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ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
VIATOR: J. W. E.; W. R. A.; B. C. S.; J. B. R.; MISCELLANEOUS; J. W.;
J. J.; T. C. ; M. ; CHRISTIANUS; are under consideration. We have received various communications respecting the Bible-Society Controversy,
but have been unwilling to occupy further space with it at present. Even to admit the preceding article on the “ Trinitarian” Bible Society, we have enlarged our Number, that those of our readers who have no taste for this unhappy discussion might not be mulcted of their usual quantity of matter. We have also made up our arrear of New Publications.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY. We present, as usual, with much pleasure, the Monthly Extracts of Correspondence. The dissentients from the Society having now an ample arena elsewhere for their discussions, we doubt not that, by the blessing of God, the public meeting of this invaluable institution will be, as heretofore, a scene of Christian affection, and of peace. and joy in the Holy Ghost. After the recent publications of Mr. Gurney, Mr. Scott, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Jay, the Hon. B. Noel, Mr. Kempthorne, and others, added to those which we have before mentioned, the question may be considered as settled. We should gladly notice several of these publications at some length, and will even yet, if thought desirable ; but we are unwilling to obtrude the subject further at present upon our readers, and hope that it will not be found necessary: Mr. Noel's pamphlet, besides the force of his arguments, is the more valuable as being the triumph of a conscientious, well-judging mind over its own first persuasions; and a powerful and Christian statement of his present views, without one word of parade, egotism, or apology. We never had a single line of controversy with Mr. Noel, though he seconded Mr. Gordon's motion; we only felt pain (see our last vol. p. 512) that from “such a man as this excellent and highly talented clergyman, whom we esteemed most affectionately for his zeal, and piety, and diligent pastoral labours, and amiable and ingenuous spirit” -such were our words—we should " for one moment” differ in opinion; but it has been only for a moment. If we have ever “used sharpness of speech" in this discussion, it has been only where there seemed to us an unfair and factious spirit; we might be wrong to use it even there; but the conscientious difficulties of pious and candid inquirers stand on far other grounds: and now that violent contest, as we trust, has died away, and the evils of strife and schism are duly felt, we have no doubt but that truly Christian men will either unite together or agree to pursue each his own path in godliness and peace. We already see in the late jarrings a re-action, which we trust and believe will lead to a renewal and increase of brotherly love, and striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
We copy the following paragraphs from Mr. Noel. Having affectionately exhorted the members of the church of Christ to peace and unity, he replies to fifteen objections urged against the Bible Society, in regard to its non-exclusion of Socinians. We copy the first six objections and answers.
“ I. It appears from 2 Cor. vi. 14—18, and other passages, that we should avoid the society of heretics, and therefore we should expel Unitarians from the Bible Society.
“ ANSWER.- From the same passage it appears that we should avoid the company of those that are unrighteous, or devoted to pleasure, or guilty of idolatry, as much as the company of heretics. Besides which, other passages to the full as strong and as unequivocal as any which forbid association with Unitarians, forbid our association with the immoral' (2 Thess. ii. 6. I Cor. v. 9-12,) with the unjust, (Matt. xviii. 17,) with those who live in any open habit of sin, (2 Thes. iii. 14. 2 Tim. iii. 5,) with those that create schisms, (Rom. xvi. 17,) and with all heretics of every kind, (1 Tim. vi. 3–5,) therefore, all these also should be expelled from the Bible Society.
“ II. The separation from Unitarians in the Bible Society is practicable, from others it is not; we should therefore obey these precepts as far as we can.
“ ANSWER.–The separation from the wicked in general is commanded in the same terms as the separation from Unitarians, therefore the same sort of separation is intended. If one sort of separation is not intended with respect to others, that sort of separation is not intended with respect to Unitarians. But separation from the wicked in general in Bible Societies, is impracticable : then it was not intended by these texts, for God does not command impossibilities ; and if not, then those texts do not mean that we should in such an undertaking as this separate from Unitarians. Either separate from none of the ungodly, if these texts do not command it, or separate from all, if these texts do; or if the Society must lead to the breach of these commands, then let it cease to exist. But do not capriciously say we will obey them with respect to one class, we will disobey them with respect to all the rest.
“III. It is only unnecessary union which can be meant by these and similar texts. The union with Unitarians is unnecessary, because we can carry on the work without them, and therefore, it is forbidden; but with others it is necessary, and therefore lawful.
“ ANSWER.-In what sense is it necessary to join with other ungodly persons ? Only in this sense, that it is a direct means of doing good. In what sense is the Bible Society itself necessary ? It is a means of doing good. If then this union with unbelievers in the Bible Society is likewise a direct means of doing good, it is, in the same sense necessary; and if there are not other distinct reasons against it, it is lawful.
