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Title: Christian Sects in the Nineteenth Century
Author: Cornwallis, Caroline Frances
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CENTURY***


Transcribed from the 1846 William Pickering edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                          CHRISTIAN SECTS IN THE
                            NINETEENTH CENTURY
                          IN A SERIES OF LETTERS
                                TO A LADY


                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

    “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye
    have love one to another.”—JOHN xiii. 35.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                                  LONDON
                            WILLIAM PICKERING
                                   1846

                                * * * * *

    “Heaven and Hell are not more distant, than the benevolent spirit of
    the Gospel, and the malignant spirit of party.  The most impious wars
    ever made were called—‘Holy Wars.’”

                                                                LYTTLETON.

    “Let those ill-invented terms whereby we have been distinguished from
    each other be swallowed up in that name which will lead us hand in
    hand to heaven—the name of CHRISTIAN.”

                                                             BISHOP RYDER.

                       [Picture: Decorative header]

The following letters grew out of a conversation between one of the
editors of the “Small Books,” and a lady of his acquaintance; and as
there are probably many who have felt the want of the information they
contain, it has been thought that by publishing them in a collected form
they may be useful.  The views of the writer are sufficiently explained
in the letters themselves.  All lament the small sum of Christian charity
to be found among religionists in general, but few when they begin to
write have kept clear of a severity of comment which but prolongs
differences.  The writer, himself a member of the Church of England, is
anxious to show that it is possible to be attached to one persuasion
without imputing either folly or ill intention to others; and it is with
a view of promoting the loving fellowship of all whom God disdains not to
create and support, that this slight sketch is given to the world.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]



LETTER I.


You some time ago requested me to give you the result of my inquiries
into the tenets of the different religious sects which I had been
acquainted with; and respecting which we had at different times
conversed.  In the time which has since elapsed I have been endeavouring,
both to ascertain them more completely, and to compare them with what I
conceive to be the true spirit of Christianity; but the subject has so
grown as I proceeded, that even now I can only give you a very short, and
I fear, in some cases, an imperfect notion of them.  Yet the subject is
one of deep interest; and as I feel convinced that if we looked a little
closer into the differences between the established church and those who
separate from it, both parties would find them smaller and less important
than they imagine, and that Christian charity would be increased by the
examination, I do not shrink from the task however inadequately I may
execute it.

I propose therefore to show you by extracts from the works of the
principal writers among the different religious sects, how they all agree
in most of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; at the same time
that I point out the evil consequences which I conceive would ensue were
some of their tenets _fully carried out_ into practice: and also to state
wherein their peculiar opinions appear to me to be opposed to “the truth
as it is in Christ Jesus,” so far as to prevent me from adopting them;
though I can fully believe that those who hold these opinions in the
abstract, may, notwithstanding, be excellent practical Christians.

Firmly attached as I am to the Church of England, whose form of worship
(allowing for the imperfections which naturally cling to all human
institutions), I consider preferable to any other; I can still see much
to admire in other persuasions and other ceremonies, mixed up, though it
be, with some imperfections and error; and my love to the established
church does not blind me to some matters which might be better otherwise,
and which I shall point out as I proceed.

“Of all the Christian graces,” says a quaint writer, “zeal is the most
apt to turn sour;” and the observation is no less true than it is sad,
for men too seldom remember that they must add to their faith knowledge,
and that both are of no avail without the crowning gift of charity, {3}
or in other words, brotherly love for all mankind.  The real Christian,
it seems to me, should imitate the liberality of St. Paul, who, after
having been bred up in the habits of the “strictest sect” of the Jews,
scrupled not to quit all his former prejudices, in order to preach Christ
to the Gentiles, without disgusting them by ceremonies which were no
fundamental part of the religion he taught, and was content to become “as
a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and to them that were without law, to
become as without law (being not without law to God), that he might by
all means save some.” {4}

We are too apt to hold each other accountable for all the consequences
which can be logically deduced from an opinion, however extreme they may
be: and then having persuaded ourselves that those abstract tenets which,
by straining them to an extreme point, _may_ have an evil effect, _must_
have an evil effect on all who profess them,—we avoid those who differ
from us on religious subjects, because we have assumed that they are
actually immoral by virtue of their opinions; and thus we miss the
opportunity of convincing ourselves of our mistake by a more intimate
knowledge of their lives.  “By their fruits ye shall know them,” says our
Lord; but we seldom approach them closely enough to see the fruits.

If we would be content to sink minor differences, and be satisfied that
“in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is
accepted with him,” we should soon meet on better terms; for we do not
hold at a distance from those on earth whom we expect to meet in heaven;
and thanks be to God, there is no religious persuasion that cannot boast
of many such as Cornelius.

St. Paul recommends to the churches that they be “kindly affectioned one
towards another, in honour preferring one another:” {5a} “by this shall
men know that ye are my disciples,” says our Great Exemplar, “if ye have
love one to another;” but alas! if we contemplate what is called the
Christian world, where shall we find Christ’s _true_ disciples?  Grievous
indeed it is, as has been well observed, that that religion, which
“should most correct and sweeten men’s spirits, sours and sharpens them
the most.”  But surely “_we_ have not so learned Christ.”  Let us for a
moment contemplate His conduct towards those who differed from him in
religious opinions; his compassion towards them; his meek reproofs not
only to the Sadducees and the Samaritans, but even to the more hardened;
{5b} and then let us turn to our own hearts and confess with shame that
we have fallen miserably short of that charity without which “whosoever
liveth is counted dead before God.”

So clear is the command to exercise universal benevolence, that whatever
obscurity there may be in other parts of Scripture, however men, even
wise ones, may differ as to the real signification of certain passages in
the Bible, _here_ at least there can be no cavilling.  It is intelligible
to the most ignorant as well as the most learned, so that “the wayfaring
man, though a fool, shall not err therein.”

Archbishop Tillotson relates of Mr. Gouge, an eminent nonconformist, that
he allowed men to differ from him in opinions that were “_very dear_ to
him;” and provided men did but “fear God and work righteousness,” he
loved them heartily, how distant soever from him in judgment about things
less necessary: “in all which,” observes the Archbishop, “he is very
worthy to be a pattern to men of all persuasions.”  “I abhor two
principles in religion,” says William Penn in a letter to the same
archbishop, “and pity them that own them.  The first is obedience upon
authority without conviction; and the other, destroying them that differ
from me for God’s sake: such a religion is without judgment, though not
without truth.  Union is best, if right; if not, charity.”

I have given the opinion of these two eminent men of different
persuasions, partly to show that the evil I complain of is one of long
standing; partly to justify my own opinion as to the remedy; namely, the
paying _more_ attention to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity;
_less_, to those minor differences which, from the very obscurity of the
texts on which they are founded, come more frequently under discussion,
and thus, from a mental operation somewhat analogous to that of the laws
of perspective, seem large and important because they are close under our
eyes, though they are in fact minute in comparison with those which we
have not been examining so closely.  Thus men inadvertently reverse the
order of things, and zeal for the maintenance of peculiar tenets too
often supersedes the far more important virtue of Christian benevolence,
to the scandal of all good Christians and the mockery of unbelievers.

The Quakers, in their address to James II. on his accession, told him
that they understood he was no more of the established religion than
themselves.  “We therefore hope,” said they, “that thou wilt allow us
that liberty which thou takest thyself:” and it would be well if we took
a hint from this, and reflected that we differ as much from other sects
as they do from us, {8} and that the greatest heresy is, as a Christian
Father declared it to be long ago—“a wicked life.”

It is, however, needful to distinguish between the Christian spirit of
forbearance towards those who differ from us in religious opinions, which
Christ and his apostles so strongly inculcate, and the indolent
latitudinarianism which induces many to declare that “a man cannot help
his belief,” that “sincerity is everything,” that “all religious sects
are alike,” &c.: positions which, as you well observed on one occasion,
ought rather to be reversed; for when men are _not_ sincere, all sects
certainly _are_ alike: for then it is but a lip service which will never
influence the life, and it matters not what opinion is professed; it will
be equally powerless.

Sincere belief must be the consequence of proof, without which we cannot
believe truly; with it, we must.  If then we content ourselves with the
mere _ipse dixit_ of others without seeking proof, our belief is the
result of indolence, and for that indolence we shall be accountable when
we are called on to give an account of the talent committed to our
charge, if error has been consequent upon it.  He, on the contrary, whose
education or whose means have not put proof within his reach, although he
may wish earnestly for it, _may_ be wrong in understanding, but he will
never be wrong in heart: his tenets may be wrong, but his life will be
right.  It behoves us therefore to be cautious how we pass sentence on
one another in religious matters, since, as has been well observed, we
are ourselves amenable to a tribunal where uncharitable conduct towards
others, will bring down a just and heavy sentence on ourselves.  We are
not to erect ourselves into judges of other men’s consciences, {10} but
leave them to the judgment and disposal of ONE who alone can see into the
heart of men, and alone can ascertain the real nature and ultimate
consequence of all questions which admit of “doubtful disputation.”

There will be some danger of losing our way among the almost numberless
divisions and subdivisions of sects, which present themselves as soon as
we begin to consider the subject at all narrowly.  I therefore propose to
simplify my task, and make our course a little plainer, by adopting the
two great divisions into which the reformed churches may have been said
to have arranged themselves at the era of the Reformation, as a
foundation for the classification of Christian sects at present.  Calvin
and Melancthon may be considered as the prototypes and heads of these two
divisions, which however they may sometimes vary and sometimes
intermingle, are continually reproduced, because they are grounded upon
two great natural divisions of human kind, the stern and the gentle.  My
own leaning is to the latter, because it appears to me most in accordance
with the spirit of that gospel whose great Promulgator made universal
benevolence the test of his disciples; but at the same time I must
acknowledge, and shall indeed prove before I have done, that the sterner
theoretical view may coexist in the mind with a large share of true
Christian charity and benevolence.  Be the abstract belief of the
Christian what it may, if he be really at heart a disciple, the example
of his mild Master will always influence his life and feelings, and he
will tread in the steps of his Lord, even if his judgment should
sometimes have mistaken the true meaning of some of his words.

These two views of the Divine dispensations towards man were first
arrayed in actual hostility at the Synod of Dort in 1618, where the
doctrines of James Arminius, professor of divinity in the University of
Leyden, who had followed the opinions of Luther and Melancthon, were
condemned, and those of the Calvinistic church of Geneva affirmed.  From
that time the various sects of the reformed church have generally been
known as Arminian or Calvinistic, according as they embraced the peculiar
tenets of either party on the subject of man’s salvation: I shall
therefore thus distinguish the two classes into which I propose to
arrange them, though they may not follow out either in the whole of their
opinions.

                              I.  ARMINIAN.

1.  Quakers.

2.  Socinians and Unitarians.

3.  Wesleyan Methodists.

4.  General Baptists, Moravians, Swedenborgians, Plymouth Brethren.

                            II.  CALVINISTIC.

1.  Presbyterians, Independents.

2.  Particular Baptists, Sub and Supralapsarians, Sandemanians.

3.  Calvinistic Methodists.  Evangelical or Low Church.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]



LETTER II.
QUAKERS.


The sect which I have placed first upon my list, arose about the middle
of the seventeenth century, when a number of individuals withdrew from
the communion of every _visible_ church “to seek,” {14} as they expressed
it, “the Lord, in retirement:” and George Fox, their leader, or as they
termed him, their “honourable elder,” went about preaching their opinions
in fairs and markets, in courts of justice, and steeple houses, i.e.
churches.  He denounced the state worship as “superstitious,” and warned
all to obey the Holy Spirit, speaking by him.  He was in consequence
brought before two justices of the peace in Derbyshire in 1650, one of
whom, Mr. Bennet, called Fox, and his hearers “Quakers,” in derision of
their frequent admonitions to “_tremble_ at the Word of God;” and this
appellation soon became general, though they themselves took then, and
still preserve, the title of “the Society of Friends.”

The rigid peculiarities of phrase, &c. which Fox added to his religious
sentiments; the regular discipline which he enforced; and the zeal with
which he maintained and propagated his tenets gave consistency to this
sect, although he was not, as has been supposed, the originator of their
doctrines.  He conceived himself forbidden by divine command to pull off
his hat to any one, or to address any one excepting in the singular
number, or to “call any man master;” and for these peculiarities as well
as for the refusal to give or accept titles of honour, or to take an
oath, the “Friends” suffered the most cruel persecutions; for we are told
that “they tortured with cruel whippings the bodies of both men and women
of good estate and reputation;” {15a} and were further punished by
impounding of their horses; by distress of goods; by fines,
imprisonments, whipping, and setting in the stocks: {15b} yet,
notwithstanding these severities, the sect increased and spread far and
wide, and great numbers of people were drawn together, many out of
animosity, to hear them.

The Declaration of Indulgence in 1663 stopped for a short time the
persecution of the Quakers, but by the Conventicle Act of 1664, numbers
of them were condemned to transportation: in 1666, however, their
condition improved, when the celebrated William Penn, the son of Admiral
Penn, joined them.

The discipline of this society is kept up by monthly meetings, composed
of an aggregate of several particular congregations, whose business it is
to provide for the maintenance of their poor, and the education of their
children; also to judge of the sincerity and fitness of persons desirous
of being admitted as members; to direct proper attention to religion and
moral duty; and to deal with disorderly members.  At each monthly meeting
persons are appointed to see that the rules of their discipline are put
in practice.  It is usual when any member has misconducted himself, to
appoint a small committee to visit the offender, to endeavour to convince
him of his error and induce him to forsake it.  If they succeed, he is
declared to have “made satisfaction for his offence,” otherwise he is
dismissed from the society.  In disputes between individuals, it is
enjoined that the members of this sect should not sue each other at law,
but settle their differences by the rules of the society.

Marriage is regarded by the Quakers as a religious, not a mere civil
compact.  Those who wish to enter into that state appear together, and
state their intentions at one of the monthly meetings, and if not
attended by parents or guardians must produce their consent in writing
duly witnessed; and if no objections are raised at a subsequent meeting,
they are allowed to solemnize their marriage, which is done at a public
meeting for worship; towards the close of which the parties stand up and
solemnly take each other for man and wife.  A certificate of the
proceedings is then read publicly and signed by the parties, and
afterwards by the relations as witnesses.  The monthly meeting keeps a
register of the marriages as well as of the births and burials of the
society.

Children are named without any attending ceremony; neither is it held
_needful_ that there should be any at burial, though the body followed by
the relatives and friends is sometimes carried into a meeting house, and
at the grave a pause is generally made to allow of a discourse from any
friend attending if he be so inclined.

The women have monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of their own sex,
but without the power of making rules.  “As we believe,” they say, “that
women may be rightly called to the work of the ministry, we also think
that to them belongs a share in the support of Christian discipline; and
that some parts of it wherein their own sex is concerned devolve on them
with peculiar propriety.”

But what, you will ask, are the religious tenets of this sect?  The
question will perhaps best be answered by an extract from their “Rules of
Discipline,” a work published under the sanction of the society.  “The
original and immediate ground of the religious fellowship of the early
Friends,” says the writer of this manual, “was _union of sentiment in
regard to Christ’s inward teaching_.”  They were firm believers in all
that is revealed in Holy Scripture respecting our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ; nor would they have allowed that any one held the truth who
denied his coming in the flesh, or the benefit to fallen man by his
propitiatory sacrifice.  “We believe that, in order to enable mankind to
put in practice the precepts of the gospel, every man coming into the
world is endued with a measure of the light, grace, or good Spirit of
Christ, by which, as it is alluded to, he is enabled to distinguish good
from evil, and to correct the disorderly passions and corrupt
propensities of his fallen nature, which _mere reason_ is altogether
insufficient to overcome.  For all that belongs to man is fallible, and
within the reach of temptation: but the divine grace, which comes by Him,
i.e. Christ, who hath overcome the world, is, to those who humbly and
sincerely seek it, an all-sufficient and present help in time of need . . .
whereby the soul is translated out of the kingdom of darkness, and from
under the power of Satan into the marvellous light and kingdom of the Son
of God.  Now as we thus believe that the grace of God, which comes by
Jesus Christ, is alone sufficient for salvation, we can neither admit
that it is conferred upon a few only, while others are left without it;
nor thus asserting its universality, can we limit its operation to a
partial cleansing of the soul from sin even in this life.”

Baptism and the Lord’s supper are regarded by this sect as mere types or
shadows, representing in a figurative manner certain great particulars of
Christian Truths, but not intended to be of permanent obligation.  They
consider the former to have been superseded by the baptism of the Spirit:
of the latter they say, “the emblem may be either used or disused as
Christians may consider most conducive to the real advantage of the
church: the only _needful_ supper of the Lord is altogether of a
spiritual nature.”  They conceive that a reliance on the eucharist as a
‘viaticum or saving ordinance,’ is a dangerous tenet, as well as the
connecting the rite of baptism with regeneration.  They think that
“ordinances so liable to abuse, and the cause of so many divisions and
persecutions, cannot truly appertain to the law of God.”

Quakers consider all holidays as “shadows” which ceased with the shadowy
dispensations of the law, and that neither the first day of the week, nor
any other, possesses any superior sanctity; {20} but as a society they
have never objected to “a day of rest,” for the purpose of religious
improvement.  They consider the Christian Dispensation to have superseded
the use of oaths, and contend that our Lord’s precepts {21}extend even to
the swearing of witnesses in courts of law.  War they hold to be
altogether inconsistent with the spirit and precepts of the gospel, and
urge that the primitive Christians during two centuries maintained its
unlawfulness.  They object on the same principle to capital punishments,
and the slave trade.

The members of the society are bound by their principles to abstain
entirely “from profane and extravagant entertainments,” from excess in
eating and drinking; from public diversions; from the reading of useless,
frivolous, and pernicious books; from gaming of every description; and
from vain and injurious sports (such as hunting or shooting for
diversion); from unnecessary display in funerals, furniture, and style of
living: from unprofitable, seductive, and dangerous amusements, among
which are ranked dancing and music; and generally from all “such
occupations of time and mind as plainly tend to levity, vanity, and
forgetfulness of our God and Saviour,” and they object to all
complimentary intercourse.

