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eloquent writer, at this moment enjoys in the Church of England, on account of his Defence of National Ecclesiastical Establishments, may perhaps honey the edges of a cup which contains to many a somewhat bitter draught: for the object of the dissertation is to show that the doctrines which it has been for a century past the practice of too many persons of influence to denounce as irrational, fanatical, anti-church, anti-moral, anti-scholarlike, and most ungentlemanly, are the doctrines of holy writ, and are pre-eminently suited to the wants of mankind, and calculated to promote the spiritual welfare of individuals and the best interests of nations. Dr. Chalmers clearly shows, that official patrons in particular, have acted most ruinously, not only as concerns the cause of true religion, and the salvation of the souls of men, but in reference also to the peace and order of the land, and the external interests of the Established Church."
On re-perusing this, and several similar passages, I almost involuntarily exclaimed, “ Jarpe OepareVOOV geautov."
It is the fashion of some, in these times which pass over us, to put themselves first, without any very clear call, as the conspicuous champions of particular divisions of the Christian church. I have read their declamations and harangues in different parts of the country, and whatever be their merit or demerit, I feel compelled to say, that they have any thing but a tendency to settle the controversies, of which they profess to attempt the decision. They are of an irritating character. They blend too much of a political spirit—the spirit of the world-with religious proceedings, and the contending parties seem more anxious for victory and for the popular plaudit, than for the triumph of holy truth. They also widen the breach already made by the Great Invisible Divider, among the several denominations of Christians. Is it necessary, moreover, when we rise on a platform of a Catholic religious character, to open our addresses with a proclamation that we belong to “ an ascendant party,” or that we are the renowned abettors of the “ voluntary principle," as a sort of beau ideal of ecclesiastical perfection? I would rather that the excellency of my principles should be seen in their happy influence on my character, and on those of their adherents, and that their course and movement should resemble that of the river, which proves the salutary virtue of its streams, by the beauty of the banks which it adorns, and by the fertility of the country through which its confluent waters roll.
I have too long studied the character and influence, as well as counted the cost of moderation, to be roused by the war-hoop of irritated disputants on the forms of religion. I am quite prepared to pay the discount of being smitten on both cheeks, by the ultraists of antagonist parties, and to take the advice of a venerable minister of religion, with whom I believe you were acquainted, who said to me, on a certain occasion, “ In your public life, you will meet with many angry sparks : never take a pair of bellows to blow them into a flame, but set your foot on them, and proceed steadily in your important ministerial avocation.” To be grouped with “ the Furies" not fabulous, forms no part of my ambition.
I entertain, Sir, but little hope of the happy adjustment of those divisions which subsist among Christians, from the pugnacious encounters, by which the minds of multitudes, in these days of excitement, are agitated and inflamed. They appear to me to form an order of means, which the Spirit of God will not honour in the church. It is a holy force of which he is the author, and with which he connects the victorious energies of his grace; and while he leaves the roaring tempests of human passion to expend themselves with ineffectual fury, he breathes his gentle influences on the calm yet vigorous exercises of those sacred principles, which glow in the hearts and guide the zealous efforts of the renewed. When, under his tuition, the tribes of Ephraim and Judah shall cease to vex one another, and shall have learned to hold their preferences with perfect charity towards those who dissent from them, especially on the externals of Christianity, and heartily to combine their instrumental agencies against the acknowledged foes of God and man, then the beautiful descriptions of ancient prophecy which pourtray the glories of the latter day shall be realized; when the thorn and the briar shall give place to the fir and the myrtle-tree; then, the world shall become a theatre of truth, holiness, and peace, and shall reach a near resemblance to that heaven, to which we profess to aspire. .
As you have pressed me into this controversy, I rely on your justice and candour to give these lines an early insertion in your Miscellany, and have the honour to remain, Sir,
Your's respectfully and faithfully,
John CLAYTON, Jun. Poultry Chapel House, July 20, 1837.
TREASURY OF SCRIPTURE. The language of Christ in Matt. xiii. 44, phrases the subject of religion, and thence the truth and testimony of his word—as a “treasure," or treasury. It is, indeed, a “ treasure" of knowledge and blessings, “hidden" beneath the mere surface-view of ordinary contemplation. That may emphatically be styled “ the truth” of the ancients, that “lies in a well,” and nothing but the machinery of patient research and extended investigation can draw it up for the general enjoyment.
