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firm assurance bordering on presumption, on truth and falsehond, right and wrong: this may be chiefly owing to their ignorance of the universality of the right of private judgment; they claim and exercise that right for themselves which they virtually deny to others. Every man ought to be fully persuaded in his own mind, without incurring uncharitable censure for mere difference of opinion. When we direct an honest enquirer to read the Bible and to judge for bimself what is truth, yet, if he happen to draw some conclusions different from our own, tell him that however serious and good, he is no Christian and has no scriptural hope of salvation, and deny him all Christian intercourse and affection because he follows not with us; do we then allow the right of private judgment? Whilst saying and doing all that we dare to disquiet him, are we acting according to the spirit of Christianity? Are we not rather sinning agamst the great law of the Gospel which commands us to “ love one another ?” We ought to judge men not merely by their opinions but by their works-- By their fruits ye shall know them.” We have some reason to believe that this reprehensible illiberality of the Unitarian Baptists in Yorkshire is decreasing, and it is to be hoped that time and reflection with higher degrees of knowledge will possess them with that amiable temper which “ rejoiceth in the truth" which“ hopeth all things” and “ thinketh no evil.” London Jan. 16.
ON DISSENTING MINISTERS PLAYING AT CARDS.
To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. SIR, RELYING on your candour and promise that all sides may have a candid hearing through the medium of your useful Miscellany, I shall hope the following letter will soon find a place in the Monthly Repository.
I am, Sir, your's,
P.Q. I now find I was not mistaken, at least in part, of what would most probably happen, if my Letter to a young Dissenting minister on the subject of card-playing should ever see the light. Though I am not very fond of controversy, I cannot resist the temptation of taking some notice of one or both the papers which animadvert on that letter, and which appeared in your number for December *. All candid discussions are favourable to the interest of truth and
* Vol. I. pp. 644 and 648.
religion, practical as well as theoretical. But daily observation teaches us how difficult it is to write on almost any subject, especie ally on the subject of morals, with temper and liberality. The writers on whose papers I am about to animadvert furnish new proofs of this truth. I have been endeavouring to account for this temper in the case before us, and I thought I could discover a pretty adequate reason in the opinion of your friend R. S. T. for some not very candid, or Christian reflections. He wishes it to be understood that he is no great admirer of virtue except what is very common ; nothing of this sort above the “ mass of his congregation,” lest he should be idolized or should be thought a hypocrite or a modern Pharisee! Under this impression no doubt he wrote his remarks, and as it lay near his heart he seems willing that his readers should not suppose him a hypocrite, but only an accuser of the author of the letter, of hypocrisy, Pharisaism, or as being a sort of Bramin, a dealer in mysteries ! A man who confesses that he only aims at a very common degree of virtue, may find an apology in the prac. tice of many like himself for writing in such a strain. I think he is likely to obtain his end amongst his constant readers and hearers, for I find he calls himself a dissenting teacher! I have however my doubts whether the low degree of picty and virtue which seems so pleasing to R. S. T. will not become lower if he should continue his visits at the card-table. Whether the dread of being thought an Enthusiast or a reader of the Evangelical Magazine, that dreadful
farrago” of impiety and nonsense, should urge him to persevere in exercising his rational faculties this way, time must determine. If I thought R. S. T. would acquit me from seeking to be idolized by the vulgar, I should advise him to study the character of Jesus Christ, who it seems was not afraid of being thought a deceiver or a Pharisee, when he taught and acted on a superior scale.
He thought it fit to be an example to others, and to go before the flock over which he was made the overseer. But I shall be told this is an extraordinary case which we cannot hope successfully to imitate. Perhaps if I were to refer to the Apostles and the directions which they followed, I should be answered by the same objections. We must therefore leave the Bible, I believe, and look elsewhere for the new doctrine of equality which is professed by R. S. T. Unhappily for the Christian church we find an apology for this sort of lax morality in the lives of our modern young gen. tlemen, who are become the teachers of a religion, whose in. fluence it is to be feared they have never felt, whose sanctions they have never appreciated, and whose honour is by them often insulted! From hypocrisy, in one sense, such characters will be acquitted, though in another it may be asked, “ Friend how camest thou here not having on the wedding garment?”
I say, Sir, cards form a strong temptation to sin, to covetousness and injustice they excite in the breast the worst of passions when the stake may not be more than sixpence--they are a waste of time and subversive of all instructive conversation-they often create
quarrels and violate the order of religious families, they almost in. sensibly lead to intemperate hours, and they offer an insult to the common sense of mankind, by having it supposed that reasonable beings cannot enjoy the society of each other but over a card table! The minister therefore who has the care of souls and must give an account of his charge, who will not consult the con. science of the serious and pions part of his congregation, or who will gratify his own taste and that of others whose views are con. genial with his own, although they should despise him in secret for his levity or pliability, the rule of whose moral improvement is to be found in the spirit and conversation of the generality of his congregation, and who wishes to excel in nothing exeept in a little head knowledge, may be called any thing but a Christian pastor ! A Christian pastor he cannot be until he goes before his flock in the path of piety and universal obedience !-He may be a hircling or a lover of pleasure, pluming himself in his own conceit that he has surmounted vulgar and rustic prejudices and imbibed the manners and follies of the metropolis ! I pity so silly and contemptible a character, who doth not know that he is often the scorn of his associates, the ridicule of infidels, and the grief of enlightened and conscientious Christians. R. S. T. mutters some. thing about Unitarianism, but in so dark a manner as cannot be understood by any body but himself. If he means to say that Unitarianism leads to a relaxation of morals, or to symbolize with the general amusements or fashions of the world that lieth in wickedness, I enter my protest against the conclusion and the man who draws it.
