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originally, persons who believed themselves saved by standing in God's sight as the Lord Jesus Christ himself stands. The greater part of those included under the term Christians fell away from this faith by the mixture of all kinds of heresies ; many
included under that of Protestant fell away by the addition of “ good works;” and many included under Evangelical have fallen away by the addition of “ fruits :” and all in every age have denounced those who adhered rigidly to faith, and faith alone, in the plain and literal declarations of God's word.
We do therefore most earnestly conjure every one, who calls himself and thinks himself a Christian, not to be deterred from the examination of the subject by the self-sufficient and unmeaning declarations of the religious magazines, that the persons who hold these opinions are not entitled to public confidence;” or by a whining supplication, not “ to desert their own pastors.” If human authority might avail, we could bring forward a host of the greatest names which ever have adorned the church of Christ upon earth, either by their learning or by their piety. Bishop Horsley, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Mede, Toplady, Gill, the Baptist Confession of Faith, the Council ot' Nice, the earliest Fathers, Bishop Bull, the Encyclopædia, have already been produced in proof of this assertion : the list might be multiplied to a much greater extent; but we forbear, because we had rather appeal to Divine than to human authority, and say “ Thus saith the Lord,” than, Thus saith any
, man, for whatever we advance. But these names are brought forward, and are sufficient to crush that presumptuous ignorance which has ventured to impose upon illiterate people, and call the views of the second Advent now maintained new and unheard-of novelties;” and itself “ the spiritual part of the periodical press.'
It is perhaps a natural consequence of the multiplication of religious books, that men should learn their creed, not from God's word, but from those books; and if an accurate examination could be made into how much is believed on the bare authority of God, and how much on the authority of man, it is greatly to be apprehended that the ranks of infidelity would be found to receive an awful augmentation from quarters whence recruits would be little expected. Hence, too, has grown up that unscriptural division of essential and non-essential truths; as if God's word was to be believed in one place, and doubted in another place, according to every one's fancy. This can only arise from men taking their creed to the Bible, instead of deriving it from it; and hence too arises the inveteracy with which some persons can oppose the plainest declarations of it, although they at the same time delude themselves with the notion that they believe it. “ Frequently did the hearers of the Gospel, at its
first promulgation, disbelieve and misconstrue the statements of the Apostles, in order to reconcile them to their previous opinions; but never on account of any inherent obscurity, or want of adaptation to their natural powers of discernment, did they seem at a loss to understand their meaning. The disciples themselves, when plainly told by their Master that he would be put to death and rise again the third day, 'understood not’ the account (Mark ix. 32). This arose, it is obvious, not from any obscurity in the very plain statements made to them, but entirely from their inconsistency with other opinions respecting the Messiah, which, at that time, they considered equally true. And hence, though they had not the least doubt of the veracity of their Master, instead of receiving his words in their obvious meaning, they attempted to attach to them some mysterious and figurative sense compatible with their prejudices; but cases of this nature, it is manifest, though a proof that it is not believed, afford no arguments that it may not be understood.”—On Extent of Divine Agency in producing Faith, p. 65.
Immediately before the first Advent, the judgment on the most religious part of the Jewish community was inflicted, of “ seeing, ye shall see, but shall not perceive; hearing, ye shall hear, but shall not understand ;” and many reasons lead us to apprehend that there will be a similar precursor to the second Advent. If the church really longed for the presence of her Lord she would be incessant in her prayers for that event; and if she would pray, He would hear her prayer, and hasten his coming.
Come, Lord Jesus ; shortly accomplish the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom : even so, come Lord Jesus; come quickly!”
Willing, however, to meet honest and sincere inquirers, who may be deterred by the hardihood of those who sit in Moses' seat, and, holding the key of knowledge, neither enter themselves nor let others go in who are inclined so to do, we subjoin to these remarks the words of President Edwards, because, on account of his Life of Brainerd, he is a great favourite in the present day. " It is abundantly prophesied in the Old Testament, that in the days of the Messiah God shall take to himself the kingdom, and shall reign as king, in contradistinction to other reigning subordinate beings: and that God himself shall reign on earth, as king among his people, is abundantly manifest from many prophecies: and in this very prophecy of Daniel (ch. vii.) where this kingdom, which the Lord of heaven should at last set up (plainly this same kingdom) is more fully spoken of, it is manifest that the Messiah is to be the King in that kingdom, who shall reign as vested with full power and complete kingly authority.”
Many of our readers will be inclined to think that we have wasted much time in proving ignorance in works which, being
VOL. 1.-NO, II.
little read, have no influence upon the public mind. That this is true as far as respects the wealthier members of the Established Church, we do not question; but amongst the poor of the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ these magazines have a very general circulation ; and, if any distinction is to be made between those
l for whom we should labour, undoubtedly the poor is that portion. The number of the magazines circulated each month is said to be as follows; but for the accuracy of the statement we do not mean to pledge ourselves.
-52,700 per month, besides some minor ones, making together about 8000 more, not including the Missionary Register of 8750.
This is unquestionably a large mass of what in most instances must be called false, and in all, incomplete, theology, to be pouring out its monthly torrent of uncleanness over the land, without one redeeming hand of a prophet to heal the poisoned stream: and we think, therefore, that we have made out a case sufficiently strong to establish not only that another journal was justifiable, but that, in the opinion of the promoters of “ The Ecclesiastic," as well as of ourselves, such a work was absolutely necessary. Whether we shall be found to have remedied the evils complained of, remains to be shewn.
Two remarkable instances of the antipathy of these journals even to consider, or endeavour to understand, that large portion of God's revealed will which is contained in the prophetic parts of Scripture, occurred very lately. In a recent number of The Ecclesiastic an article was sent for insertion upon this subject. The Editor did not refuse it; yet, as the subject was unpopular, he could not venture to adopt it as his own : he therefore resorted to the notable expedient of printing the essay with a disclaimer, lest the opinions inculcated should be attributed to him ; which shews that that is the only subject of which he is ashamed, because on that alone has he thought it necessary to enter any such protest. He had no reason to be ashamed of it, however, for the article was very well written. The second instance to which we allude occurred in the Jewish Expositor, where the writer of a review of Dr. Hamilton's attack on the students of prophecy actually makes an apology for bringing that portion of Divine truth before the people.
We have yet an additional proof of the nature of the theology which is inculcated in these Reviews. The published list of
their contributors and trustees shews that far the greater number of them are Dissenting Ministers-that is, they believe that they are specially set apart by the Holy Ghost to be the ministers of that word which teaches that Christ is very God and very man; that they have received a gift by the imposition of hands; and that their orders are as valid, and of equal rank in the church of Christ, as any orders whatever can be. We have already observed upon the absurdity of these men calling Socinians their “ brethren :" if they are their brethren, then are they themselves no brethren of Christ. The effect of their doing this upon their flocks cannot be counterbalanced by their sermons. They allege, indeed, that the only bond between them is Dissent, and to an intercourse upon this subject alone is their brotherly union confined. But if they did not love Dissent better than Christ, whence is their rancour against their real brethren of the Church of England to be accounted for? It would not be fair to charge them with all the Radicalism, Socinianism, and folly, which fill the pages of a weekly journal, “ The World :” but
" since the proprietors challenge support from Dissenters, specially on the ground of its speaking their sentiments and being their efficient organ, it is obvious that it could not long continue its circulation unless it promulgated opinions in harmony with those of its readers. Wishing to shew that we are not singular in our opinions upon this subject, we subjoin some remarks from “The Record” newspaper; a publication of much sounder principles than the other, but labouring to unite two incompatible things, God and mammon.
“While the true catholic spirit is very far indeed from prevailing in the purity and to the extent which it ought, and is destined to do, the exclusive spirit has been exchanged by multitudes for the latitudinarian; from the one extreme, they have passed over to the other equally dangerous and objectionable one. The broad and palpable distinction between latitudinarianism and charity has been overlooked ; and it is to be apprehended that the former has been reached by many professing Christians, who have never to this hour entered within the sacred bonds of the latter. But wherever this latitudinarian spirit is to be foundwhether on the bench or in the meeting-house, whether in the Church or among the Dissenters—we shall not cease to denounce it as diametrically opposed to the spirit and subversive of the truth of the Christian faith.
“ We are happy to hear it reported that a large number of Dissenting ministers are preparing a protest against the continued union, in the Three Denominations,' of orthodox Dissenters with men professing to be ministers of Jesus Christ but who preach and promulgate rank Socinianism. We proclaim -and, had we voice, we should sound it to the ends of the earth
-that these men are enemies of the Cross of Christ; that the heresy which they profess is totally destructive of Christianity, and utterly ruinous to the souls of men; and we humbly, yet with deep earnestness, and with brotherly affection and solicitude, press it upon our orthodox Dissenting brethren, that with men who have thus apostatized from the faith, and yet who call themselves brethren, nay, shepherds of the sheep of Christ, we are plainly forbidden by Scripture to have any intercourse beyond that which is indispensable.
“Let us suppose that this sect, instead of apostatizing from the faith of their fathers as they have done, had slidden into the grossest Antinomianism, and, still professing to be ministers of Jesus Christ, had lived themselves in the most open and abandoned immorality, and joyously led their people forward in the same dreadful career: we ask orthodox Dissenters, would a sense of common decency-a regard to public opinion—the natural revoltings of their own mind-have allowed them voluntarily to assemble together in the same room, and hold polite and courteous consultation with men of this stamp, on such topics as form the subjects of deliberation at the meetings of the Union? Would they not have felt in their inmost souls, that, were the objects of that union incomparably more important than they are, they would never justify such an unnatural and disgraceful association ? Would they not, with loathing, have separated themselves from them?
“How does the Apostle speak of gross immoralities? He says, they are not even to be named amongst us, as becometh saints. And how does he speak with reference to a far less palpable departure from the truth of the Gospel than that which distinguishes Socinianism? If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be ACCURSED. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other Gospel unto
ye have received, let him be ACCURSED.” And will it be said for a moment, that the Apostle would have tolerated in his presence, and received unnecessarily into his society, and even, in secular matters of importance, into his confidence, the one class of men rather than the other ? Impossible.
“In truth, Socinianism, in some points of view, is far more to be dreaded than Antinomianism. The latter disgusts all, and is scouted by all. Even the unenlightened mind rises up in horror against it. Not so with Socinianism. It is not an unnatural monster, which disgusts as it kills. It is a viper lying in a bed of roses. The generality of men, who refer not to Scripture as their guide, see no great harm in it. It is simply a variety of opinion. Many of its professors, as well as individuals belonging to many other classes of unbelievers, not to
you than that