Obrazy na stronie

Such being the state of things amongst us, well may the Executive Government appoint a day of fasting and humiliation, that the vengeance of an offended God may be averted from this guilty yet so highly favoured land.

Let every man prepare for the proper improvement of that great and solemn day, by an examination of his own heart and conduct, for at this critical season, every man should so act as though the salvation of the country depended solely upon his reformation and example.

Let the day be kept with all that solemnity which we should feel if our very lives depended upon the spirit and manner in which it was observed. However strong may be our means of defence, however well appointed our armies, with whatever skill and judgment Government' may act, and how unanimous and zealous soever our volunteers

still let us seriously consider that it is God alone who giveth the victory.

When therefore the insolent Senna. cherib and his impious flatterers threaten us with destruction, let all of us follow the example of our good Hezekiah, and prostrate our selves with penitent and contrite hearts before the Lord God of Israel, who dwelleth between the Cherubims, that he may save us out of the enemy's hand, and that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that he is the Lord God, even Him only," Oct. 19, 1803.


may be




GENTLEMEN, I recommence my observations upon “ the Christian Observer,” and my review of the observer's reviewer ; a bold attempt in a man stationed behind a counter : but I have a firm reliance on the faculty of common sense; and doubt not but it will guide me through more intricate entanglement than the pages of that double faced publication can furnish.

The reviewer proceeds to the second chapter of "Unity the Bond of Peace, &c.” (p. 158, Christian Observer for March last.) He finds little that he can possibly carp at here. He passes slightly and coldly

. over it; though that chapter supplies some strong passages, which your own reviewer selected. However superfluous, or“ supererogatory" it may be reckoned " to shew that schism is injurious to harmony and peace”--the artifices of methodistical schismatics have rendered such a measure not merely “expedient” or “important," as the reviewer frigidly styles it; but necessARY. People had begun to doubt whether schism was a sin. Some people hardly knew the meaning of the word schism, and others thought it gave evidence a masculine understanding and a relish for liberty, to commit the sin of schism, and to break out of the pale of the Church. One of your most valuable correspondents, the Rev. E. Pearson, published a Sermon on the sin of schism.- I bought and read it with delight, and I am sure with edification; it instructed ine, and roused my attention to the nature of schism, and put me upon inquiring into its progress and consequences. The arguments in Mr. Pearson's Sermon, however, are chiefly levelled against the schism of Dissenters and Quukers ; but the schism most to be dreaded seems to me to be the methodistical schism; which scarcely shews like a schism at the outset ; for the methodists pretend to be

schism. zealous

true Churchmen," to use our Liturgy, and to respect our establishment. But when once they have gotten any weak brother" into their clutches, they soon make him “evil affected towards” the Church; they soon make him nauseate “the words of truth and soberness,” and take satisfaction in nothing but the high-seasoned extravagances, first of extemporary preaching, and next of extemporary prayer. But whether a man wander from the Church to the Meeting-house, or whether he stray into the Tabernacle, he still is a schismatic; and what he does is detrimental to his country's Church, and to his country itself.

The New Testainent orders us “ to be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake;" schismatics disdaining subjection, and “despising dominion,” at once break the laws of God and man; and whilst we impeach their conduct'as Christians, we cannot but call their pa. triotism in question.

I shall here introduce a few sentences from the second chapter of

Unity' &c. which fully prove all I have advanced; sentences too closely reasoned and too powerfully urged, to be admitted into “ the Christian Observer;" sentences, indeed, wholly at variance with the views of that insidious work.

[ocr errors]

“That the peace and stability of a country depend upon the influence of religion on the principles and morals of the people; that to preserve this influence it should form a part in the constitution, and that it must be dangerous to the public safety to disturb its foundations, by what. ever means, or for whatever purpose, are points which I need not here undertake to prove.

" The alliance between Church and State has been a subject of much dispute. Without entering very deeply into the question, it must, I think, on all hands be admitted, that there is this connexion or dependance upon one another that whenever the religion of a country is overturned, the state must suffer with it.

" I am not now to prove that the national establishment of religion in this country is the purest in its doctrine, or the most perfect in its form, that the wisdom of man would be able to devise. Whether it be the most free from error in point of doctrine, the most unexceptionable in its form, and the best calculated for the edification of its members, of any Church existing ; or whether it have its errors and defects, as others have con. tended, such is the Church by law established ; such is the national religion; and to subvert this establishment, to attempt its overthrow, or to endanger its existence, is not the part of a good subject, because in doing this he would be endangering the public peace.

