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These strictures are a republication of certain statements which appeared, a few years ago, in a magazine called “The Evangelical Register;" and to which my attention was directed by a letter in the Christian Observer for April 1837. I at first thought of replying to those statements through your columns, trusting that you would admit my explanation, as the subject had been alluded to in them; but upon referring to the Evangelical Register, its strictures appeared so vague and inaccurate that I determined to seek some previous communication with the author of them. This I did by a letter to his publisher, pointing out various mistakes into which he had been betrayed, and offering to disprove by original documents some of the facts upon which he grounded his attack upon my work. I promised at the same time to make such alterations, in a new edition which I was then publishing, as he might satisfactorily show to be fairly required. Notwithstanding this communication, to which I received no satisfactory answer, the charges against “Venn's Life" have been republished in Lady Huntingdon's Life and Tines; and I am now induced to regret that I did not refute the charges made against my work, when I was challenged to do so by the correspondent in your journal.

The charges to which I allude are directed not only against myself, as the Editor of Venn's Life, but also against my father, the late Rev. John Venn, rector of Clapham, as the writer of the brief memoir of the Rev. Henry Venn, which is contained in that volume.

These charges may be reduced to two heads. First, that the late Rev. John Venn has given a false account of his father's mature and final opinion on the subject of ecclesiastical irregularities. Secondly, that I, as the Editor of the volume, have endeavoured unfairly to separate my grandfather's name from the reproach of Methodism.

Though I cannot but be anxious to repel such charges, both from the impulse of filial reverence, and from a desire to remove every suspicion of unfairness from a volume which has been most extensively circulated and blessed; yet I conceive that other and very important questions are at issue, which must plead my apology with you, Mr. Editor, for wishing to occupy your pages with matter which at first sight may appear somewhat too personal.

The questions at issue are,-how far the revival of vital religion (as it is popularly termed) in our Established Church during the last century, was brought about by impulses extraneous to the system of the Church, and by infractions of her constitution and discipline; and how far it was owing to the less obtrusive influence of enlightened and zealous parochial ministers. If the first-mentioned were the principal means, we not only owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who set ecclesiastical discipline at defiance; but an inference will be easily drawn that similar conduct would be right and expedient at the present day. Such questions are obviously of great and general interest. And the author of Lady Huntingdon's Life, as well as several other advocates of irregular ministrations, perceive too clearly the importance of such a counter-witness as my grandfather, to suffer his testimony to escape severe cross-examination and animadversion.—Pp. 3, 4.

With regard to this charge against the Rev. John Venn, of Clapham; the following is the answer of his son:

The Rev. John Venn, who was nearly forty years old at his father's death, has stated that his father “was no advocate for irregularity in others; that when he afterwards considered it in its different bearings and connexions, he lamented that he had given way to it, and restrained several other persons from such acts by the most cogent arguments." (Venn's Life, p. 177). These words the author of Lady Huntingdon's Life quotes; places after them a note of admiration; then gives a loose account of what he comceives to have been Mr. Venn's conduct and motives; and adds, “This view of Mr. Venn's conduct being considered as offensive, his descendants have put forth their own representations of these matters. Both accounts cannot possibly be true. To what then can such contradictions tend?" (Lady Huntingdon's Life, vol. i. p. 292.) I agree, that both these accounts cannot possibly be true; but if an authenticated and anonymous statement is to stand against the testimony of a well-known and most competent witness, the truth of history is a farce.

It is not for me to eulogize the character for accuracy of style and moral integrity of the late rector of Clapham. Least of all will the Editor of the Christian Observer require it to be done. I shrink from even appearing solicitous to corroborate my father's testimony; yet I cannot withhold one remarkable confirmation which it has received since the publication of my book. In Mr. Berridge's Life (p. 445) a letter is given from Mr. Berridge to John Thornton, Esq., in which, in his quaint language, he reports Mr. Venn's disapproval of the late Mr. Simeon's conduct in preaching in a barn, in which Mr. Venn had been accustomed to preach, and ridicules his sense of ecclesiastical propriety by styling him “the Archdeacon of Yelling.".

