« PreviousContinue »
operated against his usefulness.
We cannot but think, that had these been properly and early pointed out, by the advice of judicious and serious friendship, they would soon have been removed. such advice we are convinced he would readily have listened; and instead of being made the occasion of ill-timed laughter, he would have accomplished the best wishes of all sincere friends of truth and integrity. His labours at Dundee not being crowned with success, he was obliged, though decidedly against his own wishes, to relinquish the ministry, and to complete his studies for the medical profession, on some of which he had previously entered. To those studies he applied himself with all his characteristic ardour; he had just finished them, and was looking forward to a zealous discharge of public duties, as a Surgeon. On one of his professional visits, a patient afflicted with a virulent fever, who was too poor to employ a barber to shave his head, excited the wonted benevolence of Mr. Logan, and he performed the operation himself. From that moment he sickened. When confined to his chamber, he received the last public testimony of the approval of his companions in study, in the second prize of the class to which he belonged; and in a few days afterwards, his mortal career of usefulness and virtue was stopped. He rests in earth. Yes, and of him it may with truth, we believe, be said, that though young in years (26), he was old in the practice of duty, the adherence to principle, the manifestation of benevolence. Honourable age is not that alone which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years; wisdom is the grey hair unto man, and an unspotted life is old age. For as much as it was in the heart of our departed friend to build a house for God's name and honour and glory, he did well that it was in his heart.
THE following letter arrived too late for insertion in our last Number. Were we to consult our own taste, we confess we should decline inserting any address to the Rev. Henry Cooke. That individual has already exhibited himself " usque ad nauseam before the public eye, that, to any judgment not perverted by bigotry, his intolerance must be perfectly harmless. As far, too, as the Christian Pioneer is concerned, we are under some obligation to the Divine of Killileagh. His denunciation has saved us some expense, and has made our Magazine much better known than it was previously. So far we are indebted to him. however, it is well that those who claim infallibility, should be called on to produce their patent-as it is right, that the causes of religious malevolence should be laid open-as it is fit, that those who pin their faith upon his sleeve, "should be shown what an arguer he is, and how well he deserves for his performance, to be dubbed by himself irrefragable"-as, in the opinion of numbers, he is now riding the topmost wave of popularity-and as "It is the bright day which brings forth the adder, and that craves wary walking," we direct the attention of our readers to the following letter.
To Mr. Cooke.
THE Pioneer has traversed broader waters than those which separate the Scotch and Irish shores. By your own account ("though with no friendly view"), you have marked its progress through your native land. I have no doubt, therefore, that this Number will soon meet your eye-would, that, in the spirit of benevolent prophecy, I could say, that its contents will reach your heart. But, Sir, I am no enthusiast. That very reason, which, in matters of religion, you so loudly decry, forces on me, at this moment, a melancholy distrust in the efficacy of an appeal to one constituted like you. The hope which at present animates me to the task, is its influence on the public.
Your instinctive discovery of error in what formerly rendered you so amiable to your associates-your intimacy with one well connected in the world, who may prove serviceable to your interest, and that of your family-and the prospect of being a ruler among the tents of the holy, have led me to conjecture, that perhaps a self-deception has warped your understanding, which the progress of events, and the expostulations of friends, might in time disentangle. Of your talents no enemy can doubt; your honesty and sincerity should be dear to your friends.
My only fear is, that, by giving you so much apparent consequence in the eyes of the religious world, as thus putting you in the foreground of a publication of merit, the seeds of spiritual vanity, which I wish to weed out, may be more deeply rooted, and the fruit thereof encouraged to a larger growth. But, in the moments of your more sober reflection, if they are not entirely drowned by self-deception, self-interest, or fanaticism, you must feel convinced, that such a feeling of self-complacency would only resemble the pride of the culprit, who gloried in the eleva tion, which bore to his ears denunciations against the violator of the rights of humanity.
I have said that the instinctive rapidity with which you discovered your error, led me to doubt the stability of the principle on which such a change in your conduct was founded. Your expression, as recorded with a pen of iron, in "pages" which will descend to your children, is, "that your connexion with Arians had left such deep wounds in your conscience, as nothing but the blood of Christ, and the Spirit of the Holy Ghost could heal.' The best wish that I can form, for the redemption of your character, and for the peace with which you should leave a conflicting world, is, that you will leave behind you a document steeped in tears, calling on the same awful agencies, to blot out a sentiment which the demon of discord would be proud to patronize.
I have heard it asserted, I know not how truly, that you consider yourself a second Calvin, born to regenerate the world. Were I assured that your character was that of a mere fanatic or enthusiast, I could, in the spirit of Christian pity, make allowance for the ravings of a disordered imagination; but, when I reflect upon the uniform tenor of your sentiments and conduct, in a long intercourse with those who had a right to know you well-when I consider the period and the circumstances under which the mighty mental change was wrought-I cannot help fearing, in common with your best well-wishers, that this self-deception, if such it be, has been superinduced by temporal and not by spiritual agency. Lest, however, I should be mistaken, and that some spiritual Quixotism may have usurped that breast, once the seat of liberality and Christian charity, I will, in despite of my fears, make an appeal to that understanding, which cannot, without a visitation of Providence, be exiled for ever.
Cooke and Calvin! Could you, even at the greatest acme of your spiritual mania, ever suppose that those two names should go down to
posterity in the same leaf of remembrance together. Yours will indeed descend, not in ecclesiastical history, but in the dusty tome of synodical minutes, to be tumbled over hereafter, by some youthful aspirant, who anxiously seeks for a legitimate warrant to break through the bonds of Christian fellowship, and usher inquisitorial terrors into the bosom of his church.
The days in which you live, and those in which Calvin flourished, are widely different. Calvin came forward at a time, when Egyptian darkness overshadowed the soul of man. Cooke lives in an age, in which the spark of free inquiry, kindled by that reformer, has very widely illumined the land. Calvin, fostered in the bosom of a church, whose canker he afterwards unbared, fettered by chains which he successfully wrung from himself and his followers, shone like a beacon on some dangerous shore, when safety seemed lost to the benighted mariner. Cooke, living in the bosom of a doubly reformed Church, at a time when the principles of civil and religious liberty are fearlessly espoused, attempts to forge again the fetters upon private judgment, so many links of which his idol Calvin broke. Calvin, in his benighted age, with so many early prejudices still lurking round his heart, could not, in the nature of things, proceed much further to emancipate the mind. You, Sir, in an enlightened age, when freed from the thraldom of those impositions against which he warred-when the charter of the Christian, the Holy Scriptures, is in every temple and on every pillow-you rudely rush forward in a bitter zeal, stamp the signet of infallibility on your own creed, fulminate bulls of excommunication against your brethren, and strive, by your spiritual wand, to convert the 19th into the 15th century!
You have, I trust, mistaken the era calculated for such an exhibition. Were I disposed to imitate the caustic humour which you frequently employ, I might say, that it resembles the pageantry of the "Champion of England" at the Coronation of our King. The chivalric costume, the trappings, and the prancing of the steed, are in proper keeping, but the period and arena for his "deeds of daring" are "past and flown."
The Synod of Ulster, prior to your crusade, was united in the beautiful spirit of fellowship and peace. The oil of Christian toleration had been poured over the waters, which, at a troubled season had separated its members. Under the influence of this spirit, many of the ministers returned to its communion, and a mere cobweb of form restrained the remainder. The whirlwind of 1726 was deprecated by all, and a bond of mutual toleration seemed in practice to be signed by every hand. The aged Ministers kept the imperativeness of subscription to creeds in abeyance; and the young Ministers came, light of heart and conscience, to an assembly begun and terminated in Christian fellowship and social harmony. No banner of religious animosity was then unfurled. For many a year, during the sittings of the Synod of Ulster, a club existed, of which you were a member, formed for the promotion of unity and concord; and from which a diversity in religious opinion caused no exclusion the talented, and witty, and innocent " Spiritual Club.'
In an evil hour for the interest of Presbyterianism, and, let me add, for your own character, you hearkened to a call from the congregation of Killileagh. From that moment, what appeared to your friends an almost supernatural change in your character was wrought. You will no doubt attribute this to a call from above, which the dense atmosphere of Donegore was unable to transmit to your ears. Instead of your former frank communion with your Arian friends, came diffidence and distrust-instead of the mildness of a Melancthon, came the scowl of an "exclusive"-instead of that philanthropy of sentiment, that unreserved honesty of brotherly communion, which rendered you so estimable in the eyes of your friends, came the intrigues of a polemic, the persecution of an inquisitor, and the bearing of a would-be martyr. "Within a
month, a little month-Oh let me not think"-An overwhelming desire now seemed to creep through every vein, of appearing as a beacon on the height of public opinion. It was a phosphoric disease, which rapidly spread in proportion to your unceasing wanderings. A crusade against the Catholic Church soon dwindled into insignificance, when compared with the glory to be earned by heading the hue and cry of heresy in your own. To stand at the door of Zion, waving the blazing sword of repulsion before the rebels of your creed, was the commission you at length assumed in the church militant upon earth. In England, amid the ruins of a church, the errors of which your favourite, Calvin, withstood, the emblematic sculpture over two doors of the confessional still remain. Over the one by which the confessing entered, is the image of a swine; over the other, by which they departed, is that of a dove. Your confessional, erected for sinning Arians, in your address to the Synod of Munster, is on a similar construction:-Repent!! "Newton, Locke, and Clarke, bow down your heads! enter through the door allotted for the unworthy, and I will shrive you! Cast away that abominable heresy which led you to open the Gospel, and differ from Calvin; and having passed through the purifying medium of my crucible, though you entered with the impurities of the swine, you shall depart with the innocence of
A strong corroboration of the popular idea, that you conceive yourself set apart, under Providence, as a regenerator of the Christian Church, is, your answer to the dignified and temperate exposition of the Munster Synod. The Cobbet-like style you have therein adopted, the hackneyed quaintness of your Latin Billingsgate, and the mixture of pharisaical pride with affected Christian humility, is alike highly discreditable to your principles and to your taste. Too much of earth remains about the heart from which it flowed, to qualify you for the self-assumed character of an infallible guide to heaven. To mingle in the same page, the pertness of the polemic with the prostration of the saint, the writhings of human irritability with the lowly bow of sanctified humility, may characterize the demagogue who grasps through every hazard at a name, but destroys your pretensions to the character you would assume.
