Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

OUGHT CHRISTIAN MINISTERS TO MEDDLE WITH POLITICS?

433

my view, every act on our statute-book, and every institution in the land, has a moral quality, giving it a corresponding influence on the community; and I cannot conceive thatGod will hold the minister guiltless, who employs not even the super-citizen influence with which his character invests him, to infuse into these laws and institutions a right moral quality, that they may have a tendency to improve the moral and physical condition of humanity. Ministers are a portion of the salt of the earth, and I think they are bound to exert all the power they have to prevent our world from sinking deeper in moral putridity, as also to promote, as * far as they can, the assimilation of the laws of nations to the law of God, which is the standard of that morality and religion which it is their province to propagate.

6. But it is implied, that, if it is right for ministers to express their opinion on the corn-laws, why not on other subjects--as, the war with China, our relations with America, the recognition of Texas, the electoral franchise, the ballot, the beerlaws, or hundreds of other measures connected with the interests of morality and religion ? And I say, why not? If ministers were as fully agreed on these subjects as they are on the corn-laws, wherein would consist the impropriety of expresing to the Government and to the country their views respecting them."

BY A MANCHESTER MINISTER.—It is not because the revision of the Corn laws is an affair of legislation that it has been taken up, but because of its relation to the interests of religion and humanity. How far religion is concerned in the affair, is, to say the least, problematical. No direct connexion between the two will be pretended; whether vital Christianity will be impeded or accelerated by the amelioration or removal of the restrictions upon the importation of corn, is surely too vague an inquiry to furnish a basis for public ministerial consultation, and certainly has formed no part of the theology of former times. Its influence upon the interests of humanity in some limited spheres is questionable, in denser populations almost indispensable for maintenance and comfort, and probably on the whole, much for the advantage of this nation, and other parts of the world, The interests of humanity are necessarily affected by every act of legislation. It is on this account that every one is bound to employ the civil influence which the Legislature gives him for the welfare of his country; but whether on account of any religious capacity, it becomes our duty publicly to canvass and carry our opinion before the government upon a certain measure, which intimately concerns the internal trade and foreign imposts of the nation, upon the plea that the interests of humanity require it, and that the interests of religion are supposed to be affected by it, is the point at which I demur.

“It is supposed that the interests of humanity are identified with those of religion? This has led to much fallacious reasoning. Religion is humanity, but humanity is not religion. Every true Christian is a philanthropist, but every philanthropist is not a true Christian. It was by identifying humanity with religion, that all the plausible arguments were devised for bringing the secular welfare, first of individuals, then of communities and localities, and finally of whole king. doms under ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Give me but this proposition, that ministers of religion are entitled, by virtue of their office, to take the public interests of humanity under their controul, and I will easily establish the validity of all the pretensions of the Hierarch at Rome. We know only of these two provinces in the moral world-religion and humanity, or the Church and the world. These we at least, and none more than we, profess to be perfectly distinct. The highest office in one, gives no official authority in the other. We, who object to the power which human legislators assume, of enforcing religion in any form upon the nation under the plea that religion is the cause of humanity, must beware of assuming, by virtue of a religious office, an influence in the affairs of the world, under the plea that humanity is the cause of religion. The humanity of the Gospel is its own. It invariably flows from it, and can never be put before it. When the minister of religion stands forth as the advocate primarily of humanity and subordinately of religion, does he not abandon the spirituality of his office ?

