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clergymen whose names appeared in the first two, appeared also in the third)—on this multiform petition we mean to offer a few remarks. The anecdote of three tailors in Tooley Street, who sent up a petition to Sir Robert Peel, beginning "We, the British Nation," is well known; and some of our readers may remember to have heard of a Scotch clergyman, whose parish consisted of two small islands in the Clyde, and who, in an extemporaneous prayer, having besought every blessing, spiritual and temporal, upon "the greater and the lesser Cromlech," piously added a supplication that the Almighty_would not "entirely overlook the adjacent islands of Great Britain and Ireland." Somewhat similar is, we conceive, the fact of thirty clergymen having presented the petition in question; but with regard to the prayer of the petition itself, there is an apparent reason for it in the evident discrepancy between our existing ritual and our existing discipline.
The Burial Service, for instance, is not calculated for the persons over whom, alas! it is often read. And what can be done here? Is the most sublime of human compositions-the most spiritual in its tenor, the most adapted for the consoling of the survivor, the most correct with regard to the departed piousto be mangled and curtailed, and made to suit the drunkard, the libertine, or the prostitute? Such a proceeding could not be contemplated without horror. Is it, then, according to Mr. McNeile's plan, to be intersected with brackets, which would disgust the survivors, and bring, necessarily, a personal obloquy upon the officiating minister? Surely not. Must it then be profaned, as it now daily is, by being read over the self-excommunicated reprobate, till both priest and people come to think it merely a matter of form? We think this might be avoided : but the means could only be afforded by convocation. Our plan would be, to insist on the form as it stands in our prayerbook being confined to communicants; communicants in their own church, or to such as should at least have communicated before death. For others a new form might be prepared-one which, while it consisted simply of prayers for the survivors and the Church, and recognized the hand of God in the death of every man, should yet avoid compromising either the authority of the Church or the conscience of the clergyman.
The political dissenter is, to a certain extent, answered by Mr. McNeile; the religious dissenter by Dr. Biber: but there are a large class of persons who, though not in union with the Church, do, nevertheless, repudiate the title Dissenter. What shall be said to these? We allude to the Wesleyan Methodists, who have been for a long time in a very anomalous position. In
order to understand this, we must take a brief glance at the constitution of the Wesleyan body-a body of which we think highly, and shall speak in terms of respect. We have had frequent occasion to refer to that lamentable period of lethargy, when our Anglican Church was confessedly inefficient; and we have seen how the regular and irregular revivers of religion, by bringing the doctrines of the Gospel before the minds of the people, worked gradually a great, and, we trust, still progressive change. Among these revivers were the two Wesleys, men of note and learning, who organized a spiritual society, to be subsidiary to the Church: they instituted meetings for prayer, meetings for exhortation, meetings for mutual edification; all, however, at uncanonical hours, that the members of his societies might regularly attend the service at their own parish church. Such was the idea, and such was the practice of that great and venerable man, John Wesley. And though we pretend not to justify his irregularities, we would yet remind our readers that he lived in a period of peculiar spiritual need, and that he was never under any, even the slightest, ecclesiastical censure. In the year 1756, he published "Twelve unanswerable reasons for not quitting the National Establishment."
"It is a remarkable coincidence, and one not generally known to Dissenters themselves, that the Puritans and Nonconformists, when they first separated from the Church, exhorted their followers still to receive the sacrament' at the church."-Dr. Burton, p. 15.
Wesley, when he partially withdrew his prohibition of services at canonical hours, still adhered to the necessity and duty of receiving the Eucharist from ministers episcopally ordained; and on this he insisted even to the day of his death. The work of Dr. Burton, "The Church and Dissent," is, though addressed to schismatics at large, more peculiarly adapted for Methodists. He was himself at one time a Wesleyan minister, and has still two brothers, his seniors, engaged in the same work among that sect; he has, consequently, had better opportunities for observing its progress and character; and in this little tract (for it is no more), does he give so good a reason for the change in his own views, argue so gently yet so forcibly with sectarians, and place in so strong a light the duty of upholding the Church, that we can most cordially recommend his work for distribution.
The Wesleyan discipline is worth studying as a master-piece of policy; and, ecclesiastically speaking, it stands on a widely different basis from that of Independency. It has the same authority for the validity of its orders as Presbyterianism; and, though in practice it is marked by some strange anomalies, its ministers are, nevertheless, well aware where the strength of
their position lies. The affairs of the whole body, temporal and spiritual, are governed by an assembly called the Conference, and which occupies the same place as the General Assembly in the Church of Scotland; differing only in this, that it has the exclusive power of ordaining. This body is composed, by the constitution of the society, of one hundred senior preachers; but, practically, of all those ministers who are "admitted to full connexion," and who choose to attend. It is held in rotation in the metropolis, at Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham, and Sheffield. To the Conference belong the stationing of preachers, and the management of what are called circuits: these are districts, into which the whole kingdom is divided; and there are for the most part two preachers stationed in each-one called superintendent, who acts as rector, and one assistant, who acts as curate. The country is again divided into "districts," each district comprising a certain number of circuits, and presided over by a chairman, who acts as archdeacon, and these are all ruled by a Conference, which, like the General Assembly, according to Mr. McNeile, is a "collective episcopacy." The Church prayers are read in the Wesleyan meeting-houses, or, at least, it is deemed by all allowable, and by many orthodox, that they should be read: the ministers agree to the doctrinal articles of the Church, and trace a spiritual descent from lawfully ordained presbyters of the Anglican Establishment; this they consider to give them a right to the title of Churchmen. But we must now reverse the picture.
