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the second in January 1828, and from the third I am just returned. I have each time taken up my head quarters at Padiham, as I thought this Society stood most in need of my services. When
I visited them last year, I found them active and zealous in the cause of religion, though they were but just recovering from the very severe distress under which they had painfully laboured. But on my last visit to them, I found their numbers greatly increased, and every prospect of further success. I preached on the Sunday, and sometimes during the week, to congregations consisting of 300 to 400 people, who paid the greatest attention. They have, likewise, weekly prayer meetings, which are held in different parts of the town. I have attended some of them, and was delighted to see the decent and truly Christian manner in which they were conducted. A Superintendent is appointed, who commences by reading and expounding a portion of Scripture; he afterwards, with as many others as feel desirous, reads a hymn, and engages in prayer. At the meetings which I attended, there could not be less than 100 persons, though another of the same kind was held in a different part of the town, and which I understood was equally numerous. I feel persuaded, from what I have seen here, and at other places, that meetings of this or a similar nature, are admirably calculated to excite the best emotions of the soul, to promote the growth of genuine piety, and to extend the bounds of Christian benevolence. They have likewise held, during the winter, weekly meetings, for the investigation of certain passages of Scripture, and which have been numerously attended. The Society at Padiham, affords one of the best proofs I ever had, of the peculiar adaptation of Unitarian Christianity to the wants and capacity of the poor. They not only understand its principles, but, likewise, enjoy its practical influences. Several of them have told me, that during their late distress-when under the privations of want-their religion afforded them the richest consolation. Often have I heard them speak, with feelings of the liveliest gratitude, of the donations sent them by their distant friends: they were cheerfully given, and most thankfully received. The congregation still continues to labour under a heavy ground-rent for the Chapel, £10 per annum, which, to a people that are extremely poor, is a great burden. They have hitherto received the kind assistance of friends, or they never could have raised, in addition to their other necessary expenses, annually, such a sum among themselves. Should an appeal be made to the public to assist them in removing this burden, which so materially operates against the cause of truth in Padiham, we most sincerely hope, that it may receive the attention of the charitable and benevolent. I feel great pleasure in stating, that the Sunday School, connected with this congregation, is in a most flourishing state, consisting of 240 scholars, several of whom are adults.
During my visits to Padiham, I have often preached in the week, and sometimes early on the Sunday morning, in several of the surrounding villages. I have generally had large audiences, and never received the slightest interruption. I have had the honour of preaching the great doctrine of the Divine Unity, where
it had never been preached before, at least, as it is maintained by Unitarians. On Sunday morning, April 27, I preached to between 200 and 300 people at Downham, a most beautiful village situated under the eastern part of Pendle Hill. The service was conducted in a garden, as the house was too small. In this retired village, eight miles from any Unitarian congregation, are living about a dozen intelligent and serious Unitarians, whom I recommended to meet together on the Lord's Day, for Christian worship. At Rattonstall, I have preached twice to pretty good congregations. This Society, a few years since, with their worthy minister, who is upwards of seventy, were avowed Antinomians. But such is the change, that they are now decided Unitarians. At Newchurch, I have preached only once, but have had considerable intercourse with their highly respected minister, Mr. J. Ashworth. The congregation, I understand, amounts on the Sunday to about 300. Upon the whole, from what I have seen of the Unitarians in this part, I can bear testimony to their piety, zeal, and good sense; and am thoroughly convinced, that the labours of a Missionary, would, in this extensive and populous district, meet with an ample reward.
MANCHESTER, May 9, 1828.
"Bible Controversy in Ireland. Infallibility not possible; [Mental] Error not culpable, &c.-Hunter, London." (Continued from page 322.)
MR. MAGUIRE, on the part of the Catholics, admitted, that on many subjects connected with Religion, and on many texts of Scripture, Christians must be guided by their own rational interpretations. The author, after showing the various meanings which may be given of one passage, produced by Mr. Maguire in the discussion, thus sums up the argument:
"Countrymen, my position is, that, INFALLIBILITY being the result required, it is demonstrative, that if the grounds upon which you would erect it, be in any degree DUBIOUS, you attempt an im. possibility;-infallibility never can be established upon such a basis; for this plain reason, that no conclusion can be stronger than the premises by which it is proved. If the definitions and axioms of the first book of Euclid's mathematics, were in the remotest degree uncertain, the truth of the first proposition in that book, which is founded upon them, must be in an equal degree uncertain, and it would be impossible to demonstrate that an equilateral triangle could be constructed upon a given finite right line.
In a word, as Mr. Locke observes, in any truth, the ar
guments that gain it assent, are the vouchers and GAGE of its probability to us; and we can receive it for no other than such as they deliver it to our understanding.' Wherefore, if it be only upon probable evidence that the text-I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world,'-imports that I am supernaturally guarded from error, it can be no more than probable, and not by any means certain, that I actually am exempt from error. So that, were I convinced of the doctrine in question upon these grounds, my persuasion might be expressed in the following terms:-I am fallibly convinced that I am infallible! I have the most absolute assurance, that, in holding the doctrine of Transubstantiation, I cannot be wrong, and yet I confess I may be wrong!! It is not possible I can err, and yet it is possible!!! Which, if I am any judge of language, is identical with saying: It is possible for the same thing to be and not to be at one and the same time.'
Mr. Maguire, with great simplicity, inquires, for the purpose of showing the uniform doctrine of the Church, and therefore its Infallibility, "Could Christ leave hundreds of millions of men for nine hundred years in error?" The author replies:
"Mr. Maguire appears to hold the doctrine of the Trinity in very high estimation: But I could produce many of the most eminent names in his Church, to prove, that, prior to the Council of Nice, in the year 325, upon this doctrine, the visible Church was abandoned to the deepest uncertainty and error. Whatever room for dispute there may be, respecting the opinions of the Fathers of the three first centuries, as to the particular dignity of the Son, or the precise degree of reverence and worship they may have assigned to him, it appears to be clear beyond all rational doubt, that the Nicene notions of his absolute co-equality with the Father, were utterly unknown in those periods. But even were it possible for this to be rebutted, which I am well persuaded it is not, I believe it has never been pretended that the personality, or divinity of the Spirit, was contemplated, even so late as the Council of Nice; which, in common with the Fathers of the preceding ages, must accordingly share in the imputation of error, with respect to a doctrine, without which, Mr. Maguire, not less than Mr. Pope, would seem to conclude there can be no such thing as Christianity.
"Not only, however, have we these intimations of the possibility of error in the ancient Church, but it so happened that, precisely at that period which is so habitually and exultingly referred to, as the era when infallibility presented itself with a formality and energy unexampled before-at that period, Roman Catholics! when the first of those General Councils, which were to establish so despotic a sway over the liberties and opinions of mankind for ages to come, announced its decrees,-then it was, such conflicting decisions came forth, and upon such balanced pretensions sustained; such venerable synods assembled, and such opposite conclusions
were proclaimed, as must render it a task incomparably less easy than your doctors suppose it to be, to determine to which side the supernatural authority devolved of closing for ever all huma inquiry upon the subjects they discussed. Yes, my deluded countrymen! the three hundred Bishops of Nice are gravely held forth to you by the Maguires, and the Kinsellas, and the Clowrys, a speaking the voice of antiquity, and of the times in which they lived,―nay, as illuminated by the special suggestions of heaven; while the six hundred Bishops of Ariminum are never once named, who, but a few years after, condemned all that the Nicene Bishops had decreed, as having neither Scripture, nor Antiquity, nor the Divinity in their favour! I care not what, or how great, their differences were: it is enough that, differ they did; and that from these differences events resulted, from which, assuming the present opinions of Rome to be right, it is demonstrable that Christ did leave his Church, including its millions of men,' and that for ages together, under the influence of deep and disastrous error. And here I am led to remark upon a curious device of Mr. Maguire, who, in order to overthrow the testimony of St. Jerome as to the actual and literal diffusion of Arianism over the greater portion of the world, endeavours (at p. 221-2) to represent as a sort of jocular hyperbole,' the celebrated saying of that saint, that the whole world was astonished to find itself Arian.' The truth is, my friends, notwithstanding the triumphant infallibility of Nice, the whole world was become Arian-Emperor, Pope, Bishops, and all.”
In order to illustrate in another manner the claim of Infallibility, the author introduces the proceedings of the General Councils:
"Well did Gregory Nazianzen (a saint in your calender) know them, when on being summoned to the next general council, that of Constantinople, he replied, that he desired to avoid all councils, having never seen the slightest good effect from any of them —that they increased instead of lessening the evils they were designed to prevent—and that the man who went to them, would sooner contract dishonesty himself, than repress the dishonesty of others.' 'These conveyers of the Holy Ghost,' says he, these preachers of peace to all men, (raging like furious horses in battle, and like madınen casting dust into the air,) grow so bitterly outrageous and clamorous against one another in the midst of the Church, bandying into parties, mutually accusing each other, under the furious impulse of a lust of power and dominion, that they seem as if they would rend the whole world in pieces.' Never will I sit in synods of geese or cranes blindly fighting together; where we meet with contention and strife, and the vile behaviour concealed before, of barbarous men collected into one assembly.' And of the clergy in general of those times, he says, that they aimed at ecclesiastical preferments, not as a station wherein they ought to be a pattern of every virtue, but as a trade to get money; not as a ministry and stewardship of which an account must be given, but as a magistracy subject to no examination. Engaged
in everlasting disputes; wrangling, shuffling, and cavilling about baubles, under the specious pretext of defending the faith; abhorred by the Pagans, and despised by all honest Christians!'
"IRISHMEN!-CATHOLIC ENGLISHMEN!-were these the inspired depositaries of the faith which your spiritual guides, upon their authority, would bind upon your conscience? Will you believe that it was the voice of the Holy Ghost which spake by the lips of these men? Could those pretenders be of Christ, who were so flagrantly destitute of the spirit of Christ? And if they were not of Christ, could he have appointed them the infallible organs and interpreters, for all ages, of that faith which was to save the world? Will the people of these islands, sagacious, free, noble, spirited in all things else, for ever be drivellers in religion only? But to our councils:- Since the Nicene council,' says St. Hilary, we do nothing but write creeds; and while we anathematize one another, scarce any one is Christ's.-We decree annual and monthly creeds concerning God: we repent our decrees: we defend those that repent of them: we anathematize those that we defended: we defend other men's opinions in our own, or condemn our own in those of other men; and while we bite one another, we are consumed of one another!' These are strong words. It is a remarkable circumstance, that Pope Leo the First, sirnamed the Great, exasperated by its decrees against the more than nominal supremacy of Rome, accuses the fourth general council of Chalcedon, of ambition and inconsiderate temerity,' and draws, in consequence, the precise conclusion which I am endeavouring to impress upon you, with respect to them all, namely, that it was therefore no fit habitation for the Holy Ghost.' Memorable indeed, were the scenes to which this last of the first four general councils gave rise. Suffice it to say, that having been preceded by such tumults at both the councils of Ephesus, and having been itself interrupted by such scenes as would have disgraced the less barbarous rabble in their streets, its termination was not followed by any more edifying effects.-The Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch cursed the council; and the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople cursed them for so doing; and Timothy, Bishop of Constantinople, first cursed those who did not receive the council, but being rebuked by the Emperor, he cursed every one that did receive it!""
We would gladly quote more from this admirable work, but our difficulty, where all is so excellent, is that of selection, The passage in reply to Mr. Maguire's charge against Protestants of " foolery and fanaticism"-that powerful one on Transubstantiation-the exposure of Mr. Pope's abandonment of the Protestant principle in his defence of Protestantism-the reasoning on the innocency of mental error-and the remarks on Mr. Pope's assumption, that the doctrine of the Trinity is one which cannot but be believed by every genuine Christian, these portions especially we would gladly see circulated far and wide.