« السابقةمتابعة »
witness of the Holy Spirit, perceived in his heart by every believer, as he peruses the Scriptures, (a point on which we shall enlarge at the close of our treatise), still the possibility of proving on historical grounds, the genuineness and primitive character of the gospels, is a great additional cause of gratitude, inasmuch as it removes occasions of distrust, particularly from weak and doubting minds, and affords motives for the confirmation of their faith.
CRITICAL NOTICE S.
1.-Report from Select Committee on the Observance of the
Sabbath-Day; with the Minutes of Evidence and Appendix.
This committee of the British House of Commons were thirty in number, — among whom were Messrs. Agnew, Morpeth, Peel, Inglis, Buxton, Baring, Goulburn, Stanley and J. E. Gordon. About eighty witnesses were examined during the seventeen days in which the committee were in session. As the general subject is attracting an unusual degree of attention, in this country, at the present time, we have thought that a few brief quotations from the testimony of two or three of the witnesses would be gratifying to our readers.
The bishop of London testified, that with respect to the middling classes in England, greater attention is given to the duties of the Lord's day than was paid thirty years ago; and that in relation to the lower classes, there has been, to a certain extent, a considerable improvement since the establishment of a system of national education ; that is, so far as the capacity of the churches has admitted such an improvement; but that with regard to the great mass of the lower orders there has been a sad deterioration, mainly owing to the increased facilities of intemperance. The higher classes have less of false shame which prevented many of them formerly from strictly observing the Lord's day. The churches in London are much better filled twice or even three times in the day, and that by the higher classes, than they were even once in the day twenty years ago. There is not sufficient accommodation in the churches of the metropolis, however, for more than one tenth of the present population. - If sufficient accommodation were provided in churches, and care were taken to place able and faithful clergymen in those churches, it would be by far the most promising method of remedying the evils of sabbath-breaking. His lordship’s observation led him to conclude that persons who absent themselves from public worship are not exemplary in the discharge of any part of their duty. — “No good will be done by punishing people for not going to church, but a great amount of good may be done by preventing persons from spreading out those temptations which prevent the people from going to church. The positive enforcement of religious duties by penalties is a mistake in the principles of legislation ; but looking on religion as the basis of all sound principles and social order, we must be careful to remove those temptations which check the growth of religion, and encourage the growth of irreligion.” “ I cannot state in a manner which would do justice to my own feelings, my opinion as to the importance of the Lord's day, both as an institution of mercy and of spiritual improvement; and I am quite sure that those persons who are brought to consider that day as given, not only for a day of rest, but of religious improvement, soon come to take a pleasure in its right employment, which is a much more effectual, as well as a much purer recreation than any thing which is commonly termed amusement.'
John Richard Farre, M. D., an eminent physician, who had been in the study and practice of medicine for forty years, testified : “ The use of the Sabbathı, medically speaking, is that of a day of rest. It is a day of compensation for the inadequate restorative power of the body under continued labor and excitement. A physician always has respect to the preservation of the restorative power; because, if once this be lost, his healing office is at an end. The ordinary exertions of man run down the circulation every day of his life; and the first general law of nature by which God prevents man from destroying himself, is the alternating of day with night, that repose may succeed action. But though night apparently equalizes the circulation well, yet it does not sufficiently restore its balance for the attainment of a long life. Hence one day in seven, by the bounty of Providence, is thrown in as a day of compensation, to perfect by its repose the animal system. The Sabbatical institution is not simply a precept partaking of the nature of a political institution, but it is to be numbered among the natural duties, if the preservation of life be admitted to be a duty, and the premature destruction of it a suicidal act. This is said simply as a physician, and without respect at all to the theological question. I have found it essential to my own well-being, as a medical man, to abridge my labor on the Sabbath to what is actually necessary.
I have frequently observed the premature death of physicians from continued exertion. In warm climates, and in active service, this is painfully apparent. I have advised the clergyman, in lieu of his Sabbath, to rest one day in the week ; it forms a continual prescription of mine. I have seen many destroyed by their duties on that day. I would say further, that quitting the grosser evils of mere animal living from over-stimulation and undue exercise of body, the working of the mind in one continued train of thought is the destruction of life in the most distinguished classes of society, and that senators themselves need reform in that particular. I have seen many of them destroyed by neglecting this economy of life.”
John Poynder, Esq., a solicitor of London, exhibited to the committee a list of the Sunday newspapers published in London, which was obtained at the stamp office. The number was twenty-four. The nunber of stamps for these papers was about seven millions. The amount of advertisement duty, exclusive of stamp duty on the several papers, was about £11,000.
