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BASIL TO HIS UNCLE GREGORY.
I have kept silence; must there be no end of it? Shall I longer bear this most heavy penalty of silence to be in force upon me-neither writing nor conversing with you? Indeed, in persisting hitherto in this unpleasant determination, I seem to have fulfilled almost the prophet's words“I have been still, and refrained myself as a woman in travail;"_always anxious for, always failing of, some intercourse or correspondence with you. This is a punishment for my sins; I cannot doubt it. No other cause can be assigned for our present relation towards each other, except that your estrangement from me is an infliction on me for old transgressions. Yet, if any might lawfully be estranged from you, certainly I cannot, who have ever found you as a father to me...... However, the time of my punishment has been long indeed. So I can hold no longer, and am thus the first to speak; beseeching you to remember, not only me, but yourself, who have shewn towards me, through the whole of my life, even a greater regard than relationship could claim, and to love the city which I govern for my sake, instead of making me the cause of your separating from it.
if, therefore, there is any consolation in Christ if there is any fellowship of the Spirit-if any bowels and mercies, fulfil my prayers; put an end at once to this gloomy state of things...... No one's features were ever more strongly marked, as peaceableness and mildness have been the characteristics of your mind. It is becoming in such an one to bring others over to himself, and to give to all who approach him to be filled, as it were, with the fragrance of his kiodliness. There may be obstacles just at first; but, in a short time, the blessedness of peace will be recognised. But while our dissension gives opportunity to tale-bearers on both sides, our complaints of each other must necessarily be increasing. It is unworthy in other parties to shew disregard of me, but especially in one of your high character. Tell me if I am any where wrong, and I shall be the better in future. But it is impossible to do so while there is this distance between us. If, on the other hand, I have committed no offence, why am I hated? This I say by way of self-defence.
What those churches will say for themselves, which are unbecomingly involved in our dispute, I will not ask, for I have no wish to give offence by this letter, but remove it. You are too clear-sighted for any thing of this kind to escape you; and will be able to take and unfold to others a much more accurate view than I can. Indeed you were sensible of the existing evils in the churches before I could be, and have felt them more keenly, having long ago learnt of the Lord not to despise any of the least of his matters. At present, however, the mischief is not confined to one or two individuals, but whole cities and regions are partners in our troubles ...... Comfort me then, either by coming to see me, or by writing, or by sending for me, or in any way you will. My own earnest wish is, that you would make your appearance in my church, so that both I and my people might be benefited by seeing and hearing of so gisted a prelate. This will be best, if possible; but I shall welcome any proposition which you will make. Only, let me beg of you to give me some sure intelligence of your intention.
The person to whom he wrote the following letter is unknown. The letter explains itself.
BASIL TO A BISHOP UNKNOWN.
The Lord, who vouchsafes to me a speedy succour in my afflictions, repay you back himself the refreshment wherewith you have refreshed me by your letters ; giving you a full reward in true and abundant joyfulness of the Spirit,
for your consolation towards my poor self! In truth, I was somehow sadly dispirited, discerning, as I did, the irrational, and, I may say, brutal insensibility of the multitude, and the ingrained and almost incurable perverseness of their leaders. But, on reading your communication, and the treasure of love which it contained, I soon saw that a good Providence had lighted up a sweet consolation for us in the midst of our bitterness. And so, I greet your Holiness in turn, and withal beseech you, as I am wont, not to omit your prayers for me a sinner, lest I be baptized back into this unreal world, and so forget Him who raiseth the poor out of the dust, and, through pride, fall into the condemnation of the devil ;-or, through sloth, be found sleeping at my post; or acting mischievously, and wounding the consciences of my fellowservants; or even companying with the drunken, I may suffer in the just judgment of God the punishment of the evil steward...
I am in expectation of some attempt on the part of those vexatious heretics to bring me to court, under the pretence of conciliation. Our friend the bishop, too, on hearing what was going on, has sent word to me to hasten into Mesopotamia, for the purpose of uniting those who think with us and are strengthening the churches in that quarter, and of proceeding with them to the emperor. But I really think that even my health will be insufficient for a journey in the winter ; and, as yet, I scarcely see that the business is pressing, unless you recommend it. I shall wait your Holiness's advice. So pray let me soon hear from one of our trusty brethren what suggests itself to your divinely enlightened mind.
I conclude with the following letter, which was addressed to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, on his consecration:
BASIL TO AMPHILOCHIUS.
Blessed be God, who, in every age, maketh choice of those who please him, marking out the vessels of election, and using them for the ministry of the saints! Thou fleddest not, as thou wouldst fain maintain, from us, but from a call which thou sawest was coming to thee through us; and He has environed thee with the irresistible toils of His grace, and hath led thee into the middle of Pisidia, that thou in turn may catch souls as prey for the Lord, and draw from the abyss into light those who are taken captive by the devil, according to his will. Take, then, David's words, and say, “ Whither shall I go from Thy spirit, and whither shall I fly from Thy presence ?".
Therefore, play the man-be strong, and go before the people, whom the Highest hath entrusted to thy hand...... And shouldst thou desire to visit me, who have long been hastening the way of all flesh under much weakness of body, wait pot season, nor notice from me; knowing, that to a father's heart every season is good for embracing a much-loved son, and to be affectionately, minded is better than all messages. Grieve not at thy burden as if greater than thy strength. If, indeed, its weight must fall on thee, then truly it would be not heavy merely, but insupportable. But if the Lord take share in it, then "cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will do it.” One caution I will give -BE NOT ENTANGLED IN THE WORLD'S WAYS ; but, by the wisdom given thee from God, change unto edification whatever has gone wrong before thy time. For Christ has sent thee, not to follow others, BUT TO GO before THOSE WHO SHALL BE saved. And we beseech you pray for us, that if I am continued here, it may be granted me to see thee with thy church ; but if I am ordered to depart hence, I may see thee and it hereafter with the Lord. ...... All who are with me, salute thee, Be strong and of good heart in the Lord; preserved in the good report of the gifts of the Spirit and of wisdom. Vol. V.-Feb. 1834.
LAY PATRONAGE AND IMPROPRIATIONS. DEAR SIR,—A short time ago I paid a visit to a neighbour of mine, a highly respectable and kind-hearted land proprietor, who is generally esteemed as a man of moderate views, and of independent political character. I will not say whether he is a peer or commoner, but I may add, without describing him too closely, that he is a member of the legislature. He pointed out proposed improvements in the roads, in the village, and in his own grounds : all of which indicate considerate feeling, and good taste. Among other things, he shewed me a small field close to the Incumbent's house, the only piece of ground contiguous to the parsonage, with the exception of a garden; and which must therefore be of considerable value as a matter of convenience.
But this “vineyard of Naboth” my friend told me he desired to have, and meant to obtain, by giving the clergyman another field at a distance from the parsonage, but of greater value. I suggested that it would be difficult to find any piece of land of equal, much less of greater value to the Incumbent, considering its situation ; and I spoke of the necessary consent which must first be had. In answer to this, I was reminded that he himself is the patron, and that the clergyman is his relative. A few words were also dropped as to there having been no regularly resident Incumbent for many years; and as to the unpleasantness of having any person occupying a place so near to the mansion, unless there should be every kind of good understanding. In reply to all this, I ventured to remark that the bishop of the diocese would not be likely to permit an exchange so detrimental to the living.
This, however, is the way in which non-residence is too often produced by lay patrons : that which would promote residence is left undone ;-the property of the church is alienated. My neighbour is the lay rector over many thousand acres; the Incumbent has a poor provision ; his small portion of glebe contiguous to the parsonage is coveted, and surrendered for land at a distance. Some of the landmarks of this remote glebe are lost in process of time. He is too near the mansion, and would be better away; therefore his absence from his charge is more than winked at ;—and then we are told of flocks neglected, of livings without houses, and of non-residents.
I have represented my friend to be a worthy man. Imagine, if such be the views of a worthy man, what must be the abuses in the same way where the squire, or the lord, who is the patron and lay impropriator, happens to be a bad man.
I wish your episcopal readers may see this letter. It may open their eyes to the nature of exchanges in glebe land, which are frequently taking place to the disadvantage of the church.
I remain, dear sir, your faithful servant,
DR. ARNOLD'S EXPLANATION OF ABRAHAM'S SACRIFICE. Dr. Arnold's explanation of Abraham's sacrifice, as contained in the
essay “On the Right Interpretation of Scripture," appended to his second volume of sermons.
Dr. Arnold's inferences will perhaps appear rather precipitate in some places; a seeming inconsistency may be detected in the opening sentences; and the first admission may be thought to militate against the general conclusion. But I have endeavoured to give the argument as correctly as possible.
I remain, &c.,
OXONIENSIS. * " It is perfectly true indeed, as Bishop Butler says, that God could not command us to do any thing necessarily wrongt: but that to take away another's life is not in itself necessarily wrong. Yet, according to an enlightened view of our duty, it is necessarily wrong for a father to take away the life of his innocent son. And the question is, whether, as our notions of God are derived from those notions of goodness which he has implanted in us, it is not a contradiction to imagine God as commanding an act, which to our best reason appears evil.”
The following method of arguing clears up the whole difficulty of the case :-We know that human sacrifices were common in Abraham's time. There is, therefore, no reason to suppose that the Patriarch himself was aware of their guilt. And this fact ascertained, we may now apply the well-known principle of “accommodation" as implied in God having “winked” for a time at human errors. Abraham being in darkness on the subject of human sacrifices, God would clearly be acting only in accordance with this, “his winking at error," in commanding him to sacrifice his son : though the thing commanded was in itself necessarily wrong.
EVENTS OF THE MONTH. MR. EDITOR,—It is very wise of you to prefix to the Letters of your correspondents, that you are “not responsible for their opinions." Allow me to suggest to you, that it would be well if you would give notice, before your monthly extracts from the newspapers, that you are not responsible, either for the truth of the facts, or the correctness of the opinions, therein put forth. A month or two ago, some clergyman (at Bath, or Bristol, I think it was) was, to all appearance, greatly commended for putting an end to the Litany and Morning Service on Wednesdays in his church, and substituting for it Evening Service
• The Editor is sincerely obliged to Oxoniensis for drawing attention to this point. No one who reads Dr. Arnold's Sermons can doubt that he is a person of the most sincere and earnest religious views; and it is to be the more lamented that a tract so eminently calculated to do the most serious injury to the cause of religion as his “ Essay on the Interpretation of Scripture,” should have come from him. From the Editor being aware that on all matters touched on by Dr. A. in public, except the great and vital doctrines of Christianity, he is warmly and earnestly opposed to him, he has been apprehensive of his prejudices preventing him from doing Dr. A. justice; and this is his apology for not noticing this fearful tract before.
† This is altered from the original for the sake of clearness; but the alteration is only a verbal one.
The examples Dr. A. gives, are the allowance of polygamy and divorce.
and a Lecture. In this cause, Lecture v. Litany, I do not suppose that you, Mr. Editor, would be retained on the plaintiff's side.
Again, in your last Number, you state that the Bishop of Cloyne has been giving ten pounds towards the erection or repair of Popish chapels in his diocese (or his district, if the term diocese is now become obsolete in Protestant Ireland). You even state the right reverend prelate's name, Dr. Brinkley, otherwise we might well have imagined that you must have been speaking of the Roman catholic bishop. Now, Mr. Editor, I wish you to consider, that this is in the nature of a very heavy charge against Bishop Brinkley; and that you ought not to have suffered it to be inserted, unless you were fully convinced of its accuracy
For a bishop, at any time, to give his support to the propagation of what he himself has repeatedly and solemnly acknowledged to be “ blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits," is, in my opinion, base and treacherous; but doubly base, doubly treacherous, would be that Irish bishop who, in these times, could do so.
Ten pounds is the sum which (though I could ill afford it) I was happy to contribute, but a few months ago, in aid of my suffering brethren in Ireland. But (if this paragraph be correct, which I will not, I cannot, believe,) this very 101. of mine has been virtually transferred to a fund for the erection of Popish chapels.
For Bishop Brinkley's sake, and for the church's sake, I earnestly call on yourself, Mr. Editor, or on such of your readers as may be able to ascertain the particulars, either to shew that the assertion referred to is false, or else that it does not necessarily imply a heavy charge against the integrity, honour, and Christian principle of one of the sworn guardians of our church. I am, sir, your faithful servant,
A COUNTRY CLERGYMAN.*
One word as to this letter. The Events are, and must be, collected, as was stated last month, from the public papers, by a person einployed for that purpose. The Editor heartily wishes this part of the work were not required. He casts his eye over the collection, and strikes out what seems of bad moral tendency, but that is all which he can pretend to do. He is far from thinking it right, however, as far as he exercises any judgment about it, to strike out all accounts of irregularities and support of bad societies &c. It really appears to him, that it is very advisable that the actual state of things should be known. If falsehoods are stated, and the parties have not had an opportunity of seeing them before, it is well they should see them at last, when they have once got into the public papers ; (of course this does not apply to publishing any thing relating to private character). If these things are not falsehoods, it is well that parties guilty of irregularities should be known, and that notice should be taken of it.
But if the insertion of articles in the Events is to be taken as an indication that approbation is always felt of the conduct commemorated, there would seem to be nothing to be done but to omit them altogether, or to take the advice here given, and prefix to the Events a declaration that no opinion is given as to the facts related. To this latter course, indeed, there is no objection, except that it would look as if the Editor had the absurd vanity of supposing that his opinion was of the least consequence, and as if he imagined that the public were so dull as not to know that every paragraph in the Events (except otherwise marked) must, of course, be taken from the newspapers. But, as a letter in the last Number attributes great blame to the Editor for not inquiring as to some transaction in the church at Beverley, and every man's character is of consequence to himself, though not to others, he will desire that in future due notice shall be given, that he neither invents, discovers, writes, copies, or is in any way responsible for the “ Events.”