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To the Editor of the Christian Observer. In Rom. xii. 6, St. Paul commands that they who prophesy shall prophesy “according to the proportion of faith" (avaloylav TñS TOTEWC). The context shews that the proportion here spoken of is not the mutual relation of doctrines to each other as parts of the system of Christian truth, but the reference and subordination of purpose which was due from the possessor of extraordinary powers to the standard with which those powers in their own nature furnished him.
This interpretation has been adopted by the best critics and lexicographers. There seems, however, to be something so tempting to a translator in the resemblance between the Greek word ávaloyla and the English word analogy that sense is not unfrequently sacrificed to sound*. Mr. Hartwell Horne, in the second volume of his Introduction, has a chapter on · The Analogy of Faith. Perhaps he may have unconsciously been influenced in his interpretation of the verse from
to misconception. It would be right, if possible, to remove every stumbling block; but we would not mix up these doctrinal and liturgical matters with the popular demand for Church Reform ; which demand has little or no reference to points of this nature: it relates chiefly to the secularities of the Church ; but spiritual matters must be discussed by far other persons than the majority of those who, now a-days, set up as Church reformers, most of whom know nothing of them, though they may be perfectly able to see and to remedy the evils arising out of tithes, non-residence, pluralities, the present system of episcopal translations, and similar matters. The external machinery of the Church is one thing; its services are quite another; and we see solid reasons for keeping the two questions widely apart : but we have never, as our correspondent imagines, implored the friends of the Church to be silent as to any thing they believed to be wrong or faulty ;-quite the contrary.
We entirely concur with our friendly castigator, that Scripture is our only appeal in matters of faith; but as men construe Scripture differently, we see no evil, and much good, in creeds and other forms of sound words, which are not meant as substitutes fer the Bible; but as expositions of the mode in which particular Christian communions interpret it. Such formularies have, in truth, become absolutely necessary, unless we would admit to our communion Socinians and every other class of heretics, with the exception of those who avowedly reject the Bible.
As to the charge made by infidels, that professed Christians study their own partial interests, and not the glory of God, there is no doubt that partizanship and selfish feeling exist in all classes of men, and those who cause the enemy to blaspheme by their misdoings will have fearful guilt to answer for. But this ought not to deter any man from avowing a conscientious preference for that which he believes deserving of approbation; and it would be absurd for a clergyman to throw off his gown, and relinquish his honest maintenance by his benefice, in order to convince infidels that he is sincere in his profession of Christianity. The infidel might admire his zeal, but would not be one step nearer being a Christian. Nor is it fair to speak as if almost all Christians, and Christian ministers, substituted gain for godliness. To not a few of the clergy in our own church, their profession, as a profession, is absolutely a loss : they have never earned as much by it as sufficed to pay the expenses of their sustenance and education up to the age of twenty-three or four: they sometimes hold curacies which scarcely pay their house rent and taxes; and often they give their services without any other reward than the satisfaction of spending and being spent in the cause of their Divine Master. The infidel, therefore, ought in fairness to inspect both sides of the account.
We, however, thank our correspondent for his kindly intended animadversions; and though we thought we had been honest before, we will endeavour, if possible, to be more honest still; only as to the mode and the measure, the question of duty and degree, of zeal and discretion, he ought to concede that there may be two honest opinions, and ours may not coincide with his. May the God of all wisdom and grace direct aright all who undertake to labour in this great cause.
* Nothing is more common than this kind of verbal fallacy. I never knew any one preach a sermon from the text · Strive to enter in at the strait gate,' without informing his congregation that the original word signifies agonize. There are few falsehoods which sound more like truth; but the notion of pain is not involved in the sense of the word bywnicouas, as it is in that of agonize.
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 372. 5 H
which the phrase is taken by the want of a convenient title for his chapter. He says in a note, 'The New Testament presents three terms which appear to be synonymous with the analogy of faith in μορφωσις της γνωσεως και της αληθειας εν τω νομο, τυπος διδαχής, and υποτυπωρις υγιαινοντων λογων Any collective term for the doctrines of Christianity might with just as good reason be said to be synonymous with the analogy of faith. The notion of systematic unity, however, is not the characteristic idea or differentia (as a logician would say) in any of these phrases.
I may perhaps be allowed to offer a remark on two of the expressions which Mr. Horne refers to in his note. Totos and poppwors are translated in the English Bible by the same word “ form,” though they differ from each other as the mould differs from the figure which it impresses on the metal. “ Form of knowledge” and “ form of godliness ” (Rom. ii. 20; 2 Tim. iii. 5) do not convey the sense of the corresponding Greek phrases. In the latter passage, for instance, almost every body supposes that St. Paul is reprobating the outward shew of religion. It is not profession, however, but theoretical knowledge which is here contradistinguished from true religion. Conception is the English word which would most nearly express the meaning of the word poppwors in both the passages where it occurs.
M, J. M.
