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the holiness and spirituality of his law and going about to establish its own righteousness, it will not submit itself to the righteousness of God, and avail itself of the mode of justification, planned, provided, and executed by God, in Christ. It raises, upon the sandy foundation of self-dependance, the hay, straw, stubble of its own attainments and performances, and clothes and shelters itself in its own merits. But the first ray of the Eternal Sun consumes this frail and unsubstantial fortress; the first beam of the Divine light, the first breath of the Divine Spirit, melts and dissipates this mantle of a cloud, and prostrates the sinner in the dust.
How many, and how various, are the grounds of hope which are substituted for the Gospel of Christ. The ignorant among us trust to their profession of Christianity and Protestantism-a profession far less the result of choice than of providential circumstance, and which they have inherited, with their other patrimony, by the law of the land. They are Protestants, not because the Bible has established the Protestant Church as the pillar and ground of the truth, but because the legislature has established it as the National Church. They, in the meantime, forget that this profession can but confer upon them privileges, which may indeed exalt them now unto heaven, as Capernaum of old, but which, if unimproved, can have no other effect than to thrust them down into a deeper hell. Others substitute knowledge for love, and seem to fancy that their intellectual acquaintance with the doctrines and duties of Christianity is a full and adequate substitute for holiness of heart and life. They forget that their knowledge can but rise up with them in the judgment and condemn them, unless it has purified and elevated their affections, influenced and sanctified their hearts and lives. But Paul furnishes to these, and to all, whatever their attainments, a solemn warning to rest on nothing but the cross of Christ. What privileges, what knowledge did not he possess! Of the stock of Israel ; a Hebrew of the Hebrews ; lineally descended, in every branch, from the father of the faithful, to whom, and to his seed, were the promises made. Of the tribe of Benjamin—the only tribe, which, in the general defection and apostacy of Israel, adhered to Judah ; the peculiarly favoured tribe of which, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Circumcised the eighth day, and thus made by covenant a participator of those privileges which were given to Israel, and to no other nation, irrespective of individual character. Brought up too in the holy city, and at the feet of Gamaliel, a celebrated teacher, and by him instructed according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, after the straitest sect of the religion he lived a Pharisee.
But here some will exclaim, Does not this one fact neutralize all his other advantages, and constitute a heavy charge against him? Is not the very name of Pharisee identical with that of hypocrite and impostor? This is a common and a very dangerous mistake, because it destroys the force and emphasis of many declarations of Scripture ; and particularly of a most important one of our Lord himself, “ For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” There were, it is true, in those degenerate days, many hypocrites and impostors among the Pharisees, and none among the Sadducees; because the latter were infidels, the former strict professors : and our Lord's frequent collision with the one, and his quiet hopeless abandonment of the other, is a testimony, not against but in favour of the Pharisee. No; among the Pharisees, bad as many of them doubtless were, yet were to be found the last lingering embers of sanctity in expiring Judaism-the elect of a reprobate nation. St. Paul surely thought this, when he sums it up among the grounds upon which he might have confidence in the flesh: and again when he appeals to his persecutors, and asserts that they could, if they would, testify that after the straitest sect of his religion he lived a Pharisee. And when we consider the self-denying fastings, and austerities of various kinds, which the Pharisees freely practised: when we consider their munificent alms-deeds, their lengthened prayers, their strict obedience to the servile bondage of the law, in all its rites and ceremonies and supererogatory traditions, which would have missed even their supposed, and in many cases, on our Lord's own testimony, their real aim, had all been hypocrisy and imposture--we may perhaps consider, that it was not merely to pour contempt upon the Pharisee, and to lower the standard of Gospel holiness, that our Lord contrasted the Pharisee with the Christian; but that it was to call us to serious self-examination and deep searching of heart, and to point out to us that peculiar characteristic of the Gospel, that essential spirit, which, if possessed, would have rendered the Pharisee's life an acceptable service to God, that our Lord addresses his disciples and says, “ Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Such then was Saul-of the strictest sect of his religion, a Pharisee : personally, “as touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." Nor this merely in ceremonials ; in the presence of the High Priest he declares, “I have lived in all good conscience towards God unto this day"-for I cannot think with some commentators that he refers merely to his converted Christian state : with such a limitation his good conscience would have supplied anything rather than a recommendation to the High Priest, who viewed him in that state as an apostate and reprobate. But it will be said, Was he not, in his former state, a bitter persecutor of Christianity? True ; but he did it, as he himself tells us, ignorantly, in unbelief. “Verily,” he says, “I thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth ; which thing I also did.” In fact he was one of those of whom our Lord forewarned his disciples that the days should come when they who killed them would think that they did God service. Nay, his persecution of Christianity he places to the credit of his natural character_" concerning zeal," he says, "persecuting the Church." And again : “I was zealous toward God as ye all are this day ;” evidently referring to their zeal against Christianity. But all that he could thus plead-I will not say to justify, but to extenuate his sins, and to eke out his insufficient righteousness, he casts away, that he may lay firm and undivided hold upon the cross : “What things," he says, “were gain unto me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." How much more then should we, who possess not the national privi. leges and promises, the early acquaintance with and intimate knowledge of God's word, the ardent zeal, though misdirected, of this great Apostle-how much more, I say, should we cast away the flimsy robe of our own righteousness, and come in as guilty, and helpless, and poor, and blind, and naked? How much more should not we prostrate ourselves at the foot of the Redeemer's cross, as penitent rebels, invited by a proclamation of free pardon, of unexpected as unmerited sovereign grace? How much more should we plead only that great atonement by which God can be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly: and repose only upon that faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that “ Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” in deep sincerity of feeling, we, each of us for himself, confess, “ I am chief ?"
J. M. H.
ZENAS IN REPLY TO NUCLEUS ON NATIONAL CHURCHES.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I LITTLE thought (“good easy man!") that in my remarks on the pious Bishop Hall, I should have stirred the embers of a defunct controversy, or lighted the fires of a new one; but it seems that Nucleus charges me with failing to distinguish between the opposition of Dissenters to the Church of England merely as “an Establishment,” and their opposition to it as better or worse than other churches. Now I apprehend that the charge of not distinguishing things that differ, belongs peculiarly to himself, inasmuch as it is he, and his Dissenting brethren, who failing to distinguish the merits and blessings of the scriptural Church of England, as opposed to the unscriptural Church of Rome, and to the Atheism of infidelity, are making common cause with apostacy and heresy, in their attempts to pull down the National Establishment.
Nucleus, it seems, is as angry with Dr. Chalmers as with myself, because, though the Doctor is no Churchman and I am no Dissenter, we are both so wrong-headed, in his estimation, as to love a true church better than a false one, and to care more whether that which is established be sound and scriptural, than whether it has the support of the State, or not; nay, he pushes his dislike of all Establishments, as such, so far as to render it obvious, on his own shewing, that if the personal reign of our Blessed Lord himself should be set up in the earth (as expected by so many), and should yet be administered by human agents—that is, with the secular aid of a National Establishment-it would be the manifest duty of every good Christian to oppose it; since he expressly holds that the purity and perfection of a Church are as nothing, so long as it has the misfortune to be established, and so long as it receives, in any degreee, the support of a secular influence.
Now, sir, it is eminently true that I think our Dissenting countrymen break down (as the enemies and persecutors of Bishop Hall did before them) in joining Papists and infidels against the Church of England; because, supposing that Church were annihilated tomorrow, it must be obvious (ut nunc res se habent) that the Church of Rome is most likely—as she certainly is most willing—to take her place. The Dissenters themselves will, of course, disclaim all intention
of taking that place themselves, and all of them who retain any portion of real religion must be equally unwilling that infidels should usurp such a position, and introduce (as would be inevitable) the anarchy and ruin of a general revolution.
Is it not, then, a deplorable obliquity in the modern professors of religion, not to distinguish the superiority of a scriptural, over an anti-scriptural, Church; the blessing of a tolerant, as compared with an intolerant, Church; and the glory of a Church which receives and distributes the gospels of truth, as opposed to the degeneracy of one which mutilates, opposes, and prohibits those scriptures? Where is the consistency of the descendants of Dr. Watts and M. Henry, now siding with the assertors and abettors of intolerance, ignorance, and crime; when it is so notorious that if they could succeed in supplanting the present system of instruction and education supplied by the National Church, falsehood of the most pernicious kind must be propagated instead of truth, idolatry must take the place of a purer worship, and ignorance, the avowed mother of the Romish devotion (as of such a devotion it certainly is), would at once shut up the channels of information, or poison them at their source.
