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of Mr. Wesley, in concealing the stroke of blindness on his enemies for a like purpose. This passage, indeed, one would never have supposed could have proceeded from the pen of a believer. So much is it in the very style of a certain noble writer,who tells us, that
is the fittest way of dealing with enrtiusiasts, and venders of miracles and prophecy;” and who sagaciously "iforms us, that “ the ancient !!eathens were never so well advised * their ill purpose of suppressing *ie Christian religion in its first rise, is to make use, at any time, of this Bart'lemy-fair method. But this I am persuaded ef, that had the truth of the Gospel been any way surmountable, they would have bid much fairer for the silencing it, if they had chosen to bring our primitive founders upon the stage in a pleasanter way than that of bearkins and pitch-barrels”.” Principles like these, and a defence of ridicule upon the foot of them, are quite consonant with the known prosession of Lord Shaftesbury; but it may be safely put to the feelings of “very unbiassed reader, whether an appeal to such principles, on the 3art, or in defence of, a Christian divine, is not, ipso facto, an impeachment of his piety And are hot both principle and practice *qually abhorrent from that nice sense of honour, that instinctive feeling of respect, that tact, with which an affectionate and grateful believer would ever wish to approach his heavenly conductor, and, more espe£ially, when about to rescue it from A prior disgrace . If the Bible is thus to be “wounded in the heuse of its friends,” as well as of its eneinies; if infidels are to burlesque it in earnest, enthusiasts by accident, oud bishops in joke; it will be not listicult to o: what its general estianation will ultimately become. But, * the mean time, it will be difficult
- * Wide Brown's admirable Essay on the **racteristics of Lord shaftesbury,
for considerate men to suspect a very prudential or respectful regard to its honour in those persons, who either wound the Bible through the sides of its injudicious advocates, or its injudieious advocates through the sides of the Bible. The permicious operation of these bad practices on the mind, is, in fact, too obvious to need any comment. When onee entered upon, there is no limit to be assigned to their extent. Herod himself is often otitheroded by the writers of this class: and it is really a doubt, whether half the offensive expressions, half the blasphemy and indecency (for such words are applieable to the occasion), could be picked out of the writings of the most notorious infidels, which are to be found conneeted with the gravest parts of Scripture in the pages of Bishop Lavington's Comparison between Popery and Methodism. Indeed, one part of his writings, in which he brings forward the alleged enormities of a certain other religious denomination, is not admissible into any Christian, or even decent, family. Most truly he has forgotten there, even his Pagan monitor: “nam nec insignis improbitas et scelere juncta . . . . . agitata ridetur.” Cic. de Orat. lib. ii. Such treatment of such an accusation, can only be passed by with silent abhorrence. But let us appeal to another piece of the Bishop's, written apparently before he had reached the ulterior stages of the controversy. In the second part of the Comparison above alluded to, which is particularly addressed to Mr. Whitfield, we have the following passage, which is given entire, as a fair specimen of the style of these theological drolls. —” And, if we duly weigh matters, how can the Methodist teachers be otherwise than powerful converters? What heart can stand out against their persuasive eloquence, their extravagantly fine flights and allusions Where is any thing so sublime and elevated? or, sometimes, what so melting, tender, and amorous, so soft and so sweet? You, will be in a rapture by reading their own words.—In the sublime: God gives them a text, directs them to a method on the pulpit stairs; the Lamb of God opens their mouth, and looseth their tongue; and sister Williams, who is near the Lord, opens her mouth to confirm it; so that all opposers are struck dumb, and confounded. Jesus rides from congregation to congregation, breathing courage and strength into his lambs, and carrying all before him. He rides in the chariot of his Goi. most triumphantly indeed: and the preacher sits in the chariot of his Lord's dear arms, leaning every day on his bosom, and sucking the breasts of his consolation, while his banner of love is spread over him. The arrows of the Lord fly through the congregation, and Mr. Whitfield gives them a home stroke. Heavily, indeed, de they drive, when God takes off their chariot wheels. But when God is anointing the wheels of their souls, 'tis sweet to be at full stretch for God; to come to a saving closure with Christ; to lay all their concerns on his shoulders; or leap into a burning fiery furnace without fear, which would serve as a fiery chariot to carry their souls to heaven;, while they see poor sinners, hanging as it were by a single hair, insensible of their datager, over the flames of hell.”—How pretty is it, when “the infants, babes, and weaklings of grace, require daily to be borne on the sides of Christ, and be dandled upon his knees, till they come to walk continually under the droppings of his blood | They see the sweet Jesus shewing his lovely face; and his favours and precious promises drop down his lily lips, like sweet-smelling myrrh.. They know that his arms are round them, for his arms are like the rainbow.” -Comparison, 2d Part, pp. 5, 6, 7. We need not here be reminded of that character in the Proverbs, who, upon doing some great mischief, exclaimed, “Am I not in sport?” But surely it may be asked, in all serious
