Page images
PDF
EPUB

principally with recapitulation. In the course of this recapitulation there occur some singular representations. Every infant is, in the judgement of the Church,' says Dr. L. 'considered as truly admitted into God's favour, and truly regenerated, so far at least as the infant mind is capable of Regeneration:' a modification of the doctrine, which in our view amounts pretty nearly to a negation.

In the event of his surviving to years of discretion,' it is added, • his continuance in a state of grace and acceptance "depends upon "his continuance in well doing, upon his obediently keeping God's "holy will and commandments, and walking in the same all the "days of his life." This is so obvious the natural import of the language adopted in our liturgy, that no common skill in logical legerdemain seems requisite to force upon it any other construc tion.'

Were this all that the Liturgy asserts, there would be no inducement for any of Dr. Laurence's opponents to attempt a different construction. No Calvinist denies the necessary connexion between a continuance in well doing, and a continuance in a state of acceptance with God, although he denies that the condition upon which our enjoyment of the Divine favour is said to depend, is of the nature of a meritorious cause, and on this account would object to a phraseology, which seems to countenance the Popish doctrine of Justification by works.

[ocr errors]

The other singular statement we allude to, occurs at p. 165. The Author represents the persuasion that children, which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved,' to be inconsistent with the very basis of Calvinistical Predestination.' Whatever were the sentiments of Calvin respecting the salvation of infants, the doctrine of Predestination, it is needless to say, involves no supposition so monstrous and blasphemous as that which Dr. L. would seem to be desirous of fastening on his opponents. The fact is, the Liturgy teaches the salvation of baptized infants only, and that by virtue of baptism. Modern Calvinists believe that all infants, baptized or unbaptized, are undoubtedly saved in Christ.

We cannot take leave of Dr. Laurence without expressing the obligations under which he has laid the Dissenters, for this able confirmation of some of the grounds of their nonconformity. Were we to congratulate him on the service he has performed to the Established Church, it would wear too obviously the appearance of irony: but the investigation must do good; it can endanger no interests that are identified with the Truth. It will serve to strengthen that line of demarcation which we always wish to see conspicuous, between the ministers

of the religion of the New Testament, and the devotees to human authority in matters of faith; between the converted and the professional minister; between the preachers of the Bible, and the administrators of a liturgy. These two parties will always exist in a national church; and while there is any vitality in either, they will never amalgamate.

It is singular enough to witness Dr. Laurence's party in the Establishment, demanding a relinquishment of preconceived system from the Evangelical Clergy, and exhibiting so marked an antipathy to systematic theology, at the very moment that they are appealing to human compositions, and to human theories, as the rule of ecclesiastical faith, and deprecating an appeal to Scripture, as tending to bias the mind! Yes it is the Church, not the Bible, that is to decide the controversy. Surely, the dangers of an over-fondness for system, are not comparable with those of a blind deference to traditional dogmas on the ground of their ideal authority. What is there in all the refinements of hyper-Calvinistic theories, more erroneous or more pernicious, than that mixture of Arminian phraseology and Antinomian sentiment, which the abettors of Baptismal Regeneration oppose to the doctrines of Predestination and Conversion?

1

We cannot agree with those persons who view the present controversy with regret or with dismay. We are rather disposed to consider it as an encouraging indication of the activity of a spirit of inquiry. An aversion to religious controversy, remarks an admirable writer, may arise from two causes, ' in their nature the most opposite; a contempt of religion itself, or a high degree of devotional feeling.' It affords a proof then of the existence of some principle better than a Sadducean' indifference, when this aversion gives way even to a contentious zeal for truth. It argues indeed a morbid state of feeling, when the grand essentials of Christianity appear to engage less attention than those impalpable niceties of definition, and those reasonings, inductive or hypothetical, which are the mere excrescences of truth. But the present controversy is not of this description: it involves essentials, and there is something suspicious in the feelings which make us skrink from the contest. To those excellent individuals who cherish this reluctance, from a distrustful solicitude respecting consequences that may arise from agitating these questions, we beg earnestly to recommend the following remarks on religious controversy, from the pen of the Rev. Robert Hall. They are extracted from his Preface to the third edition of an inestimable work by his father, Mr. Robert Hall of Arnsby, entitled "Help to Zion's Travellers.".

'It is certain that in some this indisposition proceeds from a

better cause they conceive religion to be a subject too sacred for dispute. They wish to confine it to silent meditation, to 'sweeten solitude, to inspire devotion, to guide the practice, ' and purify the heart, and never to appear in public but in the character of the authentic interpreter of the will of 'Heaven. They conceive it degraded whenever it is brought forward to combat on the arena. We are fully convinced, 'that a disputatious humour is unfavourable to piety; and that ⚫ controversies in religion have often been unnecessarily multiplied ' and extended; but how they can be dispensed with altogether, we are at a loss to discover, until some other method is discovered of confuting error, than sound and solid argument. As 'we no longer live in times (God be thanked!) when coercion can 'be employed, or when any individual, or any body of men, are invested with that authority which could silence disputes by an ' oracular decision, there appears no possibility of maintaining the ' interests of truth, without having recourse to temperate and 'candid controversy. Perhaps the sober use of this weapon may 'not be without its advantages, even at the present season. 'Prone as we are to extremes, may there not be some reason to apprehend, we have passed from that propensity to magnify every difference subsisting amongst christians, to a neglect ' of just discrimination, to a habit of contemplating the christian system as one in which there is little or nothing remains to be 6 explored? Let us cultivate the most cordial esteem for all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Let us anxiously 'guard against that asperity and contempt which have too ' often mingled with theological debates, but let us aim at the same time, to acquire and retain the most accurate conceptions of religious truth. Every improvement in the knowledge of Christ and the mysteries of his Gospel, will abundantly com'pensate for the labour and attention necessary to its at❝tainment.

