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to have met with it only in conversational fragments. These we shall put together with what skill we possess—and shall deeply regret if, through any misapprehension or mismanagement of our materials, we should unconsciously do an injustice to the opinions of our differing friends. The case, then, may be thus stated. The objectors, whom we have in our eye, admit the principle of a state-support of christianity to be unscriptural. They acknowledge, that in all known instances it has powerfully tended, when reduced to practice, to corrupt the church, to dim the light of divine truth, to foster a general spirit of nominalism, and greatly to impede the progress of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Upon these points they declare, with a devoutness which puts their sincerity beyond a doubt, that their opinions are as decided, and their feelings as warm, as those of the healtiest advocates of the recent movement. It is not from any sympathy with establishments that they withhold from it their concurrence and support. Their difference with us relates to the means which enlightened dissenters should employ to put a termination to the evil. They believe that the shortest and most effectual method for overthrowing all error, and that which is most in unison with the mind of Christ, is, in all simplicity and earnestness, to preach the gospel. “Elevate,’ say they, “the tone of piety in the land, and increase its amount by a faithful and affectionate proclamation of the virtues of the cross, and you will thereby aim the deadliest blow at state religionism. The controversy into which you are so indiscreetly plunging, will serve but to stir up slumbering prejudices, and array against the ‘word of life’ the angry passions of human nature. Make men christians, and the church will soon emancipate itself from civil bondage. Attempt to make them dissenters, by any direct and overt agency, and if you succeed, your gain is comparatively worthless, while if you fail, you place evangelical truth at a serious disadvantage. Nor should it be forgotten that there are, within the pale of the national church, thousands of devout and holy men who, as the disciples of our common Lord, can sympathise with every effort to augment the number, and to promote the purity of his subjects. In all the aims proper to a christian, they are in spirit one with us. Open warfare against state churches as such, will but sever them from us, and render communion in good works utterly impossible. Dissent has succeeded in gaining its present standing, not by preaching itself, but by preaching ‘Christ crucified.” Would it conquer, it must pursue the same course. It should be determined to know nothing else among men. “In hoc signo vinces.” . Uplift it to an expiring world—uplift it manfully, perseveringly, in faith, with untiring determination, in season and out of season. This is your mission and in the prosecution of it your own spiritual energies will be sustained and strengthened by exercise. Divert not men's attention, nor distract your own minds, by meddling with controversial topics, partly political and partly religious. These times demand the promulgation of other truths than those which you would have us agitate. Irreligion and immorality abound-why should we quarrel about externals until the plague is stayed? Why, when our difficulties are already all but insurmountable, should we raise up a host of others, by a pertinacious utterance of minor truths ? Look at the present state of parties in this country. Is it not deplorable? And what will you do but throw other ingredients of dissension into the cauldron. No, no! Let but the real followers of Christ be true to him, and he will take care of his church. Let them preach his gospel, and he will make it the instrument of overturning antichrist. We desire the end at which you aim. We long to see the church of the Redeemer loosed from her unholy bands. We deplore the mischiefs which an unhallowed inattention to his laws, and a presumptuous intermeddling with his authority, are producing in the world. But we have no faith in your system of means. We object to any direct movement against the establishment. We see in it nothing but danger. We predict from it nothing but defeat. We cannot prevent you from following what you regard as the path of duty,-but neither can we join you. We shall rejoice in your success, should success be accorded to you,—but meanwhile, we shall content ourselves with preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
We have endeavoured to put the objections to which we are about to reply, fairly, fully, and forcibly. We are not conscious of having resorted to a single expression, the substantial import or the precise shade of which might, in our judgment, weaken the case with which we have to deal. We take no credit to ourselves on this account. Infinitely more grateful would it be to us, more pleasing to our self-respect, more satisfactory to our conscience, to lay down our arms at the feet of all-conquering truth, and to proclaim ourselves vanquished, than by means of a controversial sleight-of-hand, to seem to other minds triumphant, when, by our own, we could be viewed no otherwise than as dexterous tricksters. It is a comparatively easy thing to stagger an opponent—it is not so easy to take his understanding captive. To convince, rather than to silence him—to take him alive, rather than to leave him mangled and expiring upon the field of debate-to gain a new adherent to what we believe to be the cause of truth, and therefore of God, rather than to
We shall out, both parties are with the marests which
drive him back into the ranks of error, bruised and bleeding, but not overcome—this is our object. And with a view to this, we have been scrupulously careful, so to state the argument against us, as to secure from the parties entertaining it an unreluctant, unhesitating admission—' That is our ground-upon that we take our stand—and if at length our judgment is compelled to surrender it, with it also we will surrender ourselves, for we have no stronger position in which to intrench ourselves.' We shall therefore take it for granted, that upon the field already marked out, both parties are willing to join issue. Nor can we forbear, impressed as we are with the magnitude of the question, and with the awful extent of those interests which are involved in its settlement, glancing an eye of fervent supplication to the Spirit of truth, that, in harmony with his own beneficent work on earth, and in mercy to the ruined family of man, He may speed the right.'
