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itself; and that the corruptions to which, like all other human establishments, it was liable, were to be dreaded as the chief causes and symptoms of its falling, like others, into decay. Persons of this
Persons of this opinion will not listen very attentively to such an alarmistas Rector, till his quick-sighted anxiety descries something wrong in the internal state of this venerable institution. Indeed we had been so long fixed in this opinion ourselves, that we cannot help repeating how utterly we were confounded to hear him predicting the fall of a church, in which his keenest scrutiny had found hardly a single circumstance for censure or reform. He has nowhere told us he had the smallest reason to apprehend that a considerable porportion of its clerical members entered on the sacred office, not from feeling a profound interest in religion, and a pious zeal to promote it by the instruction and conversion of mankind, but from the mere necessity of choosing a profession, or from expectations of emolument or preferment;—that many of its chief officers, occupying situations of solemn and anxious responsibility, were content to live in showy stately indolence;
- that its stations of wealth, dignity, and power, were carefully withheld from clergymen of eminent zeal and piety, while they were conferred with a view to enrich relations and friends, to reward political services, or to strengthen parliamentary influence ;--that great numbers of its ministers were found in theatres, or at balls, assemblies, and card-tables ; or habitually playing the fop, or the buck, or the wag; or mixing in the mirth, the intemperance, and the songs, of convivial parties; or at one time trussed up in a jacket, wielding a fowling piece, and maintaining a peripatetic dialogue with a couple of pointers, and at another time racing after a pack of hounds ;-that many of them were observed to perform their functions in the slightest, scantiest, and most careless manner possible; or to decry, even with scorn or violence, a popular fervent mode of addressing the conscience and passions of mankind, in behalf of religion and their eternal salvation ;
or to neglect teaching, and even to hold up in ridicule, those doctrines of a renewal of nature and the operations of a Divine Spirit, and the evangelical plan of salvation for mankind, to which they had formally subscribed in the articles of the church, and which are so exceedingly prominent in the New Testament;--or that they were generally chargeable with a spirit of arrogance and persecution against conscientious seceders from their communion, of sycophancy toward persons of rank, or of servility to the party in power.- If he had found any such grounds as these for the apprehension of the friends to our church, he would certainly have done well --not to cry out in this frightened and childish manner, that the church will fall, but to recommend measures of reformation as highly conducive to its respectability and perpetuity. But we trust that, on a careful consideration of the subject, Mr. Thomas's apprehensive mind will become reassured and cheerful ; for it may be clearly gathered from his own work, we repeat, even from his own pamphlet-which labours hard to represent the condition of the church of England in the most gloomy light that with some trifling quantity of exception, our church is not beset by any of the ominous circumstances we have here enumerated.
The disordered state of the faculties, which naturally accompanies terror, has caused an extreme confusion in Mr. Thomas's attempts to distinguish the several sorts, or hordes, in the enormous host of dissenters. Goths, Huns, Vandals, are attempted to be separately described and referred to; but the attempted discriminations are quickly confounded and lost under the one general and formidable designation of “the barbarians.” The Wesleyan Methodists are indeed fearfully conspicuous; (to turn our allusions from profane to sacred history,) they are the Philistines of our pagan invaders. When the other tribes of the enemy are to be separately pointed out, this affrighted herald is utterly puzzled to know whether it is the Amorites, the Hittites, or the Hivites, that he wants to tell of; and is obliged at last to call the whole promiscuous hostile assemblage by the more
general denomination of Canaanites. He should not, from the first, have troubled himself about distinctions, which he was so little in the state of mind to be able to describe clearly; why not have contented himself without more ado to use, from first to last, the denomination dissenters, or sectaries ?- just as in older times the people used to talk of the “ black-a-moors,” or “salvages," without pretending to any knowledge of the distinctions, or respective geographical localities, of the various nations of human wild beasts.
Our author refers us to the destruction of our national church, effected by the dissenters at the time of the
great rebellion ;” and plainly declares there are awful indications of a similar catastrophe threatening our present establishment, and even the state too, from the same kind of men and operations. Now we are surprised he should need to come to us for consolation on this head, when one single sober reflection would have dissipated all his fears. It is this; the dissenters (we are too much in good humour to contend with him about the propriety of calling them “rebels,”) the dissenters of the seventeenth century, who accomplished this remarkable subversion, notoriously had among them a very large share of talent and learning, but for which their designs would have burst like a bubble, instead of exploding into a revolution; whereas the dissenters of the present day are the most ignorant, silly, and despicable of mankind, according to our author's own testimony, which we look upon, for the reason already assigned, as of peculiar weight.
