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To the Editor of the New Evan. Magazine.
I do not know whether it be customary with you to write the Review of a publication before you have read it; but from the "mis-statements," contained in the Review of a pamphlet, entitled, "An Address to Deists,"* in the Baptist Magazine for this month, I am inclined to think that this is sometimes the case with the conductors of that Journal.
The Reviewer commences his remarks by stating, that "it is the design of this writer to prove to the satisfaction of Deists, that in the recent prosecution of persons for vending infidel and blasphemoHS publications, the prosecutors, juries, and judges, have all acted in direct violation of the spirit and precepts of Christianity, the example of Christ, and the writings of the apostles." Now it happens unfortunately for this Reviewer, that the Author of the "Address to Deists" has never attempted to prove any of these things—it formed no part of his design to do it, nor can the Reviewer quote one paragraph from the pamphlet which will warrant him in imputing such " a design" to the Author.
After thus stumbling at the threshold, the Reviewer proceeds in the second paragraph to represent the Author of the "Address," as an apologist for infidelity and blasphemy I His words are, "We greatly fear he has not maturely considered the magnitude of the guilt of the parties whom he has undertaken to defend!!" Undertaken to defend? Why, can this sapient Editor produce one paragraph from the pamphlet which goes, even in the smallest degree, to extenuate the guilt of these persons? If he can let him produce it, and let the author "bear his faggot;" but if he fail to do this, what are the public to think of a man, who can "bear such false testimony against Ail brother?"
The Reviewer goes on to quote a paragraph from the first page of the "Address," which states a fact that is incontrovertible, and that will be admitted by every man of common candour, because it is supported by Revelation itself; to wit, that" many who have
* The reader ma; find our notice of this pamphlet in our last volume, p. 364, but at the lime *f writing it we were entirely ignorant who the Author was. It has lately obtained a very favourable notice in the third number of the Westminster Review, though not more favourable than it deserved; for it is a pamphlet of unquestionable merit, and ought to be well considered by all who would form a judgment according to truth on this subject, notwithstanding the puny efforts of the couducter of the Baptist Magazine to cry it down.—Editor.
rejected Christianity have exhibited a strength of intellect, and splendour of talent, which have seldom been exceeded; and that it does not follow that everyone who denies the divine mission of Jesus, must necessarily be more depraved than his neighbour, who merely professes to believe it; or that at the final judgment, an uninfluential assent to the truths of revealed religion, will give to the vicious man who has yielded it, any pre-eminence over another, who has rejected the name of Christianity as well as its substance."
There never was a position better supported by the New Testament than this; yet "the tone" of it is mighty offensive to the Reviewer, who appears to be so partial to law, that instead of attempting to disprove the fact, lie immediately meets it with a quotation from Blackstone's Commentaries, which he thinks quite sufficient to convince us without an appeal to any higher authority. But, notwithstanding the preference which the Reviewer gives to Blackstone, I must be permitted to adhere to that old-fashioned book, the Bible, until the Editor of the Baptist Magazine furnish me with evidence of the learned Judge's inspiration, which he will probably do in due time. At present it is enough for me to hear the Messiah himself say, to those who have yielded an uninfluential assent to the truths of Revelation, " Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" If these words have any meaning, they teach us, that such a mere nominal profession of Christ's name is exceedingly odious to him, as giving a false view of his religion, and that their conduct is much more hateful in his sight than that of heathens, infidels, or deists.
Having dismissed Blackstone, the Reviewer next professes to furnish his readers with a quotation from the pamphlet before him; but in doing which he has been guilty of the grossest misrepresentation of the Author's sentiments. In fact the whole paragraph is so singular, that it deserves to be quoted at length. Thus the Reviewer writes—
STRICTURES ON A REVIEW IN THE BAPTIST MAGAZINE. 313
"The author of the pamphlet says, that he must be permitted to regret that sucli should he the common law in England; and that such a law should exist in the Statute Book;" i. e. he would, if he could, have it repealed, and then every one might "blaspheme the Almighty, by denying his being and providence with impunity; whilst they could not defame the character of their neighbonr, without subjecting themselves to fines and imprisonments! Then, too, they may contumelionsly reproach the Saviour Christ; profanely scoff at the Bible, and expose it to contempt and ridicule, without committing any wrong either to themselves or their neighbours."
