Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

and unscripturul;” as marked with “ severity and unjustice ;" "as “the exercise of ecclesiasticul intolerance ;" as "a prosecution of which any papist would be ashamed ;" and which strikes at the very root of all " religious liberty.And while' Mr. Stone, and these Reviewers, with “the upright and the rise body of Unitarian and Rational Christians” are “ rolling us gradually forward to a higher state of moral existence and of social bliss," their opponents are “ the Agents of Tyrannywho would “push us back into the abyss of ignorance and barbarism ;” « infuriated ecclesiastics;" the proprofaners “ of holiness, of sincerity, and truth;” men who " advocate the interests of intolerance, of error, and impiety;" and whose conduct is chargeable with “the utmost aggravation of absurdity.” &c. &c. &c. (Vol. II, p.93 ; 13, P. 22–33; 14, 165-183.)

Such are this critic's encomiums on Unitarian ministers who subscribe a Trinitarian confession : such is his reprobation of those persons who think, that in matters relating to religion, at least not less than in the affairs of common life, respect is due to common honesty, and that men should adhere to their solemn engagements. Whether this behaviour of our critic displays more of “the utmost aggravation of absurdity," or of something still worse, the intelligent reader will judge. This inundation of abuse, he will know, is vented against those who simply think, that while men continue members of any society, and enjoy the benefits attached to such an association, they should not be permitted to yiolate and revile the Jaws of this society; but who yet leave them the most perfect liberty to relinquish it, and to form whatever other connexion they may like better. The clamour respecting the violation of religious liberty is groundless and disingenuous. All men, in this kingdom, have perfect liberty to worship God - under whatever form they please. The uneasiness which is manifested does not arise from spiritual restraint, but from temporal ambition. This should be honestly a vowed. But has not the national Church the privilege which is common to every other society of men, to make and enforce her own laws? And would she not be chargeable at önce with the utmost aggravation of absurdity, and with the heinous guilt of suicide, to reward those who openly revile her ordinances, and lift up their hands against her? With these opinions, however, and these favourites, in precisely

same style.our critics_treat the discussions on the Test Laws. These tests they represent as the " weak and crumbling fortificațions of mystery and intolerance.”

The arguments for their immediate repeal, they consider as incontrovertible and unanswerable, while the measure is opposed only by “ þalf-formed sentences, and shuffing duplicity;" by " the anti-papistical Mr. Perceval and his pensioned coadjutors; by the sordid, parrow minded, and timeserving ministers of the establishment." “ Buonaparte," they say, is bas taught us, that an ecclesiastical establishment may be constituted both of papists and protestants without any collision of religious animosity, or aụy disturbance in the internal tranquillity of an empire.”

The prescriptions of these laws, they tell us, are as impolitic and absurd as it would be to enact

, that no man

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


should be either barber, taylor, or shoemaker, who disbelieved in the existence of the antipodes.” Their repeal, we are taught, is essential to the salvation of the empire. "The empire," these eritics say, “is at present standing on the very brink of perdition, and nothing can long avert its fall, but the complete and unqualified emancipation of the Catholics, the repeal of the unnatural, unseason. able, and unscriptural tests against every sect of dissenters, and the restoration of the late Ministry” to their places! Nay, to continue these laws, is, they affirm, "to be guilty of high treason against God!. What monsters in wickedness as well as in folly, must the best and wisest of our forefathers have been! How odious do their best devised arrangements appear, when placed in the new and brilliant light of the Tuilleries! (Vol. 12, P. 100, 214, 215 ; 1!, 297, 298, 439.)

In respect to some other Laws and Statutes relating to our Church, such, these reviewers maintain, are their extreme absurdity and intolerance, that they constitute “ the Church of England not a

Protestant but a Popish Church; but with this remarkable difference, that the Church of England acknowledges Thirty-nine Infallibles, while the Church of Rome is contented with only one ;" that they give to " an English Bishop" the "authority of a Turkish Bashaw; that under their foolish provisions, our clergy are

- liable at the instigation of any malicious bigot, or any personal enemy," to be placed in such circumstances of vexation and hardship that " parative mercy would appear in the torture of the Inquisition ;" and that it is absolutely necessary for Parliament to interfere," to "abolish the inquisitorial powers of the Spiritual Court, and put a stop to the further progress of Ecclesiastical Domination.(Vol. 13, P. 32, 33; 14, 172, 179, 183.) Oh, that this tenderness for the established clergy extended to any of them except a few restless Socinians, who act in open defiance of their professional engagements, and betray the mother who feeds them! How unsufferable is this affection of friendship from those whose tender mercies are so cruel !

