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Explanation of Mark ii. 18-22.
75 confess, that the allusions which you
Manchester, inake to the English Liturgy did not Sir,
Nov. 27, 1822. appear to me so foreign from our REQUEST the favour of a column mode of worship as you suppose. or two of your valuable publicaThe truth is, though we have no set tion, for the purpose of explaining a forms of prayer, yet the expressions passage of Scripture, hitherto, I beemployed in the English forms, are lieve, little understood, and certainly so similar to the expressions employed not expounded by any of the commenby the Scottish clergy, that your ar- tators whom I have consulted. The gument seemed to me to suffer no- passage is Mark ii. 18—22: “ Now thing, from your appeal to examples the disciples of John and the Phataken from the English Prayer-Book. risees were often fasting. And some I must tell you, however, that I was come and say to him, Why do the disappointed in your passing over so disciples of John and the Pharisees slightly, those passages of Scripture fast, but thy disciples do not fast?”. to which the orthodox appeal as in- And Jesus said to them, “Can the stances of prayer addressed to Christ. children of the bride-chamber fast, But when I say so, I am convinced while the bridegroom is with them? that you could not have elucidated As long as they have the bridegroom these, without a good deal of verbal with them, they cannot fast. But the criticism, which would have been alto- days will come when the bridegroom gether inadmissible in a popular dis- shall be taken away from them, and course. Hence you will see that my then, on that occasion, they will fast. disappointment had its origin, not in No person sews a piece of new cloth your neglecting to do what you ought on an old garment. For if he should to have done, but in my wish that you do so, the piece of new cloth would had done what did not properly lie in separate from the old, and the rent your way. You merely state that the become worse. And no person pours phrase “ calling upon the name of new wine into old skins; for the new Christ,” which the orthodox bring wine would burst the skins, and both forward so obtrusively, upon every
the wine and the skins would be lost. occasion, is a false translation, and But new wine should be poured into that it is capable of another version.
new skins.'». I am convinced that this is the case; The question in ver. 18, divested of but I am not sure that the Greek will its idiomatical turn in the original, is bear the translation which the Unita-this-Why do thy disciples "neglect rians generally give it. I think an the observance of fasts, contrary to intimate acquaintance with the use of the practice of the Pharisees and the the phrase in the New Testament, and disciples of John? It was very natuwith the circumstances in which the ral for Jews to ask this question ; persons who are said to call on Christ those whose law was full of ceremowere placed, and what is more, with "nial observances, and of minute reguthe Greek of the Septuagint, might lations concerning feasts, purifications, lead us to a translation, not only fasts, &c., to which the Elders, had more just than either of the two ge- added a cambrous body of traditions, nerally adopted by the two parties, which descended to the notice of the but perfectly free from giving the merest punctilios. People whose minds least handle to the orthodox doctrine. and religious character had been formTo explain the subject, however, is ed under the infuence of such a sysnot the work of a letter. •• * With tem of religious discipline, considered kindest wishes for you, and the most the right decision of such a question a ardent desire for the cause of truth, matter of the highest importance.
I remain, my dear Sir,
. I have presumed to offer a writer of this and the former letters,
translation, not because it is necessary to
the illustration of the passage, (except indied on the 5th of the following No
deed in regard to the word skins,) but Tember.
because I am desirous of giving my sufB. M.
frage for discontinuing the use of the comnion versioni
Our Saviour's answer to this inquiry of outward rites and observances, the consists of two parts. The first is other spiritual and moral, will give us contained in the nineteenth and twen- an insight into the import of the sytntieth verses. But it is evident, that bolical language used here by our Sahere it was our Saviour's intention to viour: and it amounts to this." If I, avoid the questionnot to answer it. (we may suppose our Saviour to say,) He indeed stated a fact that was true I who have been sent into the world on in itself-that his disciples would purpose to abolish the whole ceremomourn after his departure--but it had nial constitution of the Mosaic Law, 110 particular bearing upon the ques. to redeem the Jews from under the tion just proposed to him. Our Sa- curse of the law, to do away entirely viour in this and other instances avoid- every thing of a carnal and formal naed giving a direct answer to various ture; and was sent into the world, on queries, not because he was unwilling the contrary, on purpose to teach the io declare and avow the truth, but be- spirituality of divine worship, the cause he knew that their minds were essential obligations of the divine law wholly unprepared to receive an an- of morality equally on Jews and Genswer to the inquiry both full and ex- tiles, and thus to abolish the old, and plicit, and accordant with the tenor introduce a new order of divine worof truly Christian principles. They ship and religious discipline - If I, were too powerfully under the influ- under such circumstances, were to ence of prepossessions and former impose the necessity of fasting on my habits of thinking to understand the disciples, (and, pari ratione, of any spirituality of the Christian worship other ceremonial outward observance,) and discipline; so that if an answer I should be acting the foolish and inhad been made to them on this occa- consistent part of him, who should sion in explicit ard direct terms, no put new wine into old skins, or sew a good and useful effect could have been piece of new cloth upon an old garpossibly produced, but the contrary. ment."
