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THE WHITEFIELD PAPERS.—No. III.
REV, CHARLES KINCHIN, M.A.
Charles Kinchin, who is supposed to have been the writer of the following letter, was of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and took the degree of Master of Arts February 26, 1732-3.* He was minister of Dummer, in Hants, and a fellow of that college, which chose him to be dean in 1737 ;t and on his removal again to Oxford, he took charge of the prisoners in the public jail. He was present, in February 1738-9, at a meeting of the Wesleys, and other clergymen, who all appeared to be of one heart and of one judgment, and resolved, at all events, to be Bible Christians, and wherever they were, to preach with all their might plain old Bible Christianity. I
On the new year of 1739-40, he was present with the two Wesleys, Whitefield, and about sixty of their brethren, at the love-feast of the Moravians, at Fetter-lane, when, about three o'clock in the morning, as they were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon them ; insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell on the ground. As soon as they were recovered from their awe and amazement, at the presence of His Majesty, they broke out with one voice, “We praise thee, O God! we acknowledge thee to be the Lord!'
Writing to Mr. Whitefield in the early part of the same year, he relates—“God has greatly blessed us at Oxford of late. We have reason to think that four within this fortnight have been born of God. The people crowd to the societies on Sunday nights ; several gownsmen among the rest. God has much assisted me. Last night we had a thronged society, and about forty gownsmen.”||
It appears that Mr. Kinchin had resolved to secede from the Church of England, which gave Mr. Whitefield the greatest uneasiness. “ Alas!” he exclaims in his Journal, “the enemy had so far deluded Mr. Kinchin, a sincere and humble minister of Jesus Christ, that I found that, through persuasion, he had actually quitted his fellowship, and intended to resign his living.” In a letter, dated Oxford, April 24, 1739, he says—“Mr. Kinchin’s conduct in fearing (query, leaving) the church, and giving up the parsonage, has sadly grieved the spirit of many good souls here; but I bless God they are now a little comforted.”T The following incident, which occurred at Oxford on that same day, will account, perhaps, for Mr. Whitefield's nervous anxiety about it:
* Catalogue of Oxford Graduates, 1815, p. 223.
Short History of Methodism, 1795, p. 5. || Whitefield's Journal, p. 141.
† Philip's Life of Whitefield, p. 41.
" Tuesday, April 24.—Met with a little more opposition this morning. About nine o'clock, after I had exhorted the society, the vice-chancellor came in person to the house where we were assembled, having threatened to do so some time ago, if they continued to build up one another in that manner. He sent for me down stairs, being informed that I was in the house. When I first saw him, I perceived that he was in a passion, which he soon expressed in such language as this : Have you, Sir,' says he,' a name in any book here?' Yes, Sir,' said I; but I intend to take it out soon.' “Yes, and you had best take yourself out too,' replied he, or otherwise I will lay you by the heels. What do you mean,' continued he, by going about, and alienating the people's affections from their proper pastors? Your works are full of vanity and nonsense ; you pretend to inspiration. If you ever come again in this manner among these people, I will lay you first by the heels, and these shall follow.' Upon this, he turned his back, and went away. I desired the brethren to join in prayer, took my leave, being just going to set out as the vice-chancellor came in, and about eight at night, I and my friends reached Uxbridge.”
It is certain that Mr. Kinchin joined the Moravians, and having written a sermon on the “ New Birth,” he came to London, in 1739, to consult his friends about printing it; but as he himself had not then, according to the Moravian view of the matter, experienced what he had written, he was advised not to publish it.
He was very diligent in his calling as a minister, and, in 1741, "preached secretly in London and in Yorkshire, and was much beloved." Returning again to London, at the end of that year, he was seized with the small-pox, which terminated his earthly sojourn ; and be, with his unmarried sister, who had been carried off by the same disease, were buried at St. Giles' Bloomsbury. He had but a few days before been married to a sister of Mr. Delamotte.* Mr. Wesley, who often mentions him in his Journal, thus records his death : “ January 4, 1742-3. Does not God kill and make alive? This day, I understand poor Charles Kinchin died.”
Oxon, C.C.C. November 24th, 1737. MY KIND FRIEND,- that I could feel such a frame of soul as I am satisfied you felt, when you wrote your letter to me! Then would my heart flow out in writing to you,—then should I feel myself quite overcome with gratitude, on account of your uncommon, extraordinary affection, plainly expressed in your hearty, fervent prayers for me. Your evident love will enable you to pour out your soul on my behalf, in the same strain with your letter ; otherwise I could have rejoiced, had you transcribed your own letter, in order to spread it out often before the throne of grace. Oh, Sir, my heart is not in right tune as yet. I am not arrived at that pitch of love as to pour out my soul for you in like manner. I am enslaved to my corruptions—pride, self-conceit, self-love, self-admiration, desire of praise, and taking pleasure in it, an inveterate habitual indolence, inconstancy, irresolution, and fear of man; all these blacken and sully my soul, and keep me back. Look upon these corrupt tempers. Do you like 'em? Can you be easy, while your friend's soul is thus polluted? Pray that I may have grace to crush, stifle, extinguish 'em; that I may have a clean heart and a right spirit renewed within memoh, then,
for a fervent inclination to pray for you my friend! Even now, I sometimes feel my soul go out a little towards you. If these obstacles were removed, I should more earnestly desire, and should be better qualified to be united in heart and soul to my friends. But if you pray that I may be assisted, accepted, and heard, the continuance of my prayers for you and yours will not, I hope, be wanting, notwithstanding these imperfections. Blessed be God for our acquaintance; may be sanctify it to us ; may he give you fresh supplies of spiritual strength ; may you have all the grace you desire, that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit in still greater perfection! May God pour down the choicest of his blessings upon all your family, and reward you all a hundred-fold for your kindness to your sincere friend and servant,
C. KINCHIN, Be so good as to remember me particularly to all my religious acquaintance.
ON STATE - CHURCH AFFAIRS IN PRUSSIA.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE. Sir,—I had just been reading Laing's “ Notes” on Prussia, when the article in your Magazine for March, headed “Historical Sketch of the Evangelical Churches of Rhenish Prussia,” came under my notice. The ground on which your correspondent sought admission to your pages was your desire “ to throw light upon the position and prospects of ecclesiastical affairs throughout the world.” On this same ground may I hope for a similar indulgence ?
I am not about to question the historical correctness of the facts related by J. D. M.; these may be all strictly true; but I am afraid that the tone of the article may lead some of your readers to suppose, that the union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia is a much better thing than it really is, and that it was brought about by more liberal and scriptural means than were really employed for that purpose. The following facts should be known by your readers, in order that they may be competent to form an impartial opinion of the state of the Prussian church, of the means by which the union was effected, and the service it may be expected to render to the cause of pure Protestantism.
The late king issued a proclamation, dated September 27, 1817, in which he announced it as his royal pleasure, “ that the two divided Protestant churches should be united into one,” to be called “The Evangelical Christian Church.” The proposed union was represented as not affecting “essentials,” in which both churches were before agreed; it would not require a compromise of principle on either side ; it “could only be of real value," as it was accepted, “not from persuasion or indifference, but a real and free conviction," and as “its roots and existence were implanted in the inward heart, and not merely in outward forms ;” and, consequently, its royal proposer would “respect the rights and liberties of his subjects," and would be “far from pressing them to adopt and establish it.” As an example to all Protestant congregations in his dominions, the monarch commanded the union of the two congregations, Lutheran and Reformed, of the garrison and court at Potsdam, to unite ; and on the 30th of October, 1817, partook, with this united church, “ the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper.” It is true there was no general opposition shown to the proposed union ; but this was not so much because the people approved of it, as because they were too indifferent on the subject to manifest any enthusiasm in opposing it. The policy of the government, in studding the country with thousands of state-paid functionaries, had almost quenched the love of liberty, and destroyed public spirit among them. Out of nearly 9000 congregations, 7750 were reported to have joined the union, and adopted the new ritual, according to the proclaimed wish of the sovereign.