In reference to our Reformers, they speak of "the dogmatic affirmations of persons who lived in a period of ignorance and superstition.” They are our more credulous or more ignorant forefathers." (Vol. 13, P. 30, 32.) - -Upon our Liturgy and authorised Confessions of Faith, they exhaust the vilest storehouses of abuse." "I'he Liturgy and Articles of the Church of England,” they say expressly, were composed in "a period of ignorance and superstition, and contain many irrational, 'idolatrous, and unscriptural tenets;" many “unscriptural falsehoods, and irrational absurdities.They are i vain ceremonials and mysterious creeds;" "the artificial systems, the metaphysical creeds, and hypocritical confessions of men ; o the relics of popery and superstition ;" " inscriptural dogmas and persecuting creeds ;" senseless and intolerant confessions of faith;” and “teach jugenuous and tenderhearted youth to imprecate damnation on all who do not think as they thipik,". They “ are mingled with fables, and polytheism is worshipped within” the walls of our Church. It has been “ demonstrated, ".

" with almost as much clearness as Euclid ever

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

these critics say,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

established any geometrical proposition," that “the Trinitáridn hy othesis, as it is stated in the Athanasian Creed, in the Liturgy and the Articles of the Church of England, has no foundation whatever in the Scriptures, and is not supported by a single trial." This last mentioned Creed is styled a

jargon of nonsense"

monstrous abortion of intolerance and paradox. “ The tenets which are inaintained in the Liturgy of the Church,” are said to be utterly at variance with the tenets of all its ministers, who have any pretexsions to Biblical knowledge, or who are critically acquainted with the Christian Scriptures." The language " of mosi of the Articles" is called “ambiguous jargon or empty sound.” Nay, they are expressly denominated, in the lump,


THIRTY-NINE ABSURDITIES !” &c. &c. &c. (Vol. 11, P. 176; 12, 100, 324, 374, 444; 13, 26-32, 210; 14, 163-180.)

If any circumstance can add to or aggravate the shameless impudence of these assertions, it is supplied in the critic's boast that the Article in which several of the most outrageous of them are contained “has been generally approved both by the Clergy and the Laity!. (Vol. 14, P. 165 ) If any consideration can render this unprincipled calumny utterly incapable of being exceeded in atrocily, it is supplied in the general opinion, that this most indecent abuse of our Liturgy and Confessions of Faith proceeds from a Clergyman of our Church, who has himself publicly, solemnly, and repeatedly, declared, that from his heart he believes all and every thing contained in them to be agreeable, to God's Word ! — Yet, with nearly the same breath, this gentleman boasts, that, whatever else it may want, his “

cause is that of morality* and truth!!” — Such then are “morality and truth,” when divested of all orthodox mystery and absurdity, and exhibited in their native beauty and simplicity by Socinian reformers!

Such, however, is this critic's contemptuous description of that golden age

of literature in which our great Elizabeth reigned ; the age of Ridley and Jewell, of Hooker and Bacon. - Such are his degrading allusions to the brightest luminaries of this age, to men in whom were united and concentrated all its stores both of wisdom and piety; to men, as the learned Professor Hey admits, “ of the first ability, and to whom, he says, “as scholars, if we except a few, we are MERE CHILDREN.' (Nor. Lect. Vol. 2, P. is this modern philosophist's extravagant abuse of those forms of faith and worship, in the preparation of which, for a long period of time, nearly all the talents, all the learning, all the wisdom, and all the piecy, of this age, and of these worthies, were vigorously exerted, and in defence of which our leading reformers cheerfully sacrificed the greatest earthly comforts, and submitted to the state. Such is this illuminated unitarian's account of a Liturgy which

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

204.) Such

* Dereliction of principle is very generally attended by a corre spondent laxity of morals. Perhaps the public will soon be favoured with a " Body of a Morality,” in which it will be demonstrated that

marriage vow?' 'is a mere political contract, &c.; but jam satis, &c.


appears really to exhibit the maximum of elevated piety and
scriptural-simplicity; a Liturgy which for its prudent moderation,
its general adaptation to the feelings of serious Christians, its holy
intermixture of doctrines and duties, and its wise inculcation of every
essential truth of the Christian system while it is employed in Chris-
tian worship, was extolled at the time of its formation by all the
leading foreign reformers; a Liturgy which for two centuries and
a half has been the admiration of Christendom; a Liturgy which
the Critical Review itself has formerly characterised, as, amidst.
others that were admirable, pre-eminently und peculiarlydistin-
guished for piety," moderation," prudence," " charity," and
" truly Evangelical principles !Such is this Critical Review's charac-
ter of" Documents, from which, in conjunction with similar content-
porary productions, it has before said, “we may learn to emulate
and copy the truly evangelical principles of those great and holy
men, who at the imminent peril, or who with the loss of their fortunes
and of life itself, preached, taught, and defended those weightier mat-
ters of the Gospel, which must ever be the life and ornament of
the Christian Church." (See Burnet and Strype on the Reforma-
tion, and Letter 1, Antijac: Sep. 1808.) What then will not such
a work calumniate? And what behaviour could render it, at once, more
disgusting and more pestilential? If possible, however, something
still worse is behind. But, that room may be afforded for more
grateful, subjects, this must be reserved for the next month.

Till then,

[blocks in formation]

“ betray'd
To faithless parties, feminine assaults;
To the false fair I yielded all my heart,
So far effeninacy held me yok'd
Her slave.- foul indignity! O blot

To honour and to arms!
WHILE thrones are tottering on every side ; while ancient.
dynasties are swept, as it were, from the face of the earth, like
trees before the desolating whirlwind; while the rapid revo-
lution of empires fills the mind with consternation and dismay;
while England herself is engaged, or professes to be engaged, in
the noble task of supporting the last efforts of expiring inde-
pendence on the Continent; and while the fate of Europe hangs

a single thread, the attention of one of the great councils of the British realm has been engrossed, for the greater part of the

[ocr errors]

last month, by an inquiry into the conduct of the commander-inchief, in the disposal of military commissions. Had this inquiry been instituted for the purpose of removing the many flagrant abuses which have been long known to prevail in the army; and had it been conducted in a manner suitable to the attainment of that great object, we should have thought that the House of Commons could not have been better employed. But as the inquiry has assumed a judicial character, as it has been conducted in much the same way, and with much the same spirit, as most of the judicial investigations of that popular assembly within our recollection; we are far from sanguine in our expectations of deriving from it that public good, which in all human probability it would have produced, had the cause been submitted to a different tribunal.

We have, on various occasions, expressed our decided opinion of the total unfitness of a popular assembly for the discharge of judicial duties. Every fresh attempt of the kind only tends to strengthen that opinion and to give additional force to our objections, which are founded on strong constitutional grounds. The jealousy which has lately been displayed respecting what is called the inquisitorial power of the House of Cominons, appears to us puerile and silly; and we earnestly recommend to those who cherish the feeling, coolly to examine the source of that power, and impartially to ascertain its tendency and effects. We are aware that some apology is due to our readers for employing a mougrel expression unknown to our language; nor will it avail us, on the present occasion, to plead Lex et Consueludo Parliamenti; for, although we be not disposed to question the right of Parliament to frame a kind of common larv for itself, not to be found in our statute-book; yet are we not so obsequious as to admit their authority to alter the frame and structure of our mother-tongue, or to corrupt it by the introduction of words of spurious breed, and of ominous import. But we have been reduced to the necessity of using the term inquisitorial,' by the desire to render ourselves intelligible to the gentlemen whom we more particularly wish to admonish. While, however, as faithful guardians of the literary character of our country, we censure the coinage of counterfeit words, we are compelled, in candour; to admit that no epithet which the English language can supply would be so strictly appropriate to

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »