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ties can no longer consistently claim those rights and er.
« joy those immunities.
To this plain statement what does my opponent reply? That- A man who 10 or 20 years ago subscribed
the 39 articles when he hardly knew what they were is not always to be of the same religious opinions.”-Yet he may continue'in the same ecclesiastical service and receive the same reward ! · He may provide a Cura'd to perform for him his ritual engagements while he worships. God in a Unitarian congregation, after the manner which the Church calls Heresy; and if once in his life he is called to preach in the Established Church on a public occasion, his extraordinary
opportunities of making converts to Unitarianism” are to be put in competition with the cxamples of self-denying consistency, afforded by seceding Clergymen. On this convenient principle of accomodation to existing circumstances", as was conjectured by a correspondent of the learned Gilbert Wakefield, whose letter is quoted in his Memoirs, were the Bible burnt and the Alcoran established in its stead, we might still, were the emoluments, the same, have plenty of Bishops, Priests and Deacons”
I no more doubt than C. G. does, “Mr. Stone's boldness in the cause of Truth." I only regret the advantage which such inconsistency affords to those whom we must consider, however conscientious, as adversaries of that cause. I know too “ that he exposes himself” to " the censure of his clerical brethren" and to the inconvenience of “ being deprived of his gown.
Of this, however, he can have little apprehension. We have no Beckets, nor Lauds, nor any longer even a Horsley. The Church, as the weaker, though first named party in the far famed alliance, takes her impression from the state; and 10 men can be less disposed than our present statesmen to sound that war-whoop, “the church is in · danger."
C. G. might have spared his supposition of “a family depending for support” on a Unitarian Conformist. I had in my former letter supposed such a case, and it is a subject which I would never touch with a rude hand. I am persuaded thit 'many excellent persons who would have triumphed over the terrors of an inquisition, have been overcome in the bosom of such a family. In that case, both the chirch and the world have a right to expect, and generally witness the decorum of silence. But I am quite tired, as i guess
that you and your readers must be, of arguing such a plain ques tion.
The latter part of C. G's letter hardly descrves notice.; I am sorry he is so ignorant of modern Ecclesiastical history as not to appreciate the propriety with which I chose “ honest William Whiston” for my patron-Saint, if a Protestant may use the expression. On one point give me leave to correct your correspondent's misapprehension of my character and designs. We are, to be sure, contending in the dark, and if, like Ajax in Homer, we should call out for a little day-light that each might see his opponent, you are too just to afford us any; yet I can assure C. G. that besides being really an Unitarian, I have never entertained a thought of being sniccessop to the author of the Visitation Sermon. I write like old Dr. John Eachard in his “Causes of the Contempt of the Clergy, not out of pinching necessity, or out of any rising design. I ain indeed so ignorant respecting the rectory of Cold Norton, that for any thing I know, Č. G. may be its patron. Certainly, there are many of those “ nursing fathers" of the Church not more at home than himself in the subjects of our' correspondence.
While he has so ill defended Mr. Stone, C. G. might have easily corrected what I hastily said of Dr. Paley. On further consideration, I am aware that the Chapter of Moral Philosophy, while it furnishes the great accomodation of a variety of senses in which articles may be subscribed, does not provide for the ease of the Visitation Sermon-a' subscribing Clergyman preaching and publishing in direct opposition to the leading dogmas of his Church. The learned Archdeacon himself was more consistent; he ably defended Christianity without explaining disputed points, and has been often said to speak of this as ".all that he could afford to do.” As there ipay be more than one Clergyman who has a hankering after the Vuitarian doctrine, and may take a sly look at your Repositowy, I will furnish them with an apology for subscription to a Trinitarian Church, ruch more coạcise and satisfactory than Dr. Paley's famous chapter. Dr. Addison, father of the teJebrated Mr. Addison, who published in 1675, “ The present state of the Jews in Barbary,” mentions a Jew Physician of his acquaintance in Spain, who “ being asked how he could comply with the religion” of that country, “merrily made this · reply, that his compliance was only the work of his nerves
and muscles and that his anatomy told him, nothing of the heart was therein concerned.'
I remain, Sir, your's,
CRITICISM UPON Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24. a Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem-and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the - mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that spcaketh better things than that of Abel.”
As I conceive that this passage is, in general, ill understood, I shall endeavour to point out its real signification.
The figures employed in these verses are Jewish figures, the writer alludes to certain facts in the Jewish records and certain parts of the Jewish ceremonial.
It appears to me that he here sums up those more remarkable points of superiority in the gospel to the Mosaic law on which he had enlarged in the course of the Epistle.
The objects described in this passage are the mild and benevolent genius of the Christian doctrine, its universality and wide extension, its numerous teachers and professors, its spiritual and perfect nature, its founder, its ratification and its purpose.
1. The mild and benevolent genius of the gospel dispensation: Ye are come to mount Sion.' The author had directed our attention in v. 18, to the characteristic features of the Jewish law, and had represented it as a mountain, spread all over and burning with fire;' manifestly alluding to Sinai, the spot whence it was delivered with extraordinary circuinstances of dismay. Using the same image, he goes on to describe, in contrast, the spirit of the Gospel. This he calls mount Sion'--the city of David, a place of high distinction among the Jews. As the Jewish community is sometimes spoken of in the old Testament under this name, (Isa. Ixi, 3. Joel, ii. 32.) the like phraseology is very natu rally applied in the new Testament to the Christian church. The expression denotes a scene where God reveals himself in mercy io mankind, and is therefore signally descriptive of the grace
and truth which came by Jesus Christ, An allegorical history in the Epistle to the Galatians, (iv, 24, &c.) greatly resembles the language under consideration, The Jewish system is there described by a reference to mount Sinai, while the Christian_ is represented as the “ Jerusalem which is from above.”. Though much stress ought not to be laid upon the coincidence, it furnishes additional support
to the opinion that Paul was the writer of this letter to the Hebrews.
The gentle, though manly, the liberal and benevolent character of Christianity is a favourite theme with this apostle. He often dwells upon this instance of its superiority to the Mosaic dispensation with considerable energy of argument and expression. The law was adapted to men in a state of pupilage: it was but their conductor to bring them to Christ: it preserved in the world a knowledge of the unity of God; and it is now succeeded by a religion which delivers us from the yoke of bondage and the restraint of ceremonies, and addresses us in no accents excepting those of mildness, peace and love.-"Ye are come to mount Sion".
Il. The universality and wide extension of the gospel, together with it's numerous teachers and professors, are set forth in this passage—“Ye are come to a city of the living God, to a heavenly Jerusalem, and a general assenibly of innumerable angels, and to a church of first born sons enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all.". The body of Christians are here described as constituting a large, happy and well-ordered society: the figurative expressions applied to them are taken from the customs of a city or community.
As the Jews were under God's special government and protection, they are sometimes called the city, the holy city, the city of the Lord, Ps. xlvi. 4. They are elsewhere termed
Jerusalem,' Isa. Ixii. 1.; and, for the same reason, our author styles the Christian church 'the city of the living God and o the heavenly Jerusalemi'. And the privileges of this city are freely granted to ALL faithful professors of the gospel, whatever be their family or country.
It is added “ Ye are come to a general assembly of innumerable angels” or messengers.
The Jews gave this appellation to any thing or being which accomplishes the divine purposes: the word frequently occurs in the beginning of the Epistle, and is occasionally used, I think, to denote the prophets by whose instrumentality the Jewish religion was promulgated and enforced*. These were specially appointed by God, and were few in number. Not so, however, under the gospel dispensation : “ Ye are come to a general assembly of innumerable angels +." All Christians forin a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Every man who understands, and there fore values, this simple doctrine, ought to be an instructor of other men The religion of the new Testament prescribes no distinctions in this respect, and allows of none but those
See Rey, ü. 1, üi. 1.
+ Psalm lxvii. u.
which expediency dictates and which are agreeable to the humble and equal spirit of a Christian faith.
Concerning the phrase "a.church of first born sons enrolled in heaven” it may be observed that the members of the Jewish community were said to be written or enrolled, in the book of God, as citizens invested with the privileges of his kingdom. The same declaration therefore is made in this. passage, and other parts of the new Testament, with regard to Christians, who are called 's first-born sons," just as Israel is so termed, because they are the objects of God's peculiar favour.
Of the society thus described God is represented as the governor. He is the judge of all, of the geniiles not less than of the Jews, and his knowledge, unlike that of earthly rulers, extends beyond the actions to the desires and intentions of the heart.
III. The writer touches upon the perfection of the Chris. tian doctrine. “ Ye are come to the spirits of just men made perfect.” By the spirit of a man is meant in scriptural language, a man himself *; and our author's meaning is that there are men in the Christian community whose characters are rendered more complete by the gospel than they could: have been by the Jewish revelation.
He had largely insisted, in a former part of the Epistle, upon: the inability of the legal institutions to make those who conformed to them perfect: he had described the Mosaic ritual as but the shadow of better things to come, and had also enumerated many shining examples of religious faith re." corded in the Jewish history. But he represents the views and principles of the gospel as having a yet superior effim cacy upon it's yotaries,
A fuller discovei y and a surer pledge of everlasting life are given to the Christian. He is supplied with better instructions, better examples and better motives. The evident téndency of his religion therefore is to raise his character to the highest pitch of human excellence.
IV. In tliis passage the founder of Christianity is described as " a mediator of a new covenant." A mediator siguifies in seripture one whom God appoints to announce his will and deliver his commands. The Jewish law was published by the hands of a mediator: Moses sustained this character in respect to the Israelites : Christ, in reference to all the. human race. In this sense alone he is the mediator of a new covenant, of one which prescribes other terms and is
• Cor. ü 31. and Lardeer's. Works, xi. p. 128x