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” forbin, in ane carkin
is only a ministry educated for its own sweet and solemn purposes, that it is only a ministry separated by the independent provision made for its necessary wants from the carking cares of this nether struggling world, from whom, in any numbers, these things can be expected. Heaven forbid that we should speak thus as prophets of the future—we speak as commentators on the past—we speak the voice these very societies and assemblies of men have themselves by their deeds proclaimed. Would that it were not so, would that the time might come, when it should be so no more. But the further religious societies advance in knowledge and general cultivation, the less disposed are persons, not specially qualified for the task both by leisure and education, to undertake the duties of public Religious Instructors, and the less likely are the members of the societies themselves to be content with their ministrations. Mr. Beverley indeed instances the case of the early Christians—and we might add that of the early Methodists. But why did this state of things so soon cease among the Christians ? why is it gradually ceasing among the Methodists? For the reasons already mentioned. Besides, according to Mr. Beverley's views, there was inspiration among the early Christians. They therefore needed not the time and preparation that are needed now, and the cases therefore are not analogous.
But the main difficulty in the way of a plurality of ministers, all following their own worldly vocations, is, as we have indicated, and as Mr. Beverley asserts, the growth of refinement, education, and knowledge among Christian Societies. This is the obstacle which Mr. Beverley feels to be fatal to his plans and wishes. And (will it be believed) he therefore vigorously applies himself to decry and lament this as a dreadful evil! He openly declares his aversion to the progress of intellectual acumen and attainment. He hates the name of “study”—cannot endure the idea of theological research. He would allow of a knowledge of Latin and Greek to his Preacher—but any learning beyond this he would forbid. Such expressions and indications of more recondite lore, as "primary meanings, orientalisms, historical allusions, mythic phraseology, figurative expressions, allegorical types, poetical ornaments, grammatical constructions, usus loquendi," shoot like a flight of arrows into his brain. We shall not try the patience of our readers by gravely discussing with the Author the question of the advantage or disadvantage of learning (that is, be it remembered, knowledge, though only of a particular kind) to the Preachers of Christianity, and the Investigators of Truth, but quote some of those passages from the Letters which give cheering signs of the progress both of opinion and learning among the Independent Congregationalists.
Extract from the Pastoral charge at an ordination. “Science and Literature are now so widely diffused, even over the middling classes, that no small measure of information is requisite to enable a minister to converse with his own flock ; unless therefore you intend to devote eight hours a-day to your studies, I have no expectation that you will long retain this pulpit. To secure such a portion of time as this, it will be necessary to guard against that temptation to neglect the study, with which a ministerial station in this mighty city must ever be attended.”—Letters, p. 53.
Symptoms of Progress. " It has been my lot to hear orthodox non-conformists deliver sermons, such as, I should have supposed, could have been heard only in Socinian chapels; for though they did not attack the foundations, nor assert anything contrary to sound faith, yet so entirely did they omit the gospel, or any allusion to any one of its doctrines, that a Mahommedan or a Jew might have listened with pleasure to the whole discourse, without wincing at one word, except the formulary at the end. The language was excellent, the thoughts were vigorous, the delivery animated, the ac. tion just and graceful, the manner energetic and decorously impassioned, forming a tout ensemble which commanded attention, and secured unabated interest : but alas! not one word was uttered, by which one could guess that the preacher was of the Christian” (in Mr. Beverley's sense) " persuasion. The discourse on one particular occasion was on prayer; and yet, in a long sermon on this vital subject, every thing was said almost that could be said, excepting the truths revealed in the gospel ; the throne of grace; the great High Priest ; the only approach to God through his righteousness and intercession; and the angel to whom has been given much incense,' that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne !' All this was passed by; the celebrated preacher was discoursing of the God of nature, the God of the natural man, “Jehovah, Jove, or Lord ;' and a Guru from the banks of the Ganges, or a Mullah from the mosque of Mecca, might have said amen to this Christian Sermon !”—Letters, p. 55.
The following comparison between the learning of the Established, and that of the Dissenting Ministry, is ably drawn, and is extremely just.
