« PreviousContinue »
under the New, have done the same. We cannot follow better examples.
“ But, in a Plça- for Religion and the Sacred Writings, where is the propriety of exposing the imperfections of the Church, with her Bishops and Clergy ?”
Because the undiscerning world in general, and our deistical fellow creatures in particular, constantly unite them together, and wound the pure and immortal religion of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Scriptures, through their sides ; whereas they are things essentially different. What has the character and gospel of Christ to do with the treachery of JUDAS, the cowardice of Peter, the ambition of JAMES and John, the lukewarınness and worldly spirit of our Bishops and Clergy, or with the superstitious and secular appendages of the Church of Rome, the Church of England, or any other human establishment under heaven? They are things perfectly distinct. And if we mean to defend the Gospel to any purpose, it inust be the Gospel alone, independent of every human mixture and addition, Corrupt churches and bad men cannot be defended.
The best part of the book, in the opinion of the author, is that, where he has enlarged upon the excellence and utility of the Sacred Writings. He confesses he is anxious to recommend them to the daily perusal of every man; because he is persuaded that both our present peace and future welfare very much depend upon the practice. He trusts, therefore, if all the rest of the book be rejected with contempt, this will be attended to with peculiar seriousness.
The reduction of the national religion to the pure standard of the Gospel, and the moral and religious reformation of all orders of men, are repeatedly insisted on, and with singular carnestness; as what alone, m his judgment, can save us from impending ruin. This is done, because he is firmly persuaded, there can be no general spread of evangelical principles and practices, while the Hierarchy is in its present contaminated state, and the. Bishops and Clergy continue in a condition so generally depraved. The good of his country is what he has
exceedingly at heart, however much he may be mistaken in the ineans he thinks necessary to promote that end.
The missions to the Heathen are here spoken of with zeal and approbation. These noble efforts for the salvation of mankind, he believes to be one reason among others, why, in the midst of abounding iniquity, our fate, as a nation, is, for a season, suspended*.
The extravagances of the French governors are incidentally touched npon, and the 'vileness of their conduct, both towards their own people, and the neighbouring nations exposed t.
* Is it not an instance of the most unamiable bigotry that ever was exhibited in a Christian country, that when such generous, disinterested, and noble efforts have been making for two or three years past, by various denominations of men, for the civilization and christianization of the South Sea islands, which are situated in the centre of some hundreds of millions of gross idolators, scarcely one Bishop or dignified Clergyman of the Church of England; scarcely one Arian or Socinian congregation, those more opulent bodies of Dissenters; scarcely one Nobleman, and but very few rich Commoners appear to have contributed a single shilling out of their ample revenues towards promoting this expensive and god-like design? ---The honour and blessedness of the glorious attempt is left to the poor?-13 not such a conduct among our great Ones speaking in the strongest of all language, that it is better the poor, misers able, benighted, Eleuthen nations should continue in their present deplorable condition, than that they should be brought out of darkness into the glorious liberty of the children of God, in any other way than that prescribed by them?, Oh! shame to these several Orders of men.
What a curse has not bigotry ever been to mankind?--Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followed not us, said the selfish and partyspirited Apostles. Forbid him not, replied the benevolent and liberal minded SAVIOUR, for there is no man that can work a miracle in my name, who will lightly speak evil of me. I add, with the Apostle, If CHRIST is preached, and souls saved, I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice, whoever is the instrument.
# The difference betwecn the English and French in point of piety is more than once noticed in the following pages. I observe here still further, in honour of the brave Admiral Lord Nelson, that the very next morning after the victory, August 2, 1798, while all must have been yet hurry and confusion, he issued the following Memorandum to all the Captains of his squadron:
"ALMIGHTY God having blessed his Majesty's arins with victory, the Admiral intends returning Publić Thanksgiving for the same-at two o'clock this day, and he recommends every ship do ing the same as soon as convenient.”
He has taken the liberty of mentioning a variety of books upon different subjects. Some of these he has particularly recommended; others are only inserted aniong those of the same class. Young readers may find their advantage in this part of his Treatise.
Both believers and unbelievers, he trusts, will meet with something or another that will be useful to them. Whatever is conceived to be pernicious, they will do well to reject, remenbering that we are enjoined by a very high authority, to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.
Several other miscellaneous matters are interspersed through the whole, which he wishes may be both profitable and pleasant: -utile dulci.
If any of his clerical brethren are so far offended at the freedom he has taken with his own order, or the established religion of his country, as to make a reply, he shall think timself at liberty to return an answer, or otherwise, as he may judge expedient. So far as the moral and religious conduct of the Clergy is concerned, the best answer to his charges will be, to correct and amend what is amiss. So far as the durability of the ecclesiastical constitution of the country is in question, he would refer his indignant reader, to the prophetic declaratious of St. Joun of the Old Testament.
Some repetitions will be found, and some mistakes discovered. The reader will have the goodness to excuse the former, and correct the latter.
Two Appendices are subjoined, the former of which contains sonte farther thoughts on a national reforin, and the latter, the author's reasons for resigning his preserment in the religious Establishment of the country, and declining any longer to officiate as a Minister in the Church of England.
To the whole is added a copious Index, whereby every thing most important may be turned to without loss of time.; » Public thanks were accordingly returned at the hour appointed
This solemn act of Gratitude to Heaven seened to make a very deep impression upon the minds of several of the French prisoners, both oticers and men..
If the author has advanced any thing that is wrong, uncharitable, unchristian, or unbecoming his station, in the course of these strictures, be is heartily sorry for it, and wishes it unsaid. Let him not, however, accept any man's person, ueither Itt him give flattering titles unto mau; for he knows not to give flattering titles; in so doing his Maker would soon take him away. It has been, therefore, his desire to speak the plain hosest truth, as it appears to hin, without courting any man's favour, or fearing any man's displeasure*. He makes no question . but a large number of good men are to be found both in the church established and out of it. Even the most despised of Sectarists, he conceives, are not wholly destitutet. And, in his
King GEORGE II, who was fond of the late Mr. WHISTON, happened to be walking with him one day, during the heat of his persecution, in Hampton Court gardens. As they were talking upon this subject his Majesty observed, that “ however right he might be in his opinions, it would be better if he had kept them to himself.”—" Is your Majesty really serious in your advice?" answered the old man. “ I really am," replied the King.-" Why then," said WHISTON, “ had `MARTIN LUTHER been of this way of thinking, where would your Majesty have been at this time?"
" But why,” rejoins the impatient reader,“ why speak so freely and openly upon all these public abuses, at a time so critical as the present?" Because I
may never have apother opportunity, and it is proper that somebody should speak. For the public abuses specified in these papers, he conceives must either be removed by the gentle band of reform, or DivinE PROVIDENCE' will take the matter into its own hand, and subvert them by the rough hand of a most implacable enemy. I speak these things under correction, and with the inost benevolent wishes for the prosperity of my King and Country, and the universal spread of the Gospel of our LORD and SAVJOUR JESUS CHRIST,
+ The wise ones of this world would do well to call to mind, who it is that hath said, That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of GOD. Luke xvi. 15. Compare i Cor. i. 26 --29. Men, sects, and parties, which are held in the highest estimation by the world, are usually, perhaps generally, held iu the lowest estiniation by God; and, on the contrary, men, sects, and parties, which are held in the lowest estimation by the world, are usually, perhaps universally, held in the highest estimation by the ALMIGHTY.
The way to leaven prescribed by the Scripture, and the way to heaven prescribed by worldly miuded men, are as opposite to each
opinion, one such character is infinitely more estiinable than a million of immoral Parsons, 'those most miserable and contemptible of all human beings, who contaminate every neighbourhood where they dwell; or ever so large a body of mere literary Clergymen, however extolled and caressed by the world, who, bloated with pride and self-importance, are a disgrace to the lowly spirit of the SAVIOUR of mankind. To every truly pious and consistent Christian, literate or illiterate, he would give the right hand of fellowship, and bid him god-speed in the name of the LORD, wherever he is found. Clerical bigots, however, of every description, lie most cordially pities and despises. They are despicable animals. Swollen with an imaginary dignity, they are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight, lording it over the poor of Christ's flock, and binding heary burthens upon them, and grierous to be borne, which they themselves will not more with one of their fingers. Such characters, whether found among Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, or any other denomination of men, are the Scribes and Pharisees of the day, to whom the great and inflexible Judge of the world, in just, but terrible, language, exclaimed, Ye serpents, ye generation of ripers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? To the author of these papers the praise other as the east to the west. The fornier saith, Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be That find it. The latter say, W’ide is the gate and broad is the leadeth unto life, and many there be whịch go in thereat. Persons of this character are usually secure and confident, determined and resolute, merry and jovial, and perceive little or no danger even when they are dancing blind-fold on the brink of destruction. I remember somewhere reading of a genius of this sort, who, turning all serious godliness into ridicule and contempt, declared there was no need of so much ado, fór if he had but time to say three words, “ Lord save me,” he did not doubt but he should go to heaven. Not long after, this same confident Gallio was riding a spirited borse over a bridge, upon which he met a fock of sheep; the horse took fright, leaped over .
the battlement into the river, where, his rider was drowned, and the last three words he was heard to speak were, DeviL-TAKE--ALL-Tis dangerous to provoke a God!