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tends to promote equally the honour of God, and the happiness of mankind
Such is the plan of the work, which much as we admire, we think it is even surpassed by the execution. We are almost afraid to give extracts, lest our judgment should be called in question for passing over those parts, which in the judgment of others may claim the preference. We have read the whole work with great attention ; and we think it right to remind our readers, that we do not profess to select beauties, for then we might transcribe the whole. To proceed then.
“ In defining enthusiasm,” he says, “ we might adopt the very words of Theodoret, who, speaking of the schism of the Messaliani, uses these remarkable expressions : • They are called Enthusiasts because, though
they suffer themselves to be worked upon by the power of some evil ( spirit, they nevertheless conceive that the effects they experience are occasioned by the presence of the Holy Ghost.'
“ For some men, whether through ignorance or conceit, frame to themselves extravagant notions as to the manner in which the Holy Ghost is to operate upon the human mind. They imagine, for instance, that He is to convey sudden illuminations, that He is to reveal truths before unheard of; to communicate rapturous sensations, and feelirgly to interfere with the direction of their conduct. When a person there, fore is occupied with these preconceptions, it is obvious that a deceiving spirit may so avail himself of them, as to persuade him, that any unusual sensation, which he may chance to experience, when heated by the force of iniagination, or even when labouring under the pressure of human infirmities, is occasioned by the gracious operation of the Holy Ghost.”
Again—" Enthusiasm so far from being the proof of any superior mental excellence, betrays a weakness of understanding, and a strength of passion which are more properly subjects of humiliation than of glory. The circumstances of the case need only be stated to establish the position. The first conceit of divine illumination in the mind of the Enthusiast, is owing to the inordinate action of his imagination, which when vehemently excited, is known to represent ideal objects so vividly to the apprehension, that they are mistaken for material ones. His subsequent belief in the reality of this illumination, arises from the natural defect, or from the wilful perversion of his reason; in consequence of which he is either unable or unwilling to detect the fallacy of those pretensions by which he is deluded. What is there then in his enthusiasm thạt does not contribute to degrade rather than exalt his character? And that this may be still more evident, let us ascend one step higher, and observe what it was that first excited his imagination to form the preposterous conceit of supernatural illuminations. To suppose that the imagination, without any external cause can excite itşelf, and determine itself to one particular object, is altogether contrary to the nature of things. Some external principle of action then must exisť: and as it is observable, that the Enthusiast is uniformly occupied in procuring his own exaltation, often by asserting his individual excellence, and always by contriving some system of which he is to be honoured as a father, and feared as a governor ; we cannot but argue, that the love of distinction, and the hope of pre-eminence, were the causes which first called forth the powers of his imagination. To the unworthy but powerful passions of pride, of vanity, and of ambition, all enthusiasm perhaps should be, in strict propriety, referred.”
We think the following remark well worthy of attention :
“ That Enthusiasts are sincere in believing their illuminations to be divine, was never questioned ; if they did not think themselves inspired, they were not Enthusiasts." “ But this is a praise which they share in common with the wildest maniac ; for he sincerely believes the vision that plays upon his fancy to be real. This, then, is not the question : what we are to enquire is, whether they are sincere in endeavouring to ascertain the nature of that evidence, upon which their illumination is believed."
Upon the plea of sincerity upon which the Enthusiast rests his excuse, it is admirably observed,
« Surely the religious Enthusiast ought not to forget, or if he does we cannot, that many fanatics, acting upon the same principle with him. self, have broken those laws which are esteemed the most sacred in society. Their defence has been uniformly the same; that God had called upon them to remove from the state such individuals as they thought were inimical to its interests. Yet this plea was never allowed : nor was it for one moment debated, whether any member of a civil community was at liberty, upon the strength of his own convictions, to break through those restraints which had been wisely established for its preservation, For could such a notion as this be once admitted, soon would the passions of mankind, freeing themselves from all controul, destroy the order of society, and the well being of the world.”
If we might speak our opinion, which Lecture has a claim to our preference, we think it is the second which treats of Schism, the offspring of Enthusiasm. We cordially subscribe to the sentiinents conveyed in the following passage :
“O! if it might be permitted us to indulge in the reflection, what a different appearance would the world now exhibit, had men so restrained their imaginations, as not to have violated the Unity of the Church. For had Christians, 'in all nations, continued to be of one heart and of one mind; keeping entire the sacred succession of the one appointed ministry, and teaching uniformly the same sound precepts of Apostolical doctrine; this union would have afforded such an argument in favour of Christianity, as nothing could have ever gainsaid: it might probably have prevented that first woe (Rev. ix. i to 12.) which desolated the Church; and certainly it would have been the cause that many of those. nations, which still remain in darkness of Pagan idolatry, had even now been rejoicing with us, in the same beams of ibe Sun of Righteousness."
