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"Friend to Friends," endeavours to support his charge of injustice, appears to me to be quite beside the mark. His case, put into a more definite shape, would stand thus: A purchases of B a piece of land; say, for 500l. C, the clergyman of the parish, has a claim on this land; say 51. per annum, for tithe; and inasmuch as A, being a Quaker, does not intend to give any part of this 51. per annum to C, he ought therefore, in conscience, to give to B such an additional sum as would be equivalent to the redemption of this tax; say 100l. more than what he contracted to pay him; well knowing, at the same time, that C has only to apply to a magistrate, who will in a very short time put him into a situation to take, with perfect impunity, that which the Quaker did not, in conscience, feel himself at liberty to give: knowing also by experience that, although exceptions have occurred, there is not, generally speaking, any room to doubt this power will be exercised. This being the real state of the argument advanced, it is much to be regretted that our "Friend" should have omitted to inform us by what process of reasoning he arrived at the conclusion, that, because tithes may be withheld from C, their estimated value ought to be paid to B. I confess myself quite unable to perceive how either the claims of C, or those of "ordinary justice," would be at all satisfied by this transposition of interests: and I am strongly inclined to think that a similar state of mental blindness must have attended thy readers in general.
To suppose the Quaker bargaining with a clergyman would be quite to beg the question; but as I shall not be likely to occupy thy pages a second time, I will, with permission, briefly take that view of the subject; and in reply would say, The practice of Friends to decline the payment of tithes is now so universally known, that the
clergyman could not plead ignorance on the point; and should it so happen that, although unwilling voluntarily to abandon his claim, he feels some misgivings of conscience at enforcing it, he should, in that case, endeavour to find some other purchaser. No clergyman, I apprehend, abstains from claiming, merely from unwillingness to "contest" the point, because he knows beforehand that no opposition would be offered him: the Quaker passively submits to the enforcements of those laws with which he cannot actively comply. Would the clergyman be in any danger of giving personal offence by the temperate exercise of that power with which the law as it now stands invests him? It is not against men, but against principles and practices which the Quaker conscientiously believes to be irreconcileable with the spiritual nature and Christian liberty of the Gospel dispensation, and opposed to the universal spreading of Christ's kingdom in the hearts of mankind, that he feels it his duty to bear his uniform, uncompromising, but unoffending testimony: he therefore does not consider himself at liberty to negotiate about them in any shape whatever. This testimony is, however, attended, in most cases, with considerable loss and expense, as appears by the periodical returns of tithe and church rates, and therefore cannot be connected with selfish feelings.
Undoubtedly an estate wholly and permanently relieved from tithe, he would estimate as more valuable than if it remained subject to that impost: but notwithstanding the "Friend to Friends," by designating tithes as "a reserved portion of rent," seems to intimate that they are of the same tenure as the land itself; nothing can be more clear than that the clergyman does not hold his tithes as a freehold, but merely as a stipend for certain services supposed to be performed-namely, the "cure of
souls;" and therefore, although he may, if he choose, withhold his claim as long as he lives, and suffer the Quaker peaceably to enjoy the produce of his own labour undiminished, he cannot relieve the land from the charge; inasmuch as his successor may revive it at pleasure he therefore has no right to set up the plea of injustice attempted in the article referred to.
A MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY
AMERICAN CRITIQUE ON WILBER
FORCE'S PRACTICAL VIEW.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Philadelphia, April 1830. I SEND you, by the hands of our mutual friend, Dr. Milnor, the last Number of the Christian Spectator (a quarterly review published at Newhaven), containing an interesting article on the Rev. Daniel Wilson's edition of Mr. Wilberforce's View of Christianity. It is said to have been drawn up by Dr. Skinner, of the Presbyterian Church; and such an article written by a Presbyterian minister, inserted in a Congregational Magazine, referring to an Episcopal work, the author of the work an English statesman, the editor an English clergyman, and the reviewer an American, I cannot but think highly honourable to the Christian and brotherly feelings of all parties concerned. A few pages from that part of it which relates to the state of religion in England, would probly interest the readers of the Christian Observer *.
We have copied the whole of the article, the latter half on the character of true religion being highly valuable. There are some passages in the former part which for obvious reasons we had thoughts of omitting; but, upon re-consideration, we give the whole as we find it, only not making ourselves responsible for all the statements. In reference to the darker shades of the picture, we are fain to hope that there were many more names in our British Sardis in the worst of times, of
"It is now more than thirty years since the first publication of this admirable work. Evangelical religion in the Church of England, was then at a low ebb. Individuals there were, indeed, of that communion, remote from each other and frowned upon by the world, who, like the seven thousand of Israel in the days of Ahab, were mourning over the desolations of an ancient and decayed church. But her prelates, we believe, without a single exception, and the great body of her ten thousand inferior clergy, were sunk together in spiritual coldness, and decent conformity to the world. Those among the higher and middle classes, who retained any show of respect for the institutions of religion, imitated, to a great extent, the example of their religious teachers, on a still broader scale. The lower classes, as a body, were plunged in ignorance and brutal unconcern as to their spiritual interests; except where the followers of Whitfield and Wesley had produced some partial reformation by their selfdenying labours. Against these humble, and perhaps, in some instances, ill-directed exertions, the animosity of the established clergy was wrought up to the highest pitch. Cold and heartless while millions around them were perishing in sin, their zeal broke forth into open violence against those who ventured to discharge the duties which they had themselves neglected. Nor were they satisfied with ridicule, contempt, and open denunciation. The passions of the vulgar and profane were sometimes artfully inflamed into tumult and
those who lived above the surrounding contagion than our transatlantic friends seem to think; and in reference to the brighter, those who are mentioned with kindness will, we are sure, be the first to divest themselves of any exclusionism with which their Western brethren would encircle them, and to rejoice in the extension of the work of God, however feebly they may think their own efforts have conduced to its advancement.
outrage; and sometimes the arm of power was called in to crush the weak or unwary. The general odium created by the religious movements among the lower classes, was studiously transferred to all of a higher rank, who maintained the doctrines of grace. They were publicly treated with contempt or pity, as being identified by their principles with men of coarse and vulgar minds. Saints, Methodists, Canters, &c. were the terms by which they were familiarly described; and some of the purest and most enlightened Christians of the British empire were considered by the great body of the English church, both clergy and laity, as voluntary victims of a degrading and hopeless fanaticism.
"It was at such a period, that Mr. Wilberforce came before the public, as the advocate of Evangelical religion. A layman, and of course not called upon by his profession thus openly to vindicate his principles, a man in public life, and therefore in imminent danger of sacrificing by this step all his hopes of political advancement,-how few are there who would not have shrunk from the trials on which he entered, in making himself the rallying point of a despised and scattered party, in the midst of a jealous and worldlyminded church! But he counted all things but loss' for the sake of Christ. While he endeavoured, therefore, to strip Evangelical religion of all degrading associations by the selectness of his thoughts, the elegance of his taste, and the richness and eloquence of his language, he did not suffer himself to extenuate its most humbling doctrines, or self-denying duties. 'Inadequate conceptions of the corruption of human nature' -'inadequate conceptions concerning our Saviour and the Holy Spirit' -'inadequate conceptions of practical Christianity,' are the three great topics which he discussed
with the utmost plainness, and with pointed appeals to the consciences and hearts of his readers. The immediate effect of his treatise is thus described by Mr. Wilson.
"An electric shock could not be felt more vividly and instantaneously. Every one talked of it, every one was attracted by its eloquence, every one admitted the benevolence, talents, and sincerity of the writer. It was acknowledged, that whether good or bad on a few particular topics, such an important work had not appeared for a century. The great elevation of its view and principles, stamped upon it a noble singularity, which did not fail to strike the experienced observer.'
"The effect of this treatise was still farther heightened by the fact, that it came from an early and intimate friend of the Prime Minister; who was generally acknowledged to be the ablest and most popular statesman which Great Britain had produced, since the days of his illustrious father the Earl of Chatham. With such recommendations, the manly and conciliatory spirit, the guarded reasonings, the warm benevolence and fervent piety of Mr. Wilberforce, had the happiest influence in obviating the general prejudice against Evangelical principles, in the English church. It was no longer possible to deny, that these principles are perfectly consistent with the soundest exercise of the understauding, and with the most refined sensibility of taste and feeling. At this period also, Mr. Wilberforce was leader in that noblest struggle of British humanity, the effort for the abolition of the slave trade; and the honours which afterwards gathered round him in the hour of triumph, were reflected back on the religious sentiments which he had thus publicly espoused. The establishment of the Christian Observer in 1801, by his influence, in conjunction with that of Mr. Macaulay, Mrs. Hannah
More, and others of congenial sentiments, was another important means of concentrating the scattered force of the Evangelical party, and giving respectability to its character in the eyes of the public. The temperate and manly tone of discussion which characterized that work, its entire abstinence from every thing bitter, sarcastic, or unkind in feeling, its enlarged views of national policy, its catholic spirit towards those of other denominations, the chastened fervour of its piety, the warmth of its benevolence, and the purity and elegance of its language, had the happiest effect in recommending those scriptural principles which Mr. Wilberforce had laboured to enforce; and made it a model for similar publications, which it is much easier to admire, than to imitate. In the triumphant progress of the Bible and Church Missionary Societies, which has so greatly swelled the ranks of the Evangelical party in the Established Church, the influence and exertions of Mr. Wilberforce have been called into the most active exercise. He has seen the respectability and strength of that party continually on the increase down to the present hour; and he may now look round, in his declining years, on nearly three thousand clergymen in the English church, who are the open and devoted advocates of Evangelical truth.
