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will lay before our readers the sentiments of Philagatharches—a stern subacid Dissenter.
“I shall not here enter into a comprehensive discussion of the mature of a call to the ministerial office; but deduce my proposition from a sentiment admitted equally by conformists and nonconformists. It is essential to the nature of a call to preach “that a man be moved by the Holy Ghost to enter upon the work of the ministry;” and, if the Spirit of God operate powerfully upon his heart, to constrain him to appear as a public teacher of religion, who shall command him to desist? We have seen that the sanction of the magistrate can give no authority to preach the gospel; and if he were to forbid our exertions, we must persist in the work: we dare not relinquish a task that God has required us to perform; we cannot keep our consciences in peace, if our lips are closed in silence, while the Holy Ghost is moving our hearts to proclaim the tidings of salvation: “Yea, woe is unto me,” saith St. Paul, “if I preach not the gospel.” Thus, when the Jewish priests had taken Peter and John into custody, and, after examining them concerning their doctrine, “ commanded them not to speak at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus,” these apostolical champions of the cross undauntedly replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Thus, also, in our day, when the Holy Ghost excites a man to preach the gospel to his fellow-sinners, his message is sanctioned by an authority, which is “far above all principality and power;” and, consequently, neither needs the approbation of subordinate rulers, nor admits of revocation by their countermanding edicts.
‘3dly, He who receives a license should not expect to derive from it a testimony of qualification to preach.
“It would be grossly absurd to seek a testimony of this description from any single individual, even though he were an experienced veteran in the service of Christ: for all are fallible; and, under some unfavourable prepossession, even the wisest or the best of men might give an erroneous decision upon the case. But this observation will gain additional force, when we suppose the power of judging transferred to the person of the magistrate. We cannot presume that a civil ruler understands as much of theology as a minister of the gospel. His necessary duties prevent him from critically investigating questions upon divinity; and confine his attention to that particular department which society has deputed him to occupy; and, hence, to expect at his hands a testimony of qualification to preach, would be almost as ludicrous as to require an obscure country curate to fill the office of Lord Chancellor. “But again—admitting that a magistrate, who is nominated by the sovereign to issue forth licenses to dissenting ministers, is competent to the task of judging of their natural and acquired abilities, it must still remain a doubtful question whether they are moved to preach by the influences of the Holy Ghost; for it is the prerogative of God alone to “search the heart and try the reins” of the children of men. Consequently, after every effort of the ruling powers to assume to themselves the right of judging whether a man be or be not qualified to preach, the most essential property of the call must remain to be determined by the conscience of the individual. ‘It is further worthy of observation, that the talents of a preacher may be acceptable to many persons, if not to him who issues the license. The taste of a person thus high in office may be too refined to derive gratification from any but the most learned, intelligent, and accomplished preachers. Yet, as the gospel is sent to the poor as well as to the rich, perhaps hundreds of preachers may be highly acceptable, much esteemed, and eminently useful in their respective circles, who would be despised as men of mean attainments by one whose mind is well stored with literature, and cultivated by science. From these remarks I inser, that a man's own judgment must be the criterion, in determining what line of conduct to pursue before he begins to preach; and the opinion of the people to whom he ministers must determine whether it be desirable that he should continue to fill their pulpit. — (168–173.)
The sentiments of Philagatharches are expressed still more strongly in a subsequent passage.
