Imatges de pÓgina

confess, that the allusions which you make to the English Liturgy did not appear to me so foreign from our mode of worship as you suppose. The truth is, though we have no set forms of prayer, yet the expressions employed in the English forms, are so similar to the expressions employed by the Scottish clergy, that your argument seemed to me to suffer nothing, from your appeal to examples taken from the English Prayer-Book. I must tell you, however, that I was disappointed in your passing over so slightly, those passages of Scripture to which the orthodox appeal as instances of prayer addressed to Christ. But when I say so, I am convinced that you could not have elucidated these, without a good deal of verbal criticism, which would have been altogether inadmissible in a popular discourse. Hence you will see that my disappointment had its origin, not in your neglecting to do what you ought to have done, but in my wish that you had done what did not properly lie in your way. You merely state that the phrase "calling upon the name of Christ," which the orthodox bring forward so obtrusively, upon every occasion, is a false translation, and that it is capable of another version. I am convinced that this is the case; but I am not sure that the Greek will bear the translation which the Unitarians generally give it. I think an intimate acquaintance with the use of the phrase in the New Testament, and with the circumstances in which the persons who are said to call on Christ were placed, and what is more, with the Greek of the Septuagint, might lead us to a translation, not only more just than either of the two generally adopted by the two parties, but perfectly free from giving the least handle to the orthodox doctrine. To explain the subject, however, is not the work of a letter. *** With kindest wishes for you, and the most ardent desire for the cause of truth,

I remain, my dear Sir, Yours, most affectionately, JAMES NICOL. The estimable and learned writer of this and the former letters, died on the 5th of the following November.

B. M.

Nov. 27, 1822.



the favour of a column or two of your valuable publication, for the purpose of explaining a passage of Scripture, hitherto, I befieve, little understood, and certainly not expounded by any of the commentators whom I have consulted. The passage is Mark ii. 18-22: "Now the disciples of John and the Pharisees were often fasting. And some come and say to him, "Why do the disciples of John and the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then, on that occasion, they will fast. No person sews a piece of new cloth on an old garment. For if he should do so, the piece of new cloth would separate from the old, and the rent become worse. And no person pours new wine into old skins; for the new wine would burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins would be lost. But new wine should be poured into new skins.'" #

The question in ver. 18, divested of its idiomatical turn in the original, is this-Why do thy disciples neglect the observance of fasts, contrary to the practice of the Pharisees and the disciples of John? It was very natural for Jews to ask this question; those whose law was full of ceremonial observances, and of minute regulations concerning feasts, purifications, fasts, &c., to which the Elders had added a cumbrous body of traditions, which descended to the notice of the merest punctilios. People whose minds and religious character had been formed under the influence of such a system of religious discipline, considered the right decision of such a question a matter of the highest importance.


I have presumed to offer a the illustration of the passage, (except intranslation, not because it is necessary to deed in regard to the word skins,) but because I am desirous of giving my suffrage for discontinuing the use of the common version.

Our Saviour's answer to this inquiry consists of two parts. The first is contained in the nineteenth and twentieth verses. But it is evident, that here it was our Saviour's intention to avoid the question-not to answer it. He indeed stated a fact that was true in itself that his disciples would mourn after his departure-but it had no particular bearing upon the question just proposed to him. Our Saviour in this and other instances avoided giving a direct answer to various queries, not because he was unwilling to declare and avow the truth, but because he knew that their minds were wholly unprepared to receive an answer to the inquiry both full and explicit, and accordant with the tenor of truly Christian principles. They were too powerfully under the influence of prepossessions and former habits of thinking to understand the spirituality of the Christian worship and discipline; so that if an answer had been made to them on this occasion in explicit and direct terms, no good and useful effect could have been possibly produced, but the contrary.

In the 21st and 22nd verses a direct answer is given to the question concerning fasting; but it is expressed in such symbolical terms, that however ready the inquirers might be to admit the truth of the literal meaning, (for who does not?) they were unable to understand the application to the subject under consideration. The obscurity of the passage has indeed remained to the present day; as most readers understand what is said about the garment and the wine as a kind of proverbial truism; and the commentators themselves think they explain it sufficiently, when they inform the unlearned reader, that it was customary in Judea to keep wine in certain animal skins prepared for that pur pose. Even the disciples of our Lord could not understand the true application and import of this symbolical and studiously obscure language, until they became acquainted with the essential difference between the old and new dispensation, the former being a system of external observances and bodily exercises, the latter a dispensation of spiritual worship and moral discipline. A correct view, however, of the nature of the two dispensations, the one carnal, consisting

of outward rites and observances, the other spiritual and moral, will give us an insight into the import of the sytnbolical language used here by our Saviour: and it amounts to this" If I, (we may suppose our Saviour to say,) I who have been sent into the world on purpose to abolish the whole ceremonial constitution of the Mosaic Law, to redeem the Jews from under the curse of the law, to do away entirely every thing of a carnal and formal nature; and was sent into the world, on the contrary, on purpose to teach the spirituality of divine worship, the essential obligations of the divine law of morality equally on Jews and Gentiles, and thus to abolish the old, and introduce a new order of divine worship and religious discipline-If I, under such circumstances, were to impose the necessity of fasting on my disciples, (and, pari ratione, of any other ceremonial outward observance,) I should be acting the foolish and inconsistent part of him, who should put new wine into old skins, or sew a piece of new cloth upon an old gar


The above interpretation is easy and natural, and approves itself to the mind as soon as it is offered: and our surprise is (at least it was the case with myself) that it escaped our notice so long. The reason, perhaps, why it has been so little known or perceived, is the unhappy prejudices and misapprehensions of the generality of Christians in regard to the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ. The system of religion which is generally upheld in this quarter of the world is essentially a worldly policy-a temporal domination. The kingdom of Christ is not a kingdom of this world. That, therefore, institutions and ordinances should have been introduced into one, which the other not only virtually disclaims, but expressly rejects and disavows, is no wonder after the admission of an essential and radical mistake.

I hope it will give satisfaction to the rational and conscientious Christian to find, that his views and opinions in general are confirmed and illustrated by the investigation of scriptural truth and the language of the New Testament; by means of which discoveries are made from time to time, of greater or less importance, by those who pur

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sue the road of free inquiry, and preserve a mind, not only open to conviction, but favourable for making discoveries and enlarging the boundaries of religious knowledge. W. J.

On Female Education.

Norwich, November, 1822. N discussing the Female Education, it is not so much, my object to inquire whether the natural powers of women be equal to those of men, as to shew the expediency of giving proper scope and employment to the powers which they do possess. It may be as well, notwithstanding, to inquire whether the difference be as great as is generally supposed between the mental structure of men and of



Doubtless the formation of the mind must depend in a great degree on the structure of the body. From this cause the strength of mind observable in men is supposed to arise; and the delicacy of the female mind is thought to be in agreement with the bodily frame. But it is impossible to ascertain how much may depend on early education; nor can we solve our doubts on this head by turning our view to savage countries, where, if the bodily strength be nearly equal in the two sexes, their minds are alike sunk in ignorance and darkness. In our own country, we find that as long as the studies of children of both sexes continue the same, the progress they make is equal. After the rudiments of knowledge have been obtained, in the cultivated ranks of society, (of which alone I mean to speak,) the boy goes on continually increasing his stock of information, it being his only employment to store and exercise his mind for future years; while the girl is probably confined to low pursuits, her aspirings after knowledge are subdued, she is taught to believe that solid information is unbecoming her sex, almost her whole time is expended on light accomplishments, and thus before she is sensible of her powers, they are checked in their growth, chained down to mean objects, to rise no more; and when the natural consequences of this mode of treatment arise, all mankind agree that the abili

ties of women are far inferior to those of men. But in the few instances where a contrary mode of treatment has been pursued, where fair play has been given to the faculties, even without much assistance, what has almost invariably been the result? Has. it not been evident that the female mind, though in many respects differently constituted from that of man, may be well brought into comparison with his? spirit, the deficiency is made up by enterprising perseverance in what she does undertake; for his ambition, she has a thirst for knowledge; and for his ready perception, she has unwearied application.

It is proof sufficient to my mind, that there is no natural deficiency of power, that, unless proper objects are supplied to women to employ their faculties, their energies are exerted improperly. Some aim they must have, and if no good one is presented to them, they must seek for a bad


We may find evidence in abundance of this truth in the condition of women before the introduction of Christianity.

Before the revelation of this blessed religion, (doubly blessed to the female sex,) what was their situation? They were either sunk almost to the level of the brutes in mental darkness, buried in their own homes, the slaves instead of the companions of their husbands, only to be preserved from vice by being excluded from the world, or, not being able to endure these restraints, employing their restless powers and turbulent passions in the pursuit of vicious pleasures and sensual gratifications. And we cannot wonder that this was the case, when they were gifted with faculties which they were not permitted to exercise, and were compelled to vegetate from year to year, with no object in life and no hope in death. Observe what an immediate change was wrought by the introduction of Christianity. Mark the zeal, directed by knowledge, of the female converts, of so many of whom St. Paul makes honourable mention as his friends, on account of their exertions in the great cause. An object was held out for them to obtain, and their powers were bent to the attainment of it, instead of being

engaged in vice and folly. The female character has been observed to improve since that time, in proportion as the treasures of useful knowledge have been placed within the reach of the sex.

I wish to imply by what I have said, not that great stores of information are as necessary to women as to men, but that as much care should be taken of the formation of their minds. Their attainments cannot in general be so great, because they have their own appropriate duties and peculiar employments, the neglect of which nothing can excuse; but I contend that these duties will be better performed if the powers be rationally employed. If the whole mind be exercised and strengthened, it will bring more vigour to the performance of its duties in any particular province.

The first great objection which is made to enlightening the female mind is, that if engaged in the pursuit of knowledge, women neglect their appropriate duties and peculiar employ


2nd. That the greatest advances that the female mind can make in knowledge, must still fall far short of the attainments of the other sex.

3rd. That the vanity so universally ascribed to the sex is apt to be inflated by any degree of proficiency in knowledge, and that women therefore become forgetful of the subordinate station assigned them by law, natural and divine.

To the first objection I answer, that such a pursuit of knowledge as shall lead women to neglect their peculiar duties, is not that cultivation of mind for the utility of which I am contending. But these duties may be well performed without engaging the whole time and attention. If "great thoughts constitute great minds," what can be expected from a woınan whose whole intellect is employed on the trifling cares and comparatively mean occupations, to which the advocates for female ignorance would condemn her? These cares and these occupations were allotted to women to enable them to smooth our way through life; they were designed as a means to this end, and should never be pursued as the end itself.. The knowledge of these necessary acts is so easily acquired, and they are so easily performed, that

an active mind will feel a dismal vacuity, a craving after something nobler and better to employ the thoughts in the intervals of idleness which must occur when these calls of duty are answered, and if nothing nobler and better is presented to it, it will waste its energies in the pursuit of folly, if not of vice, and thus continually perpetuate the faults of the sex.

Some will perhaps say, "if household occupations are insufficient to exercise the mind, the wide field of charity is open to the employment of its energies." It is so. But how inefficient is benevolence when not directed by knowledge! And how comparatively faint will be the exertions in the cause, when the views are bounded, the motives narrow and even selfish, (for ignorance is the mother of selfishness,) and charity pursued more as a present employment, than with the desire of doing permanent good to the objects of this shallow benevolence! How different is this from the charity of an enlightened mind, of a mind which, enlarged by knowledge, can comprehend extensive views, can design not only the present relief of misery, but can look forward to the permanent improvement of its kind; which, understanding the workings of the mind, and able to profit by the experience of others, can choose the best means for the attainment of certain ends, and thus by uniting knowledge and judgment with benevolence, can make its efforts doubly efficient ! But even if the calls of charity be answered, and feminine duties performed, yet much leisure remains for other pursuits: and what should these pursuits be? Surely, such as will make social intercourse more delightful, such as will furnish innocent recreation at home, such as will cheer the hours of dulness, and furnish pleasant subjects for the thoughts to turn to in times of sickness or of sorrow.

It must be allowed by all, that one of woman's first duties is to qualify. herself for being a companion to her husband, or to those with whom her lot in life is cast. She was formed to be a domestic companion, and such an one as shall give to home its charms, as shall furnish such entertainment that her husband need not be driven abroad for amusement. This is one of the first duties required from a wo

man, and no time can be misemployed which is applied to the purpose of making her such a companion, and I contend that a friend like this cannot be found among women of uncultivated minds. If their thoughts are continually occupied by the vanities of the world, if that time which is not required for the fulfilment of household duties, is spent in folly, or even in harmless trifles in which the husband has no interest, how are the powers of pleasing to be perpetuated, how is she to find interesting subjects for social converse? Surely these desirable objects are best promoted by the hours of leisure being devoted to the acquirement of useful knowledge, such knowledge as may excite the reflective powers, enlarge and steady the mind, and raise it, nearly at least, to the level of the other sex. Thus there may be companionship between the sexes, and surely no woman who aspires to and labours for this end can be accused of neglecting her peculiar duties. But for this object to be completely gained, the work must be begun early. The powers should be cultivated from infancy, and the mind taught to feel pleasure in seeking for information, always in subservience to more important avocations. If the soul be early contracted by too great an attention to trifles, if it be taught that ignorance is to be its portion, no later endeavours will be of any avail to ennoble it.

If we consider woman as the guardian and instructress of infancy, her claims to cultivation of mind become doubly urgent. It is evident that if the soul of the teacher is narrow and contracted, that of the pupil cannot be enlarged. If we consider that the first years of childhood exert an influence over the whole future life, we cannot be too careful to preserve our children from the effects of ignorance and prejudice on their young minds. It has been frequently and justly observed, that almost all men, remarkable for talents or virtue, have had excellent mothers, to the early influence of whose noble qualities, the future superiority of their children was mainly to be ascribed. If this be true, what might not be hoped from the labours of a race of enlightened mothers, who would early impress on their children's minds lessons of piety and

wisdom, and who would make the first sentiments of their souls noble and enlarged, who would take in at one comprehensive view all that was to be done to render them what they ought to be, and who would render their first instructions subservient to the objects to be afterwards pursued! If such were to be the foundation of character, what might not the superstructure be!

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It may be said that many minds have been great, capable of conceiving and executing noble designs, without any advantages of education. It is certainly true, but these minds have been too aspiring to be chained down by the fetters of ignorance; they have become great in spite of disadvantages, and not in consequence of them; and had their powers been cultivated, their efforts would probably have been better directed and doubly successful. But the best proof, that all the usefulness and all the feminine qualities of women may remain unimpaired, notwithstanding the acquisition of knowledge, may be gained by referring to our own observation and experience. I have known young women whose whole time was occupied by the care of a numerous family of brothers and sisters, stealing a few minutes daily from their breakfast hour, to study the Greek tongue, for the purpose of reading the Testament in the original language; and in no degree did this pursuit interfere with their active duties; so little so, that it was even unknown by most of their own family. They attained their object, and enjoyed the satisfaction of settling their religious belief for themselves, without any diminution of their usefulness as women. I do not mean by this that I would have all women instructed in the learned languages. This would be needless, and for those of inferior talents the time would be wasted. I only wish to shew that even such deep knowledge as these ladies possessed, did not lead them to appropriate their time too much to selfish purposes. I have also known a young lady, who, notwithstanding the disadvantages of a defective early education, has made wonderful progress in knowledge of various kinds, especially in the study of the human mind and yet she superintends a large domestic establishment, has founded a school, which is sup


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