Part 6 out of 7
When the populace shall be once brought to a conviction that the
Gospel, as they are told, has neither terms nor conditions * * *, that
no sins can be too great, no life too impure, 'no offences too many or
too aggravated', to disqualify the perpetrators of them for
Merely insert the words "sincere repentance and amendment of heart and
life, and therefore for" salvation,--and is not this truth, and Gospel
truth? And is it not the meaning of the preacher? Did any Methodist ever
teach that salvation may be attained without sanctification? This
Barrister for ever forgets that the whole point in dispute is not
concerning the possibility of an immoral Christian being saved, which
the Methodist would deny as strenuously as himself, and perhaps give an
austerer sense to the word immoral; but whether morality, or as the
Methodists would call it, sanctification, be the price which we pay for
the purchase of our salvation with our own money, or a part of the same
free gift. God knows, I am no advocate for Methodism; but for fair
statement I am, and most zealously--even for the love of logic, putting
honesty out of sight.
Ib. p. 72.
"In every age," says the moral divine (Blair), "the practice has
prevailed of substituting certain appearances of piety in the place of
the great 'duties' of humanity and mercy," &c.
Will the Barrister rest the decision of the controversy on a comparison
of the lives of the Methodists and non-Methodists? Unless he knows that
their "morality has declined, as their piety has become more ardent," is
not his quotation mere labouring--nay, absolute pioneering--for the
triumphal chariot of his enemies?
Ib. pp. 75-79.
It is but fair to select a specimen of Evangelical preaching
from one of its most celebrated and popular champions * *.
He will preface it with the solemn and woful communication of the
Evangelist John, in order to show how exactly they accord, how clearly
the doctrines of the one are deduced from the Revelation of the other,
and how justly, therefore, it assumes the exclusive title of
evangelical. 'And I saw the dead * * * and the dead were judged out of
those things which were written in the books, according to their
works. And the sea gave up the dead * * and they were judged every man
according to his works'. Rev. xx. 12, 13. Let us recall to mind the
urgent caution conveyed in the writings of Paul * * 'Be not deceived;
God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also
reap'. And let us further add * * the confirmation * * of the Saviour
himself:--'When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, * * * but the
righteous into life eternal'. Matt. xxv. 31, 'ad finem'. Let us now
attend to the Evangelical preacher, (Toplady). "The Religion of Jesus
Christ stands eminently distinguished, and essentially differenced,
from every other religion that was ever proposed to human reception,
by this remarkable peculiarity; that, look abroad in the world, and
you will find that every religion, 'except one', puts you upon 'doing
something', in order to recommend yourself to God. A Mahometan * * A
Papist * * * It is only the religion of Jesus Christ that runs counter
to all the rest, by affirming--that we are 'saved' and called with a
holy calling, 'not' according to our works, but according to the
Father's own purpose and grace, which was 'not' sold to us 'on certain
conditions to be fulfilled by ourselves', but was given us in Christ
before the world began." Toplady's Works: Sermon on James ii. 18.
'Si sic omnia'! All this is just and forcible; and surely nothing can be
easier than to confute the Methodist by shewing that his very
'no-doing', when he comes to explain it, is not only an act, a work, but
even a very severe and perseverant energy of the will. He is therefore
to be arraigned of nonsense and abuse of words rather than of immoral
Ib. p. 84.
The sacred volume of Holy Writ declares that 'true' (pure?) 'religion
and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the
fatherless and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself
unspotted from the world'. James i. 27
This is now at least, whatever might have been the meaning of the word
'religion' in the time of the Translators, a false version. St. James is
speaking of persons eminently zealous in those public or private acts of
worship, which we call divine service, [Greek: thraeskeia]. It should be
rendered, 'True worship', &c. The passage is a fine burst of rhetoric,
and not a mere truism; just as when we say;--"A cheerful heart is a
perpetual thanksgiving, and a state of love and resignation the truest
utterance of the Lord's Prayer." St. James opposes Christianity to the
outward signs and ceremonial observances of the Jewish and Pagan
religions. But these are the only sure signs, these are the most
significant ceremonial observances by which your Christianity is to be
made known,--'to visit the fatherless', &c. True religion does not
consist 'quoad essentiam' in these acts, but in that habitual state of
the whole moral being, which manifests itself by these acts--and which
acts are to the religion of Christ that which ablutions, sacrifices and
Temple-going were to the Mosaic religion, namely, its genuine [Greek:
thraeskeia]. That which was the religion of Moses is the ceremonial or
cult of the religion of Christ. Moses commanded all good works, even
those stated by St. James, as the means of temporal felicity; and this
was the Mosaic religion; and to these he added a multitude of symbolical
observances; and these formed the Mosaic cult, ('cultus religionis',
[Greek: thraeskeia]). Christ commands holiness out of perfect love, that
is, Christian religion; and adds to this no other ceremony or symbol
than a pure life and active beneficence; which (says St. James) are the
'true cult'. 
Ib. p. 86.
There is no one whose writings are better calculated to do good, (than
those of Paley) by inculcating the essential duties of common life,
and the sound truths of practical Christianity.
Indeed! Paley's whole system is reducible to this one precept:--"Obey
God, and benefit your neighbour, because you love yourself above all."
Christ has himself comprised his system in--"Love your neighbour as
yourself, and God above all." These "sound truths of practical
Christianity" consist in a total subversion, not only of Christianity,
but of all morality;--the very words virtue and vice being but lazy
synonymes of prudence and miscalculation,--and which ought to be
expunged from our vocabularies, together with Abraxas and Abracadabra,
as charms abused by superstitious or mystic enthusiasts.
Ib. p. 94.
Eventually the whole direction of the popular mind, in the affairs of
religion, will be gained into the hands of a set of ignorant fanatics
of such low origin and vulgar habits as can only serve to degrade
religion in the eyes of those to whom its influence is most wanted.
Will such persons venerate or respect it in the hands of a sect
composed in the far greater part of bigotted, coarse, illiterate, and
low-bred enthusiasts? Men who have abandoned their lawful callings, in
which by industry they might have been useful members of society, to
take upon themselves concerns the most sacred, with which nothing but
their vanity and their ignorance could have excited them to meddle.
It is not the buffoonery of the reverend joker of the Edinburgh Review;
not the convulsed grin of mortification which, sprawling prostrate in
the dirt from "the whiff and wind" of the masterly disquisition in the
Quarterly Review, the itinerant preacher would pass oft' for the broad
grin of triumph; no, nor even the over-valued distinction of miracles,
--which will prevent him from seeing and shewing the equal applicability
of all this to the Apostles and primitive Christians. We know that
Trajan, Pliny, Tacitus, the Antonines, Celsus, Lucian and the
like,--much more the ten thousand philosophers and joke-smiths of
Rome,--did both feel and apply all this to the Galilean Sect; and
yet--'Vicisti, O Galilaee'!
Ib. p. 95.
They never fail to refer to the proud Pharisee, whom they term
self-'righteous'; and thus, having greatly misrepresented his
character, they proceed to declaim on the arrogance of founding any
expectation of reward from the performance of our 'moral
duties':--whereas the plain truth is that the Pharisee was 'not
righteous', but merely arrogated to himself that character; he had
neglected all the 'moral duties' of life.
Who told the Barrister this? Not the Gospel, I am sure.
The Evangelical has only to translate these sentences into the true
statement of his opinions, in order to baffle this angry and impotent
attack; the self-righteousness of all who expect to claim salvation on
the plea of their own personal merit. "Pay to A. B. at sight--value
received by me."--To Messrs. Stone and Co. Bankers, Heaven-Gate. It is a
short step from this to the Popish. "Pay to A. B. 'or order'." Once
assume merits, and I defy you to keep out supererogation and the old
'Monte di Pieta'.
Ib. p. 97.
--and from thence occasion is taken to defame all those who strive to
prepare themselves, during this their state of trial, for that
judgment which they must undergo at that day, when they will receive
either reward or punishment, according as they shall be found to have
'merited' the one, or 'deserved' the other.
Can the Barrister have read the New Testament? Or does he know it only
--a swarm of new Evangelists who are every where teaching the people
that no reliance is to be placed on holiness of life as a ground of
I am weary of repeating that this is false. It is only denied that mere
acts, not proceeding from faith, are or can be holiness. As surely
(would the Methodist say) as the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, so
surely does sanctification from redemption, and not vice versa,--much
less from self-sanctifiedness, that ostrich with its head in the sand,
and the plucked rump of its merits staring on the divine [Greek: Atae]
Ib. p. 102.
'He that doeth righteousness is righteous'. Since then it is plain
that each must 'himself' be righteous, if he be so at all, what do
they mean who thus inveigh against 'self'-righteousness, since Christ
himself declares there is no other?
Here again the whole dispute lies in the word "himself." In the outward
and visible sense both parties agree; but the Methodist calls it "the
will in us," given by grace; the Barrister calls it "our own will," or
"we ourselves." But why does not the Barrister reserve a part of his
wrath for Dr. Priestley, according to whom a villain has superior claims
on the divine justice as an innocent martyr to the grand machinery of
Providence;--for Dr. Priestley, who turns the whole dictionary of human
nature into verbs impersonal with a perpetual 'subauditur' of 'Deus' for
their common nominative case;--which said 'Deus', however, is but
another 'automaton', self-worked indeed, but yet worked, not properly
working, for he admits no more freedom or will to God than to man? The
Lutheran leaves the free will whining with a broken back in the ditch;
and Dr. Priestley puts the poor animal out of his misery!--But
seriously, is it fair or even decent to appeal to the Legislature
against the Methodists for holding the doctrine of the Atonement? Do we
not pray by Act of Parliament twenty times every Sunday 'through the
only merits of Jesus Christ'? Is it not the very nose which (of flesh or
wax) this very Legislature insists on as an indispensable qualification
for every Christian face? Is not the lack thereof a felonious deformity,
yea, the grimmest feature of the 'lues confirmata' of statute heresy?
What says the reverend critic to this? Will he not rise in wrath against
the Barrister,--he the Pamphagus of Homilitic, Liturgic, and Articular
orthodoxy,--the Garagantua, whose ravenous maw leaves not a single word,
syllable, letter, no, not one 'iota' unswallowed, if we are to believe
his own recent and voluntary manifesto?  What says he to this
Barrister, and his Hints to the Legislature?
Ib. p. 105.
If the new faith be the only true one, let us embrace it; but let not
those who vend these 'new articles' expect that we should choose them
with our eyes shut.
Let any man read the Homilies of the Church of England, and if he does
not call this either blunt impudence or blank ignorance, I will plead
guilty to both! New articles!! Would to Heaven some of them at least
were! Why, Wesley himself was scandalized at Luther's Commentary on the
Epistle to the Galatians, and cried off from the Moravians (the
strictest Lutherans) on that account.
