« PreviousContinue »
I will honour." We shall not en- mind in this country, to laud royal ter upon the question of the innu- and dignified personages rather for merable benefits which arise to na- their moral ihan for their more tions from attention to the duties dazzling, but less valuable, qualiof religion. We know, on far high ties. We do not, indeed, doubt er authority than Cicero's, that that this virtuous feeling might in
Omnia prospera eveniunt colenti- time be corrupted, and that the bus deos, adversa spernentibus;" national taste might he familiarized for the sacred Scriptures themselves to such a profligate court as that of affirm, that “ Righteousness exalt. Charles the Second, or Lewis the eth a nation, but sin is a reproach Fourteenth of France. But, as to a people.” In fact, were there things now exist, and as we trust no higher motive than to facilitate they long will exist, we do not good government, and to keep a scruple to say, that, 10 maintain a nation in temporal peace and pros. high tone of virtuous and religious perity, a wise prince would feel it conduct, is the most politic meahis duty to exert himself for the sure which the court of Great Brimaintenance of a high standard of tain and Ireland can adopt. There national morals and religion. Chris. is something almost identified with tianity is the best cement of states, our national feelings in the digui. and in proportion as each indivi- fied elevation of principle which dual is under its active influence, best becomes a court, and noubing will he become a good citizen and would more alienate the affections a loyal subject. Thus, even the of the mass of society than those dictates of policy coincide in this light, immoral, and ostentatious respect with those of religious ob- exhibitions which have too often ligation; and, we believe, that both been witnessed among the royal in private and public life that system and poble circles in other kingis the wisest and most scriptural, doms. And, independently of this which never attempts to separate merely national predilection, we them from each other. It is in- believe that there is a vast body of cumbent on us to take up all ques- seriously disposed and religious tions of this nature as Christians, persons in this country who, upon and to view the favour of the great principle, would regard, with disDisposer of all hearts, and of all gust and apprehension, the spectaevents, as the surest guarantee for cle of a licentious court. In such the real welfare both of individuals characters, we believe, much of and of nations.
the real strength of the nation to With regard to our own coun- reside; and we have little doubt fry in particular, it must be a bigh that their disapprobation would go satisfaction to a virtuous monarch far to render any such system unthat the public feeling is so gene- popular and ultimately untenable, rally on the right side in moral But, while we urge tbese imporquestions. In almost all the eulo- tant topics, we must not forget gies which have been poured forth that there is too strong a tendency to the memory of the late King, tbe in the public in every nation to Duke of Kent, and the Princess judge unfavourably of the actions Charlotte, the chief themes of pa. of the great. Much ought to be negyric have been strictly in uni- allowed for the peculiar circumson with this sentiment. We have stances and temptations of princes; already mentioned the late queen's and, where we know so little of drawing-room, the regulations of the secret springs of conduct, which are almost proverbially join- or even of actual facts, tendered with her dame as a theme of ness of construction is doubtless encomium. It is pleasing to witness a a bounden duty. Kings must these tendencies, in the popular have cares and vexations enough
without being goaded with the ir- and, in every other country to ritating weapons of petty hostility. which the influence of revolutionWe are indebted to our author forary France extended, multiturles the excellent example which he has had thrown off the very profession set in this respect. His letter, of religion; and, even where this though intended to convey some
was nominally retained, infidelity valuable advice, is yet written in either secretly triumphed under a style, we will not say the most the forms of Popery, or, amidst the courtly, but the most becoming a avowal of Socinian principles, had Christian and a gentleman-one reduced the faith of the Gospel to who knows his duty both to God a mere system of morality. This and bis prince. We sincerely trust deteriorating process was more or the remarks of Lysias will be less felt in every part of the contiweighed with the attention they nent, and, among the Protestant merit; and that, whatever system churches, in none more remarkathe imperial court may pursue with bly than in that which had, from regard to the appointment of those the earliest period, been considerwho are to regulate its honours, ed by its admirers as the purest purity, simplicity, and piety may model, and the peculiar glory of long characterize its splendid cir. the Reformation; namely, in the cle, and diffuse their blessed in- Church of Geneva. Various causes fluence to the very outskirts of the may be assigned as having coutrination,
buted to produce that gradual departure from the principles of its great Founder, which issued at
length in their virtual rejection. Sermons et Prières pour les Solen. The system of Calvin was doubt
nités Chrétiennes, et pour les Di- less too rigidly and exclusively manches ordinaires. Par J. I. S. founded upon the mysterious docCELLERIER, Ancien Pasteur de trine of the Divine decrees ; and, Satigny. Trois Tomes. Ge- though it continued during a long nève. 1819.
series of years to maintain its asDiscours familiers d'un Pasteur cendency in Geneva, as well as in
de Campagne. Par le même the other reformed churches which Auteur. Genève. 1818. had originally embraced it, it was
naturally to be expected that some The restoration of that intercourse relaxation upon a subject so far with the continent, which a war- removed from the investigation of fare of twenty years had nearly human reason would, in
process closed, has been followed by a time, be attempted. But whatever familiarity with continental coun. may have been the opinions of intries, opinions, and manners, which, dividual members of the Church of however on some accounts it may Geneva, no apparent change in be regretted or feared, bas been those of its leaders was avowed till productive of much gratification the beginning of the eighteenth and advantage. To the Christian century, when, under the influence it was particularly interesting to of Jean Alphonse Turretin, the inquire into the state of religion, system of doctrine usually termed both among Catholics and Protes- Arminian began to prevail; subtants. The effects of the French scription to the Helvetic ConfesRevolution bad, it was well known, sion, and to the decrees of the Sybeen .peculiarly injurious both to nod of Dort, ceased to be exacted the purity and the progress of from the candidates for ordination; Christianity. In France itself its and a more simple declaration of doctrines were authoritatively pro- faith in the doctrines of Scripture, scribed as absurd and fanatical; as comprized in the Catechism,
which was still that of Calvin, was of these infidel philosophers, besubstituted in their place. Had the avowed unbelievers, and learned and pious author of this some even among the clergy were change in the doctrinal views of the suspected of apostacy. The maChurch of Geneva restricted it to jority of the Company of Pastors, a modification of what was exclu- with Professor Vernet at their sively Calvinistic; or rejecting only head, were undoubtedly free from the more rigid decrees of the Sy- this imputation. They cannot, nod of Dort, had he retained the bowever, be defended from the Helvetic Confession; much of the charge of baving but feebly and evil which gradually followed might, irresolutely repelled the aitacks perhaps, have been averted. But, and insinuations of Voltaire, D'Athough the Liturgy and the Cate- lembert, and Ronsseau, respecting chism for the present remained un- the general Socinianism, and even 4 altered, the removal of that impor- the Christianized Deism of Geneva; tant barrier against novelties and and thus of baving silently acdiversities of opinion, which is pre- quiesced in the justice of the re. sented by subscription to a public proaches with which the French confession of faith, was shortly Protestant clergy assailed them in succeeded by a still wider depar. their remonstrance to Louis XVI. ture from the sound and scriptu- upon this subject in the year 1780. ral doctrines of the Reformation. In the political and moral confuTo the moderate sentiments of sion of the French Revolution, Turretin upon Predestination and which a few years afterwards enGrace, bis disciple and successor sued, Genera largely shared ; and, in the theological chair at Geneva, though it is to be lamented ibat its Professor Vernet, added the Arian previous state, as to religion, had ism, to say the least, together but ill prepared it to resist the antiwith some other concomitant errors, Christian and demoralizing effects of Le Clerc. The consequences of that overwhelming torrent, much may be easily anticipated." Fa- allowance will be made, by every cilis descensus Averni.” The folo candid and reflecting person, for lowers of Vernet deviated still more the unavoidable consequences of widely than himself from the or- such a visitation. thodox standard of faith. Many It could scarcely be expected of them became Socinians. The that, on emerging from so contaLiturgy and the Catechism were minating and disordered a scene, changed, and the translation of the Christianity should have gained Bible was revised ; wbile the tone any accession either of strength of public instruction was lowered, or purity. It is rather a subject until even the doctrines of original of congratulation that, amidst so sin, of the Atonement, and of the many who were faithless and corinfluence of Divine grace rupt, some were still to be found barely recognized ; and a barren who had retained their integrity, system of ethics superseded, for and, notwithstanding the contathe most part, the high and holy gious influence of surrounding inprinciples of the Gospel. About fidelity and error, professed and this period, unhappily for the exemplified the pure and unadulChurch of Geneva, the influence of tered principles of the Gospel. French infidelity began to be felt; Among the most eminent of this and the neighbourhood of Voltaire, honourable number is the truly and the popularity of Rousseau in pious and respectable author of his native city, contributed to give ihe volumes before us, to which we a still more formidable blow to the should proceed immediately to inprofession of purc Christianity. troduce our readers, if we did not Many, deceived by the sophistry deem it expedient previously to
advert to the religious controver- of the Reformed Church. To his sy which, it is well known, has for instructions, we understand, is to some time existed in Geneva. This be ascribed the change which took is, in fact, closely connected with place in the sentiments of M. Mathe preceding brief sketch of its lan, who several years before had ecclesiastical affairs; and a correct been ordained a minister, and had alview of it is essential, not only to so been appointed regent or master the knowledge of its present situa- of one of the classes in the college tion, but to ibe just appreciation of Geneva, and whose name must of its religious publications. The have been rendered, by recent eGenevese Church continued, in a vents, familiar to most of our readgreat measure, in the state which