Be assured, that an ill-regulated ambition will be attended in your case, as in every other, by a re-action fatal to the expectations of the defaulter. In a speech before the late Synod, you confess that the aged members did not enter into your views. By working on the worldly fears and religious romance of younger ministers, you may have formed a junto, who will effect the mighty object of division among your brethren. A separation, most probably, will take place, supported as you are, by the eloquence of a Dill, a Mackay, and a Magill, taught, it is to be feared, by you, to consider themselves as men commissioned by Heaven, to weed the church of evil, and tear up by the roots, whatever may offend their privileged and infallible eyes. But when such men as Montgomery and Porter leave you, and the storm which you have excited has sunk into a calm, how do I foresee the remorse of your spirit, at having sacrificed the peace and unity of your Church, for the sake of a fleeting and hollow notoriety. The Arminians you dare not attempt to force into the fold of Calvin, The Seceders will not receive you with an Arminian in your roll. The high aspiring of your controversial wing can then only shiver amid disputation on unscriptural terms, and weary itself in idle and in endless flutterings on the claims of Essence or of Godhead, to compose your Trinity.
How could you, Sir, with such a passion for popularity, so far lose sight of common sense, common prudence, and that love of country which is common to all, as to aim a deadly blow at the gem of our province, the Belfast Institution? Cradled amid difficulties, struggling to emerge from a cloud which had shadowed its maturer years, how could
you at that moment, attempt to undermine its importance or throw a shade over its efficiency? Now that your evidence as Moderator before the Legislature, has lost its poison, and that your attempt to control the freedom of its charter, has been spurned by the proprietors, do you not feel that the name of Cooke, within its walls, is coupled with odium? Many advocates, even of Calvinism, are opposed to the man, who with vulture eagerness, strikes as his prey, not only religious but literary liberty. Permit me, Sir, a parting word. Let me prevail upon you to return once more to the primitive calling of the pastor's office. The preaching which everlastingly terminates in the excitation of intolerant feeling the writings which essay to bring strife into the Christian fold-the missions which resolve themselves into crusades against brethren-the harangues, whether in Synod or in Presbytery, which ever cry, as to the highland messenger of war, "speed Malise ho," may gratify the policy of a Spiritual Knight Errant, but must generate a loathing in the truly good.
Conciliate, I beseech you, your own flock. Many, you are aware, of your respectable members, contemplate a relinquishment of your pastoral charge. What created this rebellion against the Bulls of the infallible? A conviction, that a spirit of persecution was incompatible with the genius of the Gospel-that a spirit of inquisitorial dictation was a warfare against the unalienable rights which are sanctioned by God-that a mania for mere sectarian proselytism, seduces the shepherd from a care of the flock, for whose dearest welfare he should unceasingly watchthat spiritual pride is the offspring of monopolizing piety-and that none can be true to their God, who are intolerant towards man.
Throw off, then, the antiquated coat of mail, composed of fanaticism, or of self-deception, or of priestcraft, for it cannot be proof in this enlightened age, against the weapons of inquiry and unshackled judgment. Break through the films which obscure ur noble nature. Be what you were, tolerant but uncompromising, ardent but undictatorial, and, in the expressive language of your own quotation, I will "wear you once more in my heart of hearts."
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer.
Ir may probably be interesting both to you and your readers, to be made acquainted with the following circumstances which have recently occurred in this town. In the course of the last month, a public discussion took place between the Rev. T. M. M'Donnel, a Catholic priest of this town, and the Rev. J. Burnett, a Protestant minister of Cork. The subject was, the Rule of Faith, as admitted among Catholics and Protestants respectively, including, on the part of the former, the assumed infallibility of the Catholic Church, and, on the part of the latter, the right of private judgment, with the consequences resulting therefrom. At the present time, when we have recently witnessed Synods of dissenters attempting to impose tests on their Christian brethren, and to shackle the free exercise of their understanding, it is gratifying to behold the Rev. J. Burnett, a Calvinistic minister, point to the Sacred Scriptures as his sole guide in matters of faith, and assert the right of every individual, by the free exercise of his judgment, to ascertain the meaning of the sacred volume for himself; he repeatedly and explicitly asserted, that he never could believe that which he could not understand; and that his faculties as a rational creature, would induce him to protest against a belief of that of which he had not a distinct perception, and of which he had not also evidence. In reply, the Rev. T. M. M'Donnel,