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TO THE EDITOR.
March 9, 1801. T was with surprise that I observed in your last Appendix, and in your upon my letters inserted in your Miscellaneous department, the year
before last. I have waited to see whether more would appear in the subsequent Number, that I might, in that case, have replied at once to the whole; as I do not wish to intrude upon the attention of your readers more frequently than it becomes necessary. For a similar reason I fail confine my present remarks to those passages in which your Correspondents honour me with their particular notice.
Verax (page 98 of your present volume) terms the notes, which you annexed to a letter from me, inserted in your seventeenth Number, but justly merited.” I confess, Sir, that they did not appear to me entitled to either of these cpithets. I have never complained of the manner in which you have treated
communications; nor shall I think myself authorised to do so, while
act with the same fairness as hitherto, in allowing me to submit' my own arguments to the judgement of your readers, whether or not you think it necessary to oppose them. You know, Sir, that my first address to you tended solely to vindicate the practice of village-preaching from a charge of sedition. I have placed that vindication upon the ground that no instance has been, nor, I believe, can be, produced, in which that practice has been perverted to seditious purposes. In your annotations upon iny letter, you had the candour to insert the Reverend Author's renunciation of the only direct attempt which had been made to substantiate such a charge. I remained therefore perfectly satisfied that the argument should rest in that state; and as I was by no means offended at your declaration of lentin ents contrary to my own, upon some points in which it is impoffible that Churchmen and Dissenters can be of the same'mind, I thought it unnecefsary to trouble you with a reply. On this subject I shall only add, that Verax may be assured of my having consulted no individual upon what I communicated to you; and that my realon for Ipeaking of Mr. Wollaston's situation as a mortifying one, was becaule I should have felt it so, if I had rashly advanced against any one an acculation that was proved to be groundlefs; and more efpecially as the accusation was of so heinous a nature.
Verax says, that my doctrine of the divine Operation of the Holy Spirit," is “that unless a Minister can tell the very inttani he saw or perceived the influence of the Holy Spirit, and was commanded by it to gn forth and preach, he is not true minister of the Gospel of Christ.” Thould Verax impute such an opinion to me?
Has he a Dhadow f ground for the imputation from any thing I have sent to you? If not, how does this palpable afperfion agree with his cloling declaration, that “his object is not controverty, but to give a plain ftatement. facts as On the contrary, Sir, the fact is, that I abhor such a doctrine, and esteein all who hold it to be rank enthusiasts. Let nie add another fact, innich is, that I have never yet met with a Diljenter who held the opinion that Verax attributes to me.
As no other part of Verax's letter applies to any thing I have written, I pass on to that of W. A. in your Appendix, p. 413 (or 525), &c. The
only instance I have known of Calvinistic Diflenters joining with a democratic party in a book iociety, was at a time, when, upon the dissolution of such a lociety by a political fermeni (occasioned by a democratic churchman and not by any of the disenting members), the latter formed a new society, into which they would gladly have admitted the most loyal of the former members, but did not think it proper to exclude persons of a contrary sentiment, if they did not intrude it upon the body. As to Dissenters' “ fupporting the democratic candidates at the last general election," I apprehend that particular connections may have led to a variety of conduct in different counties and boroughs. In that county where I reside, both the members are elder branches of two noble families, friendly to the happy Constitution which we enjoy, and perfe&tly alienated from democracy. A gentleman who formerly represented the county, and had acted with the minority, was advised to consult me, at the period of the general election before the laft, upon the question, whether he might expect the support of the Diffenters in the county; and, upon the opinion which was given him to the contrary, he judged it proper to decline the contest.
W. A. proposes to me the question, whether the Evangelical Magazine does not contain an attack upon Episcopacy! He says, that he will not insult the “ perfect knowledge" ! professed to have of that publication, by pointing out the pages to which he alludes; but I must really give him that trouble, or else remain at a loss, as I now am, to conjecture what paper, in any
of the Numbers, he can charge with an attempt fo repugnant to the principle and general character of that Magazine.
The fame Correspondent has given me a talk far beyond my ability to execute, when he requires me to explain how a person can confiftently hold the doctrine of the Divine Atonement, and yet reject that of the Trinity. I know that some Arians profess to do this; but I think them inconfijtent, However, W. A. must be mistaken in one part of the account he has given ; as no person who rejeéts the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, can be a Calvinift. It is a contradiction of terms.