I trust that the charge against my father's accuracy may now be regarded as disposed of for ever.-Pp. 5, 6.

With reference to the other strictures of Lady Huntingdon's Biographer, let Mr. Venn again speak for himself. Our readers, we hope, will not complain of the length of the extract. We could scarcely have abridged it without injustice to the exemplary man whom the publication before us has put upon his defence.

The charge against myself, as the Editor of Venn's Life, is one of inferior importance in every respect. Reduced to a tangible form, from the secondhand language in which it is conveyed, it amounts to this;—that I have suppressed Mr. Venn's early connexion with Whitefield, the Wesleys, Fletcher, Howel, Harris, Capt. Scott, and other irregular labourers, and especially that I have not given a fair representation of his regard for Lady Huntingdon (vol. i.

The severest part of the censure passed upon me is composed of a borrowed paragraph from similar strictures fifty years ago, directed by the late Dr. Haweis against the late Hon. and Rev. N. B. Cadogan's Life of Romaine. I again give the original, marking the adaptation in brackets. "Hypocrisy itself must be ashamed of the supposition that Mr. Romaine [Mr. Venn] ever disapproved or discountenanced the immensely blessed and successful efforts of this great itinerant apostle (the Countess of Huntingdon.] (Lady H.'s Life, vol. i. p. 294. Haweis's Life of Romaine, p. 108.) If I must be exposed to censure in its worst form-namely, uncharitable insinuation,-it is some comfort to be assailed by shafts which have first been cast against so venerable a name as that of Cadogan, and to reflect how completely that name has outlived and outshone their assaults.

In reply to the charge, as to the suppression of the correspondence alluded to, I have a short answer to make. I never had a single letter of my grandfather's to any one of the persons enumerated; excepting one to Captain Scott, which I have printed, and which occupies thirteen octavo pages of my volume.

As to the vague charge of my having given an unfair representation of his intimacy and cooperation with these persons, it would appear, I am persuaded, to all candid minds, a sufficient reply, to observe that in the compilation of my book, I only profess (as I state in the work itself) to give my father's memoir, &c., and a selection of letters calculated to illustrate the character of my grandfather. It

p. 294).

* Yet Mr. Berridge himself at a late period was shaken in his favourable opinion respecting irregular ministrations. I have the authority of one of Mr. Venn's surviving daughters for asserting that in Mr. Berridge's last visit to London he made use of this remarkable expression to her: "Ah, N., you have always been at the top of the steeple ; and I am climbing up after you as fast as my old limbs can carry me!”

would have been quite beyond the scope I proposed to myself, to have entered into the details of all his familiar and ministerial connexions. I did not pretend to write the “ Life and Timesof the Rev. Henry Venn. Nevertheless, if it should be urged that the reader of my volume would suppose that the elder Mr. Venn held in much more moderate estimation the character and conduct of irregular preachers, than the reader of Lady Huntingdon's Life would suspect; I am quite willing to allow that such a contrariety does exist between the two works, but I shall have no difficulty in proving that the charge of unfairness does not lie against my representations. I conceive it will be generally allowed that a biographer who has the full advantage of knowing, both from private papers, and from living witnesses, the opinions of the man whose life he professes to publish; who knows also what changes those opinions may have undergone in the course of years, should give the mature and ultimate judgment rather than its successive variations. If, however, he does this, some one who is less fully acquainted with the subject of the biography, meeting with immature and accidental expressions of opinion, which bear a different complexion from that ultimate judgment, may too hastily conclude that he has discovered “contradictions;" and so the biographer may be charged with unfairness, nay, with “ hypocrisy!" Such has been my misfortune. One resource however remains for establishing the truth; though I regret that I am driven to the necessity of resorting to it--namely, to bring forward the abatements, in opposition to the exaggerations, of any grandfather's favourable opinion of the parties in question. I shall confine myself to the case of Lady Huntingdon.

