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“ There are two circumstances attend- must occur to every converted sinner, ing these recent conversions, which, though trembling under the consciousness of they do not invalidate their sincerity, or guilt, and first awakened to a hope of the diminish their importance, or weaken the Divine mercy; and it is not, perhaps, unevidence of the Divine mercy in their natural that he should seek in the doctrine production, may lead us to question the of a personal and gratuitous election, the arguments drawn from them in defence solution of a mystery which overpowers of peculiar interpretations of Scripture; his understanding, as much as it affects or at least to suspect, that, however these and interests his heart.” Letters, vol. i. interpretations might be established by pp. 179–183, such an inquiry as is here supposed, the capacity for such an inquiry is commonly
And in pp. 194, 195, the author precluded by the circumstances of the continues : In the history of these conversions
“ If, under these new and awful im(at least in the great majority of instances which are detailed in the religious bio- pressionsthe more awful, perhaps, from
their novelty, he finds not sympathy in graphy of our day), we find that the excitement to the study of Scripture has
his own society; if his fears are treated been communicated through the medium
as visionary, and his feelings as enthusi
astic; if, instead of being encouraged to of some tract or memoir; designed in
a sober investigation of his case, he is deed, and generally well adapted, to pre
urged to turn away from the contemplapare the mind for the fundamental truths
tion; and if, through a well-meant, but illof the Gospel, but combining with these
advised, solicitude for his quiet, religious truths some peculiarity of application, and
conversation is generally avoided, or led drawing them into such connection with
into channels in which he perceives a conother doctrines more questionable, or less important, as to form, in the mind of the stant reference to his supposed enthuunexperienced inquirer, a chain very diffi- siasm, no soundness of belief, no aecuracy
of theological statement, no scriptural cult to be broken.
illustration of doctrinal questions will re“ Through this preparatory instruction
concile him to an association where heart he comes to the study of his Bible; and,
answers not to heart. It is not of the attaching to the texts which have been
truth of the Christian religion that he impressed upon his mind the interpreta- doubts; it is not of the doctrines or the tion under which he at first received them; precepts of Christianity that he wants a he naturally forms his principles upon this clearer explanation : it is a balm for his interpretation. He collates the Scripture wounded spirit that he seeks ; and he will evidence for these principles
, probably shrink with deep and bitter feeling from under the same instruction; or shrinking the caustic irony or contemptuous pity from the task of a general collation of that tells him his wounds are imagitexts, as affording too much scope for an
nary." exercise of reason, which he has been taught to consider as presumptuous, he Having stated these and some fastens upon some strong and insulated other incidental causes of what the position, and, connecting it with the author considers Calvinistic prejupractical or historical commentary through which he has perhaps been led to the dices, he subjoins the following decontemplation of it, he receives it as a
scription and admonition with releading and unquestionable principle; and spect to a counter-prejudice, which frames his whole scheme in accordance, he allows to be of a far more suspiif not in subserviency, to this primary cious and dangerous nature. We impression.
give the passage, as we gave the « Another circumstance, from which I last, without comment; though our think a strong tendency to such an im- readers will see that both of them pression may be derived, is the deep con
furnish matter for a considerable viction of hereditary and actual sinful- extent of remark, on which we scarce ness, which must precede an implicit reception of the salvation revealed in the ly know how to enter without emGospel
, and will be felt with additional barking in a long and not altogether force, in cases of aggravation or recent
profitable controversy. We shall, transgression. * What am I, O Lord, and however, 'urge one or two remarks what is any father's house, that thou hast at a future page. brought me hitherto?' are questions which “ Allow me to add a few words upon a Some very
sort of counter-prejudice, which in my unhumbled, unconverted, unsancmind) has had no small effect in widening tified; so that, however unexcepthe present divisions. The general asso
tionable may be the channel of ciation of serious habits with Calvinism has led to an association, equally capri- duties of the Gospel will always prove
conveyance, the great doctrines and cious, and more dangerous, of soundness in church principle with a large indulgence unpalatable to the worldly mind. in secular pursuits and amusements; and This consideration leads us tothemore a fear of the imputation of Calvinistic opi- serious causes of prejudice ; namely, nions has held many well-meaning per. those * of a moral kind, which are sons in the trammels of the world, and dwelt upon by our author, in five restrained them from a decided profession rather desultory, but strongly writof religion. I believe this apprehension
ten, letters. Among these, pride sometimes contributes to produce an apparent levity of practice and conversation, justly holds a very distinguished where there is not a correspondent levity place. “In pride, in reasoning of heart; and that some who fali oder pride, our error lies.” the indiscriminate censure of the stricter discriminating observations are also party, if they do not actually condemn given on misconducted curiosity, in themselves the thing which they allow' and mistaken zea!, as two other and sanction by their example, would be sources of prejudice. found, if they were fully understood, either to yield their compliance with such pur- religious discussions, to consider curiosity
“ It has been so much the practice in suits, as a sort of sacrifice to prejudice, or to adopt them as a vindication of indepen
as a vice, and zeal as a virtue, that I fear dence, where they apprehend their right you will think it a fanciful speculation, to of private judgment to be invaded.
