« PreviousContinue »
countenance or justify men in their allowed weaknesses, or wilful transgressions.
XII. Finally, from the Mosaic account of the origin of things, and the explication which has been now given of it, we may be enabled to perceive, that the permission of the fall of our first parents, with the consequences of it, is no reflection upon the wisdom of the Divine government.
For rational creatures must be put upon trial. They cannot be without freedom of will, which may be abused. And as our first parents did not sin without a tempter, or of their own motion, as many of the angels seem to have done, God in his treatment of them has joined mercy with justice. Hence will arise glory to God, and good to men. God by his long-suffering and patience, and the instructions afforded to them, and other methods of bis Providence, the result of his unsearchable wisdom and goodness, will bring many of the sons of Adam to repentance, true holiness, eminent virtue, and heavenly glory and happiness, exceeding wbat could have been enjoyed on this earth, even in Paradise itself.
The virtue of true penitents is soinetimes very great. They gain an establishment in the love and fear of God, and a full resolution for all goodness. The steady virtue of men amidst the temptations of this world will exceed the virtue of Adam in Paradise. It is true they are not innocent as he was; but they are upright, and fully resolved, and they overcome strong temptations : and the moment of their virtue, according to equitable construction, (and such is that of the Divine judgment,) may equal, and even surpass the virtue of an angel, who has not so great temptations. I am the more led to this, considering the great recompenses wbich God in the gospel has proposed to the faithful, the steady and victorious in this state of trial: and if we may attain to such excellence here, and such glory bereafter, we are greatly to blame, and much wanting to ourselves, if we do not “ strive against sin,” Heb. xii. 4, to the utmost, and resolutely, though bumbly, and without ostentation, maintain our integrity amidst all the solicitations of this world.
TO JONAS HANWAY, Esq.
IN WHICH SOME REASONS ARE ASSIGNED, WHY HOUSES FOR THE RECEPTION OF PENITENT WOMEN, WHO HAVE BEEN DISORDERLY IN THEIR LIVES, OUGHT NOT TO BE CALLED
Sir, YOUR generous concern to promote good designs occasions you this trouble. There is now, and has been for some while, much discourse about erecting a house, or houses, for the reception of penitent women, who have been disorderly in their lives; a design formerly unknown and unheard of among us. It has been proposed by some that they should be called Magdalen houses. And there is already established a bouse of this kind in Goodman's-fields, which is called a Magdalen house for penitent prostitutes.
As that denomination is disliked by others beside myself, I have taken the liberty to address you upon this subject.
I presume it may be owing to a supposition, that the fine story, recorded in the seventh chapter of St. Luke's gospel, of the gracious reception which our Lord gave to a woman, there called “ a sinner,” relates to Mary Magdalene. And you, Sir, if I do not misunderstand you, in your Letter to Robert Dingley, Esq. at p. 22, speak of Mary Magdalene as a barlot.a
And that she is the woman, there spoken of, must have been at some times a prevailing opinion. For the summary of part of that chapter, in our English Bibles, is to this purpose. “Our Lord showeth by occasion of Mary Mag• dalene, how he is a friend to sinners, not to maintain thein • in sins, but to forgive their sins upon faith and repent. • ance.' b
• The words, to which I refer, are these: What judgment did the Saviour of the world pass on a harlot? What was the case of Mary Magdalene?'
The contents, or summaries, prefixed to the chapters in our Bibles, seem to have been annexed to the English translation now in use, which was made in the time of king James the first. For in all editions of that translation, so
Nevertheless I cannot think that Mary Magdalene is there meant.
One reason here offers from the bistory itself, at ver. 27, where she is said to be “ a woman in the city," in which our Lord then was; which, according to most harmonizers of the gospels, was either Capernaum or Naim; whereas there can be no reason to believe that Mary Magdalene resided at either of those places. Says Mr. James Macknight, Harm. sect. xliii. p. 134, • 'H uaryòalnın, the Magdalene or • Magdalite, probably from Magdala, the place of her na• tivity, a town situated somewhere beside the lake, and • mentioned, Matt. xv. 29.
A passage at the beginning of the next chapter of St. Luke's gospel deserves particular attention; which, therefore, shall be here recited. " And it came to pass afterwards, that he went throughout every city and village, preacbing, and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits, and infirmities; Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, wife of Cbuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others. Wbich ministered to him of their substance," ch. vii, 1–3.
This text affords divers reasons for thinking, that Mary Magdalene is not the woman intended in the preceding chapter.
In the first place, it hence appears, that Mary Magdalene was a woman of quality. But it is very uncommon for such to deserve the character given, cb. vii. 37, " a woman in the city which was a sinner.” And the pharisee, at whose house our Lord was then entertained, “ spake with himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him. For she is a sinner."
