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important subject, to which we could not ourselves subscribe, and which we could not almost entirely recommend. We have indeed, at p. 61, to complain of a very unsatisfactory, if not uncandid, note, professing to represent certain pas sages in the writings of Calvin, Beza, Paræus, Zuinglius, Piscator, but with out referring either to the places where those passages are to be found, or to the author from whom he has derived them. Would Mr. Tuke excuse us for adducing some extracts from Leslie in this manner?
The section" on divine worship and a Gospel ministry," pp. 70, &c. contains many particulars to which we cannot but object, although we admire and accord with the piety, which animates considerable portions of it. We think the author pleads for dependence on the spirit by arguments, which, if allowed to proceed their legitimate length, would supersede, not only the means neglected by the Quakers, but all means whatsoever;-the meeting to gether, the agreement upon any regular time for that purpose, the occasional exhortations of the members, in short, the whole discipline of the society.
Our author brings forward, p. 87, the practice of the church of Corinth, described in 1 Cor. xiv. as the model, after which their conduct of public worship is framed; and he considers the argument as so decisive that it is unnecessary to adduce any other. And, indeed, when the Quakers shall have proved, that their society is distinguished by the same spiritual endowments as are recorded to have been possessed by the Corinthian Christians; that the same extraordinary effusion of the spirit, and the same evidence of it, the speaking with new tongues, are discerned among them; we will admit, that they have followed the only true model of a Christian church, and that no other society can pretend to an equal honour. But it struck us as something peculiar, that when so extravagant
a stress was laid upon this portion of Scripture, those two verses contained in the body of it, which so decisively forbid the preaching of women, should be sacrificed, with hardly any ceremony, to the supposed preponderance of a few general and doubtful declarations of other parts of Scripture upon the subject. See pp. 88-91. Respect ing the maintenance of ministers, we think the system before us equally untenable, and the representations of its present expositor deficient in candour. But we do not consider it necessary to vindicate our ecclesiastical establishment on the present occasion. The reader who wishes to know what we have to say upon this subject is referred to Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity.
As the Quakers reject the sacra ments, both of baptism and of the Lord's supper, it cannot be expected that we should acquiesce in the section on that subject, pp. 97, &c. Mr. Tuke has endeavoured to do away the force of the command, contained in Matt. xxviii. 19, by giving a figurative meaning to the term baptize, a meaning, of which, in common with any other term, it is easily suscep tible; just as if, because we read of a death unto sin, the inference were valid, that our Lord's death was only a metaphorical, and not a real one. John iii. 5. is unnoticed by our au→ thor, and his treatment of the prac tice of the apostles is not a little singular. Why are the private Corinthian Christians a better autho rity than the Apostles? We cannot conceive how so judicious a writer as Mr. Tuke generally is, could persuade himself to assert, that the transaction recorded at the beginning of John xiii. implies, that the washing of one another's feet "might with at least equa! propriety" (as the Lord's supper) be now enjoined as a religious obligation on Christians." p. 116. Let any one read the whole passage attentively, and then determine. We are hardly less surprised to find, that the very epistle to the Corinthians, upon the
representation of which respecting divine worship our author is contented that the peculiar form of the worship of his society should rest, is all at once, not only deserted but contradicted, when it displays in its form and authority, the sacrament of the Lord's supper. See chap. xi. Respecting oaths and war we differ from the author before us. But it is not necessary to repeat what has so often been said on this subject. We refer to Bishop Burnet's exposition of the xxxixth article, for our sentiments on the subject of oaths, and we approve his candid allowance for scruples on this head. Our author has not noticed 1 Cor. xv. 31. (his favourite Epistle) which, in the original, is in the very form of an oath. For our opinion concerning war we may refer to our vol. for 1804, pp. 399, &c. and pp. 611, &c. We may observe here that the reliance upon Providence, upon which the Quaker's condemnation of all war is founded, would justify a total neglect of means on every subject. We know not whether it be agreeable to the principles of Quakerism, but it is a fact, of which we have correct information, that during certain riots, the professors of this mode of religion were as forward in their applications for protection to the civil magistrate as any other description of persons, although, if that protection had been really necessary and actively afforded, it could not have been attended with less probability of bloodshed, than the attempt to take possession of a fort, or to repel an invading enemy. And upon what ground this class of society can refuse to relieve the distresses of those who have been wounded, or of the families of those who have fallen in the defence of their country, which will not equally restrain their benevolence to the greater portion of sufferings produced by other causes, we cannot conceive; unless a supposed encouragement to war be more criminal than at least the same encourage ment to vice. The passive and
peaceable principles, however, of this sect are perhaps some compen sation for the blank which they occasion in the collective and efficient power of a nation.
