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The Author of The Confessional hath prudently adopted the form of a Card, because it admits but of little: and the less the better, when a man hath nothing to say. A writer with a pen so fluent upon occasion, and under so much provocation as he appears to be, would have said more, had he judged himself as capable of giving satisfaction to the public, as of sending a little angry message to the reverend William Jones.
In the Title of Mr Jones's Remarks, it appears that he is a person in Holy orders. This the Card-writer objects to him with a low-lived spirit of insult, which demonstrates the Card to be a genuine production of the Author of The Confessional. He plays upon it six times over, in the following terms his Reverencethe said reverendhis Reverencem his Reverence-his Reverence-the reverend. If he thinks Mr. Jones's profession a reproach to him, and can find any amusement, or discover any wit, in objecting it so often in so short a compass, no wonder he hath been so active in writing against the Church and the Creeds. If he alludes to any impropriety in Mr. Jones's tiile-page, the accident is so trifling in itself, and so little connected with the subject of Creeds and Subscriptions, that the Apologist who catches at such a twig, must be under some peril of drowning: and if the same attempt is repeated six times within the limits of one page, he must be just upon the point of sinking; notwithstanding the bravado of another Edition; which surely would have been better guarded, had it been as easy to vindicate the principles of The Confessional, as to print them over ügain.
Mr. Jones is presented with the Author's “ cordial thanks to his Reverence, for taking so niuch pains to convince the public, that the principles and spirit of
the said Author, are not the principles and spirit of the said reverend William Jones.” In all which, there seems to be a mixture of what the Author himself hath elsewhere stigmatized as “the meanest of all mean things, self-adulation." The Pharisee said-1 thank thee, that I am not as other men are : and probably that Pharisee meant as he spoke. If this learned Gentleman should be as sincere as he was, Mr. Jones humbly thinks he hath as little reason to be offended with the insulting cordiality of a modern Confessionalist, as with the more solemn self-deceit of an ancient Pharisee.
The Author calls upon Mr. Jones to signify the true reason, why his Remarks were not printed sooner: as if the remarks which are wrong now, would have been right three years ago. In his Preface, he hath already given every reason he is acquainted with: but had his Remarks been reserved ten years longer, and no reason given for it at last, except the unreasonable authority of his own private judgment, that plea ought not to be controverted by the Author of The Confessional. If he in his turn should ask that Author to signify to the public his true sentiments concerning the honourable testimony he hath boasted of, and whether he doth really think he hath acquired any honour by Mr. Jones's Remarks upon him; every body would see that the question is ill-natured, and implies such an extravagant authority; as none but an Inquisitor can pretend to.
Had the wit of the Card-writer been exercised with better success, it would still have given Mr. Jones comfort to find himself suffering under his indignation in common with the University of Oxford: against which, it seems, there is nothing to be objected at present, but that some of its members, in
the days of John For the Martyrologist, subscribed to the obsolete exploded article concerning Transubstantiation. The Card hath been exhibited to some friends, who are at a loss for the sense of this opprobrious reflection, under its present application: for how can the University now want to be erculpated, while they are not subscribing, for but against Transubstantiation, as a notion repugnant to the plain words of scripture, &c. See Art. XXVIII. Here, it is presumed, the Author hath a mythological meaning, viz. that the Universidy hath now subscribed a doctrine obsolete and exploded like that of Transubstantiation, even the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, by the belief of which, Christians have been distinguished throughout the World from the first publication of the Gospel; and this Author hath not one argument against it in his whole book, which a lad might not be able to answer before his matriculation. But this parallel, if such a thing is intended, will not hold in any one respect. For Transubstantiation, in the days of John For, was become obsolete by being formally dropped in the Reformation under Edward VI. whereas the doctrine of the Trinity hath been retained as the fundamental of Christianity by all the reformed Churches: on which account they are all held very cheap by the Author of The Confessional. Transubstantiation had likewise been exploded; that is, it had been completely refuted and exposed by the Divines of the Reformation in public conferences and polemical writings. But where, and when; by what persons, and upon what grounds, except those of Deism, hath the Doctrine of the Trinity been confuted? To explode without confuting is the employment of a free-thinker, in the bad sense of the word, who thinks not only against custom, fashion, and the Church, but against all the reason, evidence, and authority of Divine Revelation. When any writer hath once adopted that plan, he is, generally speaking, past recovery; and when he ought to argue, he will sneer, insult, write cards, and be delighted with the repetition of his own scurrility. A man in this condition, if he have respect to himself only, ought rather to be prayed for than disputed with; though at the same time it is a duty every Christian owes to the public, to take care they are not imposed upon by his sophistry.
Lastly, it is affirmed that “Mr. Jones's principles would have justified the University in subscribing to Transubstantiation.” Not unless the Author is so indulgent to the Church of Rome, as to allow that Transubstantiation is agreeable to the Scripture. Whoever writes against the Sophistry of The Confessional, must expect to do it at the peril of being hooted at for a Transubstantialist; this being the only argument the Author hath to depend upon; and he hath now worn it as threadbare as the Reverends and Reverences. in his theological Card. If he should amuse himself with writing any more Cards, the reverend William Jones will think it most adviseable to suffer in silence under all the effusions of his wit and scandal, if they ought not rather to be thankfully and cordially received from that man, who hath vilified all Christian Antiquity, worried all the best Characters of the Reformation, and was tormented with a more than ordinary aversion for the late greatest ornament of the Church of England. Nevertheless, with God's leave, and a very humble sense of his own abilities, though with the utmosi confidence in the self sufficiency of his Cause, he will be ready to follow the Author in any future Vindication, as soon as he shall apply to Reason or the Scripture in defence of his own spirit
and principles; both of which, unless the learned are mistaken, or guilty of gross flatiery to the Rev. William Jones, are now left under some disgrace.
There are some other words of old John For the Martyrologist, which, in their literal acceptation, will explain the true state of things between the Author of The Confessional, and the Author of The Remarks
Quod si is essem, qui perbacchari cum iis contra Episcopos et archiepiscopos, aut scribam præbere me illorum ordini, hoc est, insanire cum illis voluissem, nunquam istos in me aculeos exacuissent. See Fuller's Church Hist. B. ix. p. 807.