It is difficult for any friend of the Author and of truth to animadvert on this paragraph, and at the same titiie preserve any decency of temper. It may indeed be questioned if the whole round of reviewing can furnish an instance of more shameful misrepresentation, or of more unfair deduction than is to be found in the paragraph before us. To be satisfied of this, it is only necessary to read that section in the Author's "Address," on which this Reviewer professes to ground his unfounded accusations and inferences. I must not trespass on your pages for an insertion of the whole paragraph, and to the readers of your Magazine it is unnecessary, because if they will turn to your volume for last year, they will find the whole of it quoted, p. 365, col. i. Thus it begins,
"That Christianity is part and parcel of the common law of the land, may, for aught the writer knows, be good constitutional doctrine: it may have been so held in preceding ages; it may be incumbent, therefore, on an upright and impartial Judge, when Christianity is impugned, to rule that it is so now; but if it be, the writer, strongly as he is attached to revealed religion, must be permitted to regret it; for to be 'part and parcel of the common law,' or of the Statute law of any land is, in his view, quite inconsistent with the nature of Christianity. To be established by [human] laws is so incompatible with the design of the church of Jesus Christ, that when once it is so established, it ceases to be the pure and simple church which he had instituted; living under the protection of [an earthly] monarch, it is no longer the undented bride of Jesus."
The reader has now before him the substance of the paragraph, which has provoked the ire of this sage and enlightened Reviewer, and which he has VOL. X.
thought proper to load with the vilest consequences. Yet the sentiment contained in the quotation forms the basis of all rational dissent from the national establishment of Christianity, and must be maintained by every consistent Baptist in the land. In fact, to meet with a Baptist minister impugning it in the nineteenth century, is a most humbling fact, and shews that, while the light is spreading around us, it falls to the lot of some men to retire from its blaze, like the moles and the bats, and to dream out their days in sloth and dulness, uninfluenced by the march of sentiment which propels their neighbours. Is it possible.thatthis Reviewer, who is so indignant at the paragraph above quoted, can have read "An Essay on the Kingdom of Christ," by the late Mr. Abraham Booth? Let us turn for a moment to his pages, and hear what he has to say upon the subject.
"The Church of England is manifestly a secular kingdom. For it is established by human laws, and acknowledges a political head; nor is it esteemed material whether that head be male or female. It is a creature of the state, supported by the state, and governed by a code of laws confirmed by the state—a code very different from the sacred canons of the New Testament, these being quite foreign to its constitution. Its principal officers are appointed by the crown; and in virtue of ecclesiastical station, are lords of Parliament. Nay, even the doctrine professed, and the worship performed in that Establishment, are all secularized. Its creeds and forms of prayer, its numerous rubricks, and various rites, are adopted and used under the sanction of civil authority. Its Liturgy, therefore, may be considered as An Act of Parliament respecting religious affairs. It must, therefore, be considered a3 a kingdom of this world."
Yet such is the constitution of things which the Editor of the Baptist Magazine apparently approves and sanctions, and reprobates the Author of the "Address to Deists" for having found fault with it. But let us hear Mr. Booth again.
"Neither the force of secular power, nor the arts of carnal policy, ought to be used in promoting the cause ot Cbrjst. The kingdom of Christ is a dominion of truth and rectitude, of love, and of peace. But in what way shall persecuting force be applied to irradiate the dark understanding, to arouse the stupid conscience, and to sanctify the depraved heart r ,How
shall coercive measures increase the fruits of holiness? Or how shall malevolence, in any of its infernal forms, be employed to support a kingdom of love and peace? Under the Old CEconomy the laws of religion were sanctioned by temporal penalties, and frequently those of the severest kind. But this, like many other things, teas peculiar to that dispensation. It was founded in the national form of their church state, and in their theocracy. Thence it was that blasphemy and idolatry were punished with death, as being high treason against their Divine Sovereign. That GZconomy being abolished, the church of God has taken a new form. To understand the laws [of Christ's kingdom] we must study—not the Pentateuch of Moses, much less [the Commentaries of Blackstone!'] the Provinciate of Lyndewood, the Codex of Gibson, or the Jus Ecclesiasticuin of Boehmer,—but the New Testament of Jesus Christ. To reason from the constitution and form, the laws and government, the privileges and rites of the Jewish, to those of the Christian church, is to adopt a capital principle of Papal depravity, and grossly to corrupt our holy religion."
Yet this is precisely what the Editor of the Baptist Magazine is doing, when he pleads for the right of the civil magistrate to punish the authors or venders of what are termed infidel and blasphemous publications. I recommend to the Reviewer the following paragraph from the writings of one of his own brethren of the last century.
"God forbid, my brethren, that any of us should set ourselves up for defenders of the cause of Christ, except by reason, argument, and example! Every other method is sinful, contrary to the spirit of our holy religion, conveying suspicion of its goodness, and offering an insult to its power. It resembles making pillars to hold up the heavens, and if it does not always imply a depraved heart, it does actually imply a weak disordered head. Certainly, it is just and right that sin should be punished; but to do this is a work assigned to Christ, as a part of his office as Judge of the world."—See Robinson's Village Sermons, Ser. xvii. " No man mat) punish Christ's enemies but himself," p. 396.
But the Editor of the Baptist Magazine, in justifying the propriety of the civil magistrate's interference in coercing opinions, take* shelter under the wings of Mr. Robert Hall, who, in his correspondence with a writer in the Christian Guardian, tells us, that "blasphemy, which is the speaking contumeliously of God, is not a speculative error; it is
an overt actj a crime which no state should tolerate." , The only remark I shall make on this is, that I am greatly mistaken if Mr. Hall do not now heartily wish he had never written that paragraph 1 Nor can I help thinking, that, should he ever come to hear the use that has been made of it by this Reviewer, it must add greatly to his mortification and chagrin. Indeed, to have his name associated with the Baptist Magazine in any way, must be galling to his feelings. The thorough contempt in which he holds that Journal is well known, for the emphatic language in which he has expressed it is "inevery bodies' mouth," and therefore 'tis needless to quote it
The Reviewer, not content with misrepresenting the sentiments of the Author of the "Address to Deists," terms him "a juvenile defender of those, who, like Carlisle, have blasphemed God and his Christ, by publishing atheistical opinions,"—" this apologist for published infidelity and blasphemy;" yet I defy him to produce from the pamphlet he is reviewing, one word which can be fairly construed into - an apology for these crimes. As the friend of the Author, I challenge him to produce it, and if he fail to do it, an impartial public will not fail to fix on him the character of a defamer and libeller. Having had the pleasure of an acquaintance with the Author of the "Address" for some time, I can assure you, Sir, that he is not quite such a stripling as this hoaryheaded Reviewer would have his readers believe him to be—that he is not in the habit of either writing or speaking on any subject of importance without mature consideratiop—neither is he accustomed to misrepresent those who differ from him, by imputing to them language which they have never used, and employing "great swelling words of vanity," as a substitute for good sense and solid argument. The Author of the " Address" will no doubt defend himself in proper time, against this scurrilous attack upon both his character and principles, which I am sure he is very competent to do; but if, in the mean time, you will do me the favour to give place to these remarks in your impartial Journal, (I well know how useless it would be to tender them to the Baptist Magazine,) you will confer an obligation on,
Your Constant Reader,
Sept. 7, 1824. J. B.
The Miscellaneous Works of the late John Fawcett, V.D. Author of the Devotional Family Bible; comprising Essays, Sermons, and Tracts. Now first collected, with a Memoir of the Author, and Portrait. London, W. Jones, 5, Lovell's Court, Paternoster Row. pp. 350, 12mo. pr. 4s. Cd. bds. 1824. When a minister of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God has finished his labours in his Lord's vineyard, and is taken to his everlasting rest, his surviving friends, if awake to their duty, will not fail to manifest a becoming regard for his reputation; and if he have benefited the church by the productions of his pen, they will be solicitous of preserving the latter from oblivion, that by means of them, he, being dead, may yet continue to hold forth his testimony for the instruction of the living. Such a reward was certainly well merited by the excellent man whose fugitive pieces are here collected into a volume, and presented to the public in a style of typographical neatness, which cannot fail to be gratifying to the surviving branches of nis family, and his numerous friends;
We need not tell our readers that Mr. Fawcett was the cotemporary and intimate friend of Booth and of Fuller— men whose praise will long remain in the churches, and with whom he was worthy to rank. Less profoundly learned, probably, than the former; and, perhaps, inferior to the latter in strength of mind and the powers of discrimination, there was, nevertheless, about hiin an amiableness of character, in which he yielded to neither of them, nor to any minister of the age in which he lived. The graces that adorned and dignified •he character of Mr. Fawcett, were such "s shone conspicuously in his Divine Master: they were humility, self-denial, disconformity to the world, meekness, gentleness, goodness, benevolence to men, and piety to God. From his local residence at a considerable distance irom the Metropolis, which he rarely visited; and from the circumstance of his being engaged nearly all his days in conducting a Seminary of education, he was comparatively but little known be
yond the immediate circle of his own denomination; nor was there in his composition any ambition for fame. In the calm sequestered vale of life he pursued the noiseless tenor of his course, and spent a long and laborious pilgrimage, in promoting to the utmost of his power, the glory of his God and Saviour, and the best interests of his fellowcreatures. As a preacher, Mr. Fawcett's characteristic excellency was the pathetic; he would fairly melt his hearers down into love and kindness. But, then, there was no laborious effort on his part to attain this: it was all effected by a simple exhibition of the doctrine of Christ crucified, which was his favourite theme, and the source from whence he drew his strongest motives of fear and hope, of gratitude, love, and praise.
