« AnteriorContinuar »
lost. It may be better to do a great and certain good' to a few, than a small and uncertain one to many. Though the objects of our endeavours be not numerous, we may still be useful in preparing labourers, who may gather an abundance of good fruit into the store-houses of God.
To compare great things with small, the cards are not of our own chusing. Whatever we have, we should play them well. Duty is our's; events are God's. Let then our light so shine before others, particularly before the rising generation, that they seeing our good' works may follow our example and glorify our Father in heaven.
FRENCH NATIONAL CATECHISM. To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. SIR, Your Reviewer (Vol. ïi. p. 94,) seems to laugh at “ the zeal which the most religious king of France” has displayed, in order, ing a 6 Catechism to be drawn up for the use of the Orthodox” within his dominions, but yet seems at the same time to doubt whether such a 6 National Catechism is reconcile. able with the equality of the two religions, Catholic and Protestant?” With respect to the royal zeal which first suggested this labour of love, this closc imitation of “ Cyrus and Constantine," surely nothing can be objected by the Orthodox. Buonaparte is now the supreme head of the Gallican church. Of course therefore he may be expected to imitate the example of other supreme heads, or most Christian kings, and direct his priests to manufacture suitable Creeds, Catechisms, Articles, and Test-Laws, for the security of social order and religion throughout his extensive dominions. Should the Reviewer deny this common prerogative of royalty, or doubt its vast utility, he would be at variance with “ existing circumstances” in other neighbouring countries, and deserve to be classed among Mr. Burke's numerous host of incorrigible Jacobins. The doubt too which he seems to entertain concerning the difficulty of reconciling “the equality of the two religions," is upon the same principles as easily removed ; for every state has a right to chuse its own creeds and catechisms, otherwise what would become of civil establishments in religion, or of those alliances between church and state, without which Christianity, so called, would be in danger of being lost? Besides, in the case before us, the Reviewer has obviated his own doubt, by shewing that this Catechism may, by the help of a few clerical salvos and mental reservations, be rendered passable to both religions. Although (says he, p. 95,) “ the Orthodox Christian will not find in this Catechism all the doctrines of graceae he will find to his satisfaction some of the peculiar doctrines stated with great precision.” And that this is a just assertion is pretty evident from the conduct of our own Orthodox saints. The Eclectic Reviewers make no great outcry. The Reviewers in the Evangelical Magazine pass over the doctrinal parts of the Catechism in silence. Now as these celebrated literati can follow the scent of heresy through its most artful windings and doublings, with all the sagacity, perseverance and certainty of a true bred blood-hound, their silence affords a solid proof that at least the theological part of this Catechism meets with their approbation. 'Tis true, some heretical wrongheads are apt to suspect that these Reviewers, though ostensibly a different corps, are in reality the same, and united in the same firm ; but supposing this to be the case, it does not overthrow my argument or proof, but only reduces it into · rather a less compass. If this Catechisin contains a few doubtful points, or lays down certain credenda which the orthodox do not include or admit among their glorious peculiarities ; so do other articles, confessions and harmonies in Protestant Churches; and such rubs must be got over, or quibbled away as the case requires, or the scruples of the subscriber render necdful. Manuals and Expositions for this purpose may be purchased dog cheap at the book stalls, by which the scrupulous or the doubting may easily learn how to surmount every difficulty and to lull his conscience to sweet repose. The French Protestants must, therefore, avail themselves of these aids, like their brethren in other countries. At present however, they have no great need to employ their time in such studies, as they are not required to subscribe their assent and consent to the truth of this Catechism, but merely to teach their yonth to repeat it; and we know that priests and nurses do not always consider themselves as obliged to believe that all the stories they teach to children are true.
I hope your Reviewer is now convinced that king Buonaparte, whilst he remains so, has the same right to make a religious creed for his subjects, as his royal brethren in other places have for their's; and also to punish Dissenters by star-chambers, spiritual courts, inquisitions, or any other rational means
which other regular governments have employed, or yet do employ, for such just and necessary purposes. I trust too, he is equally convinced how easily the French Protestants may get over any of their objections to this Catechism, by means of those various salutary anodynes and soporifics which have performed such wonderful cures in other parts of the world.
Your Reviewer next proceeds with his criticisms upon the political part of the above-named Catechism ; " the main object of which, he tells us, is to enlist the consciences of the French on the side of the new Imperial fainily.” TO prove this point, he transcribes a lesson from it, grounded upon the 5th (not 7th) commandinent, inculcating the duties of Christians in regard to the princes who govern them, and particularly towards Napoleon the 1st.” Now this lesson makes a very curious discovery! It proves beyond a doubt, that Napoléon the 1st, “the Legate, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris,” are so eager to adopt the sentiments of rulers and priests in regular governments, that they have actually condescended to become guilty of plagiarism. In- . credible as it may appear, the substance of this lesson is purloined from the writings of our own clergy, and more especially from their 30th of January Sermons, some of which were preached by Archbishops and Bishops before former parliainents, and have received their thanks and imprimatur. The following extracts from some of these celebrated Sermons, &c. &c. will enable your readers to judge for themselves how closely the copy imitates the original.
