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ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURAL FACTS AND CUSTOMS,
By analogous Reference to the Practices of other Nations. Singular and interesting as are many of the facts and customs recorded in Scripture, they are more or less irreconcileable with the views and manners of modern civilized society; we conceive that every analogous circumstance, tending in the least degree to illustrate or familiarize them, must be productive of beneficial effects. We therefore offer no other apology for resuming a plan adhered to for a considerable length of time, in the earlier volumes of the Christian Remembrancer, of presenting our readers occasionally with corroborative events and habits of life, alluded to by various authors and travellers of ancient or modern days. We shall commence with a series furnished from such texts in the Book of Genesis, as have not, to the best of our knowledge, heretofore been illustrated from the authorities here quoted.
CREATION Genesis i. 1.—"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth
was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
In the beginning (says Orpheus) the heavens were made by God, and in the heavens there was a chaos, and a terrible darkness was in all the parts of this chaos, and covered all things under heaven. Orpheus, however, did not conceive the heavens and the earth to have ever been in one mass, for, as Mr. Shuckford observes, on the authority of an ancient writer, the heavens and chaos were, according to Orpheus, the principia out of which the rest were produced. Anaxagoras, as Laertius informs us, began his book,* " All things were at first in one mass, but an intelligent agent came and put them in order;" and Aristotle gives us as his opinion,† “ that all things lay in one mass for a vast space of time, but an intelligent agent came and put them in motion, and so separated them from one another."-Shuckford's Connection, Vol. I. Pref. p. xii.
For whereas all things at the first were jumbled together, heaven and earth. were in mass, and had one and the same form; but afterwards they say, when corporeal beings appeared one after another, the world presented itself, at length, in the order we now see, and that the air was in continual agitation, whose fiery part ascended together towards the highest place, its nature, by reason of its levity, tending always upwards ; for which reason both the sun and the vast number of the stars are contained within that orb. That the gross and earthy matter, clotted together by moisture, by reason of its weight, sunk down below into one place, is continually whirling about; the sea was made of the humid parts; and the muddy earth of the more solid, as yet very moorish and soft ; which by degrees at first was made crusty by the heat of the sun, and then after the face of the earth was parched, and as it were fermented, the moisture afterwards in many places bubbled up, and appeared as so many pustules wrapt up in thin and slender coats and skins.—Diod. Siculus. B. I. Chap. 1.
A mass confused heaven and earth once were
First sprang up in their generation.-EURIPIDES Menalippe.
* Aristot. Metaph. p. 2:
+ Aristot. Phys. Ausc. l. viii. c. 1.
We are informed that when the Deity Onmisda, set about the production of things; the whole was performed at six different intervals. He first formed the heavens; at the second period, the waters; and at the third, the earth. Next in order were produced the trees and vegetables; in the fifth place were formed the birds and fishes, and the wild inhabitants of she woods; and in the sixth and last place, he created man. This was the most honourable of all his productions; for some time after his creation there was a season of great felicity; and he resided in a peculiar place of high elevation, where the Deity had placed him. At last Ahrunan, a demon, corrupted the world. He had the boldness to visit heaven: from whence he came down to earth in the form of a serpent, and introduced a set of wicked beings called Karfesters. The first mortal was infected by him; and at last so poisoned that he died.-- Bryant's Mythology, Vol. V. p. 272.
The Sintosjı, or adherents of the Sinto religion, the most ancient system of sacred worship in Japan, pay such respect to the last article of their religious creed, which relates to the beginning of all things, that they take special care not to reveal the same to their disciple, till he hath obliged himself by an oath, signed with his hand and seal, not to profane such sacred and sublime mysteries, by discovering them to the ignorant and incredulous laity. The translation from the original text of this mysterious doctrine is contained in the following words taken out of a book which they call Odaiki. “ In the beginning of the opening of all things a chaos floated, as fishes swim in the water for pleasure. Out of this chaos arose a thing like a prickle, moveable and transformable. This thing became a soul or spirit, and this spirit is called Kunitokodatsno Mikotto."Kampher's Japan, Vol. I. p. 208.
Les Chinois croyent que le ciel, la terre et l'eau sont de toute eternité; mais qu'ils etuient autrefois tellement melés ensemble, qu'il a fallu qu'une Divinité eut pris la peine de les tirer de ce chaos. Ils appellent le Dieu qui a demelé cette confusion Tayn, et disent, qu'au commencement il créa de rien un homme qu'il nomma Pangon et une femme qu'il nomma Panzona.--Olearius Mandelsto, Pol. II.
The following are the traditions amongst the North American Indians respecting the creation, &c.
In ancient times, a man of such surprising height that his head reached up to the clouds, came to level the land, which at that time was a very rude mass, and after he had done this, by the help of his walking stick, he marked out all the lakes, ponds, rivers, and immediately caused them to be filled with water. He then took a dog and tore it to pieces, the entrails he threw into the lakes and rivers, commanding them to become the different kinds of fish; the flesh he dispersed over the land, commanding it to become different kinds of beasts and land animals; the skin he also tore in small pieces and threw it into the air, commanding it to become all kinds of birds; after which he gave the woman and her offspring full power to kill, eat, and never spare, for that he had commanded them to multiply for her use in abundance. After this injunction he returned to the place from whence he came, and has not been heard of since.—Hearne's Journey, p. 343.
The Chepewyan, or Northern Indians, who traverse an immense track of country to the north of the Athabasca Lake, have very singular notions of the creation. They believe that the globe was at first one vast and entire ocean, inhabited by no living creature, except a mighty bird, whose eyes were fire, whose glances were lightning, and the clapping of whose wings was thunder. On his descending to the ocean and touching it
, the earth instantly arose and remained on the surface of the waters.-Wesťs Second Journal, p. 132.
SKETCH OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES.
Protestant Episcopal Church, the Canons of the Church annexed to the
The whole church is governed by the General Convention, which sits once in three
may be specially convened in the interval, if circumstances render it necessary. This convention is divided into two Houses ; i.e. the Upper, consisting of the bishops, and the Lower, composed of clerical and lay deputies from each diocese. The bishops have the right to originate and to propose acts for the concurrence of the house of deputies, and also have a negative on any acts proposed to them by the latter. All acts of the convention are to be authenticated by both houses. In every case the house of bishops is to signify to the convention their approbation or disapprobation (the latter with their reasons in writing) within three days after any proposed act shall have been reported to them for their concurrence.
The election of the house of deputies is regulated as follows. The church in each state is entitled to a representation of both clergy and laity, consisting of one or more deputies, but not exceeding four of each order, who are chosen by the convention of the States. If, however, the diocesan convention in any state neglect or decline to appoint either clerical or lay deputies, or if any of these do not attend, from whatever cause, such state is nevertheless considered as being duly represented by the deputies present, and is bound by the Acts of the General Convention.
The diocesan conventions are annually, or triennially, held in each diocese, and consist of three distinct branches, viz. the bishop, the clergy, and lay delegates from every separate congregation, freely chosen by the people from among themselves. The consent of all these branches is required in making any law that shall be binding on the whole. These bodies, so constituted, legislate for their respective dioceses, but their local canons must not contradict the constitution of the general church. Every state in the American Union may become a diocese, whenever the members of the episcopal church in such state are sufficiently numerous. There is a standing committee in each diocese or state. The bishops are to be chosen agreeably to the rules fixed by the convention of such state ; and every bishop is required to confine the exercise of his episcopal office to his own diocese, unless he be requested to ordain, confirm, or perform any other episcopal functions by any church destitute of a bishop. In every state the mode of trying clergymen charged with offences, is to be instituted by the convention of the church therein : and at the trial of every bishop, one or more of the episcopal order must be present; and none but a bishop can pronounce sentence of deposition, or degradation from the ministry on any clergyman, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon.
It appears by the canons, that the regulations concerning the testimonials and qualifications of candidates for holy orders are very strict. Previously to ordination, the candidate must subscribe a declaration that he believes “ the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament
to be the word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation ;” and he solemnly engages " to conform to the doctrines and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in these United States." And no person, ordained by a foreign bishop, is admissible to officiate as a minister of this church, until he has subscribed this declaration, and complied with the canon or canons in that case made and provided.
In the several states or dioceses, each separate Church is governed by its rector, churchwardens and vestrymen ; and the parochial clergy are elected according to the charters of the congregations. In some churches the minister is chosen by the vestry, consisting of persons annually elected by the pew-holders : in others, they are chosen by ballot, the whole congregation voting. The bishops have no direct patronage; the clergy are settled by the choice or call of the people, to whom they minister, and cannot be imposed upon them but by their own voluntary act. Parochial assemblies are annually held for the management of the temporalities of the Church, the choice of the clergyman, parish officers, and delegates to the convention. In minute and separate districts each congregation acts in its collective and aggregate capacity, but exercises, by authorised representatives, that branch of the legislative which resides in it, and which it is impracticable to perform in person. These district diocesan legislatures again communicate, and are united with another of the largest and most extended jurisdiction, to which, like the federal congress, are remitted all questions of general concern.
The stipend of the clergy is fixed by the compact between the pastor and the congregation, the fulfilment of which is enforced on both par. ties by the law of the land. This prevents an undue dependence of the clergy on the people. No revenues were originally appropriated to the bishops, who have generally been parish priests. But in several dioceses, the members of the Episcopal Church have laudably endeavoured to raise a “ Bishop's Fund,” in order to disengage the diocesan from parochial duty, and leave him at leisure to perform the duties which are more peculiarly episcopal. In one diocese, that of Pennsylvania, an independent provision for the bishop has been effected, and the venerable Bishop White (one of the bishops consecrated at Lambeth) is thus exempted from parochial services. Were the office of bishop not elective, the friends of the true Church could derive nothing but satisfaction from this event. But the moment that honour, emolument and power are conferred by a popular election, these objects will generate intrigue, contention and party spirit; and it is difficult to conceive how episcopal elections will be conducted in a manner to counteract the operation of these evils. They have not been wholly avoided while no revenue attached to the office, and the more attractive it is made to human ambition, the greater must be the evils consequent upon contention for it.
The Liturgy of the American Church is almost identically the same with that of the Church of England; such alterations only having been made, as circumstances rendered necessary. The same Articles of the Christian Faith are professed by each Church, and the same Book of Homilies is declared to contain sound expositions of Christian
doctrine and practice. The singing Psalms used in divine worship are those of Tate and Brady, together with a selection of fifty-seven Hymns. As many of these were confessedly in bad taste, and the whole required revision, the general convention of 1826 adopted, and in 1827 there was put forth, a collection of Hymns from various authors, containing a revision of these fifty-seven Hymns, with about one hundred and fifty others for the use of the church, but not to exclude Tate and Brady, one portion of whose psalms must always be sung:
Another very important measure, adopted by the convention of 1823, was the passing of a canon, prescribing the mode of publishing authorised editions of the standard Bible of this Church : by which it is directed that
The bishop, in any state or diocese, or, where there is no bishop, the standing committee, is authorised to appoint from time to time some suitable person or persons, to compare and correct all new editions of the Bible by the standard edition agreed upon by the general convention; and a certificate of their having been so compared and corrected shall be published with the said book.
From the official “ List of the Clergy," annexed to the journal of the general convention of 1826, it appears that there are ten bishops, and three hundred and fifty-four clergymen, who have the care of about six hundred congregations, including from 250,000 to 300,000 souls, and that this number is annually and steadily increasing. It appears also from the last address of Bishop Griswold to the eastern diocese, that the subject of dividing that diocese into two has been brought before a state convention, and will probably be proposed to a diocesan one.
We think our readers will be interested with the closing paragraph of the above address, and of a sermon by Bishop Hobart of New York, which has just arrived in this country.
We of the Episcopal Church (says Bishop Griswold) occupy, as we may humbly believe, a most important station among the ranks of Christ's militant host; we stand on the middle ground between the errors of those who on the one hand corrupt the true faith, and diminish the power of religion by human inventions, doctrines of men, useless ceremonies, superstitious rites, unauthorised traditions, idolatrous worship, and veneration of saints and relics: and of those on the other hand, who degrade or mutilate religion; who either distort the features of the Gospel, or reject the essential doctrines of Christ, making his cross of no effect. If such be indeed the very important stand which the Lord hath assigned us, let us be consistent with ourselves, and faithful to our God. "Turn not to the right hand or to the left." Let us shew our Churchmanship, and evangelical zeal, not in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Let it be seen that our religion is indeed primitive and apostolic, by our manifesting that spirit which was in Christ, and that holy zeal which shone in his first apostles.
Bishop Hobart's excellent Sermon thus closes :
Brethren of the clergy and laity, as you love the cause of rational, serious, and fervent piety, mildly, but firmly, zealously, and perseveringly, oppose those principles and practices which would thus disgrace and degrade it; and adhere strictly and tenaciously to the doctrines and institutions of our own church, with which this holy cause is identified. Experience here-experience, long experience in that country from which we are descended-lifts her warning voice against all plans, however plausible, for reviving religion in our own church, which are at variance with her institutions. These institutions set forth and enforce those great doctrines