ture to be conveyed to the mind by the efficient means of ecclesiastical ordinances, for which purpose a counterfeit ministry would be unavailing? Is the Apostolic Commission neces'sary,' in order to convey the Holy Spirit in Ordination, as well as in Confirmation, Remission of sins in Baptism, and Absolution in the hour of death ? * Are these the pastoral functions to which Mr. Biddulph .alludes? Let hiin not imagine that any description of Dissenters would atterapt to invade so fearful a prerogative as this. · But if Christianity be something more than the reception of, a new.creed, or an external communion with the visible Church; if it be a religion of life and power; if men require, not merely to be taught, but to be converted, not merely to be mystically regenerated, but renewed in heart and soul; if, in fact, the message of the Gospel be salvation to sinners, and the souls of men are at stake: then, shall we coolly ask if a legitimate Cominission or State endowments, are necessary to the discharge of the pastoral function ? A legitimate Commission to convert sinners! A warrant from ecclesiastical authority, to preach the glad tidings of a Saviour to dying men! Yes: it is the guilt of Dissenters that they despise these qualifications; that, having one Master, and one Saviour, they feel his command their sufficient warrant, and the value of their own souls an adequate incentive, to go forth and preach the Gospel to every creature..

So far, ther, is the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration from being a solitary error, and so far are the Claims of the Church from being a question of polity or expediency, that the very nature and design of Christianity, together with the import of its essential doctrines, are involved in the discussion. The Evangelical clergy are well aware, that with respect to the extent of human depravity, the necessity of conversion, the spirituality of Christian obedience, no less than what are generally denominated the doctrines of grace, there is between themselves and their self-styled Orthodox brethren of the Establishment, a greater disagreement than exists among the Dis-, senters, how multiform soever in doctrine they may be, with the exception of the Socinians, and perhaps the followers of the excellent Penn.

The points at issue between the Evangelical clergy and the Dissenters, consisting of hypothetical assumptions of the one hand, and a simple appeal to the New Testament on the other, are after all questions only of order, legitimacy, and discipline. Those on which Dissenters differ among themselves, relate to Baptism, to Church Governinent, or to confessedly subordinate mat

* See Bp. Horsley's Sermons, Vol. I. p. 286.

ters in theology, respecting which they “ think and let think." But the contest within the Establishment, relates to that change which is the very foundation of the Christian character; it involves the very vitality of religion. Yet, strange to say, this Apostolic Commission, this lineal legitimacy, together with the sanction of the State, is esteemed a closer bond of brotherhood, than holding the same 6 Head," and preaching the same Gospel.*

'* We alluded in our last number to a pamphlet by the Rev. Mr. Cunningham, entitled, “ Conciliatory Suggestions on the subject of • Regeneration," as being founded on an absolute misapprehension of the real nature and merits of the Controversy. That pamphlet, though obviously well-intentioned, appeared to us to contain some very exceptionable matter ; but our purpose was to confine our attention to the main points of the general subject. We are happy to find, however, that it has since drawn forth a manly and spirited remonstrance from the Rev. Mr. Bugg, author of one of the answers to Dr. Mant, reviewed in our last Number. He coincides with us in shewing that Mr, Cunningham does not justly represent the matter by considering it greatly as a strife about words ; and adds that Mr. C's supposition, that the parties are ignorant of each other's meaning of the term Regeneration,' is perfectly gratuitous, and conveys an injurious reflection on the writers who have engaged in the present Controversy. Mr. Cunningham's Conciliatory project, is proved by Mr. Bugg to be both erroneous and inefficient : erroneous, as involving the unscriptural and dangerous notion of two Regenerations, the one not necessarily connected with the other; and inefficient, since Dr. Mant contends that there is but one Regeneration, viz : Baptismal Regeneration, possible in this world.'

Mr. Bugy remarks, that “it is a very bad habit to pare down the " meaning of scriptural and spiritual language into a mere outside; • into something which raises the expectation from the sound of its " name, but which nevertheless may be possessed without advantage, 6 and predicated upon the vilest man that breathes.' The latitude plea. ded for in the “Conciliatory Suggestions,” in the application of the term Regeneration, would neither, it is shewn, promote concord, nor secure truth. The discussion respects, according to Mr. Cunningham's own statement, ' a fundamental doctrine of religion,' and his proposal is, that uniformity should be secured by agreeing to employ the term RegeNERATION, in two different senses ; both senses, that it is the true and the false, being, according to Mr. Cunningham, so 6 highly important,' that neither party should expect or desire from ' the other, a surrender of the term !' Mr. Bugg adds, that it is afflicting to remark, with reference to so respectable a Clergyman, that though his own statement appears to make one party contend efclusively for the change of heart and character,' and the other as exclusively for the change of state,' that is, in plain terms, ' the one

for the substance and the other for the shadow, yet he has not Mr. Wilks's Essay places this momentous subject in its true light. Had its Author anticipated the present Controversy, his remarks could not have been more pertinent or more seasonable. After placing in a striking point of view the peculiar causes of professional indifference which may retard the Conversion of a Christian Minister, and suggesting criteria, by which he may be enabled to form an estimate of his own character, he proceeds to exbibit more at large those signs of Con6 version and Unconversion,' by which others may judge of the religious character of a Minister. In illustrating the difference of the preaching of the two classes of pastors, with respect even to practical subjects, he remarks,

« On this subject, however, he widely differs from the unconverted Minister, who, not being practically acquainted with any evangelical principle of obedience, imagines there is no way of evincing the importance of holiness, but by representing it as the meritorious cause of human redemption. Such a representation, however, argues rather that pride, which is inherent in fallen man, than that humility which is the characteristic of a true believer. Besides, it contradicts

distinctly enabled the reader to judge which of these statements is preferable; which party is most to be justified; or which doctrine is the most important. Indeed, Mr. Cunningham's own views of the subject, appear, from the peculiar pliraseology he has adopted, to be very mysterious and indefinite, since he seems almost to identify Justification with Baptism. Yet the very ground assumed for his « Conciliatory Suggestions,' is that of the supposed mistakes and 6. confusion of ideas and language in the contending parties.'

.. But if,' says Mr. Bugg, after all, the subjeet in dispute, (and not merely the mode of it,) should prove to be as a fundamental doc“ trine of religion,”, it seems impossible, as well as undesirable, that • there should be any union save that of mutual forbearance and good « will, until one of the parties at least, is convinced of its error.' No union! What, not in a Church which glories in Uniformity, and which claims authority in matters of faith? How is this? No, says our Author, it is unavailing to make concession, unless we give up ( all language by which we express a spiritual change of heart subse

quent to Baptism.' " A due contemplation' of these Tracts, would • have discovered that their Author, Dr. Mant, objects to the term • CONVERSION likewise. He considers Conversion as unnecessary to some professed Christians, and as unwisely applied to any.' Mr. Bugg concludes therefore, that truth and charity, the ends proposed ! by Mr. Cunningham, are not likely to be answered by accommoda« tion, or compromise of principle."

We have not, then, overstated the nature and extent of the disagreement between the conflicting parties in the Established Church. It is such as renders union at once undesirable and impossible. It relates to fundamental doctrines of Christianity. And does Mr. Bugg venture to blame Dissenters for their nonconformity?

the direct testimony of Scripture, which invariably speaks of holiness, not as a procuring cause, but as a necessary consequence; not as the price by which Heaven is purchased, but as the evidence of our meetness to enjoy it, and indeed the meetness itself, by which we are qualified for so doing. There is, therefore, a great difference between the preaching of the two characters on the subject in question. While the one, from his partial and merely theoretical knowledge, frigidly endeavours to recommend obedience to God by motives of fear, or prudence, or expediency, the other speaks of it with delight as the pleasurable service of a willing subject, the corresponding appetency of a renovated nature, the indispensable evidence of Christian principle, the necessary result of faith, and the inseparable concomitant of love. While he possesses, in common with the former character, those inducements to holiness, that arise from its intrinsic beauty, and from its being enjoined by divine command as part of the moral law, and therefore of immutable obligation, he will insist chiefly, though not exclusively, on those higher motives of love and gratitude which are so frequently urged in the Apostolic writings, and which are always found in practice to be far more efficacious than mere abstract reasoning or philosophic suasion. In like manner, in speaking of sin, he stands on higher ground than the moral de claimer. The topic may be the same, but the method of discussion is different. His standard of reference is more exalted. He is not contented with having displayed the dreadful consequences of vice, as they affect the individual and society, but dwells with holy earnestness on its guilt in the sight of God, its contrariety to the divine nature, and its inevitable consequences in a future world. pp. 27, 28.

