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ON THE AGED MINISTERS' SOCIETY.
ON A REVIEW OF MR. NOEL'S WORK OX To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine.
DEAR SIR, --I am glad that the insertion in your September number, relative to the
To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. Aged and Infirm Baptist Ministers' Society,
DEAR SIR,- It is not, I am aware, Four has led our friend, Mr. Lillycrop of Windsor, usual practice to insert in your pages stricto feel so warmly, and to write so earnestly, on papers that have appeared in in behalf of this important Institution. Mr. other magazines. There are, however, occaWinter Bristol, has also been made the sionally, instances in which this rule may medium of conveying to the treasurer, J. L. wisely be departed from, and allow me, Phillips, Esq., a kind donation of £5 from a although deferring to your decision, to exreal friend to the ministers of Christ, and I press my opinion, that the manner in which think that the letter accompanying that con- the reviewer of the Evangelical Magazine has tribution, should (with your permission,) treated the work of Mr. Noel, in the Novemappear on the pages of the Magazine. It is ber number, deserves to be regarded as an as follows:
exceptional case. “MY DEAR SIR, -I was grieved to find The reviewer professes to have read the the finances of the Society for the relief of Essay “ with all careful attention." He de Aged and Infirm Baptist Ministers, so low, sires “to report with all truth and candour." as stated in the Baptist Magazine for the last The“ pure evangelism” of Mr. Noel's book month. It inclined me to send you £5 he heartily admires, as also " its Christian through my invaluable friend, jr. H.; but spirit,” and “its sincere devotion.” “No since requesting him to do this, I have production” of Mr. Noel, he is quite sure, thought and thought again,-0 how small a * would betray an absence of the spirit which tritle is this divided among so many! and at should adorn the work of every Christian last it struck me, if a collection were made, writer." the first month in the ensuing year, in every Nuvertheless, he proceeds to “report” to Baptist church, after the ordinance of the his readers unfavourably of Mr. Noel's "fairLord's supper, much might be done, and at ness." The whole volume is pervaded by a scarcely any sacrifice. If you were to call “petitio principii," and "a spirit of doginathe attention of the churches to this import- tism and peremptory conclusion,” not to be ant subject in the December Magazine, re expected from so intelligent an author; but questing all the ministers of the respective in which baptists are prone to indulge. Be churches to speak freely and affectionately to sides, Mr. Noel's “gratuitous assumptions their people, methinks, from many
are such as only a
“special pleader could churches, and as there are so many holy, have advanced,” or would be employed by wealthy people in those churches, £100 “the most reckless champion” of a losing might easily be raised for this most valuable cause. “Some of them are such as should Institution : and if in the February number never have escaped the pen of honourable for 1850, an account be given of the money controversy.” Nay, Mr. Noel even descends received from the various places, it will cause to “abuse," to " indiscriminate censure," and the whole body to rejoice with those aged to “misrepresentation," and the reviewer and infirm members, whose benefit and grati- cannot with hold the charge, that Mr. Noel is tude will be more especially promoted. And actuated by the “zeal of an apostate," doubtless, all those of the Lord's people, who though he tries to soften the offensive word. shall put a helping hand to such a good Now, dear sir, how am I to reconcile these work, will have to exclaim, 'It is more contradictory descriptions of the same works blessed to give than to receive.'
What is the “truth and candour" of the “I thus submit you my thoughts to do as reviewer worth, which, in the course of one you please with them. Should the plan pro- article can first praise a book for its Christian posed be carried out, I will put one sovereign temper, its devoutness and sincerity, and to aid the attempt; remembering what our then make assertions respecting it, which blessed Lord has said, 'Inasmuch as ye have if true, must for ever brand it as an done it unto one of the least of these my bre- example of the most unchristian and untruththren, ye have done it unto me.'
ful spirit. “I am, my Dear Sir,
In one respect I most fully believe the “ Yours in the Gospel, truthfulness of the reviewer, Mr. Noel de " A Lover of Christ's Ministers,” scribes his state of mind while a pædobaptist, To Rev. T. Winter, Bristol.
