deeper and more lasting impression upon the mind. 10 this mode of reading many parts of Scripture, I frequently experience the most rapturous feelings; sometimes sex rapturous as not to leave me full powers of utterance. I am now arrived at that time of life, if I inay not say that maturity of judgment, when all that is great and good in composition, compared with Scriptural composition, sinksto nothing; and I am of opinion, that in proportion as the Scriptures become better understood, and just ideas of composition become more general, the Scripturcs, considered
*As I do not exact the attendance of the Parish-Clerk on these occacions, I read the whole of the Psalms myself.
It is a complaint which the Methodists allege against our Church, as it exists in practice, that it does not afford to the people opportunities sufficiently frequent of assembling together for the purposes of divine worship and religious instruction. If the plan, which I here propose were generally adopted (universally, I fear, it could not) the ground of this coinplaint would in a great measure be removed
as compositions, will be more and more admired. I con-
to the Holy Trinity.
munion service. 2 Corin. xii. 14. Rempstone,
I am, Sir, your's, &c. August 10, 1805.
ON ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE. Sır, T DESIRE to thank your valuable correspondent, Mr.
Pearson, for his obliging attention to my request, and have the greater confidence in my own opinion from the circumstance of his approaching so near to it. I agree