. Much has been said of the peculiarity of the times. Extraordinary occasions call for extraordinary measures. But the duties of the Christian teacher are in all ages substantially the same. His office changes not with the times. The Church is his province. He has no official authority beyond what the Scripture confers. The whole duties of his office are clearly prescribed, and we cannot but remember the evils which have resulted from carrying them beyond their strictest limits. With us it is held to be an office purely spiritual. This has ever been our honoured distinction; and never was it more needful to preserve it inviolable, than when the opportunity offers and the temptation occurs to interfere with mortal things, that it may be seen we had embraced it from principle, and not from necessity. Admitting, then, that we have no authority to employ the official capacity which the Gospel has conferred upon us, beyond what by precept, or example, or fair implication it prescribes, it is surely not too much humbly to inquire by what Scripture interpretations this novel part of our office (for novel it is, and much neglected in past times by the best of men,) can be sustained ? I am compelled to own that I know of none; but I do know, that, when there was an unjust distribution of the provisions of this life amongst the poor members of the Church at Jerusalem, and their complaints were laid before the apostles, that one and all (for the whole twelve were present,) agreed that it was not a matter which came within their province. This was a case of real monopoly and oppression. It was not in the world, but in the Church. It was entirely unincumbered with political bearings. It was not an oppression upon the labouring poor, but upon a still more deserving class of the community. The widows of the Hellenistic Jews were left to want, while the widows of the Hebrews were amply supplied from the contributions of the Church. Why did not the apostles hold a conference npon the subject, and summon these widows before them, and investigate the whole matter, and then order a more equable distribution to be made in future? Might they not have pleaded their office and the common interests of humanity for so doing? But they urged neither. There were not some assenting to the propriety of responding to the call, some doubting, and one opposed; but they were unanimously agreed that it was an affair with which they could have nothing to do, and requested that others might be chosen to investigate and rectify the disorder, and assigned as their motive for sp doing, 'It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables; we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word.' So entirely do we approve of their conduct on this occasion, that we refer to it as the origin of an important office in our churches. Have we, then, more authority in secular matters by virtue of our office than the apostles? Is their ministerial conduct no rule for ours? Did they refuse on account of their office to interfere with the secular disarrangements of the Church, and can we claim, upon the same ground, an influence in the secular government of the world ?".

BY ONE OF THE CONFERENCE.--" Mr. Wardlaw argues, “If it belong to our office to - be political, then it is not merely permitted us to be so, but imperative upon us ; and where does the obligation cease within the circle of politics? In this sentence Mr. W. winds up and condenses all that he has adduced at length in the paragraph of which it forms the close. Shall the principle here laid down be admitted? By no means--if it is to be understood as Mr. W. has put it. Permission and obligation are generally understood to be different things. It may not be inconsistent with the ministerial function to interfere in any branch of politics; and at the same time it may not be obligatory to interfere in all. Circumstances and a minister's abilities and means of usefulness may have something to do in determining his duty. Let Mr. W. show why the distinction between permission and obligation should vanish in connection with this subject, and this only. It is not beyond my functions as a minister to preach from every verse of the Divine Word; but I am not in duty bound to do this. It is not beyond my functions as a minister to preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven; but I am not in duty bound to do this. I cannot do this very effectually, and I may safely leave some districts of the globe to others. So with regard to politics. I am not excluded as a minister from interference with any political measures, if I deem them of im. portance to the happiness of my fellow-men; but I am not therefore bound to interfere with every political measure. I am, I think, allowed to use my discretion. Some measures I may not deem so important as others, some I may not understand so well as others, some I may safely leave to other hands."

[ocr errors]

OUGHT CHRISTIAN MINISTERS TO MEDDLE WITH POLITICS ?

435

BY THE Rev. Joshua RUSSELL, of MelkshaM.-" I submit for consideration, whether such a Conference was not objectionable, because it was a meeting of ministers as Christian ministers, who cannot consistently acknowledge one another as such. Roman Catholics, Clergyman of the Establishment, Independent and Baptist ministers, and Socinian ministers, all met together. How can a Socinian acknowledge a minister of the Church of England as a minister of Christ, when if Christ were nothing more than a man, He would at all events be admitted to be a good man, and must regard the Divine worship paid to Him as an offence and an insult? How can an Independent or Baptist minister acknowledge a Popish priest, simply as such, or a clergyman of the Church of England, simply as such, to be a minister of Christ? Are, then, any of these parties to be shut out from a discussion on the corn laws ? No, certainly not; but let them meet on the only ground really common to them, as men and citizens, and not as the servants of Christ. It may be said, that the invitation was to ministers of all religious denominations on a matter unconnected with their peculiar sentiments, and that it was only their recognizing each other as de facto such and such ministers. I know this; but see what it led to. They recognize one another as Christian ministers, as ministers of the God of love and peace, and as such all together address the Queen, the Houses of Parliament, and the people of the United Kingdom, and receive addresses di.. rected to them all as ministers of the Gospel and faithful servants of their Divine Master, and in their solemn resolutions they recognize one another as ministers of the same religion. Influenced,' they say, 'by a deep interest in the success of the religion whereof they are ministers! What religion do they mean? Is the Queen, are the Houses of Parliament, are the people of the United Kingdom, to have the impression that they are all of one religion in fact, though they happen to bear different names? : “Far be it from me to condemn any who went to the Conference; I mean no

