Imatges de pÓgina

Now in the beginning of this chap- days, and portends an important ter we read of Christ's ascent to a change of opinion whieh will be exmountain, and of his feeding on that perienced at no very distant period. mountain five thousand persons with Nor will any one who is acquainted a few loaves and fishes; and it clearly with human nature be surprised that appears that those whom he now. the progress of religious inquiry addresses, are the very same persons should, in a certain stage of it, exhiwho had on the preceding day followed bit the phenomenon above described. him up to the mountain, and were Though here and there an individual fed by his miraculous supply. has possessed mental energy enough

It seems, therefore, extremely na- to pass at onee from Calvinism to the tural to suppose, that in the words, simple doctrine of the Unitarian, this "tohere he was before,” Jesus had an is too much to expect from the public exclusive, and, on the part of his mind, which always moves slowly, hearers, a well-understood reference and is obstinately tenacious of ancient to the mountain on which he had prejudices. But, as I intimated above, wrought the miracle.

the good of which I have been speakBy a natural association, his allu- ing is not unmixed with evil. That sion to the mountain would at once an unscriptural system, which, if presuggest the idea of the miracle he had sented in its real colours, could not just wrought upon it. The sentence now maintain its ground, should be we are naturally led to understand so softened and palliated as to be as implying that, after having seen admitted under a certain modification, him perform such a mighty and truly when otherwise it would repel belief, miraculous work for the supply of is a circumstance which is calculated their want and the confirmation of to prolong the dominion of error, and his mission, and nevertheless remaining consequently to retard the progress of unconvinced of the truth of his pre truth. And the mischief is the greater tensions and his doctrines, they would because the system (if a system it can certainly remain so even though he be called) which is sometimes substishould again ascend the mountain tuted for the genuine doctrine of Caland perform on it the same astonish- vin, assumes no fixed and definite ing kind of niracle he had done character. A creed which is distinctly before.

laid down, and so far clearly underJ. S. H. stood, submits itself to examination,

so that its truth or falsehood may by

impartial inquiry be easily ascertained. SIR,

But a doctrine (or rather a phraseoN the paper with which the Chris. lagy) which wears an ambiguous and is introduced, it is observed, that in of popular prejudices, addresses itself the present day “high points of doc. to the ear rather than to the undertrine are only here and there asserted,” standing, eludes instead of inviting and that “the majority of congrega- inquiry, and retains possession of the tions calling themselves orthodox are feelings, while it makes no distinct contented with the name without the impression on the mind. When the reality of ancient orthodoxy.In this preacher tells his hearers, in so many representation, which I have no doubt words, that the blood of Christ has is just, I find, as in many other things, saved the elect from the vindictive an evil blended with a good. That justice of the Father, the thoughtful the improved state of theological mind may start at the declaration, and knowledge should have led the nomi. may be disposed to ask in what part nal followers of Calvin to moderate of the sacred volume this doctrine is their doctrine, so that the human to be found. But when, instead of heart should not shrink from it with being thus explicit, the orator contents horror, (in which case, however, it is himself with merely haranguing on Calvinisin no longer,) must afford the great scheme of redemption with. satisfaction to every sincere Christian, out explaining what it is, every man is the true Calvinist alone excepted. left at liberty to accommodate the This state of things may safely be description to his preconceived opiregarded as an omen of 'still. better nions; and as few hearers are so cap

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Mr. Eogan on “ moderate Calvinism."