“Now it is among the consequences of schism that the foundation of the established religion is shaken by the opposition of rival and contending sects, all, however divided in their own opinions, aiming to increase their numbers, to gain the ascendance, and to build their own advancement upon the ruins of the Church from which they dissent. “ It is, as has already been observed, in the nature of schism to be

zealous for its own'increase, and to be indefatigable in making proselytes from the Church which it hath itself forsaken. The steps which are taken to increase its numbers, and advance the cause in which it is en. gaged, are not less dangerous to the stability of the Church than they are to the ends of edification and peace.

". The efforts of misguided zeal, the misrepresentations of prejudice, the intrigues and artifices of party interest, not only operate to weaken the influence and defeat the labours of the ministry, but they tend to weaken the foundation, and at length to overthrow the Church itself.

“ To the increase of their own numbers, and the advancement of their own particular interest, their aim is of course first directed ; but if the deduction from the Church established be not attended with its full pro: portion of increase to their own party, such is the spirit of opposition, that they all feel a sympathetic pleasure in the acquisition which others make, and can forget their own differences, and forego their own particular ad, vantage, in contemplating that defection from the establishment, and that addition to the number of its adversaries of any description, as a gain to the general cause ; as a step which brings them so much nearer to the object which is never far from their sight; as an advance towards the accomplishment of the fall of that Church against which all their envy and powers are directed.

“ The continual and combined efforts of such zeal, if no more than the constant droppings of water upon the hardest stone, must in time have their effect. But religious zeal is of a more active nature, and not so slow in its effects. It is always awake, and vigilant to seize every occasion of strengthening its own, by weakening and dividing the power of its adversaries. It is fruitful in its resources : it is active in its ope. rations : it is not very nice in the choice of means to accomplish its object. By loud and violent declamations against the Church and its ministers; by unfavourable, if not, unjust, representations of its un. profitableness; by unfair comparisons; by pretensions to greater light and purity; by holding forth their own as the only profitable, if not the šole mode of salvation; by terrifying the minds of the public, and impressing them with the fear that if they remain in the communion of the Church they cannot be saved, they are continually drawing away. some of its members, lessening the attachment of others, and hastening that period when the strength of its numerous adversaries shall be too great for it any longer to withstand their united powers,

“ Should the clergy, or the meinbers of their Church, with whom, no less than themselves, it must'rest to defend it; should they be at any time insensible of their danger, and not watchful to resist the multiplied force that is brought against it, it must fall; and all the dreadful consequences of such a revolution must be experienced in their fullest extent. It, on the other liand, they be aware of their danger, and active to repel it, zeal is opposed to zeal, and the conflict is attended with consequences most hurtful to the public peace; and at last the evil is only protracted for a tiine * : increasing numbers, and renewed exertions, at length find their opportunity to effect their purpose. That period, which no friend to his Country can contemplate without horror, arrives. The Church is overwhelmed by its numerous and triumphant foes. The civil govern.

What Fuller says of the failure of the first attempt to suppress the monasteries is applicable to all other cases :--." This stroke for the present, though it was so far from hurting the body that it scarce pierced the bark, yet bare attempts in such matters are important, as putting into people's heads a feasibility of the project formerly conceived altogether impossible.”

Hist. of Abbeys.

ment, “ Nothing conduceth more to the settling of the peace of this nation (which is desired of all good men), nor to the honour of ous religion, and the propagation thereof, chan an universal agreement in the public worship of Almighty God."

ment, the constitution, and laws, fall with it. All is anarchy and confusion. Amidst the clamour ofits successful enemies; amidst the tumults of civil discord and distraction; amidst the conflicts of contending par. ties, now no longer united in one object, but eager to divide the spoil; each jealous of the other, and aiming at that power which their combined efforts had been employed to depress, the voice of religion and law, of authority and order, is not to be heard. The liberties of the people before so well secured; their property before protected by just and equal laws; their personal safety then defended against all the encroachments of power; are at the mercy of tyrants, now in the possession of power which they know not how to employ, but to the purposes of plunder and oppression.

" In the struggle for power and pre-eminence, tyrant is succeeded by tyrant; one party is overpowered by another; now this, now that description is at the head of affairs, distinguished more by their denomination than by their tolerance or attachment to the principles of good government and peace. And when these days shall be shortened; when years, perhaps, of anarchy have passed, and rivers of blood have fowed, one or other of the contending parties shall fix itself in the seat of power ; and, taught by the calamities of past experience, shall have recourse, not to the mild laws and restraints of their former constitution in Church and State, but to the strong measures of coercion, to fortify and maintain the superiority which it holds.

