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value of my father's remarks depend, are not even attempted to be controverted; and the facts related from memory, which are declared erroneous, have no prominency except in Mr. Croker's note. Whether Dr. Johnson died in the morning or in the evening, or whether my grandfather found him speechless, or was unable from some other cause to confer with him (which are the points which Mr. Croker contests), are matters of no real consequence to the main question at issue ; which was, the value that Dr. Johnson placed upon Mr. Latrobe's spiritual services, and the capability of the latter to judge of Dr. Johnson's state of mind.
We have seen upon what prominent fact the inference rejected has been built. Let us examine, whether it needs a caution against second-hand anecdotes. Dr. Johnson wished my grandfather's spiritual advice, in addition to that which he enjoyed. Upon whose testimony does this rest? Upon that of the very individual to whom he sent day after day; and who tells us what he saw and what he heard. If this be not an anecdote at the first hand, what is?
As to the reported visit, I will at once admit, for the sake of argument, that the whole mass of that portion of my father's statement is founded on some misapprehension ; though, if my grandfather did not see Dr. Johnson during these five days, notwithstanding Johnson had shewn himself very desirous to see him, and there had existed a friendship of several years' standing between them, and my grandfather lived only a few doors from his residence, and Johnson, according to Mr. Croker, was in a condition to the very last to see and to converse with those around him,—there would be reason to suspect that his absence must have been contrary to the wishes of both parties, and through the intervention of some "near and dear friends," who no doubt wondered greatly at the strange taste of the dying man, in preferring Mr. Latrobe's advice to that of Mr. Hoole and Dr. Strahan. But, admitting that he did not see him during those few days, this would detract nothing from the fact, that Johnson ardently desired the visit upon spiritual grounds. My father has proved that Dr. Johnson was particularly anxious to see my grandfather upon his death-bed; and no other reason can be assigned for this desire, than that he might enjoy a repetition of that spiritual converse which they had often held together, and in which Johnson had, on former occasions, often expressed himself interested. The latter knew from experience, that it was an invariable rule with my revered relative, in his intercourse with mankind, to seek to do his Master's work, unawed by the presence of the learned or the noble, unfolding in simplicity and love the plain truths of the Gospel of Christ. When he therefore sent thus pressingly for him, he intimated that he wished to receive at his lips whatever measure of spiritual consolation he might be enabled to dispense.
Mr. Croker has overlooked the important fact, that my grandfather's opinion of Dr. Johnson's state was not founded upon a death-bed visit, but upon an acquaintance of several years ; during which he had perceived in him a gradual advance in piety. It is to be regretted, that Johnson, amidst his many friends, had so few of a decidedly religious character ; so that when he most wanted spiritual advice, and found that the friend on whom he depended was absent, he knew of none to whom he could apply: for it was upon the recommendation of others that Mr. Winstanley was written to, who seems by his letters to have been truly such a counsellor as Johnson needed.
I trust then I have sufficiently shewn, that Mr. Croker has attached greater importance to his discovery of errors than it deserved ; and that my father's assertion, that Johnson did on his death-bed wish for a visit from my grandfather, is not essentially contradicted, because Dr. Johnson is said to die in the morning, when it turns out he died in the evening.
Mr. Croker seems to have conceived, that it was a species of reflection cast upon the Establishment, that a Moravian minister was resorted to as a spiritual counsellor, when Dr. Strahan and the translator of Tasso were daily at' hand. If religion were a mere science, it might reasonably be expected, though I fear it would not always hold true, that a divine who bears his honours thick upon him, should be more deeply versed in it, and better able to afford instruction, than one who has nothing of the kind to display. But those who know that true religion must dwell in the heart, and be imparted by that “ wind which bloweth where it listeth,” may well comprehend why Dr. Johnson should have preferred, in his dying hours, the earnest and simple language of true spirituality coming from the lips of one whom he had long known as a faithful and experienced minister of Christ, never hesitating to apply reproof when needed, and yet delighting to pour the balm of spiritual consolation into a wounded soul, to the cold admonition and unsound comfort administered by men, who, however talented and estimable in other respects, had evidently been no real spiritual guides to him in health, and were not likely, in his latter moments, to lead him simply as a sinner to the cross of Christ. Such instructors console where they should reprove, and wound where they should heal.
J. A. LATROBE.
DEFENCE OF THE TERM “ ALTAR.”
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Your correspondent J. W. N. has expressed a conscientious fear of the use which may be made by calling the Communion Table an Altar ; but St. Paul says to the Hebrews, chap. xiii. 10,“ We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." Also the Jewish temple had the golden altar of incense, and on the great altar in the court of the priests, burnt offerings which were purely eucharistic, and peace offerings, were offered. Also, it is to be noticed, that no sacrifiee by the Mosaic Law was appointed for what we properly call mortal sins, such as murder and adultery, which were punishable with death. I confess I am jealous of needless corrections in our National Church ; and though I admit that the phraseology of both the Burial and Baptismal Service might be usefully amended, yet it ought to be considered that the difficulty and danger of beginning to amend when our church is surrounded by enemies who watch for an opened door, may be pleaded in vindication of this not being hitherto attempted. The state of the world is confessedly very imperfect in all its parts; and if we will not bear with it, we must needs go out of the world. At the same time, I have no doubt the rulers of our church would willingly alter some things, if they could be assured that no undue advantage would be taken.
E. M. B. *
• E. M. B. seems to construe J. W. N.'s paper into a reprehension of a term employed by our church ; whereas we understood it to reprehend only an editor or printer, for introducing a term purposely avoided by our church.Another correspondent requests us to notice the use of the same word in the well-known work entitled “ The Companion to the Altar," which title he wishes to expunge from the list of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. We had much rather the book itself were expelled; for though we dislike the word “ altar," which is carefully avoided in our Communion Service, yet it is often used, both in conversation, and by writers of unquestionable piety and sound doctrine; and we would not make a book, any more than a man, “ an offender for a word :" but in this case the book itself is seriously defective, and often positively erroneous; and it has done more to build up a spirit of pharisaic self-righteousness than perhaps any other work in the English language.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
THE CHURCH AND ITS NECESSARY REFORMS. 1. The Extension, Security, and Moral Influence of the United Church of · England and Ireland, augmented by a Revision of its Economy, Discipline,
and Ritual, and by its Alliance with other Branches of the British Refor. mation on the Basis of mutual Aid and Concession. By the Rev. John
RILAND, M.A. Curate of Yoxall, Staffordshire. London. 1830. 2. The Church in Danger from herself: or the Causes of her present
declining State explained. By the Rev. John Acaster, Vicar of St. • Helen's, York. London. 1829. 3. Remedies for the Church in Danger : or Hints to the Legislature on
Church Reform. By the Same. London. 1830. 4. The Liturgy Revised : or the Necessity and beneficial Effects of an
authorized Abridgment and careful Revision of the various Services of the Established Church. By the Rev. Robert Cox, M.A. Perpetual Curate
of Stonehouse, North Devon. London. 1830. 5. Church Reform. By a CHURCHMAN. Second Edition. London. 1830. 6. Pluralities Indefensible. By Richard Newton, D.D. formerly Prin
cipal of Hertford College, Oxford. Abridged from the Third Edition.
London. 1829. 7. Church Establishments considered : in a Series of Letters to a Cove
nanter. By William M'Gavin, Esq. Author of “ The Protestant," &c. Edinburgh. 1830.
It would be well if both conservators and innovators would always keep in mind the broad fact, that in all human institutions, all co-operative agency, there is a certain amount of inherent tendency to perversion, inefficiency, and decay. In endeavouring to establish plans for the promotion of the temporal or spiritual welfare of mankind, we can no more exclude the disturbing elements of innate depravity, than the experimental philosopher can procure a perfect vacuum, or the engineer contrive a machine to work without friction. The stubbornness, the fragility, and the tendency to fall into new and destructive combination, which characterize the several divisions of material nature, and which he must controul in order to render them conducive to his purposes, are only a counterpart of similar qualities with which he has to contend in disciplining his own heart, or attempting to regulate the conduct of others. Under these cir. cumstances the life of man is a conflict. It is made up of efforts to facilitate the attainment of good, or to resist the aggressions of evil. It is, however, a compensating circumstance, and strikingly illustrative of the wisdom and goodness of God, that institutions cannot fall below a certain point in the scale of degradation and abuse, without involving themselves in utter dissolution, and giving rise to a new order of things, which will either work more advantageously, or by its more palpable evils occasion the renewal, under an improved modification, of the old system. It is a melancholy reflection that every scheme hitherto devised, for the promotion of the temporal or spiritual welfare of mankind, has afforded unequivocal symptoms of its liability to perversion from its legitimate and primary design, and the consequent necessity of applying frequent and vigorous corrections to prevent its complete and irremediable overthrow, In the alternations of human affairs, one set of wild and ungovernable passions avenges, if it do not rectify, the evils of another; and when, to the inherent defectibility of every species of machinery, we add the pertinacity with which those who direct it are apt to cleave to the abuses of the system, it may be doubted whether the world could afford to dispense with those instructive lessons, which are inscribed even in characters of blood upon the most disastrous pages of its history. It is indeed humiliating that the best institutions should require such periodical and searching visitations as may often threaten their very existence; but so long as men will suffer abuses to accumulate, and grievances resulting from the effects of time and change to remain unredressed, the above result will be inevitable.
The lesson to be learnt from the revolutions and catastrophes which have befallen our world, whether the subversion of states, or the dissolution of ecclesiastical constitutions, is, not that changes, involving considerations vast as infinity and lasting as eternity, should be heedlessly undertaken ; not that a spirit of meddling and frivolous innovation, usually the offspring of pride and self-sufficiency, can be safely indulged; not that a few trilling defects attaching to a scheme of wide and comprehensive bearing, afford a sufficient reason for dissolving the mechanism, or materially risking the energy and efficiency of the whole system : but that no institution, secular or sacred, can long maintain its ground, after the spirit which originally gave it life and motion has departed from it; leaving little else than a congeries of corrupt and unsightly materialism; that nothing but a timely application of remedies to palpable evils can, or ought, to preserve a system of arrangements, which depends for its support upon its utility and efficiency; and that indolent or interested connivance at abuses, injustice in the administration of laws, and partiality in the distribution of emoluments are invariable prognostics of approaching ruin.
These considerations bear forcibly upon the character and prospects of our inestimable church at the present eventful crisiz. We have arrived at a period when it is no longer safe, even if it were right, to rest the claims of that church upon prescriptive grounds and legislative enactments. The days are past when men regarded an ecclesiastical establishment, even without reference to its character, as a necessary appendage to the state. Its authority is impugned; its constitution is decried, and its alleged inefficiency loudly proclaimed.
Under these circumstances, when the commingling elements of destruction seem ready to discharge themselves in a tempest of desolating effect, it becomes every watchman of our spiritual Zion to go round about her, to tell the towers thereof, to mark well her bulwarks, and to consider her palaces, that he may tell it to the generation following. It becomes every one who is honestly concerned for her welfare and security, to inspect her foundations; to examine her abutments no less than her battlements; to enter with the lamp of truth into her chambers of imagery, and, if any abominations should present themselves, to regard them as so many exploding elements—so many materials of conflagration, which the guardians of the citadel are bound to remove. The cry of the church being in danger has frequently issued forth from its high places; but we fear that the guardians of the temple in too many instances satisfied themselves with announcing the peril, without adequately bestirring themselves to avert it. Now, however, that these prophecies of evil appear too likely to invest themselves with a character of truth—now that the picture of assault, destruction, and pillage, which was accustomed to be regarded as mere vaticination to prevent the sentinels from slumbering at their posts, threatens to become a melancholy reality ; it is a question of paramount importance, not only by what means the Church may repel the attacks of its professed adversaries, which is a secondary consideration, but also what modifications of its present economy may be required, in order to secure the attachment of its friends, and to Christ. OBSERV, No. 365.
render it an efficient and well-directed instrument for the promotion of the spiritual and eternal welfare of the community.
Whatever may be the causes of the feeling which now very generally prevails of the necessity of Church Reform, the fact is certain. Whatever, therefore, might have been our own opinion respecting this arduous and important question—the extent to which it is agitating the public mind the vast interests which it involves—the dangers with which it is besetthe endless gradations of opinion with which it is associated in different minds, from the most unquenchable hostility to the present system to the most prejudiced attachment to every part of its existing administration
and the deep heavings of that earthquake which will ere long try the stability of every institution based upon the collective and concurrent will of the public, render it imperative upon us not to allow the subject to remain unnoticed in our pages. We have not entered upon this question needlessly, precipitately, or lightly. We have approached it after much deliberation, we trust also with unfeigned prayer that our pen may be directed aright. We are, as we ever have been, firm, sincere, and conscientious friends of the church established in this country. We have not, indeed, been the eulogists of its abuses.' We have, on the contrary, as frequently exposed the hollowness and treachery of its pretended friends, as attempted to shield it from the attacks of its avowed enemies. We have often endeavoured to unmask injurious practices and heretical perversions among its functionaries of every grade, and to bring them back to its genuine principles and doctrines, as embodied in its articles of faith, its homilies of instruction, and its formularies of devotion. We have often felt the pang which penetrated the breast of Leighton when he heard it remarked that the Church of England was the best constituted church in the world, while he too plainly saw that the acknowledged excellency of its constitution was not followed out in its administration. In uniting our voice with that of the healthiest and soundest part of the community in calling for a temperate and well-coneidered reformation of the abuses which have crept, through the lapse of time and human infirmity, into the system of our ecclesiastical economy, we act as becomes every true friend of the church. We have no sympathy with those who have leagued themselves in unholy warfare, and have entered on a ferocious and undistinguishing crusade against our venerated ecclesiastical establishment. We are too deeply pledged by vows of duty and affection to its support; our associations of whatever is pure, hallowed, and sublime in the public ordiAances of religion are too closely entwined with its services; our admiration of its departed worthies, our reverence and affection for many of its living dignities, and our high esteem for a large proportion of its ministers and private members, are too sincere and intense our conviction of its immense capabilities, under the Divine blessing, as an instrument of good to times and countries far remote, and to generations yet unborn, is too absolute and profound, and our views and prospects of all that we most desire and value in the development of our country's future destiny, are too intimately blended with its safety and prosperity, to allow of our regarding it in any other light than that of cordial and unfeigned attachment. But propor tioned to the depth of our veneration and the elevation of our hopes, is the jealousy with which we should watch over her conduct, and our anxiety that under wise and judicious treatment she may be enabled to throw off those peccant humours, which impair her energies, paralyze her exertions, and threaten her dissolution.
Before, however, we proceed to specify a few of those restorative measures which appear essential to the security and efficiency of the Church of