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Mr. Meek thus wishes his readers to believe, (and many will willingly believe,) first, that Mr. Binney has expressed a wish that the Episcopal Church should be destroyed; secondly, that another system should be made the Establishment in its room; and thirdly, that the system he wou!d substitute is the pseudoIndependency which he complains of as having crept into some Congregational Churches. We need not say that each of these insinuations is at variance with Mr. Binney's published sentiments. Mr. Meek must know this. He must know too, that the defini. tion he has given of the Independent mode of church government as declaring each congregation independent of all others,' in opposition to their being members of one body,' is an impudent libel. He cannot be so ignorant as not to know that such a sentiment has been distinctly repudiated by Dr. Owen, Lord Brooke, Burton, Cotton, and other eminent divines of that denomination in former days *, and both in word and in practice by Congregational Dissenters of the present day. No churches are more closely associated in fact, or more united in spirit, than those which have been reproachfully styled Independent, because they reject synodical or prelatical control in matters of discipline. The 'pastor of several respectable Dissenting congregations must have been well aware of this, when he indited the above tissue of infamous misrepresentations.
So much for the Rev. R. Meek. If our readers have been wearied or disgusted with the exposure we have felt it our duty to make of the disingenuous and deceptive statements contained in his volume, we know not with what feelings they will follow us through the still more dirty paths we have now to tread. Of all the scurrilous and audacious libellers we have had to encounter in our critical career, the anonymous Author of the Letters to a Dissenting Minister, who assumes the initials L. S. E., certainly bears away the palm. Those of our readers who have
* Not that they claim an entire independency of other churches, is the express language of the Independents of 1643, in an Apology presented to the House of Commons. (Neal, 8vo., Vol. III., p. 118.) *No church is so independent as that it can always observe the duties it owes unto the Lord Christ and the Church Catholic by all those powers which it is able to act in itself distinctly without conjunction with others; and the church that confines its duty unto the acts of its own assemblies, cuts itself off from the external communion of the Church Catholic.' Owen's True Nature of a Gospel Church, p. 250. See also pp. 251, 259. You mightily mistake the matter, when you interpret Independency as not needing both the communion and assistance of other persons, nations, churches.' Burton's Vindication of the Churches called Independent (in reply to Prynne). See Orme's Life of Owen, pp. 229, 493, 496. Also Ecl. Rev., 3d Series, Vol. V., pp. 421-435.
occasionally looked at the John Bull or Age newspaper, or the frantic ravings of the Curate of Pudsey, in the Standard, may form some notion of the shameless effrontery with which truth and decency are set at defiance in these pages. The Writer may well conceal his name, which could be known only to be infamous. If he really is, what he professes to be, the son of Dissenting parents, for their sakes we hope that the veil will not be removed. * What can we think of the son, who, in the first page of his work, slanders his own parents by charging them with having educated him in the belief that no person in communion with the Church of England could be spiritually safe; clenching the base falsehood, (for such it must be, unless his parents ranked among the very dregs of Dissent,) with the assertion, that the majority of Dissenters 'arrogate to themselves ' exclusively the appellation of the saints and the people of God'? From the first page to the last, these Letters are a continued strain of foul and malignant invective, occasionally supported by garbled citations from the writings of Dissenters, and sometimes by a cheap parade of quotations in Greek and Latin, but as impotent in point of argument as contemptible in every other view. The arrogant dogmatism of the Author's assertions on every controverted point, is equalled only by the effrontery of his falsehoods when he has to speak of the Dissenters, against whom he seems to foam with a rage that only requires to be allied to power, to become as diabolical in act as in spirit. We would not sully our pages with any extracts from such a work, did we not deem it necessary to justify the strength of expression we have been compelled to employ in describing its true character. The following are specimens of the Billingsgate eloquence with which it teems.
* The Author pretends that he has, on mature reflection, concealed his name simply and solely? because the individuals to whom he has referred in some of his scandalous stories would be inevitably known through the medium of his name, and “regard to their feel‘ings,' forsooth, has alone influenced him. This barefaced falsehood is disproved by the pains he has taken to point out the individuals by initials and other marks not to be mistaken. His own name could not supply a more distinct key to his filthy anecdotes. The preface is dated from Sheffield, probably as a blind. We cannot believe that the highly respectable body of clergy in that town would disgrace themselves by any association with such a person. By his own shewing, he is an ill-bred upstart, for he attempts to throw the blame and disgrace of his failure in points of courtesy (Angl. blackguardism) on his
Dissenting education, of the effects of which he fears his utmost en* deavours have not yet entirely succeeded to divest his mode of expres
sion.' He has found it easier to divest himself of his principles than of his native manners.
* If they (the well disposed) will steadily view the “ Dissenting interest” as it at present exists, they will not fail to see not only that it stands on a very unsafe foundation, but that in what they consider a spiritual point of view, it is widely different from what it once was. They will immediately discover not only that great numbers of their congregations, befooled and bewitched by their Dissenting principles, have fallen headlong into the hopeless gulf of Socinianism, and that others are verging towards it—but also that most of them are fast becoming nothing more than a kind of religio-political clubs, led on by their interested teachers, many of whom are little else than mere political demagogues, uniting with all the Radicals, Papists, Socinians, Deists, and Infidels in the country, in their hellish attempts to overturn its sacred and civil institutions; bedazzling the ignorant and unwary with their empty oratory and tinsel eloquence, and bewildering them with their specious arguments and ridiculous sophistry, and leading them on, thus infatuated, to discontent, anarchy, and
I would earnestly and atfectionately exhort all those among the Dissenters who are truly pious and sincerely anxious for the welfare of their immortal souls, and desirous of living holy, righteous, godly, and peaceable lives, to adopt the course I have done, and “come out from amongst them, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing." I can assure them, as one hoping for eternal life, that they would be amply repaid and fully satisfied with that increase of spiritual peace and solid comfort of mind which they would enjoy in communion with the Church. They would find there no incitements to the exercise of those deadly enemies of all true godliness, I mean spiritual pride and hypocrisy, and the uncharitable spirit of rashly judging others, which constitute the greater part of a Dissenter's religion. Dissent is indeed a religion of opposition and rash judgment; the religion of a party implying and carrying upon the very face of it the illiberal condemnation of all those from whom it dissents. Opposition and excitement are the very life and soul of Dissent. It is entirely upheld by them-entirely supported by continually exciting those baser passions of the human heart, “ envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.” Dissenters themselves hesitate not to avow that “pure attachment to Dissenting principles requires to be kept up in minds of a certain class by a keen hatred, and now and then a little round abuse of the Church." * Such, indeed, are the diabolical sen
* These expressions are cited from a Number of our own Journal ; (E. R. 3d Ser. Vol. vii. p. 144;) and it is necessary to state in what connexion they occur, in order to shew with what shameless disregard of truth they have been perverted so as to speak a meaning opposite to the sentiment of the Reviewer. Speaking of the effect of the Bible Society on the Establishment and Dissenters, the Reviewer says: • The bigoted partizan of the Establishment may. lament that the Bible Society has had an effect unfavourable to the intolerant pretensions of the high-church clergy. But, whatever advantage has been gained by Dissent, the benefit has been as mutual as the concession ; and the cause of Religion has gained more from it than any party.
timents by which Dissenting Ministers are actuated, and they ought to be quite sufficient to disgust every truly pious Dissenter, and to drive him beyond the reach of their contaminating and deadly, and may I not say, damning influence. pp. 14--16.
c« The cause ” and “ the Dissenting interest” written in full would be “ the cause of the Dissenting Ministers” and “ the Dissenting Ministers' interest,” for the teachers are certainly the only persons at all “ interested” by Dissent, the people, out of whom they live by begging the money out of their pockets, are the very reverse of it.'
