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submitted to the verdict of an in- tered by an increasing number of creasing number of individuals, the established clergy, cannot adwho are qualified to form a judg- mit a doubt, even on the retrospect ment on its merits, The voice of of a very few years. This happy public opinion, properly so called, omen, whatever become of Dissent, is irresistible. Nothing but time every Christian mind must feel is wanting to render it triumphant. disposed most heartily to hail. Though it may long seem to be “ Christ is preached : I therein reunheard, or disregarded, amid the joice; yea, and will rejoice.” It is, din of party interest, or the ab- however, worthy of a question, sorbing selfishness of private am- how far, in the present condition bition, it must ultimately prevail. and aims of the body of orthoThough the Church of England dox Dissenters, the purer exhishould not be actually subverted, bition of the Gospel, which is thus nor her many thrones crumbled happily gaining ground in the into dust by national convulsions, Establishment, will tend to pro(which God forbid !) it is not chi- duce a reabsorption of those who merical to suppose that, at some are now viewed as separate from period, perhaps not very distant, its communion. she may feel herself, in the pro- This result, which, to some may gress of knowledge and public appear a mere imagination, has opinion, compelled at least to re- been regarded, by persons whose form some of her more gross and judgment is entitled to respect, as palpable abuses, and to hearken to far from improbable. The episthat voice which, as it is the law- copal church possesses all the ful monitor of the state, claims to weight and recommendation of be also that of the church itself, secular power and dignity; her and which, though it never burst clergy, taken in the mass, are the in a storm upon her head, may be most learned body of men in the perpetually heard, at intervals, in world, and their exertions in the powerful and steady murmurs, like cause of biblical literature are mo. distant thunder, in her horizon. It numents of her fame, more innis not too much, moreover, to sup- perishable than brass ; and, stimupose, that those doctrines which, lated as they have been, by the fermenting, centuries ago, amid splendid rewards she has susthe dregs of Popery, effected her pended over the heads of her sons, separation from that corrupt com- are such as no other Christian munity, may ultimately conduce community can boast. The adto her still further reform, and in- ministration of the system, as it culcate, at length, the painful les- appears to the public view, is enson, that Christ's kingdom is not tirely in its favour; disencumof this world.
bered of the obvious puerilities of But whatever be the ultimate Popery, and adapted to blend the bearing which a return to the emotions of piety with those of practical exhibition of those doc- sentiment and taste, and to appeal trines, which sealed her indepen- to the eye, the ear, and the heart of dence of the triple crown, and man, as a sensitive being. Even confirmed her dissent from the our own immortal Milton, all anti
Papal hierarchy, may have upon prelatical as he was, it is evident, · her own destiny, it is not irrele- by no means felt insensible to vant to suggest the inquiry, what
do The high embowed roof, effect this is likely to produce on With antiqne pillar, massy proof, the interests of Nonconformity? And storied windows richly dight, That the great leading doctrines
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow, of the Reformation are adminis. To the full-yoiced quire below,
In service high, and anthem clear, devotion, and to mar the beauty
But, to return from this di
gression, there are circumstances These subsidiaries to devotional
which, viewed in connection with sentiment, if such they be, are the increasing energies and piety not peculiar to any establishment,
of the national clergy, look with Papal or Protestant, Episcopal a more ominous aspect on the inor Presbyterian, and would equally terests of Nonconformity, and are harmonize even with the congres
to be regarded as at once the gational discipline, though they symptoms and the cause of interare not all at our disposal. It is nal weakness, not to say the preobvious, however, that we are far cursors of decline. Have not paenough removed, in general, from rents too much neglected to imbue duly appreciating those accessories the minds of their children with to our system, which are easily the history of the great founders within our power. Let any per- of Dissent, to endeavour to inspire son, possessing the slightest ear them with reverence for their piety, for cadences and music, enter their disinterestedness, their enmany of our congregations, even durance of persecutions, necessiin the metropolis, which, it were ties, imprisonments, for Christ's reasonable to expect, would not sake, and for the truth? Many be deficient in the example of who attend the now half-deserted decency and order in public wore places where these master-spirits ship, and he can scarcely fail to laboured, have barely heard of be sensible of a disturbance, if not their very names. The neglect of a shock, to his devotional feelings. inculcating the motives from which The leader of the psalmody, instead they acted, at an age when the of being, as he ought, if possible, a conscience is tender, and the mind man of some pretence to common still ingenuous' and unsophistic education, not unfrequently cannot cated, has left the junior branches read a line, without doing violence of dissenting families open, at a to the sense of the author by his more mature period, to the full improper emphasis, and to the impression of the brilliant visions, taste of the audience by the vi- the emoluments, and advantages ciousness of his pronunciation; which are always, more or less, and we should, moreover, be some- connected with an established re. times ready to imagine that the ligion ; and, in consequence, many ne plus ultra of psalmody con- have forsaken the discipline of sisted in affected grimace and vo- their forefathers. The inertness ciferation. That will be a more or poverty of mind which has been prosperous period of the church, manifested by some of the de. when those who boast of a purer scendants of these great men ; form, and a more rational worship, their repugnance against fairly shall be more alive to the impor- meeting the objections of youthtance of things which are too often, ful inquirers after truth, at a period in the present day, neglected as of life when error was not rivetted, secondaries, but which, there is no has contributed its share, in many doubt, as they frequently exist, instances, to prejudice young perhave the effect of repelling many sons of some taste and cultivation from coming in contact with Dis- against evangelical Christianity; sent, and, wbich is of far higher and as such minds are not apt to consequence, have a direct ten- be imposed on, with the multitude, dency in many minds to injure by mere dogmatisni and assertion,
NEW SERIES, No. 13.