I find, amongst Mr. Venn's writings, the following less favourable allusions to her character and conduct. Writing to Mr. Elliott (30th June, 1791), he says, “I find that on the very day I came from you, Lady Huntingdon died, and entered, there is no doubt, into mansions prepared for the children of God. All the hay, the straw, and the stubble, and much indeed there was, will be burnt up.” In a letter to James Ireland, Esq. (17th April, 1783), Mr. Venn thus speaks, respecting her proceedings. * I grieve and lament for the Countess. This event confirms me still more in what I have always held, that the work in the Church, and the regular way, is infinitely preferable to the way out of the Church."

Now, had I published such extracts as these, without any encomiums gathered from other letters, I should have acted very unfairly towards Lady Huntingdon's reputation. Had I, on the other hand, suppressed these notices, and published any high and unqualified encomiums, written before her character and proceedings were fully developed, I should have been equally chargeable with unfairness. I conceive, therefore, that I best consulted the interests of truth and charity by publishing only such moderated panegyrics as I believe my grandfather would have himself selected, as a record of his deliberate sentiments.

I trust after this explanation of Lady Huntingdon's case, I shall be allowed credit for having exercised a legitimate discretion in other similar cases. The lights and shades of her character have been so prominently brought out in the volumes which occasion this letter, that I have no hesitation in publishing the extracts I have just given respecting her ladyship. But I should be very sorry to be compelled to adopt the same line of self-justification with respect to all other names which I may be accused of passing over with too little notice.

And now having, I trust, freed myself from the charges alleged against me, I have a further duty to perform towards all those who may place any reliance on the judgment and integrity of my father, or myself; namely, to warn them against giving credit to the account of my grandfather contained in Lady Huntingdon's Life. Soon after his death, a life of him was published anonymously (by a well-known author), which his son, the late rector of Clapham, characterises as “full of misrepresentation, and calculated to produce a most injurious impression respecting his character and principles," (see preface to Venn's Life, page 5); yet nearly the whole of this spurious production is inserted in Lady Huntingdon's Life. Besides this, disjointed parts of at least four different

biographies of my grandfather are so jumbled together as to produce, when accurately examined, the most absurd statements. Above all, the author has not scrupled, in several material points, directly to contradict the assertions of my father upon mere uncertain surmises and inferences of his own.—Pp. 6—8.

The public now have the case before them. We seek not undnly to influence their judgment; but, nevertheless, we scruple not to express our own; which, in a word, amounts to this,—that the position in which the compiler has placed himself is very far from an enviable one; and moreover that, to say nothing of high christian principle, it was scarcely to be expected from the cadet of an illustrious house, that he should coolly persevere in the iteration of his charges, without the slightest notice whatever of the vindication offered by the party accused. Such a proceeding seems hardly compatible with the high-minded delicacy which is supposed to be almost universal in the honourable and right honourable world.

So much for the Vindiciæ. We can hardly regret that they have been called for; seeing that the occasion has imparted to Mr. Venn a strong impulse towards an undertaking which, in his hands, we have no doubt, will prove eminently interesting and instructive ; and the nature of which may be learned from the concluding paragraph of his Letter:

It is with the deepest regret, that I have felt myself compelled to write as I have done. I have forborne, till I could no longer resist the appeals from several different quarters, to vindicate the integrity of the volume I had published, and the views which it incidentally gives of the progress of the religious revival in the Church. In the compilation of that book, I kept in view, as my main object, the delineation of a christian character, calculated to commend itself to the consciences of all men. I therefore studiously omitted every thing which might lead to controversy; nevertheless, as it has incidentally thrown considerable light upon an important question, and as some have endeavoured to fasten a controversial character upon it, I feel myself called upon to follow up the subject alluded to in the preface to my volume ; and if God be pleased to afford me opportunity, I purpose to do this in a separate work, and I take this occasion of soliciting from those who may think me worthy of such confidence, any authentic and unpublished information which may explain and illustrate the revival of religion during the earlier part of the last century.-P.8.

