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forgetting do we see in them of the things which are behind; or what 'reaching forth unto those which are before?' What mortifications of the flesh, what fastings and watchings unto prayer, do they practise? Who then are they that pronounce spiritual Christianity to be impracticable, but those who have never put it to the test of experiment? It must be confessed that if professed Christians will not try and intend to live spiritually, they cannot live so. Paul could not have lived so without deliberate purpose and constant effort.
"Still, some will think that, although spiritual religion is the best and safest kind, yet as the more common sort may suffice they will content themselves with that. But does not this savour more of a low and calculating selfishness, than of that spirit of regeneracy which instinctively pants after entire freedom from sin, and entire conformity to the image of God? Have those persons any true holiness, who desire no more than may answer to keep them out of hell? But is it certain that the common sort of religion will suffice? Who feels certain of it? Have the professors of that religion
assurance of their salvation? Their hearts answer, No! Has the world any assurance of their salvation? All men stand in doubt,-and it is indeed a doubtful matter. St. Paul thought he should be a castaway, if he did not keep his body under and bring it into subjection. Do these professors of religion prac tise such discipline on themselves, that their souls may not be lost? Who would stand in their souls' stead? In the infinite concerns of religion, no uncertainty, no suspense of mind, ought to be tolerated if it can possibly be prevented; and prevented it may be, by giving due diligence to that end. And what is due diligence in this case? Not more than men generally employ to secure worldly things. But shall men -shall professors of religion use more diligence to secure to them
selves things that perish in the using, than to lay hold on eternal life? Are such men Christians? Ought they not to tremble at the question? While thus destitute of spirituality in religion, there is no man, who, for a thousand worlds, would take their place at death or judgment.
"Such are a few of the considerations-faintly and imperfectly expressed, in comparison with the energy of our feelings-by which we would urge upon our readers a life of eminent holiness and spirituality of mind. While we think a sound and consistent theology of momentous importance to the interests of the church, we consider it as literally of no value, unless it leads to a correspondent depth of feeling, and devotion of the soul to God. A union of enlarged views and spiritual affections, of deep investigation and child-like docility of temper, of resolute action and entire dependence on Divine aid, constitutes the true excellence of the Christian. Such were the Edwardses, the Tennents, the Davies, the Bellamys, and the Brainerds of other times."
"Those suns are set. Oh rise some other such,
Or all that we have left is idle talk
ON THE INCREASE OF DISSENT IN THE PARISHES OF PIOUS CLERGYMEN.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I FEAR that E. S. L., in your last Number, is right, that in some of our large towns, even where the clergy are generally exemplary for piety and pastoral vigilance, Dissent is rapidly spreading. He asks, supposing this to be the case, what are the causes, and what the remedies? A full reply to these two inquiries I leave to your other correspondents; but one point it seems to me desirable promptly to notice in explanation, lest it should be said that the spread of Dissent is increased, or at least is not hindered,
by the exertions of a pious and active clergy. The influence of such faithful ministrations is to be measured, not by the actual progress of Dissent, but by its progress compared with what it would have been had the parochial clergy been of a different character. If there were several leaks in a ship, the water might flow in faster than the crew, with all their exertions, could pump it out; but the quantity admitted, and the danger of the ship sinking, would be less than if they had remained idle. Our large towns are full of leaks; and it is not the fault of the clergy, however pious or zealous, that they cannot at once stop them all, or prevent the ingress of the tide; but its actual amount is lessened by their exertions. Take Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, or Birmingham, as an example. The church room in such places has been mournfully inadequate tens and hundreds of thousands of persons have grown up in vice and ignorance; and many who were better disposed could not enjoy the benefit of adequate pastoral care. Vast masses of the population are thus virtually of no religion they are Churchmen only because they are nothing else. At length, we will suppose, churches are built, schools are instituted, and several pious and active clergymen set themselves seriously to work for the benefit of these neglected crowds of immortal beings. What is the result? Hundreds and thousands, by the blessing of God, are brought to think of their spiritual and eternal welfare; the new schools and churches are crowded; and the Church has gained a faithful band of true friends, from among those who were till then living without God and without hope in the world, and who were about as good Mohammedans as Churchmen. So far the pumps have worked well.
But, in the mean time, Dissent has not been idle : schools have been at work, meeting-houses have been built, and, let me add, good has been done, though with the inevitable con
sequence that the multitudes gathered from wickedness have also been gathered to the fold of secession. These may be said to have got beyond the crook of the crozier, and not a few will follow them, even under an amended administration of pastoral duty. Added to this, the clergy and the church-accommodation are not, after all, increased in a manner adequate to the increased wants of the place; and therefore, in propor. tion as they are zealous in the discharge of their duty, they generate more spiritual wants than they can supply, and the people, rather than be wholly destitute, seek to supply them by means of Nonconformist instructors. Dissent thus increases
that is, numerically, but it does not increase relatively; and where it does increase, its hostility to the Established communion is moderated; so that the Church really gains in the public estimation and in true converts, though it has lost in numbers in the parish census.
