« PreviousContinue »
• city, known for her disorderly life. It is not at all pro• bable, that she was Mary Magdaleve, or Mary sister of • Lazarus, who were women of quality, and good condition.'
After this long argument, and so many good authorities, I may leave you to consider, whether they have not some good reason for their judgment, who dislike the denomination or inscription, taken notice of at the beginning of this letter. "A Magdalen house for penitent pr- tes.'
It appears to me a great abuse of the name of a truly honourable, and I think truly excellent woman. If Mary's shame had been manifest, and upon record, she could not have been worse stigmatized : whereas the disadvantageous opinion concerning the former part of her life is founded only in an uncertain, and conjectural deduction. And if the notion, that she was the woman in Luke vii. be no more than a vulgar error, it ought to be abandoned by wise men, and not propagated, and perpetuated."
Besides, are there no bad consequences of a moral kind to be apprehended from this mistaken, or at best very doubtful opinion ? Some, perhaps many, will be admitted into these houses, who have lived very dissolute lives, and bave been very abandoned creatures. And the proofs of the
" Since writing what is above, and indeed the whole of this Letter, I have met with a book, entitled Thoughts on the Plan for a Magdalen House for Repentant Prostitutes, addressed to the promoters of this charity. Where, at p. 23, is this paragraph. “Give me leave to take notice of the name of your • charity. It does not appear to me, that Mary Magdalene was deficient in • point of chastity, as is vulgarly understood. I rather imagine she was not. • It is certain, she was a lady of distinction, and of a great and noble mind. • Her gratitude for the miraculous cure performed upon her was so remarkable, • that her story is related with the greatest honour. And she will ever stand • fair in the records of fame. Your charity requires a zeal like hers. You are her • disciples. And the dedication of your institution to her memory is entirely * consistent with the honour due to her character. And in this light no name . more proper could be given to it.' Any one may be sensible, that the justice done to Mary Magdalene in the former part of this paragraph, is very pleasing to me. But I do not perceive, how the title, pleaded for, can be consistent with the honour due to her character. For it carries in it an implication, that she once laboured under the like bad habits with the women placed under the roof of the houses dedicated to her ; which houses, with this title, will uphold the popular opinion against the best arguments. And Mary Magdalene, rather than any other, must still be the patroness of penitents, because she is supposed to have been for some while a great sinner. An understand ng man, like the author of these thoughts, may now and then declare in conversation, and in writing, that Mary Magdalene was not deficient in point of chastity : but to little or no purpose. These houses, so named, will be new monuments erected, in a protestant country, to the dishonour of a virtuous woman, added to all others of the like kind, which there are already in popish countries; in which, especially some of them, ignorance and superstition prevail to a great degree. And may they never so prevail, and be so general among us !
repentance of some may be very ambiguous. Nevertheless all who get into houses, called Magdalen houses, will reckon themselves Magdalens. If they bave been first taught to impute to her their own vices, they will soon learn to ascribe to themselves her virtues, whether with reason or without. At the lowest, they will be encouraged to magnify themselves beyond what might be wished; where humility, as we may tbiuk, should be one requisite qualification. And indeed" I imagine, it would be best, that these houses should not bave the denomination of any saint at all.
It is not my intention to disparage your institution. I hope that many of your patients may be recovered to wisdom and virtue; though I cannot see the reason why they should be called Magdalens.
It may not be proper for me to recommend another inscription; but I apprehend that a variety might be thought of, all of them decent and inoffensive. I shall propose one, which is very plain : ' A charity house for penitent women :' which, I think, sufficiently indicates their fault; and yet is, at the same time, expressive of tenderness, by avoiding a word of offensive sound and meaning, denoting the lowest disgrace that human nature can fall into, and which few modest men and women can think of without pain and uneasiness. Or, if that title is not reckoned distinct and particular enough, with a sinal) alteration, it may be made, i for • penitent harlots.
Perbaps you will say, that this letter has been brought to you too late; and I could now almost wish you had had it sooner, provided it contains any thing deserving your regard; for these thoughts, or most of them, did early arise in my mind upon the first intelligence concerning this new design; but I declined the labour of putting them together. And I was also in hopes, that the point would be considered by some pious clergyman, or other learned man, apprebensive of consequences, and concerned for the honour of our Saviour, and his friends, as well as desirous to promote the good of bis neighbours, and other fellow-creatures of his own time.
Your humble Servant,
TO THE AUTHORS OF THE LIBRARY, &c.a
I HOPE you will find room in your Magazine for some critical observations upon the Scriptures. I send you the following, wbich you are at liberty to make such use of as you please.
2 Cor. v. 14, “ For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” I think it should be rendered, “ then should all die.”
That this is the sense, appears from the connection in the next verse: I therefore shall briefly paraphrase both the verses.
“ For the love of Christ constraineth us, we judging this, that if,” or, forasmuch as, “ one died for all :" then without all doubt, “ all should die,” to sin, and the world : “ and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves," seeking only their own gratification, “but” rather should live “ to him," to the glory, and according to the will and the commandmeuts of “ him, who died for them, and rose again.”
This interpretation is much confirmed by divers other texts, which may be reckoned parallel, particularly Rom. vi. ), 11; xiv. 7, 8; 1 Pet. iv, 2.
Isaiah Ixii, 1–6, “ Who is this, that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrab?”,
The proper and primary meaning of this passage of scripturc, seems to be to this purpose. The prophet in a vision, or ecstasy, foresees some great deliverance of the Jewish nation from their enemies, particularly the Edomites; and, being fully persuaded of the event, he addresseth the deJiverer, as if seeing him coming from the defeat of the enemy. “ Who is this that coineth from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah ?” the capital city of the Edonites : “ this, that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength ?” Approaching toward me, like
· First published in the LIBRARY, (a periodical Work printed in 1761 and 1762,) for May 1761.
a mighty and glorious conqueror in triumph ? “ I, that speak in righteousness." It is I, whom you have seen in vision, who speak the truth, and am concerned for true religion : “ mighty to save,” who labour for the welfare of my people, and expose myself to the greatest dangers for their safety. “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat ?" Tell me, then, says the prophet, whence this redness of blood upon thine apparel, so that thy garments look like those of one that treadeth in the wine-fat? The deliverer answers: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me;" I have performed this difficult work almost alone, few of my own people joining with me, and without the concurring assistance of neighbouring nations, our allies around us. “ For I will tread them,” or, for I have trodden them, “ in my anger: and I will trample,” or, I have trampled, “ them in my fury; and their blood shall be,” or, has been, “ sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain," or, have stained, “ all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the day of my redeemed," or, of redeeming my people, " was come. And I looked, and there was none to help." I looked round, and well considered the matter ; but none of our neighbours were willing to help us, nor were many of my own people ready to join with me, “ and I wondered, that there was none to uphold;" this appeared to me very strange, and even astonishing; nevertheless I was not discouraged : “ therefore my own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury," or, zeal for religion, and for the welfare of my people, - it upbeld me," and carried me through all the dangers and difficulties of this arduous service. You see the reason therefore, and you need not wonder at it, that I “ am red in my apparel, and that my garments are like him tbat treadeth in the wine-fat.”
That appears to be the most proper and critical, or at least the primary sense of this text; however, by some, it is also applied to Christ, and the church. They say, the reason of inentioning Edom is, that it is lisual for the prophets to denote the enemies of the church in general, by the name of some country, or people, wbich has been remarkable for its batred of the Jewish nation; and that here the prophet seems to take a hint from some remarkable calamity, that had befallen the Edomites, to describe some more general judgment, that should be inflicted upon the enemies of God's church and people.
Be it so: still this passage of scripture has no relation to
the sufferings of Christ, but to some deliverance of God's people in ancient or later times, out of the bands of their unrighteous enemies and oppressors.
And we may perceive, that these words in ver. 5, “I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered, that there was none to uphold, therefore my own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury, it upheld me:" do not point to Christ's transactions on this earth. These words may be allusively applied to that great salvation, which is the work of God and Christ alone, but no otherwise ; and allusions, even where no more is intended, are dangerous; for texts, often alleged in the way of allusion, and separate from the connection, are apt to gain a sense in our minds, wbich is not the true mcaning of them.
Your readers, if they think tit, may compare this with the same paragraph of the prophet Isaiah, as versified in the Protestant Magazine for April, p. 40..
TO THE INGENIOUS AUTHOR OF THE
UPON I COR. xv. 32, IN THE LAST MAGAZINE, p. 315.
Sir, YOU bave touched upon a difficult text; permit me also to propose some observations upon it. You think it probable, • that the scene of danger bere referred to, is that mentioned Acts xix. 30, 31.' But I rather think, that the first epistle to the Corinthians was written and sent away, before the tumult caused by Demetrius. St. Luke there informs us, ver. 22, “ So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus. But he himself stayed in Asia for a season." Then at ver. 23, “ And the same time there arose no small stir about that way," &c. Says Lightfoot, vol. I. p. 299, · Between ver. 22 and 23, of • this nineteenth chapter of the Acts, falleth in the time of • St. Paul's writing the first epistle to the Corinthians :' which I take to be very rigbt. You have Dr. Ward with
• First published in the LIBRARY for October 1761.