reduce these qualities to their abstract ** It is not, however, by the jealous connected with their existence in the per
form, and separate them from the ideas assertion of this right, in points of a dis
son of a moral and responsible agent. putable nature, but by an entire tolerance
Under this view, however, they appear, upon such points, and a careful separation of them from the essentials of religion, like many other affections implanted by that the discords in our church will be
the Creator, neither morally virtuous nor
vicious in themselves; but capable of a healed, and her true interests advanced.
moral application or perversion : and proAnd it is by exhibiting the whole beauty and consistency of the Christian cha portionally instrumental to the improve
ment or deterioration of the character with racter, in a state of obvious separation from the peculiar principles of Calvinism, which they are combined. In this resthat those who deprecate the extension of pect they differ from pride, and from the
malevolent passions,—which are natuthese principles in the church, can best dissolve the association through which they not be divested of their moral turpitude,
rally and abstractedly vicious, and canare promoted. Nothing will so effectually by any culture or modification. And this remove the bias towards these principles, distinction, by the way, may suggest an as the display of a sounder system under
answer to a favourite cavil of infidelity; the same association; and the exercise of a modest and charitable allowance for dis- namely, that the original righteousness crepancies of opinion which are unimpor- sistent with the possibility of their fall,
ascribed to our first parents seems incontant, or for errors of judgment which are
as the notion of a perfect virtue includes unavoidable.” Letters, vol. i. pp. 201, 202.
impeccability; and that consequently the We certainly allow a due degree passions upon which temptation could be of weight to considerations of this successfully exercised must have been mo.nature : but, after all the specifica- rally vicious in their character
. We find, tions which may be adduced of the addressed to the passion of curiosity;
however, the first temptation in paradise incidental “ causes by which evan
one of those probationary qualities (if I gelical religion has been rendered may call it so) which was to derive its less acceptable to persons of cul- character from its application, and the free tiyated taste," or of no taste at exercise of which was quite compatible all, we are still convinced that the with a perfectly upright, though not an great quarrel with religion lies far impeccable, nature.” Vol. i. pp. 213, 214. deeper; that it springs from a heart It is justly observed afterwards,
2 A 2
that we too often search the Serip- each other, might not, under other cirture, when we search it at all, not, cumstances, have incited them to more like the Bereans, to know whether criminal acts of persecution? these things are so, but how they
“ If polemical real may be ranked Some observations follow amongst the causes of prejudice, the same
quality, directed to practical subjects, will upon zeal, which much remind us probably prove the best restorative of of the calm and candid reasonings peace. Upon this ground (not neutral, of Mr. Whateley on Party Spirit. but common,) the faithful servants of Zeal is defined by our letter writer Christ may meet; and while each conto be a certain constitutional ardour scientiously holds his own view of peculiar and energy of mind; but afterwards, doctrines, all may unite in urging that test with not an absolute precision of of Christian fidelity upon which there logic, he tells us that it is infinitely love me, keep my Commandments.””
