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“ Puritan Exorcism,” No. II., is in type, but put aside. “ Popish Legends," " Talk of the Times," and “ The Devotional Writings of the Fifteenth Century,'' are also suspended, by the great number and length of the letters which the Editor feels it right to insert. The interest of the subjects which they discuss, and the character and circumstances of the parties by whom they are written, seem to claim for them immediate insertion, though it involves the delay of many other letters which the Editor is most anxious to publish. Yet of such letters received this month, he has not ventured to send more than about half a quarter to the press, and the remainder are added to the much larger number previously on hand. And while arranging to give all possible room to correspondence, articles for review are pouring in with the same, or even greater, rapidity. This is worse still, for not all correspondents are authors, and the average of patience may be naturally supposed to be greater. Yet the Editor must have written at the rate of about two reviews a day since those in the preceding number were printed, merely to avoid adding to arrears. And when he had written about sixty articles, where could he find room for them ? Feeling, however, as he does, the embarrassment of riches, he does not wish to be poor. There are very few of the letters for which he does not feel really obliged, and very few of the correspondents from whom he does not wish to hear as often as it is convenient to them to write. He would, indeed, if not deeply impressed with the conviction that such advice is quite thrown away, even when addressed to men of the best intentions, most earnestly recommend them to cultivate brevity. They will tell him that it leads to obscurity. He knows it ; but every Scylla has its Charybdis; and it would be hard to find a deeper obscurity than that in which prolixity alone has involved several very excellent and extensive communications, which blush unseen in a certain drawer. They are carefully preserved from year to year, under an idea that, at some time or other, there may be room for them.
That he may not, however, be charged with recommending brevity to others, in order that he may have room to be tedious himself, the Editor will at once say, that under these circumstances the publishers consider it most expedient (as they have done on a former occasion) to publish a SUPPLEMENT for this year, which will be issued with the number for January; and it is hoped that, by devoting it principally to Correspondence and Reviews, a great part of the arrear in both departments may be discharged.
In the meantime, the Editor has to acknowledge communications from Dr. Gilly, Mr. Newcome, Mr. Riland Bedford, Mr. Herbert Smith, Mr. Coddington, “ E. T.," " Q.," “B. D.," “ S. J. E.," “ Urbanus," “ E. J.” two letters, “ R. C.," “ C. B." “ Alpha,” “J. G.,” “ Miltopareos," “S, J," ~ 0," “ X.,' and “ An Enquirer.”
Room should have been made, if possible, for Dr. Cox's letter this month. The pamphlet to which he refers, the Editor thinks he may say, has not reached him.
The Editor is obliged to the friend who has sent him a copy of the circular recently issued by the Society for preventing the use of Children in Sweeping Chimneys. The fact of its having been sent to the clergy generally, renders it the less necessary to insert it. It is merely thoughtlessness that perpetuates a system as foolish as it is cruel. When thirteen of the principal fire-oftices of London (who are, of all people, most interested in getting chimneys well and safely swept,) think it worth while to join in a certificate that they use and approve the machine, the efficiency of that mode is decided. It is sad to think how many children's lives are sacrificed to the peculiar disease produced by this cruel and filthy business; and how few who escape that evil, and survive a debauched and debilitated childhood, are capable or desirous of earning their bread honestly: Mr. Steven, the honorary secretary, who is also the secretary of the Hand-in. Hland Fire Office, and to whose active benevolence the society is principally indebted, deserves the thanks of all humane persons.
“ N. D. G.” is thanked for his offer ; but there is so much matter on hand that the Editor is afraid to accept it.
He is sorry that he has not yet found leisure to qualify himself to write to “E."
DEC. 31, 1838.
TALK OF THE TIMES, – No. II.
B. What a talk there has lately been about music meetings, oratorios, and fancy balls—does it not illustrate some of the points which we have touched upon in conversation ?
A. I can see that it does so far as the various modes and rules of practice which are brought into the discussion are likely to bear any. thing like a party character—indeed the discussion itself must be influenced by what I have heard you call artificial unions, and class among those accidents of the church which are principally injurious because they are apt to be considered essential. But I presume that you mean something farther, for this is perpetually exhibited in a more striking manner than it has been in this discussion.
B. It seems to me, however, that by looking at such discussions when they occur we are able, more than by almost any other means, to obtain a view of the real feeling of society, of parties, and of individuals, on many important subjects connected with religion; and to see how far, and in what way, practice and discipline in the church are affected by such circumstances as those to which you refer. To some persons the subjects may not appear to be very important in themselves, but yet I am inclined to think that the discussion which has been going forward about clerical attendance at balls in the British Magazine, and the somewhat fiercer dispute about oratorios elsewhere, may be highly useful and instructive to those who really wish to ascertain what they do know and what they do not know, and what they have or have not got in the way of principles of action, and how they came by what they have. On this ground I am glad that so much has been written on the subject in the British Magazine, and by so many different writers.