In somewhat impatient expectation of the work here promised by Mr. Venn, we now lay aside the present compilation. It can hardly be called a biography of Lady Huntingdon ; but it contains her biography, and much more biography besides. And we should be glad to see the various figures hewn out of the rough material by the hand of some powerful and practised artist. It is a task well worthy of the highest historical faculty; and one which still remains to be executed, notwithstanding Dr. Southey's very able Life of Wesley. The historian will have before him a pair of men, amongst the most notable that have ever appeared on earth. To use the language of the quaint and crabbed old Marquis of Mirabeau, two such mighty “swallowers of formulæ" the world has seldom seen. Of the two, indeed, George Whitefield was by far the more vigorous and robust. Without the slightest dyspeptic symptom, he bolted the whole batch of ecclesiastical formulæ at once.

He declared that, if the pope would lend him his pulpit, he would willingly mount it, and proclaim therein the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And we have no sort of doubt that he would have been as good as his word. The area

of Moorfields, or the Romish chapel of Moorfields, would be all one to him. Aóg Tov orā, was, with him, the one thing needful. His object was to move the world ; and his sole canon of discipline was, to set all discipline at defiance, whenever it threatened to deprive him of a fulcrum for his lever. Rules, and forms, and all such gear, he held for no more than hollow and filmy simulacra. And how should the stomach of hearty and healthy manhood be disturbed by swallowing them by wholesale ? John Wesley, on the other hand, had by no means so potent a digestion. He, too, felt that formulæ must needs be swallowed out of the way, as the only expedient to get rid of their vexatious cobweb entanglement. But he could never do this without a certain qualmish insurrection of the bowels. To the latest hour of his life, he regretted the hard necessity which drove him to the experiment. And, herein, we hold that John Wesley was a more rightly-constituted man than his great compeer. The still better and higher philosophy of Mr. Venn will, doubtless, teach us that, after all, these same formulæ are not altogether such shadowy and unsubstantial things! On the contrary, they are tough and useful integuments, ordained of old for the preservation of the precious substance they contain, and which else might be in danger of crumbling away. They are themselves substantial realities : and, if they lie not heavy on the stomach which swallows them, it may be, not because they are light and almost bodiless, but because the stomach itself is very unusually organized, so as to resemble, in some sort, that of the ostrich or the shark. We are persuaded, indeed, that these views and sentiments are more or less familiar, at the present day, to many an exemplary member of Lady Huntingdon's connexion. One such man we ourselves happen to know; and, if it were expedient, should be proud to name. And still more proud and happy should we be, if we could but see him in that position, which we hope he will forgive us for considering as most worthy of him,-among the burning and the shining lights of the Church of England.

LITERARY REPORT.

some

A Charge delivered to the Clergy of his Diocese, by the Lord Bishop of Ro

chester, at the Visitation holden in July, 1840. London: Rivingtons. 1840. We cannot but avow our participation in that feeling which more or less exempts an episcopal charge from rigid criticism and review : and would prefer introducing it to our readers, by a simple enumeration of its contents, ihan by any censure or encomium of our own.

The Charge before us, after making a passing reference to the Benefice Plurality Bill, and the Act for enforcing Church Discipline, proceeds to say that

strange and erroneous notions have lately found place amongst the clergy, few indeed in number, impugning the Articles and Liturgy of our Church.” The errors in question are not specified; but distinct mention is made of the scruples which some clergymen are known to entertain as to the interment of persons baptized by dissenting ministers : “a scruple deserving of every respect, but which cannot be admitted on the principles of our Church, nor with reference to the civil and ecclesiastical laws.”—Pp. 16.

On these subjects, however,—as on that of national education, which is also adverted to,-his Lordship is not so copious as on the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill, whose provisions have from first to last met with his most decided opposition. We could wish that his sentiments respecting "statutable oaths,"

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