Page images
PDF
EPUB

audience perceive that their Another inconvenience likely union consists in words, not in to attend on the contemplated faith? Will it not be perceived association is, its being conducive that while A subscribed a cate- to a wrong estimate of clerical chism, teaching such particular character. The catechism will, doctrines, the other subscribed a in the use proposed, be a standcatechism, the doctrines of which ard of orthodoxy. People will were very different? Here be led to view those, who subtben will be at least two parties scribe, as orthodox ; all who rein this harmonious association fuse to subscribe, heterodox. just as far apart as before, the Here are two men, let it be one desiring that his sentiments supposed, whose theological senmay prevail, to the suppression timents perfectly coincide. Both or extermination of contrary view the catechism as a remarksentiments; the other as cordial- ably succinct and well digested ly reciprocating the same desire. summary of the Christian faith.

But, says an advocate for the Both believe in man's hereditary measure contemplated, let both depravity ; but do not believe be prudent, and cautiously guard that the posterity of Adam either against mutual offence. Where- sinned in him, or fell with him. unto they have already attained, But though agreed in divinity, let them walk by the same rule; they are not agreed in every let them mind the same things. point of Christian casuistry. One So says the writer ; but pray why supposes, that, takag all things may they not do this without into consideration, he may safely subscribing the catechism? subscribe. He does it, and is reWhy may they not, at present, puted sound in the faith. The converse freely together, see other, whose faith is precisely the where they agree, and where same, judging differently as a casthey differ, unite in supporting uist, does not subscribe ; of what they both deem important, course, he is reputed a person of and to oppose what both unite in corrupt sentiments. His repu., condemning? Why may not tation suffers, and his usefulness this be done without professing is diminished. a creed, which, it is extremely These thoughts are suggested possible, neither subscribes, in for the consideration of the canthe sense of its original fram- did and pious. If they have no ers? The English clergy have, weight, or be counterbalanced by it is well kvown, brought much those, which have more, the wrireproach on themselves, by their ter cordially hopes, that the conreadiness to subscribe articles, templated coalition will be forma which, in their most obvious sense, ed. On the other hand, if the they do not believe. It is not reasoning be just, the sincere easy to see why others who imi- friends of Zion will not despise it. tate them should not partake in But what, interrogates the the same reproach. Whatever reader, shall be done ? Are the injury is done to the cause of up- peculiar doctrines of Christianirightness and true religion, in ty to be given up, or viewed with the one case, may be done in the indifference? Is it of no concernother.

ment, whether we preach the eth

pose them.

ics of Epictetus, or the gospel luctance to publish the precedof Messiah? And should we not ing communication has not aris. contend, with a Christian temper, en from want of respect for the for the Christian faith?

talents of their Correspondent, The writer humbly proposes nor, on the other hand, from a the following measures.

fear of meeting his objections in 1. Let those ministers who the most public manner. They believe that men are in a state, would not become advocates of a from which they need to be re- measure which, in their apprenewed by the Holy Spirit, en hension, would suffer by fair, deavour to cultivate a friendly open investigation. The delay intercourse.

of the publication has proceeded 2. Let them collect the most from their unwillingness to occoimportant points, on which they py the attention of their readers do agree, and unite for the de- with arguments, which, though fence of them.

specious, are not weighty, and 3. Let them consider the which, in their serious judgment, threatening errors, which they tend rather to perplex, than to both condemn, and unite to op- enlighten the mind. They

have further considered how ea4. Though they should not sy it frequently is, by a few senpretend union of sentiment, tences, to entangle a subject where it does not exist, let them with puzzling difficulties, and to not magnify the points of disa- inwrap it in obscurity ; and how greement.

much attention and labour are 5. Let them agree not to act sometimes necessary to free it in the ordination of a candidate, from such entanglements and obunless liberty be granted to ex- scurity, and to place it clearly in amine his qualifications.

the light of truth. This considTo these, let there be added eration, which has increased humble prayer, a mild temper to- their backwardness to publish wards all men, and increased the foregoing performance, must zeal in the discharge of ministe- be received, as an apology for rial duty.

J. the length of their reply.

But in attempting a just reply to the cominunication of J, it is

by no ineans necessary to prove, REMARKS ON THE FOREGOING

that his objections are wholly

without foundation. We never In the view of the Editors, the indulged the expectation, that plan of the GENERAL Associ- the plan of the General AssociaAtion is favourable to the inter- tion would occasion no undesiraest of religion. It has, therefore, ble consequences ; nor are we received their decided approba- disposed to say that the evils, tion, and their cordial and zeal- which our Correspondent has ous patronage. It can, they be- mentioned, if they should follow, lieve, be defended on principles, are worthy of no regard. It is which result from scripture, 10 be remembered, that no from sound reason, and from the scheme, though devised by the experience of ages. Their re- most consummate wisdom, and

COMMUNICATION.

calculated to yield the greatest generally is it the case, that our advantage to the public, can be judgment and practice are deproposed, against which a fertile termined in favour of a proposimagination and a subtle under- ed plan, not by the prospect of standing cannot urge very plau- avoiding every evil, but by the sible arguments. What plan of balance of expected good ? Here, extensive utility to mankind has we apprehend, is the great mis. ever been brought forward, the

take of our respected corresponaccomplishment of which has dent. He appears too much imnot been hindered by a host of pressed with the few possible objections. If our finding men, inconveniences, which may atwho will object and oppose, be tend the plan of the General Asconsidered a serious discourage. sociation, and too little, with the ment, we must relinquish every immense good, which it is likegreat and good work, and despairly to promote. Even if all the of ever attaining the object, to evils, which have occurred to his which Christian benevolence is imagination, could be certainly devoted.

predicted, those evils would, in No important measures for our apprehension, be lost in the the public good have ever been evident advantages of the Geneadopted and pursued, which ral Association. These advanhave not been attended with dif- tages have been briefly mention. ficulties, and followed by some ed in a former number of the real evils. The medical art, Panoplist, and need not be rethough it has been a blessing to peated. See Pan. Vol. II. p. the world, has been the occasion 504.* of destroying the health and has Upon the supposition, that the tening the dissolution of many evils apprehended should actualindividuals. There is no civil ly take place, it is still an imlaw or constituțion, though most portant question, whether they wisely framed, and founded on would arise from any improprithe most rigid principles of pub- ety or defect in the plan of the lic justice, which may not, in General Association, or from some real or supposeable case, some other cause. That plan open the door for a degree of in- ought not to be charged with justice to particular persons. evils, which spring from the The most important improve- ignorance, the weakness, or the ments in the arts and sciences, errors of men. Readers will re. and the most pious and success- member that the plan proposed ful plans for the reformation is simply this ; namely, that the and everlasting welfare of man- Congregational ministers in this kind have occasioned partial dis- commonwealth, who embrace advantage and injury. But what the doctrines of the reformation, reasonable man ever thinks of shall meet together once a year, urging an accidental, partial evil, to deliberate on the concerns of which may possibly take place, religion, and to devise and adopt as a decisive argument against a project, which promises a vast

The reader is requested to re. overbalance of advantage ? How fresh his mind with the No. referred

to, Vol. III. No. 10.

Iri

measures for promoting the niences and difficulties in the cause of Zion, receiving, as arti- way? What are the evils, cles of their faith, and as the ba- which have filled the apprehensis of their union, the principlession of our correspondeut? Let of Christianity as they are gene- his reasoning be carefully examrally expressed in the Assem: ined. bly's Shorter Catechism. Is not His great difficulty respects such a plan perfectly consistent the creed, which is received as with our religious liberty, and the basis of union. « It is not with all our rights and duties as supposed, (he says) that all, who men, and as Christians? Is it subcribe to this Catechism, think not eminently adapted, particu- alike on all subjects of theology. Jarly at the present time, tu Perfect union of sentiment is not yield extensive good to the

the the sine qua non of this coalition. churches? If so, what have we As this is not required in order to do with a few evils, which to subscription, so neither is it may possibly attend the execu- required of those, who have subtion of it; or be occasioned by it? scribed. It must then be clearly Especially when we consider understood, that though we subthat the evils feared cannot be scribe to the same Catechism, produced by any thing excep- we are not bound to explain this tionable in the plan, and, there- Catechism in the same manner, fore, cannot be pleaded as an ar- nor to understand it in the same gument against it, any more sense." But this is not correct than the fire, which Christ de- reasoning. For although " it is clared he came to kindle on earth, not supposed, that all, who subwas to be charged to any thing scribe the Catechism, think alike malignant or hurtful in the na- on all subjects of theology;" it ture of Christianity. Suppose may be supposed, that they think the heterodoxy, the prejudice, or alike on those particular subjects, the needless scrupulosity of which are introduced into the some men exclude them from Catechism. Although “perfect the General Association. Is union of sentiment" is not exthis a reason why others should pected of those who join the Asreject the scheme, and deprive sociation ; yet it may be expectthemselves and the churches ed that they will agree in underof important advantages within standing and explaining their their reach ? :

creed, according to the plain, honThus far we have admitted, est language of subscription. that the inconveniences atlend- The most that can be clearly ining the General Association may ferred from this language is, be as numerous and great, as J. that subscribers are not bound to imagines. Now even upon this understand and explain the Catesupposition, we consider the in- chism, in every particular article, conveniences so small, in com- or word, in precisely the same parison with the probable advan- sense. J's mistake is, that he tages, as to furnish no solid ar- has made this inference too exgument against the scheme un- tensive. der consideration. But let us He thinks it difficult to define inquire what are the inconve- what is comprehended under the term, generally, and that, “ while the great system of the Newtoni, that is undefined, the language an philosophy, and rejects every of subscription cannot be under thing inconsistent with it; or, in stood ; that is, it cannot be clear- other words, he receives the ly understood what a man's sen- Newtonian philosophy in its timents are, from the circum- grand, discriminating principles ; stance of his subscribing to the though as to the mode and result Catechism." We allow that, of some experiment or observafrom a man's subscribing the tion, and in some instances, as to Catechism in the manner above- the particular method of proof, mentioned, it cannot be fully un- he may not perfectly agree with derstood what his sentiinents are Newton. If a man say, I beon all subjecis, and in all respects. lieve the general principles of But if he duly, understand the Berkley's system ;" we under, principles of Christianity and the stand that he believes Berkley's proper use of words, and mean system in its grand peculiarities, to make a fair and honest deola- or distinguishing principles ; alration of his sentiments, his though in some explanations and professing to receive the princi- minor points, which affect not ples of Christianity, as they are the general system, he may difgenerally expressed in the Cate- fer from Berkley. So if a dichism, clearly determines what vine say, “ I believe the princiis the general scheme of his sen- ples of religion as they are gentiments. The Catechism is de- erally exhibited in the writings of. signed to exhibit the great out- Calvin, Witsius, Stapfer, Owen, lines, or the fundamental princi- and Edwards ;" if another say, pies of the Christian religion." I believe the general system of These principles, in almost ev. Arminius and Whitby ;” and ery instance, are expressed in another ; " I believe the princiunequivocal and perspicuous lan- ples of religion, as they are genguage, and in a connected, sys- erally contained in the writings tematic form. No man, there. of Socinus and Priestley ;" it is fore, of tolerable information, not difficult to understand them. can honestly declare, that he re. We conclude the honest meaning ceives the Catechism, generally, of each to be, that he embraces unless he believe the great evan- the peculiar principles, which gelical principles upon which it constitute the system of his fais constructed, and, indeed, of vourite authors, and which distinwhich it consists. And as this guish it from all other systems. is the case, such a declaration Accordingly, we may justly demay be easily understood. If a nominate him a Calvinist, an Arman, of whose knowledge and minian, or a Socinian ; although, veracity we have satisfactory in some minor, unessential proof, declare to us, that he re- points, he does not exactly agree ceives the principles of natural with Calvin, Arminius, or Socinphilosophy according to the gen- us. It is not proper, that we eral scheme of Newton, or as should here undertake to show, they are generally expressed in what are the fundamental and his writings ; we are at no less essential principles of each of about his meaning. He receives these systems. We refer it to

« PreviousContinue »