‘Here a question may arise — what line of conduct conscientious ministers ought to pursue, if laws were to be enacted, forbidding either all dissenting ministers to preach, or only lay preachers; or forbidding to preach in an unlicensed place; and, at the same time, refusing to license persons and places, except under such security as the property of the parties would not meet, or under limitations to which their consciences could not accede. What has been advanced ought to outweigh every consideration of temporal interest; and, if the evil genius of persecution were to appear again, I pray God that we might all be faithful to Him who hath called us to preach the gospel. Under such circumstances, let us continue to preach; if fined, let us pay the penalty, and persevere in preaching ; and, when unable to pay the fine, or deeming it impolitic so to do, let us submit to go quietly to prison, but with the resolution still to preach upon the first opportunity, and, if possible, to collect a church even within the precincts of the gaol. He who, by these zealous exertions, becomes the honoured instrument of converting one sinner unto God, will find that single seal to his ministerial labours an ample compensation for all his sufferings. In this manner, the venerable apostle of the Gentiles both avowed and proved his sincere attachment to the cause in which he had embarked:—“The Holy Ghost witnesseth, in every city, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” “In the early ages of Christianity martyrdom was considered an eminent honour; and many of the primitive Christians thrust themselves upon the notice of their heathen persecutors, that they might be brought to suffer in the cause of that Redeemer whom they ardently loved. In the present day, Christians in general incline to estimate such rash ardour as a species of enthusiasm, and feel no disposition to court the horrors of persecution; yet, if such dark and tremendous days were to return in this age of the world, ministers should retain their stations; they should be true to their charge ; they should continue their ministrations, each man in his sphere, shining with all the lustre of genuine godliness, to dispel the gloom in which the nation would then be enveloped. If this line of conduct were to be adopted, and acted upon with decision, the cause of piety, of nonconformity, and of itinerant preaching, must eventually triumph. All the gaols in the country would speedily be filled; those houses of correction, which were erected for the chastisement of the vicious in the community, would be replenished with thousands of the most pious, active, and useful men in the kingdom, whose characters are held in general esteem. But the ultimate result of such despotic proceedings is beyond the ken of human prescience: — probably, appeals to the public and the legislature would teem from the press, and, under such circumstances, might diffuse a revolutionary spirit throughout the country.”—(239–243.)
We quote these opinions at length, not because they are the opinions of Philagatharches, but because we are confident that they are the opinions of ten thousand hot-headed fanatics, and that they would firmly and conscientiously be acted upon.
Philagatharches is an instance (not uncommon, we are sorry to say, even among the most rational of the Protestant Dissenters) of a love of toleration combined with a love of persecution. He is a Dissenter, and earnestly demands religious liberty for that body of men; but as for the Catholics, he would not only continue their present disabilities, but load them with every new one that could be conceived. He expressly says, that an Atheist or a Deist may be allowed to propagate their doctrines, but not a Catholic; and then proceeds with all the customary trash against that sect which nine schoolboys out of ten now know how to refute. So it is with Philagatharches;– so it is with weak men in every sect. it has ever been our object, and (in spite of misrepresentation and abuse) ever shall be our object, to put down this spirit—to protect the true interests, and to diffuse the true spirit, of toleration. To a well-supported national Establishment, effectually discharging its duties, we are very sincere friends. If any man, after he has paid his contribution to this great security for the existence of religion in any shape, choose to adopt a religion of his own, that man should be permitted to do so without let, molestation, or disqualification for any of the offices of life. We apologise to men of sense for sentiments so trite; and patiently endure the anger which they will excite among those with whom they will pass for original.
CHARLES FOX. (E. Review, 1811.)
A Windication of Mr. For's History of the early Part of the JReign of James the Second. By Samuel Heywood, Serjeantat-Law. London, Johnson & Co. 1811.
THOUGH Mr. Fox's history was, of course, as much open to animadversion and rebuke as any other book, the task, we think, would have become any other person better than Mr. Rose. The whole of Mr. Fox's life was spent in opposing the profligacy and exposing the ignorance of his own court. In the first half of his political career, while Lord North was losing America, and in the latter half while Mr. Pitt was ruining Europe, the creatures of the Government were eternally exposed to the attacks of this discerning, dauntless, and most powerful speaker. Folly and corruption never had a more terrible enemy in the English House of Commons – one whom it was so impossible to bribe, so hopeless to elude, and so difficult to answer. Now it so happened, that during the whole of this period, the historical critic of Mr. Fox was employed in subordinate offices of Government; — that the detail of taxes passed through his hands; — that he amassed a large fortune by those occupations;–and that, both in the measures which he supported, and in the friends from whose patronage he received his emoluments, he was completely and perpetually opposed to Mr. Fox. Again, it must be remembered, that very great people have very long memories for the injuries which they receive, or which they think they receive. No speculation was so good, therefore, as to vilify the memory of Mr. Fox, — nothing so delicious as to lower him in the public estimation, – no service so likely to be well rewarded – so eminently grateful to those of whose favour Mr. Rose had so often tasted the sweets, and of