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That they are bitter enemies of our Church, as at present by law established, and zealous promoters of heresy and schism, are facts most notorious. They are the avowed and strenuous advocates for tile repeal of the test laws, and of “every law" and restriction which are inconsistent with what is called “ unlimited toleration,” and the forming, in the stead of our present admirably constituted Church, an heterogeneous and most unnatural association of papists and protestants, "churchmen and dissenters, including every jarring, extravagant, and impious sect which disgraces Christendom. They allow no religious system to be either scriptoral or rational, but that which strips Christianity of its most distinguishing and valuable peculiarities, and reduces it to little more than an iinproved systein of heathenism; this they denominate unitarianism. They extol in the highest terms of panegyric the most impudent and blasphemous writers of this sect; such as Evanson, Fellowes, and Stone. They ridicule, they depreciate, they revile, by every possible means, whatever is connected with the Church - her founders, her Liturgy, her Articles, her clergy. This they frequently do with a degree of violence, of ferocity, and of shameless disregard to truth and decency, which is strongly indicative of madness, or of dispositions the most truly diabolica!. And this fury against the established clergy rages in exact proportion to their couscientious adherence to their engagements with the Church, and their zeal for her honour; In short, Sir, all the extravagant abuse of the Church and ber orthodox sons, which I quoted from this critic in my first letter to show his extreme inconsistency with his former principles, may now be produced as descriptive of his prevailing behaviour. (See Antijac, Review, Sept. 1808.)
The fact is, that, as of old, “certain Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul;" so at present, in this kingdom, there is “a band of persons" who have resolved never to rest, nor to suffer our governors to rest, till they have overturned our present Church Establishment. And, as a celebrated predecessor of these worthies
, on witnessing before his death some of the blessed effects of the French revolution, exclaimed, " Lord, now lettest thou thy sertunt depart in peace," so are our present conspirators fully persuaded, that “ Now is the day of their salvation.'
“has been done to their cause, by the late discussions which have taken place in Parliament, on the question of Catholic emancipation.” And, considering how si truly critical the times now are, " never, it is added, may the advocates of this inestimable right, in this country, hope to find a fitter, occasion than the present, for entering into the most arduous, but necessary controversy... Their whole forces are, therefore, summoned immediately to come forth and " bear a part” in it.
* To the liberal, autong their brethren of the Established Church, they look with confidence for their concurrence.--To the numerous class of Catholics, and the almost equally numerous sects of protestants who differ froin our Church, they look with not less confidence for their approbation and our cordial co-operation; and, thus supported, they trust, their plea for
" Much good,
unlimited toleration will not be offered to Parliament in vain, in the succeedling session." (See Crit. Rev. Aug. 1808, P. 414--423.)
In the mean time, and until their efforts are crowned with complete success, all possible means are to be employed to prepare the people for this project; that the “ numerous classes of the people most liable to be prejudiced against such a measure, “may be prepared to maintain against the arts and efforts of intolerant men, the justice and piety as well as the policy and humanity" of it. To this end,
discussion” on the subject is every where to be promoted : our projectors' own representations of it are to be disseminated in papers which are widely circulated through the country, in magazines, &c. :" men are to be decoyed into an approbation of the measure, by the enchanting sounds of “civil and religious liberty," “ enlightened liberality,” « higher state of social bliss," " best of causes ;” and the assurance that its abettors are influenced by " the best principles of our holy religion,” and are only endeavouring " to diffuse the true principles of Gospel-benevolence, and Christian liberty;" they are to be alienated from the present system by the frightful charges of “ despotism," " hypocritical pageuntry," " bgiotry and funaticism,” preferred against it; and insinuations that its supporters are spiritual despots," " popish inquisitors over the consciences of men, “infuriated ecclesiastics,"
bigots of intole ránce," "corrupt politicians,” the "fawning sycophants of power," &c. &c. : they are to be assured, that however “ truly critical” the times are, the most timid cannot justly apprehend the smallest danger from this attempt; that the danger ·lics all on the side of intolerance :" they are to be terrified, by the direful menace, that if through “ the clamours of bigots and the calumnies of corrupt politicaus” the wishes of this party are not gratified, then “this misguided nation may tremble ilt the near approach of thut revolution which
with reason he erpected to explode from the rage of disappointed millions." The “legislature” also is to be taught, that " every attempt to bias men in the choice of their religion, whether by terror, or by sordid motives of emolument, must be condemned.” In short, « if the government want either the wisdom or the virtue to do this unasked," such an impression is intended to be " produced as will make even an unwilling Cabinet comply with the demand.” free Crit. Rev. as abore ; and Vol. 13, P. 29; 14, Þ. 170.)
