« ElőzőTovább »
repaying it with honor and service; and we are sure that many of them (as the above quotations show), are strongly opposed to this view. Mr. H. represents a Christian as wholly passive towards the government. If commanded, he submits; if illtreated, he endures it; if taxes be demanded, he gives them. A Christian servant pays active service to his master, by voluntary zeal even supplying what has been forgotten to be commanded : but a Christian subject (they hold) becomes a worldly character, if he display a desire to benefit the community by any voluntary exertions. Mr. H. enforces the duty of submission to the magistrate, not by insisting on his abstract moral claims on our help (which is St. Paul's argument), but by the dry appeal to authority: the Scripture has commanded it! --the same reason which he would urge for submission to a robber. It appears to us therefore most clear, that Mr. H. (though perhaps unconscious of it through want of mental analysis), does not hold magistracy as co-ordinate with the other social relations, -as an appointment of God's grace, intrinsically righteous, but as collateral with the ordinances of Providence, hurricanes or revolutions, under which we are to be resigned, with full belief that they are permitted for our good; and that the theory which is implicated in his arguments, degrades civil authority. At the same time, the Brother who writes in the Inquirer, asserts (and quotes to the same effect), that, “As holders of power, magistrates are the ordinance of God; though in their use of power, they
may be the servants of the devil.' The words may be are highly significant, and if followed to their just results, obviously destroy the Brethren's whole system. But as the Brother agrees to all Mr. H.'s practical inferences, this sound principle is an idle theory with him.
Through some want of attention, he has understood us to say, that we should be subject to a cut-throat, if by God's permission . our ruler, only for wrath, and not for conscience' sake:' but the words in italics are his own insertion, and utterly reverse our sentiment. As he pointedly asks one question, we reply-thatóin Nero's days 'we should have thought it our duty to obey, to suffer, to bleed; revolution would have been a guilty lottery, issuing at best in a change of masters. We think that it is in moral force that the strength of Christians lies; and that it would be in us an ungrateful return to God's mercy, to make light of the blessings of English citizenship. If unrighteously invaded, we may legally and boldly defend them, as Paul defended his Roman citizenship. This Brother most unjustifiably pretends, that we are offended because the Brethren will not use swaggering and insolent language towards the government; he treats us as promoters and lovers of rebellion, who are barely kept down by force! Truly the Quakers, with whom we contrasted the Brethren, are not wont to bluster;
nor does any one fear their muskets and pikes. Is this Brother so staunch a Tory, as to be unable to conceive of such a thing moral influence upon political measures ? Does be imagine that all the affairs of nations are determined by bribery and physical force? We, on the contrary, believe that a nation which contends for the rights of others, by words of truth with disinterested zeal, strengthens its own liberties thereby, better than could be done by successful ipsurrection.