He asks whether the principle, " that no civil magistrate can have any right, authority, or power, over the consciences and religion of men, has no relation to politics ?" I think it has none; because I consider politics to be properly distinêt from religion, “My kingdom,” said our Lord Jesus, " iş not of this world." I do not see, otherwise, how the conduct of Daniel and his three brethren, in resisting the decree of Nebuchadnezzar; or that of our Lord himself, and the Apostles ; can be vindicated from political criminality.
In reply to W. A.'s postscript, I have to say that I meant no evasion in afferting that the Calvinistic Dilsenters have no connections in France. I verily believe that no Calvinistic Dissenter had any connection with personşi in France; and W. A. must permit me to retain this belief till he affords me the means of ascertaining what he states as a fact, by naming the Minister, and pointing out the place and time, he has allụded to. In like manner, ! still profess my belief that the important do&trines I mentioned, are univer: sally maintained by persons who hold religious assemblies in villages. I too much disapprove of W. A.'s insinuations against the fincerity of a personal stranger, to imitate his conduct in this respect. I do not impute to him intentional falsehood, as he has done to me; but it is my heart's desire that God may forgive him, and all who are laying to the charge of real Christians, crimes which they abhor; as I am fully persuaded that such calumniators
know not what they do. What I have attempted is, to vindicate persons, whom (as God knows my heart !), I believe to be innocent of what is inputed to them. If in doing this, I have fallen into any mistake, I shall, as foon as convinced of my error, readily and openly retract it. Hitherto I have not seen occasion to relinquish a lingle statement that I have advanced : but I pledge myself to enquire into the truth of every affertion made by my opponents, if they will, either publicly or privately, communicate to me the necessary means of investigation, and to lay the result before your readers, whether it tends to support, or to overturn, the judgment I have formed.
STRICTURES ON SCHISMATICS.
TO THE EDITOR.
markable for its uniform attachment to the established religion; and which, excepting a small assembly of moderate dilsenters, has never been disturbed by the heresies of ignorant fanatics; but within these few months a 'meeting has been established by a Mr. B........., a man of confiderable property in Lincolnshire, from which I dread the most diftreffing confe. quences. I must observe that this man was educated at Cambridge, and was remarkable, while there, only for his stupidity and methodism. It is true he is followed, at present, only by a few of the lowest and most igno. rant of the people; but this is the class upon whom his blasphemous rant and extravagant nonsense, is likely to make most impression. His property and connexions render him the more dangerous man. One of the most specious arguments which he uses, and which is calculated to work upon the minds of the ignorant, is “ that he does not come there to preach the Gospel like hireling priests.” This is an argument' as false in its concław fion, as it is dangerous in its tendency–He might learn from that Gospel which he professes to teach that “ the labourer is worthy his reward ;" and if the church was to be fupplied only by such independant individuals as chose to volunteer their services, how would religion be supported : be. fides, is it possible that the doctrines of the Scriptures should be as well understood and explained by those who are preachers only from caprice or mistaken zeal, which they foolishly call inspiration, as by those who have by continual study and “searching the Scriptures" qualified themselves for the high and important office ? All extravagant fhew of piety is suspici
The christian charity of this immaculate fect may be judged of by the following circumstance which occurred last evening. During the preaching of Mr. B- a young woman who had been converted, by his endeavours, to falvation, from the spirit of her enthufialm, fainted in the barn.
This was what rejoiced the holy man--he elevated his voice, he beat his breast with double transport; and denying assistance to this unfortunate girl suffered no one to lift her from the ground; till some of thole at the door, whole curiosity had drawn them there, forced themselves into the place. I should observe that, one of tbe most rigid of his followers has, since his conversion, attempted a rape upon a girl of twelve years old. But what I want more immediately to enquire is, Mr. Editor, whether these itinerant bablers are justified in abusing the service of the churches,
and in their violent philippics, which they pour forth, against the regular clergy-For so this dealer out of damnation, and absolver of fins, (for he also grants absolution,) endeavours, by disgracing the members of the establifhed religion, to draw his deluded hearers to his practice of devotion. The law of the land, I know, allows them the exercise of their religious tenets, but does it grant them the licence of decrying the established religion of the realm, and holding up its ministers to contempt.
But, Sir, would not the exertions of the clergy crush this heretic feet; and should not their utmost endeavours be used to this end. It is not sufficient that they do merely their duty, while these men compass sea and land to make profelytes ;” and while they delude the people from the service of the church by filling their minds with a mad enthusianic zeal which they miscall devotion. In order to propagate their opinions, their meetings are held fix times in the week, when, perhaps, the divine service is perfoșmed in the churches but once, or not more than twice. It will readily be allowed that, in a populous town, many would be found to attend a lecture on a Sunday evening, who have now no other alternative but fitting at home or going to these meetings; and I am of opinion that this practice would act a powerful antidote to the dangerous doctrines of these busy and ignorant zealots.