In the same year an order from the minister of home affairs abolished the names of Lutheran, Reformed, Calvinistic, and Protestant church ; and enjoined and commanded the use of the name “ Evangelical Church” only. To procure perfect uniformity in the service of the church, a new liturgy and agenda was composed, by order of His Majesty, in 1822, under the auspices of Dr. Eylesh and Dr. Neander, the representatives of the two old Protestant churches. This met with extensive opposition from the congregations, who regarded it as an unwarrantable interference with their religious liberty. But the king's intentions were not to be thwarted; and notwithstanding his fair promises, in 1817, opposition to the new form of service was denounced as treasonable; and where it was resisted, it was introduced with armed force. Functionaries suspected of favouring the old ritual were suspended ; and the usual modes of persecution and compulsion to promote uni. formity, were had recourse to.
In 1825 a memorial was drawn up and signed by twelve ministers, at Berlin, against the new liturgy and agenda, in which they set forth the grounds of their opposition.
In 1830, Dr. Eylesh published a defence of the principle, and an explanation of the working of the new Prussian church. He rests his defence of the new liturgy and agenda on twelve grounds. Take the following as specimens :-“2. It is consistent with the instructions of our evangelical church. 3. Binding not contracting to the mind. 4. Old church-like in its language and forms. 7. Preserves the meaning of the church. 11. Purely national. 12. Edifying in its origin (the king).”
According to this new church service, the whole period of public worship in the morning is restricted to one hour, the afternoon service being shorter still. The sermon must, on no account whatever, exceed half an hour ; extempore prayer is forbidden ; the very texts on which these balf-hour sermons are to be preached, on fast-days, or peculiar church-days, are appointed by government; and no Protestant minister
in the kingdom is at liberty to preach from any other text than that selected and appointed at head-quarters.
The new liturgy was intended for the clergy, and not for the people. It cannot be purchased by the public at any shop in Prussia. The use of the Bible in the churches by the people is discountenanced. The only book in the hands of the congregation, is a sort of hymn-book, filled with doggrel verse, though printed as prose, from which they sing two portions in the course of the service.
By a tyrannical edict, issued March 9th, 1834, the exercise of public religious worship was forbidden in all places except churches.
At the time when the union was projected, most of the churches in Silesia were Lutheran. Here the proposal met with the greatest resistance. The parish of Hermannsdorf refused compliance with the order of the consistory, and continued to worship in the old Lutheran manner. Their pastor, Berger, was then commanded to administer the sacrament according to the old and new form alternately. He refused the compromise, and was suspended. The parish of Hoenigern also refused. Their pastor, Kellner, was suspended ; and, having protested against the authority of the commissioners who suspended him, was—with forty elders, elected by the congregation to defend their liberties—thrown into prison. A minister was selected, and sent to be intruded on the people, but found the church-doors nailed, and a crowd of people obstructing the entrance. On the 20th December, 1834, five hundred soldiers marched from Breslau to this recusant parish, to force the minister on the people against their will, and to compel them to observe a form of service which they disapproved of. So great were the sufferings of these honest villagers, arising from this persecution, that six hundred of them, like our pilgrim forefathers, fled to the forests of America, that there they might enjoy the sacred rights that were denied them in their native land.
These facts, dates and all, are just as I gather them from Mr. Laing's book.* If they be correct, they tell a tale of the despotism of Prussia's government, and the thraldom of Prussia's people, which ought to open the eyes of British statesmen and British Christians, and moderate the language in which they have been wont to speak of this pattern-nation of education and good institutions. If the same restrictions are imposed on the churches in the Rhenish provinces, to which J. D. M. particularly refers, as on those in the other provinces; if in every church there is an altar railed in, and covered with an altar-cloth, with two lighted wax candles, and a crucifix standing upon it, and pictures of saints, and holy subjects, hanging behind and around it; if the name of Protestant, as applied to the church, is forbidden
dommen into priglected by commissione
* Notes of a Traveller. By Samuel Laing, Esq. London, 1842.