A. Do you expect that they will settle the question ?
B. If you mean for everybody, certainly not. Even if they should be so happy as to elicit and manifest truth, all men are not open to
VOL. XIV.-Dec. 1838.
conviction ; and even of those who are, many, it is to be feared, are not readers of the British Magazine. On these grounds alone (without adverting to the obvious fact that the question is one which from its very nature seems to have no chance of being settled by anybody, anywhere or anyhow) I should say that there is no probability of their so deciding the matter as to preclude all future difference of opinion and practice; but I think they will do a good deal in exciting thought, in helping to form individual judgment, and by almost necessarily leading to the consideration of other points of practice on which very good men hold different opinions. * By this we may perhaps gain, what is very valuable, some elucidation of certain general principles which should comprehend and regulate a pretty wide sphere of Christian practice.
One of these points, which has often puzzled me, was touched upon by a correspondent of the Magazine, who subscribed himself “Clericus Juvenis ;" and I hoped that it would have been taken up by some other correspondent;-just read what he says :
A.“I know that many excellent persons object strongly to the performance of oratorios in cathedrals ; but I must say, with all due respect to superior and older minds, that I cannot subscribe to this feeling. They bid us look at the private character of the performers; but it strikes me that we are not necessitated to look into them further than the spirit of the twenty-sixth article of our blessed church would guide us. But while I would humbly attend upon the performances of sacred music, I do feel great abhorrence at the idea of being invited afterwards to attend at a grand fancy dress ball.”(September, p. 303.) Well, and did you want somebody to take up the defence of the grand fancy ball, and shew that there, of all places in the world, should “soft charity repair" ?
B. No; I meant rather with regard to what he says of oratorios than balls; and as to these not so much to enforce, or to refute, what he says, as to carry out the subject on somewhat different grounds. I should not insist on the argument which, he says, is used against the performance of oratorios in cathedrals, and which relates to what he calls the private (though I am afraid it is too often the public and notorions) character of some of the performers; though certainly if I thought them to be “ ministers” performing “Christ's ordinance” not “in their own name but in Christ's,” and “by his commission and authority,” all of which is necessary to bring them under the article to which he refers,* I should not think it right voluntarily to pay my
“ Although in the visible church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God, and in receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promisc, although they be ministered by evil men. Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the church, that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.”
money, and give my vote, for the unnecessary employment of such “unworthy ministers.” In fact, I am afraid that “Clericus Juvenis" will find his argument carry him rather too far, and set him down in an awkward predicament. If the spirit of the article requires him to consider them, or to deal with them, as ministers at all, then I apprehend that, if they are unworthy ministers, and he has “knowledge of their offences," he should (instead of paying his money, which keeps them in their places) “ accuse" them, in order that they may, “ being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.” But when I asked you to read what he had said, I did not do so in order to find fault with it; but only that we might talk about it, and that I might express my own doubts. If he can conscientiously attend such performances, I do not pretend to judge him ; for I am sure that a great many very good men have done it, and I would not take upon me to say that no circumstances could exist which might make me think it a duty to do the same.
A. Or to go to a grand fancy dress ball ?
B. I can hardly imagine any: nor do I, on the other hand, mean to talk what you may think paradox; but with my present feelings, and setting aside other considerations (such as the offence of fellowChristians, for instance) which a Christian is bound to respect, and supposing the matter known only to God and myself, and that I had only to consider which was most in accordance with my Christian calling, and most congruous with the fear and love of God, I think that, of the two, I should go to the fancy ball.
A. I should hardly have expected that to be your taste.
B. It would not. Far from being an indulgence of natural taste, it would be directly in spite of my nature-in spite of a taste, good or bad, which at an age when it might have been natural, when no religious scruple, or even professional expectation, would have prevented, never let me enter a ball-room, while it dragged me to every other kind of place where music was to be heard, and would not let me be quiet until I could make some sort of noise with every instrument that I could lay my hands on. I am not setting dancing above music when viewed as an art, or a science, or a Christian exercise, or anything else.
A. But you do not, then, think dancing absolutely sinful?
B. My dear friend, how can I, when the word of God expressly tells me that there is " a time to dance"?
A. Yes—but do you think that really means dancing ?
A. Well, but you know what I mean ; do you think it means literal dancing ?
B. Why, what else can it mean? Look at the whole history of man, and see whether it is not as natural to him to dance and sing, as it is to eat and drink. Look especially to the history of that nation in whose language, and primarily for whose use, the words were written; did not they dance ? Did not the king after God's own heart dance before him, and did not the high priest's sister lead out all the women with timbrels and dances ? And though for a while their “ dance is