Sivut kuvina
PDF

withstand the claims of their adversaries in a manner which may at first appear to transgress the laws of abstract controversy: de wita et sanguine certant, they contend for their character, nay, even for their existence as a Christian ministry. But, even in: this extremity, the animation of honest zeal, in defence of all that is dear to them, will never break forth yith more advantage and effect, than when it is guided by moderation, and tempered with Christian charity and forgiveness. With learning and ability fully competent to grasp so important. a subject, Dr. Whitaker enters into a clear and concise view of the principal points in dispute between the Calvinist and Armimian. We shall not follow him through the whole of his argument, but take such parts only as appear to be peculiarly strong. and convincing.

“The eighth and ninth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. have been accounted the fortress of this system, yet; whoever shali diligently and impartially weigh the whole argument, which is intended to vindicate the divine procedure in rejeeting his ancient people the Jews, and calling the Gentiles to occupy the place which the former had forfeited, cannot fail to perceive that the argument has no reference whatever to the personal and final acceptance or reprobation of individuals. This is rendered even more incontrovertible from the apostle's illustrations than from his argument: for what was it that Ishmael and Esau forfeited but the privileges of a temporal birthright, together with the advantages of a visible church? But it will be asked, whether even this procedure does not lay open the conduct of the Almighty to the same charge of partiality with the former, and, if this be admitted, whether the Arminian will not by parity of reason be compelled to grant the other also: This is a fair question, and shall be fairly met. - :

“That the conduct of the Almighty, in the unequal distribu, tions of his ordinary providence, is in the proper sense of the wórd arbitrary, that is, dependent upon his sovereign will alone, and governed by no rules or reasons with which we are acquainted, is not to be denied. For who shall pretend even to conjecture the reasons for which one individual is born into the world, with a constitution impregnated by hereditary disease, with the certainty of being exposed to the evils of poverty, want of instruction, bad examples and all the train of calamities incident to a character formed in consequence of such predisposing circumstances. Or, why, on the other hand, health, spirits, fine understandings, early attention, and the gifts of fortune are showered down on another, when the first has committed no evil, and the second done no good.

“But we will extend the concession one step farther.—The same obscurity hangs over the divine conduct with respect to his visible church on earth : it is to this day as much, for example, an act purely arbitrary, that he favours this happy country o:

- - ight

light of the gospel, as, that he permits much larger and fairer portions of the earth to lie in darkness and the shadow of death.-, And it is to dispensations such as these, which refer either to God’s, ordinary providence, or to the irregularity which prevails in the distribution of spiritual privileges in the present world, that all the high expressions of St. Paul apply, which have been supposed to refer the final allotment of mankind by a mere act of sovereign will. But where then it will be repeated, lies the difference, and why may not analogy fairly be drawn from the one case to the other? Most evidently for this reason: that the symptoms of irregularity, and arbitrary appointment visible in the divine administration at present, are parts of a temporary scheme only, and will be completely rectified at the last day, by that final act of distri

butive justice; when “to whom much hath been committed, of

him shall the more be asked.” On the contrary, a previous and arbitrary allotment of the final destinies of moral agents, is by the very terms incapable of being rectified, and in spite of all that sophistry and sublety can urge, gives up the author of it (I use the expression with humility and reverence, though for the purpose of removing the charge), to imputations inconsistent with all our ideas of a just and merciful Being.” P. 5.

