Imatges de pÓgina

the doctrines which they contain with the doctrines of Christianity? I The corruption of Christianity has do not believe it. These persons been so radical, and the language of surely have a dislike of strong meats, the Scriptures has been so systematic because they are by them indigestible. cally misinterpreted, that the reading of But grani these are some who are a few meditations and prayers, and a well informed on such topics-will few select sermons, written in a liberal they be so interested in their feelings style, can neither discover the error, as not occasionally to allow what is nor manifest the truth; both of which suitable and necessary for others the are equally necessary for the perfect ignorant? There is certainly a nuemancipation of the mind. Most nierous class, that want information persons, it is true, have a general concerning the doctrives of Christisuperficial knowledge of Christianity; anity. Those whose education and and were a preacher to take a super- situation in life, whose daily necessary ficial common-placc view of any doc- attention to the concerns of life, to trine, there would be some justice in their daily bread, preclude the acqui. the objection, as far as it regards those sition of inuch knowledge by reading who are really well informed. But and books, are they never to be inthe truth of the case too generally is, structed in the fundamental truths of that even of those who will resort to religion, and never to be informed of this argument, few, I fear, have more and guarded against erroneous opithan a superficial knowledge of differ- nions, lest fastidious cars should be ent systems of religion, or of the inter- offended? The young people in most pretation of the Scriptures. I have societies are without much elementary certainly a strong suspicion that their knowledge on the subject of religion. dislike of attending to the doctrines Are they, too, to be led to suppose by of religion, and the arguments by the quality of the matter that always which they may be defended or descends from the pulpit, that the assailed, arises immediately and en- Christian religion is sufficiently laught tirely from their unacquaintedness and inculcated by a few well-turned with them. I believe it to be always sentiments about the amiableness of a plain matter of fact, that those who virtue, the pleasures of refined emo are least acquainted with the sub- tions, and the harmony of well-tuned jects of controversy, are least interested affections? I have no damnatory in the discussion of them, and vice clauses in my creed, but I know very

well what dependence is to be placed • Involved in religious error as men on this kind of Christian institution. have been for ages, systematically For one thing-our most notable de perverted as the language of the Scrip- fections, of which I scarcely ever knew Lures has been from time immemorial, an instance which was grounded upon so completely changed as alniost every avowed principle, are to be attributed expression of the Sacred Writings has to the policy which dictates this kind been from its original intention; is it of public instruction. at all probable that general readers, It has been asserted, that contro those who have a dislike for all contro- rersial preaching necessarily

, scandaversy, those whose reading is trifling lizes the minds of those who differ and fashionable, those who deem it à from us, and that thus frequently the mark of great ignorance of the world most excellent and worthy men, even and rusticity of manners to avow friends and relations, are disunited in undisguisedly and publicly singularity charity and estranged in affection from of religious profession or opinion, and one another; and that, therefore, for exhibit independence of religious cha- the sake of peace and charity, contro sacter ; that those who never think of versial subjects should never be introreading any thing on religious subjects duced into the pulpit, bat a prayer and a chapter, or per- Peace and charity are certainly most chance a volume of sermons, or lec- excellent things, and, well understood, tires, or sacred dramas, by some are to be considered among the essenpopular writer, which the una popu- tials of religion; but they are not the lais may have sufficiently consecrated, only essentials, nor should we suffer with perhaps a treatise on education that to be sacrificed to them, which is in which religion is forgotten--that more important and essential than these should be sufficiently acquainted themselves-truth.


On Doctrinal, or Controversial Preaching.

459 It is a thing of general notoriety, barbarons and priestly-tyrannical suo that great difference of opinion exists perstition substituted for the religion of between very worthy and good men. Christ: and, in a word, if this arguNow, is human nature, improved by ment means any thing, we must save religion too, really so constituted, that the world for peace and harmony's the arowal of our belief, and the de- sake in quiet possession of all its mulfence of oar principles, must necessarily tifarious idolatries, errors, superstitions, lead us to hate and injure one another rices. O, all ye holy martyrs and conAnd must wise and good men mntually fessors, what infernal cnensies were you conceal their sentiments with great to the peace and tranquillity of the care, and religiously forbear to urge world: ihc hoły zeal with which your their claims on the attention of man- noble army was animated, was a brand "kind, lest they should be scandalized, from Hell. Thou Martin Luther, with and be led into disputes? And would thy undaunted host of reformers, what this kind of forbearance and conceal- a pesi wert thou to the world: how ment be that 'thing which we call much malignity was displayed in conChristian charity ?

sequence of thy reformation; how Surely, a very false notion of charity many bloody wars were kindted; how and peace is iniplied in the above argu- many cities reduced to ruins; and how ment. Jesus Christ said, that he came many fair provinces laid waste and deto set a man at variance with his neigh- populated.' And thou,'O Priestley, bour, the father against the son, and (famam qui terminet astris,) whose unthe son against the father, &c. Here common sagacity in discovering, and is an undoubted breach of charity. unappalled courage in 'publishing to But surely he is not guilty of it, though the world, truths long obscured and he be the occasion, who believes in lost, naturally attracted the enmity of Christ, and follows him; but he is mobs and interested priests; though guilty of it, who suffers the conscious thou hadst enlightened and benefited integrity of him who honestly avows Europe by thy discoveries, and thy na his belief in Christ to be the occasion tive country might be proud of nume of enmity and variance. “ Offences bering thee amongst her most honoured must come;" but the woe is to him by sons; yet, enemy of tranquillity, welt whom they unreasonably come, not to didst thou deserve thy fate : laudable "him who is the innocent occasion of was the design of the infuriated mob, them.

instigated to burn thee, together with If we allow its full scope to this ar- thy library and apparatus ; holy were gument, it proves too much, and is the maledictions, lies and caluma nies of plainly inadmissible.

If peace' and thy interested enemies; and glorious harmony are the only things to be con- for the conclusion of the eighteenth sulted, Jesus Christ should not have century was thy banishment to a dispreached repentance, a change of re- 'tant region, beyond the confines of Tigious sentiment and practice, to the civilized inhumanity. world, nor should he have so vehe- I am afraid that the spirit of rational mently attacked the Jewish Scribes inquiry has been long declining among and Pharisees because he differed froin the Presbyterian and rational Dissentthem. The apostles acted very wrong ers; and the richer class, I'am well in unsettling the minds of men, and aware, are exceedingly averse to every setting them at variance by their novel innovation, to every improvement, to ask opinions, and, as it were, turning the church-discipline, to doctrinal preachworld upside down. All missionary ing, in the exposition of the Scriptures: undertakings since the days of the they will give no countenance to cate2postles to our own, must be regarded chizing, to lectures, 10 associations for as crusades against peace and charity. information. It is no wonder that our We should never assail the idolatry societies in many places are in a deand superstition of the Heathen, be pressed state, in soine cxtinct. They cause their minds, of course, are scun

will become extinct in many more, dalized and offended: the Mahometans without a renovation. I could disclose must be left in quiet and peaceable pos- more of the evil, if this were the proper session of the errors of their false pro- place. I think I could point out as phet, of their seren heavens, their radical causes of our decay as have yet beautiful virgins, &c.: the Catholics appeared in any of the communications must be quietly suffered to retain a you have published, but this does not

belong to my present subject, and I of the reproach of proselytism, while must return.

reason and persuasion are my only The richer members of Presbyterian weapons of conversion. congregations appear to be ashamed to In justice to a numerous class of belong to a sect, and they wish their opulent Presbyterians and Unitarians, ministers to conforın as much as pos- it gives me great pleasure to observe, sible to the more liberal party in the before I conclude, thal there ure many Church. They must say their prayers most honourable exceptions to a too from a bock in a monotonous manner,

common rule. Many are truly conand they must read for sermons short sistent in their conduct; and by their moral essays, without any reference to consistency they maintain that respectthe peculiar doctrines of the gospel, or ability and dignity of character, which the anti-christian errors and delusions the others never fail to sacrifice, by of the age. These persons have too aping the manners of the world, and long continued to give the ton to our sacrificing independence of principle: Presbyterian congregations: they have still, many to whom this praise truly damped, and half extinguished free belongs, night do more, much more, and liberal inquiry: they have tied the by a renewed attention to the interests hands of our ministers: they have of religious truth--by their example, numbed the energies of our people: by their wealth, by their personal exthey mistakenly imagine that a zeal for ertions and general influence. their religious profession and opinions Sir,-If these remarks should induce would disqualify them for the general any of your readers duly to consider the society of men of their own rank in the subject, more especially if they should world. Hence they become ashamed excite amicable discussion, and promote of the peculiarities of the conventicle, practical improvement, my object will like a rich man of his poor relations; be fülly answered. I am, your's, &c. and their ingenuity from this time is

HOMILY. wasted on devising means how to serve God and Mammon, or how most spe- Apparent Inconsistencies of great Minds, ciously to desert the former for the exemplified in u Series of Extracts on Jatter. It would be much better for Future Punishment. the Presbyterians if such persons would [Concluded from p. 330.] leave them at once, as a thing of course, BUT

the fore-cited authors are not as soon as they became rich: for as it is, generally read: it may be proper, they not only will not enter themselves therefore, in the same view, to mention into the kingdom of heaven, but they a few of those, which are universally hinder others from entering.

