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our country from one of its foulest stains. Whence is it, we may ask, that the governments of the world have manifested so much readiness to take under their patronage the truth and the doctrines of Christianity, which admit of no beneficial alliance with temporal power, while so little reverence has been paid to its golden lessons of justice and humanity, which might so well be made the basis of legislation? It cannot be thought strange, if this circumstance should excite a suspicion, that when governments display so much zeal in defence of Christianity, they have usually other objects in view than the interests of true religion and the moral welfare of the people.
trary nature, which is altogether a religion of the mind, resting upon moral considerations, both for its authority in the first place, and for its influence upon individuals and society? Can the power of the law multiply, the evidences of this religion, or exhibit them with greater advantage to the minds of unbelievers? Or can it even counteract the misrepresentations of scoffers and revilers, which may be conveyed in a whisper as well as in a book? The law can only provoke and injure the enemies of our faith, without in any effectual manner checking the progress of infidelity, while all the odium of its unjust proceedings is reflected upon Christianity; for which the enlightened friends of this religion eannot be expected to be very forward in the expression of their gratitude.
I cannot refrain from observing, in this place, that there is one sense in which it seems possible that Christianity may be made a portion of the law of the land; I mean, by infusing its just and benignant spirit into the whole system of our jurisprudence and domestic government. Doubtless, every Christian would rejoice to see our beloved country elevated above the nations of the earth, by the justice and mildness of her criminal code, and by the equitable manner in which all the operations of the law should provide for the liberty and welfare of all classes of the community. And when this system of wisdom and benevolence had been completed, no true disciple of his Master would blush to own it as the work of Christianity. But, can it be true, that Christianity is yet a part of the law in that country where its first injunctions are violated, by fighting against its adversaries with the weapons of oppression, and where the heart of humanity is daily afflicted, with beholding crowds of unhappy beings cut off from existence, almost in boyhood, for a fraud or a robbery? Ye archbishops and bishops, ye chancellors and judges, the joint guardians of our holy religion, make good the maxim of the law; dispense from your learned and right reverend benches a portion of the spirit of the Christian Lawgiver, and move the hearts of our legislators to establish the humane endeavours of Romilly and Mackintosh, and to cleanse the reputation of
Little attention seems due to the plea for regarding Christianity as part of the law, drawn from the supposi tion that it is necessary to support the civil regulations of society, and the validity of judicial oaths. That Christianity is the foundation of all the institutions of the country, as has been asserted, appears to be a very vague and extravagant position. Some of our most valuable institutions, it has been thought, may be traced to a time prior to the introduction of Christianity into the country; and, at least, this religion professes no direct interference with the political relations and establishments of mankind. Yet it may be readily granted, that Christianity, by its tendency to render men upright, peaceable and lovers of truth, adds strength to judicial testimony, and in various ways affects the best interests of society. This, however, is not because it is the law of the land, but because it is the belief of the people: and unless we can be furnished with better evidence than experience has hitherto afforded, that the interference of the law is likely to promote the belief and reverence of Christianity among the people, we cannot admit, that such interference is conducive to the good order of the community.
A general glance at the history of the Christian religion, is not very likely to give its enlightened believers any great partiality for its close alliance with law and temporal authority. In proportion to the extent in which the civil power, in every country of Christendom, has been permitted to
embrace this religion with its false protection, its proper energies of truth and moral excellence have been enfeebled, and it has waned to a mass of pitiful superstitions. It has been the least understood and practised, and has consequently produced the fewest beneficial effects on the improvement and happiness of man, in those countries where it has been made most dangerous to call its truth or its supposed doctrines in question. And where has Christianity at length assumed the most respectable and dignified aspect in the eye of reason, and produced the happiest effects on the religious character and habits of the people? In those countries where its evidences, its doctrines and records, have been exposed to the most unlimited discussion; where the friends of religious liberty have succeeded to the greatest extent in wresting from the hands of the civil authorities the power to injure Christianity by their pretended patronage. These are plain and powerful lessons from experience, which, if governments overlook, reflecting and liberal Christians should keep constantly in mind.
There are also particular circumstances in the present times, which must render any interference of the law in behalf of Christianity altogether injurious. It is no longer possible for the civil power, as in past ages, to shield this religion from the investigation of unbelievers, nor even from their ignorant and malicious misrepresentations. The adversary or the reviler of Christianity cannot now be consumed at the stake. Only a few of the boldest can be chosen to be imprisoned and harassed as examples. By such examples the prejudices of unbelievers may be confirmed, and their passions excited, but their tongues cannot be silenced. "Schism," says an old and sensible writer," is an ailment in the body politic, not curable but by an utter extirpation of the limbs infected, and a steady cruelty, zealously pursued without pity or remorse. All petty severities, however wholesome they may appear, are only quack medicines, which put the patient to pain, without removing the distemper." Such are
* Mandeville's Free Thoughts, Chap. 9.
the only medicines which the civil power can now administer for the cure of infidelity. The sting of the law, for this purpose, has lost its power; it can only irritate, not destroy its victims.
Many circumstances there undoubtedly are in the present condition of Christianity, calculated to excite a more than ordinary degree of interest in the minds of its serious professors. This religion is now perhaps more than at any former period, except at its first introduction, before the tribunal of the public. The body of the people, who have no learned systems to support, but whom the increased means of education, and the spirit of the times, have awakened to inquiry upon religious subjects, who have no secular interests depending upon their profession or denial of Christianity, but who cannot fail to be sensible, that the truth or falsehood of religion is a question that involves the most momentous consequences to themselves; these are the inquirers to whom Christianity is now appealing for belief and attachment in a more direct and open manner than the circumstances of the Christian world have heretofore admitted. Now these are the class of persons to whose minds it is most desirable that Christianity should be presented free from any association with objects foreign from its nature and spirit. Philosophers and men of habitual reflection cannot be so easily imposed upon, by the accidental association of things which have no proper connexion. But the mass of mankind judge from ap-. pearances and from general representations. Since, therefore, the question concerning the truth of Christianity appears to excite increasing attention amongst the people, it becomes daily more necessary, that they who consider this religion to be wholly independent of all human law and government, should vindicate it from every false representation; that they should openly denounce all means of persecution taken for its defence; in other words, that the principles of consistent Nonconformity and perfect liberty of opinion and discussion should be earnestly supported.
On John viii. 58, &c.
"Before Abraham was, I am." John viii. 58.
Upon the vexata quæstio of "GOD the Son" and the Son of God, no incident recorded in the New Testainent seems likely to throw more light, or to afford more unequivocal evidence, than that which is commonly entitled the Transfiguration. Whether "the Vision" determine in favour of the orthodox hypothesis, or of the scriptural statement, let a review of it in a prominent point decide.
The supernatural exhibition appears to have been vouchsafed for the purpose of attesting the person of Christ. "We were eye-witnesses of his majesty," says one of the spectators some time afterwards. And the accompanying attestation from heaven was in these words, "This is my beloved Son." What then was this 66 jesty," and what the precise meaning of this testimonial? We cannot surely ascertain either point better than by referring to the impression made by it on the minds of the parties at the time.
HE orthodox interpretation of this text is familiar to your readers. It is not my design to bear my humble testimony against that almost intolerable badinage of Athanasianism on this particular subject; the only argument I propose is the argument ad verecundiam. And one might think it were decisive enough with an ordinary controversialist. "GOD the Son" (on the shewing of these innovators upon scriptural phraseology) is unwittingly challenged by the Jews as "taking too much upon himself," in making use of words which seemed to them to imply that he was in his own opinion something greater" than Abraham or the prophets. To this challenge He is prepared, it seems, if we are to believe these advocates of his equality with GOD, categorically to reply, and is about to do so in such express and unambiguous terms, as shall leave no doubt in the minds of his disciples of his being not only superior to these Jewish worthies, but of his being their Jehovah himself. He postpones, however, for a few moments the astonishing disclosure. It is not made, where undoubtedly under such circumstances he might have looked for it, eo instanti with the disparagement of his person, on the part of his incredulous opponents. No, the rebuke is immediately parried by a somewhat different assurance unquestionably. "Whom makest thou thyself?" is the question asked. The Almighty, in the person of a human being, is catechised as to his pretensions to rank above Moses and the prophets. What is the reply? "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing." Is it possible to repress a smile upon the prospective construction of the concluding averment? The "I am," about to make the awful anagnorisis only a moment or two afterwards, leads to it by the preceding observation! Respect for the infirmities of our common nature arrests my pen. I feel a blush rising on iny own cheek, and spare that which must surely by this time have quite crimsoned that of my opponent.
And first, let us put the question to the contemporary witnesses. Peter ("not knowing," indeed, according to the Evangelist, "what he said") remarks, in the agitation of the moment, "Let us make here three Tabernaeles: one for Moses, and one for Elias, and one for GOD the Son !" Could delirium at its height have suggested such a proposition as this? How well his subsequent conduct and that of his fellow-disciples corresponded with any such notion, is well known. They resume their discourse with this their glorified Master more suo: Peter rebukes him, and John is seen lying on his bosom. Let us now make our appeal to the Old Testament saints. They must surely have been well acquainted with "the mystery of godliness," have rightly appreciated "the majesty" of the person with whom they were at the moment brought in contact. Are they then seen prostrating themselves before the second person of the Trinity, veiled in human flesh, in mute, unutterable adoration? They were talking with Jesus," says one of the reporters of the event, "they were speaking of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem," another.
Address of the Presbyterian Church in
since your Grace's arrival in Ireland,
have with inter- from that national Church in which
your Grace enjoys elevated rank; yet
"The liberal and enlightened views
est the following address and reply, and deem them worthy of permanent record in our Repository. The Archbishop of Cashel seems to hold the same noble moral rank in the Irish Church, that the Bishop of Norwich does in the English. Such men are not only the ornament, but also the defence of their respective communions. The Address and Reply have been sent to us in a Cork newspaper, and we insert the introduction to them which we here find.
"The documents which we subjoin, comprising the Address of the Presbyterian Congregation of this city to the Archbishop of Cashel, and his Grace's answer thereto, possess peculiar interest indeed we may add importance-at the present moment. It is soothing, in the midst of the religious strife which is waging in this unfortunate country, to find, at least, one set of Christians claiming for themselves, and conceding to others, the right of exercising conscience in all spiritual matters; and paying a tribute of approbation to the instructive lessons of kindness and conciliation which lately proceeded from the distinguished prelate whom they have addressed. It is equally, if not more gratifying, to witness the kindred spirit which pervades the reply of this distinguished personage. We do not think that the visitation charge of his Grace, which is the subject of eulogy by the Presbyterian body, and which, doubtless, our readers have fresh in their remembrance, will have made a greater impression on the public mind, than this brief but beautiful record of true Christian feeling and opinion.
66 MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, "We, the Ministers and Elders of the Presbyterian Church in Cork, assembled in our first annual Vestry
The reader will not fail to recollect
the Address of the Eastern Unitarian
Society to the Bishop of Norwich, with the Bishop's Answer, inserted Mon. Repos. XVII. 521, 522.
forms not essential to salvation,' yet are they fellow-worshipers of the same God, fellow-expectants of the same mercy, through a Redeemer, and therefore dwell in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace.
"Although fully conscious that your Grace, in the discharge of your high pastoral duties, seeks not the praises of man, but the praise of God;" yet residing within the bounds of your Grace's Archiepiscopal jurisdiction, we cannot refrain from thus publicly expressing our sentiments of grateful respect, and assuring your Grace of our unfeigned wishes that you may enjoy, in this world, health, prosperity and peace, and may finally inhe rit the promise of your Redeemer,
'Where they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." "
TO WHICH HIS GRACE Returned the FOLLOWING ANSWER:
"Permit me to assure you, that I am very much flattered by your kind congratulations on the commencement of my connexion with the province of Munster.
"Conscientiously attached to the Established Church, I cannot but feel a particular gratification in the candid approval of those, who as conscientiously dissent from it.
"In this our imperfect state of being, it is impossible for us to think all alike. Our minds take various bents from education, habits and numerous external as well as internal causes, not always subject to our controul so that it seems almost as unreasonable to quarrel with each other for the differences in our opinions, as for the difference in our statures, complexions and features.
"Amid the din of parties and the ebullition of sectarian zeal of that zeal, I mean, which would appropriate
the character of God's elect to one
denomination of Christians alone; it is pleasing to witness the avowal of more liberal principles. We are not all members of the Church of England, but we are all members of the Church of Christ; and I cannot but rejoice to find that the Ministers and Congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Cork, participate with me in what appears to their minds, as well as to my own, the genuine feelings of Christian charity and benevolence.
"Signed, "R. CASHEL."
Some months ago the Meeting, of which he is a member, nevertheless gave him a certificate of full unity with his labours as a minister, in order to his paying a religious visit to the large meetings of Friends at Philadelphia. In the performance of this duty, I understand," a very insidious attempt was made by one of his most inveterate opposers to prejudice Friends there against him; but that it fell in the right place, viz. on its disingenuous and unmanly author."
teresting particulars respecting Elias Hickes, of Long Island, near New York, who has long been, and still is, a celebrated preacher in the Society of Friends. He has, however, I am credibly informed, for the liberality of his sentiments, met with considerable opposition "from a few formal bigots" amongst his brethren for several years past, who have accused him "of preaching Hannah Barnard's doc
I am not acquainted with the precise difference in opinion on the doc trines in question; but your readers may see (with your permission) by the following general description of the effect of this visit, and the disposition of certain ecclesiastics among the Friends to censure and silence the preacher, that it occasioned no slight degree of agitation among them. A letter from Philadelphia, of a late "The ancient and veneradate, says, “ ble Elias Hickes has paid us a visit in gospel love; he has kindled a fire in our midst, and it continues to burn on the altars of the hearts of many, especially the youth of both sexes. Many
able testimonies have been borne in
his behalf in our public papers; he has stood forth in our meetings, like the scholar of Gamaliel, and boldly declared the whole counsel of God. The two-edged sword of truth cannot be borne by pharisaical professors. Eleven elders out of fifteen, and about nine ministers, of the same grade, strove to destroy his mission, silence him and send him home. But he, like a bold champion in the cause of truth, sounded the ram's horn in our borders, and the walls of our carnal Jericho trembled to their base! And thousands flocked to hear the gospel preached in primitive simplicity. A convention was held every 24 hours, of
I some ecclesiastics,
"Ten delegates, sanctioned by the Pontiff J▬E▬ addressed a letter to him, (which I have not seen,) on the subject of his heterodox doctrines; and he answered it in the ability which God gave, proving all their accusations to be false, and founded on bigotry and prejudice.
"He has cleared his skirts, and left us to reflect upon his testimonies. But slander, that thousand-tongued