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with fond solicitude. But God conferred on us during our pilhas beyond measure exceeded our grimage on earth, that we appeared expectations: he has made a little here, and gave in our names among one a thousand, and has inspired the Founders of the Missionary Sous with the most exalted hopes. ciety, and the time will be ever reNow we do not think ourselves membered by us, and may it be in danger of being mistaken when celebrated by future ages, as the we say, that we shall account it ÆRA OF CHRISTIAN BENEVOthrough eternity a distinguished LENCE.” favour, and the highest honour
(To be continued.)
· ORIGINAL ESSAYS, COMMUNICATIONS, &c.
ON THE PRESENT STATE AND with the greatest liberality and PROSPECTS OF ORTHODOX DIS. candour compatible with sincerity SENT.
and truth. It is not, however, to Et genus et proavos, et que non fecimus
be denied that, in practice, we ipsi,
have fallen, as it regards this Vix ea nostra voco.
Virg. point, into two opposite errors. (To the Editors.)
Incidit in Scyllam cupiens vitare Cha. GentleMEN—The following letter, on a rybdin. subject, certainly, in itself of great importance
If at any time, in our apologies
If at any time in our anologies to the cause of Dissent, is at your service ; and, should it meet your views, may probably for Dissent, we have assumed an constitute one of a series, for insertion in your attitude too violent and declamavaluable Magazine.
tory for those whose motto is arFrom your obedient Servant,
gument and truth, we have cerSPECTATOR.
tainly, at some periods, and in MY DEAR FRIEND-I have not some instances, on the contrary, forgotten the conversation which while endeavouring to avoid the occurred, at our recent interview, rock, and the Cerberean clamour, on some topics connected with mo- of polemical debate, been in dan, dern Nonconformity; and though ger of deviating into the gulf of I almost despair of suggesting any indifference. Truth may be sacrithing new on a subject, with all ficed to a dread of the odium theolos the bearings of which you are gicum, and to a mean-spirited quies, already so familiar, I nevertheless cence, assuming the name of peace. comply with your request, by put I am not sure whether this be not an ting down a few of my lucubra- evil to which we are prone in the tions, as they arise, in the tangible present day. It seems to be reform of a letter.
garded as somewhat rude and unYour views, if I mistake not, as courtly, even by many of ourto the proper spirit and manner of selves, to say much in reference to defending and propagating our te- the subject of Dissent, however, nets, as Dissenters from the eccle- dispassionately, in presence of siastical constitution of the coun- those who are known to adhere to try, perfectly coincide with my the contrary opinion. From the own. Indeed, on this subject pulpit we seldom, comparatively, there can scarcely be but one de- hear the subject broached without liberate opinion; namely, that we apology, though it is so intimately should endeavour to the utmost and vitally connected with the spi-, to unite a frank and manly avowal, rituality of the kingdom of Jesus
Christ. Far, far be the profane present world, Dissenters may spirit of bigotry both from our sometimes be thought to manifest altars and our hearths! but let a spirit bordering on sullen indetruth,-truth unconstrained and pendence, or sturdy defiance, not free, be the ministering angel at to say violent recrimination ; a the one, and the tutelary genius sentiment this, perfectly natural to of the other. That theory and the sense of oppression and rethose forms, which have lain em- straint; a feeling, morbid and balmed, since the Reformation, sickly indeed, but to be regarded under gothic crypts and dormi- as an aspect exhibited by minds tories, and the twilight of stained waning under the dark and deadly glass, which venerable relics even shade of a monopolizing establishwe Vandals can admire, are re- ment. No doubt, from the times garded, one might suppose, as too of our forefathers, in whom we worshipful cheaply to be exposed glory, till the present, many a to the full day-light of investiga conscientious Nonconformist, (nottion, in this innovating and prying withstanding our enjoyment; to so age; though, it must be allowed, considerable an extent, of the inthe more Egyptian darkness from alienable right of religious liberty,) which those forms originally has been deeply sensible of the emerged, was consecrated by a paralyzing effect of the haughty much longer and more undisputed despotism, the stately repulsivereign.
ness, the genius of exclusion, De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
which infallibly characterize, more
or less, a religion established by But if Dissent be founded on law. Its absolute spirit throws a argument and truth; or, in other spell of hopeless inactivity over words, if reason, the New Testa- the whole territory that lies withment, and the history of all ages out its precincts, which nothing since the primitive times, concur but the most determined energy in testifying that Christianity is can break. It casts a dead weight corrupted, when incorporated with on all the mental power foreign to the kingdoms of this world ; that itself: closes up the avenues to the Church, instead of maintaining honourable distinction ; damps the her purity as the spouse of Christ, flame of laudable emulation ; is degraded and debased from this crushes and treads out the spark high and heavenly destination, of rising genius, with its massy when she becomes the tool of and colossal limbs, as it states, and is made to share the thrones of princes, why should we Sometimes like gorgeous tragedy, refrain from eagerly seizing on
In sceptred pall comes sweeping by; every eligible occasion of defend- and, in short, claiming the sole ing and promulgating tenets which key to the chief seats of literature, we believe to be a constituent part and its principal rewards, together of the Christian revelation ; feel- with a wide dominion over the ing, at the same time, that we can honours and emoluments of the afford both to exercise all due can- commonwealth; and, at the same dour, and to speak with all the time, aspiring to an exclusive kinfreedom of conscious integrity and dred with the company of the truth.
apostles, it has presumed, so far As a class of the community, as in it lies, as it were, to render who cannot but be sensible of the the heavens above as brass, and disparagement under which they the earth beneath as iron, to all labour in innumerable respects, who are separated from its pale. bearing on the interests of the The tone, however, which, as
Dissenters, we should endeavour that their spiritual and native to maintain, in advocating those beauty should be disguised under sentiments which still render us a the artificial array of a secular inkind of rure aves in the community stitution. at large, is, without doubt, at an Whether all National Estabequal remove from bigotry and lishments, and, among the rest, vulgar declamation, on the one that of our own country, be deshand, and a tame and supple ob- tined to dissolution, ere the milsequiousness, on the other. Whilst lenial glory of the universal church it is freely acknowledged that the shall have attained its zenith, is question of Conformity does not a secret known only to Omniaffect the actual point of salvation science, and is hidden in the itself, provided the conscience be womb of that futurity which nopure of guilty motive, in the case thing but the lapse of time can of the Conformist; so, I conceive, bring to light. Whatever be the on a subject, confessedly on both designs of Eternal Providence, in sides, of so great moment as the this respect, certain it is, let ignointegrity and purity of the king- rance or intolerance surmise what dom of Christ, it is incumbent on they may, there is too much reathe Dissenter, with his views, dis- son and piety among Dissenters, tinctly to guard against convey- to allow them ever to do othering the impression that his sepa- wise than deprecate such a disration from the Establishment is ruption of the church from her merely nominal or accidental, po- worldly alliances, as would enlitical or hereditary; and that, danger the public safety, or tend after all, the constitution and to involve the empire in anarchy frame-work of the Christian Church and confusion. Rather do they is a matter of little significance to desire and pray, that truth may the glory of God, or the interests walk forth, and achieve her conof mankind. The charity of the quests, not arrayed in the garment Gospel, indeed, bids us cherish a of vengeance, as an angel of defraternal affection toward all cre- struction, but in the milder and dible Christians, of whatever name more appropriate form of an angel
-a sentiment, it is hoped, we are of light. Such must be the earnot backward to indulge; and, on nest wish and aspiration of every this principle, we can embrace as devout and philanthropic mind. brethren the Roman Catholic on Nor are we inclined to entertain the one hand, and the Quaker on any other apprehensions. It seems the other, provided, as individu- not, indeed, improbable that the als, they maintain the leading established religion may, at all principles, and the practice of events, be destined to undergo a Christianity ; though, at the same process of reform in this country, time, we are far from being in- where, including the sister island, different to their respective errors the reformation from Popery was of superstition or incredulity. Nei- much less deep and radical than ther should the communion of in any other. spirit we desire to feel with mem- The legitimate instrument by bers of the Established Church, which truth obtains its triumphs, in whom we so frequently recog- is argument and persuasion. As nize the most exemplary exhibition knowledge continues to advance, of the image of the Saviour, and and descends progressively from so much in the practice of the the higher to the lower classes of Christian virtues that we would society, every subject amenable wish to imitate, induce us to re- to reason is brought more comfrain from expressing our regret pletely to the public bar, and is submitted to the verdict of an in- tered by an increasing number of creasing number of individuals, the established clergy, cannot adwho are qualified to form a judg- mit a doubt, even on the retrospect ment on its merits. The voice of of a very few years. This happy public opinion, properly so called, omen, whatever become of Dissent, is irresistible. Nothing but time every Christian mind must feel is wanting to render it triumphant. disposed most heartily to hail. Though it may long seem to be “ Christ is preached : I therein reunheard, or disregarded, amid the joice; yea, and will rejoice.” It is, din of party interest, or the ab- however, worthy of a question, sorbing selfishness of private am- how far, in the present condition bition, it must ultimately prevail. and aims of the body of orthoThough the Church of England dox Dissenters, the purer exhishould not be actually subverted, bition of the Gospel, which is thus nor her many thrones crumbled happily gaining ground in the into dust by national convulsions, Establishment, will tend to pro(which God forbid !) it is not chi- duce a reabsorption of those who merical to suppose that, at some are now viewed as separate from period, perhaps not very distant, its communion. she may feel herself, in the pro- This result, which, to some may gress of knowledge and public appear a mere imagination, has opinion, compelled at least to re- been regarded, by persons whose form some of her more gross and judgment is entitled to respect, as palpable abuses, and to hearken to far from improbable. The episthat voice which, as it is the law- copal church possesses all the ful monitor of the state, claims to weight and recommendation of be also that of the church itself, secular power and dignity ; her and which, though it never burst clergy, taken in the mass, are the in a storm upon her head, may be most learned body of men in the perpetually heard, at intervals, in world, and their exertions in the powerful and steady murmurs, like cause of biblical literature are mo. distant thunder, in her horizon. It numents of her fame, more innis not too much, moreover, to sup- perishable than brass; and, stimupose, that those doctrines which, lated as they have been, by the fermenting, centuries ago, amid splendid rewards she has susthe dregs of Popery, effected her pended over the heads of her sons, separation from that corrupt com- are such as no other Christian munity, may ultimately conduce community can boast. The adto her still further reform, and in ministration of the system, as it culcate, at length, the painful les- appears to the public view, is enson, that Christ's kingdom is not tirely in its favour; disencumof this world.
bered of the obvious puerilities of But whatever be the ultimate Popery, and adapted to blend the bearing which a return to the emotions of piety with those of practical exhibition of those doc- sentiment and taste, and to appeal trines, which sealed her indepen- to the eye, the ear, and the heart of dence of the triple crown, and man, as a sensitive being. Even confirmed her dissent from the our own immortal Milton, all antiPapal hierarchy, may have upon prelatical as he was, it is evident, her own destiny, it is not irrele- by no means felt insensible to vant to suggest the inquiry, what
The high embowed roof, effect this is likely to produce on With antique pillar, massy proof, the interests of Nonconformity? And That the great leading doctrines
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow, of the Reformation are adminis. To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthem clear, devotion, and to mar the beauty
But, to return from
gression, there are circumstances These subsidiaries to devotional which, viewed in connection with sentiment, if such they be, are the increasing energies and piety not peculiar to any establishment, of the national clergy, look with Papal or Protestant, Episcopal a more ominous aspect on the inor Presbyterian, and would equally terests of Nonconformity, and are harmonize even with the congre- to be regarded as at once the gational discipline, though they symptoms and the cause of interare not all at our disposal. It is nal weakness, not to say the preobvious, however, that we are far cursors of decline. Have not paenough removed, in general, from rents too much neglected to imbue duly appreciating those accessories the minds of their children with to our system, which are easily the history of the great founders within our power. Let any per- of Dissent, to endeavour to inspire son, possessing the slightest ear them with reverence for their piety, for cadences and music, enter their disinterestedness, their enmany of our congregations, even durance of persecutions, necessiin the metropolis, which, it were ties, imprisonments, for Christ's reasonable to expect, would not sake, and for the truth? Many be deficient in the example of who attend the now half-deserted decency and order in public wore places where these master-spirits ship, and he can scarcely fail to laboured, have barely heard of be sensible of a disturbance, if not their very names. The neglect of a shock, to his devotional feelings. inculcating the motives from which The leader of the psalmody, instead they acted. at an age when the of being, as he ought, if possible, a conscience is tender, and the mind man of some pretence to common still ingenuous and unsophisti. education, not unfrequently cannot cated, has left the junior branches read a line, without doing violence of dissenting families open, at a to the sense of the author by his more mature period, to the full improper emphasis, and to the impression of the brilliant visions, taste of the audience by the vi- the emoluments, and advantages ciousness of his pronunciation; which are always, more or less. and we should, moreover, be some connected with an established re. times ready to imagine that the ligion : and, in consequence, many ne plus ultra of psalmody con- have forsaken the discipline of sisted in affected grimace and vo- their forefathers. The inertness ciferation. That will be a more or poverty of mind which has been prosperous period of the church, manifested by some of the de. when those who boast of a purer scendants of these great men : form, and a more rational worship, their repugnance against fairly shall be more alive to the impor- meeting the objections of youthtance of things which are too often, ful inquirers after truth, at a period in the present day, neglected as of life when error was not rivetted, secondaries, but which, there is no has contributed its share, in many doubt, as they frequently exist, instances, to prejudice young perhave the effect of repelling many sons of some taste and cultivation from coming in contact with Dis- against evangelical Christianity; sent, and, wbich is of far higher and as such minds are not apt to consequence, have a direct ten- be imposed on, with the multitude, dency in many minds to injure by mere dogmatisni and assertion,
New Series, No. 13.