Page images

also with gratitude of the kindness I received from the Presbyterians, and Congregationalists, and Lutherans, though I decidedly differ from them with regard to Church discipline; for I firmly believe that the Church of God is a visible body, and the doctrine of the invisibility of the Church I believe to be downright nonsense ; and farther, I believe that the real Church government must consist of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. The very fact that all the Eastern churches know nothing of a Presbyterian form of government, proves sufficiently that it never eristed !

So far about this point.

Now about Committees. I beg you not to be uneasy in this respect, for I am a great friend of all the gentlemen in the Committees. As a proof, I refer you to Mr. Crickmer, Lay Secretary of the Jews' Society, whom I consider to be a very useful man, for he gives always exact accounts to missionaries of the minutes of the cominittee"; and beside this he has furnished Mr. Ewald, the missionary, a brother of mine according to the flesh, with a wife, by giving his own daughter to him! I beside this refer you to my friend John Reuding, the waiter in the Committee-room, 16, Exeter Hall, Strand. I am very intimate with him, for I believe him to be a most useful him. If you want Bibles and Tracts well packed up and put in the trunk so as not to be spoiled, I refer you to John Reading; if you are sent on a deputation for the Jews' Society, and you wish to have your place taken in the coach, I refer you to my excellent friend John Reading; after you have been in the committee-room, discussing the arrangements to be made about the anniversary meetings, so that you are exhausted, and wish to get a mutton chop and a pint of beer, I refer you to my friend John Reading ; if you wish to send about advertisements, I refer you to my friend John Reading; and if you wish to have bills cashed, I refer you to the excellent Mr. Christian and others, who also will be able to converse with you on Calvinism or Arminianism, high or low doctrine. But all I wanted to say is, that the linen-drapers, etc. are not fit people to judge about, or direct the movements, pursuits, and plans of a missionary. I give you an instance: Some years ago I attended the committee when the subject was discussed about the dismissal of Doctor Naudi at Malta, and that he (Dr. Naudi) should be requested to deliver the books of the Society to somebody at Malta! An architect at the time had taken the chair, who gravely proposed that Dr. Naudi should be desired to deliver the books to his British Majesty's consul at Malta ; and the proposal would have received the unanimous consent of the committee, if one had not observed, it was better to direct him to send the books to the Rev. Mr. Schlienz. Now if Mr. Schlienz had not been at Malta, they would have written to Naudi that he should send the books to the British consul at Malta, not knowing that there are no British consuls in a British colony !*

• Dr. Wolff's illustrations are so pleasantly spoken that no man can take offence at them. But little mistakes will sometimes arise, as to wit, where Dr. Wolff himself says in his journal : “I hope that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel will soon send a clever and pious clergyman to Alexandria, in order that the devil may no longer have the sole and entire control over that country.” The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel can no more by ils charter send out a missionary to Alexandria, it not being a British colony, than Another most excellent man of the committee sent me sermons of Mr. Simeon to Jerusalem, for the express purpose that I should lend them to the Jews at Jerusalem who don't know English. Now I say that the best plan would be that all Societies should form branches of thc mother Societies, the Propagation and Christian Knowledge Societies, in order that both those Societies might be enabled to employ people from all those countries to which they send missionaries, in acting as advisers for their respective countries. Thus the Propaganda at Rome acts, and in this we might take their example without apprehension of approaching to the system of Popery! Bishops ought to have the only right to give instruction to the missionary, and laymen to transact the worldly affairs; and the Bishops ought to be assisted by the Priests and Deacons, in advising the missionaries. There ought to be not only missionaries who are ordained as Priests, but also consecrated as Bishops ! as the American Church has consecrated Dr. Kemp, and as the Armenian Church of old consecrated Isuac !

the Jews' Society can find a British consul in Malta, it being one. The Church Missionary Society might, if its funds permitted, and Divine Providence seemed to open the path. The Propagation Society is not properly a Missionary Society to the heathen; if it were, there might have been no place for the Church Missionary Society. The legitimate sphere of the Propagation Society is strictly the British colonies, where far more than all its energies are now required. By its charter it includes the heathen only as they are located in the British dependencies. The line of demarcation may not have been very clearly defined ; and in India, the West Indies, and elsewhere, each Society may find an appropriate province; but we should grudge a single missionary to be taken from the Propagation Society's labourers among our own countrymen in the Canadas, to go to Egypt; nor could the Society, by the largest construction of its charter, extend its labours where there is a British consul. Dr. Wolff was not to be expected to know this circumstance; but if he will refer to the Society's royal charter, he will find that its ministrations were to be devoted exclusively to “our loving subjects in our plantations, colonies, and factories, beyond the seas, belonging to our kingdom of England.” Nor could the people of Alexandria comply with the Society's conditions, as described in a paper widely circulated by the Society a few years ago; in which it is said :

“. The incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, having of late years found great difficulty in prevailing with proper clergymen to go abroad in their service, and conceiving that one cause of this disinclination arises from an ignorance of the whole of the emoluments and advantages annexed to the situation of a missionary in the colonies to which they are sent, have published a more full account than what appears in the general annual abstract of their proceedings."

“ It may be useful to notice that before the Society send out a missionary to any new place, the people must first petition the Society to do it, and signify that they are able and willing to contribute towards his support. In general, it is required that a church be built, glebe secured, a parsonage-house erected, and a subscription entered into by the people themselves, or such engagements made as may induce the Society to establish a mission before they are completed ; and where the people have failed in the performance, the missionary has been removed to another station."

These precautions might be necessary ; but we would hope, that in cases of exigency the Society has relaxed the strictness of its rule. The zeal with which the cause of this venerable institution has been espoused, since its loss of the parliamentary grants, is a bright feature in the modern annals of our Church.

No lady-I say, no munificent lady-should be allowed to send her advice and counsel to a missionary, as I once received a letter of maternal advice from a lady at Cheltenhap. I am, for this reason, de. cidedly opposed to the Trinitarian Bible Society; for here a set of laymen order their subscribers to sign a creed composed by laymen, which is a most unheard-of and impertinent assumption !

Now, dear sir! I beg you to believe me that all I wrote I wrote in a spirit of love, and I assure you that I feel nothing but love ; it is true that I express myself sometimes in an unguarded and foolish manner, which I am always sorry for after. If you favour me with your name, as all Editors ought to do, I shall, on my arrival at London, call on you, and kiss and embrace you,* as your affectionate brother,

JOSEPH WOLFF, Incumbent of Linthwaite, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

P.S. I hope that you will not fail to perform your promise in giving the continuation of your Review ; and send me a copy of it, directed Rev. Dr. Wolff, Linthwaite, near Huddersfield.



For the Christian Observer. HAVING “agreed to disagree" with Dr. Wolff, we omitted noticing that passage of his letters in which he speaks of an invisible church being “ downright nonsense;" but it has since occurred to us that we shall have a heap of queries next month, as to whether we think Dr. Wolff's position scriptural; and that we had therefore better anticipate the inquiry by a few remarks ; more especially as his objection to the notion of an invisible or spiritual church is connected with some of the particulars touched upon in our December discussion with the Rev. F. Goode. The Papists say that the declaration “ This is my body” is to be construed literally; the Oxford Tracts, less consistent, insist upon some degree of literality; and the system of literality runs throughout the hypotheses of the pre-millennarians. But we must stop somewhere, otherwise we shall get to transubstantiation. Dr. Wolff, in the matter of the church, is con

• We are quite sure Dr. Wolff writes“ in a spirit of love ;” and we shall be happy to welcome him with all the warmth of Christian affection, and with hearty English (though not continental or oriental) salutations; and we shall rejoice if he will taste salt with us whenever he can do us that favour. We quite think with him that conductors of periodical works should give their names, and we should do so if it were not popularly considered an impertinent intrusion. However, as the Editor of this publication has held that office ever since the year 1816, (when he succeeded Mr. Macaulay, who had edited it from the commencement of the work in 1802) and has necessarily had large correspondence, and never denied his name to any person who complained personally of what had appeared in his pages, (thouglı he has often thus incurred displeasure, as being responsible for what he did not write,) Dr. Wolff may easily find him out by inquiring at Exeter Hall, or at Dr. Wolff's publisher's, or ours.

sistent; for the doctrine of literality, visibility, materiality, as opposed to what the Oxford Tracts in some questions, and the pre-millennarians in others, inveigh against as “ the process of spiritualization," necessarily leads whither he has followed. But his conclusion that there is no invisible church is contrary to the whole genius of Christianitynay of Judaism itself, for all were not Israel who were of Israel. “ The visible church of Christ," as our nineteenth Article justly says, “is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly administered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." If we take the word “ congregation" in the largest possible sense, not as meaning any local or national church, but the whole collected body of the faithful; nay even if we say that all baptized persons, in all ages, constitute one visible church; still the very wording of the Article implies, what Scripture abundantly confirms, that there is also an invisible or interior church; the true body of “ faithful men,' of whatever name; or as Dr. Isaac Barrow expresses it, “ The whole body of God's people that is, ever hath been, or ever shall be, from the beginning of the world to the consummation thereof." There may be several visible churches which frown upon and excommunicate each other : and yet in each there may be true members of the Lord's mystical body. We believe that Christ ever has, and will have to the end of time, a visible church upon earth ; and we include in it all communions called Christian which “ hold the Head," (Col. ii. 19);—whatever may be the meaning of that ex. pression ;—but if in this assemblage there are some who will be placed at the last day on the right hand and some on the left hand of the supreme Judge, that distinction exists upon earth as to the characters of those who compose the general visible communion; and those only are Christ's spiritual church, whatever their name among men, who will be admitted into the eternal temple of true worshippers.

