« VorigeDoorgaan »
. If therefore that Form of Public Worship be the belt, which, confiitently with the Opinions of the Church who prescribes it, is the molt simple, the most intelligible, the most comprehensive ; that Confeflion of Faith, which moft exactly corresponds to this Form, will be the best likewise.'
In regard to our forms, a revision of them by authority would, he acknowledges, do honour to our Church; would give it the true merit of being really more perfect, at the expence only of parting with an imaginary notion of perfection. If ever such a revision should take place, many alterations, he thinks, throughout the whole of our Liturgy would offer themselves, which would undoubtedly render it more persect, more approved by the judicious members of our own Church, and less exceptionable to those who are disposed to censure it.
It would give us pleasure to accompany Mr. Sturges through the remaining part of his work; but we have said enough to afford our Readers an idea of the rational entertainment they will meet with in his Letters, which do no small credit both to his good sense and to his moderation. We shall conclude, there." fore, with the following passage from his last Letter :
"I am not more desirous, lays be, that candid, liberal, and intelligent readers should be satisfied with those parts of our ChurchEllablishment, which appear to me good and unexceptionable, than I am, that their attention should be directed to thole parts, which are capable of improvemen", and which call for it. Though it must be expected, that all Human Inflitutions will have their defects; this is no reason, why endeavours should not be used to lesson and correct them ; to render their proportion to what is good as small as poffible. Length of time and change of circumftances produce of themselves unforeseen inconveniences in things, which were planned at first with the greatest wisdom; they make what was originally well adapted to the purposes intended, unfit and inapplicable; they produce improvements in knowledge, which in juftice to ourselves we should adopt ; so that Human Institutions of every kind will grow, from these causes only, less perfect and less useful, excep: they are from time to time refitted and re adjusted.
• This mult be the case of every National Church, which has long Subfifted ; and it seems reasonable to use the same conduet with re: spect to that, as all wise nations do in other parts of legislation ; 10 make such alterations and amendments in Ecclefiaftical regulations, as any improvements in religious knowledge, or change of circum, ttances may require. That this should be done not wanionly or un. necessarily, will readily be admittea; but we su ely seem too tender, too much afraid of moving a fitone of our Church, as if on being touched, though ever to gently, the whole fabric would fall to pieces : I trust there is in it more strength and folidity. There might be reason for this excessive caution, if the Church were now, as it once was, an instrument of party, and the very name of it sufficient to set half the nation in a flame; but now, my Lord, bad confequences are very birtle to be apprehended on account of any wise
and alesul alterations, which should be recommended to the Legiilature by the Governors of our Church; they would be well received by the moderation and good sense of the better part of the nation, to the inattention and indifference of mot others they would be uninteresting. Such improvements may be made, without affe&t. ing the great principles, on which our Establishment is founded, or changing its effential parts; by being so improved, its virtues would be more acknowledged, its utility more apparent.
ART. III. The Church of England vindicated; or, a Defence of the
Visible Cburcb of Christ, as eftablished by the Legislative Auibority of this Realm : In Answer to all Objections, which have been offered by Dillidents of every Denomination. With a prefacory Address to the Pious and Learned Prelates of Great Britain and Ireland. 8vo. 5 s. Boards. Exeter, printed by Thorn; and
fold by Wallis in London. 1779. IWE have here an advocate for the church of England,
of a very different temper and character indeed from Mr. Sturges, whofe Letters we reviewed in the preceding article. Mr. Sturges is a candid, liberal, judicious writer; the Author of this Defence of our religious establishment, is a moft illiberal intolerant. But, as the old Justice in the play says, we won't put ourselves in a pasion. The objects of this Gentleman's abuse are, the Protestant Dissenters, the Author of the Confessional, Dr. Priestley, Dr. Price, Mr. Lindsey, &c. &c. and he does little else but rail at them from the beginning of his Defence to the end. But our Readers shall judge for themselves.
