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THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTHORITY IN
sentiments, and far behind the march of in
tellect in these enlightened times : but yet I INSTRUCTION.
cannot help avowing my serious apprehensions, There are very many truths the reasons of that the now-favourite systems of instruction which lie hid from the human understanding. are fast sowing the seeds of that self-willed It is, therefore, no valid argument against a disregard of government, and contempt of thing's being fact, that we do not comprehend | dominion, which the apostles Peter and Jude it. For we are continually, in the ordinary speak of as characterising the last evil days. duties of life, compelled to act upon events,
(2 Pet. ii. 10; Jude, 8.) which we know are certain to occur, though But it is not so much with respect to eduwe see not the precise means by which they cation in mere human learning that I now will be brought about. The husbandman, for make these remarks: I would particularly instance, sows his seed in hope, though he apply them to that authority with which the does not understand how it will spring up, how truths of revelation ought to come, and with the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the which, from their very nature, they are inground will operate to produce, from the little vested. For what is revelation but the voice particle he has inserted in the earth, first the of God, speaking by authority that which by blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in reason we never could discover ? If it were the ear. He would be thought strangely un- not above our mind, God, who never, as we wise, if he should refuse to cultivate bis farm see, resorts to a miracle when natural causes until he comprehended exactly the process of will produce the desired effect, would indisfructification.
putably, we may fairly judge from analogy, It appears to me that this is an important have left it to ourselves to work this knowprinciple to be remembered by those who are ledge out. And therefore the great point to charged with the instruction of the young. ascertain, respecting any proposed revelation, And though I would by no means have a child is whether it really comes from God. This made a kind of machine, to learn its lessons being once settled, every thing contained in it by rote, yet I am sometimes inclined to think should be received with implicit faith. The that in modern education rather too little is declaration, “ thus saith the Lord,” should allowed to authority, and rather too much to check every tendency to perverse disputations, reason. If you never teach a young mind any and satisfy every doubt. truth that it cannot understand, it will grow And yet there is a spirit at work utterly at up indisposed to receive every thing beyond | variance with the spirit of confiding faith the grasp of its own judgment; "I cannot which revelation demands. For example, comprehend it," will be taken as a presumptive some men take great pains to divest, as much proof against truth: and a habit of scepticism as possible, the miraculous events recorded in will be formed most seriously injurious to the Scripture of supernatural agency. They by individual's future welfare. I shall probably no means deny that a miracle was wrought, be thought old-fashioned in holding these but they are so anxious to find out natural
VOL. I. —NO. XXVI,
concurring causes, and so curious in defining | the advantages he ought to have by being born how those causes operated in aid of the Divine in a Christian land. One of those advantages purpose, that they almost leave it to be inferred is, that, like Timothy, he should from a child that the Deity could not by his mere word | have known the Scriptures, being trained in have effected his will. Surely, when Christ, the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and about to cure the blind man, first anointed his prepared by discipline to admit those truths, eyes with clay, he had it in his mind to teach of which, as his carnal reason revolts against such reasoners, that, in the presence of crea- them, it is found most difficult to convince tion's Lord, all created powers are needless, / a heathen. The individual who is born of and may stand aside. Other persons are Christian parents ought, like a domestic animal equally laborious to extract from every doc- --it is his privilege — “to bear the yoke in trine its mystery. They are perpetually his youth," and should not be left to be afteroccupied in systematising and professing towards captured, if it might be, from a state of make clear those deep things into which the mature wildness. angels are humbly desiring to look. They | It is true that the Gospel never teaches us do not reject the Gospel truths, but they strip to disregard the understanding, for that would them of almost every thing above the measure be to open a door to every superstition. We of their own minds. They erect a standard in are to have our mind so ripely furnished as to themselves, and to that they refer. Now the be able to answer him that inquireth a reason evil tendency of this spirit it is not difficult to of the hope" that is in us; but reason must be see. Its results, when fully developed, are kept in its due place; it must not usurp that Socinianism or infidelity : but where it stops dominion which belongs not to it; it must be, far short of these tremendous apostacies, it not the mistress, but the handmaid of faith. produces a continual distrust of God, a dis- Let me then persuade parents and instrucinclination to credit whatever is not com- tors in divine things to be careful in laying a prehended, a cleaving to the dust, a walking solid and substantial foundation ; let them inby sight and not by faith, altogether opposed culcate implicit submission to whatever they to the spirit of the Gospel, and which is equally can prove to be the voice of God : and the dishonourable to God, and injurious to an result will assuredly, under his blessing, be individual's own soul.
