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MEMBERS INTO CHURCH-FELLOWSHIP. for baptizing, in the name of the Divine testimonies to the Messiahship of the THREE, all who profess to have received crucified Jesus; but inasmuch as you the heavenly message. The simple so recently manifested the most inquestion, then, on this part of our sub- veterate hatred against him and his ject is on what ground was baptism cause, so that you would be satisfied administered by the primitive preachers with nothing less than putting him to of the Gospel ?-And here we are at no an ignominious death, I cannot admit loss for examples, numerous and strik- you to the sacred ordinance of baptism, ing, of the manner in which they ex- until I have had time' to prove the ecuted their important charge. On the sincerity of your repentance." For the day of Pentecost, Peter preached that samé reason Philip also, when he went admirable sermon to his countrymen, in down to Samaria, to preach Christ in which he proves by a reference to pro- that city, might have refused to baptize phecies long since uttered, but only now Simon the sorcerer. How easy might fulfiled, that Jesus of Nazareth, whom he have said, "Simon, you do certainly they had so recently put to death, was appear to be much taken with the indeed the true Messiah; and, that in miracles which are here performed in destroying him, they were guilty of the name of Jesus, and now openly promurdering the Prince of life and glory. fess your faith in him; but seeing you But, under the accumulated load of have for so long a time been practising their guilt, when many of them cried upon the public, evidently with a view out, "Men and brethren what shall we do," to promote your own interest, and to Peter nevertheless called them to re- procure for yourself a great name, I canpentance, or to change their minds not consistently with the honour of the respecting the character of Him, whom church, and the regard I owe to my own they had so impiously rejected and character, baptize you as yet; I must crucified, to admit his divine claims in have 'time' to be convinced that you all their extent, and to own him "both are a proper subject of baptism; I must Lord and Christ." "Then, they that have full proof of the genuineness of gladly received his word," we are in your repentance; I must have undeniaformed, "were baptized," Acts ii. What ble evidence of the sincerity and uprightan intelligible exposition have we here ness of your motives, and the morality of the meaning of our Lord's commis- of your conduct; and ultimately, I must sion! and whether multitudes, or in- have a minute detail of your 'exdividuals were addressed, we find the perience,' or of the work of grace upon same plain, unambiguous line of con- your heart,' before I can accede to your duct pursued. The Gospel was preached, request, in baptizing you as a disciple of and when men came forward and volun- Jesus Christ." tarily professed their belief in the "good tidings" it conveyed, they were at once, without any prerequisite, baptized as disciples of the Lord Jesus. The baptism of the Samaritans, Simon the sorcerer, the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul of Tarsus, Lydia, the Philippian jailor, &c. goes to shew, and undeniably proves, that it was administered on their first personal confession of the faith of Christ; and surely we must admit, that those who did it, acted under the immediate countenance and authority of their divine Lord.
If time, to prove the sincerity of those who professed repentance and faith in Christ, had been a prerequisite to baptism, how plausibly might it have been urged in almost all the recorded cases in the New Testament. Peter might have said to the Jews on the day of Pentecost "I do, indeed, perceive that many of you have gladly received my
It is palpable, however, that nothing of this kind was required, either by the Apostles or Evangelists, as the ground of Christian baptism. Nothing more was requisite in that age of purity, than a simple confession of faith in the Redeemer, to entitle an individual to that sacred ordinance; and who would have the hardihood to accuse the ambassors of Christ of want of prudence, in administering it on that plain and simple ground? What I have stated, appears to me to be a scriptural view of the conduct of the Apostles, relative to this part of the subject, which brings us to consider,
2nd. "Is their conduct binding upon us?" To a person who admits the Scriptures to be the word of God, and therefore imperishable and eternal truth, one thinks little need be said in reply to this question. For, if I admit that the Bible gives a faithful representation of
done, but I trust the importance of the
God's will; that in the New Testament, especially the preaching, the precepts, and the conduct of the Apostles, form a perfect exposition of the mind of Christ, relative to the affairs of his kingdom; then, as a necessary consequence, 1 must, to be consistent, admit also, that
I am bound to receive the truth as they ON THE LAWFULNESS OF DEFENhave stated it, and to follow them as they followed Christ. If this be the case, then the conduct of the Apostles as to the ground on which they administered Christian baptism, is binding upon every one of his disciples. To deviate from it, is an impeachment of his wisdom, and on whose immediate authority they acted. To require more than was required by them, would be to make the Christian's burden heavy, which he nounced to be light; and to cast stumbling blocks in the way of many of his "little ones," at the very threshold of his kingdom. Inattention to the conduct of the Apostles as a "rule" to the churches of Christ, has been, and still remains, one prolific source of error of almost every kind and degree; and let us all rest assured, that it is only when professing Christians begin to think and act for themselves, determined by the blessing of God to find out the truth, and follow it up in all its consequences, that we can form any reasonable expectation of genuine success to the cause of Zion. But I know there is a great difficulty in laying aside opinions and practices of long standing; many things that are inimical to the truth exist in most of our dissenting churches; we are familiarized with them from our infancy; they grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength; until we are ready to treat every one as an enemy, who presumes to call in question our favourite dogmas, though he may have Scripture and reason at his back!
This, however, is not the way to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To do this we must be ready to "prove all things," and have firmness enough to "hold fast that which is good," regardless alike both of the smiles of friends, and the frowns of enemies, if so be that at last we may be graciously numbered amongst those, who with significant propriety_are_designated the "followers of the Lamb."
I fear I have taken up more of your valuable pages than I ought to have
Preston, March 3, 1824.
There is a query in your last month's Magazine-" Whether war be lawful in any case for Christians? I would answer it by proposing another : viz.
"Had the Querist been present in Gill's-hill-lane, when Thurtell pursued Weare, who was endeavouring to escape from him, would it have been improper for him to have interposed between the murderer and his victim; and if the former had persevered in his attempt, to have resisted him even to blood?"
Now, may not what is lawful in the case of an individual, be lawful in the case of a hundred or a thousand, or any greater number? If so, defensive war (and that alone) is lawful.
I am as heartily desirous of the abolition of wars, as the querist can be; but this argument appears to me deci
Let it be our aim to propagate the peaceful doctrines and precepts of the Gospel; and they, by the appointment of God and the energy of his Spirit will abolish wars. For, then and then only shall men learn war no more, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. C.
BEAUTY! What a transnt flow'r,
Noou may shine in vesture bright;
Happy he to whom 'tis giv'n;
T. S. A.
Private Correspondence of William Cowper, Esq.
(Continued from page 88.)
MODERN times have produced few characters in which the public have taken a deeper interest, than that of COWPER. Considered simply in the light of a poet, his claims to regard may be much inferior to several of the choice spirits of our own day-the Scotts and Wordsworths, the Southeys, and especially Lord Byron, the mention of whose name reminds us of a spirited pamphlet which has just made its appearance among us, and in which a comparison is drawn between Cowper and his lordship. As our readers cannot but be pleased with the sketch, which they will perceive discovers the hand of a master, we shall present them with it in this place. But that they may enter more fully into the pertinency of the remarks, it is proper to premise, that some of Lord Byron's admirers have observed, that he is the only poet, Cowper alone excepted, that has drawn his own portrait, and mixed himself up with the unfading verdure of his works. On this the writer, who takes the signature of CATO, pertinently remarks:
"But your lordship's self-exhibitions are of an entirely different cast. You, it is true, like Cowper, expose to us your heart. But alas! what a heart! filled with a pride, as insolent as it is weak, alone with one overwhelming passion; scorning all established notions; all that time has sanctified; all that experience has stamped with utility; all that profound and collective wisdom has nounced venerable; treating with a narrow and unmanly contempt his contemporaries, his place of education, his country, his very kind; and delivering over to a low and course derision every person and object around him, which are considered as deserving of respect. Wherever Cowper appears upon the stage of his works, he proper resentment of feelings that are brings with him virtuous feelings, and a not virtuous. Wherever your lordship is pleased to figure among your heroes, and to amalgamate the soul of your sentiments with theirs, virtuous feelings are a dead lumber presently swept behind the scenes. He evermore introduces us into good company; you into company that we are glad to get rid of as speedily as we can. He joins virtue with genius, and by the instruction of the one increases the fully dissolve the connection, and leave enchantment of the other; you disdainyour genius naked and exposed. All the
per, we find no resemblance of in your lordship. Indeed the very foundation of our approval of his mixing himself with his poetry, is a reason for condemning the like identification in yourself. It is his kind and overflowing benevolence; the tender and domestic turn of his mind, connecting itself with domestic enjoyments, with the happiness of the brute creation, with sweet retired scenery, with frequent moral reflection, with all that man believes to be virtuous, and feels to be grateful, that makes us pleased to see him in every successive page of his works. He joins us on the road only to heighten the relish of our prospects, and to increase the gratification of our pleasure. As we journey on together, we become better acquainted, and uneasy at the thoughts of separation. He has no reserves, no concealments. He shews us his heart, its errors and its goodness, and its goodness extenuating, and nearly cancelling its
"The charm which attaches us to Cow-grounds of comparison between you will, in fact, be found to be violated, and Cowper must, by intermixing himself up with his poetry, as an actual living man expressing his own sentiments, thoughts, hopes and fears,' continue to delight; while the same conduct on your part, 'covered by no very thick disguise,' must inevitably disgust. Though, therefore, Cowper may be in your estimation no poet-his great and original work will be considered, probably, as giving a flat contradiction to your assertion. The Task' is no evanescent labour. It will live-and to the congenial feelings and just admiration of posterity will endear the genius of Cowper, when Harold for his pride, Cain for his blasphemy, and Juan for his licentiousness, shall have scattered the laurels of Lord Byron, and consigned his poetry to an early and a loathed grave."
But it is now time for us to return to
* Cato to Lord Byron, on the Immorality of his Writings, p. 107–110,
nishes us with a concise biographical sketch of the Poet's life, and may therefore be properly introduced in this place, as a companion to his Portrait.
don. At that place I had not resided long, when I was led to an intimate connexion with a family of the name of Unwin. I soon quitted my lodging, and took up my abode with them. I had not lived long under their roof, when Mr. Unwin, as he was riding one Sunday morning to his cure at Gravely, was thrown from his win having the same views of the gospel horse; of which fall he died. Mrs. Unas myself, and being desirous of attending a purer ministration of it than was to be found at Huntingdon, removed to Olney, where Mr. Newton was at that time the preacher, and I with her. There we continued till Mr. Newton, whose family was the only one in the place with which we could have a connexion, and with whom we lived always on the most intimate terms, left it. After his departure, find
the situation no longer desirable, and our house threatening to fall upon our heads, we removed hither. Here we have a good house in a beautiful village, and, for the greatest part of the year, a most agreeable neighbourhood. Like you, Madam, I stay much at home, and have not its environs, more than once these twenty travelled twenty miles from this place and
March 3, 1788.
I owe you many acknowledgments,
frame of mind. With your view of religi-
All this I have written, not for the singularity of the matter, as you will perceive, but partly for the reason which I gave at the outset, and partly that, seeing we are become correspondents, we may know as much of each other as we can, and that as soon as possible.
There is nothing in my story that can possibly be worth your knowledge; yet, lest I should seem to treat you with a reserve which, at your hands, I have not experienced, such as it is, I will relate it. -I was bred to the law; a profession to which I was never much inclined, and in which I engaged rather because I was desirous to gratify a most indulgent father, than because I had any hope of success in it, myself. I spent twelve years in the Temple, where I made no progress in that science, to cultivate which I was sent thither. During this time my father died. Not long after him, died my mother-in-law, and at the expiration of it, a melancholy seized me, which obliged me to quit London, and consequently to renounce the bar. I lived some time at St. Albans. After having suffered in that place long and extreme affliction, the storm was suddenly dispelled, and the same dayspring from on high which has arisen upon you, arose on me also. I spent eight years in the enjoyment of it, and have ever since the expiration of those eight years, been occasionally the prey of the same melancholy as at first. In the depths of it I wrote the Task, and the volume which preceded it; and in the same deeps I am now translating Homer. But to return to St. Albans. I abode there a year and a half. Thence I went to Cambridge, where I spent a short time with my brother, in whose neighbourhood I determined, if possible, to pass the remainder of my days. He
The following Letter, to the same lady, being a continuation of his own history, has a claim to insertion.
April 11, 1788,
The melancholy that I have mentioned, and concerning which you are so kind as to enquire, is of a kind, so far as I know, peculiar to myself. It does not at all affect the operations of my mind on any subject to which I can attach it, whether serious or ludicrous, or whatsoever it may be; for which reason I am almost always employed either in reading or writing when I am not engaged in conversation. A vacant hour is my abhorrence; because, when I am not occupied, I suffer under the whole influence of my unhappy temperament.. I thank you for your recommendation of a
soon found a lodging for me at Hunting-medicine from which you have received
I beg, Madam, that you will present my best respects to Mr. King, whom together with yourself, should you at any time hereafter take wing for a longer flight than usual, we shall be happy to receive at Weston, and believe me, dear Madam, his and your obliged and affectionate,
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF WM. COWPER, ESQ.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
benefit yourself; but there is hardly any thing that I have not proved, however beneficial it may have been found by others, in my own case utterly useless. I have, therefore, long since bid adieu to all hope from human means, the means excepted of perpetual employment.
I thank you for your last, and for the verses in particular, therein contained; in which there is not only rhime but reason. And yet I fear that neither you nor I, with all our reasoning and rhiming, shall effect much good in this matter. So far as I can learn, and I have had intelligence from a quarter within the reach of such as is respectable, our Governors are not animated altogether with such heroic ardour as the occasion might inspire. They consult frequently, indeed, in the Cabinet about it; but the frequency of their consultations in a case so plain as this would be, (did not what Shakspeare calls commodity, and what we call political expe
I will not say that we shall never meet, because it is not for a creature, who knows not what shall be to-morrow, to assert any thing positively concerning the future. Things more unlikely I have yet seen brought to pass, and things which, if I had expressed myself of them at all, I should have said were impossible. But being respectively circumstanced as we are, there seems no present probability of it. You speak of insuperable hindrances; and I also have hindrances that would be equally difficult to surmount. One is, that I never ride, that I am not able to perform a jour-diency, cast a cloud over it,) rather beney on foot, and that chaises do not roll speaks a desire to save appearances, than within the sphere of that economy which to interpose to purpose. Laws will, I supmy circumstances oblige me to observe. pose, be enacted for the more humane If this were not of itself sufficient to ex- treatment of the negroes; but who shall cuse me, when I decline so obliging an insee to the execution of them? The plantvitation as yours, I could mention yet ers will not, and the negroes cannot. In other obstacles. But to what end? One fact we know, that laws of this tendency impracticability makes as effectual a bar- have not been wanting, enacted even rier as a thousand. It will be otherwise amongst themselves; but there has been in other worlds. Either we shall not bear always a want of prosecutors, or righteous about us a body, or it will be more easily judges; deficiencies, which will not, be transportable than this. In the mean time, very easily supplied. The newspapers by the help of the post, strangers to each have lately told us, that these merciful other may cease to be such, as you and I masters have, on this occasion, been occuhave already begun to experience. pied in passing ordinances, by which the lives and limbs of their slaves are to be secured from wanton cruelty hereafter. But who does not immediately detect the artifice, or can give them a moment's credit for any thing more than a design, by this show of lenity, to avert the storm which they think hangs over them. On the whole, I fear there is reason to wish, for the honour of England, that the nuisance had never been troubled; lest we eventually make ourselves justly chargea ble with the whole offence by not removing it. The enormity cannot be palliated; we can no longer plead that we were not aware of it, or that our attention was otherwise engaged; and shall be inexcusable, therefore, ourselves, if we leave the least part of it unredressed. Such arguments as Pharaoh might have used, to justify his destruction of the Israelites, substituting sugar for bricks, may lie ready for our use also; but I think we can find no better.
It is indeed, Madam, as you say, a foolish world, and likely to continue such till the Great Teacher shall himself vouchsafe to make it wiser. I am persuaded that time alone will never mend it. But there is doubtless a day appointed when there shall be a more general manifestation of the beauty of holiness than mankind have ever yet beheld. When that period shall arrive, there will be an end of profane representations, whether of Heaven or Hell, on the stage-the great realities will supersede them.
I have just discovered that I have written to you on paper so transparent, that it will hardly keep the contents a secret. Excuse the mistake, and believe me, dear Madam, with my respects to Mr. King, Affectionately yours, W.C.
In the following Letter, we have the sentiments of Cowper on the subject of the Slave Trade, which it seems, at that time became a topic of general interest. As it is now once more reviving amongst us, and we hope likely to lead to some important practical results, the letter deserves attention.
April 19, 1788.
We are tolerably well, and shall rejoice to hear that, as the year rises, Mrs. Newton's health keeps pace with it. Believe me, my dear friend,
Affectionately and truly yours, W.C. The following extract from a letter to MR. NEWTON, dated Oct. 26, 1790, pre