« EdellinenJatka »
company, they seem to have become surance have these profaners of holy bad themselves. They have been writ, that such may not be the quesattached to ill characters, till the un- tion one day propounded to themseemliness of the character has crept selves, when they and their books upon the dress in which it had been shall stand together at their last acfantastically arrayed : and, far from count, and when the only excuse accomplishing the prelended object, they will bave to offer for their con of exposing the hypocrite to ridicule duct is, that enthusiasts and fanaby the incongruity of his appella- tics had preceded them in their tion as a saint, the term has gradu. error ? Such, beyond a doubt, is the ally acquired the set and figure of true answer to be returned to the the person; and now we but too easily still recurring excuse, that it is only recognise in all good company the the abuse of the Sacred Record which congruity, or rather identity, between is caricatured ; an excuse which, to the saint and the hypocrite. Not say the truth, seems to need no fur. that, in order to shew the profanation ther reply (if urged with a levity of sacred language by such usage, but too common upon such subit is necessary to prove any absolute jects), than by treating it as the fall in its value : else we shall be confirmation of a very common put off with the poor rejoinder, that adage, "ove fool makes many;" or its deterioration in public opinion (if urged with gravity, as in defence arose from the use made of Scripture of a necessary severity) by meeting by fanatics, and would have been it with the sentence passed by St. as great if it had never been made Paul on those who do evil that use of in the war against them. Of good may come.” this more anon ; but, in the mean It is impossible not to add, that it time, let it be observed, the objec-arques a profane, or, at least, an irtion lies mainly against this ill use reverent position of the mind, at the itself of Scripture, not the effect ac- time of making this use of the Sacidentally flowing from it. The cred Writings. Grave persons may vessel once used for sacred, and occasionally joke; and benevolent now for profane purposes, need not writers may sometimes find it nechange its nature, or lose its value, cessary to have recourse to bapter or its lustre, to prove its actual pro- and satire. The “ pleasing, melanfanation by such promiscuous use. choly," Cowper, is an eminent il. Without doubt, the vessels of the lustration of this reipark. But it Lord produced by Belshazzar, at his admits a strong doubt, whether any impious feast, were in all their full man, with an habitual and reveren: and proper brightness; and so they tial awe towards the Holy Scriptures imight have been restored to the upon his mind, such at least as they temple service ; but, not with stand. are fully entitled to, could ever, or ing this, the hand-writing upon the for any purpose, habitually adopt wall convinced that unfortunate the style of burlesque or caricature, monarch, when it was too late, of bis in the presence, so to speak, and by profane conduct ; and his fate left a the help, of that divinely-inspired severe warning on record, from Him, volume, who hath said, “ the silver is mine, But, not to charge unduly the and the gold is mine ;” and whose character or intention of those are most especially those words of against whom this essay is particueternal life" which it is impossible larly directed, it may be necessary he should ever suffer to be violated to enter a little more particularly with impunity. It was a pregnant into their history, as well as their saying of Augustus, to the man who practice. The world has afforded invited him to a hasty ill-appointed three kinds of systematic drolls upon feast, “ Amice, unde tibi mecum the sacred Scriptures,-professed in. tanta familiaritas ?". And what :as fidels, avowed hereties, and the op
posers of what they deemed excess buffoonery, in the defence of what in religion. Of these, the former may with some justice be called class had of course no object in view, “ pure and undefiled religion," one in their irreverent treatment of the would willingly believe to have been word of God, but that of degrading confined to modern times, and to our and vilifying the Sacred Record. own country. It seems to have When Julian the Apostale railed at taken its rise, in great measure, Jesus the Galilean; when he bur- from the peculiar circumstances of lesqued the cry of the Christians the " sacred war," under Charles I. upon some temporal judgment, " fear When a set of persons undertook and tremble, all ye inhabitants of to arrogale to themselves the excluthe earth;' when bis ministers sive privileges of God's chosen peoasked, " what the Carpenter's Son ple; when they profanely denomiwas about?” to which one shrewd. nated their own covenant the true ly replied, making a coffin for faith, and their own wild spirit of your master :"-all this exhibited rebellion the only holiness; and ihe mere profaneness of an invete- when, in confirmation of these prerate