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We wish Mr. Wilks had pursued the subject further. The one class, he might have said, view themselves as accredited, authorized teachers of religion : they consider their competency for the office as originating in their official appointment, and their connexion with the Establishment. They regard a seeming invasion of their prerogative with jealousy, as a personal reflection or a personal injury. In the regular discharge of their functions, they deem the end of their appointment to be fulfilled, and naturally incline therefore to connect the notion of intrinsic efficacy with the external services of religion. The endowments of the Church are esteemed their right; by analogy to the Levitical constitution, a Divine right; and in a civil respect their freehuld. And Dissenters of every name, are Schismatics, Puritans, Revolutionists, Methodists. Such, there is too much reason to believe, is the genuine spirit of a secular establishment.
The other class, for the most part, whatever be their opinions or prejudices with regard to matters of ecclesiastical polity, matters which, feeling them to be infinitely subordinate, they are perhaps too generally disinclined to examine --regard the ministerial office as incapable of receiving dignity from human enactments, and would scorn to rest its legitimacy on Popish tradition. They go forth as the messengers of the Gospel of Christ, to beseech men to be reconciled to God. Surely, it must appear to such men, on candid reflection, that the notion of an established hierarchy for the conversion of sinners, is an exquisite absurdity; that there is no relation between the primary object of the Gospel, and the Canons, and Ceremonies, and Cathedrals, and all the vast inachinery of the Church. There is no fitness in the means, incumbered as it is with State influence, and with all the appendages of legitimacy, to the simple operation of Divine Truth. The Dissenting minister, with the Bible in his hand, and its influence on his heart, visits, perhaps, a district or village, the inhabitants of which are sunk in ignorance and moral insensibility. He collects a few simple people around him, who hear the Gospel gladly, and in process of time some of these people exhibit the marks of a thoughtful attention to religion, which issues, often rapidly issues, in sincere conversion. A Church, in the scriptural sense of the term, is collected ; a room, or, it may be, a barn, is hired; and at length, perhaps, a chapel is built. No bishop consecrates the huinble structure; no Gothic aisles adorn it: Legitimacy proudly passes it by. Still, this fact not even malignity is able to deny, that there the Gospel of Jesus Christ is faithfully, if not elegantly preached ; and that the effects of Conversion are visible there.
and regret if that Rectocondition, to the Labour for theat, and the
But how must a Clergyman of the Established Church proceed in such a case? What countenance or assistance does he derive from the laws and regulations of that Apostolical Institution? Before he ventures to preach the Gospel, he must find a consecrated edifice : it is at his peril if he turn a house into a conventicle. But if there be no church, may he build one? Yes; if he can obtain an Act of Parliament for that purpose. But may he not raise a chapel on some sequestered spot, where, without offence to any beneficed neighbour, he may labour in the service of his Master? Not if the Rector of that district be of Dr. Mant's opinion, or of the late Bishop of London's opinion, that among men, baptized as Christians, and regenerated in Baptism, a special conversion' is unneces sary; not if that Rector is jealous of his prerogative, or lays claim, as a preliminary condition, to the patronage of the chapel. The pious clergyman must not labour for the conversion of sinners in a way contrary to Act of Parliament, and the Canons of the Church. The Divine origin of episcopacy forbids it. The Apostolical commission forbids it. It would be an irregular discharge of the pastoral function.
Is not this as much a mockery of the feelings of a Christian 6 minister, sincerely labouring to turn sinners to righteousness, as that of which Mr. Scott so justly complains, in his answer to Dr. Mant, on being told, that he must by no means ' consider his congregation as consisting partly of those who 6 are converted, and those who are not ?" Yet, how can Mr. Scott, or how can any pious man, wonder, that those who contend for Baptismal Regeneration, and Apostolical legitimacy, deny the necessity of Conversion ?
Yet Dr. Mant's Tract contains some singular admissions, which shew that he comes nearer to the opinions he professes to oppose, than he imagines ; so near indeed, that but for those invincible prejudices which he appears to have imbibed respecting every thing that has the appearance or sound of Me. thodism, we might consider him to be in imminent danger of becoming himself an evangelical preacher. He admits that the Gospel militates against the prejudices, the pride, and the corrupt passions of men.
Among the Jews,' he continues, he who obstinately resisted, and he who more actively persecuted the faith of Christ; the Pharisee, who commended his own righteousness, and trusted to an ex. , act performance of the ritual ordinances of the law; the Sadducee, who denied a resurrection; the Scribe, who was zealous for the Mósaic institutions; even the disciple who was ambitious of sitting on the right hand or on the left of his Master, in what he expected would be a temporal kingdom; and generally every child of Abraham, who was habitually and fondly attached to the national belief
of their exclusive privileges : among the Gentiles, those who were spoiled and seduced by philosophy and vain deceit; the. Sceptic, who doubtell, and the Infidel, who denied, the existence or the Providence of a Supreme Being: and, universally, both among Jews and among Gentiles, those who were living under the dominion of sin, or were not duly convinced of the necessity of a Redeemer : every man, who was subject to prepossessions such as these, (and they comprise almost every coul of man that breathed,) must have been converted from his errors, whether in principle or in practice: his heart must have been opened, and softened, and rendered capable of receiving fresh and totally different impressions, before he could become a believer in the truth, or a performer of the duties of the Gospel.
• Every man, who now also is under the influence of similar prepos, sessions, must now also undergo a similar change. Every unbeliever
and every sinner, although made by Baptism a member of Christ and a child of God, must be, in a certain sense, converted, if he would ultimately succeed to his inheritance of the kingdom of heaven!
And further, considering Conversion as consisting in the actual reformation of the heart and character,' Dr. Mant cheerfully concurs in maintaining the necessity of such a o change to every one who is satisfied with mere nominal Chris(tianity, or with any thing short of true Christian holiness
both of heart and life.' Only he is anxious to avoid counte. nancing the Methodistic phraseology, and therefore prefers pressing the necessity of such a change upon his hearers, by the appellation of a true repentance.
We quote these passages with sincere pleasure. They shew that Dr. Mant does not, after all, differ from Whitfield and Overton so much as he does from himself. Strange to say, a man may, according to his language, be made in Baptism a
child of God and a member of Christ,' and yet be an - unbe
liever and a sinner'! He may be regenerated, and yet need conversion! But this is not the worst of Dr. Mant's theological oversights. He subsequently endeavours to hold up to ridicule or deprecation the inconsistency of those who 6 urge their deluded followers to repent and be converted,' and
in the same breath tell them that the Author of this con“ version is the Holy Ghost, and that nothing short of the «influence of the Spirit of the living God can effect this • change in their hearts. What must be the theological attainments of the man who assumes as a principle, that nothing which cannot be effected without the influence of the Spirit of the living God, is to be made the subject of exhortation! What efficacy can be expected to attend a system of " mo
ral suasion, from which this fundamental truth, this scriptural motive to work out our own salvation,' is upon prineiple excluded! Yet these are the opinions of Dr. Mant, the divine who has been selected by the Bartlett's Buildings So
ciety, in conjunction with Mr. D'Oyley, to compile a Family Bible for the use of the members of the National Church; a man, who, haunted as it should seem, by the appalling spectre of Methodism, that meets him at every turn in his theological wanderings, actually bewilders himself in a maze of contradictory opinions; and now approximating, ,now receding, from the line of scriptural truth, seems neither to know nor to heed in what direction he is inpelled, so long as he keeps at a distance from this personification of all error in the abstract.
We leave Dr. Mant in the hands of Mr. Scoit, the able champion of the Evangelical party in the Establishment; and turn with pleasure to the following enlightened and scriptural remarks of Dr. Paley, as quoted by Mr. Scoit.
. Of the persons in our congregations, to whom we not only may, but must preach the doctrine of conversion plainly and directly, are those, who, with the name indeed of Christians, have hitherto passed their lives without any internal religion whatever; who have not at all thought upon the subject; who, a few easy and customary forms excepted, (and which with them are mere forms,) cannot truly say of themselves, that they have done one action, which they would not have done equally, if there had been no such thing as a God in the world ; or that they have ever sacrificed any passion, any present enjoyment, or even any inclina tion of their minds, to the restraints and prohibitions of religion: with whom indeed, religious motives have not weighed a feather in the scale against interest or pleasure. To these it is utterly necessary that we preach conversion. At this day we have not Jews and Gentiles to preach to; but these persons are really in as unconverted a state, as any Jew or Gentily could be in our Saviour's time. They are no more Christians, as to any actual benefit of Christianity to their souls, than the most hardened Jew, or the most profligate Gentile was in the age of the gospel. As to any difference in the two cases, the difference is all against them. These must be converted before they can be saved. The course of their thoughts must be changed, the very principle upon which they act, must be changed. Considerations, which never, or which hardly ever entered into their minds, must deeply and perpetually engage them. Views and motives, which did not inAuence them at all, either as checks from doing evil, or as inducements to do good, must become the views and motives which they regularly consult, and by which they are guided : that is to say, there must be a revolution of principle: the visible conduct will follow the change ; but there must be a revolution within. A change so entire, so deep, so important as this, I do allow to be a conversion, and no one, who is in the situation above described, can be saved without undergoing it ; and he must necessarily both be sensible of it at the time, and remember it all his life afterwards. It is too momentous an event ever to be forgot. A man might as easily forget his escape from a shipwreck. Whether it was sudden, or whe.
Vol. V. N, S.
ther it was gradual, if it was effected, (and the fruits will prove that,) it was a true conversion : and every such person may justly both be. lieve and say it himself, that he was converted at a particular assigna. ble time. It may not be necessary to speak of his conversion, but he will always think of it, with unbounded thankfulness to the giver of all grace, the author of all mercies, spiritual as well as temporal.'
We regret that tbe warm approbation we feel pleasure in bestowing upon Mr. Wilks's admirable “ Essay,” must be given with some qualification ; but the Preface contains some expres sions which we should deem it inconsistent with our duty to pass over in silence. It states that
< By Baptism we are redeemed, through the death and merits of Jesus Christ from the curse of original sin ; and are placed in a state of grace by admission into the Church of Christ, and to its inesti. mable privileges from this state we may fall by sin committed after Baptism. From this fall we may also recover by repentance and newness of life, through the assistance of God's Holy Spirit. They who do not recover, are in an unconverted state."
We can scarcely conceive that sentences so inaccurate and ambiguous as these, can have proceeded from the pen of the author of the Essay. They bear all the marks of interpolation, and Mr. Wilks, we have reason to think, must have submitted with reluctance to the authority which procured their insertion. In this short declaratory statement are comprehended the following three erroneous or obscure assertions. First, that Baptism is the efficient means of our redemption, the marits of Christ being only the procuring cause; a sentiment worthy of the Romish Church, although unhappily not confined to it. Secondly, that our nominal admission into the visible Church, involves our being placed in a state of grace, a phrase which we have already noticed as savouring stroegly of the opus operates dortrine. Thirdly, that we may ourselves repair the consequences of a fall from grace by repentance; and that upon our repentance our conversion is dependent, being, as it appears, the fruit of our own exertion.
With this exception, the whole pamphlet deserves the highest encomium for its ability and its piety, and the Christian world are under obligations to the Bishop of St. David's, as President of the Society referred to in the Tidepage, for directing it to be published
In the Introduction, the Author has some admirable remarks on the indispensable usefulness of theological termes in the science of divinity. Convasion and Coconversion, he remarks, are not the only words which appear to be under a degree of undeserved reproach, for almost all those words which are corRected with the more unfashionable doctrines of Christianity, are equally assailed. The suppression of these phrases, and the disease of Scripture language, he sbews to be connected with