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company, they seem to have become bad themselves. They have been attached to ill characters, till the unseemliness of the character has crept upon the dress in which it had been fantastically arrayed: and, far from accomplishing the pretended object, of exposing the hypocrite to ridicule by the incongruity of his appellation as a saint, the term has gradually acquired the set and figure of the person; and now we but too easily recognise in all good company the congruity, or rather identity, between the saint and the hypocrite. Not that, in order to shew the profanation of sacred language by such usage, it is necessary to prove any absolute fall in its value: else we shall be put off with the poor rejoinder, that its deterioration in public opinion arose from the use made of Scripture by fanatics, and would have been as great if it had never been made use of in the war against them. Of this more anon; but, in the mean time, let it be observed, the objection lies mainly against this ill use itself of Scripture, not the effect accidentally flowing from it. The vessel once used for sacred, and now for profane purposes, need not change its nature, or lose its value, or its lustre, to prove its actual profanation by such promiscuous use, Without doubt, the vessels of the Lord produced by Belshazzar, at his impious feast, were in all their full and proper brightness; and so they might have been restored to the temple service; but, notwithstanding this, the hand-writing upon the wall convinced that unfortunate monarch, when it was too late, of his profane conduct; and his fate left a severe warning on record, from Him, who hath said, "the silver is mine, and the gold is mine;" and whose are most especially those "words of eternal life" which it is impossible he should ever suffer to be violated with impunity. It was a pregnant saying of Augustus, to the man who invited him to a hasty ill-appointed feast," Amice, unde tibi mecum tanta familiaritas?" And what as
surance have these profaners of holy writ, that such may not be the question one day propounded to themselves, when they and their books shall stand together at their last account, and when the only excuse they will have to offer for their con duct is, that enthusiasts and fanatics had preceded them in their error? Such, beyond a doubt, is the true answer to be returned to the still recurring excuse, that it is only the abuse of the Sacred Record which is caricatured; an excuse which, to say the truth, seems to need no further reply (if urged with a levity but too common upon such subjects), than by treating it as the confirmation of a very common adage, "one fool makes many;" or (if urged with gravity, as in defence of a necessary severity) by meeting it with the sentence passed by St. Paul on those who do evil that good may come."
It is impossible not to add, that it argues a profane, or, at least, an irreverent position of the mind, at the time of making this use of the Sacred Writings. Grave persons may occasionally joke; and benevolent writers may sometimes find it necessary to have recourse to banter and satire. The "pleasing, melancholy," Cowper, is an eminent illustration of this remark. But it admits a strong doubt, whether any man, with an habitual and reverential awe towards the Holy Scriptures upon his mind, such at least as they are fully entitled to, could ever, or for any purpose, habitually adopt the style of burlesque or caricature, in the presence, so to speak, and by the help, of that divinely-inspired volume.
But, not to charge unduly the character or intention of those against whom this essay is particularly directed, it may be necessary to enter a little more particularly into their history, as well as their practice. The world has afforded three kinds of systematic drolls upon the sacred Scriptures,-professed in fidels, avowed heretics, and the op
posers of what they deemed excess buffoonery, in the defence of what in religion. Of these, the former may with some justice be called class had of course no object in view, "pure and undefiled religion," one in their irreverent treatment of the would willingly believe to have been word of God, but that of degrading confined to modern times, and to our and vilifying the Sacred Record. own country. It seems to have When Julian the Apostate railed at taken its rise, in great measure, Jesus the Galilean; when he bur- from the peculiar circumstances of lesqued the cry of the Christians the "sacred war," under Charles I. upon some temporal judgment, "fear. When a set of persons undertook and tremble, all ye inhabitants of to arrogate to themselves the exclu-~ the earth;" when his ministers sive privileges of God's chosen peoasked, "what the Carpenter's Son ple; when they profanely denomiwas about? to which one shrewd- nated their own covenant the true ly replied, making a coffin for faith, and their own wild spirit of your master: "-all this exhibited rebellion the only holiness; and the mere profaneness of an invete- when, in confirmation of these pre-` rate enemy; and as such, was rea- tensions they wielded "the sword dily imitated by the Shaftesburies, of the Spirit," first bent and distort-" Collinses, Woolstons, Humes, Gib-ed to their own hand, as their pecubons, and Voltaires, of every age. liar right; and, affecting to call fire Of course, every candid person from heaven, scattered from their would wave the argument arising own quiver fire-brands, arrows, from such a quarter, when about to and death;" it became an object of condemn the misapplication of great moment, to provide means for Scripture by men whose belief of it repelling so tremendous a mischief. must on all hands be acknowledged Through the permission of Provito be sincere, and in many cases dence, the only legitimate means, their knowledge of its contents most the force of laws, of arms, and of profound. To this praise, indeed, reason, completely failed; and then many in the second class, as well as too soon, the round heads, quaint in the third, have very loudly pre- visages, and scriptural phraseology tended. And yet, whoever is at of these "domination vanquishers all conversant with the writings of of laws," suggested to their vanmany Socinians, and other heretics, quished, but not silenced, opponents who have aspired to the office of en- the last resource of licentious ridilightening mankind upon the sub- cule. The camp of the unfortunate ject of our old, long-established, Charles resounded with coarse jokes orthodox errors, will find a style of and vindictive sarcasms against the profane levity, or rather of blasphe- too powerful usurpers; and, unhapmous insult, in treating the name pily, from the new use of Scripture' of God and of Christ, and in han- made by these men, such jokes were dling those passages of Scripture on almost necessarily played off at the which our church has founded her expense of that sacred volume. most important doctrines, which it From this period may be dated the will be impossible to reconcile with rise of the new school of ridicule; the smallest portion even of decent and custom, "quem penes árbitrium respect for the Sacred Volume. est, et jus, et norma loquendi,” alCandour would disincline us to refer most at the same instant of time to this class also, the feelings of the adopted the original, and the mimic third species of drolls to whom allu- cant into the established formulasion has been made; and who come ries of the language. After the Reto us with entirely distinct claims storation, this sacred mimicry rose on our consideration, and trace their from defensive to offensive operaorigin to a somewhat different and tious, and was too easily applied to peculiar source. The use of sacred purposes of triumph. Then arose,
in their respective departments, the buffoonery of Butler, the ribaldry of Dryden, and the unguarded mockery of South; and very soon they succeeded, as all serious writers of those times have confessed, in laughing down all the excellencies, as well as all the eccentricities, of vital religion The ebb of Puritanism produced by this, in combination no doubt with other causes, was however soon followed by the flow of Methodism; and the example, as well as the success, of the preceding age, was too recent, and too tempting, not to have a strong influence on the new opposers of the old puritan spirit. In this opposition, the names of Lavington and Warburton are sufficiently familiar to every reader of the controversies of those times; and to them it will be sufficient to refer, without any invidious introduction of more modern names. These men trod exactly in the footsteps of their old anti-puritan progenitors; and without doubt imagined (with all others who to the present day tread in theirs) that it is possible to retain our own respect and love for the Sacred Record inviolate, whilst we ridicule and misapply its contents only in imitation, and perhaps in the words, of its sincere though imprudent friends.
But here comes the real question: Is there no difference in the fervid imaginations and glowing enthusiasm of a Whitfield or a Wesley, rendering the misapplication, and even gross exposure, of the gravest parts of Scripture mainly consistent with, nay a proof of, their entire veneration for them; and in the cool and deliberate repetition or imitation of the same passages, merely to expose to ridicule those persons, or at the best, to shew the disgrace into which the Scriptures had been brought? Does a man carry about, and expose to the world, every unseemly adjunct to the relic or the reputation of his friend? Or, to put the case more strongly, would the dutiful and feeling son retain for ever and expose his honoured parent,
in the tattered or besmeared habiliments in which some unworthy accident had invested him, merely to excite the commiseration, or regain the lost respect, of the be holders? We hear but of one exposure of a parent under some such circumstances in Holy Scripture, which conveys no favourable impression of the disposition of the guilty actor. And in profane history, we read indeed of kings clad in rags, and led at the side of triumphal chariots, by exulting conquerors; but this was for another purpose than that of giving dignity to monarchs, or recovering the unhappy sufferers from the disgrace they had already sustained. And in this, it must be owned, there is much that is similar to the treatment which the Scriptures often experience at the bands of some lordly and victorious controversialist, under pretence of restoring their lost honours. He is not satisfied with, perhaps his justifiable, invasion of the neighbouring territory. redressing abuses, and reinstating religion, in proper habiliments, on its hereditary throne; but he drags away the very sacred symbols themselves; he fastens, in apparent contempt, every thing sacred as well as profane, majestic as well as low, to his chariot wheels; and then leads along the shameful procession, not more to the disgrace of the rebels, than to the indignity of the very person and the cause which he pretends to vindicate.
Bishop Warburton, in " the Doctrine of Grace," has, with his usual acumen, solved the paradox of king Solomon, "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like him: answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit," by observing, that "the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it, in his modes of disputation; which may be comprised in sophistry, buffoonery, and scurrility" but that "the sage should address himself to confute the fool upon the fool's own
principles, by shewing that they lead to conclusions very wide from the impieties he would deduce from them." Preface, new ed. vol. viii. p. 243. How much is it to be lamented that every page of his attack on the new fanatics," contained in the same treatise, should be a practical denial of his own comment. If ever fool was answered according to his folly in its worst sense, not by reasoning upon his principles, but by buffooning in his style, certainly B.shop Warburton's fool has been so answered. The Bishop himself could see the impropriety of Mr. Wesley's ironical application of a panegyrical distich to two of his enemies;
Fortunati ambo. Si quid mea pagini possit, Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet ævo. "Here he tells us," says the Bishop, without disguise, that it is his holy purpose to gibbet up the names of these his two persecutors to everlasting infamy: while, by the most unregenerate malice in the world, he dips his curses in the gall of irony; and, that they may strike the deeper, fletches them with a profane classical parody." Ib. p. 369. Now, not to mention here the useful synonymes of holy and unregenerate, and not to inquire what the Bishop means by representing this silly parody of Mr. Wesley's as the profanation of a classical passage, let a very few instances of the Bishop's own style prove or disprove that irreverence of mind, with which he is charged, for the use of this very same "profane style" on still higher than classical ground. "When the devil had set the mob to work, he then, like other politicians, retired to better company, such as Mr. Wesley and the saints." Ibid. p. 323. "But if evil thus abounded, grace did much more abound in this memorable era...... The Spirit overcame all resistance, Broke down all the strong holds of sin," &c. p. 325. "The learned Mr. Wesley may reply, with the CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 129.
learned Paul, he already spoke with tongues more than they all." p. 329. "Mr. Wesley had been grieved, and the Spirit of God had been grieved also, &c." p. 327. Speaking of an escape of Mr. Wesley from his pursuers: " Without doubt they were struck blind; though, in imitation of the modest silence of the Evangelist, who relates the like adventure of the blessed Jesus, he forbears the express mention of this stupendous miracle." "Saints are vindictive." p. 334.. And, mentioning the sortes sanciorum, or dipping for texts, he calls it Mr. Wesley's" Urim and Thummim, applied as freely and irreperently to his occasions, as a village conjuror does his sieve and sheers. p. 400. Irreverently! and is there nothing irreverent in this conjunction of the Urim and Thummim, the most sacred emblem and token of the Divine Omniscience on the high priest's breast-plate, with the sieve and sheers of a village conjuror? Is there nothing irreverent in the incongruous union of his wild, fanatical, lunatic-I ask pardon-learned Mr. Wesley, with the chiefest of the Apostles, the delegated commissioner from Heaven, the learned Paul? Or does he mean to hint any actual similarity in the accusations brought against each of these personages, as it happens, in their own day? It is impossible to comment on the truly profane association of Mr. Wesley's grief with that of another Personage, before whose Godhead angels bow, and
"with both wings veil their eyes." No wonder, since the DiVine Spirit is thus associated, that his gift should be thought worthy of no higher honour; and that "saints," that is, those in whom the Holy Spirit of God most eminently resides, should be pronounced as "vindictive;" and that the modest silence with which he had endued the Evangelist in relating our blessed Lord's escape from his enemies, was only on a par with that 4 E
of Mr. Wesley, in concealing the stroke of blindness on his enemies for a like purpose.