22 tious as to quarrel with their instruc- of scriptural language, as though they tors for treating them with words were secretly conscious that their doeinstead of ideas, all may agree to trine is but feebly supported by the admire that wbich none can justly be authority of revelation. The fact may said to comprehead. Here I cannot be admitted, but the inference is false; help noticing, as a thing much to be they have not the slightest suspilamented, that preachers who enter- cion that their doctrine is unscriptural, taia what are called moderate views in but they know that in a mixed conreligion, should sometimes continue gregation there as yet may remain to use a language which they know many in whose minds unscriptural will be misapprehended by those who notions have been associated with hear them. They may say in their scriptural phraseology;, and rather defence that the language which they than use a language which, if they did employ is chiefly the language of scrip- not perpetually explain it when used, ture. But this in my judgment makes would be liable to misconception, they the case still worse. He who uses may reasonably prefer to express what scriptural phraseology to which he is they believe to be the truths of the aware that ideas which he deems un- gospel in terms which cannot be mis. scriptural will be attached, wilfully understood. Moreover, there is a converts the oracles of truth into the kind of language in the New Testa. means of confirining prejudice and ment, which, in the age of the writers, error. If he must encourage the be was perfectly natural, and therefore lief of opinions which he does not perfectly proper ; but which, if the himself admit, let him adopt language general views of the Unitarian are just, of his own, that the mistaken views it is now rather the business of the of men may rest on the basis of human Christian teacher to explain than to authority. This authority many might adopt. Of this kind are the sacrificial dare to dispute, but what is considered allusions which the apostles make use as the authority of the word of God, of in relation to the death of Christ, is to the serious-minded Christian over allusions which it was scarcely possiwhelming and irresistible. And thus ble for them not to enploy; but when erroneous opinions which have which, if employed in the present day, originated in the misinterpretation of unless illustrated by a just interprescripture phraseology, are cherished tation, must infallibly lead to error. by the perpetual application of this I will only

add, that if in the study of phraseology, the evil scarcely admits the New Testament a due attention à remedy. Some Christian teachers had always been paid to the times and endeavour to reconcile their consci- circumstances of the writers, the tenets ences to this abuse of scriptural lan- of Calvinism would never have been guage by pleading, that were they to heard of; tenets which ought not to speak their whole mind they should have found an advocate in the world injure their usefulness. It is not mine after sufficient time was allowed for to pronounce a harsh judgment upon the circulation of Dr. Taylor's Key their conduct, but I must be allowed to the Apostolic Writings, a work in to say, that mistaken indeed must be which these tenets are refuted as fully those views of usefulness which shall and unanswerably as any error ever lead a teacher of Christianity inten- was refuted in any branch of science tionally to refrain from declaring the or of knowledge. whole counsel of God. If there is a

E. COGAN. class of men upon earth in whom

P.S. When I wrote the paper of simplicity and plain dealing are more which your correspondent G. B. W. eminently important and more pecu- does me the honour to speak so liarly becoming than in all other men, favourably, (p. 160 of your last numthey are the ministers of the gospel of ber, I was aware of the passage Christ.

1 Joba ii. 12, a passage which I think I will conclude this desultory letter that your correspondent has explained by replying to an objection which satisfactorily enough. Had the exhas sometimes been brought against pression for Christ's sake been a scripUnitarian preachers. It has been tural expression, the phrase dia to said, that when treating of certain crous avis might reasonably have been topics, they are sparing in the use interpreted so as to bear the same

meaning. But as the case now stands, circumstance appears to demand the the language of John is to us some attention of every friend to an unrewhat ambiguous. Had I been asked strained discussion of opinions; and what I conceived to be the meaning especially of every Christian, who, of the passage in which it is found, I besides his abhorrence of persecution should perhaps have replied, that the for whatever purpose, cannot but feel general import of it might be ex. the deepest interest in such broad pressed as 's: “I write unto declarations concerning th religion you little children, because by your which he believes and venerates. profession of the Christian faith you It is proper to be stated, however, are redeemed from Heathenism and before I proceed further, that it is by idolatry, and introduced into a state no means my object to dispute the of moral and religious privilege.” foundation of this maxim in the reThat this change of moral condition corded decisions of our judges. Such is what is meant by the forgiveness of an undertaking, it is to be appresins, as spoken of in connexion with hended, would be hopeless in any the death of Christ, I feel more and hands, and would be particularly more convinced. I should, however, presumptuous in one altogether unlike to see the subject fully discussed learned in books of cases and records. by men (and many such men there It appears not to be entirely a novel are) who are better qualified for such maxim. And perhaps some persons a discussion than "myself. From the may be of opinion,* that its antiquity habit of iny mind, and the nature of is its best apology; inasmuch as such my occupation and pursuits, I can à maxim could have become established only throw out hints, leaving to others only in an age when the true nature every thing like minute examination of Christianity, and the just province and inquiry,

of civil government, were but very

imperfectly understood. It savours The Nonconformist.

not a little of those past times, when No. XXVI.

the priest and the ruler were allowed

the most extensive power of affording On the Maxim, that Christianity is each other mutual assistance, in their part and purcel of the Law of the endeavours to fetter the freedom of Land.

