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HARASSING PROSELYTISM OF THE SICK AND DYING BY
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. The Church of Rome is avowedly a proselyting church, and she is not to be blamed for that ; for a conscientious man ought to act out his convictions. But Rome is not content to attempt to proselyte by argument and Scripture,but she uses every species of intimidation, and, where she can, compulsion; heeding little the means, if she can gain her end. This working of her system may be seen in England and Ire. land, where her emissaries can gain access to the unstable minds of the young, the enfeebled minds of the aged, the timidity of women, or the terrors of the sick and dying. It is strongly in operation upon the continent of Europe, in seminaries of education, and in hospitals and other public establishments; the following illustration of which may not be unworthy of your notice.
You are aware that the Evangelical Society of Geneva, and some other Protestant Societies, send out ministers and colporteurs, who relate many instances of the tyranny which they find prevailing where individual Protestants are surrounded by Romanist priests and female proselyters, who often persecute the weak and dying into apostacy. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ, the Rev. Mr. Zipperlen, who studied in the Geneva seminary, and whose ministry has been long blessed on the banks of the Saone, writes as follows:
" About six months ago there came to G. a young wheelwright from Rhenish Bavaria, who gained the love and esteem of his master, and all who knew himn. On the 21st of December he became seriously ill, and was conveyed to the hospital, where he died in about a week. During the last four days, the poor dying man, who could scarcely speak a few words of French, was incessantly harassed by the hospital Sisters, assisted by the Almoner and a German (Roman] Catholic, who acted as their interpreter. All the resources of the blindest fanaticism were employed to induce the dying man to change his religion. During the four last days, an immense wooden cross was fixed opposite to the dying man, another was placed on his breast, and his body was surrounded with rosaries. They endeavoured by every means to terrify him, telling him sometimes that he should be buried like a dog, at others that the devil would seek him on his death-bed. At last, on the last day of his life, they dragged him three times from his bed to the chapel belonging to the hospital to make him abjure Protestantism; and when they could not succeed, they sent for a German workman who spoke French the best, hoping that he would be more successful than their interpreter, whose knowledge they began to distrust ; but the Lord confounded the councils of the wicked. This workman, an old soldier, was also a Protestant, wbich the Sisters were not aware of, and when they had made their communications to him, he addressed the dying man, asking him if he intended to change his Evangelical faith for the Romish religion. The dying man, worn out with fatigue and anguish, replied that they might do what they would with him, if they would but let him die in peace. His friend having told him that no one in the world could force him to do any thing against his conscience, he replied, “I will die as I have been baptized.' Úpon this the old intrepid trooper addressed the Sisters and the chaplain, who surrounded the bed, reproaching them with their shameful conduct, and threatening that he would denounce them to the public authorities; and by the favour of God, he succeeded in intimidating them; the chaplain assured bim that he had only visited the dying man because he was told that he was determined to abjure his religion, and then made his escape as fast as possible. The Sisters also were much softened, and entreated the workman not to proceed against the German interpreter, who had only acted upon their injunctions.
"Our brave friend then addressed the dying man, encouraging him to continue stedfast in the faith of the Gospel, and promising him Christian burial. He did not leave him till eight o'clock at night, the hour for closing the Hospital. From that moment the dying man enjoyed quietness, and after having sighed now and then : ‘Jesus! my Saviour,' (as the Roman Catholic related next day) he died at half-past one in the morning. The old soldier having returned to the Hospital at day-break, and having found his friend dead, went to the Mayor to communicate the death, and to ask bis permission to have a respectable funeral. The Mayor, who was a very benevolent man, granted his request, and the Germans consulted as to what they ought to do; at last they agreed to send one of their number to me to request me to perform the funeral. I arrived at G the next morning. At eleven o'clock all the Protestants came to fetch me from the hotel whither I had gone, and I went through the town in my robes to attend the body from the Hospital. A handsome coffin, on which was painted an amaran. thine crown, had been prepared; we took the road to the cemetery, accompanied by a prodigious crowd, and receiving everywhere marks of profound respect. Five or six bundred persons of all classes and both sexes were assembled either within or without the inclosure of the cemetery; and favoured with the most beautiful sun, which after many days of rain had re-appeared in all its slendour, I was enabled, during three quarters of an hour, to proclaim the great truths of the Gospel. I have never seen so much attention and seriousness at any other funeral.' The Lord aided his servant with his power, and without any preparation but a humble prayer, I felt that I was master both of my subject and of my audience, and that my words proceeding from my heart reached the hearts of others. I thought the moment peculiarly favourable for pointing out the difference be. tween true Evangelical faith and an empty religion of parade. It appears that my observations had so much effect, that many persons gave their assent by loud acclamations. At last I ended with prayer, and then tears fell from the eyes of many. Praised be the Lord for his faithfulness ! the evening before I was ill, extremely hoarse, and the next day I was able to make myself heard in the open air, by nearly six hundred persons. To him alone be the glory; he is strong when we are weak, wise when we are foolish. Oh it is good to serve such a master ! Why do we not always feel this with the same force, the same gratitude !