CORRESPONDENCE OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT
ON THE MILLENNIUM.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Your correspondent, “An Inquirer,” in your Number for September proposes the question, “What direct proof can be educed from Scripture that the blessed period foretold, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord,' &c. &c. synchronizes with the thousand years mentioned in Rev. xx. ?”
Now, without stopping to inquire whether what I am about to offer be of the nature of direct or indirect proof, I would answer the query by the following questions :
Does not the period foretold in the Old Testament mean a time when the whole world shall be brought to a state of great spiritual prosperity ? and is the millennial period of Rev. xx. different in its nature? “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection :” and does not the binding of Satan imply that such a state of things will be at least general, if not universal ? Supposing this to be granted, I would ask again, Did such a period ever occur before the Christian æra ? If not, then we are to look for it subsequently to the first advent of our Lord. And if more than one such period were to be expected, would the mention of it have been omitted in a prophetical book evidently intended to pourtray the state of the world as connected with the church, from the time when the prophecy was delivered to the end of all things? If then, as cannot be denied, the book of Revelation mentions only one such period, can we escape from the conclusion, that it is the same as, and therefore synchronizes with, that foretold by the Old Testament Prophets? If this reasoning be satisfactory to the mind, does it matter whether the proof is direct or indirect ?
ON THE ENTHUSIASM OF THE WESLEYAN METHODISTS.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It is, I doubt not, from laudable, and perhaps judicious, motives, that in your remarks upon the extravagancies and absurdities which have deformed religion during the present century, from Hawkerism to Baringism, and from Baringism to Bulteelism, you have generally confined yourself to matters within, or connected with, your own pale ; for even Irvingism you have chiefly noticed, if I read your pages correctly, as having grown out of errors and delusions among those who are, or were, professed members of the Church of England. It was perhaps less invidious, and more for the edification of your readers, who I presume are mostly Episcopalians, to discuss the case of Miss Fancourt, and the publications of clergymen who, about that time, and before and afterwards, published some strange speculations upon prophecy and miracles ; and some of whom doubtless now lament the torrent of fanaticism to which they opened the floodgates; than to go into the Dissenting camp, and to inquire whether Southcottism and other heresies would not furnish heresies and extravagancies equally great.
But though Southcottians do not, I suppose, read your pages, and therefore are not likely to profit by your strictures, yet many of the Dissenting and Methodist body do; and to them an occasional warning word may not be out of place : besides which, you are bound, as a Christian journalist, to assist in guarding “ the common salvation,” and also to fortify your own readers against contagion.
With the extravagancies which have melted into that strange compound, called Irvingism, the great body of the Methodists and the Dissenters, to their honour be it spoken, are, I believe, almost to a man uncontaminated ; and they have not failed to represent it as a proof of the senility of both the Established Churches of Great Britain, that the extravagant notions alluded to, respecting prophecy, the millennium, and miracles, have originated within their respective pales, and found converts among their members ; at least till the fanaticism became strong enough to drive them away from all former commi
munions, established or protected, into an erratic course of their own devising.
But though the particular forms of extravagance just alluded to have prevailed chiefly among the members of the churches of England and Scotland, it were easy to shew that a large measure of fanaticism exists
among religionists of other persuasions. It is impossible to read the Journals of those remarkable men, Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Wesley, without being constantly pained at the credulity and enthusiasm which pervade them : prophetic dreams, supernatural voices or impressions, direct revelations, and even miracles, are not wanting ; and these are spoken of with almost as much confidence as if they were truths of holy writ. The better educated persons of the Methodist body (for I will confine my present remarks to the fol. lowers of Mr. Wesley), I would trust, have outgrown these extravagancies: but I fear they are still rife among their less intellectual companions, and that the leaders of the community have not duly set themselves to counteract such delusions. It is indeed with pain that I state, that something of a fanatical spirit (I speak not of gross absurdities, like those above alluded to of the Irvingites), runs throughout the whole texture of Methodism, and that it requires the master mind of another Wesley to separate them. I would not speak of these things in the tone of Bishop Lavington's unjust, ungenerous, and irritating publication, " The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared;" but still I believe that they exist, and to an extent
which makes me, as a friend of simple Scriptural truth, dread the extension of this system. I write not to stir up angry controversy ; but, if possible, to turn the attention of the leaders of the Methodist body themselves to the subject, that they may endeavour to correct the evil. At present I fear I must say, that in too many cases they encourage it, by a mode of speaking and writing which is not consistent with Scriptural sobriety; which, if I may say so without unnecessary offence, is extravagant and fanatical.
Take up, for instance, almost any Number of the Wesleyan Magazine. That work is, in many respects, well conducted : it often contains papers of considerable intelligence and mental vigour, as well as piety: it advocates with great zeal matters of charity and philanthropy: it is, I would hope, generally candid and friendly in its allusions towards the Church of Eng. land; and its great object is to win souls to Christ, and to comfort and edify those which are already won. But is it characterized by sobermindedness? I take up almost the first Number that presents itself, which happens to be the number for last May, and there I find the following:
“On that night, near the close of the sermon, a respectable middleaged female cried out, Praise the Lord ! Praise the Lord, O my soul, for what He has now done for me. I feel that he has just now pardoned all my sins. The preacher then closed the sermon, and began to pray : and a very powerful influence rested upon the whole congregation. One young convert cried out, · My soul is full of glory. What shall I do? What shall I do? my heart is so full. I wish to die. I wish to die now. I want to go to heaven ; and, oh, I want to go now.'
