Page images
PDF
EPUB

nothing contradictory. At this last, as I said above, I wonder, and can not otherwise account for it but by the supposition already made, of an overruling direction.

To the Liturgy, then, on all these grounds, I adhere, as the golden chain, which binds us, or rather as that silver cord (for so Solomon calls the spinal marrow) which unites us to the great mystical body; other parts of our constitution (such as superadded prayers and the Thirty-Nine Articles) were no doubt seen to be expedient, especially considering the middle point we were to occupy ; and (I trust) the conciliatory function to be one day exercised by us. But our vitality as a Church consists in our identity of organisation, and of mental character with the Church Catholic: and as our unbroken episcopacy implies the first, our Liturgy, and that alone (because an actual effluence of “ the catholic religion”), contains the other.

I, therefore, consider our Liturgy as the pledge of our continuity as a Church. But, being possessed by two national churches, it does not, of necessity, imply the continuance of both, because one may be sufficient for the retention of the treasure. You will judge for yourself, which of the two churches exhibits, on the whole, the most long-lived aspect.

If there be truth in my remarks, they tend to this, that our calling, as Church-of-England men, is to have both our minds and hearts in unison with our Liturgy; and that, if we need further light, (always in due subordination to the Holy Scripture), we are on every principle of common

sense, to go to the rock whence our Liturgy was hewn, and the hole of the pit whence it was digged; that is, to the ancient divines, of whose theology our Liturgy cannot but be a compendium and a record, not authentic merely, but identical.

When I began, I had no intention of thus taxing your patience. Having written it, I'll send it; and let me beg you to go over it more than once, and judge whether I have, or have not, made out my point, which is to ascertain the central character of the Church of England, and the true rallying point of its honest cordial members.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Believe me, always,

My dear Doctor,
Most sincerely and faithfully yours,

ALEXANDER KNOX.

71

LETTER TO MRS. HANNAH MORE, SHEWING THE

THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT NOT TO

BE CALVINISTIC.

MY DEAR MADAM,

1807.

(6

Not
many days after the receipt of

your very kind letter, of the 21st of January, I sat down to write to you; and had proceeded to some length, when I found myself so completely in an essay,* rather than a letter, that, both for your sake and my own, I thought it advisable to stop where I was. T could not transmit a fragment; and some pressing calls to do a variety of things for a variety of persons, making up a miscellany, not very unlike

Cowper's Newspaper," have only just now left me at liberty to follow my own wishes.

I read, with sincere satisfaction, your approbation of what I said respecting the hints in the “ Eclectic Review.” What I wrote had small title to be considered as a review at all. It was merely a saying something, by way of doing justice to you, of adding to the circulation of the work, and of vindicating efficient piety. On this last topic, the sequel in the next, as no doubt you have seen, chiefly turned ; but there I fought behind the

• Vide unfinished Letter of the date of 27th December, 1806.

shield of Ajax ; Smith, Cudworth, and Taylor, being such a phalanx as might turn their most cowardly ally, almost, into a hero. I had to regret, that some changes of words (whether through inadvertence, or a wish to make me better, I know not) made me, toward the very close, a little unintelligible; but you made me out, some way or other; and, I hope, you found nothing in my one or two strictures, which seemed exceptionable, considering the position I occupied.

They wish me to give further aid, but I find it impracticable. Kempis says, “ easy

easy businesses are hard to the weak," and I truly feel it to be so.

I am often so indisposed to mental labour, from prevalent biliousness, that much of my time passes unoccupied, except in thought; which, happily, may be pursued by him who rests on a sofa, or walks backward and forward in his room; and, if it be winged thought, of the Sursum Corda kind, it is neither an unpleasant nor unprofitable employment, though even this will suffer no little, when indisposition becomes oppressive. There is still, however, I trust, a peace which lives throughout all storms of lower nature; and which, where we are not wanting to ourselves, will make even ou more painful hours like rainy weather in the spring. But I am rambling. What I was going to say, is, that the little applicable strength which remains to me after all drawbacks, I conceive I may be able to use more to my own satisfaction, than by writing in a review, when I have no special motive; and where my sentiments must appear in company with opinions, which, whether right or wrong, are dis

similar to mine, both in theological and ecclesiastical matters.

In my judgment there is, at this day, one great controversy, which calls for all our mental strength and wisdom; that is, whether Christianity be a sickly and painful struggle at best (for there are many who place it much lower still), or a healthful and happy principle? Whether it be a thing to be merely talked, and written, and preached about, or also (and much rather) to be felt within, in attractions, influences, and energies, which designate themselves to the subject of them, by marks as unequivocal as they are consolatory ? This, you see, I chiefly dwelt upon in my review of the hints; and I soberly think it is the point to be at this day contended for, with as much interest as the man in the parable felt for his lost sheep, or the woman for her piece of money.

The king of Syria's command to his generals, when they were going out against Ahab and Jehoshaphat, seems to me to apply here, Fight neither with small nor great, but with the King of Israel."

Your letter, now lying before me, presents to me, within the compass of three pages, the Edinburgh reviewers, and your friend, the learned clergyman. You have not brought them into immediate contact, but have put between them the excellent Archbishop. And could they live on your pages as they do in the world, this interposition would be wise and necessary, in order to prevent their falling foul of one another. I dare say they would be as hostile to each other as the

« PreviousContinue »