In the 21st and 22nd verses a direct The above interpretation is easy answer is given to the question con- and natural, and approves itself to the cerning fasting ; but it is expressed in mind as soon as it is offered : and our such symbolical terms, that however surprise is (at least it was the case ready the inquirers might be to admit with myself) that it escaped our notice the truth of the literal meaning, (for so long. The reason, perhaps, why it who does not?) they were unable to has been so little known or perceived, understand the application to the sub- is the unhappy prejudices and misapject under consideration. The obscu- prehensions of the generality of Chrisrity of the passage has indeed remain- tians in regard to the spiritual nature eal to the present day; as most readers of the kingdom of Christ. The sysunderstand what is said about the tem of religion which is generally upgarment and the wine as a kind of held in this quarter of the world is proverbial truism; and the commen- essentially a worldly policy-a tempotators themselves think they explain ral domination. The kingdom of it sufficiently, when they inform the Christ is not a kingdom of this world. unlearned reader, that it was custo- That, therefore, institutions and ordimary in Judea to keep wine in certain Dances should have been introduced animal skins prepared for that pur. into one, which the other not only pose. Even the disciples of our Lord virtually disclaims, but expressly recould not understand the true appli- jects and disavows, is no wonder after cation and import of this symbolical the admission of an essential and radiand studiously obscure language, un- cal mistake. til they became acquainted with the I hope it will give satisfaction to the essential difference between the old rational and conscientious Christian and new dispensation, the former be- to find, that his views and opinions in ing, a system of external observances general are confirmed and illustrated and bodily exercises, the latter a dis- by the investigation of scriptural truth pensation of spiritual worship and and the language of the New Testamoral discipline. A correct view, ment; by means of which discoveries however, of the nature of the two disa are made from time to time, of greater pensations, the one carnal, consisting or less importance, by those who pur
On Female Education. .
77 sue the road of free inquiry, and pre- ties of women are far inferior to those serve a mind, not only open to con- of men. But in the few instances viction, but favourable for making where a contrary mode of treatment discoveries and enlarging the bounda- has been pursued, where fair play has ries of religious knowledge.
been given to the faculties, even withW. J. out much assistance, what has almost
invariably been the result ? Has, it
not been evident that the female mind, On Female Education.
though in many respects differently Norwich, November, 1822.
constituted from that of man, may be
well brought into comparison with N discussing the subject his If she wants his enterprising I Education, it is not so much, my spirit, the deficiency is made up by object to inquire whether the natural perseverance in what she does underpowers of women be equal to those of take ; for his ambition, she has a wen, as to shew the expediency of thirst for knowledge; and for his ready giving proper scope and employment perception, she has unwearied applito the powers which they do possess. cation. It may be as well, notwithstanding, It is proof sufficient to my mind, to inquire whether the difference be as that there is no natural deficiency of great as is generally supposed between power, that, unless proper objects are the mental structure of men and of supplied to women to employ their women.
faculties, their energies are exerted Doubtless the formation of the mind improperly. Some aim they must must depend in a great degree on the have, and if no good one is presented structure of the body. From this to them, they must seek for a bad cause the strength of mind observable
one. in men is supposed to arise ; and the
We may find evidence in abundance delicacy of the female mind is thought of this truth in the condition of woto be in agreement with the bodily men before the introduction of Chrisframe. But it is impossible to ascer- tianity. tain how much may depend on early Before the revelation of this blessed education; nor can we solve our religion, (doubly blessed to the female doubts on this head by turning our sex,) what was their situation? They view to savage countries, where, if the were either sunk almost to the level bodily strength be nearly equal in the of the brutes in mental darkness, butwo sexes, their minds are alike sunk ried in their own homes, the slaves inin ignorance and darkness. In our own stead of the companions of their huscountry, we find that as long as the bands, only to be preserved from vice studies of children of both sexes con- by being excluded from the world, or, tinue the same, the progress they not being able to endure these remake is equal. After the rudiments straints, employing their restless of knowledge have been obtained, in powers and turbulent passions in the the cultivated ranks of society, (of pursuit of vicious pleasures and senwhich alone I mean to speak,) the boy sual gratifications. And we cannot goes on continually increasing his wonder that this was the case, when stock of information, it being his only they were gifted with faculties which employment to store and exercise his they were not permitted to exercise, mind for future years; while the girl and were compelled to vegetate from is probably confined to low pursuits, year to year, with no object in life and her aspirings after knowledge are sub- no hope in death. Observe what an dued, she is taught to believe that immediate change was wrought by the solid'information is unbecoming her introduction of Christianity. Mark sex, almost her whole time is expend- the zeal, directed by knowledge, of ed on liglit accomplishments, and thus the fernale converts, of so many of before she is sensible of her powers, whom St. Paul makes honourable they are checked in their growth, mention as his friends, on account of chained down to mean objects, to rise their exertions in the great cause. An no more ; and when the natural con object was held out for them to obsequences of this mode of treatment cain, and their powers were bent to arise, all mankind agree that the abili- the attaininent of it, instead of being engaged in vice and folly. The female an active mind will feel a dismal vacharacter has been observed to im- cuity, a craving after something nobler prove since that time, in proportion and better to employ the thoughts in as the treasures of useful knowledge the intervals of idleness which must have been placed within the reach of occur when these calls of duty are anthe sex.
swered, and if nothing nobler and I wish to imply by what I have said, better is presented to it, it will waste not that great stores of information its energies in the pursuit of folly, if are as necessary to women as to men, not of vice, and thus continually perbut that as inuch care should be taken petuate the faults of the sex. of the formation of their minds. Their Some will perhaps say, "if houseattainments cannot in general be so hold occupations are insufficient to great, because they have their own exercise the mind, the wide field of appropriate duties and peculiar em- charity is open to the employment of ployinents, the neglect of which no- its energies." It is so. But how inthing can excuse; but I contend that efficient is benevolence when not dithese duties will be better performed rected by knowledge! And how comif the powers be rationally employed. paratively faint will be the exertions If the whole mind be exercised and in the cause, when the views are strengthened, it will bring more vigour bounded, the motives narrow and even to the performance of its duties in any selfish, (for ignorance is the mother of particular province.
selfishness,) and charity pursued more The first great objection which is as a present employment, than with made to enlightening the female mind the desire of doing permanent good to is, that if engaged in the pursuit of the objects of this shallow benevoknowledge, women neglect their ap- lence! How different is this from the propriate duties and peculiar employ- charity of an enlightened mind, of a ments.
mind which, enlarged by knowledge, 2nd. That the greatest advances that can comprehend extensive views, can the female mind can make in know. design not only the present relief of ledge, must still fall far short of the misery, but can look forward to the attainments of the other sex.
permanent improvement of its kind ; 3rd. That the vanity so universally which, understanding the workings of ascribed to the sex is apt to be inflated the mind, and able to profit: by the by any degree of proficiency in know- experience of others, can choose the ledge, and that women therefore be- best means for the attainment of cercome forgetful of the subordinate sta- tain ends, and thus by uniting knowtion assigned them by law, natural and ledge and judgment with benevolence, divine.
