Page images

quiries might have issued in reasonable satisfaction. But how one who, as it appears, (XVI. 570 compared with 572,) had for some time accepted the office of a Christian minister, could continue the regular exercise of that office while, respecting both the Jewish and Christian Revelations, and even what is called Natural Religion, he had become a sceptic, on the utmost verge towards unbelief, or, as he expresses himself, "in a perfect wandering and maze," scarcely knowing "what to believe or disbelieve," is, I confess, to me, inexplicable. I wish any of your correspondents could do more than I am able to effect, towards rescuing the memory of such a man as Chandler, from the imputation which this letter, connected with Secker's letters to Mr Fox, to which I have referred, and Chandler's recorded occupations at Peckham, appears to fix on him. I am, indeed, ready to wonder that his friend and correspondent, on a final arrangement of these papers, had not committed this letter to the protection of that purifying element which Sir Henry Wotton not unaptly entitles optimus secreta


I hasten to a more agreeable subject, by sending you a letter, which I know you will readily preserve. I found it only a few days since, on examining some papers connected with the publication of Mr. Wakefield's Memoirs, in 1804, or it would have been offered to the last volume, to follow your notices of the excellent writer. The "two Sermons" which accompanied the Letter, Mr. Howe entitled "The Millenium." (See XV. 722.) My friend, whom he describes as "of Billericay," and with whose arduous trial of Christian consistency, in that situation, I became, from local circumstances, intimately acquainted, will, I trust, excuse me that I have gratified myself by not withholding his name.

To the information contained in a "Letter from London," and which Dr. Toulmin communicated, no doubt most correctly, to Mr. Howe, it is not very easy to give credence. January 11, 1801, Mr. Pitt resigned his appointments, chiefly because the inveterate prejudices of the crown interfered with his project of Catholic Emancipation, by the assurance of

[blocks in formation]

Your letter is so condescending, kind and friendly, that I cannot refrain from expressing to you my sincere thanks. If I lived in Dorchester I should request the favour of you to permit me to visit you at least two or three times a week, and this I should esteem a greater honour, though within the walls of a prison, than an invitation to court. I congratulate you on the near approach of your release from confinement: I wish it could with propriety be said, restoration to perfect liberty. But if the same system be pursued, on which our rulers have acted for some years past, English liberty, prosperity and happiness are vox et præterea nihil. In the present melancholy state of the nation, however, and under the apprehension of greater calamities than we have yet experienced, it is consoling to look with the eye of Christian faith, to that gracious Providence, which is continually bringing light out of darkness, order out of apparent confusion, and good out of evil. Inspired prophecy teaches us to hope for a better state of things for mankind even in this world, and though it be the lot of the present generation to share in the evils which are introductory to it, be nevolence rejoices in the prospect of the happiness which awaits future generations. I sometimes direct the views of my people to the age of truth, peace, liberty and righteousness, as a motive for animation to duty, and support under any afflictive scenes to which Christian integrity may expose us. This I did on the 5th of November and the beginning of this year. The candour of my kind and affectionate friends dictated the

request, which has produced the publication of these two sermons. The subjects of them are certainly important and interesting, and I have only to regret my not having done more justice to them.

You know the character of Mr. Fry of Billericay, and the noble sacrifice

well. Mr. Fawcett joins in kind remembrance to you and them, with Dear Sir, Yours most respectfully, THOS. HOWE.

The Rev. G. Wakefield.


he made to his convictions of Chris-HERE, HERE has just fallen into my

tian truth. He made us a visit in October last, and preached at Bridport two or three times with great acceptance. Some of my friends requested him to publish the sermon which I have inclosed, a parcel of which I did not receive till yesterday. You will perceive that he understands the subject of religious liberty; and I wish every one who may be disposed to censure him for the change of his sentiments from Calvinism to Unitarianism, and his open avowal of this change, would read this discourse with attention. He would have done himself the pleasure of paying his personal respects to you, had he returned through Dorchester.