“This funeral bad excited the attention of the whole town; every body blamed the conduct of the Sisters, and my Germans, quite happy and gratified, came every moment to tell me what such and such a person said. These honest fellows shewed their gratitude to me in the most affecting manner, and all promised to come and receive the Lord's supper in my Church at Easter. Two or three of these work. men interested me much by their pious sentiments, and I hope that tbis funeral will have happy effects upon them all. A sale of religious books and tracts after. wards took place, in consequence of these circumstances, among the whole popu. lation."
Blessed be God for this rescue; but who can say in how many instances such artifices and intimidations succeed, and Rome gains a proselyted body without a proselyted heart; or heart not proselyted till it is crushed with phrensy.
ON THE VALIDITY OF LAY-BAPTISM.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. If you will allow me space in your Magazine, I should wish (notwithstanding the excellent remarks you have appended to it) to make a few observations on the letter, in your Number for April, signed “ Clericus Rusticus.” I think your correspondent is mistaken in saying that "the Wesleyan system " makes "no pretensions to clerical orders.” When he adds, that “even if it did, there would be great room for questioning their authority,” he appears to me as though he spoke without suflicient decision. But I agree with him entirely when he says, " that baptism administered by a Methodist preacher cannot be regarded in any other light than that of lay-baptism.” The same observation, methinks, may extend to the baptism performed by preachers of some other sects. The only question we have to ascertain, then, is whether such baptism is valid, or not.
The opinion of by far the greater portion of the Church in all ages, hath been, that lay baptism, although generally decidedly unlawful, is yet valid. There can be no question, that in cases of necessity, laymen, and even women, were allowed to baptize ; and even where no such necessity existed, though the baptizer usurped the office wilfully, yet baptism was, to the person who received it, valid. No doubt he who baptised was guilty of sin ; but yet it was held that baptism was not to be repeated to the person he baptised, because to the latter it was effieacious. In the ancient Church (except the followers of Cyprian) the baptism of schismatics was received as valid, without any distinction; and even that of heretics, provided the matter and form of the sacrament were retained; viz, the water, and the name of the Trinity. Thus baptism performed by Arians was held valid, because, though denying the faith, they yet used the name of the Trinity. At the council of Arles, (A. D. 314) at which nearly 200 Western Bishops were present, a canon was enacted to this effect. A similar rule was prescribed by the great Council of Nice. Hence it was the general practice that schismatics coming into the Church were not re-baptised, because the baptism they had received, though unlawful, was yet valid. But heretics were in some cases re-baptised, that is, when the matter or form was wanting. Indeed, to talk of the invalidity of laybaptism, as Archbishop Whitgift observes, savours of Donatism and Anabaptism. In fact, there are few points more clearly stated among the ancients, than their decided opposition to re-baptising any one, if he had been baptised with the essentials of the sacrament, though by an unauthorised person ; but this was to admit the validity of such baptism.
As to the views taken by Churches at present, I need not produce the Church of Rome : which allows Turks, Jews, or Infidels to baptize in cases of necessity. The Greeks and Lutherans both allow lay, and even female, baptism in like cases. The Calvinistic Churches deny the lawfulness of lay-baptism in any case; and its validity, if performed.
The Church of England appears (as God hath so frequently directed her) to have chosen the middle and safest path. Though she does not authorise the laity, or schismatics, or heretics to baptize; yet she allows their baptism to be, in general, valid. The rubric to the office of private baptism, previous to the time of James I., stood thus : “ First, let them present call upon God for his grace, and say the Lord's prayer, if the time will suffer: and then one of them shall name the child, dip him in the water, and pour water upon him, saying these words, 'I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'”
When this rubric came to be reviewed, there arose two questions : First, whether lay-baptism was legal in the Church of England ? Second, if illegal, whether such baptism was null and void, and to be repeated ? Most part of the learned agreed in answering the first in the negative. All however agreed to this, that, however irregular and unlawful lay-baptism might me, it was yet valid. The most strenuous opponents of its legality were among the strongest supporters of its validity. Archbishop Whitgift, in his answer to Cartwright, while he condemns the practice as illegal, defends the validity of the sacraChrist. OBSERV. No. 30.
ment to the receiver. He says “the sacrament of baptism is true baptism, by whomsoever it is celebrated : the usurper of the office hath to answer for his intrusion, but the sacrament is not thereby defiled.” Again : " baptism ministered by women, is true baptism, though it be not lawful for women to baptize : as the baptism ministered by heretics is true baptism, though they be usurpers of the office.”
It is worth while to notice that the above quoted rubric was much objected to by the Dissenting party of that time, which, headed by Cartwright, vehemently insisted on the necessity of baptism being performed only by ordained ministers. Hooker, in the sixty-second Section of his Fifth Book, answers his objections to lay and female baptism. Hooker, therefore, evidently considered the doctrine of the Church to be, that lay-baptism was valid. He quotes Cartwright as saying, that “not only the dignity, but also the being of the Sacrament,” depends upon the person who dispenses it being “a minister or not.” In answer, Hooker observes, “ if baptism be seriously administered in the same element, with the same form of words which Christ's institution teacheth, there is no other defect in the world that can make it frustrate, or deprive it of the nature of a true Sacrament." And again he quotes St. Augustine, saying, “That which is given cannot possibly be denied to have been given, how truly soever we may say it hath not been given lawfully.” In the reign of Charles II. a person named Fisher wrote a defence of the Liturgy, and maintains therein, that though laymen were prohibited to baptize, yet, when it was done, their baptism was valid, and not to be repeated.” King James, who took an interest in the discussions relative to the rubric I have copied above, held this view. In short, we may convey what appears to be the present sense of the Church, in the words of Casaubon, who wrote at the command of James. She forbids, by her laws, laymen, or women to baptize; but if it be “done in due form, she does not altogether disallow or reject it, pronouncing it to be baptism, though unlawfully administered.” It is unauthorised, but not invalid.
There is a difficulty of great consequence in the way of denying the validity of lay-baptism; if denied, no one can be sure that he himself is baptized, because the minister who baptized him may have received orders at the hands of an unbaptized person, and consequently his orders, and all his offices, are null and void.
You, sir, observe that no doubt your correspondent would inter a person baptized by a Romish priest, as indeed he ought and would. But if thus he “practically gives assent to the validity" of schis. matical heretical baptism, why not to the baptism of a schismatic, who stops short in schism ?
W. W. H.
ON THE SYRIAC RENDERING OF “ HOUSEHOLD,” (1 Cor. i. 16, &c.)
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. A CORRESPONDENT in your last Number adduces, as evidence in favour of Pædo-baptism, the supposed rendering of some passages in the early Syriac version of the New Testament. I fully agree in the opinion which includes in the baptized households of Lydia and the jailor at Philippi, and in that of Stephanas at Corinth, the children of the respective families. In the two former cases, Daniel Isaac has reasoned the question with considerable tact, in a small volume of such controversial power that, were it not for the occasional sarcasm and levity which characterize its style, I could wish it might be read by every Baptist. I refer to this book from the recollections of several years past; but if I mistake not, the argument is not there forced beyond the high measure of probability naturally drawn from the circumstances of the narrative. To a mind willing to add to such an infer. ence the accordant testimony of early tradition as to the usage of the general Church, such reasoning will appear sufficiently convincing ; and therefore in venturing to question the soundness of your correspondent's remark, I am influenced rather by the fear lest untenable ground should be taken by an advocate of truth, than by the wish to oppose his argument. He candidly lays himself open to correction, from his acknowledged ignorance of the Syriac language; and in this I find an excuse for expressing my opinion, that his reference to that version is not marked with the accuracy desirable in all controversial criticisms.
The Syriac term used for the “ household" of Stephanas, in 1 Cor. i. 16, is Baith (house)-a term, I imagine, quite as general as the Greek oikos, or the English household. The household " of Lydia, and the "all his” of the jailor, in Acts xvi. 15 and 33, are expressed by Benai Baith (children of the house), an idiomatic form of frequent use both in Syriac and Hebrew; and that nothing can be inferred from this, that defines the age of those intended, to be childhood, will appear from a comparison with Matt. x. 25, where the very same words are applied to those who are of the household of the Saviour, and who are declared not exempt from the reproaches heaped on their Master. With the expression “ the children of the kingdom," Matt. xiii. 38, borrowed, as I conceive, from the Hebrew idiom, the English reader is so familiar as not to connect with it any ideas of infancy inappropriate to the character of those thus designated.
The singular form of the noun Bar Baith is applied in Gen. xv. 2. to Eliezer, when Abram speaks of him as the steward of his house. Here all idea of infancy seems excluded, and it rather seems to correspond to the generality of our word person or man, and the more definite idea answers to the French homme de menage. His position in the household of the patriarch agrees so far with that which the Anti-Pædobaptist assigns to the household of Lydia and the jailor, although he thus overlooks the improbability of an itinerant seller of purple, or a Roman jailor, having a retinue of dependents such as might well enough belong to the wealthy Sheikh, of Palestine.
Many other passages might be adduced in illustration of these remarks; but I forbear to intrude longer on your space.
T. W. M.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
WORKS AND LIFE OF MRS. HEMANS. The Works of Mrs. Hemans : with a Memoir of her Life by Her
Sister. In Seven Volumes, 1839. Poor Felicia Hemans ! Her tive of her history; for with some name was far from being descrip- heavy causes of affliction, and a