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exhibited themselves a holy life, but their teaching has proved ineffectual to make others holy. The only reformers of society have been the teachers of justification. Mr. Knox seems to admit this, when, speaking of the former, he says:
We meet (only) with what is limited in number, and what therefore could never have checked the torrent of vice which has flowed down from one generation to another; nor do we meet with that contagious piety which strikes from breast to breast, and penetrates numbers at once; as has been, perhaps, more or less the case in most of the associations of Christians, while in their first earnestness ; and in none, except at Pentecost itself, more pure, or more powerfully, than when J. and C. Wesley first began their truly wonderful career.'
p. 87. Such associated bodies have always been, Mr. Knox admits, 'the working part of the Christian economy; and to them, in • their wonderfully continued succession, is to be attributed the
quantity of true Christianity which has been kept up from age 'to age, in the visible Church. This concession (must we not deem it ?) is very striking; and not less so are the subsequent observations, although we can by no means assent to the conclusion to which they are designed to lead.
• Besides, it was in this form, that Apostolic Christianity itself appeared; and every successive social system, of the kind I am speaking of, has, during the season of its first purity, exhibited a sort of renewal of that which we read of in the Acts and Epistles. Here, therefore, in an eminent sense, “the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”-Our Saviour himself has foretold, that, in consequence of first-invited guests refusing to come to the heavenly feast, a supply of persons, to fill the house, must be drawn from the streets and lanes of the city, and even from the highways and hedges. That is, as I conceive, so long as the wise, the educated, the providentially favoured, refuse to avail themselves of the blessings of the Gospel, the invisible Church must be kept up, in sufficient magnitude, from the ignorant, the illiterate, the indigent. Of these, sects and societies have been, as it appears, the appointed, and, certainly, the effectual, gatherers. They have been the bringers-home of prodigals ;-in a word, they have been the grand depositaries and dispensers of those influences of the Gospel, by which they who had been as sheep going astray, are brought back to the shepherd and bishop of their souls. I can truly say, both my head and heart are inclined to give them their full honour; and to contemplate with delight, the successive harvests of genuine Christians, which they have been the means of gathering into the garner of God. Why, then, have I pronounced them a temporary and weaker part of the Divine economy of the Church ? I wish you here to understand me clearly ; because (as I have already observed) if I am right in my idea, the point is of infinite importance. I deem them the weaker part; because, though they are powerful in numbers, yet they have never been
strong in principle. Mr. Wesley's incontrovertible observation, that they were heavenly-minded, so long only as they were persecuted, and that they began to love the world, so soon as they possessed it, evinces their radical want of strength; because it shows that, even in their best times, they were less indebted, for their well-being, to their principles, than to their circumstances. So soon as these changed, they themselves changed also ; and, therefore, it seems, that, having been successively necessary to the great designs of Heaven, Providence so ordered, that, in every instance, affliction and persecution should attend, to keep them during the season of their appointed ministration. But, this being once accomplished, providential barriers have been removed ; the common course of things has taken place; and the declensions described by Mr. Wesley, have as uniformly been the consequence.
• But, how strictly correspondent was all this, with their views being confined to first principles ! These are strengthened, instead of being shaken, by adverse circumstances. Persecution raises, at once, the babe in Christ, into a hero. If conversion be real, however crude or indigested the ideas, the subject of it is forthwith ready, perhaps then readiest, for cruel mockings or scourgings, for even bonds, imprisonment, or death ; and, while these stimulants continue to operate, they keep up the flame. But, growth in grace,—the leaving first principles, and going on to perfection,-alone gives security against the deep, stealthy, insensibly growing evils of a prosperous condition. It is not fervency of affection, that will do here. This will be formed by circumstances; and, it will gradually yield to circumstances; and he in whom it has once grown languid, will, too probably, find himself at a loss how to get it revived again. He will, probably, feel regret, perhaps grief of heart, because it is not with him, as in times past. But, it will be well, if these sensations do not, by degrees, give way to very different ones ; to the saying, in a still less wise sense than that of the Apostles, “ it is good for us to be here.” They, and they only, are proof against these seductions, who advance, from spiritual infancy, to full age ;” and “ who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”' Vol. I. pp. 84–87.
Now, in all this, there is much undeniable truth; nor can any inquiry be more instructive than that which relates to the causes of the spiritual declension which has too generally attended times of external prosperity to the Church. But it does not appear to us that Mr. Knox has even stated the case with historic fairness. * Riches and honour have produced their usual effects', in every age of the Church; and the history of the Church of Laodicea, inscribed on the page of prophetic inspiration as a perpetual warning, has been repeated in that both of established and of associated bodies. But in the midst of the corrupt establishments, Mr. Knox remarks, we find individual saints, in whom the power of • Christianity to rise above prosperity has been as clearly exempli(fied, as, in the associated class, we have seen its triumphs over • adversity. These teachers of sanctification' have been strangers to open persecutions, and have become religious amid the very
'snares which have drawn other religious persons from their in'tegrity.' But have not individual saints, equally eminent, shone forth amid the general declension of societies of the stricter sort'? Mr. Knox does not deny this, but he thinks that such instances cannot have been 'very numerous'; otherwise there would have been no room for the melancholy statements referred to, respecting the declension of the life and power of religion in the Puritan and Nonconformist bodies. But the question returns, Have such instances been very numerous, have they been more numerous, within the pale of Establishments? We confidently assert that they have not. The annals of Puritan and Nonconformist Biography will furnish as illustrious specimens of the power of religion in elevating above the temptations of prosperity, as adorn the hagiology of any other communion. Mr. Knox, however, strange to say, appears to regard it as one chief recommendation of ecclesiastical Establishments, that they present secular temptations and tests of virtue.
