« AnteriorContinuar »
M'LEAN ON CHURCH-FET-LOWSHIP.
the purpose of making it more generally known on this side the Tweed.
Upon the whole^ we have been much gratified with Mr, Cox's performance; he has acquitted himself honourably in the contest, and merits the thanks of his brethren for his able defence of their principles. In taking leave of him, may we be allowed to congratulate himself ou his return to first principles after a momentary aberration? It delights us to see that Baptism has resumed that important station in his estimation, which every thing ought to hold that is sanctioned by the authority, of the Lord Jesus—the Christian Legislator. After the masterly defence which he has produced of this divine Institution, we trust we shall never again have the mortification of hearing that, for a momentary applause, a little temporary popularity, the petty consideration of encreasing his stipend, or any other motive derogatory to the honour of his God and Saviour, he can consent to remove the ordinance of Baptism-from its station in the kingdom of Christ, and dispense with that submission to it as a term of communion, which his Lord's commission fully warrants. "The proof on wAich this Institution rests," says Dr. Dwight, "as a perpetual ordinance of Christ in his church, is so entire and so obvious, that every doubt concerning it is more properly an object of surprise, than of serious opposition. Christ commands his apostles, and all his succeeding ministers, to baptize those whom they should make disciples.—Baptism >s made by Christ a condition absolutely necessary to our authorized entrance into Us visible church."—Sermon Clvi.
Baptism an indispensable pre-rcquisUe to Visible Church'Fetlmoiship; considered in a Letter to a Friend. By the late Mt. Arch. M'lean. London, Jones, 5, Lovell's-court, pr. 2rf. or 12s. per hundred. 1824.
This pamphlet is introduced to public notice by a short preface, which so fully explains the Editor's design in Publishing it, that we quote it entire.
"The subject of communion has recently undergone a very extended discussion in this country; and talents of the highest order have been employed on each side of 'he question. It seems, indeed, to be now generally admitted, that if the subject be not wholly exhausted, there remains little
to be hoped for, either by the Baptists or the Paedobaptists from a protracted investigation. It must, however, be obvious to every reflecting mind, that it is only a very small proportion of the members of our Baptist churches, who can have had access to the volumes that have been lately published, so as to be at all acquainted with the grounds of the controversy, and the arguments which have been adduced on either side of it. Both the size and price of the books, have alike contributed to place them beyond the power of purchase and of perusal to at least nine-tenths of the members of dissenting churches. It is manifest, therefore, that a small Tract, which would exhibit in a few pages the substance of the arguments on each side of the question, was still much needed; and such a desideratum it has been thought, would be well supplied by the publication of the following letter. As it seems to be generally understood, that the novel practice of admitting unbaptized persons to the Lord's supper is creeping into many of the Baptist churches, it is of importance that those Deacons and other leading members who regard this as an unscriptural innovation, should bestir themselves to check its progress; which, it is presumed* they could not easily find a more effectual means of doing than by distributing this TVact as generally as possible among their brethren, and encouraging them to read it. That the Lord may grant his blessing to attend it, and make it the happy means of enlightening the public mind, checking the progress of error, and promoting the scriptural order of his house, is the fervent prayer of The Editor.
We shall only add that, in our opinion", this little Tract comprises all that can be said to purpose upon this much contested point. The writer of it possessed the rare talent of saying much in few words, beyond any man whose writings have come in our way. We particularly recommend it to the attention of Mr. Hall and Mr. Cox!
A Compendious View of Creation, with Reflections,S,c. By James Paterson, Surveyor, Montrose. London, Longman and Co. and W. Jones, Lovell's Court; 8vo. pp. 138. pr. 4s. 6d. 1823.
The work before us is divided into three parts, on each of which we shall make a few remarks; but the Reflections, which form the Second Part, claim from their importance our chief regard; in which case we must be excused if. we pass over the others very slightly.
The first part commences witli a view of the minute creation. In the course of his remarks the author throws together, in a well arranged form, the principal phenomena discovered in creation by the help of the microscope. The facts, which are selected from the most respectable writers on the subject, are interspersed with several appropriate and judicious remarks; and are evidently intended to produce in the mind of the reader exalted views of the character of the great Governor of the Universe. We are next presented with a general view of the planetary system to tvhich we belong. Of this ]tvrtof the work we liave only to say, that the author has rendered it exceedingly interesting and valuable; he has managed to blend the minuteness of definition with the fulness of scientific detail; and has furnished a manual of geographical and astronomical information, vastly superior to any of the numerous productions on these subjects, which are published with the professed design of benefiting those who have not access to expensive Scientific works.