such thing; but the most wise and pious will be willing to receive suggestions from those much less so than themselves. It is not to a Conference on the corn laws, or to the attendance of any minister who thinks fit to go and assist there, that I object; but I do venture to suggest the inexpediency of ministers of Christ coming down from their high spiritual dignity, and devoting themselves primarily and directly to attempts to avert temporal afflictions and to increase temporal riches, instead of exposing the many and great sins which bring those afflictions, , and declaring the principles and Christian graces which alone can render prosperity, if enjoyed, safe and permanent. In a moral point of view, affliction is to be preferred to sin; it is better to go to the house of mourning than to that of feasting, and ministers should be more concerned to have troubles improved and sanctified than to have them removed. No doubt they ought to acquaint themselves with political affairs, and to take their part with others in protecting and preserving the rights and liberties of the country; but are they not to be temperate in all such things, and to give their first, their full, their unrestrained energies to the interests of a higher kingdom, and to the supply of the perishing souls of their fellow-men with the bread of life and the water of life? I know that this is the case with many of those who attend the Conference; their spiritual health is settled and sound, and they can bear the encounter with worldly interests and passions, but I do fear the effect of such a meeting with its fine aspect of benevolence and its high excitement upon our younger brethren. I fear lest some of us should forget that our duty is to moderate the ardour which men feel about worldly things, and lest some of our people should be led to

suppose that the corn laws are the chief sins which as a nation we have to confess , and forsake. I take my stand upon this ; it is a dispute about temporal things, about

subsistence to some and riches to others. Was the kingdom of Christ in jeopardy? Was religion in such hazard as to call its ministers together from all parts of the kingdom? Was the hazard from the corn laws? No one, I suppose, will seriously say that there was any such thing. Let men of business take the lead in matters of business, and in their opposition to the corn laws I wish them. success. With great affection and respect I remind my ministering brethren that it is written, No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."

ROMANISM ANDANGLO-CATHOLICISM. Lec-1 “the power of the keys ;" and he de

tures, by Joseph SORTAIN, A.B. of nies and disproves, that there can be any Trinity College, Dublin, and Minister authority (claimed by Rome in her of North Street Chapel, Brighton. pp. Catechism of the Council of Trent and 290. cl. bds.

in her doctrine concerning Indulgences,) Ward & Co., Paternoster Row.

to forgive sins without requiring the

presence of true repentance and true RESUMING our notice of Mr. Sortain's faith. And on this point alas! our book, we have to follow him as he shows

modern High-Churchmen “do err, not in detail the identity of Romanism and of

knowing the Scriptures.” They teach, modern Anglo-Catholicism with the arch-I not only baptismal regeneration, but apostacy described by St. Paul. And we that forgiveness for sin after baptism is will limit ourselves for the present to the to be obtained “ through the ministr., first feature in the inspired delineation- of the Church ;” and thus they singImpious Arrogance (2 Thess. ii. 4). It was foretold, that in place of Roman poly- Each morn and eve, the Golden Keys theism (“ all that is called God or that is Are lifted in tbe sacred hand, worshipped”'), there should appear in to show the sinner, on his knees, the Church of Christ (“the temple of "

i of Where Heaven's brigbl doors wide open God") a new power, assuming the tem

stand. poral and spiritual prerogatives of God. « On the dread altar duly laid, And here the illustration is divided under The Golden Keys their witness bear, four heads.

That not in vain the Church hath pray'd ; 1. Romanism has attributed Divine That He, the Life of souls, is there. titles and power to her head bishop, the Pope. In this spirit, in reference even to

“ Full of the past, all shuddering thought, the inferior clergy, we are taught in Dens's | The

Man waits his hour, with upward eye:-Theology, the text-book of Maynooth, That he inay hold by them and die.”

ens s| The Golden Keys in love are brought, that a confessor, who has learnt a fact from sacramental confession only, “ought! 3. There is the claim of the Divine (when questioned) to say, and, if neces- attribute of infallibility; which Rome sary, swear, that he does not know it, be- declares to “reside in the body of pastors, cause he is interrogated as man and he joined with their head.” In the exercise answers as man, but he does not know of this power she proclaims that the Word that truth as man, though he knows it of God derives from her“ authority as God !And is there any tendency which without her allowance it hath not," towards this in the Tractarian School ? Scripture “ not possessing authority over, Mr. Sortain fixes it with “ the fearful as- but rather being subjected to the faith sumption that the Christian ministry is and religion of the Church.” Mr. Newthe vicarship and representation of man also tells us, that " Scripture was Christ;' and he argues, that even if the never intended to teach doctrine to the order of the apostleship was transferable, many," and that “the Church may be and if it has in fact been transmitted to said almost infallibly to interpret Scripthe Church of England, still the members ture." But an “almost infallibility” is of it would not be his vicars, and Christ indeed a strange uncertain thing; the would not be by it represented (as those theologian who reaches it, will find it an writers pretend,) but his Divine office unsteady foundation, and can hardly would still be directly and immediately fail to take the one step further. approachable by every true disciple. This 4. There is the aspiration after tempotopic occupies the whole of the third ral supremacy. Rome claims power Lecture, and is handled with the skill of “above all earthly kings and potentates." "a master in Israel.”