Although probably this letter contains nothing new, I hope for some attention to it for the sincerity of my motives : mine are the sentiments of one zealous for the established religion of the country against the principles of ignorant enthusiasts and schismatics. Stamford.
THE TEST ACTS.
TO THE EDITOR.
HE account you have given us of the measures intended by the late
miniftry to have been taken, with respect to a most essential part of the British Constitution, has greatly appalled, I should think, every loyal man that read it. It shews us the inftability of human projects; and that we must, reflecting on the mingled tissue of events, look to lomething more ftable to give duration to the venerable fabric than the ingenuity of an individual, or the fincerity of courtiers. It is certain that kind of timid policy is by no means singular, which leads men of weak minds to shrink at the outset of their measures before trivial difficulties; or submit, at length, to a blustering faćtion even sometimes at the very moment when it is reduced to its last franétic exertions. It was something in this way we lost our colonies. The infant state was foolishly encouraged by the waverings of parental authority till it deipiled the rod, which, if exercised with firmnels in due time, would have chastised it into immediate submission. I mean not to enter upon the question of right or wrong: but I argue that in all cases, of oppolition to a fyftematic conspiracy, the measures taken cught either to be supported with the most determined resolution from beginning to end, or never entered upon at all. Vhen the die is once thrown in such cases the opposite to determined firmnes is sure to terminate in difafter. Mr. Pitt was. in Ireland, successful only becaule his conduct was firm, and perfilted in; but if relying on political finefle, he begins to talk of tampering with the faciion in England he will ruin all. They will give
him credit for no better principle than fear; will act upon their own hypothefis; and, in their future attacks, avail themselves of the advantage which he inadvertently gives them. Is the fame game to be played as in James the Second's time? I thought his policy had been completely out of date, Are the Catholics to be emancipated from the idea that their natural attachment to an absolute monarchy will courteract the democratic tendency of the dissenters? The experiment has once been tried, and we ought to take warning from the relult. I hope the people of England are as firmly hostile to the inroads of absolute power as to democracy ; unless the faction should absolutely compell them to seek an asylum from the latter, in that last fad refuge to all well disposed peaceable fubjects. "It is almost certain that less wavering measures at the beginning of the contelt would have prevented the wickedness, and waste of human bloud, which terminated in a much more arbitrary government than the monarchy, in the case of Charles the First: and had it not been for undetermined meatures, the unfortunate Louis would have worn his crown to a later date. The truth of these as. fumptions is fully proved by matters of fact which have resulted from the last melancholy initance. The most outrageous Jacobins, though numer, ous as the heads of. Hydra, are at this moment cringing under the iyranny of the Corsican adventurer, who posielles not a single claim, nor one requisite for his present exalted station, that we are acquainted with, but intrepidity; while a straggling horde of the same description are actually attempting to bully the government of this nation, supported, as I trust it is, by the confidence of the people, into measures destructive of its very existence.
Spectatum admissi ufum teneatis amici? The French, notwithstanding the general deformity of their measures, and crookedness of their policy, have afforded us some hints how these matters may be much better adjusted than they have hitherto been with us.
Fas est ab hofte doceriAnd though heaven forbid that we should ever adopt their summary baptisms and execution en mafie, much leis their more brutal, and lingering cruelties ; yet, I do acknowledge the wish without reserve, that the executive part of our government was intrusted with the powers to detect every active traitor in the kingdom ; and when detected, to lend him, for any thing we need then fear, to recruit the armies of France. Nor do I think, that by measures strong as thele, we should lose a single man who is likely in his future life to be of iervice in any peaceable community. At all events, it is mercy to the world, when a member of society, in other refpects useful, becoines fo infatuated by party principle and ambition, as to be actually dangerous, to let him let k tome different situation where there can be little or no scope for his irritability and ambition.
Waving for the preteni, however, all further considerations of policy, what offence has a mild establishment, which has not only been a fólid ornament to, but the firmelt colunin that lupports, the venerable fabric of our constitution, committed, that the should, alıer a century of utility and respect, be consigned in her old age to the mercilets lands of rude, un. feeling innovators ? Ilas her political power been an object of either envy or fear? Has the of late lo deeply iinbrued ter hands in the blood if martyrs slain,” that humanity turns away in disgult from the fad relics of her narrow and inveterate bigotry ? Or has she ever been remarkabie for a