Respecting dress and address we shall only ask, where is the explicit scriptural injunction which is so rigidly demanded of us in support of our ceremonies?
In taking a review of the peculiarities of Quakerism, we seem to ourselves to discern the defects and aberrations of its original foundation, which, however attenuated and modified by passing through the strainers of more rational professors, discover their existence and effects to an attentive enquirer, and lead him to regret, that a secession from the established church should be occasioned by such insufficient and unwarranted causes. "In every society, civil or religious, submission is necessary to the rules of that society, in order to prevent the licentiousness and confusion which would follow, if every member acted upon his own ideas, without any external restriction." Such is the judicious observation of our author, p. 159. And lest it should be alleged, that such a claim upon the submission and communion of the members of the church interferes with the paramount dictates and authority of the spirit, he again as pertinently observes, that this objection "proceeds on a supposition, which is by no means admissible, namely, that a body of Christians, united in the helief of certain principles, is more likely to be misled, than some of the individuals constituting that body." The church has only to assume, which our author proves it allowable to do, that in its whole discipline it is under "the same divine influence which originally formed its predecessors a distinct people" from the world. See p. 161, in the section
The Divine Glory displayed by the Permission of Sin, a Sermon preached at a Monthly Meeting of the Society for the Education of Young Men for the Work of the Ministry among Protestant Dissenters, April 7, 1803, with copious Notes and References. By JOHN PYE SMITH. London, Conder, 1803. Price 2s. 8vo. pp. 84. Predestination to Life, a Sermon preached at Lee Croft, Sheffield, April 18, 1804, before an Association of Ministers, and published by Request, with explanatory Notes. BY EDWARD WILLIAMS, D. D. 2d Edition, corrected and enlarged. London, Williams and Smith, 1805. Price 1s. 6d. 8vo. pp. 54. In our review of a sermon preached by Dr. Law before the University of Cambridge, we took occasion to observe that, in our opinion, that gentleman too much discouraged the investigation of the abstruser subjects connected with theology, and that opinion we cannot help still retaining. We are apt to fear that the sermons before us (which we associate together, because they are evidently of the same family,) are censurable for excess on the opposite side. Not that the preachers venture on forbidden ground; but that they proceed on that which they have taken, with rather less diffidence than might have been wished. We are alarmed at the boldness, not of their speculations, but of their conclusions. The main topic of the one, and a very prominent topic of the other, is the old question respecting the origin of moral evil, a question probably coeval, or nearly so, with moral evil itself, and which will, in all likelihood, descend to posterity with all its difficulties on its head. It is handled by the authors before us, certainly
with much piety, but with too strong a disposition to cut through perplexities that cannot be disentangled, and then to claim the credit of having disentangled them. We must here, indeed, discriminate in some degree between these authors. Mr. Smith often speaks the language of a mind strongly impressed with a conviction of the inadequacy of all human powers to the full explanation of the deep things of God, and professes to expect, though he cannot definitely anticipate, such objections to his positions, as he has
no hope of being able completely to answer." We regret to say, we cannot extend the same observation to Dr. Williams, who allows indeed the awfulness of his subject, but whose sermon, together with its retinue of notes, we have in vain searched for a single admission, express or implied, of its difficulty,
A professed solution of the great problem respecting moral evil, when coming from men who have plainly paid much attention to religious subjects, seems to be well worth the notice of the Christian Observer; nor is an examination of it at all the less expedient, because the solution seems to us unsatisfactory. We shall, therefore, put together the thoughts which have been suggested to our minds on this subject, by a consideration of the two sermons under our review.