All this, and abundantly more, we are expressly taught, by our English Abbé Sieyes, a man who has grown grey in attempts to embarrass the measures of government, under every critical emergency of his country; a man who, although himself a clergyman of the established church, is so far blinded by party zeal, as under a pretence of tenderness for men's consciences, thus publicly to iurl upon bis brethren in the church, to violate the most solemn engagements by which men can be bound ; a man who, with the genuine cunning of bis prototype, in this work of preparing the people for his purpose, urges on his partizans the policy of being
ten porate, but who at the time of action does the very reverse of this; who, when an important political measure is to be agitate! at a meeting of his county; issues his infiammatory hand-bills, and invites "able-bodied men to leave their looms"' to regulate the decisions
upon it. How these loom-men do political work, the country had a notable specimen at the late general election.
Now, Sir, in forwariling this daring and most pestilent project, our Critical Reviewers are zealous and distinguished co-operators. They enter fully into the Abbé's views, admire his efforts, reiterate his statements, and hope ardently for the success of his scheme. And, while their Monthly, and Annual, and other less intrepid coadjutors, are employed chiefly in mining and sapping, it is more particularly their province to attack the sacred edifice by storm. It is their province to show, that this long-admired structure is the work of dark and rude times, and a disgrace to the present highly enlightened age; that its materials are corrupt and worthless, that it is the harbour of ignorance, idleness, and fanaticism; like Babylon of old of the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit;' and, that it is the duty of every friend of his country and his species immediately to come out of it, and assist in its demolition. Arguing in favour of the change which they wish to effect in this kingdom, " It is time," they say, “ to have done with autocrats and popes, with secular and with spiritual despots of every description, whether in ermine, in purple, or in lawn. The tragedy of temporal and of spiritual domination has been acted long enough; the hypocritical pageantry may have cheated the senses, but nothing but murder, cruelty, and injustice, have been perpetrated under the mask.” They hope that our House of Commons will “abolish the inquisitorial powers of the Spiritual Court, and put a stop to the further progress of ecclesiastical domination.” (Vol. 13, P. 33; 14, P. 414.)
On a leading point connected with their statements, it may be remarked, by the way, that our critics are guilty, at once, of mistake and inconsistency. They argue on the absurd but too prevalent supposition, that Christianity, like philosophy, is capable of a progressive improvement, through the aid of time and new discoveries. Whereas, a Rerelation of the Will of God is, doubtless, perfect at first'; and the highest improvement of which it is capable by any future ages, is a perfect comprehension of what was at first delivered. Now the advantage with respect to this must decrease rather than increuse, in proportion to our distance from the time of its origin. So these critics, when it suits their purpose, feel, and revere, " the immutability of truth :" then they assure us that “ truth and falsehood are not conventional and fluctuating things; but that their differences are fixed, permanent, and eternal.” (ibid.)
Let us, however, further attend to their doctrines and procedure as they bear upon the Established Church. In regard then to the system which these gentlemen wish to have propagated, it is notoriously that worst substitute for Christianity, which includes only a few fragments of it, divested of its leading and characteristic doctrines. “ Christ,” they say,
s never preached either the doctrine of original sin or of vicarious punishment; these are the contrivances of men who understand not his great commandinent, to do as we would be done by, and to love one another. This is the substance of that doctrine which Christ preachel; all beside is vanity and strife.' " The simple morality of the Gospel, enforced by the impressire sanction of a future life," they say, "comprises all the
religion that Christ taught." "All besides,” with the doctrines of the “Trinity," "of incarnation; of the atonement, of hereditary depravity, of the moral incapacity of man, of justification by faith, &c. &c." expressly are, in these critics' estimate; “vain ceremopials and mysterious creeds," the "sluices of sectarian hostility," "a Babylonish jargon of theological contradictions," no better than the “superstitions" of "the Hindoos.” And the form of Subscription for teachers of religion which they would substitute for that now prescribed by the church of England is this : “] A. B. do with all iny lieart and mind assent to this truth, that Jesus, the founder of Christianity, was a teacher sent from God to communicate his Will to mankind.” (Vol. 12, P. 95, 205, 220, 321, 324; 11, 174– 182; 14, 431.)
In conformity with this system of doctrine is the selection of their favourites. “The protestant dissenters," they say, " are the firm friends of knowledge and of liberty," and have all high o claims to civil and religious immunities; but “the presbyterian interest,” it seems, merits peculiar attention. This interest we are informel "was most strenuously active, and most forcibly operative, in placing the present family on the throne, and has not for many years experienced much favour" from the court." (Vol. 11, P. 299.) They speak too of “the wise and the upright body of Unitarian and RATIONAL Christians.” (Vol. 14, P. 181.)