“ Several obtained the blessing of entire sanctification. Upwards of twenty have been truly converted and added to the church. There were at least thirty persons in great distress. Another entered into Christian liberty; and then another, and another.
“At this place is a young woman, about thirty years of age, who is lame, and has for many years been obliged to use crutch. She has been a member of our society for more than ten years, but lived without a sense of pardon. On seeing the earnest manner in which others sought the blessing, and the happiness of all who obtained it, she became greatly affected; and one Friday night in November last, while praying mightily to God in her own house, she obtained the pardoning love of God about eleven o'clock at night. Such was her happiness, that she scarcely knew how to contain herself; and though the hour was so late, she went across the fields, and through the lanes, a distance of more than half a mile, to the house of her class. leader, to tell him what the Lord had done for her. On going to the door, she found the servant-maid at work. She fell upon her neck, and began to praise God with all her might; and then, to the rest of the family, abundantly uttered the praise of the Lord. The maid was so affected, that she began to weep and pray. The servant-man, who was in bed, when he heard all this, was alarmed, and began to cry mightily to God. He has since found peace. When the young woman rose up to return home, she found that she had actually forgotten her crutch ; and that she had gone over the stiles, as well as through the lanes and fields, without the aid of this her old companion. The lame literally leaped for joy."
"Such, however, was her joy on receiving the blessing of pardon, that she could not refrain from declaring aloud what the Lord had done for her soul, &c. The report of what was going on soon spread through the town, and the people came out of the public-houses, as well as their own, to see this strange sight. The scene at this time was truly affecting. The loud and piercing cries of the broken-hearted penitents drowned the voice of prayer, and all that could be done in this stage of the meeting was to stand still and see the salvation of God. At length the penitents were conducted
and upheld, each of them by two persons, into one part of the chapel. And now, when their cries and groans were concentrated, one of the most affecting scenes appeared before the people. Their humble wailings pierced the skies. Sometimes the burst of praise from the pardoned penitents mingled with the loud cries of the broken-hearted, and this greatly encouraged those that were in distress.
“ The meeting might have been kept up all the night. In some instances, after being employed about five hours, our leaders, when they had retired to rest, have been called up again to pray with the distressed.” “They held their prayer-meeting by moon-light, upon the moor, by the sea-side. Nearly forty persons were that night pricked in their hearts, and ten found mercy.”
More might be given to the same purpose, but the above will suffice ; and yet I find these words—“We having nothing of mere rant or wildfire, and as little confusion as could possibly have been expected.” If there be not something of “wildfire” in the scenes above depicted, I know not what is meant by that word; and I respectfully submit to the more influential and intelligent members of the Methodist body, that revivals, or apparent revivals of religion, commenced as above, are far from being hopeful as the germ of a solid permanent conversion, or of the fruits of matured godliness in after-life. Persons thus over-stimulated, and whose religion commences in heats and excesses, are too likely to be the victims of every newfangled notion, and only need a Southcottian or Irvingite preacher to lead them to the grossest delusions. If young and ignorant persons are led out to prayer-meetings upon a moor by moon-light, and excited to wailings that pierce the skies, and taught to expect instantaneous assurance of pardon and “ entire sanctification” in a moment, and are fed upon stories of lame persons throwing away their crutches and miraculously leaping for joy, (another very clear instance of the powerful effects of excitement, for in this instance there is no mention of prayer or faith for the blessing of healing,) can we wonder at any excesses that may ensue; and can we be surprised if of the persons thus brought within the contagion of social sympathy, some afterwards ridicule all religion, others run wild into every extravagance, others retire silent and ashamed, and few comparatively prove in after-life that the revival was really the hand of God. I do again implore the leaders of the Methodist body who have so large a portion of the poor and ignorant members of society under their care, and to whom their zealous labours, in the lack of service in the Established Church, have been abundantly blessed, seriously to consider this matter. Are these things done, according to the Apostolic command, "decently and in order?” And how can they justify it to their consciences to allow their preachers to inculcate such crude, overstated, and unscriptural notions as are couched in the above extracts ? Many of the friends of the Church of England have wished for a comprehension which may bring the Wesleyan Methodist body within her pale; but if these extravagancies of doctrine and of practice are a necessary part of the scheme of Methodism, there is no hope of such a union, and no pious and judicious churchmen would wish to introduce such doctrines or practices within her fold.
HOW MAY WE KNOW THAT WE ARE LED BY THE
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Upon reading A. L's. serious question, “ How may a person know when he is led by the Holy Spirit ? ” I could not but reflect with deep emotions