The Second Part of Mr. Paterson's work contains "Reflections on Nature, on Christianity, and on Providence; and also on the ignorance, prejudice and presumption of man, both as regards philosophy and Christianity." We wish it were in our power to devote a few columns to these Reflections, since there is much in them that we approve; but we must be brief, being well persuaded that the author would rather listen to ns while we offer a few thoughts on some points on which we entertain opinions different from his. He is a writer who thinks for himself; and although connected with a body of Christians whose creed differs on some points from his own, has published his opinions without fear. This shews that he is in earnest; and at the same time it entitles him to particular attention. .
Mr. Paterson appears very anxious to
reconcile the literal expression of Scripture, in those parts where the Divind Being is represented as the Origih-atoh Of Evil, with the general viewwhich the Bible affords of his pure and holy character. Far be it from us to impute to our author thoughts, which we artwell assured his humble and benevolent mind would shudder at; we verily believe that in a short time his own views of things will lead him to conclusions very different to those which his language in the "Reflections" would seem to warrant. This sentiment seems to be agitating some of the members of the Church of England at present; and one clergyman has recently presented the public with a piece of the most incor' rigible nonsense that ever disgraced the name of Sermon, and which he has entitled, "god The Doer Of Am,thik6j." In this discourse we are plainly taught that the Divine Being is "Wrath, Hatred, Vengeance;" and in'perfect consistency with such a view of his character, we are informed that God stimulates his creatures to the perpetration of sin; and that in the commission of sin they are fulfilling his will as effectually as when employed in doing good.* This is speaking out plainly; and it is hoped it will have its use in shewing the world the legitimate tendency of certain much-boasted creeds, which we venture to assert, are not believed by ninety-nine out of a hundred of the thousands who subscribe them. But leaving Mr. Vaughan to the enjoyment of the hatred, the wrath, and the vengeance of his demon-deity, whom he may love if' he Can, we would suggest to our esteemed friend, the author of the work before us, that we think there niay be deduced from the Holy Scripture Certain principles, which will at least go far towards removing the difficulties complained of. On these we must hint, not dwell. The Word Of Gob, then, asserts that "god Is Eove," and in hundreds of passages he is expressly PATERSON's COMPENUIO
* We.floubl not but that many of our readers will be disposed to look upon this as the language"' exaggeration, and suppose we are caricaturing Mr. Vaughan. Well, let them read the fitlowwS extracts from his Sermon, and then judge for themselves.
** Why are we 'to be frightened with the bugbear and watch-word of making God The Author"* Sim? Is it not obvious, that lie must In Sous Sense be the Author of it? for bow has it got into t»H creation without him, when the whole frame, relations, and circumstances of the creature are fl/,au( from, and to him I" p. 25, 26.
Again, "God glorifies himself by making himself known as what he is.—Now there is no part of b" essence—no attribute—no perfection, which could ha\ e been shewn as it really is, Without the HI«7 ventinn of sin. Is it not matter of fact, that we are indebted to sin inftrumentally, for by tv "* vastest display that we have had of the wisdom, power, love, grace, faithfulness, kindness, veracity, '•" chaageableneu, immensity, infinity, and eternity of God 1 But n he not also Hkbct, MnracK, »»*'
M4TRED, VBNSUKCE Jw— p. 26, £7. I
described as Tiid so inter, Of Am. That Is Hood, or as the apostle expresses it, the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, or shadow of turning." Now, if this be true, he must be opposed to every thing that is wrathful, revengeful, or implacable. Whatever proceeds from Hipi must partake of his essence; and to impute to him wrath, hatred, and vengeance, mutt be highly blasphemous. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man." But what is evil? Let this question be considered in every possible light, and we believe all sensible men will allow, that it is simply that which is contrary to the Divine order;—a perversion of the good which is continually proceeding from God; and, therefore, a thing that hath its origin with man, and not with God. But then, it will be said, is not the origin of evil expressly ascribed to God in different parts of Scripture? To this we reply—that it is apparently so, and that fur the'two following reasons, among "Uiers that miglit be mentioned. In thefrst' place, from condescension to the weakness of the human understanding, several things are spoken of in Scripture, according to appearance merely, when it is well known that the contrary is meant. Thus the earth is represented as being immoveably fixed, while the sun and the other heavenly bodies move wound it; so also we frequently find mutability attributed to Jehovah, which must have regard merely to appearance; wimutability being one of his essential perfections. Bur, in the second place, Wilis apparently attributed to Jehovah, because the Word of God teaches men from the most general ideas; hence he is Said to be angry, to turn away his face, to punish, to tempt, and even to curse, in order that men might believe that he governeth all things in the Universe, even evil itself, turning it to final good. The anger, therefore, the turning away, 'he punishment, the temptation, the cursing, fee. must be all on the part of man, as would appear from Ps. cxxXvi. 