In the sketch I have now given of the tenets of this sect, you cannot
have failed to observe how closely their notions with regard to the
fundamental doctrines of Christianity tally with those of the great body
of the church; the differences being all on points of minor import, if we
except the ceremonies of baptism and the Lord’s supper; which, being the
appointment of Christ himself, we are not at liberty to reject.  And yet,
be it observed, the Quaker does not presumptuously reject them, but
merely acts upon, as we suppose, an erroneous view of their nature.

On points of minor difference it may be observed, that He who was the
PRINCE OF PEACE, and came to establish it, never specifically forbad war,
(for there may be cases where it is merely self defence,) but left it to
the spirit of the gospel to remove the _causes_ of war. {22}  We all know
the appellation bestowed on the Centurion, Cornelius: and when soldiers
came to John the Baptist saying, “What shall we do?” he merely sought to
retrench the disorders and injustice which those who follow the
profession of arms might be tempted to commit; but did not condemn their
necessary employments.  We may therefore fairly conclude that the
sweeping condemnation of _all_ war by the Quakers, is not warranted by
Scripture, although it is in many and indeed most instances, entered upon
far too carelessly.

One of the main distinctions of the Quakers is the rejection of certain
amusements and pursuits, which others on the contrary consider as
innocent, believing that the religion of Christ rather encourages than
forbids a cheerful spirit, and allows by the example of the Saviour, a
participation in social pleasures: and that “an upright, religious man,
by partaking in such pleasures, may be the means of restraining others
within due bounds, and by his very presence may prevent their
degenerating into extravagance, profligacy, and sin;” {24a} and such do
not feel in their hearts that _these_ {24b} are the “pomps and vanities
of the world,” which by their baptismal vow they renounce.  But surely it
is possible that different persons may regard the same pursuits and
amusements in a very different light, and yet both may be conscientious
in their views, and both, whether in abstaining or enjoying, be equally
doing that which is lawful and right in the sight of God.  That very
amusement or pursuit which is a snare to one, and therefore to be avoided
by him, may be a source of innocent, and perhaps profitable recreation to
another.  It is the intention, the _animus_ with which an act is done,
and not the act itself which constitutes the sin.  “Let not him that
eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge
him that eateth: to his own master he standeth or falleth.”

“Christianity,” says an excellent prelate of our church, “forbids no
necessary occupation, no reasonable indulgences, no innocent relaxation.
It allows us to ‘use’ the world, provided we do not ‘abuse’ it.  It does
not spread before us a delicious banquet, and then come with a ‘Touch
not, taste not, handle not:’ all it requires is that our liberty
degenerate not into licentiousness; our amusements into dissipation; our
industry into incessant toil; our carefulness into extreme anxiety and
endless solicitude.  When it requires us to be ‘temperate in all things,’
it plainly tells us that we _may_ use all things temperately. {26}  When
it directs us to ‘make our moderation known unto all men,’ this evidently
implies that within the bounds of moderation we may enjoy all the
reasonable conveniences and comforts of this present life.”

I have noticed this, in my opinion, erroneous practice of the Quakers at
the more length, because it is not confined to them.  Asceticism, of
which this is one branch, has been the bane of the church and of
Christianity generally; and few sects are entirely free from the notion
that holiness requires a withdrawal from amusements, and a certain degree
of seclusion from the world.  Yet, if the world is to be improved, the
leaven must be placed _in_ it; and a good man probably never does his
Father’s work more effectually than when he spreads the sanctifying
influence of his example through all the relations of life; showing that
there is no position in society where Christianity does not add a grace
and a relish unknown without it: spreading refinement of manners and
delicacy of thought, and insensibly rendering social intercourse more
polished, and more delightful, by banishing from it all that can offend.

The Quakers adduce Matt. v. 33–37, James v. 12, &c. in support of their
objection to all oaths, even judicial ones, and consider that the
Christian dispensation abrogated their use.  But in answer to this we may
observe that even the Almighty is represented as confirming his promises
by a solemn oath.  “Because,” says the apostle, “He could swear by no
higher, He sware by Himself;” and St. Paul on particular occasions
expresses himself thus, “As God is true:” “Before God I lie not:” “God is
my record,” &c. all which expressions undoubtedly contain the essence and
formality of an oath; and the Apostle upon some occasions mentions this
solemn swearing with approbation, “an oath for confirmation is the end of
all strife:” the swearing, therefore, which our Saviour absolutely
forbids, is common or unnecessary swearing, and we are recommended to
affirm or deny in common conversation without imprecations.  “Let your
conversation be yea, yea,—nay, nay.”

The repugnance entertained by the Quakers against paying tithes appears
to me to arise from an error in their mode of viewing the question.  The
assertion made by them “that all the provision made for ministers of the
gospel in the first ages was made by the love of their flocks,” is true,
though that love very soon produced endowments, even before Christianity
was established as the law of the empire.  But allowing this, it does not
follow, as they go on to assert, that “since we are under the same
dispensation of love as the Apostles were, the principles which governed
the church then are to govern it now.”  Tithes were originally given to
the church as a corporation, by the owners of the soil; and since that
time estates have been transferred from hand to hand subject to that
charge, till no man has any plea for refusing it.  The question is not
one of religion but of property.  If my estate devolve to me chargeable
with an annuity payable either to a corporation or an individual, I have
no right to set up his religious opinions in bar of his claim: for I have
paid less for the purchase in consequence of the existence of that claim,
which in common honesty therefore I am bound to satisfy, be the annuitant
who he may. {29}

Having now noticed the points wherein I consider the peculiar tenets of
the Quakers to be erroneous, I shall conclude with the more agreeable
part of my task, and prove by extracts from one of their writers how much
of true Christian feeling exists among them.  The following is from a
little book given me by a Quaker, from the pen of J. Gurney, entitled “An
Essay on Love to God.”

“Still more completely than the provisions of nature fall in with our
bodily state, and supply our temporal wants; still more properly than the
air agrees with the functions of the lungs, and the light with those of
the eye, does the gospel of our Redeemer suit the spiritual condition of
man.  We are a fallen race, alienated from God by our sins, justly liable
to his wrath: in the gospel we have pardon, peace and restoration.
‘Christ made all things new,’ says Grotius, ‘and the latter creation is
_more divine_ than the former.’  If then the first creation of mankind
and all the bounties of nature are the result of Love, that attribute is
far more gloriously displayed in the scheme of redemption and in the
works of grace.—The love of God the Father is ever represented in
Scripture as the origin of all our hopes,—as the eternal, unfathomable
spring of the waters of life and salvation, and this love is plainly
described as extending to the whole world.  ‘God so loved the world, &c.
{30a}  God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’ {30b}—‘God
would have all men to be saved, &c.’ {30c}  Do we ask for an overwhelming
evidence of the love of God?  Let the Apostle satisfy our inquiry.  ‘In
this was manifested the love of God towards us, because God sent his only
begotten Son into the world that we might live by him.  Herein is love;
not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the
propitiation for our sins.’ {31a}  Do we ask whether God thus loved the
whole or only a part of the world?—Let the same Apostle answer: ‘He
tasted death for _every man_—He gave himself a ransom for _all_, &c.’
Even the Gentiles, who were without the benefit of an outward revelation,
were by no means destitute of an inward knowledge of the law of God, and
some of them showed ‘the work of the law written on their hearts, their
consciences also bearing witness.’ {31b}  ‘Christ is the true light which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ {31c}  Hence we may
reasonably infer that as God appointed the death of Christ to be a
sacrifice for the sins of the _whole_ world, so _all_ men receive through
Christ a measure of moral and spiritual light, and all have their day of
gracious visitation.  If the light in numberless instances be extremely
faint, if the darkness fail to comprehend it, we may rest in the
conviction that God is not only just but equitable, and that those ‘who
know not their Master’s will and do it not shall be beaten with few
stripes.’ {32}  The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is revealed in
the Holy Scriptures, is intended for the benefit of the whole world: it
is adapted to men of every condition, clime, and character: all are
invited to avail themselves of its benefits: all who _will_ come _may_
come, and ‘take the water of life freely.’”

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LETTER III.
SOCINIANS AND UNITARIANS.


When the first great movement which led to the Reform of a large part of
the Christian Churches in Europe, awakened men’s minds from the lethargy
in which they had slept whilst learning was confined to the cloister, the
questions with regard to the nature of the Deity which had distracted the
early church began again to be mooted; and as early as the year 1524,
“the divinity of Christ was openly denied by Lewis Hetyer, one of the
wandering and fanatical Anabaptists, who was put to death at Constance.”
{33a}  He was succeeded by Michael Servede or Servetus, a Spanish
physician; who, for his wild notions on the same subject, was apprehended
on his road through Switzerland at the instigation of Calvin, accused of
blasphemy, and condemned to the flames. {33b}  But doctrines were never
yet crushed by persecution, unless indeed it were so wholesale as to
exterminate all who held them; and though these opinions were thus fatal
to their professors, the main points were reproduced by others; and
finally assumed form as a sect, under the titles above named.  The term
Socinian was taken from two of its most distinguished promoters, Lælius
and Faustus Sozinus, or Socinus.  They were of an illustrious family at
Siena in Tuscany, and Lælius, the uncle of Faustus, having taken a
disgust to popery, travelled into France, England, &c. to examine into
their religious creed, in order, if possible, to come at the truth.  He
was a man distinguished for his genius and learning, no less than for his
virtuous life; he settled at last at Zurich, embraced the Helvetic
confession of faith, and died at Zurich in 1562, before he had reached
his fortieth year.  His sentiments, or rather doubts as to certain
points, were embodied, and more openly propagated by his nephew Faustus;
who, as is supposed, drew up from his papers the religious system
afterwards known under the name of Socinianism.  There is however a
considerable degree of obscurity hanging over the rise of this sect, and
no one has given a satisfactory history of it.

The first appearance of Unitarians, as a distinct congregation, was in
Poland, where they obtained a settlement in the city of Cracow in the
year 1569; and in 1575 they published at Cracow the “Catechism or
Confession of the Unitarians;” {35a} but Faustus Socinus having settled
among them in the year 1579, soon obtained so much influence as finally
to remodel the whole religious system of the sect, and a new form drawn
up by Socinus himself, was substituted for the old Catechism.

The following is an abstract of the doctrines taught in this Catechism.
After affirming that the Christian religion is “a road for arriving at
eternal life, divinely made known,” the pupil is told that the will of
God on points essential to salvation was revealed by Jesus Christ.  The
Catechism then goes on to affirm the entire unity of the Deity; since if
he is one essence, then must he also be individually one, {35b} and
therefore Christ cannot he truly said to be a _separate_ person or
individual, partaking of the _essentia_ of the Deity, since that
_essentia_ is necessarily one.  That the Spirit of God, being an
essential part of the Deity, cannot be a separate individual (for in this
sense the Catechism interprets the word _persona_ {36}), any more than
his wisdom or his goodness is a separate individual, and that therefore
the manifestations of the Spirit of God are manifestations of the Deity
himself.

“Christ,” says the Catechism, “is a man, according to Rom. v. 15,
conceived by a virgin, through the power of the Divine Spirit, without
the intervention of man in the ordinary course of generation.  He was
first subject to suffering and death—afterwards impassible and immortal,
Rom. vi. 9.  It is in the sense of his existence derived immediately from
God, that he, though man, is called the Son of God—as Adam is so termed
from the same cause.  Jesus Christ was the immediate instrument of God’s
communications to man; and being, whilst on earth, the voice of God, he
is now the anointed King, or Christ, over the people of God.”

The passages where he is said to have existed from the beginning: to have
created all things, &c. are laboriously explained away, as referring to
the regeneration, or new state of things introduced by Christ’s mission
on earth: and in this part there is much forced interpretation.  I shall
annex some of the passages in the language of the original, {37} as a
proof that I have given a fair account of the real Socinian doctrine,
which is very little understood at present.  Writers from whom we might
expect greater accuracy, have very generally confounded Socinians and
Arians, although Faustus Socinus was at the pains to write a laboured
refutation of the Arian doctrine, and although a reference to the
doctrines of the two sects would show that they are the antipodes of each
other.  Arius taught that Christ was not of _the same_ nature
(ὁμοούσιος), with the Father, but of _a like_ nature (ὁμοιούσιος) and
therefore individually separate—separate in will, and capable of
differing.  This is a direct assertion of two Gods.  Socinus on the
contrary strenuously asserts the unity of the Deity to the extent of
denying the pre-existence of Christ: which Arius though acknowledging
that there was a time when he began to exist, nevertheless refers to a
period remote beyond human calculation.  Thus upon their characteristic
doctrines, the two sects are diametrically opposed to each other.

Having now given you the real opinions of Socinus, from his own works,
for the book is lying beside me as I write, I shall pursue my plan of
examining how far they accord with what was taught by those who certainly
ought to be best informed on the subject, namely, Christ himself, his
Apostles, and their immediate successors; as well as with the deductions
of reason.  The unity of the Deity is so frequently and so decidedly
asserted in Scripture, that it is impossible to consider any man as
unorthodox who professes to make this the groundwork of his belief—so far
therefore the Socinian is in accordance both with Scripture and the
general voice of the Christian church, for the early Apologists for
Christianity, who had to address polytheists, are full of declarations
that they worship One only Deity, who by various manifestations has made
himself, at different times, known to mankind. {39a}  There is not a
writer of the first and second centuries who does not anxiously assert
the one-ness of the God whom the Christians worship: but then they as
anxiously assert the identity of their Teacher and Lord with that God.
From Christ himself, who says, “Before Abraham was, I am;” {39b} “I and
the Father are one;” {39c} “He who hath seen me hath seen the Father;”
“the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works;” {39d} to St. Paul,
who tells us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,”
{39e} down to the fathers of the early church, to whom I may refer
_passim_ for the same doctrine; all have distinctly asserted that the
message of peace to man was delivered by God himself, making use of a
human form as the mode of communication with his creatures, and dwelling
in “the man Christ Jesus,” {39f} as in a temple built up for his especial
use; the human nature, to use the expression of the church, “having been
taken into God,” not the Godhead circumscribed in man.  I will not swell
the length of my letter with quotations from the fathers which may be
found elsewhere; I think the texts I have quoted with many more of the
same purport, which you will readily call to mind, suffice to prove that
when Socinus asserted the Christ to be _merely_ a man, he erred; for
though Jesus “the Carpenter’s son,” as his contemporaries called him, was
to all intents and purposes a man “of a reasonable soul and human flesh
subsisting;” {40} and though this may be proved from numberless passages
in the Scripture, where the man Jesus speaks of his inferiority to the
Father and bestower of his human frame and spirit,—yet if we do not
entirely distort the meaning of words, _that man_ at times uttered
declarations of divine power which could only have proceeded from the
indwelling Deity, otherwise they must have been the assertions of
imposture, which Socinus by no means teaches to have been the case.  I
know not, therefore, how the believer in the Gospel can avoid
acknowledging that Christ was a compound being:—perfectly a man, and
speaking as such on some occasions; but, at the same time, the temple of
the Ever-living God, whose words flowed from his lips like the answer
from the Mercy seat: “Heaven and the heaven of heavens” no doubt “cannot
contain” the Infinite; and no true believer will assert that God can be
circumscribed in a human body—but, if so mean a comparison may be
permitted—as the crater of the volcano is but the mouthpiece of the
mighty agents operating within for the fashioning of the earth,—so the
manifestation of the Deity in the form, and from the lips of a man, is
but that spot of the material creation where the ever blessed Divinity
allows himself, as it were, a vent; and gives forth a visible and
tangible sign of his existence.

“He that has seen me has seen the Father,” says _the Christ_.  “I can of
my own self do nothing” {41} says _the man_: and this distinction which
the Christ who necessarily knew something of the composition of his own
nature so frequently asserts, has probably been the groundwork of the
mistaken views of this class of Christians, and we may well look with
charitable indulgence on the errors of men, who dreading lest they should
incur the penalty of giving the incommunicable glory of the Mighty God to
another, have not allowed their due weight to the passages, which assert
that Mighty God to have undertaken the task of bringing his creature man
back to Himself.

Having thus given you a fair account of the creed of Socinus, I must next
notice the modern Unitarians, who on some points differ from him.  Where
there is no acknowledged creed or catechism, {42} which may be quoted as
authority, it is difficult to give the doctrines of a sect with any
precision; but as far as it is possible to judge from the writings most
in repute among the Unitarians, they disclaim the notion of the
miraculous conception, and believe Christ to have been to all intents and
purposes _a mere man_.  At the same time they allow him to have been so
inspired and guided by God, that it is difficult to see where they draw
the line between their own creed and that of the church, which allows the
perfect humanity of Jesus, but asserts that “God and man make one
Christ,” namely, that the message of peace was that of God speaking by
human lips, and that the Anointed prophet who declared it, was, when so
anointed, the temple and place of manifestation of the living God.  They
disclaim the doctrine of atonement, and believe that the mission of
Christ had for its object the reform of the world, and the restoration of
man to a sense of his true relation towards God, and even here Scripture
and the early church speak a language which differs not very greatly from
theirs.  For the language in which our redemption is spoken of, is that
of a master purchasing a slave, as will be seen on a reference to Rom.
vi. in the original.  The ransom by which man was purchased to be the
servant of holiness instead of that of sin, was paid to his former
master, sin; by the purchaser; and the purchaser is God.  “I speak after
the manner of men,” says St. Paul, “because of the infirmity of your
flesh.” i.e. I adopt the phraseology of a common transaction because your
minds are not sufficiently accustomed to the contemplation of higher
things to understand them without a metaphor; but the Unitarian forgets,
when asserting that the ransom was not paid _to_ God, that it was paid
_by_ God: and that man, the slave, was bought from sin, the master, at no
less a price than the condescension of the Deity himself to the infirmity
of our flesh, by making himself visibly and tangibly known to his
creatures, through the medium of a human form.