" It would really seem', he says, “that the Church of England was peculiarly formed to be, among Protestant churches, the chief scene of this very kind of trial. The dignities, titles, and emoluments of our Establishment obviously constitute as severe a test of virtue as the mind of man could well be tried by; and that these objects minister fuel to the wrong passions of thousands, must be admitted. But have they not also been the means of raising many a mind to a higher pitch of self-conquest than could have been readily attained in less perilous circumstances ? It is eminent excellence only that is a match for such temptations; and whatever calls forth its efforts, increases its strength.
Vol. I. p. 89. Admitting all that is here contended for, it may be asked, whether what corrupts the many, ought to be maintained because it tests and advances the virtue of the few ? Surely, nothing more condemnatory of a religious institution can be affirmed, than that it 'ministers fuel to the bad passions of thousands,' and that its direct tendency is in harmony with the seductions of the world.
Within the Church of England, however, Mr. Knox conceives, we find a class of divines sui generis— deeply deficient' in the explicit assertion of first principles, but exhibiting a ra• tionality, an equality, a luminous cheerfulness, a sober elevation
of mind, a peculiar liberty of thought, and an undaunted range of intellect; as if they fully felt, that there was nothing in Christianity to subjugate and control right reason, but every
thing to elicit and ennoble it.' To this class he refers John Smith, Jeremy Taylor, Worthington, Whichcote, Bishop Patrick, Bishop Benson, and (though 'not a genuine specimen of the true Church of England school', his theology being an VOL. XIII.-N. S.
voze true Church ofn, and (thoungton, u
odd mixture of semi-Calvinism and Dr. Waterland's new views of regeneration, &c.') Archbishop Secker. The 'mere teachers of converting truth,' on the other hand, Mr. Knox contends, have, with few exceptions, been inflexibly solemn and severe; and if they are not impassioned, they generally become dry.'
• Tranquil ardour and calm animation are seldom their properties. It must be owned, that their special function does not tend to place them at their ease; their post being, like that of Aaron, (when the plague was in Israel,) “ between the living and the dead.” Besides, being much more impressed with the deep disease of human nature, than with its healthful capabilities, they think of true piety, only as of a continued conflict with natural corruption; and as an unequal progress (if a progress) in a slippery and difficult up-hill path, to which our entire nature is incurably adverse, and in which our hearts alone, without our enemies, are sufficient, ever and anon, to drag us backward. It is in these respects, especially, that the Church-ofEngland divines form a contrast. They admit, that our nature has become the slave of sin, and that nothing but the grace of God can disenthral it; but they maintain, also, that, when it is fully disenthralled, it feels that it has recovered its own proper state, and is restored to its own native element; in which it lives and moves, not as if transported into a foreign land, but as in the sphere which is congenial to all its radical tastes and faculties. This, that I have now mentioned, formed the great distinction between Augustine and Chrysostom ; and to this day, it is that which gives a difference of character to the feelings, language, manners,—may I not add, even looks, of their respective followers. My great comfort, on this point, is, that what is deep in Augustine may be united with what is sublime in Chrysostom.' p. 91.
Now we do not deny the distinction which is here described, as between two schools of theology; but we cannot admit either that the above representation is just in itself, or that the deficiency and obscurity of the views entertained by the teachers of sanctification on the subject of justification, gave them an advantage over the teachers of converting truth. In the first place, the individual exceptions which Mr. Knox recognizes among the latter, are sufficiently numerous to overthrow his theory. Howe, Baxter, Alleine, Mead, Shaw, and Sheppard, may be fairly opposed to the Church of England divines, as masterbuilders of the superstructure of the Christian life and character upon the foundation of first principles. Mr. Knox thinks, however, that these exceptions strengthen his position, inasmuch as the pious Puritan divines betook themselves to these higher ' views, as a “ last means of checking a spirit of retrogradation
and declension. This is a supposition entirely gratuitous and unfounded. It may be true of individual preachers, that they have, in the commencement of their ministry, dwelt more upon first principles than after they attained to a deeper experience
and wider range of observation. That the doctrinal preacher
the Christian religion' and the elevation of the Christian character more happily exemplified, than in the works and life of Archbishop Leighton, whose theology is decidedly Augustinian ? Upon the whole, without denying that much that is edifying may be gleaned from the writings of the Romish and semiRomish divines, we must contend, that the most instructive teachers of sanctification, not to say the only efficient ones, will be found among those divines, whether within the Establishment or among associated Christians, who have held the soundest views as to the first principles and foundation truths. We do not say that deficiency is not chargeable upon some or many of the teachers of justification ; but we repeat, that among them we find the noblest teachers of all that belongs to the Christian life. Strange, indeed, would it be, if the fact were otherwise; since, in the doctrine of justification by faith' they possessed not only the very weapon of spiritual conquest, the converting truth, but that which is alone found to produce " the peace of God which passes understanding,” and that perfect love which casteth out servile terror.
We cannot pass over Mr. Knox's observations upon Dr. Watts, whose character he seems to have completely mistaken. We should have thought that no one acquainted with