10,15—20. where the destruction 6f the Egyptians, &c. is attributed to the everting mercy of Jehovah. So also in ps. xviii. 25t se. the principle for Which we are contending is most explicitly taught. « With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the' froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.'* What, we ask, is this hut speaking according to the appearance of things? If then, God be in reality the Author of evil, he is the Author of that which is opposite to his own order, the Author of confusion. Can any one distinguish between the will of God and the love of God? is not his will his love? But if God wills evil, he also loves evil; yet such a sentiment is in direct opposition to the whole tenour of Scripture, which affirms, that Jehovah willelh not the death of any of his creatures; but his will, or pleasure, or love is that all should turn unto him and live. ■ .'' ■
But we hasten to notice in the second place, Mr. Paterson's remarks on Universal Restoration. In the course of his extensive survey of modern creeds and confessions, the plausible appearance of the Unitarians seems to have at least arrested his attention; and lie gives us a quotation from a discourse by Dr. Estlin, of Bristol, on the words, "God is love." In this quotation, which is chiefly made up ot extracts from Bourn and Burnet, the doctrine'of Universal Restoration is warmly advocated. The -passage of Scripture which speaks of some being beaten with /«i> stripes, and which-Mr.'Bourn here quotes so triumphantly, does not, in our opinion, refer at all to-the duration of future punishment, but to the degree-of it, which we are well assured will be proportioned to the guilt of the sufferer. But we have not lime here to enter fully into the arguments for and against Universal Restitution, and shall merely suggest an idea or two, which we think deserving of oilr author's regard. And first, before this great point can be decided, we must have some more definite information respecting the spiritual world, than is at present possessed by our most acute theologians. They, in general, say much about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet every reader of their works must ■ have observed, how little notice they take of a most remarkable circumstance, to which Jesus himself refers, at the time when the conflict in which he was engaged was becoming awfully overwhelming, and which he calls' by the- different names of "the hour and power of dark, ness;" "the judgment of. this world;'.' "the casting out of the prince of this
world," Uc. But to what did he here refer? and whence proceeded the sore amazement that overwhelmed him ?— Was it the mere circumstance of having before him an excruciating and ignominous death that so agonized him F—No, verily; the cross, we are told, he endured, despising the shame. What then produced this universal consternation ?— May we not venture to find an answer in his own words? better authority surely we cannot have. Was it not, then* the immediate approach of the Prince of the powers or darkness, or in other words, the united pressure of the host of hell; the last grand struggle of Legion at the moment of final (kfeat? And, if we are correct on this head, then we ask again, what became of those powers? were they elevated into heaven, or were they restricted to regions more suited to their infernal nature? As our divines do not help us out on such points as these, we must be allowed to make the most that we can of our own thoughts; and, therefore, we go on to ask farther, Whether any part of Divine Revelation intimates that future punishment tends to regenerate the subject of it? for our own part, we really know of no portion of Scripture that warrants us to draw such a conclusion; but on the contrary, we think it is very clearly intknated, that in the life to come every man will find himself to be the very character he has formed himself by his principles and conduct while on earth; and that in that character he will continually advance, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. What else are we to understand by the language used in Rev. xxii. 11. "He that is unjust, let him be (or become more) unjust still; and he that is filthy (not purified by truth) let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous let him be (or become more) righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Let us have just such a simple statement from Scripture in favour of the opposite sentiment, and we at once cede the point. We are not here dogmatizing, but asking information; and therefore we put another question. Are we not warranted to reason from analogy, on this subject, and to infer that the procedure of the Almighty will, in a future state, be the same towards his creatures as it is in the present? and since there is no part of - that procedure, so far as we can discover, that interferes with the equilibrium of
the human will, in this life, why should we suppose that it will be otherwise in that which is to come?
To illustrate this we may remark, that heaven must be to every man exactly according to his quality. Now, to select a case perfectly in point, we would say that Dr. Estlin, and his brethren of the Socinian faith, would deem it downright idolatry to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. They are, we are bound to believe, strictly conscientious) men; they think it their duty, at the expense of their secular interests, to raise up, support, and send into all the world, as their means will allow them, men who shall spend and be spent in what they deem the good cause of instructing their fellow-mortals in the knowledge of the One God, and who shall carefully teach them, that Jesus Christ is not that God, but a creature like themselves. Mureover, they can have no kind of communion with those who think otherwise on this important point; nor are they on that account to be blamed, because the thing is absolutely impossible, and the merest pretension to it would involve the grossest hypocrisy. In this state they live; in this state they die; and in this state it is their constant prayer that they may be found to all eternity; for it is in this state that they expect to enjoy future felicity, and that too eternally progressive; making constant approaches towards the Great Fountain of rationality, and in the same proportion receding from all evil, consequently from the greatest of evils, viz. that of worshipping as the only Lord God of heaven and of earth, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, into whatever kind of heaven the Socinian may be admitted, he will not, we are very sure, accuse us of the want of charity when we say, that it cannot, in the very nature of things, be the heaven where, without ceasing, Jesus Christ is adored as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come; the King of kings, and the Lord of lords i the blessed and only Potentate, who alone hath immortality; God over all blessed for ever. His soul shuddered at such bold idolatry in the world of nature; and to be subjected to it for ever would be hell indeed!
And here we must leave this matter, only remarking farther, that the idea of Universal Restitution implies, according to all our notions of Divine order, a! system, or course of instruction on divine subjects, carried on amongst those who have wilfully excluded themselves from the happiness of heaven; or, otherwise, an immediate exercise of power on the part of God, operating without regard to those principles which constitute the mind, or the real man. From whence then, do we learn that either of these shall take place?
MARCH 8 SABBATHS AT HOME.
Having already carried our remarks beyond what we originally intended, we must be excused from saying much on the concluding part of this work, although it deserves particular notice, which we hope it will obtain from those whose province it is much more than ours, to discuss scientific subjects. This part, which forms an Appendix, is chiefly occupied in giving an account of an improvement by the author on the Reflecting Telescope; which improvement consists in placing the small speculum at the one side ofthe tube, instead of faing it in the centre, and the large one inclined so as to receive the incident rays; by this means much more lijght is admitted into the instrument, and that too on the very part of the large speculum where it is of most value, viz. the centre. The tube also being shortened, the instrument is thereby rendered more portable; in addition to which the observer is enabled to view the object with his face to it, instead of turning to the other end of the telescope. We are glad to find Mr. Paterson rising superior to the attempt of Dr. Brewster, to decry the value of his improvement through the medium of the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. The Doctor, it appears, attempted to construct an instrument on this improved plan, but failed; and 'he failure is charged to the account of 'he principle described by Mr. Paterson, although the latter declares that the Doctor did not follow it. This we can easily believe is a very likely thing; Mr. Paterson in this respect has only neighbour's fare, for others have made similar complaints respecting this Northern Philosopher.
Respecting the execution of this work we would suggest, that should a Second Edition be called for, the author might much improve the general appearance of the whole by a little alteration in the order; there are also some grammatical errors, which in that case might be lectified.
Sabbatht at Home: or a Help to their right Improvement, founded on the find and 43rd Psalms. Intended for the Use of Pious Persons, when prevented from attending the Public Worship of God. By Henry March. Second Edition, pp. 272, 8vo. pr. 7s. London, Holdsworth.
A book written professedly and entirely for devotional purposes, is not a subject for criticism, provided its style and sentiments be sufficiently correct and evangelical. The difficulty of producing an interesting work of this description, lies not in any of the ordinary efforts of the intellectual faculty, for the most accomplished writer must fail in the undertaking—but in the rare attainment of that enlightened and elevated piety, which can shed a fragrance o'er the most familiar truths of Christianity, and clothe with freshness and beauty the common field of religious observation. Devotional exercises and private meditation derive but little aid from elaborate investigations, from the novelty of thought, or the splendour of diction; their element is more celestial, their food and nourishment the simple and unadulterated word of truth. To become subservient to such an interest, it is requisite to possess a high degree of spirituality, a profound acquaintance with the human heart, and a refined and discriminating judgment; a body of living energetic piety, fervid and luminous, that shall be sufficient to rarify the atmosphere in which we breathe, awaken and enliven all our moral sympathies, and inspire the love of all that is beautiful in holiness, and amiable in the supreme of goodness. Amidst the writings of the Puritans and others of the ancient church, we find this balmy sweetness, this unction from the Holy One; and are made at once to feel their deep and solemn piety, to know that we are conversing with Christians of a higher order, and that with them we also have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Men who themselves converse much with God, can sublimate our affections, and lead us to his threne; can rekindle by their zeal the flame of devotion, and invest us with their falling mantle.
The altered condition ofthe Christian church from a scene of suffering to that of undisturbed repose, has long ceased to produce such eminent devotional writers as Bishop Hall, and others of