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Observer, June 1, 71,
which he administered. But these strange beings, whom the House of Commons laughed at, glory in the name of Baptists where Baptism is not indispensable, it is not to be wondered at that such folly should provoke laughter; even in the House of Commons.
R. D. Bath.
REV. C. VOYSEY AND D. KING.
MR. VOYsey has been favoured with the use of the leading Unitarian pulpits in Birmingham. In connection with his occupation thereof, he delivered a lecture on Rationalism, in the Masonic Hall, Alderman Holland in the chair, supported by the Revs. C. Clarke, H. W. Crosskey and others. The lecture was a defence of Rationalism, and the marvel is that Unitarian ministers, who claim to pass as Christian ministers, should for a moment aid Mr. Voysey in disseminating his common-place Infidelity.
In the course of his lecture he intimated that, “ Rationalism is not a set of dogmas, but a method of religious thought.”. He said,
He said, “ All sacred
books, of every country and race, were on the same level as regarded their authority: they saw no reason for accepting one set as of Divine authority any more than another set. The Bible had no greater claim to Divine origin than the Koran of the Mohammedans, or the Vedas of the Hindoo." He ridiculed the idea of God making one man and one woman perfect, but that their perfection was so slight, that this perfect couple broke the first law which God gave them to keep.” He then insisted that the Bible represents God as cursing all their posterity on account of their one transgression, sentencing them to endless life in inextinguishable torments. He further represented God as continuing to create generations of men whom He hates even from the hour of their birth. Various points of Bible doctrine were in like manner held up to contempt, but all grossly misrepresented, after the manner common to the Infidel platform. The atonement he denies, the death and resurrection of Christ he does not admit, and yet, till within a few weeks, he continued to minister in the Church of England, fought to the last to continue there, and only left when thrust out. We need no hard words to designate the man who could thus act, the fact speaks for itself.
The lecture, here referred to, having been largely reported in all the Birmingham papers, Mr. King was advertised to lecture with special reference to it
, and accordingly a most attentive audience crowded the Temperance Hall on the occasion. Time does not suffice to write an outline of the lecture. The Birmingham Gazette gave a very condensed outline, with some amount of imperfection, from which the following, with here and there a corrected phrase is taken, Mr. King said that “Our sceptical friends seem to assume that they. are the only free-thinkers and rational beings in existence, but he denied their right to such an assumption. The opinions he held were the result of free-thinking and he had as much right to apply to himself the terms · Free Thinker' and · Rationalistas had Messrs. Voysey, Bradlaugh, or Holyoake. He was not a Christian because his parents were Christians, but from conviction, after free thought. He stood before the meeting as a Rationalist, if he were allowed to look at the word Etymologically; but when it is used to denote those who do not believe in the Bible, he is not a Rationalist. Mr. Voysey had come to Birmingham to tell the people what Rationalism is, and he had explained that it is not a new set of dogmas or opinions, but that it is a
new method of religious thought. Rationalism, then, is a new method of thought. It is necessary to test all things that are new, and therefore it would be necessary to test this new method of thought,' and to see whether it leads to reliable results, and if it did so, he for one should be happy to make it his own. Take one question—the Deity—and see whether Rationalism led to reliable results. Mr. Voysey had said that he was a believer in God, as a result of the 'new method of thought. Mr. Holyoake was also a Rationalist, and he denies that there is any evidence of a Deity. Mr. Bradlaugh, another Rationalist, affirms that it is impossible for God to exist, and yet all these men are Rationalists, although differing on the most important questions. One of them says there is a God; another, that there is no evidence that there is a God; and a third, that it is impossible there could be a God. Was, then, this new method of thought' reliable? They were told by Mr. Voysey that an infallible revelation by God to man would be a curse to man, and that it would have the effect of degrading God in the eyes of man. Were such a revelation possible, Mr. Voysey said, it would only have the effect of undoing at one stroke all His wise discipline and cultivation of our varied faculties. He (the lecturer) should like to know from Mr. Voysey upon what grounds he arrived at the conclusion-or by what 'mode of thought' --that it would be impossible' for God to make to man an infallible revelation, without that revelation being a curse. The revelation of God's will could not be a curse, and to God nothing is impossible. He did not like to use hard words, but the language used by Mr. Voysey with reference to the Bible was simply the purest nonsense.