It seems as if there was a scheme in agitation among our great men, to emancipate the Catholics, without granting any relief to the Protestant Dissenters. This I conclude from a letter I received last week from our good friend Dr. Toulmin. The following is an extract:

"A letter from London this week informs me, that endeavours are using by those in power, to prevail with British Dissenters to let the Catholic emancipation take place, without putting in their claims to equal freedom from the disabilities they are under, by the Corporation and Test Acts. Some classes who have been applied to, are said to have promised to be as quiet as government wishes them to


Who these tame Dissenters are, the Rev. Mr. Marten I suppose, and the other receivers and distributers of the regium donum money, could inform us. Surely they can be none who have any thing of the spirit of the Old Noncons. What shall we live to see in this age of wonders!

I beg your pardon for intruding so much on your time. I intended to have written but a few lines when I begun, but have been carried on insensibly from one thing to another. Mrs. Wakefield and the family are I hope

"The Book of Common

Prayer, &c., by the Hon. Sir John Bayley, Knight, one of the Judges of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench," a handsome 8vo. volume, printed in the year 1816; and I have been much pleased at the piety which the learned Judge displays, but astonished at the ultra-orthodox doctrines which he lays down, as if from the Bench. His comment upon the first verse of the Book of Genesis, is as follows, p. 483: "The word here and in other parts of this chapter translated God' is a plural noun and yet is followed by a verb singular; so that Moses probably understood, that under the term

[ocr errors]

God,' more than one Existence or Being was included, and yet that those Existences or Beings were so united, that they might properly be considered as only One. God is a Spirit, John iv. 24, without flesh, or blood, or body, or any thing tangible (see 1st of 39 articles), of infinite wisdom and goodness, always knowing what is best and always willing what is best. And as men only disagree when, from the imperfection of their nature, they are not wise enough to know what is best, or not good enough to will it; so, from the perfection of the Divine nature, the Beings or Existences which partake of it, from always knowing what is best and always willing it, must necessarily in all instances be unanimous, or of one mind. Though each is capable of thinking for himself, judging for himself, and acting for himself, yet each must, from the consummate perfection of their natures, come to the same conclusion with the others; and upon every point on which there can be deliberation or judgment, they must inevitably be one in mind. The doctrine, then, of our church, that the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and yet that they are not three Gods but one God,' may easily be understood. Each is a distinct Existence or Being; each capable of thinking, judging and acting

for himself; but each so perfect in wisdom and goodness, that whatever one thinks best all must think best; whatever one wills all must will: in no possible case can there be any difference between them, but in every possible case they must be of one mind.'"

For this tritheistic doctrine which the University of Oxford has heretofore pronounced heretical, the Judge refers to Dr. Hales, and, with a propriety which is evident enough, he refers to him also in the sentence immediately following, for "instances of the doctrine of a Trinity amongst Paganз."

Christianity is said to be "part and parcel of the law of the land," and if so, a Judge may be following his vocation in commenting upon the Athanasian Creed; but I cannot help thinking, that Sir J. Bayley would never have acquired so high a reputation as he possesses, I doubt not justly, if he had not given proofs of more learning, more research and more sound judgment on points of law than he has here displayed in controversial theology.



January 2, 1822.

also usually precludes any observation being made, if the chairman neglects to call such persons to order, even by those who strongly feel the impropriety and irregularity of introducing such topics in the hallowed temple of a Bible Meeting, consecrated to harmony and Christian benevolence. Is it too much to expect these effusions of a zeal not according to knowledge, to be suspended till the next Sunday; when a more fair occasion may occur of defending any of these favourite tenets of reputed orthodoxy at full length, where none dare contradict the preacher, whoever may happen to be present holding sentiments contrary to his own? The temptation seems, however, with a certain class of persons, both clergymen of the Established Church, Dissenting Ministers and zealous Laymen of different persuasions, too strong to be resisted, of a large assembly, known to consist of persons of widely different sentiments, not to avail themselves of it, for the promotion of some leading points of their respective systems of doctrine, instead of the avowed object of the meeting.

Even where direct argument is waved, the sole right to the very name

WARMLY approving the genuine of Christian, has been sometimes

objects of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in attending to its proceedings, it has long been no surprise, though matter of real concern, to observe the movers and seconders of the set of motions prepared for its meetings or those of its auxiliaries, so far forget its fundamental principle of Protestant Catholicism, as to advocate not so much the diffusion of the sacred writings without note or comment, as to avail themselves of these opportunities to inculcate their own peculiar and sometimes narrow and unworthy views of the doctrines they teach.

These instances of departure from the principle upon which these meetings are professedly held, may be considered, as the errors of individuals for which the society are not, strictly speaking, responsible. Yet is it obvious, that those persons are generally some of its most prominent and ostensible agents, on whom almost the whole public management of its concerns depends.

The rapid succession of speakers

claimed or insinuated to belong to those only who hold certain doctrines, although the speakers well know that there are, or probably may be, others present who consider them as only, resting on the inventions or commandments of men, and having no foundation in the pure records of revelation.

An unwillingness to contribute still farther to a deviation from the proper business of a Bible Meeting, has restrained myself and others from appealing to the chairman on such occasions. For if the matter be not at once admitted to be out of order, whether it be or not, must of course be discussed; and in whatever way the point be determined, the time thus occupied is so much taken from the proper business of the meeting.

For several years I hoped these breaches of charity at Bible Meetings were on the decline, but from hearing some recent speeches, and reading the reports of others, I fear that is not the case. Yet the continuance, or the increase of this sectarian spirit in

public speeches only, might not, perhaps, have induced me to call the attention of your readers to these effusions of an over-heated zeal.

At length, a well-known tenet of Calvin's, which many serious Christians cannot admit to be well-founded, scriptural, or honourable to the moral character of God, has been embodied in the report to the ninth anniversary of the City of London Auxiliary Bible Society, held at the Egyptian-hall, at the Mansion-house, London, on November 1st last, the late Lord Mayor in the chair, which was "approved and adopted" by the meeting, on the motion of the Earl of Rocksavage.

This is much more directly to implicate the meeting, and indeed the parent society, than the expression of similar sentiments in the speeches of individuals, for which a Bible Meeting are not so expressly responsible. The report, as stated in the Times and the Evening Mail, after quoting Eccles. ix. 10, says, "This appeal is loud and imperative, and it acquires fresh force, whether we turn to the particular circumstances of our own country, or to the state of the world at large. Even if every inhabitant of the British Empire possessed a copy of the Bible, still the appeal would be loud and imperative; for there are, probably, not less than 500,000,000 of accountable, perishing, sinful, but immortal beings, who never heard of a revelation from God.

"If the Bible be the pure source of light to the ignorant, of strength to the weak, of comfort to the dirtressed, of hope to the guilty, of relief to the dying; how deplorable is the privation of those who cannot procure that book!-a privation the horrors of which cannot be duly estimated in time, and the effects of which will endure through eternity. Can this appeal for perishing millions be presented to Christian charity in vain?" What a "deplorable" picture is "The horrors of which," its delineators describe as exceeding human "estimate," that is, inconceivably great, and of eternal duration. And according to them, why are these ever-during punishments inflicted? Because its unhappy objects heard of a revelation from God;" because they could not procure the


[ocr errors]


Scriptures. This might be their misfortune, but could not be a crime, nor subject them to such punishment by a God of mercy and goodness, the impartial parent and moral governor and judge of his rational offspring, the hu

man race.

How different was the doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Saviour, who assured us, Luke xii. 47, 48, " "That the servant who knew his master's will, and prepared not himself, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who knew it not, and committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much hath been given, of him much shall be required." According to this equitable doctrine of universal application, punishment is to consist of "many stripes" for those transgressors who were best acquainted with the Divine will, and of "few stripes" only for those who "knew it not" by any special revelation, but nevertheless "committed things worthy of stripes."


Letter from Mons. J. J. Chenevière,

Pastor and Professor, at Genera, to the Editor of the "Christian Observer."

[The following letter was addressed by the respectable writer to Mr. Macaulay, the supposed editor of the "Christian Observer," in consequence of some reflections in that work, in the Nos. for June, July and August, 1820, on the departure of the Genevese clergy from the assumed orthodox faith. In a private letter to us, M. Chenevière says, that the Christian Observer has not done him the justice to insert his communication, and he requests that it may appear on our pages. We cheerfully comply with his wish, and as the French language is so generally understood we insert it without translation. The English Unitarian will rejoice to see that Geneva still claims the precedence in the reformation of the church, and that the claim is so well sustained by the learning, talents and Christian courage of her pastors and professors. ED.].

A Mr. Macaulay Rédacteur du Christian Observer.


Avec une lettre d'envoi.

N lit dans le Christian Observer, Juin, Juillet et Août 1820, une analyse critique des sermons de Mr. Cellérier, sur laquelle il y auroit beaucoup d'observations à faire.