The arrival about this period has been just described till about of Mr. Henry Drummond'at Gefour years since, when the opinions neva, and the countenance which and the zeal of the Baroness de he afforded to the opponents of the Krudener, who was residing in Ge- dominant system, tended still farneva, excited the attention of se- ther to excite the public attention veral of the students in theology. to the existing controversy. A Whatever may have been the te- variety of pamphlets appeared on nets of this extraordinary lady, both sides of the question, and young men, who profess to have re- some members of the Company of ceived their religious impressions Pastors began to take part in the from her exhortations, do not ap- discussion. M. Cellerier, one of pear to have imbibed from them the oldest and most respected of any thing contrary to the generally that body, distinguished at once received doctrine of the Reformed for the soundness and the moderaChurch. One of them, M. Em- tion of his doctrinal sentiments and peytaz, who, with several others, for the purity and simplicity of his had, in consequence of their at- life and manners, avowed bis adtachment to Madame de Krude. berence to the scriptural doctrine ner, been excluded from the list of of the consubstantiality of the Son theological students, shortly after- of God. One of his colleagues virwards addressed a pamphlet to his tually blamed this declaration, by late fellow-students, warning them shortly afterwards preaching athat the religion then taught in the gainst the necessity of belief in school of theology, more particu- mysteries incomprehensible by hularly upon the subject of the Per- man reason; which was followed, son of Christ, differed essentially on the part of the Company of Pas." from that of their ancestors at the tors, by a reproof of M. Malan for period of the Reformation. He a sermon, in which he bad espouscited various public acts of the ed the opinions of M. Cellerier. Company of Pastors, to shew that for the purpose, as it would apthey bad, as a body, adopted the pear, of checking the farther disSocinian heresy, and then brought cussion from the pulpit of the forward an able summary of the principal subjects in dispute, the principal passages of Scripture Company, previous to the annual which prove the proper Divinity of ordination of the theological canour Saviour. The visit of Madame didates, published its well-known de Krudener was followed by that réglement of the 3d of May 1817. of Mr. Haldane, a Scotch gentle- The professed object of this singular man, who has, we believe, been for and most injudicious measure was some years settled at Montauban, to prescribe silence respecting the and who, as far as we can learn, is manner in which the Son partakes not distinguished by any other pe- of the Divinity of the Father; in culiarity ihan that of a zealous other words, in which the Divine support of the evangelical tenets Nature is united in the Person of CHRIST, OBSERV.
No, 222. 3 F
Christ,--and in which the Holy into sermons of those polemical atSpirit operates upon the human tacks on the opinions of others, mind,-as well as respecting the which, in a state so small and so doctrines of original sin, efficacious peculiarly situated as Geneva, could grace, and predestination. It can not fail to generate irritation and scarcely be doubted, however-af- animosity. Certainly, if such were ter the progress of the Church of really their intention, they might Geneva which has been already have adopted a more direct and indetailed, towards Arian and Soci- telligible method of accomplishing nian principles—that its real inten- it. The explanation now given tion was to exclude as much as served, lowever, in some degree, to possible from the range of pastoral tranquillize objectors. M. Malan instruction the grand fundamental · himself signified bis assent to the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ; réglement thus interpreted, and pamely, the corruption of man; was permitted to preach. A few the Divinity and atonement of our weeks afterwards he preached two Lord; and the necessity of Divine sermons, which have been translatgrace, and of the influence of the ed into English, and priuted in this Holy Spirit, to our sancification country. The latter of them conand salvation. This extraordinary tained certain expressions which réglement, however, was not pass- were regarded, by the Company of ed unanimously. Several of the Pastors, as violating the engagement most respectable members of the into which he had entered ; and the Company among whom were M. following day he was again suspend, Peschier, professor of Belles Let- ed from his ecclesiastical functions, tres, and Messrs. Moulipié and De- The first of these two sermons is mellayer
refused their concur- from Luke xix. 10, and contains a rence to it. Some of the younger full and powerful statement of the ministers also declined to adopt it; doctrines of original sin and of among whom was M. Malan, who justification by faith; to the subs addressed a letter to the Company stance of which no orthodox memof Pastors on the subjeet, in which ber of the Church of England would, he stated his conscientious objec- we are presuaded, be disposed to tions to the rule, He was, in conse- object. The second, which is from quence, forbidden to preach.-The James ii. 14, upon the nature of agitation produced by these mea- saving faith, is equally unexcepsures was considerable ; and it was tionable in point of doctrine. In not long before the Company, neither of these discourses are the though the majority still conti- points strictly Calvinistic either nued strongly sttached to their discussed or alluded to, wbile the regulation, felt it to be expedient tendency of both is eminently pracso to explain and qualify it as at tical. We have at tbe same time na least to relieve themselves from the hesitation in saying, that the spirit charge of outrageously violating the and tone which pervade them are rights of conscience, while they much too severe and objurgatory, were professing liberally to dis- and far fronı being in the spirit of the pense with creeds and subscriptions, réglement, as understood and acand to make the Scriptures the sole cepted by M. Malan himself. The standard of orthodoxy, They be preacher is doubtless honest, arcame anxious to have it understood dent, and vigorous; but he appears that the simple object of the régle. to us to be deficient in Christian ment was to preclude the use of the prudence, and we think also in pulpit as an arena of theological meekness and humility. We can debate ;--not to interdict the peace- readily believe, that the religious ful exhibition of a minister's own state of Geneva may require someviews of Christian doctrine, but wiat of the boldness and energy of merely to prevent the introduction one of the ancient Reformers; but