there were no such danger to be ap- this very war; und Dr. Franklin ho. prehended; the pretender was out of noured me with his intimacy. I rethe question ; besides, every Papist member one day conversing with bima was obliged to abjure the Pope in on this subject, and predicting the temporals, before he could avail him- fatal consequences, he compared the self of indulgencies. He could not principle of the war and its probable think the Popish religion incompati- effects to the ancient crusades. He ble with government, nor civil liber- foretold, that our best blood and our ty ; because in looking round the treasure would be squandered and world, he saw that in Switzerland, thrown away to no manner of purpose; where democracy reigned universally that like the holy war, while we carin the fullest manner, it flourished ried ruin and destruction into Amemost in cantons professing that reli- rica, we should impoverish and degion. He was a friend to universal populate Britain ; and while we went toleration, and an enemy to that nar- thither, under the pretence of conrow way of thinking, that made men ferring temporal, not ghostly benefits come to parliament not for the re- upon the vanquished, our concealed moval of some great grievances which purpose was to destroy, enslave or they themselves felt, but to desire oppress, as it promised best to answer parliament to shackle and fetter their our ends; while, like the pretended fellow-subjects. He wished to know martyrs or zealots in ancient times, the number and sort of names affixed we concealed under this fair semblance, to the petitions which desired perse- every vice and passion which consticution, and called upon the House tuted human depravity and human turfor an exercise of its judgment merely, pitude ; avarice, revenge, ambition, instead of desiring grievances of their and base as well as impotent resenta own to be removed. He wished to ment. know who the petitioners were, He

But if that was the opinion of your observed that many signed their great philosopher in 1776, how much marks; and saw that men who could stronger would the comparison hold neither read nor write, found their at present ? Like the Crusaders in the blood fired that a Roman Catholic holy war, who went to fight for the should read and write! He confessed sepulchre of our Saviour and to poshe had no predilection fer the signa- sess Palestine, in order to have the tures of the clergy; for he was con- honour of guarding the sepulchre, vinced that if at the period of the Rc though the body had been translated formation their opinions could have to another place for many centuries ; decided, we should have had no Re- the present ministers, treading in the formation! It was not likely that footsteps of those bloody and senseless men whose interests in generat were zealots, still continued to contend for against the reform, should have been the possession of an empty sepulchre; eager to obtain it. He went through they had relinquished taxation, they a variety of reasons in favour of gene.

had given up legislation ; they had ral toleration, and declared himself even offered to pay the debts of the against the repeal of the bill, and Americans; and instead of giving them against every thing that had the least laws, of receiving laws from them ;* tendency to bridle and restrain liberty but yet this holy land was to be of conscience.

made the scene of a holy war; be 6. American War a Crusade. cause at a former period 'they told (June 12, 1781.)

parliament and the nation, that they The noble lord who spoke second would tax and make laws for Amehad called the American war a holy rica. war. The application of the word holy to the present war may have * Mr. Fox alluded to the offer made by appeared new to every gentlemen pre- the commissioners, to permit deputies from sent but myself. It is not new to me, the provincial assemblies to sit and vote and I will tell the house why it is not in the British House of Commons. I was over in Paris just at the eve of


Reflections on the Inspiration and In- while his most faithful and devoted fallibility of the Scriptures. adherents seem disposed to resume

Belfast, that most imprescriptible of all hiu. SIR,

May 31, 1815. man rights, the rights of private judyHE reasonableness of expecting ment. Glorious omen! That over

