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spirits of the republican party, who said that “things would not be better till they were worse.” Ship-money was now levied with severity, and all possible means employed for raising money; but as all were unavailing, Parliament was again called together, and in November, 1640, the celebrated Long Parliament met, Selden being unanimously returned for the University of Oxford.
Early in this assembly, Selden manifested his firmness and independence. The Parliament had passed a resolution against Bishops sitting among the Peers. He opposed it, arguing on constitutional grounds that they held their seats on the same ground as the Peers themselves. Since Parliaments were known in England, he said, Bishops have belonged to them. That they should have seats, is part of the original constitution of Parliament; and on this ground he maintained his standing, though the current of general feeling ran so strongly against him. But what he believed to be right or wrong, he supported or opposed, indifferent to any opinion to the contrary. When Lord Strafford's trial was brought forward, his name is found in the Committees for searching for precedents, &c.; but among those who actually conducted the trial, he is not mentioned. He very likely was one who believed that while Strafford's proceedings were all calculated to destroy the ancient, free constitution of the realm, the charges against him could not possibly be sustained but by methods not less opposed to it. The vote for a bill of attainder, when it was plain that the evidence could not legally sustain the impeachment, was carried by two hundred and four against fifty-nine, and Selden was one of the minority. He appears, indeed, to have been one of those who believed that law and liberty were equally necessary to the welfare of the state ; and who therefore, while, for the sake of freedom, they would have the power of the Monarch defined and limited, for the sake of law and order, would have had an efficient monarchy preserved.
In the ecclesiastical synod, usually called “ The Westminster Assembly," constituted by a vote of Parliament in June, 1643, Selden likewise sat. His learning gave him great weight there. He would sometimes say, “ Perhaps in your
little Bibles with gilt leaves, it may be so; but the Hebrew or Greek signifies otherwise,”
During the civil wars, he continued with the Parliament. He approved of the conduct of neither party; but he could not go with the King, who evidently had aimed at making the English form of government that of an absolute monarchy. He was the friend of Archbishop Usher, and succeeded in preserving his library from dispersion; and when, on the attainder of Laud, the endowment of his Arabic Professorship at Oxford had been seized, he procured its restitution. He also refused, though requested by Cromwell, to reply to the “ Eikon Basilike” which had been published, after the execution of Charles, as his writing. In 1643, the Parliament appointed him Keeper of the Records in the Tower, and, two years afterwards, to be one of the twelve Commissioners of the Admiralty.
The latter portion of his life was chiefly occupied in attending to studies which to him were pleasures. He is reported to have said to Archbishop Usher, that though he had his study full of books and papers, upon almost all subjects, yet he could not recollect any passages on which he could repose his mind except some from the Scriptures; and that the one which most impressed his mind was that of St. Paul to Titus, chap. ii. 11-14. (“The grace of God, which bringeth salvation,” &c.) On the 30th of November, 1654, within sixteen days of completing his seventieth year, he expired. He was buried in the Temple church. The then Master of the Temple, Richard Johnson, by whom his remains were committed to the earth, is reported to have said, at the time of interment, “ If learning could have kept a man alive, this our brother would not have died.”
His learning, indeed, was, for the day, immense, and furnishes a proof of what industrious application may accomplish. And, on all subjects properly within the sphere of human learning, his judgment was as sound as his stores were rich. As an Englishman, he appears to have had a correct idea of the proper design of government, and of the influence which its design should have upon its form. With such views it is plain he could be neither republican nor
monarchist. He who advocates the subjection of the people to the will of one man, forgets that without freedom society cannot truly flourish, nor any individual man be secure in the possession of that personal liberty of action necessary for a proper improvement: while he who advocates the sovereignty. of the people, forgets that law is as necessary for social prosperity as liberty, and that law must have a foundation more stable, an authority more binding, than can be furnished by popular will and force.