Ib. p. 114.
The catalogue of authors, which this Rev. Gentleman has pleased to
specify and recommend, begins with Homer, Hesiod, the Argonautics,
AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, Theognis, Herodotus,
Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus. * * *. 'This
catalogue,' says he, 'might be considerably extended, but I study
brevity. It is only necessary for me to add that the recommendation of
these books is not to be considered as expressive of my approbation of
every particular sentiment they contain.' It would indeed be grievous
injustice if this writer's reputation should be injured by the
occasional unsoundness of opinion in writers whom it is more than
probable he may never have read, and for whose sentiments he ought no
more to be made answerable than the compiler of Lackington's
Catalogue, from which it is not unlikely that his own was abridged.
Ib. p. 115-16.
These high-strained pretenders to godliness, who deny the power of the
sinner to help himself, take good care always to attribute his 'saving
change' to the blessed effect of some sermon preached by some one or
other of 'their' Evangelical fraternity. They always hold 'themselves'
up to the multitude as the instruments producing all those marvellous
conversions which they relate. No instance is recorded in their
Saints' Calendar of any sinner resolving, in consequence of a
reflective and serious perusal of the Scriptures, to lead a new life.
No instance of a daily perusal of the Bible producing a daily progress
in virtuous habits. No, the 'Gospel' has no such effect.--It is
always the 'Gospel Preacher' who works the miracle, &c.
Excellent and just. In this way are the Methodists to be attacked:--even
as the Papists were by Baxter, not from their doctrines, but from their
practices, and the spirit of their Sect. There is a fine passage in Lord
Bacon concerning a heresy of manner being not less pernicious than
heresy of matter.
Ib. p. 118.
But their Saints, who would stop their ears if you should mention with
admiration the name of a Garrick or a Siddons;--who think it a sin to
support such an 'infamous profession' as that through the medium of
which a Milton, a Johnson, an Addison, and a Young have laboured to
mend the heart, &c.
Whoo! See Milton's Preface to the Samson Agonistes.
Ib. p. 133.
In the Evangelical Magazine is the following article: "At----in
Yorkshire, after a handsome collection (for the Missionary Society) a
poor man, whose wages are about 28s. per week, brought a donation of
20 guineas. Our friends hesitated to receive it * * when he answered *
*--'Before I knew the grace of our Lord I was a poor drunkard: I never
could save a shilling. My family were in beggary and rags; but since
it has pleased God to renew me by his grace, we have been industrious
and frugal: we have not spent many idle shillings; and we have been
enabled to put something into the Bank; and this I freely offer to the
blessed cause of our Lord and Saviour.' This is the second donation of
this same poor man to the same amount!" Whatever these Evangelists may
think of such conduct, they ought to be ashamed of thus basely taking
advantage of this poor ignorant enthusiast, &c.
Is it possible to read this affecting story without finding in it a
complete answer to the charge of demoralizing the lower classes? Does
the Barrister really think, that this generous and grateful enthusiast
is as likely to be unprovided and poverty-stricken in his old age, as he
was prior to his conversion? Except indeed that at that time his old age
was as improbable as his distresses were certain if he did live so long.
This is singing 'Io Paean'! for the enemy with a vengeance.
Part II. p. 14.
It behoved him (Dr. Hawker in his Letter to the Barrister) to show in
what manner a covenant can exist without terms or conditions.
According to the Methodists there is a condition,--that of faith in the
power and promise of Christ, and the virtue of the Cross. And were it
otherwise, the objection is scarcely appropriate except at the Old
Bailey, or in the Court of King's Bench. The Barrister might have framed
a second law-syllogism, as acute as his former. The laws of England
allow no binding covenant in a transfer of goods or chattels without
value received. But there can be no value received by God:--'Ergo',
there can be no covenant between God and man. And if Jehovah should be
as courteous as the House of Commons, and acknowledge the jurisdiction
of the Courts at Westminster, the pleading might hold perhaps, and the
Pentateuch be quashed after an argument before the judges. Besides, how
childish to puff up the empty bladder of an old metaphysical foot-ball
on the 'modus operandi interior' of Justification into a shew of
practical substance; as if it were no less solid than a cannon ball!
Why, drive it with all the vehemence that five toes can exert, it would
not kill a louse on the head of Methodism. Repentance, godly sorrow,
abhorrence of sin as sin, and not merely dread from forecast of the
consequences, these the Arminian would call means of obtaining
salvation, while the Methodist (more philosophically perhaps) names them
signs of the work of free grace commencing and the dawning of the sun of
redemption. And pray where is the practical difference?
Ib. p. 26.
Jesus answered him thus--'Verily, I say unto you, unless a man be born
of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God'.--The true sense of which is obviously this:--Except a man be
initiated into my religion by Baptism, (which 'at that time' was
always 'preceded by a confession of faith') and unless he manifest his
sincere reception of it, by leading that upright and 'spiritual' life
which it enjoins, 'he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven', or be a
partaker of that happiness which it belongs to me to confer on those
who believe in my name and keep my sayings.
Upon my faith as a Christian, if no more is meant by being born again
than this, the speaker must have had the strongest taste in metaphors of
any teacher in verse or prose on record, Jacob Behmen himself not
excepted. The very Alchemists lag behind. Pity, however, that our
Barrister has not shown us how this plain and obvious business of
Baptism agrees with ver. 8. of the same chapter: 'The wind bloweth where
it listeth', &c. Now if this does not express a visitation of the mind
by a somewhat not in the own power or fore-thought of the mind itself,
what are words meant for?
Ib. p. 29.
The true meaning of being 'born again', in the sense in which our
Saviour uses the phrase, implies nothing more or less, in plain terms,
than this:--to repent; to lead for the future a religious life instead
of a life of disobedience; to believe the Holy Scriptures, and to pray
for grace and assistance to persevere in our obedience to the end. All
this any man of common sense might explain in a few words.
Pray, then, (for I will take the Barrister's own commentary,) what does
the man of common sense mean by grace? If he will explain grace in any
other way than as the circumstances 'ab extra' (which would be mere
mockery and in direct contradiction to a score of texts), and yet
without mystery, I will undertake for Dr. Hawker and Co. to make the new
birth itself as plain as a pikestaff, or a whale's foal, or Sarah
Ib. p. 30.
So that they go on in their sin waiting for a new birth, &c.
"So that they go on in their sin!"--Who would not suppose it notorious
that every Methodist meeting-house was a cage of Newgate larks making up
their minds to die game?
The following account is extracted from the Methodist Magazine for
1798: "The Lord astonished 'Sarah Roberts' with his mercy, by 'setting
her at liberty, while employed' in the necessary business of 'washing'
for her family, &c.
N. B. Not the famous rabbit-woman.--She was Robarts.
Ib. p. 31.
A washerwoman has 'all her sins blotted out' in the twinkling of an
eye, and while reeking with suds is received in the family of the
Redeemer's kingdom. Surely this is a most abominable profanation of
all that is serious, &c.
And where pray is the absurdity of this? Has Christ declared any
antipathy to washerwomen, or the Holy Ghost to warm suds? Why does not
the Barrister try his hand at the "abominable profanation," in a story
of a certain woman with an issue of blood who was made free by touching
the hem of a garment, without the previous knowledge of the wearer?
'Rode, caper, vitem: tamen hinc cum stabis ad aras, In tua quod fundi
cornua possit, erit'.
Ib. p. 32.
The leading design of John the Baptist * * was * this:--to prepare the
minds of men for the reception of that pure system of moral truth
which the Saviour, by divine authority, was speedily to inculcate, and
of those sublime doctrines of a resurrection and a future judgment,
which, as powerful motives to the practice of holiness, he was soon to
What then? Did not John the Baptist himself teach a pure system of moral
truth? Was John so much more ignorant than Paul before his conversion,
and the whole Jewish nation, except a few rich freethinkers, as to be
ignorant of the "sublime doctrines of a resurrection and a future
judgment?" This, I well know, is the strong-hold of Socinianism; but
surely one single unprejudiced perusal of the New Testament,--not to
suppose an acquaintance with Kidder or Lightfoot--would blow it down,
like a house of cards!
Ib. p. 33.
--their faiths in the efficacy of their own rites, and creeds, and
ceremonies, and their whole train of 'substitutions' for 'moral duty',
was so entire, and in their opinion was such a 'saving faith', that
they could not at all interpret any language that seemed to dispute
their value, or deny their importance.
Poor strange Jews! They had, doubtless, what Darwin would call a
specific 'paralysis' of the auditory nerves to the writings of their own
Prophets, which yet were read Sabbath after Sabbath in their public
Synagogues. For neither John nor Christ himself ever did, or indeed
could, speak in language more contemptuous of the folly of considering
rites as substitutions for moral duty, or in severer words denounce the
blasphemy of such an opinion. Why need I refer to Isaiah or Micah?
Ib. p. 34.
Thus it was that this moral preacher explained and enforced the duty
of repentance, and thus it was that he prepared the way for the
greatest and best of teachers, &c.
Well then, if all this was but a preparation for the doctrines of
Christ, those doctrines themselves must surely have been something
different, and more difficult? Oh no! John's preparation consisted in a
complete rehearsal of the 'Drama didacticum', which Christ and the
Apostles were to exhibit to a full audience!--Nay, prithee, good
Barrister! do not be too rash in charging the Methodists with a
monstrous burlesque of the Gospel!
Ib. p. 37.
--the logic of the new Evangelists will convince him that it is a
contradiction in terms even to 'suppose' himself 'capable of doing any
thing' to help 'or bringing any thing to recommend himself to the
Now, suppose the wisdom of these endless attacks on an old abstruse
metaphysical notion to be allowed, yet why in the name of common candour
does not the Barrister ring the same 'tocsin' against his friend Dr.
Priestley's scheme of Necessity;--or against his idolized Paley, who
explained the will as a sensation, produced by the action of the
intellect on the muscles, and the intellect itself as a catenation of
ideas, and ideas as configurations of the organized brain? Would not
every syllable apply, yea, and more strongly, more indisputably? And
would his fellow-sectaries thank him, or admit the consequences? Or has
any late Socinian divine discovered, that Do as ye would be done unto,
is an interpolated precept?
Ib. p. 39.
"Even repentance and faith," (says Dr. Hawker,) "those most essential
qualifications of the mind, for the participation and enjoyment of the
blessings of the Gospel, (and which all real disciples of the Lord
Jesus cannot but possess,) are 'never supposed as a condition which
the sinner performs to entitle him to mercy', but merely as evidences
that he is brought and has obtained mercy. 'They cannot be the
conditions' of obtaining salvation."