“IV. Are there any instances of such union sanctioned in Scripture ?
“ ANSWER.-- Why did our Lord eat with Pharisees and Publicans—why were the Corinthian Christians permitted to eat with Heathens-why did the Jews receive money from a Heathen, with which to build their temple—why did Daniel take office under a Heathen?
“ In all these cases the necessity, without which the association would have been unlawful, lay apparently in the opportunity to do good; the same necessity exists to sanction this junction with Unitarians.
“ V. If we might join them in common works, at least we must not in any work which is religious.
« Answer. --Certainly we may not join them in any work, which involves the expression of their opinions, and therefore implies our sanction of them, but in all others (except there be distinct reasons shown) we may; To build the temple was a work as religious as to distribute Bibles, and if the Jews might seek the patronage of a Heathen to effect the one, we may admit co-operation with Unitarians to effect the other.
“ VI. How can the blessing of God rest upon Unitarian contributions ? “ ANSWER.—How could it rest upon those of a Heathen ? "
BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY. The Quarterly Extracts contain various important and interesting statements relative to the progress of “ Scriptural Schools” in Greece, Malacca, and Bagdad, as well as at home, with suggestions for their formation.
In the Bible Society Letters in our last two Numbers.
Page 142, line 28 : for freely, read fully.
144, 29 : for communication, read crimination.
HENRY MARTYN'S FAREWELL SERMON.
For the Christian Observer. MR
R. Sargent, in his ever-interesting Memoir of Henry Martyn, says
that after delivering a farewell sermon to the congregation of St. John's, Bedford Row, upon Acts xx. 32, he, on the 8th of July (1805), left London for Portsmouth, and “ such was the acuteness of his feelings during this journey, that he fainted and fell into a convulsive fit at the inn where he slept on the road; a painful intimation to those friends who were with him of the poignancy of that grief which he endeavoured to repress and conceal.” Many readers of Martyn's life have doubtless wished that this farewell discourse could be recovered, that they might know what were the instructions and consolations with which he closed his brief but peculiarly faithful and successful ministry in his native land. We are happy to have it in our power to gratify this wish; for though this discourse is stated not to have been penned at length, or to be recoverable among the beloved writer's papers, yet the following full report of it was taken down, as we are informed, in short-hand, by an attached friend, and, after sleeping many years in manuscript, is now affectionately presented to those who love his memory, and desire to follow him as he followed Christ. The mention of the pulpit in which it was preached, and the destination of the preacher, will remind most of our readers of another beloved and valued name; and call forth many an earnest prayer and feeling of holy sympathy for that Right Reverend prelate, who, by the blessing of God, for so many years filled with such signal honour and usefulness that pulpit, and who is setting out in the spirit of another Martyn for the same scene of labour, though with a far heavier weight of care and responsibility, and we would trust that his exertions will be attended with kindred, yea, far larger, results. But we check our pen. It is enough to know that all is in the hands of Him who is the Mighty Counsellor, and who makes all things to work together for the glory of his Name, and the good of his church. To Him we again commit our valued and beloved friend.
Previous to his sermon Martyn offered up the following prayer :
“O Almighty God! God of the spirits of all flesh, who art holy, just, and good, we desire to prostrate ourselves in the dust before thee as miserable sinners ; we beseech thee to save us in thine own appointed way; to lead us to thine only dear Son and find him the true foundation ; give us grace not to stumble at that stumbling stone, but to find him the power of God to our salvation. Let these ordinances, we beseech thee, O God! be so blest by thy Spirit that we may grow in the knowledge of Christ and faith in him, and in conformity to him, till at last, through his grace, we attain CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 366.
to everlasting life. These mercies we ask in thy dear Son's name, in whose words we further call upon thee : Our Father,” &c.
Sermon. “In Acts xx. 32, it is thus written :—' And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.'