"The Practical View of Mr. Wilberforce, which led the way, under the Divine blessing, to this propitious revolution, has passed through nearly thirty editions in England and this country; and has been translated into the principal languages of the continent. It is here presented to the public with an introduction by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, in which its influence on the promotion of Evangelical piety is traced at large. May that influence go on to be felt for ages-in the extension of that deeply devotional, humble, CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 350,
affectionate, and spiritual religion, so strongly inculcated in the writings of Mr. Wilberforce, and so beautifully exemplified in his life!
"But it is lamentable to observe how large a proportion of professed, and perhaps real, Christians, content themselves with low aims and low attainments. They are satisfied with an observance of the ordinances, a belief in the doctrines, and an outward conformity to the duties of the Gospel, while they fall short of its glorious privileges. They know but little of those lively hopes and anticipations, those holy joys and sorrows, that sensible intercourse and fellowship with God and Christ, that enrapturing communion with the Holy Spirit, that vivid and permanent earnest and assurance of heaven, which the Gospel warrants and encourages in every believer.
"The religion recommended in the Practical View' of Mr. Wilberforce, is of a higher order. It is satisfied with nothing merely external, however blameless and fair. The offering up of prayer and praise, meditation on the Scriptures, attendance upon ordinances, liberality towards the poor, the utmost exactness and irreproachable. ness of life-these do not meet its demands, unless there is correspondent sensibility and life in the heart. There must be a feeling of the Divine presence-a relishing of the Divine excellence—a heartassured persuasion of the Divine favour and complacency. God must be enjoyed; or there will be disquietude of soul, as in the patriarch
O that I knew where I might find him,' and in the Psalmist, As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.' If the light of God's countenance ceases at any time to shine upon the soul, the darkness which then covers it, no outward prosperity can dispel; its sorrows nothing can alleviate. No loveliness, no excellence remains, when the heart cannot taste the excel,
lency of the knowledge of Christ. No satisfaction is taken in the intercourse of the dearest friends, when returns of grace from the Holy Comforter are suspended. The visible world is a waste wilderness, when the world unseen is clouded or remote. There is no peace, no pleasure in life, when there is no sensible relish and delight in God and divine things.
"The difference between this last kind of religion and the one alluded to above, is very apparent in examples of each. Who does not see a remarkable difference, in piety, between such men as Leighton, Baxter, Edwards, Brainerd, Wilberforce, and Martyn; and the mass of those who bear, and are not supposed to dishonour, the Christianname? The distinguished and excellent author of the 'Book of Nature' (Dr. John Mason Good), said on his death-bed, 'I have taken what unfortunately the generality of Christians too much take-I have taken the middle walk of Christianity. I have endeavoured to live up to its duties and doctrines, but I have lived below its privileges.' The men first mentioned were not content to pursue what is here called the middle walk of Christianity. Their religion was strictly and eminently experimental and spiritual.
"It is chiefly for the sake of urging upon our readers, the habitual cultivation of such a spirit, that we have called their attention to the beautiful exhibition of it contained in the life and writings of Mr. Wilberforce. Such is the depravity of our nature, that even the best of men need continual incitements to spirituality of mind. And whenever this shall become the prevailing temper of the church universal-whenever the meek, affectionate, and devotional spirit of primitive times shall be carried by professed Christians into their daily intercourse with the world, to how great an extent will the reproach of the Cross be taken away, and
how confidently may we hope for the speedy triumph of our religion throughout the world!
"In pursuing this subject, we would remark, in the first place, that spiritual religion is far more rational than any other. If the things of religion are not merely imaginary, they ought in fitness and reason to command the whole heart, and rule the whole inner and outer man, If they are real, they are comparatively the only realities: all else is shadow and illusion. If the God of the Scriptures and the objects revealed to us in eternity do indeed exist, well may the prophet pronounce the world and its affairs to be less than nothing in the comparison. Such objects, then, so transcendently important in themselves, ought to have a correspondent influence on our character and conduct. And what is such an influence? If that Being who is the infinite fountain of all being, who made me, and sustains me every moment; who in all the glory of His infinite perfections, compasses my path and my lying down,' and is ever with me: the Being on whom my happinesswholly depends,and from whom my last sentence is to proceed-if He has that influence on me which His character and relations to me ought to exert, shall I not always be in His fear; shall I not always dwell in love to Him; and rejoice when He smiles upon me, and be troubled when He suspends the communications of His favour? Toward such a Being, so related to me as God is, do I not express a reasonable affection when I exclaim, 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.' If I have any love at all for such a personage, and one so related to me, as Christ, ought I not to be constrained by that love, as St, Paul was, to live and die to this infinite Benefactor-making it my whole duty and happiness to serve and enjoy Him? And what would