That Selden believed the Bible, and felt the importance of Scripture truth, the saying quoted already will evince. That he yielded to truth as it is evangelical and saving, is not so certain. Learning has its temptations, as well as ignorance. The ignorant man may be bigoted and superstitious. Selden was fond of a sentence which he inscribed, in Greek, in most of his books: “ In all things, liberty." And freedom of thought may be permitted to occasion carelessness as to doctrinal belief. But he lived in unfavourable times. He saw that bigotry might oppose bigotry; and that the oppressed, having obtained power, might become oppressors. He evidently wished to shun religious partisanship: and he who does this, must guard well against religious indifference. We may not be the slave of opinion; but we are bound to be the servants of truth : and especially to see to it, that by the truth our hearts are sanctified, our conduct directed, and our entire character formed.
BETWEEN GEORGE AND HIS MINISTER. Minister. One of the most interesting of our Lord's miracles, from the circumstances with which it was connected, comes now, in order, before us : I mean that which was wrought in behalf of the daughter of a Syrophenician woman. You will find the account of it in Matthew xv. 21—29, and Mark vii. 24–31. Turn to the
passages. George. I have looked over them, Sir; and I find that our Lord was, when the miracle took place, in “the coasts of Tyre and Sidon,"
Minister. We must look at the map. Opposite the Lake of Gennesaret, to the west, the country belonging to Israel does not extend as far as the sea-coast; but between the boundary and the sea there is a narrow slip of land, ten or twenty miles broad, running up, northwards, fifty or a hundred miles, when it opens out, over the most northerly point of Galilee. This is Phenicia, inhabited by Canaanite Gentiles. On the sea-board (as the Americans would call it) of this narrow slip, you will find Mount Carmel, Tyre, Sarepta, and Sidon. You will see that less than a journey of fifty miles would take our Lord from Capernaum to the borders of Phenicia, opposite the coast between Tyre and Sidon.
George. I see the locality now, very plainly, Sir.
Minister. He appears partly to have gone for the sake of a short season of retirement and repose, but was able to secure them only in part. He “entered into a house, and would have no man know it; but he could not be hid.”
George. His fame, I suppose, as being able to perform such wonderful works, had extended beyond the limits of his own country.
Minister. Undoubtedly. It was likely this would be the case; and the language frequently used by the Evangelists supports the conjecture. On the present occasion it proved to be so.
George. A woman of Canaan came to him. Mark calls her a Greek, and a Syrophenician.
Minister. The terms are all consistent with each other. The Gentiles were often called Greeks; and Canaan is only the old name of the country.
George. The case, I see, Sir, is one of a demoniac. The daughter of this woman is represented as having an unclean spirit, and as being grievously vexed.
Minister. The expressions would seem to represent the peculiar unholiness of the possessing spirit; prompting, very likely, to unholy language and conduct; and at the same time, occasioning great sufferings.
George. She addresses our Lord as the Son of David.
Minister. The belief of a coming Messiah had spread even among the Gentiles. This woman, as living in the neigh
bourhood of the Jews, was likewise acquainted with his descent and title. Her address to him shows both her faith in his office and power. She believed that Jesus was He who was to come, and that he was able to afford her the aid which she asked: the latter was most likely the ground of the former. She believed in him for his works' sake.
George. He seemed, at first, to pay no attention to her request. “He answered her not a word.”
Minister. He saw her faith, and did what he often does now: he put it to the test.
George. But she was not so easily repulsed. She continued crying to him.
Minister. Yes; and what then?
George. The disciples interfered, and asked that she might be sent away; as, by her continued applications, she appeared to them to be troublesome.
Minister. Did our Lord comply with their request?
George. Not exactly: and yet his language seemed to amount to a denial. He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Was it so, Sir?
Minister. As to his personal mission, and public ministry, it was; although his coming was, in reality, for the salvation of the world. But what effect had this additional repulse on her ?
George. She makes a more earnest and humble application: “she fell at his feet and worshipped him,” praying that he would help her.
Minister. Her faith was strong, and so was her affection for her daughter. She knew that help was to be obtained from no other source; and she had evidently resolved to continue to prefer her request till she succeeded; or, at least, till she should be sent away with an absolute denial. But how was this, her humble prayer, received ?
George. Not very encouragingly. This last reply seems to be, for her, the worst of all, and to be every thing but an absolute denial. He told her that “the children must first be filled.”
Minister. You will remember that it is elsewhere recorded that he called the Jews "the children of the kingdom ;" those