Ought not this single quotation to have satisfied the Barrister, that no
practical difference is deducible from these doctrines? "Essential
qualifications," says the Methodist:--"terms and conditions," says the
spiritual higgler. But if a man begins to reflect on his past life, is
he to withstand the inclination? God forbid! exclaim both. If he feels a
commencing shame and sorrow, is he to check the feeling? God forbid! cry
both in one breath! But should not remembrancers be thrown in the way of
sinners, and the voice of warning sound through every street and every
wilderness? Doubtless, quoth the Rationalist. We do it, we do it, shout
the Methodists. In every corner of every lane, in the high road, and in
the waste, we send forth the voice--Come to Christ, and repent, and be
cleansed! Aye, quoth the Rationalist, but I say Repent, and become
clean, and go to Christ--Now is not Mr. Rationalist as great a bigot as
the Methodists, as he is, 'me judice', a worse psychologist?
Part II. p. 40.
The former authorities on this subject I had quoted from the Gospel
according to St. Luke: that Gospel most positively and most solemnly
declares the 'repentance' of sinners to be the 'condition' on which
'alone' salvation can be obtained. But the doctors of the new divinity
'deny' this: they tell us distinctly 'it cannot' be. For the future,
the Gospel according to Calvin must be received as the truth. Sinners
will certainly prefer it as the more comfortable of the two beyond all
Mercy! but only to read Calvin's account of that repentance, without
which there is no sign of election, and to call it "the more comfortable
of the two?" The very term by which the German New-Birthites express it
is enough to give one goose-flesh--'das Herzknirschen'--the very heart
crashed between the teeth of a lock-jaw'd agony!
What is 'faith'? Is it not a conviction produced in the mind by
No! that is not the meaning of faith in the Gospel, nor indeed anywhere
else. Were it so, the stronger the testimony, the more adequate the
faith. Yet who says, I have faith in the existence of George II., as his
present Majesty's antecessor and grandfather?--If testimony, then
evidence too;--and who has faith that the two sides of all triangles are
greater than the third? In truth, faith, even in common language, always
implies some effort, something of evidence which is not universally
adequate or communicable at will to others. "Well! to be sure he has
behaved badly hitherto, but I have faith in him." If it were otherwise,
how could it be imputed as righteousness? Can morality exist without
choice;--nay, strengthen in proportion as it becomes more independent of
the will? "A very meritorious man! he has faith in every proposition of
Euclid, which he understands."
Ib. p. 41.
"I could as easily create a world (says Dr. Hawker) as create either
faith or repentance in my own heart." Surely this is a most monstrous
confession. What! is not the Christian religion a 'revealed' religion,
and have we not the most miraculous attestation of its truth?
Just look at the answer of Christ himself to Nicodemus, 'John' iii. 2,
3. Nicodemus professed a full belief in Christ's divine mission. Why? It
was attested by his miracles. What answered Christ? "Well said, O
believer?" No, not a word of this; but the proof of the folly of such a
supposition. 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee; except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God',--that is, he cannot have faith
Ib. p. 42.
How can this evangelical preacher declaim on the necessity of
seriously searching into the truth of revelation, for the purpose
either of producing or confirming our belief of it, when he has
already pronounced it to be just as possible to arrive at conviction
as to create a world?
Did Dr. Hawker say that it was impossible to produce an assent to the
historic credibility of the facts related in the Gospel? Did he say that
it was impossible to become a Socinian by the weighing of outward
evidences? No! but Dr. Hawker says,--and I say,--that this is not,
cannot be, what Christ means by faith, which, to the misfortune of the
Socinians, he always demands as the condition of a miracle, instead of
looking forward to it as the natural effect of a miracle. How came it
that Peter saw miracles countless, and yet was without faith till the
Holy Ghost descended on him? Besides, miracles may or may not be
adequate evidence for Socinianism; but how could miracles prove the
doctrine of Redemption, or the divinity of Christ? But this is the creed
of the Church of England.
It is wearisome to be under the necessity, or at least the constant
temptation, of attacking Socinianism, in reviewing a work professedly
written against Methodism. Surely such a work ought to treat of those
points of doctrine and practice, which are peculiar to Methodism. But to
publish a 'diatribe' against the substance of the Articles and Catechism
of the English Church, nay, of the whole Christian world, excepting the
Socinians, and to call it "Hints concerning the dangerous and abominable
absurdities of Methodism," is too bad.
Ib. p. 43.
But this Calvinistic Evangelist tells us, by way of accounting for the
utter impossibility of producing in himself either faith or
repentance, that both are of divine origin, and like the light, and
the rain, and the dew of heaven, which tarrieth not for man, neither
waiteth for the sons of men, are from above, and come down from the
Father of lights, from whom alone cometh every good and perfect gift!
Is the Barrister--are the Socinian divines--inspired, or infallibly sure
that it is a crime for a Christian to understand the words of Christ in
their plain and literal sense, when a Socinian chooses to give his
paraphrase,--often, too, as strongly remote from the words, as the old
spiritual paraphrases on the Song of Solomon?
Ib. p. 46.
According to that Gospel which hath hitherto been the pillar of the
Christian world, we are taught that whosoever endeavours to the best
of his ability to reform his manners, and amend his life, will have
pardon and acceptance.
As interpreted by whom? By the Socini, or the Barrister?--Or by Origen,
Chrysostom, Jerome, the Gregories, Eusebius, Athanasius?--By Thomas
Aquinas, Bernard, Thomas-a-Kempis?--By Luther, Melancthon, Zuinglius,
Calvin?--By the Reformers and martyrs of the English Church?--By
Cartwright and the learned Puritans?--By Knox?--By George Fox?--With
regard to this point, that mere external evidence is inadequate to the
production of a saving faith, and in the majority of other opinions, all
these agree with Wesley. So they all understood the Gospel. But it is
not so! 'Ergo', the Barrister is infallible.
Ib. p. 47.
'When the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness which he hath
committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his
soul alive'. This gracious declaration the old moral divines of our
Church have placed in the front of its Liturgy.
In the name of patience, over and over again, who has ever denied this?
The question is, by what power, his own, or by the free grace of God
through Christ, the wicked man is enabled to turn from his wickedness.
And again and again I ask:--Were not these "old moral divines" the
authors and compilers of the Homilies? If the Barrister does not know
this, he is an ignorant man; if knowing it, he has yet never examined
the Homilies, he is an unjust man; but if he have, he is a slanderer and
Is it not intolerable to take up three bulky pamphlets against a recent
Sect, denounced as most dangerous, and which we all know to be most
powerful and of rapid increase, and to find little more than a weak
declamatory abuse of certain metaphysical dogmas concerning free will,
or free will forfeited, 'de libero vel servo arbitrio'--of grace,
predestination, and the like;--dogmas on which, according to Milton, God
and the Logos conversed, as soon as man was in existence, they in
heaven, and Adam in paradise, and the devils in hell;--dogmas common to
all religions, and to all ages and sects of the Christian
religion;--concerning which Brahmin disputes with Brahmin, Mahometan
with Mahometan, and Priestley with Price;--and all this to be laid on
the shoulders of the Methodists collectively: though it is a notorious
fact, that a radical difference on this abstruse subject is the ground
of the schism between the Whitfieldite and Wesleyan Methodists; and that
the latter coincide in opinion with Erasmus and Arminius, by which
latter name they distinguish themselves; and the former with Luther,
Calvin, and their great guide, St. Augustine? This I say is
intolerable,--yea, a crime against sense, candour, and white paper.
Ib. p. 50.
"For so very peculiarly directed to the sinner, and to him only (says
the evangelical preacher) is the blessed Gospel of the Lord Jesus,
that unless you are a sinner, you are not interested in its saving
Does not Christ himself say the same in the plainest and most
unmistakable words? 'I come not to call the righteous, but sinners to
repentance. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are
sick'. Can he, who has no share in the danger, be interested in the
saving? Pleased from benevolence he may be; but interested he cannot be.
'Estne aliquid inter salvum et salutem; inter liberum et libertatem?
Salus est pereuntis, vel saltem periditantis: redemptio, quasi pons
divinus, inter servum et libertatem,--amissam, ideoque optatam'.
Ib. p. 52.
It was reserved for these days of 'new discovery' to announce to
mankind that, unless they are sinners, they are excluded from the
promised blessings of the Gospel.
Merely read 'that unless they are sick they are precluded from the
offered remedies of the Gospel;' and is not this the dictate of common
sense, as well as of Methodism? But does not Methodism cry aloud that
all men are sick--sick to the very heart? 'If we say we are without sin,
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us'. This shallow-pated
Barrister makes me downright piggish, and without the stratagem of that
famed philosopher in pig-nature almost drives me into the Charon's hoy
of Methodism by his rude and stupid tail-hauling me back from it.
Ib. p. 53.
I can assure these gentlemen that I regard with a reverence as pure
and awful as can enter into the human mind, that blood which was shed
upon the Cross.
That is, in the Barrister's creed, that mysterious flint, which with the
subordinate aids of mutton, barley, salt, turnips, and potherbs, makes
most wonderful fine flint broth. Suppose Christ had never shed his
blood, yet if he had worked his miracles, raised Lazarus, and taught the
same doctrines, would not the result have been the same?--Or if Christ
had never appeared on earth, yet did not Daniel work miracles as
stupendous, which surely must give all the authority to his doctrines
that miracles can give? And did he not announce by the Holy Spirit the
resurrection to judgment, of glory or of punishment?
Ib. p. 54.
Let them not attempt to escape it by quoting a few disconnected
phrases in the Epistles, but let them adhere solely and steadfastly to
that Gospel of which they affect to be the exclusive preachers.
And whence has the Barrister learnt that the Epistles are not equally
binding on Christians as the four Gospels? Surely, of St. Paul's at
least, the authenticity is incomparably clearer than that of the first
three Gospels; and if he give up, as doubtless he does, the plenary
inspiration of the Gospels, the personal authority of the writers of all
the Epistles is greater than two at least of the four Evangelists.
Secondly, the Gospel of John and all the Epistles were purposely written
to teach the Christian Faith; whereas the first three Gospels are as
evidently intended only as 'memorabilia' of the history of the Christian
Revelation, as far as the process of Redemption was carried on in the
life, death, and resurrection of the divine Founder. This is the blank,
brazen, blushless, or only brass-blushing, impudence of an Old Bailey
Barrister, attempting to browbeat out of Court the better and more
authentic half of the witnesses against him. If I wished to understand
the laws of England, shall I consult Hume or Blackstone--him who has
written his volumes expressly as comments on those laws, or the
historian who mentions them only as far as the laws were connected with
the events and characters which he relates or describes? Nay, it is far
worse than this; far Christ himself repeatedly defers the publication of
his doctrines till after his death, and gives the reason too, that till
he had sent the Holy Ghost, his disciples were not capable of
comprehending them. Does he not attribute to an immediate influence of
especial inspiration even Peter's acknowledgment of his Filiation to
God, or Messiahship?--Was it from the Gospels that Paul learned to know
Christ?--Was the Church sixty years without the awful truths taught
exclusively in John's Gospel?
