Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing to be infallible said so, he esteemed neither reasonable nor Scriptural, Archbishop Tillotson, who owed much to the study of his writings, and who complained of the injustice of charging him with “ Socinianism," says, in defending him against the imputation : “If this be Socinianism, for a man to inquire into the grounds and reasons of the Christian religion (instead of saying I believe because and what the Church believes,] and to endeavour to give a satisfactory account why he believes it, I know no way but that all considerate and inquisitive men that are above fancy and enthusiasm must be either Socinians or atheists."

But whatever surmises or inferences we might form from the above-quoted letters, we ought, in justice, to appeal to Chillingworth's subsequent solemn acts and writings. It is not denied that after his restoration from Popery he hesitated, for a time, to subscribe the Anglican Articles; but if we give him credit for honesty in his scruple, we ought not to deny it to his subsequent attestation, which was in so strong and specific a form that he must have been not only doctrinally heterodox, but a man void of all truth and conscience, if he made it insincerely, The document is, we believe, still extant in the cathedral records at Salisbury: “Omnibus hisce Articulis, et singulis in iisdem contentis, volens, et ex animo, subscribo, et consensum meum iisdem præbeo." If when Chillingworth made this declaration in 1638, upon his appointment to the Chancellorship of Salisbury, he was in heart an Arian or Socinian, his hypocrisy and falsehood were so atrocious that it matters little one way or the other what doctrines be professed. His name would be too contemptible to be worth Mr. Keble's mentioning, and we should no more admit that his conduct was any proof that Protestantism leads to Socinianism, than that Christianity encourages murder, because some baptized person was executed for that crime. The members of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Salisbury, who must have been well acquainted with his conduct and sentiments, certainly did not think him a Socinian, or that his subscription was hypocritical, for they elected him in 1640 as their Proctor in Convocation. This was the celebrated Convocation which continued to sit and to enact canons after parliament was dissolved ; a proceeding which brought its members, but especially the president, Archbishop Laud, into great trouble, and for which Chillingworth himself was fined £1000 by the House of Commons. We refer to the matter only for the sake of observing, that if Chillingworth was a Socinian he must have displayed the most monstrous hypocrisy and fraud ; for the canons of this Convocation, as Lord Clarendon remarks, are more strong against Socinianism than those of any other Christian assembly; it being denounced as damnable, wicked, cursed, and blasphemous heresy."

But from his subscription we turn to his works. His great treatise was published in 1638, and we have already mentioned the manner in which he replies to the charge urged by his Jesuit opponent, that Protestants were disposed to Socinianism. If all the while he was writing hypocritically, his conduct, we repeat, must have been so monstrously base, that it would not be of any moment to ascertain what were his real or assumed opinions. But the larger question between us and Mr. Keble as respects this treatise, is not what was the secret belief of the writer, if it were different to his declared opinions; but whether the doctrine maintained by him in his book, that the Bible only is the religion of Protestants, tends to heterodoxy. The bishops and clergy of those days did not think so; for his work was hailed with general acclamation, and had a sale, perhaps unprecedented, for a work so large, and on such a subject. It went through two editions in a few months; and after the Restoration it advanced steadily to the ninth edition, published in 1727. The particular subject

a

of this and his other controversial works did not necessarily require a confession of faith ; but the whole tenour of them proceeds upon the supposition that the writer was orthodox in his belief. We will allude only to one short passage at the very opening of the work (paragraph 5 of preface) which is quite sufficient for our purpose. His Jesuit opponent having heard that he was about to publish a desence of Protestantism, sought privately, he says, to deter him by intimidation. The Jesuit caused him to be informed, through a common acquaintance, that if his work came to light“ his inconstancy in religion should, to his great shame, be painted to the life ;" that he should be urged “ to answer his own motives against Protestantism;" and that, he says, “Such things should be published to the world touching my belief of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of our Saviour, and all supernatural verities, as should endanger all my benefices present and future.” He adds, “To this courteous premonition, as I remember, I desired the gentleman who dealt between us to return this answer, or to this effect; that I believe the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of our Saviour, and all other supernatural verities revealed in Scripture, as truly and heartily as yourself or any man." This declaration, be it remembered, was made long after the letters above alluded to. If it was sincere it sets the question at rest; and it would not be very charitable to suppose it false. He was either orthodox, or he dissembled throughout both before God and man.