If there be a God,' said Mr. Voysey, he must be at least as good as the noblest of men, and of course immeasurably better. I call this the fundamental axiom on which all true religious ideas rest.' By means of that axiom Mr. Voysey undertook to determine what was true and what was false in the Bible. He reasoned from that point—that whatever we conceived to be good, God could not do anything opposite, otherwise He would be worse then we are. He (the lecturer) should like to know where Mr. Voysey got his information from. What Mr. Voysey liked in the Bible he took to be true, and what he did not like he put down as false. Speaking of the Trinity, Mr. Voysey said, “There is nothing unreasonable in saying that there is a God infinite and good, and there is nothing unreasonable in saying that there are three Gods; but when it is said that there is at the same time only one God it is a little too much. The word Trinity did not occur in the Bible, and when he (the lecturer) spoke of things in the Bible he spoke in Bible terms, and stated that 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' Having quoted further passages in support of the belief in the Godhead of our Saviour, the lecturer said he was fully prepared at any time to defend that great doctrine. But Mr. Voysey misrepresents Trinitarians generally. They do not, as he puts it, say, there are three Gods—they speak of three personalities in one God-they say not three Gods but one. Speaking about our Creator, Mr. Voysey said, “We are told that God made one man and one woman perfect, but that their perfection was so slight, and so ill fortified, that this perfect couple broke the first law which God had given them to keep ;' and he also said that the Bible stated that God was so angry with the frail pair that he cursed all their posterity on account of their own transgressions, sentencing them to endless life in inextinguishable torments.' Now Mr. Voysey believed that there was one God, that God was good, and that he is the Creator. Mr. Voysey also
Observer, June 1, '71.
said that the Bible expected us to believe that the Creator went on creating creatures whom he hated, whereas the Bible told us that · He so loved us that he gave Christ to save us. Mr. Voysey had spoken of God making man and then sentencing man to 'endless life in inextinguishable torments.' Now, he would give £500 to any person who would prove that the Bible said anything of the kind. It never used the words, and Mr. Voysey was either very ignorant or very wicked. It was a libel upon the Bible, and a falsehood put upon us. . It was at first,' said Mr. Voysey, ' absolutely a step in the right direction to deify Christ, to set him up, man as he was, and encompassed with human infirmity, above the Gods of the nations which were round about him.' Thus Mr. Voysey justified a falsehood, and the misleading of a nation by stating what was untrue, but he (the lecturer) trusted there was more reverence for the truth then to believe such statements, and if a lie. was justifiable at one time it was justifiable now, but it never was so. Every point in the Bible with which Mr. Voysey dealt he misrepresented, but it was in perfect accordance with Messrs. Bradlaugh, Holyoake, and Watts. Having further confuted some of the reasonings of Mr. Voysey, the lecturer said he hoped at a future time to take up the doctrine of the atonement, which had also been attacked by Mr. Voysey, and his motto would be to prove all things and hold fast by that which is true.'
The foregoing report is too imperfect to do more than indicate the line of argument. Mr. Voysey not being satisfied with the handling afforded him, forwarded the following letter to the Gazette :
“Sir,- I would not ask you to allow me to reply to Mr. David King through your columns, but twice in the report of his lecture in your paper of yesterday there is a misquotation of my words printed in inverted commas, which I must beg you to permit me to correct. The phrase "sentencing them to endless life or inextinguishable torments' is one I never used. My words were sentencing them to endless life in inextinguishable torments. Mr. Dávid King offers £500 to any person who would prove that the Bible said anything of the kind. Now, though the Bible does not use these exact words, I leave your readers to judge whether or not the following texts say something of the kind' dangerously near to exactness, which might place Mr. David King's £500 in jeopardy :
Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'--Matt. xxv. 41. These shall go away into everlasting punishment.”—Matt. xxv. 46.
The false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.'—Rev. xx. 10. 'He that believeth not shall be damned.' --Mark xvi. 16. By common consent, all orthodox Christians have hitherto acknowledged that the Bible does teach the doctrine of eternal torments, and that the necessity for the atonement rests upon the assumption of that curse of God which consigned our race to those tormerts. Dr. Watts puts it pithily in these lines :
And everlasting pains,
In darkness, fire, and chains.' Moreover, I have just been condemned by the Privy Council for denying that all men are by nature under the curse of God, and under sentence of endless suffering.'
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, CHARLES VOYSEY. P.S.—I take no notice of Mr. King's other statements, knowing that they will refute themselves. Healaugh Vicarage, Tadcaster, May 16.” To which Mr. King wrote in reply
"To the Editor of the Daily Gazette.-Sir, -I presume my reading of Mr. Voysey's words was not sufficiently emphatic to catch the ear of your Reporter, inasmuch as I did not depend upon memory, but read from a slip cut from one of the Birmingham papers, thus : - People were told how angry God was with the frail pair, and how he cursed all their posterity on account of their one transgression, sentencing them to endless life in inextinguishable torments. Now, sir, as to the duration of the punishment of the
. There is a dreadful hell
Observer, June 1, '71.
