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Fo» the distent which rests upon conscientious scruples, we entertain all die respect which sincerity, however weak and ignorant, is entitled always to claim; hut for turbulent faction, under whatever name disguised, we have only profound contempt, and we rejoice whenever it brings upon itself deserved punishment and shame, by entangling itself in its own snares, and destroying itself by its own success.
If dissenters, as they say, are respectable and conscientious, they1 may exorcise their new privilege with safety; but if, as we believe, their pretensions are of the lowest character; if their numbers are enormously overrated ; if the bulk of them are dupes of leaders, whose one ruling principle is enmity to the Church; then they will have every reason to lament a measure which will give their party the most deadly blow it has ever received.
We have always contended that nothing is required to disarm and overthrow dissent beyond exposing its false pretensions, and leaving it entirely to itself; but so deeply and extensively has false liberality prevailed among churchmen, that we should have inculcated the duty of absolute separation without any other effect than that of being regarded even by our own friends as narrow-minded bigots, if dissenters themselves had not so happily enforced our arguments. Overweening confidence in their own power, and a vain belief in the weakness of the Church, have encouraged them to show themselves as they are. Their conduct has provoked disgust: it remains but to expose their weakness, to sink them to utter contempt; and nothing will more certainly promote this desirable consummation than the working of their new Marriage Bill.
Dissent will now stand in the position of a visibly distinct and hostile party; and the most lax churchman will soon find that his credit and consistency are involved in having no connexion with dissenters as such. We mean not that churchmen should meet none in society, and deal with none in business, but persons of their own creed. This beautiful spirit of christian charity we leave altogether to dissent, to remain, as heretofore, its own peculiar distinction. We mean, that churchmen will act upon church principles, and never compromise those principles in deference to the claims of a pretended liberality. Hitherto, dissent has been nourished and raised by a connexion with the Church. So ivy fixes upon the tree, drawing support from its strength, and vigour from its juices; so it rises and spreads over the branches, obtruding its own dull leaves for the beautiful foliage, and its own harsh berries for the wholesome fruit; so when the ungrateful parasite would strangle and destroy its benefactor, it is torn away, and left to be trodden into the mire and perish. Such has been the conduct of dissent, and such will be its fate.
A more effectual means than this Marriage Bill could not have been devised for disgusting the respectable portion of dissenting communities, and driving them to the Church. The lady presidents, and secretaries, and committee men, and penny-a-week collectors; they who can forget what they owe to the decorum of their sex, and the duties of their home, to bustle in public as the little managers of small societies; these indeed may feel no scruple to be married in a magistrate's office; but all who retain that delicacy which is the pride of their sex, and peculiarly the glory of Englishwomen, will revolt at the desecration. The poorest girl will spurn at the idea of going before the justice with her lover, as if she were bringing to him a father to be sworn to maintain her baby. We rejoice in the conviction that England is a religious country, where it is felt that the chiefest excellence of the institutions we cherish, their beauty, strength, and dignity, is derived from the sanction of religion. Though taste, convenience, or laxity, may take many to the meeting-house, there is but a small proportion, even among dissenters, who have ceased to regard the Church with reverence, and the Clergy with respect; and all but these few will regard civil marriages as a disgusting and degrading privilege.
A certain effect of the Marriage Bill will be to aggravate internal discord among dissenters, by depriving them of their most valuable grievance. Democracy is quarrelsome in its very nature; and when denied the privilege of quarrelling with others, it is sure to quarrel with itself. Leave dissent entirely to its own bad passions, and it will need no other destroyer. Its factions will soon realize the well-known fable of the Kilkenny cats, who fought till both were devoured.
We have no doubt whatever that dissenters will object to the boon, though they have clamoured for it so loudly and so long; but we arcquite indifferent to the course they take. Their motives are bad; their party is divided and weak; their character is not respectable. If they cease to attack the Church, they will be sure to bite and devour one another; if they persevere in their late conduct, they will expose themselves more and more, till all their friends become convinced, and this conviction is making rapid progress, that to be connected with them is disreputable, and to satisfy them impossible. It will soon be sufficiently evident that their claims are advanced, not because they expect or desire any advantage from them, but that they may weaken and degrade the Church: but here their friends in parliament will fail them; and they have now to deal with a Government, which, with every disposition to do them full justice, and to grant them every safe indulgence, will never allow itself to be made the dupe of their cunning, or the tool of their malice.
In strict consistency with their own character, they will be thankful, it seems, for this measure, provided only that churchmen also shall be compelled to marry by a civil contract. Truly they are modest! We are quite satisfied to remain as we are, and agree with them in thinking that the rite which involves the happiest and the most sacred of earthly duties, is far more honourable when solemnly consecrated at the altar of God, than when made a mere form of business in a magistrate's office. They may still enjoy the sanctity of our rite; why, then, would they drag us down to the degradation of theirs? But thus it has ever been. Honourable minds look up to superior excellence as to something which they admire and emulate: the base and malevolent, the democratic, in short, as to what they desire to bring down to their own level. So the first democrats refused to be happy, even in heaven, while there was one Being in the universe above them; and having thus fallen to wickedness and misery, they strive to make the whole creation as wicked and miserable as themselves.
THE RECORD NEWSPAPER AND THE CHURCH SOCIETIES.
No reader of this publication can be unaware, that, while entertaining for ourselves the most decided opinions on the Quinquarticular controversy, we have always regarded that controversy (except remotely) unconnected with essentials. Calvinism, logically followed up, is bad enough—tantamount to Antinomianism: but educated Calvinists do not follow it up logically; they disclaim every shadow of Antinornian doctrine; and, except in speculative opinions on subjects of the most abstruse nature, do not differ from their Arminian opponents. The conversation between Wesley and the young Calvinistic minister is well known; and we perfectly agree with Mr. Simeon, "that pious men, both of the Calvinistic and Arminian persuasion, approximate very nearly when they are upon their knees before God in prayer."* They do not feel their differences to be so great as to prevent their communicating, nay, accepting the ministerial trust in the same Church; and this, surely, should be argument sufficient with both parties to keep the peace of that Church, and to strive earnestly together in her defence. The mendacious lip of schism has never dared to affirm that the Church is split into more than two parties; and we would gladly see even this pretence of disunion removed by the piety and liberality of Churchmen. We do not call upon any man to surrender his opinions on any subject, except to the force of argument; we are unprepared to resign ours on any other terms; but all that we would urge is this; that Churchmen should hold peculiar sentiments in a liberal and charitable spirit, and look rather on the essentials where they are agreed, than on the speculations in which they differ.
We have always given the great majority of our Calvinistic brethren full credit for coincidence with ourselves in the above sentiments. We never doubted the fact, and late events have abundantly proved it. The Calvinistic members of the Church have contributed their full proportion to the array of her champions in this her day of battle. The folly and danger of party spirit is indeed abundantly manifest to both sides; and sentiments more worthy of Christians and Churchmen are rapidly extinguishing the spirit of faction.
In our last paper on the subject of Mrs. Hannah More's biography, we adverted to the recent conduct of the Record, relatively to the Church Societies. In noticing it further, which we feel ourselves bound to do, our Calvinistic brethren will readily understand, from what we have already said, that we have not the smallest intention of rendering them responsible for the language of that factious and mischievous
* Preface to Hone Homileticse. VOL. XVII. NO. IV. . II II
journal. So far from it, it will appear in the sequel that a society supposed to be high in the confidence of the Calvinistic section, has disclaimed the advocacy of the Record with christian indignation. We are told, moreover, that Calvinistic Clergymen, patrons and advocates of that society, had determined to suspend all further communication with it until such disclaimer should appear. And we trust that, could a print coinciding with us on these minor points have been found base enough to perpetrate a similar outrage on the Church Missionary Society, we should have as readily drawn our pen against the slanderer. Every public society is, of course, open to public discussion; we have ourselves discussed the respective merits of the Church Missionaries and the Incorporated Society; and had the Record contented itself with a statement of facts, or even of temperate, though erroneous, opinions, we should not have stepped out of our way to refute a journal which is too weak to do injury by argument. But it is really too much to see the editor of a newspaper setting himself up for an arbiter of the gospel, and, while calling himself a Churchman, shamelessly charging the whole hierarchy and Clergy of England, except such as identify Calvinism with the whole Bible, (and we believe such are daily decreasing,) with—Ignorance Of The Gospel!