It is simply because Dr. Chalmers and others—to say nothing of so humble an individual as myself—prefer good to evil, that they hallow and hail the National Church ; and dare not-as they love their kind, and their country-to assist in the confederacy now so extensively formed for her destruction; and yet (mirabile dictu !) it is for this very claim which that Church presents to our attachment and affection, that Nucleus and his school declare that we have no right to respect or love her, because, forsooth, she happens to be estab. lished, no matter how holy or how useful she may be! Is it conceivable that any real lover of religious truth could have penned such a paragraph as this? “ Dissenters would take from the best man, or the best church, the aid of the State, and give to the worst full liberty to promulgate opinions, so long as no civil offence is committed.' This, indeed, is the whole staple of Nucleus's argument. Civil offences being barred, no matter what offences — however awful or frightful-may be promulgated, provided the offenders be. long to no Establishment, and have no connection with the State ; and again, no matter how near an established religion may ap. proach to the religion of heaven itself, or be most adapted to the neces. sities of our fallen nature, still, as established at all, and as deriving any support or countenance from the Government, it is deserving of nothing better than to be pulled about our ears. If such an argument were tenable for a moment, it would, of course, avail us nothing to prove the Church of England either holy or useful, since no amount of purity, and no evidence of utility, would in that case help her.
But, says Mr. Binney, she is neither holy nor useful ; she is not merely good for nothing, but has done infinitely more harm than good. If indeed Nucleus can seriously believe this assertion, he will have some justification in condemning such a system, whether it be esta. blished or not : but this is not his point, however it may be Mr. Binney's; for according to Nucleus, if nothing but unmixed good were done, and doing, by the Church of England, he still maintains, that, as an Established Church, Dissenters would, upon principle, have a right to dislike her, and do their utmost to dethrone her. Now, to my own mind, this sentiment appears the result of the purest faction; CHRIST. OBSERY. No, 13.
nor does the dislike of Nucleus to the phrase of “factious opposition" by any means of itself impugn the propriety of its application. I never, indeed, for a moment supposed that Mr. Binney really believed his own allegation against the Church of England; but presuming him to be in earnest, he had certainly a right to follow out his conviction to its remote consequence of “Delenda est Carthago." The argument, however, of Nucleus is Let the church be “ as chaste as ice, as pure as snow," still, inasmuch as she has upon her the plaguespot of an alliance with the State, she deserves no quarter, and shall find no mercy. It will not be expected that I should here prove the advantages of a National Establishment, or the duty of supporting it, since a new book must then be written, in addition to the many we already have on the subject; but I apprehend that until it can be shewn from Scripture, that religious professors are justified in opposing and overturning truth itself, because it happens to be established and endowed truth, there will be no pretence for the right claimed by Nucleus, and I suppose by Dissenters at large, to throw overboard in this discussion “ the consideration of what is true or false, scriptural or unscriptural, or more or less useful ;” this being, in fact, the simple reason why Dr. Chalmers (however condemned by Nucleus for doing so) upholds the Church of England, although a National Establishment, and opposes the Church of Roine, whether he finds it established or not. The difference between Dr. Chalmers and Nucleus is—that although the Doctor is “a Presbyterian on conviction," (as Nucleus is, no doubt, of that or some other denomination on conviction), the Doctor has yet both the piety and charity to appreciate and honour the work of God which the Church of England is doing in the world, and he possesses too much of each to “ cast a stone at her," while the mother of all abominations is avowedly struggling for her place, and persecuting her children to the death. It would signify, I conceive, nothing to Dr. Chalmers whether the Church of Rome were to present her claims to his preference, under the secular aid of an establishment, or otherwise ; he knows full well, although a Presbyterian Dissenter, what must inevitably follow upon the successful efforts of Papists and Infidels to annihilate Episcopacy in England and Ireland ; and he therefore dares not to lift a finger against her Episcopal Church, as believing her to be a mighty instrument of good to the world at large, and to this nation in particular. The Doctor feels here, as Dr. Watts did a century before; or that blessed man never could have left behind him, as a Dissenter, the several poems in his admirable “ Lyrics," on the detection of the Powder plot, and the accession of King William. The truth is-but we must not hope to tell it without offence-that both Dr. Watts and Dr. Chal. mers were Catholic Dissenters (if I may be allowed the phrase) ; and understood their duties to God and man as, it is to be feared, too many of their modern descendants do not. It is for only venturing to suggest this circumstance in my remarks on Bishop Hall, that I was unfortunate enough to offend your correspondent. Why has he obliged me to speak more plainly? I use the phrase “ too many" of his brethren, advisedly; because, in my humble judgment, the fewest number who are found, at such a perilous juncture to our common Christianity, both railing and throwing dirt and stones at our National Chureh, would yet be too many. Yet, blessed be God! all are not like minded ; for I have myself the happiness and privilege of knowing a