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Review of New Publications.
Strictures on Subjects chiefly relating to the established Relia
gion and the Clergy; in two Letters to his Patron, from
a Country Clergyman. Svo. pp. 117. 35. 6d. Rivingtons. TTERY seldom have we had the pleasure of meeting, in
the course of our labours, with a pamphlet so intereste ing in its matter, and so powerfully written, as the one which now lies before us. It is at this momentous pericd a most seasonable production, and may be julily pronounced an alarum’ to awaken the members of the eitablishment, whether lay or cierical, from the lethargy which is 100 prevalent among them.
The author goes forth in the adamantine armour of truth against the pernicious principles which, for several years past, have been increasing among us under the fostering in. fluence of an unchristian liberality, and by the encouragement of names of great weight and consequence. He points out the evils which have resulted, and are now become enormous, from that latitudinarian spirit in some eminent members of the establishment, which has played fast and loose with the doctrines and discipline of the Church,' and which has promoted schism and diffent from that which ought to be the centre and circle of unity. When we plead for conformity and orthodoxy, the Disseniers refer us to the writings of Paley and Blackburne, Hoadley and Clarke, as if we were to be silenced' because some high characters among ourselves have abandoned the principles of that Church on whose emoluments they fed, and whose dignities covered
chemists, and very elaborate linguists, have become Arians, Socinians, Deists, or of any profession, to which self-conceit, united to perverted knowledge, can lead. What then? are the mysteries of the Christian faith to be measured by quantities and angles ? or to bę graduated by the scale of Aristotle or of Plato? Do the truths of God, the redemption of a fallen world, the divinity of the Redeemer, and of the Holy Spirit, and our duties as members of the Christian covenant, depend on skill in geometry and literary criticism: Were neither learning nor common sense ever known, or are they no where to be found, excepring among the disciples of Arius and Socinus ?-And, moreover, among all these great pames, are there ANY TWo who unite in all points of belief? and do they not generally differ as much from each other in their systems, as they do from the established Church? yet we hear them for ever calling for toleration.- Is toleration refused ? let the whole nation answer; and at the same time mark how its restless claimants grant it. For the established religion of their country, and for the clergy who are zealous in its support, they have exhausted the terms of abhorrence and contempt. The doctrives of the Church are represented as Popish, or as Calvinistical, or as Arminian, or as corrupt perverșions of Gospel truths, or as unauthorised opinions of ignorant men: and the discipline of the Church, however neglected and despised, is described as a most intolerable burthen, imposed by priest-craft on, human liberty. Such men as Hooker, bishop Andrews, Medc, Jeremy Taylor, Pearson, Bull, and Leslie, are men of narrow modes of thinking, unenlightened by philosophy. and addicted to superstition; men, of whom it may almost be said, that, as divines, they are as much superior to the Sykeses, the Hoadleys, the Blackburns, and the Wakefields, as the Gospel of Christ is to the Koran of Mohammed.”
The following strain of reasoning is forcible; and the character of Mr. Pitt is admirably sketched and happily introduced.
“ The ATHEISTICAL philosopher of France gave no trifling specimen of his sagacity in the management of human passions, by the well-known axiom, that " words are things:" and things they have been, of such force, as to shake to the centre, almost every establishment, against which their battery has been directed. This is infidel philosophy. We have another sort of philosophy (to which I shall not give a name) now very common among us, which seems, by reversing the axiom, to be in a fair way of accomplishing a similar achievement. In this philosophy " things are words." Whether there be any union among the principals of these separate schools, must be determined by their progressI only mark what is visible. Philosophy, philanthropy, sensibility, liberality, humanity, liberty, forbearance; these words have been
woo0000-00000 Oppo Wor
things. The king, the laws, the church, the altar, the priesto hood, schism, heresy, sedition. These THİNGS have been .WORDS: and it is observable, that like Æsop's traveller, the philosophers on both sides blow hot and cold, at pleasure, on their respective axioms; and ring as many changes as the nine figures, in all their combinations, can produce. Which of these systems is blessed with the greatest number of adherents I know not; but imagine, that in this nation, the non-descript is most followed; Lecause, whether truly or not, the disciples and masters glory in their strength. But at all events, the morals and the peace of our country seem to be equally in a prosperous way, whether these philosophers act separately, or in conjunction.
66 The human mind and heart seem much on a par, when under the opposite influence of superstition, or of infidel philosophy.-One s sees more devils than vast hell can hold;" and the other sees nothing but the dictates of private judgment: but all rule and authority are equally disclaimed by both. In this, however, they differ ; a common unbeliever may be convinced: but spiritual pride is perfectly irreclaimable. He who has been taught to follow nature, may, by reason, be brought to see the necessity of a divine revelation : he who shall have found the insufficiency, and the inconvenience of false principles, may be, and often is. converted to truth : but who shall set right the wild absurdities of him who clothes the truth in the garb of insanity : who asserts a claim to supernatural communications: who calls nonsense the dictates of divine inspiration : and who appeals, for a proof of his faith, to his own experience ?
