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and King. That whatever of intemperate wrath, and carnal anger, hath mixed itself, on either side, with the zeal with which we have pursued our fierce contention, may then be forgiven to us both, is à prayer which I breathe from the bottom of my soul, and to which my antagonist, if he hath any part in the spirit of a Christian, upon his bended knees, will say,”AMEN. Horsley's Tracts in Controversy with Priestley.
That the venerable men, high churchmen we believe they are nick-named, whom we have reverenced with filial duty from our boyish days; from whose pious care we have derived the little knowledge which we possess ; and from whose example we received a better lesson than we have been able to follow, should be thus insulted and accused of mere formality; that their prins ciples should be exhibited, as substituting for the holy, humble, vital spirit of the Gospel, “ that compound of self-righteous pride and antinomian licentiousness, which characterised the Jewish Church in its last and worst days ;"--would indeed as. tonish us, could any thing do so in this degenerate age. For ourselves we say nothing, and care not in this matter much.We will take the worst these men can say or insinuate, in good part, at least with indifference, perhaps with pity. But for our venerable fathers, for our learned instructors and pious friends, who would have adorned the Church in the purest times, we will raise the voice of expostulation, and enter the protest of sincerity and truth. Bold man, thou knowest not the spirit thou art of: thou callest fire from heaven; more happy for thee than for them, that it does not obey thy call, for it is a weapon which thou canst not wield : thou hast yet to learn the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. There can be no better proof of the ignorance here presumed, than the wild and wanton calumvies which thou hast vent ury to utter against men, whom it is thy best apology that thou hast never known. Didst thou know them as we who trace these lines know them-couldst thou trace their principles in their conduct, and verify their conduct by their principles; if thou hast the feelings of a man, not to say the spirit of a Christian; thy pangs of remorse would indeed be poignant, when tlou reflectest that thou hast accused such men and such principles, in the terms which we have quoted ; that thou hast ventured to compare them even with the murderers of the Lord of Glory. Were it thy good fortune to meet with some such men as we have known; some of them gone to rest from their labours; some still in the course of their earthly pilgrimage, whose images now fill our mind's eye in vivid colours of Christian sanctity, and with emotions which language cannot: describe-Nay, start not back in terror, sir-thou hast been deceived, and they know it; thou hast been unjust and calåninious.
They pardon thee. Be not alarmed. Thou hast framed a frightful picture of pious and holy men; but it has no resemblance. It is utterly false ; but they bear thee no malice. They pity thy rash and ignorant delusion. Thou art in no danger, even in their presence, for they never render evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise bles sing; and happy will they be (for charity is the distinguishing attribute of their heavenly character), if thou, too, shalt in mercy inherit that blessing, the divine Author of which has been the constant guide of their principles, and the hope of which has been at once the motive and the reward of their conduct. 0! unhappy, unworthy, and unchristian spirit of controversy, that thus deludest the minds of men, who profess and call themselves Christians, and who while they thus outrage men, of whom the world is not worthy, pretend to no common gifts of that spirit, which was certainly intended to combat and to calm the angry passions of nur carnal nature! The statement of principle in Messrs. S. and B. is altogether partial and erroneous ; but being sincere it is not immoral. The passages which have occasioned this long digression, are altogether personal, though individuals are not indicated, and therefore infer in the writer not only great rashness, but great guilt.
There is not the shadow of ground for considering Dr. Mant's doctrine as a revival of the opus operatum, and as tende ing to self-righteous pride, and antinomian licentiousness. The accusation is rash and unwarrantable, indicating not the coolnessand confidence of Christian controversy, but the passion of a partizan eager to retort, and not imwilling to revenge. It is true that the principles which Mr. S. defends, carried to ex. travagance, have been accused, and with unquestionable justice, of leading to delusion and enthusiasm in some instances, and to licentiousness in others. Dr. Mant, in his Tract on Conversion, fairly proves the truth of his accusations, by direct reference to the works of the founders of methodism. The proof is, indeed, superabundant, and may be increased to any extent, by detailed references to their numerous writings, and by various authentic facts, of more recent date. Mr. S. in his last chapter, gives a very cursory consideration to this subject, and he quotes, with high approbation, the defence which the Christian Oba server has thought proper to set up for Messrs. Wesley and Whitfield. Their faults and errors are slightly lamented. It is, indeed, casually conceded, that they may have produced much evil, but the account is at once balanced by the assertion, that they certainly have effected much good; and the evil is, it seems, much more than balanced by their public acknowledgement of their errors and faults. Now, with the most perfect sincerity,
and with every possible disposition to candid and Christiat judgement, we must say, that we estimate these acknowledgements very differently from the Christian Observer and Mr. S. They are of great value in two respects. First, they so far mark the candour and sincerity (or some portion of these virtues) of the parties at the time, and we are willing that their character derive all the benefit in its utmost extent. But, we maintain, secondly, that men, who were by their own serious acknowledgements, liable to such delusions, to such faults, errors, and exa travagances, “mistaking nature for grace, imagination for reve. lation, and the fire of peculiar temper, for the pure and sacred flame of holy zeal, wbich cometh from God's altar,", are not certainly to be trusted, merely because of such acknowledgement, unless a greater change than they ever testified had been
operated in every part of their conduct. They continued their , schisin, and their enthusiastic influence, each, till the day of his death. They had numerous followers, and made much noise; but the breach which they both made in the Church was no good work, and we have yet to learn into what palpable, particulars the great good which they effected is to be resolved. They had immense power, and wielded it to the last, with a very worldly energy. Their schisms, many of their delusions, much of their enthusiasm, and all the bitter animosities and controversies, which they commenced and occasioned, still continue. These are serious evils. The good, to the best of our knowledge and belief, if we may trust an experience of some extent, is null, at least it is problematical ; certainly, it is not competent to balance the evils which are real and palpable. .