I have now endeavoured to give a dispassionate view of the doctrines of
these sects, hitherto so much misunderstood, and having marked the points
wherein they appear to me to recede from Christian truth, I have the
pleasanter task before me, of showing by extracts from their writings,
how large a portion of the religion which we all profess, they still
retain, and I may say from experience, on most occasions conscientiously
act upon.

“If with the Apostle we glory in the cross of Christ, or in that religion
which could not have been confirmed without his death, let us not only be
careful to govern our lives by the precepts of it in general, but more
particularly be prepared to suffer what the strictest profession of it
may call us to.  Let us remember that our Saviour hath said, if any man
will be his disciple he must “take up his cross, and follow him.”  That
is, he must be ready to do it rather than abandon the profession of the
Gospel, or whatever the strictest purity of it may require.  A true
Christian is no more _of this world_ than his Lord and Master was of it.
With him every thing here below is but of secondary consideration,
&c.—but this we must remember for our consolation, that if, in time of
persecution “He that keepeth his life shall lose it,” “He that loseth his
life” for the profession of the Gospel “shall keep it to life eternal.”
“If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him and be glorified
together.” {47}

“The truths which relate to Jesus himself are among the _most important_
which the Gospel reveals.  ‘We preach Christ,’ says the Apostle, ‘warning
every man and teaching every man, that we may present every man perfect
in Christ Jesus.’  From this passage we derive a most important
sentiment, confirmed by the whole New Testament—that the great design of
all the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel, is, to exalt the
character,—to promote eminent purity of heart and life, to make men
‘perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect.’  We must preach not to
make fiery partizans, and to swell the number of a sect; not to overwhelm
the mind with fear, or to heat it with feverish rapture; not to form men
to the decencies of life, to a superficial goodness, which will secure
the admiration of mankind.  All these effects fall infinitely short of
the great end of the Christian ministry.  We should preach that we may
make men perfect Christians: perfect, not according to the standard of
the world, but according to the law of Christ; perfect in heart and in
life, in solitude and in society, in the great and in the common concerns
of life.  Here is the purpose of Christian preaching.  In this, as in a
common centre, all the truths of the Gospel meet; to this they all
conspire; and no doctrine has an influence on salvation, any farther than
it is an aid to the perfecting of our nature.” {48}

“Christ is a great Saviour, as he redeems or sets free the mind,
cleansing it from evil, breathing into it the love of virtue, calling
forth its noblest faculties and affections, enduing it with moral power,
restoring it to order, health and liberty.” * * * * “Christ has revealed
to us God as the Father, and as a Father in the noblest sense of that
word.  He hath revealed Him as the author and lover of all souls,
desiring to redeem all from sin, and to impress his likeness more and
more resplendently on all; as proffering to all that best gift in the
universe, his ‘holy Spirit;’ as having sent his beloved Son to train us
up and to introduce us to an ‘inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and
unfading in the heavens.’” {49}

“I confess when I can escape the deadening power of habit, and can
receive the full import of such passages as the following, ‘Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’  ‘I am
come to seek and to save that which was lost.’  ‘He that confesseth me
before men, him will I confess before my Father in heaven.’  ‘Whosoever
shall be ashamed of me before men, of him shall the Son of Man be
ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of the Father with the holy angels.’
‘In my Father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for
you;’ I say, when I can succeed in realizing the import of such passages,
I feel myself listening to a being, such as never before and never since
spoke in human language.  I am awed by the consciousness of greatness
which these simple words express; and when I connect this greatness with
the proofs of Christ’s miracles which I gave you in a former discourse, I
am compelled to speak with the Centurion, ‘Truly this was the Son of
God.’ {50a}

“In reading the Gospels I feel myself in the presence of one who speaks
as man never spake; whose voice is not of the earth; who speaks with a
tone of reality and authority altogether his own; who speaks of God, as
conscious of his immediate presence, as enjoying with him the intimacy of
an only Son; and who speaks of heaven, as most familiar with the higher
states of being.” {50b}

“Go to Jesus Christ for guidance, inspiration, and strength in your
office.” * * * “The privilege of communing with such a spirit is so
great, and the duty of going from man to Christ is so solemn, that you
must spare no effort to place yourself nearer and nearer to the Divine
Master.”  “My brother, go forth to your labours with the spirit and power
of Him who first preached the Gospel to the poor.” {50c}

“To Jesus the conqueror of death we owe the sure hope of immortality.” *
* *  “Is that teacher to be scorned, who in the language of conscious
greatness says to us, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’?” {51a}

“What are we to understand by the Divinity of Christ?  In the sense in
which many Christians, and perhaps a majority interpret it, we do not
deny it, but believe it as firmly as themselves.  We believe firmly in
the Divinity of Christ’s mission and office, that he spoke with Divine
authority, and was a bright image of the Divine perfections.  We believe
that God dwelt in him, manifested himself through him, taught men by him,
and communicated to him his spirit without measure.  We believe that
Jesus Christ was the most glorious display, expression, and
representative of God to mankind, so that in seeing and knowing him, we
see and know the invisible Father; so that when Christ came, God visited
the world and dwelt with men more conspicuously than at any former
period.  In Christ’s words, we hear God speaking; in his miracles, we
behold God acting; in his character and life, we see an unsullied image
of God’s purity and love.” {51b}

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LETTER IV.
WESLEYAN METHODISTS.


Towards the beginning of the last century, two young men at Oxford, the
one a fellow of Lincoln College, struck by the thoughtlessness or
lukewarmness of those about them, resolved to devote themselves to closer
and more profitable study.  They were brothers, by name John and Charles
Wesley; and two other students joined them in their evening readings of
the New Testament in the Greek: the elder of the brothers was at this
time about twenty-six. {52}  After a year of this kind of life, they
admitted two or three of the pupils of the elder brother, and one of
those of the younger, to their meetings; and the following year, being
joined by yet more of the students, the regularity of their lives
obtained for them the title of _Methodists_ from those who were not
inclined to follow their example.

In 1735 another name was added to their number, which has also become
celebrated: this was George Whitfield of Pembroke College, then in his
eighteenth year; but of him I shall have occasion to speak by and by.  I
shall therefore confine myself to the Wesleys.  A difference of opinion
on the subjects of Freewill and Predestination separated them from their
younger coadjutor in 1741, and their respective friends, adopting
strongly the distinctive opinions of the two, the grand division of the
sect, which sprung up from their preaching, into Wesleyan or Arminian,
and Whitfieldian or Calvinistic Methodists, ensued.  All three received
holy orders according to the ceremonial of the Church of England, and
Wesley never ceased to hold his spiritual mother in high estimation.
“The Church of England,” he says in one place, “is the purest in
Christendom.”  But the singularity of their proceedings raised suspicion,
and though both brothers continued to profess the fullest assent to the
articles and liturgy of the established church, yet their manner of
preaching and form of worship had something in it which led the bishops
and clergy in general to consider them as verging on Sectarianism.  In
many places they were refused the use of the pulpit; and then, in the
perhaps enthusiastic belief that they were the appointed instruments of
rekindling religion in hearts where it had been dead hitherto, they began
a system of field preaching.

There were at that time large districts slumbering in utter darkness and
ignorance of the saving truths of the Gospel: and it was to these that
the Wesleys especially directed their attention, with a success
proportioned to their zeal; and had the then heads of the church availed
themselves of the assistance of these earnest men in the way they might
have done, by sanctioning their missionary labours among the poor and the
uninstructed, the benefit would have been incalculable.  But the harsh
treatment {54} they met with, drove John Wesley at last into complete
schism: and then the ambition, which had perhaps animated his first
exertions almost unknown to himself, assumed a bolder flight, and he
aspired to the distinction of being the head and leader of a sect which
grew so rapidly, that at the time of his death in 1791, “the number of
members in connexion with him in Europe, America, and the West Indian
Islands, was 80,000.  And at the last conference in 1831 the numbers
returned were, in Great Britain, 249,119; in Ireland, 22,470; in the
Foreign Missions, 42,743.  Total 314,332.  Exclusive of more than half a
million of persons in the Societies in the States of America.” {55}

You are probably aware that, besides the public preaching, Wesley
instituted among his people several kinds of private meetings.  To the
public prayer meetings, which were generally held in private houses,
persons not of this sect were often invited, and on these occasions a
hymn was first sung, then they all knelt, and the first who felt “moved”
made an extempore prayer: when he had finished, another commenced, and so
on for about two hours.  These prayer meetings were held in such high
esteem among the Methodists, that they asserted more were “born again”
and “made free,” as they termed it, “from all the remains of sin” than at
any other meetings, public preachings, &c.

There was much in this kind of meeting which was likely to lead to
enthusiasm, which is universally found to be most easily awakened where
numbers are congregated; and according to an author formerly of their
persuasion, {56} the consequence was such as might have been expected.
“It is impossible,” says he, “to form any just idea of those assemblies
except you had been present at them.  One coaxes the Divine Being,
another is amorous, and a third will tell the Deity, ‘He must be a liar
if he does not grant all they ask.’  They thus go on working up each
other’s imagination until they become as it were spiritually intoxicated,
and while in this state they sometimes recollect a text or two of
Scripture, such as ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’—‘Go and sin no more’—‘Go
in peace,’ &c. and then declare themselves to be ‘born again’ or
‘sanctified.’”

The love feast is also a private meeting of as many members of the
community as choose to attend; and they generally assemble from all parts
within several miles of the place where the feast is held.  They then
alternately sing and pray, and some among them, who think that their
experience, as they term it, is remarkable, stand up, and narrate all the
transactions which they say have taken place between God, the devil, and
their souls.

There is a curious propensity to egotism in human nature which frequently
shews itself in religious matters.  Men love to talk of themselves: and
the Romanist finds pleasure in the power of pouring forth all his
feelings and thoughts to his father confessor, whenever he is strongly
excited by passion: of this I have become aware from personal knowledge.
Other enthusiasts enjoy no less satisfaction in talking of the interior
conflicts they have sustained; for all ungoverned feeling loves to vent
itself in speech, and the lover who talks of his mistress, or the
penitent who talks of his sins, is for the time being in the same state
of restless excitement.  _Governed_ feeling, on the contrary, as far as
my experience goes, is silent.

In these Love Feasts those present have buns to eat, which are mutually
broken between each “Brother and Sister,” and water to drink, which they
hand from one to another.  These meetings commence about seven o’clock,
and last till nine or ten.

Each society is divided into smaller companies called “classes” according
to their respective places of abode.  There are about twelve persons in
every class, one of whom is styled “the Leader,” whose business it is to
see each person in his class, at least once a week, to advise, comfort,
or exhort, as occasion may require, and to receive what each is willing
to give towards the support of the Gospel.

It is expected that every member should continue to evince his desire of
salvation by abstaining from “the taking of the name of the Lord in
vain”; “the profaning of the Lord’s day, either by ordinary work thereon,
or by buying and selling”; “drunkenness, buying or selling spirituous
liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity;
fighting, quarreling, brawling; going to law with a brother; returning
evil for evil, or railing for railing; the using many words in buying or
selling. {59a}  The buying or selling uncustomed goods; the giving or
taking things on usury, i.e. unlawful interest; the putting on of gold or
costly apparel; the taking such diversions as cannot be used in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ; the singing those songs or reading those books,
that do not tend to the knowledge or love of God;—softness and needless
self-indulgence, &c. {59b}

Among the duties expected and required of the members are all kinds of
beneficence, diligence, frugality, {59c} self-denial, and attendance on
all the ordinances of God, among which is specifically mentioned fasting.
If any member habitually break any of these rules he is admonished; and
if he do not then repent, expulsion follows.  “Marrying with
unbelievers,” and bankruptcy, if the party has not kept fair accounts,
are also followed by expulsion.

No one I think can doubt that much good was effected by the first
preaching of Wesley and his disciples, for at that time our church was in
a lethargic state, and the lower orders shamefully neglected in spiritual
matters in many parts of England.  Yet there are some things which excite
one’s regret in their practices, and of these none displeases me more
than the familiar use of Scripture language, which when properly and
judiciously applied is striking and solemn; but to hear every notion of
enthusiastic ignorance, every rise and fall of the animal spirits,
expressed in the language of the Apostles and Evangelists, and even of
our Lord himself; to witness their familiarity with the Almighty, their
full trust and confidence in the reality of small miracles wrought at
their request;—must always be painful to a soberly religious mind.  In a
book entitled “The Bank of Faith,” the author asserts, that a dog brought
him mutton to eat, that fish died at night in a pond on purpose to be
eaten by him in the morning, and that money, clothes, &c. in short every
thing he could desire he attained by prayer. {61}

An old woman of Wesley’s society, named Mary Hubbard, would often wash
her linen, hang it out to dry, and go away to work in the fields or to
Taunton Market four miles from her house, and when blamed for thus
leaving her linen unprotected, she would reply that “the Lord watched
over her and all that she had, and that he would prevent any person from
stealing her two old smocks, or if He permitted them to be stolen, He
would send her two new ones in their stead.”  I seriously assure you,
says the author who relates this tale, and who at one time went even
greater lengths {62} than this old woman, “that there are many thousand
Mary Hubbards among the Methodists.”

It may be added, that their strict abstinence from the common amusements
of the world, even where innocent in themselves, has its evils, as I have
already noticed when speaking of the Quakers; for the mind cannot always
be kept in a state of tension, and if we refuse ourselves recreation
altogether, there is danger that we shall find the yoke of Christ a
wearisome instead of an easy one, and cast it off in disgust; nay, I am
afraid that if we were to inquire closely, we should find instances
enough of this result to demonstrate, what indeed wants but little proof,
i.e. that God knows better than we do “whereof we are made,” and that it
is not wisdom to bind a heavy burthen on our shoulders when Christ
himself has declared that his is light.  Still, though tinged with a
degree of enthusiasm which we may regret, the doctrine of the Wesleyan
Methodists retains the fundamental parts of Christianity, and after
reading the following extracts from Wesley’s Sermons, I think you will
hardly forbear asking, Why is this a separate sect?

“Justifying Faith implies not only a Divine ελεγχος, evidence or
conviction, that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,’
but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for _my_ sins, that he
loved _me_, and gave himself for me; and the moment a penitent sinner
believes this, God pardons and absolves him.” {64a}  “Christian
perfection does not imply, as some men seem to have imagined, an
exemption either from ignorance, or mistake, or infirmities, or
temptations; indeed it is only another term for holiness: thus every one
that is holy, is in the Scripture sense ‘perfect.’  We may yet observe
that neither in this respect is there absolute perfection on earth.”
{64b}  “If the Scriptures are true, those who are holy or religious in
the judgment of God himself, those who are endued with the faith that
purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience; those who live by
faith in the Son of God; those who are sanctified by the blood of the
Covenant may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly,
therefore let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  “In
strictness neither our faith nor our works justify us, i.e. _deserve_ the
remission of our sins, but God himself justifies us of his own mercy
through the merits of his Son only.” {65}

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LETTER V.
GENERAL BAPTISTS, MORAVIANS, SWEDENBORGIANS, PLYMOUTH BRETHREN.


Among the sects which arose about the period of the Reformation of the
church in the sixteenth century, we find the Anabaptists {66} playing
rather a conspicuous part, by exciting political tumults in Saxony and
the adjacent countries.  For this, Munzer, their leader, after the defeat
of his forces, was put to death, and the sect generally was proscribed,
and the profession of its doctrines punished capitally.  What those
doctrines were is not easy, nor is it essential now, to state, since the
modern sect, which we now term Baptists, retain only so much of them as
relates to baptism by immersion, and of adults only, and the rejection of
episcopal church government.

The more modern sect is subdivided into General and Particular Baptists.
The General or Arminian Baptists admit “much latitude in their system of
religious doctrine, which consists in such general principles, that their
communion is accessible to Christians of almost all denominations, and
accordingly they tolerate in fact, and receive among them persons of
every sect, who profess themselves Christians, and receive the Holy
Scriptures as the source of truth, and the rule of faith.” {67}  They
agree with the PARTICULAR BAPTISTS in this, that they admit to baptism
adults only, and administer that sacrament either by dipping or total
immersion; but they differ from them in another respect, for they repeat
the administration of baptism to those who had received it, either in a
state of infancy, or by aspersion instead of dipping: for if the common
accounts may be believed, the Particular Baptists do not carry matters so
far.

The General Baptists consider their sect as the only true church; in
baptism they dip only once and not three times as was the practice in the
primitive church: and they consider it a matter of indifference whether
that sacrament be administered in the name of Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, or in that of Christ alone: {68a} they adopt the doctrine of Menno
with regard to the Millennium; many of them also embrace his particular
opinion concerning the origin of Christ’s body. {68b}  They look upon the
precept of the Apostles prohibiting the use of blood and of things
strangled, as a law that was designed to be in force in all ages and
periods of the church: they believe that the soul, from the moment that
the body dies until its resurrection at the last day, remains in a state
of perfect insensibility: they use the ceremony of extreme unction, and
finally, to omit matters of a more trifling nature, several of them
observe the Jewish as well as the Christian Sabbath. {68c}  In some of
their churches they have three distinct orders separately ordained, i.e.
messengers, elders, and deacons; and their general assembly (where a
minister preaches, and the churches are taken into consideration), is
held annually in London on the Tuesday in Whitsun week, and they
afterwards dine together.  They have met thus for upwards of a century.

The propriety of the exclusive application of the term “Baptists” to
those who baptize adults by immersion, has been questioned; and for this
reason they are by many styled Antipædobaptists, {69} namely, opposers of
infant baptism; but the term Anabaptist should not be applied to them, it
being a term of reproach.

The old General Baptists have been on the decline for many years; their
churches are principally in Kent and Sussex.  The English and most
foreign Baptists consider a personal profession of faith, and immersion
in water, essential to baptism: this profession is generally made before
the church at a church meeting.  Some have a creed, and expect the
candidate for baptism to assent to it, and give a circumstantial account
of his conversion: others only require him to profess himself a
Christian.  The former generally consider baptism as an ordinance which
initiates persons into a particular church, and they say, that without
breach of Christian liberty, they have a right to expect an agreement in
articles of faith in their own societies.  The latter think that baptism
initiates into the Christian religion generally, and therefore think that
they have no right to require an assent to their creed from such as do
not join their churches.  They quote the baptism of the Eunuch in Acts
viii. in proof.

The first mention of the Baptists in English History is as the subject of
persecution in the reign of Henry VIII.  During that of Edward VI. a
commission was issued to bishops and other persons “to try all
Anabaptists, heretics, and despisers of the common prayer,” and they were
empowered, in the event of their contumacy, to commit them to the flames.
The same inhuman policy was persisted in under Elizabeth.  The last
Baptist martyr burned in England was Edward Wightman; he was condemned by
the bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, {70a} and burned at Lichfield April
11, 1612. {70b}

The celebrated Whiston became a Baptist towards the close of his life,
retaining nevertheless his Arian belief.

                                * * * * *

The MORAVIANS are supposed to have derived their origin from Nicholas
Lewis, Count Zinzendorf, a German nobleman, who died in 1760.  The
society however assert that they are descended from the old Moravian and
Bohemian Brethren, who existed as a distinct sect sixty years prior to
the Reformation.  No sooner had these Moravian Brethren heard of Luther’s
bold testimony to the truth, and of the success which attended his
labours, than they sent in the year 1522 two deputies to assure him of
“the deep interest which they took in his work;” giving him, at the same
time, an account of their own doctrine and constitution.  They were most
kindly received; and both Luther, and his colleague Bucer, recognised the
Moravians as holding the same faith; and bore honourable testimony to the
purity of their doctrine, and the excellence of their discipline.  The
chief doctrine of the Moravian society is, that “by the sacrifice for sin
made by Jesus Christ, and by that alone, grace and deliverance from sin
are to be obtained for all mankind:” and they stedfastly maintain the
following points:

1.  The divinity of Christ.

2.  The atonement and satisfaction made for us by Jesus Christ; and that
by his merits alone we receive freely the forgiveness of sin, and
sanctification in soul and body.

3.  The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and the operations of his grace.
That it is he who worketh in us conviction of sin, faith in Christ, and
pureness of heart.

4.  That faith must evidence itself by willing obedience to the
commandments of God from love and gratitude.

The internal constitution of the ancient church of the Moravians, which
is still substantially adhered to, was originally adopted in 1457, and
more definitely settled in 1616 by the Synod of Zerawitz.  Its principal
peculiarities are,

1.  Every church is divided into three classes, i.e. 1. _Beginners_ or
_Catechumens_.  2.  _The more advanced_ or _communicants_, who are
considered as members of the church.  3. _The perfect_, consisting of
such as have persevered for some time in a course of true piety.  From
this last class are chosen in every church _the Elders_, from three to
eight in number.

2.  Every congregation is directed by a board of elders, whose province
it is to have a watchful eye over its members with respect to the
doctrine and deportment.  Once in three months these elders are bound to
visit the houses of the brethren, in order to observe their conduct, and
to ascertain whether every one is labouring diligently in his calling,
&c. of which they make a report to the pastor.  They also are required to
visit the sick, and assist the poorer brethren with money, contributed by
the members of the church, and deposited in an alms box.

3.  The ministration of the Word and Sacrament is performed either by
members who have received ordination from the bishops of the church of
the brethren, or by those who have received that of the Calvinist or
Lutheran church.  The deacons, according to the ancient constitution of
the church, are the chief assistants of the pastors, and are considered
as candidates for the ministry.  The bishops, who are nominated by the
ministers, appoint the pastors to their stations, and have the power of
removing them when they think fit, and of ordaining the deacons as well
as the ministers.  Every bishop is appointed to superintend a certain
number of churches, and has two or three co-bishops, who, if necessary,
supply their place.  The ancient church appointed some of its members to
the business of watching over the civil affairs of the congregation,
under the name of _Seniores Civiles_, who were ordained with imposition
of hands.  This office is still continued.  The synods, which are held
every three or four years, are composed of the bishops and their
co-bishops the Seniores Civiles, and of “such servants of the church and
of the congregation as are called to the synod by the former elders’
conference, appointed by the previous synod, or commissioned to attend it
as deputies from particular congregations.”  Several female elders also
are usually present at the synods, but they have no vote.  All the
transactions of the synod are committed to writing, and communicated to
the several congregations.

A liturgy, peculiar to the Brethren, is regularly used as a part of the
morning service on the Sabbath; on other occasions the minister offers
extempore prayer.  The singing of hymns is considered as an essential
part of worship, and many of their services consist entirely of singing.
At the baptism of children, both the witnesses and the minister bless the
infant, with laying on of hands immediately after the rite.  The Lord’s
Supper is celebrated every month: love feasts are frequently held, i.e.
the members eat and drink together in fellowship: cakes and tea are
distributed during the singing of some verses by the congregation.  The
washing of feet is practised at present only at certain seasons by the
whole congregation, and on some other occasions in the choirs.  Dying
persons are blessed for their departure by the elders, during prayer and
singing a verse with imposition of hands.  At funerals, the pastor
accompanies the corpse to the burial place with the singing of hymns; and
an address is delivered at the grave.  Marriages are, by general
agreement, never contracted without the advice and concurrence of the
elders. {75a}  The casting of lots is used among them to know, as they
express it, “The will of the Lord.” {75b}

With regard to discipline, “the Church of the Brethren have agreed upon
certain rules and orders.  These are laid before every one, that desires
to become a member of the church, for his consideration.  Whoever after
having voluntarily agreed to them, does not act conformably, falls under
congregation discipline.”  This has various degrees, and consists in
admonitions, warnings, and reproofs, continued until genuine repentance
and a real conversion become evident in the offender, when he is
readmitted to the holy communion, or reconciled to the congregation,
after a deprecatory letter has been read, expressing the offender’s
sorrow for his transgression, and asking forgiveness.  The Brethren
assert that the church government in the established Protestant churches
“does not apply to the congregations of the Brethren, because they never
were intended to form a national establishment: for their design is no
other than to be a true and living congregation of Jesus Christ, and to
build up each other as a spiritual house of God, to the end that the
kingdom of Jesus Christ may be furthered by them.”  Hence the doctrine of
Jesus and his Apostles, and the order and practice of the Apostolic
churches, are the models by which they wish to be formed.  It may be
added, that they are generally the most successful Missionaries, and that
their society seems the most nearly to realize the practice of the early
Christians, of any sect now remaining.

                                * * * * *

The SWEDENBORGIANS take their name from Emmanuel Swedenborg, who was born
at Stockholm in 1683.  His father was Jasper Swedberg, bishop of West
Gothland.  He received his education chiefly in the University of Upsala;
and in 1716 was appointed by Charles XII. Assessor of the Royal College
of Sciences; he was ennobled by Queen Ulrica Eleonora, and received the
name of Swedenborg.  He published scientific works on various subjects,
but in 1747 he resigned his office, in order, as he himself states, that
he might be more at liberty to attend to that new function which he
considered himself called to, and the rest of his life was spent in
composing and publishing the voluminous works which contain his peculiar
doctrines.  He died in 1772.  He was a man of blameless life and amiable
deportment, and was distinguished for his attainments in mathematics and
mechanics.

His writings are so very obscure, that it is difficult to state what are
the opinions contained in them; he taught, however, that by the New
Jerusalem which came down from heaven, was intended a new church as to
doctrine, and that he was the person to whom this doctrine was revealed,
and who was appointed to make it known to the world.  Swedenborg made no
attempt to found a sect; but after his death, his followers, in 1788,
formed themselves into a society under the denomination of “The New
Jerusalem Church.”  They have several places of meeting, both in London
and Manchester, and send delegates to a “General Conference,” under whose
direction a liturgy has been prepared, from which I shall make a few
extracts to shew the peculiar doctrines of this sect.

The following are some of the questions asked of the candidate for
ordination, which is performed by imposition of hands, of course of a
minister of their own communion.

“_Min._  Dost thou believe that Jehovah God is One both in Essence and in
Person; in whom, nevertheless, is the Divine Trinity of Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit; and that these are, his Essential Divinity, his Divine
Humanity, and his Divine Proceeding, which are the three Essentials of
One God, answering to the soul, the body, and the operative energy, in
man, and that the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is that God?

Dost thou believe that by his temptations, the last of which was the
passion of the cross, the Lord united, in his Humanity, Divine Truth to
Divine Good, or Divine Wisdom to Divine Love, and so returned into his
Divinity in which he was from eternity, together with, and in, his
Glorified Humanity?

Dost thou believe that the sacred Scripture, or Word of God, is Divine
Truth itself, and that it contains a spiritual and celestial sense,
heretofore unknown, whence it is divinely inspired and holy in every
syllable; as well as a literal sense, which is the basis and support of
its spiritual and celestial sense?

Dost thou believe that the books which have the internal sense and are
truly the Word of God are,—the five books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, the
two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the Psalms of David, the
prophets, including the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the four Gospels, and
the Revelation?” {79}

It is further stated in their eleventh article of faith, “That
immediately after death, which is only a putting off of the material
body, never to be resumed, man rises again in a spiritual or substantial
body, in which he continues to live to eternity.”

On these doctrines it may be observed that the forms of worship founded
on them are not such as Christ and his apostles ordered.  The doxology
is, “To Jesus Christ be glory and dominion for ever and ever;” the
blessing, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  The
prayers are addressed to the “blessed Lord Jesus.”  Whereas Christ, when
he gave us a form of prayer, bade us address “our Father in heaven;” and
bade us ask of the Father in his name; and the form of the apostolic
doxology is, “To God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ for ever”;
{80a} and the blessing, “Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father,
and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” {80b}  As at this time Christ had
ascended from the earth, had the human nature been entirely merged in the
Divine, as this sect asserts, Paul the Apostle would not have made this
distinction, which implies that the Lord Jesus still existed somewhere in
his human form as the everlasting visible temple of the Invisible father
of all things, for “no man hath seen God at any time,” says the beloved
Apostle, {81a} and this is confirmed by Christ himself. {81b}  If the man
then be lost in the Deity, it follows that the Lord Jesus exists no more
for us.  I am aware that this consequence is denied by the sect, but it
is a self evident proposition: for their creed runs thus, “I believe in
one God in whom is a Divine Trinity, &c., and that this God is the Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ who is Jehovah in a glorified human form.”  Now
a human form must have some properties of matter; it must be visible, and
circumscribed, or it is not form; and what is circumscribed and visible
cannot be God, who, of necessity, is uncircumscribed, and therefore
invisible.  The infinite Eternal Omnipotent Deity _must_ be where that
glorified body is not; therefore, the Great Father of all things must
always be the object of worship, through Jesus Christ, who is the
_visible_ image of his glory.  The _form_ of baptism is retained by this
sect, though they assert that the rite was “constantly administered by
the Apostles in the name of Christ alone”; an assertion contradicted by
the whole testimony of antiquity from the earliest times; adding,
“nevertheless it is well to use the express words of the Lord, when it is
known and acknowledged in the church that the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit are not three separate persons but three Divine Essentials,
constituting the single Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.” {82}
With regard to the “internal sense” of Scripture it is sufficient to
observe that if “every syllable” were to be considered as inspired and
holy, the long list of various readings would grievously shake our faith,
though these are quite immaterial as to the general meaning.

There are serious objections to the distinctive tenets of this sect, yet,
in justice to them, it must be allowed that the unguarded language of
some preachers does so split up the Deity into separate individuals as to
make the doctrine so taught a complete tritheism, and that a serious mind
returning to the express declaration of the Scripture, that God is One,
may be so far shocked by such unmeasured expressions, as to run into the
extreme which I have condemned.  Unitarianism on the one hand, and the
doctrine of Swedenborg on the other, have equally sprung from a want of
proper caution when speaking of the different manifestations of the
Deity, and an unmeasured itch for the definition of things too far beyond
the reach of our finite faculties to admit of any precision of terms.
_Words_ were formed for the things pertaining to earth; how then can they
ever exactly express the nature of the Deity?

Notwithstanding the faith professed by this sect, their teaching,
nevertheless, returns to the doctrine of the Gospel.  In a tract “on the
true meaning of the intercession of Jesus Christ,” published at
Manchester by their own religious tract society, we have the following
passage: “The Humanity named Jesus is the medium whereby man may come to
God, because the Father, _heretofore invisible_, is manifested and made
_visible_ and _approachable_ in him.  This is meant by _our coming unto
God by him_;” and elsewhere, as we cannot obtain this “light of life”
without following the Lord, and doing his will, as he did the will of the
Father, agreeably to his own saying, “If ye keep my commandments, even as
I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love;” so neither
can we obtain that divine food by which our spiritual life is to be
sustained, unless we labour for it, as the Lord himself instructed us
when he said “Labour for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life”;
and is it not of the greatest importance clearly to understand what this
labour implies?  Let the reader be assured that he must labour in that
spiritual vineyard which the Lord desires to plant in his soul, in order
that it may bear abundant fruits of righteousness to the glory of his
heavenly father.” {84}  Thus we see again that the fundamental doctrines
of Christianity _will_ find their way, however men may speculatively
disclaim them.  Why then do we differ outwardly, when at heart we agree?

                                * * * * *

The PLYMOUTH BRETHREN, so called probably from the place where this
society first arose, do not allow themselves to be a sect, though in
their practices they differ considerably from those of the Established
Church.  They meet together on the morning of the first day of the week
to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, when any “Brother” is at liberty to speak
for mutual edification.  In the afternoon and evening, when they have
preachers, the services are similar to those in the Congregational
Churches (Independents): the desk, however, for they condemn pulpits, is
not occupied by one man, but used as a convenient place for speaking,
being alternately occupied by the “Brother,” who reads the hymn, the one
who prays, and the one who teaches or preaches the Word.  There are also
“Meetings for Prayer,” and what are technically called “reading
meetings;” when a chapter is read, and those “Brethren” who have made it
matter of reflection, speak upon it clause by clause for their mutual
instruction.

Before a person is acknowledged a “Brother,” his name is announced at one
of the times of “meeting together to break bread,” as it is termed, and
if nothing occurs in the interval, he takes his seat with them the next
Sunday.{85}  Any one is admitted to their communion whom they believe to
be “a child of God;” but they do not receive or acknowledge him as a
brother, “while in actual connection with any of the various forms of
worldliness,” i.e. the other churches of Christ.  Their preachers move
about from place to place, forming different congregations, which they
again leave for other places where their services are required.  None of
their ministers receive any _stipulated_ charity.  The “Brethren”
disapprove of any association of Christians for any purpose whatever,
whether civil or religious, and therefore discountenance all Sunday
School, Bible, Missionary, or even purely Benevolent, Societies.  They do
not disapprove of sending either Bibles or Missionaries to the heathen;
but they say that if they go at all, “God and not the church must send
them.”  They do not think that the Gospel is to convert the world, but
that it is to be “preached as a witness to” or rather against “all
nations.”  The world, they say, “is reserved for judgment, and therefore
it is wholly contrary to the character of a Christian to have any thing
to do with it or its government.”  When a child of God is born again, “he
lays,” say they, “all his worldly relations down at the feet of Christ,
and he is at liberty to take up none but those which he can take up in
the Lord.”  They neither pray for pardon of sin, nor for the presence and
influence of the Spirit, and carefully exclude such petitions from their
hymns.  Many of them think it inconsistent with the Christian character
to amass wealth, or to possess furniture or clothing more than is
_necessary_ for health and cleanliness; and very great sacrifices have
been made by the more wealthy of them.

These are most of them unimportant peculiarities; but the great feature
of this sect, for so notwithstanding their protest, I must call these
“Brethren,” is a degree of self approbation and uncharity for others,
which, to say the least, is not what Christ taught.  “No sect,” says
Rust, {87a} “is more Sectarian, and none more separate from Christians of
all denominations than “The Plymouth Brethren.”  The Church of Rome they
consider “bad.”  The Church of England “bad.”  “A popish priest and a
parish priest, both bad;” “but infinitely worse,” says one of the
Brethren (a Captain Hall), “is a people’s preacher.”  They occasionally
indulge in what they term “biting jests and sarcastic raillery,” of the
ministers of our church, and of those who differ from them, which evince
but little of the meek and peaceable spirit of the Gospel; {87b} for, as
Lord Bacon has well observed, “to intermix Scripture with scurrility in
one sentence;—the majesty of religion and the contempt and deformity of
things ridiculous,—is a thing far from the reverence of a devout
Christian, and hardly becoming the honest regard of a sober man.”  If I
have appeared to speak harshly of this sect, it is because they seem to
me to have abandoned so much of the spirit of the Gospel.  “If the tenets
of the Plymouth Brethren be consistent with themselves,” observes Mr.
Rust, “they necessarily withdraw them from all society, and every
existing form of Christianity, shutting them out from all co-operation
with the holy and benevolent, for the relief and blessing of their poor
or sinful fellow creatures, making it sinful to fulfil the duties of a
subject, a citizen, &c.”  But I hope and believe that these tenets must
be and are counteracted by the instinctive love of our kind, which for
the benefit of the world God has implanted in man.  The human race is so
essentially social that they who endeavour to dissociate mankind, stand
in much the same situation as he would do who should hope to dam up the
ocean.  It is in fact to these silent tendencies of human nature, whose
force we never know till we attempt to check them, that we owe much of
the innocuousness of false or overstrained opinions: the reason is
deluded, but the feelings which the Creator has made a part of our very
being, generally correct the false argument; and the man, if not
previously corrupted by vice, acts right though he argues wrong.

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LETTER VI.
CALVINISM.


I have already noticed that the sects into which the reformed churches
are split, may be classified generally under two great divisions, the one
adopting mainly the milder views of Melancthon, whose advice was much
used in the reform of the Anglican church; the other following those of
Calvin, which were chiefly carried out, at Geneva, the birthplace of that
reformer, and among the Huguenots of France.  It may be well, therefore,
before we proceed to notice the particular sects which profess to combine
in a greater or less degree the doctrines usually termed Calvinistic, to
examine what the opinions are which pass under that name. {90}

It was at the Synod of Dort, which was assembled in the year 1618, that
these opinions received a decided form; for James Arminius, professor of
divinity in the University of Leyden, having rejected some part of the
Genevan doctrine respecting predestination and grace, this synod was
called in order to settle the disputed points.  After much debate the
opinions of Arminius were condemned, and the doctrine of Calvin was
summed up in five points, which gave name to what has been called the
Quinqueticular controversy between the Calvinistic and Anti-calvinistic
divines of Holland.  They related to,

1.  Predestination or Election.

2.  The extent of redemption.

3.  Moral depravity and impotency. {91}

4.  Effectual calling.

5.  Final perseverance of the sanctified.

Calvinists are understood to maintain that predestination is absolute;
redemption limited; moral impotency total; grace inevitable; and the
salvation of the believer, certain.  But among Calvinistic as among
Arminian divines, there are many shades of difference indicated by the
terms _high_ Calvinist, and _moderate_ Calvinist, _sub_ lapsarian and
_supra_ lapsarian, _scholastic_ Calvinism and _popular_ Calvinism; which
latter has been described as “the Augustinian theology strained off from
its mathematics.”  These all differ so materially that Bishop Horsley
found it necessary to admonish his clergy “to beware how they aimed their
shaft at Calvinism before they knew what it is, and what it is not;” a
great part of what ignorantly goes under that name, being “closely
interwoven with the very rudiments of Christianity.”  I believe, however,
that though differences may subsist among Calvinists themselves, as to
the explication of their doctrines, they generally allow,

1.  That God has chosen a certain number in Christ, to everlasting glory
before the foundation of the world, according to his immutable purpose,
and of his free grace and love; without the least foresight of faith,
good works, or any conditions performed by the creature; and that the
rest of mankind he was pleased to pass by, and ordain them to dishonour
and wrath for their sins to the praise of his vindictive justice.

2.  That Christ by his death and sufferings made an atonement only for
the sins of the elect. {93a}

3.  That mankind are _totally_ depraved in consequence of the fall.

4.  That all whom God has predestined to life, he is pleased in his
appointed time effectually to call by his Word and Spirit out of that
state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and
salvation by Jesus Christ.

5.  That those whom God has effectually called and sanctified by his
Spirit, shall never finally fall from a state of grace.

The prominent feature then, of the Calvinistic system, {93b} is the
election of some, and reprobation of others from all eternity; but to
this we may answer, that if all mankind are really appointed to sin and
punishment, holiness and salvation irrespectively to any act of their
own, then they will be judged in exact opposition to our Saviour’s
declaration, that he will reward every man _according to his works_:
{95a} and again, that it is “not the will of ‘our’ Father which is in
heaven that one of those little ones,” i.e. children, “should perish.”
{95b}  These declarations would, I think, sufficiently prove that St.
Paul’s expressions on the subject relate to national, and not individual
election, even had the Apostle himself left his meaning unexplained: for
the servant is not greater than his master, and it is not possible that
an inspired Apostle should preach a doctrine different from that of Him
who commissioned him; but if I mistake not, he has himself taken especial
care that his meaning on this important subject should _not_ be
misunderstood.  For first, it is a notorious fact, though often
overlooked in argument, that the very passage, “I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
compassion,” which is the main support claimed for the doctrine of
absolute decrees, is quoted from Exodus, and forms the assurance given by
God himself to Moses, that He had separated _the Hebrew nation_ from all
the people on the face of the earth. {96a}  Again St. Paul has asserted
that God will render to _every_ man _according to his deeds_, for there
is _no respect of persons_ with God. {96b}  God will have _all men_ to be
saved, &c. &c.

God forbid that we should consider that a man may not be a sincere
Christian, who believes himself irrevocably called, “elect,” and
inevitably secure of his salvation; or declare that a strict Calvinist
cannot be attached to our church: but St. Paul teaches that “Christ died
for all;” that grace instead of being irresistible may be received in
vain; that those who have been once justified instead of being _sure_ of
“final perseverance” and salvation, _may_ “sin wilfully after they have
received the knowledge of the truth,” and “draw back to perdition,” so
that it behoves every one “who thinketh he standeth to take heed lest he
fall.” {96c}

In regard to “irresistible” (special) “grace,” Scripture assures us that
grace sufficient for salvation is denied to none; for St. Paul in every
passage of the Epistles, which relates to grace, declares that the Spirit
works in the souls of _all_, enabling them, if they do not obstinately
resist it, “to work out their salvation.”  The following passage is taken
from the work of a teacher of the doctrine of Special Grace.  “The reign
of sin consists not in the multitude, greatness or prevalency of sins,
for all these are consistent with a state of grace, and may be in a child
of God, in whom sin doth not and cannot reign; but in the in-being of sin
without grace, whether it act more or less violently, yea, whether it
acts at all or no: yet if the habit of sin possess the soul without any
principle of grace implanted, which is contrary to it, that man may be
said to be still under the dominion of sin.  This mortification then of
sin, as to its reigning power, is completed in the first act of
conversion and regeneration.” {98a}  But this language is by no means
that of St. Paul: for the writer makes grace the test of holiness;
whereas the apostle, following therein the doctrine of his master,—“by
their fruits ye shall know them,”—makes holiness the test of grace.
Indeed the obscurity and perplexing nature of the doctrine above quoted,
stands in no favourable contrast with the simple and clear declaration of
the Saviour, that we “do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of
thistles,”—and that therefore the heart must be known by the words and
actions: and the no less decided and simple exposition of the doctrine of
Christ, by the beloved disciple, “Little children, let no man deceive
you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous . . . he that committeth
sin is of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God _doth not commit sin_ . . .
whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” {98b}

The doctrine of the _total_ depravity of human nature, it appears to me,
cannot be proved from Scripture any more than the two former.  St. John,
whilst asserting that no man is wholly without sin, exhorts to efforts,
and supposes a possible state of Christian perfection in his converts,
wholly incompatible with a state of entire corruption: and St. Paul,
though he clearly states that sin has brought all men under condemnation,
and that the unspirituality of the flesh can only be successfully opposed
by the influence of the Holy Spirit, does not declare the consequences of
the Fall in terms such as we find in the Calvinistic writers—as “Man,
instead of the image of God, was now become the image of the Devil;
instead of the citizen of heaven, he was become the bond-slave of hell,
having in himself no one part of his former purity, but being altogether
spotted and defiled—now he seemed to be nothing else but a lump of sin.”
And again: “Man is of his own nature fleshly and corrupt, &c. without any
spark of goodness in him; only given to evil thoughts and evil deeds.”
Even human nature, if closely examined, does not bear testimony to this
as truth: for either the grace of God is accorded in such large measure
to man from his birth, that none can be considered as wholly bad; or the
utter corruption preached by Calvin does not exist.  All experience may
be appealed to on this point, even that of the persons who use the above
language; for if they search their own hearts in sincerity, they will
become conscious of amiable affections, and admiration of what is good
and right: neither, probably, are they guilty of any such gross and
habitual sins, as must mark a nature so wholly depraved.  The Calvinist
therefore can only use these strong phrases with certain grains of
allowance: and he would be wiser if he were to avoid offending his—if he
prefer so to call him—weaker brother, by technical terms which he himself
cannot use in their _full force_ before the Searcher of hearts.

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LETTER VII.
PRESBYTERIANS.  INDEPENDENTS.


When the preaching of Luther and his coadjutors had effectually called
men’s attention to the affairs of the church, it was natural that
questions with regard to its government no less than its doctrine, should
be freely mooted.  The usurpations of Rome had a tendency to disgust the
Reformers with episcopal government, and accordingly we find both Calvin
and Luther establishing a more republican form; and instead of giving the
ecclesiastical power into the hands of one man, they judged it proper to
delegate it to the elders (presbyters) of each church respectively;
subject only to the control of the majority of a general synod.  Such was
the origin of what we now term Presbyterians as a sect: for in _England_
more moderate councils, and the circumstance that the reformed tenets
were embraced by many of the bishops, led to retaining the Episcopal form
of church government.  In _Scotland_, after a struggle, the Presbyterian
form was finally established, and the church or kirk of that part of
Great Britain is regulated upon that system.  A secession has lately
taken place on the question of the right of presentation to livings, but
the _doctrine_ taught in both is nearly similar, i.e. that of the
Calvinistic churches.

The General Synod of Ulster (originally a branch of the established kirk
of Scotland), is the principal body of Presbyterians considered as
dissenters from the establishment: and there also, there is a
Presbyterian Synod, or Church of “the Apostolic Seceders,” formed by
seceders from the General Synod, which is thoroughly Calvinistic, and
which maintains the same discipline that is usually observed among the
seceding “Scottish Presbyterians.”  In the reign of Geo. I. Arianism
{102} was openly embraced by some of the more speculative of the
Presbyterian ministers in Ireland, and in consequence, a theological
controversy was carried on for twenty years (from 1705 to 1725), which
ended in the secession of eight Arian ministers, and the formation of the
Presbytery of Antrim.  Some who were secretly inclined to Arianism had
not the courage to follow the example of the eight seceders, and the
leaven continued to spread among the general body during the latter part
of the eighteenth century, till at length inquiries were instituted in
the Synod, which led to a fresh separation.  Seventeen at length seceded
out of thirty-seven ministers, holding Arian or Socinian tenets in the
year 1830, and they subsequently formed themselves into a distinct Synod,
under the name of “the Remonstrant Synod of Ulster,” and the Presbytery
of Antrim has now become incorporated with this Synod.  These Arian
congregations are chiefly situated in the counties of Antrim and Down, in
the north and eastern part of the province.  There are ten or twelve
congregations in the south of Ireland forming the Synod of Munster, which
were also, till within a few years, Arian or Socinian.  The total number
of Remonstrant and Socinian congregations is between thirty and forty.
_All_ the Presbyterian bodies,—Orthodox and Arian, share in the
Government grants known under the name of “Regium Donum.”  This royal
bounty was originally dispensed among the Presbyterian clergy of Ulster
in lieu of the tithes which were taken from them at the Restoration, and
bestowed upon the Episcopal conformists.  It was withdrawn towards the
close of the reign of Charles II.; but at the Revolution, letters patent
passed the great seal of Ireland, granting £1200 per annum to seven
Presbyterian ministers, during pleasure, for the use of the ministers of
the north of Ireland, to be paid quarterly out of any of the revenues of
the kingdom.  This grant was renewed, under certain limitations, in the
reign of Queen Anne: and in the reign of Geo. I. £800 per annum was
divided in equal shares between the ministers of the Ulster Synod and
those of the Southern Association.  In 1784 an additional grant was made
to the Ulster Synod of £1000 per annum.  In 1792 the grant was augmented
to £5000 to be divided among the ministers of the Synod,—the Presbytery
of Antrim,—the Seceders,—the Southern Association,—and the ministers of
the French church, Dublin.  In 1803 some fresh regulations were made, by
which the distribution of the bounty was taken immediately into the hands
of Government, and the Presbyterian clergy were thus rendered more
ostensibly what they had previously been only in effect, i.e.,
stipendiaries of the state.  The congregations under the care of the
several Synods and Presbyteries are now arranged in three classes
according to the number of families and the stipend of each minister; and
the allowance to the ministers of the three classes was fixed at £50,
£75, and £100 per annum.  The members of the congregation feel under no
obligation to contribute much, if anything, to their pastor’s support,
who is therefore often compelled to have recourse to farming, grazing, or
some other secular employment, for the support of his family.

“In 1834 the ascendant party in the Synod succeeded in carrying a
resolution enforcing unqualified subscription to the “Confession of
Faith,” which had not previously been enforced.  The ostensible motive
for this is a desire to bring about a closer union with the Established
Church of Scotland.  The Irish Synod being now so far connected with the
state as to form a species of ecclesiastical establishment, a feeling has
been generated in favour of the established church of both countries: a
strong protest, however has been made against the decision, but without
avail.” {106}

The increase of the Presbyterians in Ireland from whatever cause has
borne no due proportion to that of the general population.

“Presbyterianism received as a scheme of policy, though admirably adapted
to the exigencies of the times in which it originated, partakes of the
essential defectiveness of the incipient reformation of the sixteenth
century, embodying these erroneous principles which were adopted by the
founders of most of the Protestant churches, and which soon proved not
less fatal to the cause of scriptural truth than to the internal peace of
the Christian communities.”

The first Presbyterian church was founded in Geneva by John Calvin, about
A.D. 1541, and the system afterwards introduced into Scotland, with
modifications by John Knox, about the year 1560, but not _legally_
established there till 1592.  It has never flourished greatly in England,
and the Unitarian doctrine has now been almost universally received among
the quondam Presbyterian congregations.

The _theory_ of discipline in the SCOTTISH CHURCH does not differ very
widely from that of the English episcopacy, but the _practice_ of the two
churches, as modified by the habits of the two nations, is totally
different.  In order to reconcile the Anglican and Scottish confessions
of faith, it would be requisite that the Church of England should consent
to suppress Articles III. VII. XXXV. and XXXVI. also that part of Art.
VI. which sanctions the public reading of the Apocrypha, and the first
clause of Art.  XX, attributing to the church a power to decree rites and
ceremonies, as well as authority in controversies of faith.  Agreeing, as
the English and Scottish Churches do _substantially_ in the doctrines of
the Protestant faith, they nevertheless differ widely,

1.  As to the nature of holy orders and the power of ordination.

2.  As to the hierarchical constitution of the Anglican Church.

3.  As to matters of ritual, especially the use of liturgies which the
Church of Scotland rejects.

4.  As to the doctrines of sacramental grace and sacerdotal absolution,
implied in the offices of the Anglican Church.

5.  As to the whole system of discipline, Ecclesiastical Courts, &c.

6.  As to certain points of Calvinistic theology.

                                * * * * *

The INDEPENDENTS differ from the Presbyterians chiefly in three points,
namely:

1.  As to ordination, and the liberty of preaching.

2.  As to the political form and constitution of church government, and
the conditions of church communion.

3.  As to the grounds and limits of religious liberty.

“Ordination alone,” say the Independents, “without the precedent consent
of the Church by those who formerly have been advanced by virtue of that
power they have received by their ordination, doth not constitute any
person a church officer, or communicate office power unto him.”  The
Presbyterians on the other hand deny that the mere invitation and choice
of the people could confer the pastoral office, or that it was even a
pre-requisite.  The Independents seem to have identified the ministerial
function with the pastoral office; and argued that it was absurd to
ordain an officer without a province to exercise the office in.  Their
opponents viewed the Christian ministry more as an order invested with
certain inherent powers; a faculty or profession endowed with peculiar
privileges, the admission into which required to be jealously guarded;
and this power and authority they conceive could be transmitted by those
of the order.  All approved candidates for the ministerial office among
the Presbyterians, are ordained without reference to any local change;
among the Independents no probationer is ordained till he has been
appointed to the pastoral office.  The first Independent or
Congregational Church in England was established by a Mr. Jacob, A.D.
1616, though it is asserted that a Mr. Robinson was the founder of this
sect, of which Dr. John Owen, Dr. Isaac Watts, Dr. Doddridge, and Job
Orton were members.

The following extracts are from the discourses of Robert Hall, who,
though a Baptist, dissented from most of his brethren on the subject of
strict communion.  He was a preacher both of Baptist and Independent
congregations, but he did not hesitate to avow that “he had more
fellowship of feeling for an Independent or a Presbyterian than for a
close communion Baptist.”  His system of theological tenets was on the
model of what has come to be denominated “Moderate Calvinism.”  With
regard to the distinctive Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination, “I
cannot,” says his biographer, “answer for the precise terms in which he
would have stated it, but I presume he would have accepted those employed
by the Church of England.  In preaching he very rarely made any express
reference to that doctrine.”

“Jesus Christ did not come, let it be remembered, to establish a mere
external morality, that his followers might be screened from human laws
and human justice, for human laws will take care of this.  The holy
institution of Christianity has a nobler object, that of purifying our
hearts and regulating our behaviour by the love of God.  In the most
practical accounts of the proceedings of the last day given in the
Scriptures, the excellency which is represented as being a criterion and
distinguishing feature of the disciple of Christ, and which He will
acknowledge, is: Christian benevolence—love to man manifested in the
relief of the poor.  The Apostle St. John has given us a most sublime
description of the love of God, when he says, ‘God is love;’ love is not
so much an attribute of His nature as His _very essence_; the spirit of
Himself.  Christian benevolence is not only the ‘image of God,’ but is
peculiarly an imitation of Christ.”  “I do not ask, my brethren, what
particular virtue you have, but _how much are you under the influence of
Him_? for just so much virtue we have, as we have of His spirit and
character.”  “Our Saviour places the acceptance of men, not upon their
dispositions, but upon their actions; upon what _they have done_, not
upon what they have _merely believed_ or _felt_, or in any undefined
state of mind.”—“I am persuaded that the cause of the ruin of professing
Christians does not arise so much from a mistake of the doctrines of
Christianity as from a low idea of Christian morals; in abstaining from
certain crimes and disorders through fear of the loss of character and of
punishment, without reflecting on the spirit of that holy religion which
we profess.”—“Christ went about doing good, not as an _occasional_
exercise, but as his _employment_; it was the one thing which he did.
Though possessed of infinite power, he never employed it in resenting or
retaliating an injury.  He was pre-eminently devout.  His was an active
life; it was not the life of a solitary monk.  That devotion which
terminates in itself is a luxury which sometimes perverts the principles
of benevolence to a pernicious purpose.  Let us rather recede from being
called Christians than forget the great symbol of our profession, love to
one another.”

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LETTER VIII.
PARTICULAR BAPTISTS, SUB AND SUPRALAPSARIANS, SANDEMANIANS.


Having now given some account of the principal Calvinistic sects, I shall
conclude by mentioning a few of those less numerous societies, which,
whilst agreeing in the peculiar doctrines of Calvin, differ upon other
points.  THE PARTICULAR BAPTISTS, agreeing with the General Baptists on
most other practices and doctrines, differ from them on this.  The
separation took place in the year 1616, when a controversy on the subject
of infant baptism having arisen among the Baptists, one portion calling
itself the “Independent Congregation” seceded, embraced the Calvinistic
doctrine, and became the first Particular Baptists: others, who were in
general attached to the opinions of Calvin, concerning the decrees of God
and Divine Grace, were not entirely agreed concerning the manner of
explaining the doctrine of the Divine decrees.  The greater part believed
that God only _permitted_ the first man to fall into transgression,
without particularly predetermining his fall: these were termed
SUBLAPSARIANS.  But others again maintained that “God in order to
exercise and display his justice and his free mercy, had decreed from all
eternity the transgression of Adam, and so ordered the course of events,
that our first parents could not possibly avoid their fall.  These were
termed SUPRALAPSARIANS.

There is a modern sect that originated in Scotland about 1728, termed
Glassites, from its founder Mr. John Glass, who was expelled by the Synod
from the Church of Scotland, for maintaining that “the kingdom of Christ
was not of this world.”  His adherents then formed themselves into
churches, conformable in their institution and discipline to what they
apprehended to be the plan of the first churches recorded in the New
Testament.  Soon after the year 1755, Mr. John Sandeman (an elder in one
of these congregations in Scotland) attempted to prove that “Faith is
neither more nor less than a simple assent to the Divine testimony,
concerning Jesus Christ delivered for the offences of men and raised
again for their justification, as recorded in the New Testament.”  He
also mentioned that the word _Faith_ or _Belief_, is constantly used by
the Apostles to signify what is denoted by it in common conversation,
i.e. a persuasion of the truth of any proposition, and that there is no
difference between believing any common testimony, and believing the
apostolic testimony, except that which results from the testimony itself,
and the Divine authority on which it rests.  This led to controversy
among the Calvinists and Sandemanians, concerning the nature of
justifying faith; and the latter formed themselves into a separate sect.
They administer the sacrament of the Lord’s supper weekly, and hold “love
feasts,” of which every member is not only allowed but required to
partake, and which consists of their dining together at each other’s
houses, in the interval between the morning and afternoon service.  They
interpret literally the precept respecting the “kiss of charity,” which
they use on the admission of a new member, as well as on other occasions,
when they deem it necessary or proper: they make a weekly collection
before the sacrament of the Lord’s supper; use mutual exhortation;
abstain from blood and things strangled; wash each other’s feet; hold
that every one is to consider all that he possesses to be liable to the
calls of the poor and the church, and that it is unlawful to “lay up
treasure upon earth,” by setting them apart for any future use.  They
allow of public and private diversions, so far as they are not connected
with circumstances really sinful; but apprehending a lot to be sacred,
they disapprove of lotteries, playing at cards, dice, &c.  They maintain
the necessity of a plurality of elders, pastors, or bishops in each
church, and the necessity of the presence of two elders in every act of
discipline, and at the administration of the Lord’s supper.  Second
marriages disqualify for the office of elder.  The elders are ordained by
prayer and fasting, imposition of hands, and giving the “right hand of
fellowship.”  In their discipline they are strict and severe, and in
every transaction esteem unanimity to be absolutely necessary.

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LETTER IX.
CALVINISTIC METHODISTS.  EVANGELICAL OR SERIOUS CHRISTIANS.


I noticed the name of George Whitfield when speaking of Wesley and his
followers, for during a time they acted in unison; Whitfield, however,
soon embraced the Calvinistic tenets, and then the friends separated with
much of unkindly feeling.  Wesley held the doctrines of Calvin in
abhorrence, as altogether unchristian and unfounded in Scripture.  “I
defy you to say so hard a thing of the Devil,” said he with
characteristic earnestness, when speaking of the notion that God could
arbitrarily create any for eternal reprobation.  This separation between
the leaders soon extended to their congregations, and from that time
Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists became distinct sects, differing,
however, but little on any other point, excepting in the greater tendency
to enthusiasm among the followers of Whitfield.

“Wesley and Whitfield,” says Mr. Sidney in his life of Rowland Hill,
“were men of widely different characters, both in respect to their
natural dispositions as well as the discipline of their minds; and
painful frailties were visible in the midst of their true greatness.  An
ambitious love of power was evidently the besetting weakness of John
Wesley; aspiration to the _honours_ when he had no prospect of the
_suffering_ of martyrdom, was that of Whitfield.”  In his letters to
Rowland Hill, it is evident how he courted and enjoyed persecution; and
whenever “_the fire_ (to use his own expression) was kindled in the
country;” he was not satisfied unless “honoured” by being scorched a
little in its flame.  This was a wrong spirit, and did injury to his own
mind, and to his followers, by encouraging a morose and morbid carriage
towards the world, giving needless offence, and provoking animosity in
those who might have been attracted and endeared to truth by the lovely
graces of pure Christianity.”

At the time when he, and his early friends the Wesleys began their
ministry, the piety of all classes was at a very low ebb.  The
earnestness of these men gave a new impulse to religious feeling, and
after a time a considerable number of other episcopally ordained
ministers of the church, together with a portion of the laity, became
influenced by the same sentiments.  Without seceding, they formed a party
in the church, leaning to Calvinism to the extent they thought justified
by the XXXIX Articles; and this party soon became designated by several
distinguishing terms.  They called themselves _Evangelical_ first,
afterwards when that became a cant term of misapplied reproach, they took
the title of _Serious_ Christians, and by others were called _Low
Church_, and _Methodistical_.  Besides distinguishing themselves by an
especial name, they avoided public amusements, used a peculiar
phraseology, and seemed to delight in wearing their religion externally
in the sight of all men, thinking perhaps to reform the thoughtless by
the example of their greater strictness.  But herein, in my opinion, they
made a net for their own feet, for that very aspiration after greater
exaltation which is implanted in us as a spur to strive after glory and
immortality, is soon by mismanagement perverted into a love of earthly
distinction.  Hence comes ambition; but the ambition for worldly honours
has in it this alleviation, that the man who toils after a title or a
fortune, knows that he is, after all, seeking but a mean object; and if
ever his mind is awakened at all to a sense of the world to come, the
soul springs back to its true ambition, and launches into the career
natural to it: but the man who seeks to be distinguished among his
brethren for superior holiness, and wears it externally, that it may be
seen and honoured by men, blinds his better nature, and fetters it to
earth by chains forged in heaven; he sees not that he is ambitious; he is
not aware that while seeking, as he imagines, to honour God in his life,
he is enjoying at his heart’s core the respectful homage of men; and
whilst attending to his outward deportment, and making a display even of
his humility, he too frequently leaves the inner heart unchastened.  Our
Saviour knew the frailties of man, and his injunction that our religion
should chiefly be manifested by our benevolent feelings towards our
fellow creatures, while the communing with God should be carried on in
silence and secrecy, is the only safe guide in these matters.

I have no doubt that there are many of the Low Church party, whose
conscientiousness sets at defiance the dangers of the system they have
adopted: indeed my own private friendships warrant me in saying so: but
it is not well to lead others into dangerous paths where our own skill
indeed may enable us to walk safely, but where the hindmost, whom we are
not leading by the hand, are in continual hazard of deviating from the
true course; and therefore whilst honouring individual virtues, I
continue to consider the whole system erroneous: one whose tendency is to
create spiritual pride, and lower the standard of Christian benevolence
by restricting to a party that fellowship which should be universal.  It
does but substitute the excitement of the crowded church where a popular
preacher charms with all the graces of rhetoric, of the committee room,
of the speakers at Exeter Hall, for the ball room and the theatre; with
this difference, that in the first case the instinct which makes the mind
seek this excitement, is overlooked; the man believes himself performing
a meritorious action, and looks with some contempt on his weaker
brethren, who cannot exist without worldly amusements; on the other he
knows what he is about, and if he be well-intentioned, guards against
excess.  It would be wiser therefore to acknowledge the instinct; not bad
in itself, for God implanted it, and if it be denied a due indulgence,
the mind sinks into hopeless imbecility; and not to blame those who seek
other, but innocent means of gratifying it. {122a}

The extracts that I am about to give, from the writings of two men of
note, in that party, distinguished also for their genuine Christian
feeling, will show that they saw the dangers I have pointed out, and were
anxious to guard against them.  The following extracts are given in Mr.
Sidney’s “Life of the Rev. Rowland Hill.” {122b}

“I hate dry doctrinal preaching, without warm, affectionate, and
experimental applications.  Oh! ’tis most pleasant to love one another
with pure hearts fervently.  Love is of God, for ‘God is love.’  The
summit of our happiness must be the perfection of our holiness.  By this
blessed grace we have the brightest evidence that we are ‘born of God.’
If we allow that little shades of difference may exist, we ought to ‘love
as brethren,’ and where Christian candour and love are found to reign,
the odious sin of schism, according to its general interpretation, cannot
exist.”  “It is no sign that we value the blessings of God, if we can
part with them” (i.e. dear friends) “without regret.  That mind is badly
framed that prefers stoical indifference to Christian sensibility, and
though the pain is abundantly more acute where those finer feelings of
the mind are found to exist; yet who deserves the name of a human being
who is without them?”  “While a soul within our reach is ignorant of a
Saviour, we must endeavour to win it to Christ.  How weary I am of a
great deal of what is called the ‘_religious world_!’  High and Low
Church Sectarianism seems to be the order of the day; we are much more
busy in contending for _parties_ than for _principles_.  These evils are
evidences of a lack of genuine Christianity.  Oh! when shall that happy
day dawn upon us, when real Christians and Christian ministers of all
denominations shall come nearer to each other.”

The next extracts shall be from the writings of one who was scarcely
appreciated by the world in general, but of whose excellencies I was
enabled to judge, during my residence at Cambridge; Mr. Simeon.

“Religion appears in its true colours when it regulates our conduct in
social life; your religion must be seen, not in the church, or in the
closet only, but in the shop, the family, the field: it must mortify
pride and every other evil passion, and must bring faith into exercise.
Try yourselves by this standard: see what you are as husbands or wives,
parents or children, masters or servants.” {124}

“The self-righteous, self-applauding moralist can spy out the failings
and infirmities of those who profess a stricter system of religion; but
let me ask such an one, ‘Are there not in thee, even in thee, sins
against the Lord thy God?’  Verily if thou wouldst consult thy own
conscience, thou wouldst see little reason, and feel little inclination
too, to cast stones at others.  Professors of religion also are but too
guilty of this same fault, being filled with an overweening conceit of
their own excellencies, and a contemptuous disregard of their less
spiritual neighbours.  But I would ask the professed follower of Christ,
Are there not sins with thee too as well as with the pharisaic formalist?
Are there not great and crying evils in the religious world, which prove
a stumbling block to those around them?  Are there not often found among
professors of religion the same covetous desires, the same fraudulent
practices, the same deviations from truth and honour, as are found in
persons who make no profession?  Are there not many whose tempers are so
unsubdued, that they make their whole families a scene of contention and
misery?  Yes!  Though the accusations which are brought against the whole
body of religious people as ‘hypocrites,’ are a gross calumny, there is
but too much ground for them in the conduct of many.”  “Nothing is more
common, and nothing more delusive than a noisy, talkative religion.  True
religion is a humble, silent, retired thing; not affecting public notice,
but rather wishing to approve itself to God.  It is not in _saying_
‘Lord, Lord!’ but in _doing_ the will of our heavenly Father, that we
shall find acceptance at the last day.  Happy would it be if many who
place all their religion in running about and hearing sermons, and
talking of the qualifications of ministers, would attend to this hint,
and endeavour to acquire more of that wisdom which evinces its Divine
origin by the excellence of its fruits.” {126}

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LETTER X.
ON ROMANISM AND CEREMONIAL RELIGION.


I promised that as the completion of my task, I would notice those
differences which have occurred in the bosom of the church itself, even
though they can scarcely be called _sects_; I therefore propose to
conclude my correspondence with a short survey of the above-named, which
I think should rather be viewed as the working out of great principles,
than as parties distinguished by particular creeds or opinions on
abstract subjects.  I may run counter to some prejudices, perhaps, in so
doing; but the truth is well worth running a tilt for:—you may sit by as
umpire, and decide when I have done, whether I have carried my spear in a
knightly fashion.

Though I shall not think it necessary, like Racine’s advocate in Les
Plaideurs, to go back to the Assyrians and the Babylonians to illustrate
my proposition, yet I must begin from a very distant period, in order to
make my views thoroughly comprehensible.  I must therefore beg you to
notice that the tendency of man’s mind always is, and always has been,
towards the visible and the tangible.  The pure abstraction of a
Governing Will without any perceptible presence, has in it something too
remote from the common habits, powers, and feelings of human nature, ever
to be thoroughly embraced by the heart of man; and we find that the Deity
has always condescended so far to the weakness of his creatures, as to
give the imagination some resting place.  Thus the patriarch had his
altar of sacrifice, where the fire from heaven marked the present
Deity—and the Israelite had first the pillar of the cloud, and then the
tabernacle, where the mysterious Shechinah dwelt over the mercy seat.
Yet even this indistinct representation of an embodied Deity, did not
satisfy the people: they required a _form_, tangible, visible, and Aaron
yielded to the wish; because he thought it a prudent and allowable
compliance with the weakness of human nature.  He was wrong, and was
punished for it; and this transaction we shall find the type and
foreshadowing of every thing that has since happened in the world with
regard to religion.  The Almighty gives man just enough to rest his
thoughts upon: it is the fire on the altar, the cloud, the temple, and
last of all _the man_, in whom our devotion may find also an object of
affection: but he requires that we shall not go beyond this.  We must not
return to earth, and make for ourselves a worship less spiritual than he
has instituted; on the contrary, he requires us to pierce through the
veil as we advance in knowledge, and discern the spiritual through the
visible.  Hence the perpetual denunciations of the prophets against the
Jews for their adherence to forms, which latterly they did adhere to,
instead of giving attention to the purification of their hearts.

Among all but the Israelites, the progress of the tangible was much more
rapid: idolatry, with all its gross rites, had established itself among
_the people_, at any rate, in Egypt, at a very early period; and spread
from that old and luxurious empire, through the more simple states which
sprang up around and from it.  The Exodus was a warning from on high,
that there was a Being, unseen and intangible, whose fiat governed all
things: and this lesson was not wholly without fruit: yet still the human
race reverted to the objects of the senses, till, in God’s good time, he
sent his Son: presented a tangible form on which the mind could
dwell—then removed it from the earth, and said, “You may now think on
this, and give your imagination a resting place: this form you shall see
again; but in mean time you must purify your hearts from earthly desires:
that form will only greet your eyes when you have cast off the burthen of
the flesh, and have entered upon a spiritual existence.”  The first
Christians remembered and loved the man; his precepts, his example, his
smallest words or actions were recurred to with the fondness of personal
friendship; and this carried Christianity through the first two
centuries; but then this remembrance began to have a character of
abstraction, and again the human heart called for tangibility.  Then
came, step by step, gorgeous ceremonies, pictures, representations of the
personal presence and sufferings of the Saviour.  The very requirements
of those who quitted the splendid and sensual rites of heathenism for the
faith of Christ, led the Christian doctors to endeavour to replace the
festival of the idol by something analogous in the Christian church: and
thus without well knowing what they were tending to, the heads of the
church yielded one point of spiritualism after another; sought to
captivate and awe the people by impressive ceremonies; and finished by
the sin of Aaron: they set up the image and said, “These be thy Gods, O
Israel! that brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” {131a}  For be it
observed here, that Aaron set up this image merely as a tangible
representation of the true Deity; _a help to the devotion of the people_,
who could not worship without seeing something.

This then is Romanism; it is not transubstantiation, nor the mediation of
the Virgin and the Saints, {131b} nor the infallibility of popes and
councils; these are natural consequences indeed, but the distinctive
character of the Romish church is _tangibility_.  “There is the actual
flesh,” it says, “there is the representation of the actual human
presence of saints and martyrs; there is the actual man enthroned, who
represents the power of God:” but it might have fifty other ways of
satisfying this restless craving of the human mind, and it would be
equally pernicious in any of these forms.  Man’s great struggle has
always been between the animal and the spiritual nature, and when
religion goes one step farther towards tangibility than the Deity himself
has allowed, the animal nature gains strength; and vice and
licentiousness follow as naturally, among the mass of the people, as rain
follows the cloud.

Observe, I do not here deny that many may profess a religion of sense,
and remain spiritually-minded themselves: Heathenism had its Socrates,
its Xenocrates, &c.—Romanism has its Pascal, its Fenelon, and a train of
other great names: but look at the _people_ during that period, and the
account will be very different.  When an ignorant man imagines that he
can remove the Divine anger by a sacrifice or a penance, he avoids the
trouble of curbing his passions, and compounds, as he thinks, for
indulgence of the one, by the performance of the other; but when he is
told that purity of life and thought is the only road to Divine favour,
if he sins, he sins at least with some feelings of compunction, some
dread that he may not have it in his power to remove the stain he is
incurring.  The preaching of Wesley reformed multitudes, all enthusiastic
as it was; but it would be difficult to find a parallel in the annals of
Romanism.  As great a movement of the public mind was made by the
preaching of Peter the Hermit; but how different was the object and the
result!  The personal pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, as a mode of
wiping out sin, was undertaken by thousands, who perished miserably, or,
if they lived, came back not better men than they went: under a system of
less tangibility, and a preaching as effective, they might have staid in
their homes, and glorified God by a life such as Christ came to teach and
to exemplify.

It is so much easier to make a pilgrimage, or endure a long fast, than to
subdue and tame the animal nature till it becomes obedient to the
rational will, and seconds instead of resisting its wishes, that it is
not surprising that in all ages a religion of outward observance should
be more popular than one of inward purification.  Those even which set
off with the highest pretensions in this way have degenerated, and the
outward and visible form is too often substituted for the inward and
spiritual grace, which it was intended to _represent_ not to _supersede_.
That religion therefore has the best chance of influencing the soul,
which, as far as is possible, renounces outward demonstrations which
human indolence is so glad to rely on, and preaches boldly and
effectually the uselessness of ceremonies, farther than as they tend to
preserve the remembrance of HIM who came to call the world back to
HIMSELF, to trample on the sensual and the animal, and to raise man to
his pristine, or rather, to what is to be his future state.  A public
acknowledgment of Christ as our Master and Lord, and a compliance with
his own few and simple ordinances; are all that Christian duty requires,
and nearly as much as Christian prudence will permit.  The rest is a
matter of worldly expediency, and should be so regarded.

No doubt rests on my own mind—I leave others to think as they may—that
Episcopacy was the established form of the Church as soon as the
Christian communities began to assume enough of regularity to admit of
any settled order; and I think it a wise form.  As far as any institution
can, it secures unity and decency in the church: and as far as any
institution can, that was not positively established by Christ himself,
it possesses, in my mind, the sanction of antiquity.  It gives the
concentration of purpose and regularity of effort which is bestowed by
the discipline of an army; for as in an army a detachment acts upon the
same system of tactics, and obeys officers constituted by the same
authority, and thus assists the efforts of the main body, and falls into
rank with it when they meet; so the church, under such a form, may send
detachments to the ends of the earth, who may meet after long years, as
brothers of the same communion, and find that though the individuals have
passed away, others have stepped into their place in the ranks, and are
teaching what their predecessors taught.  The benefit of church
discipline, therefore, in my mind is great; but I do not suppose that
salvation depends on it, because God has repeatedly declared that Christ
died _for all_, {135a} and that he is not willing that any should perish;
{135b} consequently he can hardly have made our eternal state dependent
on what no man can accomplish for himself.  A person may not have it in
his power to receive baptism from an ordained priest, but he may live as
Christ taught; or, having never heard of Christ even, he may, like the
gentiles, win glory and immortality, {135c} if, having not the law, he be
a law unto himself.  I would not receive Christ’s ordinances from the
hands of any but an ordained priest, myself, because if a doubt exist in
my mind, I sin in doing the doubtful thing; but herein I speak only for
myself; let every man do as he is “persuaded in his mind” {136} in
matters of secondary import, as all ceremonial matters must be.

You will now be prepared for my opinion with regard to the late movement
made in the church by the Anglo-Catholics, as they term themselves;
Puseyites, or Newmanites, as they have been termed by others.  They have
been thought to have introduced innovations—they have not:—there is not
one of the ceremonies or practices which they have recommended, which was
not very early practised in the church; but it was from the undue
importance attached to these ceremonies, which came to be regarded with
reverence from having been instituted by apostles and martyrs, that the
after growth of Roman superstition sprang up so rankly.  I believe the
first promoters of this movement were as remote from actual Romanism as I
am, when they first began it; but when once reason is submitted to any
human dictum, in matters of religion, there is no resting place till we
arrive at the “infallible” guide which the Romish church claims to be.
There alone can the soul which will not think for itself, find a ready
and confident director.  Accordingly, we find that some of those very men
who but a few years back exposed the errors of Romanism, have now yielded
themselves blindfold to the guidance of that very church, which, as long
as they allowed themselves to reason, they acknowledged to have departed
from the truth.  Yet it is perhaps fortunate for the people generally,
that this declension of its pastors has been as rapid and complete as it
has been:—they were going back towards the sin of Aaron—they were
insisting on ceremonies as necessary to salvation, thus rendering
religion gross and tangible, and the people thus taught would soon have
forgotten what those ceremonies were intended to represent, and have
depended for salvation on what could not avail them in the hour of need:
for the repetition of prayer is not necessarily praying, nor is the
reception of the eucharist necessarily sanctification, though these may
be the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual grace which
is working in the heart.  Once teach a man that _any_ ceremony is
_requisite_ to salvation, and he will soon go a step further by himself,
and think the outward ceremony sufficient without the inward grace.  This
indeed is but a necessary corollary; for if the ceremony be requisite to
salvation, then the inward grace working purity of life, avails not
without the ceremony; and thus purity of life is no longer a substantive
virtue; it cannot stand alone; and the prop which it requires being so
very strong, why should not the prop itself be all in all?  This will be
the course of ratiocination in the mind of the mass of mankind, whether
avowed or not; and however the promoters of a ceremonial religion may
shrink from such a consequence, it is so certain, as all experience
shows, that they might as well throw a man who cannot swim into the
water, and recommend him not to drown, as give a half instructed man a
ceremony, which he is told is requisite to salvation, and expect that he
will not cling to that, as the more convenient and least difficult
observance; and whilst perfect in complying with every ordinance of the
church, forget that he has overlooked the weightier matters of the
law—judgment, justice, and mercy.

This may sound harsh, but it is true; and I appeal to the calm judgment
even of the excellent Dr. Pusey himself, who has so unintentionally drawn
many into a course from which, haply, he would now gladly draw them back,
whether it be not so?  His learning will show him how, through all ages,
the spiritualism taught from heaven, has been counteracted by the visible
and the tangible contrived by man; and in the step from the patriarchal
religion, to the idolatry of Greece and Rome; from Christianity as
preached by Christ and his Apostles, to the gross superstitions of the
twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, he may see a type of what
would be the consequence of again enforcing a ceremonial religion.

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APPENDIX.


The following are extracts from the “Christianæ Religionis Institutio,”
of Faustus Socinus:

_Q_.  Quid igitur de Dei natura, sive essentia, nosse omnino nos debere
statuis?

_R_.  Hæc duo in summa.  Quod sit et quod unus tantum sit.

                                * * * * *

_Q_.  Verum quid quæso saltem de Spiritu Sancto nunc mihi dicis de quo
isti similiter affirmant eum esse divinam personam, nempe tertiam, et
unum atque eundem numero Deum cum Patre et Filio?

_R_.  Nempe illum non esse personam aliquam a Deo cujus est spiritus,
distinctam, sed tantum modo (ut nomen ipsum _Spiritus_, quod flatum et
afflationem, ut sic loquar, significat, docere potest) ipsius Dei vim et
efficaciam quandam, id est eam, quæ secum sanctitatem aliquam afferat.

                                * * * * *

_Q_.  Quid censes de Christi natura sive essentia nobis cognitii esse
necessarium?

_R_.  Id, ut antea dixi, sine cujus cognitione voluntas Dei erga nos per
ipsum Christum patefacta, a nobis vel sciri, vel servari nequeat.

_Q_.  Quid igitur ex iis quæ ad Christi naturam sive essentiam pertinent,
ejusmodi esse censes?

_R_.  Vix quidquam.  Nam quædam, quæ ad ipsius Christi personam alioqui
pertinent, et nobis omnino ob prædictam causam cognita esse debent, non
naturalia illi sunt, sed a Deo postmodum ipsi data et concessa, et sic ad
Dei voluntatem sunt referenda, et quidem ad primam quam fecimus ejus
partem, id est ad Dei operationes.

_Q_.  Quæ nam sunt ista?

_R_.  Divinum imperium quod in nos habet.  Rom. xiv. 9.; et suprema illa
majestas.  Ephes. i. 20, &c.; qua quidquid usquam est, aut excogitari
potest, præter unam tantum ipsius Dei majestatem longe excellit.  1 Cor.
xv. 27.  Phil. ii. 8, 9.  Heb. ii. 9.  Hæc enim Christo haud naturalia
esse, sed a Deo Patre illi data fuisse, ipsumque ea per et propter mortem
atque obedientiam et resurrectionem suam adeptum esse, apertissime
scriptura testatur.

_Q_.  Cur vero hæc de Christo cognoscere omnino debemus?

_R_.  Quia, ut Christum divino cultu officiamus vult Deus.  Joh. v. 25.
Psal. xlv. 12.  Heb. i. 6.  Philip. ii. 10.; ejus generis, inquam, cultu
cujus is est, quem ipsi Deo exhibere debemus.

                                * * * * *

_Q_.  Quid de ipsa tamen Christi essentia seu natura statuis?

_R_.  De Christi essentia ita statuo, illum esse hominem.  Rom. v. 15.;
in virginis utero, et sic sine viri ope, divini spiritus vi conceptum ac
formatum.  Matt. i. 20. 23.  Luc. i. 35.; indeque genitum, primum quidem
patibilem ac mortalem. 2 Cor. xiii. 4.; donec, scilicet munus sibi a Deo
demandatum hie in terris obivit; deinde vero postquam in cœlum ascendit,
impatibilem et immortalem factum.  Rom. vi. 9.

                                * * * * *

_Q_.  Quid enim primum sibi vult, quod innuis hoc quod Christus Dei
filius sit proprius et unigenitus non omnino ad ejus naturam pertinere?

_R._  Divina ista Christi filiatio, eatenus tantum ad ejus naturam aliquo
modo referri potest, quatenus id respicit quod Christus divini Spiritus
vi sine viri ope in virginis utero conceptus et formatus fuit.  Nam
hujusce rei causa eum Dei filium vocatum ire, ipsius Dei Angelus ipsimet
virgini, ex qua natus est, prædixit.  Luc. i. 35; et quidem consequenter
Dei filium proprium et unigenitum, cum nemo alius hac ratione, et ab ipso
primo ortu Dei films unquam extiterit.

                                * * * * *

_R_.  Quod attinet ad primum testimonium quod habetur (i.e. of
præexistence) Joh. i. 3.  Dictio universalis _omnia_ non prorsus
universaliter accipienda est, sed ad subjectam materiam restringenda, ut
scilicet ea tantum omnia complectatur, quæ ad Evangelium pertinent.

_Q_.  Sed quid dices, quod in loco isto apud Johannem additur; sine
verbo, id est Deo filio, nihil esse factum?

_R_.  Immo cum certum esse videatur, mox sequentia verba _quod factum
est_ (quidquid nonnulli contra sentiant) cum additione ista conjungenda
esse: dicendum potius videtur, voluisse Evangelistam cum ista addidit
indicare se de quibusdam nunquam antea et nova ac mirabili ratione factis
loqui.  Nam ad docendum simpliciter se loqui de iis quæ sunt facta nec
semper fuerunt, satis habebat illa verba addere, _et sine ipso factum est
nihil_.  Itaque mysterio non videtur carere, quod præterea addit _quod
factum est_; subaudi novum et mirabile, ad mundi ipsius statum pertinens,
&c. &c.

                                * * * * *

Jam dictum est (est de pœnis persolvendis primum agamus) pœnam quam
uniusquisque nostrum propter delicta sua pendere tenebatur, mortem
æternam esse.  Hanc profecto Christus non subiit; et si cam subiisset,
universi salutis nostræ et liberationis a peccatorum pœna spes, et ratio
funditus eversa fuisset.  Immo si jam Christus non resurrexisset, vana,
ut inquit Paulus.  1 Cor. xv. 14, 17.; esset Evangelii prædicatio, et nos
adhuc essemus in peccatis nostris.  Et tamen, si idcirco nos servasset
Christus, quod pœnas nostris peccatis debitas ipse sustinuisset, et nobis
ejus rei fides quoad ejus fieri poterat facienda fuisset; eum nunquam
resurgere, sed in morte perpetuo manere oportuisset: Op. Vol. p. 197,
fol. Edit.

Ac dicitis, ut conjeci potest, animadvertendum esse, aliam in ipsa
essentia divina personam patris esse, aliam personam filii: et Patri
potuisse a Filio satisfieri seu ut satisfierat, vim suppeditari: nec
tamen aliquid quod satisfactioni per solutionem facienda adversetur,
committi.  Sed dicite obsecro, nonne ipsius filii personæ non minus quam
patris satisfaciendum fuisse affirmatis.  Si filius patri satisfacit, hoc
est, quod illi debetur solvit: quis ipsi filio, quod ipsi debetur, dabit?
Respondebitis, ut arbitror, si patri satisfactum fuit, filio quoque
satisfactum esse; cum eadem sit utriusque voluntas . . . Quomodo patri a
filio quidquam ullo parto solvi potuisset si quod unius aut est, aut fit,
alterius reipsa esse necesse foret? . . . At vero quis deinde ambigere
queat filium patri nihil dare posse: cum quidquid filius habet patris
revera sit, et ipse Christus disertè dixerit, Joh. xvii. 10, omnia quæ
sua erant patris esse?  Annon ex ipsa disciplina vestra, hoc est Dei
essentiam non distinguere, sed partiri: si præter personarum
proprietates, aliquid unam personam habere velitis quod alia non habeat.
Filii autem personam proprietates suas patris personæ pro peccatorum
nostrorum satisfactione solvisse, cui unquam in mentem venire poteret?
Ib. p. 202.

                                * * * * *

                                  FINIS.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                      CHARLES WHITTINGHAM, CHISWICK.

                                * * * * *



Footnotes.


{3}  αγαπη which is the word generally translated _charity_ in the New
Testament means _affectionate regard_.  The distinction between charity
and almsgiving is well laid down by St. Clement of Alexandria.
“Charity,” says he, “leads to the sharing our good things with others;
but this is not in itself charity, but only our outward sign of that
feeling.”

{4}  See 1 Cor. ix. 19, 20.

{5a}  Rom. xii. 10.

{5b}  “No national prejudices, no religious differences could hinder our
Saviour from doing good.  We should consider that men’s understandings
naturally are not all of the same size and capacity, and that this
difference is greatly increased by different education, different
employments, different company, and the like.  No man is infallible.  We
are liable to errors perhaps as much as others.  The very best men may
sometimes differ in opinion, as St. Paul ‘withstood St. Peter to the
face;’ and if there was such a difference between two of the chiefest of
the Apostles, well may there be between inferior mortals.  About modes of
faith there will always be dispute and difference; but in acts of mercy
and kindness all mankind may and should agree.”—_Newton_.

{8}  “In fact, all the religious persecutions in the world, all the
penalties and inflictions upon those who differ from ourselves, however
conscientiously, take their rise from an imperfect and erroneous notion
of what really constitutes the glory of God, and the manner in which we
best can assist its display and extension.  The angels at the birth of
Christ sang that the glory of God was in unison with ‘Peace on earth, and
good will towards men.’—‘No!’ said the Schoolman, ‘the glory of God
consists in thinking of the Deity as we think.’—‘No!’ said the
Inquisitor, ‘the glory of God consists in worshiping as we
prescribe.’—‘No!’ said the Covenanters, ‘the glory of God consists in
exterminating those whom we call his enemies.’  Mistaken men! who _thus_
propose to honour the God and Father of the universe, the merciful God,
and the gracious Father of all his rational creatures!  Instead of
perusing with delight and conviction the plain declaration contained in
our Sacred records, too many Christians have in almost every age passed
over the characteristics of kind design throughout nature: they have
mistaken or forgotten the clear delineations of Divine Mercy and Goodness
in the Book of Grace, and have had recourse to the narrowed circle of
their own prejudices.”—_Maltby’s Sermons_.

{10}  It would be well if Rom. xiv. were more attentively studied and
more universally practised among Christians.

{14}  They have in consequence been sometimes called “Seekers.”

{15a}  Gough’s History of the Quakers.  Vol. i. p. 139.

{15b}  Probably their resolute refusal to pay tithes and other dues
brought on them some of these punishments.

{20}  “Keep the Sabbath holy,” says Luther, “for its use both to body and
soul; but if any where the day is made holy for the mere day’s sake; if
any where any one sets up its observance upon a _Jewish_ foundation, then
I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it,
to do any thing that shall remove this encroachment on the Christian
spirit and liberty.”  This is language which may be easily misunderstood
and perverted from Luther’s meaning; but it was uttered by him from a
jealousy of Sabbatical superstition.

{21}  Matt. v.

{22}  “There is an unreasonable, uncharitable, and superstitious notion
that a soldier, so far as his profession is concerned, is ‘of the world;’
and that a man who dies in the field of battle is _necessarily_ less
prepared for his change than one who dies in his bed.  These feelings,
which have sadly tended to degrade and impoverish the mind of modern
Europe . . . to make armies what they are told they _must_ be; and
therefore to make them dangerous by depriving them of any high
restraining principles, have been greatly encouraged by the tone which
religious men of our day have adopted from the Quakers.”  _Maurice’s
Kingdom of Christ_.

{24a}  Moral education, in spite of all the labours of direct
instruction, is really acquired in hours of recreation.  Sports and
amusements are, and must be the means by which the mind is insensibly
trained: ‘Men are but children of a larger growth;’ they will have their
pleasures; and unless care be taken, the sermon of the church or chapel
will be neutralized by the association of the tavern and the raceground.
There must be safety valves for the mind, i.e. there must be means for
its pleasurable, profitable, and healthful exertion; those means it is in
our power to render safe and innocent; in too many instances they have
been rendered dangerous and guilty.”  _Dr. Taylor_.

{24b}  Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be
received with thanksgiving. (1 Tim. iv. 4.)  Extend this maxim, apply it
to the several means of enjoyment, either supposed or real, that the
world presents to us.  Those pleasures from which we cannot unreservedly
arise, and thank our Maker; those pursuits which mar our devotions, and
render us unwilling or afraid to come before Him, cannot be innocent.  It
would be no easy matter to lay down, as applicable to all, a rule as to
how far conformity with the world is admissible, and where the Christian
must stop: for as the habits and tempers and propensities of men differ,
so also do their temptations and their danger.  Thus through the rule by
which one would stand securely, another would as certainly fall.
_Lectures on the Church Catechism_.

{26}  See 1 Tim. iv. 4.

{29}  “A reverend Doctor in Cambridge was troubled at his small living at
Hoggenton (Oakington) with a peremptory Anabaptist, who plainly told him,
‘It goes against my conscience to pay you tithes except you can show me a
place of Scripture whereby they are due unto you.’  The Dr. returned,
‘Why should it not go as much against my conscience that you should enjoy
your nine parts for which you can show no place in Scripture?’  To whom
the other rejoined, ‘But I have for my land deeds and evidences from my
fathers, who purchased and were peaceably possessed thereof by the laws
of the land.’  ‘The same is my title,’ said the Doctor, ‘tithes being
confirmed unto me by many statutes of the land, time out of mind.’”
_Fuller’s Church History_, _Book II_.

{30a}  John iii. 16.

{30b}  2 Cor. v. 19.

{30c}  1 Tim. ii. 4.

{31a}  1 John iv. 9, 10.

{31b}  Rom. ii. 15.

{31c}  John i. 9.  See also 1 John ii. 1, 2.  2 Heb. ii. 9.

{32}  Luke xii. 48.

{33a}  Mosh. Ecc. Hist. Cent. xvi. Sect. iii.

{33b}  Ib.

{35a}  Some of the passages of this Catechism are quoted by Mosheim,
which differ very little from the doctrine of the primitive church: all
that can be noticed is, that they omit a distinct recognition of the
divinity of Christ.

{35b}  “Fausti Socini Senensis Opera omnia,” vol. i. p. 561.  These works
form a part of the “Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum qui Unitarii
appellantur.”  Irenopoli post anno dom. 1656.

{36}  It is remarkable that _persona_ should so often be confounded with
individual.  _Persona_ in its original sense was the mask of the actor,
_through which the sound_ came.  The same actor might wear many
_personæ_.  If Socinus had recollected this, he might have spared himself
the trouble of controverting a notion never maintained by the orthodox,
i.e. that the Deity was _individually divided_.

{37}  Vide Appendix.

{39a}  Small Books &c.  No. VII. p. 21, &c.

{39b}  πρἰν Άβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγώ είμι.

{39c}  John. x. 30.

{39d}  John xiv. 9, 10.

{39e}  2 Cor. v. 19.

{39f}  1 Tim. ii. 5.

{40}  Athanasian Creed.

{41}  John v. 30.

{42}  The following are extracts from the “Book of Common Prayer
reformed,” professing to have been a selection made by “the late Rev.
Theophilus Lindsey for the use of the congregation in Essex Street”—and
as a liturgy is generally allowed to be a fair exponent of the doctrines
of those who use it—perhaps we may assume that the violent and
reprehensible expressions made use of by some few persons of this
persuasion, are not such as would be acknowledged by the congregations of
Unitarians in general.

Form of baptism.  “I baptize thee into (εἰς) the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

“Almighty and ever blessed God, by whose providence the different
generations of mankind are raised up to know thee and to enjoy thy favour
for ever; grant that this child now dedicated to thee as the disciple of
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, may be endued with heavenly virtues . . .
and that we may daily proceed in all virtue and goodness of living, till
we come to that eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our
Lord.”

Order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper.  Confession, the same
as in the liturgy of the English church as far as “we do heartily repent
and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings, the remembrance of which
is grievous unto us.  Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most
merciful Father; forgive us all that is past: and grant that we may ever
hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life to the honour and
glory of thy name.”  The absolution is the same with the trifling change
of _us_ for _you_.  The sentences following are the same till “Hear also
what St. John saith,” where the text 1 John i. 8, 9, is substituted.

Prayer before the minister receives the communion.  “Almighty God, our
heavenly Father, by whose gracious assistance and for our benefit, thy
beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, was obedient even to the death upon
the cross; who did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to
continue, a perpetual memorial of his death until his coming again; hear
us, we most humbly beseech thee; and grant that we may receive this bread
and wine in grateful remembrance of his death and sufferings, and of thy
great mercy to mankind in sending him, thy chosen messenger, to turn us
from darkness to light, from vice to virtue, from ignorance and error to
the knowledge of thee, the only true God, whom to know is life
everlasting.”

Form of administration.  “Take and eat this bread in remembrance of
Christ”—“Take and drink this wine in remembrance of Christ.”

In the daily service many prayers are omitted, so as to make the service
much shorter.  The exhortation and confession are the same; for the
absolution is substituted “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open,
all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid; purify the thoughts
of our hearts that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy
holy name through Christ our Lord.”—It would be useless to multiply
extracts—enough has been given to show the doctrine of the Unitarian
congregations who use this liturgy.

{47}  Priestly’s “Discourses on Various Subjects,” p. 419.  See also p.
14, &c. and Prefatory Discourse, p. 93.

{48}  Channing’s Discourse on preaching Christ.

{49}  Channing’s Works.  On the great purpose of Christianity.

{50a}  Channing’s Character of Christ.

{50b}  Channing’s Sunday School.

{50c}  Channing’s Charge at the Ordination of Rev. R. C. Waterston.

{51a}  Channing On Infidelity.

{51b}  Channing’s System of Exclusion.

{52}  John Wesley was born in 1703.

{54}  “I rode over to a neighbouring town,” says Wesley, “to wait upon a
justice of peace, a man of candour and understanding; before whom I was
informed their angry neighbours had carried a whole waggon load of these
new heretics.”  But when he asked, “what they had done,” there was a deep
silence, for that was a point their conductor had forgot.  At length one
said, “Why they pretend to be better than other people, and besides they
pray from morning till night.”  Mr. S--- asked, “But have they done
nothing besides?”  “Yes, Sir,” said an old man, “an’t please your worship
they have _convarted_ my wife; till she went among them she had such a
tongue, and now she is as quiet as a lamb.”  “Carry them back,” replied
the justice, “and let them convert all the scolds in the town.”—(Wesley’s
Journal.)

{55}  Watson’s Life of Wesley, page 484.

{56}  Lackington.

{59a}  “Who does as he would be done by, in buying or selling?
particularly selling horses?  Write him a knave that does not, and the
Methodist knave is the worst of all knaves.”—_Wesley’s Large Minutes_, Q.
13.

{59b}  Snuff-taking and drams are expressly forbidden.

{59c}  In May 1776, an order was made in the House of Lords, “That the
Commissioners of His Majesty’s Excise do write circular letters to all
such persons whom they have reason to suspect to have plate, as also to
those who have not paid regularly the duty on the same.”  In consequence
of this order the Accountant-general for household plate sent a copy of
it to John Wesley.  The answer was as follows:

    Sir,

    I have _two_ silver teaspoons in London and two at Bristol: this is
    all the plate which I have at present, and I shall not buy any more
    while so many round me want bread.

                                       I am Sir, your most humble servant,
                                                              JOHN WESLEY.

{61}  “I used my prayers,” says the author of the ‘Bank of Faith,’ “_as
gunners do swivels_; _turning them every way_ as the cases required.”
Wesley relates in his Journal that “By prayer he used to cure a violent
pain in his head,” &c.

{62}  This writer, the celebrated Lackington the bookseller, relates the
following occurrence soon after he turned Methodist.  “One Sunday morning
at eight o’clock, my mistress seeing her sons set off, and knowing they
were gone to a Methodist meeting, determined to prevent me from doing the
same, by locking the door; on which in a superstitious mood I opened the
Bible for direction what to do, and the first words I read were these,
“He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou
dash thy foot against a stone.”  This was enough for me, so without a
moment’s hesitation I ran up two pair of stairs to my own room, and out
of the window I leapt to the great terror of my poor mistress.  My feet
and ancles were most intolerably bruised, so that I was obliged to be put
to bed; and it was more than a month before I recovered the use of my
limbs.  I was then ignorant enough to think that _the Lord had not used
me very well_; and I resolved _not to put so much trust in him_ for the
future.  My rash adventure made a great noise in the town, and was talked
of many miles round.  Some few admired my prodigious strength of faith;
but the major part pitied me as a poor ignorant, deluded, and infatuated
boy.”

{64a}  Wesley’s Works, vol. xii. p. 49.  Some of Wesley’s expressions,
when confronted with each other, appear incompatible; in such cases the
main drift of the writer must always be considered; for it is much more
usual to fail in expressing our meaning than to express contradictory
opinions: since the latter implies a cerebral defect verging on insanity,
the former merely results from a faulty style.  Scripture does not any
where warrant us in saying “_the moment_ a penitent sinner,” &c.; but
requires from us a proof of this belief by actions conformable to it.
God has promised us immortality through his Son, only if we not merely
believe, but “do that which is lawful and right.”

{64b}  Wesley censured some of his preachers for pushing the doctrine of
perfection too far.

{65}  Wesley’s Works, vol. viii. p. 219. and vol. xi. p. 415.

{66}  So called from their habit of rebaptizing those who entered their
communion.  They were afterwards called _Antipædobaptists_, from their
objection to _pædo_ or infant baptism; and finally, the English habit of
abbreviation of words at all commonly used, contracted the word into
_Baptist_.

{67}  Mosheim. Ecc. Hist. Cant. XVI. Sect, iii. Part 2.

{68a}  Milton belonged to the class of Anti-Trinitarian General Baptists.

{68b}  That the body of Jesus was not derived from the substance of the
blessed Virgin, but created in her womb by an omnipotent act of the Holy
Spirit.

{68c}  V. Mosheim’s Ecc. Hist.

{69}  All who baptize infants may be termed pædo-baptists; the word is
derived from the Greek πάις a child or infant, and βὰπτω to baptize.

{70a}  Yet the bishop ought to have known that baptism by immersion was
practised in the church for many centuries, and the rubric of our common
prayer leaves the option of immersion or aspersion.

{70b}  Condor’s View. p. 380.

{75a}  Marriage is enumerated in one of the Moravian hymns amongst the
services of danger, for which the United Brethren are “to hold themselves
prepared.”

    “You as yet single are but little tried,
    Invited to the supper of the bride,
    That like the former warrior each may stand
    Ready for land, sea, marriage, at command.”

{75b}  See Latrobe’s edition of Spangenburgh’s Exposition of Christian
Doctrine.

{79}  Litany of the New Church.  Office of ordination, p. 151.

{80a}  Rom. xxi. 27.

{80b}  1 Cor. i. 3.

{81a}  John i. 18.

{81b}  John vi. 46.

{82}  Liturgy of the New Church Office of Baptism, p. 58.

{84}  “Jesus the Fountain of Life and Light,” p. 12.

{85}  In some places it is not till the end of a fortnight.

{87a}  Examination of the opinions of the Plymouth Brethren.

{87b}  The following is a sample from one of their published works: “The
first eclogue of Virgil has always appeared to me to express most
felicitously the pleasures of a _pastoral_ life as we too frequently see
it in these days.  With what force the following lines describe the
grateful feeling of a _young clergyman_, who is recounting the benefits
conferred on him by his patron:

    O Melibœe, Deus nobis hæc otia fecit.
    Namque erit ille mihi semper Deus—
    Ille meas errare boves, ut cernis, et ipsum
    Ludere, qæe vellem, calamo permisit agresti.

My patron shall always be a divinity to me, for he put me into this life
of ease when he gave me this _gem_, _the prettiest living in England_.
He gave me this _easy duty_, so that I can let my flock wander
wheresoever it may please them, as you see they do; while I myself do
just what 1 like, and occasionally amuse myself with a _pianoforte_ by
Stoddart, that cost eighty-five guineas.”

“He (the congregational minister) is now, in his own opinion, the ONE MAN
of the whole body of believers in all the services of the sanctuary.  He
utters all their sentiments of faith and doctrine, and offers up all
their prayers!  How can he justify the position he has assumed as _an
usurper_? yea as a _grievous wolf_! in that he has swallowed up _all the
gifts of the Holy Ghost_ in the _voracity of his selfishness_,” &c.  It
is not thus that the “unity of the church,” which they profess to desire
is likely to be cemented.

{90}  Bishop Jewel, in his “Defence of his apology for the Church of
England,” says, that “the term _Calvinist_ was in the first instance
applied to the Reformers and the English Protestants as a matter of
reproach by the Church of Rome.”

{91}  Whatever difference may have subsisted between Luther and Calvin on
the subject of Divine decrees, no language can be stronger than that in
which Luther insists upon the moral impotence of man’s depraved nature in
opposition to the Pelagian doctrine of freewill.

{93a}  It is difficult to reconcile this doctrine with 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
1 Tim. ii. 6.  2 Pet. iii. 9.  Rom. viii. 32.  1 Tim. iv. 10. &c.

{93b}  The best account of their system is to be found in “The Assembly’s
Catechism,” which is taught their children.  To this sect belongs more
particularly the doctrine of _Atonement_, or, “that Christ by his death
made satisfaction to the Divine justice for the _Elect_; appeasing the
anger of the Divine Being, and effecting on his part a reconciliation.”
That thus Christ had, as they term it, “the sin of the Elect laid upon
him.”  But some of their teachers do not hold this opinion, but consider
Christ’s death as simply a medium through which God has been pleased to
exercise mercy towards the penitent.  “The sacrifice of Christ,” says Dr.
Magee, “was never deemed by any (who did not wish to calumniate the
doctrine of atonement), to have made God placable: but merely viewed as
the means appointed by Divine wisdom by which to bestow forgiveness.”  To
this it may be further added, that the language used throughout the
Epistles of St. Paul with regard to the redemption of man, is that of the
then familiar slave market.  Man is “bought with a price” from his former
master, Sin, for the service of God.  The scholar who will consult Romans
vi. will see immediately that all the metaphors used are those of
purchase for military service; “Your members,” says he, ver. 13, “shall
not be the arms (ὄπλα) of unrighteousness used for the service of sin;
but the arms (ὄπλα) of righteousness for God.”  And ver 23, τὰ γὰρ ὀψώνια
τῆς ὰμαρτίας, θάνατος· τὸ δὲ χαρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ, ζωὴ, αἰώνιος ἐν Χριτῷ
Ιησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἠμῶν. i.e. The rations of sin are death, but the donative
of God is eternal life, by means of Jesus Christ our Lord.  It is
impossible to express more clearly that it was not the wrath of God which
required to be appeased by the great sacrifice—the slave was _bought by
Him for Himself_—the price was of course paid to another.  Much
misunderstanding has arisen from the careless interpretation of these and
the like passages, whose phraseology has become obsolete along with the
practice of buying and selling slaves, at least in this country.

{95a}  Matt. xvi. 27.

{95b}  Matt. xviii. 14.

{96a}  Vide Exod. xxxiii. 14, et seq.

{96b}  According to the Calvinistic doctrine above stated, character has
no concern whatever with their call; ergo, if this is right, St. Paul is
wrong, and mankind _are_ called with respect of persons.

{96c}  “This system (Calvinism) by setting aside the idea of a human
will, leaves the doctrine of Divine Will barren and unmeaning; the idea
of a personal ruler disappears, and those most anxious to assert the
government of the Living God have been the great instruments in
propagating the notion of an atheistical necessity.”  _Maurice’s Kingdom
of Christ_.

{98a}  Hopkins on the New Birth.

{98b}  1 John iii. 7–10, see also v. 21 of the same chapter, where our
confidence towards God is shown to depend on the judgment of our own
consciousness of wrong or well doing.  The whole chapter is well worth
the study of every Christian.

{102}  I take this from books, not having personal acquaintance with the
Presbyterians of Ireland: and such is the confusion generally made by
authors between Arianism, Socinianism, and Unitarianism, that it is
difficult to know which is meant.  As a large proportion of the modern
Presbyterians have embraced Unitarian doctrines, it seems improbable that
the Irish should have adopted those of Arius, though my author uses the
term Arian as applied to the doctrine of the seceders.

{106}  See “The Use and Abuse of Creeds and Confession of Faith,” by the
Rev. Charles James Carlile, Dublin, 1836.  “The Irish Church and
Ireland,” p. 66–68, and “A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Associate
Synod in Ireland and Scotland in the affair of the Royal Bounty,” by
James Bryce.  Belfast, 1816.

{122a}  Although the excellent Bishop Heber’s mind was deeply imbued with
devotional feelings, he considered a moderate participation in what are
usually called worldly amusements, to be allowable and blameless.  “He
thought,” says his biographer, “that the strictness which made no
distinction between things blameable only in their abuse, and the
practices which were really immoral, was prejudicial to the interests of
true religion; and on this point his opinion remained unchanged to the
last.  His own life indeed was a proof that amusement so participated in,
may be perfectly harmless, and no way interfere with any religious or
moral duty.”

{122b}  “Rowland Hill, in his theological opinions, leaned towards
Calvinism, but what is called Hyper-calvinism, he could not endure.  In a
system of doctrine he was follower of no man, but drew his sermons fresh
from a prayerful reading of the Bible.  He was for drawing together all
the people of God wherever they could meet, and was willing to join in a
universal communion with Christians of every name.  When, on one
occasion, he had preached in a chapel, where none but baptized adults
(i.e. baptized after attaining years of discretion), were admitted to the
sacrament, he wished to have communicated with them, but was told
respectfully, ‘You cannot sit down at _our_ table.’  He calmly replied,
‘I thought it was the Lord’s table.’”  Sidney’s Life of R. Hill, p. 422,
3rd Edit.

{124}  Simeon’s Works, Vol. III. p. 101, &c.

{126}  Simeon’s Works, Vol. III. p. 333.

{131a}  Exod. xxxii. 4.

{131b}  Vide Colossians ii. 18, 19.

{135a}  2 Cor. v. 15.  1 Tim. ii. 6.

{135b}  2 Pet. iii. 9.

{135c}  Rom. ii. 6–11.

{136}  Rom. xiv. 5.





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