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your duty as a minister, if, instead blished church," cannot be adof complying with these wishes, mitted; unless it be shewn that an you had endeavoured to convince attachment to the habits is the those inconsiderate brethren that, ground of their conformity. But after having verbally and practi- the cases are by no means analocally declared yourself a dissenter gous. Those ministers who submit from the religious establishment to her authority, are doubtless acof the country, there should be a tuated by more important conmanifest impropriety in assuming siderations, and to them the vesta clerical appearance-that as an ments are not a matter of choice attachment to vestments appro- but of duty. It is therefore the priated to public worship had fre- part of candour to believe that quently been the occasion of much whatever the church shall prescribe evil, and could never be produc- as a badge to discriminate her mitive of any good, they would do nisters from others, may be worn well to be anxious, not for the garb without subjecting the wearer to of the preacher, but for that sound the imputation of vanity or caspeech which cannot be con- price. But can his be said with demned-that if there was one certainty, or even with probability, thing for which, in reference to of him who has renounced her yourself, you wished them to be jurisdiction, and associated. himmore solicitous than another, it self with a religious society that was, that you might never become disclaims all regard to sacerdotal the victim of your own vanity, habiliments ? Certainly not. When nor ever seek to attract notice therefore a minister of this descripotherwise than by a faithful ex- tion is seen departing from the hibition of divine truth, and an general practice of his brethren, inflexible regard to the glory of and assuming a clerical appearance God in all things connected with in the pulpit, it must excite astohis worship
nishment, and men will, nay they By such a conduct you would cannot but speculate as to the have acted the part of a faithful motives of his conduct. shepherd; and at the same time “In some places,” say you,
“ I have convinced these brethren that put on a clerical gown, but that you were more concerned to honour in which I appear at my own place your divine Master, and to promote is a dissenter's gown.” That the their present and their future hap- dissenters have fixed on a sacerpiness, than to secure to yourself dotal vest by which to identify the popular regard which this re- their ministers, I never heard till quest might perhaps have been in the present moment. If, however, tended to procure.
this be the case, I am surprised at Let me therefore seriously ex- my own ignorance, and frankly hort you to examine whether in confess, not a little mortified to complying with the indiscreet think, that notwithstanding my long wishes of these inconsistent bre- acquaintance with the national thren, you are not imperceptibly church and the clergy, I should gratifying a passion that is un- not have had perspicacity to disfriendly to humility. For, if per- tinguish the habiliments of the one sonal vanity be not covertly so- from those of the other. But if a liciting indulgence, what can in- prominent, unequivocal distinction duce you to make a clerical ap- were intended, surely a habit very pearance while averse from the different from that which is comclerical profession. “That the mon to the clergy might have been charge of vanity is equally appli- easily selected: and had this been cable to the clergy of the esta- the case, there could have been no
THE CLERICAL GOWN.
165 possibility of mistake-no ground in nothing seek his own honour, for suspicion or reflection. It seems but the honour that cometh from however to have happened other- God only. But if, instead of this wise, for whatever distinction may reverence of the divine Majesty, exist, your appearance is decidedly and of devotedness to his interest, canonical, and it will be con- I had reason to consider him as jectured that, though avowedly a entering on the solemnities of wordissenter, there is nevertheless a ship decorated with vestments insecret predilection for the habit tended to magnify the importance and the homage to which the priest of his office, and to secure to himhood is entitled.
self personal respect, I should cease But let me ask, will the assump- to venerate his character; and, tion of a discriminating badge add while reflecting on his presumption to your moral worth ? will it irra- and his vanity, tremble lest I should diate the mind, inform the judg- be suffered to hear him without imment, render you either as a man patience and disgust. or as a minister more estimable, or It is remarked by one of the give energy to the message you best writers among the dissenters deliver? If not, what advantage of the present age, * that " In recan you promise to yourself, which gard to ministers, when attending you would not have had in such to any branch of their holy funcclothes as are commonly worn by tion, let them not think of heightyour discreet and consistent bre-ening their own importance, or of thren? There is, perhaps, in the promoting the cause of Christ, by lieart of every man too evident a imitating Jewish or Pagan priests, desire to attract attention and re-adorned with peculiar habits, when
We like to be highly performing their different rites. If esteemed-to be called Rabbi. Christian ministers be decently But you remember him that said, clothed, when in their own fawhen endeavouring to repress this milies, when visiting their friends, love of distinction and pre-emin- or when walking the streets; why ence, “Be not ye called Rabbi: for should they not be considered as one is your master, even Christ;" properly habited for the performand he that shall seek to magnify ance of their sacred office? What his own importance by the foppery reason can be assigned for the use of dress, or by the honorary dis- of any particular dress, when entinctions that glitter in the eyes of gaged in public service, that would the ignorant and vulgar, betrays not militate against the spirituality the vanity over which he ought to of our Lord's kingdom, and the mourn, and has forgotten that he simplicity of his worship. But, who would be greatest in the king- alas, too many of them, like the dom of heaven, must be the ser-ancient Scribes, : ' desire to walk vant of all.
