Page images

and in substance delived by many who its own expositor, and then no material very sparingly use its peculiar phrase- inconvenience need to be apprehended. ology; let it be allowed, that this phra. When one part is so explained, as not seology has been abused by persons fa- to trench upon another, but to harmo. natically inclined; yet the question will nize with the whole, there will be little occur, Does not God know best in danger of abusing figurative language what language to convey his own truth? to the propagation of extravagance and And is it not presumpluous to suppose absurdity. The flighly interpretations ourselves wiser in this matter than he? of injudicious preachers hearers Besides, is there not reason to fear, may be always checked, and brought that the disuse of scripture language back within the limits of truth and reamay issue in a gradual departure from son, by the application of this rule. the meaning of scripture ? And does Again, God may be expected to bless not our experience corroborate this his own word. “ If any speak, says an suspicion ? Tillotson, and other popular apostle, let him speak as the oracles of divines, at the period of the bestora. God.'' Does not this apply to the tion, led the way in substituting human manner as well as the inatter of preachexpressions for those of the Bible, and ing? In this way the people will have they, I doubt not, meant ihe same things their understandings enlightened, and with the Bible, though they chose to

their zeal kindled at the same time, express them in other words.

But to

and both by the light of heaven, not what has the imitation of those divines by the light of a taper of our own, led us? What is now generally under which we pretend, whether truly or not, stood by the reformation, the virtue, the to have borrowed from it. good life of their vocabulary, substitut

The real truth of the case however ed for the conversion,the holiness and the is, that figurative language, so far from sanctification of the scriptures? Some. being unintelligible, is not only intething, I apprehend, very different from resting to the imagination, but informwhat the original adopters of these ing to the understanding, beyond all modes of expression meant by them. abstract methods of teaching. Hence The mere moral, and unevangelical it was constantly employed by him, strain of preaching, so generally pre- who knew what was in man; and the vailing in this kingdom, and so much divine wisdom which spoke and wrote reproved of late in the charges of our by his disciples and apostles, likewise bishops, may, very probably, be traced adopted it. Experience has also fully in a great measure to this source. So proved its advantage; and it may even that experience strongly evinces the be questioned, whether any one ever danger of departing from scripture lan came to a right conception of the truths guage in treating on divine subjects. of religion, without the belp of scripNor are there wanting other conside- tural metaphors and illustrations. rations to enforce the expediency of an opposite practice.

For the Christian Observer. The language of human morals is If we would 'gain a full view of any cold, and affects not the heart like that theological subject, our first duty is to of the scriptures; and hence what search the scriptures; and though it those preachers who adopt the former may be a subject which leads us prinmay suppose themselves to gain in cipally to the New Testament, yet unelcarness and precision, they lose in expected light may sometimes be persuasion and cnergy. But let figures thrown upon it, by consulting the other be solidly explained, and there will be part of the divine oracles. God has no occasion to renounce the style of had a church in the world from the bescripture, in order to make a wise and ginning; and if our minds are restrictunderstanding people. Leta preacher, ed within proper and chaste bounds, whose judgment is sober, while bis we may often reason not impertinently hcart is warm, teach his hearers to by analogy, from the Old Testament to compare one part of scripture with the New. The point which the writer another, and trica to make their Bible wishes to ascertain is this ; whether


the ministers of Christ ought to be up- Lord entered upon his ministry, it is on an absolute parity, with respect to said, “He ordained twelve that they office and to order; or whether there should be with him, whom also he ought to be governors and governed, named Apostles.” (Mark iii. 14. Luke as among other classes of mankind. !f vi. 13.) And after that “the Lord apwe look into the Old Testament, it is pointed other Seventy also, and sent easy to see the order which subsisted them two and two before his face," and in the Church, under the Jewish dis- gave them a commission to preach and pensation. The High priest was the to work miracles. (Luke x. 1.) In chief, and was the first born of the these transactions the order of the Old house of Aaron in a direct line; the Testament is neither totally abandoned ordinary priests were his brethren, the nor implicitly followed. The one High younger branches of Aaron's family ; Priest of the Jewish Church is no and the Levites constituted the third

But the Twelve Apostles are order; they were the rest of the tribe answerable to the number of the tribes of Levi, and assisted the priests in the of Israel, and the seventy disciples are execution of their office. Let it also answerable to the seventy elders whom be remarked, that the constitution of God appointed to assist Moses. (Num. the Jewish Church was pressly by xi. 17, 25.) divine appointment, and it was then the The Apostles, for some time after universal church. Under the Gospel, our Lord's ascension, had no idea of “the priesthood being changed, there preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. is made of necessity a change also of They therefore chose Matthias into the law.” (Heb. vii. 12.) The univer- the place of Judas, with a view to keep sal church is no longer subject to one

up a number of their own body in individual High Priest. The High allusion to the twelve tribes of Israel. Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, (Acts i.) By this it appears, that they has appeared, and a mere typical wor

considered the seventy as belonging to ship is abolished. The claims of the

a different order. Christ himself had church of Rome to universal dominion made an evident distinction, and they over the heritage of Goci, are absurd followed his example.

When the and impious. But it deserves to be Gentiles were admitted into the Chriswell considered, whether the order of tian church, the number of apostolical the ancient church was so far abolished

men was no longer limited. St. Paul by the Gospel, as that no faint resem

and Barnabas were called to the office: biance of it should remain. If God was inferior pastors, with authority similar well pleased with the different ranks which his wisdom appointed in his

to that of the seventy, were sent forth

to labour in different places, and a new sanctuary in former ages, there must be some strong reasons for laying this

order of ministers was instituted under

the name of deacons. Thus it appears, plan utterly aside. Though the Jewish church in our Lord's days was exceed

that in the Jewish priesthood, God apingly corrupted, yet he enjoins his dis pointed three different ranks of men, ciples submission to it, because it was each of which had distinct offices, and of divine appointment. “The Scribes

no one might assume the office of anoand Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, all ther; that our Savour began the order therefore whatsoever they bid you ob. of his church with a distinction of serve, that observe and do.” (Matt.

offices; and that the Apostles, by inxxiii. 2, 3.) If then it was the will of stituting the order of deacons, com

These God that all distinction of rank and or- pleted the ancient number. der in the church should cease with the facts are drawn from the word of God, Jewish priesthood, some intimations of and may serve as a direction to an insuch a change may be expected in the quiring mind, in judging of infcriorNew Testament; either by express writings. It may be of use, however, precepts, or by the example of Christ to remark, that Clemens Romanus, who and his Apostles. Now soon after our

must have been contemporary with


several of the Apostles, in his Epistle of the Church in these ages.
to the Corinthians, mentions the High Clement's Epistle, Sect. 40.
Priest, the Priests, and the Levites, in
direct allusion to the standing orders



[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Cluristian Observer.

he be living) will condescend to exSIR,

plain the subject to me, in a candid I Am a plain man, somewhat advanced and perspicuous manner, perhaps many in years; no enemy to learning and of your readers may be instructed and science, but possessed of little relish gratified, no less than your sincere for that refined reasoning and logical well-wisher. subtilty, which are so frequently intro

G. S. W. duced into theological discussions.Hence it happens, that whenever I The Country Clergy man uşes the read the productions of a metaphysical word “habit,” “ power of habit," and divine, I feel it prudent to proceed cau power over habit,” in a sense not Liously, and with the suspicious steps sanctioned by common use, and not of a man walking in grounds where very intelligible. e. 5. The power of there are steel traps and spring guns, habit, is love of that habit; ihe fiorver who is aware that his safety is con over it, is averseness from it. (p. 576.) nected with keeping in the broad I formerly learned from Mr. Locke, and beaten path. It may be likewise and others, that the word habit sig. proper to inform you, that I am one of nifies the power of performing an ihose old-fashioned persons who main- action with facility, in consequence of tain, that what is clearly conceived having frequently repeated it. Now, may be clearly expressed, and that he Mr. Editor, if this notion be a right who does not enable his readers to en one, that it is a power acquired by the ter readily into his meaning, may be mind, will you explain to me what is suspected of not clearly understanding meant by love being the power of himself. With such prejudices as habit. I have always supposed love to these, you will easily infer, that theo be a power, or faculty of the mind; logical hypotheses inspire me with

with habit is likewise a power, or mode of little more reverence than the reveries the mind; to call love, therefore, the of a castle-builder, or the dreams of a power of a power, is something like a glutton, being stubbornly attached to an solecism. The Country Clergyman axios laid down by an old friend of proceeds to puzzle me still more by mine, that a grain of sound knowledge saying, that an irresistible habit and is at all times worth a pound of specu- supreme love, are synonymous terms, lation.

or imply the same thing. But, Sir, I have been a constant reader of your are not habits, deeply rooted, and irreMiscellany since its first publication, sistible habits, often persisted in where and thank you heartily for the satisfac- there is a strong aversion of mind to tion it has generally given me. But I them? must complain, that you sometimes That the plea of habit forms no exinsert things which are “ hard to be cuse for vicious indulgences, is a true understood," by a man who generally and intelligible proposition, since the annexes to the terms he meets with in facility with which a criminal act is books, their inost simple, obvious, and perpetrated, arising from the frequent grammatical meaning. I now take committing of the crime, cannot lessen ihe liberty of troubling you with some its sinfulness. But it does not necessadifficulties which perplexed me in rily increase the guilt; for, although it reading, p. 576, of your Christian Ob. may prove the agent to be more harserver, for September; and if you, or dened in wickedness, it does not aug. the worthy clergyman its author, (if ment the turpitude of the individual

you, the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

act. Sir, the proposition with which proceed at once to inform you, that the Country Clergy man began his whatever you may think, and however paper, was perfectly clear and intelli.



flatter gible, till lie set about proving it meta- Christian Observer, as it is now conphysically; but from the moment he ducted, will not, cannot prosper. began to be deep, he eluded all further Allow me, Sir to tell you, that your pursuit, by burying himself like an eel systens is radically wrong; and the grand in the mud.

error of it is, that you consult, not the I crave your patience a little longer, prejudices of the million, but the judgMr. Editor, while I request the solu- ment of the few; and thus, by sacritions of a difficulty which has perplexed ficing what is politically expedient, to me at the conclusion of the same paper. what is morally right, deprive your The Country Clergyman informs us, work of the thousand various attracos that a man cannot be blamed for not tions to which the greater number of doing what is out of his power-and periodical publications owe their fame that few are aware of the difference and circulation. bei ween an inability natural and invo.

But, Sir, let me assure you, that an luniary, and that want of power which obstinate perseverance in your present results wholly from moral de pravity.

plan must necessarily operate as a According to the plain literal mean- fatal impediment to the success of your ing of those words, I conceive, that the undertaking: and I am extremely amsame arguments which will prove a man

bitious of giving you a timely warnnot blame-worthy, where there is a wanting, that you may consider, before it of natural power, will prove him equally be too late, and wisely amend your inculpable where there is a want of

system. moral power; provided the word power be used in the saine sense in each pro- cumstance in your scheme, is the

A very absurd and prejudicial cirposition. If a man be really without maintenance of so much moderation power, in the proper and absolute sig

upon all subjects. Now, Sir, where nification of the terms, whether he never had it bestowed, or lost it by his have you lived, not to know, that nine own fault, or were deprived of it by ac

hundred and ninety-nine people in a

thousand hate moderation ! cident, can make no difference with res

In order to illustrate my positions, pect to his responsibility as a moral

and to demonstrate your error, I must agent. A man may, indeed, commit a criminal act, by breaking his leg; but

take the liberty to inform you, that he is not culpable for not walking.

your moderation upon certain controI have only to add, Mr. Editor, that verted points of religious doctrine, has if you, or your Country Clergyman, displeased all the zealous partizans on should consider me as making an awk both sides of the question. The bigot ward figure on metaphysical ground, to the extremes of Calvinism abhors I hope you will charitably impute it to you, for supposing that an Arminian natural inability.