Le rédacteur de ces articles, au lieu de se considérer comme un juge impartial qui voit les objets du haut, et qui embrasse l'ensemble du sujet dont il rend compte, s'est placé dans la position d'un homme dominé par une idée particulière et chère, qu'il a besoin de retrouver par tout et sans laquelle tous les objets lui semblent décolorés. Il parait n'avoir lu les sermons dont il fait l'éloge que dans l'espoir d'y rencontrer l'égalité du Fils avec le Père et l'imputation du péché d'Adam.. Il en résulte qu'il est conduit à mettre au premier rang de l'intéressant recueil de sermons dont il croit faire l'analyse plusieurs de ceux dont le mérite est moindre, et il ne fait qu'indiquer, ou passe sous silence, quelques uns de ceux qui seront de vrais titres de gloire pour l'auteur. Ce qui fera vivre Mr. Cellérier dans la mémoire de nos neveux, c'est un heureux développement des scènes de la vie, ce sont des détails fidèles, simples et nobles, c'est un stile à la fois élégant et naturel, c'est une onction touchante jointe à une diction pleine de grâces, c'est une morale douce et une aimable sensibilité. Je ne crains pas d'avancer que les sermons que le rédacteur loue avec le plus de chaleur et d'enthousiasme sont ceux qui de tous ont le moins de mérite sous tous les rapports, et je ne serais pas embarassé à le prouver. Le rédacteur s'est il occupé de l'art difficile de la chaire? On ne le dirait pas; surtout quand on le voit mettre en seconde ligne les discours familiers du même Pasteur à ses paroissiens, et ne dire que peu de mots de ce volume bien plus original, bien plus distingué que la plupart des autres, et qu'imprime à son auteur un cachet trèsparticulier.

Cette manière de juger un ensemble sous un seul point de vue, rappelle un voyageur Catholique et dévot qui n'avait retenu de son séjour à Rome que le nombre des couvens et des

moines, dont la ville, selon lui, était ornée.

Cependant, en communiquant ses idées, le rédacteur faisait usage d'un droit incontestable, et s'il s'était borné à louer Mr. Cellérier, on n'aurait point songé à lui répondre. Mais, semblable à un grand nombre de ses compatriotes, il a l'air d'accomplir


voeu en attaquant Genève sans mesure et sans fidélité. Il exalte son héros, non seulement en louant un mérite que tout le monde se plait à reconnaître, mais il le représente comme à-peu-près seul debout au milieu d'un clergé tombé. Il dit avoir habité Genève, alors il est facile de concevoir où il a puisé ses renseignemens. Ce n'est pas à Jaques II. qu'il faut demander à tracer le caractère de Guillaume d'Orange.

Si l'on se contentait de blâmer le clergé de Genève de ne pas suivre en tout point les opinions de Calvin, on serait dans les termes de la vérité; mais je ne sache pas qu'aucun homme raisonnable, qu'aucun Reformé ait le droit de se plaindre de ce fait; il lui est bien permis de s'en affliger pour sa part, s'il regarde Calvin comme un docteur infaillible, comme un pape éternel, dont les décrets sont sans appel. Mais il n'y a pas là de quoi baser une accusation soutenable. Honneur au génie de Calvin, reconnoissance à ce grand homme de la part des tous les Genevois. Mais que l'on suive aveuglement tous ses principes, que l'on adopte toutes ses idées, que Pon jure in sua verba, c'est ce qu'il n'exigea jamais, c'est un servage qu'il repousserait avec dignité, peutêtre avec indignation. Le principe d'examen dont il se montre le vaillant défenseur, proteste perpétuellement contre cette prétention de ses adeptes. Aussi les ennemis du clergé de Genève, ont l'air de comprendre la faiblesse, je dirai la puerilité de cette inculpation, et ils font impression sur les personnes pieuses en attaquant notre foi à la rédemption, ce gage de notre salut. Ecoutez le rédacteur des articles que nous examinons, lui dont le ton est beaucoup plus décent que celui de la plupart des croisés contre Genève. Il dit à l'occasion de Mr. Cellérier préchant sur la rédemption, Luc i. 68, 69, 1er Sermon du Tome III: "Vivant dans un siècle et dans

« PreviousContinue »