« PreviousContinue »
and of the sovereign “good pleasure of his goodness,” as well as of the “exceeding greatness of his power.” All should then adore and bless God for the astonishing excellence of his power, which, in the success of the gospel, is exercised in the most glorious way of righteousness and love. To God alone, all the glory of all the success, of all the labour of ministers, belongs.
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH CONSIDERED IN ITS FOUNDATION, SUPERSTRUCTURE, AND BEAUTY.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together; whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.”—David.
APPRoAcHING an edifice sacred to religion, the mind is naturally impressed with a solemn awe. This church, an ornament to the surrounding country, has long been dedicated to the worship of the “living God.” Its ancient appearance creates a wish to walk its aisles, and survey the work of former days.
“As chanced, the portals of the sacred pile
With pillars crowded, and the roof upheld
A church is generally called Navis Ecclesiae, built long like a ship, representing Christians as tossed with the waves of this world. Some are built in the form of a cross, in allusion to that on which Christ suffered; and but few are built circular or round, as St. Sepulchre's at Cambridge, one at Northampton, and the Temple in London. The position of most churches is from east to west, and the chancel is at the east end, in conformity to the primitive manner of devotion; from which quarter of the globe the Sun of Righteousness once arose, and from which we look for the second coming of Christ. A few churches there are of Gothic architecture that have the tower or steeple at the east end. The Papists first introduced the figure of a cock at the top of the steeple or tower, to impress the mind of the worshipper or passenger with the enormity of Peter's sin, in denying his Lord with oaths and curses, as well as the sincerity and measure of his immediate repentance; and some of the ancients say, that in all his future life he never heard a cock crow but he wept bitterly, As to the origin of church bells, Mr. Whitaker, in his History of Manchester, observes, That bells being used, among other purposes, by the Romans, to announce the times of bathing, were naturally applied by the Christians of Italy, to denote the hours of devotion, and summon the people to church. The first application of them to this purpose, is by Polydore Virgil and others, ascribed to Paulinus, bishop of Nola, a city of Campania, about the year 400. Hence, it is said, the names molae and campamae were given them; the one referring to the city, the other to the country. Though others say they took the latter of these names, not from their being invented in Campania, but because it was here the manner of hanging or balancing them, now in use, was first practised; at least that they were hung on the model of a sort of balance invented or used in Campania. In Britain, bells were used before the conclusion of the seventh century, in the monastic societies of Northumbria, and as early as the sixth in those of Caledonia. And they were, therefore, used from the first erection of parish churches among us. Bells, in England, as formerly at Rome, were frequently made of brass. And as early as the ninth century, there were many cast of a large size and deep note. Matthew Paris observes, That anciently the ringing of bells was prohibited in
time of mourning ; though at present they make one of the principal ceremonies at that season. Mabillon adds,
that it was an ancient custom to ring the bells for persons
about to expire, to give notice to the people to pray for them ; whence our passing-bells. The passing-bell, indeed, was anciently rung for two purposes; one, to engage the prayers of all good Christians for a soul just departing; the other, to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the foot of the bed, and were about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least to molest and terrify it in its passage; but by the ringing of that bell (for Durandus asserts, evil spirits are much afraid of bells () they were kept at a distance; and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the start, which of course, according to the notions of the people of that time, was of great advantage to it in its flight. Hence, perhaps, exclusive of the additional labour, was occasioned the high price demanded for tolling the greatest bell of the church; for that being louder, the evil spirits must retreat the further, to be beyond the reach of the sound, by which eircumstance the agitated soul got so much more the start of them ; besides,being heard further off, it would likewise procure the dying person a greater number of prayers. In the times of Popery, bells were baptized and anointed; they were exorcised and blessed by the bishop; from a belief, that when these ceremonies were performed, they had power to drive away the devil out of the air, calm tempests, extinguish fire, and re-create even the dead. The ritual for these ceremonies is contained in the Roman pontifical ; and it was usual, in their baptism, to give to bells the name of some saint. By an old chartulary, once in the possession of Weever, the antiquary, it appears that the bells of the priory of Little Dunmow, in Essex, were, A. D. 1501, new cast, and baptized by the following Ilames :- - 2.