« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
eyes of the world, but in seclusion, and amidst all the disheartening circumstances of dirt and stench, of chilling cold, or suffocating heat.
“ It was this that led Neff to the dismal solitudes of Dormilleuse, and shut him up with his twenty-five pupils, and urged him to abandon for a time those pursuits which were most congenial to his mind and habits, in order that he might lay a foundation of knowledge and happiness, and contribute something to the stock of general prosperity in a district, which was separated from the more habitable parts of the world by rocks and mountains, cold and sterility."*
It is impossible to overrate the good which might thus be effected as well in a small country parish, as in a sphere of greater excitement. Not merely the positive quantum, the ostensible good, but that, which is implied by prevention of evil. As it is, the clergy of the Establishment let the dissenters of every denomination steal from their fold some of the choicest of their flock. This supineness and apparent indifference is worse than criminal; it is a betrayal of the sacred trust which God himself has committed to their keeping. “Who indeed,” says his lordship, “ can estimate the guilt of a lukewarm ministry? • Indifference is fatal to souls. He that is not with me, is “ against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. If " the supine shepherd suffer the flock of God to be led astray by “ others, he must not hold himself guiltless because another and “ not himself is the leader. He virtually disperses if he does not
gather into the fold of Christ. In fact a zeal for God's house
seems to belong properly to the character of a minister. Even “ if it be so ardent as to eat him up,'+ he will but the more “ resemble Christ, so that a spirit of divine wisdom guide him. “ Meekness becomes him also; but he must not let his meekness “ extinguish his zeal, when the occasion should call it forth. It
was said more than fifty years ago, of a servant of God yet
living, Oh! to flame, as he does, with zeal, and yet to be beauti“ ful with meekness !"# Again, “ Is the pastor tempted, in his “ retired and thinly peopled parish, to spare his labour, and put “ forth less of his strength than he might be willing to extend in “ a sphere of greater excitement, and more obvious to the inspec“ tion of men? Let him ask himself, whether the oversight even “ of a single soul be not more than he will desire to answer for at “ the day of account? Let him guard with jealousy against per
mitting the absence of an unholy and worldly stimulus to in“ fluence the character of his ministry.”
But to return. “ Christ occasionally," observes the Bishop in
* Memoir of Felix Neff, by the Rev. W. S. Gilly, pp. 279, 280, 313. † John ii. 17.
# Venn's Correspondence, p. 345.
another place,“ deduced a moral from public events, to which “ the minds of the people were directed at the time of their
Never was the propriety of the recommendation herein implied more evident than at a period like the present, when the Church is left in that state of anxiety consequent upon the announcement of great changes suspended without any adequate cause, suspended too in avowed submission to the dictates of those who are most hostile to the very existence of the Establishment. It is in this awful state of impiety that the voice of the clergy should be heard throughout the realm, giving a loud alarm and impassioned warning; for there can be no evil so momentous as the concealment from Englishmen of the terrible truth, that a blow is meditated at the gratuitous dispensation of the gospel. The papist, the infidel, and the dissenter, seem to gloom over their deeds, but they halt only to consolidate their treason, and establish precedents pregnant with the most disastrous consequences to the Anglican church as an establishment. And if they gain their ends, what will be the catastrophe?
“Revert in imagination to the time of Cromwell, when the Church and State were disunited; what numerous conflicting sects overspread the face of the land, which to this very day have left their foul and filthy pollution behind them, like the fabled harpies, contaminating with their nauseous infection the wholesome nutriment of life. Contemplate the unbridled licentiousness of France at the time of her memorable revolution, how the passions of the people, unrestrained by Religion, dared to insult and defy the Deity! The ruling powers, in the insane enthusiasm of their false liberality, having clothed some poor frail daughter of clay in appropriate costume as the Goddess of Reason, invited the populace to fall down and worship the idol whom they had set up. So ever, when the Ark of the Tabernacle be ejected, will Dagon be exalted on the holy site. With such apposite examples to deter us, should we not take warning ? Would it be consistent with prudence to abolish the State religion of this country, and leave men to follow the bent of their own inclinations, which we must all allow to be towards evil ? Would such a course be advisable? Would it be in conformity with reason?"*
But there is another significant feature of the present age over which it behoves the clergy to keep watch—we mean those stimulants to infidelity and sedition which are doled out with impunity by a section of the public press.
There is not a day passes that these cheap instruments of
* Sermon upon the Anniversary of the Restoration of King Charles II. to the Throne. Hatchard. London.
irritation do not disseminate the most atrocious libels
upon invaluable Constitution, and revered Establishment, - libels, which in better times would have drawn down the condign visitation of the law. But, confident of impunity, “ they bend their tongues as a bow: they shoot out deceit as arrows : they are prophets of the deceit of their own hearts: they cause the people to err by their dreams and their lightness: they make the people vain, they feed them with wormwood, they give them the water of gall for drink; and the people love to have it so. And what is the end thereof?"
It is however the connivance of the authorities, coupled with the extension of a sort of crooked intelligence amongst the vulgar, which give such an edge to the zealotry of an infidel and unweeded press. What good man who is acquainted with the workings of our social system does not see occasion every day of his life to wish for some Ithuriel spear to expose to the eyes
of a simple and semi-informed populace those reptiles, which under delusive guise inspire the venom that they feel, and forge illusions as they list. We are deeply impressed with the importance of the subject. Indeed it is of such moment that, at the risk of tiring our readers, we must take leave to bestow upon them a little more of our tediousness” in relation to it.
Providence kindly designed by Gutenberg's invention of the printing press to augment the mass of human happiness, by multiplying the chances of active genius and wisdom; and in truth the high results remain to be contemplated by unborn ages. But in the mean while an antagonist principle is at work to pervert the operation, and out of good to educe evil. The arch enemy of mankind, in whom the ancient subtlety of the serpent was never wanting, has set his wits to bring about a state of things, whereby the very blessings intended for the children of Adam are turned to the snare of their souls, and endanger their immortal interests.
By his cunning devices Satan hath induced a licentiousness of the press
to do for him w in the old time had been effected by the rant of the conventicle. He enlists on his side many of those discontented and infirm spirits, which might with equal facility and under other circumstances have taken part against him, having ample employment for such spirits in every stage of his career, and every department of his machinery. A fitter administration for his purpose than the present he could not well have devised. And thus under cover of the Government do the schemes of
forward. He sheds as it were his influence into the wellspring discovered for our mind's health, and preceding the Shadow of Death, distils the venom of sin into the draught of immortality. He has seized the very vantage ground on which
the genius of the gospel seemed to stand, and made it the point d'appui by whose aid he trusts to bring down the whole fabric of Government, overturn our altars, subvert all established institutions, and to raze sanctuaries, towers, and palaces to the earth, there to be blended in one common ruin.
Only let him remain unconfronted, and soon guilt, devastation, and misery will be carried into every part of the country. Those buildings, whose steeples point aloft to heaven, will no longer be suffered to stand as monuments of his discomfiture. Those domes where rights and jurisdiction are walled in, and by necessary sequence the hereditary rights and property of the entire community are limited and fenced, at once the buttress of Earldoms and of Kingdoms, will be hurled down, and the domesmen within be bearded, as were the Roman senators on their curule chairs, by the infuriate Gaul. And that proud structure of Windsor, where is enthroned the very life of Law, the Lex loquens himself, making Justice quick and active towards all his lieges “præmio et pæna,”—that awful citadel that oversees and guards the rights and liberties of the subjected land, will be levelled to the low flat earthiness which heretofore it hath overawed.
Such are the natural issues of an irresponsible press, if they be not promptly met and grappled with by the good and the wise amongst us; by men who can foresee the threatening ruin; by men who are so well qualified by education; and whose duty surely it is to stretch out the arm of defence when the enemy is already beyond the gate.
ART. VI.-The primitive Doctrine of Election, or an historical
Inquiry into the Ideality and Causation of Scriptural Election, as received and maintained by the primitive Church of Christ. By GEORGE STANLEY FABER, B. D. London: Wm. Crofts, Chancery-lane. 1836.
FROM the unsupported and not to be supported doctrines of election and predestination, as propounded by Calvin and his followers, so much error has resulted, and so many profane inferences have been drawn in disparagement of the mercy, if not of the justice, of the Creator, which shroud the divine attributes and agency in the gloom of a senseless and inexorable fatalism, and merge in the power of God his goodness, long-suffering, and the other essentials of Deity; that, although we hail every fresh exposure of this self-sanctifying theory with undisguised pleasure, we are peculiarly pleased with the present demonstration, that it was unknown to the primitive Church. In our view of the subject, these dogmata are not to be harmlessly indulged, being necessarily subversive of those nobler ideas, which we should entertain of a beneficent Being, whose mercy is over all his works; and, even if they had the sanction of an antiquity more remote than the days of Augustine, still their manifest opposition to the doctrinal spirit of the New Testament, the impossibility of verifying them on philological and critical grounds, and the horrible conclusions which may be drawn from them, if the argument be pushed to the extent which Calvin's Institutes authorize, are sufficient vouchers to us, that they never existed in the Divine mind; that if they had such a supposed sanction of antiquity, they should be classed among the errors and speculations in which it indulged. But we shall perceive, that antiquity does not defend them by its sanction.
The point from which Mr. Faber starts, is a demonstration, that neither the theories of the Arminians, nor of the Nationalists, (by whom the espousers of Locke's doctrine, that election and predestination are to be understood with respect to nations, are intended, nor of the Calvinists or Austinists, were admitted by the early Christians, or asserted in their writings. This fact, which every one who is acquainted with the primitive Fathers must acknowledge, he has ably substantiated in a small compass ; and, by a judicious juxtaposition of opinions, brought the sentiments of those under comparison so clearly before his readers, that it appears to us impossible that any one can rationally dispute his proof. From a consideration of these he passes to Semi-Calvinism, or the modern modification of Calvin's doctrines, -a system, which involves in itself more contradictions than its predecessor, and by admixing with it tenets contrary to its uncompromising nature, in shuffling attempts to avert from itself the moral objections to which the other is liable, becomes disjointed and absurd. In this, reprobation, unless " under the modestly cautious name of præterition, is kept out of sight,” and Calvin's second point, which propounds the particular redemption of the elect only, is denied. To detail this confusedly jumbled system (if system it may be called,) in all its minutiæ, would lead us too far from our leading subject; but any person who may be curious concerning it, will find it stated at length in Milner's Practical Sermons, vol. ii. serm. 17, pp. 243—247. The statement in that Sermon, which propounds the doctrine, Mr. Faber strenuously rebuts, observing, that if some are elect, the remainder must inevitably be non-elect. “ Hence to say, that the non-elect are “ only passed over by God, and to deny that they are formally
reprobated by him, is at least practically to the sufferers a “ distinction without a difference;" and as they believe that none but the elect can or will be saved, it is evident that the non-elect cannot escape eternal damnation. When, therefore, they say, that all men may be saved if they please, they disin