ness, what is the spirit which could dictate volumes written upon the model of this passage? Is it to be borne, that a grave divine, a bishop of the gravest and purest establishment in the world, should hunting through the Journal of a Whitheld or a Wesley, or through the Hymns of a Count Zinzendorff, for Hudicrous introductions of Scripture scattered here and there, and which, when standing in their proper place, are accounted for at least, if not in some degree palliated, by the surrounding tone of fervent and unfeigned devotion ? Is it to be borne, that, after having raked out from what he means to represent the sink and kennel of enthusiasm, these unseemly passages, he should string them together in absurd and profane connection, and hold them up, and Scripture with them (the consequence is inevitable), to universal mockery and derision? What must be the feelings of such a man, when he comes to meditate, if he ever does meditate, upon these very passages of holy writ which he has taken care inseparably to connect in his own, as well as his reader's mind, with every thing irrational, ludicrous, and flagitious? What, on the contrary, would be the conduct and the expressions of a man deeply and properly respectful towards the Sacred Volume, should he be ever, under the painful necessity of examining and ceasuring the ill-judged, or even fanatical use, made of it by wellmeaning but irregular men?, The answer is most obvious; and the enlightened moderation of One greater than Lavington, has, perhaps, laid down a principle in some measure applicable to the question, when he represents a master as replying to an angry proposal of his servants, “Nay; lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” But let this be sufficient to shew the self-deception, at least the inconsistency, of those who themselves thus violate indirectly the sand*ity of the Sacred Record in pretend'ng to redeem it from the profanation of others. And let it be a warning, also, how we in any degree adopt or favour such a style as may insensibly lead to these deplorable results. The ironical use of a single sentence from Scripture, the perverted application of a single sacred word for purposes of censure, may lead, in its ulterior stages, to the unholy rashness of a Warburton, or the sacrilegious mimicry of a Lavington. I hope, Mr. Editor, the importance of the subject which I have thus imperfectly handled, will be some apology for the length of the foregoing observations. Whoever seriously reflects upon the little good, even in appearance, resulting from the practice here condemned, together with the infinite mischief, both in theory and in experience, connected with its adoption, cannot but heartily approve of the humblest endeavour to diminish its prevalence. If the greater eccentricities of what is properly denominated Methodism have been in any measure curtailed by this gross exposure of them in time past, let any one reflect how much more effectually this might have been done by the sober exercise of those commanding powers; nay, even of that wit, chastised by a respectful regard to the Sacred VoJume; which have been both in fact so unworthily employed. As it is, the cause of Whitfield, and that of Wesley, have long substantially outlived the efforts of their once triumphant antagonists. It is well known that the blasphemies of Foote sent away multitudes to laugh at his Dr. Squintum, who “remained to pray,” and to swell the train of his zealous followers. Every expression of levity, every approach to indecorum and outrage towards what is really sacred, on the part of the enemies of Methodism, affords an argument Ioud and valid to its friends. The £uccess with which it can at any time be attended, must at least
greatly hazard the cause of genuine scriptural religion. Such, it has been observed, was the case after the short-lived,but, doubtless, portentous, reign of ancient Puritanism: such is the case with many persons, and in many circles, at the present day. Religion, as it ought to appear, clothed in the garb of scriptural language, is almost shamed out of 'society. The preacher, scarcely venturing to exhort his flock to be righteous, holy, and godly, or to aspire after the high honours due to the saints, is driven to speak of the moral fitnesses of things, of the virtues and the sanctions of Christianity. And the hearer is but too much in danger of adapting his practice to the terms of the preacher: or, rather, has the same reason to avoid every thing like scriptural precision in the world, which the preacher has in the pulpit. In short, Scripture must sneak in or out of the world; and this for no other reason than because Whitfield may have misapplied it, and Lavington has ridiculed that misapplication. No wonder succeeding reformers act a still progressively consistent part. The book which has been thus open to misapprehension on every side, must appear to have something wrong in is original construction; the volume of inspiration must have been imperfectly inspired; every thing that has been perverted, or is capable of perversion, should be judiciously expunged; and the limbs of the sacred body, retaining no longer, through successive manglings and mutilations, their ancient strength, beauty, or use, must be amputated by common consent. But, leaving this last scheme of our last reformer to the far abler hand, which, as you inform your readers, has undertaken its consideration, I hasten to resign my humbler rod, whether of rule or chastisement, in the Christian church; and, in the sincere love of things as they are, to subséribe myself your most faithful, though unworthy, - S. s. WiN DEx.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Letters to a Friend, on the Evidences, Doctrines, and Duties of the Christian Religion. By Olinthus Gorgony, LL.D. of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. 2 vols. 8vo. London : Baldwin, 1812. Price 14s.
If there is any work more difficult to produce, than a book on “the Evidences, Doctrines, and Duties * of Christianity, it is a critique on such a book: for as the main difficulty of a treatise embracing these topics consists not in the toil of discovering but of selecting materials; not in collecting arguments, but in condensing them into a given compass; the Reviewer, who has to abridge the very abridgment, and to concentrate the very essences of the original work, has a still severer labour than his author. We believe it may be in part owing to this, that the work of Dr. Gregory has lain so Hong unnoticed, though not unread, upon our table. Another reason, indeed, is to be added to this first, that, as the modern trade and duty
of Reviewers is exclusively to find
fault, Dr. Gregory very unhandsomely denies us a suitable field for this charitable operation, by really leaving us scarcely any thing to condemn. There is scarcely even a vulnerable heel, or a convenient joint in the armour, at which the shafts of criticism may be aimed :
and who, especially in this sporting
month, likes to fire where nothing is to be hit 2 We doubt not that the ingenious malignity of critics will soon find a method of assaulting even this species of prey; but the stratagem of Dr. Gregory is too new and rare not to succeed in this particular instance. This work, however, is even now not without its assailants ; and one method of attack is by the inquiry, “Why, at this late period of the
world, and with so many illustrious predecessors in the same course, he should deem it necessary at all to publish on the evidences of religion "Now to this question we shall take the liberty of replying; and in the course of the reply, shall necessarily present our readers with something of a sketch of the work before us, which may assist our general design. To the question, then, “Why it is necessary to be continually adding to the works on the evidences of religion ?” we would answer, First, That every day produces fresh evidences of truth. —Various ages and multiplied researches produce new varieties of proof, which should be added to the mass. The evidence of religion is of this cumulative kind. One of its most marked features is the concurrence of so many modes of proof to one end. And, by adding to long-established evidence the fruits of the day, we not only increase the mass, but, perhaps, supply a connecting link to the whole. It is surprising, for instance, what large contributions of this kind are made by modern travellers. Harmer has once collected them; but a much larger collection might now be made; and what may be
called the Museum of Religion be
greatly extended. All ages and countries, then, pay tribute to the truth; and time and space lay their spoils at the foot of the Cross. A second motive for producing new works upon the evidences of religion is, that every man, especially in works that admit of improvement, or of accommodation to the times, writes most successfully for his own age. — If antiquity is a recommendation to statues and pic
tures, it is not in general to books.
Or if books survive the times of their production, and continue to interest successive ages, it is chiefly when their sentiments are enshrined
in the language of some memorable people; when they are the only models to us of that language; or perhaps supply the best pictures and statues, as it were, of that particular nation. The classics cannot become obsolete; but Chaucer and Spenser do. Greece and Rome cannot arise from the dust, and display new glories by which to eclipse the splendor and interest of the Augustau age ; but every day presents our own country in aspects and circumstances which chain the mind to the present, and lessen its interest for the past. And this reasoning applies with increased force to works on evidence. Our fathers, therefore, may have toiled in the mine of evidence, and have procured specimens curious and interesting to their times; but they are no longer new to us, nor do we like the conveyance by which they are transmitted to us. The modern labourer, on the contrary, who toils for us and with us; who presents us with new specimens, and specimens suited to supply the deficiency of our own collection; who works, as it were, for our own use, is most likely to engage our attention, and influence our faith. A third reason for coveting new works upon this subject is, that almost every individual of talents has a particular sphere, in which he moves and acts with greater effect than others—has a department in which he has laboured with more success— has a corner of science, or taste, or morals, which he has searched more curiously or dexterously than others; and is thus qualified to bring his own specific attainments to bear more powerfully upon the topic of religion. Thus the classical and philosophical knowledge of Cudworth, the historical precision of Lardner, the generalising habits of Grotius, the logical exactness of Paley, the profundity of Pascal, the simplicity of Porteus, the piety of Doddridge, have each qualified them to bring a new and peculiar force to the aid of religion; to carry a fresh torch into some recess of the temple;
to break up new ground, and produce new fruits to the honour of the Gospel. Now this argument strictly applies to the work before us. The writer of it is not a little signalised by his scientific attainments: and though he cannot be considered as the first in the train of philosophical allies to religion, who is preceded by Newton and Pascal; yet, considering in how limited a degree these fathers in philosophy found leisure to enlist their science in the aid of Christianity, Dr. Gregory may be considered, if not among the most renowned, yet among the most earnest and industrious of its mathematical friends, If, in his hands, philosophy has not done better for religion, she has, perhaps, done more. This peculiarity will at once be noticed in his work; nor is it a feature of small importance. Analogy is a powerful weapon in the hand of the theologian, and with the analogies discoverable in the face of nature, or rather in the works of God, the philosopher (using the word in its extended sense) is above all men conversant. Nature, as it were, stands confessed before him; and he, at his pleasure, seizes upon the features by which he may illustrate or vindicate religion. To him she opens up her inmost stores; and he, bringing them together, like the monarch of Israel, lays them up in his treasure-house as consecrated materials for the temple of his God. We hope to be able to give our readers some striking illustrations of these observations from the work before us.
But, finally, there is this additional motive for the publication of a work such as this, that most of the considerable writers upon the same topics labour either under a deficiency or a fault—To take some of those which have been mentioned: The work of Cudworth is fit only for the learned; those of Newton and Pascal touch only a corner of the subject; Lardner is heterodox; Paley cold; Porteus and Doddridge intentionally superficial. . In some