“I am resolved, by the grace of God, to honour and obey the king whom God is pleased to set over me. He that honours not the king that represents God, cannot be said to fear God who is represented by him. So that the wrath of God shall as certainly fall upon those that rise up against the king, as upon those that fight against God; and no wonder that the punishment should be the same when the fault is the same. Upon this ground it is that I believe the wickedness of a prince, cannot be a sufficient plea for the disobedience of his subjects ; for it is not the holiness, but the authority of God that he re. presents, which the most wicked as well as the most holy per. son may be endowed with. Insomuch that did I live among the Turks, I should look upon it as my duty to obey the Grand Seignior in all his lawful edicts, as well as the most Christian and pious king in the world. For suppose a king be never so wicked, and never so negligent in his duty of protecting mc, it doth not follow that I must neglect minc of obeying him."Bp. Beveridge's Private Thoughts.
“ St. Paul, when in so many words he declares that whosoever resisteth the power, &c., and Rom. xiii. 1st, out of all doubt speaks there of the temporal power, and of eternal damnation to ensue upon resisting it ; than which, what more grievous punishinent could have been inflicted had they immediately resisted God him. self? And recollect I entreat you the time when this was so positively pronounced by St. Paul. It must have been written under the reign of Claudius or Nero: so that it is evident all that resisted them were, without repentance, in a damnable state."Bp. Rochester's Sermon, May 29, 1692.
“If a sovereign shall persecute his subjects for not doing his unjust commands, yet it is not lawful to resist by raising arms against him—they that resist shsll receive to themselves damna. tion. But they ask, is there no limitation ? I answer, how shall we limit when God hath not limited, or distinguish where he hath not distinguished ?"--Abp. Bramhall. .“ There is an universal, absolute command in holy scriptures, laid upon all Christians, to be subject to the supreme powers in all cases. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers : to which Christian precept there is no exception to be found for any person in any instance, from one end of the Christian Institution to the other.”—Bp. of Ely's Ser. before the Lord Mayor, Jan, 30, 1684.
• No conjuncture of circumstances whatsoever, can make that expedient to be done at any time, that is of itself unlawful. For a man to blaspheme the holy name of God--to sacrifice to idols--to give wrong sentence in judgment-to take up arms offensive or defensive against a lawful sovereign :-none of these may be done by any men ; not for the avoiding of scandal ; not at the instance of any friend ; nor for thg maintenance of lives and liberties; nor for the defence of religion ; nor for the preservation of a church or state; no, nor yet if that could be imagined possible, for the salvation of a soud; no, not for the redemption of the whole world !!”—Bp. Sanderson's Works.
If it is objected that sentiments like these were peculiar to the times in which the writers of them flourished, and that our modern clergy have in a great measure abandoned them, let the objector consult a collection of Resolutions, &c. &c., passed by various bodies of the clergy at the time when the Dissenters made their last application for the repeal of the Test Act, and perhaps it may be found that the holy mantle of former worthies is yet in being, and still retains some of its peculiar virtues. : Your's,
Derby, March 10.' A CONSISTENT PROTESTANT.
MR. BELSHAM'S STRICTURES UPON MR. B. CARPENTER's
DEFENCE OF ARIANISM IN HIS LECTURES.
LETTER v. . To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. Sir, In my worthy friend's Lecture upon Metaphysics, he introduces a note (p. 54,) in defence of the existence of a Devil which is too curious to be passed over without notice, “ It is,” says he, " one of the discoveries of the present age, that there is no such being as the Devil : and to believe in his existence is esteemed a mark 'of superstition. This belief is called an evanescent prejudice, which is now a discredit to a man of understanding." I confess, Sir, that to this opinion I feel myself pretty strongly inclined; and that in my judgment it is much to the credit both of the discernment and of the information of the present age, that there is a growing tendency to discard the absurd Manichean hypothesis of an evil spirit, and to revert to what appears to have been the original doctrine both of reason and revelation that there is in the universe but one governing will-that there is one Being whose sole prerogative it is, “ to form light and to create darkness, to make peace and to create evil*.”
My friend, however, thinks differently. The opinion which he espouses is, be says, “ very ancient. In the inost remote and purest ages of antiquity of which we have any account, it was believed that there is one supreme God, the Author of all good : that inferior to him is another being, the immediate author of evil; and also a divine person called the conductor or mediator, whose office it is to rectify the evil produced by the latter.” As my friend here " adopts very strong and positive language,” and as it ought not to be supposed that he is one of those who are 66 most bold when they are most blind,” it is to be presumed, that he has good reason for his confidence. It would therefore have been kind in him to have informed his less learned reader, where this ancient and authentic document is to be found, which makes the devil, in a manner, the second person of the trinity, and represents this notion as the uni