« PreviousContinue »
is in Jesus is one; and that no particle of it can be wilfully rejected with impunity. There has long been a general feeling, in the best part of the religious world, that some event or other must occur to separate the chaff from the wheat; and, while some have anticipated persecution, none have been able to define exactly what it would be that the Lord should make use of as his winnowing fan. We are confident that it rests not on our labours, nor on those of any mortal men, to dissipate the mists of infidelity, which hover as much round the religious as the irreligious world: nor have we any counsel to offer, but to adjure every one, who values the salvation of his own soul, to be instant in prayer to be preserved by the power of the Holy Ghost from heresies of every description. Satan has now but a short space : the Lord is at hand to cast him out of his usurped dominion over this globe : his endeavours to effect the ruin of men, and especially of those who have hitherto professed Christ's name before the world, will be doubly violent, and doubly subtle. He has tried persecution before : the church would therefore be aware of him, and little likely to be injured by it. Heresies in Christian men-fostered, at least, and sanctioned by them, if not embraced to the destruction of their own souls-engendered within the church, and put forth by leaders and heads of religious parties, are far more likely to effect the diabolical ends of Satan. The superficial knowledge of the most advanced Christians; the false charity which prevails; the heady, high-minded spirit of judging without due inquiry; the habitual practice of personal defamation, as contrary to real religion as the habitual practice of drunkenness or any other wilful act of sin; the love of schism ; the contempt for the orthodox decisions of the churchall conspire to render Christians at the present moment peculiarly susceptible to his devices. We sicken at the contemplation of the picture ; and can find consolation no where but in that aspiration which has supported the children of God from the days of Eve to this hour, and must continue to be their sole support till death is swallowed up in victory-namely, the coming of the Man Jehovah to bruise the serpent's head. " Even so: come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
Note.-Since the preceding remarks were written two small works have appeared, which we strongly reconimend to the attention of all: we regret that time will not permit us to do more than to announce their names. The first is a very masterly performance, entitled “ The Word made Flesh; or, The true Humanity of God in Christ demonstrated from the Scriptures.” The second is, “A candid Examination of the Controversy between Dr. Thomson, Messrs. Haldane and Irving, respecting the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
REVIEW OF THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF GRANTING THE
CLAIMS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS: BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D." &c. &c.
The Christian Duty of granting the Claims of the Roman Catholics,” is the title of a pamphlet which involves in it a palpable contradiction : and as the author intends to shew that it was the duty of a Christian government to give to the enemies of Christianity the power of making laws for, and exercising authority over, Christian people, it will be our present object to prove that Christian duty would have led to the rejection of those claims, and that the reasoning in this pamphlet is unsound:
The two great champions among religionists in this country, on the other side of the question, are Dr. Arnold, the head master of Rugby School, a man of considerable celebrity for his knowledge of the Greek and Latin classics; and Mr. Daniel Wilson, Vicar of Islington. The Bishop of Chester, in a Letter recently addressed to his Clergy, is a humble imitator of these two; and therefore his lucubrations stand or fall with those of his models. We have selected the pamphlet of Dr. Arnold in preference to the Letter of Mr. Wilson, because it is from the pen of the more learned and more powerful writer ; because it is quoted in the Bishop of Chester's Letter ; and because the publishers have informed us that great pains have been taken, by the Evangelical Bishops who voted for the Papists, to circulate it gratis.
Dr. Arnold informs us in his preface, that “his main object has been to correct this prevalent impression, that it may be wrong in a religious point of view to grant the Catholic claims, but it cannot be more than inexpedient to reject them. I have therefore argued the question on the grounds of right: although I allow, that, in the ordinary discussion of it, the topic of right is one which it is on many accounts better to wave; and where the opponents of the Catholics do not make conscience their plea for resisting the claims, it is enough to press them on grounds of political expediency.” We concede fully, that, upon the bare infidel ground of political expediency, without any reference to God's revealed will, the opposition to the measure never had, nor could have, a vestige of an argument for its support: but we are somewhat staggered, at the outset of a treatise upon
“ Christian Duty,” to find it avowed that in the discussion of the question the topic of right is one which it is better to wave; because it appears to us that the topic of right is the only possible point to discuss, in order to determine what is or what is not Christian duty.
Discarding the political view of the subject, our author betakes himself to the religious part; and says, that it is his “ endeavour to prove, first, that it is the direct duty of every Englishman to support the claims of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, even at the hazard of injuring the Protestant Establishment ; because those claims cannot be rejected without great injustice; and it is a want of faith in God, and an unholy zeal, to think that he can be served by injustice, or to guard against contingent evil by committing sin.”- Dr. Arnold should have defined more accurately what he means by “ injuring the Protestant Establishment.” If he mean the doctrines of Christianity as explained and set forth in the symbols of the Protestant churches; then we are prepared to maintain, that to hazard the injuring of them was the most direct violation of duty, towards God and man, which could be committed. If, on the other hand, he only mean the transfer of certain revenues from the pocket of Dr. Arnold into the pocket of Dr. Doyle, then we confess the balance of argument is in favour of Dr. Doyle. He should also be somewhat more precise in his definition of injustice : to make distinctions in our conduct towards certain india viduals may be unjust, or otherwise, according to circumstances. And the remainder of the first proposition is either a truism; or, in the particular case, we assert the converse of his position, and contend that the legislature has guarded against contingent evil by committing certain sin.
His second proposition is, “ that, as the path of duty is the path of wisdom, so the granting of the Catholic claims, to which we are bound as a plain point of duty, will in all human probability greatly benefit the cause of Christianity ; that it will tend to purify the Catholic religion in Ireland from its greatest superstitions, and gradually to assimilate it more and more to Protestantism.”—This proposition is replete with fallacies. The path of religious duty is seldom, if ever, the path of worldly wisdom. Benefit the cause of Christianity, must either mean, amalgamate the eternal and essential differences between Protestant truth and Popish error ; or else it asserts that a human law can tend to turn men's hearts to God. And the conclusion of the proposition, that the Catholic religion will be assimilated to Protestantism, strongly confirms the propriety of the construction put upon the first clause, and betrays that the learned author does not understand in what the essentials of Popery and Protestantism consist.
The author proceeds; “ If, then, the exclusion of the Catholics of Ireland' from their civil rights be an act of injustice, or, in other words, if it be a sin, when knowingly committed, it is not a lawful means of advancing or defending the Protestant religion. Now, in order to shew that this exclusion is unjust, VOL. 1.NO. II.
it will be necessary to ascend to higher principles than those to which its advocates generally appeal, and to shew that these higher principles can alone, in fact, determine the merits of the question.”—To the sentiment contained in this latter sentence we entirely subscribe: the first commences with that great peace-maker iF: and, therefore, the fact of the exclusion being right or wrong, just or unjust, must be determined by these higher principles. But, instead of reverting to any higher principle whatever; instead of appealing to the law and word of God, which in our weak simplicity we supposed was the whole sum and substance, the ultima ratio, of " Christian duty;” the author favours us, through the next eight pages, with a diatribe on the progress of civil society, and on the abstract claim of all the denizens of a state to an equal participation of its honours and emoluments. He then asks, whether there is any thing in the Gospel which is contrary to justice; and, taking the negative for granted, draws the conclusion, that the Papists ought to be admitted to equal power in this Protestant state. Upon these principles Dr. Arnold argues very successfully. Be it remembered, however, that these principles have nothing whatever to do with Christianity ; that they are the very same which are discussed by Plato, Tully, and Plutarch ; and that, therefore, they are not the 'higher principles upon which the Doctor undertook to defend his position, but principles upon the same level, and no higher, than those which are to be found in every radical club in the kingdom, in Jerry Bentham, and in the Westminster Review.
At length, having arrived at page 42, we find the radical and unchristian error which lies at the bottom of all Dr. Arnold's opinions: and it is because this error is very general in the Religious World that we have taken this pamphlet as a basis for its examination. The error is expressed in the following words: “ Mankind have a right to govern themselves; that is to say, society is the supreme power on earth; and the ordinances of society, or the laws and the commands of magistrates who act in the name and for the welfare of the society, are binding upon
all the individual members of it: but neither has any one national society any authority to govern another; nor, still less, have magistrates, who are but the officers of society, any right to rule contrary to the will of that society, or to exercise any greater power than it may authorize." —He seems, however, to have had some secret misgivings after having penned this monstrous proposition; for he adds, in the course of a few sentences, the following remarks, somewhat inconsistent with what has just been quoted :-" The Christian Scriptures, indeed, enjoin conscientious submission to government on the part of individuals ; resting this duty on the Divine authority vested in it, as the re
presentative on earth of our Supreme Moral Governor. They strongly condemn the doctrines of the fifth-monarchy men, and of the ancient Jews, who held the saints were not subject to any earthly society, especially when it consisted of heathens, because they had one only King in heaven.” He subsequently speaks of God's “ declared will for the perfecting of human society, &c.” It is much to be regretted that the learned Doctor did not favour us with the name of the book, chapter, and verse in which God has declared that he has willed that human society should be perfected by the manifest laws of his providence : but, not having done this, we beg leave, in the civilest though plainest terms, to give a flat contradiction to Dr. Arnold; and assert, on the other hand, that human society never is to be perfected by any laws of God's providence; that, on the contrary, He will send his Son in the clouds of heaven to destroy it for its wickedness ; and that then the Son shall take upon himself the governance of the world, and teach men a lesson, of which Dr. Arnold is ignorant, namely, that He, and not society, is the supreme power on earth. We
pass over the absurdity of saying, that the Christian Scriptures condemn the doctrines of the ancient Jews : and enter the lists against the fundamental assertion, that society is the supreme on earth; that magistrates act in the name of society ; that they are the officers of society, and have no riyht to rule contrary to the will of that society, or to exercise any greater power than it may authorize. It is scarcely necessary to remind our readers, that the sentiment here expressed by the learned Doctor, whose work is so widely circulated by the Evangelicals, is precisely that which used in the good old times of George III. (and no longer ago-so that Lord Plunkett need not be afraid of having the Old Almanack brought out for his amusement) hardly to escape a charge of high treason: it is the old Jacobin sentiment of "the people the source of legitimate power;" it is that which excited the scorn, indignation, and wit of Mr. Canning, in the poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, when the Duke of Norfolk gave it for a toast, in a fit of radical madness at an electioneering orgy, as " The sovereign, The Many :"
A toast I'll give-a thing I'll say
As yet unsaid by any :
“ His MAJESTY, THE Many." And here we have it again propounded, not by a drunken duke, but by a sober divine; not in the turmoil of politics, but from the quiet of his study ; not in a paroxysm of revolutionary delirium, but insolently foisted upon us as a grave maxim of Christian duty. Thus have we lived to see the principles of Tom Paine com