Our readers are well aware that great exertions have been making to ensure to the emancipated negroes in the West Indies the fullest possible instruction and spiritual advantage in the communion of our Church. The two oldest Church Societies have stood forward most munificently; each of them having contributed £10,000 towards this object. In the case of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the sacrifice has been very great; as it amounts to considerably upwards of the sum subtracted from its annual income by Whig liberality. In the Record for Deeember 22, 1834, we find the subject thus noticed:
"This £10,000 is to be placed at the disposal of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and it is intended to appeal to the public for additional funds. Let onr readers pause before they make any response to this appeal. We intend to recur to the subject in our next number, as we consider the question involved in it to be one of no slight importance."
This pompous alarm was accordingly followed up on the 24th December. What "the readers" of the Record might be expecting, we can scarcely conjecture. But as we know some of them who would be the last to concur in its views on this subject, we can only suppose that such, at least, expected that some very serious and awful charges would be brought against the Incorporated Society. They might also be prepared to expect that a recommendation of the superior claims of the Church Missionary Society might appear. But what must have been their astonishment at an article of nearly two closely printed columns, the whole substance of which may be comprised in this modest sentence:
"We object to christian men contributing to this fund, because, in Our judgment (which has not been formed but with the greatest deliberation) the greater part of the leading men of these societies very imperfectly, If They Do At All, Understand the gospel which they profess to teach .'"
So that the two noblest institutions for the dissemination of Christianity that the world ever saw are to be pronounced unworthy of public confidence on this solemn charge—that, in the deliberate judgment of that important personage and most profound theologian, The Editor Of The Record, they do not understand the gospel! Had this learned divine descended to particulars, it would have been a palpable absurdity to have defended such men as the leading members of these great societies against such an accuser. But where no accusation is made, no reply can be forthcoming. To see, however, the eminently ludicrous position which the Editor of the Record has assumed, we will only state that the president of both societies is The Archbishop Of Canterbury ; that The Bishops are the vice-presidents of the Incorporated Society; that the standing committee of the other comprises the Archbishops And Bishops, together with several Archdeacons, and various distinguished Clergy and religious laymen. And the greater part of these, in the deliberate judgment of—The Editor Of The Record, (to use his own exquisite style, as peculiar, we hope, as his opinions) "very imperfectly, if they do at all, understand the gospel they profess to teach!"
As the Editor of the Record is so much better instructed in the nature of the gospel than those notorious ignoramuses the hierarchy of the English Church, it is much to be regretted, that, for the benefit of the darkling people of this country, who seem, at this rate, to be as illinformed as the benighted negroes themselves, he has not published his own luminous views on the subject in a series of lectures. But where we cannot obtain all we want, we must be content with what we can get. Thus then, does he speak of the differences between the Evangelical and High Church bodies, as he scruples not to designate them.
"Our differences are essential and fundamental; in fact, and in practice, the answer to that all-important question, how may a man be just before God, is answered in an opposite way by the two parties; while the doctrine taught as it respects the nature and extent of that 'holiness without which no man shall see the Lord,' is also altogether dissimilar; so that, if the teaching of the High Church on this subject is scriptural, that of the others is fanatical; and if the instruction of the Evangelical body is correct, that of the other is deceptive, and imminently perilous."
What say our Calvinistic friends to this? are they prepared to affirm of their brother Churchmen what Dr. Pye Smith's "pious, and honest, and warm-hearted friend, Mr. Binney" applied both to them and to us, that we destroy more souls than we save? Do they believe that the greater part of the Clergy (Bishops included) are preaching doctrines "deceptive and imminently perilous," (to use again the peculiar phraseology of the Record) 1 Would they (as we know a proprietor of the Record once did) tell a Clergyman, on their introduction to him at the table of a friend, that he was "a trifler in holy things, and a setter up of the dominion of Satan in the Church?" No—they would repel the very thought with honest indignation! Individuals may be found who would not; unworthy individuals both sides contain; but these would be indignantly scouted by the honest and liberal Calvinistic Clergy.