In like manner, all the other esseritial doctrines of Chistianity will appear in the preaching of a pious Minister to be articles of a moral and practical importance; while to the opposite character more than half the Scripture is confused and unintelligible ;the doctrinal and preceptive parts scarcely appear to have any neces. sary connexion:- if he choose for his subject one of the most essential tenets of the Gospel, he seems unconscious in what manner it applies to the improvement of the conduct and the heart; if, on the other hand, a moral duty be his topic, he probably mistakes the New Testament motives for enforcing it, forgets that proffered assistance which is necessary for its performance, and leaves unno. ticed that faith in Christ which alone can make it acceptable or pure. In his zeal for morality, he forgets the source from which all true morality flows. He is even surprised that other Ministers should so zealously and frequently insist on doctrines which to himself appear of but little practical value, and which, if admitted at all into his system, are suffered to lie dormant and unproductive.

But surely, after the experience of nearly two thousand years, it might without danger of mistake be admitted as a demonstrated fact, that morality has always advanced or declined, in proportion as the Gospel has been preached in its genuine simplicity, or in a garbled form; and, consequently, that nothing but the undisguised doctrines of Christianity can accomplish even that object which the worldling

considers as the only end of the clerical establishment. But this 'object, great as it is, is far from being the utmost that a pious Minister proposes to himself. His preaching is founded on the supposition, that a man, though outwardly moral, may fail of being a true Christian, and in consequence fail of the rewards of Christianity. Internal religion, a religion of motives and intentions, a religion cor. responding to that which our Saviour taught in his Sermon on the Mount, he esteems necessary to make the most brilliant or useful action acceptable to that Being, whom “ without faith it is impossible to please." He conceives, therefore, that the doctrinal parts of Christianity are essentially necessary in his preaching. Whether he argues from the practice of the inspired writers, or from the nature of the thing itself, he arrives at the same conclusion, that an exhibi. tion of the moral precepts of the Gospel, without the doctrines on which they depend, is as contrary to the intention of its Author, as the opposite error of inculcating its doctrines and forgetting its commands. He insists, therefore, on the necessity of faith no less than of good works; the former as that which justifies, the latter as the indispensable evidences of our being in a state of grace.

It has been shown, that, even as far as relates to outward mo. rality, the unsophisticated preaching of the Gospel is necessary to effect any considerable reform ;-but when to this circumstance, which, it should be observed, proves only the political and moral expediency of such preaching, are added those higher considerations which show its infinite importance, as connected with the awful responsibility of the preacher, and with the eternal interests of the human soul, it ceases to be a question what manner of preaching a converted Minister will feel it his duty to adopt.' pp. 29–32.

It does not escape Mr. Wilks's observation, that one respect in which the two classes essentially differ, is, as to their views of the ecclesiastical function.

· The former class regards it chiefly in relation to God, the latter as part of the legal constitution of the country : the one, as a political and temporal concern; the other, as a spiritual and eternal one. A pious minister is not ashamed of his vocation. He conceives that even the lowest station in the sanctuary, on account of its connexion with the most awful and interesting of human affairs, is of immense importance. He therefore magnifies his office, while he debases himself. But the contrary character appears ashamed of the Gospel viewed simply, and has recourse to extrinsic considerations to prove his res. pectability. His ideas of the honour of the profession are connected with those of power, and emolument, and patronage; he cannot divest himself of these external trifles, to survey the character of a true minister in its native unassisted dignity. But wherever there exists no higher view of the Christian ministry than one merely secular and professional, we may, without violation of charity, infer, that there is a serious error ; for among those who refer to the Scriptures as their standard of decision, the outward honours of the ministerial character bear no proportion whatever to its importance with regard to the souls of men, and its responsibility in the sight of God.' p. 49.

« 前へ次へ »