We will confess that one fact, which he states, did rather at the first moment “give us pause,” as appearing
there was more reason in his terrors than we had been willing to allow. He deposes in the following words; “ we know that a man, not unfrequently, by going thither,” (to the meeting-house) “ if he do by chance forego the vices of men, adopts those of devils. p. 82. We are very sorry to learn this fact; from any little acquaintance we have with the dissenters, we should not have imagined it; and we must own such a phenomenon would seem to portend no good to our
national establishment. There is indeed something that might be cavilled at in the terms of the deposition ; but the plain, fair construction is, that often, by going to the meeting-house, men are converted into real veritable devils, retaining indeed the human flesh and shape. The fact, we fear, since it is so attested, must not be denied; but we think we can again suggest to the reverend gentleman a consideration of very consolatory efficacy. He will recollect it is said, that“ if Satan be divided against himself,” his cause will come to nothing ; the position involving, of course, the whole tribe of infernals, whether inhabiting human forms or subtler vehicles. Now it is obvious to say, that the incarnate demons in question are divided one against another; there are Trinitarians against Unitarians, Arminians against Calvinists; there are Independents, Methodists, Baptists, and many other sorts, and some of the sorts differing from some of the rest far more than from the established church :-we surely need not draw the inference for the learned gentleman. But even if all this were too little to allay his fears, and if he were desperately convinced that, in spite of all these divisions among, there is still one main purpose, in which
Devil with devil damn'd
he has after all the final consolation of an assurance, in favour of the true church, and it is impossible he can have any
doubt which is the true one) that the gates of hell (i. e. the meeting-house ?) shall not prevail against it.
The courage of the clergy of former times rises exceedingly in our estimation, by contrast with the panic and the mean cowardly purpose of our reverend author. In those better times, when any thing demoniac presumed to infest and alarm any place, the sacerdotal class disdained to think of calling in any secular aid against the Satanic visitation; but promptly addressed themselves, in their own spiritual capacity alone, to the work of combat or exorcism. No such holy daring for our Rector. He confesses, and indeed loudly proclaims, that he and his brethren are totally inadequate to cope with
the legion. It is of no avail, he says, for them to write, and preach, and pray, and live like demigods; the people crowd, and, as he predicts, will crowd, to the conventicle still; and therefore he earnestly tries throughout this performance, by a mixture of rebukes and cajolery, compliments and menaces, wailing and boasting, to stimulate the government to interfere with the high hand of authority to stop the progress, and crush the privileges, of the dissenters. This is his chief or sole aim ; and, in prosecuting it, he has judged it worthy of him to employ every sort of calumny and abuse, of which the dreaded and hated class in question have at any time been the objects. Especially, they are all incorrigible enemies to the state, and many of them are actually conspiring its overthrow: even the Wesleyan Methodists, it seems, are not a religious confederacy, but a political one.
We shall do no more than quote a few short passages, which will give the essential spirit of the performance. Lest any
of our readers, after looking over these passages, should be tempted to think meanly of our discernment, when they see us ascribing to terror such wishes and proposals, as they will without hesitation attribute to a malicious and detestable bigotry; and should suspect us of adopting this palliating explanation from an undue partiality to a clergyman of the establishment,—we beg them to recollect the old observation, that cowardice naturally leads to cruelty, and to give us some little credit for a candour, in which we probably stand unrivalled.
Those readers who may think us a great deal too mild , will be highly gratified to witness the more adequate castigation bestowed on our Rector by the anonymous Layman. He does, to be sure, lay it on with a sinewy arm, and a hard heart. It is such a piece of discipline, as the galled smarting subject of it did not at all anticipate, in his lofty contempt of the abilities of all dissentients from the established church. And, to confess the truth, neither did we anticipate any such thing ; for whatever may be our opinion of the intellectual faculties of those dissentients (and we would not use disparaging expressions unless the occasion absolutely