in an age, too, when every thing all the families in many of our is investigated, and it has been largest congregations, and the found that there is no bye-road to younger part, the hope and flower truth, these have too often been of our dissent, to be interrodisposed to identify the idea of gated, not merely, Why do you evangelical religion with igno- separate from the Establishment ? rance, or narrowness of mind. but, Why do you profess to beThe consequence has been, that lieve the Christian faith? why not a few persons of superior in- do you derive your opinions from tellect have, at different times, the Bible ?—why do you receive betaken themselves either to the the scriptures of the Old and New plausible refuge of the Arian Testament as the word of God? heresy, the floating and variable What would be the reply? --Tell scepticism of which may be called it not in Gath! Ario-Socinianism, changing and This neglect of training the tossed about with divers winds higher faculties of our nature to of doctrine ; or to the more defi- the service of Christianity, is, it nite and tangible infidelity of will scarcely be denied, a striking Socinianism itself.
feature of the religious economy It is a fact, little creditable to of the southern, as distinguished the orthodox, and surely not a from the northern, part of Britain; necessary evil, that those congre- and it is much to be lamented. gations which have lamentably The immediate consequence is, a departed from the faith once de- strong appetite for excitement, livered to the saints, and which with an impatience of scriptural constitute, it is to be feared, a discussion and research ; a repugcomponent part of the mystical nance of whatever challenges a body of the infidel Antichrist, firmer grasp of the whole intelmonopolize a very large proportion lectual man; and not far distant in of the spirit of investigation-the the train must follow, of necessity, intelligence which is to be found the depreciation of sacred literain the Dissenting body in general, ture-the corruption of pulpit eloTheir opinions, however unscrip- quence-a drowsy content with tural and erroneous, have, it must what is common-place, or, at best, be granted, considerably employed a demand for flourishing and airy the activity of their minds. Among sketches, filled up with gaudy the evangelical, the claim of the colouring--a strain extravagant or Gospel to the dominion of the fanciful, like some specimens of heart, with its whole range of the ornamental style in music, feelings and emotions, has always more grateful to the vulgar ear been distinctly and justly allowed; than the severe beauty, the deep but its equal demand to erect its and solemn harmony of the Hanthrone, and keep up an active and delian chorus-a preference of pervading movement over the still what is showy and superficial, to nobler empire of the understanding, what is solid-a mere nominal Disseems far from having been so sent. generally and practically con- A community of Nonconformsidered. In this respect, we have ists, not trained to thought and wofully degenerated from our fore- reflection on their principles, is a fathers. We are quite another solecism in human nature. An race. Whatever be our zeal, it established hierarchy may sustain is not, in a literal sense, at all itself for ages by its wealth, its events, according to knowledge. patronage, its combination of what Imagine a survey to be made of is secular with what ought to be spiritual and divine; but real Dis- who have endeavoured to strengthsent can only subsist in the atmo- en it by its analogy with circumsphere of intelligence. In no cision, have naturally encountered other can it move, or have its be- the opposition of the Baptists, ing. It can only stand on the who have aimed to weaken or debasis of free inquiry, solid infor- stroy this analogy; that the rite mation, and diligent research after may be reduced to its direct evitruth. If these be wanting, how- dence, over which they conceive ever extensive be the surface it themselves to have an easy triumph. seems to occupy, it will in reality The purpose of the few observaprove but an empty name; its ad- tions I shall have to make, will be herents will be merely accidental; to show that their objections are and a new episcopal edifice, rear- inapplicable to the case, and by ing its towered and stately head this means to re-establish the arguin the neighbourhood of its more ment. humble sanctuary, may at once 1. The Scripture testifies « that desolate it, as the crowned dragon, Abraham believed God, and it in the Apocalypse, (pardon the was imputed to him for righteoussimile,) drew away in his train a ness;" and the Apostle Paul arthird part of the stars of heaven. gues, that “ he received the sign
I shall not at present trespass of circumcision, a seal of the righfarther on your patience with these teousness of the faith which he desultory remarks, but remain, had, being uncircumcised.” Now Your very sincere Friend, the Baptists, if I understand them
SPECTATOR. aright, allow that circumcision was mnunnu
to Abraham himself “a seal of ON THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
the righteousness by faith,” but not
to Isaac, or Ishmael, or the house(To the Editors.)
hold of Abraham. This proceeds, GENTLEMEN,--I have lately had I think, on a misapprehension of occasion to peruse several treatises the case. Circumcision was ceron the subject of the Abrahamic tainly, as they argue, intended, in Covenant, in its connection with part, to keep distinct the family of the baptism of infants; and as Abraham, till the promised seed many thoughts have thereby been should be born from it; and in excited, which will probably, like furtherance of this design, the land numbers of their predecessors, of Canaan was given as an inheriquickly perish; I am desirous of tance. But that circumcision had embodying a few of them in your a larger and spiritual signification, pages, both for my own advantage, is manifest, from all those passages and in order to direct the attention of Scripture which speak of the of your readers to this, certainly circumcision of the heart, and esnot unimportant, subject. The pecially from Romans ii. 28, 29. evidence on which infant baptism is He is not a Jew which is one rests is, the various indications outwardly, neither is that circumcontained in the New Testament, cision which is outward in the that it was practised in the times flesh: but he is a Jew who is one of the Apostles, confirmed by the inwardly, and circumcision is of custom of the church from the the heart, in the spirit, not in the earliest period, and by that of cir- letter, whose praise is not of men cumcision, as enjoined in the cove- but of God.” nant made by God with Abraham. Whoever looks at the Old TesAs the scriptural evidence for this tament dispensation, or surveys practice is not so direct and posi- the works of nature, will see that tive as might be desired; those nothing is more common than for God to effect, by one provision, was, indeed, given in paradise. It distinct and different purposes. was intimated in the first promise, The ancient sacrifices were, at the typified by the first sacrifice, emsame time, intended spiritually to bodied and manifested in the coveprefigure the one great sacrifice, nant made with Abraham, ratified and to have a direct ritual opera- and perfected in the Gospel of our tion, in separating the Jews from Lord Jesus Christ. Natural reathe heathens, and in maintaining son, as well as Scripture, proves their civil polity. And thus, seve- that it was universal to the human ral of the organs of the human race. As the infant died, by his body are made to answer distinct connection with the first transgresand different purposes; whilst sion, so his immortal part was resthe light gladdens our eyes, it cued, by that covenant, from the conveys both warmth and anima- consequences of transgression ; tion to every living creature. Is and as man, universally, derived it wonderful then, that circumci- from the fall a corrupted nature, sion should have both a spiritual so was he, on that account, made and temporal purpose, or that, as the subject of a dispensation of the dispensations of God reach mercy. The covenant of grace, their perfection, the spiritual should therefore, was as accessible to receive a fuller development, and Adam, and Noah, and Job, as it the temporal remain attached to was to Abraham; and the father the earth to which it belongs? as of the faithful received it, not as a the turbid torrent which breaks solitary or family blessing, but as from the mountain, deposits in suc- a rich deposit, in trust for the cessive valleys its native impuri- common benefit of all the human ties, and then rolls to the ocean a race. It was given to him, that in transparent stream, in the fulness him all the families of the earth of majesty and beauty.
might be blessed; and before the Is it asked then, how circum- coming of the promised seed, the cision could be the seal of the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT stood righteousness of faith to the infant in the centre of this benighted Isaac, as well as to the aged be- world, like a beacon on an emi. liever? We may readily answer, nence, to guide its miserable inhathat as a seal of justification, and hitants to safety and peace. Nor a sign of sanctification, it spoke does the continuance of this covethe same language to both. To nant to believers and their offeach it declared that Abraham had spring, in any way prejudice those obtained justification by faith, and who are afar off. The grace which that all his generations could ob- is given to them, shines equally on tain it in no other way; and to all around, and it is given them for each it also declared, that this was the purpose of speaking peace to not to be a barren and unproduc- them that are afar off, as well as tive faith, but one which produced to those that are nigh. The Apos. a “circumcision of the heart.” tle Peter, with all his attachment
2. It is objected, that the cove. to the covenant of promise, found nant of grace was not peculiar to at last, that it was no exclusive Abraham, but was the same to privilege, and confessed, that “ of Adam and Noah; that it was not a truth God was no respecter of made originally with Abraham, persons, but that, in every nation, nor was he the judicial head in any he that feared him, and worked of its engagements. All this may righteousness, was accepted of be true, and yet the consequence him.” intended to be drawn from it does The Abrahamic Covenant mani. not follow. The covenant of grace fested, moreover, the manner, as