Rev. David Ruell, who had been for twenty-eight years chaplain of prisons in London, and who had had, on a low calculation, 100,000 prisoners under his care, stated: “I do not recollect a single case of capital offence where the party has not been a Sabbath-breaker, and, in many cases, they have assured me that Sabbath-breaking was the first step in the course of crime. Indeed, I may say in reference to prisoners of all classes, that in nineteen cases out of twenty, they are persons who have not only neglected the Sabbath, but all other ordinances of religion.”
The following statement of James Bridges, Esq., a lawyer of Edinburgh, deserves the attention of the multitudes who are annoyed, in the vicinity of the large American cities, by the extensive Sabbath-profanation connected with the Monday markets. “ The cattle and corn-markets, which are the great markets of Edinburgh, are held on Wednesday. The court of Session does not sit on Monday; the meat-market also, which is a considerable market in Edinburgh, is held upon Tuesday. All shops for the necessaries of life, such as butchers', bakers', etc. are strictly closed on the Sabbath."
Some testimony in relation to the observance of the Sabbath in Scotland from the Rev. John Lee, D. D., is highly important. · Dr. Lee attended the University of Edinburgh from 1794 to 1804. Subsequently, for ten years, he was professor of Church History in the University of St. Andrews. He has more recently filled the office of principal clerk of the General Assembly of the church of Scotland. Dr. Lee read the following statement from Kirkton's History, understood to be a very authentic memorial of the middle of the 17th century : “ Now, before we speak of the alteration court-influences made upon the church of Scotland, let us consider in what case it was at this time. There be in all Scotland, some 900 parishes, divided into sixty-eight presbyteries, which are again cantoned into fourteen synods, out of all which, by a solemn legation of commissioners from every presbytery, they used yearly to constitute a national assembly. At the king's return in 1660, every parish had a minister, every village had a school, every family almost had a Bible ; yea, in most of the country, all the children of age could read the Scriptures, and were provided of Bibles, either by the parents, or their ministers. I have lived many years in a parish where I never heard one oath, and you might have ridden many miles before you had heard any ; also, you could not, for a great part of the country, have lodged in a family where the Lord was not worshipped by reading, singing, and public prayer. Nobody complained more of our churchgovernment than our taverners, whose ordinary lamentation was, their trade was broken, people were become so sober." Sabbath was observed,” says Dr. Lee,“ with the greatest strictness soon after the period of the Revolution of 1688, till about
It was owing to the great vigilance, faithfulness, and zeal, with which both ministers and elders performed their duty towards those who were placed under their charge, and more, perhaps, than to any other cause, to the universal practice of Bible education. In the dedication of the first Scottish edition of the Bible, in 1579, it is stated, that so great had been the progress of religious instruction, particularly in that form, in a country where less than forty years before, the Bible was not
suffered to be read; that almost every house possessed a copy of the Bible, and had the Bible read in it. It is ascertained also that in the time of the Covenanters, which I believe to have been a period of great religious light, and of great strictness and purity of morals, there was scarcely an individual in the Lowlands of Scotland, who could not read, and who was not in the habit of reading the Bible, and scarcely a family in which the worship of God was not regularly performed. Such a description, however, could not apply to the Highlanders.” About the year 1780, a sad change took place in Scotland. The Sabbath became less and less regarded. The causes of this deterioration, as stated by Dr. Lee, were, the relaxation of church discipline ; the progressive decline of Scriptural education in the schools in Scotland ; the increased communication with England and Ireland, and the consequent gradual introduction of new habits; the influence of infidel publications, and the substitution of frivolous reading, for the grave instruction of previous times; the ensnaring example of men of rank and of official station ; decreasing attention to the practice of parochial instruction on the part of ministers; the political discussions introduced by the American and French revolutions; the establishment of manufactories in the large towns; and the greater facilities of travelling.
2.- Text-Book of Ecclesiastical History. By J. C. I. Gieseler,
doctor of philosophy and theology, and professor of theology in Göttingen. Translated from the third German edition by Francis Cunningham. In three volumes, pp. 382, 420, 437.
Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1836. Prof. Gieseler was born in 1792. He commenced his academical studies in the orphan-house at Halle, whence he entered the university at the same place, and attended on the instructions of Knapp, Gesenius, and Wegscheider. At the age of twenty-five, he was appointed to an office in the gymnasium at Minden, his native place. He was then appointed professor of theology at the new university of Bonn. Here he continued eleven years, and earned a high reputation by his industry and intellectual vigor. In 1831, he went to Göttingen as professor of ecclesiastical history. The first volume of his History appeared in Germany in 1824, and passed through three editions,