Page images

other advantages occur to my mind; ment under which they live.” This but I refrain from enumerating them. would be to sanction the tyranny of the I am strongly impressed with the ne. Inquisition, and destroy everything cessity that “ something must be like liberty of conscience. The Indone;" and have ventured to pen these quirer never dreamed of supporting a remarks, only in the hope that it may principle so repugnant to that perfect lead others who may be more compe- laro of liberty, which ever maintains tent to form a judgment upon the its own privileges without invading the matter, to give it their serious consi- just rights of others; he would go yet deration,

further, and grant that a mind may be One subject, in conclusion, I would so constituted as to be really incapable beg to hint at; namely, that congre- of receiving conviction from the evigations ought deeply and candidly to dences of our faith. It is certainly consider, whether the salaries gene- possible to imagine that there may be rally paid are not inadequate to the such a mind, and that it may be en. maintaining of their ministers in that dowed with all the virtues which Mr. comfort and respectability to which Fox ascribes to his unbelieving friend they are entitled by their education in the 34th page of his celebrated Serand the all-important nature of their mon; but is there any probability that services ; and whether a want of due this lover of truth and goodness, this consideration on that head has not example of “ pious feeling, pure and done more than anything else, to elevated, towards the Author of nature, lessen the number of those who are and philanthropy the most diffusive" willing to devote themselves to the will forfeit his “ title to high esteem," ministry.

by acting the part of a seditious citizen, I. H. or by openly and scurrilously reviling

those institutions which the majority SIR,

Oct. 30, 1820. of wise and good men revere as sacred? AVING lately read a Sermon, Such characters may view with comScott, on the 25th of last May, before fusions of ignorance or bigotry, but the friends of the Unitarian Fund, on they will doubtless feel, that " though the almost worn-out subject of Coer- freedom from prejudice is one part of cion employed by the Civil Power in liberality, yet to respect the prejudices defence of Christianity, and observing, of others is a greater.". They will that though the preacher does' not state their arguments fairly and disexpressly inention the Inquirer's Four passionately, and they have a right Letters to the Rev. Mr. Fox, he has do so, but they will not dissolve the obviously alluded to them by censuring ties of moral obligation by scoffing at the application therein made of the the doctrines which render those ties case of Elymas, I take the liberty of binding on the bulk of the people. requesting you to allow the following These are not the Deists with whom observations to appear in your valuable the civil magistrate of a Christian Repository, as the easiest and surest country has any pretext for interfering. way of claiming the attention of those Such Deists, if such there be, are the who may have heard or read the Ser- friends of social order and moral virmon of Mr. Scott, but are not ac- tue, and, consequently, the supporters quainted with the Letters of the In- of lawful authority. They may reason quirer.

with the philosopher in his closet, but I cannot help concluding that Mr, they will not corrupt the simple inhaScott himself has founded his censure bitant of the cottage, or delude the on the report of others, since a person starving manufacturer with impractiof his discernment and candour could cable schemes of reform. not have read that application of the Elymas is represented by Mr. Scott case of Elymas without observing, that as the philosophic friend of Sergius it was not the intention of the writer Paulus, and I quite agree with that to justify the civil magistrate in using gentleman in believing that “it was "severe and coercive measures towards not merely the opposition which Barthose who cannot receive as the truth Jesus, as a man of science, made to of God, what may have been ordained the apostles that was culpable; but or established as such by the govern, the peculiar nature of that opposition,


and the views and motives which influ- Jesus, Nay, the very Deists themenced him in it;"_but I think he is selves, whose sublime virtues have mistaken in asserting that Elymas called forth such eloquent panegyric, was punished "for the wilful rejection borrow the noblest of those virtues of the evidence given to the divine from the precepts of Him, who knew mission of Jesus, by the testimony of what was in man, though they have miracles.” Surely this was a crime not the candour to acknowledge the by no means peculiar to Elymas, nei. source of their pure and dignified mother are we justified in imputing this rality. This being the case, if the crime to Elymas, unless Mr. Scott can blasphemer, the scoffer, the daring shew that he had witnessed any miracle violater of the national law, the reviler before that which deprived him of of the national faith, the misleader of sight. His guilt was precisely that of the simple, the abuser of the ignorant, some modern infidels. Sergius Paulus the corrupter of youth, the destroyer desired to hear the word of God, and of all that is sacred and venerable—if Elymas endeavoured by his sophistry this man be not a proper object of to prevent the natural effect of the punishment, shew me the offender who apostle's argument; he sought to turn deserves it ! For the protection of away the deputy from the faith. Pull this offender, Mr. Scott would impose of all subtilty and all mischief, as he an absolute restraint upon the exercise was, and already possessed of some of lawful authority. When they " can influence over the mind of his friend, produce similar evidence of their being he would probably have succeeded, but divinely commissioned; when they can for the exercise of Paul's miraculous act under the same especial authority power. Any other miracle might have and under the same divine impulse produced the same effect on the candid with the apostle ; then, but not till temper of the deputy; and as it was then, let them punish the unbeliever not the practice of our Saviour or his in their creed; then, but not till then, apostles to inflict disorders, though let them adduce the punishment of they frequently removed thein, we are Bar-Jesus as a sufficient scriptural justified in believing that there are authority for delivering over the opmodes of opposing the progress of. poser of their religious system into the Christianity peculiarly deserving of hands of the civil power." temporal punishment.

We have seen that the preservation Having shewn that Elymas acted the of one ingenuous mind from the sosame part as some unbelievers of later phistry of an Infidel was deemed by date, I now come to another division the inspired apostle sufficient to jusof Mr. Scott's argument, in which he tify an unwonted use of his miraculous inquires “ whether the treatment of power; then, shalt the Christian maBar-Jesus can, in any respect, be con- gistrate sit with folded arms, and, besidered as a precedent for us to fol- cause he cannot work a miracle, permit low ?" And first, I must notice a the minds of thousands and tens of misconception of the case; I do not thousands to be perverted with impuknow that any one contends for the nity ? Ought he not rather, under the right of punishing a man on account limitations of Christian benevolence, of his dissent from the religion of the to exercise that power with which he Establishment. The Roman Catholic is entrusted in defence of the dearest and the Protestant sectary are allowed interests of men ? I beseech you, the open profession and quiet enjoy- says St. Paul, be ye followers of ment of their peculiar modes of faith me. No, says Mr. Scott, you must and worship; but Christianity, in its not follow Paul's example, unless you most comprehensive sense, including can produce similar evidence of being the divine mission of our Lord, and divinely commissioned. Can he then the doctrine of a future state of reward suppose it possible that an apostle, and punishment, “ is part of the com- acting under divine impulse, would mon law of the land.Our civil in- perform an action unlawful for Chrisstitutions, our moral character as a tians in general ? Let us also rememnation, our ideas of social duty, our ber that this apostle was Paul-Paul, feelings of self-respect, are all founded who on various occasions so carefully upon that standard of right and wrong distinguished when he spoke by comwhich is held forth by the religion of mandinent, by permission, or after his

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

own judgment-Paul, who proposed ness of the human mind, the power of himself as an example to the church- association, the influence of parents Paul, who was peculiarly the apostle and teachers, and the varieties of naof the Gentiles, and to whom we there- tural temperament, we shall perceive fore naturally look for precedent in the the absolute impossibility of these treatment of Unbelievers—this very pristine, essential truths remaining Paul has left the striking case of Ely- unaltered. The rays of heavenly light mas, a case that in after ages was must be separated in passing through likely to be of frequent recurrence, the prism of human imperfection ; let unguarded by word or hint that his each mind then reflect the colour it is conduct on that memorable occasion prepared to receive, remembering that was not to be imitated by future Chris- the most dissimilar tints proceed from tians.

the same source, and melt into each But the force of the preacher's ar- other by imperceptible gradations. gument cannot be limited to the pu- The Christianity of England,

of France, nishment of Elymas : it is fearful to of Holland, of Germany and of Russia, think of the lengths to which we may may, in various particulars, be oppobe carried, if once we admit the prin- site as the winds of heaven ; but all ciple he contends for. If we are at these modes of faith profess to be liberty to reject the example of a per- built upon the foundation of the aposson acting immediately under divine tles and prophets, Jesus Christ himinfluence in one case, we may do the self being the chief corner-stone. May same in another, and our own partial we not, therefore, rejoice in believing view of the moral fitness of things will that these different systems will grabecome the rule of our conduct. Ano- dually approximate, like the sides of ther fatal result of this principle I a pyramid, till at length they will be would mention with reverence-it tends filly framed together unto an holy to raise a barrier between us and that temple in the Lord? That happy peperfect Example, on whom the Spirit riod may yet be far distant, but we was poured without measure, and to know that, from the first promulgareinove it from our imitation.

tion of the Christian faith, In erery All that I know of the character of nation, he that feareth God and workMr. Scott claims respect, and I believe eth righteousness is accepted with nothing could be further from his in- him. There is no difference between tention than to misrepresent the facts the Jew and the Greek; for the same or the doctrines contained in the New Lord over all is rich untó all that eall Testament; but I am inclined to think, upon him; wherefore, let us comfort that political or sectarian prejudice, one another with these vorils. or perhaps a mixture of both, has, in

THE INQUIRER. this instance, carried him further than scripture, when fairly interpreted, can Original Letter of the late Rev. Rowarrant. I admire and esteem the bert Robinson's ; communicated by candid and conciliating temper in which Mr. B. Flouer. many passages of his Sermon appear

Dalston, to have been written, and therefore Sir, November 30, 1820.

THE following is the not suppress the invidious remarks contained in pp. 26, 27. They are BERT Robinson to an old acquaintinconsistent with the excellent lesson ance of mine, who has given me leave deduced from them immediately after- to send it to your Repository. The wards.

first part relates to some outlines of There is one consideration arising his History of Baptism, but which are from the differences of opinion in the now uninteresting. The remainder is, Christian Church, which merits the in my opinion, as interesting now, as attention of all, and especially of those it was at the time it was first written. who profess themselves anxious to re- It was intended more particularly for store the faith of that church to its the use of Baptist societies : how far pristine purity.-When we reflect how the remarks may be applicable to those very few were the points of faith in- of other denominations, I leave to the sisted on by our Saviour and his apos- consideration of your readers. tles, and remember the busy inquisitive


Chesterton, Feb. 10, 1789. Yet, so infatuated are some of us, we

call them the gospel. A human creed is “ The other part of your letter is ex- a human opinion of the gospel ; and who tremely difficult to arrange. I have long that hath a tea-spoonful of brains, would scen and lamented the conditiou of our leave the snow of Lebanon, for these polchurches in regard to a supply of minis- luted puddles ? (Jer. xviii. 13, &c.) ters, but how to remedy it—there's “ In short, I think it is possible, supthe rub! In the primitive churches, no pose a youth have genuine piety, to train doubt, the brethren who taught followed him up to be an able minister of the secular employments; and in the dark New Testament, without the pedantry of ages, I perceive, our pastors kept school, the schools, in no great time, and at no practised physic, agriculture, &c. In the great expense. Suppose such a thing present times, some of the most valuable accomplished, are our churches prepared of our ministers, though not the most to receive such men? I doubt that. I noisy, pursue the same track; nor can I question whether we have liberality of think of a greater man than he who sentiment enough. A modest, sensible teaches the gospel by word one day, and man, master of the New Testament, well by example the other six. Men edify acquainted with ecclesiastial history, and their neighbours, not by immuring them- an ornament by his life to any party, is selves in cells, but by associating with not the man to our taste. We want a other men, and by exemplifying the life sacred man, and this is a plain man like of a Christian.

other meu. We want an almost inspired “ As to those we often call learned man; but this man durst not talk so ministers, they are to me the most insipid high: he knows no more than the Scripof all companions ; ignorant of what is tures teach, and he never utters oracles of the most importance for them to know, as inspired men should do, and as apes and overflowing with the trifles and the of inspiration will do. We want a learned gall of the schools. The precise learning man. It takes off the shame of the cross of a Christian minister, is a critical know- to sit under one who can say— Is the ledge of the New Testament; and this parish priest a quid nunc ? So am 1.' kind of literature fills the pulpit with But this man would preach nothing but dignity and edification; for a sound critic English; and you might hear him eighteen is the plainest speaker in the world. months, as the Corinthians heard Paul, Now, it is my opinion, if this kind of without knowing he had any pretensions literature were separated from Pagan to literature. We want a guardian of learning, the attainment of it would not the creed, a defender of the faith, who be so very difficult as is generally sup- fills us with prelibations of heaven, such posed, nor may this be confounded with as the glorified saints enjoy, by proving the saucy science that makes a priest ; that all men who do not hold our opibut fashionable educatiou for the ministry nions, must sink into everlasting damnaseems calculated for little else. It strikes tion; but this man cares for nobody's me, that the difficulty of forming a plan opinion, quotes no human authorities, for remedying our ills doth not lie in our and does nothing but interpret scripture incapacity, but in our obstinate attach- by itself, professing that he hath but one ment to irrational customs. Our plans Master, and Christ is he! are schemes of reformed Popery ; but “My good friend, forgive my rhapsody: Popery is not reformable; and he who I am a little out of temper. A few weeks would enter into the kingdom of Jesus ago a superannuated minister, a member must be regenerated, not merely re- of our church, addressed a petition to a formed. What is a modern Baptist Baptist Fund for a little relief. Instead Church but a Catholic Church reformed? of sending the old man money, they sent Latin is proper for a Catholic boy, brought him a high Calvinistical creed to sign, up to support the Latin Church, to be the first article of which is stark nonlicve Latin fathers, to regulate himself sense" There are in the Unity of the by numerous folios of Latin and cunon Godhead, three divine persons.” The luw; but what is Latin to our poor imposition of human opinions is tyranny churches ? It is a Sabbath feather to any where, and such tyranny in Baptists nod in the pulpit, but it is of no use to is, to the last degree, preposterous. The the flock. Would we then discard Latin? barbarous Calvin is their guide ; and on By no means, on condition a youth have this ground he burnt Servetus. I do not money, capacity, time, discretion, and mind his vain babble about faith. The