can make its efforts doubly efficient ! To the first objection I answer, that But even if the calls of charity be ansuch a pursuit of knowledge as shall swered, and feminine duties performed, lead women to neglect their peculiar yet much leisure remains for other duties, is not that cultivation of mind pursuits : and what should these purfor the utility of wbich I am contend- suits be? Surely, such as will make ing. But these duties may be well social intercourse more delightful, performed without engaging the whole such as will furnish innocent recreatime and attention. If “great thoughts tion at home, such as will cheer the constitute great minds, what can be hours of dulness, and furnish pleasant expected from a woinan whose whole subjects for the thoughts to turn to in intellect is employed on the trifling times of sickness or of sorrow. cares and comparatively mean occupa- It must be allowed by all, that one tions, to which the advocates for fe- of woman's first duties is to qualify male ignorance would condemn her? herself for being a companion to her These cares and these occupations husband, or to those with whom her were allotted to women to enable lot in life is cast. She was formed to them to smooth our way through life; be a domestic companion, and such an they were designed as a means to this one as shall give to home its charms, end, and should never be pursued as as shall furnish such entertainment the end itself. The knowledge of these that her husband need not be driven necessary acts is so easily acquired, abroad for amusement. This is one and they are so easily performed, that of the first duties required from a wo
On Female Education.
79 man, and no time can be misemployed wisdom, and who wonld make the which is applied to the purpose of first sentiments of their souls noble making her such a companion, and I and enlarged, who would take in at contend that a friend like this cannot one comprehensive view all that was be found among women of unculti- to be done to render them what they vated minds. If their thoughts are ought to be, and who would render continually occupied by the vanities of their first instructions subservient to the world, if that time which is not the objects to be afterwards pursued ! required for the fulfilment of house. If such were to be the foundation of kold duties, is spent in folly, or even character, what might not the superin harmless trifles in which the hus- structure be ! band has no interest, how are the It may be said that many minds powers of pleasing to be perpetuated, have been great, capable of conceiving how is she to find interesting subjects and executing noble designs, without for social converse ? Surely these any advantages of education. It is desirable objects are best promoted by certainly true, but these minds have the hours of leisure being devoted to been too aspiring to be chained down the acquirement of useful knowledge, by the fetters of ignorance ; they have such knowledge as may excite the re- become great in spite of disadvantages, flective powers, enlarge and steady the and not in consequence of them; and mind, and raise it, nearly at least, to had their powers been cultivated, their the level of the other sex. Thus there efforts would probably have been betmay be companionship between the ter directed and doubly successful. sexes, and surely no woman who asa . But the best proof, that all the usefulpires to and labours for this end can ness and all the feminine qualities of be accused of neglecting her peculiar women may remain unimpaired, notduties. But for this object to be com- withstanding the acquisition of knowpletely gained,
the work must be be- ledge, may be gained by referring to gun early. The powers should be - our own observation and experience. cultivated from infancy, and the mind I have known young women whose taught to feel pleasure in seeking for whole time was occupied by the care information, always in subservience to of a numerous family of brothers and more important avocations. If the sisters, stealing a few minutes daily soul be early contracted by too great from their breakfast hour, to study the an attention to trifles, if it be taught Greek tongue, for the purpose of readthat ignorance is to be its portion, no ing the Testament in the original lanlater endeavours will be of any avail guage; and in no degree did this purto ennoble it.
suit interfere with their active duties; If we consider woman as the guar- so little so, that it was even unknown dian and instructress of infancy, her by most of their own family. They claims to cultivation of mind become attained their object, and enjoyed the doubly urgent. It is evident that if satisfaction of settling their religious the soul of the teacher is narrow and belief for themselves, without any dicontracted, that of the pupil cannot minution of their usefulness as women. be enlarged. If we consider that the I do not mean by this that I would first years of childhood exert an influ. have all women instructed in the learnence over the whole future life, we ed languages. This would be needless, cannot be too careful to preserve our and for those of inferior talents the children from the effects of ignorance time would be wasted. I only wish to and prejudice on their young minds. shew that even such deep knowledge It has been frequently and justly ob- ' as these ladies possessed, did not lead served, that almost all men, remarka- them to appropriate their time too ble for talents or virtue, have had ex- much to selfish purposes. I have also cellent mothers, to the early infinence known young lady, who, notwithof whose noble qualities, the future standing the disadvantages of a defecsuperiority of their children was main- tive early education, has made wonly to be ascribed. If this be true, derful progress in knowledge of variwhat might not be hoped from the la- ous kinds, especially in the study of bours of a race of enlightened mothers, the human mind : and yet she superwho would early impress on their intends a large domestic establishment, children's minds lessons of piety and has founded a school, which is sup