can be no dispute or dissension: If ye important to distinguish between true Letters,
. i. pp. 232, 233. Christian zeal, and mere party spirit, or constitutional energy. Chris. On the subject of interest, as antian zeal may doubtless be mixed other cause of religious prejudice, up with constitutional ardour and we have a just defence of religious fervency of mind, (though in pro- establishments, though with a warnportion as it becomes merely con- ing respecting their liability to abuse stitutional, it sinks, strictly speak- in this particular. We extract the ing, in its claim to the epithet reli- following remark. gious, even though applied to a re- “ If this vigilance be peculiarly necesligious object,) but, on the other sary to the members of a privileged church, hand, a person destitute of constitu- it is equally incumbent on them not to tional fervor, may, through the grace suffer the fear of equally uncharitable conof God, be highly zealous in his ser
structions to restrain them in the expresvice, under an overwhelming sense
sion of opinions which they have carefully of its value, and the duty and ob- scanned, and honestly adopted; and it is ligation of being intensely devoted perhaps one of the severest trials of the to it.-We quite agree with the when duty calls him into the field of public
conscientious minister of an establishment, spirit of the following question. controversy, that in defending the most The sentiment that succeeds is con- sacred principles of his faith, he is supveyed in that somewhat paradoxi- posed to be labouring for his temporal cal manner which is conspicuous in emolument; and in guarding the bulwarks these volumes, but which by no
of a national church, by which he holds means adds to their lucidness or
that faith to be best secured, he is too interest ; and which, besides, often
often accused of contending for the posprevents our clearly ascertaining indeed, so common a prejudice, that some
sessions of a privileged order. This is, whether we do or do not coincide of the noblest defences of Christianity, in opinion with the author. We have been depreciated on account of their can scarcely understand what is ecclesiastical origin; and the very circummeant by polemical zeal leading to stance that gives the highest value to every peace, even when employed for a other literary production, viz. that it is peaceful object. It appears to us
the work of a person professionally acsomewhat like the stillness produced quainted with the subject, is here urged as by a multitude of people calling out
a ground of discredit.” pp. 248, 249. for silence. We however heartily
Other causes of religious preagree with the author, in wishing judice are urged; amongst which that Christians would more diligent- are ignorance, indolence, personal ly exert zeal (not polemical zeal) for prepossessions, &c. In reference to the object which he proposes.
the last, we read “ It behoves us seriously to consider, “ In the case of rival teachers in the whether the hot and intemperate zeal that church, (I mean not any intentional rivalleads Christians to indulge unchristian ship, but that attitude of emulation which feelings, and to speak bitter things against the prejudice of their followers unavoid
ably produces between the preachers of warmly complained of in some other different schools,) we find the influence of publications, an appearance as if personal prepossession changing apparent- the chief blame lay where in fact it ly the form and character of the doctrine; does not. and the very same positions canvassed
Two observations arise on this with pertinacious jealousy which would have been received, from a different quarter, part of our subject, which it is our with implicit respect. We hear, perhaps, duty to urge upon the author and the charge of legality thrown unon the the readers of these Leiters. sermons of Scott and Cooper, wheir
The îrst is; Let us beware or preached from pulpits to which the epi- making it appear that prejudice only thet of orthodox has been reproachfully separates the godly from the ungodly applied; and doctrinal expositions de- of mankind. Such a representation livered from the same pulpits, (which from would furnish a most injurious arguthe lips of an evangelical preacher
, would ment in the hands of our spiritual have been received with confidence and applause,) if advanced by one to whom enemy, to persuade the ungodly to prejudice has denied the evangelical cha- remain just where they are. Enough, racter, either rejected as altogether un
we think, has been said to shew scriptural, or, if their soundness cannot be clearly our own decided opinion, denied, at most received as insidious or that it is far more than any prejudice enforced concessions.
which forms the line of demarcation “ This is not an exaggerated statement between the pious and the indeIt is a simple reference to what must fall
pure and the impure, the under the observation of any who attend occasionally the preaching of the different renewed and the unrenewed, porschools, and hear the comments of both tion of mankind. And if this line parties. I am far, however, from thinking shall once be thought an imaginary that all the prejudice of this kind is on boundary drawn only by pride, false the evangelical side : on the contrary, I zeal, interest, &c. &c.; one of the think the respect of persons, in forming most powerful calls to those who the doctrinal judgment, quite as strong, if are on the fatal side, furnished by not perhaps stronger, upon the other; marking the conduct and witnessing though its influence is somewhat different, the consistency and peace of those the prejudice of attraction commonly ope- who are ranged on the other, will rating in the
former class, and that of repult be wholly lost. Nor would this be sion in the latter." Letters, vol. i. pp. 263, 264.