We will now give a specimen of his opinions, and style of exhortation, from, his sermons, which, being published posthumously, and without his being aware that they would ever see the light, may be justly supposed to express his sentiments in the ordinary manner in which he conveyed them in the pulpit. In the observations which we are about to quote (Sermon iv. p. 38, 39, Ed. 8) it will be seen that he distinctly says that Christ is God; for he speaks of God taking upon him our nature, and working out our redemption.

“When a great portion of those glorious spirits had mutinously rebelled against God; and man, following the example of their prevarication, had with them plunged himself irrecoverably into extreme unavoidable destruction ; in that necessity God had no respect to those heavenly spirits which were by nature much more admirable and perfect than we; for he did in no wise, saith the Apostle, take upon Him the nature of angels, but he took on Him the seed of Abraham, and therein performed the glorious work of our redemption. ..... Therefore now, after a work that has cost God all that pains and study in inventing, and contriving, and so much sorrow and labour in performing, certainly

, after this it is no great thing if the Lord should require our whole selves, souls and bodies, for a whole burnt-offering, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving."

“He by whom all things were made, even the ETERNAL ALMIGHTY WORD ; He who thought it no robbery to be equal with God, became his own creature ; and submitted himself to be trod upon, reviled, hated, despised by the worst of all creatures, cruel, ungodly, and perverse sinners : He of whose fulness we have all received, did utterly evacuate and empty himself of his glory and majesty, denying to himself such things, which he would not even to the most despised creatures... Which of you, my beloved friends, when he does seriously meditate on this place (Heb. ii. 17, 18) will not be forced to sit down, even ravished and astonished at the excessive and superabundant mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he which was God that created us, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, &c., should descend to submit bimself to the same infirmities and temptations with us...... See, behold, beloved Christians, how for our sakes he hath enlarged, as it were, three of his glorious incomprehensible Attributes : 1. His OMNISCIENCE, by knowing that personally and experimentally, which he did before know only contemplatively. 2. His MERCY, in that this his knowledge doth more incite his goodness : And, 3. his OMNIPOTENT POWER; for, saith the text, in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, he is thereby able to succour them which are tempted. There seems likewise to be an access to his glory by this bis great humility; for, saith the text in Heb. v. 5, Christ glorified not himself to be a high priest.

It were superfluous to say that such passages as the above are utterly incompatible with the notion that the writer was a Socinian, or even a High-Arian. He says, also, in the very next sermon :

“We do worthily condemn and detest that blasphemous heresy of the Socinians, who exclude the meritorious death and suffering of Christ from having any necessary influence into our justification or salvation, making it of no greater virtue than the sufferings of the blessed martyrs, who by their death set their seal and testimony to the truth of the Gospel, which freely offers forgiveness of sins to all penitent believers."

Ilaving thus made Chillingworth his own witness, it is unnecessary to quote the many attestations to the excellence of his writings which might be collected from the writings of eminent divines, who would not have so testified, if his doctrine tended to Socinianism. We cannot, however, but refer again to the solemn declaration of Archbishop Laud, who knew his whole mind, that he died a true member of the Church of England; which Laud's admirers will find it impossible to reconcile with the hypothesis that either his opinions or his sentiments were Socinian. Bishop Burgess said, in a sermon preached before the University of Oxford in 1790, on the Divinity of our Lord, from 1 John v. 7: “ The Church of England enjoins as necessary articles of faith, because it believes them to be the doctrines of Christ and his apostles, what the Socinian rejects as incredible, impossible, and unfounded in Scripture. Both cannot be right.” Assuredly they cannot; Laud's assertion, therefore, from his own knowledge that his illustrious friend was a true member of the Church of England, -and this opon his own trial, when, if he had spoken contrary to truth, his accusers would not have been silent—is a satisfactory veriíication of the fact. Bishop Burgess himself, we remember, repels with indignation the charge that Chillingworth was a Socinian; as does Mr. Bowles, in his Life of Bishop Ken. :

