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Having given a general outline of the works before us, we may sum up our judgment in regarding the first as befitting the curious and speculative; the second, as adapted for the serious and thoughtful; and the third, as gratifying to the bigoted and illiberal. The Pastor, the Rector, and the Esquire, writes each in his own way, and to promote each his own immediate object. The tendency of Mr. Tyso's work is to produce comparative indifference to that part of the sacred volume which he hoped to have elucidated; of Mr. Bogie's, to excite bumiliation for the past, gratitude for the present, and hope for the future state of the church of Christ; and of Mr. Sanderson's, to awaken a spirit of exclusionism and uncharitableness towards the various existing bodies of Christians that compose the professing church.
In reviewing the subject of prophecy, as presented in the works now described, and in the multitudinous volumes which have been issued from the press, purporting to elucidate the predictions of Scripture, we are ready to exclaim with Bishop Hall, in his remarks on the millennium-"Oh, blessed Saviour, what strange variety of conceits do I find concerning thy thousand years reign! What riddles are there in that prophecy which no human tongue can read ! Where to fix the beginning of that marvellous millennary, and where the end, and what manner of reign shall it be; whether temporal or spiritual, on earth or in heaven, undergoes as many constructions as there are pens that have undertaken it; and yet, when all is done, I see thine Apostle speaks only of the souls of the martyrs reigning so long with thee, not of thy reigning so long on earth with those martyrs !"
"O, my Saviour, while others weary themselves with the disquisition of thy personal reign here upon earth for a thousand years, let it be the whole bent and study of my soul to make sure of my personal reign with thee in heaven to all eternity!"
The anti-christian and pernicious Doctrines of the Church Cate
chism; containing an Affectionate and (a) Faithful Appeal to Parents on the Impropriety and Danger of allowing their Children to learn it. By the Rev. W. Thorn, Winchester. Lon
don: Jackson and Walford. pp. 56. Objections to the Church of England Catechism, as a School
Book; or, Manual of Elementary Christian Instruction. In
Christ in England. London: Higham. pp. 67.
against the Calumnies of Dissenters, and the groundless Objections of unwise Churchmen. By Clericus. London: Wer
theim. pp. 168. A STRANGER in the land, who, without a knowledge of the state of parties amongst us, should become acquainted with our contests on education, would necessarily suppose, that we were a most religious people. He would find that a religious education of the poor was N. S. VOL. IV.
not only enforced in the pulpit, but discussed in the periodical prints, mooted in public assemblies, embodied in petitions to Parliament, and urged in speeches to the Legislature. In fact, he would find, that a religious education of the poor was the grand theme which echoed and re-echoed through the whole length and breadth of the land. He might, however, be a little staggered when he found that the persons who were making this outcry for a religious education were the men who, for the most part, had neglected the instruetion of the poor, and who, in many cases, regarded that instruction as prejudicial. His astonishment would be increased, when he found that by a religious education was principally meant the teaching of a certain little Catechism-a Catechism which was deemed of such importance, that not even the children of those who disbelieved its doctrines could be allowed to receive a secular education unaccompanied by its lessons. But when our stranger came to ascertain that this same Catechism omitted a vast deal which was fundamental in Christianity, while it contained a vast deal which Christianity disowns, he would suspect that, although a religious education was the watch-word, something besides religion was the motive which induced its use.
Nothing can be more adapted to lead to such a conclusion than a calm and a religious examination of the Catechism: a manual which, of late years, its advocates have injudiciously called out of the oblivion in which it had long reposed, and to which, ultimately, an enlightened Christianity will be sure to consign it.
Mr. Thorn's tract relates to “ the Employment and Vows of Baptismal Sponsors,"—to “ the anti-christian Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration,"—to “ the pernicious results of teacbing the Catechism,”—and to “ the Objections which are made to its abandonment.” Our author is a plain-speaking man, and by some he will be regarded as severe, especially when referring to the better part of the episcopal clergy. It is difficult, however, for so powerful a thinker and so nervous a writer, as Mr. Thorn, to escape the charge of severity, when called to the odious, but too often needful, task of reprehension. We trust that all our readers will procure this able and convincing tract, and especially we trust that such Dissenters a3 are guilty of the criminal, and, to their offspring, cruel inconsistency of allowing their children to learn the Catechism, will read the pages which Mr. Thorn has kindly provided for their use.