wicked, I offered, in my lecture, no opinion, nor did I allude to the nature of that punishment. What I denied, and still do deny, is, that the Bible anywhere teaches that all Adam's posterity was sentenced to eternal torments on account of the one offence of the first pair. I pointed out that it was death, not endless life in inextinguishable torments, that came upon all men in consequence of the one offence. Also that the removal of that penalty, by universal resurrection, comes to the whole race through the obedience of Christ—that, when raised from the dead, each one will be judged in regard to his own sins, and not at all on account of that of Adam. My allusion to £500 was solely in connection with this point; and, therefore, had I said that I would
that sum upon the production of proof that the Bible doomed all human beings to such torments on account of Adam's sin, my money would have been perfectly safe. But, in fact, I dià not promise to pay; my words were 'Now, if I were to promise £500 to any person who would prove that the Bible said anything of the kind, I should run no risk of suffering loss.' I purposely put it thus, not wishing to seem boastful of means. Of course your Reporter, condensing an hour's talking into about a half-column, is not supposed to do more than present what he deems the substance of the discourse. I can here merely state what in the lecture I affirmed as the doctrine of the Bible, as your pages would not be open to a discussion as to whether certain doctrines are therein taught. But, without going into such discussion, I may, as you have inserted Scripture
I from Mr. Voysey, say, that his four texts have no reference to the horrible doctrine attributed to the Bible in the words I cited from his lecture. They do not imply 'inextinguishable torments' as a curse for Adam's sin ; nor do they, even remotely, refer to any kind of punishment, or curse, imposed on account of the first offence. The first two refer only to persons who are addressed and condemned on the ground of their own conduct. The third is highly figurative, and does not allude to Adam's sin, but consigns the false prophet to torment for ever. The fourth merely affirms the condemnation of those who reject the gospel preached to them. This scrapquoting of Scripture is truly lamentable. I am sorry to have had to say that on almost every point Mr. Voysey introduced he fearfully misrepresented the Bible. That I am prepared to maintain at any time, either from the platform or by the press.
I remain, Sir, yours truly, May, 17, 1871.
DAVID KING." From Mr. Voysey's lectures we learn that he was a believer in Calvinism, and that when exercised as to the province of reason in regard to religion, he was influenced largely by his intercourse with a Roman Catholic priest. Romanism on the province of reason, and Calvinism with its dogmas of original sin, total depravity, irresistible grace, and final perseverance are just such forces as we should desire to employ if wishful to turn men away from the Bible and Christianity.
Biblical Criticism, Queries, &d.
FELLOWSHIP AND THE FELLOWSHIP.-No. III. We have seen that the fellowship of the Church of God is of divine appointment, involving contribution and distribution ; so that those who need shall be supplied from the treasury of the church, to which each member is called to contribute according to the measure of prosperity with which he is blessed. Having contemplated several questions relating to the purposes of this fellowship and to the proportion of income to be contributed, it remains that we enquire when and how the church is to contribute and disburse those funds the contribution and distribution of which fill up the signification of the phrase "attending to the fellowship." In reading “ And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in the fellowship," we understand not that contribution only is referred to, but the fellowship in its entirety—that there was stedfast attention to the bestowment of property, and to the distribution of the same, by those who
Observer, June 1, '71
had charge of it, for the purposes for which it was contributed. We freely admit that though the phrase covers the whole process, still the attending to any part of that process may be designated attending to the fellowship -so that in any given or particular instance, when we are said to be engaged in attending to the fellowship we might be contributing only, or, on the other hand, only distributing that which had been previously contributed.
On the distribution we need say but little. The apostles evidently, in the first instance, were the dispensers of the church funds to those who had need to receive therefrom. This we learn froin the fact that there arose a "murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.”—Acts vi. We also find that then the apostles called upon the church to elect men to be appointed over that business ; which business is that commonly committed to the deacons of the church. We also find that the ministration, in the matter of distribution, was daily, or when needed. It was not confined to the Lord's day, nor connected with any given ordinance or worship. As it was then, so, of course, it continues. Deacons, elected by the church and entrusted with its funds, should, we doubt not, at proper times give a due and proper account of their stewardship. Perhaps no more is at present needed in reference to the distribution.
The love of the first Christians.shone out most brightly in the fellowship. With them it was no stinted contribution of small coin, but a liberal bestowment, from loving hearts, to the Lord and to His brethren. They seemed to understand that what they thus did for each other they did to Him. They appeared to know that “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” They comprehended that “He that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness," and they “glorified God by their liberal distribution." How refreshing to read immediately after the intimation that they attended stedfastly in the fellowship) of the blessed results, in this wise—"And all that believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all as any man had need ;” that “neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” Now this was no communistic arrangement, upon the principle of casting all into a common fund, from which each should share alike. It was a sacrifice to meet a special need. There was a persecuted and suffering church, and the fellowship proved equal to the pecuniary need. The selling of lands and houses was not enforced ; each did as he desired, and as his love dictated, and not as he was required by church law or creed. Distribution was made not according to share but. according to need. Under like peculiar circumstances love would now produce like results. Under ordinary circumstances ordinary results and sacrifice suffice. But now, and continually, the fellowship should meet the requirements of all deserving members in their real need. Let us see that we are not wanting in this grace.
As the space at command this month is not sufficient to conclude the investigation, the remainder must stand over. We hope to conclude in our next.