Imagens das páginas

not our friend's type of the church, but the outline of God's administration of the affairs of the world ; beginning with the publication of the Gospel, and ending with the day of judgment—that great day, when the doom of every man-not every professor merely, but the doom of every man is to be decided, and when that decision is to be followed up by the application of the parable of the wheat and the tares. Let us hear no more then of the 'tares and wheat as professors of the church. The tares and the wheat are the race of men. The field is the world in which that race has grown up. This description of the parable accords not with that of our worthy friend, but as he had adopted the theory of Hooker, in regarding the inhabitants of a kingdom, and the members of a church, or baptized nation, as he called it, the same, he must admit then that he had before him a mass of wheat and tares, but he kept it out of view that they were the world and not the church. Then our friend speaks of the net being thrown into the sea for fish, when both bad and good were taken ; that is just another case of the same kind. It is the form of the administration of God's moral economy under the revelation of the Gospel of Christ, that is intended to be set forth ; and the good fish and the bad, must be placed on the same ground with the wheat and the tares, including the world. The world was the field, and give me leave to add, the world was the sea, and under both cases we have the same doctrine, which is also illustrated by the invitation to the feast. Individuals may come in to the feast or may refuse to come in ; but those who refuse, and those who come in under hypocrisy, are considered at last on the same ground by the Lord of the feast. We have not a church in this case before us.'- Burnet, Pp:

12-14. The second lecture is chiefly occupied with a consideration of the argument advanced by Mr. M'Neile, in support of the authority of the civil ruler in matters of religion.

The fifth lecture by Mr. King, on the true independence of the Church of Christ,' is a logical performance, written with force and feeling. His object is to show, that a voluntary maintenance of the church is essential to its liberty, and that a state-paid church cannot enjoy the scriptural freedom of the Church of Christ.

His positions are as follow :1. If the state provides for the church, it must regulate its provision.

2. The temporal provision, afforded by the state to the Church, opens up a constant inlet to political interference.

3. A church in alliance with the state, cannot conform its creed to the standard of Revelation.

4. Churches allied with the state, subject themselves by that alliance to the yoke of patronage.

The letters of Dr. Wardlaw, containing a further reply to Mr. M'Neile, reached us while engaged in writing this article. The association has acted judiciously in securing this additional advocacy of their principles, and, we may add, this fresh defeat

of the Christian Influence Society's second champion. The personal references which pervaded Mr. M'Neile's Lectures, seemed to demand Dr. Wardlaw's distinct notice. He begins by expressing the satisfaction he feels, that Mr. M'Neile has so decidedly taken the ground of Scripture authority. From the very first we expressed, in like manner, our satisfaction in his announcement of this purpose, and intimated our belief, that such an appeal must issue in a favorable result to the voluntary cause. Of this we have now no doubt; for that appeal has promoted discussion and inquiry, which must be advantageous to the interests of truth, and has already produced the happiest results.

• The one point constituting the great ecclesiastical question of the day is—whether any system of church order, how clearly soever evinced to be scriptural, ought to be established by the State. This, then, is the true previous question. It is not at all with Episcopacy, under any of its forms or modifications, that we have to do,-nor with any other ecelesiastical constitution for which scriptural authority may be pleaded. To prove the principles and practices of the English Church ever so much in accordance with the Bible,' is to do nothing towards the settlement of this question. It is not the scriptural authority of that or of any other constitution that is the point in debate; it is the scriptural authority of its establishment and endowment by the State. On the supposition of your having first proved the right and duty of the State to establish religion at all, you might then, with propriety, have asserted and vindicated the scriptural character of your own as entitling it to a preference. But if the civil establishment of christianity, under any of its external forms, has no authority from Scripture, we are constrained to say of all such discussions-cui bono? Your eloquent eulogies of the system might serve the purpose of adding to the fascination in its behalf of your episcopalian auditors, of elevating their admiration of the matchless excellencies of our church, of warming their hearts with a zealous horror against the sacrilege of touching a fabric so divine, or removing from around it the towers of earthly dignity and strength, by which it is so worthily honored and maintained. But this, you know, is only raising the old cry of Great is Diana of the Ephesians ;' and, in regard to the question of establishments, exciting a prejudice rather than impressing a conviction.'- Wardlaw, pp. 10, 11.

In this paragraph the essence of the voluntary question is brought forward to view—the very point and pith of the matter is, whether the civil establishment of christianity is authorized by Scripture, and not whether this of that form of it


be established. It is true we have serious objections to many parts of the ecclesiastical system, as incompatible with the simplicity of the Gospel, and as totally destitute of any sanction in the word of God; but the main stress of our argument rests on the unscriptural foundation of establishments. It signifies not

that the doctrines or the formularies are accordant with divine institutions, for it is not their accordance that warrants their enforcement by human laws, any more than their disagreement. In fact, their disagreement would more call for their establishment than their accordance; because, if people are to receive the interpretations of men as their religion, and not simply and solely the inspirations of heaven, surely they will require some civil enforcement to prevent all questioning and hesitancy. That communication which claims to be divine, cannot need such external influence, for its own divinity and moral power must be its strongest enforcement; our opponents seem never to understand the difference between coercion and conviction; they appear to imagine that the conscience must be satisfied when the conduct is constrained; and that outward forms and modes are identical with inward religion. To this, the very vague sense in which the term religion is employed, has conduced; sometimes meaning what is ceremonial, having relation only to outward worship, and sometimes what is spiritual or concerning the state of the heart: it is just that kind of term which is calculated to confuse the ideas and mystify the subject of discussion.

The following citation from the second letter, will furnish a specimen both of Mr. M'Neile's mystifications and Dr. Wardlaw's method of disposing of them :

• You give four reasons for dissenting from the view I had taken of the national church of Israel as a type of the spiritual community of believers under the new covenant dispensation.-My first observation respecting these is, that they are all substantially the same, all reducible to one. In the principle of them they are identical. You affix to each of them, in succession, the formal Q. E. D.—. Therefore the Jewish nation does not correspond to, and could not have been typical of, the church mystical.'-Ìn this way, you appear as if you had a succession of distinct arguments; and this imparts to your cause the semblance of greater strength of evidence than actually belongs to it. Yet what are the four points of distinction? The first is, that according to the apostle's statement, • They are not all Israel who are of Israel;' the Jewish nation contained two bodies, to be distinguished from one another Israel as seen of man' and ' an inner Israel as seen of God ;' whereas in the church mystical there is no such distinction, all who compose it being such as “truly trust in God.'— Your second is, that concerning the church mystical it is true, as Dr. Wardlaw himself allows and reiterates, that they are all true believers, but concerning the Jewish 'nation no such statement is true; they were not all believers.'- Your third is, that the Jewish nation included a vast variety of character, from the piety of a Nathanael down to the profligacy of a Barabbas, and the deeper deadlier hypocrisy of an Annas or a Caiaphas :--but the church mystical contains only one description of character: they all hear the voice of the heavenly


Shepherd, and follow him.'-Your fourth and last is, that • ing the church mystical it is written, that none of them shall perish,that they are all objects of God's endless love and saving mercy, &c.; -but concerning the Jewish nation it is written, as we have seen, that many of them perished, that God destroyed those among them who believed not.'*

Now, my dear Sir, if you saw any material difference between these four reasons of yours, I must bow to your superior powers of discrimipation; for to me they seem to be very much like each other. What is there, in them all, but the subsistence in the national Israelitish Church of two classes of characters, while in the true spiritual community of believers, called by you the church mystical,' there is but one? How could your conscience allow you thus to coin four argu. ments out of one?-And, having thus reduced them to one, I have next to ask, how the circumstance of there being a spiritual Israel, known and owned of God as such, subsisting in the midst of the national Israel, prevented the outwardly chosen and covenanted people from possessing certain analogies to the spiritual community chosen out of all nations under the New Testament dispensation, such as to constitute the one a suitable type of the other? We have seen, that a type is a shadow of good things to come, not the very image of the things.' If, therefore, the Israelitish nation had been an entirely spiritual community, with corresponding spiritual institutions and rites of worship, it could not, in strict propriety, have been a type. The correspondence would not have been one sufficiently of analogy to jus. tify the designation. There would have been, as has already been said, too much of generic identity. The shadow would have incorporated too much of the substance. It would, indeed, have been the substance. And that there are such analogies between the national church of Israel and the church mystical under the new dispensation, as to justify the view I have given of the one as a type or figure of the other, I shall not put my own inventive powers in requisition to make out, but shall take those only which the Scriptures themselves directly suggest.' ---Pp. 14, 15.

The last publication on our list is the · Voluntary;' a cheap monthly periodical, which the society issues for the purpose of recording its proceedings and diffusing its principles. To some the name may seem repulsive, yet we think it is but a fair and honest avowal of the general principles intended to be advocated. These numbers being taken as a specimen of what is to be expected hereafter, we should not hesitate to express our high estimation of it. The style of composition is calm, dignified, persuasive: its contents are often instructive; and we cannot but hope that its talent and spirit will secure for it the well-merited support both of liberal churchmen and dissenters.

The Voluntaries above all people have reason to value the press, and should avail themselves of its power. They seek no

[blocks in formation]

concealments; on the contrary their strength lies in the circulation of knowledge, and in the publicity of appeal. Their resort is not to authority, that is, human authority, but to reason and to Scripture. They are opposed in principle to the mere dogmas of tradition, the impositions of an hereditary faith, and the enforcement of creeds and formularies derived from the fathers of the church, which have nothing but antiquity for their basis, and which have been palmed upon the world by ignorance, superstition, or cunning, not to promote religion, but to prop a cumbrous and feeble system. Their chief concern is to awaken a spirit of serious inquiry and unrestricted examination. Whatever will not endure this test they reject; and they are assured that there is no better way of applying it than by the diligent use of that great means of moral improvement, and well worked press. It has been abundantly employed for questionable and injurious purposes, but it has not yet been sufficiently urged into the service of truth and righteousness. The publications enumerated at the head of this article evince the growing conviction that prevails upon the subject; and we trust that the Society which has begun so well, and which comprises among its pledged supporters so many distinguished speakers and writers, will multiply both their public lectures and their literary contributions.

a free

Art. II. Ashantee and the Gold Coast : being a Sketch of the His

tory, Social State, and Superstitions of the inhabitants of those Countries : with a Notice of the State and Prospects of Christianity among them. By John BEECHAM. London: Mason. '1841. THIS volume is intended to meet the desire for information

respecting Ashantee and the countries upon the Gold Coast, which has been recently excited by the efforts of the Wesleyan Mission in that part of the world. It contains an interesting sketch of the history and condition of the principal nations located in that part of the African continent, and is founded upon a careful investigation of the best works which have previously appeared, and of the correspondence of the Wesleyan missionaries with the society at home. The early chapters are mainly occupied with the history of Ashantee, a numerous and warlike people, with whom we have recently been brought into collision, the immediate effects of which were of the most serious and alarming character. The precise period of the foundation of the Ashantee kingdom is involved in con

« AnteriorContinuar »