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which is of the wandering or “deliquescent" kind ;—the differences between them consist in the structure of the catkin-scales, which in the willows are narrow, pointed, and undivided, while in the poplars they are broad and lacerated. Minute though it be, this is the best absolute distinction, for although the poplars usually have leaves broader than long, and the willows leaves longer than broad, in matters of mere measurement we are never safe. Poplars, it may be added, are always arborescent, whereas willows, which are much more numerous as to species, frequently do not exceed the height of a man. A few are diminutive, and trail upon the ground: one of the smallest, and perhaps the most thoroughly arctic ligneous plants yet discovered, is the Salix polaris. The name of “poplar,” it must also be understood, is by no means the private property of the familiar spire-shaped tree, which is one only of a dozen different kinds, and which ought always to be specified as the “Lombardy poplar.”
A very curious peculiarity of many of the poplars is that owing to the length of the leaf-stalk, and to its being vertically flattened near the blade, the latter portion is competent to quiver, and is kept in motion by the wind, except during the stillest possible states of the atmosphere
“Gradual sinks the breeze
Of aspen tall." Directly the wind stirs, the leaves begin to move, and we hear the noise, as it were, of a gently falling shower; every leaf shakes upon its own account; the branch to which it belongs, and the tree itself, remain perfectly motionless, or exactly the reverse of what happens when a tree is “swayed” by the wind. Hence this tree has for ages been the symbol of tremor and timorousness, as in Homer, Ovid, 2 and a thousand others. Beautiful, in another direction, is the passage where old Homer uses the busy motion of the leaves, not one of them standing idle, as an image of the ceaseless whirling of the spindles in the workshops of Alcinous.3
Nothing in nature could thus be more fittingly selected for the purpose required in connection with the events narrated in 2 Sam. v.: —“And the Philistines came up yet again, ... and when David inquired of the Lord, He said, ... and let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the becaim, thou shalt bestir thyself." The object in view was of course that of a signal, and to render it effective the air would be stilled, admirably illustrating how the least of the phenomena of nature are no less immediately under the Divine control than the greatest and grandest. The A. V., in this passage, has unfortunately translated the word becaim by “mulberrytrees.” But the mulberry, with the Hebrews, had quite a different
1 Iliad, iv. 482.
3 Odyssey, vii. 106, referring, probably, to the Populus nigra, by the Greeks called aiyeipos.
name; the mulberry, moreover, is not subject to the movement so characteristic of the poplar,—the sensitive-plant of the trees; and that “poplar" is the legitimate rendering seems to be sustained by the fact that to this very day the Arabs call the tree bak, literally, the gnat or fly tree. The etymological identity is disputed, but the resemblance of the names is at least very striking, and no one who has watched the flitting of the little white-winged seeds, which for a while fill the air with fleecy atoms, can deny that if the tree be not so called it ought to be.
Willows and poplars, though certain kinds grow in dry places, are trees emphatically and habitually of the water-side :
“There is a willow grows askant the brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.” Hence the epithet of “populifer,” given by the ancient poets to favourite streams,—to the Spercheus, for instance, one of the affluents of the Peneus, in the vale of Tempe. Hence too, in all likelihood, the name of the locality spoken of in Psalm lxxxiv. 6, “the valley of Baca." Referable to their love of such localities, and to their being specially identified with the quiet and seclusion of the winding pathway by the river, where the fields, always sweet, are lone and peaceful, and there comes into one's spirit a certain tender pensiveness as we muse on the Before and After-would seem the very ancient association of these two trees with sorrow and melancholy. Men have not made the objects of nature into emblems and symbols : they simply discover for what purposes they were designed, or which they subserve. What began with the locality would be aided by the usual form of the tree, which is very generally inclined to the pendulous, in detail of twig and leaf, or what the arborists call “ weeping." And how charming are the fables that because of these associations are bound up with the trees for ever! Flourishing upon the banks of the Eridanus, the Po of modern geography, and the scene of the lament of the sisters of Phaëthon, it was into these that the weeping maidens were transformed by the pitying god : their tears flow afresh every year, oozing out as balsamic juice upon every leaf-bud. A more exquisitely fashioned myth it is impossible to find : to import botany into it is scarcely fair, yet it remains true that the scented gumminess of the leaf-buds of the Populus nigra, everywhere the commonest of the poplars, constitutes one of its best distinctive characters. Nor that it is peculiar to the Old World nigra. The American balsam-poplar is even more noted : the scent of the latter is one of the prime features of the vernal season ; if missed, it is because men do not believe enough in trees. This poplargum was believed by the ancients to be the origin of amber; 2 wherefore Pygmalion is represented as decorating his famous statue with “ the tears of the Heliades."3 Catullus has a remarkably beautiful phrase, "lightning-stricken Phaëthon's flexile sister." 4 i Met. i. 579. * Ibid. ii. 364-366.
8 Ibid. x. 263. 4 Poem 64. The marriage of Peleus and Thetis.
(To be continued.)
ON “INTRODUCING A RITE ANALOGOUS TO CONFIR
MATION' INTO THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE NEW
The Conference having entertained “the question of the desirableness of introducing a rite analogous to Confirmation into the institutions of the New Church," and for two successive years referred the consideration of it to committees for a report, it is made a public question, in the useful solution of which the whole Church should be interested. I therefore venture to offer a few thoughts bearing on several objections to it which have been urged by some friends of the Church, and to make a suggestion or two by which, as it appears to me, the uses contemplated by its proposers may be accomplished.
When I remember the gentlemen by whom this subject was proposed, I feel sure that their intention, and that of the Conference in taking it up, is to promote some spiritual uses among the young people of the Church ; it is, however, to be regretted that the proposition should have been encumbered with expressions, arising out of the ecclesiastical usage of a former Church, that convey a meaning which never could have been intended. The idea of introducing a rite into the Church cannot be entertained. The Conference has no more authority to introduce a new rite for the observance of the Church than it has to invent a new doctrine for the acceptance of its people. And the proposition that such a rite should resemble “ Confirmation" must have been made without due consideration of the meaning and purposes of that institution.
To confirm has several cognate meanings. Its main signification in the subject before us is to fix or establish, by means of evidence, something about the permanency of which there may be some uncertainty. In this sense it is frequently made use of in the Scriptures. Thus we read—“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law." Here a knowledge of the law is presumed, but its permanency is doubtful, because confirmation is required, and that depends on the affections of men fixing it upon their habits of life. So also “the disciples went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following." In this the hearing of the Word is presumed, but the confirmation of it depended on the signs which followed, and those signs, apart from a few occasional miracles, were the faith and virtue which resulted from its spiritual teaching. Other illustrations of this view of confirmation are related in the history of the apostles. “Paul and Barnabas having preached at Derbe, and taught many, returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith.” And again, we read that “Paul chose Silas and departed, and went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches."
1 This paper was read at the Ministers' Meeting held in Manchester on Thursday the 9th of October, and is forwarded for publication in the Repository in conformity with a resolution of that meeting --E.D.R.
There are other passages in the Acts in which this word occurs; but they all go to show that it signifies to establish faith in the Christian teaching, among those by whom it was but imperfectly accepted, by offering some new arguments and proofs in favour of those things which ought to be believed. There is nothing, so far as I have observed, to show that confirmation, in these cases, implied the observance of any rite or ceremony. Confirmation, as an ecclesiastical usage, has no reference to those histories; it is professedly founded on other passages in the Acts, in which the laying on of hands upon baptized persons is related. But it is difficult to see any analogy between the purposes of that usage and the facts which those passages record. This will presently appear.
Confirmation, according to the sixteenth canon of the Anglican Church, is “a solemn ancient and laudable custom of the Church of God, continued from Apostolic times ;” and the Book of “ Common Prayer" defines it as the “laying on of hands upon those who have been baptized, and are come to years of discretion.” In the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches this rite is considered as a sacrament, intended to complete what they assert to be the uses of baptism. In the Greek Church it is dispensed immediately after the rite of infant baptism has been administered; and in the Roman Catholic Church, before the Reformation, it was attended to in this country much earlier than at present. This is indicated in the address of the “ Order of Confirmation." All these Churches allow that, in cases of emergency, the baptism of infants may be performed by non-ecclesiastical persons, but confirmation can only be administered by a bishop of Apostolical succession. The Anglican Church expects that those who are confirmed can say the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Catechism ; and young persons are supposed to know these things when they are about the age of fourteen years. The design of this rite in that Church is to teach that children, hy becoming the subjects of it, ratify and take upon themselves those things which their sponsors had promised for them in their baptism; it is also considered to be the means by which sponsors are relieved from the special responsibility they had undertaken on the children's behalf. In all cases the laying on of hands by a bishop is indispensable to the uses and authorized performance of the rite. When administered, the bishop prays—“Almighty and everlasting God, we make our humble supplications unto Thee for these Thy servants, upon whom, after the example of Thy holy Apostles, we have now laid our hands, to certify them by this sign of Thy favour and goodness towards them." Thus the laying on of the Bishop's hands is declared to be a sign and certificate of the Divine favour. The scriptural examples cited to sustain this view of the case are very few, and certainly very remote from the fact which confirmation supposes.
In the Acts it is stated, “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For as yet he was fallen upon none of them : only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (viii. 15-17). This passage refers rather to the ordination of men into the ministry of the Church than to the confirmation of children in their membership. It says nothing about children having been baptized, and afterwards receiving the Word; on the contrary, it teaches that it was adult persons who had received the Word before they were baptized, and on whom the imposition of hands was administered. As the statement shows the order to be the reverse of what confirmation requires, and the subjects of it to be different, it cannot have any application to such a rite.
Again, we read of certain Ephesian converts who had believed and been baptized into John's baptism, but had not heard of the Holy Ghost. These were afterwards baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; and when Paul laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve (Acts xix. 1-7). Here also the subjects were adult persons accepting Christian baptism as a result of their conversion; and the laying on of hands was followed by the possession of some extraordinary powers, and therefore to cite this narrative as in any way bearing upon the ecclesiastical rite of confirmation must be an evident mistake.
From the Epistle to the Hebrews (vi. 1, 2) it is contended that the imposition of hands is to be a perpetual institution in the Church, necessary for completing the purposes of baptism. But this opinion cannot be maintained from that passage. The terms of it are—“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection ; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." The argument of the Apostle is, that he would not dwell on the first principles of Christian doctrine, but press upon the attention of the Hebrew converts the great duty of going on to perfection. Among those first principles he mentions baptism and the laying on of hands, but there is not the remotest evidence that he intended to suggest any such connection between those two things as that which confirmation supposes. They are simply enumerated, like repentance, faith, resurrection, and judgment, as things about which it was not his intention then to discourse—his main purpose being to direct attention to another subject. These are the principal passages on which it is asserted that confirmation is a scriptural rite, founded on apostolic usage. They teach no such doctrine, nor has it any scriptural basis.
No doubt it was an early invention, intended to serve the interests of the Church. “The Fathers” taught that the imposition of hands was a means through which the Holy Ghost was conveyed to those who had been baptized and believed. To this there was subsequently added the use of the chrism, or sacred ointment, for which the autho