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ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN OPI
NION AND PRINCIPLE.
sension, and recal some, who now being ably supported by all the dissent, back to the national fold. friends of our generally excellent Let it be always remembered, that Establishment; which, nevertheless, the Church of England stands in a cannot be rendered permanent, and very peculiar situation, the law re. I believe I may certainly predict quiring all denominations of worship cannot much longer remain estato pay equally and largely to its blished, without reform. I have support. This circumstance does grown grey in the regular attendance most certainly, in common honesty, on the Established Church, and my require that there should be no sincere attachment is the cause of needless causes, even in words, which my troubling you with my fears. I may prevent all, who pay towards have the means of knowing that the the support of the Church, from par- dangers do threaten, increase, and taking of the benefits to be derived approach, and I sound not a vain from its prayers, its preachings, or alarm. I would sooner see these pastoral aid.
dangers averted through the means I will occupy your valuable time of your publication than any other by only one other observation. channel; and from your very first to Highly and justly has our late to your last Number I have been excellent King, George the Third, truly a constant reader. been praised for having made the Judges independent of the throne; but how much more imperishable would be the laurels won by our present sovereign, if he would make our bishops independent of his ministers? If translations were put
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. an end to, if our bishops felt them- THERE exist, in the extensive regions selves fixed for their lives amongst of North America, certain districts of those, the character of whose eter- country called pine barrens; where nal existence may depend on their the soil is generally covered with exertions and example, great would forests of fir, not quite valueless, but be the benefit. They would then “lay just better than nothing. It is pretheir hands suddenly on no man :” sumed that the land, after due culture, they would counteract that enor- would produce such useful vegetainous evil, the admission of unfit tion as might at least reward the persons into the ministry; and they tiller's toil. T'he fact and the aswould take care, that, when our sumption thus placed before the nobles or gentry purchase livings in reader, may be received by him as a order to provide for the temporal kind of parable. Opinion is a pine concerns of their sons, they should barren; which may one day be conprovide also that they were fit to verted into a fruitful field, and become promote the eternal interests of those principle. I doubt not, indeed, that, whom they undertake to lead in the with a little skill, a critic might de: way of salvation. As the general tect a flaw in this analogy; since knowledge of mankind increases, the all figurative illustration partakes evils I have alluded to, and many more of the art of the painter than others, will become more and more of the science of the logician. obvious, more and more complained the mean time, the practical lesson, of, and the dangers which threaten and with that alone are we immediour Church will approximate in in- ately concerned, is self-evident. It creased rapidity and added force. is one thing to theorize correctly; These dangers may still be averted another, to believe and act. by the timely interference of the I have been led to these remarks, temporal and spiritual heads of our by reflecting on the peril to which Church ; and they may be certain of we are all exposed by relying upon
what we sometimes prematurely call very properly reminds us, with the our creed, without following out catholic or universally-received systhat creed into its consequences. In tem of revealed truth. If I needed the retrospect of my own life I am conviction on the doctrines of atoneable to allege, that, as far as I can ment and sacrifice, I should have disread my character, in the variations covered it in the unanswerable work of the last thirty years, I held opinions of the Archbishop of Dublin; to say in 1801 which I hold now ; but I nothing of other apologists, with am not perfectly sure, that, even at whom you are doubtless familar. Althe end of the long interval, they are
low me to add, that I am the more matured into principles. Of their solicitous to profess orthodoxy of opigeneral correctness I have no doubt; nion at this crisis, because of the suof their influence I have frequently spicion attached to many otherwise painful cause to be sceptical. But, worthy characters, who have unhaphowever this may be in my own case, pily been betrayed into a certain laxI have had much opportunity of ob- ity of sentiment; or, at least, have serving with what readiness, and ap- incautiously acted with men of a parent self-congratulation, many of very different stamp from themselves. my fellow wanderers through this I allude to the Socinians, and to wilderness assume that things are the abettors of their principles'; for well with them, because of the pu- such, with submission, I consider rity of their doctrine ; especially in those to be who combine with them, the case of my clerical brethren, who, even for a cause confessedly good; or, as it is obvious, are most exposed to rather let me say, for one which has the delusion here intended.
a favourable aspect in the eyes of such As an example of this, I might men- as are dazzled by its plausibility. It tion a circumstance which has lately is perhaps advisable to state, on the occasioned me, as you will suppose, present important occasion, that algreat embarrassment. A young cler- though your highly respected friend gyman lately applied to me to re- is understood to be somewhat tinccommend him to a neighbouring tured with certain popular though rector, as curate; and the principal subordinate errors in theology, I parts of his letter on this subject are cannot but think that the differences as follows :-“Rev. Sir, Although it between him and myself are merely does not become me, unless on an verbal. On the doctrine of justifioccasion fairly demanding it, to an- cation, dubiously, I fear, called the nounce the soundness of my theolo- articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ ; gical sentiments, I feel it to be at on baptismal regeneration; on the once a matter of and of plea- influences of the Third Person in the sure to assure you, with reference ever-blessed Trinity; and finally to my application for the curacy of on the innocent recreations of the B—that your excellent friend world, it is possible that Mr. C—will find my creed to be, in funda- and your correspondent may seem to mentals, entirely coincident with his entertain some variety of sentiment. wishes; knowing, as I do, the per- There is, however, an excellent fect orthodoxy of his own faith, and maxim, deduced from the first and his natural anxiety that his assistant purest ages of the church, In neshould feed his flock with the same cessariis unitas —, which I need not wholesome nourishment which he quote further; although I will add himself has so long administered. the good advice of a later ageSuffice it to say, that my opinions on namely, 'Let us agree to disagree.' the doctrine of the Trinity, and on In the main principles, as I have the Divinity and Atonement of the already acknowledged, there canMessiah, are in full accordance with not be a shadow of discord. I am the standard writings of our Church, decidedly a Trinitarian ; but, at the and indeed, as Mr. Jones of Nayland same time, dare not conceal my
jealousy of preaching a faith with- and also for consistent results. -My out works, or such irresistible im- correspondent refers to Archbishop pulses as make man irresponsible, and Magee as malleus hereticorum ; and a mere passive machine; and lastly, I am the last person to question the of inculcating such a severity and value and influence of his work, strictness of life, as cannot consist which, in my judgment also, is unwith the known feebleness and im- answerable. But let us not admire perfection of our moral nature * without discrimination. The ques
I can scarcely tion is, how far does this performance leave town at present, as most of reach ? Not, as I think, beyond the my Oxford friends are now here; limits of orthodox opinion.
All and my engagements are numerous.” Christian doctrine involves practical
It is impossible, I conceive, that consequences. Let us illustrate this any reader of this address, meant undeniable verity by observing the to be its writer's confession of faith, author's application of his great subcan hesitate as to the little value of ject. * On this day” (Good Friday) opinions when contrasted with princi- "we have assembled to commemoples. With what self-complacency rate the stupendous sacrifice of Himmay a young theologian assume that self, offered up by our blessed Lord all is right, because he holds cer- for our redemption from the bondage tain sentiments which are held by and wages of sin; and on next Sunthe holiest members of the mystical day we are invited to participate of church! They too are Trinitarians; that solemn rite, which he hath orand when you have said this, you dained for the purpose of making us have described the whole of the like- partakers in the benefits of that saness existing between them and a crifice. Allow me to remind
that novice who pulls down the very this is an awful call, and upon an edifice of which he supposes himself awful occasion. Lethim who either reto be a pillar. But these things are fuses to obey this call, or presumes to the pine barrens of Christianity. I attend upon it irreverently, beware by no means undervalue even an
what his condition is. The man who atom of correct opinion. It is better can be guilty of either deliberately, is than stubborn heresy. A speculative not safe*.”—When it is considered Trinitarian is preferable to a specu. that this is the application, addressed lative Socinian; but the first of these primarily to the under-graduates of has a long, long journey to travel, Dublin university, and then to all the before he will set his foot on the readers of a work so very generally narrow way leading to eternal life. read, it is not surely an ill-timed or And suppose that he adds, to what hard observation to say, that we have he calls catholic views of the Trinity, here a right opinion defrauded, if I a similar estimate of the doctrines may so speak, of its practical results. of atonement and sacrifice. What Whatever may be the value of the is the value of this addition? In both Eucharist, that is not the primary instances there is correctness of opi- consequence of the doctrine proved. nion without influential faith. Each An atonement supposes the existence sentiment is held without humiliation of sin ; and such an atonement, of the —with the renunciation of no sin, deepest and most deadly transgreswith aspiration after no holiness. sion. We have, therefore, a previous We do not allow these anomalies in lesson to learn,—the knowledge of the common intercourse of life. The the distemper to be cured; the mode world is wise enough in its own of cure by faith in Him who was wisdom to know what is meant by slain ; the consequent humiliation, a man of principle. It acknowledges and the consequent gratitude. Not no such empty phrases as a man of correct opinions, a man of right
• Archbishop Magee on Atonement views. It looks for practical results; and Sacrifice. Third edition, i. 64. CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 356.
but what all this is adumbrated in example of all his people, cause and the Lord's Supper; but it is well to effect; and in their case they can be explicit with such as partake of it, never be separated, for by their fruits and to tell them far more than a short ye shall know them. The experience paragraph, which may lead them to of many years, as affecting myself, presume-notwithstanding a brief and the observation of the world caution--and to imagine, that a cere- around me, religious and irreligious, mony attended with a certain so- have taught me what my juniors at lemnity and mysteriousness of feel- least, can scarcely so well estimate. ing, transient and inoperative, is the I have seen, indeed, the Name which great consequence of the sacrifice is above every name dishonoured and death of Christ.
and despised by the open reproaches In spiritual things, as in physics, of heresy; but also degraded by it is safest to reason from effects to many who have reminded me of the causes ; and to shun the danger of complaint ; assuming the purest confession of faith Upon my head they placed a fruitless to be a guarantee of the confessor's crown, character. If Athanasius himself And put a barren sceptre in my gripe ! were equal, or inferior, to Socinus in They have first demonstrated the the tenor of his life, where is the Deity of the Son of God, and then difference between the two men? gone over to the enemy's camp, not Which of them is nearer to the king- in theory, but in practical submission dom of heaven? If I must answer the to the maxims and habits of the latter of these questions, I will say, world.