that the Deity should make whelming tide, which has swept away communications of his will to his in- the reason and conscience of numbertelligent offspring being once admit. less generations of our forefathers, ted, no impartial inquirer after truth begins to turn its course, and afford a can hesitate long in conceding to prospect of the final prevalence of Christianity that pre-eminent title to truth. Men begin to have a little be a revelation, which it claims. But less confidence in their own exclusive many ages have elapsed since this possession of wisdom, to feel that, revelation was made to mankind. after all the certainty which for cenWhere are its records ? What reasons turies the world imagined they poshave we for suj.posing that the doc- sessed of many speculative truths, we trioes which are now offered to our are but yet in the iufancy of knowbelief upon pain of perishing everlast- ledge, that our faculties are imperfect, ingly, are the same with those im- and that at best we are but shortportant truths which in the apostolic sighted fallible mortals. Let us cheage were emphatically denominated rish this dispositiou and eadeavour to « The Gospel" To an ingenuous spread its influence, though its humimind, unacquainted with the myste- liating tendency is not congenial to rious dogmas which support the fa- human feelings. Under its dominion bric of almost every system of religion, we shall be less attached to the ancient or modern, this would be a shackles of system, and more zealous most momentous and interesting ques- in the service of truth; we shall find tion. But, thanks to the casuistic that all theories have had their errors, sagacity of the priests of other times, and that all human works are subject to we have an answer ready prepared to decay. After exercising all those fa. our hands, which will fit every query culties of perception, reason and judg. that the penetrating ingenuity of the ment, which are graciously planted most inveterate sceptic, or cautious within us, we shall see cause to lament deliberation of the conscientious fol. our own imbecility and liability to lower of reason would possibly sug- error, and be disposed to exert a spigest. An answer wbich, whether it rit of charity and forbearance towards issued from amidst the solemn oaks of the opinions of our brethren, a druidic grove, the infernal golgotha Let not the friend of reputed orof a Mexican temple or Hindoo pa- thodoxy hastily imagine that I am goda, or from the lips of the Arabian aiming to overthrow that pillar of his impostor; whether it fulminated in hopes, the inspiration of the scriptures. terrific accents from the walls of the That they were originally given by Vatican, or more camly invites atten- inspiration of God, I believe; my obtion from a Reformed pulpit and press, ject is ouly to attack that vulgar preinterdicts controversy and annihilates judice which prevails concerning the doubt.

supposed perfection of our sacred The assumed infallibility of the books. That freedom from error scriptures and of their own inter- which, even admitting the plenary pretation of them, to which I allude, inspiration of the sacred penmen, form the basis of most men's creed. could only attach to the autographie All orders of priests have been infal- copy, is, for want of reflection, comlible in their day; but they have all monly ascribed to the individual copy had only an ephemeral reign. The of the version which may happen to seaseless Auctuations of events, and be before the reader. And to such the progressive advances of reason, an excess of reverence has this idea have dethroned one dynasty of mental been carried, in defiance of common despots after another, and we now sense and daily observation, that he behold that colossus of infallibility, who should have ventured to point the Pope himself, shorn of most of out an apparent error either of the bis arrogant and impious pretensions, copyist, translator or typographer, would have been looked upon as an- and ear witnesses of the facts which other sacrilegious Uzzah. This, it is they relate, and consequently needed true, like many other absurdities no other influence than what they grown venerable by their -antiquity, appeared to possess in an eminent is not insensible to the effects of time, degree, namely, an impartial love of which by slow and imperceptible, but truth. That in their primary enuncertain degrees, crumbles rocks into ciation of the Christian doctrine, they decay, and unveils the ebon face of were guided by supernatural impulse, falsehood. Men of learning and can. when it was necessary, may readily dour begin now generally to admit be allowed, since their great Master the possibility of possessing a sure promised that the spirit of truth ground of faith, without having re. should be communicated unto them course to that incommunicable attric for the purpose of guiding them into bute of divinity, infallibility, though all truth, and from the miraculous but a short period has elapsed since powers which they exercised, it is the greatest critics asserted the imma- evident they were ihe medium of diculate purity of the Hebrew text of vine agency. Thus, though we may the Old Testament.

consider the sacred volume as only an Soame Jenyns has very justly re- historical record of divine revelation marked that the Bible is not itself a compiled by human agents, yet those revelation, but the history of a reve- persons being the authorized and aclation; a distinction which, for want credited messengers of the Deity, it is of adverting to, has occasioned many not reasonable to suppose that they of the erroneous opinions and difficul. would be able to transmit any thing ties which have existed respecting the to posterity as the word of God, but scriptures. It is a record of all those pure and uncontaminated truth. divine manifestations which have been In this, I presume, consists the in. granted to mankind throughout the spiration of the scriptures, that they various ages of the world, and there- contain a collection of revelations, fore, though containing the precise committed to writing by persons spewords of the revelation itself, can cially employed by God in originally properly be considered by us only as communicating, orally, his messages matter of history. That all those to mankind. Afterwards they were parts of scripture which purport to entrusted to the guardianship of those be a divine revelation were originally who feared God in every succeeding communicated by inspiration, can ad- age, from whom we have received mit of no doubt, and as they were them in a manner similar to that in committed to writing by holy men, which other ancient works have been who were incontestibly under the in- preserved. If, in their transmission fluence of the divine spirit, their au- through the hands of countless genethority is as great as any writings rations, these precious memorials of transmitted by human agency can the unchangeable beneficence and papossibly be. Moses, David and the ternal superintendence of the Goverpropbets, were so notoriously em- nor of the Universe, should not have ployed as messengers between God contracted some portion of that error and man, that it cannot be conceived and imperfection which time has atthey were capable of being deceived tached to all other literary relics of themselves in matters of such para- antiquity, it would have been a mimount importance, much less can it racle of the most stupendous nature, be possible that men who were ad- which neither reason nor scripture aumitted to such an intimacy with the thorizes us to expect. Most High, could deceive others. To render our Bibles infallible, the Neither can the books which are at- exertion of a constant succession of tributed to the sacred historians by miracles would have been necessary. the uninterrupted testimony of a long Not only the original author, but every veries of ages, be more disputed to be transcriber, every translator and every their own genuine compositions, than printer must have been equally the the reputed works of any historian or subject of complete inspiration. Let philosopher that the world ever pro. those who are conversant with the duced.

Oriental or the Greek tongues, and The historical parts of the New who know what casential mistakes Testament were drawn up by eye may be caused by the emission of a

[ocr errors]

point, the change of one particle for ken spirit: a broken and a contrite another, or a slight variation in the heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." formation of a letter, say whether, Isa, i. 11--20. “ To what purpose without the constant interposition of is the multitude of your sacrifices unto a divine power, it was possible to ex me? saith the Lord: I am full of the pect perfect copies of a work which burnt-offerings of rams, and the for many ages was preserved in ma- fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in nuscript alone. As for those who the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or start at the idea of errors in our trans- of he-goats. * Bring no more lation of the volume of truth, I beg vain oblations : incense is an abomileave to refer them to Locke's Chap- nation unto me, the new moons and ter on the Imperfection of Words, sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I when they must either admit that cannot away with: it is iniquity, even King Janes's translators were inspired, the solemn meeting. Your new moons or that the text of their Bible is a fair and your appointed feasts my soul subject for examination.

hateth: they are a trouble unto me; DANIEL HARWOOD. I am weary to bear them. Serjt. 45th Regt. Wash you, make you clean; put

away the evil of your doings from Sir,

June 12, 1815. before mine eyes : cease to do evil, T appears to me, from numer- learn to do well; seek judgment; rement, that the Jews very generally less; plead for the widow. Come, mistook the nature of those sacrifices, now, let us reason together, saith the which in the law of Moses they were Lord: Though your sins be as scarcommanded to offer, and that the let, they shall be as white as snow; mistake into which they fell was though they be red as crimson, they very similar to the prevailing notions shall be as wool. If ye be willing and concerning the doctrine of the atone. obedient, ye shall eat the good of the mentamong Christians. They supposed land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye that the sacrifices which they offered shall be devoured with the sword: were accepted with God as a valu. For the mouth of the Lord hatha able consideration an equivalent for spoken it.” defective obedience or actual trans Hos, vi. 6. “ For I desired mercy gression, and consequently, that they and not sacrifice; and the knowledge made a sufficient atonement for their of God more than burnt-offerings." sins when they offered the sacrifices 1 Sam. xv. 22. “ And Samuel said, appointed by the law: and in this Hath the Lord as great delight in error of the Jews, probably, origi- burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in nated the modern doctrine of atone- obeying the voice of the Lord. Bement. I infer that this error existed, hold, to obey is better than sacrifice, from the marked and peculiar strain and to hear than the fat of rams." of the passages in which the sacred Psa. l. 8. “I will not reprove thee writers make the most solemn pro- for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt-offertests against the prevailing corrup- ings to have been continually before tion. If the passages which I shall me." quote will warrant my assertion, we Amos v. 21–24. “I hate, I despise must allow that the sacred writers your feast-days, and I will not smell adopted the heretical side of the ques- in your solemn assemblies. Though tion against the general current of ye offer me bumt-offerings, and your opinion, and that they probably ob- meat-offerings, I will not accept them; tained no great success against those neither will I regard the peace-offerwho proudly exulted in their num- ings of your fat beasts. Take thou bers and reputed orthodoxy,

away from me the noise of thy songs; But I will now proceed to produce for I will not hear the melody of thy the passages themselves, to which viols. But let judgment run down as many more might be added.

waters, and righteousness as a mighty Psalm li. 16, 17, “ For thou de- stream." sirest not sacrifice, else would I give Jer. vi. 20.

« To what purpose it ; thou delightest not in burnt-offer- cometh there to me incense from ing. The sacrifices of God are a bro. Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far

country. Your burnt-offerings are ticable than self-government and visnot acceptable, nor your sacrifices tuous exertions. sweet unto me.

I am, Sir, your's, &c. Jer. vii. 21--23. “ Thus saith the

W.J. Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Put your burnt offerings unto your sacri- Sir, fices, and eat flesh." (i. e. Take both your sacrifices and offerings and eat

I ,

lately published by Mr. Clarkson, them yourselves -- I will not eat it is impossible not to feel anxious them.) “ For I spake not unto respecting the fate of the virtuous your fathers, nor commanded them jury who were insulted, abused and in the day that I brought them locked up for two days by the court, out of Egypt, concerning burnt-offer- and finally committed to Newgate, be. ings and sacrifices: but this thing cause they persisted in acquitting commanded I them, saying, Obey William Penn and William Mead of my voice, and I will be your God, an offence against the Conventicle and ye shall be my people; and walk Act, contrary to the wishes of the ye in all the ways that I have com- bench, Mr. Clarkson remarks, as to manded you, that it may be well unto the poor jurymen, “ I can no where you."

learn what became of them, or how The evidence which these passages long they continued in prison." exhibit of the existence of an error The following quotation from Har. among the Jews, similar to that of the grave and Butler's Notes on Lond modern doctrine of the atonement, Coke, will shew that the jurymen affords, at the same time, a lament. owed their liberation to that pallaable proof of the proneness of man- dium of British liberty, the Habeas kind to misapply the gracious dispen- Corpus Act, which, let us hope, no satious of heaven.

sham plot or pretended conspiracy, The unqualified manner in which will ever again furnish a pretext for the writers both of the Old and New suspending. Testament speak concerning righte- "In the case of Penn and Meade, ousness, i. e. moral goodness, affords indicted in 1670, for unlawfully asthe strongest proof that they knew sembling the people and preaching to nothing of the orthodox doctrine of them, the jury gave a verdict against the atonement.

the direction of the court on a point The sacred writers do not repre- of law, and for this were committed sent the Jewish error concerning the to prison, but on a habeas corpus atonement as a harmless doctrine. being brought in the Court of ComThey plainly intimate, too, by ex- mon Pleas, the committment was dehorting to good works in opposition clared illegal. Lord Chief Justice to their sacrifices and observances, Vaughan distinguished himself on this that those ceremonious observances occasion by a most profound argehad supplanted good works. “ I will ment in favour of the rights of a have mercy and pot sacrifice," plainly jury.*"" implies, “ you offer sacrifice, but do not shew mercy." Nor can I doubt

Sur, Esser- House, July 1, 1815, that the doctrine of the atonement, as

S the most trifling of all trifting believed in our days, has produced an abundant harvest of mischief

. The the meaning of words, which every

A employments, is wrangling about consideration of this, however, would

one has a right to use in what sense lead to a more protracted view of the he pleases, provided that he defines subject than I intended; and I should his terms and adheres to his definibe much gratified to see it treated by tions, I have nothing to add to what an abler hand,

I advanced in my former letter ( Vol. It appears to me that there is na- x. p. 278.) in defence of the sense in torally a proneness in every degene wh I have used the term Unirated heart to receive the doctrine of

tarian. the atonement. What a man does not

I would only beg leave to correct feel inclined to do himself, he wishes to be done for him. External means of salvation, however absurd, appear See Hargrave and Butler's edition of to many, no doubt, much more prac. Coke on Littleton, page 155, note.

« VorigeDoorgaan »