The Presbyter takes a wider range, and subjects the whole Catechism to a searching, but a dispassionate and an argumentative, examination. We regret that this excellent tract has obtained so little attention. Mr. Thorn, who read it after he had written his own remarks, does honour to his candour and his disinterestedness by quoting the pages of what he justly styles “this masterly work." Both pieces are highly useful. The first, as fixing the attention chiefly on a particular error of the Catechism; and the second, as directing the attention to the mass of confusion and mistake which is spread throughout the whole.
The publication which stands third at the head of this paper is only connected with the Catechism as containing a defence of the
doctrine of baptismal regeneration: a doctrine, which having been tangbt first in the Catechism, is recognized throughout nearly the whole of the formularies of the Establishment. Judging from the occasional lusciousness of his phraseology, we take Clericus to be a very high Calvinist, if not an Antinomian. He has added Puseyism to his original creed ; thus forming a connexion which is perfectly natural, and which consists simply in the super-induction of ritual and disciplinary Antinomianism upon doctrinal. The professed object of Clericus is to defend the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, but his chief object seems to be, to give a sound rating to a certain dissenting minister, whose sentiments' are supposed to harmonize with those which we apprehend Clericus to hold, and who, in consequence, is unconnected with any dissenting body. According to Clericus, the dissenting minister had attacked him without much ceremony: an attack which Clericus repays with ample interest. Antinomianism furnishes with a macaronic dialect,-half sacred, and balf Billingsgate, which serves admirably for the purposes of abuse. We have been told that a certain Episcopalian Doctor, the practical Antinomianism of whose life embodied the theoretical Antinomianism of his pulpit, frequently attended the weekly lectures of the dissenting minister in question, that he might retail the said minister's sermons on the Sunday. We hope Clericus has not been detected in a similar plagiarism; but he evidently knows much more about this minister, than do the generality of dissenters : while there is a fierceness in his indignation, which seems to indicate that there is a personal feud betwixt this par nobile fratrum.
The grand error of baptismal regeneration has taken so exclusive a possession of the public mind, that the other errors of the Catechism have not received the reprobation they deserve. We yield to none in an abhorrence of the doctrine in view,-in a conviction of its deluding and destructive effects; but we are far from thinking it the only point on which the Catechism is fatally erroneous.
The reply to the second question in the Catechism is generally regarded as containing the one error of baptismal regeneration ; but, in reality, the reply contains two errors ;—that all baptized persons are regenerated,—and that baptism is the means by which regeneration is effected. “ Baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” The doctrine of the inherent efficacy of religious ordinances,—the assumption that they benefit the receiver by some mys. terious influence, and independently of the state of his own mind, is grossly fanatical, and totally opposed to Christianity. And yet this doctrine not only appears in the Catechism, but, disgustingly Popish as it is, is maintained by a great, perhaps by the greater, number of Episcopal divines. A zealous clergyman lately admonished a Dissenter, not of the clergyman's own, but of a neighbouring parish, to attend the church of the parish in which the said Dissenter resided. The Dissenter avowed his disapproval of the Episcopal Church ; and, moreover, said that had he approved it, he could not attend his parish chnrch, on account of the character of the incumbent,-a sweet-tempered gentleman, who lived in the same house but not at the same table with his wife, and who had not spoken to his curate for a twelvemonth. The zealous clergyman replied, that the vicar was lawfully ordained, and, consequently, that how ill soever he might represent the religion which he preached, his auditory must be benefited by his services. Christianity, on this plan, is a sort of spiritual legerdemain,-repulsive to reason, and destructive to the souls of men.
The doctrine of vicarious religion, or that in the concerns of religion one person can act in the place of another, is an error of the Catechism. In reply to the third question," What did your godfathers and godmothers then do for you ?” it is answered, « They did promise and vow three things, in my name, First, that I should renounce the devil, and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh,” &c. We stay not to inquire how an unconscious babe, who, though born into a world of sin, has “neither done any good nor evil,” can be subject to the power of the devil, or enamoured of the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, or of the sinful lusts of the flesh? We stay not to ask whether, fallen creatures as we are, the devil has power over any one, except through his own act? But supposing the poor babe to be subject to the devil, and captivated by the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, who authorized the sponsor to be proxy for him? who authorized the sponsor to be religious in the place of another, who, though possibly he may not be subject to the devil, certainly has no religion? Does Christianity warrant this vicarious piety?
The strictly vicarious character of the transaction is still more strongly marked in the Baptismal service. In answer to the question, “ Dost thou, in the name of this child, renounce the devil and all his works ?" &c. The sponsor replies not, he shall renounce them, but “ I renounce them all.” 'In answer to the question, “ Dost thou believe ?” &c. the sponsor replies, “ All this I stedfastly believe.” In answer to the question, “ Wilt thou be baptized in this faith ?'' the sponsor replies, " That is my desire." Prone as man is to self-deception, who can tell the mischiefs which have resulted from a recognition of the principle, that one person may be religious for another; a principle avowed in the Church of Rome, and taught virtually in the Church of England. Alas! poor deluded man! prone as he is to make “refuges of lies," for himself, it is surely needless thus to construct them for him.
But not only is this Catechism stained with the unscriptural dog. mas of baptismal regeneration, of inherent efficacy, and of vicarious religion,- it is chargeable with great defects; defects which, in their consequences, amount to the inculcation of dangerous error. The Catechism is altogether silent on the fundamental truth of religion. It does not teach the Unity of God. The catechumen is taught to express his belief in God the Father, in God the Son, and in God the Holy Ghost. The terms God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are unscriptural, and are for the most part avoided by judicious Trinitarian divines; while to speak, in a manual of instruction, of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, without any inculcation of the Unity of God,-any information that these three
are one, appears to us to be the teaching of absolute Tritheism. We fear that the unscriptural, unguarded, and negligent manner in which this great mystery is brought out in the Church Catechism, and by them who have taken their cast of sentiment from it, has been dreadfully injurious. Tritheism is the charge brought against us by the Unitarians; and were the doctrine of the Trinity always taught as it is in the Catechism, we must plead guilty to the charge.
We have often wished that our orthodox and evangelical friends were less disposed to dismiss summarily the charges brought against them by the enemies of their faith,—to dismiss them without an inquiry, Is there not some foundation for the reproach ? Our brethren may be assured that, in many cases the enemies of their faith see their faults far more distinctly than they do themselves. Against the orthodox doctrine, as scripturally and judiciously maintained, there lies no charge of Tritheism ; but we are not sure that Tritheism is never taught. We have been accustomed for many years to endeavour to ascertain the exact views of ordinary Christians on the mysterious subject before us; and we must say, that those views, if not Tritheistic, are, in many cases, bordering on Tritheism; a result to which the coarse and negligent representations of the Catechism may have materially contributed.
The Catechism does not teach repentance toward God as a paramount duty; it teaches it incidentally, and considered merely as a qualification for baptism; while it places faith on a wrong foundation. The catechism views the obligation to believe not as arising from the authority of God, but as arising from the promise of the sponsors. We attach not the importance to these objections which we do to the objection preceding. Still we are compelled to ask, how long is the christianity of the rising race to be crippled by so flimsy a theology as that which the Catechism exhibits ?
The nature of sin, the fallen condition of man, and especially the intercession of our blessed Redeemer, are all great and leading points in the dispensation of Jesus Christ,-points which stand out prominently in the sacred record. Now, although these points may be implied in the Catechism, they are not expressly mentioned. Most consistently with itself, the Catechism, which forgets that “ there is one God,” preserves no distinct remembrance of the truth, which is next to the Unity of God in importance, that there is “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
We have not mentioned all our objections to this much vaunted formulary. A nonconformist schoolmaster was requested by a parent to teach his children the Church Catechism. The schoolmaster asked the parent, if he thought the Catechism to be all true. The parent confessed candidly that he did not. Then, Sir, said the schoolmaster, I will teach your children just so much as is true, and leave the rest. The parent consented. When, however, the schoolmaster proceeded to fulfil bis engagement, he found that he had no occasion to overload the memories of his pupils; for, with the exception of the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the summary of its contents, and the duty of the child towards God and his neighbour, there was very little which he could place under the category