Though the churches of this country are much indebted to him for many excellent hymns, which will long continue to animate the devotion of the children of God in their way to Zion, and which shew him to have been possessed of poetic talents of no inferior order, yet his pulpit addresses and his prose compositions, in general, are remarkably chaste and unornamented in respect of style. They rival the plainness, perspicuity, and simplicity of Addison and Swift.
As an author, Mr. Fawcett's chefd'auvre, is his Devotional Family Bible, in 2 vols. 4to. a work which he commenced at the age of seventy, and which he lived to complete in about four years. Into this work he contrived to infuse the substance of all the Sermons which, during a ministry of half a century, he had delivered from the pulpit. But from the size and price of this publication its circulation must unavoidably be very limited. The volume before us comprises a number of valuable Tracts, which were drawn from him by circumstances and events in the course of his ministry from time to time, and some of which have obtained a very extensive circulation in a detached form. Indeed they are all of them on highly important subjects, for the Author never wrote on trifling themes; and when collected into a body as they her* are, they may be regarded as comprising a miniature "body of divinity, as the reader will perceive from the following Table of Contents.
1. A Summary of the Evidences of Christianity, comprised in six chapters.
2. An Essay on the Wisdom, the Equity, and the Bounty of Divine Providence.
3. The doctrine of the Cross of Christ stated and improved. 4. The certain efficacy of the death of Christ. 5. The dignity of the Redeemer of men—being an illustration of Col. i. 15—18. 6. An Essay on Anger., 7. The important Journey from this world to the next, considered in a Sermon, delivered at an Association at Bradford, in Yorkshire, June 13th, 1810. 8. Substance of the last Sermon preached by Mr. Fawcett, February 26, 1816, printed from his own Notes. To the volume is prefixed a Memoir of the Author, extending to thirty pages, and a finely engraved Portrait.
Of some of the pieces contained in this volume we could say very much in the way of commendation were it necessary, and did we not fear that we should thereby expose ourselves to the risk of being thought to indulge in panegyric. But the truth is, there are few writers of the age, whose doctrinal sentiments are more in unison with our own than those of Mr. Fawcett. His " Doctrine of the Cross stated and improved," is surpassed by nothing in our language that we know upon the subject, if we except Mr. Maclaurin's Sermon on glorying in the Cross. And his " Essay on Anger" has long obtained such an established reputation, that nothing which we can say is likely to augment its praise. It is now pretty generally known, that this valuable piece had the felicity to attract the notice of our late revered monarch, George the Third, and to obtain from him a tender of his services in any way the Author might wish to avail himself of them; and that he did avail himself of them at a subsequent period of his life, in a way which we are not allowed to explain; but which will always be considered as reflecting the highest honour on the character of Dr. Fawcett! We exceedingly regret that our limits will not permit us to indulge in a few extracts from this interesting volume; but we earnestly recommend" it to the attention of our readers, as one of the most useful books with which we are acquainted, to be put into the hands of
young men, as an antidote to scepticism and infidelity, and as exhibiting just views of the religion of Jesus Christ, in its doctrines and practical influence.
Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship; collected from Dr. Watts and other Authors. By T. WrLcoCKS, Devonport. Printed by W. Byers, and Sold'in London by W. Jones, 5, Lovell's Court, Paternoster Row; 18mo. pp. 780, pr. 5s. bds. or 5s. 6d. bound. 1824.
Though every one must admit that it is highly desirable to have a variety of Divine Songs, adapted to the diversified frame of mind in which Christians may be placed while on their way to Zion, to aid their devotion, and call their feelings into lively exercise, yet, we believe, the multiplication of Hymn Books, which in the present "day is become so abundant, is felt as an inconvenience, if not generally regretted. We remember the time when Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns were without a rival, and the worshipping assemblies were well satisfied with the treasure they possessed. But since the Doctor's day, we have been favoured with a succession of Christian poets; who, though none of them, upon the whole, can be said to equal him, yet they have made large additions to our stock of sacred poetry, and of course rendered us much more capricious and squeamish than we should otherwise have been. Dr. Doddridge, the Wesleys, Toplady, Hart, Cennick, Gibbons, tjie Stennetts, Steele, 'Needham, Beddome, Fawcett, Newton and Cowper, &c. &c. of what we may term, the generation that succeeded Watts, have each of them contributed according to their measure to the public stock—and these have been followed by Henry Kirke White, Montgomery, Kelly and others, who are every day rising up, and still more amply enriching the Christian church with their mental treasures. This accounts, very satisfactorily, for the number of volumes that have appeared in rapid succession under the title of a " Supplement to Dr. Watts," &c. but it has no tendency to lessen the inconvenience that is felt. Almost every congregation, and every individual worshipper that would study his own accommodation, must.be prepared with two, if not three, Hymn