Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page

Advertising

THE BURIALS QUESTION.

News
Cite
Share

THE BURIALS QUESTION. Mr. Osborne Morgan's resolution on the burials question was brought forward in the House of Commons, on Friday night last. The motion was lost by a majority of only 15, and amongst the Welsh members who voted for it, and formed part of the minority, were :-David Davies (Cardigan Boroughs), Richard Davies, L. L. Dillwyn, Lord Kensington, Morgan Lloyd, W. F. Maitland, E. J. Reed, H. Richard, Colonel Stuart, H. H. Vivian, and Watkin Williams. The following voted against the motion:—T. E. Lloyd, Sir J. R. Bailey, T. Cordes, Viscount Emlyn, J. P. G. Holford, and Hon. F. Morgan. We have been forwarded a copy of the following speech on the burials question, delivered at the Lincoln Diocesan Conference, by the Rev. T. W. Mossman, a clergyman,, jpaid, lieving it may interest our readers, ,we give it publication:— My Lord and Brethren,-The Burial Question is well-nigh coeval with the human race. The burial difficulty, although not quite so old, is yet of hoar antiquity. I find in the Scriptures that a burial difficulty arose in the days of Abraham :— And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron, in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. "And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. "And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sep- ulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead." In this beautiful narrative, we have recorded for our instruction the manner in which the ancient people of Canaan treated the patriarch Abraham. Hear us, my lord, in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead." Allow me to request your attention to one or two points. The man who spoke thus nobly was a Gentile, and, in all probability, a heathen. He was one of the sons or children of Heth. And the per- son on whose behalf he spoke was not merely a Dissenter, differing only in a few unimportant points from the then established religion of Canaan. On the contrary, he was an alien both by race and religion. Yet this alien was permitted to bury his dead in the choicest of the sepulchres of the children of Heth. It may of course be replied to this, what is obvious, viz., that Abraham subsequently bought a burying place of Ephron, the Hittite, wherein to bury his dead. But my answer, and it seems to me perfectly sufficient, is, that this subsequent commercial transaction in nowise detracted from the nobleness and the grand generosity of the ori- ginal offer. What I am standing here for to-day is, to ask Churchmen to imitate the nobleness and generosity of this poor heathen, who lived nearly two thousand years before our Saviour came into the world. It may perhaps be said to me that the cases are not parallel—that no one forbids Noncon- formists burying their dead in our churchyards, providing they are willing to have them buried with such rites, and such rites only, as are provided by the Established Church, and enforced by an Act of Parliament, called the Act of Uniformity. Again, my answer is, that such a so-called conces- sion is worse than nothing. I call it giving with one hand what you take away with the other. I know that Nonconformists look upon it, and upon the cognate proposal of allowing them to bury their dead in silence, like the beasts that perish, as in- sult added to injury. And in my opinion, their view is a perfectly natural one. What should we have thought, what would Abraham have thought, if, when Ephron gave him permission to bury his dead, he had added the condition that if he used any rites at all at the burial of his wife, if he did not deposit her in the cave of Machpelah in solemn silence, he mast use no other service than that which was customary among the children of Heth themselves? I cannot help feeling, and feeling strongly, that in this matter of the burial of their dead, it would be well for us if we could at length begin to treat Nonconformists not as schismatics, but as brethren in Christ. They worship one God with us. They have one hope of salvation with ourselves. They deposit their loved one in the bosom of the earth, with the same faith in a blessed Resurrection that we possess. Why then should we be separated either in life or in death by an Act of Parliament? For, as far as I can see, it is no- thing but an Act of Parliament which has built up this wall of separation between us. Let it be granted, as every one does most cheerfully, that the Burial Office in the Book of Common Prayer is very beautiful and appropriate, speaking gener- ally; yet there are some cases for which it is un. suitable, and there are some in which the Church itself forbids it to be used. What, then, I depre- cate is tying Christian men, whether they belong to the Established Church or not, or whether they be Christians of other sections and denominations, to one form, and one form only. I believe, until the first Act of Uniformity was passed by an Eng- lish Parliament, rather more than 300 years ago, such an idea as forbidding Christian men and wo- men to pour out their hearts to God in prayer and praise, in buildings or places set apart for His wor- ship, save and except in words sanctioned by that Act, never so much as crossed the mind of man. To me such a theory seems simply monstrous, absurd, and unchristian; and I can only wonder that my countrymen have so long tolerated the state of things which has been founded upon it. For, what is it that is implied by this burials diffi- culty? It is nothing more than that your Christian bretnren, who differ from you chiefly upon the question of the right of the State to interfere in matters of religion, should be allowed to read such portions of God's Holy Word, and sing a hymn or two, and pour out their hearts in prayer over the graves of their loved ones, in accordance with their own religious convictions. And is it for this that you are going to nail your colours to the mast? Is it for this that the cry of The Church is in dan- ger is to be raised, and fifteen thousand priests are prepared to stand to their guns ? Will you, as in the case of unbaptised infants, adopt the dog- in-the-manger policy of declaring that you will neither address a word of consolation to the mourn- ing relatives yourselves, nor yet allow any one else to do so I And may I ask what is it that any one is afraid of, that you are unwilling to grant this boon, upon which not Dissenters merely, but the English nation, have set their hearts-the boon that Nonconforming Christians should be allowed to bury their dead in our ancient churchyards, which, let it never be forgotten, the ancestors of Nonconformists, equally with those of Churchmen, set apart, more than a thousand years ago, for the burial of the dead with very different rites and a very different form of service from that which is now in use by the Church as by law established ? Believe me, if you will grant our Dissenting breth- ren this concession, as an act of grace and love, you will never regret it. Do not imagine that by so doing you are going to open the flood-gates for a deluge of infidelity and impiety. I am proud to own that I number among my friends Dissenters of all classes and most denominations. I think I know something of their tone and spirit, and, be. lieve me, that if you will be generous and grant them what you are now only asked for as a boon and a concession, but which I am neither afraid nor ashamed to say both justice and Christian charity demand, our separated brethren will be just as careful, just as reverent, just as loving in their treatment of God's acre, where the dead in Christ, their own beloved ones, are sleeping in Jesus, as you are yourselves. There is not a religious Non- conformist in England who would not scom with unutterable loathing the man who would do other- wise, or who would attempt to turn our church- yards into arenas of controversial strife. Yes, for once let the clergy be loving and generous. We then shall have what is a better defence for a Church of Christ than Acts of Parliament. We shall win the hearts of our people, and we shall see what has not been seen for many a weary year, the Church of England enthroned in the gratitude and the affection of a devoted nation.

CARDIGAN TOWN COUNCIL.

[No title]

Family Notices

[No title]