صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

righteous is the propitiation for our sins.' But if you take away this ground of confidence, how shall any of us presume to draw near to our offended God? or who shall entreat for us?'

"The established Christian lives in the

habit of a continual and most affectionate regard to Christ as dying for him; and thus only can he make any progress, or even maintain his profession."

“From the sacrifice of the cross he derives his strongest motives for holy obedi

euce, and for vigorous exertions in the service of his Lord. This inspires him with cheerful diligence and fervent zeal, from a sense of his immense obligations. For thus be will argue, when he is fixed in devout contemplation on Mount Calvary, I am not my own; I will therefore glorify him, who hath bought me with his blood. The love of Christ constrains me: and I can

no longer live unto myself, but unto him who died for me.' Is there any other principle equally efficacious? (vol. i. p. 400.)

Our limits will not permit us to insert the whole of the passage, in which Mr. Robinson shews how "the atonement thus enters into the whole of our religion, and constitutes its very essence. (vol. i. p. 402.)

ور

In entering upon the doctrine of the influence and operations of the Holy Spirit, Mr. Robinson expresses himself in terms, which seem to us too general and unrestrained, and which perhaps tend to bespeak opposition respecting the reception which this doctrine meets with from the world at large; though unquestionably his remarks have too wide an application.

"The subject is rendered still more difficult by the extreme contempt, if not malignity, with which every strenuous advocate for the doctrine is treated. It is seldom indeed, that any candid attention is given even to the most serious and solid representation of it. The very mention excites disgust; every expression is carped at and made matter of offence; and those persons, who might otherwise be accounted sensible and prudent, are sneered at and held up to universal derision, as visionaries, fools and enthusiasts, of a weak or a deranged intellect, as soon as they dare to declare their experience or expectation of the assistance of the Holy Ghost. Who sces not, that it requires uncommon caution and circumspection to avoid occasions of reproach, or even to maintain an argu

ment with those, who are disposed to pervert our words, and turn them into ridicule? Surely this unfairness in our opponents is to be lamented and complained of." (vol. ii. p. 21.)

Mr. Robinson however, is far from affirming that this doctrine has not been very greatly abused. And here we are happy to adduce his valuable testimony in aid of our own, respecting the mischievous effects resulting to the interests of vital religion, from the countenance which is given by too many in the present day to those extravagant pretences to spiritual illumination, and those violent impulses and agitations, which are a scandal to religion, and the grief of every sober Christian. See Christian Observer, vol. i. p. 667. vol. ii, p. 571. vol. iii, p. 519, 568, 633, and 641.

"We acknowledge," he observes, "with grief, that sad abuses of the doctrine have prevailed, and do still prevail, among those who contend for it. Nay, some, even in modern times, bave made such absurd, inconsistent and extravagant pretenees to the communications of the Holy Spirit, that we should be ashamed to be ranked with them, and this tendency to religious wildness has much increased the difficulty of treating the subject of divine influences.

We would carefully guard against fanaticism, which, as well as deism, has its dangers; and we should think it dishonourable to vindicate any claims or sen, timents, which are not grounded on the written word of God, and will not bear & solid examination. Some we know, speak

of their visions and revelations, as if they were rapt up like the Apostle, into the third heaven, and held conversation with its blessed inhabitants. There are those also, who wait for some violent impulse or agitation from the spirit, before they attempt the plainest and most necessary duty. We hear with real concern, that there are religious assemblies, disgraced with shrieks and vociferations which must produce the most shameful tumult and confusion, and which are nevertheless injudiciously, (we would not say profanely) ascribed to the Holy Ghost. Pretences to the gift of prophecy have likewise of late excited an unusual stir among us: and it is grievous to remark, that so many have suffered themselves to be imposed upon by predictions delivered in such language, as bears no stamp of the divine spirit, and leaves no

doubt of the derangement, or what is worse, the wickedness of their authors." (vol. ii. p. 22.)

If proofs of the facts alleged by Mr. Robinson were wanting, they might be procured in abundance from more than one periodical work published in this country.