“ The anxiety of ministers for the future welfare of their people, and the regard which they feel for almost all their concerns, are greatly beyond the conception of those who are not in the ministry : ‘Now we live,' says St. Paul, if ye stand fast in the Lord ;' signifying that when, by their inconsistent conduct, they gave him reason to be in doubt of any of them, it was as painful as death to him. Such extraordinary sensibility for the good of others appeared to persons at that time probably, as it has to too many now, too great to be true; it seemed, perhaps, to them, to be affectation, to be put on as something which became him, rather than the genuine feelings of his heart; but upon one occasion you hear him solemnly declaring God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus
Christ. Men might hesitate to believe all that he expressed, but he could appeal to the Searcher of hearts himself to attest the truth of it. To a heart of such tenderness as his, so alive to the apprehension of danger when it was real, it must have been a very affecting circumstance to take his last farewell of a church which, like the Ephesians, was in its infancy : it was, however, a relief to his mind that he could by faith commend its members to God, and the word of his grace. The words of the text suggest to us the consideration of three things :
“ I. The danger of never obtaining salvation, even after we have begun to seek it. This is implied in the text. When a dying parent commends his child to the care and protection of a guardian, it is because he is aware of the danger to which he is exposed : St. Paul, therefore, by commending the Ephesians to the grace of God, thereby intimates his apprehension of their danger, and whatever were the causes of his fear respecting them, the same, no doubt, may be equally the cause of our fear respecting ourselves.
I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection,' says the holy Apostle, * lest by any means, after having preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' When the inspired Apostles speak thus of themselves, when holy Paul professes himself to be in danger, and that from the weakest enemy, namely, his own body, it becomes us, brethren, to hear and to fear. God undoubtedly can preserve his own people, as we shall have occasion hereafter to shew, but that by no means prevents every one of us from being reasonably afraid. On the contrary, there is hardly a surer mark of being preserved by God than the exercise of a cautious fear ; yea, it is one of God's methods to preserve his people, by their fear of falling. You will remember many of the parables of our Lord, which were intended to forewarn us of the possibility of never obtaining salvation after beginning to seek it. From the Parable of the Sower we see three persons who receive the word with joy, yet endure but for a season, when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, by and bye they are offended ; there are some who receive the word among thorns; that is, those who hear the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choak the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
"Our Lord, by thus stating the fact that many, after receiving the word and producing some of the effects of it, bring no fruit to perfection, designed to put us on our guard; he has signified the existence of danger. Some of the sources of danger are here specified; namely, the fear of tribulation, and the love of the world. It sometimes happens that persons when they see others turning to God whom they love and respect, and whom they are fond of imitating, say, as Ruth to Naomi, though not with the same resolution, · Where thou goest I will go, where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.' And accordingly they endeavour to speak in the same manner and to be like them; but the event discovers that their acquaintance with religion was only superficial, for by and bye when the novelty of the thing is passed away, and the profession of serious religion seems attended with unpleasant circumstances, they go back to their former company and conversation.
“You see therefore there is great danger, lest, when we come to be tried and to suffer tribulation on account of the word, we should be induced to prefer present things to the future, and give up the profession of the Gospel, like Esau, who for one mess of pottage sold his birth-right. Christians of more advanced age are more in danger from the world, the deceitfulness of riches choak the word and render it unfruitful : concern for the maintenance of a family, acquiring the means of greater usefulness, is the name which we give it; but the world under this specious guise, finds admission into our hearts, and so twines round our affections, that we are incapable of acting in Scriptural things with any suitable diligence.
“Remember then, my brethren, though you have already renounced the world as your portion, you are still in danger of being ensnared by it ; you may hereafter be induced to engage in worldly business to such an extent, as neither to have time nor inclination to wait upon God, and suffer considerably by it. They that would be rich' (says the Apostle) fall into temptation, into a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.' You are in danger from riches on this account also, that, if you decline in your godliness, you are not likely to be warned of it; he that would be a faithful monitor to you, if you were in low circumstances, would perhaps be intimidated by the splendour of your station, while many would be ready enough to speak Aatteringly of your attainments, and a little religion will go a great way with respect to appearance in you : it is seldom to be met with in the rich, so seldom, that when it is we are disposed to caress it, apt to magnify it, and over-rate it greatly; you are therefore in danger from this circumstance, if you are rich, or hereafter should become so.
"The poor, on the contrary, will have to encounter the frown of the world rather than its smiles : for instance, if you be servants, or in any way dependent upon others for subsistence, you may have to undergo much trying persecution; in the case where your superior is a man who fears not God, he may forbid your going to this or that place of worship, or even to sanctify the Sabbath at all. Now to give up a livelihood, in order to preserve a good conscience, is a hard sacrifice, and such as few are disposed to submit to. Whatever be the situation of a godly man, the world will not be friendly to him. If you were of the world (says Christ), the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hateth you.'
The young are apt to imagine that they shall, by some artifice, elude the cross, or by more prudence and caution avoid it; but it is not always imprudence that brings us into trouble, it is not our manner of holding the truth, but the truth itself that offendeth men. Nevertheless, though long continued opposition may induce men to make fatal concessions, the world is far more dangerous when it smiles. If we have any thing to recommend us to the favour of worldly people, such as agreeable manners, or shining talents, we may be induced to go among them, or from thinking ourselves