Mr. Nott defines Schism to be an open violation of Church Unity, when individuals assume to themselves the power either of forming new communions; or of instituting new rites; or of creating a new ministry in opposition to such as have been established by regular authority, as being the ministry and the ordinances originally of Apostolic institution. And again
“ If the Enthusiast find no difficulty in perceiving the sinfulness of rebellion, why should hė meet with any in ascertaining that of schism?”. “ Our Divines have asserted schism to be ecclesiastical sedition; and sedition, lay-schism. They found upon reflection that what constituted the sin in either case was the same, the difference lay only in the terms.' It is remarkable; that not merely the first Ecclesiastical writers, but the
Apostles A postles themselves, did almost uniformly employ such terms in speaking of divisions in the Church, as are used by civil historians to describe divisions in the State. Thus the word schism occurs but thrice in the New Testament, and rarely in Apostolical Fathers : but the terms sedition, rebellion, revolt, and even war are substituted in its place, and directed us to measure our notions of Ecclesiastical Schism by the analogy of Civil Rebellion."
Though aware that we are transgressing our limits, we cannot however refrain from representing the following specimen of the Author's candour and Christian charity which shine through the whole volume.
“ As for them (Wesley and Whitfield) they have both entered on that awful state, in which they cannot be affected by the praises or the censures which they may receive from man. We confess indeed that in their conduct they seem to be guilty of many 'errors. Let not this circumstance, however, lead us to depreciate their characters more than is just. Should we feel what it will become us to feel, gréat sorrow and heaviness of heart, to think that men, so distinguished for personal piety as they were, should have suffered themselves to have been so fatally misled by the influence of carnal passions, as to become the authors of contentions and schisms in the Church of Christ; be it our consolation to reflect, that God seeth not as man seeth. From him no motive, or principle of action can ever be concealed. And as he is full of loving kindness and of mercy, we will hope that he knoweth many things which will be permitted to extenuate their failings.
"'With respect to the sect itself, of which they were the Authors, we cannot but believe that the time will come, when from an overflow ing river of many waters, it will be reduced to a small stream; and that finally it shall be forgotten of the foot, and entirely wasted and dried up: For however we may be grieved at witnessing the number of its proselytes, yet we have sufficient ground to argue, that neither from this schism nor from any that may hereafter succeed to it, has the true Apostolical Church any lasting cause of apprehension.
6. We learn from History, that there never was a period in which there were not heresies and schisms, to afflict and to distract the Church. We learn moreover that of these there were some which raged not only for a few years, but even for several centuries ; sometimes bidding defiance to the state, and contending for their opinions at the head of numerous armies; and sometimes, what might have seemed more likely to give them permanency, supported by the authority of the ruling powers. Yet as these have long since been extinct, we will not doubt but that this sect, which is now permitted to disturb the harmony of our communion shall in like manner, when so it seems good to our Almighty Master, be cbased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.”
We now take our leave with our warmest commendations of it to all, particularly to those who prepare themselves for the sacred functions of the ministry. Oh, that it might arrest the attention of the Enthusiast and the Schismatic, and make them pause, and weigh the awful event before they presume to rend the Church, which is the body of Christ! For just reasoning, patient research, animated sentiment, pure diction, and true piety in defence of Christian Unity, and our Episcopal Church, we safely pronounce the volume before us if equalled, will with difficulty be found to be surpassed by the most cele.
brated productions. We cordially join our thanks to those of every true Churchman, and hope Mr. N. will find an ample recompence in the applause of the good, the approbation of his own mind, and the consciousness of having discharged a most important duty to the cause of Christianity in general.
Reflections upon the State of Religion in Christendom, particularly in the Countries situated within the Limits' of the western Roman Empire, at the Comniencement of the Nineteenth Century. By Edward Eranson,
1802, pp. 162. THE author of this work, which, though of small bulk, is of con
siderable importance, belongs to that class or sect of Christians, wlio are by themselves denominated Unitarians, and by others Socinians, Before we proceed in our review of it, we beg leave to make a few. preliminary remarks on both these terms of distinction. With respect to the first, as we have remonstrated, in opposition to certain members of the Established Church, against their arrogating to themselves the title of Evangelical, so do we protest against any class of Dissenters from the Church, being distinguished by the term Unitarian. We ob ject to this term, because it is intended to imply that those Christians, who admit the doctrine of the Trinity, deny the Unity of the Godhead, which is by no means the case. We profess ourselves to be in the number of those, who “ acknowledge the glory of the eternal "Tri, nity;" yet we are firm in the belief, that there is but one God, and "in the power of the Divine Majesty, we worship the Unity." The term Socinian may be objected to on the ground, that it implies the holding of all the peculiar opinions, which were held by Laelius or Faustus Socinus. We would not, therefore, impose this term on any description of Christians, who do not wish to be designated by it. The proper terms of distinction in this case, as comprehending the distinguishing tenet of both parties, and having in them nothing of fensive to either, seem to be Trinitarian and Anti-trinitarian. So long as important differences of opinion in religion shall subsist, terms of distinction may be necessary; but every care should be taken to make use of no terms, which are of an injurious or inyidious nature.
The author of the work before us is already known to the public by several well-written tracts, in which he has not only strenuously defended the peculiar opinions of the Anti-trinitarian party, but advanced some opinions, we believe, which are almost, if not altogether peculiar to himself. His first publication, if we rightly recollect, was a
“ Letter to the Bishop of Worcester," in which he assigned his reasons for resigning the preferment he then held in the Church. Though, on that occasion, his arguments did not convince us of the truth of his opinions, his work contained evident testimonies of ability, learning, and integrity; and we do not hesitate to say, that we admired his talents and endowments, respect. yol. V, Churchm. Mag. Aug. 1803. Q
ed his motives, and approved of his conduct*. We cannot but think, that, in his subsequent performances; he has appeared to less advantage. In his work on the “ Dissonance of the Four generally received Evangelists,” and in that on the “ Sabbatical Observance of Sunday," he has gone beyond the limits, to which writers of his class had before generally confined themselves; so far beyond, as to find even Dr. Priestley in the number of his opponents.
The great object of the present work is to show, from prophecy, and from history as its interpreter, that the great corruptions, both in faith and worship, which have all along pervaded Christianity, and which still pervade it, are the real and only causes, to which it ought to be attributed, that Christianity has made so little progress in the world, and has, had, and still continues to have so litile practical influence on the minds of men. He considers the principal of these corruptions to be the doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement, which he thinks must present, so long as they are retained, an insuperable bar to the conversion of the Jews in particular, and of all nations or classes of men, who are duly careful of avoiding the sins of idolatry and blasphemy. Since the doctrines of the Trinity and the atonement are held by all Christian Churches, this charge of corruption extends to them all. As, however, it applies to them with šome difference, according to their different explanations of those doctrines, and as we esteem ourselves to be only so far concerned in it, as it applies to the Church of England, we shall principally em. ploy ourselves in repelling it under this restriction in doing this, we feel no disinclination, so far as our limits will permit, to meet the ob. jections here urged in their full force: valeant quantum valere possunt. Convinced as we are, that the doctrines of the Church of England are founded on the firm basis of truth, we on no occasion have a wish to shrink from the severest examination of them, so long as the exami. nation is conducted with due decorum, or to refuse the fullest discussion of the arguments which may be alledged in opposition to them.
After making all reasonable allowances for the author's Jifference of opinion, we cannot forbear observing in limine, that the term blasphemous, which he so frequently applies to the doctrine of the Trinity, is not easily to be reconciled with our ideas of liberality.
In saying that we approved of his conduct, we mean particularly to refer to the resignation of his preferment. We do not see how a person of Mr. E.'s sentir ents can conscientiously subscribe his assent to the articles of the Church of England, or his approbation of its Liturgy, both which every clergyman, at his ordination and his institution, is required to do; and we have always thought that the continuing to hold any preferment, which requires such subscription, is equivalent to a declaration, that the subscriber continues to entertain the opinions which he entertained at the time of his subscribing; and that he is ready to repeat his subscription, as often as he may be required to do so. This we say generally, without meaning to accuse any particular person; for there are actions, of which, though the performance of them may deserve commendation, the omission would not justify blame. We leave the determination of particular cases, as in reason it ought to be left, to the conscience of those who are particularly concerned in them. Whether, in Mr. E's case, it was also incumbent upon him to separate himself from the communion of the Church, in his capacity of a layman, is a different question, and one into which we shall pot now enter.