Yet we do not believe that Rom. xiii. was written to dissuade Christians from seeking to promote a political revolution. Since the failure of Brutus, it had become clear to every man of intelligence, that the Roman empire afforded no materials for any thing but a despotism; and it is quite unlikely that Christians should have conceived the idea, and that Paul should have needed to check them. And had he done so, it could not have been by such reasonings as he uses. For instance, of what avail would it have been to plead the important uses and benefits of magistracy, in order to dissuade the Whigs of 1688 from ejecting that bad magistrate James II.? Such an argument must have been directed against those who looked on magistracy as only “the law of the stronger;'--a familiar opinion in Greece;--or, as a violation of Messiah's higher authority ; in which latter light it would occur to Jewish Christians and their disciples. Against such the apostle vindicates it as a righteous and useful institution, to which their own conscience ought to teach them the duty of submitting
Now we maintain, that, among the ordinances of man, to which we are to be subject for the Lord's sake,' is that ordinance which invests many Christians with the political franchise, and some few with a peerage; and that a Christian's duty is to exercise this, 'as to the Lord, and not unto men :' setting to all men an example of incorruptibility, justice, truth, candor; with a view to which, a certain knowledge of public affairs is to be sought after. If circumstances prevent this, it is better to give no vote, than to give it at hazard; but no Christian is justified in the course pursued by these Brethren, of condemning all as 'worldly,' who seek the present good of their fellow-men by means which God has ordained. What sort of vituperation would be heaped on us, if we made in any thing else as little of Paul's opinion and judgment, as these Brethren make of it in the matter of worldly citizenship? At Philippi, at Jerusalem, at Cæsarea (after two years' imprisonment for meditation on his former act), this apostle deliberately repeats that which they so condemn in us. He counted himself still a citizen of this world; so do we count ourselves. There is not a hint in the Scripture to imply that Paul sinned in this matter. Surely a little modesty or candor might make them suspect, that when Paul's conduct appears to them so erroneous,
they probably misunderstand his doctrine also. Moreover, when he has broadly laid down that magistracy is a righteous institution, according with the will of God, it is evident that the burden of proof rests with those who say that no Christian can lawfully be a magistrale. This Brother, and all his party, urge that there are no directions in Scripture how a Christian is to conduct himself as a magistrate as though that made it unlawful ! this, as in most other matters, our controversy with them is concerning the laws of interpretation, of which we shall speak presently.
We profess to this Brother, that we regard his party to be peculiarly reprehensible, as practical promoters of oppression. They have not the excuse of ecclesiastical Tories,--many of them most deeply sincere persons,—wlo so dread the loss of the Church Establishment, that, to support this, they forget every thing else; for the Brethren hold the Establishment to be a prodigious and most evil fiction. Yet they throw all their moral influence on that side, which has for a length of time past favoured oppression and iniquity, bloody and lasting wars, grinding taxation, burdensome restrictions, church jobs, a cruel administration of cruel law's, colonial slavery, and Indian misgovernment.
If all English Christians held the views of these Brethren, the negroes of our colonies would still be treated as cattle, and far worse : and does Christ forbid us to utter our voice to our rulers against these enormities? Was it right to drink our coffee and sugar,-- the blood of these men and plead conscientious scruples against petitioning for their release? and this, when it is notorious that our rulers themselves, unsupported by the moral power of the nation's voice, are unable to effect beneficial reforms which they may earnestly desire? Truly this Brother greatly mistakes, in supposing that we are secretly ashamed and afraid to avow our deep disapproval of this baneful sentiment of theirs.
But we cannot allow it to appear as though the question between them and us were one of mere party. The Brottie would have it believed, that solely because this Review upholds reforming or "radical' sentiments, do we object to their doctrines. It is not so.
Radicals, Whigs, Tories, all alike repudiate the notion, that a Christian may not be a magistrate or a watchman; all alike regard it as a monstrous idea, that he may not help in improving the laws of the realm, or the public welfare and organization of the community; that he may not exercise the franchise or the right of petitioning. We have on our side all the good and great men, through whose exertions these Brethren now possess the gospel, the Scriptures, and freedom of oonscience; and, first and greatest, we have the apostle of the Gentiles. This Brother does not deny, but tacitly confirms what we
stated-that they hold it wrong to seek to improve the outward condition of the world. Their sentiments must lead to this, for social, civil, and political relations are not separable by any intelligible principle. May I not be a member of parliament ?-may I then be a member of a town council ? May I not be lord chancellor?-may I then be a commissioner of tithes or bankrupts ?-or may I sit on a jury? May I not be conductor of the Post Office ?-may I then be an excise officer ? May I not sit in the privy council ?-may I then be a member of an agricultural society? If it were right to produce individual cases, we could prove that leading Brethren well understand how far their doctrine must carry them, and do not shrink from it. One thing indeed is yet to come—the believing it unlawful to receive interest on money, or rents of estates. Certainly landed property has its duties, and must put them in a false position.