“ In reasoning with an unbeliever, whose understanding is not totally darkened by a vicious, and profligate life, you have less difficulty in one material point, viz. in the uniformity of the opi. nions to be rectified, and of the errors to be reclaimed.-But with enthusiasts you have an endless variety of discordant opinions and maxims to confute and to correct; and when you shall have threaded all the mazes of their bewildering doctrines : when you shall have disarmed them of all their weapons: they escape you under the invulnerable ægis of their experiences and their feelings.
Et ni docta comes tenues sine corpore vitas
Admoneat volitare cava sub imagine formæ, . . Irruat, et frustra ferro diverberet umbras. “ Among these discordant. philosophers, on which party soever the claim of precedence may be conferred, we may however trace, through the jarring elements of which their systems are composed, an apparent identity of objects. The infidel acts by the rights of man; the saints by the spirit; what those rights are, and what that spirit may be, they cannot indeed tell : but they know the words, and the words are certainly things. If the infidel declare that sin is a mere bug-bear; the saint will tell you that he
can not cannot commit it. If the infidel say " there is no God;" the saint will make him the author of evil: if the infidel talk of neces sity; the saint will give you his experience of absolute reprobation and unqualified election ; if the infidel say that the Church of England is a nuisance; the saint will agree that it ought to be pulled down for the dominion of the elect; and if the infidel re. vile the laws of his country as oppressive and tyrannical, the saint can tell you that he is not under the law, but under gruce. In almost all cases the premises of these parties, however worded, are followed by the same conclusions: their docirines and their purposes exactly tally. The establishment is equally neglected and contemned, reviled and insulted by both; and genuine religion, and all order, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are equally trodden under foot.
“A very few years have elapsed since this nation was saved from complete subversion, by the vigorous measures of the great. est minister that ever directed the councils of an English sovereign. Neither the raving nor the menaces of faction could terrify, nor the paltry whining of liberality seduce, his manly mind, from as. serting and enforcing the authority of the laws, and the obedience due to that authority. Firm in his spirit, as wise in his plans, he disdainer alike to submit to, or to compromise with, sedition and treason, and he left the state secure: and secure it will remain, while his measures shall be copied, from foreign invasion, and from what has ever been more dangerous, republican madness at home. That the Church is now in as great danger as the whole country was in those days, I have not sufficient reason to believe : but, that it is free from danger, it would argue little wisdom to assert. Men may, if they please, shut their eves against approaching evil; but, when the mine is perfectly ready, it will not sail of bursting, from the want of a hand to fire the train. There is not in England one man, whose faculties have not been besotted by faction, who can be ignorant of the calamities, fron which the , whole nation was, under God's blessing, rescued, by the vigilance and the vigour of the government: and there is not one friend to the Church, who can contemplate the preparations, now combining against her in so many quarters, without wishing for measures, very different indeed from any that have hitherto been adopted, for her protection and preservation.”
On the claims of the Church, to some regard from minif ters of state and members of the legislature, it is observed that ; . : - It might perhaps be unreasonable to expect that politicians in general should display any very prominent marks of attachment to religious duties, or that they who in the language of the poet, “ circumvent God," should entertain a superstitious reverence for religious establishments : but still, as the established Church does
: not interfere with the views of politicians when in power; and, as the thraldom under which liberty groans, and the manner in which tender consciences are blistered by the fires of our persecuting church, are subjects for the display of that eloquence by which power is sometimes gained ; the Church might expect, from the most liberal men in authority, at least as much attention to the combinations against her, as is always paid to a combination of journeymen tailors against their masters. I mean not, in this place, to allude to the maintenance of the clergy; but, considering the Church as a body corporate, endowed with lawful privileges, I would presume to insinuate, with all due respect to trade and handicraft, that her rights are not less worthy of the protection and of the respect of statesmen, than even those of the most respectable company in the city of London.
« Whether the universal Church of Christ be the pillar of the truth, is not a political question, and therefore beneath the consideration of the liberal and enlightened politicians of the day: but whether the particular Church of England be one of the firmest pillars of the English monarchy; whether, as a principal part of the English constitution, it ought to be maintained with care; whether it can be preserved from " neglect and contempt," and consequent downfall;these are political questions, and in: volve the existence of all our liberties and laws, and our govern, ment. It has been observed of us by foreigners, that “though we have the purest and best constituted Church in the world, no people was ever so negligent of its religious establishment, so indifferent to its doctrines, its rules, and its preservation, as we: that, though our civil constitution is so incorporated with the church, that they cannot be separated without the destruction of both, in this particular we desert common sense, by conniving at every infraction on its rites, its ordinances, and its ministers; and that, instead of asserting the priority and the obedience which a lawful establishment ought to enforce, wc grant almost unconditional licence to every innovation in religion."
“ With respect to the truth of these heavy charges, which are so disgraceful to our national reputation, and to the wisdom of our legislature, that must be proved, if it can be proved, by the history of the country: but, if it should be proved, either there must be the grossest defect in our laws themselves; or there has been the most unpardonable supineness in those who were bounden by their stations to see the laws executed.
" The wisdom of our forefathers respecting civil liberty, is a subject of continual admiration. But when we compare the laws, by which they guarded the religious establishment, with some customs, which render it a question whether we have an establishment or not; if those customs be right, our ancestors will appear to have been wofully deficient in ecclesiastical legislation, Certain it is, from their practice, that they did not foresee the advantages which have been discovered, and are so confidently