[ocr errors]

However unhappily controversies have too often been conducted, the assistance they have afforded in the discovery of 'truth, is not light or inconsiderable. Not to mention the Reformation, which was principally effected by controversy, 'how many truths have by this means been set in a clearer view; and, while the unhappy passions it has awakened have 'subsided, the light struck out in the collision has been re'tained and perpetuated.

'As the physical powers are scarcely ever exerted to their ' utmost extent, but in the ardour of combat, so intellectual 'acumen has been displayed to the most advantage, and to 'the most effect, in the contests of argument. The mind of a 'controversialist warmed and agitated, is turned to all quarters, ' and leaves none of its resources unemployed in the invention

1

of arguments, tries every weapon, and explores the hidden < recesses of a subject with an intense vigilance and an ardour which it is next to impossible in a calmer state of mind to 'command. Disingenuous arts are often resorted to, personalities are mingled, and much irritative matter is introduced; but it is the business of the attentive observer to separate these from the question at issue, and to form an impartial judgment of the whole. In a word, it may be truly affirmed ፡ that the evils occasioned by controversy are transient, the good 'it produces is permanent.'

Art. VII. Essays on Insanity, Hypochondriasis, and other Nervous Affections. By John Reid, M. D. Member of the Royal College of Physicians, London, and late Physician to the Finsbury Dispensary. pp. 272. Price 9s. Longman and Co. 1816.

DR.

R. REID has been for some years known to a considerable proportion of the reading public, by a series of medical reports which appeared in the old Monthly Magazine, and which have perhaps been more read out of the actual circle of the profession, than any thing that has ever been presented to the world under a merely medical title. Of these reports the present Essays are professedly little else than an amplification.

"It was my original design, (says our Author) to have endeavoured to write something more systematic and complete on the subject of mental diseases; but domestic circumstances in which the public are not interested, having interfered with the prosecution of that object, I have been induced to commit to the press in the form of Essays, what I had regarded as materials merely towards the formation of a larger and more methodical work.'

The reader of these Essays will not have turned many pages of the book over, before he perceives that he is engaged with no ordinary writer. The first paper treats of the influence which the mind exercises upon the body, and comments upon the variety of shade, and difference of physiognomical character, displayed by the same nosological distemper, according to the external circumstances and interior condition of the individual sufferer. The Author alludes in a forcible and striking manner to the wretchedness of London paupers; and the beauty and justness of his remarks, will be readily acknowledged by those persons whose charitable designs or official duties have led them to witness these scenes of poverty and misery.

'There is no person perhaps (says Dr. Reid) who is apt to form so low an estimate of the value of human existence, as a medical man practising amongst the poor, especially amongst the poor of a great city. But it is not impossible that he may exaggerate the excess of their sufferings, by combming, as it is natural for him to do, their external state with those feelings which he has acquired from very

different circumstances and education. As the horrors of the grave affect only the living, so the miseries of poverty exist principally perhaps in the imagination of the affluent. The labour of the poor man relieves him at least from the burden of fashionable ennui, and the constant pressure of physical inconveniences from the more elegant, but surely not less intolerable distresses of a refined and romantic sensibility. Even those superior intellectual advantages of education, to which the more opulent are almost exclusively admitted, may in some cases, open only new avenues to sorrow. The mind in proportion as it is expanded, exposes a larger surface to impression.' pp. 5, 6.

The chapter immediately succeeding, enters on the consideration of a topic which demands a much more ample discussion on the part of the medical philosopher and moralist, than has been given to it by our Author. How far the will may be brought to operate towards the counteraction of nervous depression and disorder, is a nice and difficult, but at the same time, a very momentous question. That nervous invalids are not to be laughed out of their ailings, is too obvious a truth, and too trite a remark, to be dwelt upon. But, on the other hand, there is a great moral as well as medical objection to a passive and indolent acquiescence in that feeling, which considers all the variety of aberration to which the sentient part of our frame is prone, as inevitable and invincible. Sauvages relates the case of a female, who was accustomed to ward off the attacks of very violent paroxysms of disorder, by a strenuous exertion of the voluntary power; and we verily believe the same effect might much oftener than is apprehended, be produced by a similar determination on the part of the patient. We are not to be told, that the essence of the maladies in question, consists often in a want of control over that very power, the exertion of which we venture to urge as a duty. To suggestions of this nature we would reply, let the patient at least seize hold, so to say, of the lucid interval, and when the enemy retires for a season, let that season be so employed as to render the frame less vulnerable to future attacks. This rule might be made especially to apply to the government and regulation of constitutional temper, a greater placidity and equanimity of which we are persuaded is in the power of the most irritable to procure to himself, than is usually allowed or imagined; and that even independently of those higher motives which must regulate the feelings and conduct of those persons, who are really under the influence of Christianity; but merely from a sense of the immediate good insured to the individual and to those about him, by a constant exercise of self-control. Even nascent insanity might in many instances be crushed in its birth, by a struggle apportioned to the magnitude of the desired object. But this is a theme which we cannot of course dwell upon in this place,

·

« PreviousContinue »