the human mind. NHAPPILY for the honour of our However, it is not necessary, I preis too well known that an express Act maxim in law, in order to justify our of Parliament, or rather the unre condemnation of it, should it appear, pealed portion of an Act, (9 and 10 of upon inquiry, to be unreasonable, a Williain and Mary,) still remains in violation of the principles of Christiforce, by which persons who openly anity, injurious to the interests of assail the truth of the Christian reli- truth, and conducive to no good purgion, are made subject to fines and pose in the present state of society. imprisonment. It is remarkable, how. He who commits upon me a manifest ever, that in the late frequent prosecu- act of injustice, or occasions injury to tions instituted against the publishers any good cause for which I am conand venders of Deistical books, this cerned, has scarcely a right to demand, statute has seldom been referred to as that I should confute him by quotathe principal ground of these legal tions and precedents, before I can be proceedings. To justify such prose- allowed to lift up my voice in reproeutions, we hear it asserted by the bation of his conduct. expounders of the law, that Christi The following thoughts have been anity is an established portion of the suggested to my mind, by considering common, or unwritten law of the land; and that therefore, independently of any existing statute pointing out the nature of the offence and the specific Chief Justice Prisot declared in the Court

* “ In the 34th year of Henry VI. penalties attached to it, all open en of Common Pleas, Seripture est common deavours to bring this religion into ley, sur quel touts manières de leis sont disrepute, are offences indictable in fondes," --Blackstone, B. iv. C. iv. S. iv. every competent court of justice. This Note.

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The Nonconformist. No. XXVI.

223 this maxim of the law, in connexion be made of a maxim, which in itself with some striking traits in the cha- means little or nothing ? and which, racter of Christianity, and especially therefore, in the mouth of an ingenious with the present condition of the Judge or Attorney-General, may be Christian world.

made to mean almost any thing. It I would first remark, then, that so is well calculated to serve as a very long as this maxim continues to main- convenient screen, behind which the tain its authority, it appears to afford hateful spirit of intolerance may lie a particularly strong hold for the prac- concealed, and look forth upon suittice of prosecuting unbelievers. And, able occasions, with a greater or less doubtiess, this circumstance is not degree of boldness, according as the overlooked by those who shew so light of the age shall be found to much partiality for this sage portion endure its presence. of the common law. The increasing These are sufficient reasons why this liberality of the times might lead us to maxim should be reprobated by every hope, that the legislature would shortly jealous friend to complete freedom of be induced to repeal all actual statutes opinion; but, if I mistake not the nathat infringe the freedom of discussion ture and genius of Christianity, there upon religious subjects. But this, it are yet other reasons to be stated of appears, would not be sufficient to greater weight. As we see this maxim secure Christianity against the unwar at present applied to justify the inrantable interference of the civil powerflicting of penalties on those who in its behalf; for, notwithstanding assail Christianity, it appears to me such repeal, except the legislature, by wholly at variance with the spirit of a positive declaration, should make it our Lord's solemn declaration, that lawful to deny the truth of the Chris “his kingdom is not of this world.” tian religion, attacks of this kind We say, with the spirit of this declamight still be regarded as offences at ration; for we need not insist, that common law, and prosecuted upon when our Lord uttered these words, these grounds. Now it is to be sup- he had any particular view to the posed, that many of our most liberal future patronage of Christianity by senators would think such a declara- the civil power. But he meant, I pretion too much like holding out an sume, to deliver a general truth reencouragement to the enemies of specting the character of his religion, Christianity: and thus the reign of and the proper means of its being persecution may be prolonged, and a spread and supported in the world, considerable obstacle opposed to the which renders such a maxim as the progress of enlightened legislation upon one before us utterly inadmissible. this subject, through the practice of Men whose High-Church-and-State justifying religious prosecutions by the prejudices teach them to look upon maxim under consideration. It is not, religion principally as an instrument indeed, very probable, that our judges of secular government, and a means would long continue to sanction pro- of preserving what they are pleased to ceedings which the legislature had call “social order” among the people, shewn a manifest inclination to dis- may not comprehend the whole force countenance, by the repeal of all penal of this objection ; but every one who statutes bearing upon the subject. Yet, rightly estimates the peculiar genius without some express Act to the con of Christianity, will feel himself bound trary, the power would be lodged in to protest against its being held forth the hands of Attorneys-General and to the world in a light so degrading, others, to display their pure and disc and so foreign from its true characinterested zeal for religion, by calling ter. in the arm of the law for its defence, Even Church Establishments appear

It is also to be observed, that a to the Nonconformist, in this point of maxim so indefinite is highly objec- view, open to very serious objection. tionable and dangerous from its vague. For these, however, a kind of apology

An Act of Parliament, in a has been often urged by their most great measure, defines the offence judicious advocates, which cannot be against which it is intended to be applied to the case in question. It is directed, and prescribes the penalty. said, that these establishments are, But who shall say what use may not avoivedly, only civil regulations, for



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providing the nation with religious worthy of credit, and that they shall
instruction and the conveniences of appear so to all his Majesty's subjects,
public worship: it is not pretended under pain of imprisonment? Or, can
That they are any part of Christianity, the law justly render it criminal, to
and therefore they cannot be fairly deny the truth of that which is true or
represented as any encroachment of false, independently of any decisions
the civil power upon the kingdom of which the law can make Histories
Christ. When, however, not merely and doctrines appear, from their very
a form of worship and an order of nature, to be placed beyond the sphere
teachers, but Christianity itself, as a of judicial interference. What should
system of true religion, is identified we think of being told that the History
with the law of the land, and protected of Rome, or the latest Theory of
from the assaults of its adversaries by Combustion, had been made part of
temporal penalties, I know not how the law of England ? Surely, then,
it would be possible to represent it this maxim can be nothing more than
more completely as a kingdom of this one of those many amusing fictions,
world. Every Christian, by virtue of with which the law delights to charm
his discipleship, possesses a right, and away the tediousness of its proceed-
a right which he is in duty bound to ings. And however useful it may be
exercise, to proclaim that such a re- found, to enable lawyers to effect
presentation amounts to a libel on the what they would otherwise have no
character of Christianity. We ask warrant for, when examined by the
for the warrant from the lips of the tests of reason and common sense,
Author of Christianity, for this alli- it appears altogether worthy to be
ance between his doctrine and systems classed with the well-known pleasantry
of human jurisprudence. If the maxim of vi et armis.
be true in law, it has become so by A system of religion which, like the
a gross usurpation of that law, and Pagan, or even the Jewish, should
ought therefore to be abandoned. Its partly consist of certain ceremonial
title to authority was vicious from the observances, essentially belonging to
beginning, and its long standing is it, might, with some little show of pro-
therefore no just reason for its being priety, be incorporated with the laws of
continued. It has, in short, precisely a country; for, the interference of the
that mark, which a great authority in magistrate in such a case would not
these cases has laid down as a suffici- be wholly absurd and inefficient, though
ent reason for its being no longer fol. it should be ever so upjust. The reli-
lowed,-it is “clearly contrary to the gion consisting in external forms and
Divine law."

actions, would bear some analogy to
But, quitting this positive declara- the proper objects of civil jurispru-
tion of the Author of Christianity, let dence. But human laws ought, surely,
any one compare the nature of this to be bounded in their contemplated
religion with the power and objects of operation, by the natural limits of
human laws; and they will appear too human power : and what can human
essentially dissimilar ever to amalga- power effect for a religion, which has
mate. The one can never be justly nothing in it of a positive and arbi-
regarded as part of the other, until
the broadest distinctions in nature can
be annulled at the will of advocates serve the attention of our modern Church-
and judges. Christianity is a system men, who wish to surround Christianity
of faith, resting for the evidence of its with peoal sanctions : “The true and
claims chiefly upon the authenticity genuine Christian religion is a plain, and
and genuineness of certain historical honest, and disinterested thing, full of
narratives. Its entire authority de- sweet candour and holy simplicity, hath
pends upon its truth, and its authority no tricks in it, no designs upon any man,
with every individual upon his belief but only to make him wise and good,
of its truth. Can the law determine and so, happy for ever: and it saits not
that the Christian histories * shall be at all with the noble fine spirit and inge-

nuousness of it, to pretend or desire to

be taken upon trust, or to obtrude itself * The following noble sentiments of upon any man without examination." one of the few Arehbishops that ever Archbishop Sancroft's Address to James, made sacrifice for conscience' sake, de. "Duke of Yorki

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