• The principles of Independency are, indeed, the principles of de.praved human nature, instilled into man and fostered in him by his great enemy the Devil—the first Dissenter. It was with the promise of their being Independents, that he deceived our first parents, and “ brought death into the world and all our woe.” Ye shall be as Gods,” says he, meaning that they should be Independent. And they believed him, and as one God of course would not obey another, they immediately shook off their allegiance to their kind and beneficent Creator. And all their degenerate offspring have been imbued with the very same principles of pride, Dissent, and licentiousness, and beguiled by the same promise of the Devil in some way or other. shall be as Gods,” says he, to our modern Dissenters; and puffed up with the idea, they immediately and proudly respond, “We will be as Gods” !--we will enjoy full liberty of conscience we will do as we please—no man has any right to exercise any authority over us—we will choose our own Teachers; and as we are as Gods, they shall preach and act as we please—they are our servants, we hire them, and pay them their wages, and they shall do as we please; we have heaped them to ourselves, and they shall scratch our itching ears ;” if not, we will dismiss them, and choose others who will. Such are the unholy sentiments by which Dissenters are actuated; and the effects of which Dissenting Teachers constantly and deservedly feel. And can any one deny that the very same principles which now induce some to choose their own Teachers have induced others to choose their own Gods? If, as Dissenters contend, a man has a right to worship as he pleases, why has he not an equal right to worship what he pleases ? And if a man has a right to choose his own Teacher, why has he not a right to choose his own God? Prove if you can that the former does
Some partizans of Dissent have even attributed to this amicable alliance a declension of that pure attachment to Dissenting principles, which requires to be kept up in minds of a certain class by a keen hatred, and now and then a little round abuse of the Church: It is impossible that any one could fail to perceive that the epithet pure is used ironically, or that the whole sentence is sarcasm ;-that the Reviewer is deprecating the spirit of certain individuals, and that spurious attachment to Dissenting principles which requires to be sustained by such deleterious stimulants. Yet this L. S. E. has the audacity, again and again, to cite this passage as recommending the policy of upholding Dissent by abusing the Church !!
not include the latter; and that when a man chooses his own Teacher, he does not choose his own God. Every Dissenter, in choosing his own Teacher, rejects and despises the commissioned and duly authorized Ministers of God, and through them God himself. When those old Dissenters, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, whom the Apostle Jude considers as a kind of type of Dissenters under the Christian Dispensation, dissented from Moses and Aaron, Moses viewed their Dissent as an offence against God; for, in addressing Korah as their leader, he said, “ thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord.”. And that the Almighty viewed their offence in the same light is certain, from his destroying them. Our blessed Saviour also says to his Ministers, “ He that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me.” Every Dissenter, therefore, in choosing his own Teacher, despiseth and rejecteth God in despising and rejecting his regularly appointed Ministers; who are his representatives acting in his name, and in virtue of the authority which he has committed to them through a medium of his own appointment.
• In short, “the principles of Dissent " or Independency, influence every son and daughter of Adam, more or less, and are the source of all the evil of every kind on earth. Drunkenness, adultery, robbery, and murder, and every species of iniquity and vice, proceed from those infernal principles of licentiousness and liberalism, for which Dissenting Teachers contend under the specious names of “ liberty of conscience" and liberalism. I know that they do not allow their principles to carry them to such lengths, but I also know that others do, and consistently so too; for some, alas ! too many, claim and take liberty of conscience sufficient to allow them to practise deceit, falsehood, cheating, robbery, and even murder itself. And were it not for the wholesome restraints imposed upon the consciences of men, and their liberty circumscribed by ecclesiastical and civil laws, their number would be so much increased that the state of society would be intolerable.'
28–30. I cannot see how, in what way, or by what means, Dissenters can at all lay claim to be considered as Christians. Christians are those who submit to the laws and authority of Christ,-in other words, those who belong to the Church of Christ ; but Dissenters, by separating from the Church, turn their backs upon her, and thus reject her and her ministers, and through them Christ himself . Dissenters may, some of them, possibly belong to the invisible Church ; with that, however, as we cannot discern spirits, we have nothing to do. They, by their schism, cut themselves off from the visible Church, and cannot, therefore, expect to be considered at the present day as Christians, but according to the command of Christ, as Heathens and Publicans. In a Christian point of view we have nothing to do with them—we must leave them entirely in the hands of God—they are without the pale of the visible Church of Christ, and we are to act in the spirit of what the apostle says, “What have I to do to judge them also that are without? Them that are without, God judgeth.” The curse of God appears to me to rest heavily upon them. Every degree of heresy, and false doctrine, and wickedness of practice to