His Defence is introduced with a long address, of eightyseven pages, to the Prelates of Great Britain and Ireland, all of whom, we are persuaded, will look upon the cause which he undertakes to defend, as but little honoured by such an advocate. In this address, we have the following observations on the subject of licentiousness.
• The Monthly Reviewers,' says this Writer, for we, too, are honoured with a share of his notice, with the whole body of proteftant dissenters, may be said to be fully represented at present, and to have been so for many years past, by a logarithmetical Price, and a chimerical Priestley, who are the perpetual sitting members of our diffenting congress.
• When the legislative authority of this realm had declared the Americans to be in a state of rebellion, one Price was permitted to write a book, in which, in a comparative view of the moral and literary deserts of the inhabitants of America and of Great Britain, he gives the preference to the former, and observes, that they are more deserving of the highest honours, dignity, and emoluments of government, than any on whom they are legally conferred in this our mixed monarchial state of royalty: This was not only one of the highell posible insults to the determining powers of legillation,
but to his country at large; and, in any other part of the globe, instead of being honoured with a freedom and a gold box, it bad been juftly compensated with an halter or a dungeon. In this book it is also rebelliously written, that the Americans are, and ought to be, disposed to sacrifice their heart's blood, rather than live in a ftate of fubjection to the legislative authority of this realm ; but to a cool-headed politician what is the great difference between the heart, head, or finger blood of an American. And whatever opinion some people may be inclined to entertain of this man's recondite erudition, he is abundantly more adroit in the unprofitable business of shapsody and enthusiasm, than in the useful arts of sound reasoning and juit philosophy,
• In the next place, the doctrine of the blessed trinity is fan&ioned and established by the legislative authority.' So that whoever shall publish a book, in which our blessed Saviour's divinity is expressly denied, and in which it is also peremptorily declared to have no Sanction from the Holy Scriptures, is guilty of a licentiousness, which is made punishable by an established ordinance of government. And when any diffenting or monthly reviewing Arian shall hereafter take up his puritanism, which is not inferior in wonderful achievements to infallibility itself, and shall impiously affirm, as did the old Will Whifton, that Jesus Christ was a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary, in the same manner as he was the natural product of a male and female Whifton; fince nineteen out of twenty amongit the Diflenters do not qualify according to law, an Archbishop of Canterbury, in a necessary and just resentment, should receive informations, and suffer the law to be executed with severity; and not to do so is an unjustifiable pufillanimity. And on this point, let me here inform our Jebbite and Lindleyan abectors of grofs arianism, that three divine persons in one spiritual, immense, and eternal nature, can make but one spiritual, immense, and eternal God: So that to charge che trinitarian church of England with a critheistical species. of idolatry, is manifestly untrue; because this our chriftian doctrine of the blessed trinity is evidently and perfectly consistent with the unity of theism. And whoever will read what the almost unparalleled, towering, and Shakespeare genius of the great Bishop Beveridge has written in proof of the scriptural rectitude of our trinitarian faith, will be easily inclined to hold the doctrine of old Arius in no higher efteem than the noftrum of a quack, or a fable of the bees. Nature indeed declares, and therefore it must be true, that atheists, deilts, and arians, mast, and can be determined by nothing else than by private opinion and judgment, and have a right to a protection of person and property, whilft they behave as peaceable and dutiful subjects: Yei fill, if the rights and privileges, liberty and powers, of legislation thall be allowed an existence, these gentry, have no right from or in nature to any settled and particular places of religious convention, and to public schools in a christian country, and within the bounds of an established trinitarian church; nor can they have a right to publish and propagate their sentiments in a spirit of jofallibility, declaring every diffentient to be absolutely in the wrong, that their arguments carry with them an irresistible convic, țion, and of consequence, that theilts, christians, and trinitarians,
must be wilful and unconscientious sacrificers of the interest of truth.'
This may serve as a specimen of our Author's Christian and tolerating spirit-hear now part of what he farther says of us Reviewers :
• The Monthly Reviewers have wantonly asserted, that any number of diffenting families have a right, by the plain documents of christianity, to choose any person to be their minister, But the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament were never understood by these lunary fcribes; and in matters of religion, they may juftly be said to be lunatic scribes; because, as Mr. Pope has observed of my Lord Boling broke, in things of religious concernment, they are rank triders ; nor during the whole controversy, have they produced any argument superior to the fanciful pomp and superstition of a Russian exorcit.'
The Confessional, the Monthly Reviewers, Lindsey, and Jebb, he says, are juftly entitled to a suspicion of not podeling any of the common senses of an human body, nor any of the common qualities of an human understanding.
The doctrine of the Trinity, he tells us, is naturally and pertinently deducible from the reason and nature of things, and from the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, Part of what he advances on this subject is as follows:
• Whatever is equal to two muft be two, whatever is equal to three must be three, and whatever is equal to four must be four : and the same may juitly be said of any series of numerical deno, minators or representatives. And, in consequence of chis pontion, to be conceded from the reason' and nature of things, fince the Holy Scriptures of the New í ellament have declared the Son and Holy Ghost equal to God, each of them must be God, and therefore we are obliged to believe, acknowledge, and adore, the three different persons of the holy, blessed, and glorious trinity, God the Father, God che son, and God he idoly Ghost. In another view of things, in whatever persons Thall be allowed to exist all such excellencies or perfections as are commonly ascribed to God, each of them must be God; and the consequence muit naturally return to confirm the truth of the three different persons of the holy trinity, Facher, Son, and Holy Ghost.'
His notion of Original Sin, he gives us in the following words. By original fin, I mean the seed of inclinations, which is supposed to commence with the first period of our existence, to impure and unlawful pleasures, and contidering ourselves as subjects of the supreme government of God, in various instances, to act wickedly and disobediently. And this seed of inclinations, or such inclinations themselves, are declared objects of divine displeasure and wrath ; and in the sense of a word which is more harth and severe, they are declared objects of damnation.' .
He concludes his Defence in the following manner.-
• The learned Mr. Jortin, in his preface to Kemarks on Eccleli. aftical History, has honoured the most literate or scientific part of Diffeaters, such as a Taylor, Abernethy, Chandler, and a Foster,
with this Latin compliment, Cum tales fint, utinam effent noftri ; but the important and tincere duty which I owe to the preserva:ion of the ecclefiaflical and civil eltablishments of my country, obligech me thus to invert the compliment, and no doubt buc it will be eiteemed highly uncomplaisant by the whole fraternity of separatists, --Cum tales fint, gaudeo non effe nofiros.'
We need say no more, surely, of this noble Defence; the extracts we have given will fpeak for themselves.
Art. IV. An Elegy on the Ancient Greek Model. Addressed to the
Right Reverend Robert Lowch, Lord Bishop of London. Cam· bridge printed; and sold by T. Payne, London. 410. 1 s. 6 d.
1779 TIT HATEVER be the modern idea of elegy, it was
V anciently applied to very different purposes than at present. Originally appropriated neither to love or lamentation, it was equally extended to every subject that was considered as serious or important: and so far from being confined to the trifling display of amorous impatience, or to reiterate the complaints of funeral sorrow, the elegiac muse not anfrequently
- -- mares animos in martia bella
Verhibus exacuit. In short, whatever related to the conduct of human life, or the interests of society, was looked upon to come within her province. Hence, the strains of elegy, accordingly as the occasion demanded, were political, patriotic, or prudential. Such are the elegies of Solon, and Tyrtæus, and the grave an of Theognis. In imitation of thefe models is written the Elegy before us.
The Writer's object will be best seen by the following introductory lines :
• Mourn! Son of Amos, mourn! in accent sharp
. See Isaiah, chap. xiv.