Before we attempt to detail the hypothesis of our authors concerning the origin of evil, it will be requisite to present our readers with some passages from Mr. Smith, in which the nature of sin is discussed. His ideas on this head are confessedly not altogether new, but we cannot think that their antiquity will shield them from attack. We find something to the same effect in one of Dr. Williams's notes; but Mr. Smith is more full.-After asserting (what will not be denied) that "sin is not a substantial being," Mr. Smith proceeds:
"Nor is sin an essential property of any being. On that supposition it would be
necessary to the very existence of that being; it would, of course, be an immediate production from the Author of all being Himself; and its presence could not possibly involve any blame or fault what ever in the sinful creature. It must, therefore, be, not an essential, but an accidental property of any being in whom it is found. "Nor is there, we are fully convinced, in the nature of sin, or in that which constitutes sin to be what it is, any thing that is positive. This is plainly deducible from the negative positions just laid down, but it is capable of farther proof. Every thing positive is either that which constitutes the real existence of any being, or it is a part of the completeness or perfection of being. All positive existence must therefore, of necessity, be an object of the ereating and sustaining power of God, the Fortner of all
things, and by whom all things consist.
"But sin is precisely the reverse of this. It is no individual being: it is not essential to the existence, or conducive to the perfection, of any being; it is a fault, a defect, a failure, an imperfection. I would express it thus: Sin, in its abstract or formal nature, is a privation of that perfection, or moral goodness, which ought to be in an accountable creature. Or thus: Sin, or moral evil, strictly and properly speaking, is a want of conformity in the disposition,
the will, and the voluntary acts of a ra
tional creature, to the only true rule of rectitude, the holiness of God expressed by the indications of His will." (p.5-7.) "It may not be unworthy of observation that in the original scriptures of the Old Testament several different terms are employed to denominate sin, and in the New Testament a much larger variety is used; all of which in their native and primary import, strongly express the notion of defect or privation. These may doubtless be considered as so many testimonies from the
oracles of God that the abstract nature of sin is privative." (p. 8.)
"But sin is not one of the works of the Lord. It is a privation, an absence, a defect. It is not among the number of positive beings. It is not among the creatures which the Almighty Maker has formed. Absurd, therefore, and impossible, as well as awfully blasphemous, is the supposition
that the Holy God can be the author of sin."
That sin is not an essential property of any being, however little we might be able to conclude it from experience, we have the very high
est authority for believing; but we can attach no meaning to the proposition on which our author lays so much stress," that the abstract nature of sin is privative." It is ob served by no less a man than Locke, immediately after his enumeration of some of the positive ideas that arise from privative causes: The privative causes I have here assigned of positive ideas, are according to the common opinion; but in truth, it will be hard to determine whether there be really any ideas from a privative cause, till it be determined, whether rest be any more a privation than motion*." In truth, every thing may be considered by the mind either privatively or positively, at her pleasure; or, which is the same thing, may receive either a privative or a positive appellation. Motion is considered as privative, and quiescence as positive, when we say of a moving body that "it is restless;" rest is considered as privative, and motion as positive, when we say of less." In this, and in a hundred sia quiescent body that "it is motionmilar instances, the positive and privative ideas are, if we may so speak, complements to each other, and therefore are mutually convertible. Even the word nothing, as Dr. Johnson justly observest, has both a positive and a negative meaning, and on the confusion of these two mean ings, the quibbling wit of most of the equivocal encomiums upon nothing is evidently founded.