celebrated and admired. This process' has been gradually The classic moralists of the United going, on since the Restoration. At Kingdoms, though the most profound that time the Nonconforinists consisted reasoners in matters of practice, yet, of many persons of rank and influence: seldom deviate from the strait line of at this time, I believe, they cannot lay orthodoxy, so called, in matters of 'claim to an individual of the nobility theory. Though the avowed friends for gentry, We perfectly, however, of toleration, and enemies to bigotry understand the process by which this and persecution in every form, they transformation has been cffected—by never censure the ecclesiastical estameans of the prevalence of a worldly blishments of their own country, either spirit over religious principle. Though in doctrine, constitution, or discipline. many men of property' still remain No doubt they either thought all these among us, yet the too general spirit of things right and as they should be, or conformity to the world, and the dread they had their reasons for proceeding of being suspected partial to the pecu- no farther, into which we do not liarities of a sect, and zealous in propa- now inquire. But there is one cire galing heresy, are sad presentiments of cumstance here which deserves notice: still further defections. But we hope notwithstanding all their wit and all that the defection of the degenerate their wisdom, they sometimes, in their will be well supplied by the virtue and theological essays, adopt a kind of courage of fresh accessions : for I am phrasealogy, neither called for by the not ashamed to avow my prayer and occasion, justifiable by the common desire that truth and rightcousness use of figurative language, nor even should prevail. I shall never be ashamed upon their own religious principles,

Inconsistencies of Writers, on Future Punishment,

461 and which should not be drawn into Surely, this can never be the religion precedent. In The Guardian, No. 88, of Jesus ! “Whom should we teach the writer, representing the advantages knowledge, and cause to receive inof revealed religion, above those of na- struction? Them that are weaned tural, observes, " It is owing to the from the milk, and drawn from the God of truth, who came down from breasts.” heaven, and condescended to be him- Dr. Kippis, the late pious and learned self our Teacher!" This is neither editor of the Biographia Britannica, to sense nor orthodoxy: it is the language the life of Daniel de Foe, written by his of a modern Swedenborgian. Thus, colleague, Dr. Towers, adds a note, che likewise, Mr. Addison concludes a su- substance of which we shall here inblime paper on the Passion, 'with this sert. “Many fine displays of natural extraordinary sentiment:“Sure, Na- sentiment occur in Robinson Crusoe's ture, all Nature, is departing with her man, Friday, one of which is particuCreator!" But this by the way. larly striking. In a conversation with These admirable writers also appear, his master concerning the Devil

, being in general, to adopt the popular ideas told that God is stronger than he; he of tinture punishment. We shall only inquires, in his broken dialect, why, if quote one passage from The Guardian, this be the case, the Almighty doth on the opposite side of the question. not destroy this evil, being, and so put

In this work, No. 158, the author, an end to his wickedness? To this under the similitude of a dream, in- Crusce replied, that God would at last troduces his readers into the court of punish the Devil

, severely; that he is Rhadamanthus, one of the supposed reserved for judgment, and is to be cast * heathen judges of men after death., into the bottomless pit, to dwell with Among the rest, a certain female was, everlasting fire. Friday, however, still brought before him, who, to his first dissatisfied, returns upon his masterquestion, replied, that she had done · Rescive at last ?' and thinks it unno hurt;" but when it was asked, accountable why such a malevolent " what good she had been doing?", being was not destroyed long ago ! made no answer, and appeared jut You may as well ask me,' replied much confusion; when immediately Crusoe, why God doth not destroy one of the attendants took her by thel you and me, when we do wicked hand to convey her to Elysium, and things that offend him; we are preanother with the intention of conveying, served to repent, and be pardoned. At her to Erebus : but “ Rhadamanthus, this, Friday appears highly pleased, observing'an ingenuous modesty in her and goes on to express his satisfaction countenance and behaviour, bid them in being persuaded, that both wicked both let her loose, and set her aside for men and devils are preserved to repent, a re-examination, when he was more at and that God will finally pardon all !" 11 leisure.” Here, the ingenious writer . The annotator adds,"

*. Perhaps it evidently suggests, that there are cha-, would be going too far to assert, that racters, which, after death, may be De Toe here intended covertly to insiconsidered as neither fit for heaven orr nuate, that there might be a more mer-4 hell; and that such will assuredly meet i ciful distribution of things in the final with a correspondent treatment, from results of Divine Providence, than he a righteous and impartial Judges 70'1. dared, at that time, openly to exhibit,"

Mrs. Chapone, in her elegant Letters, It is presumed froin' this specimen, (L. 3.) after deactibing the judgment few of our teaders will doubt, that the day, and the sentence of the wicked, as pious biographer was 'fully justified in that which müst“ determine their fate suggesting these ideas of De Foe's real to all eternity," instead of evtering into sentiments

, which, also, the present the reasons of this supposed irreversible writer hath every reason to believe, sentence, presently addsLet us lura from a long, happy, and personal acfrom this horrid, this, insupportable quaintance and intercourse with him, view!" What!, a doctrine of the gos-- were fully congenial with his own. pel,“ horrid and insupportable" even There are, however, many modern in idea--that will scarcely bear 4-mogy professors, who appear iar inferior,ain ment's reflection that cannot admit of being impressed upon the juvenile and See also, in this view, the Life of the tender mind for a single instant, with Earl of Shaftsbury, in the new edition of out danger of benumbing its faculties h'i the B. B. ch. Carvonni dont to VOL, XL.


de exercise of Christian sympathy and Breathing united force, with fixed thought, benevolence, to this simple' Africun; Mou'd or in silence to soft pipes, That who seem to envy the prince of


apos. tates the very possibility of a restoration, Their painful steps o’es the burnt soil", and who, perhaps, would scarcely be Then, as to the place to which they reconciled to him, were he in reality, were consigned, one of the chiets, in as well as in appearance, to be again the council of Pandemonium, employs " transformed into an angel of light." this language: We shall close these observations

“ As He our darkness, cannot we His upon authors, with a few remarks on

light the sentiments of two of the greatest of Imitate when ur please! This desert smil, any age and nation, Milton and Young. Wants not ber hidden lustre, gems and

Of the general merit of that " Divine gold, Poem," as it is emphatically styled by Nor want we skill or art from whence to Mr. Addison and others, Paradise Lost, raise there can be but one opinion : that Magnificence; and what can Heaven sbex eminent writer hath admirably illus- more!" trated its beauties, and pointed out After the close of the Stygian Council, some of its blemishes. Dar inquiry the poct gives the following account of here, is only as to the consistency of the amusements and diversions of the some of the sentiments contained in it, fallen spirits, “ till their great Chief's. with the doctrine of eternal punishment, return:* which, in its highest possible sense, the sublime poet is commonly supposed

“ Part on the plain, or in the air su

blime to have adopted.

l'pon the wing, or in swift race contend In the astonishing description of the As at the Olympic games, or Pythian fields : consequences of the War in Heaven, Part curb their fiery steeds; or sbun the in the 1st book, though we behold goal “ Cherub and Seraph rolling in the With rapid wbeels, or fronted brigades form. flood," it is “ with scattered arms and Others, with vast Typbæan rage, more fell, ensigns;" and " the superior Fiend" is Rend up both rooks and hills, and ride the represented with his ponderous shield,

air whose broad circumference hung on la whirlwind : Hell scarce holds the wild bis shoulders like the moon," at whose

uproar! tremendous call, the multitude of

Others, more mild, apostate spirits are aroused “ from Retreated in a silent valley, sing their slumber on the fiery couch," to their own heroic deeds, and hapless fan

With notes angelical to many a harp attend his sunimons. At his command, By doom of battle: and complain that fate “ The mighty standard" is upreared by Free virtue should cathral to force or the Cherub Azazel :

chance. “ Which full high advanced, Their song was partial; but the harmony Shone like a meteor streaming to the wipd,, (What could it less, when spirits immortal With genis and golden lustre rich emblaz'd, sing?) Scraphie arms and trophies : all the while. Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds." The thronging audience. In discourse

more sweet, Being now arranged

(For eloquence the soul, song charms the * " In thick array,

sense,) Of depth immeasurable; anon they more Others apart sat on a hill retir'd, Iu perfect phalanx, to the Dorian mood In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd higba Of Autes, and soft recorders; such as raised of Providence, foreknowledge, will, and To height of noblest temper, beroes old

fate Arming to battle, and instead of rage, Soon after we are told, another part Deliberate ralour breathed; firm and un- proceed to explore the regions of their

moved With dread of death, to fight or foul re

wide domain, who at length meet with treat :

a frozen continent," whither, Nor wanting power, to mitigate and swage “ At certain revolutions, all the damned Jith solemn touches, trabled thoughts, Are brought, and feel by turns the bitter and chase

cbange Anguish and doubt, and fear, and sorrow, Of fierec estremes, extremes by change and pain

more fierce From mortal, or immortal minds? ThessFrom beds of raging fire, te starre in ice

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