as one of “indefinite fear of the conclusions May the benevolent desire of the writer at which he might arrive, should he turn his be largely realized in the increased ease and attention to the question of baptism. He comfort of our valued, hut in many instances, therefore avoided the study of it. So the necessitous pastors, I am Dear Sir,
reviewer. On taking up Mr. Noel's Essay, he Yours, very truly, CHARLES Danieli, confesses to have felt * some sort of misgir
Secretary. ings and nervous apprehensions, lest after all, Melksham, November 13th, 1819,
our pædobaptist predilections should be
shaken, and our convictions upturned.” “We all “ vitiated and nullified” by its want of almost trembled,” he says; and I verily believe accordance with the thing signified. Why, him; for in this he but confesses the condi- dear sir, he might have read Mr. Noel's tion, to my knowledge, of many pædobap- book backwards, or upside down, with the tists. Indeed, I admire greatly the review
The “ truth and candour” of er’s candour in telling his readers, that he the process pre-eminently appears, not only entered on the perusal of Mr. Noel's book in in the fact that Mr. Noel tells him in plain a state of mind so very adverse to a fair and just words, that he will not find any proof in judgment, and one most fatal to the attainment favour of immersion in thi but in another of the truth. In plainer language it were not volume; but also in the very honest act, possible to be informed, that the reviewer that the reviewer himself quotes the above stept forth into the arena, not as a fair com- sentence down to the word “ immerse,” and batant and one open to conviction, but as a then quietly ignores the rest. He charges Mr. partisan, seeking only a decent pretext to Noel with unfairness and misrepresentation; adhere to his “ predilections,” and to cover but what is this? Admirable “ truth and the conscious weakness of his cause. Hence candour!”-the reviewer “ has read with all he is “most thankful” “ to be perfectly re- careful attention!” I am shocked, sir, and lieved, to have passed the test, and to have indignant at such violations of integrity and endured the storm,” and to be at ease once truthfulness occurring in the pages of a promore, seeing the assault was not so severe as fessedly Christian journal. he expected, and he was able by a little ma- Had Mr. Noel's reference to another neuvering, of which I shall presently speak, volume, in which the proof of his assumption to avert the ponderous blow. Very candid would be found, occurred some pages afterindeed!
ward, I could have attributed the course But now, sir, I come to a very striking adopted by the reviewer to inadvertence. and eminent example of the reviewer's no. But this excuse cannot avail. The whole tions of truth and candour.
sentence, in good large type, was before the In Mr. Noel's preface stands the following reviewer's eyes. He copies the first part of sentence, and I beg your readers to mark it, and omits the rest. By the grossest inatespecially the words I have given in italies. tention, if not from some worse cause, he takes I am also particularly anxious to mention advantage of the wrong he had done, and that I have not omitted a single word or represents Mr. Noel as having failed to acstop, and that the words, “ the evidence,” &c. complish what he never attempted nor procome immediately after the semicolon which posed to do. By this manæuvre the reviewer's follows the word “immerse." Special rea- tremors are allayed, his fears removed, his sons, soon to appear, make me thus parti- oppressed conscience relieved, and he regards cular. I will now give Mr. Noel's words. himself as a beautiful example of “ truth and
“ I assume in the following essay, that the candour!” But this suppression, wilful or word baptism, means immersion, and that to not, vitiates all his pretensions to fairness, baptize is to immerse; the evidence of which and displays not only incapacity for the funcfact I hope to adduce in a separate volume." tion he has assumed, but destroys all con
Of course the reviewer gladly admits that fidence in his representations and judgment. “ an author has a right to propose what it is the grossest unfairness to Mr. Noel. object he pleases.” Moreover, the reviewer I now turn to the critic's notice of that has a right to say, that Mr. Noel's assump. part of Mr. Noel's volume which treats of tion is “ rather an important item in the circumcision. It betrays an equal prething to be proved, and for which he and we sumption and incapacity. Thus he writes : are equally bound to search the scriptures.” " It would be perfectly tedious to follow Mr. But what was my amazement, with the last Noel through the sixty pages of his Essay part of the above quotation before me, to wherein his lucubrations on this matter are read, a few sentences afterward, the follow- found. Suffice it lo say, with a great part of ing assertion--that this matter of infant what he has written we entirely agree. It sprinkling “is the very point in question, contains but a succession of truisms, which and which the volume proposes to discuss in scripture asserts and nobody denies. But we order to prove !” He then goes on to quote see nothing in his conclusions," an example or two of what it pleases him to The animus of the critic is here clearly call “specimens of the reasoning, or rather the shown. Although agreeing with Mr. Noel's substitutes for it, with which the present "truisms” and undeniable scripture assertions, volume abounds,” and expresses his desire yet they are “Mr. Noel's lucubrations.” If that Mr. Noel had proceeded “a little m true and scriptural, why speak thus disparagin the way of fair ratiocination, and after the ingly of them? Or if they agree with his mode of the inductive philosophy.” He fi- own, why the reviewer's sneer at what he nishies by felicitating himself that having himself believes ? “patiently read all that this volume contains But Mr. Noel's conclusions are wrong. in favour of immersion, as well as that of How does the reviewer prove this? By some others," he is able to affirm that it is reiterating some of the “truisms," with the affirmation that Mr. Noel has not disproved | an end. To this work on baptism it might them; whereas Mr. Noel and the reviewer be supposed "he would not bring altogether are agreed about them. Very perspicacious a candid and impartial mind.” On this subthis. Mr. Noel does not deny a certain ject, his former connections incapacitated him typical correspondence between the old " to separate the precious from the vile." covenant and the new: neither does Mr. He is but another specimen of the axiom, Noel attempt to “alter," on the contrary he that “human nature is fond of extremes." freely admits, " the fact that the blessing of His work therefore is an “ entire failure ;" faithful Abraham was to come, and by the and “pædobaptist friends bave nothing to dispensation of the gospel has come upon fear.” the gentiles:'" nor does he controvert the Has the reviewer forgotten the old fable of scriptural statement that “circumcision was the “Fox and the Grapes ?" The book is to the father of the faithful, a seal of the very sour, very sour indeed—it is baptist ! righteousness of the faith,” though the re- But what if Mr. Noel had written in favour viewer has forgotten to give the important of pædobaptism? Why, Mr. Editor, on the words, " which he had yet being uncircum- very face of the matter it is a pure specimen cised.” But whence comes the reviewer's of sectarian lament and vexation. The pædo conclusion from these “truisms," " that if | baptists have lost a man whom they flattered infant baptism be removed, we have no such and caressed, and hoped to have secured seal now. The gospel economy is not equal among them: Hinc illæ lachryme. You in privilege, promise, or demonstration, to the cannot, sir, be ignorant of certain facts, which law." Whence will be draw proof, that are known widely in London circles, and under the gospel there ought to be such a seal, which would amply prove my remark. I will and, if so, that infant-baptism is such a seal only say, that if baptists had put forth one All logic must be at fault if the above tenth part of the efforts to secure the adhesion “ truisms" involve such conclusions; and of Mr. Noel to their body, which have been most surely they are not to be found any made by certain eminent pædobaptist miniswhere in the Old and New Testaments. The ters on behalf of pædobaptist independency, reviewer tells us he is “averse to controversy,” | no terms would have been thought too severe and especially with one whom he had been to censure the proselyting spirit and sectarian“ taught most highly to love and esteem ;” | ism of baptists. and well he may be, if this review be a One more example of the reviewer's truthspecimen of his powers of reasoning, and of his fulness and candour, and I have done. Mr fair-dealing with one whom he pronounces a Noel informs his readers in the preface, that devout and sincere Christian. The only feel- “ he determined to form his judgment entirely ing that can be excited in Mr. Noel's mind by the study of the scriptures, and of such must be one either of pity or contempt. It authors as advocate the baptism of infants ;" is certainly a very curious example of con- and in a subsequent page he appends a list of troversy, as well as of truth-seeking and “ books referred to " in the course of his candour, that the reviewer should never once essay. With an extreme anxiety for fairess happen to quote Mr. Noel's words, except to doubtless actuating him, the critic is pleased garble them, nor venture once fairly to grap- to understand this list as comprising all the ple with his arguments under the eye of his books consulted and read by Mr. Noel, and reader. Why not point out for Mr. Noel's to affirm that “some of the most powerful and other people's edification, the exact place and satisfactory are omitted." Among these where the premises and conclusions diverge? powerful ” writers, he names Turretine, With undisputed premises this were no Pictet, Williams, Edwards, and Thorn ;difficult task. The thanks of his brethren names, to say the least, not much known now would have been laid at his feet, seeing he as peculiarly eminent or satisfactory. But would not only have wrested from Mr. Noel in fact, as is apparent by the heading of the and the baptists a grand field of argument, list, Mr. Noel makes no pretensions to give a but have laid the demon of schism which complete list of the works which he had Dr. Halley's want of the right logic has read, but simply those he has had occasion to brought into the independenť pædobaptist quote or refer to in the essay itself. For aught body on this very question. If Mr. Noel's that appears, Mr. Noel may have consulted conclusions are illogical and worthless, what every one of the authors named by the critic, are Dr. Halley's ?
and many more ; but surely in a list of Very curious is the contrast the reviewer the books referred to in the essay, we should draws between Mr. Noel's Essay on the not anticipate the insertion of numerous Union of Church and State and this on bap. writers who were not referred to at all. Such tism. The former was a “noble volume.” a parade of names would have been inconsistThere, Mr. Noel “was at home, at rest, his ent with the humility of a Christian man like heart right, his head clear, his pen correct, Mr. Noel, and altogether contrary to the his work unanswered and unanswerable." purport of the list, which was merely to But, alas ! how are the mighty fallen. His facilitate reference
the editions and “honour' is departed, his usefulness" at titles of the books quoted. Nevertheless, the
critic could not overlook the opportunity it accounts from other quarters, and which afforded him of displaying his “ truth and could not be disproved, though evidence was candour,” as well as the anxious attention it brought to counterbalance it. It does appear cost him to give a fair “report." I am, how- to me, sir, that instead of blaming the ever, at no loss to find in the conduct of the churches for listening to reports respecting reviewer himself the faithful exhibition of the persons whom they may be likely to select unworthy and unchristian character he at
as pastors, a man of experience and standing, tempts to fasten on Mr. Noel. These mis
as your correspondent claims to be, should representations of the essay could only have rather commend them for taking every preproceeded from the pen of a “special pleader," caution before they enter on a relation so or have been employed by “the most reck- sacred and so important in its results. There less champion" of a losing cause. He knows cannot be a happier sight than a faithful, nothing whatever of " honourable contro- devoted minister placed in a sphere suited to versy." Unwittingly the reviewer portrays his qualifications, and where, as a consehis own dishonourable procedure.
quence, his talents are profitably employed, I write these things in sorrow. It is no
and affectionately appreciated; but how pleasure to me to mark the faults of brethren. seldom this is the case the distracted state of I deeply mourn over the rivalry and competi- many of our churches will show. No doubt tion of the various sects, and see in it one of in many instances, previous enquiry and delithe causes of our loss of piety and spirituality: beration might avert much mischief; it would But while we must " walk humbly with God," have done so, I believe, in the case of A. B. we must likewise “do justly." . Among the C. D. and their fellow-members, had their many things that need immediate correction enquiries been made a month earlier. and repentance, is that licence of suppression, Leaving however this particular case, will misstatement, and misrepresentation, in which you allow me to ask a question that I own a large portion of the religious periodical appears to me a difficult one? The law of press constantly indulges. It is not the first decision by a majority certainly obtains in time by many that the Evangelical Magazine our churches, but in what cases is this bindhas thus acted. Good service would be done ing?-in matters of expediency only, or in to the cause of truth and righteousness were matters of vital importance? Where the these censors themselves more often criticized ; contested subject is not one intimately conand their unfairness, their want of “ truth and nected with the glory of Christ, the extension candour," more frequently castigated. of his cause, or the growth of spiritual reli
I remain, your's, &c. gion in the hearts and lives of Christians, I Nov. 16, 1849.
PhilALETHES. can conceive it right and beautiful for the
smaller number of church members to give way to their brethren in a spirit of love and
cheerfulness; and if the decision of the church To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. is formed after united and earnest prayer for
DEAR SIR,-I am not a member of the divine guidance, they may even be justified same church with A. B. C. D., yet being well in supposing that the will of God in the acquainted with the facts of their case, you matter is thus made known to them. But will perhaps kindly allow me to rectify a supposing, (and the supposition is not a mere little misapprehension into which Eipnicholóc hypothesis, but based upon facts,) supposing has fallen, and then to say a few words on the church-meeting to be conducted in an the general question, for it appears, unhap- unchristian spirit, begun and ended without pily, that the case of your correspondents is prayer; supposing the matter to be decided by no means a singular one.
upon has never been made the subject of Ειρηνοποιός seems to take for granted a collective prayer by the chnrch at all, are feeling of alienation between A. B. C. D. the minority in such a case bound to regard and the other members of the church. If the decision of the church as obligatory upon such exists, there has certainly been no mani- them, especially if the point at issue be one festation of it; they have acted up to the in which their consciences are deeply conspirit of your judicious suggestions, they bave cerned? Love, and meekness, and humility, regularly filled up their places on the sab- ought at all times to characterize the conduct bath, and have shown no wish to withdraw of Christians towards each other: but are themselves from the communion of their there no circumstances which would justify brethren.
even a small minority in maintaining and Another misapprehension is, that the acting out their opinion, though it has been church in question, or rather a part of negatived by the greater part of the church ? them, suffered themselves to be influenced I have heard of instances, and one very by unfounded, or at best uncertain “re- recently of a neighbouring church, in which
Intelligence, not vague report, the law of Christian love prevailed over the reached the deacons in answer to official law of majorities. The matter to be decided enquiries addressed to another church - was the choice of a minister--both parties intelligence which was confirmed by similar felt very strongly, and the difference in num
A PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY.
bers was small. In this case the majority or three causes of decline which have ceased said virtually to the minority, “We have the to exist ; the great pressure on the com. power to carry our point, but, rather than mercial interests of the country two years wound your minds or lose your co-operation ago was particularly injurious to the sale of we will consent to waive our claim.” Ought periodical publications generally, and of this there not to be brotherly love enough in among the rest. The present is, on some every Christian church to induce similar accounts, a favourable opportunity for urging conduct?
baptists to do as much to give efficiency to There is a strong tendency to democratic their own Magazine as is done by some other feeling in some of our churches, which re- denominations on behalf of theirs. If the quires vigorous as well as kind control; but officers of our churches undertake this corwhile guarding against this, let us not give up dially, they will undoubtedly be successful, that liberty whereby Christ has made us free
as past experience demonstrates. It may be —not a liberty to dictate to our brethren, to well, whenever it is mentioned publicly, please ourselves at their expense, to make either to name some one who will supply it our own will our law,—but a liberty of con- to subscribers, or to advert to the fact that science from all jurisdiction but that of any bookseller will readily furnish it to any Christ. This liberty will never lead to insub- one who orders it to be sent to him regularly, ordination ; the more we all study the will or, indeed, who gives a few days' notice of his of Christ, the more likely shall we all be to desire for a single number. To the number feel if not to see alike. In some cases minis- for January will be prefixed a portrait of the ters err, in some cases churches err, in some Hon. and Rev. Baptist W. Noel; and it will they re-act upon each otier. Would not contain some interesting articles which are more decided personal subjection to Christ, already in the editor's hands. and more habitual Christian humility and love cure many evils, and prevent more? A judicious letter in our present number I remain, Dear Sir,
contains, with remarks on the case proYours truly, pounded by A. B, C, D., some general sup. FRATER. gestions deserving the attention of other
churches. It appears that our correspondent
is acquainted with the locality in which A. EDITORIAL POSTSCRIPT.
B. C. D. reside ; we have no knowledge of it
ourselves, and nothing which has appeared in A few days ago, we received a letter from a
our pages could lead a stranger to conjecture brother of long standing in the ministry, resid- in what county it is situated. May we hint ing many miles from the metropolis, in which that as much' has now been said on this he says, “Let there be a request in your particular case as is necessary, and that more December number for pastors to urge on might be injurious. With regard to the their people the duty of more extensively more general question we agree with the taking the Baptist Magazine, for the sake of present writer that it is sometimes wise and the widows aided by its profits. I and others kind for a majority to wave its own prefershall be glad to avail ourselves of the oppor- ences in deference to a minority. A minority tunity of reading such an appeal, that orders cannot reasonably demand this, and perhaps may be increased for the Magazine for the
no general rule can be laid down showing coming year.” In compliance with this sug- when it should be done ; but there are cases gestion we have written a paper which appears in which the results of such a course, if in the Essay Department, entitled, “A Page adopted spontaneously by the majority, which may be read from the Pulpit.” The would be produetive of highly beneficial and kindness of many of our brethren will doubt
permanent results. less lead them to lay it before their congregations ; others will probably select from it Mr. Foster's sermon, a sketch of which is portions that appear to them to be appropri. given above, was preached at Downend, it is ate; and some will perhaps do yet better, by beliered, in the year 1830. It was com mumaking it the basis of an address of their nicated to us by the Editor of his “Life and The most powerful reason for the
Correspondence." procedure is, in our judgment, the adaptation of the Magazine to promote the spiritual We are sorry to learn that ill health has interests of the churches, and on this account, rendered it necessary for Mr. Dovey to retire as well as on account of the important object from the pastorate of the church at Midto which its profits are consecrated, we trust hurst. that a great number of pastors, deacons, and private Christians, will urge it on the attention of their friends. Its amount of circula- [For the remainder of the Postscript see tion has not recovered from the effects of two the last page of the Supplement.]