The abstract term sin seems va
riously used to denote, either a particular class of mental qualities, or a particular class of actions, or perhaps more generally, a particular state or habit of mind. But in what sense, or with what propriety, either a class of mental qualities, or a class of actions, or a state of mind, can be affirmed to be in its own nature privative, we are at a loss to determine. If by this proposition we are merely to understand, that mankind vulgar ly affix a negative idea to vice, in
* Ess. Hum. Underst. book ii. ch. 8.
the same manner as they vulgarly affix, for whatever reasons, a substantive idea to light, life, or motion, even this does not appear to be true. Vice is very commonly considered under the metaphor of a disease, and virtue as the health of the soul: but nothing can be more usual than to define health privatively as the absence of all disease; and perhaps in all languages it is no less natural to designate virtue by such negative terms as innocence or spotlessness, than to associate with vice such negative epithets as impious or unprincipled.
Mr. Smith's appeal on this occasion, to the various scriptural appellations of "sin and acts of sin," we caunot think very fortunate. We might naturally expect that the sacred writings, which appear to have been designed for no purpose less than to assist our metaphysical speculations on the nature of moral evil, would take up language as they found it; and, in point of fact, we need hardly intimate that the privative appellations of sin which our author cites in his appendix, from the New Testament, were familiar to the philosophical writers of Greece. Still his argument might be worth something, if the inspired authors always appropriated negative terms to vice, and positive terms to virtue; but the case is, in both respects, completely otherwise, as the reader may convince himself by the slightest investigation*.
On the supposed privative nature of sin, this writer's vindication of the Deity, from the impious charge of being the author of sin, is entirely grounded. Every thing that is cre*Of privative nouns for virtue, furnished by the New Testament, the following are a few specimens; adiaplopia, uncorruptedness; abaposa, id.; axanos, innocent; ansφαιος, id. αμιαντος, unpolluted ; αναμάρτητος, sinless; &c. &c. Of positive terms for sin; καλια, μιασμός, πονηρία, besides the majority
of the particular vices enumerated in Rom.
i. and other places. Whoever will take
the trouble to look over a few pages of Buxtorf's Hebrew Lexicon, or Parkhurst's,
will undoubtedly find similar instances af
forded by the Old Testament.
ated must be positive; but sin is " privation, an absence, a defect," and to suppose therefore, that it is one of the creatures of God, is absurd and impossible, as well as awfully blasphemous. That such a supposition is indeed awfully blasphemous, no man, who is not a virtual atheist, will deny; but after the remarks we have already offered on privative terms, it will proba bly be apparent that the absurdity which Mr. Smith finds in the proposition alluded to, is merely ver bal. The word create, originally referring to material objects, and vulgarly bearing a positive character, retains this character in its metaphorical use, and therefore cannot, with. out violence, be associated with words of a simply privative form. Sin may be negatively defined the absence of virtue, and it is clearly absurd to say that "the absence of virtue could be created;" but it is absurd only in the same sense in which it is absurd to say that "the man who just now walked freely out of the room, created his own absence." He that uses either the one or the other expression, is guilty, not of a contradiction in terms, but merely of a solecism in language. In the same manner, it would be improper to call the absence of light a creature of the Almighty; or to assert that he creates the absence of peace in the world; but when these negative expressions are respectively changed for their affirmative equivalents, this mode of speaking may be both proper and sublime: "I am the Lord, and there is none else: I form the light and CREATE DARKNESS: I make peace and CREATE EVIL."
Since it is possible, although but remotely possible, that our strictures on Mr. Smith's mode of proving that "the Supreme Being is not the author of sin," may be misconstrued to imply some lurking doubt with respect to the doctrine itself; we cannot think it superfluous here to assert our thorough acquiescence in that doctrine, and our abhorrence not
Isa. chap. xlv. 6, 7.