voice of his brother's blood crieth to me “ The Popish corporation is a worldly from the ground! This is defending the establishment of human creeds; but faith, which yet is not faith, but belief of what have we, who hold the perfection of human positions! I have written my scripture, to do with human creeds ? whole mind to the fundees, for I detest

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

such mockery. But I trouble you no ceiving it, began to cry after him to further.

return; but the man put his fingers in “ May every benediction be with you. his ears, and ran on crying life ! life ! I should be very happy to see you here. eternal life! So he looked not behind “ I am, dear Sir,

him, but fled towards the middle of “ Yours affectionately,

the plain.' This does not impress us “ R. ROBINSON.”

with a very favourable idea of the dis

position of the hero, and, in fact, with The Character of Christian, in the exception of faith and perseverBunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. ance, he is a mere negative character

without one good quality to recom(By the late Rev. T. Howe.)

mend him. There is little or no disSır,

Bridport. play of charity, beneficence, or even MONG the various productions benevolence, during the whole course tile imagination, united with a piously. Christian are narrow and illiberal, disposed mind, none has been more and his struggles and exertions wholly generally read and admired than Bun- selfish.”Dunlop’s History of Ficyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Many per- tion, III. 66. sons distinguished for their taste and

On reading these remarks, in order literary acquirements, have borne tes- to determine their propriety, I endeatimony to its ingenuity, and ranked its voured to call to my recollection those author for invention in the class of scenes of his pilgrimage, which in Homer and Shakspeare. Granger in younger life were very familiar to me, his History of England, speaking of and also gave the book another perusal. the writings of John Bunyan, says, The result is a thorough conviction “ His master-piece is his' Pilgrim's that the character of Christian is placed, Progress, one of the most popular, by this respectable critic, in a lower and, I may add, one of the most inge- class than justice requires. The imnious books in the English language.” pression unfavourable to the natural Toulmin's Hist. of the Prot. Dissent. affection and tender feelings of Chrisp. 340. He confines this encomium tian, which Mr. Dunlop thinks his to the first part, to which also the quotation tends to produce on the following observations are to be li- reader, would probably be prevented mited. A person of an enlightened by perusing the previous account given and sound judgment cannot fail of of his exertions to save his wife and discerning many faults in it; he will children from supposed impending not, however, be hereby prevented destruction, and of the harsh and unfrom perceiving its beauties, the inge- generous treatment he received from nuity of the allegory, and the general them. He addressed them in the tenconsistency of language and conduct, derest manner, and earnestly remonwhich is preserved in the characters strated with them on the urgent neintroduced. My attention has been cessity of their seeking the means of lately directed to this book, by the safety. In vain, however, were all his perusal of Dunlop's interesting History intreaties. They considered him as of Fiction. His critique on this cele seized " with some phrenzy distemper. brated work, does not convey a very Sometimes they would deride, somefavourable idea of Christian, the hero times they would chide, and sometimes or leading character of the piece. The they would quite neglect him.” This charge brought against him is thus gave occasion to the exercise of his exhibited by Mr. Dunlop :

forbearance and compassion. “Where“ It was, perhaps, ill-judged in the fore he began to retire himself to his author to represent Christian as having chamber to pray for and pity them.” a wife and family, since whatever be of this he gives a particular and affectthe spiritual lesson intended to be con- ing account in his conversation with veyed by his leaving them, one cannot Charity, in the stately, palace of help being impressed with a certain Beautiful, which I think’ it proper to notion of selfishness and hard-hearted- quote, as a favourable specimen of the ness in the hero. Now he had not author's mode of writing, and as run far from his own house,' says the throwing some light on the character author, but his wife and children per- of Christian.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »