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any thing like absolute certainty is unattainable. Yet I suspect, that the thought is Dr. Price's, and that most of the circumstances of the imagery are supplied by Mr. Worthington. My readers will, perhaps, be of the same opinion, when they have perused the sentences that I shall next quote, and that are taken from Price's Posthumous Discourses, p. 76. That venerable man, having recommended, as, "the best remedy for narrowness," (subsequently to a correct judgment and a candid heart,) "a free and open intercourse with persons of different sentiments," observes,
"We are like children wearing different garbs in the middle of a mist. We keep at a distance from one another, and therefore appear to one another like monsters. Did we come nearer to one another, and associate more, our silly prejudices would abate, and we should love one another better."
I do not controvert the remark which Dr. H. has made, and which Mr. W. has adopted. What I am desirous of noticing, is the fact, that most, if I must not add all, of the parables of Jesus Christ were of this description, were suggested by the scenes and circumstances of his ministry, and do not seem to have been the effects of what we call study and preparation.
Ibid. p. 26. "You deny the resurrection, and the existence both of angel and spirit; but has not the Almighty declared himself the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? Is he then the God of the dead? No; though their bodies have long since mouldered in the tomb, their souls remain a sacred deposit in his hand, till that great day when they shall rise to everlasting life."
This is Mr. W.'s comment on our Saviour's reasoning in Matt. xxii. 29 But I return to Mr. Worthington--33; Mark xii. 24-28; Luke xx. Ser. II. 17, &c. [John vii. 45]:
"These words (never man spake like this man) were spoken by the officers or soldiers sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to apprehend Christ."-And the preacher, assuming that they might have been either" of ficers," in our present acceptation of the term, [i. e. persons invested with some military command,] or "common soldiers," draws from his assumptions certain lively, though unwarrantable, inferences.
The noun, in the original, is véται. Now the scriptural, if not the classical, sense of it, has no relation to soldiers or to MILITARY officers. The men employed, on this occasion, "to apprehend Christ," were the high priest's servants. In a note below I will refer to some authorities for this interpretation.
Ibid. p. 22. "Dr. Harwood has remarked, that two of the best of them [our Lord's parables], namely, the rich man and Lazarus, and the prodigal son, were spoken extempore, at the moment."
Besides the Concordances of Tromm. and of Schmid., and the Lexicon of Schleusner, the Syriac, Vulg., German, [Luther,] Italian, [Diodati,] and Fr. Genev. translations are decisive.
34-39. According to the Evangelists, Jesus Christ says not a single word concerning the bodies and the souls of the departed patriarchs. His only design is to shew, "that the dead are raised." This truth he establishes on principles admitted by the Sadducees themselves. The clause," he is not a God of the dead, but of the living," has its explanation in what immediately follows, "for all," (i. e. they all, meaning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), "live unto him:" the Supreme Being calleth the things which are not, as though they were. Had our Lord's argument been that of Mr. W., his language would have been the same with Mr. W.'s. I do not enter, at present, into the controversy respecting the state of men between death and the resurrection: upon this subject Christ is silent. Let me, however, take occasion to observe, that the sense of the Scriptures must be ascertained by the study of them, and not by our previously-formed hypotheses.
Ibid. pp. 29, 30. "I am sorry that any celebrated characters, lately deceased, should have decried prudence. I am grieved that any author or innister should think lightly of it."
The preacher alludes, I conceive, to Dr. Priestley, who, probably, would not quite have agreed with Mr. W.
in a definition and estimate of prudence; though I know not that he decried it, or thought lightly of it. Regardless of personal consequences, he avowed truths of the highest moment; and if this habit can be styled imprudence, his memory shrinks not from the accusation. Even with respect to the ordinary course of things, there are diversities of gifts." The variety is beneficial to the world and to the church. Let not any author or minister" forget, that of these nu'merous gifts the most excellent is CHARITY.
Ser. III. p. 44. "I have lamented from a youth, a law in our legislature, which, I believe, is either lately repealed, or about to be so; namely, that if a crime is proved to be only * a breach of trust,' it will rescue that servant [a servant in whom confidence was reposed] from the halter he merits. Surely such a confidence highly aggravates, rather than extenuates, the offence."
Mr. W.'s warmth of feeling impels him here beyond the bounds of humane consideration and of wise and just policy. He expresses too lightly his approbation of capital punishments. Independently of this question, two grand errors are observable in his reasoning. He falsely assumes that the moral turpitude of an offence ought to be the measure of its punishment by a human tribunal; and he overlooks the distinction of a breach of confidence, which implies something like a previous civil contract, from violent attacks on the person, or on freedom, property and life. A servant's breach of confidence may involve moral guilt of nearly the blackest die. Yet in the legislature's scale of crimes, it cannot be ranked among those to which the ultimum supplicium is awarded.†
Ibid. p. 46. "Hear what the most celebrated commentator of Europe, and the ablest statesman of Holland, uttered in his last moments, I have wasted my life in doing nothing!"
The exclamation attributed to H.
Grotius, is, as some represent it, "Heu, vitam perdidi, operose nihil agendo!" according to others, "multa agendo, nihil egi." Calumny put it into his mouth. Bayle and Le Clerc† have shewn, that it was a malignant fiction.
Ser. VII. pp. 99, 100. "- is it unnatural, is it inconsistent, to suppose that a lower degree of felicity may be enjoyed during the period when the body is mouldering in the tomb?" The answer must be the Apostle Paul's: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." The Christian Scriptures direct our hopes and our fears to the morning of the resurrection. From Mr. W.'s argument the doctrine of a purgatory follows, as an essential inference.
Ser. IX. p. 129. thought impress our minds, Christ is far more than man, or he would never have been appointed to the office" [of final judge]. Such, it seems, was the opinion of Mr. Worthington: such was not the doctrine either of Christ himself, or of the Apostle of the Gentiles. I put the issue upon two passages.
John v. 27. " And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." §
Acts xvii. 31. "He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained."
Ser. X. p. 140. "You remember our Lord said to his disciples, and to Peter as their head, What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."" ||
Peter was in no sense the 'head' of the disciples; and our Lord's address was made to him exclusively, as is evident from the fact of the singular pronoun being employed. Mr. W. erroneously supposes, that the
remark, what I do,' &c. contains a reference to a future state. Jesus, in verses 12-18, explains the meaning both of this language, and of his symbolical action, in washing the disciples' feet. When once we have ascertained, from the context, and by other means, the just import of a passage of Scripture, no different interpretation of it is admissible; nor must we look for what is general and refined in observations that the speaker, or the writer, plainly limits to the occasion by which they were suggested.
Ser. XII. pp. 172, 173. In the warmth of his zeal for social worship, a zeal which, if it be enlightened, I applaud, Mr. W. does not distinguish between the Lord's day of the Christian and the sabbatical institution of the Jews. If my readers will turn to a concordance, they will perceive, that the distinction is real and important. In some instances this preacher scatters his censures with little judgment and discrimination. Of this character is the next extract.
Ser. XIII. p. 183. "Cold and frigid is that philosophy which denies the agency of celestial spirits on earth."
These tautological epithets can have no just application to any thing which merits the name of philosophy. That alone is genuine and sound philosophy, which exercises belief on evidence, and in the degree of the evidence afforded. The agency of celestial spirits on earth,' is a subject which I shall not now discuss. I transcribe a single observation from one of the highly valuable works of the late Mr. Farmer: "The best arguments," says he, "reason can employ to prove the existence of creatures of a superior order to man, do much more strongly prove, that they can act only within a certain limited sphere."
Ibid. p. 184. It comes in the preacher's way to treat of the proper interpretation and reading of Acts i. 25; That he might go unto his own place." Griesbach sanctions here the received text. Mr. W. refers to the
* Monthly Repository, IV. 440-443. + Dissertation on Miracles, &c. p. 54. (8vo.)
Alexandrian [Alexandrine] copy of the New Testament, and confesses, that the question is in his own mind "undecided.” ↑
Ser. XVI. p. 224. Another example of Biblical criticism, arrests our attention. Mr. W. seems to admit the genuineness of Acts viii. 37; though from Griesbach's text, it is very properly excluded. Thus we lose the simple confession of the treasurer of the queen of Ethiopia, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." However, the verse, as it stands in our Bibles, and considered as an interpo lation, will at least show, that even in an age subsequent to the apostolic, a very short, intelligible and general confession was deemed sufficient for those who received baptism.
Ser. XIX. p. 278. "Let us for a moment suppose our Saviour to have been a mere man-"
Such language is always incorrect, and may sometimes be employed with an insidious design: scarcely shall we hear it from any well-informed and reflecting believer in Revelation. The rank of Jesus in the scale of being, is one thing; his endowments and office (both of them special and characteristic), are another. Let us adhere closely to Peter's doctrine and style in Acts ii. 22, 36.
Ser. XX. p. 287. "He has made atonement for the whole world."
I look in vain throughout the sacred volume for such a declaration. Our Lord, beyond all doubt, is the channel through which we receive, from God, (Rom. v. 11,) the atonement, or rather the reconciliation. That Jesus made atonement, is neither the phraseology nor the sense of scripture. †
Ser. XXIII. p. 324. "Some whom I am addressing, may be acquainted with a tract on this subject [the Historical Conveyance of Christianity] by a late Dissenting Minister, who wrote it with the idea, that no one had ever discussed it before him; in this,
however, he was mistaken; Dr. Jeffe ries, [Jeffery] Dean [Archdeacon] of Norwich, having published his thoughts upon the same topic sixty years ago."
This late Dissenting Minister, was the Rev. John Simpson, a native, I believe, of the same town with Mr. Hugh Worthington, and well known as a most amiable, excellent, and accomplished man. I have now before me his Essay tỏ shew, that Christianity is best conveyed in the historic form: nevertheless, it affords no intimation that the writer considered himself as discussing a new subject; though he treats it in a manner entirely his own, and like a strictly independent reasoner.
Ser. XXVI. p. 376. "Horace defines wisdom, "A selection of the best things, and the attainment of them by the best means.””
It is a good definition, come from whom it may but I do not meet with it in Horace; nor am I aware of its being deducible from any thing which he has written.
Ser. XXXIII. p. 471. Mr. W. would read a clause in Colossians iv. 16, thus, "the epistlé sent to Laodi
The teat, however, must not be disturbed: nor must the translation. It is the commentator's province, and becomes his duty, to point out if he can, what epistle is intended. Now this Paleyt has done: "the epistle from Laodicea was an epistle sent by St. Paul to that church, and by them transmitted to Colosse."
Ser. XXXVI. p. 522. Solomon, as it appears from many parts of his history, the vainest monarch."Here I am inclined to suspect an error of the press; otherwise I must question the fact, and object to the representation. Let the reader judge for himself.
I could easily proceed. But I am apprehensive of wearying others and inyself. If I have been hypercritical, there are surviving friends of Mr. W. who can rectify my mistakes. Had the inaccuracies which I have ventured to notice, been committed by an ordinary man, I would have passed
Horæ Paulinæ, (1796,) p. 248.
them in silence. Numerous are the preponderating beauties of these Sermons.
The peroration of the discourse on faith in an unseen Saviour," is particularly fine; and in p. 416, we are presented with a most striking and, I believe, original, image.
FTER the declaration which I have made of my inability to enter into long discussions, your worthy correspondent Mr. Jevans will not be surprised that I decline giving a formal reply to his communication in your last Number (pp. 294-297). That I may not, however, be wholly silent, I will, with your permission, acquaint him and your readers how I came to adopt the opinion in confirmation of which I referred to Mr. Kenrick's Sermons. When a young man, I read with great interest Dr. Taylor's Key to the Apostolic Writings. I there found it proved incontestably, that the Gentiles were called sinners because they did not enjoy the privileges of the Jewish covenant. While strongly impressed with this idea, I was accidentally led to reflect on the well-known passage," Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world ;" and my mind was forcibly struck with the thought, that the true interpretation of this passage must be, that by the death of Christ a way would be opened by which the Gentile world might be translated from what was deemed an unholy to a holy state, by which they, who before were sinners, might become saints. In the justice of this interpretation I was afterwards confirmed by reading, with some attention, the first and second chapters of the Epistle to the Ephesians, in which the apostle describes more fully than elsewhere the benefits which have resulted from the
death of Christ, who is there represented as having broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles, and “ having reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross." Nor did I find any thing inf these chapters which was unfavourable to the sense which I had annexed to the passage above quoted. I hence inferred that when the pardon of sin was spoken of in connexion with the death of Christ, the thing intended
was an introduction to a new state of moral and religious privilege. And here I take my leave of the subject by again referring your readers to Mr. Kenrick's Sermons, and, I add with pleasure, to Mr. Belsham's Exposition of the Epistles of Paul.
June 3, 1823. DOUBT not it is in the recollection of many of your readers, that at the time Mr. Lindsey was deliberating about the resignation of his living, he corresponded with Mr. Ross, a minister of the Church of Scotland. Mr. Ross had difficulties on the subject of Subscription to the Articles of his Church, similar to those which embarrassed Mr. Lindsey respecting those of the Church of England.
After the death of Mr. Ross his widow settled in Exeter, and became a valuable member of my congregation; and by her I was informed of the steps taken by him, after much careful examination and serious reflection, to relieve his mind. He sent to the Presbytery of Stranmaer a declaration of his sentiments, and a petition to be released from his Subscription. Some zealous members of the Presbytery would have prevented the reception of the petition, but a majority decided in his favour. Disappointed in their scheme, they carried their opposition into the Synod; but there also they were silenced. But still hoping to succeed, they brought the question before the General Assembly, and there also they were not listened to; and Mr. Ross was allowed to continue a minister of the Church of Scotland, after he had thus publicly rescinded his subscription to its Articles. This is so extraordinary an occurrence in an Established Church, that you may esteem it desirable to preserve the following document in your valuable Repository.
"Unto the Reverend Presbytery of Stranmaer,
"The Declaration and Petition of Mr. Andrew Ross, Minister of Inch, humbly sheweth,
"That your petitioner being deeply sensible of the invaluable blessing of religious liberty, considering also that the fundamental principles of the Protestant religion are, that the Holy
Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice; that the exercise of private judgment is the undoubted right and duty of every Christian; and that Jesus Christ himself, who is the sole head of his church, has commanded us to search the Scriptures, and to, stand fast in the liberty wherewith he hath made us free; it gives him much concern to see a practice prevails, which contradicts these principles which we all profess, namely, the compiling of articles and confessions of faith, and the requiring a subscription or belief of them as a condition of ministerial communion. Such a requisition, he is convinced, supersedes the duty required of Christians, to search the Scriptures, precludes the exercise of private judginent in religious matters, and is a manifest usurpation of the prerogative of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only head of; his church, and who has neither himself, nor by his apostles, invested any man, or body of men, with authority to impose their explications of Scripture on the consciences of their brethren.
"Wherefore, being deeply impressed with these sentiments, and firmly persuaded that it is his duty to assert his religious liberty, by earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to. the saints in the Holy Scriptures, after mature deliberation, finds he cannot with a good conscience hold the office of a minister of this National Church on the terms of his admission to that office. I mean not to advance any thing against the doctrines contained in the Confession of Faith. I only disclaim the usurped authority which imposes the belief of that or any composition as a qualification for the holy ministry.
In an original letter, now before me, from Dr. Benson to Mr. Towgood, on this subject of Subscription, he says, "I am desirous you should see the inclosed letter on Subscription, because I hope you are proceeding in your answer to Powel's Sermon concerning Subscription to the Thirtynine Articles in any sense, in every sense, and in no sense at all; as articles of truth which are not true; as articles of peace which create endless contentions; as articles of the Church