Page images
PDF
EPUB

epistle as often as in all the other books of the New Tesa tament; and that he is therein said to be “a mediator of the New Testament*,” “ of a new covenantt," and even “ of a better covenant, founded upon better promises 17"

that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the First Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance ;" and, when we consider still farther again, that God had promised even with an oath, that he would bless mankind in the seed of Abraham, in what other sense can the words sledim.UOIV oguw be, with propriety, understood (and in this epistle especially), but as declaratory of that mediatorship which the only-begotten, the wellbeloved Son of God so gloriously fulfilled|l? What can be more likely than that this same sacred writer, who is thought to be the only writer of the New Testament that hath used the word meritns, and who, if he be, has used it six times in three epistlesg, and thrice out of that number in this one epistle, intended to say here that God became a mediator agreeably to his oath, in the person of a descendant of Abraham? Would the two immutable things be less clearly distinguished in that case than they are at present? Or rather, would they not be so accurately defined that no two things in the world can be more distinct? And would not the heirs of promise have one more assurance ofthe immutability of the counsel of God than Abraham had, and an incomparably more abundant assurance? We find it is asserted of these two im. mutable things, that in them (it was] impossible for God to lie; but was it more certain that God would fulfill his proinise before he had done it completely, than it was afterwards? And consequently had not the heirs of promise after Christ had attested the oath of the everlasting Father at the expense of his life, a proportionably greater reason to look forward a long way with the most cheerful patience in expectation of a better life? Abraham, we find, had only the promise confirmed by an oath, and by the encouragement which he derived from this assurance' only, he rejoiced to see our glorious Mediator's

* ix. 15. xii. 24. I viii. 6. || Beza says, “ Græcus scholiastes putat verbo pROITEUw designari promissionem istam jam tum interventore Christo conceptam," and then im. mediately adds, "quod sane verum est.” Viz, Gal, iü 20. Tim, i. 5, Heb.

:I:

day;

day, and he looking far forward into futurity, saw it and was glad, and thus in contemplation enjoyed the promise, But God, we also find, hath given to the heirs an income parably more abundant proof of the immutability of his coursel, than he did to Abraham, by fulfilling his promise. But to what end? To the end that they also, being assured, not by one immutable thing as Abraham was, but by two, (and by the latter of which it was clearly put out of all doubt, that God had not forgotten his former covenant with Abraham)“ might have a consolation so strong, an anchor of the soul” so sure and stedfast," as would, if constantly adhered to, finally secure their admission through that veil, within which Jesus as a forerunner is for us entered, being made an high-priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

[ocr errors]

ON STONE'S VISITATION SERMON.

TO TIIE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S

DIAGAZINE.

SIR,

N your strictures on Stone's visitation sermon, in your

just and proper) you seem to lament the great. want of discipline in our Church, and have adduced the pamphlet in question as a striking instance of the same. In reply to this, I must beg leave to observe, that in the present case I trust it will appear that there are no grounds for this charge. If any thing has been wrong indeed, it must be imputed to the Archdeacon, who has certainly been very remiss, if not highly culpable, in neglecting to make a proper report of the sermon to the Bishop of the diocese. The discourse is, indeed, throughout fraught with such impiety and blasphemy, and has such a mischievous tendency, that no time should have been lost in making the matter known to the diocesan. And I cannot but think that the Archdeacon ha's by no means done justice to his office, nor to the clergy who were pre. sent, in being silent on such an occasion. But the worthy Bishop of the diocese, ever attentive as he is to the

duties of his function, as soon as he was apprized of the matter, and had seen the discourse, immediately wrote to the Archdeacon, expostulating with him on the subject. And I can take upon me lo say, that he means to proceed against the author in a legal way. For this purpose he has already advised with his Chancellor, Sir William Scott, and with his Commissary, Dr. Swabey, and now waits till he can see the Archbishop of Canterbury, and consult with him further on the business. And it may be presumed that his Grace, as Metropolitan of the province, will find himself interested in the cause, and join with the Bishop in carrying on a prosecution, and bringing the author to condign punishment for this blasphemous discourse, which he had the assurance to deliver before so respectable an audience as generally attend the Visitation at Danbury.

In the mean time I would suggest to our superiors, that I conceive the author is liable to be indicted at Westminster Hall, on the Statute of the 9th and 10th of William III. for the more effectual suppressing of blasphemy and prophaneness. By this it is enacted, " that if any person educated in, or having made profession of, the Christian Religion in this realm, shall by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny any one of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be God; or shall assert or maintain there are more Gods than one; or shall deny the Christian Religion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures to be of Divine authority; and shall be conwicted thereof in any of the Courts of Westminster, or at the assizes, on the oaths of two witnesses, he shall for the first offence be rendered incapable to have or to hold any office ecclesiastical, civil, or military (unless he shall renounce such opinion in the court where he was convicted within four months after such conviction ;) and for the second offence he shall be disabled from being plaintiff, guardian, executor, or administrator, to take any gift or legacy, or bear any office, and shall be imprisoned for three years."..

As the author of this discourse, therefore, has clearly. offended against several provisions of this act, he is certainly liable to a prosecution in Westminster Hall for the same, And there seems to be a peculiar propriety in .proceeding against him under this act; as there were directions from the King and Council in the time of George

the

[ocr errors]

the I. 1714, and again in the time of George the 11. 721, to the Archbishops and Bisliops for the preserving of unity in the Church, and the purity of the Christian Faith. And these directions require them to put in force this act of William III. for the more effectual suppressing of blasphemy and profaneness; and do more especially enjoin," that no preacher whatsoever, in his Sermon or Lecture, do presume to deliver any other doctrine concerning the great and fundamental truths of our most Holy Religion, and particularly concerning the blessed Trinity, than what are contained in the Holy Scriptures, and are agreeable to the three Creeds, and the yg articles of Religion.” If the author, therefore, should be convicted under this act, he would either be removed from his office in the Church, which he has so disgraced by this Discourse, or else be made to recant these his wicked errors and heresies publicly in a court of justice.

It is also to be presumed that blasphemy is an offence at common law, as well as under this statute. And on these grounds it should seem that Woolston was prosecuted and convicted in the court of King's Bench on four informations for blasphemous Discourses on the miracles of our Saviour. He was sentenced to pay a fine of twenty-five pounds for each of his four discourses, to suffer one year's imprisonment, and to enter into a recognizance for his good behaviour during life, himself in three thousand pounds, and two others in two thousand pounds. And in this cause the court declared that Chris, tianity was a part of the law of the land, and that to write against it in general was certainly an offence punishable at common law.

On the same ground, it appears that a prosecution was carried on against T. Williams, for publishing the Age of Reason, written by Thomas Paive. The trial came on in the court of King's Bench, June 28th, 1797, when the present Lord Chancellor, then the Hon. Thomas Erskine, delivered an able and eloquent defence of the Christian religion ; and Lord Kenyon, then Chief Justhe, in his charge to the Jury, declared he was bound to state to them what his predecessor had done in Woolston's case half a century ago, namely, that the Christian Religion is part of the law of the land. The worthy Jadge also delivered his own sentiments on the occasion; that he himself was fully impressed with the great truths of Religion, and which he thanked God he had been

taught

taught from his early years, and which the hour of reflection and enquiry, instead of producing any doubt, had fully confirmed in him.

The Jury immediately found the defendant guilty ; but what sentence was passed, or punishment inflicted, I have cut been able to learn.

Now, as, this Discourse of Mr. Stone seems to strike at the very fundamental articles of our Religion, viz. the Incarnation and Supernatural Birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, it would surely be adviseable to put hiin on the same footing with those notorious infidels, Woolston and T. Paine, and to proceed against and punish him in Westininster Hall.

With respect to the arguments advanced by the preacher in support of his cause, as I have not the Discourse by me, I cannot at present enter into a discription of the same. I will, therefore, trouble you only with one or two observations on the subject. To prove that our Saviour was the natural offspring of Joseph and Mary, and nothing more than a mere man, the Preacher refers to the testimony of the Jews. “ Is not this the carpenter's son? Is 'not his mother called Mary, and his brethren and his sisters, are they not all with us?” The Jews, indeed, who were disgusted with the mean appearance of our Saviour, and whose heads were filled with notions of a temporal Messiah, inight well make use of such expressions. For, we read, that they were offended in him. But for a Christian Preacher thus to vility and degrade the Saviour of the world, and deny the Lord who bought us, is surely waccountable, and must appear to be a strange perversion of reason and argument.

And with respect to his assertion, that the two first chapters of St. Matthew are mere forgeries and fictions, it seems to rest solely upon his own ipse dixit, and has scarce the shadow of an argument to support it.

If this is the case, the whole Christian world must have been in An error from the first planting of Christianity even to this day. In the Creed of every Christian Church, L will venture to affirm, profession of Faith is made as well in God the Father, as in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and bori of the Virgin Mary. Not only the two first chapters of St. Matthew, but the first chapter of St. Luke, from the 30th to the 35th verse inclusive, is express to this pur.

pose,

« PreviousContinue »