is any thing better than a deist: and the bigotied Arminian is equally enraged with you, for not agreeing with

him that cvery Calvinist is a madman. SIR,

The rigid and intolerant High-churchAs I presume that you esteem it law. man will never forgive you, for apful, not only to tell a person of his pearing to suppose, that any man can faults, but also (if possible) to foretel possibly be saved out of the pale of his his misfortunes ; I make no apology own communion; and the dissenting for what I am going to address to you. zealot thinks fire and fagot too good

That I may neither torture your cu- for you, for giving such a decided preriosity by prolixity, in coming to the ference to our excellent, venerable, point, nor impeach your fortitude by and apostolical establishment. an affectation of delicacy, in gradually Let me also hint 10 you, that the aubreaking to you my intelligence; I thors, whose works you review, must

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.


for you

needs be almost universally dissatisfi- Gospel, and are to be held, if not burnt, ed with you.

You, forsooth, cannot as heretics. I presume, Sir, to give tell us of a writer's excellences with you these hints, as I am apprehensive out also disclosing his faulis ; so that, that you may need these, and even of wholesale unqualified praise, at your more, in order to put you into the right hands, no man can now entertain any and accustomed method of exercising, reasonable expectation. You appear with energy, dexterity, and vivacity, to be a total stranger to the many hap- the rhetoric of vituperation, py little arts of conciliating literary You must also, Sir, either maintain men, especially to that of celebrating that the-Dissenters are the only true their merits in full-flowing strains of worshippers of Christ; or plainly intipanegyric, unbroken by any ungrate. mate, that they will, one and all, be inful inention of errors and imperfec- evitably lost. No middle course will tions.----Fie on it! oh, fie ! You a re- be acceptable. It will not do for you viewer!

to cleave to the Church yourself, and, Deign, my good Sir, to accept a few at the same time, charitably hope that instructions from me. I do not pre- they, who may be educated Dissenters, tend to the mefit of inventing the ex. or who through ignorance or prejudice pedients which I recommend. On forsake the Church, or who are placed the contrary, I confess, that I have by Providence in countries in which no collected all of them from some one such Church exists, may possibly be or another of the Reviews and Maga- saved; for although it might be right, zines, in the production of which, the just, and christianlike to do so, it is not present rich, happy, and learned age is -mark me, Sir—it is not politic: for so astonishingly prolific.

there are certain people who will afIn the first place, it is absolutely ne- firm, that he who allows that Dissencessary

to make a decided ter can possibly be the object of the choice of one side or the other, upon

6 covenanted mercies of God," must inevery disputed point, especially in re- evitably be a thorough paced Dissenter ligious concerns. You must not sup

himself. Consider also that your mild pose that (for instance) it is sufficient spirit of liberal toleration, however it for you to support simple Christianity may conciliate the respect of the pious, upon the broad basis of God's word: conscientious, and soberminded Disyou must, if you would be read, if you senter, will, however, be insufficient to would please and be popular, attach satisfy, or please the main body of Sepayourself closely and exclusively to some ralists. To gratisy them, you must not one peculiar human system; and when only tolerate, but you must encourage you have done this, if you go all lengths them; nay, you must justify their se. with your pariy, call your antagonists cession, and laud their violence against by an abundance of severe appellations, the church, as a holy zeal for the indeand bespatter them, once a month, with pendence of man, and for the spiritualplenty of abuse, you may assure your- ity of religion. self of a host of readers, admirers, and In the conducting of your review, patrons, even though you do not.exhi- you must also attend to another piece bit a grain of merit in any other in- of instruction, which is to be gathered

from the examples of contemporary cri. If you sliould choose the Arminian tics. The main point to be considerside, you must declare, that “no per- ed, on your commencement of a critison ever wroie upon the Calvinistic que upon any work, is, whether the scheme like a gentleman”--that all of your own party—if he be Calvinists are fatalists, necessitarians, not, you must allow him no merit, and blockheads, idiots, madmen, schisma- show bim no mercy.

If he be, you tics, and republicans. If, on the con must not impute to him one fault, trary, you attach yourself to the Calvin- although he may have a thousand; and istic party, you must then pronounce an illimitable scope must be given to all Arminians to be poor, dull, blind all the hyperbole of praise, in order to creatures, who know nothing of the accumulate every imaginable honour


« PreviousContinue »