The Wesleyans, being sound in doctrine, willingly fraternize with members of the Church, who hold very low views in point of discipline. Once acknowledge that adherence to any Church is a matter of choice-that all have the same right-that the Independent, the Baptist, the Wesleyan, the Presbyterian, and the Episcopalian, all stand on the same platform-and that, if they are free from Popery and Socinianism, everything else is a mere variety of opinion-that the apostolical succession is a not very cunningly devised fable-that the authority of the Church is a nullity, and her visibility a fiction-once agree to all this, and the Wesleyans will heartily join us, and congratulate us on our freedom from bigotry, our liberal spirit, and our Catholic charity. In Dr. Burton's little work he earnestly contends for the "faith once delivered to the saints," for the "form of sound words" handed down to us from the era of the apostles, and most anxiously would we recommend it to that important body, to whose attention it is chiefly directed.
We conclude with a passage from Dr. Biber, which should be written in letters of gold.-p. 207-8.
"The Church has no right, from a fear of the inconvenience and perplexity to which such a connexion may subject her, to withhold her services (if sought) from the State, seeing that the administration of any trust, the exercise of any authority in the State by the Church and those who have authority, in the Church, cannot be otherwise than of advantage to the State; neither has the Church a right to throw up such trust lightly, if once undertaken. But, on the other hand, the Church must not lose sight of her superior responsibility to Christ himself for a higher trust; and, rather than compromise the principles involved in that trust, she must be prepared to resign again, if called upon to do so by the State, the temporal trust which she has undertaken, or to suffer persecution for righteousness sake.
"For her own sake, the Church has nothing more to do than to be faithful to her divine commission, and ready to comply with any requirements the world may make upon her, as long as these are compatible with the allegiance she owes to Christ. For the sake of the world, whom she is called upon to benefit by whatever authority she possesses, she is to hold on, to the utmost limits of endurance, any trust she has undertaken.
"If, in any State which has committed to the Church authority, as is the case with ourselves, co-extensive with the boundaries of its own power, the enemies of the truth should so far prevail as to drive the Church from the position once assigned, and to despoil her of the authority once committed to her-not the Church, but the State, will be the loser. If (which in the present aspect of the times seems not improbable) Romanism, Dissent, Infidelity, and that worst of truth's enemies, the pseudo liberality of Indifferentism, should, by their unnaturally united efforts, succeed in unnationalizing the Anglican Church, or rather in unchristianizing the nation, the Church will still prosper, even through the most fiery trials which her oppressors may prepare for her; but the British Empire, the fairest of earth's kingdoms, will infallibly and irretrievably be laid in the dust.
"The kingdom that has taken Christ into its councils, by the incorporation of his body into the constitution of the State, can never cast him off, without experiencing the truth of that fearful saying, Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord."
ART. II.—Aristophanis, opera omnia. F. H. BOTHE. Lipsiæ. 1828.
2. The Birds of Aristophanes. By J. W. SUVERN. Translated by W. R. HAMILTON, F.R.S. London: Murray. 1835.
"IT has been somewhere remarked by Lord Byron (says Mr. Mitchell), that of the ancient Greeks we already know more than enough." The extent of our knowledge at that time, and the competency of the noble lord to form an opinion on such a subject, admit of considerable question, when we compare the once famous works of Potter and Robinson with the
elaborate treatises of Boëckh, Müller, Süvern, and Wachsmuth. Few ancient authors have been more indebted to the learning and activity of these moderns than Aristophanes; and this because the language of comedy being that of familiar dialogue and colloqual wit (a language in a very high degree idiomatic, as well in its terms and phrases as in its construction), an intimate acquaintance with the domestic habits and familiar phraseology of a nation, is indispensable to a right understanding of its comic drama. The learning and research of modern archaeologists, their deep and accurate investigations into these subjects, have mainly tended to rescue the comic drama of that country from long, though undeserved, neglect. The comedies of Aristophanes, for years cast into the shade, either as unintelligible, or if intelligible, as immoral, have been of late raised from their unmerited abasement, and regarded not as mere exercise grounds for the ingenuity of critics, but rather as well stored mines of information as to the public and private habits of the most refined, most fickle, and most energetic nation of old Greece.
The comic drama of the age of Cleon and Alcibiades was nearer allied to the press of the nineteenth century* than to its modern namesake. An allusion, a satiric jest, a bitter reproof, was received with laughter and applause when uttered by the masked actor; in the ecclesia, confiscation or death would have been the satirist's reward. Even the mighty Demus, the lord of the Pnyx, cheered his own caricature within the walls of the comic theatre. The opposition, the Athenian conservatives, the peace party, when defeated in the ecclesia, took refuge on the comic stage.
It is not only as a mere dramatist, therefore, that we should regard Aristophanes; but as the representative of that soberminded party in Athens, who, far from being dazzled with the glittering triumphs of war, foresaw eminent danger from that pandering to, and encouragement of, the people, so heedlessly practised during periods of excitement by the leaders of the
The gentleman who" does" the ancient dramatic biography for the "Penny Cyclopædia" seems to doubt the power of the old comic drama as the prototype of the press, but would rather refer that power to the demagogues of the ecclesia. He seems to doubt the possibility of a sufficient number of persons being present at the representation. The number of free citizens, however, was never more than 40,000; and these were the only persons necessary to be influenced so as to alter the votes in the ecclesia. One fourth, at least, of these citizens, if not more, might be accommodated, and were generally present, in the great theatre-a tolerable circulation for a newspaper in those days.