Imágenes de páginas

made to him to present himself as a candidate again for Clerkenwell; and his refusal so to do, is an evidence that he is as ambitious as he is hypocritical.

I am, &c. July 24, 1804.

J. W.


No. I.

TE have been desired, by many of our most respectable Subscribers and

Correspondents, to allot a small portion of the Miscellaneous department of our Magazine to extracts from works of acknowleged merit.

In compliance with their request, we begin a Series with this first number of a new volume, In forming our selection, we shall endeavour to provide for the instruction as well as the entertainment of our readers, and shall take care not to recur to works that are in every one's hands, but to those only which are less generally known, yet highly esteemed by those who are acquainted with them. We begin, therefore, with tuo masterly portraits of Dr. Clarke and Bishop HOADLEY, as drawn by the able hand of the venerable SKELTON, in his DEISM REVEALED.

THEOLOGICAL CHARACTERS, by SKELTON. THE most remarkable writer of this class was Divisus,

I who, by his great abilities, and regular life, reflected no small reputation on his party. He was both a great Mathematician and Divine: his discourses, which abounded with moral reasonings, and leaned chiefly on the religion and law of nature, were, as to the matter, drawn mostly from within himself, and rather illustrated, than supported by quotations from Scripture. His principles, which were Semi-arian, made him almost a Christian: and his conduct, as to promotion, made him almost an honest man : for altho', by subscribing to principles he did not like, and endeavoured to overturn in his writings, he held a considerable benefice; yet his disapprobation of those principles hindered him from accepting of an higher

place place in the Church, which, it is certain, he might have had. Great learning, and high retineinent, were necessary to the forming distinctions, so extremely nice, both for belief and practice. It is hard to say whether his name, or writings, gave the greater countenance to the Semi-christian party, of which he was at the head. There never was a man who had greater charity, or an opener benevolence, for all who differed froin him in opinion: few men ever wrote better for revelation, nor worse for their own detached notions about particular doctrines: from whence it plainly appears, that he was sincerely a Christian, although on a model different from that of his Church. Yet his regard for Christianity did not hinder him from soliciting the enlargeinent of Woolston; but he gave it as his reason for so doing, that Woolston had only taken that liberty which he himself had all his life been contending for. Surely Divisus was inistaken; for the liberty, assumed by Woolston, was not to argue for truth in an open and ingenuous manner, but by low chicane, and base artifices, to spit his venom on the miracles of our Saviour.

Phyoderius always shewed himself a much sounder politician than divine, rose, step by step, to one of the richest chairs in our Church; and, as he ascended, gave

all the proofs of his orthodoxy, that the solemn formality of subscriptions, assents, and cousents, could possibly draw from any mon: notwithstanding this, he laboured hard to prove, that those who do not love our Church, ought to be put in a capacity to destroy it, by the demolition of its legal barrier. He daily pronounced the absolutions of our Rubric in the face of the Church; yet told the world, through the press, they were no absolutions at all. In the same place he daily repeated our Creeds; yet, in several parts of his works, borrowed arguments from the writings of Socinians; which, by an artful turn, he so levelled against the doctrines, either contained in, or necessarily resulting from, those Creeds, that he who reads his books grows heterodox himself, while he believes the writer to be orthodox. This effect is not more artfully pushed for, in any of his performances, than in his most celebrated book; whereby he insinuates what he would have us take to be the only necessary conditions upon which the fatour of God is to be obtained. Herein it is that he dwells on moral condi. tions only, and, by sight touches, and double espres. Pol. VII. Church m. Max. July, 1801



sions, eludes the necessity of faith in the meritorious death of Christ. No kind of book can be a more dangerous snare to a Christian reader, than that which, pretending to set befre him all that is necessary for bim to know and prac. tise, in order to his salvation, does, nevertheless, slip unobseryed over some of the most important points, and fixe: the attention solely on the rest. Thus an article of faith, that cannot decently be refuted, may be dropt, and kept out of sight; so that the reader sha:l have no oceasion given him to think of that article at all, much less to consider it as necessary to be believed in. Not, withstanding these instances of disingenuous dealing, as if he intended to usher into the world a severe invective against bimself, he published a discourse, in which, among other things, he sets forth, that it matters not so much, what our religious principles are, as it does that wo be sincere in them; reducing in a manner, the whole duty of man to that of sincerity, of which be had given the world so bright an example in his own practice and profeşsions. As no man can help being internally sincere in his own real principles, the sincerity inculcated by Phyoderius must consist in a conformity betueen our real principles and outward professions. How far hiş behaviour, as a Clergyman, hath been consonant to his one only necessary principle, let the world judge: however, that the edifying example, displayed in his former conduct, might not wear out of the memories of mankind, he continued to stand at the holy altar of God, consecrating and administring the blessed Sacrament by the prescript form of our Church: while, in the mean time, his books ran into the eager hands of unwary people; telling them, that if they minded either the Scriptures, or our Communion-service, they must be convinced, the consecration and preparation, usually required in order to the right receiving of that Sacrainent, are needless, or rather prejudicial, niceties. This may have been a proof of his sincerity, just as it is a țesti: mony of bis zeal for Christianity, that, during these twenty years past, while it was both secretly undermined, and openly assaulted, he hath never once thought fit to employ his great talents in its defence, but hath, in some measure, furthered the designs of its adversaries by per formances so judiciously calculated to subvert the principles and piety of Christians, that it is a doubt, whether all the Libertine writings in our language have wounded


our religion só sensiblr, or so far infeebled the virtue of its professors, as the works of this one divine. Besides, the Deists have made a considerable use of his ritings, in their books against Christianity; and yet he hath not so much as attempted to vindicate those writings, as inapplicable to such purposes; but, ou the contrary, hath rather endeavoured to strike the weapons out of the hands of those who were defending the faith he professed.


On Christ's Descent into Hell, and the intermediate State.

A Sermon on 1 Peter ini. 18, 19, 20. By Samuel Lord · Bishop of St. Asaph. 4to. pp. 18. TT will be in the recollection of most of our readers, that

the first notification of this Serinon, after it was preached at Brighton, was in our Magazine, accompanied with such an account of it, as must have excited a general wish to see it in print. Nay, we went yet further, and repeatedly urged, in the most respectful terms, our wishi that the learned prelate would give this adinirable disa course to the world. It now appears; and, though we will not presume so far as to say, that the publication has been the consequence of our endeavours to elicit it to the public, yet we do congratulate our readers, and we do feel complacency ourselves in the consideration, that the whole of it accords with the sentiments expressed in our work on the important subject therein discussed. The text is one which has puzzled biblical critics and commentators of antient and modern times, and many far-fetched and fanciful conjectures have been adopted, to solve the inystery supposed to surround it. It is i Peter iii. 18, 19, 20.-Bring put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the Spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.

The learned prelate, without having recourse to conjeeture, takes this passage of the Apostle in its literal sense, according to the exact meaning of the words, and then considers the descent of Christ into Hell, and his inission there.

Η 2

On On the first point, his Lordship takes the word Helt as significative of the common receptacle of departed souls, the state of the dead, hades, sheol, or the invisible state, and not, as is vulgarly understood, the place of torment. On this subject it is needless for us to expatiate, or even to make quotations, as the whole of what is here advanced has appeared repeatedly in our pages. The bishop guards against the doctrine of Purgatory on the one hand, and the horrible notion of Calvin on the other, that our Saviour's soul went actually into Hell, in the worst sense of the word, where he suffered the pains of the reprobate. He proves, that Christ descended into that part of Hades, called Paradise, whither he was accompanied by the soul of the penitent thief, and consequently he infers, that the souls of the righteous do not ascend to glory, or to heaven, properly so called, till the consummation of all things *.

The learned prelate now comes to consider the peculiar terms of this difficult text of Scripture, as to the business which our Lord had in the invisible state to which he descended, and here we shall quote his own words.

“ But in them, [i. €. the words of the text] taken in their most literal and obvious meaning, we find not only a distinct assertion of the fact, that “ Christ descended into Hell” in his disembodied Spirit, but moreover a declaration of the business upon which he went thither; or in which, at least, his sonl was employed while it was there; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” “ By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient.” The interpretation of this whole passage turns upon the expression “ Spirits in prison;" the sense of which I shall first, therefore, endeavour to ascertain, as the key to the meaning of the whole. It is hardly necessary to mention, that, “ Spirits” here, can signify no other Spirits than the souls of men. For we read not of any preaching of Christ to any other race of beings than mankind. The apostle's assertion, therefore, is this: that Christ “ went and preached to souls of men in prison.” The invisible mansion of departed Spirits, though certainly not a place of penal confinement to the good, is, nevertheless, in some respects, a prison. It is a place of se

* See this point particularly stated, in a letter on the subject of the Intermediate State, in our fifth volume, p. 80. The observations in which have a remarkable coincidence with this Sermon.


ܐ ܕܪ

« AnteriorContinuar »