Imágenes de páginas

the effect (we do not say the principle) of those publications on which we have thought it our duty more than once to remark. Our much-respected friend who conducts the Dublin Christian Examiner would not, of course, have inserted such a declaration without his Grace's sanction; and we must say that it does him much honour.

"We are anxious to say, that after the perambulations our prelate has made over his metropolis, after one or two walks to his cathedral of St. Patrick, his Grace of Dublin, seeing the cursed effects of Sabbath-breaking that arc exhibited in this town, has sorrowed much that he has ever written one line that could be construed into a weakening of Sabbath obligations; and has from his soul desired that he bad the power of committing the whole impression of his former ' Thoughts on the Sabbath ' to the flumes. We believe the Archbishop to be a diligent, honest, faithful inquirer after truth—not more ingenious than ingenuous; and consider him to be just the man that would have the brave sincerity to say, I was wrong; and am sorry for having ever written any thing that could have the awful effect of giving excusefor Sabbath-breaking." Such being his Grace's sentiments, we earnestly wish that he would exert his powerful efforts on this great question ; and with no persons are they more needed than with his ministerial patrons, who are sitting, Sunday after Sunday, in cabinet counsel, to the great grief of all religious men, the scoffing of infidels, and the displeasure of Almighty God. Perhaps these profane violators of this sacred institution might be induced to listen to his Grace's earnest representations to abate this nuisance and refrain from this crime. And let it not be said that the public legal sanction given to the Lord's-day is an unjust restriction upon private liberty. Our trans-atlantic friends arc probably as zealous for liberty as the Archbishop of Dublin, or his Majesty's Ministers; and yet we find Judge Kennaway recently laying down the law as follows upon the subject:—

"I consider it a great mistake to say

that you may do in Pennsylvania on the first day of the week, or more commonly called Sunday, whatever you may do on any other day of the week. Without waiting to inquire whether or not God has, as one of the defendants said, made all days alike, and whether the distinction be of Divine appointment or not, it is sufficient to know, that the legislature of Pennsylvania have passed acts restraining and prohibiting the doing of certain acts, and pursuing a certain course of conduct on that day. It is forbidden that we should engage in and follow our useful occupations, unless, indeed, it should be that our daily labour was that of performing acts of necessity or mercy, which are lawful at all times and seasons. The policy of these acts, I think, ought not to be questioned. I presume it will be admitted, by any intelligent mind, that religion is of the utmost importance to every community. The history of the past furnishes abundant evidence of the truth of this proposition. It is the basis of civilization. Without it we should be in a state of moral darkness and degradation, such as usually attend the most barbarous and savage states. It is to the influence of it that we stand indebted for all that social order and happiness which prevails among us. It is by the force of religion, more than by that of our municipal regulations, or our boasted sense of honour, that we are kept within the line of moral rectitude, and constrained to administer to the welfare and comfort of each other. In short, we owe to it all that we enjoy, either of civil or religious liberty ; blessings which certainly cannot be too highly appreciated, but ought not, as the defendants are said to have done upon this occasion, to be used as a cloak to cover a design to disturb the public peace, and to promote a sinister end. Here, then, give me leave to say, that the institution of the Sabbath is, in my humble opinion, not only admirably adapted to promote and establish religion among us, but to secure and preserve our physical as well as moral health and strength."


We stop the press to announce, that our much loved and valued friend, the Rev. D. Wilson, is the new Bishop of India. The appointment reflects great honour upon Government, especially upon the President of the Board of Controul. We have but one regret, in our Reverend friend's acceptance of this awfully responsible appointment—namely, the loss of his presence at home, added to our fears for himself;—but he knows on whose grace and strength he relies, and he will go out accompanied by the earnest prayers and sympathies of multitudes of his fellow-Christians, who have long esteemed and honoured 'him for his zealous labours in the work of the Lord. May these supplications be abundantly answered! We had much more to say, but we are risking the hour of publication, and must postpone our remarks. The importance of the questions connected with the religious and moral welfare of India is great beyond expression.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


To the Editor ofthe Christian Observer.

TN the Evangelical Magazine for February, appears the following notice :—

"Secession from the Church of

England. "We have been requested to insert the following notice by a correspondent, whom we have reason to regard as an ordained clergyman of the Church of England. We thank him for his very kind notice of our labours; but we do earnestly entreat those excellent men who are, with himself, quitting the church, to be careful not only of the grounds of their separation, but of the course they pursue as separatists. Let them remember, that many who have left the church for one set of errors, have fallen into another not less injurious to the*souls of men. Let our correspondent seek the fellowship of prudent well-instructed dissenters, and not that of such men as Mr. Bulteel, and others equally unsettled in their religious views.— Editor (of Evang. Mag.)

"We understand that several pious clergymen have seceded from the Establishment within the last few months; and we shall probably live to see their number greatly increased. Not the slightest movement has yet been made by the bishops, with a view to correct the real abuses of the church, or to purge her Liturgy from the popish leaven which still

Christ. Observ. No. 364.

cleaves to it; and the consequence is, that some of her most valuable ministers, being no longer able to endure the weight of their scruples, are compelled to quit her communion, in order to relieve their burdened consciences. It seems impossible to account for the supineness of our prelates, amidst the storm which has already shaken their establishment to its very foundations; except on the supposition of their being actually infatuated."

In prefixing this notice as a basis for the present communication, I wish to confine myself to the introductory note of the editor of the Evangelical Magazine; since, whatever may be my opinions on the statement of his correspondent, the immediate question is, not by what argument certain clergymen justify their desertion of the church; but, what the deserters are to do, if they must leave it. I am not now, either blaming or praising their conduct in the first instance; since, whether for evil or good, the deed is doing or done. But it is of very serious moment that themselves, and their fellows of all communions, should watch their future movements. It is due, however, in the first place, to give every credit to the editor, for his timely warning to these seceders. It is one thing to discover real, or supposed, errors in any given system; another, to know where to stop in the search after what we wish to find. There have been, and I think will be, deserters from the church,

2 D

who entirely assent to her leading doctrines, but who complain that some portions of her formularies and her Articles nullify each other. I could name examples of men, who have separated from our communion, pursued their ministry in other societies, or in independent assemblies of their own; yet have never uttered a sentiment but what was directly sanctioned by the confession of the church in which they were originally ordained. It might indeed be added, that in the essential doctrines of the Gospel, there is often perfect concord in the public instructions, both of Church and Dissent; with the exception, on the one side, of such clergymen as betray their own creed; and, on the other, of those non-conformists, who, though they boast of their ejected predecessors of 1662, are strangers alike to the personal holiness and sound theology of those confessors. Of the comparative numbers of faithless clergy and degenerate dissenters, I offer no calculation. It is sufficient to say, that no communion, be its apparatus the most complicated or the most simple, can possibly ensure the fidelity of its ministers.

The temptation of the present class of seceders is, to be titillated into a self-importance, at once ridiculous and dangerous—and far more dangerous than ridiculous—by the flatteries of the crowds, who are allways ready to creep about any persons -who make a small stir in the, so called, religious world; and, in many instances, with the hope of drawing deserters from one camp to the colours of their own. This would be very allowable, were the motive not sectarian. But if I am a churchman on purely Christian principles, I no more value a proselyte to my communion, as a proselyte, than, as a devout dissenter, I could felicitate myself on a mere numerical transfer of so many irreligious churchmen to the pews of my own chapel. The question is, What is the value, on either supposition, of the new comer? Now, it may

be well for these clerical separatists to be exceedingly jealous of fine speeches and violent graspings of hands. It was very far from being a needless caution, given to Christian by the shepherds on the Delectable Mountains,—Beware of theFlatttrer; and one also remembers something about the Enchanted Ground, and the way to Doubting Castle. Let these living pilgrims—if such they really are—reflect, that the very act of abandoning any church on account of its alleged errors imposes upon the deserting party an obligation to seek, and to exhibit, a purer doctrine and Life than he was able to find in the offensive communion.

But in the present convulsionary state of the church universal, it is far easier to agitate it by new experiments, than to administer the sedative of truth and love. As matters really are, large premiums are actually offered upon religious—rather irreligious — eccentricity. It appears to myself, who have passed a life, not inconsiderable in duration, in observing the ways of men, possibly with some attention, that no serious mind will interfere further with an ecclesiastical or civil system, than as his own conscience calmly dictates; or, than as change or qualification may be demanded, for the reasonable satisfaction and apparent benefit of others. As an individual, I would sacrifice, for the sake of peace, all the accidents, all the dubious and subordinate parts, and all the decorations of a system, provided the foundations and necessary superstructure were preserved; aware, however, that the word in italics is a term seldom definable amidst the hurry and personal interests of debate. The seceders should come before the public tribunal with an intelligible and definite reply to the inquiry,—Are your complaints positive, or negative? is it a secession, where an asserted evil is to be left behind, amidst many advantages; or, is it an aspiration after something non-existent in the old scheme? If a clergyman leaves the church, because his mind is harassed by this or that form; or, because he mislikes its union with the state, but s till retains his early admiration of what he judges to be valuable; we can understand him. If he takes another estimate, and says that all is dark, or at best misty, and that he must be guided by brighter luminaries, we do not understand him. And, as poor Lear said in his storm, "that way madness lies."

The only safe path for any one to follow—I am supposing him to be really earnest in Divine pursuits—is to walk steadily along the narrow way, where all the servants of God have trodden, and will tread, till the end of this militant state. In this view, it is the neutral ground of Christianity. The phrase itself may be a solecism; for it describes a region of neutrality, where all the inhabitants belong to a party. A rich illustration of this has lately appeared in your own pages; in the questions discussed during a long period of years, and many of these years luxuriant in confusion, civil or religious, by a clerical society, several members of which have entered the invisible world. In all that varied series of subjects, scarcely one allures its examinants from the plain and undisputed verities of the Gospel. If some bubble of the day floated within their circle, it was eyed, perhaps, with a transient curiosity; but such as made the spectator ashamed of his momentary wonder; and then it vanished. Not so in the present times! And this leads me to extend a former remark, earnestly pressing it upon the attention, if haply they will give it any, of these seceders. It is this: the flatterer at this hour comes not alone; he marches with legionary numbers; "not with single spies, but in battalions;" of consequence, a deserter is not at all likely to languish for want of excitement and repeated stimulus. There are many bidders for him; and this will raise his price among them, up to his own valuation. He is not, indeed, liable to be bought

in again for his former possessor; for the auction mart will be crowded by strangers, and there is quite sufficient rivalry among them to effect a good sale. But this you will call trifling with serious things. I stand, sir, corrected; and such exhibitions of human debility should rather awaken compassion and sympathy; for we too are men, and exposed to the self-same delusions as are ensnaring others. Yet this confession needs not prevent me from urging the seceders again to beware of the nattering legion

But " with the flatterers are busymockers." This citation is meant to bear upon the various religionists of the times, who scoff at what you and I, sir, with all our inconsistencies and mistakes, believe to be the everlasting Gospel. By such scorners will the seceders be beset. What the several theories are, of which the speculators of the day weave their snares, I confess that I know little. They are called novelties, the very thing which I believe they are not. Let any one take up a popular pamphlet of the moment to read what was the last invention, and he has only to turn to the nearest Dictionary of all Religions, and he will soon find that what are called new doctrines and facts are merely revivals of by-gone discoveries. Such things return like the eclipses of the natural heavens, with almost as much regularity, and almost subject alike to human calculation. They are the rank consequences of external prosperity; "the cankers of a calm world and of a long peace." You may readily apply this to any age of the church where professors of Christianity are at ease, and can speculate and harangue without fear of the rack and the stake. I do not know that there is a single phenomenon now in Regent Square or elsewhere, but what glimmered in England in 1706, when the Camisars, or French prophets of the Cevennes, rose in our hemisphere. They had their day, and departed. They too

had their predecessors in earlier there is a strange account of a woman periods. The only point, as far as who astounded half the kingdom by I have observed, where the two par- her powers of abstinence; but no ties thus identified seem partially to sooner did physiologists examine the have differed, was that the French subject than they had twenty tales prophets held no peculiar sentiments to tell much more extraordinary, and on the person of Christ. But the after a little farther watching, the mi English and Scotch prophets have racle of Tuthury burnt itself out. In only to look at what was said by the the days of alchemists and astrologers Monophysites, Severians, and many it would have founded a monastery, other sects with grand-sounding and very probably canonized the names, in the first six centuries; and fasting woman in the highest places they will soon see the expediency of the calendar. It is within the of surrendering all claims to origi- dusky remembrances of my own nality. Vixere fortes ante Agamem- boyish days, that the then religious, nana multi. There was also poor as well as profane world, were Joan Bocher (the Maid of Kent), thrown into amazement by an alwho was burnt for heresy, in 1548, leged demoniac in Somersetshire, (and, alas, under the sanction of the man alluded to by one of your Archbishop Cranmer!) against whom correspondents in a paper on exorthe accusation was, "That Christ cising. (Christ. Observer for 1830, took flesh of the virgin you be- p. 153). His name was Lukin; lieve not, because the flesh of the and he resided at Yatton. This virgin being the outward man, was man had the address to persuade ten sinfully begotten, and born in sin. or twelve Methodist preachers and But the Word, by the consent of the Dissenting ministers, strengthened inward man of the virgin was made by an Episcopal clergyman,' to perflesh*." What does this mean? form upon him a solemn act of exAnd what is meant by all the efforts orcism, in the Temple Church, at of finite minds to explain infinite Bristol; its then incumbent, Mr. mysteries? "It is a chronic malady, Easterbrook, being one of the party, that of metaphysics," said a caustic The phantasm vanished into air, philosopher; and he should have after having produced the usual deadded, of the more malignant type, tails in newspapers and pamphlets; when mingled with physics, or rather and found its regular divisions of adwith an attempt to analyse the com- herence and opposition. Yet even bination of spiritual with visible and to this hour, it is credited among material things. many of the elderly inhabitants of

It is advisable for the seeeders the neighbourhood; and thiB, notthen to run through three or four withstanding Lukins, on his deathvolumes of physiology, before they bed, acknowledged the imposture, are startled at the mysteries of the Then came animal magnetism—and current year. Let them read the then the French Revolution. This latest, and perhaps the best of these, last gradually taught all who named Dr. Abercrombie's Inquiries con- the name of Christ, to cultivate a eerning the Intellectual Powers, and spirit of mutual love, and to combine the Investigation of Truth ; and they against the common enemies of the will find in the records of medical Gospel. The speculative religionists philosophy far more wonderful facts of the present day are fond of chathan have emerged in Regent Square, racterising the existing state of Surprise is the daughter of igno- things as also revolutionary. But ranee, and the parent of credulity, why do they not imitate the good In the Life of Mr. Legh Richmond, men, who witnessed the first out

* Strype's Memorials of Cranmer. Book ii. ch. 8.

breaking of confusion on continental Europe? Let the seeeders mark this inquiry, and endeavour to

« AnteriorContinuar »