We make bold, then, in the first place to suggest, what may profitably be borne in mind in other controversies than the present, that we are not warranted in isolating any portion, however confessedly important, of God's revelation to the world, and in calling that portion of it the Gospel. The arch must have a key-stone, but the key-stone is not the arch; moreover, severed from its relationship to the rest of the structure, it ceases to be what it was designed to be, the centre and stay of the whole. No single doctrine of the New Testament is complete in itself. Each is linked and interwoven inseparably with all the others, is illustrated by them, derives much of its pertinence from them, and, in turn, adds its own share of efficiency to them. The whole system of revealed truth is of a piece, not merely are its parts homogeneous, but they are all requisite to its integrity and oneness. The eye torn from its socket is an eye no longer. The limb cut from the trunk, is no more a limb. The brain, the lungs, the heart, are brain, lungs, and heart, in connexion with, not in disjunction from, the whole corporeal frame. The gospel which God gave to a benighted world, and by the power of which He intends to redeem it to himself, is an unique system of truths, not one of which can be spared, -not one of which can be fully understood, save in its appropriate relation to others. Nothing which he has deemed it necessary to communicate can, without a serious impeachment of his wisdom, be dispensed with as superfluous. He knew, far better than we can, what parts were necessary to constitute a perfect whole—and He gave it, in its entireness, and not pieced out into separate divisions, as his appointed instrument for subjecting the nations to the government of his Son Jesus Christ.
The likeliest way, it is said, to sever the connexion between church and state, and, indeed, to overturn every form of antichrist, is to preach the gospel. Granted—but it remains to be seen—and herein we believe the fallacious application of the remark will be discovered—what that term 'gospel' is designed to comprehend. Is it a single doctrine of revealed truth, or does it embrace all? If the best method of extirpating from society every prevailing or possible modification of human depravity, be to confine ourselves to the exhibition of select portions of the embodied mind of God, how came it to pass that the remainder was disclosed to us ? Surely it must have something to do in the great work allotted to divine truth-something introductory, or corroborative, or supplemental-something, wanting whose agency the moral remedy would not be to the whole extent of its capability, efficacious—or our attention would never have been distracted by it. We confess, we tremble at the bare idea of characterising any truth which God has vouchsafed to communicate to us, as unimportant, whether a bsolutely or comparatively. Looked at per se, it may seem to our judgment to be little more than an ornament of the edifice-but we are not justified in looking at it thus. Remove it from its place, and the consequence is ever found to be that you not only render the building unsightly, but you break in also upon some exquisite but unappreciated law of proportion and adjustment, so much as to endanger the very stability of the building.
When it is urged that the simple and faithful proclamation of the gospel will eventually undermine every form of secular ecclesiasticism, we apprehend that reference is made to certain truths, which, in consequence of their connexion with personal salvation, are described by the epithet 'essential.' Whatever they be, and prominent as may be the position they occupy in the christian system, it becomes us to be careful with a pious jealousy, lest, by tearing them out of their connexions and relationships, we injure their beauty, destroy their significance, and greatly enervate that moral power which they would else exert over the hearts and lives of men. They may together constitute the barb and the shaft of the arrow which is to cleave the conscience of the sinner; but is the feather which steadies its flight to be regarded as an useless appendage? The individuality of religious responsibility, in reference both to faith and practicethe outward and visible form, so to speak, in which God approaches human minds and hearts—the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ-His exclusive headship over his own church do these and kindred doctrines throw no light upon that of redemption by the cross ? Can the full purport of the latter be
understood without some knowledge of the former ? Can what is regarded as fundamental be severed without serious injury from that which is held to be merely subsidiary 2 Who can tell in what instances, and in how many, erroneous views of the nature of Christ's church have choked up the avenues to the souls of men, and have hindered the entrance into them of those other doctrines whereby they would have been made wise unto salvation? Which of us, knowing as we do the endlessly various angles at which spiritual light is darted into the mind, and the ten thousand seeming accidents which give a new direction to its rays—which of us will undertake to show that scriptural views of the question under notice could never, in any instance, have so deflected the beams of the Sun of righteousness as to turn them into the only chink by which ‘Christ and him crucified’ could find access to the heart? In how many cases may the cardinal doctrine of our faith have been unnoticed, like some glorious but distant mountain, the very charm of the landscape, merely on account of the thin haze which, almost imperceptibly to us, all but destroys the translucency of the atmosphere through which we must look? Many a man has lived amongst the sublimities of nature for successive years, a stranger to the spirit of the scene around him, until some casual play of sunlight upon a mountain’s top, some huge shadow cast athwart its bosom, some little variation of ačrial perspective, has waked up in him that inner life by which, and which alone, communion can be held with nature. And it is more than possible for human minds to dwell within sight of the stupendous mysteries of the gospel, and yet for want of seeing them at the right moment, and under the peculiar aspect which will best harmonise with individual temperament, to remain through life as profoundly unacquainted with the spirit of those mysteries, as if their outline had never been once discerned. Who can say with certainty that the result would not have been different, had all the features been displayed? These controversial topics, as they are somewhat irreverently called, might not a due knowledge of them have been in too many examples just the lucidity of the air, just the break in the clouds, the pencil of light, or the passing shadow, the morning blush, or the evening purple, necessary to the true spiritual impression of divine beauty 2 Since God has constituted them elements of his revelation, has man the smallest right to fancy that they have not their appointed use? Can that be considered an exhibition of the gospel from which these things are purposely excluded? Nay, more, is there not some reason to apprehend that one amongst the numerous causes to be assigned for the comparative inefficiency of preaching in the present day, especially in our own