Page images
PDF
EPUB

where we have it recorded that he quoted to the Greeks from a profane author, in order to show their belief in the existence of the Deity. The being ignorant, then, is no claim to apostolicity.

It is said, however, that the Spirit of God is now present to instruct men in the truth, as it was in the days of the apostles, and that though men may be ignorant of the world's learning, yet they get such inward light upon the Scriptures as to be able to explain them with effect.

That God's grace is granted to men not acquainted with secular learning is most manifest. He is no respecter of persons; and while grace to resist temptation, grace to believe truly on the Saviour, is vouchsafed to every devout member of Christ's Church, it does not appear that any miraculous teaching is afforded in these later times. " The inspiration now is moral, not intellectual, or rather intellectual only so far as it is moral." * The ministers of the Church require the light of God's Holy Spirit, and fervently pray for it that they may be guided into all truth, but they do not neglect to use such means as God has put into their hands to learn those things which are necessary to enable them to understand the Scriptures. Indeed, they would never dare to solicit for the teaching of the Spirit on doctrinal points, unless they had first learnt to do their Lord's will, but still they must use other means. They are here following the analogy both of nature and revelation. The husbandman sows the seed, and the showers of rain and bright sunshine bring it forward. The preacher plants the word, and waters it, but God gives the increase ; so men of sound learning, earnestly eager to discover the truth, will prayerfully and humbly study in order to find it, and to such, we have reason to believe, will grace be given rightly to apprehend it. But this Spirit is very different from the dogmatizing spirit of the age, which pronounces upon the nicest points of theology with a decision which is awful, when it proceeds, as is too frequently the case, from a mind little devoted to religious studies.

It is surely from want of a spirit of humble inquiry that so much erroneous doctrine is promulgated by parties who profess a desire for truth in its purity. Surely the opinions we now quote savour more of self-confidence than dependence upon the means of grace.

Evangelical sanctification admits of different degrees. It begins with the new birth, which is immediately consequent upon justification. After this there is a gradual mortification of sin, and growth in holiness; but there must be a point of time at which sin ceases to exist in the heart, and love is made perfect. Sanctification therefore is instantaneous, as well as gradual. That this state of entire sanctification is attainable in this life, we think is manifest from the Scriptures of truth: and to this state every believer is bound to aspire. The Lord is indeed ready to do for his people exceeding abundantly above all that they

* What is here meant is, that it is true that religious men are ofttimes more learned, and have done more for learning than other men ; but then this results from an indirect operation of the Holy Spirit,--that operation which gives humility, patience, peaceableness, and so on.

can either ask or think; and with nothing less than the full sanctification to God of their body, soul, and spirit, should they ever be satisfied. They are to present themselves continually to him as a holy living sacrifice.—P. 35.

Here we are told that there must be a “point of time at which sin ceases to exist in the heart;” not that there are some highly gifted pious persons who have attained a high degree of holiness, but that man must become sinless in this life. Those who really come the nearest to this imaginary perfection are more conscious of its impossibility than those miserable beings who dare to assert that they are pure before God. St. Paul the apostle complains that when he wished to do good evil was present with him ; and all the saints of God have, from the apostolic times, complained of the corruption of their nature, from which they expected complete deliverance only at death. But the system of the Wesleyans holds out the idea of man's perfection. Of this the holy apostles, saints, confessors, and martyrs, knew nothing. It was reserved for the Wesleyans to discover the dogma, and for their defender at their centenary to promulgate it, as a proof of Wesleyan Methodism being a revival of apostolical Christianity.

Of course persons who are so conscious of their own perfections will occasionally glory in them. Hence they talk of the conversion of men from the Church to Wesleyanism, in the same manner as they do of the conversion of the heathens to Christianity. Of this our next extract is an example. In it the fact is admitted that when the Wesleys commenced their itinerant labours, the people were prepared to assent to an appeal to Scripture. This was owing to the Church; but let the extract speak for itself.

Some persons will probably deny, that the results of the apostolic ministry, and of that which is exercised in the Wesleyan body, are identical; inasmuch as the parties upon whom these effects are said to be wrought are very dissimilar. The first converts to Christianity were Jews and heathens; whereas those of Methodism were beforehand Christians, at least in profession. In this case we acknowledge, to a great extent, the justness of the premises, but deny the conclusion. When the Wesleys and their associates entered upon their itinerant ministry, they found the generality of their hearers so far prepared as to assent to an appeal to the Scriptures, and to the formularies of Protestant Christianity. For this preparation of the people they were principally indebted to the Established Church, which had preserved the forms of divine worship in every part of the land, and which, thus far, was an immense public benefit, although it had left vast multitudes not only strangers to spiritual religiou, but grossly ignorant and immoral. Such was the former character of many of those who, after their conversion, have been among the most devout and exemplary members of our societies. That they were not idolaters, was simply owing to the circumstance that they were not born in a heathen land; for their attention had never been seriously directed to the subject of religion till they were awakened and alarmed by Methodist preaching. Thousands of such men, who were a perfect scandal to the Christian name, as well as many others, who rested in the mere forms of Christianity, have, by the ministry in question, been quickened into newness of life. They have “put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We maintain, then, that in all these cases the result of Methodist preaching is pre

cisely that of the preaching of the primitive disciples. The only difference is, that the people were better prepared to receive the truth, than were many of the Jews and heathens to whom the apostles ministered. And yet sometimes these original teachers of Christianity met with people who were at least equally prepared of the Lord. Such were Cornelius and Lydia ; and such, too, were the devout Jews at Berea, who candidly appealed to their own Scriptures, and “received the word with all readiness of mind."-- Pp. 40, 41.

In short, the Church had preserved the Scriptures from the apostolic times, and has taught them to the world. In her keeping have been the sacred oracles, and the Wesleyan schismatics would do well to con. sider, how they can prove the authenticity of the Scriptures by a system only one hundred years old. It is lamentable to see men groping in the dark, unable to perceive that with a heathen or an infidel they have no ground to stand upon, rejecting as they do the Church's tradition ; yet they boast there is no necessity for an apostolically successive ministry, and endeavour to persuade themselves that the system of Wesleyanism is apostolical in its character. Its chief feature seems to be a dependence upon inward frames and feelings as infallible, and contempt of every effort made to call men away from a state of spiritual sublimity, which too frequently forgets the moral duties. In the effusion we have been considering, the lie is once and for ever given to the notion that the Wesleyans are friends of the Church, save and except as they see that but for the Church they would have no toleration. The fact is, wealth has made the Wesleyans proud, and pride will be their downfal. Nay, as a system, it shall die a suicidal death ; for by the appeal to apostolicity shall it now be tried; and, being tried, it shall be condemned. The Church is ready with open arms to receive her wandering sheep; for many of them are baptized members of our communion, subject, therefore, legitimately to the Church's sway; and God grant that the arrogance of wealth and infatuated leaders may end in sending real admirers of John Wesley back to that Church of which John Wesley said, “I FEAR THE METHODISTS LEAVE CHURCH, GOD WILL LEAVE THEM!”

WHEN

TUE

« The

Art. II.- The Colonial Magazine, and Commercial Maritime Journal.

Edited by Robert MONTGOMERY Martin, Esq. Author of History of the British Colonies." 8vo. No. II. London : Fisher & Co. Pp. 132.

In noticing the first number of this able periodical, we expressed a hope that the talented editor would not allow the subject of religion, in our past colonial possessions, to be overlooked. That hope has been fully realized, for a more unanswerable defence of “ Church Establishments" has not, to the best of our knowledge, been laid before the public.

Man (observes Mr. Montgomery) can only be redeemed from the savage state by religion : no mere human laws can hold together society; and nations, whether Pagan or Christian, find it necessary to uphold a form of religion for the maintenance of the social fabric.

There must also be some unity of thought, some concord of sentiment, some fixed principles, for the maintenance of religion : laws are as necessary to the preservation of the moral as of the material world; to the regulating of the mind, as well as to revolutions of the planets; to calmness and profundity of reflection, as well as to the peaceful progress of the vast physical organization of the universe.

To leave all persons to adopt whatever form, system, or principle of religion their fleeting passions and imperfect understanding might suggest; or to reject or adopt religion as caprice prompted; would be as absurd as to attempt to form men into a society, and leave each person to frame and obey such laws as he chose to invent; or to despise law and order when it suited his convenience, and enforce them when necessary to his objects.