We lament that our brethren in the Church, who support some what similar views, as they say, in a restricted sense, are so much more disposed to extend their charity and their candour, and to give the right hand of fellowship to those schismatics, and their followers and abettors, than to their brethren of the same bousehold, many of whom (aye, the great mass of them) are exceeded in zeal and sincerity for true and undefiled religion by no class of men in the Church, or in the nation. We lament this especially, because we are confident that it has a tendency, and cer. tain that it has the effect, to increase dissent from our Church. We lament this effect, because we are convinced that dissent from a Church so admirably constituted, and on the whole so well administered as our's, is not only hurtful to the State, but ruinous to individuals. We lament it, finally, in that history proves to us, that essential errors of doctrine, through various and quick gradations, down to the cold and comfortless specula. tions of Socinus, follow, in short succession, the full and finali separation from the Church.. Take notice, at the same time,
while we lament these divisions, and reverence the Church, which they affect and afflict-reverenco her with more than filial piety; that we are actuated by no angry passions, and feel no selfish views. Schism is a work of the flesh, and can never lead to good—as such only we deplore it. The Church establishiment has nothing which we claimi, or covet, or expect. Our respect is due, and our reverence is paid, to the instilution of God, not to the patronage and arrangements of nian. .
The Church of the living God built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corper-stone, Eph. ii. 20.-the Church thus built and thus main. tained is the pillar and ground of the truth, I Tim. üi. 15. The judgement of the Church, which is made up of fallible inen, is not infallible, taken either partially or collectively. But there is something in the Divine foundation, in the original constitution, and above all in the sacred ordinances of the Church, which tends essentially by the Divine blessing to preserve the ground, to mark the evidence, and to support the efficacy of the truth. The Church of Rome has grossly erred—but we must perceive at once, with wonder and with gratitude, not to man, but io God, that even the Church of Rome, by the silent influence of her original constitution, has preserved the ground of the truth, chiefly by maintaining the ordinances, which in their uninterrupted course and constant succession are standing and palpable proofs of the fundamental facts of the original history. She has preserved to us the Scriptures, and she supplies to us in regular and uninterrupted succession, (to the force of which the constitution of the Church essentially contributes) the historical evidence by which the au.' thenticity of the Scriptures is verified. She has thus happily furnished us with the very means by which her own errors are detected, and with the very weapons by which ber gross per. versions and superstitious absurdities are overthrown.
It were easy to shew, were it necessary to enter into such a de. tail, how vast an influence the original constitution, and the external ordinances of the Church have thus had in preserving evidence, and ultimately in elucidating and supporting the truth. It were easy to increase the force of our conclusions, by contrasting it with the endless heresies which have resulted from the rejection of Church order, and from the neglect or contempt of Church ordinances. We should have more than sufficient to serve our purpose, by restricting ourselves to the melancholy period of the Grand Rebellion, and by referring to the unquestionable evidence of a man who was himself no Churchman. See Edwards's Gangrena. The original constitution of the Church, and the . external ordinances of the Gospel, of which the clergy are the regulated ministers, under a very awful responsibility, not the
absolute VOL. V. MARCH, 1816.
absolate and still less the arbitrary masters, have been rashly, deemed, even by some good and zealous men, of comparatively, little moment. The importance of the present controversy con-. sists entirely in the tendency which the principles and the efforts of our opponents have to render the constitution and the authority of the Church of no importance, and the ordinances, of which she is the regulated guardian, trifling or nugatory. The experience, the impulses, the emotions, which form the proposed substitute, may be all very fine, and singularly gratifying to many minds. But iu the best circumstances which we can imagine, we maintain that they are not sufficient. In the best circumstances which we can imagine, they are peculiarly calculated to mislead; and they are never in any circunstances of themselves sufficient to furnish the necessary evidence of our Christian condition. We are all agreed that we require Divine aid in the beginning, in the progress, and in the close of the Christian life; and it is indispensable that we possess some pala pable evidence of the communication on which we may proceed with modest assurance, and rely with Christian confidence.
This evidence, by the ordinance of God, in his intuite mercy, and condescension, is attached to the pious use, and to regular participation of the Christian sacraments. N. B. With extraordinary cases we have no concern; we enjoy no means of enquiry ; we possess no certain criterion, and have in fact ng right of judgment. Dr. Mant maintains that we are regenerated by baptism“ rightly admivistered.” Mr. Scott retorts that we cannot assert this, even with respect to infants, without future experience ; and it is clear that he is of the same opinion with a worthy Doctor, who once told us, “ You know that baptism is and can be of no use to the child. The scene, however, may have a beneficial influence on the parents and witnesses." What, we will venture to ask, was the intention of the Church, iv selecting the interesting picture recorded in the Gospel, which stands in the office for Infant baptism? Shall we presuine to say, that that was a vain ceremony? Shall we presume to infer, that no blessing was conveyed, because we do not know and cannot trace it? Yet we can contidently conclude, that when those infants left the Redeemer's arms, no human eye could delect any difference, no experience could mark any change, between them and the other infants of Judea. Is there nothing true, but that which we know as objects of sense, or that which we acquire by a prying and partial experience? Is no influence real but that which we feel, and of which consciousness enables us to calculate the commencement, the progress, and the close ? Cag those men, who affect to be such perfect judges of the nature, origin, and progress of spiritual influence--can they venture to