Obrazy na stronie

any time on the continent will not imagine,) let any person reflect on the present state of morality and piety in England, and compare it with the state in which it prevailed during the Protectorship of Oliver Cromwell, or during the reign of Charles the Second. By reference to the history and very

different characters of these two potentates, we find a confirmation of the adage, “Qua“ lis rex talis grex;" and how much the state of morality and piety, and the manners of a nation, depend on the reigning monarch. It is therefore only just to ascribe much of this present superior degree of morality and piety to the personal example of his present majesty, and to the great attention he has invariably paid, during his whole reign, to the promotion of both. At the same time it is equally just and reasonable to impute an equal degree of national effect, in the promotion of virtue and piety, to the personal examples of both, usually set by the regular Clergy, and to such men as Doddridge, Watts, Mason, Chandler, Grove, and many of the present existing Dissenters: and whilst this blessed effect so visibly prevails in the nation, all reasonable people, who judge of the tree by its fruit, will allow, that, generally speaking, the Clergy of this country do their duty properly and conscientiously, if their conduct is judged only with that charity and candour which the natural frailty of man requires,

and which men of all ranks, classes, and descriptions, have a fair claim to. It is not indeed to be expected that the Pseudo-Calvinists before mentioned* will observe this charity and candour, be

* These itinerant preachers are so extremely illiterate, that a Wiltshire magistrate assured me, out of four who appeared at the quarter-sessions to have a licence to preach, three of them could not write their name! The magistrates and gentlemen in court were exceedingly shocked that such ignorant inen, who so much wanted to be instructed themselves, should possess the power of misleading the minds of the lower classes of the people: but as the act now stands, this power cannot be withheld from them, on their taking the usual oaths, and paying sixpence. The religion of these pests of society is founded not in reason, but in passion and enthusiasm; and they inflame the minds of their auditors with their fanatic and unintelligible jargon of election and predestination, and “once in grace, and always in “ grace;" &c. and so derange their understandings, that, in consequence of the preaching of these people, within a few miles of my residence, there is at this time a person in the most melancholy state of mind imaginable, who attempted very lately to destroy himself. A family, with whom I am personally acquainted, who lately travelled in Wales, told me, they were exceedingly surprised at seeing a large concourse of people, all jumping as high as they could, in an endeavour, as they said, to “catch the “ foot of the Lamb,” in pursuance of the injunctions of their preacher to do so: some of the women, exhausted by their efforts, fell into fits; and the landlord of the inn assured this family, that his daughter, who had unhappily imbibed this superstitious heresy, was in a deep consumption, owing, as he believed, to her exertions in this way. Can it be right that the health both of the body and mind of the lower classes of the people should be thus liable to be abused, and that with impunity, by these ignorant, or designing men? I am very far from presuming to be able to point out an effective remedy for this pestilent superstition; but probably, if, instead of paying the few pence

cause, however strong their judgment or reason may be on other matters, till their minds are divested of that religious frenzy which at present possesses them, in points of theology they are not to be considered as reasonable men, and accordingly their judgment, censure, or applause, are all of equal consequence; that is, of no value or consequence. : · Requesting the reader to pardon this digression, I shall observe, that Calvin asserts another erroneous position, one diametrically contrary equally to the letter and spirit of Scripture. He asserts, in the 23d chap. sect. 7. of the 3d book of his Christian Institution, “ that God not only fore“ saw or suffered, but also by his own will dis“ posed the fall of the first man.” What blasphemy, what absurdity, does not Calvin dare to impute to his Creator! and how justly does he incur Dr. Clarke's censure, in his Sermon on the omnipresence of God, that “vain men, by clog“ ging religion with inexplicable absurdities, have “ made its doctrines (as far as in them lay) not “ venerable, but ridiculous!" No man has more justly incurred this imputation than Calvin ; for, upon Calvin's interpretation of this part of Scripture, and maintaining, that God caused the fall of Adam, how ridiculous and unintelligible, as well as cruel and unjust, would be the following declaration of God to Adam ::“ Because thou hast “ eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, “ saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the " ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat " of it all the days of thy life.” Thus Calvin first makes God the author of what (as the Scripture informs us) God himself imputes to Adam as sin; and then Calvin makes God punish Adam, because he fell in obedience to his own will and pleasure. »

they now do for a liberty to preach, they were required to pay fifty pounds, and in their licence a clause was to be inserted, which confined their preaching to a definite district, the existing evil would be much lessened: and as to their paying fifty pounds for the privilege of preaching, they would have very little reason to complain, as there are few Clergymen of the Established Church whose education does not amount to more than twelve times that sum, before they obtain the same privilege. Ireland exhibits at this moment a striking example how fatal to the welfare and repose of a nation it is, when the minds of the lower classes of the people are under the entire influence of a bigotted illiterate Clergy; which is the case with the lower order of Roman Catholic Priests in Ireland, in a degree scarcely to be imagined by those who have never been in that country. It is by no means iin possible that at sume future time the same melancholy consequence may happen in England, if some legal stop is not put to the encroaching strides of these itinerant illiterate enthusiasts; of whom it may most truly be said, that their doctrine, by invalidating the necessity of good works, and inculcating an unscriptural predestination, is contrary both to Law and Gospel.

There is another most abominable assertion of Calvin’s, in the 22d chap. p. 311. of his 3d book of Christian Institution, which equally contradicts. both the letter and spirit of the Gospel. It has

been just observed, that our blessed Saviour say's to his Apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and “ preach the Gospel to every creature. He that “ believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he " that believeth not shall be damned.” Now, in direct opposition to this, Calvin presumes to affirm as follows: “ It is certain that the doctrine of salo vation is wrongfully set open in common to all “ men to profit effectually.” In the same chapter he makes another assertion, if possible, still more reprehensible, in these words: “By outward preach“ ing all men are called to repentance and faith; “ and yet not to all men is given the spirit of res “ pentance.” Good God! that a simple, indivi: dual, uninspired Clergyman should thus dare to shut the gates of heaven and of mercy against the human race, which our blessed Saviour, when he had overcome the sharpness of death, opened to all believers ! that this Clergyman should presume to infer, and to assert, that the spirit of repentance would be withheld from any man desirous of availing himself of that gracious declaration of his merciful Creator, addressed to all his human creatures in these words by St. Peter; “ The Lord is “ not slack concerning his promise, but is long“ suffering to us-ward; not willing that any should “ perish, but that all should come to repentance!" In the 2d chapter of the Acts, the same Apostle says, “ Repent, and be baptized, every one of you."

[ocr errors]



« PoprzedniaDalej »