. Dr. Whitaker remarks with much acuteness upon the perplexity which often arises from the confused ideas attached to the very terms of the dispute de libero, and de serve arbitrio. One argument, however, from practical views of our common nature is ... a thousand from the subtilties and sophistry of the schools. - -

“But here again we must have recourse to first principles, in opposition to sophistry.—Does not common understanding, do not the spontaneous feelings of our own hearts assure us, that as a faculty of chusing and refusing does exist in man, so on the exercise of that quality depends all responsibility, all the distinctions between right and wrong, all the morality of actions : For, not to urge a doctrine held by the best metaphysicians that nothing ana

logous to corporeal impulse can be conceived as applicable to .

immaterial objects, I would ask, whether if it were possible to superadd sensation and consciousness to a watch, it would not be as properly an object of reward for the regularity of its movements, and of punishment for its aberrations, as man under such a system Precisely oppositely to this process is the genuine operation of grace. hatever disabilities- have been incurred by the will in consequence of original or actual transgression, it is the first office of grace to remove—to restore that disordered faculty to its intermitted functions, that is, to restore it to its existence in the heart; and in consequence of that freedom which is necessarily incident to the exercise of the will, to accompany it through the whole of its progress, and to prevent it, by its powerful, yet resistible operations, from falling, so far as is censistent with moral

With

agency.” P. 9.

i

With the following observations we were much pleased, ant
could heartly wish that both parties would profit by the whole-
some advice of the preacher. The Calvinist, we would willingly
acknowledge, notwithstanding his difference in doctrine, to
be a brother, till by his practice he proves himself to be an

enemy. - - o - - -
“For notwithstanding all these points of difference, brethren.
they are even in doctrine. The gospel of Christ happily depends
neither on the one nor the other; it stands aloof from all artificial

o systems independent and alone ; for without entering upon these
s controverted points it is possible to preach the great doctrine of
|

salvation through Jesus Christ, and by faith in his blood, to warn - the sinner to flee from the wrath to come, and to build up God's people in their holy faith, without one word of election, or reproo bation, or irresistible grace. And, let me add that, if such for- bearance be possible it is also prudent, for, though we may our-. selves be able (though it be not very probable) to state these doctrines with all the clearness of Calvin, or to confute them with als, the calmness and temper of Limborch, we shall assuredly be able. to infuse a very small portion of those qualities into our hearers, whereas we shall indubitably raise in our congregations a spirit which it will be very difficult to exorcise, a spirit of strife and confusion, of unskilful disputation and pharisaical pride; in the rear of which we may perchance descry as ascending from the lowest. abyss of hell, “the daemon of assurance,” the fruits of which upon, o earth are most surely to be sound in the records of our courts of justice, in the cells of the condemned, and at our places of execution. This dreadful persuasion has become but too frequent under such circumstances, though accompanied by total insensibility and hardness of heart. Even under the most promising appearance'sf. faith and repentance in condemned persons a prudent guide, while he encourages hope, will always repress assurance.'. He who, knew what was in man, and he alone had a right to “assure’ the thief-upon the cross, that “this day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”" . P. 13. - - - - -

Upon the church of Rome, and the grand question of Catholic emancipation, the mild and moderate views of Dr. Whitaker. coincide with our own. - . . . . ; 3. . . . . . vo.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“To our brethren of the church of Rome, (for so we will continue to style them, ‘though Jacob forget us and Israel acknow

lèdge us not; we owe, and are disposed to acknowledge many,

obligations. To them we are indebted for the transmission of the
holy Scriptures, and all that is precious or venerable in antiquity,
through a long succession of dark and ignorant ages, for the foun-
dation and endowment of our ecclesiastical establishments, for the
basis of our own admirable liturgy, for these magnificent edificesia.
which with so much decent solemnity, we are enabled to *:
" " - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , , ... --for-
“. . . . . . . s."

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

for public worship; and, above all, for having preserved the essential doctrines of christianity in their formularies, and confessions bf faith. On these and other grounds of a more private nature, happy indeed should we have been to have given the right hand of fellowship to those with whom we enjoy so much in common. We would willingly forget the rancor of controversy, the füry of religious wars and the blood of martyrs itself, but in prudence we must remember the unchangeable spirit of that religion, and what is by necessary consequence due to our own preservation, with this limitation, however, we have shown that, where union is impossible, the offices of humanity may nevertheless be exercised; that the intercourse of polished society, and even the habitudes of É. friendship may intercede between individuals whose reigious principles place them at an immeasurable distance : yet it must not be dissembled that where one question is at issue, we have riot the same hold even on the virtues of Catholics, as on those of other men, for where there exists an authority to convert the violation of humanity and good faith itself into an act o positive merit, we have not only to regret the influence of so dangerous a principle, but are bound to act accordingly. The obligation of thus implicitly submitting the conscience, may indeed be. disclaimed, but the severest ecclesiastical censures may be denounced against the disclaimer, while the trembling casuist vacillating between the honest dictates of his own heart, and the mandate of a superior, who holds in his hand the keys of heaven, has

