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Notes explanatory of certain parts of greater attention than it would other.
the Protestant Dissenters Cate- wise have deserved. chism, designed for the use of In the Introduction the author young persons of the Established gives the following account of his Church in whose hands that work performance. may be placed " in order to in. “A publication, uuder the title of struct and establish them in the “The Protestant Dissenter's Catechism," principles of Non-conformity."- designed, as we are informed, “ to in18mo. 1s. Syle, Barnstaple. No struct and establish young persons a
mong the dissenters in the principles of London bookseller's name men
non-conformity," having been circulated tioned.
in this town, under circumstances of raIt too frequently happens in con- ther a peculiar nature, it becomes netroversy, and more especially on cessary to consider in some measure the subjects of peculiar importance, that tendency of the publication, and the the party who is on the wrong side means which are resorted to, in order of the question, probably conscious to promote the design of the writer. of the weakness of his cause, evades
« The title of this book would lead a
plain dealing man to suppose, that it the principal points, employs much
was a manual of religion, or, in other pains in controverting minutiæ words, what it professes to be, a Cate- which are comparatively oftriflingim- chism explaining the doctrines of a par
portance, drawing inferences which ticular class of christians. I say what it are disowned and reprobated by his professes to be, because a catéchism to opponent, and indulging in language es
establish dissent is an absurdity and con
tradiction in terms; and it will be as unwarrantable as it is unjust.
scarcely considered uncharitable to conWe were naturally led to these re
clude, that the title was adopted for flections by the perusal of the pam the purpose of giving currency to a phlet before us, the author of which work of a civil and political nature, unmost carefuly avoids the grand points der the sanction and cloak of religious of coutroversy between the Esta- instruction. The word catechism is conblished Church of England and the Church of Enolandand the fined solely to a particular mode of exa
fined solely to
mination, upon the fundamentals of reDissenters, imputes principles and
ligion. It is to be used in no other sense practices to the latter which they supud profanos vor rara) and indeed and their ancestors have uniformly was originally confined to the trial of the reprobated, and strives to blow up Chatechumen, vivâ voce, as the meaning the coals not only of hoi and ranco- imports. rous dispute, but of persecution.
" The nature or merits of the work itWe should scarcely have thought
sell, however, would never have called
forth the following comments, had not it nossible, had we not the evidence the meaus practised to give effect toit. before ns, that a pamphlet so re- in a particular instance, demanded the plete with ignorance, bigotry, fana- interference of every man who considers ticism, misrepresentation, and false- religion in general an object of interest, hoorl, could have proceeded from a and the establishment of this country minister professing the christianity in particular of importance to the well of the New Testament, in the en.
being of the state and the community.
" “ The facts appear to be, that a prolightened nineteenth century!
position was made by certain dissenting As this pamphlet has been indus- teachers in this town, to afford the ruditriously circulated in the West of ments of education to the children of the England, and that for the purpose lower classes of the people, whether of not only of libelling the Dissenters the established church or of their own in general, but of injuring a Sunday
religious persuasion; there being at that School, purposely set on foot for
period no Sunday School established in the benefit of children without dis.
