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a story of a dumb person's being made to speak, should have slily added, to take in the scientific, that his dumbness or oral impediment was connected with deafness. Nothing can be clearer, than that St. Mark relates an actual fact, little thinking or caring about the accuracy of the physiological coincidence.
The ancients record, as Eusebius quoting Clemens of Alexandria relates, that St. Peter, under Divine inspiration, revised the Gospel of St. Mark ; in proof of which it is observable, that St. Peter's denial of our Lord is more fully related with its aggravations in this Gospel, than in the others; and his strong language, when he spake“ vehemently,” saying, “ If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise”—that is, for any consideration, or in any degree or manner—is given only by this Evangelist. If, then, it be true that St. Peter was thus divinely directed to add what was requisite, we can easily conceive, that, well remembering the exact circumstances, or having them recalled to his mind, he stated the fact that the mute was also deaf; and that our Lord, who understood his case, addressed the devil as having caused both these affections : but if any man supposes that either St. Peter or St. Mark invented the facts, he must have vast powers of credence.
These minute verifications are not necessary to those who have considered the whole evidence of Christianity ; but nothing is to be despised that adds even the smallest particle of cement to the goodly edifice.
ON MODESTY IN DRESS.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I have been much gratified by following you, in your capacity of a Christian Observer, in the varying scenes and incidents of the eventful times in which we live. While the religious world has been driven about with every wind of doctrine, and while the political world has been tossed by tempests which have drowned the voice of truth, you have held on the even tenor of your way, and, in spite of the reviling of your foes, or the suspicion of your friends, have freely expressed your sentiments on the deeply interesting and momentous topics which have crowded upon us in rapid succession, after weighing them with Christian independence in the balance of the sanctuary.
But there is one topic which I am much surprised should have escaped the notice and friendly animadversions of a Christian Observer. You have nobly advocated the cause of our female fellow-subjects in the West Indies, and have, I doubt not, essentially contributed to rouse the public indignation against the indecent and brutal outrages to which they are exposed. But there is a tyranny against which I am anxious you should raise your voice; a tyranny which, I fear, if unchecked and unresisted, will make la. mentable inroads on the delicacy of our countrywomen: I mean, ranny of Fashion, in depriving too many of them of that proper and sufficient clothing which heretofore they have enjoyed. That this tyranny, though it has now, I believe, reached an unprecedented height, is not altogether new in the modern history of our country, may be inferred from a clause in the draft of a “ Bill for the Abolition of the White Female Slave Trade,” in a paper from the pen of our illustrious countrywoman, Mrs. Hannah More, which she sent to your miscellany in 1804 (see p. 151), under the signature of “ An Enemy to all Slavery,” and which she afterwards published with her name.
It is as follows:“ If the African slaves go nearly naked, their burning clime prevents
the tythe want of covering from being one of their greatest hardships; whereas, though the female slaves of London and Westminster were aforetime comfortably clothed, and were allowed by the despot Fashion to accommodate their dress to the season-wearing the lightest garments in the hottest weather; and thick silks, trimmed with skins of beasts, in cold and frostnow, nakedness is of all seasons, and many of the most delicate females are allowed so little clothing as to give pain to the humane beholder. In the most rigorous seasons, they are so exposed as to endanger their own health, and shock the feelings of others, both on the score of compassion and delicacy.”
I conclude that this bill never passed into a law; or that, if it did, it has been repealed, or become obsolete; and as the session has now closed, and I hear of no petition on the subject preparing for the reformed parliament, I hope you will excuse my bringing it under your consideration, and entreating the insertion of my remarks, at least before the next equinoctial gales. Indeed, the degree in which propriety is now violated in the particulars I refer to, brings it properly under your jurisdiction as a Christian Observer. It has become, I am grieved to say, a question less perhaps of manners than of morals. Any female whom indisposition had confined to her chamber during the last two or three years, would scarcely believe, in walking abroad, that she was still among her countrywomen. She would rather imagine that she was transported to some Continental capital, with whose laxity, in the externals of female propriety, the modesty of her countrywomen had often, with honest gratification, been brought into flattering contrast by British travellers. She would fear that some American Mrs. Trollope had been over, to lecture them on their prudery; and that the right hand of their own venerable instructress had forgot its cunning. She would instinctively feel that delicacy was not conventional; and that, while national costumes might vary with every variety of climate and of taste, a scantiness of covering which in any given society is universally regarded as improper one year, can never in the same society be proper the next. And, if she were a Christian, she would feel more. She would remember how frequent and close is the connection in the Old Testament between purity of morals and modesty of attire. She would recollect how St. Paul exhorts “ that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety ;” and how, in enumerating the duties which were to be inculcated on the younger women, he points out, by juxta-position (Titus ii. 5), the peculiar and prominent place which he assigns to that discretion which was cautiously to shun every appearance of evil, and sedulously to guard against every occasion of sin. She would be anxious that her Christian sisters should stem the tide of evil customs, and evince their separation from the world, not by singularity in matters of indifference, but by boldly and perseveringly declining to follow the multitude in a fashion so obviously inconsistent with the Christian character.
But I will not enlarge or particularize. Fervently do I hope that my countrywomen will forgive the earnest appeal of one who is a husband, a father, and a brother; and I am sure they would, if they duly considered the practical evils of the pernicious custom which they have thoughtlessly sanctioned. Surely these are not times in which either the higher or the lower classes are characterized by such strictness of morals as to render circumspection less necessary, or neglect of proprieties more safe, than formerly. It is not many months since I saw, in the trial of a woman who was taken up by the police for gross indecorum of dress, that she defended herself by the plea that she was not more faulty than many of the higher classes, who were allowed thus to degrade themselves with impunity.
Now, if upon Christian women in this country is devolving the honourable office, as I am persuaded is the fact, of contributing most essentially to the stability of our institutions and the preservation of our national character, by the attachments and confidence they conciliate, and the healing influence they exert in their Christian intercourse with the poor, they will shrink with horror at the very idea of the possibility of promoting by inconsideration the corruption of our national manners. Yet nothing is lost by more sure and insensible degrees than the most exquisite of all female attractions, the sensitiveness of feminine delicacy, when customs at least equivocal are sanctioned by the fashionable crowd. It is stated in the last Edinburgh Review, that two travellers in America, in the course of the last two or three years, had been present on two different occasions when the dress of some newly imported opera dancers had put the female part of the company to fight; but a more recent traveller records that their scruples are giving way, and that he had seen such persons performing, unchecked, before a crowded female audience in Boston. I read this statement with the deepest grief; for, notwithstanding the defamation of Mrs. Trollope, I can, from personal observation at least as extensive as hers, bear a decided and delighted testimony to the great delicacy and propriety of the women of the United States of America. It is a national trait there, as well as in England, and deeply indeed should Igrieve to see it obliterated in either country. But decorum, like the sensitive plant, may soon lose its sensibility. The dew which lies all night cool and copious on its branches, is insensibly but rapidly exhaled by the meridian sun; and delicacy itself will not long retain its bloom, if exposed to the withering influence of pernicious fashions.
UNPUBLISHED PASTORAL LETTER OF DR. WATTS.
For the Christian Observer. Tue following epistle from Dr. Watts to his flock, written during one of those seasons of illness in which he was prevented ministering among them, it is believed, has never been published. The copy is endorsed as being a transcript of a letter “read by Mr. Scott in the church, the 5th of November, 1713, when almost all the brethren were present.” It will furnish a subject for many serious reflections in respect to the order and government of churches; and the members of the Church of England will certainly not find that such documents give them any cause to wish to see their own communion brought to the likeness of Dissenting congregations.
* Our correspondent seems to think us negligent, in not having called the attention of our readers to the subject of his letter; but the truth is, that we seldom notice such topics, fearing lest, without mending one evil, we should cause another. Offences which involve indecorum can scarcely be treated of in print, but at some risk; otherwise there is a long catalogue of public evils which call for animadversion and correction, as every Christian must feel who but reads our newspapers, or surveys our shops, or sees what is passing in our streets, or hears of the character and concomitants of some of our public entertainments. There is a time to be silent, and a time to speak; and if, in regard to some classes of evils, we have thought the character of a religious miscellany like ours usually required the former rather than the latter, it is not because we do not consider such matters of great importance. Our respected correspondent, by the way, ought not so to have interwoven the good-natured preliminary remarks in his letter, respecting the Christian Observer, that we could not, as we usually do, omit them, without maiming his argument. In vindicating so zealously the cause of modesty, he should have spared ours. We are happy, however, in knowing, that, though we have not been able to please all our readers, most of them have done us the justice to respect our intentions and our honesty, and not a few of them have coincided with us almost to the letter.
“ To the Church of Christ meeting in Bury Street, of which the Holy
Ghost has made me Overseer. “Dearly beloved in our Lord,
“Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you, from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. It has been a very sore aggravation to my long sorrows, that I have not been able to encourage your Christian visits, to converse with you singly, to receive your consolation, and relate my own experiences; nor have I been capable to express my constant concern for your welfare by writing to you together as a church, which I often designed: but you are in my heart more than ever. While God chastises my former want of zeal by silencing me for a season, I bow to His wisdom and holiness, and am learning obedience by the things that I suffer, and many lessons of righteousness and grace, which I hope hereafter to publish among you. As I have been long pleading with Him for pardon of my negligence, so I ask you also to forgive. Long afflictions are soul-searching providences, and discover the secrets of the heart and omissions of duty that were unobserved in a day of peace. May the blessed Spirit reveal to each of us why he continues to contend with us.
“I cannot reckon up all my obligations to you for your kind supports of me under my tedious and expensive sickness, and for your continued and instant prayers for my recovery, which gave me the first ground of hope that I should be restored; which hope and expectation still remain with me, and, I think, are supported by the word and Spirit of God. It seems at present to be more needful for you that I abide in the flesh; and I trust I shall yet abide, for your furtherance and joy of faith, that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Christ Jesus for me, by my coming to you again ; and while I am confined as the prisoner of God, I request the continuance of your supplications for patience and sanctification, as well as health.
“I rejoice, also, to hear of your union, your love, and your attendance on the worship of the church. This has been a great comfort to my thoughts in the time of my affliction and absence. Yet I am in pain for your edification, because you have none among you to administer the special and sealing ordinances; and since it is your earnest desire to know my opinion in that affair that lies before you, I have at several seasons been enabled to write it under these heads : namely,
“1. That there were in the primitive churches several preaching elders, bishops, or overseers.
“ 2. That where their gifts were different, some were called pastors, or elders for exhortation, to feed the flock, to exhort the saints; others were called teachers, or elders for doctrine, to instruct their hearers in the principles of Christianity-chiefly the younger Christians--and to bring in new converts.
“ 3. The Scripture makes no difference nor subordination of power betwixt them in the church ; but seems to give all elders an equality of power.
“ 4. The Scripture does not determine when, or how often, one or other should preach or administer holy ordinances : and yet it is necessary there should be some rule to decide it, lest ambition or controversy should arise among the elders in this matter.
“ 5. Therefore I believe the Church (to which the light of nature and Scripture has given all power in things indifferent that are necessary to be determined) has power to appoint the times, seasons, and places of their ministrations.
“ 6. It is for the certain advantage of a church to have more elders than one in it; that may more frequently visit the church ; more fully take care of them, and regularly administer all holy ordinances : if one or other be sick or absent, may also better keep the church together, and encourage young converts to join themselves to it.
“7. That it is for the advantage of a church to have such an elder chosen whose gifts have been tried and approved in the church, and been owned and blessed of God for the good of souls. Such a one may most likely please and profit.
Now, with regard to our church in particular, “ 1. It is my opinion, that, whether I live or die, if such an elder be chosen by the universal desire and voice of the Church, it will be much for their spiritual advantage, in all probability.
“ 2. Whether I live or die, if another elder be chosen with the desire of a few persons, and the opposition of a few, and the bare cold consent in the major part, it will not be for the advantage of the church; and I am sure my worthy brother Mr. Samuel Price, on whom your thoughts are set, has too tender a sense of your spiritual interest, and too wise a sense of his own, to accept of such an imperfect call to a fixed office in the church.
“ 3. If any elder be chosen by a pretty general desire of the church, though not universal, it will be for the interest of the Church, if I live and am restored to your service; and I shall rejoice to have you supplied with all ordinances in my absence by a man I can most entirely confide in ; and at my return shall rejoice to be assisted in all services to the church by one whom I love and esteem highly : and I wrote as much with an eye to your future benefit as to your present want.
• 4. If God, for my sins, should refuse to employ me again (for I have justly deserved it), and if he should deny the long and importunate requests of his people (for he is a great Sovereign), I trust he will direct and incline your hearts to choose and establish one or more elders among you, that may give universal satisfaction, and especially to such as now may be less satisfied, and may be for your future edification and increase.
5. If my beloved brother Price be chosen as an elder among you, I hope your diligent and sincere attendance on his ministrations will give you a more abundant sense of his true worth, of the exactness of his discourses, of the seriousness of his spirit, and of the constant blessing of God with him ; all which I have observed with much pleasure.
“ Now I have fully delivered my sentiments in this affair, and you see how sincere and hearty I am in it; yet I will give you two reasons why I did not think fit first to propose it to the church : (1) Because it is the proper business of the church to seek after elders and officers for itself, from a sight and sense of their own spiritual interest, both as Christians and as an united body; especially considering that the elder you propose to choose is not to be my deputy or servant, but your minister and overseer in the Lord : (2) Because I would never have any thing of such importance done in the church by the influence of my desire, without your own due sense, and prospect of your own edification and establishment as a church of Christ. Nor would I now influence you in this affair, unless the judgment of your minds concur with mine ; for, as I never had interest divided from the interest of the church, so I hope I never shall.
“And now, brethren dearly beloved, I entreat you, by the love of Christ to you, and by the love you bear to Christ our common Lord, that there may be no contentions among you. I shall be glad to find every
affair that belongs to the church carried by as many voices as I trust I have hearts and affections among you. However, let every one with freedom speak his sentiments as under the eye of Christ the great Shepherd, without bias or resentment, and with zeal for the church's interest. Let every thing that is debated be with calmness, and so much the more in my absence ; each of