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from which Papists and Protestants, Calvinists and Arminians, Trinitarians and Unitarians, are at liberty " to select what they deem most edifying to themselves." But my friend cannot seriously mean to maintain so great an absurdity ; though it is in my judgment the only principle upon which he can justify the indifference which he professes to making proselytes to what he calls his own system. This language may be verv, proper if all varieties of system are contained in the Scripture, and if every one is at liberty to select those principles which he deems most edifying; but it is such as my friend would never seriously attempt to justify, if his own system is that, which, after mature inquiry, he seriously believes to be the true and only doctrine of the Christian revelation, and (which is the necessary consequence) that all other systems are fabulous and false.
Candour surely does not consist in believing all systems to be equally true, or equally false, or equally uncertain, or cqually important, or equally indifferent; nor is it bigotry to endeavour by all fair and honourable means, to propagate the doctrine, which after due examination, is judged to be true and important, even though it may occasionally disturb the slumbers of those who, from ignorance, or indolence, or self-interest, may be desirous that mankind should always remain in error. If this be candour, Christ and his apostles were the most uncandid of all men; and the great reformers, to whose vigorous efforts the present generation is indebted for its civil and religious liberties, and for its mental and moral improvements, were unchristian bigots, for they were the great disturbers of the peace of mankind, and by their zeal for truth, and their bold and determined opposition to established error, they incurred the charge of turning the world upside down.
In my estimation, that inan is truly candid with respect to his own opinions, who avows his principles fairly and without any disguise or mental rescrvation; and he is candid with respect to others, who readily concedes to them in practice, as well as in words, the same right of private judgment which he claims for himself; who makes every reasonable allowance: for the effect of early prepossessions, and other circumstances which tend imperceptibly to bias the judgment; who does not hastily impute to his opponent improper motives; who is willing patiently to listen to arguments, and to consider objections; and who does not charge his antagonist personally with consequences which he disavou's, however clearly they may appear to hinself to follow from liis principles, and holio. ever necessary he may feel it to be to state sucha consequences .
in order to guard' ottiers against pernicious"and dangerous opinions.
I cannot be very solicitous," says' my worthy friend, “ to make proselytes to niy own systein." "I should be glad to know how long it has been considered by Christians and Protestants, as a repr hensible thing to be solicitous to make proselytes to Christian truth, for such I presume that my friend" believes « his own system” to be. It is happy for mankind that this all-einbracing and torporific spirit was not in fashion three centuries ago: but that the Luthers, and Calvịps, the Socinuses and the Zwingliuses, the Cranmers, and Ridleys of that age, did feel thai earrfest solicitude to niake proselytes to their systems, which induced them to exért' their utmost energies to burst the bonds of popish superstitioii, and to kindle a glorious light in the Christian world, which by the blessing of God shall never be extinguished. Venerable confessors! Immortal chainpions of Christian truth! May I never presume to rob you, even in thought, of a particle of that well-earned glory which adorns your brows. May it be my highest ambition to imitate your great example, and to contribute, in my humble measure to accelerate and to complete the work which you have so nobly begun.
Amidst all these professions of Christian candour, and this very modern clamour against the spirit of proselytism, it may become us to recollect that there is such a duty as Christian zeal, a zeal for truth, and that the disciples of Jesus are exhorted to contend carnestly, for the faith which was, once delivered to the saints. Of this the apostle Paul was an eminent example, so likewise was the apostle John. Their epistles are chicfly controversial. They express great indige nation against the errors and pernicious principles with which the Christian doctrine in that carly age began to be corrupted. But are there not corruptions of the Christian relia' gion in the present day more flagrant, and more dangerous, than those of the Docetæ or of the bigots to the ceremonial law? And are not Christians equally bound at all times by the law of their profession to oppose anti-christian errors, and to purify the doctrine of their great master from those pollutions which disfigure and disgrace it, which retard its progress and hinder its success?
But “all Christians believe what is sufficient for their salvation." True, and if they rested in the plain simple doctrine of Clirist it would be well. The bulk of Chris.' ians however are not satisfied with the simplicity of truth, Wut upon the foundation of Christ they must necds erect
their respective edifices of wood, and hay, and stubble. The Arian introduces bis subordinate maker and governor of the world: the Trinitarian his three equal persons in the godhead : the Calvinist, biz condemnation of the human race to eternal misery for Adam's sin, and the Papist his idolatrous worship of saints and martyrs, and his licentious doctrine of indulgences to sin. These and other gross errors which have been engrafted into the Christian system, though not all equally absurd or equally pernicious, áre, to say the least, uscless incumbrançes to Christianity, which impede its progress in the world, and which diminish and sometimes grievously counteract its beneficial influence upon individuals. And it is the part of true wisdom and benevolence to oppose and to correct these 'errors by the fair and honourable means of sound argument and rational criticism. . My worthy friend is “ju theory convinced of the utility of controversy, but he disapproves of “ the angry spirit of debate." So likewise do 1. At the same time it must be admitted that the asperity of controversy is often useful, as it stings the disputants tú put forth all their strength and thus affords the impartial by.stander a better opportunity of forining a correct judgment on which side the evidence preponderales. And at any rate an angry controversy which rouses the energies of the mind, is infinitely more beneficial to individuals, and to society, than that stupid indifference, that listless torpor, that morbid indolence of spirit, which falsely assuming the sacred name of the love of peace, benumbs the faculties, and with its leaden mace opposes an insurmountable obstacle to all mental improvement. It must, however, be admitled, that a generous warnıth arising from a deep sense of ibe importance of the subject, and an earnest solicitude to en. lighten and to benert mankind, without any mixture of personal animosity, is the true spirit which ought to aniniate theological controversy.
“ There is, indeed,” says my respected friend, " a period of life at which it is best for a person to lay aside controversial books, or to peruse them only as objects of curiosity. When a person has attained the middle period of life, when his faculties have acquired their full vigour, when he is conscious that he has examined with some fairness those questions which have been controverted by Christians in all ages, when he is persuaded that nothing new can be advanced on either side of the question, then let him make up his mind, instead of inquiring farther, and live under the influence of those principles which he has embraced.”
Upon this singular advice I beg leave to remark, first, that VOL, II.
my good friend assumes too much when he asserts that the questions which are now agitated, have been controverted by Christians in all ages. It is, for example, a fact upon historical record, that Arianism itself, the very system which he advocates, had no existence till the fourth century, and therefore could not have been before that period the subject of controversy. I would also advise a serious inquirer, before he makes up his mind to inquire no further, to take great heed that his persuasion, “ that nothing new can be advanced on either side," is formed upon good grounds, because indolent and superficial minds are very apt to persuade themselves that they understand à subject, when, in fact, they are very ignorant of it; and it is much wiser and safer to keep the mind open to conviction, than from a self-sufficient conceit of superior knowledge, to shut the eyes against the light of truth. I know very few persons who have a right to say, concerning any important topic of discussion, that nothing new to them can be advanced on either side.
I agree with my friend that " a person is to live under the influence of those principles which he has embraced.” And surely one of the first duties of a well-informed Christian, is to impart to others the knowledge with which he has himself been favoured. Christianity will not allow that when a man has lighted a candle he should put it under a bushel; and as We would escape the doom of the wicked and the slothful servant, we must not bury our talent, however mean, in the earth. Christians are the light of the world: they are the salt of the Searth: and under the Christian law, no man liveth to himself or dieth to himself. Impréssed by these momentous consi. derations, the serious and enlightened Christian will feel it to be an imperious duty to contribute bis utmost efforts to instruct and benefit his fellow-creatures ; and to enter his grave and solemn protest against those errors which disfigure and disgrace the Christian religion. In this honourable testimony to revealed truth he will perseyere, whatever his success may be, conscious of acting under 'a commanding sense of duty'; it is a light thing with him that by his misjudging brethrein, his motives are misapprehended, his zcal is condemned, and his character traduced. His chief ambition is to approve himself to conscience and to God, and his only solicitude is to be found of his judge in peace..
· I am, Sir, your humble servant, Hackney, March 12, 1807.
UNITARIAN MINISTERS IN A TRINITARIAN CHURCH: Whis
TONIUS'S SECOND LETTER ON STONE'S SERMON. Y
on. To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. :' .
. . I was not a little surprised to find that my letter which you published in November last had produced an opponent. I never wrote any thing which I less expected to be called upon to defend; as a mere definition of the terms Unitarian Minister," " Trinitarian Church” would, in my opinion, have 'secured me from an attack. I now find that I too soon in dulged the inelin:ition to “ put off the harness." C. G, adventures on this forlorn hope, a non-commissioned volunteer, I am persuaded; for the Rector of Cold Norton, had prudence alowed him to send to the lists a champion of his consistency, would at least have taken care that he should have been better appointed. I observe in some late notices of publication that the Rev. R. Nares, a quondam literary acquaintance of mine, himself I believe an incumbent in Essex, is disposed to shiver a Jance with the Rev. F. Stone, in defence of his holy Mother the Church. That our Rector will ably maintain the doctrine of his Sermon I have no doubt. Respecting his conduet as the Preacher of such a sermon while he determina ed to continue a beneficed Clergymnan of a Church to which that doctrine is directly opposed, I venture to expect that he will be on the reserve, and for an excellent reason
What would offend the eye in a good picture
The painter casts discreetly into shade. But, by this time, C. G. will be enquiring how I am af. fected by his strictures on my remarks. I ask his excuse for informing hiin that when I read them I immediatcly recollected the Spanish Proverb-- Defend a man from his friends, and leave him to coinbat bis enemics.” And now I would willingly discover some arguments in his letter which I may treat with the attention which arguments always deserve ; but your correspondent has produced hardly a sophism to sustain the cause which he would defend. I assunied, as undisputed premises, that the Church of England bestows rights and immunities for which she exacts professions and duties. Hence I ventured to draw the obvious conclusion, that one who publicly revokes those professions and thus becomes incapable of conscientiously performing those du