a language without its danger, even
to the advanced Christian himself. In the above important discus- For he is but too ready, in his best sions we no doubt find, with more estate, to listen to the voice of or less accuracy, the seminal prin- temptation.
temptation. There are some deciples of all religious prejudice. ceivers, we are told, capable, if it And we fully admit the propriety were possible, of deceiving the very of applying them very closely, as elect; and no deceptions are more it is evidently the intention of our effective than those which would author to do, to those prejudices win back to the world one of its which exist in the more reputedly lost votaries, like the Israelites of pious against those who are less so. old to the well-fed bondage of
There is, we are aware, a vast mass Egypt. We know no course more of prejudice in the minds of many calculated to favour this decepgood and well-meaning persons; tion, than weakening the confiand our author, perhaps considering dence of the religious convert in that, the better men are, the more his own principles; hinting that readily they will be reached by they in truth spring from prejudice sober and affectionate appeal, has rather than from legitimate condirected the main stress of his ob- viction; and impugning the authoservations in that direction. It is rity or value of those sources, even clear, however, that this occasionally though confessedly human, through gives to his pages, what has been which the Divine Spirit was pleased to convey to his heart the principles his argument upon what he conof his own word.
siders to be prejudices arising from The other observation is ; That if that quarter. This disclosure was, we attribute certain Calvinistic pre- perhaps, the more advantageous, judices to incidental, or even moral, when, in entering at large on some we should rather say immoral causes, remarkable instances of the operaremote from the real grounds of tion of religious prejudice, and berational opinion, no less should we gimning in the three last letters of also attribute certain anti-Caivinisiic the first volume, upon the subject prejudices to the same causes. The of the Bible Society, the author different views entertained on the had to avow a distinct regard and conditions of justification, the grace attachment to the cause of that inof regeneration, and some other estimable institution ; though realleading topics, have a bearing—and ly after all, that it should be nea very strong bearing—on the state cessary for a man to aver that he of heart of those who hold them; is not a Calvinist before he can and when the worldly mind has once be suffered to be heard on the subshaken off a sense of the supreme ject of the Bible Society, is, to our importance justly attached to one minds, a far more strange, not to of the leading doctrines of the say ridiculous, prejudice than any Gospel: when it has come to be- which can be met with on the other lieve or rather to hope that regene- side of the question. ration means nothing but baptism, 3. We are thus arrived at our and justification by faith merely third point, on which, as relates to doing as well as we can, as a con- the Bible Society, we should very dition for getting to heaven through willingly say but little ; though Jesus Christ ; the immediate con- being forced upon it, we are conclusion is, to cast off all the little strained to add, that here also all care and anxiety it might have felt is not merely prejudice which is adbefore, to live as it lists, and to die vanced either for or against the as may happen, with the hope of cause of the Bible Society. A zeal impunity at least, if not of a very for the propagation of the holy high reward. No doubt, there is Scriptures, on the one side in a a view of doctrine which tends to
measure adequate, and on the other this state of things in the heart, or side quite inadequate, to their unwhich proceeds from it; and whilst speakable importance, we conwe may justly warn one party against scientiously believe to be at the the secret operation of pride and bottom of much that is said and self-sufficiency in the production of felt on either part in this unfortuhis prejudice, may we not with at nate controversy; at least we believe least equal justice warn another, es- it to be utterly in vain to call upon pecially the easy latitudinarian, of the the respective parties to renounce congeniality of his doctrines with a their prejudices, as to the best meworldly and an unregenerate heart? thod of circulating the holy Scrip
In making, however, those stric- tures, till a preliminary question is tures, it may be right to remark, settled in every man's own mind; that the very high ground assumed that question, which no professions in point both of religious doctrine can make clear, and no eye but and of religious practice, in the Let that of the Searcher of all hearts ters before us, rendered it perhaps can fullypenetrate-namely, whether expedient that their author, for the we have so far learned and felt the sake of impartiality, and to gain the value of the Sacred Records ourear of those for whose benefit they selves, as to be satisfied with noare chiefly written, should expressly thing short of the event proposed disavow any Calvinistic tendencies, and promised by the great Author and rather lay the main stress of of their unlimited and universal pro