no alternative but to subdue every native and generous feeling, or

to renounce a communion beyond the pale of which he is bound to
believe that there is no salvation. Let not this last be considered
as one of those illiberal and antiquated pretensions which without
any formal disavowal, are by the good sense and moderation of the
present age silently passing towards oblivion, for in the very last
instrument which issued from the papal chamber, an instrument
which purported to breathe the spirit of concession aud concilia-
tion, this most offensive doctrine, by which all the churches in the
world, excepting that of Rome, are reduced to a state more hope-
less than that of Paganism itself, inasmuch as ignorance is more,
pardonable than apostacy, has been as broadly and explicitly.

avowed as it could have been in a bull of Hildebrand. -
* On the whole, the church of England, its ministers and its
members in general, may, I trust, on the severest scrutiny of their
consciences, acquit themselves of having done wrong to their
Catholic brethren, except it be that by an unexampled facility of
concession, they have contributed to diminish their repose by re-
moving antiquated statutes never executed, the name and shadow
of which, unaccompanied by the expectation of repeal, had once
the effect of keeping the objects of them in a state of tranquillity
and general contentment with their ewn condition. A wayward
child is infinitely more happy under a temperate discipline of re-
fusals and prohibitions, than when much has been conceded to its
Ee clamours,

vol. Iv. ocTobFR, 1815.

[graphic]

clamours, and something must yet be withheld for the maintenance.

of domestic authority. I know not that it is conferring any essen: tial favour upon anybody of men to put them in a capacity of being turbulent and seditious.

“ The last observation, however, must

- - - & be understood to apply to that part of this great body, which, though united to us by political ties, is happily separated from us by a great physical barrier, and whose restless propensities are as much perhaps of a national as of a religious nature.” P. 14. . . . " - -

[ocr errors]

We strongly recommend this sermon to the attention of all;

particularly of the younger clergy, as presenting them with that

temperate and charitable view of their "...o. which without abating one atom of that spirit which teaches them to stand firmly on their own high ground, would temper their activity and vigour in the holy cause with Christian forbearance and moderation.

Aar. VII. Fazio, a Tragedy. By H. H. Milman, B.A.

[ocr errors]

Oxford, Parker; London, Murray. 1815.

TRAGEDIES, even of the commonest cast, are but rare articles in these degenerate days, and in spite of all the encouragement offered by the “Rejected Theatre,” to the publication of unproductive nonsense, the votaries of Melpomene are but few. To any Tragedy therefore of respectable parentage, but especially to one whose author stands so deservedly high in the calendar of academical honours, our attention is forcibly attracted. Mr. Milman has already shewn himself to be no ordinary man. During his career at Oxford, the prizes for English and for Latin. verse, were successively awarded to him, and a place in the first class of the litera: humaniores established his fame as a sound scholar mo less than a successful poet. To the first dramatic essai of a gentleman, who has thus recently so much distinguished. himself, we look with no small degree of anxiety. * * It may here perhaps be expected from us that we should lay down a few of those rules upon which our taste is formed and our judgement directed; but as we are now preparing to pass our judgment upon a celebrated foreign work, which will involve the consideration of all these controverted points, we shall not anticipate our remarks upon that occasion, but shall take the Tragedy, of Mr. Milman upon its own grounds. - The plot is as follows. Fazio, a young Florentine, of noble, birth, was strongly enamoured of Aldabella, a lady of high o . . . . . . to: - -. all

« EdellinenJatka »