If Chillingworth was heretical at all, he was not, as Mr. Keble thinks, an Arian, but a Socinian. There is in the Sydney Papers a letter from Lord Sunderland, written in 1643, in which he says that he had heard Chillingworth“ disputing with Lord Falkland in favour of Socinianism, wherein he was by his Lordship often confounded.” Dr. Kippis, in his edition of the Biographia Britannica, wishing to grace Arianism, and to shew that it does not lead to Socinianism, asserts that Chillingworth was an Arian; but in the “ Corrigenda and Addenda," published in 1992, he confesses that the late Dr. John Whitaker, in his “ Origin of Arianism," had convinced him that Chillingworth was a Socinian, and not an Arian. We are well acquainted with Dr. Whitaker's argument; and he certainly places in strong juxta-position the three facts, that Knot, a Romanist, Lord Sunderland, a member of the Church of England, and Cheynell, a Presbyterian, all brought this charge against him; but we remain still unconvinced of its justice. Whiston, on the strength of Lord Sunderland's letter, had claimed Chillingworth for an Arian; but wished to avoid the inference that Arianism leads to Socinianism. Dr. Whitaker, with a view to shew how proclivious is the course of heterodoxy, said that Chillingworth was not an Arian but a Socinian. But relying upon such passages and testimonies as we have adduced, we believe the charge to have been unwarranted. That he should have been Socinian in 1635; orthodox when he accepted preferment and published his book in 1638; and then Socinian again in 1643, just before his death ; is to say, in effect, that he had no religion or sense of truth, and only affected orthodoxy when it suited a selfish purpose.

We must add, in conclusion, that in defending Chillingworth against what appears to us an unjust charge, we do not vouch for all his doctrines or sayings. Though he maintained the supremacy of Scripture, he was not a divine of the

CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 16. 2 H

Or

Reformation school, or what has of late years been called the “ Evangelical.” He was brought up an “ Altitudinarian,” and was thus prepared to be seduced by Popery; and when he returned to the Anglican church, he reverted to what in the days of Tillotson and Burnet was denominated “ Latitudinarianism," the system of Tillotson himself, and which was during the last century called “ thodoxy,” particularly in regard to the doctrine of a mitigated law. Dr. Birch, the biographer both of Tillotson and Chillingworth, says, in his life of the former: “ The moderation of Archbishop Tillotson's temper and principles very early occasioned him, as well as Mr. Chillingworth, and others of the best and greatest men of their times, to be ranked among those divines who were stigmatized with the name of Latitudinarians by persons of very opposite characters.” Dr. Birch notices Tillotson's Defence of Chillingworth, whom he styled “incomparable, and the glory of his age and nation;" and " whose admirable book," adds Birch, counteracted " his first education and impressions which had been among the Puritans, but of the best sort ;” though " he still adhered to that strictness of life in which he had been bred, and retained a just value and due tenderness for the men of that persuasion.”

Even if, however, Chillingworth were heterodox, we repeat, What then? His unhappy case affords no proof that reading the Bible is the way to make men Socinians. This opprobrious treatment of the word of God is one of the darkest characteristics of the Oxford Tract sect; the members of which seem to vie with each other as to which shall speak most slightingly of the sacred oracles as the guide of faith. While we are penning these very lines, a correspondent writes to us: “I have heard a man, high in reputation among this party, state broadly that the reading of the word of God, without the light of tradition to assist you, would most certainly lead to Socinianism.'Such statements are being poured forth from our pulpits to pervert the ignorant and unstable, by men who have solemnly subscribed the sixth article, “ On sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation,” and that the first Homily contains “a godly and wholesome doctrine.” Dr. Hook himself is pleased to say, speaking of tradition, “ I am opposed to the opinions maintained by those who call themselves Low Churchmen, on this ground : I believe it to be only on account of their being bud logicians, that they are not Socinians : I believe that they ought to, be, if consistent, both Dissenters and Socinians.” We heed little what Dr. Hook—who, when he had a purpose to serve, assailed his meek and holy diocesan, Bishop Rider, in print, in an undutiful and overbearing, not to say contemptuous, manner-may think either of good churchmanship, or sound divi, nity; but with regard to his assertions we reply, first, that we know not of any body of persons who call themselves by the nickname of “low churchmen," though we do of some who mounted on Romanist stilts, are pleased so to denominate all true reformation-principle members of the Anglican communion; and secondly, that his accusation falls upon the Church of England, which in the Homily above mentioned, and elsewhere, exhorts to that very mode of studying the Bible, which he says must inevitably “lead logical and unprejudiced minds to Socinianism.” In that Homily the Church professes to give all the necessary rules and directions for the profitable reading of the Holy Scriptures, and yet not one word is said about the all-important and absolutely necessary aid to be derived from tradition. The word occurs there but once, and that is in the phrase, “the stinking puddle of man's tradition." If there be a “Unitarian " teacher in the diocese of Ripon, he will doubtless exultingly write in uncials, on the walls of his meeting house, and ring it in the ears of all men, that a clergyman of that diocese has maintained without rebuke, that when we make the Bible our only guide, nothing but false logic prevents our becoming Socinians. If Popery and Socinianism are only Church questions, not Bible questions, the sooner we weigh anchor for Rome or Racovia the better.

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

ON THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE. The African Slave Trade. By T. F. BUXTON, Esq. It is deeply afflicting to humanity, When he (who is so justly, in that more than half a century after one sense, but alas prematurely the contest against the slave-trade and inaptly in another, styled the commenced in the British Parlia- emancipator of Africa) retired from ment, and more than thirty years public life, he consigned to Mr. after Great Britain abolished that Buxton the honourable but arnefarious traffic, and long after it duous task of becoming the emanhas been denounced, and legally cipator of the West Indies ; and abrogated, by almost the whole ci- how ably, devotedly, and, by the vilized world, such a book as this blessing of God, successfully, in should be necessary, or could be conjunction with other friends of written. To Englishmen, it is also justice and humanity, he consumnot only afflicting, but deeply mor- mated that object, will be among tifying, that after all the immense the most blessed and imperishable labour and expenditure of this records of human history. But country, during so many years, to though legislatively the work is abolish the piracy-we cannot call accomplished, neither in Africa it trade-and after the costly sa- nor the West is it practically so. crifice of twenty millions of mo- With regard to the latter, we fear ney to wipe out its direful results that the plots which are thickenin our own colonies, and to re- ing fast to chain the enfranchised store to freedom the posterity of bondman in real though not nomiits victims, whose fathers and mo- nal slavery, (as though acts of parthers perished in desolating bond. liament, solemn compacts, and age ; slavery and the slave-trade twenty millions of ransom, were should be still multiplying their obsolete trifles) will require the victims, and under circumstances most vigilant efforts to counteract of barbarity, increased by the ob- them. With regard to the former, stacles ineffectually interposed to the wrongs of Africa have been prevent them. Above all

, it is impressively urged before the Bridireful, as connected with still tish legislature by one of Mr. Wilhigher considerations with the berforce's oldest and most esteem. human soul, and the infinite price ed friends, Sir R. H. Inglis; but we paid for its ransom ; and the fear- lament to say, and Mr. Buxton's ful fact that all the efforts made to publication has increased the conconvey to the inhabitants of Africa viction—thateven this great nation, and her expatriated children and with all its mighty energies, will descendants, a knowledge of that find it no easy achievement to exinestimable love of God, with the terminate the bands of pirates of means of grace and the hopes of various nations, whose cupidity is glory, are paralyzed by this wither. stimulated by the gambling profits ing pestilence.

of this accursed traffic. In refer

« PreviousContinue »