Mr. Macknight, again, argues to the like purpose, p. 134, · Mary Magdalene seeins rather to have been a woman far as I have observed, they are the same, where there are any contents at all, But it is not to be supposed that they represent the sense of all learned men in general. For in an English Bible in the quarto form, printed in the reign of queen Elizabeth in 1599, by the deputies of Christopher Barker, the summary of that paragraph in Luke vij, is this: “The sinful woman washeth Jesus' feet.' In Pool's English Annotations it is this: • Eating at Simon's house, a woman washeth his feet with tears,' &c. And in Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase, the same paragraph is briefly expressed in this manner: Jesus shows by the similitude • of a forgiven debtor, that repenting sinners often exceed other men in zeal • and piety. I might refer to others; but these instances are sufficient to show, that not a few learned men have declined naming the woman there spoken of, and that they have not been satisfied she was the same with Mary Magdalene.
of high station and opulent fortune, being mentioned by St. • Luke even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as • Herod's steward. Besides, the other evangelists, when they • have occasion to speak of our Lord's female friends, com'monly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene. As Matt. xxvii. 56, 61; xxvji. 1; Mark. xv. 40, 47. And see Luke xxiv. 10. But John xix. 25, affords an exception.
Grotius, in his Annotations upon Matt. xxvij. 1, speaks to the like purpose. He likewise thinks, it was at her expense, chiefly, that the spices were prepared for embalming the body of Jesus.
To which I would add, that the precedence, just taken notice of, may have been, partly, owing to her age.
Secondly, In the text, which we are now considering, Mary Magdalene is mentioned with otber women, “ who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities." And of her is said, “ out of whom went seven devils." Which is also observed by another evangelist, Mark. xvi. 9. She therefore was one of those, who are sometimes called demoniacs, and had been possessed, as we generally say, by evil spirits,
Accordingly, Dr. Lardner, in his case of the demoniacs, mentioned in the New Testament, has several times taken notice of Mary Magdalene. At p. 104, 105, he says: “What ' was Mary's case, appears in general by St. Luke's account. * cb. viii. 1,2--Here Mary is reckoned among those, whom • our Lord had healed of infirmities, and such infirmities, as • were ascribed to evil spirits.
• But I do not think, we can with certainty conclude • from those words, what was her particular affliction, be• cause the Jews in those times imputed a great variety of • distempers to the intluence of demons. But though we • dare not say positively, what was her case, whether a dis• tempered frame of mind, or epilepsy, or somewbat else; it appears to me very evident, that some natural, not moral
distemper, is hereby intended, and that by seven demons • is meant many; a certain number being put for an uncer• tain. It was supposed, as in the case of the man, who called • himself legion, that more than one demon, or unclean spio rit, was concerned in inflicting, or aggravating the infir• mity, which she bad been afficted with, and which our • blessed Lord graciously removed.'
c. Maria Magdalenc.'] Quam, ut ducem agminis, Matthæus nominat. Et credo ab eâ factos præcipue sumptus. Sane cæteris nobilior fuisse videtur, quia nomen ejus aliis præponi solet. Grot. in Matt. xxviii. 1.
d Dr. Clarke's Paraphrae of Luke viii. 2, is thus : particularly, Mary • Magdalene, whom he had miraculously delivered from evil spirits, that had
Thirdly, in this text Mary Magdalene is mentioned with divers other honourable women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and ministered to him of their substance.
But it may be justly questioned, whether our Lord would have allowed of that, if Mary's conduct had been unreputable in the former part of her life. For though he received such an one as a penitent, and assured her of the forgiveness of her sins : it would not be easily reconciled with be rules of prudence to admit such a person to a stated attend. ance.
This argument has affected the minds of many learned
Nor can it be imagined, that any women of distinction and good credit would admit into their company one who had been under the reproach of a disorderly life. By St. Luke they are here enumerated after this manner. “ Mary called Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's stew. ard, and Susanna, and many others." In St. Matthew xxvii. 55, 56, “ And many women were there, beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.” Compare Mark xv. 40, 47; xvi. 1; Luke xxiv. 10; John xix. 25. All these must have been women of an unblemished character. And so far was there from being avy exception to Mary Magdalene, that she is several times mentioned as the most honourable, and placed first of all.
Among them, whether she be expressly named or not, was our Lord's mother. And undoubtedly an exact decorum was observed, according to the Jewish custom.
Nor were they idle. As Jerom says, they provided for
e Of that attendance Grotius speaks in this manner. More Judaïco, ut recte notat Hieronymus, mulieres, viduæ præsertim, solebant magistris necessaria suppeditare. Quod secuti sunt apostoli inter Judæos, Paulus inter Gentes omisit, ne sinisterioris sermonis ansam præberet. Maluit autem Christus admittere hoc beneficium, quam cum apostolorum comitatu gravis esse ignotis, ad quos adventabat. Grot. ad Luc. viii. 1.
Sed et de vità Magdalenæ ante actâ nihil plane constat, nisi quod abludere a majestate Domini videatur, quod in comitatu suo mulierem ob impuritates suas infamem voluerit circumducere- Neque consulit huic difficultati Nat. Alexander, quoad ansa omni scandalo per illustrem atque inter Judæos notam pænitentiam præcisa fuerit. Nimis enim efferata erat Judæorum malitia, quam ut eapropter a conviciis cessaturi essent. Lampe in Joan. Evang. cap. xix. T. III. p. 608. Vid. et Basnag. Ann. 31. num. xlii.
6--secutæ sunt Jesum non otjosæ, sed facientes quæ mandabantur ab