that teachableness and humility of mind which Now I attribute much of this evil to the he delights to bless. Then will that character mode in which religious instruction is first of be formed which the divine Saviour best loves all conveyed. The truth is not spoken with to see-the character of a little child, which authority. The Scripture is rather treated as he set before his disciples, for a pattern to a witness which may be cross-examined, than them, if they would enter the kingdom of God. reverenced as a judge from whose, decision Thus shall “our sons be as plants grown up there is no appeal. The mind is not made in our youth ; and our daughters be as cornersensible of its own imperfections, nor properly stones, polished after the similitude of a patrained to follow the guidance of wisdom lace."
I. superior to its own. You find many professedly religious parents keeping for a long time
FAMILY PRAYER.* their children in ignorance of fundamental
de communicate | I MUST here more particularly advert to a prac. truths, and at last, when they do communicate them, fencing them about with reasons, and
tice, which may be truly considered as first and last supporting them with worldly arguments, as if
| in the arrangements of the Christian family; and
that is, family prayer. This is indeed the only stated they had nothing but such miserable crutches
occasion on which the Christian can acknowledge God upon which to stand. If the child, as is very
in his family, and this is the proper opportunity for often the case, does not see the force of the
diffusing religious instruction through his house. As reasons thus alleged, it naturally follows that
we have here a subject of great moment, and, through he doubts or disbelieves the doctrines they
a too frequent neglect of the duty, calling for the most were intended to establish. And the evil
serious admonition, permit me, my brethren, to preprinciple thus implanted is in after-life fostered
mise my observations on it, with one remark of general by the habit, common among many instructors,
application. It is this; that if we acknowledge the of speaking to the understanding rather than
duty of assembling the members of our household to the conscience. The effect of this is, at the
night and morning, for the purpose of social worship best, but the cold assent of the opinion, instead and hearing the word of God, no consideration whatof the warm faith of the heart, whereby, as the
ever of its singularity, or of its inconvenience, should Scripture tells us, “ man believeth unto right be suffered to interfere with its performance. Domestic eousness," and then with the mouth maketh arrangements might very soon be made to bend to confession unto salvation.
this object; they ought to do so; and it is a fact, that If religious truth be addressed to the reason no families are so well ordered as those which begia merely, a person is well nigh deprived of all
• From Archdeacon Hoare's Sermons.
and end the day with family prayer. A family with originally a heathen, and a man of rank, being a out prayer has been well compared to " a garment senator, and was a professor of oratory in the city of without hem or selvage.” And to decline the charge
Carthage. At this time he was not only an idolater, of singularity, did it really fall upon us for acting up
but also a persecutor, and a studier of magic: with such
chains does Satan bind his captives. His conversion to the dictates of plain duty, were the part only of to the faith of Christ took place when he was about cowardice, and of a double mind. But I must deny fifty years of age. The instrument, under God, of that it is singular at all amongst those whose example, effecting this change was Cæcilius, a presbyter of the or whose opinion on subjects of religious practice, are
Carthaginian Church; and so gratefully did the new
convert regard him, that he took his name in conjuncof any weight. So far from this, I would boldly say,
tion with his own, and thus bore the appellation of that amongst persons duly aware of the importance of Thascius Cæcilius Cyprianus. This was in the year practical religion, and feeling for the souls of their 246: and Cyprian immediately gave one forcible proof relatives and inmates as for their own, the neglect of of his sincerity; for his property, which was confamily prayer were indeed the highest and most un
siderable, he sold, in order to distribute the money warrantable singularity. The great Archbishop Til
among the poor. Divine grace had so remarkable an
influence upon his mind, that he willingly left all, and lotson has strongly remarked; “The setting up of the followed Jesus. In vain did his wife endeavour to constant worship of God in our families is so neces repress his too great liberality, as she conceived it. sary to the keeping up of religion, that where it is It was his delight, in imitation of his blessed Master, neglected, I do not see how any family can in reason
