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This, Sir, is the plain state of But if any man would seek to rethe question, and in the discus-duce those who were gone astray sion of it, I shall be glad to meet from the truth, into the fold of the writer in the Baptist Maga- Christ, that is, into the unity of zine, or any of his brethren on the faith, by and by these rise up this side of the water, whether in against him, which are named or out of the ministry. I throw | Pastors, but indeed are Wolves, down the gauntlet, and hope to which seek no other thing of their find some Doctor in Divinity flock, than the milk, the wool, and taking it up. the fell-leaving both their own souls and the souls of their flocks unto the Devil.
In the mean time,
I am yours,
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM
[Bilney, the writer of the following letter, was burnt for heresy in the reign of Queen Mary. He was the means in the hands of God of converting Latimer from a bigotted Catholic into a zealous Protestant. There is so much of the simplicity of the truth in his letter, that it cannot fail of interesting our readers.]
These are those physicians upon whom the woman who was twelve years vexed with the bloody flux, had consumed all that she had, but was still worse and worse, until such time as she at last came to Christ, and after she had once touched the hem of his garment through faith she was so healed, that by and by she felt the same in her body.-O mighty power of the most Highest; which I also a miserable sinner have: often tasted and felt; which before that I could come unto Christ, had even likewise spent all that I had upon those ignorant physicians; that is to say, unlearned hearers of confessions, so that there was but a small portion of strength left in me, which by nature, was but weak, small store of money and very little wit or understanding; for they appointed me fastings, watchings, buying of pardons, and masses, &c. in all which things, as I now understand, they sought rather their own gain than the salvation of my sick and languish
MOST reverend Father in Christ, I think myself most happy that I am to be called to examination before your reverence, although I know nothing of any error in my sermons, neither of any heresy or sedition which divers do slander me of, seeking rather their own advantage than the health of souls; notwithstanding I do rejoice that I am to be brought before the seat of Tunstall, who knoweth as well as any other that there never will be wanting, some Jannes and Jambres who will resist the truth, and there will not be lacking some Elymas, who will go about to subvert the right waying soul. But at last I heard of of the Lord, and who will not Jesus-even then, when the New cease greedily to hunt and seek Testament was set forth by Erasafter that which pertaineth to mus, which when I heard to be themselves, not that which per- elegantly done by Erasmus, altaineth to Jesus Christ. How lured rather by the love of learncan it then be that they can suffering than by the word of God, Christ to be truly and sincerely though at that time I knew not preached? for if the people begin what it meant, I bought it even once wholly to place their confi- by the providence of God, as I dence in Christ, who was for now do well understand, and at them crucified, then that which the first reading I chanced on this they have hitherto embraced, in- saying of St. Paul; Oh most sweet stead of Christ, shall then utterly and comfortable sentence to my decay in the heart of the faithful.' soul, in his 1 Tim. i. 14. "Tis a true
saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief and principal. This one sentence through God's instruction and inward working, which I did not then perceive, did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that immediately I felt marvellous comfort and quietness, insomuch that my bruised bones leaped for joy.
After this the scripture began to be more pleasant to me than the honey or the honey-comb; wherein I learned that all my travail, all my fasting, my watching, my masses and pardons, being done without faith in Christ, who alone saveth people from their sins; these, Isay, I learned to be nothing else than, even as Augustine saith, an hasty and swift running out of the right way, or else much like the vesture made with figleaves, wherewith Adam and Eve went about in vain to cover their nakedness, and could never before obtain quietness and rest until they believed in the promise of God, that Christ the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; neither could I be cleared or eased of the sharp stings or bitings of my sins, before I was taught of God that lesson of which Christ speaketh of in the iiird of John, "Even as Moses exalted the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be exalted, that all who believe on him should not perish but have life everlasting."
As soon as according to the measure of grace given me of God, I began to taste the savour of this heavenly lesson, which no man can teach but God only, who revealed the same unto Peter; I desired the Lord to increase my faithand at last I desired nothing more than that I being so comforted by Him, might be strengthened by his Holy Spirit with grace from above, that I may teach the wick
ed His ways, which are mercy and truth, and that the wicked may be converted unto Him by me, who some time was also wicked; which thing with all my power I did endeavour before my Lord Cardinal and your Fatherhood. Christ is blasphemed in me, and this is my only comfort in my afflictions; with my whole power I do teach and set forth Him being made for us, by God his Father, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Finally, our satisfaction, being made sin for us, that is to say, a sacrifice that we through Him should be made the righ teousness of God, who became accursed for us, to redeem man from the curse of the law; who' also came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Fleres, si scires unum tua tempora men
Rides, cum non sit forsitan una dies.