The following account of the contents of one of the chapters on the illumination of the spirit affords a clear idea of our author's views of this subject.

duced by this light are very different from those which are derived only from the deductions of reason." Still we are in the dark on this subject. The question propounded, and perhaps somewhat needlessly propounded, in this place, is "wherein does this spiritual wisdom differ from mere rational perceptions?" And the answer which is here given seems merely to be that it does differ. He proceeds, "it is not possible by any explanation to convey to another, "The spirit teaches no new truths, but who has nothing more than naturai opens the understanding to understand the powers however cultivated, any adeScriptures:-guides the humble, and not quate idea of these spiritual apprethe self sufficient;-gives spiritual apprehensions: for then we could not hensions, accompanied with, but distinct from holy affections;-does not cherish pride, but the contrary:-does not render infallible, or teach all equally ;-is often imperceptible in the beginning, and always gradual in the progress of his illumination." (vol. ii. p. 73.)

We much approve of this general statement; but we do not fully enter into that distinction which seems to be so carefully made between spiritual apprehensions and holy affections. In the course of this chapter, Mr. R. subjects himself, as we think, to some farther animadversions. "Wherein," he says, (vol. ii. p. 84.)" does this spiritual wisdom differ from mere rational perceptions? A brief answer may be given: the Holy Ghost enables us to conceive of spiritual things in a spiritual manner." To us this appears too much like explaining one unknown thing by another, ignotum per ignotius. Our author, however, properly adds, " and exhibits to the mind the doctrines of revelation not only as true but as excellent." Even this excellence how ever will be admitted, and in some sense felt, or thought to be felt, by all who range themselves on the side of the doctrines of the Gospel. And yet Mr. Robinson, as we are well persuaded, would by no means affirm that all the Professors of sound doctrine are truly spiritual persons. The definition therefore is still imperfect. He goes on to say, "the convictions and impressions pro

maintain our position, that they can
be communicated no otherwise than
This cir-
by a divine influence.
cumstance therefore, cannot dis-
prove their reality; any more than
our inability to make a man born
blind comprehend the variety of co-
lours, would disprove the existence
of light." There is, in our appre-
hension, something mystical and
unsatisfactory in the passage which
we have quoted; and in the succeed-
ing pages, though some answer is at-
tempted to the question proposed,
there is a portion of the same ob-
scurity:

Mr. Robinson speaks of men (p. 85.) to whom "the word of God which they might before have read, and studied, and understood 'grammatically," (surely he does not mean only grammatically) "is now in their estimation a new and far more glorious book:" he also speaks of their seeing it "in so different a point of view," &c. The nature of this difference is the point, which we wish that Mr. Robinson had here more clearly explained. We also regret that in this place he so much appears to oppose spiritual, to rational, perceptions. Surely the Holy Spirit may be considered as exercising his influence through the medium of the rational part of man; and the terms rational and spiritual may therefore not improperly be combined. Mr. Robinson himself seems, in another place, to agree with us

nature heinous and detestable." "They,” that is sincere penitents," will extend their view to every article of duty." "They will consider their defect in goodness, as

in this sentiment, see page 312, vol. ii. where he says that God "is pleased to work on men in a way suited to their rational faculties, by arguments and illustrations address-well as their positive commission of evil, as

ed to their understanding and affections." Our author indeed, is certainly in the right in "contradicting those advocates for the honour of human reason, who argue that the influence of the spirit is confined to the affections, and has no concern whatever with the understanding." (p. 86.) We, for our part however, are not disposed to distinguish so carefully or metaphysically as is often done, between the various faculties of the mind. The practice of many modern di

vines has been to divide the intellectual man into three parts; the understanding, the will, and the affections; and then to shew, in an orderly course, both the corruption of each, and the renovation of cach by the Holy Spirit. We do not much complain of this procedure, which is in some degree that of Mr. Robinson. We are of opinion, nevertheless, that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit acquires by these means a character somewhat differing from that which it has in Scripture: that more of metaphysics is introduced into our religion than is to be found in the word of God: that explanations of the nature of the divine influence on the mind become too critical and extended: and that, while the divine is combining with his theology his own definition of the faculties of the human soul, he says more, perhaps, than either the ignorance of some will permit them to understand, or the acute philosophy of others will allow them to approve.