We write thus, because of the efforts which are making to explode the very name of “spirituality" from the Bible, and to carnalize or Judaize our belief relative to the church, the sacraments, and even the unseen world and future state. Having dwelt upon this subject in the remarks upon Mr. Goode's letter in our December Number, we will not now dilate upon the topic ; but we warn those who are preparing to follow up this alleged simpler system of interpretation, to consider whither it will carry them. The very last book upon unfulfilled prophecy which we happen to have perused, was another tribute to the doctrine of literality. We refer to a learned, ingenious, and modestly written treatise lately set forth, entitled " The opening of the sealed Book," by the Rev. R. N. Adams, D.D., Lady Margaret preacher in the University of Cambridge. Dr. Adams says that the i word Book is to be understood literally," it being “ the authentic copy of the Old Testament which was preserved in the temple at Jerusalem, and at the destruction of that temple by Titus was placed under the scal of Rome;" that this actual “material" book, thus “sealed up under the custody of Rome," and afterwards, “through the jealousy of Domitian, placed in the greatest possible security in the imperial palace, and by this act sealed up absolutely and finally," and thence conveyed “unknown and unregarded from the hands of its pagan to those of its Christian guardian," and at length" transferred to the modern palace on the Vatican hill, and at this day forming part of the unexplored and almost countless treasures of the pontifical library ;” and probably to be found in “a very voluminous collection of biblical manuscripts commonly reported to be contained in the Vatican library, and literally sealed up (Dr. Adams's Italics] through the jealousy of the sovereign pontiffs, lest they should overthrow the authority of the Vulgate ;' that this sealed book shall eventually be discovered, its authenticity proved ; and “the public restoration of the Jews to the favour of the Almighty will be unquestionably marked by the unsealing of the same identical) volume;" it being “an instrument prepared by the all-wise providence and almighty power of God, admirably fitted for its work, and every way adequate to its accomplishment;" for that“ any ancient authentic copy of the Old Testament, and especially of that copy which has been sealed up since the destruction of Jerusalem, would be hailed as the richest gift bestowed by God upon mankind since the day of Pentecost, and would in all probability be attended with effects to which the history of the apostolic age can afford a parallel." We do not comprehend why such glorious results should follow the “ literal' recovery of these particular skins of parchment; or why, if the Jews believe not Moses and the prophets as contained in copies which they believe to be correct, they should at once be suddenly converted to the faith of Christ, by being told by the bishop of Rome that he has found, sealed up in his library, their ancient copy of the Old Testament which had escaped the ravages of Romans and barbarians, and which neither time, nor mildew, nor worms, nor moths, had destroyed. We see no sequence between the premises and the conclusion ; but we are not arguing the question with the learned writer; we only refer to his argument as a new advance in the road of literality.

Yet even the most strenuous advocates of literal interpretation, we should think, must admit that some things in the Bible are spiritual ; for surely certain of the statements and images cannot be taken to the letter; and if there is allowed to be figure in one place, it is not impossible there may be in another. The only question is where?

Dr. Wolff does not mention to what extent he carries his idea of literality in the matter of the Millennium ; but clearly not to an extent short of that which Lord Mandeville has ably advocated in a work published the year before last, entitled “Things hoped for." We say “ably ;" for his Lordship does not spend much argument upon the spiritual millennarians, whom he thinks entirely wrong; but he addresses himself with powerful effect to those whom he calls “ literal millennarians ;" that is, those who, taking the general view of a pre-millennial advent of Christ, the triumphant return of the Jews to Palestine, the pre-millennial resurrection, the pre-millennial burning of the world, and the thousand years' literal reign, succeeded by the apostacy, the post - millennial resurrection, and the third coming of Christ, yet deny that earth is heaven, and insist upon a millennarian personal reign, instead of one which shall endure for ever and ever. He shews that their notion contradicts Scripture ; and, if they profess to be churchmen, that it contradicts the creeds and documents of their own communion. Mr. Goode was displeased with us (see his letter in our December Number) for introducing the word “ material,” as if we did it to raise a prejudice; but we shewed how perseveringly literality and materiality are dwelt upon by the writers of his school, though he may Carist. OBSERV. APP,

5 I

« PreviousContinue »