This passage, indeed, one would never have supposed could have proceeded from the pen of a believer. So much is it in the very style of a certain noble writer,who tells us, that "ridicule, or Bart'lemy-fair drollery, is the fittest way of dealing with enMusiasts, and venders of miracles and rophecy;" and who sagaciously forms us, that "the ancient Heathens were never so well advised their ill purpose of suppressing the Christian religion in its first rise, as to make use, at any time, of this Bart'lemy-fair method. But this I am persuaded of, that had the truth of the Gospel been any way surmountable, they would have bid much fairer for the silencing it, if they had chosen to bring our primi tive founders upon the stage in a pleasanter way than that of bearkins and pitch-barrels *." Prin ciples like these, and a defence of vidicule upon the foot of them, are quite consonant with the known pro fession of Lord Shaftesbury; but it may be safely put to the feelings of very unbiassed reader, whether an appeal to such principles, on the part, or in defence of, a Christian divine, is not, ipso facto, an impeachment of his piety? And are hot both principle and practice qually abhorrent from that nice sense of honour, that instinctive feelng of respect, that fact, with which an affectionate and grateful believer would ever wish to approach his heavenly conductor, and, more especially, when about to rescue it from
prior disgrace? If the Bible is thus to be "wounded in the house of its friends," as well as of its enenies; if infidels are to burlesque it in earnest, enthusiasts by accident, and bishops in joke; it will be not Tifficult to say, what its general estiation will ultimately become. But, the mean time, it will be difficult
• Vide Brown's admirable Essay on the Kuracteristics of Lord Shaftesbury.
for considerate men to suspect a very prudential or respectful regard to its honour in those persons, who either wound the Bible through the sides of its injudicious advocates, or its injudicious advocates through the sides of the Bible.
The pernicious operation of these bad practices on the mind, is, in fact, too obvious to need any comment. When once entered upon, there is no limit to be assigned to their extent. Herod himself is often outheroded by the writers of this class: and it is really a doubt, whether half the offensive expressions, half the blasphemy and indecency (for such words are applicable to the occasion), could be picked out of the writings of the most notorious infidels, which are to be found connected with the gravest parts of Scripture in the pages of Bishop Lavington's Comparison between Popery and Methodism. Indeed, one part of his writings, in which he brings forward the alleged enormities of a certain other religious denomination, is not admissible into any Christian, or even decent, family. Most truly he has forgotten there, even his Pagan monitor: "nam nec insignis improbitas et scelere juncta..... agitata ridetur." Cic. de Orat. lib. ii. Such treatment of such an accusation, can only be passed by with silent abhorrence. But let us appeal to another piece of the Bishop's, written apparently before he had reached the ulterior stages of the controversy. In the second part of the Comparison above alluded to, which is particularly addressed to Mr. Whitfield, we have the following passage, which is given entire, as a fair specimen of the style of these theological drolls.
"And, if we duly weigh matters, how can the Methodist teachers be otherwise than powerful converters? What heart can stand out against their persuasive eloquence, their extravagantly fine flights and allusions? Where is any thing so sublime and elevated? or, sometimes, what so melting, tender, and amorous, so soft and so sweet? You,