Part III. p. 5.
The 'nostrum' of the mountebank will he preferred to the prescription
of the regular practitioner. Why is this? Because there is something
in the authoritative arrogance of the pretender, by which ignorance is
This is something; and true as far as it goes; that is, however, but a
very little way. The great power of both spiritual and physical
mountebanks rests on that irremovable property of human nature, in force
of which indefinite instincts and sufferings find no echo, no
resting-place, in the definite and comprehensible. Ignorance
unnecessarily enlarges the sphere of these: but a sphere there
is,--facts of mind and cravings of the soul there are,--in which the
wisest man seeks help from the indefinite, because it is nearer and more
like the infinite, of which he is made the image:--for even we are
infinite, even in our finiteness infinite, as the Father in his
infinity. In many caterpillars there is a large empty space in the head,
the destined room for the pushing forth of the 'antennae' of its next
state of being.
Ib. p. 12.
But the anti-moralists aver * * that they are quoted unfairly;--that
although they disavow, it is true, the necessity, and deny the value,
of practical morality and personal holiness, and declare them to be
totally irrelevant to our future salvation, yet that * * I might have
found occasional recommendations of moral duty which I have neglected
The same 'crambe bis decies cocta' of one self-same charge grounded on
one gross and stupid misconception and mis-statement: and to which there
needs no other answer than this simple fact. Let the Barrister name any
one gross offence against the moral law, for which he would shun a man's
acquaintance, and for that same vice the Methodist would inevitably be
excluded publicly from their society; and I am inclined to think that a
fair list of the Barrister's friends and acquaintances would prove that
the Calvinistic Methodists are the austerer and more watchful censors of
the two. If this be the truth, as it notoriously is, what but the
cataract of stupidity uncouched, or the thickest film of bigot-slime,
can prevent a man from seeing that this tenet of justification by faith
alone is exclusively a matter between the Calvinist's own heart and his
Maker, who alone knows the true source of his words and actions; but
that to his neighbours and fellow-creedsmen, his spotless life and good
works are demanded, not, indeed, as the prime efficient causes of his
salvation, but as the necessary and only possible signs of that faith,
which is the means of that salvation of which Christ's free grace is the
cause, and the sanctifying Spirit the perfecter. But I fall into the
same fault I am arraigning, by so often exposing and confuting the same
blunder, which has no claim even at its first enunciation to the
compliment of a philosophical answer. But why, in the name of common
sense, all this endless whoop and hubbub against the Calvinistic
Methodists? I had understood that the Arminian Methodists, or Wesleyans,
are the more numerous body by far. Has there been any union lately? Have
the followers of Wesley abjured the doctrines of their founder on this
Ib. p. 16.
We are told by our new spiritual teachers, that reason is not to be
applied to the inquiry into the truth or falsehood of their doctrines;
they are spiritually discerned, and carnal reason has no concern with
Even under this aversion to reason, as applied to religious grounds, a
very important truth lurks: and the mistake (a very dangerous one I
admit,) lies in the confounding two very different faculties of the mind
under one and the same name;--the pure reason or 'vis scientifica'; and
the discourse, or prudential power, the proper objects of which are the
'phaenomena' of sensuous experience. The greatest loss which modern
philosophy has through wilful scorn sustained, is the grand distinction
of the ancient philosophers between the [Greek: noumena], and [Greek:
phainomena]. This gives the true sense of Pliny--'venerare Deos' (that
is, their statues, and the like,) 'et numina Deorum', that is, those
spiritual influences which are represented by the images and persons of
Apollo, Minerva, and the rest.
Ib. p. 17.
Religion has for its object the moral care and the moral cultivation
of man. Its beauty is not to be sought in the regions of mystery, or
in the flights of abstraction.
What ignorance! Is there a single moral precept of the Gospels not to be
found in the Old Testament? Not one. A new edition of White's
'Diatessaron', with a running comment the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman
writers before Christ, and those after him who, it is morally certain,
drew no aids from the New Testament, is a grand 'desideratum'; and if
anything could open the eyes of Socinians, this would do it.
Ib. p. 24.
The masculine strength and moral firmness which once distinguished the
great mass of the British people is daily fading away. Methodism with
all its cant, &c.
Well! but in God's name can Methodism be at once the effect and the
cause of this loss of masculine strength and moral firmness?--Did
Whitfield and Wesley blow them out at the first puff--these grand
virtues of masculine strength and moral firmness? Admire, I pray you,
the happy antithesis. Yet "feminine" would be an improvement, as then
the sense too would be antithetic. However, the sound is sufficient, and
modern rhetoric possesses the virtue of economy.
Ib. p. 27.
So with the Tinker; I would give him the care of kettles, but I would
not give him 'the cure of souls'. So long as he attended to the
management and mending of his pots and pans, I would wish success to
his ministry: but when he came to declare 'himself' a "chosen vessel,"
and demand permission to take the souls of the people into his holy
keeping, I should think that, instead of a 'licence', it would be more
humane and more prudent to give him a passport to St. Luke's. Depend
upon it, such men were never sent by Providence to rule or to regulate
Whoo! Bounteous Providence that always looks at the body clothes and the
parents' equipage before it picks out the proper soul for the baby! Ho!
the Duchess of Manchester is in labour:--quick, Raphael, or Uriel, bring
a soul out of the Numa bin, a young Lycurgus. Or the Archbishop's
lady:--ho! a soul from the Chrysostom or Athanasian locker.--But poor
Moll Crispin is in the throes with twins:--well! there are plenty of
cobblers' and tinkers' souls in the hold--John Bunyan!! Why, thou
miserable Barrister, it would take an angel an eternity to tinker thee
into a skull of half his capacity!
Ib. p. 30, 31.
"A 'truly' awakened conscience," (these anti-moral editors of the
Pilgrim's Progress assure us,) "can never find relief from the law:
(that is, the 'moral law'.) The more he looks for peace 'this way, his
guilt', like a heavy burden, becomes more intolerable; when he becomes
'dead' to the 'law',--as to 'any dependence upon it for
salvation',--by the body of Christ, and married to him, who was raised
from the dead, then, and not till then, his heart is set at liberty,
to run the way of God's commandments."
Here we are taught that the 'conscience' can never find relief from
obedience to the law of the Gospel.
False. We are told by Bunyan and his editors that the conscience can
never find relief for its disobedience to the Law in the Law
itself;--and this is as true of the moral as of the Mosaic Law. I am not
defending Calvinism or Bunyan's theology; but if victory, not truth,
were my object, I could desire no easier task than to defend it against
our doughty Barrister. Well, but I repent--that is, regret it!--Yes! and
so you doubtless regret the loss of an eye or arm:--will that make it
grow again?--Think you this nonsense as applied to morality? Be it so!
But yet nonsense most tremendously suited to human nature it is, as the
Barrister may find in the arguments of the Pagan philosophers against
Christianity, who attributed a large portion of its success to its
holding out an expiation, which no other religion did. Read but that
most affecting and instructive anecdote selected from the Hindostan
Missionary Account by the Quarterly Review.  Again let me say I am
not giving my own opinion on this very difficult point; but of one thing
I am convinced, that the 'I am sorry for it, that's enough'--men mean
nothing but regret when they talk of repentance, and have consciences
either so pure or so callous, as not to know what a direful and strange
thing remorse is, and how absolutely a fact 'sui generis'! I have often
remarked, and it cannot be too often remarked (vain as this may sound),
that this essential heterogeneity of regret and remorse is of itself a
sufficient and the best proof of free will and reason, the co-existence
of which in man we call conscience, and on this rests the whole
superstructure of human religion--God, immortality, guilt, judgment,
redemption. Whether another and different superstructure may be raised
on the same foundation, or whether the same edifice is susceptible of
important alteration, is another question. But such is the edifice at
present, and this its foundation: and the Barrister might as rationally
expect to blow up Windsor Castle by discharging a popgun in one of its
cellars, as hope to demolish Calvinism by such arguments as his.
Ib. p. 35, 36.
"And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, Master,
what shall I do 'to inherit eternal life'?"
"He said unto him, 'What is written in the law? How readest thou?'"
"And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, with all thy soul, and with 'all thy strength', and with all
thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
"And he said unto him, Thou 'hast answered right. This do, and thou
Luke x. 25-28.
So would Bunyan, and so would Calvin have preached;--would both of them
in the name of Christ have made this assurance to the Barrister--'This
do, and thou shalt live.' But what if he has not done it, but the very
contrary? And what if the Querist should be a staunch disciple of Dr.
Paley: and hold himself "morally obliged" not to hate or injure his
fellow-man, not because he is compelled by conscience to see the
exceeding sinfulness of sin, and to abhor sin as sin, even as he eschews
pain as pain,--no, not even because God has forbidden it;--but
ultimately because the great Legislator is able and has threatened to
put him to unspeakable torture if he disobeys, and to give him all kind
of pleasure if he does not?  Why, verily, in this case, I do foresee
that both the Tinker and the Divine would wax warm, and rebuke the said
Querist for vile hypocrisy, and a most nefarious abuse of God's good
gift, intelligible language. What! do you call this 'loving the Lord
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your
strength, and all your mind,--and your neighbour as yourself'? Whereas
in truth you love nothing, not even your own soul; but only set a
superlative value on whatever will gratify your selfish lust of
enjoyment, and insure you from hell-fire at a thousand times the true
value of the dirty property. If you have the impudence to persevere in
mis-naming this "love," supply any one instance in which you use the
word in this sense? If your son did not spit in your face, because he
believed that you would disinherit him if he did, and this were his main
moral obligation, would you allow that your son loved you--and with all
his heart, and mind, and strength, and soul?--Shame! Shame!
Now the power of loving God, of willing good as good, (not of desiring
the agreeable, and of preferring a larger though distant delight to an
infinitely smaller immediate qualification, which is mere selfish
prudence,) Bunyan considers supernatural, and seeks its source in the
free grace of the Creator through Christ the Redeemer:--this the Kantean
also avers to be supersensual indeed, but not supernatural, but in the
original and essence of human nature, and forming its grand and awful
characteristic. Hence he calls it 'die Menschheit'--the principle of
humanity;--but yet no less than Calvin or the Tinker declares it a
principle most mysterious, the undoubted object of religious awe, a
perpetual witness of that God, whose image ([Greek: eikon]) it is; a
principle utterly incomprehensible by the discursive intellect;--and
moreover teaches us, that the surest plan for stifling and paralyzing
this divine birth in the soul (a phrase of Plato's as well as of the
Tinker's) is by attempting to evoke it by, or to substitute for it, the
hopes and fears, the motives and calculations, of prudence; which is an
excellent and in truth indispensable servant, but considered as master
and primate of the moral diocese precludes the possibility of virtue (in
Bunyan's phrase, holiness of spirit) by introducing legality; which is
no cant phrase of Methodism, but of authenticated standing in the ethics
of the profoundest philosophers--even those who rejected Christianity,
as a miraculous event, and revelation itself as far as anything
supernatural is implied in it. I must not mention Plato, I suppose,--he
was a mystic; nor Zeno,--he and his were visionaries:--but Aristotle,
the cold and dry Aristotle, has in a very remarkable passage in his
lesser tract of Ethics asserted the same thing; and called it "a divine
principle, lying deeper than those things which can be explained or
Ib. p. 45, 46.
Sure I am that no father of a family that can at all estimate the
importance of keeping from the infant mind whatever might raise impure
ideas or excite improper inquiries will ever commend the Pilgrim's
Progress to their perusal.
And in the same spirit and for the same cogent reasons that the holy
monk Lewis prohibited the Bible in all decent families;--or if they must
have something of that kind, would propose in preference Tirante the
White! O how I abhor this abominable heart-haunting impurity in the
envelope of modesty! Merciful Heaven! is it not a direct consequence
from this system, that we all purchase our existence at the price of our
mother's purity of mind? See what Milton has written on this subject in
the passage quoted in the Friend in the essays on the communication of
Ib. p. 47.
Let us ask whether the female mind is likely to be trained to purity
by studying this manual of piety, and by expressing its devotional
desires after the following example. "Mercy being a _young_ and
_breeding_ woman _longed_ for something," &c.
Out upon the fellow! I could find it in my heart to suspect him of any
vice that the worst of men could commit!
Ib. pp. 55, 56.
'As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the
obedience of one shall many be made righteous'. The interpretation of
this text is simply this:--As by following the fatal example of one
man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by that pattern of
perfect obedience which Christ has set before us shall many be made
What may not be explained thus? And into what may not any thing be thus
explained? It comes out little better than nonsense in any other than
the literal sense. For let any man of sincere mind and without any
system to support look round on all his Christian neighbours, and will
he say or will they say that the origin of their well-doing was an
attempt to imitate what they all believe to be inimitable, Christ's
perfection in virtue, his absolute sinlessness? No--but yet perhaps some
particular virtues; for instance, his patriotism in weeping over
Jerusalem, his active benevolence in curing the sick and preaching to
the poor, his divine forgiveness in praying for his enemies?--I grant
all this. But then how is this peculiar to Christ? Is it not the effect
of all illustrious examples, of those probably most which we last read
of, or which made the deepest impression on our feelings? Were there no
good men before Christ, as there were no bad men before Adam? Is it not
a notorious fact that those who most frequently refer to Christ's
conduct for their own actions, are those who believe him the incarnate
Deity--consequently, the best possible guide, but in no strict sense an
example;--while those who regard him as a mere man, the chief of the
Jewish Prophets, both in the pulpit and from the press ground their
moral persuasions chiefly on arguments drawn from the propriety and
seemliness--or the contrary--of the action itself, or from the will of
God known by the light of reason? To make St. Paul prophesy that all
Christians will owe their holiness to their exclusive and conscious
imitation of Christ's actions, is to make St. Paul a false prophet;--and
what in such case becomes of the boasted influence of miracles? Even as
false would it be to ascribe the vices of the Chinese, or even our own,
to the influence of Adam's bad example. As well might we say of a poor
scrofulous innocent: "See the effect of the bad example of his father on
him!" I blame no man for disbelieving, or for opposing with might and
main, the dogma of Original Sin; but I confess that I neither respect
the understanding nor have confidence in the sincerity of him, who
declares that he has carefully read the writings of St. Paul, and finds
in them no consequence attributed to the fall of Adam but that of his
bad example, and none to the Cross of Christ but the good example of
dying a martyr to a good cause. I would undertake from the writings of
the later English Socinians to collect paraphrases on the New Testament
texts that could only be paralleled by the spiritual paraphrase on
Solomon's Song to be found in the recent volume of "A Dictionary of the
Holy Bible, by John Brown, Minister of the Gospel at Haddington:" third
edition, in the Article, Song.
Ib. p. 63, 64.
Call forth the robber from his cavern, and the midnight murderer from
his den; summon the seducer from his couch, and beckon the adulterer
from his embrace; cite the swindler to appear; assemble from every
quarter all the various miscreants whose vices deprave, and whose
villainies distress, mankind; and when they are thus thronged round in
a circle, assure them--not that there is a God that judgeth the
earth--not that punishment in the great day of retribution will await
their crimes, &c. &c.--Let every sinner in the throng be told that
they will stand 'justified' before God; that the 'righteousness' of
'Christ' will be imputed to 'them', &c.
Well, do so.--Nay, nay! it has been done; the effect has been tried; and
slander itself cannot deny that the effect has been the conversion of
thousands of those very sinners whom the Barrister's fancy thus
convokes. O shallow man! not to see that here lies the main strength of
the cause he is attacking; that, to repeat my former illustration, he
draws the attention to patients in that worst state of disease which
perhaps alone requires and justifies the use of the white pill, as a
mode of exposing the frantic quack who vends it promiscuously! He fixes
on the empiric's cures to prove his murders!--not to forget what ought
to conclude every paragraph in answer to the Barrister's Hints; "and
were the case as alleged, what does this prove against the present
Methodists as Methodists?" Is not the tenet of imputed righteousness the
faith of all the Scotch Clergy, who are not false to their declarations
at their public assumption of the ministry? Till within the last sixty
or seventy years, was not the tenet preached Sunday after Sunday in
every nook of Scotland; and has the Barrister heard that the morals of
the Scotch peasants and artizans have been improved within the last
thirty or forty years, since the exceptions have become more and more
common?--Was it by want of strict morals that the Puritans were
distinguished to their disadvantage from the rest of Englishmen during
the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. Charles I. and II.? And that very
period, which the Barrister affirms to have been distinguished by the
moral vigor of the great mass of Britons,--was it not likewise the
period when this very doctrine was preached by the Clergy fifty times
for once that it is heard from the same pulpits in the present and
preceding generation? Never, never can the Methodists be successfully
assailed, if not honestly, and never honestly or with any chance of
success, except as Methodists;--for their practices, their alarming
theocracy, their stupid, mad, and mad-driving superstitions. These are
their property 'in peculio'; their doctrines are those of the Church of
England, with no other difference than that in the Church Liturgy, and
Articles, and Homilies, Calvinism and Lutheranism are joined like the
two hands of the Union Fire Office:-the Methodists have unclasped them,
and one is Whitfield and the other Wesley.
Ib. p. 75.
"For the same reason that a book written in bad language should never
be put into the hands of a child that speaks correctly, a book
exhibiting instances of vice should never be given to a child that
thinks and acts properly." (Practical Education. By Maria and R.L.
How mortifying that one is never lucky enough to meet with any of these
'virtuosissimos', fifteen or twenty years of age. But perhaps they are
such rare jewels, that they are always kept in cotton! The Kilcrops! I
would not exchange the heart, which I myself had when a boy, while
reading the life of Colonel Jack, or the Newgate Calendar, for a
waggon-load of these brilliants.
Ib. p. 78.
"When a man turns his back on this world, and is in good earnest
resolved for everlasting life, his carnal friends, and ungodly
neighbours, will pursue him with hue and cry; but death is at his
heels, and he cannot stop short of the city of Refuge." (Notes to the
Pilgrim's Progress by Hawker, Burder, &c.) This representation of the
state of real Christians is as mischievous as it is false.
Yet Christ's assertion on this head is positive, and universal; and I
believe it from my inmost soul, and am convinced that it is just as true
A.D. 1810, as A.D. 33.
Ib. p. 82.
The spirit with which all their merciless treatment is to be borne is
next pointed out. * * "'Patient bearing of injuries' is true Christian
fortitude, and will always be more effectual to 'disarm our enemies',
and to bring others to the knowledge of the truth, than all
Is this Barrister a Christian of any sort or sect, and is he not
ashamed, if not afraid, to ridicule such passages as these? If they are
not true, the four Gospels are false.
Ib. p. 86.
It is impossible to give them credit for integrity when we behold the
obstinacy and the artifice with which they defend their system against
the strongest argument, and against the clearest evidence.
Modest gentleman! I wonder he finds time to write bulky pamphlets: for
surely modesty, like his, must secure success and clientage at the bar.
Doubtless he means his own arguments, the evidence he himself has
adduced:--I say doubtless, for what are these pamphlets but a long
series of attacks on the doctrines of the strict Lutherans and
Calvinists, (for the doctrines he attacks are common to both,) and if he
knew stronger arguments, clearer evidence, he would certainly have given
them;--and then what obstinate rogues must our Bishops be, to have
suffered these Hints to pass into a third edition, and yet not have
brought a bill into Parliament for a new set of Articles? I have not
heard that they have even the grace to intend it.
Ib. p. 88.
On this subject I will quote the just and striking observations of an
excellent modern writer. "In whatever village," says he, "the fanatics
get a footing, drunkenness and swearing,--sins which, being more
exposed to the eye of the world, would be ruinous to their great
pretensions to superior sanctity--will, perhaps, be found to decline;
but I am convinced, from personal observation, that every species of
fraud and falsehood--sins which are not so readily detected, but which
seem more closely connected with worldly advantage--will be found
invariably to increase." (Religion without Cant; by R. Fellowes, A.M.
of St. Mary's Hall, Oxford.)
In answer to this let me make a "very just observation," by some other
man of my opinion, to be hereafter quoted "from an excellent modern
writer;"--and it is this, that from the birth of Christ to the present
hour, no sect or body of men were zealous in the reformation of manners
in society, without having been charged with the same vices in the same
words. When I hate a man, and see nothing bad in him, what remains
possible but to accuse him of crimes which I cannot see, and which
cannot be disproved, because they cannot be proved? Surely, if Christian
charity did not preclude these charges, the shame of convicted parrotry
ought to prevent a man from repeating and republishing them. The very
same thoughts, almost the words, are to be found of the early
Christians; of the poor Quakers; of the Republicans; of the first
Reformers.--Why need I say this? Does not every one know, that a jovial
pot-companion can never believe a water-drinker not to be a sneaking
cheating knave who is afraid of his thoughts; that every libertine
swears that those who pretend to be chaste, either have their mistress
in secret, or far worse, and so on?
Ib. p. 89.
The same religious abstinence from all appearance of recreation on the
Lord's day; and the same neglect of the weightier matters of the moral
law, in the course of the week, &c.
This sentence thus smuggled in at the bottom of the chest ought not to
pass unnoticed; for the whole force of the former depends on it. It is a
true trick, and deserves reprobation.
Ib. p. 97.
Note. It was procured, Mr. Collyer informs us, by the merit of his
"Lectures on Scripture facts." It should have been "Lectures on
'Scriptural' Facts." What should we think of the grammarian, who,
instead of 'Historical', should present us with "Lectures on 'History'
But Law Tracts? And is not 'Scripture' as often used semi-adjectively?
Ib. p. 98.
"Do you really believe," says Dr. Hawker, "that, because man by his
apostacy hath lost his power and ability to obey, God hath lost his
right to command? Put the case that you were called upon, as a
barrister, to recover a debt due from one man to another, and you knew
the debtor had not the ability to pay the 'creditor', would you tell
your client that his debtor was under no legal or moral obligation to
pay what he had no power to do? And would you tell him that the very
expectation of his just right 'was as foolish as it was tyrannical'?"
* * * I will give my reply to these questions distinctly and without
hesitation. * * * Suppose A. to have lent B. a thousand pounds, as a
capital to commence trade, and that, when he purchased his stock to
this amount, and lodged it in his warehouse, a fire were to break out
in the next dwelling, and, extending itself to 'his' warehouse, were
to consume the whole of his property, and reduce him to a state of
utter ruin. If A., my client, were to ask my opinion as to his right
to recover from B., I should tell him that this his right would exist
should B. ever be in a condition to repay the sum borrowed; * * * but
that to attempt to recover a thousand pounds from a man thus reduced
by accident to utter ruin, and who had not a shilling left in the
world, would be 'as foolish as it was tyrannical'.
But this is rank sophistry. The question is:--Does a thief (and a
fraudulent debtor is no better) acquire a claim to impunity by not
possessing the power of restoring the goods? Every moral act derives
its character (says a Schoolman with an unusual combination of
profundity with quaintness) 'aut voluntate originis aut origine
voluntatis'. Now the very essence of guilt, its dire and
incommunicable character, consists in its tendency to destroy the free
will;--but when thus destroyed, are the habits of vice thenceforward
innocent? Does the law excuse the murder because the perpetrator was
drunk? Dr. Hawker put his objection laxly and weakly enough; but a
manly opponent would have been ashamed to seize an hour's victory from
what a move of the pen would render impregnable.
Ib. p. 102, 3.
When at this solemn tribunal the sinner shall be called upon to answer
for the transgression of those 'moral' laws, on obedience to which
salvation was made to depend, will it be sufficient that he declares
himself to have been taught to believe that the Gospel 'had neither
terms nor conditions', and that his salvation was secured by a
covenant which procured him pardon and peace, 'from all eternity': a
covenant, the effects of which no folly or 'after-act whatever' could
possibly destroy?--Who could anticipate the sentence of condemnation,
and not weep in agony over the deluded victim of ignorance and
misfortune who was thus taught a doctrine so fatally false?
What then! God is represented as a tyrant when he claims the penalty of
disobedience from the servant, who has wilfully incapacitated himself
for obeying,--and yet just and merciful in condemning to indefinite
misery a poor "deluded victim of ignorance and imposture," even though
the Barrister, spite of his antipathy to Methodists, would "weep in
agony" over him! But before the Barrister draws bills of imagination on
his tender feelings, would it not have been as well to adduce some last
dying speech and confession, in which the culprit attributed his
crimes--not to Sabbath-breaking and loose company,--but to
sermon-hearing on the 'modus operandi' of the divine goodness in the
work of redemption? How the Ebenezerites would stare to find the
Socinians and themselves in one flock on the sheep-side of the
judgment-seat,--and their cousins, and fellow Methodists, the
Tabernaclers, all caprifled--goats every man:--and why? They held, that
repentance is in the power of every man, with the aid of grace; while
the goats held that without grace no man is able even to repent. A.
makes grace the cause, and B. makes it only a necessary auxiliary. And
does the Socinian extricate himself a whit more clearly? Without a due
concurrence of circumstances no mind can improve itself into a state
susceptible of spiritual happiness: and is not the disposition and
pre-arrangement of circumstances as dependent on the divine will as
those spiritual influences which the Methodist holds to be meant by the
word grace? Will not the Socinian find it as difficult to reconcile with
mercy and justice the condemnation to hell-fire of poor wretches born
and bred in the thieves' nests of St. Giles, as the Methodists the
condemnation of those who have been less favoured by grace? I have one
other question to ask, though it should have been asked before. Suppose
Christ taught nothing more than a future state of retribution and the
necessity and sufficiency of good morals, how are we to explain his
forbidding these truths to be taught to any but Jews till after his
resurrection? Did the Jews reject those doctrines? Except perhaps a
handful of rich men, called Sadducees, they all believed them, and would
have died a thousand deaths rather than have renounced their faith.
Besides, what is there in doctrines common to the creed of all
religions, and enforced by all the schools of philosophy, except the
Epicurean, which should have prevented their being taught to all at the
same time? I perceive, that this difficulty does not press on Socinians
exclusively: but yet it presses on them with far greater force than on
others. For they make Christianity a mere philosophy, the same in
substance with the Stoical, only purer from errors and accompanied with
clearer evidence:--while others think of it as part of a covenant made
up with Abraham, the fulfilment of which was in good faith to be first
offered to his posterity. I ask this only because the Barrister
professes to find every thing in the four Gospels so plain and easy.
Ib. p. 106.
The Reformers by whom those articles were framed were educated in the
Church of Rome, and opposed themselves rather to the perversion of its
power than the errors of its doctrine.
An outrageous blunder.
Ib. p. 107.
Lord Bacon was the first who dedicated his profound and penetrating
genius to the cultivation of sound philosophy, &c.
This very same Lord Bacon has given us his 'Confessio Fidei' at great
length, with full particularity. Now I will answer for the Methodists'
unhesitating assent and consent to it; but would the Barrister subscribe
Ib. p. 108.
We look back to that era of our history when superstition threw her
victim on the pile, and bigotry tied the martyr to his stake:--but we
take our eyes from the retrospect and turn them in thankful admiration
to that Being who has opened the minds of many, and is daily opening
the minds of more amongst us to the reception of these most important
of all truths, that there is no true faith but in practical goodness,
and that the worst of errors is the error of the 'life'.
Such is the conviction of the most enlightened of our Clergy: the
conviction, I trust, of the far greater part * * *. They deem it
better to inculcate the moral duties of Christianity in the pure
simplicity and clearness with which they are revealed, than to go
aside in search of 'doctrinal mysteries'. For as mysteries cannot be
made manifest, they, of course, cannot be understood; and that which
cannot be understood cannot be believed, and can, consequently, make
no part of any system of faith: since no one, till he understands a
doctrine, can tell whether it be true or false; till then, therefore,
he can have no faith in it, for no one can rationally affirm that he
believes that doctrine to be true which he does not know to be so; and
he cannot know it to be true if he does not understand it. In the
religion of a true Christian, therefore, there can be nothing
unintelligible; and if the preachers of that religion do not make
mysteries, they will never find any.
Who? the Bishops, or the dignified Clergy? Have they at length exploded
all "doctrinal mysteries?" Was Horsley "the one red leaf, the last of
its clan," that held the doctrines of the Trinity, the corruption of the
human Will, and the Redemption by the Cross of Christ? Verily, this is
the most impudent attempt to impose a naked Socinianism on the public,
as the general religion of the nation, admitted by all but a dunghill of
mushroom fanatics, that ever insulted common sense or common modesty!
And will "the far greater part" of the English Clergy remain silent
under so atrocious a libel as is contained in this page? Do they indeed
solemnly pray to their Maker weekly, before God and man, in the words of
a Liturgy, which, they know, "cannot be believed?" For heaven's sake, my
dear Southey, do quote this page and compare it with the introduction to
and petitions of the Liturgy, and with the Collects on the Advent, &c.
Ib. p. 110.
We shall discover upon an attentive examination of the subject, that
all those laws which lay the basis of our constitutional liberties,
are no other than the rules of religion transcribed into the judicial
system, and enforced by the sanction of civil authority.
What! Compare these laws, first, with Tacitus's account of the
constitutional laws of our German ancestors, Pagans; and then with the
Pandects and 'Novellae' of the most Christian Justinian, aided by all his
Bishops. Observe, the Barrister is asserting a fact of the historical
origination of our laws,--and not what no man would deny, that as far as
they are humane and just, they coincide with the precepts of the Gospel.
No, they were "transcribed."
Ib. p. 113.
Where a man holds a certain system of doctrines, the State is bound to
tolerate, though it may not approve, them; but when he demands a
'license to teach' this system to the rest of the community, he
demands that which ought not to be granted incautiously and without
grave consideration. This discretionary power is delegated in trust
for the common good, &c.
All this, dear Southey, I leave to the lash of your indignation. It
would be oppression to do--what the Legislature could not do if it
would--prevent a man's thoughts; but if he speaks them aloud, and asks
either for instruction and confutation, if he be in error, or assent and
honor, if he be in the right, then it is no oppression to throw him into
a dungeon! But the Barrister would only withhold a license! Nonsense.
What if he preaches and publishes without it, will the Legislature
dungeon him or not? If not, what use is either the granting or the
withholding? And this too from a Socinian, who by this very book has, I
believe, made himself obnoxious to imprisonment and the pillory--and
against men, whose opinions are authorized by the most solemn acts of
Parliament, and recorded in a Book, of which there must be one, by law,
in every parish, and of which there is in fact one in almost every house
Part IV. p. 1.
The religion of genuine Christianity is a revelation so distinct and
specific in its design, and so clear and intelligible in its rules,
that a man of philosophic and retired thought is apt to wonder by what
means the endless systems of error and hostility which divide the
world were ever introduced into it.
What means this hollow cant--this fifty times warmed-up bubble and
squeak? That such parts are intelligible as the Barrister understands?
That such parts as it possesses in common with all systems of religion
and morality are plain and obvious? In other words that ABC are so
legible that they are legible to every one that has learnt to read? If
the Barrister mean other or more than this, if he really mean the whole
religion and revelation of Christ, even as it is found in the original
records, the Gospels and Epistles, he escapes from the silliness of a
truism by throwing himself into the arms of a broad brazenfaced untruth.
What! Is the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel so distinct and specific
in its design, that any modest man can wonder that the best and most
learned men of every age since Christ have deemed it mysterious? Are the
many passages concerning the Devil and demoniacs so very easy? Has this
writer himself thrown the least light on, or himself received one ray of
light from, the meaning of the word Faith;--or the reason of Christ's
paramount declarations respecting its omnific power, its absolutely
indispensable necessity? If the word mean only what the Barrister
supposes, a persuasion that in the present state of our knowledge the
evidences for the historical truth of the miracles of the Gospel
outweigh the arguments of the Sceptics, will he condescend to give us
such a comment on the assertion, that had we but a grain of mustard seed
of it, we might control all material nature, without making Christ
himself the most extravagant hyperbolist that ever mis-used language?
But it is impossible to make that man blush, who can seriously call the
words of Christ as recorded by St. John, plain, easy, common sense, out
of which prejudice, artifice, and selfish interest alone can compose any
difficulty. The Barrister has just as much right to call his religion
Christianity, as to call flour and water plum pudding:--yet we all admit
that in plum pudding both flour and water do exist.
Ib. p. 7.
Socinus can have no claim upon my veneration: I have never concerned
myself with what he believed nor with what he taught &c.
The Scripture is my authority, and on no other authority will I ever,
knowingly, lay the foundation of my faith.
Utterly untrue. It is not the Scripture, but such passages of Scripture
as appear to him to accord with his Procrustean bed of so called reason,
and a forcing of the blankest contradictions into the same meaning, by
explanations to which I defy him to furnish one single analogy as
allowed by mankind with regard to any other writings but the Old and New
Testament. It is a gross and impudent delusion to call a Book his
authority, which he receives only so far as it is an echo of his own
convictions. I defy him to adduce one single article of his whole faith,
(creed rather) which he really derives from the Scripture. Even the
arguments for the Resurrection are and must be extraneous: for the very
proofs of the facts are (as every 'tyro' in theology must know) the
proofs of the authenticity of the Books in which they are contained.
This question I would press upon him:--Suppose we possessed the Fathers
only with the Ecclesiastical and Pagan historians, and that not a page
remained of the New Testament,--what article of his creed would it
Ib. p. 10.
If the creed of Calvinistic Methodism is really more productive of
conversions than the religion of Christianity, let them openly and at
once say so.
But Calvinistic Methodism? Why Calvinistic Methodism? Not one in a
hundred of the Methodists are Calvinists. Not to mention the impudence
of this crow in his abuse of black feathers! Is it worse in a Methodist
to oppose Socinianism to Christianity, that is, to the doctrines of
Wesley or even Whitfield, which are the same as those of all the
Reformed Churches of Christendom, and differ only wherein the most
celebrated divines of the same churches have differed with each
other,--than for the Barrister to oppose Methodism to Christianity (his
Christianity)--that is, to Socinianism, which in every peculiar doctrine
of Christianity differs from all divines of all Churches of all ages?
For the one tenet in which the Calvinist differs from the majority of
Christians, are there not ten in which the Socinian differs from all? To
what purpose then this windy declamation about John Calvin? How many
Methodists, does the Barrister think, ever saw, much less read, a work
of Calvin's? If he scorns the name of Socinus as his authority, and
appeals to Scripture, do not the Methodists the same? When do they refer
to Calvin? In what work do they quote him? This page is therefore mere
dust in the eyes of the public. And his abuse of Calvin displays only
his own vulgar ignorance both of the man, and of his writings. For he
seems not to know that the humane Melancthon, and not only he, but
almost every Church, Lutheran or Reformed, throughout Europe, sent
letters to Geneva, extolling the execution of Servetus, and returning
their thanks. Yet it was a murder not the less: Yes! a damned murder:
but the guilt of it is not peculiar to Calvin, but common to all the
theologians of that age; and, 'Nota bene,' Mr. Barrister, the Socini not
excepted, who were prepared to inflict the very same punishment on F.
Davidi for denying the adorability of Christ. If to wish, will, resolve,
and attempt to realize, be morally to commit, an action, then must
Socinus and Calvin hunt in the same collar. But, O mercy! if every human
being were to be held up to detestation, who in that age would have
thought it his duty to have passed sentence 'de comburendo heretico' on
a man, who had publicly styled the Trinity "a Cerberus," and "a
three-headed monster of hell," what would the history of the Reformation
be but a list of criminals? With what face indeed can we congratulate
ourselves on being born in a more enlightened age, if we so bitterly
abuse not the practice but the agents? Do we not admit by this very
phrase "enlightened," that we owe our exemption to our intellectual
advantages, not primarily to our moral superiority? It will be time
enough to boast, when to our own tolerance we have added their zeal,
learning, and indefatigable industry. 
Ib. p. 13, 14.
If religion consists in listening to long prayers, and attending long
sermons, in keeping up an outside appearance of devotion, and
interlarding the most common discourse with phrases of Gospel
usage:--if this is religion, then are the disciples of Methodism pious
beyond compare. But in real humility of heart, in mildness of temper,
in liberality of mind, in purity of thought, in openness and
uprightness of conduct in private life, in those practical virtues
which are the vital substance of Christianity,--in these are they
superior? No. Public observation is against the fact, and the
conclusion to which such observation leads is rarely incorrect. * *
The very name of the sect carries with it an impression of meanness
and hypocrisy. Scarce an individual that has had any dealings with
those belonging to it, but has good cause to remember it from some
circumstance of low deception or of shuffling fraud. Its very members
trust each other with caution and reluctance. The more wealthy among
them are drained and dried by the leeches that perpetually fasten upon
them. The leaders, ignorant and bigoted--I speak of them collectively
--present us with no counter-qualities that can conciliate respect.
They have all the craft of monks without their courtesy, and all the
subtlety of Jesuits without their learning.
In the whole 'Bibliotlieca theologica' I remember no instance of calumny
so gross, so impudent, so unchristian. Even as a single robber, I mean
he who robs one man, gets hanged, while the robber of a million is a
great man, so it seems to be with calumny. This worthy Barrister will be
extolled for this audacious slander of thousands, for which, if applied
to any one individual, he would be in danger of the pillory. This
paragraph should be quoted: for were the charge true, it is nevertheless
impossible that the Barrister should know it to be true. He positively
asserts as a truth known to him what it is impossible he should
know:--he is therefore doubly a slanderer; for first, the charge is a
gross calumny; and were it otherwise, he would still be a slanderer, for
he could have no proof, no ground for such a charge.
Ib. p. 15.
Amidst all this spirit of research we find nothing--comparatively
nothing--of improvement in that science of all others the most important
in its influence * * *. Religion, except from the emancipating energy of
a few superior minds, which have dared to snap asunder the cords which
bound them to the rock of error * * * has been suffered to remain in its
principles and in its doctrines, just what it was when the craft of
Catholic superstition first corrupted its simplicity. So, so. Here it
comes out at last! It is not the Methodists; no; it is all and each of
all Europe, Infidels and Socinians excepted! O impudence! And then the
exquisite self-conceit of the blunderer!
Ib. p. 29.
--If of 'different denominations', how were they thus conciliated to a
society of this ominous nature, from which they must themselves of
necessity be excluded by that indispensable condition of admittance,
"'a union' of religious sentiment in the 'great doctrines':" which
very want of union it is that creates these 'different denominations'?
No, Barrister! they mean that men of different denominations may yet all
believe in the corruption of the human will, the redemption by Christ,
the divinity of Christ as consubstantial with the Father, the necessity
of the Holy Spirit, or grace (meaning more than the disposition of
circumstances), and the necessity of faith in Christ superadded to a
belief of his actions and doctrines,--and yet differ in many other
points. The points enumerated are called the great points, because all
Christians agree in them excepting the Arians and Socinians, who for
that reason are not deemed Christians by the rest. The Roman Catholic,
the Lutheran, the Calvinist, the Arminian, the Greek, with all their
sub-divisions, do yet all accord in these articles:--the booksellers
might have said, all who repeat the Nicene Creed. N. B. I do not
approve, or defend, nay, I dislike, these "United Theological
Booksellers": but this utter Barrister is their best friend by attacking
them so as to secure to them victory, and all the advantages of being
known to have been wickedly slandered;--the best shield a faulty cause
can protend against the javelin of fair opposition.
Ib. p. 56.
Our Saviour never in any single instance reprobated the exercise of
reason: on the contrary, he reprehends severely those who did not
exercise it. Carnal reason is not a phrase to be found in his Gospel;
he appealed to the understanding in all he said, and in all he taught.
He never required 'faith' in his disciples, without first furnishing
sufficient 'evidence' to justify it. He reasoned thus: If I have done
what no 'human power' could do, you must admit that my power is 'from
Good heavens! did he not uniformly require faith as the condition of
obtaining the "evidence," as this Barrister calls it--that is, the
miracle? What a shameless perversion of the fact! He never did reason
thus. In one instance only, and then upbraiding the base sensuality of
the Jews, he said: "If ye are so base as not to believe what I say from
the moral evidence in your own consciences, yet pay some attention to it
even for my works' sake." And this, an 'argumentum ad hominem,' a bitter
reproach (just as if a great chemist should say;--Though you do not care
for my science, or the important truths it presents, yet, even as an
amusement superior to that of your jugglers to whom you willingly crowd,
pay some attention to me)--this is to be set up against twenty plain
texts and the whole spirit of the whole Gospel! Besides, Christ could
not reason so; for he knew that the Jews admitted both natural and
demoniacal miracles, and their faith in the latter he never attacked;
though by an 'argumentum ad hominem' (for it is no argument in itself)
he denied its applicability to his own works. If Christ had reasoned so,
why did not the Barrister quote his words, instead of putting imaginary
words in his mouth?
Ib. 60, 61.
Religion is a system of 'revealed' truth; and to affirm of any
revealed truth, that we 'cannot understand' it, is, in effect, either
to deny that it has been revealed, or--which is the same thing--to
admit that it has been revealed in vain.
It is too worthless! I cannot go on. Merciful God! hast thou not
revealed to us the being of a conscience, and of reason, and of
will;--and does this Barrister tell us, that he "understands" them? Let
him know that he does not even understand the very word understanding.
He does not seem to be aware of the school-boy distinction between the
[Greek: hoti esti] and the [Greek: dioti]? But to all these silly
objections religion must for ever remain exposed as long as the word
Revelation is applied to any thing that can be 'bona fide' given to the
mind 'ab extra', through the senses of eye, ear, or touch. No! all
revelation is and must be 'ab intra'; the external 'phaenomena' can only
awake, recall evidence, but never reveal. This is capable of strict
Afterwards the Barrister quotes from Thomas Watson respecting things
above comprehension in the study of nature: "in these cases, the 'fact'
is evident, the cause lies in obscurity, deeply removed from all the
knowledge and penetration of man." Then what can we believe respecting
these causes? And if we can believe nothing respecting them, what
becomes of them as arguments in support of the proposition that we
ought, in religion, to believe what we cannot understand?
Are there not facts in religion, the causes and constitution of which
[Footnote 1: Hints to the Public and the Legislature on the nature and
effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister. Fourth Edition, 1808.]
[Footnote 2: See Aids to Reflection, p. 14, 4th edition.--Ed.]
[Footnote 3: Quart. Review, vol. ii. p. 187.--Ed.]
[Footnote 4: See vol. i., p. 217.--Ed.]
"And from this account of obligation it follows, that we can he
obliged to nothing but what we ourselves are to gain or lose something
by; for nothing else can be a violent motive to us. As we should not
be obliged to obey the laws, or the magistrate, unless rewards or
punishments, pleasure or pain, somehow or other depended upon our
obedience; so neither should we, without the same reason, be obliged
to do what is right, to practise virtue, or to obey the commands of
'Paley's Moral and Polit. Philosophy', B. II. c. 2.
"The difference, and the only difference, ('between prudence and
duty',) is this; that in the one case we consider what we shall gain
or lose in the present world; in the other case, we consider also what
we shall gain or lose in the world to come."
Ib. c. 3.--Ed.]
[Footnote 6: Friend, Vol. I. Essays X. and XI. 3rd edition--Ed.]
[Footnote 7: See Table Talk, pp. 282 and 304. 2d edit.--Ed.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON DAVISON'S DISCOURSES ON PROPHECY. 1825. 
Disc. IV. Pt. I. p. 140.
As to systems of religion alien from Christianity, if any of them have
taught the doctrine of eternal life, the reward of obedience, as a
dogma of belief, that doctrine is not their boast, but their burden
and difficulty; inasmuch as they could never defend it. They could
never justify it on independent grounds of deduction, nor produce
their warrant and authority to teach it. In such precarious and
unauthenticated principles it may pass for a conjecture, or pious
fraud, or a splendid phantom: it cannot wear the dignity of truth.
Ah, why did not Mr. Davison adhere to the manly, the glorious, strain of
thinking from p. 134 ('Since Prophecy', &c.) to p. 139. ('that mercy')
of this discourse? A fact is no subject of scientific demonstration
speculatively: we can only bring analogies, and these Heraclitus,
Socrates, Plato, and others did bring; but their main argument remains
to this day the main argument--namely, that none but a wicked man dares
doubt it. When it is not in the light of promise, it is in the law of
fear, at all times a part of the conscience, and presupposed in all
Ib. p. 160.
Some indeed have sought the 'star' and the 'sceptre' of Balaam's
prophecy, where they cannot well be found, in the reign of David; for
though a sceptre might be there, the star properly is not.
Surely this is a very weak reason. A far better is, I think, suggested
by the words, 'I shall see him--I shall behold him';--which in no
intelligible sense could be true of Balaam relatively to David.
Ib. p. 162.
The Israelites could not endure the voice and fire of Mount Sinai.
They asked an intermediate messenger between God and them, who should
temper the awfulness of his voice, and impart to them his will in a
'Deut'. xviii. 15. Is the following argument worthy our consideration?
If, as the learned Eichhorn, Paulus of Jena, and others of their school,
have asserted, Moses waited forty days for a tempest, and then, by the
assistance of the natural magic he had learned in the temple of Isis,
'initiated' the law, all our experience and knowledge of the way in
which large bodies of men are affected would lead us to suppose that the
Hebrew people would have been keenly excited, interested, and elevated
by a spectacle so grand and so flattering to their national pride. But
if the voices and appearances were indeed divine and supernatural, well
must we assume that there was a distinctive, though verbally
inexpressible, terror and disproportion to the mind, the senses, the
whole 'organismus' of the human beholders and hearers, which might both
account for, and even in the sight of God justify, the trembling prayer
which deprecated a repetition.
Ib. p. 164.
To justify its application to Christ, the resemblance between him and
Moses has often been deduced at large, and drawn into a variety of
particulars, among which several points have been taken minute and
precarious, or having so little of dignity or clearness of
representation in them, that it would be wise to discard them from the
With our present knowledge we are both enabled and disposed thus to
evolve the full contents of the word 'like'; but I cannot help thinking
that the contemporaries of Moses (if not otherwise orally instructed,)
must have understood it in the first and historical sense, at least, of
Ib. p. 168.
A distinguished commentator on the laws of Moses, Michaelis,
vindicates their temporal sanctions on the ground of the Mosaic Code
being of the nature of a civil system, to the statutes of which the
rewards of a future state would be incongruous and unsuitable.
I never read either of Michaelis's Works, but the same view came before
me whenever I reflected on the Mosaic Code. Who expects in realities of
any kind the sharp outline and exclusive character of scientific
classification? It is the predominance of the characterizing constituent
that gives the name and class. Do not even our own statute laws, though
co-existing with a separate religious Code, contain many 'formulae' of
words which have no sense but for the conscience? Davison's stress on
the word 'covet', in the tenth commandment, is, I think, beyond what so
ancient a Code warrants;--and for the other instances, Michaelis would
remind him that the Mosaic constitution was a strict theocracy, and that
Jehovah, the God of all, was their 'king'. I do not know the particular
mode in which Michaelis propounds and supports this position; but the
position itself, as I have presented it to my own mind, seems to me
among the strongest proofs of the divine origin of the Law, and an
essential in the harmony of the total scheme of Revelation.
Disc. IV. Pt. II. p. 180.
But the first law meets him on his own terms; it stood upon a present
retribution; the execution of its sentence is matter of history, and
the argument resulting from it is to be answered, before the question
is carried to another world.
This is rendered a very powerful argument by the consideration, that
though so vast a mind as that of Moses, though perhaps even a Lycurgus,
might have distinctly foreseen the ruin and captivity of the Hebrew
people as a necessary result of the loss of nationality, and the
abandonment of the law and religion which were their only point of
union, their centre of gravity,--yet no human intellect could have
foreseen the perpetuity of such a people as a distinct race under all
the aggravated curses of the law weighing on them; or that the obstinacy
of their adherence to their dividuating institutes in persecution,
dispersion, and shame, should be in direct proportion to the wantonness
of their apostasy from the same in union and prosperity.
Disc. V. Pt. II. p. 234.
Except under the dictate of a constraining inspiration, it is not easy
to conceive how the master of such a work, at the time when he had
brought it to perfection, and beheld it in its lustre, the labour of
so much opulent magnificence and curious art, and designed to be
'exceeding magnifical, of fame, and of glory throughout all
countries', should be occupied with the prospect of its utter ruin and
dilapidation, and that too under the 'opprobrium' of God's vindictive
judgment upon it, nor to imagine how that strain of sinister prophecy,
that forebodes of malediction, should be ascribed to him, if he had no
such vision revealed.
Here I think Mr. Davison should have crushed the objection of the
Infidel grounded on Solomon's subsequent idolatrous impieties. The
Infidel argues, that these are not conceivable of a man distinctly
conscious of a prior and supernatural inspiration, accompanied with
supernatural manifestations of the divine presence.
Disc. VI. Pt. I. p. 283.
In order to evade this conclusion, nothing is left but to deny that
Isaiah, or any person of his age, wrote the book ascribed to him.
This too is my conclusion, but (if I do not delude myself) from more
evident, though not perhaps more certain, premisses. The age of the
Cyrus prophecies is the great object of attack by Eichhorn and his
compilers; and I dare not say, that in a controversy with these men
Davison's arguments would appear sufficient. But this was not the
intended subject of these Discourses.
Disc. VI. Pt. II. p. 289.
But how does he express that promise? In the images of the
resurrection and an immortal state. Consequently, there is implied in
the delineation of the lower subject the truth of the greater.
This reminds me of a remark, I have elsewhere made respecting the
expediency of separating the arguments addressed to, and valid for, a
believer, from the proofs and vindications of Scripture intended to form
the belief, or to convict the Infidel.
Disc. VI. Pt. IV. p. 325.
When Cyrus became master of Babylon, the prophecies of Isaiah were
shewn or communicated to him, wherein were described his victory, and
the use he was appointed to make of it in the restoration of the
Hebrew people. ('Ezra' i. 1, 2.)
This I had been taught to regard as one of Josephus's legends; but upon
this passage who would not infer that it had Ezra for its
authority,--who yet does not expressly say that even the prophecy of the
far later Jeremiah was known or made known to Cyrus, who (Ezra tells us)
fulfilled it? If Ezra had meant the prediction of Isaiah by the words,
'he hath charged me', &c., why should he not have referred to it
together with, or even instead of, Jeremiah? Is it not more probable
that a living prophet had delivered the charge to Cyrus? See 'Ezra' vi.
14.--Again, Davison makes Cyrus speak like a Christian, by omitting the
affix 'of Heaven to the Lord God' in the original. Cyrus speaks as a
Cyrus might be supposed to do,--namely, of a most powerful but yet
national deity, of a God, not of God. I have seen in so many instances
the injurious effect of weak or overstrained arguments in defence of
religion, that I am perhaps more jealous than I need be in the choice of
evidences. I can never think myself the worse Christian for any opinion
I may have formed, respecting the price of this or that argument, of
this or that divine, in support of the truth. For every one that I
reject, I could supply two, and these [Greek: anekdota].
Ib. p. 336.
Meanwhile this long repose and obscurity of Zerubbabel's family, and
of the whole house of David, during so many generations prior to the
Gospel, was one of the preparations made whereby to manifest more
distinctly the proper glory of it, in the birth of the Messiah.
In whichever way I take this, whether addressed to a believer for the
purpose of enlightening, or to an inquirer for the purpose of
establishing, his faith in prophecy, this argument appears to me equally
perplexing and obscure. It seems, 'prima facie', almost tantamount to a
right of inferring the fulfilment of a prophecy in B., which it does not
mention, from its entire failure and falsification in A., which, and
which alone, it does mention.
Ib. p. 370.
'Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and
dreadful day of the Lord.'
Almost every page of this volume makes me feel my own ignorance
respecting the interpretation of the language of the Hebrew Prophets,
and the want of the one idea which would supply the key. Suppose an
Infidel to ask me, how the Jews were to ascertain that John the Baptist
was Elijah the Prophet;--am I to assert the pre-existence of John's
personal identity as Elijah? If not, why Elijah rather than any other
Prophet? One answer is obvious enough, that the contemporaries of John
held Elijah as the common representative of the Prophets; but did
Malachi do so?
Ib. p. 373.
I cannot conceive a more beautiful synopsis of a work on the Prophecies
of the Old Testament, than is given in this Recapitulation. Would that
its truth had been equally well substantiated! That it can be, that it
will be, I have the liveliest faith;--and that Mr. Davison has
contributed as much as we ought to expect, and more than any
contemporary divine, I acknowledge, and honor him accordingly. But much,
very much, remains to be done, before these three pages merit the name
of a Recapitulation.
Disc. VII. p. 375.
If I needed proof of the immense importance of the doctrine of Ideas,