to go about doing good--to make the widow's heart to be esteemed a family of Christians, or indeed to have
sing for joy, and thus to have the blessing of those
that were ready to perish come upon him. Cæcilius, any religion at all.” And one greater than any un
the parent of his new life, rejoiced over the growing inspired teacher has commanded us; “ Thou shalt fruit of his faith; and, when he was on his deathbed, teach” these things “ diligently to thy children, and | entrusted his wife and children to his care. shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house,
The pagans were annoyed at losing such a man as and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest
Cyprian, and reproached him with having debased
himself by believing the childish fables which were down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write
taught (they said) by Christianity: but he had learned them upon the posts of thy house, and upon thy gates." to give an answer to those that required of him a
The true Christian will, I am persuaded, be found reason of the hope that was in him, and was not moved in the practice of that which has had the concurrence
by their accusations from his avowed stedfastness. He of the wise and good in every age of the Church; nay,
found also in his own heart another obstacle to his
Christian profession. Indeed, it appeared (he says of which the very example of ancient heathens might be
himself) most difficult for him to be so born again as adduced to confirm. He will devoutly acknowledge to lead a new life, and become another man with the the God of his fathers in family worship. He will see same body. How could he practise temperance, who had no reason whatever for expecting from God a continu
| been accustomed to fare sumptuously every day? But ance of his domestic blessings, without the stated
| (he adds) when the life-giving water had washed away
his former sins, then he found that which had heredomestic returns of praise and prayer. As in private
tofore been impossible, now by divine assistance easy. he would express his private wants; and his public And thus, “so fast," Pontius, his deacon, assures us, ones, in public; so in the family he will supplicate “ did he grow in piety, that he appeared to have for family favours. Do children desire the safety and arrived at perfection almost before he began to learn." preservation of their parents; or parents, the health
| The zeal and consistency of Cyprian speedily at
tracted the attention of the Church. In the year 247, and welfare of their children? Are the members of a
he was made a presbyter; and in 248, the see of Car
he was made a household mutually interested, that each, in the morn- thage having become vacant, he was consecrated its ing should go forth in strength to his respective la- bishop. The general rule of the apostle Paul respectbours, that they should meet in peace after the toilsing ecclesiastical offices was, “not a novice, lest, being of the day, and repose at night in a blessed security
lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of
the devil." But Cyprian's mature piety was held to from the perils of darkness? The Christian openly liustify a departure from this admonition. His unafavows the obligation, to ask of God, in presence of fected humility made him decline the offered post. each other, these common blessings. He relies on the But refusal was impossible: his house was literally promise of his Saviour; “ Where two or three are besieged; and at length he was compelled to yield, gathered together in my name, there am I in the
though with extreme reluctance, to wishes so impe
ratively expressed. midst of them." He seizes with avidity the sacred
Five presbyters had, however,
ed opposed his exaltation ; and the Christian kindness opportunity of family worship, for fixing, both in him
with which he afterwards treated them evidently shewed self and in all belonging to him, those kindred dis him possessed of that divine charity which “ is not positions towards God which are our best incentive | easily provoked, and thinketh no evil.” and guide to love and harmony amongst each other.
The tenour of his life from this period was peculiarly He values at once the duty itself, and the happy
holy. Sanctity and grace shone in his very counte
nance. His visage was grave, and yet pleasant : his effects attending its performance."
gravity was not austere, nor was his cheerfulness too smiling; but, by a happy mixture, his character was
so well tempered, that it was hard to say whether he Biography.