| And what say the Oxford Tracts ? Of 2. There is next the claim, on the part those who exercise the right of private of the clergy, to the Divine prerogative judgment, they speak thus in Tract 59: to forgive sins. Mr. Sortain questions - Such troublers of the Christian commuthat there is any succession at all to nity would in a healthy state of things,

[blocks in formation]

be silenced or put out of it, as dis- | ANCIENT History. HISTORY OF THE turbers of the king's peace are re ASSYRIANS AND CHALDEANS, Medes, strained in civil matters; but in our AND Lydians. From Rollin and other times, from whatever cause, being times authentic sources. With a Map. pp. of confusion, we are reduced to the use 72. Price 1s. 6d. of argument and disputation, just as we

Religious Tract Society. think it lawful to carry arms and barri This valuable Series proceeds with cade our houses during national disor unabated success. We have in these ders."

closely printed pages a history of the Here we must lay aside this admirable Assyrians and Chaldeans-physical, tovolume till next month.

pographical, political, and chronologi

cal; then a similar history of the Medes, British CHRISTIANS CALLED TO SOLEMN and lastly of the Lydians. Great care

INQUIRY, in reference to the limited appears to have been bestowed upon the efficiency of the Gospel in their own volume; and while the writings of uncountry. A Sermon, preached before believers have been ransacked for inforthe Home Missionary Society, May mation, Holy Scripture is continually 17, 1841. By the Rev. John Ely, of kept in view, and its references illusLeeds. pp. 40.

trated. Thus consecrating profane hisSnow, Paternoster Row.

tory, the author has coinpiled an excelA very earnest and faithful remon lent standard work. strance, in reference to the affecting fact, that in this home of true religion Chris

AN APPEAL to Sunday School Teachtians are still the exception and the un

Ers, on the Momentous Character of godly form the masses. The true state

their Undertaking: and A VOICE TO of the case is exhibited, the immediate

the Churches, on the subject of Suncauses pointed out, and the consequent

day Schools. The Substance of Two obligation enforced ; and all with an

Lectures. By J. Morison, D.D. honest boldness, that compels attention pp. 64. and wins upon the reader as he proceeds.

Sunday School Union.

This little book will form an excellent The sermon deserves general perusal,

guide to teachers; it places the office and may do much to awaken the Church |

high indeed, and confesses the work to of Christ to a deeper feeling of responsi

be great, but there is truth in its reprebility, and arouse many of its members

sentation, and weight in its counsels. to “serve their generation by the will

Very stirring too are the appeals to memof God,” before “the night cometh

bers of Churches. It will be invaluable when no man can work."

to those who would quicken their own

zeal in this great work, or arouse their SENIOR CLASSES. Their importance

brethren who look idly on. It is worthy and the mode of conducting them.

of the author's honourable name. pp. 48. Sunday School Union.

Common SensE; or, Hints on your nearThere is no doubt, that in many est and most considerable affairs. places it has been quite the usage to quit the Sunday-School at a certain age

Religious Tract Society. San age when temptation is strong and This neat little treatise is simply what no check can be dispensed with, and its title indicates. It appeals to the comwhen accurate Scriptural knowledge is | mon sense of the irreligious man, and for the most part yet to be acquired. shows him the folly and madness, of “ Senior Classes," a species of Sunday which he is guilty. It bears a singular “ Bible Class," ought in every instance and business-like air about it, which to exist. This excellent Tract, not only makes it striking and impressive; and no shows their necessity, but discusses the man with whom religion is less than the whole subject of their management, and "one thing needful”can'read it seriously, propounds rules for conducting them. without feeling conscious of his utter It is full of valuable advice ; and no one foolishness. It comes too close to allow interested in the matter ought to be of escape, and puts the great question in without it,

| a light undeniable and overwhelming. It

« AnteriorContinuar »