« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
we certainly agree; but we own that such an event as a temporary subversion of the establishment in church and state, is one, which we cannot contemplate with much complacency, even if we admit that it would not be of long duration. We wish this part of the argument had been a little extended, because we think it is applicable to the present state of things, though in a different way from that in which our author has applied it. We agree with him, in trusting, that our church is able to maintain her ascendency; and we are far from wishing to be thought Alarmists. Yet, if we agree with Mr. Nares, in thinking that the danger from the increase of methodism is often exaggerated, we do not mean to assert, that no danger is to be apprehended; but upon a comparison of history with the present circumstances of this country, we are very strongly impressed with the persuasion, that the danger to be apprehended from modern fanaticism, is of a different kind, from that to which the church was exposed in the time of Charles I. The Archdeacon has well observed, that at that eventful crisis, the church fell only with the state. The church is, indeed, the same now as then; but what was the state at that period? Clearly, something essentially different, even its vital principles, from what it is now. The very rudiments of the constitution have undergone a change; and we do not fear to hazard the assertion, that the overthrow of the church could never have happened, even with a king of much inferior abilities to those of Charles I. had the constitution, at that time, reached its present state of improvement.
We will not, however, dwell any longer on this topic; but proceed to observe, that our author gives a very clear and comprehensive view of the rise and progress of Methodism; from which he deduces an argument of the strongest kind, tending to show the futility of the claim made by the founders of Methodism, to an immediate inspiration by the Holy Spirit.
From the intrinsic excellence, and great importance of this argument, we must lay it before our readers, in the author's words :
"About this time arose a circumstance so remarkable, as to be, in my opinion, almost decisive of the whole question. George Whitefield, soon after his return from America, publicly declared his full assent to the strictest doctrines of Calvin, on predestination and election, which he always afterwards maintained. John Wesley, on the contrary, had published his sentiments in favour of the opposite doctrines of Arminius, which he also continued to hold without variation to the end of his long life. Had these men been contented to be received as mere human teachers, there would have been nothing uncommon or extraordinary in such a difference of opinion. But, as
both chose afterward, to assume the style and manner of the Apostles; pretending, and perhaps in their enthusiasm, sometimes believing, that their thoughts, words, and many of their most trivial actions, were suggested by the especial influence of the Holy Spirit, how can any one reconcile so remarkable a disagreement with those extraordinary pretensions? Is God the author of confusion? Will the Holy Spirit teach one doctrine to one man, and the very contrary to another, both especially employed, in what they delighted to call, the Work of God? Is this credible? Is it even possible? If not, we have, almost in the beginning of their history, this very strong reason for denying the pretensions of one, at least, of these teachers: and as their claims were so similar, and supported by means so exactly alike, there arises immediately a strong suspicion, that we ought to deny the pretensions of both. Nor was this their only important difference in point of doctrine.
From this æra the division took place, which has ever since continued, between the Calvinistic Methodists, under Whitefield, and the Arminian Methodists, under Wesley. And this sect esteemed so formidable, and in some respects appearing so, was, even under the government of its first teachers, a house divided against itself. As the doctrines of these two leaders differed, so did their discipline. Wesley, who appears from his first journals, to have been intimately connected with the Moravians, though he differed from them in some points, adopted and copied their discipline: by the assistance of which he much strengthened, as well as greatly extended, the union of his proselytes. Whitefield seems not to have digested any regular plan for embodying his people; but to have trusted more implicitly to his own exertions, and the influence of his preachers,
Nor is this difference in discipline so unimportant as otherwise it might appear, in two men who equally professed to be divinely commissioned to restore and extend the true faith of Christ. It is certain, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the Apostles, who were in truth, divinely commissioned and inspired, established one uniform mode of discipline in all the churches which they planted; the same or nearly the same, as that which was reverently preserved in all churches till the Reformation; and which, at that period, removing only the corruptions which time had introduced, was most studiously and carefully continued by the Church of England. These modern Apostles, on the contrary, differed in their discipline as much as in some parts of their doctrine; so little appearance was there of the operation of the same spirit within them." P. 295.
It will be needless to offer any comments on this admirable and conclusive piece of reasoning. It deserves the serious attention of all who profess themselves members of our church, and most especially, we wish we could enforce the consideration of it on the attention of those whom it is unfortunately least.likely to reach, but on whom it would be of most importance to urge the argument. The author goes on to point out many other inconsistencies, which these modern
Apostles betrayed, and which clearly tend to establish the former conclusion. And if these differences and oppositions are a decisive proof, that the founders of Methodism were not really under any especial influence of the Holy Spirit, yet more abundant proofs are brought forward to show, that their disciples and followers exhibited still stronger marks of an influence at direct variance with that which we must ascribe to the Holy Spirit.
"The dangerous dream of inward feelings with which both Whitefield and Wesley were infatuated, has actually led thousands to despair; and still greater numbers to a vain, enthusiastic, and delusive confidence and presumption, little more favourable to the state of their souls than despair itself. Hence it is, that in all the narratives of these pretended saints, we read of deluded men, women and children, rolling on the ground, and groaning in all the agonies of despair, and then on a sudden, crying out, that they had received the gift of God, and were happy; or falling down instantaneously, as in a fit, on hearing the exhortation of the preacher, and then declaring themselves converted: instances which may be paralleled completely and abundantly in every history of enthusiasm, quackery, or imposture; but no where in the Scripture of God, nor in any genuine history of true religion." P. 305.
The author then makes many sensible remarks on the gloom and despair too often produced by the Calvinistic doctrines as well as the equally dangerous presumption induced by a fallacious feeling of enthusiastic confidence and assurance. He comments in terms of deserved severity, on the practice so often adopted of making condemned criminals believe themselves converted, and go to their deaths rejoicing, with all their crimes upon their heads. But we must pass over a considerable part of the excellent advice given on these and kindred topics, with an earnest recommendation of these to all, especially our clerical readers.
The conclusion of the charge contains a caution against increasing divisions, by keeping up a feeling of hostility against those of the established clergy, who maintain Calvinistic doctrines. The author is far from having any bias to those doctrines himself; but he conceives a man may be a Christian without being of necessity either a Calvinist or an Arminian. He considers these doctrines as not of fundamental importance; he has no doubt that our articles were framed so that they might be subscribed with a good conscience, both by Calvinists and Arminians, and might be articles of union, not of separation. In this spirit of moderation, and these counsels of conciliation, we fully agree, so long as mere abstract doctrinal belief is the only point of disagreement.
But there seems to be an unfortunate tendency in human nature, which renders it almost impossible to find a belief in the Calvinistic doctrines, unaccompanied by the outward manifestations of a sectarian spirit and irregularity of conduct. That the two things need have nothing to do with each other, we admit; yet in point of fact, they generally are inseparable concomitants. It is not against any body of our clerical brethren, that we maintain hostility, because they adopt the peculiar hypothesis of Calvin, but because they adopt practices inconsistent with the purity and dignity of the church, and external peculiarities not sanctioned by its discipline. Because, while they strenuously maintain their claim to being orthodox members of the church, they do, in fact, identify themselves both in spirit and conduct with the sectarists, and chiefly, because they form themselves into a sect, under the pretence of upholding the doctrines of the reformers; which they accuse us of deserting; and wish to constitute themselves the sole, genuine and uncorrupted body of the Church of England.
They first form themselves into a party, separate themselves by their own peculiarities, as well as external association, from the rest of their brethren, and then accuse the rest of their brethren of forming a party against them. They complain of division and hostility, which they were themselves the first to commence; and from the fact that some of our reformers had individually a leaning to the Calvinistic theory, maintain the very logical conclusion, that consequently the Calvinistic theory is an essential part of the genuine faith of the Church of England. It is evident, that upon precisely the same grounds, nearly all the ministers of the establishment, at the present day, are heretics, because they believe in the Newtonian system of the universe; since the reformers unquestionably believed in the Ptolemaic, and the 39 Articles, may be consientiously subscribed by believers in both.
We have thus fairly and impartially discharged our duty. We entertain the most sincere respect for Archdeacon Nares's ability and labours, in support and defence of the church: and we see in all that he says, the operation of a perfect sincerity in upholding the doctrines of the church, and a strenuous zeal in reproving vice and immorality. It is in the most perfect consistency with this respect, that we have thought it incumbent on us to notice what appear to us his errors, as well as to give our tribute of praise to his numerous excellencies.
ART. VII. The Two Minas and the Spanish Guerillas. Extracted and translated from a Work On Spain," written by Captain H. Von Brandt, a Prussian Officer, who served in one of the Polish Regiments attached to the French Army during the Peninsular War. By a British Officer. 8vo. 77 pp. Egerton. 1825.
We do not understand the object of this publication: The editor declares that he has no intention to depreciate the -services of Espoz y Mina. The author, whose work is translated, appears to have desired nothing better than such a consummation. We doubt whether either of the gentlemen has succeeded; the real effect of the book is to lower the character of Mina; but at the same time to increase the general estimate of the merits of the Spanish Guerillas. There is one striking passage which we have great pleasure in extracting; the remainder may be consulted by such as take an interest friendly or hostile, in the adventures. of our modern Jack the giant-killer, but it is of little historical or critical importance.
"If the strength of the contending parties was equal, that is, in the proportion of two to four, for otherwise the guerillas did not stand the test, they descended from their mountains, and, by numerous provocations, soon forced the French to seek them. An ambush, placed with great caution, for the purpose of surprising the advanced guard, opened the day. Generally after the first attack, these enfans perdus sought the plain, and fell back upon the main body; which, as soon as it perceived our troops, raised a dreadful cry, and usually commenced a sharp fire, without paying any regard to the distance which might separate it from us. I recollect instances in which we pursued the terrible Mina from hill to hill, without firing a single shot, whilst his men uselessly expended several thousand cartridges. When the ground favoured the operation, the French always made an impetuous charge upon their opponents, who generally retreated after a feeble resistance. If, in the mean time, an opportunity presented itself of laying a snare for the rapidly pursuing victors, it was seized, and every possible advantage taken of the ground, but, with their usual want of perseverance and courage. They then disappeared among the mountains, and generally, on the following day, distanced us by ten or twelve leguas. No troops in the world would have been able to overtake them.
"The enemy must have been infinitely superior in numbers, to have ventured to commence the attack upon us and even in this case, they preferred enticing us to an ambush. Small elevations of ground lining the road, commanded by another row of hills at a short distance, frequently intersected by rugged hollows, appeared to be their favourite resource. When we had thus fallen into the snare, which, considering the very peculiar formation of the ground, could