Martialis Epigrammata. ENGLISHED. "You would weep, if you knew you should live but a month, "You laugh, when perhaps you may not live a day."
Sorrow would fill thine eyes with tears,
And fill thine heart with woe,
Vaip mortal! yet, surpassing strange,
This Epigram in Latin is carved in wood over the front window of the Four Crosses Inn, in Staffordshire, facing the London road. I was struck with it as I rode by on horse-back, in 1777; and amused myself in translating and versifying it. I did not then know it was Martial's.
I was riding to Dunstable and London, at the time, by Dr. Currie's advice, for the benefit of my health. J. J.
DR. STOCK'S LETTER TO THE REV. JOHN ROWE.
To the Editor of the New Evangelical Magazine.
SIR, DR. STOCK"the writer of the following Letter," has stated as one reason for privately printing a limited number of copies of his Letter to Mr. Rowe, that "Some pious and valuable friends for whose judgment he feels much deference, have expressed an opinion that it might be of service to others." This is one of many reasons why I send a copy of it to you, for insertion in your valuable Magazine, as it is reasonable to conclude that the wider it is disseminated, the more extensively useful it is likely to become.
I cannot conjecture why the distribution of this Letter should have been hitherto confined to the private circle of the Doctor's friends, as the subjects they refer to possess more than a local interest. They appear to have been examined with all the critical acumen of the scholar, as well as the seriousness of the Christian. It is well known in our churches here, that Dr. Stock was a leading character among the Unitarians-that he was the channel of communication from that Society to Dr. Lant Carpenter of Exeter, inviting him to become a Colleague in the ministry with Mr. Rowe; and that, in the capacity of a Physician, he attended the deceased Mr. Vernon, the Baptist Minister at Downend, near this city, who embraced the opportunity of conversing with him upon religious subjects, particularly respecting the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the personality and influences of the Holy Spirit. The result of this was the renunciation of his Unitarian, and the adoption of Trinitarian sentiments. It is natural to conclude that a change of views so extensive as this, in a character eminent for his literary acquirements, should become the subject of much speculation in the religious world.
Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians who are acquainted with Dr. Stock have given him every credit for the integrity of his motives.
His Letter which evidently was never intended for publication, does so beautifully delineate the progression of his mind in the investigation of truth, that it is of peculiar value to the Philosopher as well as to the Theologian. Soliciting that it may obtain an early insertion, I remain Yours, &c.
Bristol, August 25, 1817,
THE writer of the following letter never intended or expected that its circulation should extend beyond a very small circle. At the desire of the friend to whom he felt himself so deeply indebted, he transcribed it for his use; but, at the same time, accompanied it with a request, that no second copy should be taken; a request with which his friend rigidly complied. Nor was it till he found that the scope of it had been much misunderstood or misrepresented, and that some detached passages had found their way in various directions, that, in justice to himself, and to the truths which he had embraced, he permitted the circulation of it to be at all extended. In the mean time, he has been frequently solicited for copies of it, which his other avocations would by no means permit him to furnish; and as some pious and valuable friends, for whose judgment he feels much deference, have expressed an opinion that it might be of service to others, he has ordered a few to be privately printed, in order to comply with their wishes and to save himself the trouble of transcribing.
TO THE REV. JOHN ROWE.
MY DEAR SIR.
Clifton, Nov. 6. 1816.
I SCARCELY know in what terms to begin this letter, or how to communicate to you the object of it. Yet I am anxious to be the first to convey to you the intelligence, because I am unwilling that it should reach you, unattended by those expressions of personal regard and respect, by which I could wish that it should be accompanied. It will surprise you to be told, that it is become with me a matter of absolute duty to withdraw myself henceforth from the Lewin's Mead Society.