ANTI-SOCINUS. Socinus on this ground, that a man who holds the truth in unrighteousness is so far more criminal than one who abets error, and, as such, is not answerable for the neglect, or
(Continued from p. 420.) abuse, or practical contempt, of truth. My Dear Friend, My reply, I am conscious, is still My last letter left us conversing open to examination; and you, sir, at my matin casement, as our eyes perhaps, may question its validity. I were fixed on the pomps and desoshall, however, have reason to be to- lations of a once far-famed city, the lerably well satisfied, if this commu- abode of princes and prelates, of nication should tend to persuade the bards and philosophers, of mighty disputants of the day to look deeper warriors and lordly dames, whose than the surface, into the religious memorial has long since lain low pretensions of their allies in the with them in the dust. Every year cause of God and his Christ. We adds to the devastations of our anmust not be lulled to rest and secu- cient cities, while new ones spring rity by certificates of orthodoxy, and up thickly in our abodes of comnothing better. How can I possibly merce and pleasure, as gay as wealth recommend to a clerical brother, as an and Roman cement can make them. assistant, one who begins by own- It is right and expedient, no doubt, ing the co-equality of Three Per- to clear away whatever of antiquity sons in the Godhead, and ends by becomes a positive inconvenience to disowning all that is valuable in the posterity. It is not now necessary Gospel, both as a message of recon- that our towns should be hemmed ciliation and as a sanctifying prin- in with ruinous moats and walls and ciple ? When we can find a holy con- mouldering gates, occupying valuable sistency, or opinion ripened into space, barring out fresh air and sunfaith, we cannot too much rejoice in shine, and perpetuating fever and the discovery; and what “God hath plague, just because some five hunjoined together, let no man put dred or a thousand years ago men asunder.” But he has united, in the could not sleep in peace in their beds
A VISIT TO A CATHEDRAL.
without such precautions, and be with terror, as I do some of my cause poets and antiquaries delightfriends who are proposing it. See, to feast their eyes and recreate their at this moment, with what vertigiminds with such vestiges of past nous rapidity the national wheels glory ; but I pity the man who sees are running round after Parliamentthem removed without a pang. Go ary Reform; yes, and I myself am to our beautiful, convenient, and in a good degree a reformer : the incomparable new London bridge ; state, I believe, much needs it; the and, after you have intently surveyed church I am sure does: but I should the old one, with its age-worn piers be sorry to lose the heavy fly-wheel and massy incumbrances, and recon- of our two universities, which drags ciled your mind to the necessity of upon the giddy movement, and prethe new structure, tell me if you vents the popular machine taking can witness without pain the ruth- fire by its own friction. Would I, less devastation at work upon it, or then, go to the length of our excel. upon the mouldering walls of the lent Oxford friend, who says that venerable ecclesiastical edifice of St. Manchester and Old Sarum should Saviour's, towards its south-west be legislatively just where they were angle. I think this instinctive feel. five hundred years ago, though the ing may be often made good use of one has grown up from a paltry vilas a principle; and especially in lage to possess more than the wealth this day of reckless innovation, when and population of many a state, and some men would almost tear up their the other has nothing left but the father's grave to make room for a grassy mounds which speak its steam-engine, and break up his former greatness? Would I have our coffin to feed the furnace. And they religious and political institutions may gravely reason, Are not the stand still, while every thing else living of more value than the dead? that is human changes ? Why, no ; and what use is there in wasting and there I think the respected serviceable ground for an unpro- Member for Oxford is grievously in ductive tomb? The cold marble re- fault; and I see not, upon his printurns nothing ; whereas the steam- ciples, why he should not insist that engine will feed and clothe orphans, Manchester should have but one and manufacture books and roast village church, and depopulated Sabeef, and help, if need be, to send rum be constrained to maintain fifty out Bibles and missionaries.' To all steeples, with a due apparatus of which excellent reasoning I can only clergymen and other officers ; for if oppose instinct; and I believe that houses and churches are to accomthis instinct was implanted in us for pany wealth and population, I see wise ends ; that it is a sort of fly- not why political privilege ought wheel, to equalize the irregular velo- not to do the same.
But still a fly. city of human machinery; nay, that wheel is necessary to regulate the it can be vindicated by sound philo- transition : houses may grow up too sophy, and is also sanctioned by quickly to be profitable, even to Scripture itself—for in no book is their owners ; edifices may be hastily there so much said of the veneration condemned as ruins before they are for what is old as in the Bible. This ruinous ; immature opinions may be thought often reconciles me to some too heedlessly acted upon; the blind things that are rather cumbersome man may lift up his foot before he in our ancient institutions, in our knows where he is to put it down : schools and universities, and in our and hence this instinctive dread of Church itself. I could scarcely re- change often becomes a valuable concile my mind to a new translation regulator, or, to keep up the mechaof the Bible, even though in some nical metaphor, a governor;" such things it might be a better; I should as you see yonder in Winchester view a new Book of Common Prayer Bridewell, where but for this con