enemy; and as such, was rea- tensions they wielded the sword dily imitated by the Shafiesburies, of the Spirit,” first bent and distortCollises, Woolstons, Humes, Gib- ed to their own hand, as their pecubons, and Voltaires, of every age. liar right; and, affecting to call fire Of course, every candid person from heaven, scattered from their would wave the argument arising own quiver “ fire-brands, arrows, from such a quarter, when about to and death;” it became an object of condemn the misapplication of great moment, to provide means for Scripture by men whose belief of it repelling so tremendous a mischief. must on all hands be acknowledged Through the permission of Provito be sincere, and in many cases dence, the only legitimate means, cheir knowledge of its contents most the force of laws, of arms, and of profound. To this praise, indeed, reason, completely failed; and then many in the second class, as well as 100 soon, the round heads,' quaint in the third, have very loudly pre- visages, and scriptural phraseology tended. And yet, whoever is at of these “ domination vanquishers all conversant with the writings of of laws,” suggested to their vanmany Socinians, and other heretics, quished, but not silenced, opponents' who have aspired to the office of en- the last resource of licentious ridilightening mankind upon the sub- cule. The camp of the unfortunate ject of our old, long-established, Charles resounded with coarse jokes orthodor errors, will find a style of and vindictive sarcasms against the profane levity, or rather of blasphe- too powerful usurpers; and, unhapmous insult, in treating the name pily, from the new use of Scripture' of God and of Christ, and in han- made by these men, such jokes were dling those passages of Scripture on almost necessarily played off at the which our church has founded her expense of that sacred volume. most important doctrines, which it from this period may be daled the will be impossible in reconcile with rise of the new school of ridicule; the smallest portion even of decent and custom,“ quem penes árbitrium respect for the Sacred Volume. est, et jus, et norma loquendi,” alCandour would disincline us to refer most at the same instant of time to this class also, the feelings of the adopted the original, and the mimic third species of drolls to whom allu- cant into the established formulasion has been made; and who come ries of the language. After the Re. to us with entirely distinct claims storation, this sacred mimicry rose on our consideration, and trace their from defensive to offensive operaorigin to a somewhat different and tious, and was too easily applied to peculiar source. The use of sacred purposes of triumph. Then arose, in their respective departments, the in the tattered or besmeared habibuffoonery of Butler, the ribaldry of liments in which some unworthy Dryden, and the unguarded mock- accident had invested bim, merely ery of South; and very soon they to excite the commiseration, or succeeded, as all serious writers of regain the lost respect, of the be. those times have confessed, in laugh- holders. We hear but of one expoing down all the excellencies, assure of a parent under sonie such well as all the eccentricities, of vital circumstances in Holy Scripture, religion The ebb of Puritanism which conveys no favourable improduced by this, in combination no pression of the disposition of the doubt with other causes, was how- guilty actor. And in profane his ever soon followed by the flow of tory, we read indeed of kings clad Methodism; and the example, as
and led at the side of triwell as the success, of the preceding umphal chariots, by exulting conage, was too recent, and too tetnpt- querors; but this was for another ing, not to have a strong influence purpose than that of giving dignity on the new opposers of the old pu. to monarchs, or recovering the unritan spirit. In this opposition, the happy sufferers from the disgrace names of Lavington and Warburton they had already sustained. And are sufficiently familiar to every rea- in ihis, it must be owned, there is der of the controversies of those much that is similar to the treattimes; and to them it will be suffi- ment which the Scriptures ofter cient to refer, without any invidious experience at the bands of some introduction of more modern names. lordly and victorious controversiThese men trod exactly in the foot- alist, under pretence of restoring steps of their old anti-puritan pro. their lost honours. He is not satisgenitors; and without doubt ima- fied with, perhaps his justifable, ingined (with all others who to the vasion of the neighbouring territory. present day tread in theirs) that it redressing abuses, and reinstating is possible to retain our own respect religion, in proper habiliments, od and love for the Sacred Record invio. its hereditary throne; but he drags late, whilst we ridicule and misapply away the very sacred symbols themits contents only in imitation, and selves; he fastens, in apparent conperhaps in the words, of its sincere tempt, every thing sacred as well as though imprudent friends.
profane, majestic as well as low, to But here comes the real question: his chariot wheels; and then leads Is there no difference in the fervid along the shameful procession, not imaginations and glowing enthu- more to the disgrace of the rebels
, siasm of a Whitfield or a Wesley, than to the indignity of the very rendering the misapplication, and person and the cause which he preeven gross exposure, of the gravest tends to vindicate. parts of Scripture mainly consistent Bishop Warburton, in “ the Docwith, nay a proof, of, their entire ve- trine of Grace," has, with his usual neration for them; and in the cool acumen, solved the paradox of king and deliberatel repetition or imita- Solomon, “ Answer not a fool action of the same passages, merely to cording to his folly, lest thou also expose to ridicule those persons, or be like him: answer a fool accordat ihe best, to shew, the disgrace into ing to his folly, lest be be wise in which the Scriptures had been his own conceit,” by observing, brought? Does a man carry about, that " the defender of religion and expose to the world, every un. should not imitate the insulter of it
, seemly adjunct to the relic or the re, in his modes of disputation ; which putation of his friend? Or, to put the may be comprised in sophistry, bufcase more strongly, would the duti- foonery, and scurrility.” but that ful and feeling son retain for ever
" the sage should address himself to and expose his honoured parent, confute ihe fool upon the fool's out p. 320.
principles, by shewing that they learned Paul, he already spoke with lead to conclusions very wide from tongues more than they all.” the impieties he would deduce from “ Mr. Wesley had been grieved, them.” Preface, new ed. vol. viii. and the Spirit of God had been p. 243. How much is it to be la grieved also, &c." p. 327. Speakmented that every page of his attack ing of an escape of Mr. Wesley on the new " fanatics,” contained from his pursuers :
ir Without in the same treatise, should be a doubt they were
struck blind; practical denial of his own com- though, in imitation of the modest ment. If ever fool was answered silence of the Evangelist, who relates according to his folly in its worst the like adventure of the blessed Jesus, sense, not by reasoning upon his he forbears the express mention of principles, but by buffooning in his this stupendous miracle.” p. 331. style, certainly B.shop Warburton's “ Saints are vindictive.” p. 334.. fool has been so answered. The And, mentioning the sortes sanctoBishop himself could see the impro- rum, or dipping for texts, he calls priety of Mr. Wesley's ironical ap- it Mr. Wesley's · Urin and Thum. plication of a panegyrical distich mim, applied as freely and irreveto two of his enemies;
rently to his occasions, as a village Fortunati ambo. Si quid mea pagini possit,
conjuror does his sieve and sheers.' Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet ævo.
p. 400. Irreverently! and is there
nothing irreverent in this conjunc• Here he tells us," says the Bi. tion of the Urim and Thummim, shop,
“ without disguise, that it is the most sacred emblem and token his holy purpose to gibbet up the of the Divine Omniscience on the names of these his two persecutors high priest's breast-plate, with the to everlasting infamy: wbile, by the sieve and sheers of a village conmost unregenerate malice in the juror? Is there nothing irreverent world, he dips his curses in the gall in the incongruous union of his of irony; and, that they may strike wild, fanatical, lunatic-I ask parthe deeper, fletches them with a don-learned Mr. Wesley, with the profane classical parody.” Ib. p. 369. chiefest of the Apostles, the dele.
Now, not to mention here the gated commissioner from Heaven, useful'synonynies of holy and unre- the learned Paul? Or does he mean generate, and not to inquire what to hint any actual similarity in the the Bishop means by representing accusations brought against each of this silly paródy of Mr. Wesley's these personages, as it happens, in as the profanation of a classical pas- their own day? It is impossible to sage, 'let a very few instances of the comment on the truly profane asBishop's own style prove or dis-sociation of Mr. Wesley's grief prove that irreverence of mind, with with that of another Personage, which he is charged, for the use of before whose Godhead angels bow, this very saine “profane style" on and “ with both wings veil their still higher than classical ground. eyes." No wonder, since the Di~ When the devil had set the mob vine Spirit is thus associated, that to work, he then, like other politi.' his gift should be thought worthy cians, retired to better company, of no higher honour; , and that such as Mr. Wesley and the saints.” " saints," that is, those in whom Ibid. p. 323. “ But if evil thus the Holy Spirit of God most emiabounded, grace did niuch more nently resides, should be pronounced abound in this memorable era...... as “vindictive;" and that the moThe Spirit overcame all resistance, dest silence with which he had enbroke down all the strong holds of dued the Evangelist in relating our sin," &c. p. 325. “ The learned blessed Lord's escape from his eneMr. Wesley niay reply, with the mies, was only on a par with that Christ, Obsery, No. 129.
of Mr. Wesley, in concealing the for considerate men to suspect a very stroke of blindness on his enemies prudential or respectful regard to its for a like purpose.
honour in those persons, who either This passage, indeed, one would wound the Bible ihrough the sides of never have supposed could have pro- its injudicious advocates, or its inreeded from the pen of a believer. judicious advocates through the sides so much is it in the very style of a of the Bible. certain noble writer,who tells us, that The pernicious operation of these “ ridicule, or Bart'lemy-fair drollery, båd practices on the mind, is, in fact, is the fittest way of dealing with en- too obvious to need any comment. fiusiasts, and venders of miracles and When once entered upon, there is prophecy;" and who sagaciously no limit to be assigned to their exaforms us, that " the ancient tent. Herod himself is often outbleathens were never so well advised heroded by the writers of this class :
their il purpose of suppressing and it is really a doubt, whether half the Christian religion in its first rise, the oftensive expressions, half the is to make use, at any time, of this blasphemy and indecency (for such Part'lemy-fair melhod. But this I words are applieable to the occasion), in persuaded of, that had the truth could be picked out of the writings malf the Gospel been any way şur- of the most notorious infidels, which mountable, they would have bid are to be found conneeted with the much fairer for the silencing it, if gravest parts of Scripture in the they had chosen to bring our primi- pages of Bisbop Lavington's Comtive founders upon the stage in a parison between Popery and Methopleasanter way than that of bear. dism. Indeed, one part of his writikins and pitch-barrels *." Prina ings, in which he brings forward the ciples like these, and a defence of alleged enormities of a certain other vidicule upon the foot of them, are religious denomination, is not aduite consonant with the known pro missible into any Christian, or even l'ession of Lord Shaftesbury ; but it decent, family. Most truly be has may be safely put to the feelings of forgotten there, even his Pagan mo
very unbiassed reader, whether an nitor: "nam nec insignis improbitas appeal to such principles, on the et scelere juncta ..... agitata ridepart, or in defence of, a Christian tur." Cic. de Orat. lib. ii. Such Hivine, is not, ipso facto, an im- treatment of such an accusation, can peachment of his piety? And are only be passed by with silent abhorAnt both principle and practice rence. But let us appeal to another
qually abhorrent from that nice piece of the Bishop's, written apsense of honour, that instinctive feel. parently before he had reached the ing of respect, that fact, with which ulterior stages of the controversy. an affectionate and grateful believer In the second part of the Comparison vould ever wish to approach his above alluded to, which is particularheavenly conductor, and, more espe. ly addressed to- Mr. Whitfield, we cially, when about to rescue it from have the following passage, which is · prior disgrace? If the Bible is given entire, as a fair specimen of tus to be a wounded in the house the style of these theological drolls. of its friends," as well as of its ene- - And, if we duly weigh matters, mies; if infidels are to burlesque it how can the Methodist teachers be in earnest, enthusiasts by accident, otherwise ihan powerful converters? ind bishops in joke ; it will be not What heart can stand out against ifficult to say, what its general esti- their persuasive eloquence, their exmation will ultimately become. But, travagantly fine flights and alluis the mean time, it will be difficult sions? Where is any thing so sub
lime and elevated ? or, sometimes, Vide Brown's admirable Essay on the what so melting, tender, and amo. 2 iauracteristics of Lord Shaftesbury.
rous, so soft and so sweet? You,