by the affectionate earnestness of
It is necessary here, to state,
Yes! my Dear Sir, such is the fact. In the month of July last my professional attendance was required for the Rev. John Vernon, the Baptist Minister of Downend, who was then on a visit to a friend in Bristol. I found him very ill so much so, that his other medical attendant and myself have since judged it necessary that he should suspend all his public labours. After attending him here, for two or three days, he removed to Downend; where I have since continued to see him about once a week. He felt it a duty to endea-resisted every suspicion of this kind. vour to lead me to reconsider my I treated it as a mere delusion of religious opinions; and at length, the imagination: I felt ashamed with much delicacy and timidity even to have yielded to such sugled to the subject. I felt fully gestions for a moment; and when confident of their truth, and did Mr. Bright pointed out to me a not, on my part, shun the investi- strong passage in the address to gation. For some weeks his efforts Dr. Carpenter, as if he thought did not produce the smallest effect; that it might be softened a little, and it required all the affectionate I persisted in retaining it. In fact, patience of his character to induce I seemed to seek, in the strength me to look upon the arguments on of the terms that I made use of, his side, as even worth examining. to deepen my own convictions of The spirit of levity, however, was my previous opinions.* at length subdued and restrained
The letters were sent, and the * To elucidate this paragraph, it may, perhaps, be proper to state, that Dr. Estlin, the senior minister of Lewin's Mead, having announced his intention to resign that office, the congregation met, and voted an address of thanks to him for his services. Some time afterwards, they met for the purpose of electing a successor. choice fell upon Dr. Carpenter of Exeter, and an invitation was, accordingly, sent him, which was accepted, and his acceptance announced in another address to each of their ministers. The writer of the above letter was requested to be the organ of expressing the sentiments of the Society, upon these several occasions, a request with which he cheerfully complied,
respective answers received. Still my weekly visits to Mr. Vernon were continued: I still investigated the subject with constantly increasing earnestness; yet I was unaltered; and even when Mr. Bright read the history of the proceedings to the congregation, I felt no regret at my share in them, but, on the contrary, rejoiced in anticipating the future triumphs of Unitarianism.
this latter month, the evidence for the doctrines, which I had hitherto so strenuously opposed, seemed progressively to increase. But it was not until this very week that conviction came; and that my mind unhesitatingly and thankfully accepted the doctrines of the supreme divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of atonement, or reconciliation, by his precious blood, and of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit.
Here, however, my triumph ceased. Almost immediately after- I do not, my dear sir, say it by wards, my doubts returned with way of commending my earnesttenfold force. I read: I was per- ness in the enquiry, but I say it in plexed. Often, very often, I justice to the opinions that I have wished that I had not begun the embraced, that, since this investienquiry. I prayed for illumina- gation began, I have regularly gone tion; but I found my mind daily through the New Testament as far becoming more and more unset- as the Epistle to the Hebrews; tled. I have now lying before me, (the Gospel of John I have read a sheet of paper on which I wrote through twice) that not only every down some of the thoughts of this text, which has been differently inperiod, while under their more terpreted, occuring in this large immediate pressure as if to relieve portion of the New Testament, but my mind by thus divulging them; also all those refered to in the confor they were disclosed to no troversial volumes mentioned behuman ear. I copy from them low, were carefully compared with this passage:"If the attainment the original, with the improved of truth be not the result, I am version, with Mr. Belsham's exsure that the state of mind inplanation in his calm enquiry, and which I have been for some time past is not to be envied."
frequently with Dr. Carpenter's Unitarianism the doctrine of the gospel; and that the references to the Psalms, and the prophetical Scriptures, which occurred in the New Testament, or the other writings alluded to, were also examined in Dr. Priestley's Notes on the Scriptures. For I am not possessed of, nor have I seen (with, I think, one exception, in which Dr. Campbell's Annotations on Matt. xxii. 41. et seq. were shown to me) one
I think that it was about this time that you returned home. When I advanced to shake hands with you after the close of the service, you may remember that you observed to me, "Why, Doctor, you look pale." Pale I was, I have no doubt; for my mind was full of thoughts that chafed each other like a troubled sea; and your return, and the vivid recollection of the letters which it ex-orthodox commentary on the scripcited, had not tended to calm the agitation. In addition to this, I had been in the habit of pursuing the enquiry, night after night, to a very late hour.
tures. The controversial books, on that side, which I have used in this enquiry, are Mr. Wardlaw's two Books*, Simpson's plea for the Divinity of Jesus (of which, at this very moment, not even a third
Such continued to be the state of my mind, during the latter end *Discourses on the principal points of of September, and the whole of the Socinian Controversy, and Unitarian October. Towards the end ofism incapable of vindication.