And now Sir, before I conclude, I beg leave to say a word or two on the letter of " No Bigot,” from Norwich. As he seemed indignant that the letter on which he animadverts should appear in the Monthly Repository, and not in that “farrago of bigotry and absurdity, the Evangelical Magazine,” I perceive he is a gentleman of some taste, with tremulous nerves when any thing very monstrous appears before him! It may therefore be right to keep from his sight the Monthly Repository when it contains any papers relative to practical religion ! If by a “farrago" this writer means a jumble of contradictions, his letter is entitled to be placed in any magazine of this description. The writer admits that all games at hazard are dangerous, therefore scarcely allowable. This is one of the arguments used by P. Q. against dissenting ministers playing at Cards. The amusement is the hope of gain; for I defy this a well bred” gentleman to point out to me any other amusement that can possibly arise from counting black and red spots marked on glazed paper. If “No Bigot,” is not capable of comprehending what the letter in question hath already stated respecting the evil attending cards in general, I believe it is of little use to reason with him on the subject. Is the coveting of your neighbour's money, let it be only a penny, if you please, an evil for. bidden by the tenth commandment? If so, why will this writer ask where is the evil of card playing ? Sir, I am disposed to reassert what has already appeared in the letter in question, “ That the very essence of the temptation to sit at cards is the hope and wish of gain.” This writer talks of “ well bred persons” as being privileged to play cards. But who is to be judge in this case ? Do not those who frequent the gaming-houses in Westminster, in Bath, and elsewhere, consider themselves as not only well bred but the best bred men in the kingdom !! In a moment of thought, disengaged from the card table, this writer admits what is sufficient to deter any wise and sober man from this game at hazard. “I would not,” saith he, “ be understood by any thing I have written in this letter to stand forward as the unqualified champion of all games at hazard. Many of them are dangerous in any degree; all when they are carried to excess.” Well then, there is danger in all these games! Let us remember the prayer that is sometimes in the mouth of the card player, “ Lead us not into temptation.” This writer may view the scriptures lightly and imperfectly as a rule of moral discipline, and substitute if he please the conduct of the well bred in the place of them; however it is to be hoped he will not find many well educated Christians of his opinion. I have not seen the sermon of Mr. Burder nor the Layman's answer to it, nor can I be very curious about seeing the latter, unless it contain arguments much more to the purpose than those which have been selected from it by “No Bigot." When this gentleman will give himself the trouble of answering the several inconveniences which have been enumerated in the Letter to a Dissenting minister and which generally attend card playing, it will be time enough to bring forward other considerations against the practice. The man who ventures to put his foot on the utmost limits of lawfulness to gratify his pas. sion, will soon pass that line in pursuit of his favourite indulgence. The man who covets his neighbour's guinea will soon thirst after his mite. If the hope of gain is not the gratification of playing the game, why risk the smallest sum?
Jan. 10, 1807
REPLY TO A PLAIN CHRISTIAN, ON THE WRITINGS AND
CHARACTER OF THE LATE REV. E. EVANSON.
To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. SIR, Having noticed in your Monthly Repository, two or three very illiberal attacks on the writings and sentiments of the late worthy Mr. Evanson, by one who styles himself " A Pain Christian,” it is hoped that a few words in reply to such unmerited abuse, will not be denied a place in the same publication. The " Plain Christian” thinks proper to load with invective a writer of eminence, a man of erudition and great abilities, which have been principally exercised in a free inves
tigation of the genuine doctrines of Christianity, and in detecting and exposing its corruptions, merely because he has published tenets repugnant to the deep-rooted prejudices of the P. C. and in some cases different perhaps from generally received opinions. Fronr the same principles, Sir Isaac New. ton's system of pliilosophy might have been condemned, because it militated in a high degree against prejudices, and differed toto cælo from the generally received system previous to its introduction.
Such a conduct as the P. C. has adopted in respect to Mr. Evanson's tenets, is unworthy the liberal mind of a scholar, and unbecoming the spirit of a true Christian.
The P. C. did not think proper to waste his time, according to his own expression, in attempting to confute Mr. Evanson's opinions; but he has wasted it in a much less honourable way in attempting to detract from the merit of one of the truest friends to genuine Christianity, by mere arrogant assertion. But the ipse dirit of the P. C. will not, I trust, be deemed an axiom by any of your readers. He appears particularly shocked at the idea, that a sabbatical observance of Sunday is not a Christian duty, and thinks proper to be particularly abusive in speaking on this subject, although he neither attempts, nor is able to controvert, in the least degree, what Mr. E. has advanced in support of his opinions. “But a petitio principii, of which he is guilty on this subject, is not to be passed over; he says, that the observance of Sunday as a sabbath has existed in every age of the Christian church. That this was the point contended for, by Mr. E.'s opponents, is well known to many, perhaps to most of your readers, and it is equally well known that they entirely failed in their attempts to prove it, or to invalidate the arguments of Mr. Evanson, which were sufficient to convince an unprejudiced mind, that no such observance existed in the earliest centuries, and consequently that it could not have been enjoined by Christ or his apostles. · Notwithstanding the insinuations of the P. c. in which he has displayed neither candour nor good sense; notwithstanding the feeble attempts of that narrow minded writer to prejudice your readers against the tenets of Mr. Evanson, they stand on too firm a rock 1o be in the least shaken by so weak. a blast. The doctrines which the P. C. has condemned, will assuredly thrive in the world, and the writings which he has stigmatized, will he admired and esteemed by every discerning, unprejudiced. reader.
I am, Sir,