Put the case as follows:-With one church and two inefficient clergymen, a neglected population of twenty thousand persons is divided, we will say, into one thousand Dissenters, one thousand really conscientious Churchmen, and eighteen thousand persons of no visible communion, and therefore in courtesy called Churchmen. With two churches and four pious and active clergymen the numbers, we will suppose, after a course of years, stand as follows: two thousand Dissenters, ten thousand Churchmen, and eight thousand of the aforesaid non-descripts. Has the Church really lost influence? has Dissent really increased? and is it fair to say, in the words of certain objectors, "See what comes of having your Evangelical Clergymen;" just because there happen to be two meetings where there was before only one, while the real gain to the Church has been manifold, and the evils were such as the clergy, however active, could not reach?
Would it be policy, were there no higher motive, to place that parish
on its original footing of vice and wretchedness? If the choice is to be made between wicked Churchmanship, most unjustly so called, and pious Dissent, would any real friend to the Church prefer the former? Are not vice and ignorance more antichurch than even meeting-houses? and are not the many thousands actually gained, not merely to the walls of the temple, but to its principles, an ample counterpoise for the hundreds who preferred seeking salvation as Dissenters to neglecting it as Churchmen?
I have not replied generally to your correspondent's inquiries, but have only adverted to one portion of the subject. The reasons why Dissent often spreads in the parishes of pious clergymen, supposing this to be the fact, deserve to be fully considered; and the consideration might be of great service in suggesting suitable remedies: my only object, in the foregoing remarks, is to shew that Dissent does not gain so much where the clergy are pious and zealous, as it would have done if they had been of another character; and that what it does gain is not from the real ranks of the Church, but from the world, the flesh, and the devil, a species of recruiting which no good Churchman would wish to prohibit.
A FRIEND TO FAIRNESS.
ON CLERICAL EXORCISING.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. YOUR Correspondent, Pastor, quotes in your last Number an inhibition of the seventy-second Canon, respecting the appointment of fast days by unauthorized bodies of clergymen; but neither Pastor, nor any other person, probably ever thought it would be necessary, in the nineteenth century, to quote the latter part of that Canon, which prohibits any minister, without an express licence from the bishop under his hand and seal, "attempting, upon
any pretence whatever, either of possession or obsession, by fasting or prayer, to cast out any devil or devils, under the pain of the imputation of imposture or cosenage, and deposition from the ministry.
At the time when this canon was issued, the popular superstition, perpetuated from the days of Papal ignorance, was so strong, that the Reformers did not, perhaps, dare boldy to declare that there was no warrant, either in reasonor Scripture, for a belief in modern possession or exorcism; but they virtually effected their purpose by forbidding any private clergyman, either from ignorance or craft, pretending to exorcise on his own authority, and obliging him to refer the matter to the bishop, who, from his education and station, was not likely to be infected with the popular superstition.
The necessity for this caution, strange as it may seem, has from time to time been apparent. It is within the memory of many, that a deceased clergymanof Bristol, professed, with some Methodist preachers, his own brethren properly standing aloof, to exorcise a man of the name of Lukins, who afterwards confessed, on his death-bed, that his possession was an imposture to excite attention and gain money. I grieve, however, to learn that some among us are reviving the notion of modern possession; and are gravely arguing whether many persons in confinement as maniacs, might not be more properly dealt with by exorcism in the name of Jesus; and whether, among the other miraculous gifts continued in the church, this is not one. the notion floated only in casual conversation, it was not perhaps worth while to dwell upon it: but the press, which keeps no secrets, has not kept this; and Mr. Boys, it seems, has come forward as the champion of the doctrine. Should any clergyman proceed to reduce the theory to practice, I would only remind him, that he cannot engage in such a business without first procuring his bishop's written licence; and as
among the abettors of the notion are some zealous advocates for Episcopacy, I hope this hint will not be lost upon them. It is scarcely possible to speak gravely of some of the strange phantasies which are afloat among us; and yet, alas! far from being ludicrous, they are enough to make an angel weep.
require for its proof that the distinction between the permanent and the temporary should be marked by the Apostles themselves; otherwise it is purely arbitrary and gratuitous. If one man allege that one chapter or one doctrine had only a temporary application; another man may, with quite as much reason, allege the same of another chapter, or another doctrine. In point of fact, this has been done.
LETTER FROM THE REV. H. MCNEILE. There are some persons who en
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
SIR, After the use which you have deemed it proper and Christian to make of my name, and of an unauthorized report of one of my sermons, I cannot doubt that you will give a place in your pages to the following observations.
1. The case of Miss Fancourt has no connexion with the subject of this letter. Things which are distinct, should be kept so, by all lovers of truth.
2. On the 17th of October, 1830, I exchanged duties with my friend Mr. Hawtrey, and one of the sermons which I preached in his chapel was an exposition of the xii th, xiii th, and xiv th chapters of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. In your Appendix for 1830 (page 831) you observe," In this sermon Mr. M'Neile boldly maintains that the miraculous gifts of healing, and speaking in unknown tongues, are a regular part of the Christian dispensation, and that nothing but our want of faith prevents our using them." This is substantially correct. The language of the Apostles to Christian churches in their days, has ever been held as applicable to the whole church of Christ until his coming again. The contrary opinion would render the Epistles useless to us. To assert that some parts of the Apostolical language have a permanent application to the church, and that other parts of the same language had only a temporary application, does, in my judgment,
deavour to get rid of the Apostolical statements upon the subject of election (e. g.), by saying that they applied only to the Jewish nation, and to the first calling of the Gentiles, but cannot possibly have any reference to us.
As yet I have seen or heard nothing to convince me that the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians has a permanent, and the twelfth chapter only a temporary, application to the Christian church. The Apostle makes no such distinction in the context, and I dare not devise such a distinction in an exposition of that context.
If the history of the church be referred to for proof that the twelfth chapter could have been of but temporary application, because that since the Apostles no man has had the power of healing the sick or speaking in unknown tongues; reply, that, granting the statement (for I do not now discuss that point), yet I might as well argue for the temporary application of the thirteenth chapter, because that since. the Apostles no man has " thought no evil." I argue for the permanent application of both, and a dereliction of duty on the part of the church in reference to both. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are and have been in the church of Christ in some measure, but neither the one nor the other are or have been in the church according to the full dimensions of the Apostolical description. If you were called upon to shew cause why no man in the church "thinketh no evil,"
although exhorted thereto by the Apostle, in his description of love; would you blame God, and say he never intended that men should be so perfect; or would you blame men, and exhort them to pray for grace that they might think no evil; encouraging them in so praying by pointing out to them that the Apostle enumerates "thinketh no evil" among the graces of the Spiritthat Spirit which the Lord sent to his church, which has never been withdrawn, which cannot be with drawn-for without the Spirit there can be no church; the church is the living, visible temple of the Holy Ghost? And if you were called on to shew cause why no man in the church heals the sick by fervent prayer (see James v. 14-16), would you blame God, and say he never intended that men should have such power; or would you blame men, and exhort them to pray for power that they may heal the sick; encouraging them in so praying by pointing out to them that the Apostle enumerates healing among the gifts of the Spirit-that Spirit which the Lord sent to his church, which has never been withdrawn, which cannot be withdrawn, for without the Spirit there can be no church-even that one and the self-same Spirit which worketh all the gifts enumerated by the Apostle, dividing to every man severally as he will?
In my opinion, the right course is to begin with what the Scripture says, and from thence to shew what the church ought to be: and I conceive it to be most unsound, and consequently unsafe, to begin with what the church is, or has been, and from thence to argue for what the Scripture ought to say. To deny the importance of Church History in proving the inspiration of the Scriptures, would be fanaticism; but to allow that history, whether ancient or modern, to give the tone to our interpretation of Scripture, is one of the worst features of Popery.
3. On the same page of your Appendix, but without any real con
nexion with your subject, you remark, that "Mr. McNeile had long ago given himself out for a prophet sent of God with a special denunciation against the people of England." Either this charge should not have been advanced, or the ground upon which it rests should have been distinctly stated. If you will point out to me any passage, in any of my authenticated writings, to justify this charge, you will confer a real favour upon me, as you will afford me an opportunity of apologizing to the church for the preposterous arrogancy of such an assumption. If you can find no such passage, I trust you will see and feel that you have been betrayed into bearing false witness against a brother; that you will repent of the same before God, and pray to be preserved from a repetition of such transgression.
4. Had your notice of me and my sermon been confined to this passage in your Appendix for last year, I would have continued silent. I had made up my mind so to do. But I perceive that in your Number for January 1831 you repeat the attack. On page 64 you write:
"Our readers are aware that Mr. M'Neile had said, at the Jews' Chapel, in his sermon (as reported in
The Preacher') the Sunday before the cure, that what are called the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit have never ceased, any more than the ordinary; that it is the duty of Christians to seek the one as much as the other; and that it is only our want of faith that prevents our enjoying them." Then, after a quo tation from my sermon to that effect, you proceed: "To all this we reply, in the concluding words of the pamphlet, what Christian can close the above discussion without feeling of how little practical value, after all, would be mere gifts, even miraculous gifts, compared with what is infinitely higher in its character, and incomparably more important?'
Were it not, then, wise to turn from such questionable gifts to the solid, practical realities of