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Art? V. An Historical Inquiry concerning the Principles, Opinions, and Usages of the English Presbyterians; chiefly from the Restoration of Charles the Second to the Death of Queen Anne. By Joshua Wilson, Esq. 8vo, pp. 256. London, 1835.
'T'HE rapid conversion of English Presbyterianism into that ambiguous and skulking heresy, Modern Unitarianism, is a
Ehenomenon which deserves a more attentive examination than it has yet received. It is true, that Independency has gained the ground which Orthodox Presbyterianism has lost; and the Author of "Spiritual Despotism" tells us, in language which seems to bemoan the calamity, that 'the English Dissenters have fallen 'from Presbyterianism to Congregationalism;' that is, they have fallen upwards, and expanded from a decaying sect into an energetic and powerful body. But there is one part of Presbyterianism,—an external part, indeed, yet essential to its existence, for it has never been able to stand its ground without it,—which has not shared in this transformation; and that is, its endowments. These remain as a monument of the Presbyterian faith and piety of former centuries; and so long as they survive, the name of Presbyterianism is immortal. It is true, the original family line is extinct, but the name goes with the estate; and Unitarianism is, for all the purposes of trusts and endowments, as orthodox as the Assembly's Catechism or the Thirty-nine Articles can make it. We all know that there are titles dependent upon feudal tenure: in like manner, so long as any parties hold Presbyterian property, can there be a reasonable doubt that they are thereby constituted Presbyterians?
But certain parties, not content with this undeniable proof of their title to the name of Presbyterians, wish to make us believe that they hold substantially the same creed as their pious predecessors, and that 'the two bodies of Presbyterian and Congre'gational Dissenters were, at the beginning of the last century, 'opposed to each other on the same essential points' on which modern Independents and Unitarians are now opposed. The truth or falsehood of this statement can be determined only by an appeal to existing documents. Accordingly, Mr. Joshua Wilson, to whose zealous and indefatigable labours the Dissenting public are under numerous obligations, has here presented to us the result of a careful examination of books and pamphlets written by eminent English Presbyterian divines, during the period in question, which seem to place beyond all reasonable doubt the fact, 'that the English Presbyterians, from the Revolution to 'the death of Queen Anne, adhered, from conviction, to the or'thodox faith professed by their predecessors during the Long 'Parliament.'
Apart from all litigation respecting the rightful claim to trusts and charities, this inquiry is one of deep interest, as it affects the memory of the venerable founders of that once flourishing community of Christian Professors, and as it bears upon the religious history of our own country. Mr. Wilson's Inquiry is prosecuted by the patient labour of citation from a mass of documents. The most numerous extracts are from the works of Richard Baxter and Dr. Daniel Williams, both of whom took a prominent part in the affairs of the Presbyterian body. But various public declarations of faith, and the Heads of Agreement assented to by the United Ministers of the two denominations, in 1691, are adduced to disprove the representation, that the doctrinal sentiments of the Presbyterians were at that time at all approaching to those of Modern Unitarians. The assertion that they held 'a modified Arminianism,' Mr. Wilson thus meets.
'I shall now produce a passage from 'A Defence of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England,' containing also an attack on Dissenters, by Dr. William Nichols, published in 1715:—"If we consider the different phrase and method of their prayers, some being Calvinistical, others Arminian; though we could think the Holy Spirit would descend to the singularities of these theologists, yet we must not charge him with such contrarieties and clashings as they are guilty of." The learned James Peirce, in his Vindication of the Dissenters, published in answer to the work from which the above is taken, thus animadverts on this vituperative passage: "Who, I pray, are those Armenians amongst us? Our author, perhaps, here meant the Quakers, or some of the Anabaptists. But if we will speak the truth, the Arminians themselves are hardly Arminiaus in offering up their prayers to God."
'Can any person suppose for a moment, after reading this passage, that the Presbyterians, any more than the Independents, or those called "Particular Baptists," were at that time Arminians?
• But to place the matter beyond the possibility of doubt, I will quote a passage from Dr. Calamy's "Brief but True Account of the Protestant Dissenters in England," first printed at the end of a sermon, published in 1717=—
'" But notwithstanding these, and some other such differences among themselves [on the mode of Church Government and Baptism] they generally agree in the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, (which they subscribe,) the Confession of Faith, and larger and smaller Catechisms, compiled by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and the judgment of the British Divines at the Synod of Dort, about the Quinquarticular Controversies." '—p. 101.
One of the earliest avowed Arminians among the Presbyterians, was the celebrated Dr. George Benson, who was ordained at Abingdon in 1723. It must be recollected, that Arminianism had long been fashionable within the Establishment; and that Dissent received the infection both of that system and of Socinian
ism from the Episcopal Church. A Mr. Thomas Newman, who became assistant to Dr. Wright, at Carter Lane, Doctor's Commons, in 1718, and was afterwards pastor till his death in l758, ‘was probably,' Mr. Wilson states, 'the first Dissenting minis‘ter who defended the doctrine generally indicated by the phrase, 'the innocence of mental error, which had been broached in 'this country by Dr. Sykes, a clergyman of the Church of Eng‘land in 1715.' We cannot attempt any abstract of the mass of materials which Mr. Wilson has here brought together. The pamphlet is not deficient in either perspicuity or arrangement; but it would have been far more readable, had Mr. Wilson divided it into sections, and indicated, by head lines, the points which the citations are meant to substantiate. It would have been worth while, also, to have furnished an Index or Table of Contents. He has amply made out his case; but the reader, after going through the whole, will still find it difficult to tax his memory with the details, and will feel at a loss for want of a judicious summing up of the main features of the evidence.
Anr. VI. LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.
In the Press, Chronological Charts, illustrative of Ancient History and Geography. By John Drew.
In the Press, Lectures on Moral Philosophy. By R. D. Hampden, D.D. Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Oxford.
In the Press, Letters on the Philosophy of Unbelief. By the Rev. James Wills.
In the Press, The Fifth Edition of The Steam Engine, explained
and illustrated in a familar style, with its application to the Arts and
Manufactures, more especially in transport by Land and Water; with
some Account of the Rail Roads now in progress in various parts of
the World. By the Rev. Dionysius Lardner, LL.D., 12mo. Illustrated with numerous Engravings and Wood Cuts. ' _
In the Press, A Volume of Sermons, adapted to the Mechanical and Agricultural Population. By E. W. Clarke, Rector of Great Yeldham, Essex.
In the Press, Statement of the Provision for the Poor, and the Condition of the Labouring Classes, in a considerable portion of America
and Europe. By Nassau W. Senior, Esq. Being the Preface to the
Foreign Communications contained in the Appendix to the Poor Law Report.
Shortly will be published, in 1 Vol. 12mo, Hints on the Regulation of Christian Churches, adapted to the present state of their Affairs. By the Rev. C. Stovel.
Mrs. Joanna Baillie has in the Press, three new volumes of Dramas on the Passions and Miscellaneous Dramas.
The Nineteenth part of Views in England and Wales, from drawings by J. M. W. Turner, Esq., R.A., with descriptive and historic illustrations by H. E. Lloyd, Esq., in 4to, will be published shortly.
The Second Part of Practical Observations on the immediate treatment of the Principal Emergencies that occur in Surgery and Midwifery, systematically arranged. By W. S. Oke, M.D., is nearly ready.
In the Press, the Autobiography of an Irish Traveller, in 3 vols. post 8vo.
In the Press, the Life and Times of William III., King of England and Stadtholder of Holland. By the Hon. Arthur Trevor, M.P., M.A., &c., Christ Church, Oxford. 2 vols. 8vo.
In the Press, Memoirs of the Life, Works, and Correspondence of Sir William Temple. By the Right Hon. Thomas Peregrine Courtenay.
In the Press, Life of Edward, Earl of Clarendon. By T. H. Lister, Esq., author of Granby, &c.; with a Portrait.
In the Press, the Life of Edward the Black Prince. By G. P. R. James, Esq., Author of " Darnley," " Richelieu," the " Gipsy," &c.
In the Press, Lectures on Diseases of the Chest. By Thomas Davies, M.D.
In the Press, Boyhood, a Poem. With other Poems and Translations. By Charles A. Elton, Author of a translation of Hesiod. With a frontispiece by Lightfoot, from an original Picture by Rippingille.
The Antiquities of Athens accurately measured and delineated by Stuart and Revett, are now in a course of republication in imperial folio: this work contains 384 engravings by eminent artists, accompanied by Essays, architectural, classical, historical, explanatory, and descriptive; exhibiting and elucidating the purest examples of Grecian Architecture. The re-issue is published in parts at five shillings each, any of which may be procured saparately.
The re-issue of the Architectural Antiquities of Rome, by Antoine Desgodetz, Architect to his Most Christian Majesty, and Professor of Architecture in the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts at Paris, is now in rapid progress, in parts at five shillings each: it will comprize 137 folio plates, selected from the most esteemed specimens of Roman magnificence, with descriptions and explanations: any particular number may be obtained at the option of the purchaser. The scrupulous accuracy of the measurements, no less than the judicious selection of elegant subjects, has ever excited the admiration of scientific professors; to the student in architecture it is invaluable.
Art. VII. WORKS RECENTLY PUBLISHED.
Lord Teignmouth's Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir William Jones; with Notes, Selections from his Works, and a Life of Lord Teignmouth. By the Rev. Samuel Charles Wilks, M.A. 8 vol. Foolscap 8vo, with Portraits. 10s. (J</.
Dissertations on the Eumenides of JEschylus, with the Greek Text, and Critical Remarks. Translated from the German of O. C. Muller. Demy 8vo., 9s. 64.
The Anglo-Saxon Church, its History, Revenues, and General Character. By the Rev. Henry Soames, M.A., Author of "The History of the Reformation." Demy 8vo. 10s. Gel.
Memoirs of Lord Bolingbroke, and of his Times. By George Wingrove Cooke, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. 2 vols. 8vo., with fine Portrait.
An Historical Inquiry concerning the Principles, Opinions, and Usages of the English Presbyterians; chiefly from the Restoration of Charles the Second to the death of Queen Anne. By Joshua Wilson, Esq. 8vo., 5s.
*,* This publication is intended to disprove the assertions contained in several pamphlets relating to Lady Hewley's case.
Old Maids; their Varieties, Characters, and Conditions. Post 8vo., 6*.
The Faust of Goethe; attempted in English Rhyme. By the Hon. Robert Talbot. Demy 8vo., 8s.
The Miracles of Jesus Christ considered as illustrative of the Doctrines of the Gospel; in Four Sermons, preached before the University of Cambridge. By the Rev. Charles Lawson, M.A., of St. John's College; Morning Preacher at the Foundling Hospital. Demy 8vo., 2s. 6d.
Familiar Lectures to Children, in which the important truths of the Gospel are engagingly set forth. Edited by the Rev. J. Hobart Caunter, B.D. Small 8vo., 2*.
Light in Darkness; or, the Records of a Village Rectory. Foolscap 8vo., 3s. 6d.
Relics of the Sacred Ministry, being Thirteen Discourses, by the late Rev. Philip Bearcroft, D.D., Master of the Charter House, Prebendary of Ely, and Clerk of the Closet to George IL 1 vol. 8vo.
A Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia, performed in H.M.S. Leven and Barracouta, from 1822 to 1826, under the command of Captain F. W. W. Owen, R.N. By Captain Thomas Boteler, R.N, under the directions of the Lords of the Admiralty. 2 vols. 8vo., with Plates.