“ From all that has been already urged, it must be anticipated, that I am to find a parallel in this point among the Dissenters; and this is certainly no difficult task ; for ' a learned ministry' is no where more highly esteemed than amongst the Calvinistic Dissenters." (We are glad to hear this, and also to believe it true.] “ The Congregational Magazine has lately asserted, that the body of the non-conformist ministers are as learned as their brethren (i. e. priests) of the • dominant sect.' In exegetical and hermeneutical theology, I think they are decidedly more learned than the established clergy, whilst in classical attainments they are beneath them : for it is a fact well known, that at the two great Universities, and especially at Cambridge, theology is so little studied, taught, or encouraged, that the clerical candidates do sometimes approach episcopal ordinations, in a state of extreme ignorance on those subjects, in which it would be but decent that they should have some information. This truth is so apparent, that a notorious prelate has lately talked of establishing a theological school, to prepare the candidates for examination, and to furnish them with that theology which they failed to acquire at the university ; and yet it is extremely probable, that these young gentlemen, whose pinions are ingloriously deploomed by a Bishop's chaplain, would be able to pass a brilliant examination in Greek tragedies and comedies, in Greek and Latin versification, or in a course of pure mathematics. There is more knowledge of the Hebrew langurge amongst dissenting ministers than amongst the clergy ; but, in a critical knowledge of the Greek, the clergy excel the non-conformists. In a general acquaintance with history, and the range of the belles lettres, the superiority is again with the learned' clergy ; but in those things which it behoves erudite Levites to understand ; that is, in all clerical lore-in all solid divinity—the non-conformist ministers far surpass their well-paid antagonists.”—Letters, p. 39.
From a great deal of miscellaneous matter in the concluding letters, we extract this acute statement of the rationale of Methodist tactics in Church questions.
“ The fact is, that conference perceives the signs of decadence in the Established Church : it expects, as all other classes of society do, the downfall of the establishment, and is wisely resolved to observe a strict neutrality in the workings of this great catastrophe. The Methodists could not begin a warfare against the Church, without materially perplexing and impeding the smooth course of their own affairs ; for, if conference were to allow their people to meddle with the inflammatory matter of Church Reform, they could not be surprised to see their own house taking fire in the progress of the warfare.
Nam tua res agitur paries quum proximus ardet.' “ It would be an act of insanity in the rulers of Methodism, to allow their vast body, which, even now, is with much difficulty kept within bounds, to agitate such questions as are of necessity involved in a controversy with the Church ; for who does not see, that if once they were permitted to attack priests, tithes, church-rates, and the arbitrary power of the clergy, and to investigate the scriptural foundations of the establishment, they must, of necessity, go a step further, and conclude, that conference itself is a mere usurpation, and an invention of man's artifice. It is, therefore, the obvious policy of conference, to avoid this controversy, and we need not be surprised to see them expelling without mercy, those members or ministers, who have temerariously handled the burning coal of · Church and State.' Conference stands as much in need of conservative management as the Church of England itself ; the Wesleyan rulers are wise in their generation, and thoroughly understand the act of avoiding what is dangerous, as well as adopting what is politic.”—Letters, p. 115.
ART. IV.-TRACTS FOR THE PEOPLE, DESIGNED
TO VINDICATE RELIGIOUS AND CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. Vol. I. London: Effingham Wilson; J. Green; &c.
(Second Notice.) The necessity for reverting to the great principles on which Protestantism in general rests, or, to speak more definitely, RELIGIOUS and CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, which, though the foun. dation of Protestantism, were never truly held by the soi-disant Protestant Established Churches, is becoming every day more and more apparent. The exertions which have been, and are, making by the members of those Churches to place them in their most offensive attitude, call for counter-efforts, and though dissenters are not backward in looking for their political rights, and urging their peculiar opinions, they seem almost to have lost sight of the grand foundation, that the subjects of Christ's kingdom are not, in matters relating to it, accountable to any other master. This is ably maintained in the first of the Tracts to be at present noticed (the 5th of the Series). It is a Sermon that was preached in March 1717, before the first of the Hanoverian dynasty, ancestor in the sixth ascending degree of our present beloved Queen, by Benjamin (Hoadly,) Lord Bishop of Bangor, a sermon which went through a very great number of editions, and gave rise to the Bangorian Controversy, in which almost every able writer of the day was engaged. It was printed by the King's command, as a mark of approbation, but drew on the Bishop the resentment of the Lower House of Convocation, who issued a denunciation “ of its dangerous positions and doctrines,” and would have proceeded further if they had not been completely stopped by a royal prorogation. The King did not indeed desert his principles, but with the concurrence of his Ministry promoted him in the Church, and he finally attained, in the succeeding reign, the see of Winchester. The object of this Sermon was to investigate “ the nature of the Kingdom or Church of Christ," and the text chosen was John xviii. 36 : “ Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world.” Hence the writer, after some preliminary remarks on the changes in the meaning of words, lays down that Christ is sole head of his Church, “ sole lawgiver to his subjects,” “ sole judge of their behaviour in the affairs of conscience and eternal salvation." "He has left behind him no visible human authority, no vicegerents, who can be said properly to supply his place; no interpreters upon whom his subjects are absolutely to depend, no judges over the consciences or religion of his people.” After