On Mr. Evanson, whose Sermons, as these critics have informed us, were "preached în a.cougregation of Unitarian Dissenters" at Lympstone, and
who," as they have also told us, “HAS REASONED HIMSELF INTO DISBELIEF OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF SO GREAT A PART OF THE SACRED VOLUME;" who maintains that “three” out of our four Gopels are
forgeries,” they bestow very high encomiums, “The mind of Mr. Evanson,” they remark, - was a striking erception to the monotonous dulness of the clerical intellect, when fostered by emolument." The opportunities for research and improvement afforded to this gentleman by ecclesiastical preferment, " he employed,” it is said, « to the best advantage.” By ihis research, it seems he discovered “some very serious errors and unscriptural dogmas” in “the Articles and the Liturgy of the Establishment.” And hence, after many ineffectual endeavours to procure a "change in her unscriptural tenets and opinions,” he determined “tó renounce a worship which he thought so strongly tinctured with idolatry and superstition.” For all this, Mr. Evanson is extolled by our crites : those who would not suiter him with impunity to mangle our Divine Service at his pleasure, are charged with « malice and and these critics, among other reasons, " for the love of truth which they breathe, and the useful instructions which they contain, wish, beartily wish, that his Sermons may obtain an extensive circulation !! (Vol. 7, P. 95; 12, P. 374-382.) Of Mr. Fe!lowes, that Mr. Fellowes who bas deluged the world with so much heresy in prose, and given it some such charming specimens of bad grammar, nonsense, and licentiousness in verse; that modest Mr. Fellowes, who not only denies many express doctrines of the Church of which he is a minister, but affirms of some of them, that they are glaring "absurdities,' a mere fiction, fit only for some
canting fanatic to inculcate, or some superstitious old woman to embrace;" and that they "encourage personal depruvity.” Of this Mr. Fellowes
, they can scarcely speak but in raptures. (See his Cant without Religion, and his Love Songs.) Mr. Fellowes, these Reviewers among the few who have strenuously endeavoured to counteract the perilous mischief” of a flagitious doctrine, " but his honest labours never experienced an adequate encouragement !" The “publications of Mr. Fellowes," they add, « show the extent of his researches, the elegance of his taste, and those habits of exact and profound reflexion, which qualify him for giving new interest to common topics, and throwing new light upon the uncommon. With great and singular felicity he has united philosophical reasoning with scriptural doctrines.... His style is clear, copious, and animated. His principles will justify intelligent and impartial readers in ascribing to hin the sagacity of a philosopher, the benevolence of a patriot, and the piety of a Christian.” He is compared with, and represented as having improved, Butler and Barrow!!! &c. &c. &c. (Vol. 13. p. 182 ; 14, 113–125) -- It cannot be, then, to adopt our reviewer's mode of reasoning in another instance, as it is so generally insinuated that Mr. Fellowes" has here “ been his own reviewer * ; for we do not believe that any män since the days of Æneas ever had the impudence to praise himself so fulsomely.” (See Vol. 13, P. 53.)
But the most notorious of our modern heresiarchs is the Rev. Francis Stone. This hoary Socinian has had the effiontery to attack the fundamental doctrines of the Church by which he was fed, in a Sermon preached before his Archdeacon and a Congregation of his Clerical Brethren. His impudent and blasphemou's heresies have compelled even the inild and pious Bishop of London to inflict upon him legal chastisement. Yet; with the greatest possible zeal, the cause of Mr. Stóne is advocated by our Critical Reviewers. They have devoted nearly thirty pages of their work to this object. They thought him deserving of no small share of praise for the truly Christian frankness and intrepidity with which he announced” his opinions in his Sermon. “ In that Sermon,” they say,
we ob. served, and we applauded, an enlightened zeal in the detection of unscriptural error, and more than ordinary manliness of conduct in the vindication of revealed truth.” “ He is,” they add, friend only because he is the friend of truth; for the sake of which he is undergoing persecution.” They consider his vindication of himself, in his Letter to the Bishop of London, as satisfactory and complete,” in which, speaking of the Thirty-nine Articles, he says, “ I have no more concern with them than with the reveries of the Koran, or with the fables of the Talmud." They sůpport, with all their powers, through nineteen páges, his “ Unitarian Christian Minister's Plea for Adherence to the Church of England." They characterise the proceedings against him, as “ unjust, uncharitable,
* In several public companies the following introduction has been used: “ This is Mr. Fellowes, Editor of the Critical Review.” - Further deponent saith not.