Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

And in their faint, qualified, half-commendatory intimations of something wrong, we seem to hear the squeak of a faithless douanier, who lets in the prohibited rogue and alien through the sallyport of the fortress; and scolds him as he passes, not in too loud a tone, lest the juggle should be found out. With what a gentle, tender-hearted reproof, the enemy gains admission in the case now before us!

In a few instances, both in his Lexicon and other writings, traces are to be found of a defective, and even erroneous, theological creed; but his integrity as a lexicographer is, upon the whole, exemplary; and it is only to be regretted that a inind so powerful and brilliant as his should be in darkness, as to the actual contents of a book, towards the elucidation of which he has furnished such important aids.”

A defective, and even erroneous, theological creed !” Who ever thought of styling the system of the infidel a theological creed?

In the view of this evil, one specimen of which we have here brought forward, we have felt doubtful how to proceed. Here some one of our readers, perhaps, who loves decided measures, may exclaim, “ Proceed? I think it is quite plain how to proceed. Drag the matter before the public immediately. Expose such people as they deserve. Publish their names, or the names of the works in which this false indulgence is found. Proceed, truly! Make me Editor of the Christian Review, and I would soon shew you how to proceed.”

To this we answer : Taking it of course for granted, that we, the supreme judges of all books, literary and theological, the self-appointed arbiters of opinion, are ourselves infallible; and never have made, and never shall make, any mistake, especially about foreign works.”

Oh, no, no, no! Certainly not. No, by no means. I think you had better say nothing about the matter.

“ And so make ourselves accessories?

Accessories? That would be bad, indeed. Well, then, suppose you do this. Just give a hint, the gentlest possible hint-merely sufficient to put people on their guard, and to check the like in future; and so let the matter rest for the present."

Very good. That then is what we have thought best for the present. One hint, one gentle hint, we have now given, hoping that it may prove sufficient. Here, then, we now let the matter rest: but with the understanding, be it remembered, with the full understanding, that we do not engage to exercise the same forbearance, if the evil continue.

[ocr errors]

With respect to the particular writer, of whose works we have now been speaking, such translations of them as we have seen we are far from being satisfied with. The worst things are a good deal softened down; but in such a manner as to convey the idea that there was a great reluctance to do this, further than was absolutely necessary, for the sake of common decency. In acquiring the elements of Oriental literature, young students are exposed to serious danger.

PROPOSED

OF

ENGLAND AND

UNION OF THE CHURCHES

ROME.

Schism. Two Sermons by the Rev. William HARNESS, M.A.

of Christ's College, Cambridge; Minister of the St. Pancras' Parochial Chapel in Regent Square ; and Evening Lecturer

of St. Mary-le-Bow. London: Murray, 1829.” The former of these discourses professes to be on Ephes. iv. 3, 4, 5, 6; and to shew that “ schism is an offence of no ordinary kind : first, because it is unchristian in its nature ; and secondly, because it is injurious in its consequences.”

The second has at its beginning the latter part of the first verse of Luke xii.; and undertakes to shew that the Pharisaical principle, first, is adverse to the design of the Gospel;” and, secondly,

cannot be adopted without peril of originating Pharisaical dispositions."

The real objects of the two discourses are chiefly these :

I. To prove that Dissenters are excluded from the pale of the Gospel covenant :

II. To expose some of the leading errors of Evangelical Churchmen:

III. To advocate Catholic emancipation :

IV. To recommend a reunion of the churches of England and Rome: and

V. To impugn and set aside certain Protestant principles, by which such a reunion is opposed.

With respect to the mode of treating the last two topics, that which most struck us, was the cool effrontery. It does not appear whether these discourses were actually preached; nor, if they were, whether the church or chapel, in which they were delivered, voinited forth the preacher into the street.

The preacher's first object, then, is to prove that Dissenters are excluded from the pale of the Gospel covenant. And to this part of the subject, we beg the particular attention of the sixty-three

Dissenting ministers of London and the vicinity, of whom it now stands indelibly recorded, in the public acts of the British Parliament, that they signed a petition to the House of Lords for Catholic emancipation. The author thus expresses himself:

According, then, to the criterion of truth which we have adopted, it must be admitted that this fact of universality is an infallible testimony of the Apostolic origin and the Apostolic authority of the Episcopal form of government. Now, my brethren, this truth involves a most serious consequence. It proves Episcopacy to be the sign of that true church to which every Christian should adhere. All other congregations are heretical assemblies, and without the pale of that catholic church to which the promises of the Gospel are addressed. Out of this church there is no Apostolic succession of bishops, consequently, no authorised priesthood; consequently, no valid sacraments; and, consequently, no appointed means of grace. The most which a wise and benevolent liberality can presume to say of those who voluntarily separate themselves from the body of Christ—the church governed according to Apostolic rule and discipline conveys but a questionable comfort. As St. Paul said of the heathen wife, that she was hallowed in her believing husband, we may hope that the errors of the separatist may be pardoned for the sake of the truth with which it is allied ; but he stands not within the revealed limits of mercy, and is dependent, for his salvation, not on the covenanted, but the uncovenanted graces of his God. p. 31.

Of course, in this matter, the controversy with the author lies chiefly with our Dissenting brethren, not with us. All that the exclusive sentiments here advanced, then, claim on our part, is a passing expression of our renunciation and abhorrence.' Perhaps, if we were seriously called upon to answer them, we might find one short passage of Scripture sufficient for our purpose. The passage is from the Third Epistle of St. John: "Neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church," ver. 10.

