« PrécédentContinuer »
It has produced
service to the only religion by which man can be saved. the deistical substitution of naked morality, or Turkish honesty, for the doctrines of intercession, redemption, and Divine grace. It has no gift from God, but that nature, which came poor, and blind, and naked out of paradise; subject only to further misery, from its own lusts and the temptations of the devil. A religion, more flattering to the pride of man, pleases his fancy better than this; but it will never do him any good.
"Hutchinson himself had so strong a sense of this, that he looked upon natural religion as Deism in disguise; an engine of the devil, in these latter days, for the overthrow of the Gospel; and therefore boldly called it the religion of Satan or Antichrist. Let the well-informed Christian look about him, and consider whether his words, extravagant as they might seem at first, have not been fully verified. I myself, for one, am so thoroughly persuaded of this, that I determine never to give quarter to natural religion, when it falls in my way to speak of the all-sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know very well how the Scripture is brought in to give its countenance to the notion of a natural religion: but we know also that dark texts are drawn to such a sense, as to render all the rest of the Scripture of no effect; as hath happened in the doctrines of predestination and natural religion; by the former of which we lose the Church, by the latter its Faith. Facts bring a dispute to a short issue. If Voltaire were alive, I would be judged by him, whether Christianity hath not been going down ever since natural religion came up. And we know, by what his disciples, the French, have done, that natural religion comes up, when Christianity is put down. These facts teach us, that they will not stand long together. Whether they possibly might or not, is not worth an inquiry; because he that has got Christianity may leave natural religion to shift for itself.
"6. Few writers for natural religion have shewn any regard to the types and figures of the Scripture, or known much about them. But the Hutchinsonians, with the old Christian fathers, and the divines of the Reformation, are very attentive to them, and take great delight in them. They differ in their nature from all the learning of the world: and so much of the wisdom of revelation is contained in them that no Christian should neglect the knowledge of them. All infidels abominate them. Lord Bolinbroke calls St. Paul a cabalist for arguing from them; but the Hutchinsonians are ambitious of being such cabalists as St. Paul was.
"7. In natural philosophy they have great regard to the name of Newton, as the most wonderful genius of his kind. But they are sure his method of proving a vacuum is not agreeable to nature. A vacuum cannot be deduced from the theory of resistances: for, if motion be from impulsion, as Newton himself, and some of the wisest of his followers, have suspected; then the cause of motion will never resist the motion which it causes. The rule, which is true when applied to communicated motion, does not hold when applied to the motions of nature. For the motions of nature change from less to more; as when a spark turns to conflagration: but communicated motion always changes from more to less: so that there is an essential difference between them, and we cannot argue from the one to the other. Mr. Cotes's demonstration, it is well known, is applicable only to communicated motion: I mean only such as is violent or artificial. There is no need of a vacuum in the heavens: it is more reasonable and more agreeable to nature that they should be filled with a circulating fluid, which does not hinder motion, but begins it and preserves it.
"They cannot allow inert matter to be capable (as mind is) of active qualities; but ascribe attraction, repulsion, &c. to subtle causes, not immaterial. There may be cases very intricate and difficult; but they take the
rule from plain cases, and supposing nature to be uniform and consistent, they apply it to the rest.
"8. In natural history they maintain, against all the wild theories of infidels, which come up, one after another, like mushrooms, and soon turn rotten, that the present condition of the earth bears evident marks of an universal flood; and that extraneous fossils are to be accounted for from the same catastrophe. Many of them are therefore diligent collectors of fossil bodies, which are valuable to the curious in consideration of their origin.
"9. What commonly passes under the name of learning, is a knowledge of heathen books; but it should always be admitted with great precaution. For they think of all heathens, that, from the time when they commenced heathens, they never worshipped the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth; but, instead of Him, the elements of the world, the powers of nature, and the lights of heaven: that the love of vice and vanity was the real cause of their ignorance; they did not know the true God, because they did not like to know him: and that the same passions will give us an inclination to the principles of heathens, rather than to the principles of Christians; and that most of the ill principles of this age come out of the heathen school. The favourers of Mr. Hutchinson's scheme are, therefore, reputed to be the enemies of learning. But they are not so. They are enemies only to the abuses of it, and to the corruptions derived from it; to all false learning; that is, to human folly, affecting to be wisdom: they have indeed a mortal aversion in their hearts, and can hardly be civil to it in their words; as knowing that the more a man has of false wisdom, the less room there will be for the true. Metaphysics, which consist of words without ideas; illustrations of Christian subjects from heathen parallels; theories founded only on imagination; speculations on the mind of man, which yield no solid matter to it, but lead it into dangerous opinions about itself: these, and other things of the kind, with which modern learning abounds, they regard as they would the painting of a ghost, or the splitting of an atom.
10. Of Jews, they think that they are the inveterate enemies of Christianity; never to be trusted as our associates either in Hebrew or divinity. No Philo, no Josephus, no Talmudist, is to be depended upon; but suspected and sifted, as dangerous apostates from true Judaism. It is plausibly argued, that Jews, as native Hebrews, must, like other natives, be best acquainted with their own language. But the case of the Jews is without a parallel upon earth. They are out of their native state; and have an interest in deceiving Christians by every possible means, and depriving them of the evidence of the Old Testament.
"11. They are of opinion, that the Hebrew is the primeval and original language; that its structure shews it to be divine; and that a comparison with other languages shews its priority.
"12. The cherubim of the Scriptures were mystical figures, of high antiquity and great signification. Those of Eden, and of the tabernacle, and of Ezekiel's vision, all belong to the same original. Irenæus has enough upon them to justify the Hutchinsonian acceptation of them. The place they had in the Holy of Holies, and their use in the Sacred Ritual, sets them very high. Their appellation, as "Cherubim of Glory," does the same; and the reasoning of St. Paul, from the shadows of the law to the priesthood of Christ, sets them highest of all; obliging us to infer, that they were symbolical of the Divine presence. The reσoapa wa in the Revelation of St. John (improperly called 'beast,' for one of them was a man, and another a bird) must be taken for the same; where the figures of the old law bow down and surrender all power and glory to the evangelical figure of the
Lamb that was slain. Here the doctrine is thought to labour a little; but if the wa are considered only as figures, the case alters. And, if this great subject should have parts and circumstances not to be understood, we must argue from what is understood. They seem to have been known in the Christian Church of the first centuries: but not with the help of the Jews. So also was the analogy of the three agents (pшç, πур, πνɛνμа,) these being expressly mentioned by Epiphanius, as similitudes of the Divine Trinity.
"In their physiological capacity, so far as we can find, the Cherubim seem never to have been considered before Mr. Hutchinson who very properly derives from them all animal-worship among the heathens. This subject is of great extent and depth; comprehending a mass of mythological learning, well worthy of a diligent examination.
"These things come down to us under the name of John Hutchinson; a character sui generis, such as the common forms of education could have never produced and it seems to me not to have been well explained, how and by what means he fell upon things seemingly so new and uncommon: but we do not inquire whose they are, but what they are, and what they are good for. If the tide had brought them to shore in a trunk, marked with the initials J. H. while I was walking by the sea-side, I would have taken them up, and kept them for use; without being solicitous to know what ship they came out of, or how far, and how long, they had been floating at the mercy of the wind and waves. If they should get from my hands into better hands, I should rejoice; being persuaded they would revive in others the dying flame of Christian faith, as they did in Bishop Horne and myself. And why should any good man be afraid of them? There is nothing here that tends to make men troublesome, as heretics, fanatics, sectaries, rebels, or corrupters of any kind of useful learning. All these things a man may believe, and still be a good subject, a devout Christian, and a sound member of the Church of England: perhaps more sound, and more useful, than he would have been without them. For myself I may say, (as I do in great humility) that by following them through the course of a long life, I have found myself much enlightened, much assisted in evidence and argument, and never corrupted; as I hope my writings, if they should last, will long bear me witness. If these principles should come into use with other people, I am confident they would turn Christians into scholars, and scholars into Christians; enabling them to demonstrate how shallow infidels are in their learning, and how greatly every man is a loser by his ignorance of Revelation."
I shall regret if I have lost my labour in making this long extract; but it contains many thoughts which appear to me of great importance, independently of their bearing upon the peculiarities of Hutchinson's system; more especially, in the present day, when the evils which Jones complained of have greatly multiplied. I fear that the Bible has come to be too lightly esteemed, and too readily set aside in its minor (if so I may speak consistently with truth and reverence) and incidental notices. Every school-boy now-a-days corrects the philosophy, the geography, the astronomy, the geology of the word of God; and it is accounted quite reason enough that the Bible was not intended to make us philosophers." That may be true; and I am far from going to the length of Hutchinson: but is there no danger on the other side; and is it not on that side that the majority of modern Christians are incautiously rushing? I will not argue the question, at least at present; but I have laid down an important thesis for the consideration of your readers, and I shall be gratified in learning their opinion upon it.
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH CATECHISM.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
Ir would often be a sufficient answer to some of the objections made to our Church Services, to narrate the circumstances in which they originated, and thus to shew that there is a meaning and a moral in much that is popularly supposed to be open to exception. Thus the direction, that the bread and wine left after the Holy Communion shall be eaten in the church, and not be carried out, which many persons suppose to be a superstitious rite, originating in a latent feeling of Popish idolatry, was in fact intended for exactly the opposite purpose, of preventing the ignorant and credulous making a superstitious use of the elements, and treasuring them up for a charm. And so in many other instances.
The Church Catechism, which has of late been much objected to, will find an ample defence against some of the charges urged against it, in the history of its compilation, which was as follows:
When the dawn of the Reformation began to dispel the clouds of ignorance which had so long overshadowed the land, "the light shined in darkness," but "the darkness comprehended it not.' Many who sorrowed at the encroachments of superstition, and shrunk at the persecutions of intolerance, yet dreaded any amendment, however necessary; or the acknowledging of a new profession, however plain.
While, therefore, it was among the earliest cares of the first promoters of this glorious work to compile a catechism for the instruction of the common people, much caution was necessary to be used; and mankind were to be instructed, not as the preceptor might wish, but as the pupil could bear.
The reformers then began, most judiciously, with such things as were generally acknowledged by the two contending parties in the Church. The first catechism therefore consisted simply of the creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer. Nor was it an easy effort to bring even these into general use. They were received by the majority, in the midst of the profound ignorance which then reigned, as a species of magical incantation. And it was long before the grossness of vulgar conception could comprehend, that the creed, the Decalogue, and Prayer of our Lord, were merely intended to confirm their faith, direct their practice, and assist them in their devotions.
This appears to have been the only progress made in catechetical instruction from the beginning of the Reformation to the year 1549. About that time, a farther effort was attempted by Archbishop Cranmer, as it is commonly supposed. He ventured to add a few cautious explanatory passages; which was all the prejudices of men would as yet admit. In the year 1553, however, an improved attempt was hazarded: a catechism was published by authority, in which the preceding articles were more fully expounded, and a brief explanation of the sacraments was annexed. This, from being printed in his reign, and having the royal injunction* prefixed, is generally called "King Edward the Sixth's Catechism;" and in it the complete model of our present one was laid.
Thus the matter rested until the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In the mean
The Injunction states, that "the debating and diligent examination of the catechism had been committed to certain bishops, and other learned men," previous to its adoption. The author of it is not certainly known; but Strype concludes, whoever was the author, that " Archbishop Cranmer was the furtherer and recommender of it unto the king." Dr. Waterland supposes Peynet to have been the original writer.
time, the sanguinary acts and violents measures of her immediate predecessor had tended greatly to open an inquisitive temper in the age, and to abolish its ancient prejudices. Mankind began to have some notion of thinking for themselves, and were not to be deterred from this by the dogmas of priests, the decisions of councils, or the anathema of popes.
As at this auspicious era of the church, there was no longer any need of the extreme caution so imperiously necessary in the preceding reigns, the catechism became again the object of general attention: Dr. Nowel, Dean of St. Paul's, and several of the first prelates and most pious of the then pillars of the church, having concurred in its revision, it was at length published, nearly in its present form, in the year 1563.
It being afterwards thought necessary that something should be taught as to the doctrine of the sacraments, King James the First appointed the bishops to add a short and plain explanation of them, which was done accordingly by Bishop Overal, then Dean of St. Paul's, with the approbation of his brethren. This addition was made with so much judgment and discretion, that at the final review of the Liturgy, one answer only needed revision; and that on a point not of a doctrine, but rather of critical emendation*.
From this short history of the Christian's catechism, it appears, that it was not the work of one man, however famous in his generation;" nor was it the labour of a single day, however bright. "Considering then," says Mr. Williams, whose words I borrow, "the various forms it underwent the care employed in bringing it to its present state-the caution with which amendments were admitted-and what manner of persons they were to whom its revision was assigned—we need not wonder at finding it to be full without redundance, and brief without obscurity; worthy the attention of the great, yet levelled to the capacity of the poor; plain, without coarseness; learned, without controversy; and authoritative, without arrogance."
HISTORY OF MINISTERIAL ERRORS.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I AGREE with your correspondent " Arca," that " a history of ministerial errors" by experienced clergymen might be attended with great advantage, especially to their younger brethren.
Scott, Robinson, and I think Newton, have given us their valuable experience upon the effect of social meetings for prayer among their people. There is another habit attended with many of the same evils which they allege to have ensued in their experience from the meetings just alluded to; namely, the practice of some very good men of asking the opinions of the more pious of their flock among the poor respecting their sermons, and encouraging them to speak their sentiments freely upon them. I would merely put the question, leaving it to others to determine, whether such a practice does not tend to lower the authority of the pastor, and to make critical rather than humble and teachable hearers. I think I have known it, in more than one or two instances, make preachers.
Another still more common error among some very excellent men, and one which, from personal observation, I am persuaded is a great bar to mi
Did a correspondent who spoke, in your last Number, of the sacraments being "essential to salvation," remember the qualifying words of the catechism, “two only, as generally (not invariably and essentially) necessary?"