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bestow upon all who, according to its directions, seek the salvation of their souls.
From the preceding statements it appears that there is no want of evidence to authenticate the Divine authority of the Bible ; the proof is most ample; the evidence from the miracles, or prophecy, or from the credibility and excellency of the Scriptures, or from the Divine energy with which obedience to its requirements is attended, is sufficient to show, that the Bible is the word of the living God; and when we consider that all these evidences separately and unitedly, so abundantly demonstrate the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, we are equally astonished at the folly and wickedness of those who reject the Bible. Of those who, with affectation of superior wisdom, vauntingly reject and sneer at the Holy Scriptures, very few of them have ever examined any of the evidences by which the Divine authority of the Bible is established : they reject without examination or enquiry. Men have quarrelled with the word of God, because it proclaims His authority over them ; they will not open their eyes to see the light of truth, for they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. They deny the Divine authority of the Scriptures, not because there is any want of evidence to prove the Bible to be the word of God, but because they dislike the doctrines taught and enforced by the Scriptures, they refuse to act the part of rational beings, and will not yield that consent which indubitable evidence demands. Thus they despise the goodness of God, they reject Him by whom alone they can be saved, and “ treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
In conclusion we may remark, that we have subjected to rational investigation, the question—" does the Bible possess Divine authority, is it a revelation given by God to man?” We have proved that a Divine revelation is not impossible, and is needed by man; and we have proved that Moses and Jesus Christ professed to declare the will of God, and that the miracles which they wrought demonstrated the truth of the doctrines which they delivered. The Divine authority of the prophets and of the apostles is supported by the same evidences. Miracles were wrought, and predictions which none but the Spirit of God could make known were given by them. Their writings also harmonize with the teachings of Moses and of Christ, and the latter frequently bore testimony to the Divine inspiration of the prophets, and he also taught his apostles, and commanded them to make known the Divine will. To them was granted the gift of Divine inspiration, enabling them to make known that will ; and God confirmed his own word spoken by them, by miracles, “ signs, and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.” The Bible, therefore, is indisputably the word of God.
As then we are thus certain, that “we have a sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place,” let us diligently, attentively, and prayerfully, read the “Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation;" let us believe the doctrines, obey the precepts, enjoy the privileges made known to us by holy men who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. and thus enjoy the blessings of salvation now and for ever.
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
The NoNCONFORMIST's Sketch-BOOK; a Series of Views, classified in four groups, of a State Church and its attendant evils. 12mo. 300 pp. “NONCONFORMIST” OFFICE.
In the preface to this volume, we are informed, that the “ Sketches were originally published in successive numbers of the Nonconformist,” and “were intended to be a popular exhibition of the multiform evils inflicted upon this country by a national establishment of religion.”
We are not to suppose, that by “a national establishment of religion” is meant the reception of the truths of Christianity by the aggregate of those individuals of whom the nation is composed; thus making the nation to become a people established in the truth, and the nation to be a holy nation. Such a national establishment of religion is a good most devoutly to be desired. This, however, is not what is intended by the phrase. It signifies, not the establishment of religion, but of a sect, the articles of whose creed, and the form of whose ritual, ceremonies, and services, the civil government prescribes. Of this sect or church, the monarch, whether a king or a queen, is the head or chief officer, who appoints such bishops and archbishops as the ministers of state recommend; and as such ministers generally act from political considerations, many of the persons so recommended and appointed have been distinguished for possessing other qualities than those which alone should be regarded as recommendations for sustaining office in the Church of Christ. If those through whom the archbishops and bishops are appointed are, generally, worldly men, who are much more accustomed to the strife of politics, and to the vanities and revelries of high life, than to the study and practice of Christian duties, it cannot be matter of surprise that they should oftentimes put men of their own stamp into those dignified and lucrative offices in the church which are at their disposal. And if the bishops who have the power of admitting to the office of the ministry are themselves unconverted men, it may be expected that they will not scruple to appoint unconverted men to, what is significantly called, "the cure of souls.” This alas ! has been done in very many instances.
The pecuniary support granted by the government to the sect under its patronage is of a most substantial character; not only is a considerable portion of the produce of the land devoted to its use, a system of direct taxation is also upheld, by which the members of other sects are compelled to contribute to its support. If any, from conscientious motives, refuse to pay the tax, the power of the state is invoked and exercised; and what is refused to be given, is forcibly 'taken away; or the recusant is plunged into a dungeon to force his conscience, and make him support a worldly ecclesiastical system which his judgment condemns. · An ecclesiastical sect possessed of great wealth, having an abundance of worldly honours and riches to bestow, must present great attractions to men of carnal minds. We do not mean to insinuate that the clergymen of the established sect are all of them men of that description. On the contrary, we know that some of them are men of ardent piety-full of zeal for God, and love to immortal souls-men who would honour and ornament any section of the church. This, however, does not alter the fact, that the honours and the wealth of the state endowed sect attract to its professed service many who enter the sacred profession, not for the purpose of winning souls to Christ, but for the sordid purpose of attaining the possession of professional dignity and emolument; and hence what are appropriately enough called “ livings,” or “benefices,” are like houses, or land, or other property, bought and sold ; and he who obtains possession of a “ living,” or “benefice," has a maintenance for life.
Those circumstances to which we have adverted are sufficient to account for the fact, that the established sect, with all its abundance of wealth, and power, and state patronage, bas done so little towards the moral renovation of the population of this land. What would have been the present state of this country, at this day, had it not been for the effects produced by the exertions of dissenters ? Among these, we reckon not only those who acknowledge themselves to be such, but also the whole family of Wesleyan Methodists-many of whom, notwithstanding they to the fullest extent practice dissent, acting contrary to the laws of the established sect-having a separate ministry, by whom all the ordinances of Christianity are administered; yet, as it appears to us, with great inconsistency, declare they are not dissenters !
The exertions and successes of dissenters have aroused the lethargic spirit of the state privileged and endowed sect; but alas, even now, how fearful is its present aspect in reference to the spread of pure Christianity! What, in a short space of time, would be the state of this country, if the voice of dissenting ministers were silenced ? To. effect this the efforts of an active party of the established sect are now directed, and it behoves all who wish well to the truth, who desire to see Christianity perpetuated and universally triumphant, to look well at the present circumstances, which are impeding and corrupting the truth; that they may, in the spirit of Christ, use earnest and persevering efforts to remove every thing which is obstructive to the spread of pure religion.
As we are now permitted to enjoy a measure of the rights of religious freedom-that is, are allowed to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, without fear of the stake, faggot, fire, prison, or fine, many are too much disposed to take it for granted, that there are no evils to be apprehended as to the future—and that they may quietly submit to any disadvantages to which they are now subject. We confess, however, that we are apprehensive, that unless dissenters unitedly and faithfully maintain the right of perfect religious freedom, it will be found that the spirit of persecution will again rage in our land. The wealth and honours of the established sect are prizes for which ungodly men think it worth their while to contend; and then those who possess them, and who claim the power of the state to compel payments to themselves, they must assert, that they
only are authorised ministers of Christ that they may be permitted to retain their ill-gotten wealth, and have that wealth increased by property extorted and bestowed by the state. The fear of losing, and the desire of increasing this wealth, engenders the spirit of persecution.
The writer of “The Nonconformist's Sketch-book" regards a sect established by the state as a monster evil, impeding the progress of truth, and destroying the vitality of Christianity. He writes as though his mind were deeply convinced of this; and hence there is much of soul in the statements which he has put forth. We shall now give one or two extracts, that our readers may form, for themselves, an opinion of the book. Referring to the support which the established sect and the aristocracy reciprocate with each other, he makes the following statement :
“ Our present object is simply to exhibit the church as a piece of political machinery, plied by the aristocracy for their selfish purposes--to point out its exquisite adaptation to answer this its primary end—that our readers may understand what it is really upheld to effect, and how completely it realises the intention.
An exclusive class—a class lifted far above the great bulk of societyclaiming a right to all political power, and making the various interests of the many subservient to their own-could not, it is evident, Jong maintain its standing in this country without possessing a firm hold upon every grade of society beneath it. This the state-church enables the aristocracy to secure. It is to them an extensively ramified system of nerves distributed over the whole body politic, by which their volitions may be communicated to the various muscles. Through it they can make their influence felt with the utmost ease at the very extremities of the social system. They have but to will, and instantly there is put in motion an apparatus which brings that will to bear upon all orders throughout the empire.
We examine the structure of a machine-we see the relation of part to part-we observe how aptly certain contrivances secure certain movementsand how the combination of the whole uniformly produces one great result
and we pronounce without hesitation upon the design of the machine. If, then, we find every arrangement in a state-church ill-adapted to answer a spiritual purpose, but fitted with special nicety to maintain the ascendancy of a party—if, in point of fact, it impedes rather than promotes religion, and is found invariably prompt to advance the interests of the aristocracy, be those interests based on right or on injustice-what reason is there for dealing with it as a sacred institution, instead of treating it, as in truth it is, as a political engine having for its object the perpetuation of exclusive privilege and power ?
Upwards of five millions sterling per annum divided into about eleven thousand unequal portions, a considerable number of them so small as barely to provide subsistence, whilst others are so large as to furnish a suitable income to younger sons, and dependent relations of noble families-the duties attaching to the enjoyment of which sums, in all the last-mentioned cases, are performed by curates for a miserable stipend, whilst they who pocket the fees indulge in every gentlemanly recreation-the distribution of which is committed, chiefly, to the care of landed proprietors, and is regulated without the smallest reference to the religious qualifications of the parties receiving them-may constitute a very efficient arrangement for promoting aristocratic ends, but how it is adapted to serve Christianity, requires more ingenuity than we possess to discover. As a system for pensioning off supernumerary members of lordly houses, it may be con
sidered perfect--as a means of supporting religion, it is destitute of even the semblance of fitness.
“Fifteen thousand clergy trained in the most exclusive spirit at universities where subserviency to rank is not only taught but practised—receiving, each his appointment to a living, from the hands of a land-owning patron, or what is much to the same purpose, from those of a bishop or the crown-looking to the same source for future preferment-dependent, for intercourse with aristocratic society, upon the good will of the neighbouring squiresympathising with all the sectional feelings of the order, as being themselves members of a privileged class-wielding, to appearance, the dreadful sanctions of religion-almoners, usually, of parochial funds and the great man's bounty-conduits through which may flow to bowing tradesmen the custom of the rich-having access to every house, able to assume an air of authority, and, in virtue of their office, to work upon religious fears and affections-fifteen thousand clergy thus dependent on the one hand, and powerful on the other to the aristocracy pledged servants, to their own flocks supreme dictators-stationed at convenient intervals over the length and breadth of the land, and thus coming in contact with society at all points—could mechanism more fatal to religion, or more serviceable to the interests of the upper class, be framed and put together?
All the movements of this tremendous engine are under the complete control of the class for whose advantage it exists. The appointment of bishops, to whom is entrusted the superintendence of this well-organised corps, who dispense no small portion of its patronage, and whose requests, in consequence, have all the force of law, is vested in the crown, that is, in the ministry for the time being. That they are selected for their spiritual aptitude for the office, none will pretend. Their elevation is in most instances owing to their connexion with, or their former subserviency to, the aristocracy. They thereupon become members of “the order." They breathe exclusive atmosphere. They are thoroughly imbued with the aristocratic spirit. Is any inroad upon sectional privileges threatened ?-they have but to nod the head, to give the well-understood sign, and on the instant, tenants, tradesmen, parish officers, paupers, small gentlemen who occasionally dine at the squire's, matrons who tremble for religion, and young ladies who are looking up to respectable connections, send forth a cry of disapprobation, and send up a shoal of petitions, at which the boldest statesmen may be excused for standing appalled.
The intimate dependency of the one class upon the other is sufficiently illustrated by daily facts. If any one instance can be pointed out in which the clergy and the aristocracy have taken different sides, we would be content to give up the whole argument. But in truth it cannot be. The hands must obey the mandates of the head.
We beg our readers to look at this state-church, first as a means of religious instruction, and afterwards as an instrument of political power. In the former case all is perplexed, anomalous, suicidal in the latter every thing is well arranged, easily managed, certain of accomplishing the end. It is upheld by the aristocracy-it is subservient to their designs-it shields and secures their interests. It is a political organ brought to bear against the liberties of the people. It is no more a sacred institution than the House of Lords. Whatever religion is mixed up with it, is there by accident, is frowned on as intrusive, is not only not necessary to the system, but, in so far as it is consistent, is antagonistic to it. It is, as we say, a political organ—and for the public it is a bad one-useless for good, but powerful for evil.”
Many sincere Christians give their suffrages in support of the union of church and state from an opinion received by them, that it