We have dwelt very long on the head of Political Rights and Duties, both from its own importance, and from the stress which the Brother laid on it. When he regards our statements here as utterly false' (p. 508), the reader may judge with what sort of discrimination he has declared, that we make out our case “per fas aut nefas,' and teach that the means are sanctified by the end.'
II. Perhaps next in importance is the tenet of Open Ministry. This Brother before accused us of pretending that it consisted only in having a great number of teachers. When he comes to our explanation, that the main point of it is, not to put undue constraint on the energies of the Holy Spirit, he takes an opposite objection, that we unduly confound them with the Quakers. This, of course, was maliciously intended by us to imply, that the Brethren, as the Quakers, hold the Spirit to supersede and take precedence of the written word ! (pp. 500-502.) Indeed, we referred to the Quakers solely as being a well known sect. But we were speaking of Church Order, not on the mode of
ascertaining truth. Our words were, . Namely, that the Spirit is still
given to the Church in so emphatic and peculiar a mode, as to • make all Church Arrangements for edification unlawful. [We did not say, “ As to be paramount to the evidence of the written
word.'] *They do not attack bad organization, but organization as such.' The Brother objects, first, that he cannot understand the phrase emphatic and peculiar ; which, he seems to suspect, conceals something wrong. We reply, that we wanted to avoid a verbal discussion about ordinary and extraordinary, miraculous or nonmiraculous gifts; and thought to do so best, by stating the result and effects, not the essence of these gifts; viz.that they supersede Pre-arrangement; indeed, render it unlawful. Next, he thinks we, rather craftily, confound arrangement and organization. Indeed, we regard the latter as somewhat more permanent than the
former. But what should we gain by this craft?
gain by this craft? For, thirdly, the Brother here declares that lie approves solely of the Divine organization of the Spirit, and not that of modern churches,' p. 500; which of course must be meant to avow and defend the opinion which we ascribed to them: otherwise it would be a wretched quibble. But farther, he thinks we unduly confound them with the Quakers, when we represent it to be decided which of the Brethren shall speak, by the moving of the Spirit on the heart;' whereby (he says) we throw out of sight that they believe gift and qualification permanently to reside in individuals. So far from it, that we believe the Quakers to hold the same opinion. Not every Quaker is a John Joseph Gurney. We many times spoke of their leading men,' and represented them as holding, that "the Spirit is eminently in the few.' Observing, however, that the Brother again corrects this last expression, and wishes we had said, “All gift and qualification for rule are ever in 'a few;' we have certainly been struck at this sensitiveness, and are led to inquire whether his notions of the influences of the Spirit differ so much from those generally acknowledged, as their phraseology has seemed to us to imply. Indeed, but for their views of the uselessness or mischievousness of mental culture, and the sinfulness of all error, we should incline to this opinion. If on this head we still misunderstand and misrepresent our Brother, we assure him it is unwillingly and inadvertently.
But let us hear his own account of open ministry: Note, p. 495. "The real meaning of exclusive and of open ministry, is, I * believe, generally little understood. It might not be the will of “the Lord for a number of years to raise up in a Christian church more than one individual qualified to minister in the word.
If, lowever, there was an open door left meanwhile for any upon whom it might please the Lord to bestow ability to minister his gift for the common profit, this would not be exclusive ministry. But if in another church the ministry of the word were extended
even to ten or twenty members, and then arbitrarily limited to that ' number, this would
be that exclusive ministry which the Scripture SCHISM: 1 Cor. xii.' We should have feared to state the case so very strongly, lest it might appear exaggerated; but the Brother does not shrink from it. To reason with him may seem hopeless, when he is amazed that we regard this distinction as a trifle, in comparison with the peace of churches and brotherly moderation. We feel very strongly upon it, and spoke strongly. Because he cannot conceive of the depth of our feelings concerning it, he taxes us with levity; we might say, with profanity. But again we must appeal to our readers.
Do ministers of the New Testament spring up in a night? or are they gradually matured by time and exercise? We suppose,