in long robes,' and love to be called When I contemplate the duties Rabbi.” incumbent on a minister-his pro- It may, perhaps, be said, “Clefessions his engagements-bis re- rical habits are indifferent ang sponsibility, I cannot but exclaim, barmless things, except when they Who is sufficient for these things! are imposed." But if so, the idea How must conviction of his own of imposition being excluded, the depravity, and the evil he witnesses canonical dress of a popish priest, in others, induce perpetual watch- the red hat of a cardinal, and the fulness and prayer in reference to triple crown of a pontitf, may all his own conduct! With what ar- be justified: for, in themselves dour must he implore that, in the * Mr. Abraham Booth, in his Essay on discharge of his functions, he may the Kingdom of Christ.
166 ON THE REASONABLENESS OF SUBMISSION
-“ For better 'tis to bless the sun, holy empire forbid the subjects to Than reason why it shines.” affect shining and costly apparel, as not becoming those who profess
The religion of Christ, as pregodliness; and will not the prin- sented in the New Testament, is ciple of that prohibition apply with primarily addressed to the reason increasing force to the case before or judgment, rather than to the us? Is it inconsistent with that spi- feelings. When a man calmly looks ritual-mindedness of which every into his own mind, or contemplates avowed disciple of Christ makes the general conduct of his fellow an implicit profession, to be fond creatures, how depraved, how diaof a showy dress in the intercourses metrically opposed to every thing of common life; and can it be that is virtuous and good; in a suitable to the simplicity of chris- word, when he compares the pretian worship, to the character of sent lamentable state of humanity its Lord, or to the example of his with that from which man has apostles, for ministers to make a fallen, oh! how affecting is the more grand appearance, and take comparison ! he sees the indispenmore state upon them, when per- sable necessity of a remedy for forming their solemn service, than such a more than mortal disease ; at any other time? Let those who and the light which shines from understand the christian system, the throne of God, guiding him, and are heavenly-minded, form the he is taught to know himself, to determination,”
appreciate his malady and learn its Such is the language of this very cure, and then his life is spent in able and consistent writer: and gratitude and love to his Maker
TO THE MYSTERIES OF REVELATION.
167 and genuine christian philanthropy | they cannot reconcile it. Whatto all his fellow-creatures. This ever we might think of such an man's religion is built upon “the anomaly, it is precisely our case, rock of ages.".
The storm may when attempting to unravel the howl around him- it will only tangled and intricate web of proheighten his piety and gratitude to vidence; and our conclusion is, the God of all mercies-it will alas! too frequently the same as only increase his exertions that theirs. The instinct of the smallest others
attain that peace and insect approaches infinitely nearer hope of which he himself is the to the intellect of man, than the happy partaker-such is the bless- latter can possibly approximate to ed effect of the religion of the Son the infinite omniscience of God. of God--that religion against which Let us suppose another case the ridicule and shallow sophistry “ The wind bloweth where it listof the sceptic is directed, but will eth, but we know not whence it never be able to prevail.
cometh, or whether it goeth.” Its There are mysteries, however, in effects are continually present to our religion. It is not fully deve- our view. Whether scenes of desoloped to us in all its parts and lation and death are its conseramifications. Yet we know enough quences, or the revival of languid to make us happier and better--to and drooping nature its effect, we inspire us with lively hope and know there is a cause. And bes confidence towards God. And cause I cannot see this cause, shall shall we reject that, the effects of I maintain that there cannot be which are so salutary and valuable, one that it implies a contradicbecause we cannot bring down the tion ?--because I cannot grasp
the whole of its sublimities to our feeble wind in the hollow of
my hand, and limited capacities? Shall we shall I doubt its existence, and not spurn at "peace on earth and subject myself to the charge of goodwill towards men,” because insanity? But why need we press we heard not the voice of the the illustration further ? Cases inseraph that proclaimed it? A few numerable might be produced, in considerations, I trust, may serve which the mind of man is totally to point out the folly as well as the lost and confounded. In natural impiety of such a procedure. philosophy, in astronomy, in che
There is a gradation in the whole mistry, in botany, in almost every scale of intellect. We may trace it, science, there are mysteries which from the lowest and meanest insect, cannot be developed, even by to the Omniscient Mind--from the those whose life and talents have smallest particle of instinct, in ani- been spent in the attempt. In mals, to the reason of man-from mechanics it is the same. How the knowledge of angels, to the often do we see a piece of mawisdom of God, which indeed chinery constructed in such a manpasseth knowledge. Let us con- -ner as completely to confound ceive for a moment, that the fol- and baffle every effort to underlowing case were every way possible stand it. This does not, however, - that we could one day hear two prevent us from allowing that the of the minutest of the animal crea- instrument is admirably adapted tion confounding their "instincts to its end-We cease not to be (or faculties, as an ingenious phisi- astonished at the consummate skill ologist of our own day would and ingenuity of the inventor, stoutly maintain) in endeavouring though he be merely our fellow to settle a knotty point in philo- mortal. sophy-and finally agreeing that After having elevated our minds such a thing cannot be, because to the noblest and most difficult of
168 ON SUBMISSION TO THE MYSTERIES OF REVELATION, sciences--that on which the dis- / tenant of the grave. The leaves covery of a Newton and a La of autumn will fall, rustling and Place have thrown so much light mournful, or that spot-emblem (enough, and more than enough, how striking of his fate, who once to fill us with the profoundest trod with pride upon the dust wonder, admiration, and reverence which now covers him! Winter's of the great Creator, were our dreary snow shall cover that neghearts at all susceptible of such lected spot, and nourish into eximpressions), would it be rational, istence the green herb that springs would it be excusable, to reject the from his ashes. “Spring, too, shall system of astronomy as a day- return, but not a leaf of his shall dream, because we cannot mount arise.” Oh! that we duly conto the third heavens and view from sidered this—that we thought more the throne of God, and with the upon our latter end! The recoleternal Mind, myriads of worlds lection of our mortality would as they roll beneath us? The vastabase the pride of human reason, machinery of the universe, we can- and lead us to bow with resignanot doubt, is in every part most tion and praise to the decrees of completely fitted and adapted to the Almighty, and to rejoice its end. To us, indeed, it teems ground of confidence and hope with mystery, and is the subject that is laid for us in Jesus Christ. of unceasing wonder. But let us Our aim would then be to be not forget, that we, too, are “fear Christians indeed! that is, not fully and wonderfully made”-that merely to believe in the Saviour, each human being is a most pro- but to study to imitate that patfound mystery to his own mind; tern of infinite excellence and exand when foolishly and impiously uberant goodness. Is it not enough murmuring that our understanding to cheer us in our sorrowful pilcannot grasp all the intricacies of grimage here to know, that the nature and providence, may this Son of God wandered in this detruth forcibly occur to us, “That sert “a man of sorrow and acwe do not know ourselves.” How quainted with grief,” to seek and little, then, does it become such to save that which was lost? As beings to cavil and to doubt, be- we journey towards another and cause they cannot pierce the awful brighter state of existence, the. mist that hangs around the designs clouds which dimmed our reason of infinite Wisdom ? He who will, by the light of revelation, be flutters but for one day in the dispersed; the sun which has sunbeam of existence, for the guided us through the rugged shades of evening speedily close path that we have trodden, will around, and oh! how quickly does then shine with a clearer and more he mingle with the things that steady lustre, till it burst at last: have been! Though we do not in its fullest splendour on our require to be told, yet we cannot astonished view, when we be too frequently reminded of the completely freed from the shackles uneertainty and shortness of man's of mortality. appointed time here below. "Thou, But even were Christianity unO Lord, changest his countenance supported by such a mass of eviand sendest him away.” He drops dence; did the wise of this world the mask of mortality, and retires conspire in one body to treat it as from life's great drama. The sum- a fable, and its author as an immer sun will shine in brightness postor, the writer of this paper on the spot where he lies low and would cling to the tree while a forgotten; but its beams will give single branch remained; for there neither light nor heat to the lonely is something in its hopes so de