* Such is at all times the progress of religious dissention, and so rest. less its zeal for its own object or party, that nothing will stop its course, or satisfy its ambition, but the erection of its own upon the ruins of the fallen Church.

" Whatever the individuals may think of their own spirit, intention, or the tendency of their separation; however distant the object at first may be from the view or thoughts of many who join themselves to the ranks of dissention, when they have proceeded so far, their passions be. come heated, and their feelings interested in the cause: and when their numbers are become sufficiently strong to dispute their claims; when the crisis comes in which the united strength of its opponents shall be able to effect the depression and fall of the Church, or shall encourage them to took to this as an event within their reach, evils of the most alarming magnitude may be expected: the peace of the country will be sacrificed to the attainment of their object; the frame of government will be shaken; the constitution will be trampled under foot; and all the horrors of civil war will be in the train of consequences which these unhappy schisms will have been the means to introduce.

" It is therefore not without good reason that wise states and govern. ments have taken so much care to guard against religious schism, and to promote a uniformity of worship *; sometimes by provisions that have trenched upon the rights of private judgment; though too often the occasion may have required measures much stronger to secure the peace and safety of the state than may, when the cause is forgotten, appear to have been altogether necessary, or perfectly consistent with the principles of religious liberty.

Preamble to the Act of Uniformity. And even the enemies of that Uniformity which the Church endeavours to preserve, had no sooner succeeded in destroying one, than they attempted to establish another of their own.-" To bring the Churches of God in the three Kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and Uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of Church government, directory for worship and catechizing; that we and our posterity after us may as brethren live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us" -" that the Lord may be one, and his name one in the three kingdoms.”Solemn League and Covenant.


" When the claims of conscience have been carried to such an extent, or have been so abused to the purposes of interest or ambition, as to endanger the public peace, and it has been found necessary to restrain or limit them, it is not easy so to define their bounds as to protect the national establishment on one hand, and not to afford occasion of complaint on the other.

" Whatever might be the legal right to a separation of worship, it would be a question of grave consideration in the mind of every serious Christian, whether the difference of opinion in point of doctrine or mode be of such serious import as imperiously to require or need a separation, which is in its consequences so hurtful to the cause of religion, and so injurious to the public peace. Those errors must be very great indeed in the national creed or worship, and of essential concern to their salva. tion, which will justify a schism that will obstruct the ends of the gospel, lay the foundation of jealousies and uncharitable affections in the hearts of its professors, and eventually operate to the overthrow of the Church by law established, and therewith the State, which would be involved in its ruin.

“ The friend of religion and peace will consider, before he makes a division in the Church, the serious evils that arise out of such causes, and will ask himself whether, on this ground only, schism be not a sin ; and whether, as a Christian or a subject, a good member of the Church of Christ, or a good member of the community, he ought to separate himself from its communion, or give any countenance to such divisions. For whoever does unnecessarily make such a schism, or con. tribute to widen the breach already made, by adding to the number of those who are the opposers of national unity, will not find it easy to ex. culpate himself from all the consequences to which it leads. Those con. sequences should be well weighed against trifling objections, unsettled dispositions, or even small advantages that might be expected in point of edification, by leaving their own Church to follow other teachers, whom they may fancy to be better gifted than their own.

And every man should be able to answer to himself this simple but important question before he ventures to incur the charge of unnecessary schism: Ought I, as a conscientious Christian, or as a good member of society, to divide the Church of Christ for so trilling an objection, if any such there be ; or for the sake of any little gratification or gain to my. self, if such I expect to find, by following other teachers than those whom the constitution of the Christian Church, and the laws of the country in which I life, have provided for me?

“ Though not restricted by legal provisions, or confined by penal laws to the established Church, considerations of expedience, and regard to its peace, and the general edification of its members, will have great weight in the mind of every well-wisher to religion and his country, to restrain the wanton exercise of a power which the mild temper of our laws may have left to their own discretion.

Too wide already is the breach, and better will it become the friend of religion to heal, as much as possible, the sores thereof, and to unite the divided members in the bond of charity and peace, than to make the breach still wider, by adding to the number of those who are already too much divided in their opinions and affections. Unity of faith, and uniformity of worship, it has been seen, are not matters of light concern,


« PoprzedniaDalej »