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which it carries with it into the world of spirits, it may have a present sense of many things which passed during its abode in the flesh. It may preserve a consciousness of its own operations in the Body, and of the principal actions to which it gave birth. It may recollect the chief circuinstances of the Man-his situation in life-his civil and social connections--his prosperity or adversityand the like. But with respect to the transactions of this World after the death of the Man, we cannot allow the Soul any knowledge of them, unless by special communi, cation from God himself. For how shall the departed soul naturally acquire any knowledge of what passes in the world? It received its knowledge of worldly things by means of the bodily senses. But this inlet of knowledge is lost by the dissolution of the bodily frame. And the soul's distance froin the scene of action excludes it from all possibility of receiving any knowledge of what passes in this world by new impressions on its material vehicle. Nor is it probable God should acquaint the departed spirit with what passes in this world, with which it has now no further concern. I conclude therefore, that the soul, in its state of separation from the body, remains an utter stranger to, and is totally ignorant of every thing transacted on the theutre of this world from the moment of that separation.” See Broughton's " Prospect of Futurity, &c," pp. 121-123. There is a great deal of other matter on this particular point in Mr. Broughton's book, which cannot be quoted in the compass of a letter, but which tends to substantiate the point above insisted on, and will give satisfaction to those who will take the trouble of reading the same with care. I think however the above argument is so satisfactory, that I own myself a convert to it; and I think also that the
general tenor of holy writ corroborates and proves it. If I have formerly entertained an erroneous opinion on this point, I am now ready to correct it; and as the investigation of truth is the sole end and aim of all my labours, I hope I may be excused for troubling you with this letter, which, in any humble opinion, tends materially to establish it,
I am, Sir,
and obedient servant, June 11th, 1806,
FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCIIMAN'S MAGAZINE:
Cursory Remarks upon some Parts of the Rev. THOMAS
Robinsor's " Christian System Unfolded.”—No. IV. WHAT WHAT alteration a thorough knowledge of the art of
reasoning, and of the nature of language, would have produced in the attempted proof of this unintelligible notion of a revelation, which reveals nothing new, that is, which discovers only what is already known, I cannot say; but, if Mr. R. had clearly understood the nature of the two principal revelations, which God thought fit to introduce into the world, and the connexion, which of necessity intercedes between them, as every unfolder of Scripture ought to do, he would have discovered, that the use of this indeterminate and uncertain language arose out of that nature and connexion; that it was neither fit for, nor intended, to convey clear and precise information, but to cover and conceal the plain truth. For the Gospel of Christ, that gracious dispensation of mercy, whieh was to remove and remedy the grievous evil introduced by human disobedience, was not to take place immediately upon the event which gave occasion to it, but after a lapse of many ages, and a succession of various intervening dispensations, all of them connected with each other, and with that grand final one, which was to close and to complete the divine economy of repeated mercy, i John ii. 1. and MORE abundant favour, Johnx. 10. But, though this gracious economy was removed to such a distance of time, it was thought proper by divine wisdom to give obscure intimations of a remedy from the very beginning, and these intinations were continued through the various successive dispensations, which God thought proper should take place in the world, till the fullness of time, the fittest season for introducing this principal and final dispensation to the whole body of mankind, should arrive. In the mean while, it was absolutely necessary, that these progressive notifications should be so obscure, as not to offend and disgust' the different races of men, who lived under, and whose compliance with prescribed rules, was to support each dispensation. For, had they been fully and clearly informed, that these several systems were nothing better than “ beggarly elementy," the harsh rudiments of a more 3 G 2
perfect and more important economy, the natural and unavoidable consequence of such information must have been utter NEGLECT and DISREGARD, A language, therefore, was to be employed, which, so far from conveying clear truth and precise knowledge, would inevitably disguise and conceal it, till the events themselves became unequivocal marks of the justness of the application of the terms made use of. Thus, with a similar design, our Lord himself said to the Jews, “ Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up;" nor was it till after his resurrection, that even his disciples comprehended the distinct meaning of the metaphor. It was not wonderful, that the Apostles, who were serious and strict Jews, should entertain a high veneration for the phraseology of their own Scriptures, and should therefore much employ it in their own writings. Nor was this probably their only reason. Their writings were to be profitable, not only for information and instruction, but also for reproof and correction. It was natural, therefore, that they should give all the force of rhetoric to this
part of what they had to deliver.
If it shall appear, from what has been said, that those persons, who, in these days, claim to have received a knowledge IMMEDIATELY from God himself, which is not and cannot be acquired by the use of any NATURAL faculty, or by reasoning, or by human instruction, may justly be deemed entHUSIASTS, then will the readers of Mr. Robinson's " Christian System Unfolded” know how to apply to that author his proper appellation; and, if this definition of Enthusiasts shall be deemed an improper one, Mr. R. is requested to furnish another, which is not so. Thus far respecting Mr. R. himself; but, from what has been said, a deduction may also be drawn respecting a body of men, who, in their numbers, are far from inconsiderable. Mr. R. is one of those ministers, who, with peculiar modesty and humility, style themselves, and teach their followers to style them, Gospel ministers, and who, like Mr. R. wish to be considered as “ regular and consistent clergymen of the Church of England.” Now, these Gospel ministers are universally addicted to that practice, which, in the time of our first Charles, gave such grievous offence to their elder brethren
the Puritans, and of which their great Gospel minister, Mr. Baxter, so bitterly and so loudly complained *; I mean, the practice of gathering Churches out of Churches; a practice, which they all considered as highly detrimental to religion, and therefore undoubtedly as highly sinful. I am of opinion, that they were right in so considering it; but, whether they were or not, it is certain, that no practice can be more opposite to the nature, constitution, and spirit of the Church of England as by law established ; and that, therefore, no minister, who indulges in such a practice, can be a "regular and consistent minister of that Church.” In the Church of England, the form and manner of teaching, as well as the subject of this teaching, and the persons to be taught, are prescribed by either the civil or ecclesiastical gover
A particular pistRICT, which we call a parish, is allotted to every established teacher, and the appointed teacher is not allowed (unless by special permission ) to exercise his ecclesiastical character in any other; nor have those, who are not residents in the allotted district, any right to the use or worship of the church belonging to such district. These teachers are appointed by persons, whose right it is by law to appoint, without any other regard to the people, amongst whom they are to exercise their ecclesiastical office, than that of their qualifications to teach, and their moral character, of both which the Bishop is the sole judge. Besides all this, the teachers thus employed enter into engagements, as strict and solemn as any can be, to conform to the subject and mode of teaching required of them; and the violation of these strict and solemn engagements is an act of as great immorality, as the breach of any other legal engagement, and is as plain and manifest a fraud. The usual pretence of the great good arising in consequence of this deviation from the stated rules and regulations of the Church, cannot at all justify such conduct ; because it is not the province or the office of every, nor indeed of any, private clergyman to alter or amend, according to his own fancy, those rules and practices, which he has most solemnly engaged to observe. If he cannot conscientiously comply with, or conform to, what is required of him ; or, if his wisdom suggest to him the necessity of different measures for the production of greater good; or, if he consider it as an injustice or im. propriety to be fertered by any rules, but such as he makes himself: let him leave the church, into which he has voluntarily entered, and exhibit his peculiarities in the conventicle. I will not ensúre him, indeed, even there a freedom from all restraint': for I am much mistaken, if any one among all the various sects which depart from the established church, would suffer a minister tớ continue in their service, who violated their customary regulations in the same degree, in which the regulations of the church are violated by gospel ministers. It would; therefore, better become these zealous persons, while they choose to ackuowledge no other cha raeter than that of "regular and consistent clergymen of the church of England," to abstain from inviting and alluring, by accommodations purposely made for them, those hearers, who, according to the usual regulations of that church, can be considered only in the light of intruders ; a circumstance, indeed, of which these gra. cious persons seem themselves to be aware ; for these accommodations are always made under the fraudulent pretence of being wanted for the convenience of their own parishioners. It would also better become them, be more consistent with the service to which they are appointed, and the duty legally assigned them, if they employed their zeal and their labours in bringing that part of their own parishioners to church, who, however they may acknowledge no other character than that of regular and consistent members of the church of England, scarcely ever attend her worship,
* See his Life, by Calamy.