'The offer, which abstractedly might tinction of sects, we shall pay it be considered both liberal and praiseworthy, was embraced by many of the Catechism is, therefore, as correct members of the establishment, and no as that of the Catechism of the Church thing for some time occurred to break in of England. Whether it 's will be upon the quiet progress of the institu
“ scarcely considered uncharitable to tion. At length, however, it came to be observed by the parents of certain
" conclude that the title was adoplchildren, that the hours of attendance “ed for the purpose of giving curwere so arranged as to preclude the pus “ rency to a work of a civil and po• sibility of their attendance on Divine “ litical nature, under the sanction service in the church; and that they “ and cloak of religious instruction," were consequently obliged to be present we shall not inquire; but we may at the service of the conventicle. “ The application of the term Conven
safely affirm, that no conclusion can ticle to the dissenting meeting house
be more unjust. The author of the has, it appears, given particular offence catechism wrote with the express to particular individuals of the sect in and only “ design of instructing and this town. The best apology that ca “ establishing young persons, and be offered upon this occasion is, that it " the unlearned among the Dissen. would be difficult to find another word " ters, in the principles of non-conso appropriate or characteristic of whats
“ formity; a design,” he adds,“ which it is intended to express; history and a common usage having sanctioned and
“it is hoped will not be thought exclusively applied it in the sense in “ unnecessary or unimportant." which it is used above. It is strange that The Catechism so far from being" of these gentlemen should be so much “a civil or political nature,' is scandalized at the expression, since in wholly confined to what its title sig. the very Catechism upon which we are nifies - Plain Answers to Questions about to offer a few comments, it is used indifferently as a meeting house or
as to the Reasons of Dissent from dissenting place of worship.
the Established Religion; and which “ Conventicle, in point of fact, signi- the writer had by the laws of his fies a little meeting, and however anxic country an equal right to assign for ous those gentlemen may be to remove his Dissent as, any minister of the the distinctive epithet, by adding to its church of England for his Conforminumbers, I shall still contend for the
ty. The only allusion to any thing propriety of the appellation, for it is admitted by the ablest Lexicographers,
political is in the concluding section, that the term in England has, ever since
which it is a pity the author of the the time of Wickliffe, « been used to sige “Notes" did not quote for the benenify religious assemblies of all who do not fit of his readers, that they might conform to the established doctrines and have judged of the “ civil and poliworship of the church of England.” tical nature of the Catechism." We
This introduction affords a toler. beg leave to supply the omission. able specimen of the author's gene- The author of ihe Catechism in his ral mode of reasoning; air may Inferences from the whole, thus exa serve to convince his readers bow presses himself, necessary it was for him before he “ The Dissenters ought to be extook his pen in hand to have con ceedingly thankful to God for, and sulted that too much neglected diligent to the utmost to improve book, a Dictionary. Our great Lexi- the liberty they enjoy, of separating cographer, Dr. Johnson would have from a national church, which they infoi med him that a catechism was think so corrupt, and of worshiping simply" a form of instruction by God in places of their own, in a “means of questions and answers, manner agreeable to the dictates of " concerning religion, and that the their own consciences, and as they word was equally applicable to the think, to the rules of God's holy instruction of any religious sect. word .... They should also be The phrase Portestant Dissenter's grateful to their civil governors, the
King and those in authority under semblies.” Should there be another him, through whose clemency they clergyman in the church of England enjoy privileges (though no more than so wilfully ignorant on this subject their natural rights) far superior to as the author of the Notes, let him what their ancestors enjoyed in for- be informed on the authority of mer reigns; and to testify their gra. Judge Blackstone, and uther eminent titurle by approving themselves good lawyers, that by the Toleration Act, subjects, endeavouring to promote the worship of the Protestant Disthe prosperity of their country, and senters is equally legalised with preserve its peace, in every instance, that of the national worship, and consistent with a due regard to the that the word “ Conventicle," so liberty of the constitution." Who, far as it has an ill meaning in our therefore, is chargeable with “igno- statutes, being no more applicable “ rance, absurdity," and we will add to religious assemblies in chapels or misrepresentation, the author of the meeting houses, thạn in churches, Catechism, or the Notes, requires no man of common sense or comlittle sagacity to determine. –The mon candour can possibly use it as reader will likewise judge of the ef- a term of reproach, although it is frontery of the Annotator, who copies never used otherwise by such high Bishop Horsley's falsehood-" That flying tories as the author of the “ the Catechism is calculated to in- Notes and his party. “ stil notions of sedition and rebellion The clergy of ihe establishment “ into the minds of our youth!” will not in general be fond of the
The application or definition of definition of the word“ conventicle” the word “ Conventicle” by the au- adopted by our author. If it signifies thor of the Notes, if it be not the re- “ a little meeting," and refers to the sult of that gross ignorance which number constituting an assembly, it would in any school-boy drawn down may be a curious inquiry whether merited chastisement, is we fear, the the majority of our parish churches result of something still worse. The may not be termed "conventicles?" word'“ Conventicle, we are inform- How many of them, even on the ed, signifies—“ a little meeting ;". Sabbath, contain more pews than and that“history and common usage auditors? The methodists, as well has sanctioned and exclusively ap- as all the congregations of dissenters plied it to the religious assemblies where the number is considerable, of all who ever since the time of are certainly obliged to the author Wickliffe do not conform to the es- for so completely exempting them tablished doctrines and worship of from the imputation of holding the church of England !' In contra. “conventicles," should they even diction to these bold falsehoods, we neglect to licence their places açcol• affirm, that the word “ Conventicle” ding to law; although it is to be has nothing to do with the number hoped not one of them will place of a public assembly; which de- their security on this wise legal determines neither its legality or ille. finition-" CONVENTICLE-A little gality. As to the writer's “ exclusive“ meeting.!" * sense” let us again turn to Dr. With respect to the conduct Johnson. “ Conventicle. An assem- of the Dissenters in establishing bly for worship, generally used in an a Sunday School at Ilfracombe; ill sense, including heresy, or schism it has, like the conduct of the ... A select assembly; an assem- Dissenters in many other parishbly where conspiracies are formed. es, been highly meritorious and .:. Conventicle. One that supports praise-worthy; and it redounds no or frequents private and unlawful as- great honour to those clergymen
and professed friends of the establish- mitting them, not to spend the ment, who have, in many instances, hours of public worship in idleness) not only entirely neglected their but to attend ihe established worduty in this respect, but have abso- ship. If their parents will engage lutely shewn their dislike to the en. for them, it is all well; but if not, deavours of others, who, feeling for it is the duty of their instructors to the interests temporal and eiernal of insist on their attendance on public the lower classes of the community, worship somewhere.- The opposihave endeavoured to rescue them tion of this Reverend enemy to the infrom that state of“ Ignorance” which struction of the poor by the instiShakespeare justly terms “the CURSE tution of Sunday Schools, has not, of God.” Although the author of we are credibly informed, been conthe “ Notes,” is obliged to confess fined to his own parish. By his that the conduct of the Dissenters conduct in these instances, one might in the institution of a Sunday School be led to imagine, that he had adopequally open to all denominations, ted the once favourite, but we hope “ abstractedly, might be considered now generally exploded maxim of both liberal and praise-worthy," it the church of Rome-" Ignorance is a notorious fact, that he has in is the mother of devotion." his own parish church, preached But what appears to have excited against the school, although no other not only the opposition, but the rage Sunday school has been opened by of the Reverend detamer, was the the members of the establishment;a following circumstance. proof of the lukewarmness, if not of “ Soon after this, awakened suspicions The enmity of this revered divine to of the propriety of allowing their chilthe instruction of the poor in the dren to be drawn from the worship of first and most important branch of their fathers by such means, came to be knowledge that of reading. As to debated in their minds, which however the hours of teaching, which " it aching which it might have passed away, had not a
book been discovered in the hands of at length came to be observed by
some of the children (The Protestant the parents of certain children, were Dissenter's Catechism,) which at once so arranged as to exclude the possi- renewed these suspicions and excited hility of their attendance on divine their scruples. Upon enquiry it was service at the church, and that they found thai several of these books had were obliged to attend the service of been given to the senior class of the the Conventicle," these hours are
school, consisting of children from ten
to twelve years of age, and certainly in the same as at the first institution
some instances at least, without uny diof the school three years since. As rections to consult their parents upon the hour of beginning service in the propriety of their reuding them.the morning is the same at both The nature of the work itself, and the places of worship, we cannot con- propriety of placing it in the hands of ceive how the“ possibility” of atien
children, will be better estimated after
a perusal of the Notes explanatory of it. dance at church is precluded.” Al
The parents alluded to, however, did though the Dissenters have a right not wait for so minute an investigation ; to set up schools of their own, yet but perceiving the Political Tendency of we recommend to the managers of the Publication, forbad their children to . all such schools, in parishes w bere read it, and withdrew them from the the established priest and the sup- institution." porters of his church are totally in. On this part of the subject we different to the grand work of Sab- can assure our readers, that no at. hath instruction to the children of tempt whatever was made to introthe poor, to provide for the friendduce the Catechism which has so less outcasts; at the same time per. alarmed our author into the school;
but that several of the senior scho. “ The author of the Catechism proJars, who had been chosen teachers, fesses that the quarrel of the Dissenters complaining that they had been re
with the 39 Articles is not about their
sense, but the authority assumed by proached as Presbyterians(a hacknied
fallible man to draw up articles of faith term which the lower classes of the at all. ---In answer to this it is only neestablisbment, together with many cessary to observe, that the modern of their superiors, can explain about Dissenters derive their origio from the as well as they can the word abra zealous Puritaus of the reign of Elizacadabra) a respectable gentleman, a
beth, and although when those zealous firm friend and supporter of the
reformers appear in the characters of
persecuting bigots, or REGICIDES, they school, lent to three or four who oc
are gently reproved by their modern casionally visited him, The Protes.
descendants, they are held in the bighest tant Dissenter's Catechism, charging estimation as models of piely and worthem at the same time to consult thy examplars of future generations .... their parents, and not to read the It is rather a curious fact that the mobook if it met their disapprobation :
dern Dissenters reproach the church for his sole design was to shew what
suppressing the spirit of its articles,
which they declare to be Calvinistic, the principles of the Dissenters real
whilst their forefathers in the reign of ly were. And was there any harm Elizabeth, and in subsequent periods, in such a proceeding? Are young refused to subscribe these articles bepersons to be reproached for their cause they were not Calvinistic: be that attendance on dissenting worship, as it may, in this Catccbism is is asser, and quietly submit to such reproach
ted (page 64) that the controversy is not
about the sense of the articles, but ao without being permitted to examine
bout the authority assumed by fallible its foundation? We do not believe
men to draw up articles of faith. Here that any of the parents of the chil.
the great archetypes are at variance with dren forbad them to read it because their successors, who however do not " they perceived its political ten profess Dissent from the great scheme dency," for, as we have already of their honoured forefathers Dissent, proved, the only tendency of the
but boldly assert the consistency and Catechism, as far as politics are
identity of their opinions on all points
save and except King killing and the concerned, is to inculcate loyalty to Divine right of extirpating heretics !" the King, and obedience 10 the That the Puritans were not free laws: whether some calumniator from the spirit of bigotry, which they had not by misrepresentation of the imbibed from the church establishprinciples inculcated in the Cate- ment, although they, even when chism, unduly influenced the minds they had the power, never exercised of the parents, we must leave the it with the tenth part of its severity, parties more immediately concerned is not to be denied ; but to assert to determine.
that they were King killers, or that The grand foundation of Dissent, they ever assumed the right of erit is well known is-The required tirpating heretics, or, as the author subscription of an unfeigned assent asserts in another part of his pamand consent to all and every thing phlet, " that the fathers of Dissent contained in the 39 Articles and in contrived by political intrigue 10 the Book of Common Prayer : this
overturn the constitution in church subject the author of the“ Nutes"
and state, and not only would have shuffles over in the most superficial
established themselves upon the plea manner, and what is still worse, in- of divine right, but have shut the terlards it with the most shameful door against ali toleration, and were falsehoods :, the following paragraph content to crect themselves into a may serve as a specimen.
church founded in persecution and