Now, supposing for a moment our author's view to be correct, what strange difficulties will arise the moment we attempt to reconcile it with this statement of St. John. According to our author's view, all who are in the right way are of necessity within the pale of the church: and, if any one be without, he is out of the regular course of salvation. St. John, on the contrary, gives us an instance, in which the good are cast out, and the bad continue in. That is, the ambitious and turbulent Diotrephes casts out the good and faithful members, the very statement implying that he himelf continues in: and, be it observed, that in which he continues, and from which they are ejected, is still the church: "He casteth them out of the church." Thus Diotrephes, though a tyrant and a persecutor, continuing within the pale is safe; and the good, worthy, and excellent people whom he has expelled, stand not “within the revealed limits of mercy,” and are consigned to the comfortless uncertainty of" uncovenanted graces !”—Let us not be misunderstood. We are churchmen. Many persons call themselves so, who are not. We, however,

are.

We know on what grounds we stand as such, and may at an early period feel ourselves called upon to state them. At the same time, the present, we conceive, is not the season, Any person who should choose such a time as this for urging either merely Ecclesiastical, or merely Dissenting objects, we should regard as totally unconscious of the awful nature of that crisis 'to which we have now come. There is now a common enemy. If we have differences amongst ourselves, we hope we can settle them at a more suitable period. At present, the foe is on the borders; and let the sound of war suspend our civil broils.

The second object of the preacher is to expose the errors of Evangelical Churchmen. The former of the two discourses more properly belongs to Dissenters, while Churchmen have the benefit of the latter.

We have considered the sin and the evil effects of schisms without the church, which, if the word had not grown into disuse, and acquired in modern acceptance a somewhat illiberal signification, might more properly be denominated heresies : we will now direct our attention to the subject of schisms within the church. p. 75.

We question, however, whether the author has gone the right way to work. If Evangelical Churchmen have really been guilty of a schism, surely the right way would be, to try to bring them back in a body. But, no. He rather addresses some erring individual, and inquires how he can justify himself in joining them. (p. 88.) The recovery of the body appears to be regarded as hopeless. So that the tendency of our author's proceedings seems to be rather to multiply schisms, than to heal them : for when an individual has left those who are called the high-church party, and has joined the "evangelicals,” it is to be supposed that he has seen good reason for so doing : and, consequently, if persuaded to leave the latter also, there can be little security for his returning to his former associates. The risk is, rather, that he will go off in some other direction : so that division shall become subdivision; and separation from a

separation from a community. Our author, in handling this subject, uses some very angry terms, especially for one who is all for peace and conciliation; thus leaving us to infer what is the sort of peace which we are to look for at his hands : such

religious clubs” (p. 61); “ paltry, factitious, schismatical distinctions” (p. 138); &c. Nay, even at the last, where, if any where, the terrified schismatic, supposing such a one to be present, would naturally look for some kind word of peace and conciliation at parting, we find the same disposition. The following is the close of the sermon: “over all whose religious sentiments and affections are adulterated and debased by the interNO. 11.--VOL. III.

2 A

as

mixture of the narrow, and contracted, and illiberal feelings of party.” In fact, we all belong to a party, our author among the rest. His sermons are party sermons. And his party is one which seems foredoomed to such discoveries, in the next few months, of its designs and real character, as, a few months ago, only a very small number of persons dreamt of, or could have thought possible.

In the mean time, we meet with some useful hints, by which, if our readers feel themselves to be the guilty persons, we hope they will profit.

However valuable those points of discipline, which the more severe religionist demands, may be as instruments towards attaining the great end of the Gospel revelation, the love of God and man, they are wholly unimportant, except as instruments to the attainment of this end; and there is always cause of apprehension lest the individual who considers such matters so important as to convert them into grounds of party distinctions, should at length be led to appreciate them immeasurably above their worth, and look upon them as the most important points of religion. p. 113.

The mere fact of belonging to a party is apt to engender, from a desire of doing credit to our party, too great an attention to public opinion and too earnest a desire of making a fair appearance in the world's eye. We become curiously precise in our language and deportment; we assume a manner different from that which is simply and naturally our own; and we become the victims of religious affectation, from our zealous endeavours to magnify the excellence of our sect in the opinions of mankind by means of the examples which we exhibit to their observation. Well it is, if the artificial lie only on the surface of our conduct, and penetrate no further than the superficies; if it affect the manners only, without touching the character. pp. 130, 131.

Evangelical people, like others, are liable to errors, which require to be pointed out and shunned : and they certainly have this advantage in the present day, that a very sharp lookout is kept upon them; and nothing very bad can make its appearance among them, without there being many to watch for it, and to tell them of it; for which they have reason to be thankful. But as for objections to evangelical doctrines, we have not noticed any in the work before us, but such as are anticipated by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans. As matters have been, however, so they will be.

they will be. Ministers like our author seem to feel themselves officially called upon, every now and then, to put forth something in the way of a protest or manifesto, in the sermon form, in order to convince their hearers that they are in the right, and that Evangelical Churchmen are in the wrong. These documents we view much in the light of those notices of houses to let, which, at wateringplaces, are sometimes called “ signals of distress ;” because, where there are many of them, it is a token that the place is empty. Thus it is now, with many churches and chapels. The seats are found to thin, there being very little to fill them;

« VorigeDoorgaan »