Images de page
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

wind

tively little intercourse, and whose an acute trial to the constancy of good opinion would, perhaps, rather the most steady pastor. It is no injure than raise bis character easy thing so far to overcome the in the eyes of the religious world. fear of man as to yield nothing to

But, on the contrary, if a tempta- mistaken piety, to the most tender tion arose from the other side, as reproaches, and the most conscimight easily happen, would there entious but mistaken solicitations. not be danger of indiscreet com- I fully believe that it is a fear of pliance? Suppose, for example, what is usually called the religious that by any means some of his most world, far more than a paramount affectionate, but least judicious feeling of duty, that has induced friends, should be drawn off from

many pious young ministers of the that soberness of religious views present age to adopt a style of which he had inculcated, to a some- preaching and conversation, which, what overstated and ill-balanced though not perhaps substantially system of doctrines. Imagine that false, yet greatly transgresses the a whisper should begin to prevail, sobriety of scriptural instruction. that the minister to whose labours, A minister whom the fear of one under the divine blessing, the whole class of men could not render phariparish were indebted for their reli- saical or legal in his preaching, gious knowledge and piety, was by may, by the fear of another class, no means duly acquainted with the be driven the very verge of Antibigher mysteries of the Gospel; and nomianism. If once the dread of that although a sincere christian his fellow creatures prevails, be bimself, bis preaching was fit only has lost his independence of charfor “babes," and did not furnish acter, and must be content in future nutriment sufficient for the more to veer about with

every advanced believer. Here, sir, is a of doctrine" that happens to prevail case in which the fear of man is among his people. especially likely to bring a snare- I would not wish, sir, to have a case, however, not always taken the tenor of these remarks so far into the account of those who warn mistaken as to imply a supposition the young minister against impro- that the world has, in this or any per compliances. A clergyman of other age, ceased to oppose scrippiety can submit to be censured by tural views in religion; and that, the irreligious; he can forgive the therefore, a young divine has to sneers of the formal; he does not guard only, or even chiefly, against feel inclined to recede a single step the excesses of its professed friends. for the persecutions of the profane; I believe both dangers to exist in --but to be told by his own chil- undiminished energy, but that the dren in the faith, and to whom he latter is, in many places, really on looked as his “crown of rejoicing," the increase. I might, indeed, have that he has withheld from them the said the former also, notwithstandriches of the Gospel, and been un- ing all the increasing piety which faithful to his trust, merely because exists among us. Indeed, that he has not entered into some un- very extension of piety which hallowed speculations which may bas been just mentioned, may, perhave seduced a part of his flock, is haps, be the cause of this; for a charge so painful and severe, as when religion was scarcely to be to require no small share of wisdom seen, except at a distance, men did and fortitude, as well as of Chris- not think enough of it actively to tian meekness, to enable him to hate it, and even treated it with a endure its weight. To find some sort of awful veneration and reeven of his more advanced converts spect. But in proportion as the entering on a new system, and pity- subject is brought nearer home, and ing him for not doing the same, is men are forced, as it were,

by the conduct and example of others, to those wbo were least benefited by make a choice, religion, if it do not his pious exertions.

His piety, as win their affections, will almost in- piety, and unconnected with pecuevitably alienate them. The cour- Jiarities in doctrine or manner, tesies of society, and the increased would have been an object of reliberality and indifference of the spect rather than suspicion. The age, may render such persons silent presumption would at least have and apparently neutral; but in their been in bis favour; and his parisbhearts they will still remain posi- jooers, witnessing his holiness of lively and vehemently hostile. conduct, would have been beard

Far, therefore, from thinking that to inform their neighbours “what the “ Cross of Christ" is less dis. a good man had come amongst liked by the world than in former them ;” and as long as he adhered days, I imagine that in many cases steadfastly to the doctrines and disthe odium attached to it may really cipline of his church, neither bis have increased. We do not, jo- brethren nor his flock would have deed, hear of open persecution ; thought of insinuating more to his but this does not exactly decide prejudice than that he was too the point, since much of the ob- much of a saint for the present loquy attached to certain religious evil world. individuals of the last century was But, I would beg leave to ask, adventitious and not necessary, whether this is the case at present? arising full as often from circum- Does a really zealous and pious stances wbich I am not anxious minister, characterized as he may to mention, as from simple and un- be both by prudence and affection, affected piety. It is true that ge- enter a parish under the same fanuine religion, under all its modi- vourable auspices ?" I fear not: fications, has to oppose the constant every sign of activity and devotion aggressions of a sinful world; but in his profession is, in the eyes of in former days this opposition ap- the world, a presumption ratber pears to bave been excited chiefly against bim than for him. An by unpopular modifications and earnest mode of preaching, and a adventitious adjuncts; wbereas serious feeling of responsibility in now, if I mistake not, it takes fire bis awful vocation, will be more at religion itself. An hypothesis likely to invalidate than confirm will, perhaps, convey my idea bet- his character for orthodoxy and ter than an abstract proposition. Church-of-England principles. To

Suppose then, sir, that in the speak plainly, an idea has become middle of the last century, or at current, that although an overtly any previous period, a minister of profligate minister is bad, yet a earnest piety and devotional habits Methodist (if you will allow me to had entered upon a cure of souls, use this stupidly-applied term) is and begun, as of course be would, to infinitely worse ; and a Methodist exert himself for the spiritual wel. almost every minister must at prefare of his parishioners, what would sent be content to be considered, probably have been the mode in who exhibits any peculiar degree which his labours would be re- of anxiety for the spirilual weltare ceived? I am not so ignorant of of bis parishioners.

Piety and Scripture or the human beart, as to Methodism baving been thus injusuppose that he would immediately riously identified, the appearance have effected a general change of of the former is almost sure to meet character among bis bearers; but with that opposition which, in I imagine that, provided he was former days, was applied exclusivefree from an innovating or contro- ly to the latter. versial spirit, be would have secured In reply to these remarks, I shall veneration and esteem even from probably be told, that my suppo

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

even

An as

sition, both with respect to the are still right at heart, and are acpresent and the past, is equally in- tively concerned for the salvation consistent with facts. I shall be of men; and partly because those pointed, on the one hand, to a hun- who have no conscientious feeling dred narratives and anecdotes of of this kind, are legally prevented the sufferings and persecutions of from interfering in a hostile manner individuals during the last century ; on the subject ;--to which it might and sball, on the other, be triumpb- be added, that the more frequent antly informed of the universal li- recurrence of the fact prevents its berty which persons of all persua- exciting that degree of notice which sions at present so happily enjoy. is necessary to public opposition. But, sir, all this proves nothing to But, on the contrary, the humble, the purpose, unless it can be shown faithful, unostentatious, peaceful that these persecutions were entirely minister of Christ usually meets "for righteousness' sake;" and that with a degree of suspicion from the absence of them, at the present the world which, in former times, moment, arises solely from the in- would not have fallen to his lut. creased regard to true religion : He has to bear, not only the natural neither of which I conceive to be dislike which multitudes always feel strictly true.

towards genuine piety, I should, perhaps, have expressed when accompanied with the most my meaning most clearly if I had pleasing and amiable associations, said that, amongst clergymen of but also the peculiar opprobrium equal piety, some will meet with which has been accidentally or more and some with less opposition malignantly connected with it. now than in former times. The He is punished for the faults of man who mixes up a considerable others as well as his own. portion of justly offensive matter 'sociated feeling in the public mind with his religion, will find bis con- has sophisticated the judgment, and dition in society more tolerable raised suspicions where there was now than in the last century ; not the least ground for their enwhilst another of equal piety, com- tertainment. Methodism, so called, bined with moderation, and good being considered by a large party sense, and urbanity, and a freedom as the great object to be avoided, from all peculiarities of manner the first fear excited at the entrance and of language, will be relatively of a young minister into à parish is, worse. It is true, that the former lest he should prove to be a person will still meet with more positive of that description. Even impiety odium than the latter, but compa. is sometimes, 1 fear, considered as ratively the quantity will be less. a good exchange for Methodism. The reason of each of these effects 1 really, sir, dislike exceptionis evident. The dislike to the ac- able peculiarities in a theologian as lual piety of each class, remains much as you or any other man can much the same as it was before; but do; but, in the present day, and the superadded dislike attached amongst a certain class of persons, to the exceptionable peculiarities one knows not what may or may of the one, is too often uncandidly not be construed into Methodism. divided between both, and thus the I never could have suspected a former balance is destroyed. The priori, that to distribute the Scripbot or eccentric partisan is less tures without note or comment was assailed now than formerly ;

-Methodistic, yet such I now find to partly, because the diffusion of re- be considered the fact. I have ligion amongst a large class of the known a clergyman suspected for a community has disposed them to Methodist because be made a reforgive and even encourage indi. mark in public company which any viduals who, with all their faults, conscientious Deist would have been

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

ready to admit. A lady of my ac- A minister must neither be too bigb
quaintance was advised to refrain in doctrine because his friends are
from attending the daily public too bigh, nor too low because
prayers of a neighbouring church, they are too low; but, acting from
because such a proceeding might an humble sense of duty, and a
procure her the appellation of a dependence upon the Divine pro-
Methodist. On reading several of tection and instruction, must firmly
the titles to the tracts of the Society persist in living above either the
for promoting Christian Knowledge frowns or smiles of man, remember.
to different persons, I have been ing that “one is our Master, even
instantly and promptly told they Christ.”
were Methodistic; and upon ex-
plaining the respectable source from
which they were derived, have To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
received for answer-" Things are
now altered : churchmen must not WHEN I wrote the Note on Acts
use the same language now which viii. 15–17., quoted by your cor-
they did formerly, because the respondent, OLD CHURCH, (No.
people are disposed to Melbodism.” for January, p. 7.,) I most decided-
Half a century ago, an earnest and ly thought that the Samaritans
affectionate sermon procured appro- spoken of were regenerated before
bation even where it was not follow. they were baptized, and not at their
ed by conviction and amendment. baptism: and after all that has been
Men took for granted that the since written on the subject, I still
minister was right and orthodox in think so; because the profession
making the appeal, even though made or implied in baptism, was
they might not feel inclined to at- such, that unregenerate persons
tend to it. In such cases, they did could not make it with sincerity;
not suspect their clergyman, but they could not “ have the answer
themselves. But now it is consi- of a good conscience towards God"
dered, especially in the upper class. in this important transaction. I
es, a respectable way of silencing suppose that Philip administered
one's conscience, to charge the bear. baptism as rightly to Simon Magus
er of all ungrateful tidings of a reli- as to the other Samaritans: did be
gious kind with being a sectary or then, as a believer, partake of the
Methodist, and every thing uttered regenerating, and sanctifying, and
from the pulpit, that is calculated to comforting influences of the Holy
arouse and effect the hearers, as Spirit ?
being Methodistic.

Even Hooker allows, that “
The drist, sir, of these remarks, craments contain in themselves no
you will perceive, is to prove, that vital force or efficacy: they are
The offence of the Cross has by no not physical but moral instruinents
means ceased; and that, conse- of salvation, duties of service and
quently, there is still as much need worship, wbich vpless we perform
as ever to guard the young divine as the Author of Grace requireth,
against the fear of man in the ordi- they are unprofitable.” (5 B. Sect.
nary acceptation of the term. But 57. Ecc. Polity.)
having urged this, we must not forget Bishop Burnet also says ;
that there is also, as before men- look on all sacramental actions as
tioned, a danger from another class acceptable to God, only with re.
of persons; so that the advice, in gard to the temper and the inward
order to be effectual for his gui- acts of the person to whom they
dance, ought to assume the most are applied, and cannot consider
extensive range.

It is not in one them as medicines or charms, wbich case only, but in every case, that work by a virtue of their own, whe" the fear of man bringeth a snare." ther the person to whom they are

sa

« We

1

T. SCOTT.

applied co-operates with them or

prepare himself by his own natural not.” (Art. xxv.) I cannot but be strength, and good works, to faith of opinion, that if your corres- and calling upon God.” Besides pondent would prove his point which, I find the Liturgy full of this. from church writers, he must go doctrine-prayer after prayer beback beyond the time of the Re- ing plain petitions for divine asformation, to the church which was sistance. Grant that by tby older than that era, but not so old boly inspiration we may think those as the days of the Apostles. things that be good," &c.

6 Grant I am, &c.

that they may both perceive and
know what things they ought to do,
and may have grace

and
power

faith

fully to fulfil the same," &c.“ Give To the Editor of the Christian Observer. us grace that we may receive that, I have been a member of the So- his inestimable benefit, (the sacrifice ciety for promoting Christian Know. for sin,)” &c. “Give unto us inledge about eight years, but my crease of faith,&c.

" That it occupation has not enabled me to may please thee to give us true do more than give it my pecuniary repentance.".

- Grant us so per-, aid. I have recently been dis. fectly to believe in thy Son Jesus turbed by reading, in the Commen. Cbrist.” “ Grant us perfectly to tary upon the Bible, now publish- know thy Son Jesus Christ, to be the ing under the authority of the So- way, the truth," &c.“ We give thee ciety, the following passage :

bumble thanks for that thou hast " Our translation of this pas- vouchsafed to call us to the knowsage, (Eph. xi. 8.) For by grace ledge of thy grace and faith in are ye saved, through faith ; and thee.” that not of yourselves, it is the I must copy a great part of the gift of God, is a little ambiguous, Liturgy, to insert all the passages and inany people have unhappily bearing on this point. I am not concluded from it that faith is the now labouring to show that the gift of God; a gift, I mean, in some

doctrine sanctioned by the Society peculiar sense ; such a gift as is not for promoting Christian Knowledge vouchsafed to mankind in general, is unscriptural, and a false inferlike the gift of reason, or any other ence from the text : if it is shown common blessing."

to be subversive of the doctrine of This unhappy” conclusion, the established Church, I conceive which the Society's Commentary it to be the duty of our spiritual laments, I was led into by the kind rulers to step forward and save it care of a tender mother, who early from the heretical views now sent taught me the Catechism of our forth into the world, under the church ; and the part that convin- sanction (doubtless unwittingly) ) ced me that faith and every spiri- of this Society. That it is unscriptual blessing were gifts, was this: tural is plain to the meanest ca

“My good child, know this, that pacity who studies his Bible, and thou art not able to do these things who, instead of the fallible opiof thyself, nor to walk in the com- nions of mortals, seeks (as directed mandments of God, and to serve by our Catechism) the “ special him without his special grace, grace” of God to direct him into wbich thou must learn at all times the knowledge and belief of the to call for by diligent prayer.”

truth. Since my childhood, I learnt in I hope the “unhappy concluour Prayer-book, that “the con. sion," (viz. that faith is the gift dition of man after the fall of Adam of God-a special gift to be called is such that he cannot turn and for earnestly by prayer) will never

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »