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The time is coming when this liberal sentiment will be reciprocated by the denomination to which you belong, --when they will revere God's appointment more than their own,--and think no distinction among men more important than the distinction between the righteous and the wicked,-a distinction that shall live when all our party names shall die, and when the world itself shall be no more. But the end is not yet—the end of bigotry, -the end of superstition, the end of worldly policy,—the end of unholy rivalry is not yet. In relation to the church, an exorbitant price is set upon splendid revenues,--pompous rites and useless names—upon the usages of antiquity*-upon masonry and sculpture-architecture-upon endless genealogies, and old wives' fables: but there must be a new appraisement of these things; and when the church shall revert to that ancient standard of excellence-the New Testament, then shall it be acknowledged —that before all temples—and all princely revenues and all outward forms, vital godliness is essential to the existence of a christian minister and to the maintenance and usefulness of christianity in the world.
At present it is not so: and if Mr.Jay, t of Bath, or Mr. James, of Birmingham, or any other pious non-conformist were permitted to preach in the cathedral, there would be a greater consternation and alarm, and a louder and deeper cry that the church is in danger among some who profess and call themselves christians aye, and christian ministers, and apostolic successors too: than if the drunkard were to preach there, or the whoremonger were to preach there, or the perpetrator of any immorality or crime were to preach there, provided he were but episcopally ordained. By intimidation and other exceptionable means, poor people are forbidden the dissenting chapel, and their children the dissenting sunday school. Coal tickets, and other charities are denied, or with-held, not so much for attendance at the ale-bouse, or the gambling-house, as for attendance at the meeting-house; and greater zeal is sometimes shewn for suppressing the exercise of private judgment, than is shewn for suppressing immorality and crime. *
* Mr. Phillippo says it was the custom in Jamaica for the negroes to carry manure in trays upon their heads; a gentleman purchased a lot of wheelbarrows as a substitute for the trays; but such was their love for the venerable usages of antiquity, that they loaded them and mounted the whole on their heads. How many persons are there in this country who, through a dread of innovation, choose to carry the wheelbarrow on their heads instead of managing it in the usual way.
* A venerable servant of God, who, for more than half a century has presided over a congregation, that has contributed in no ordinary degree, to the support of the most useful religious institutions of the present day. Of him it may be said, with much propriety, that his praise is in all the churches, and that his preaching is, and for more ihan fifty years has been, a source of edification to christians of all denominations. In England, in America, and in other parts of the world, his writings are extensively known and admired; yet notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding much more that might be said, a mere stripling, without talent, without piety, and with nothing to recommend him, but the dry formalities of episcopal ordination, might thus address Mr. Jay. “I am the true minister of Christ; but you
I speak not this in bitterness, but in sorrow, and by the statement of simple facts, I wish to shew that there must be something rotten in that system, which can admit of anomalies like these, and of so wide a departure from the simplicity that is in Christ. Persecution I deprecate, and from my inmost soul abhor. Let me have all rule and all authority, and power, and not the smallest penalty, and not the slightest pain should ever be inflicted on any man for his religious belief, or for the way in which he might choose to worship God. For the destruction of any thing that is holy in your communion I have no desire. But the destruction of ecclesiastical abuses, I do desire; that, “by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, and on the left :” the episcopal church of these realms may run that high career of usefulness, for which, in some respects, she is so much better qualified than other religious denominations.
These abuses, like heaps of rubbish, suffered to accumulate are only a pretended one, I am called of God as was Aaron ; but you are only self-called-or: what is the same thing, called by those who had no right to call you, and therefore you have nothing to look for but the fate of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” This is the inevitable consequence of Puseyism ; but is there in all the world any thing more outrageous and more absurd. This distinguished minister I have the honour to call my friend ; but no one can justly accuse me of what is adulatory or insincere, when I say, that if there is one word which may supersede all the formal arguments against the succession, and by which this false light, in the estimatian of all rational and religious men, may be completely extinguished, that word is—JAY.
* The Dean and Chapter of Westminster, have a clause in their Jeases forbidding any of their houses to be used for dissenting worship; but for many years in a place called the Almonry, just under the walls of the abbey, many of their houses have been devoted to the worst of purposes, and no clauses were inserted in the leases against them. How awful that the revenues of a religious establishment should be derived from such a polluted source, and derived from it for a great number of years. But for the labours of the despised agents of the City Mission, the public might not have been informed of this monstrous evil to this day.
A certain vicar asked a poor woman where her children went to school : her reply was,—"To chapel schools.” He said, I would as soon hear you say that they went to the gin shop!
Evan. Mag., Feb., 1844. If the first question in the church catechism were proposed to this vicar, he might properly answer,—“My name is Legion: for we are many."
during the dark ages, and often concealed under specious forms and splendid names remain unremoved to the present time ;poisoning the moral atmosphere- darkening the intellectual vision, and obstructing the onward march of truth. But different agencies are at work, and working together to sweep them all away; and being moral and peaceful agencies, they must certainly, if not speedily, prevail. But if ever the time should come, that members of the church of England should be assailed or destroyed by the hand of sectarian, or political violence, (an event I do not anticipate); such is my love for religious liberty, and religious equality, that I should unaffectedly exclaim, “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."
Far, very far from me is the desire that the church of England should be superseded by any of the dissenting communities. The Baptist denomination is, I believe, regarded as the straitest sect of the christian religion. Not many wise, not many noble, can see any thing in her that is worthy of notice, much less of affectionate regard. But give her a splendid dowry, let cures, and sinecures—and cathedral stalls be placed at her disposal,—let her be in favour at court, and let the rulers believe in her, and .establish her, and support her,*-then many would soon fall in love with her, or, feeling a strong attachment to her property, and to her connections, would profess to love her, and profess to be held in perfect astonishment at those excellencies which they never saw before. Let the Baptist church become the richest church, let her be distinguished for title, pomp and power, and all the world would seek the honour of her acquaintance-her communion--and her ministry, and in many cases would be ready to swear to all the articles of her creed, whether they believed them or not.
Then what is called the church, would become a great trading establishment, in which men would seek riches and honour, under the pretext of seeking the cure of souls. The services of the auctioneert would be called into requisition, whose puffing advertisements, for the advantageous disposal of ecclesiastical benefices, would distinctly set forth that the income was large, and the duty small; the present incumbent was well stricken in years, and the neighbourhood afforded great facilities for the sports of the field : young men would be sent to college, alliances political, and alliances matrimonial, would be formed with an ulterior design of pecuniary benefit from the church. And that house which should be called a house of prayer, would be converted into a den of thieves.
* Dr. Kippis, an eminent dissenting minister, had an interview with Lord Chancellor Thurlow, about the differences between the church and dissent; in the course of conversation, Lord Thurlow said, “ We must support what is established, and if your d-d religion was established, I would support that.” This petit morceau, so descriptive of senatorial, or aristrocatic views of religion, I had from the late excellent John Foster, author of the essays. + For sale. The next presentation to a rectory:
The dwelling very superior; the glebe excellent, the duty is very light : situated in a good sporting county-two packs of hounds in the neighbourhood ! age of the present incumbent, 79. Clear annual income, £560,
The world would call all this the good fortune of the Baptist church ; but it would procure for her no increase of moral worth, or spiritual strength: she might appear more splendid, and more imposing in outward form,-noblemen, and men of all religions, and of no religion at all, might look after her preferments, and endowments, and even kings might be her nursing fathers, and their queens her nursing mothers; but if the author of the Pilgrim's Progress were to rise from the dead, he would scarcely recognize his own church; for while he witnessed her worldly honours, and worldly wealth, and unequivocal marks of state endowment and of state control,* he would burst into tears, and say, “ It is in vain that you tell me that the church is clothed in purple, and that she feasts sumptuously every day; or that some of her ministers are reckoned among the best shotst in the neighbourhood, or even among the first nobles of the land : where is the spirituality of the church, and the independence of the church, and where are the manifestations of that divine favour which alone can confer dignity on religion, and give acceptableness to the worship of God ? alas! alas! her name must be called Ichabod, for the glory is departed"
The truly pious ministers and members would then, in a numerical point of view, become a miserable minority, some of whom would still remain sighing over existing evils, waiting for godly discipline to be restored, and earnestly praying for peace within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces; but others taking their departure for a purer fellowship, and a more unrestricted exercise of religious freedom, would soon become the objects of persecution; and the church, availing herself of the civil power, would inflict pains and penalties upon her seceding brethren, as the price of their separation. In one word, the Baptist church, like every other communion under similar circumstances, would become intolerant, and substituting the minister of state for the minister of religion,--tradition for the bible the hireling for the shepherd-acts of parliament for the laws of
* That portion of the wealth of the church, whieh is at the disposal of the crown, is only considered as so much oil for greasing the wheels of government, in order that tbe machine of state may roll on more smoothly.
Blackwood, February, 1832. +
-Quid rides ? mutato nomine, de te.
Christ--and the outward and visible sign for the inward and spiritual grace, she would become like " Babylon the great, the mother of ots, and abominations of the earth.”
In concluding this address, I beg leave to submit to the clergy of Canterbury, the very excellent advice of the incomparable Chillingworth, * who was, according to archbishop Tillotson, the glory of his age and nation;-"restraining of the word of God from that latitude, and generality, and the understandings of men, from that liberty wherein Christ and the apostles left them, is, and hath been, the only foundation of all the schisms ef the church, and that which makes them immortal; the common incendiary of Christendom, and that which (as I said before), tears into pieces, not the coat, but the bowels and members of Christ. Ridente Turca, nec dolente Judæo. Take away those walls of separation, and all will quickly be one. Take
persecuting, burning, cursing, damning of men, for not subscribing to the words of men, as the word of God; require of christians only to believe Christ, and to call no man master, but him only; let those leave claiming infallibility who have no title to it, and let them that in their words disclaim it, disclaim it likewise in their actions; in a word, take away tyranny, which is the devil's instrument to support errors and superstitions, and impieties in the several parts of the world, which could not otherwise long withstand the power of truth : I say take away tyranny, and restore christians to their just and full liberty, of captivating their understanding to scripture only; and as rivers when they have a free passage, run all to the ocean; so it may well be hoped by God's blessing, that universal liberty thus moderated may quickly reduce Christendom to truth and unity.”
Whether the information will be deemed worthy of acceptance I cannot tell; but I feel bound to state that the responsibility of this address is all my own. None consented to share it with me,
* This truly great man, in writing to Dr. Sheldon, on his refusal to subscribe the articles of the church of England with mental reservation, says, “If I subscribe-I subscribe my own damnation,-if I will not juggle with my own conscience, nor play with God Almighty, I must forbear. To say that the fourth commandment appertains to christians is false,-the damning sentences in Athanasius creed are most false, and in a high degree presumptuous. I am firmly and unmoveably resolved that if I can have no preferment without subscription, I neither can nor will have any." This language is most forcible, and worthy of a noble and independent mind. But alas! in July, 1638, through the persuasions of Sheldon, and Laud, he wrote as follows: 6. Ego Gulielmus Chillingworth, omnibus hisce articulis, et singulis in iisdem contentis volens et ex animo subscribo; et consensum meum iisdem præbeo. These words may be left untranslated, and better for their author, and the interests of religion, bad they never been written. Anthony Wood declared that Chilling worth had such extraordinary clear reason, that if the great Turk or the devil could be converted, he was able to do it.