Religion, therefore, is far more necessary for the maintenance of mankind in society than any form of government: the latter, devoid of religion, would be mainly effective by brute force, and by the terror which its punishments inspired; the former moulds the human being into a social creature, identifies his interest with those of others around him, and, by consentaneousness of thought, gives a firmness and force to all acts emanating from authority for the common weal.

Hence the veriest despots have always found religious establishments a more efficient, as well as more economical mode of governing nations, than bands of armed soldiery, or legions of domestic police. The history of every nation, Pagan and Christian, demonstrates the truth of this axiom, that the State benefits by its union with the Church, by the authority which is conferred on its decrees, and by the allegiance bestowed on its rule.

The monarchical government, which attempted to maintain rule without the aid of a Church Establishment, would share the same fate as the Robesperian council—the delusive dream of worshipping a self-created goddess of Reasonwould soon vanish, and the people, in returning into the fold of Christianity, would crush to atoms the false shepherds, who betrayed them to the wolves of anarchy and ruin.- Pp. 234, 235.

This is spirit-stirring language, and cannot fail to have a beneficial effect upon the minds of all thinking men. And we sincerely hope that the shameful indifference to religion with which, alas ! this nominally christian empire is too justly chargeable, will shortly be changed for (zeal in the cause of the gospel. What is the use of land and emigration boards—what the permanent advantages of colonization in the fifth quarter of the globe, as Australia has not inaptly been called what though we gain the whole world—if the souis of men are left to " perish for lack of knowledge."

Every acre of land in every new colony should have a tenth of its produce set apart for the maintenance of an established church, and every township should have a portion of its area reserved for education in unison with the principles of that established church. Those lands are crown lands; the crown professes to uphold an established form of religion; but its professions are worse than useless, unless efficient means be taken to carry those professions into action. The protestants of England, Ireland, and Scotland, ought to unite

as one person, to enforce, if it be necessary, the formation and maintenance of an established Church in each of our colonies. If the limbs become diseased when the frame of the body is enfeebled, the malady must soon reach the heart. All classes of dissenters are interested in the maintenance of an established Church; beneath its shelter only can they have repose and freedom; and were the Protestant Church abolished to-morrow, they would find the Romanist Church, who would inevitably succeed it, very different in its exercise of civil as well as ecclesiastical polity.-P.211.

The above passage ought to be widely circulated by the religious and conservative press, and the attention of dissenters especially directed to it. The facts are incontrovertible; and if the energies of the country be aroused by the article under consideration, the editor of the Colonial Magazine will have conferred an incalculable henefit on his country.

Art. III.-1. Considerations on the State of the Law regarding Mar

riages with a Deceased Wife's Sister. By a Barrister of the Middle

Temple. London: Longman. Pp. 58. 2. Summary of Objections to the Doctrine that a Marriage with the

Sister of a Deceased Wife is contrary to Law, Religion, or Morality.

London : Roworth. Pp. 26. It is not our intention to enter into the controversy upon this subject, but merely to direct the attention of our readers to the question, inasmuch as it is proposed to introduce a measure into parliament, with a view of repealing a part of Lord Lyndhurst's Act; to which repeal several of the dignitaries of the Church, and some of the most able authorities in Doctors' Commons, are favourable.

It is universally allowed, and ought, in these days of Socialism, to be particularly borne in mind, that the laws which relate to the institution of marriage peremptorily demand a sound and judicious foundation. That serious anomalies and inconveniences existed under the old law, we are not prepared to deny. For example, by the Canon Law, the marriages now under consideration were voidable, and might be set aside in the Ecclesiastical Courts, if the suit of nullity were instituted during the life-time of both the married parties ; and, as Lord Lyndhust observed, "the legitimacy of the offspring of such marriages might remain in suspense for half a century, should the parents who had contracted such marriages so long survive."

But our object is not so much with the law, as with the interpretation of the Levitical prohibitions. In Levit. xviii. 18, we read

“ Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other in her life-time.—Lev. xviii. 18.

Upon this Dr. Dodd's commentary is

“Custom and practice are the best interpreters of law; and it appearing from these that polygamy was allowed amongst the Jews, as well as from

VOL. XXII. NO, III,

S

« PreviousContinue »