Images de page
PDF
ePub

Mr. Leigh's was not the only appeal; the wretched situation of the inhabitants was made known to the public in a similar way by some of his neighbours; and the result of their united applications was waited for with the most anxious solicitude. In the mean time they proceeded without any reference to the cost, trusting that God in His mercy would put into the hearts of those on whom He had bestowed the means, to send us help in our great distress. And blessed," says Mr. Leigh, "be His Holy Name, we were not disappointed."

[ocr errors]

About the beginning of September the disease began to relax. We find Mr. Leigh writing, September 3,-"I have the satisfaction to state, that the mortality in Bilston parish from Cholera has been reduced during the last week to less than one half what it was during the preceding. For this happy change-and happy it is, comparatively-we are, I have no doubt, mainly indebted to the beneficial influence of the public dispensary for the bowel complaints; upwards of eleven hundred personal applications having been made and attended to at that institution, for such affections, during the last eight days. From this fact the public may at once perceive the extent to which disease, and disease, too, connected with Cholera, prevails in this district, and at the same time be enabled to form some accurate notions of the advantages to be derived from placing within reach of the poor the means of obtaining prompt and proper relief for bowel complaints, in times like the present: for I have no hesitation in saying that a large proportion of the cases above alluded to would, under existing circumstances here, have passed into Cholera, if neglected; and that of the Choleric a large proportion would have died."

The appeal to the beneficence of the public had by this time been responded to most liberally. Remittances were received daily, and to such an amount that the benevolent distributors were enabled to extend relief to all who were really in want. The town was divided into twentyseven districts, which fifty-four respectable inhabitants (two to each district) visited with unwearied exertions from day to day. Every post brought in munificent proofs of the public commiseration. Mr. Leigh wished to answer every letter with his own hand, and made the attempt, but failed: for they amounted to upwards of seven hundred. He has preserved them, as an invaluable record of British benevolence. The amount received, including local donations, was 85361. Mr. Leigh was very unwilling to make such an appeal, as other places were distressed also; but the circumstances of the case amply justified his so doing, as his parish was pre-eminent in suffering.

The disease having, by the mercy of God, abated, the 12th of September was set apart, by the voluntary concurrence of the people with the suggestion of their minister, to be kept holy throughout the township by all denominations of Christians, as a day of humiliation and prayer and thanksgiving. When the day arrived, the shops were closed, business was suspended, and the different places dedicated to God's service were crowded with worshippers.

Mr. Leigh concludes his narrative with stating the manner in which the bounty of the public was applied. No case of suffering was neglected; and in the distribution of the funds no preference was given to his own parishioners. The Committee are still supplying, weekly, necessitous widows and their families with money, and are preparing to supply the poor orphans with the benefits of a Christian education. A school, called "the Cholera Orphan School," was erected, and opened on the 3d of last month, the anniversary of the day upon which the pestilence made its first appearance in the place, and by its ravages deprived 450 helpless

children, under twelve years of age, of one or both their parents. Not a single expense, it is stated, has been incurred without the unanimous approval of the Committee; not a single bill has been paid without a certificate of its correctness by two of the members, nor even then, without a further scrutiny by the treasurer.

[ocr errors]

As Christian Observers, the question has frequently occurred to us, in reading the preceding narrative, what effect this awful visitation of Divine Providence had upon the survivors. We were not sanguine in our hopes; for, judging by experience, the hearts of men are not easily moved to serious and permanent thoughts of the soul and eternity, either by the most alarming judgments or the most gracious mercies; and it is only as the Holy Spirit softens them that they become susceptible of religious feeling. Mr. Leigh's statement is as little hopeful as we had anticipated. "With shame and sorrow," he says, "I confess, that I can see nothing like proof remaining of religious impression, or religious improvement. Whilst the pestilence was raging in all its deadly violence; whilst the hand of the destroying angel' was doing its appointed work, and our fellow-mortals were falling by our sides on the right hand and on the left; I willingly admit there were, in every class, a seriousness of demeanour and correctness of conduct befitting the awfulness of our situation; and how could it have been otherwise? The mariner, when the storm is up, and the thunders roll, and the lightnings flash, and death stares him in the face, whatever may have been his former life, calls upon his God for mercy and deliverance. It may then be said of him with perfect truth, Behold, he prayeth.' But when the Lord rebukes the wind and the sea, and there is a great calm,' then the tempest, and the Ruler of the tempest, are alike forgotten. I fear it was thus at Bilston. With the terrors of death and judgment before our eyes, we were ready to recognise the power of the Most High, and fly to Him, and the Saviour, for protection and forgiveness. But when the pestilence had ceased, then the God who sent it in His wrath,' and removed it in His mercy,' was no longer in all our thoughts.' The same indifference to heavenly things' as heretofore, was soon visible amongst all ranks-the rich and the poor-and the message from Heaven seemed disregarded. It is painful to make this representation; but in a matter of such moment I cannot, and I dare not, withhold the truth. Of the adjoining parishes I am solicitous to say as little as possible; but it is a melancholy fact, that, during the many years I have acted as a magistrate in this populous district, there never have been brought before my valued friend and colleague, the Rev. J. Clare, and myself, at our Petty Sessions at Bilston, so many cases of iniquity, from all quarters, as within the last six months! My heart sickens at this humiliating recital, and I tremble to think what must follow, if we thus 'despise the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering' towards us."

[ocr errors]

PROFESSOR BURTON IN REPLY TO REMARKS ON HIS

TRACT.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

YOUR correspondent Exaxioros, in the Number for January of this year (pp. 9, 10), has objected to some expressions used by me in a little tract which I wrote for my own parishioners upon the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The expressions are in the following passages:-"When they (our

first parents) died, they had no power of rising again from the dead: and all their children were born in the same state—that is, they were all certain to die, and had no power of rising again from the dead. Every child of Adam is certain to die. If he dies in his infancy, and before he has had time to commit sin, still he has no power of rising again: he lost this power by the sin of his first parents. We all deserve to die, and should have no power of ourselves to rise again; but Jesus Christ having died for us, we are enabled, by the goodness of God, to rise again."

[ocr errors]

Your correspondent is undoubtedly right in objecting to one of these expressions, which contains a verbal inaccuracy. I ought not to have said that we lost the power of rising again by the sin of our first parents; for your correspondent rightly observes, that death was not known before that sin, and how could there be any rising again where there was no death?" What I meant to say, and what I have said in other passages, is, that when Adam sinned he lost the power, which God had bestowed upon him, of living for ever: from whence it appears to me to follow, that, unless God gave him an express promise of returning to life, neither he nor his descendants could be said to possess this power: but it was conveyed to them by the death and resurrection of Christ.

Your correspondent asks whether the analogy of Scripture warrants such a conclusion: and you have yourself asked, in the Number for July (p. 395, note), "in what passage of Scripture does Dr. Burton read that if Christ had not died we should not have risen again from the grave, or have lived for ever?" I shall content myself at present with producing only one passage of Scripture, and that is 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22: " For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead: for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I shall really feel much obliged to your correspondent, or yourself, if you will explain to me what is meant by the words " By man (that is, by Jesus Christ) came the resurrection of the dead." Do they not expressly say that the resurrection of the dead was given to man by Jesus Christ? and is not this the very doctrine which I have stated in my tract?

::

The latter part of your correspondent's letter contains an objection which I really do not understand. He quotes from my tract the following extract, in which the Italics are of his own placing :-" The bread and wine which are placed upon the Lord's table are signs of his body and blood every time that we eat and drink them, we shew our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ; we shew that we believe the body of Christ to have been given for us, and the blood of Christ to have been shed for the remission of sins: and he that has this faith may feel certain that he is in covenant with God." Upon this your correspondent remarks: "In this passage, the mere profession of faith, the mere receiving the bread and wine, appears to be stated as affording us the proof of faith, and also as conveying to us an assurance that we are in covenant with God." How this assurance can be said to be conveyed by the mere receiving of the bread and wine, when I have expressly limited it to him " that has this faith;" and how the words "he that has this faith," can be taken to mean "he that professes to have this faith," is really more than I can comprehend. Our Catechism says, that "the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper." Nothing more is added; but it would surely be very unjust to say that the expression "the faithful" allows us to understand those who merely profess to have faith. My expression, "he that has faith," is exactly equivalent with that of the Catechism," the faithful." I was writing for plain, unlearned villagers; and I am quite certain that none of them will take the

words" he that has this faith," to mean " he that professes to have this faith" but if your correspondent thinks it safer, I will put, in another edition, "he that really and truly has this faith."

EDWARD BURTON.

THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF EUSEBIUS OF CESAREA.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

THOUGH to divinity students any extracts from a work so generally read by scholars as Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, are superfluous, the public in general are not acquainted with that work, nor likely ever to become so, unless they read it by small portions at a time in a miscellaneous periodical publication. For this reason, possibly, you may be disposed to admit what I now send, into your pages.

I premise an abridgment of Dupin's account of Eusebius (Bibliotheque, vol. ii. page 1, edition of 1690, Paris).—Eusebius, surnamed Pamphilus, was born in Palestine about the end of the reign of Gallienus. He was ordained priest by Agapius, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Palestine, and set up a school in that city, which was in good repute. In the Dioclesian persecution he exhorted the Christians there to suffer courageously; and was eminently useful to his friend Pamphilus, who was put to death after having been two years in prison. Eusebius was himself imprisoned, and was accused of having sacrificed, in order to obtain his liberty; but Dupin thinks that the accusation was groundless, and that his constancy in the faith was never shaken-at least, that this is the more probable side of the question.

Immediately after the persecution, Eusebius was chosen Bishop of Cæsarea, in the room of Agapius, A. D. 313 or 314. He protected Arius, as did other bishops of Palestine, thinking him ill-used by his Bishop, Alexander of Alexandria, to whom he wrote in Arius's favour, but without effect. He even allowed Arius and his followers to communicate with the church of Cæsarea, and to retain their rank in it, notwithstanding Alexander's excommunication: for he then thought that they allowed the Logos to be eternal. He afterwards discovered his mistake-namely, at the Council of Nice-and therefore concurred with the other bishops in condemning them; and at the same time produced a confession of faith, which was very orthodox: however, to the Nicene Fathers it did not seem sufficiently explicit in abjuring Arianism: they therefore inserted in it the term "consubstantial," a term which Eusebius disapproved, but, after some explanations, submitted to. He at last affixed his signature to the confession drawn up by the Council of Nice; nor does it appear that he ever openly contradicted that subscription, though he had a constant and intimate friendship with the bishops of the Arian party. He concurred with them, in the year 330, in deposing their enemy, Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch, at a Council held in that city; though he prudently rejected the offer of being made his successor. He uniformly adhered to Eusebius of Nicomedia, the head of the Arian party. Both in the Council of Tyre, A. D. 335, held expressly for the purpose of crushing Athanasius, and in that of Jerusalem, held at the time when the church there was dedicated; but more especially in his journey to Constantinople, as one of a deputation of bishops commissioned to defend, before Constantine, the proceedings against Athanasius; he appears as a decided partisan, falling into the ranks of those who opposed the Consubstantialists-though, probably, he was the most moderate of his party. During the above-mentioned visit to Constantinople he pronounced a panegyric upon the Emperor at a public

festival appointed to celebrate the commencement of the thirtieth year of his reign, which was also the last of his life. Eusebius did not long survive the emperor, who had honoured him with the most friendly attentions, for he died about the year 338.

The Ecclesiastical History, it is well known, is the most considerable of his works. In it he cites continually the ancient authors or records from which he drew his information; and most of them having been since lost, we are under great obligation to Eusebius for preserving these fragments. Indeed, but for him we should have had scarce any knowledge of the history of the first ages of the church, and of the authors that lived at that time; for the subsequent historians, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, begin where he left off. Nicephorus, who lived so late as the fourteenth century, does indeed introduce narrations not found in Eusebius; but they are for that very reason uncertain and fabulous, especially as coming from so late an author, and in so dark an age. It must be confessed that Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History is not always exact (of which Dupin gives instances); that it is diffuse where it ought to be succinct, and the contrary; but, notwithstanding these defects, and the disagreeable verbosity of its style, it is still a work of great value.

Dupin gives an abstract of the contents of Eusebius's Demonstratio et Preparatio Evangelica, and concludes with observing, that more ample testimonials, proofs, and arguments in favour of the Christian religion, are to be found in this work, than in any other ancient author.

Eusebius having been represented above as an uniform adherent of the Arian party, it is necessary to add, that in his five books against Marcellus of Ancyra, Dupin observes, that he several times calls the "Word" "God" and "Son of God," and denies that He was made out of nothing, or created in time: he does not put the Son in the rank of creatures, but allows Him to be begotten from all eternity of the substance of the Father. He seems, however, to insinuate in some places, especially in book ii. chap. 7, of this work, that the person of the Son is not equal to that of the Father. Hence St. Jerome said of him, Vir doctissimus Eusebius; doctissimum dico non Catholicum." But Dupin says of him, "He was desirous of reconciling the two parties." His name was inserted in the list of Saints in some ancient martyrologies, but he has not continued in peaceable possession of this spiritual dignity; "though, in my opinion" (adds this most learned and moderate Catholic)," it would be great temerity to judge him entirely unworthy of it."

[ocr errors]

Having premised these matters, I proceed to offer to your readers a translation of his Preface to his Ecclesiastical History.

Chap. I.-stating the subjects he means to treat of.

I propose to write the history of the period that has elapsed since the coming of our Saviour, down to our own times, with an exclusive reference to ecclesiastical affairs. I shall therefore have occasion to speak of the Apostles and their successors; of the principal events and transactions that have occurred in their congregations; of the most eminent persons that presided over them in places of note; and of the chief preachers and writers who successively propagated the word of God. I shall also take notice, from time to time, of those innovators, who, professing philosophy, falsely so called, fell into great errors, and ravaged Christ's fold like grievous wolves. The calamities also, that soon overtook the whole Jewish nation for their hostility to our Saviour; the periodical persecutions of his Gospel by the Pagans; and the long train of sufferers who endured torture and death in defence of it, including the martyrs of our own times; but, above all, our Saviour's merciful and gracious interpositions in our behalf; will

« PrécédentContinuer »