« הקודםהמשך »
deration of these things, one thing presents itself as calling for consideration,—and that is the implied-the necessarily implied-assumption, that it is in the power of any person,-not only with the consent of the father or other guardian, but without any such consent,-to fasten upon a child at its birth, and long before it is itself even capable of giving consent to anything, with the concurrence of two other persons, alike self-appointed, load it with a set of obligations-obligations of a most terrific and appalling character-obligations of the nature of oaths, of which just so much and no more is rendered visible, as is sufficient to render thein terrific-obligations, to which neither in quantity nor in quality are any limits attempted to be or capable of being assigned.
Every child, at its birth, is cast into bondage, under the power of three persons, who, for any provision that is made to the contrary, may have been self-chosen, and in practice frequently are. Even though these bonds were not more coercive than those of temporal slavery-of slavery in the temporal sense-this surely would be bad enough: —the notion of a power derived from the Almighty to cast men into such bondage, absurd and indefensible enough. But such bondage, what is it in comparison of the bondage actually supposed to be thus imposable and imposed ? It is as the space covered by human life to eternity: to that eternity, over which the effects, here supposed to be produced by this bondage, are here supposed to extend.
Oh but, by our wisdom and our care (say the lawgirers by whom this formulary was devised
and imposed)-by our wisdom and our care, against abuse of this power, provision-effectual provision-has in and by this very instrument been made ..
Answer.— Yes; such provision as will be seen. But, in the mean time, and to authorize you to make this provision, what you have assumed,and what for that purpose it was necessary for you to assume, - and that in the character of an universal proposition, is—that, by the Almighty, in consideration of that particular portion of wisdom which to you in particular it has happened to be blest with, such power not only is fit to be given to rulers in general, but has actually been given to them ;-and this, be they who they may, to all rulers: and sure enough, if, to the extent to which, to the purpose of the argument, it is necessary it should be assumed, this general proposition is granted, every proposition necessary to the establishment of your own aptitude in particular may be thrown into the bargain, as not being worth disputing about.
But, any such power—when and on what occasion was it ever given? where is any the least evidence of any such gift to be found ?
A job for the casuists.—Here is an engagement taken-an engagement taken in the solemn and awful form of a vow-a vow made hy the sponsors-that the child shall do so and so: a vow made by A, not that he himself, but that B, shall do so and so. B, in process of time, breaks the vow: for this transgression-for this breach of a vow—of a promissory oath—for this species of perjury, who is it that is to be punished ? A or B? or some one else, and who else?
If pua The persons
nished, in what mode and to what amount punished? by everlasting flames in hell, or by any and what milder punishment ?-Questions these, which, whenever this formulary is considered as any thing better than a parcel of words without meaning, will surely, now that, perhaps, for the first time the suggestion is made, be regarded as having some claim to answers. thus dealing out eventual punishment at their own pleasure-viz. the sponsors—are they the persons, by whom, in case of a breach of the vow, the punishment is to be borne,-suppose the ordinary one of everlasting burning in hell fire ?—if so, quere, of the whole number of persons who have been inveigled into the taking upon themselves this office, what is the number that will be saved ?
- What is the number?- Answer. None. For, whether its being kept inviolate is not as far from being possible as from being desirable, is what any rational
will presently be in a condition to perceive. Upon the person, whom, in a state of helpless infancy, under the direction of the Church of England hierarchy, they have thus fastened upon and loaded with this burthen-is it
this Jonas that the lot of punishment will fall ?—What a case is. his! and, in its effect, what sort of a boon is this which is thus magnified !
Thus much as to the general principle of the alleged engagement-now as to the subject matter of it.
Three, and but three, is the number here spoken of as the number of the things vowed and promised. But, of these three things, the firstmentioned is of itself a TRIPLE one, speaking of three things, or sets of things, as so many things which are to be renounced, ---as so many things, for the renunciation of which the child (whatsoever be meant by renunciation) undertakers, under the name of sponsors (or the child can not be a Christian) must be found, that will pledge themselves.
Mean time, without stopping as yet to take any clear view of the preceding things, no sooner is the last of them brought to view, than a question very naturally presents itself. Supposing this engagement fulfilled, can any thing else be wanting? “ God's holy will and commandments” kept, can any thing more be necessary? Is it in the nature of the case that even God himself should will or desire any thing more? The terms of the phrase, it must be confessed, are general; at the same time, for terms so comprehensive, few can be clearer or more easily intelligible.—“ A commandment”-what sort of a thing that is, is among those things, which, by daily and hourly reference, are made known to every body. Sure enough, if every thing else had been equally clear, no such commentary as the present would ever have made its
appearance. Come we now to those other « things” by which this last is so unnecessarily preceded.
In relation to these first-mentioned things, numbered first and second, the first observation that strikes the the eye is—that, presented as they are in this manner to view, the child is bid to look upon them as so many distinct things upon each of them as something which in its nature is distinct, and on this occasion specially contradistinguished from the thing last-men
nished, in what mode and to nished ? by everlasting flames i and what milder punishment ?which, whenever this formula as any thing better than a parcel meaning, will surely, now that, first time the suggestion is mas as having some claim to answe thus dealing out eventual puni own pleasure-viz. the sponsor persons, by whom, in case of a b the punishment is to be borne,nary one of everlasting burning in quere, of the whole number of
P been inveigled into the taking this office, what is the number th:
-What is the number?-Answe whether its being kept inviolate being possible as from being desi rational eye will presently be in a ceive. Upon the person, whom, i less infancy, under the direction England hierarchy, they have ti and loaded with this burthen-is that the lot of punishment will fi is. his! and, in its effect, wha is this which is thus magnified !
Thus much as to the G the alleged engagement-now matter of it.
Three, and but three, is the ken of as the number of the promised. But, of these thre mentioned is of itself a TRIPL