Page images
PDF
EPUB

and confident boasting of certain writers, tend to mislead the public very widely as to the relative nuinber and prominence of this' thriving' sect. Our business however is with Mr. Worss ley's statements, not with his opinions, which he is quite as much at liberty to maintain and to promulgate, as the “Calvis nists' are.

In the first place, we strongly object to Mr. Worsley's attempt to connect any religious doctrines whatever with the principles on which Dissent is founded, as if the beneficial influence of dissenting industry was in any degree attributable to the reti, gious tenets of Dissenters. Such representations are altoge. ther unwarranted and erroneous. The religious tenets of by far the larger class of Protestant Dissenters, differ in no mate, rial point from those imbodied in the Articles of the Church of England. The inconsistencies, the 'absurdities, the perplexi(ties, and the cruelties of Calvinism, as strongly marked in the

the English Church, to quote Mr. Worsley's invective phrases, were held also by the Calvinist refugees of France, by the Presbyterians of Flanders, and by the Nonconformists of England. On the other hand, in Holland, the Roman Catholic Dis. senters are 'decidedly the most active and enterprising part of the population ; and in Ireland, Roman Catholic industry is exerted in our manufactures. The truth is, that although the Roman Catholic religion bas, in itself considered, been found unfavourable to the promotion of habits of industry, its pernicious influence is principally derived from its union with ecclesiastical power; and where its existence is identified with religious liberty, the difference of political circumstances materially modifies its character. To the question, therefore, which Mr. W. represents as having been put to him :'Can you suppose that Uni(tarianism bias any thing to do with manufacturing?' the only proper answer is, Nothing whatever. It is the freedom of mind involved and exercised in Dissent, not the system of belief the individual may have adopted, that has the beneficial effect. which we attribute to the principles of Dissenters. Socinianism is the very last system from which we should expect that any beneficial influence whatever could emanaté, that might lead to habits of patient and contented industry': a system of moral demolition, to wbich the grounds of religious certainty, the sources of devotional feeling, motives the most powerful that can be brought to act upon our nature, principles of tried efficacy, which have sustained the faith and hope of martyrs, and been the triumph and consolation of the Church in every age, all must give way: a system, which, were we to judge of its moral efficiency by its visible effects, seems productive of nothing so much as an unsocial scorn of all true believers in Christ, a Pharisaic self-complacency disturbed by no weak

ons in itselmuth is Catholicising p

ficae be brought ional feeling sounds of perc a systemisht lead

emotiops of contrition, no intermittings of the full confidence of conscious merit; and in the best specimens of its converts, the virtues of the stoic and the devotion of the infidel.

• The Unitarians, as a body of worshippers,' remarks Mr. W.·are, charged with a want of devotional feeling, and are thought to entertain, a dull and inanimate system of religious truth ; and how true is the charge if we consider that what is usually and properly called devotion, is with many of them an object of the least iinportance. There may be rectitude and righteousness, but I scarcely know how there can be religion and devotion, without those external marks of thein, by which alone they can be seen to exist; the slightest and most, general of which is, a steady attendance upon divine worship on the day that is devoted to rest and to religion. Would to God that, Unitarian Christians were, in this point, altogether such as our other dissenting sects, even as those, who, while they believe that Faith alone can save them, yet are devoted to the external services of religion, because they regard and value them as the means of a good life... a :: . . .

The exemplary candour displayed in these remarks, reflects" great credit on the Author. We only wonder that he can indulge any expectation that Socinianism should produce devotion or seriousness in the minds of its votaries; especially when be confesses his own inability to conduct extemporary prayer with understanding and animation.' It is remarkable how amicably, on this last point, the Episcopalian Conformist and the Socinian Minister harmonize; both avowing their dislike to free prayer, and their inability to conduct the devotions of a congregation, except by the aid of preconceived forms; and both reviling and misrepresenting those who are sensible of no similar impediment. :

We must in the second place express our dissatisfaction with the representation the Author gives of the present state of the orthodox Dissenters. With regard to the Presbyterians, his statements are undoubtedly correct. The old Presbyterian • societies, which on their first formation were Calvinistic, and

gradually moved on from moderate orthodoxy through the

different shades which Arianism exhibited, are now' almost • without an exception Unitárians ; by which,'Mr. W remarks, with great propriety, if it be necessary to designate thein more • clearly, is meant Humanitarians' "These societies,' he adds,:.

lost during the Arian period many of their old and valuable 6 families, but their numbers have been recruited from the • Established Church.'. But in the immediate neighbourhood of London, the meeting-houses of the Presbyterians have fallen into the hands of the Calvinists. In fact, after the withdrawment of the Presbyterian Dissenters from the government of the Presbyteries, nothing was left to distinguish them from the In-' dependents, but their want of all discipline whatsoever, and the

Vol. VII. N. S.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

absolute and jealous authority which devolved upon the pastor. In a greater number of cases, therefore, than our Author admits, the extinction of the Presbyterian congregation was only no.. minal : it became, probably on the death of the pastor, Independent. In other cases, the process has been different ; a laxity of discipline has thrown the society open to the admission of irreligious and worldly persons. As the congregation rose in opulence, the pride of politeness led them to regard as the prime requisites in their minister, other qualifications than those of Christian piety. The minister, in all the vanity of half• learning and the pride of half-reasoning, ventured to strike out a new road to popularity, by exhibiting himself as an Arian : the people followed the blind leader of the blind, aud both moved onwards to the gulf of Socinian infidelity, and joto that gulf they have falley.--Mr. Worsley may triumpb in these facts: we cannot. It is not the fate of the societies, liowever, but the delusion of the individuals, that we deplore.

Whatever losses were sustained by the cause of Dissent, as it is termed, from the defection of these old Presbyterian churches, they were more than supplied by the increasing numbers and rising respectability of the Baptist Independents. Vast accessions of the best description, congregations gathered from the world by the active labours of Dissepung teachers, and animated with a living spirit of piety, have been gradually made to the Calvinistic Nonconformists; so that at no previous period have this portion of Dissenters formed a inore considerable and efficient division of society. Mr. Worsley, with singular inac curacy, atfirins, that the old Independents, after having for ' a long time, under the teaching of Baxter, Doddridge, &c. ' professed moderate Calvivism, are very generally gone back cinto high Calvinism, borderipg upon Antinomianism : the

preachers of George Whitefield's party, and of Lady Hun

tingdon's, having completely wormed themselves in among « them.' Richard Baxter, the veneration of all parties, died in 1691; Philip Doddridge in 1751. One would imagine that the names of these two eminent men were not the only names that were deserving of being specified, as having given the tone to religious sentiment; and certainly, their influence, as teachers, has not been greater than that of many.less moderate Calvinists. Mr. Worsley's assertion can receive yo support, therefore, froin their names, nor from the unmea ning et cætera subjoined. That Dissenters bave gone back into high Calvinism, cannut be true, having never as a body undergone any change of sentiment in this respect : their standard authors being, we apprehend, pretty nearly of the same cast as they were in the days of Doddridge. The insinuation with respect to Whitefield, is discreditable to the author. Neither hic, por his preachers,

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small]

were Antinomnians. The quarter in which Antinomianism has mostly prevailed, has been very different; it is chiefly among the Baptists; but it thrives among Disgenters in much the same degree as Socinianism..

Socinianism, according to our Author, although he employs a different mode of designating it,' is the only thriving sect.' It has,' within the last twenty years, obtained a more extensive • spread than any other profession of faith. There is scarcely

a small district in our island where societies of professed UniI tarians have not sprung up; and within the pale of the Esta•blished Church, there are thousands.' We are accustomed to the exaggerations of Socinian proselytes; we hope this last statement, therefore, is hypothetical. The profession of Socinianism has doubtless increased ; not perhaps in consequence of the spread of disbelief, but from the proselyting spirit which has sprung from the ashes of Arianism, and which is so busily einployed in building up its churches of snow and palaces

of ice,' as the trophies of conquest. Mr. W. seems to admit that the Methodists have increased in a much greater propor-, tion ; but he deems it a sufficient answer to this remark, that & the Calvinist Methodists have not altered a single principle

which their fathers professed to hold ;' and that the same, with little qualification, may be said of the Wesleyan Methodists : therefore, in his view, they are not thriving ; they have not entered on that course of progression towards the intellectual perfectibility of Socinianism, which would give importance to their moral conquests, and afford hope of their eventually coming over to Rational Christianity. We must pity the infatuation of this apparently honest-minded and amiable man, thus kicking against the pricks,' and in his zeal against idolatry ignorantly waging war against his Saviour. We pity the man who looks around upon the Christian world with the cold, eye of a Socinian, and can discern no cause for satis. faction, but in here and there the symptoms of apostacy,-who imagines that darkness overspreads the camp of the Israel of God, because he stands on the dark side of that cloudy pillar which is their light and their guidance. It is lamentable to see such a man, at the very time that he is exulting in his intellectual freedom, the slave of sectarian bigotry; to hear him declaiming against priests and bishops, yet the zealous disciple of an heresiarch; to find him passing over the names of men, the pillars of the Christian Church, and the glory of the country which gave them birth,--passing by the rival exertions of other faithful servants of God, of every party, to dwell exclusively, in strains of eulogy, on those of Priestley, and Belsham, and Toulmin. We leave Socinianism to enjoy, unen vied, its triumphs-and its prospects.

[ocr errors]

· Art. XV. SELECT LITERARY INFORMATION.

*** Gentlemen and Publishers who have works in the press, will oblige

the Conductors of the ECLECTIC ReviEW, by sending Information (pose paid) of the subject, exlent, and probable price of such works ; which they may depend upon being communicated to the Public, if consistent with its Plan. :

** The Society for the promotion of Dr. Burrows, of Gower-street, is pre. permanent and universal Peace," have paring for publication, Commentaries on issued a cheap edition of the Tract entic Mental Derangement. viene tled “ A Solemn Review," and are pro. A volume of Sermons, by the late ceeding to publish Tracts Nos. 2 and 3, Dr. Vincent, with an account of his consisting of Extracts from Erasmus, life by Archdeacon Nares, will soon and Scott's Letters, entitled "War appear. inconsistent with Christianity.” The In the press, Sermons on the Offices object of this Society is to diffuse infor- and Character of Jesus Christ, by the mation, tending to 'shew the incom- Rev. Thomas Bowdler.

; . patibility of War with the spirit of the T. Forster, Jun. Esq. will soon pubChristian religion, and to point out the lish, Catullus, with English notes, in a means best calculated to maintain per duodecimo volume, manent and universal peace. The So- The Rev. James Raine, of Durham, ciety is designed to embrace the pro. has undertaken the History and Antifessors of Christianity of every deno. quities of North Durham, as subdivided mination. An subscribers of iOs. 6d. · into the districts of Norbamshire, Islandand upwards annually, are entitled to shire, and Bedlingtonshire; it will be receive half the amount of their sub- published uniformly with Mr. Surtee's -scriptions in tracts. The present Com- History of the County, of which it may Inittée includes Thomas Clarkson, Wila be considered as constituting a portion. liam Allen, the Rev. W. Stephenson, Wm. Haslewood, Esq. Barrister, is (Purfleet,) Charles Dudley, Robert preparing a Treatise on the Office of Marsden, Esq. The Rev. Thomas llarper, Receiver; also a Treatise on Injunctions. W. Roberts, Esq. Lincolu's-Inn ;' R. D. H. N. Tomlins, Esq. bas in the press, Alexander, Ipswich; and about eight the Practice of the Quarter Sessions other gentlemen.

Mr. Ackermann is printing, in an There has also been formed a distinct imperial quarto volume, a Series of society, under the designation of “ The Costumes of the Netherlands, with desSociety for preventing War and pro- criptions in French and English pagating correct opinions on the mora- Mr. Booth, treasurer to the Childwall lity of natioris. Of this society, we Provident Institution, will soon, publista understand that Sir Richard Phillips is a System of Book-keeping, adapted Chairman.

solely for the use of Provident InstituA New Weekly Paper, upon a plan tions, or Saving Banks. .. . bitherto unattempted in this country, An Historical and Descriptive View of is preparing for publication, devoted the Parishes of Monk Wearmouth and solely to literary purposes, Foreign as Bishop Wearmouth, and of the Port well as Domestic. It is entitled the aud Borough of Sunderland, is preparing Literary Gazette and Journal of the for publication. Belles Lettres ; aud is expressly designed Richard Preston, Esq. has in the prese, for the higher classes of society. It a Treatise of Estates; also an edition will also enjoy the peculiar advantage of Sheppard's Precedent of Precedents, of being sent free of postage to all parts and Sheppard's Touchstone of Common of the kingdom.

Assurances, with notes. i .

, Geo. Price, Esq. Barrister; is pre. - J. J. Park, Esq. is preparing a Tres paring a Treatise on the Law of Extents. tise on the Law of Dower.

The Miscellaneous Works of Charles , Mr. J. Cherpilloud has in the press, Butler, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn, are print- a Book of Versions, intended as a guide. ing in five octavo volumes. *?

to French translation and construction,

« PreviousContinue »