inspired most of reverence or of love. His dress was
plain : worldly pride had not inflated him, nor did THE LIFE OF ST. CYPRIAN, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE.*
affected poverty render his appearance mean. THAscius CYPRIANUS was an African, born at Car Soon after Cyprian became a bishop, a storm of thage about the end of the second century. He was persecution fell upon the Church. This was one of
those needful corrections with which the Lord has See Cyprian's Life by his deacon Pontius; Milner's History of the Church, Cent. 111.; and Clarke's Succession of Sacred
ever found it good to exercise his children. Long Literature, art. Cyprian and Gregory Nazianzen,
| peace had introduced corruptions, which Cyprian, in
one of his treatises, enumerates and mourns over ; | rogatives ; but there is no proof that he exceeded the and, therefore, God acted only in pursuance of his powers of his predecessors : and certainly, though he usual plan:-“If his children forsake my law, and | knew he had the fullest right to "rule" in the Church, walk not in my judgments, I will visit their offences his addresses were almost invariably couched in terms with the rod, and their sin with scourges." About the which bespeak the affection of a father, and not the year 249, the emperor Philip having been slain, was suc ambition of a despot. He admonished the laity of his ceeded by Decius. His enmity to the deceased prince jurisdiction with the utmost kindness, shewing that combined with his heathen principles to make him pour his heart bled for the condition of the fallen, but upon the Christians the most fearful persecution they that there was danger in rashly re-admitting them to had ever experienced. The bishop of Rome suffered communion. And when his absence was protracted, martyrdom ; but, alas! many, like the corn of which and he feared that a sickly season might carry some our Saviour speaks, which having no root, when the of them off, he desired " that any of the lapsed penisun was risen with a burning heat, withered away, tents whose lives might be in danger, should, by such were induced to abjure the faith, Cyprian acted as church-officers as were authorised, be re-admitted became a faithful pastor. He wrote to the Roman into the Church.” And he begged his clergy to deal clergy, expressing his holy joy that their bishop had very tenderly with the rest of the fallen Christians. witnessed with his blood such a good confession; and The grace of the Lord, he reminded then, would not in letters to other Christians in prison, he endeavoured forsake the humble. These exhortations were not to animate them to the same patient endurance to the without effect. The clergy generally fell in with his end. He continued for a little while at Carthage; | views, and inculcated on the people patience, modesty, but when it was become an unsafe residence for him, and real repentance, and sought continually their and the people had repeatedly demanded that he should | bishop's counsel and authority. Cyprian, who was be thrown to the wild beasts, be judged it prudent to ever careful to maintain a brotherly communion with retire and conceal himself. He left Carthage about the Roman Church, wrote to the Clergy there a full the year 250. It was by no means through fear that account of the troubles with which he had been exerhe took this step; but he embraced the liberty which cised. The Gospel appears to have flourished at this Christ left to his disciples, when persecuted in one time much among them, and they returned him a wise city, of fleeing to another: and, indeed, occupying a and affectionate answer, approving of his measures, station of such importance, he felt it to be his duty to and encouraging him still to persevere in the course reserve himself for better times and further useful of conduct he had adopted. ness. Had he stayed, he would have been, his deacon The following extracts from two letters, written tells us, in his own judgment, guilty of presumptuous about this time by Cyprian to his clergy, will serve to sin.
shew the spirit by which he was animated : " Dear Never was Cyprian more laboriously occupied than brethren,-) salute you. By the grace of God, I mn during his retirement. He watched with the most anxi I still safe, and I wish to come soon to you—that our ous care the state of ecclesiastical affairs in Africa and mutual desire, and that of all the brethren, may be Italy; and in both these countries he had deservedly gratified. Whenever, on the settlement of your affairs, obtained extensive influence. He maintained a constant | you shall write to me that I ought to come ; or, if the communication with his own clergy, and wrote to them Lord should condescend to make it plain to me before, such directions, admonitions, and encouragements, as | then I will come to you; for where can I have more he judged needful. In addition to the terrors of the happiness and joy, than there, where God appointed persecution, and the grief occasioned by the defection | me both first to become a believer, and also to grow of so many professing Christians, among whoin were in faith? I beseech you, take diligent care of the several clergymen, Cyprian had now to contend with | widows, of the sick, and of all the poor ; and supply a strife occasioned by the laxity of certain presbyters, / also strangers, if any be indigent, with what is in re-admitting to the communion of the Church irre for them, out of my proper portion, which I left with gularly, and without sufficient evidence of repentance, Rogation the presbyter. And lest that should, by persons who had through fear denied the faith. These this time, be all spent, I have sent by Naricus anlapsed individuals procured also recommendatory other sum of money to the same presbyter, that you papers from some who were afterwards martyred, and may the more readily and largely supply the diswho were therefore thought entitled to consideration. tressed.--Though you have been frequently admon
The excellent bishop, well aware of the evils that | ished by my letters to show all care for those who would hence result, wrote with much earnestness to | have gloriously confessed the Lord, and are in prison, desire that such irregularities might be stopped, till, yet I must repeatedly intreat your attention to the on his return, every thing could be properly settled. same thing. I wish circumstances would permit my “It was quite unprecedented," he said, “to transact presence among you; with the greatest pleasure and these things without the consent of the bishop; and readiness would i discharge these solemn duties of even in lesser offences a regular time of penitence love and affection towards our brethren. But do you was exacted of the members: a certain course of dis represent mc. A decent care for the interment, not cipline took place--they made open confession of their only of those who died in torture, but also of such as sins, and were re-admitted to communion by the impo died under the pressures of confinement, is necessary. sition of hands of the bishop and his clergy." Cyprian For, whoever hath submitted himself to torture and 10 was always very careful to insist on due subordination death, under the eye of God, hath already suffered all and discipline. “Let them know,” he had previously that God would have him to suffer. Mark also the written to his clergy, "that they must be instructed days in which they depart this life, that we may and taught by you ; that the doctrines of Scripture celebrate their commemoration among the memorials require subordination in the people to their pastors; of the martyrs ... Their memorials are here celethat they should cultivate an humble, modest, and brated; and I hope shortly, under divine Providence, peaceable demeanour; and that those who have been to be able to celebrate them with you. Let not your gloriously bold in the avowal of their faith, should be care and diligence be wanting for the poor, who have equally exemplary in all the branches of Christian stood firm in the faith, and have fought with us in the conduct. The harder trial yet remains: the Lord Christian warfare. Our affectionate care and attensaith, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall tion to them are the more requisite, because neither be saved.' Let them imitate the Lord, whose humi. | their poverty nor persecution has driven them from lity never shone more than at the eve of his passion, l the love of Christ." when he washed his disciples' feet." Cyprian has 1 It must not be imagined that the commemoration of been accused of pushing too far the episcopal pre- | the martyrs here mentioned was celebrated with that
superstition which afterwards grew to such a head in 1 perhaps be thought impertinent, or uninstructive, to the Church of Rome: it was at this time but a thank- say that a Roman presbyter, who had joined the offering to God for bestowing such rich grace upon Novatians, being at this time condemned to martyrmen, whose faith the survivors desired to “ follow, dom, was asked, in his last sufferings, whether he still considering the end of their conversation, Jesus persisted in his opinions. The dying man replied in Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” the most explicit terms, that he now saw the matter
Another trouble came upon Cyprian, in his retire in a new light; that he repented of having encouraged ment. Felicissimus, a person of discreditable charac the schism ; and that he departed in the communion ter in the Church of Carthage, had long been secretly of the general Church. an enemy to the bishop. He, pretending especial When the persecution recommenced, Cyprian seems tenderness to the lapsed, contrived to obtain some in to have been impressed with the idea that Antichrist Auence over several of the people, and induced them was about to be revealed, and that the end of the to communicate with him on a certain mountain. world was at hand. But his spirit, strong in the faith Five presbyters joined him; and though the leaders of Christ, shrunk not at the prospect. “How shameof this faction were, in obedience to Cyprian's direc fui (says he in one of his letters) must it be for a tion, excommunicated by the faithful clergy, yet the Christian to be unwilling to suffer, when the Master schism continued, and one of the five was by them suffered first; to be unwilling to suffer for our own most irregularly constituted bishop, in opposition to sins, when he who had no personal sin suffered for us! the true prelate. A primary agent in this business | The Son of God suffered, that he might make us the was one Novatus, a presbyter, whose life was scanda- sons of God: and shall not the sons of men be willing lously immoral. This man passed over the sea to to suffer, that they may continue to be esteemed the Rome, and there, with extreme inconsistency, con children of God? .... Antichrist is come, but Christ nected himself with a priest named Novatian, a man is also at hand. The enemy rages and is fierce, but of austere and rigorous temper, who disapproved the the Lord is our defender; and he will avenge our receiving back into the Church of those who once had sufferings and our wounds ......0 what a glorious lapsed, however sincere and deep their penitence. day will come, when the Lord shall begin to recount From this beginning arose the sect of the Novatians, his people and to adjudge their rewards; to send the who distinguished themselves by their extraordinary guilty into hell ..... and to bestow on us the reward strictness. Novatian procured himself, by very un of faith and of devotedness to him! What glory! canonical means, to be chosen bishop of Rome: but what joy! to be admitted to see God; to be honoured : his election was not allowed ; and, as his party seemed to partake of the blessedness of eternal light and daily losing ground in Italy, Novatus returned to salvation with Christ the Lord your God; to salute Africa, where the Novatians found many adherents. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs and
At length, after an absence of nearly two years, | prophets, apostles and martyrs; to joy with the Cyprian repaired to Carthage. The violence of the righteous, the friends of God, in the pleasures of persecution had by this time abated, and he was able immortality! When that revelation shall come, when to hold a council for the general settlement of eccle the beauty of God shall shine upon us, we shall be as siastical affairs. In this synod, the consecration of happy as the deserters and rebellious will be miserable Novatian was pronounced schismatical and invalid, | in inextinguishable fire.” and Felicissimus, with his five presbyters, was con- | Cyprian had the boldness to write, about this period, demned. In the case of the lapsed, a proper mean an epistle to a notorious persecutor, named Demewas found between indiscreet levity and the rigour of trianus; in which he freely exposed the injustice of the Novatians. Tried penitents were restored, and a the heathens in charging, as they did, the miseries of further time of probation appointed for dubious cha the times upon the Christians. The times were inracters; yet so that every method prompted by Chris- | deed miserable: and in addition to every other calatian charity was employed to facilitate their repent- mity, in 252 a dreadful pestilence broke out in Africa. ance and re-admission. Thus did Cyprian, with The terror of the inhabitants was extreme: the comsingular wisdom and zeal, endeavour to heal the mon offices of nature were neglected, and multitudes wounds inflicted on the Church by persecution and of dead lay unburied in the streets of Carthage. In by schism. Some of his opinions will be deemed this crisis, the bishop assembled his Christian flock, extravagant in the present day: and indeed it must and instructed them, from the examples of holy be admitted, that his expressions were not always Scripture, to be zealous in works of piety. They defensible. But, then, it ought to be remembered, were not, he told them, to shew mercy and love, like that he thought it a frightful evil to rend the body of pagans and publicans, only to their own; but to act as Christ; he, with St. Paul, esteemed it a mark of children of that heavenly Father, who sends his rain carnality when divisions arose: and, besides, actual upon both the just and unjust, and thus to overcome schism was in his days a new thing. No instance had evil with good: they would in this way give a previously liappened of separation from the general | practical refutation to the calumnies heaped upon body of the Church, except in the case of fearful them. The spirit of the pastor seemed to animate, on heresies: it had never before been held that slight this occasion, the whole Church. The Christians adinconveniences and differences in matters of discipline ministered, to their power, to the necessities of the would justify so violent a measure. Cyprian's zeal sufferers, and many whose poverty prevented them must therefore be forgiven.
from giving money gave something more--they supEncouraged by the success which attended his en- plied this want by their personal services. At this deavours in Africa, the bishop of Carthage used his | time Cyprian wrote, to cheer his flock, his beautiful Influence to restore peace and union in Italy, Nor little treatise on Mortality. “The kingdom of God, were bis labours unavailing. Still, it must be con- my dearest brethren (says he) shews itself to be just Tessed, that when Felicissimus, foiled at home, crossed at hand. The reward of life, the joy of eternal salvathe sea to Rome, and raised a party against Cornelius | tion, perpetual gladness, and the paradise that was the bishop there, Cyprian's spirit was unduly moved lost all these things come into our possession now by the wretched man's audacity. An epistle written that the world passes away: heavenly and eternal upon this occasion does not exhibit his usual modera glories succeed earthly, fading trifles. What room is tion and meekness.
there for anxiety, solicitude, or sadness, unless faith In the year 251 Gallus succeeded Decius in the and hope are wanting? If indeed a man be unwilling empire. He at first allowed the Church a little rest, to go to Christ, or does not believe that he is going to but afterwards rekindled the persecution, though not reign with him, such a one has good reason to fear with the same fury as his predecessor. It may not death: for the just shall live by faith.' Are ye then