But we would call our readers from this subject to the following excellent passage in the chapter on true repentance. Here all is plain and practical, luminous and clear.

"Unfeigned, genuine repentance will produce deep contrition, not only for certain gross enormities, but for every violation of the divine law, as being in its own

justly meriting the displeasure of their God, and requiring their continual humiliation. The weakness of their faith, the coldness of their love, their stupor and weariness in spiritual exercises, will constrain them to loathe themselves and cry earnestly for mercy.

"This is the sin

"Most persons are aware, that they are drawn to some particular sin more forcibly than to any other.” which doth so easily beset them:' and this is what hypocrites and dissemblers in reli"But true gion are disposed to retain.” adversary, more than any other, be rerepentance" "requires that this powerful nounced and overcome."

"Such a conviction and hatred of sin, as we have now described, will be invariably accompanied with an ardent design to repair the mischief, which it has produced. It is not possible, indeed, by any exertions whatever, to effect this: but the true penitent will be disposed to do what he can." (vol. ii. p. 148.)

After enumerating several particulars in which this disposition will be manifested, such as deep humiliation before God; renunciation of

all hope from himself, and reliance on the cross of Christ alone for salvation; restitution of every particle of dishonest gain, and vigorous opposition to sin, and to every pernicious principle; the pious and judicious author thus proceeds:

"Such views and dispositions, as we have here described to be essentially requisite

in true repentance, are produced only by a divine agency." "The sinner indeed should be addressed and reasoned with, admonished and instructed; the strongest representations of his guilt and danger should be set before him, and the most forcible methods used to awaken his conscience.

But in these our endeavours to reclaim and convert, we should remember that all our the Lord be pleased to employ us as his expostulations will be inefficacious, unless instruments; and on him therefore our dependence should be placed. He works by

means, and by such means, as are adapted to the constitution of our nature. He deals with men as rational and free agents; he calls to them as such, and by argument and exhortation he inclines their wills to

[blocks in formation]

The Principles of Religion, as professed by the Society of Christians, usually called Quakers. Written for the Instruction of their Youth, and for the Information of Strangers. By HENRY TUKE. London, Philips and Fardon, 1805. 12mo. pp. 178. Price 2s. 6d.

to attain a just notion of their creed. Mr. Tuke has imitated this example: but how far his work may be considered as accredited by the society which he vindicates, and of which he is a member, we have no means from the author of ascertaining.

The work is written with much temperance and candour, and, we are happy to add, with every appearance of a deep impression upon the mind of the writer of those fundamental doctrines of Christianity, in which all who deserve the name of Christians most cordially agree.

"In this work," says our author, "I have been desirous of inculcating the general principles of religion, and of Christianity, as well as those which are peculiar to our society; believing that we can no longer exist, with any degree of consistency, than whilst those principles are maintained, which constitute the basis of the Christian

religion. These, I consider, to be faith in God, and a belief of the immortality of the

soul; a humbling sense of the depravity of human nature, and of the necessity and

benefits of a redeemer; that this redeemer is Jesus Christ our Lord; that what the evangelists and apostles have written concerning hin, is true, both in relation to their accounts of his many mighty works his humanity and his divinity, as well as

and miracles, his having through the eter

spirit, offered himself unto God for us, as a propitiation for our sins, and sent the

comforter, even the spirit of truth, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and to guide into all truth.” (pp. iii, iv.)

WORKS which profess to give a suc-
cinct and faithful outline of the prin-
ciples of any sect which has risen to
consideration, if the execution in
any degree answers to the promise,
are interesting and instructive, even
to those of different religious per-
suasions; and are calculated to do
justice, if necessary, to the particular
society whose principles it is pro-
posed to delineate, and whose vin-
dication from many unjust imputa-nal
tions may be effected by the simple
statement of their tenets. This was
the intention of the celebrated Apo-
logy of Robert Barclay, a work,
which the society whom it defends
are forward to appeal to as a state-
ment of their principles, but which
has not escaped the censure, that
many of the most obnoxious of their
peculiar opinions are not propound-
ed in it with the prominence which
they really hold in the theological
system of the Quakers. Not many
years ago this body set forth a short
statement of their doctrine in a small
pamphlet*; justly supposing, as Mr.
Tuke does, that few would be dis-
posed to encounter the rather bulky
quarto or octavo of Barclay, in order

* Entitled, "A Suminary of the History, Doctrine, and Discipline of Friends: written at the desire of the Meeting for Sufferings, in London."

We have no hesitation in saying, that these important doctrines form a prominent feature in the body of the present work, and that large portions, we had nearly said the greater part, of it, may be read with satisfaction and improvement by Christians of every denomination. In some particulars we shall be naturally expected to disagree with this respectable writer, and we certainly do: but we trust, that we shall imitate him in expressing these variations of sentiment with candour and charity.

The subject of war is the first ground of difference which we meet with, and a very natural one be

tween us: not however, as bringing forward the general question of the legality of war, but as furnishing our author with a solution, which we conceive to be both illegal and dangerous, of the command given by the Almighty to the Israelites to attack and extirpate the inhabitants of Canaan. "We must allow,” says he, "that there have been times, in which divers things were lawful that are now unlawful." p. 24. Does Mr. Tuke mean to apply this observation to things of a moral nature? or will he allow that abstinence from war is not a moral duty? But if difference of times has the virtue to transform unlawful into lawful, why may not difference of other circumstunces have the same power; and then why may not war be now, or at any other time, lawful, provided the exculpatory circumstance, be it that of time or of something else, attend it? But this by the way.

In p. 29, the following passage seems to require animadversion.

"Highly, however, as these writings," the Scriptures," are to be valued, and highly indeed we do esteem them, there is not only a possibility, but a danger of placing too much dependence upon them, by preferring them to that divine principle of light and life afforded to man, of which they testify."

If by these expressions our author only meant to condemn a superstitious dependence on the letter of Scripture, independently of that Holy Spirit by whose influence alone it can be understood and rendered effectual, we find nothing to disapprove; but if he meant to insinuate, that the dictates of the Holy Spirit might be different from the Scripture written by his inspiration, and of course supersede the obligation of the latter, this, as it is the distinguishing tenet, so we consider it to be the master error of Quakerism; and if acted upon, productive of the most fatal as well as most absurd and irremediable consequences. We conceive likewise, that it is with great injustice that our author objects to the scriptural term, the word CHRIST. OBSEBY. No. 51.

of God, as applied to the sacred Scriptures. p. 30.

Mr. Tuke has, in our opinion, extended the effects of Christ's mediation, without any warrant from Scripture, to a very undue latitude. His principal support seems to be a mistaken interpretation of 1 Cor. XV. 22. The unauthorized indulgence which our author shews in his sentiments respecting those parts of the world in which the Gospel is unknown, is calculated to paralyse every effort for their illumination and conversion. The slight and dubious advantages which are ascribed to the knowledge of Christianity hardly mend the matter. We wish that among ourselves there were not many, who while they neglect all endeavours to promote the exten sion of the Gospel, lay this flattering unction to their religious indifference and indolence. See pp. 36, 37.

"The chief objects," says Mr. Tuke in the following page," of the coming of Christ, evidently appear to have been, first by the sacrifice of himself, to make atonement to God for us. Secondly, by the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness."

We certainly never remember to have seen the prophecy of Daniel so applied. We could have wished likewise, not to find the Socinian calumny adopted by Mr. Tuke against those who found the redemption of man upon his previous fall, as if it were in their view," the effect of implacable wrath." p. 39. In p. 42, perhaps without being sensible of it, this writer follows the papists in confounding justification with sanctification.

In the section " on the influences of the Holy Spirit," pp. 51, &c. we expected to have found a clear and distinct statement of the manner in which the Quakers arrange the respective authorities of the Holy Spirit and of the Scriptures: but here we were disappointed, and in part agreeably, as we do not recollect to have met with any thing upon that

A a

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »