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There is also another important point on which the works before us are not silent; the relation of Dissent with loyalty. This, we know, is a tender matter with the Dissenters, who have frequently protested their attachment to the King and Constitution. We have no doubt whatever that a Dissenter may be as loyal as a Churchman ; the mere conscientious difference from our Established Church may perfectly well consist with loyalty to the Sovereign. Doddridge and Watts were good and orderly subjects; and perhaps no fairer example of loyalty could any where be instanced than the Episcopal Church of Scotland.* But we speak not of what Dissent may be; we speak of English Dissent as it is. The great characteristic of modern Dissent, is not a conscientious difference from the Church, but a mortal hostility to it. being is its crime," speaks the Examiner, with a manly openness of malignity. “We sigh for the overthrow of the Church Establishment," with equal candour says Mr. Sibree. We say little against such Dissenters—it would be a gross affront to them to compare them with such Churchmen as the Melbournes, Russells and Rices. But we hesitate not to affirm that men entertaining such sentiments against a part of our Constitution which has always been the best foundation and safeguard of our civil liberties, are no loyal subjects. “The Dissenter," although the tamest publication we have seen on the side of Dissent,
cession affected by its existence among the corruptions of Rome. But we have a graver charge against the Protestant Journal. It alle the authority of Hooker and Stillingileet (!!) for its latitudinarian notions. This is too bad. We shall cite one passage from each, which will settle sufficiently what was their opinion.
“The ministry of things divine is a function, which, as God himself did institute, so neither may men undertake the same but by authority and power given them in lawful manner.” “ They are, therefore, ministers of God, not only by way of subordination, as princes and civil magistrates, whose execution of judgment and justice the supreme hand of Divine Providence doth uphold; but ministers of God, as from whom their authority is derived, and not from men.- Hooker, Ecc. Pol. v. 77.
“ The universal consent of the Church being proved, there is as great reason to telieve the apostolical succession to be of Divine institution as the canon of Scripture, or the observation of the Lord's day."-Stillingfleet's Ordination Sermons, 1684-5.
• “We are fortunate in having an example how Christians may lawfully separate from an Established Church ; and how they ought to behave in their separation. The Episcopalians of Scotland thus separate, because they deem themselves bound to remain in a communion governed by the apostolic order of bishops, which the National Establishment has lost, or rejected. Their principle rests upon the plain duty of obeying at all events the spiritual authority which God has appointed from the foundation of bis church, whether it be recognised or neglected, established or persecuted, by the civil power. But they acquiesce without murmuring in the poverty and obscurity to which their non-conformity exposes them; and they make no attempt to disturb the existing arrangements of the country. They separate, not because Presbyterianism is established by the State, but because Épiscopacy has been ordained by God : and since obedience for conscience sake, under whatever trials or discouragement, has been their ruling principle, we cannot wonder, however we may admire, at the noble example they display of uncomplaining meekness and devoted loyalty. They who are true to God will always be loyal to their king. Far otherwise they, who, deeming all orthodox sects indifferent, and of equal authority in themselves, yet contend, that if the State sanction any one of them, that one ought therefore to be resisted. Thus they canonize rebellion; and truly they honour their patron saint.--Church and Dissent, Pp. 14, 15.
and chargeable only with ignorance and falsehood, sufficiently betrays the tendency of Dissenting principles, as the following extracts will show :
The title will at once shew that this publication is not intended to advocate the claims of a State Church, believing as we firmly do, that every State Church is in opposition to the New Testament, and is calculated to throw obstacles in the way of Christianity, rather than to promote that holy cause.—The Dissenter, No. I. p. 1.
They (the Dissenters] will no longer consent to be in trammels ; they have borne the restrictions and insults of the hierachy long enough; they have had the word “ Toleration" rung in their ears sufficiently often-as if conscientious men barely deserved to be tolerated, because they will not conform to doctrines and usages which they cannot approve. That time is gone by: we mean now to assert our rights as British citizens to a share in all the liberties of the empire; and as our numerical annount constitutes at least a moiety of the subjects of that empire, our voice cannot be listened to in vain.-Ibid. pp. 2, 3.
Alas, alas, why tithe commutation, or tithe composition? Why not tithe abolition ? Some day perhaps it may come to that.ibid. No. II. p. 47. We pass the monstrous assertion that the Dissenters are a moiety of the empire-our only object in adducing this passage from one of their most moderate writers, one, who in his introductory address, declares that he will not support the Dissenters further than he imagines agreeable to Scripture (how far is that?)—is simply to shew the anti-Church bitterness that pervades the lambs as well as the lions of the Dissenting ark. Toleration will not do for them-no; they cannot enjoy their own morsel till they have poisoned their neighbour's. “ Tithe abolition" is the cry. If the Dissenters will not accept the tithe for themselves, why this outcry against it ?—But who believes them? Their “ justice" as we know from one of their best accredited organs, means a simple transfer of Church property to themselves.* Who ever heard of Dissenters refusing an endowment?-We know many Dissenters' endowments, and never heard a single Dissenting scruple about them. Parliament certainly have as good right to abolish these as to abolish tithes—and we will tell the worthy “Dissenter,” by the way, that “ some day perhaps it may come to that ;" for his folly is not inferior to his rapacity, when he supposes that Dissenting property will long be sacred where Church rights are not inviolable,
On the tendency of Dissent to disloyalty we have some admirable observations of Mr. Osler.
Dissent regards the kingly office, and the obedience it claims, as questions of mere expediency; believing that kings hold their office in trust from the people, and as accountable to them. This is the republican principle which
." There is another plan of dealing with ecclesiastical endowments, in order to secure by them the greatest possible good upon the whole. They are, as has been said, possessed by the nation for the general advantage; their object and intention, therefore, would be fulfilled if appropriated to the support of religion by whomsoever it was taught ;" (viz. Papists, Socinians, or Swedenborgians) " on this principle, they might be divided among the most active and important of the DISSENTING DENOMINA TIONS, in common with that at present possessing them."- Fiat JustITIA (!!!) p.93.
overturned the monarchy at the Great Rebellion, and would certainly lead to the same result wherever it might prevail. How it is to be reconciled with the Bible it is for them to explain. They are at least consistent in avowing it; for they act upon it in their church government; putting their ministers into the same dependent position in which this principle would place the King. Their own condition may shew what would be the effect of carrying their principles into the State. When the power is claimed and exercised by the multitude, the lowest are tempted to pull down all dignities to their own level. In such a system, every thing will be little, because every thing must be brought within the narrowest comprehension. This again confirms the principle in the minds of its followers, by strengthening that debasing self-sufficiency which is the very soul of democracy: a feeling, arising from ignorance and intolerance of any thing greater than itself; which, preventing them from suspecting their own deficiency, prompts them to decide where they are incompetent to judge, and to covet what they are unequal to sustain.-Church and Dissent, pp. 131, 132.
Another very serious consideration, as regards the principle of schism, is its invariable tendency to infidelity-we say, tendency, because all orthodox Christians will allow Socinianism to be thus much; many would consider it the thing itself. This assertion is proved by the testimony of facts. “ The feeble embankments of orthodox Dissenters have long since been overrun by Socinianism, which has obtained possession of ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-EIGHT chapels built and endowed by Trinitarian Dissenters of last ages, besides the charitable buildings and funds of the late Dr. Williams and Lady Hewley.” (Higgins, p. 80.) Mr. Osler and Mr. Thelwall have some admirable observations on the subject, which we transcribe.
Faith in Christ is not mere speculative belief, but a principle of continual practical application, the very substance of Christianity. Redeemed by his sacrifice, we are justified before God. Saved by bis triumph, we are delivered from qur spiritual enemies. Joined to him, as members of one body, of which he is the living head, we derive from him strength to overcome the world, and to be abundantly fruitful to God's glory. By him we have access to the Father, whose love, manifested in the gift of his Son, encourages us to draw near, when our weakness would shrink from the presence of infinite Majesty, and conscious guilt would tremble before a just and holy God. We offer up our prayers in his pame, who ever intercedes for us : we walk aster bis example, who made himself partaker of our nature and infirmities. And as the whole christian system is filled with him, from the first promise after the Fall to the day when he shall come to judgment, so he is the Alpha and Omega to every Christian ; who lives to God only while he derives spiritual life from Christ. Faith is not the lazy notion that a man may with careless confidence throw his burden upon the Saviour, and trouble himself no further—a pillow upon which he lulls his conscience to sleep, till he drops into perdition—but a living and vigorous principle, working by love, and inseparably connected with true repentance as its motive, and with holy obedience as its fruits : by which the Christian surely appropriates all the blessings of the gospel ; contends manfully against all his enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil; and rejoices in hope of heaven; till his warfare at length is ended, and he receives an inheritance of rest and a crown of glory.
It is thus, that with gratitude and adoration, the Church sets forth the Saviour in all her services; while she especially commemorates those events of his life upon which important doctrines depend, by a series of festivals, of which the appointed Scripture lessons set forth the fact; the types and prophecies, the doctrine and the application.
Christ is dishonoured by Popery, which makes our own works a meritorious cause of justification; denies the full efficacy of his atonement, by teaching that every man must complete the work of expiating his sins in purgatory; gives to a priest the power of remitting by a pretended sacrifice this expiatory suffering, which the one offering of Christ was insufficient to avert; and ascribes his power and office as an intercessor to a multitude of inferior mediators.
Christ is rejected by those who regard him as a mere creature, however high the office which, as a prophet and a teacher, they would assign to him. This heresy strikes at the foundation of the Christian's hope; and denies all those doctrines, which derive their power and efficacy from the Deity of our Lord.
It is natural that these should assail the Church, opposed as she is to the heresies' they maintain ; but that orthodox Dissenters should encourage and aid their attacks, is indeed a theme for sorrow, That they endure such an unhallowed league, is a fatal proof that their views of Christian truth are far less distinct than they ought to be; for else, they could never set it aside for an object of mere party.
This painful conclusion is confirmed, by the alliance which has so long subsisted between the Orthodox and the Socinian ministers in London, They bave been united as one body, with a common secretary; and the Socinians, though only one-sixth of the number, have been allowed a decided lead. It is not necessary to argue on the baneful consequences of such an anion. It never could have existed, if the orthodox ministers had been duly impressed with the truths they taught. Unless the great work, to which their every thought should be directed, --calling sinners to repentance, and establishing them in the faith of Christ,—had been second in their minds to the party object of attacking the Church, they would have shrunk instinctively from whatever could imply the most indirect sanction of a heresy, which strikes at the foundation of their hope as Christians, and of their power as ministers.
It has been urged in extenuation, that the union had reference only to secular objects, and the protection of their common rights. But to a religious body, no secular object conld be worth the tremendous price of compromising the faith. Has there been no religious union, however? I have seen within the last two years a list of ministers, including Socinians, with Independents and Baptists, who were appointed to occupy on successive Sundays the pulpit coninected with a general Dissenting charity. The Board of Dissenting Deputies took shares in the “ London University,” avowedly, for the advantage of students for the ministry. Nor indeed would it be possible to divest of its religious character an organized union of the ministers of sects, which have no existence except as religious societies.
When Churchmen, a few years since, united so generally with Dissenters, they thought, that, meeting upon what they deemed neutral ground, they risked, and compromised nothing. But principles that may be laid aside for a time, sink in importance to the level of expediency. Uniting with Disenters, Churchmen became lukewarm in Church principles. So, joining with Socinians, Dissenters inevitably become lukewarm in Chrisian truth.
This union has very lately been dissolved ; not, however, upon the point of principle, but because of a dispute for precedence. In the electiou of a secretary, the Orthodox body ventured to oppose the Socinian nominee, and to elect a candidate of their own; upon which the parties quarrelled. What subserviency was here! Socinianism had tainted the principles of Dissent, brought scandal upon its character, and robbed it of its endowments; yet the great body of London Dissenters have allowed a very few Socinian ministers to exercise such absolute domination, that it was deemed presumption, when they claimed a turn to elect a subordinate officer. How tamely submissive that majority must hitherto have been! And these have proclaimed themselves the champions of religious liberty!
Observing how greatly Socinianism has prevailed wherever the democratic
form of church government exists; at Geneva, in America, and in almost all the endowed Meetings in England; while the Church and Wesleyan Methodism have remained so free from it, it would be evident, even if the fact had not been declared in Scripture, that there is a very close connexion between democracy and heresy. That self-will, which resists the authority God has ordained, will question the truth He has revealed ; and it is just, that they who turn away from the light, should be left to stumble in darkness.
It is fearful to reflect how entirely a dissenting congregation depends upon the personal competency of the ministry; and, supposing him competent, how entirely be depends upon them for permission to be faithful. There must be the ability to teach, and the willingness to be instructed; or else, instead of a faith, resting upon knowledge, and working by love, there will be nothing but party zeal. Christian truth can exist only as a living principle. When it ceases to warm, and move the heart, it perishes : and a dead body soon turns to corruption.
The practical evils, which arise out of that supremacy of private judgment upon which Dissent is founded, extend yet farther. It places religious distinctions, and all nodes of sect, faith, and worship, upon the lowest possible ground, that of individual opinion; and makes the choice of one, or another, a question of mere preference, to be determined by taste, or convenience. If a Dissenter be offended in his own Meeting, or attracted by the talents of another minister, he changes his sect without hesitation; and justifies himself upon the plea, that he must go where he can hear with most profit, that is to say, where he is the best pleased. Persons who set the popular talents of a minister above all other considerations, and hold thus loosely articles of belief, which are deemed sufficiently important to divide sects, are little likely to have very definite views of those which are essential to salvation. Indeed, rules of faith can hardly be insisted on, where the supremacy of private judgment is asserted. One only check would be at all effectual, to counteract the evils of this most extravagant libertinism- to instruct the people fully in the Scriptures. But the Bible is little used in the Meeting-house. Every thing there gives place to the sermon : and thus the flock stray from the green pastures and living waters provided by their heavenly Shepherd; while their overseer is required to go with them wherever they choose to wander ; feeding, and swelling theni with flatulent and unwholesome food, till they rot and perish.
Why Socinianisin has not more extensively prevailed is caused by its chilling, lifeless character. The uneducated feel more than they reason; and if we would gain their judgment, we must reach it through the heart. Hence, whenever a cold rationality gains possession of the pulpit, it is sure to empty the pews. If the Meeting depend for support upon the congregation, steps must then be taken to revive the cause, either by changing the minister, or by some other mode of excitement; but if it be endowed, no check exists, and the minister, with the influential few, may sluinber on together. It is decisive of the tendency of Dissent, that almost every endowe, Meeting has become Socinian. -Church and Dissent, pp. 161–168.
I have heard prayers in the Dutch churches in which no Christian could join !-in which there was no allusion to the name and mediation of Christ, no supplication offered for the influences of the Holy Spirit,ếno recognition of any of the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity; but a mere Deistical prayer. So that the whole service from beginning to end was utterly barren. In the sermon, there was no mention of the name of Christ, except as one might have mentioned the name of Socrates or Plato, and the prayers were all of a piece with the sermon, and in the very same spirit. All was, to the Christian mind, utter desolation. No christian prayers or praises offered, no christian doctrine preached, no Scriptures read, excepting the few words of a text, which was miserably perverted in the sermon. And to all this must those churches be perpetually liable, in which all is left entirely dependent upon the will, and fancy, and talent of the minister. If he is unsound, all becomes VOL. XVIII. NO, XII.