Is it not lamentably true, that the friends of the Bible have been too generally content with the knowledge of its surface doctrines, and principles? There are those truths which we have only to stoop for in order to possess. They are made so obvious, and placed so near, not as a premium to indolence, but in accommodation to our moral incuriousness and necessities-not as a dispensation from diligent inquiry and personal exploring, but as an allurement to that very exercise, wherever it can be performed, and perhaps to render it unnecessary, where it cannot be accomplished.
The man's treatment of the hidden treasure” was applauded by Christ, and his purchase of the field” entire was doubtless to make himself master of all its treasures. While digging for coins and jewels concealed below the surface, he might unexpectedly happen on a vein of precious ore, and be more than compensated for all his trouble. Now, hitherto, what has been our treatment of the Sacred Scriptures? Have we done much more than estimate or classify the bare surface beauties and truths of revelation, or enriched ourselves with the most commonly accessible treasures of this hallowed book ? But, let the “ shaft,” which is already begun, be sunk deep enough, or the “grand level” be carried onward, and the mine be efficiently wrought, and the discovery of many a rich and precious lode will demonstrate, that the great globe itself is not more interlaced with golden veins, and filled with invaluable treasures, than is “ the field" of inspired truth, the storehouse of the “ unsearchable riches of Christ."*
By the way, this last citation of the Apostle's language, from Eph. iii. 8, is entitled to more than a passing notice, for there is much more in the strength and significancy of the original than meets the ear in a translation. The “ unsearchable," uvezexvlasov, from a not, et out of, yvos a footstep) may possibly intimate, not only " the untraceable," exceeding all the efforts of investigation, but also the unbeaten track, the untraced footsteps of ordinary minds! Expositors of the divine word should be “mighty and eloquent in the Scriptures," approving themselves like the “scribe instructed to the kingdom of heaven," who is compared to "a householder, bringing forth out of his treasure nen and old.” The “new” stands first as of leading importance; and why ought there not to be the praiseworthy ambition of “pressing on towards perfection ?” After all the discoveries and success of former ages, with the entire accumulated “wisdom of our ancestors," it is true to the very letter, that here are researches yet to be made within this “ field,” even where “ a footstep cannot be traced.” Well did Solomon say, Prov. iii. 13.
“ Happy is the man who findeth wisdom,
Even the man who draweth out understanding :" for so are these emphatic terms to be observed, as will occur to the attentive reader of the Hebrew. And with the mighty, moral machinery of these our times, what results may not be anticipated? With the rapid, brilliant improvements of the age, is there too much to hope for in the promptitude, extension, and splendour of coming achievements ?
Assuredly it is not befitting the friends of truth and piety to be “ behind in any gift;" and hail we should, with grateful feeling, every movement of these “ spiritual stirring times," for the “ diffusion of knowledge;" nor allow even a suspicion of our due regard for that book, which so emphatically declares, “ many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
* See this thought illustrated in Mr. Harris's original and powerful book, “ The Great Teacher."
THE REV. WILLIAM WARD ON THE CALUMNIES OF A .
(To the Editor.) SIR,- I have often regretted that pious Churchmen, unacquainted with Dissenters, are so imposed upon by books on the evils of Dissent, published by clergymen. A flagrant proof of this danger appears in a work lately published by Messrs. Seeley, entitled, « The practical Evils of Dissent, as exhibited in the Experience of a country Clergyman." Stowmarket is evidently the place intended, and its history and circumstances during the past thirty years are the subject of the book; but more astounding falsehoods, gross calumnies, and malevolent insinuations, are seldom contained within so small a volume. We are charged with aiming to seize on the church- to overturn the government-making infidels-confining our religion to the Sabbath-having none in our six days' occupations—being of all worldlings the most worldly-very ignorant -adverse to knowledge, &c. Any person acquainted with Stowmarket will read the book with astonishment, and mourn for the spirit that dictated it. The attack is most unprovoked, for the Dissenters and members of the Established Church have here long lived peaceably together. We have not agitated the church-rate question, but have subscribed liberally to improvements connected with the parish church. The precedency has always been given to the clergyman, and the Dissenters are not radicals in politics. In contrast with the clergyman's accusations, I would humbly and gratefully state the religious and moral change in this place. Forty years ago there was one place of worship besides the parish church, and the average attendance on public worship, in both places, seldom exceeded 250. There are now between 2000 and 3000 attendants on public worship every day, at the four places of worship; 1000 children in the town and district are now taught every Sabbath, besides those in the national schools, instead of the former total destitution of instruction. No religious or charitable institutions existed, but, for some years past, several hundred pounds have been annually contributed for these purposes. The town was notorious for drunkenness and profligacy, and called the sink of Suffolk, but is now as moral and industrious as most towns, and blessed with consequent prosperity. The Dissenters labour disinterestedly and zealously to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of the surrounding population, yet abhorring the spirit of proselytism. This clergyman says, “ Independent Dissent has for thirty years had it all its own way; the voluntary principle fully developed and acted out." And what would he have? Have they not worked well? What can a sincere Christian wish more but increased exertion and success in the same way?
We wish all who know us to see this specimen of the manner in which pious church people are misled by some of the clergy; yet VOL. I. x. s.
efforts like this to cause disunion and animosity, are being made, more or less, in most parts of England.*
W. WARD. Stowmarket, Sept. 14, 1837.
* We have the book to which Mr. Ward refers, but possess no means of confirming his opinion, that its descriptive parts were intended to pourtray the Dissenters of Stowmarket. Strong as are some of the expressions which our excellent correspondent employs, respecting that anonymous publication, we are compelled to own, with the work before us, that they may be easily sustained. For instance, there is a section on “ The hypocrisy in the Union on special occasions, amongst ministers of different denominations ;" in which the writer remarks:
" Our situation is most painful. It is not the weightless shadow of Socinian money, or membership with the Bible Society, that affects or alarms us. But it is the pointed falsehood put forth before a meeting in the Dissenting enemy of the church, calling the churchman brother, and the latter, as chairman, assisting in shifting the scene. This cannot last much longer. The situation is much too dishonest for honest men. Dissenters may endure its repetition, because this apparent union is most useful to their cause. But the time will come, if their intentions are not again chained up, in which it will be necessary to dissolve this now dishonourable connection, and direct our subscriptions and exertions into a Bible Society for the church. May the Great Head of the church avert that day—and yet, in His wisdom, that which seems at first a calamity, may in its operation be found a positive gain to His great cause, and a larger measure of good."-p. 74.
What is the plain sense of this passage? That the Dissenting minister is to be marked as an enemy to the church, that he is a liar and a hypocrite, when he calls a churchman brother! That no honest man in his circumstance would do it; but that with Dissenters truth and honour are quite inferior considerations to the furtherance of their party objects!! Well did our divine Master say, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” It is a happy circumstance, that all the clerical members of the Bible Society are not of the same temper. Such men should listen to the words and imbibe the sentiments of the venerable Bishop of Chichester, (Dr. Otter,) which were so wisely and so kindly spoken, at the close of the last annual meeting, at Exeter Hall.
“ Whatever differences," said the Bishop, “ may have existed, or do exist, in the political world—whatever resentments may exist in many minds at this very moment, or excitements, I should rather say—for I hope resentment there is none; but, whatever excitements there may be, there would have been many more, but for this Society. And why then, I ask, should the Society cease to operate, in the same manner that it has done? I see no reason : and my opinion is, that, instead of the Society's having any thing to dread from these excitements, the excitements themselves will be exceedingly softened, and the bad effects of them much diminished, by the very sense which we all entertain of that love which we ought to bear to each other of that legacy which the Saviour bequeathed to His Disciples—and of that mark which He has impressed on us--the mark of Christian peace and love. I trust, therefore, my Christian friends, that you will not be satisfied I speak to Churchmen as well as to Dissenters-with divesting your minds, in this place, of all irritable feelings with respect to the questions of which I speak; but that, when you go away, you will determine, in your own hearts, that your co-operation in this noble christian work shall be the means of softening feelings, which might otherwise have arisen in your minds, of an exciting kind, and preventing them from having any effect on that peace of society around you, which is of so much importance to every good work and every good feeling—but particularly to the success of that