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Mayhew, D. D. Paftor of the Weft Church in Boston, New-
Having never feen the Candid Examination which hath occafioned this Defence, and which, in all probability, never was re-printed in England, as Dr. Mayhew's performance (now before us) hath been, we cannot enter into the merits of the controversy, on the present occafion. See more of the fubject, Review, vol. XXX. p. 45•
Of the Anfwer to Dr. Mayhew here controverted, we gave fome account in our thirtieth volume, p. 284. Several paffages in the faid Anfwer feeming to bear too hard upon the Diffenters, the Author of the prefent Letter has undertaken their defence; and he has managed their caufe very smartly. We avoid particulars, as we are no friends to fuch difputes; and therefore fhall obferve, en passant, that the Letter-Writer contends, for the honour of the Diffenters, that the great Mr. Locke was not a member of the established church, altho' he had been claimed as fuch by the Answerer.
Art. 10. An Antidote to Arianifm; or, the Arian Foundation razed,
Mr. JW- falls very foul upon poor George Williams, the honest Unitarian, whofe Attempt was mentioned in our laft Review, art. 1. of the Catalogue. This Answer to it is penned in fo angry and uncharitable a ftrain, that we think it is below even the notice of a Livery Servant. It is well if fuch abufive productions do not fometimes prove (what the Authors, no doubt, are little aware of) an Antidote to Chriflianity: we mean in regard to fuch unskilful Readers as know not how to feparate the corn from the tares.
Art. 11. Religio Laici; or, a Layman's Thoughts upon his Duty to
Though this performance has neither accuracy of method, nor elegance of compofition, to recommend it, every fenfible reader will perufe it with pleafure. The Author's defign is to promote the practice of focial and moral duties; his fentiments are, in general, juft and manly; he appears to be well acquainted with mankind, and to be a friend to freedom of enquiry, to virtue, and to religion.
He fets out with a few plain thoughts on the theory of religion in general. I look upon this world, fays he, as a large extenfive coun
try, through which I mutt pafs before I can arrive at that blessed one,
for the enjoyment of which I was created; and that there are many paths leading cross it; and as but one only can be direct, where thall I find a fure guide capable of pointing it out?
God hath been fo good as to give me one, to wit, my REASON; " which though that of no man can be infallible, yet it is an infallible guide to me to all intents and purposes, as far as it regards myself; because, if by that I examine with care, fincerity and impartiality, and attend to what it dictates, God will most certainly, as he is both good ⚫ and juft, accompany my endeavours with his all-faving grace, and I fhall go pn fecurely and chearfully in the road to eternal happiness; because his justice can never require more of me than to make use of this reafon in all its extent, to enquire which is the true religion, and ⚫ afterwards to believe and act as I am convinced. No man can poffibly ⚫ believe otherwise, and God never commanded impoffibilities.
This REASON tells me, that the only true religion is that one which was inftituted by Jefus Chrift, and left to his apoftles, (for I am fure ' he could not leave two) and from them is handed down to us, by a fucceffion of paftors, teachers, and minifters of his gofpel; and against which church, or religion, he has promised the gates of hell 'fhall not prevail.
But it will be objected, That the profefiors of every different religion in-the world pretend to this, and pofitively infift upon it that this is theirs; and confequently, though there can be but one true religion, we shall still be at a lofs where to find it. However, I hav ive a comfort in this perplexity, which has always been a very fatisfactory one to me, and I think should, in reafon, be fo to all mankind; and thus I ⚫ answer:
That if (for example) John, after a diligent and impartial examination (and this is an affair of no lefs confequence than eternal happinefs, or eternal mifery, in the life to come): If, I fay, John, without regard to any temporal interest, after the most strict examination, in which he has employed the whole ftrength of his reafon, is really and fincerely of opinion, that the religion called A, which he profeffes, is that which Jefus Chrift left to his apoftles; then I fay that John is, to all intents and purpofes, as far as regards his own falvation, of the religion which Jefus Chrift left to his apoftles, and confequently a member of the one true church; and if his actions correfpond, by his obedience to the laws of that faith, it will conduct him to eternal happiness in the world to come. And I fay the fame of Thomas, William, Edward, &c. in refpect of the religions called B, C. D, which they profefs, and I call upon St. Paul, Romans, ch. 2. v. 14. " to back this affertion.
But pray take notice, that if any thing is wanting in this examination which might have been performed; if John chules to profefs him felf of the religion A, only because he was brought up in it, or becaufe the practice of it is more agreeable to his humour, more conve⚫nient to his worldly circumitances, lefs contradicting to his appetites,
or out of any other temporal motive; then I fay John is acting infincerely, nay wickedly, and carries about with him a fham confcience, which will one day fly in his face, and, without a fincere repentance, ⚫ must condu&t him to eternai perdition. And I fay the fame of Th.mas, William, Edward, &c. regarding the religions B, C, D.
But if, to the best of my capacity, I am diligent and careful in my ⚫ examination, and fincere in my choice, God's justice (as I said above) cannot condemn me for believing, as I was convinced. And as this must be reasonable even to demonstration, I cannot but hold up my ⚫ hands in wonder, when I fee any power upon earth perfecuting a man for the profeffion or practice of that religion in which he is fincere.' After delivering his fentiments briefly on the theory of religion, our Author goes on to treat of the practice of it, and gives a great deal of very useful and pertinent advice to perfons in the highest slations of life, in regard to their most important duties.
Art. 12. Four Sermons preached at the Meeting in White-HeartCourt, Grace-Church-street. By Thomas Story.-Taken in Short-hand; and, after being transcribed at length, examined by the faid. T. Story, and published by his Permiffion. 8vo. 2s. Hinde.
The subjects of thefe fermons are:-The nature and neceffity of knowing one's-felf.-The infufficiency of natural knowledge, and the benefits arifing from that which is fpiritual.-The fall of man in the first Adam, and his restoration by Chrift, the fecond Adam.-The merciful invitation of God to all mankind, to come unto him for falvation.
-As few of our readers will give themselves the trouble of perufing them, we shall only fay, that they are fuch rhapsodies as one generally hears in Quaker-meetings. R Art. 13. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Berks, at the late Vifitation in May 1764. By William Dodwell, D. D. Archdeacon of Berks. 8vo. IS. Whifton.
In this charge the Doctor points out the feveral adverfaries, and their feveral methods of oppofition, which the minifters of our established church are furrounded with, and fuggefts the proper principles and practices by which they may best hope to fupport their infults, and defeat their influence. Many of his reflections are very just, but what is chiefly obfervable, is his zeal for the doctrines and conftitutions of the church, to which he says, we cannot conform too rigorously.
The end of Christianity, we are told, has been as effectually defeated by corrupting its doctrines, as by undermining its evidence.
natural religion, fays the Doctor, could not be maintained in oppofi⚫tion to this revelation, it was artfully faid to be the fame, and the gof
pel was afferted to be nothing more than a republication of the law of nature. Every thing peculiar to this dispensation as a new covenant, as a scheme of reconciliation of offending creatures to their offended creator, is exploded, even by fome who pretend to receive the Bible; ⚫ and force is offered to the exprefs letter of fcripture, and to the common fenfe of every impartial reader of it, to explain away whatever is faid upon, or implied in the doctrine of redemption. The foundation of it in the fall of man, and the corruption of his nature, is pofitively denied; the neceffity of it is evaded by attempts to prove that repentance and amendment for the future is a fufficient expiation for paft offences; the fubflitution of a vicarious facrifice is reprefented as • injustice;
injuftice; the notion of any fatisfaction to be made to the honour and 'juftice of the divine law-giver is ridiculed; and the efficacy of that which we are taught, and are to teach others, was actually made by the meritorious atonement offered by the eternal Son of God, is invalidated, by difowning his divinity. Thus our Saviour is deprived of every thing but an unmeaning name; his difciples of every valuable hope in and through him; and his religion of every thing which dif⚫tinguishes it from a good fyftem of ethics.'
That Epifcopacy was the primitive form of church government for fifteen hundred years after the publication of Chriftianity, the Doctor fays, is as certain and known a fact, as that Chriftianity itself was published and received.-A church without a bishop, we are told, was a cafe not heard of for fifteen centuries, and an attempt towards fuch an establishment would have been anathematized by every primitive council.
Our Author employs feveral pages in explaining the apoftle's injunction, to obey them that have the rule over us, Heb. xiii. 17. In what instances this obedience is to be paid, both the reafon of the thing, we are told, and the exprefs precepts of fcripture, direct us; namely, in fuch things as are indifferent in themselves, but are expedient for upholding decency and order in those which are more important. Thefe are the only points in which we can poffibly teftify our dutiful fubmiflion to thofe that in the church have rule over us. In matters of neceffary duty, the obedience is paid to God, not to them, and would be binding, if no fuch ecclefiaftical rulers had been at all appointed. In matters which by the law of God are prohibited, we must not obey any human authority at all; and therefore the only inftances in which we can poffibly obey those whom we are so exprefly enjoined to obey, is in thofe Outward ceremonial obfervances, which were originally indifferent in themselves, but were, fome or other of them, abfolutely neceffary to fupport regularity and utility in public worship, and the offices thereto belonging.
There are, fays the Doctor, fo many cautions in the apoftolical epiftles against divifions and feparations, fo many exhortations to ⚫ peace and unity and unanimity, to a fameness of mind and judgment, ⚫ which can never be expected in any other fenfe than this, of conform⚫ing to divine authority in effentials, and to human authority in cere
monials; that it may well feem unaccountable that men of fuch un⚫ questionable goodness and judgment in other inftances, as many of our ⚫ diffenting brethren, fhould not be moved by the force and the piety
of this argument. Till this point is cftablished, vindications of par⚫ticular ceremonies would be endless and unavailing. It were fruitless
to make conceffions, when more might in the fame method be demanded, till a state of entire anarchy would enfue; and fome of our ⚫ own members, who approve of the prefent conftitution of our church, 'might on the fame principle feparate from it, because fuch conceffions ' are made, as others now do, because they are not granted.'
This is fufficient to fhew the Doctor's zeal for the honour of our church, which, we doubt not, is very fincere. It is obvious, however, that the most effectual method of advancing the honour of the church of England, is to review her whole conftitution, in regard to doctrine, difcipline, and worship, and to make fuch alterations, as the candid
and difcerning of every denomination have long wifhed to fee made, and which the genius and fpirit of the times, indeed, as well as the interefts of true religion, render highly expedient and.neceffary. If this is not done, it is easy to forefee, that the clergy will become more and more difregarded, and religion fuffer on account of their indolence and felfishness. It is melancholy, indeed, to obferve that, whilft a noble spirit of improvement prevails amongst us, in regard to arts, fciences, trade, commerce, in the army, in the navy, &c. nothing of it appears in the church. To what cause or causes this is owing, let others determine.
Art. 14. Juvenile Poems, on feveral Occafions. By a Gentleman of Oxford. 12mo. 2s. fewed. Fletcher.
It is commonly faid by modeft Authors, that they publish at the requeft of friends. Thofe would be friends indeed, who should perfuade a bad Writer not to publish. Such honeft dealing, we doubt, is very rare; and therefore it is the lefs to be wondered at, if this Gentleman of Oxford had not the fingular good fortune to meet with an inftance of fuch uncommon fiiendship. Happy would it have proved, however, for his reputation, if it had been otherwife; and not unfortunate for his Reviewers, who have had the mortification of perufing his juvenile performances: for which, it is feared, his riper years will fcarce be able to recompenfe them. If, therefore, he hath any more verses which have not yet feen the light, we, his moft impartial friends, do earnestly request, that he will permit Mrs. Sufan to light the fire with them.
Art. 15. An Elegy, written in a Quaker's Burial Ground. To which is added, the Country Quaker. Folio. 19. Keith.
In an advertisement prefixed to this poem, the Author reminds us of our promife," to call from obfcurity the productions of modeft merit, "and, at the fame time, to repress the hopes of prefumptuous impo"tence;"-with a modefty not very common, he only hopes to obtain from us an impartial decifion of his merit, or deficiency, as a Writer; and obferves, with great judgment and propriety, that there is, perhaps, little difference between the inflations of impotency, and the effufions of genius, in point of felf discernment. A Writer who can entertain fuch fentiments as thefe, may be affured, that we fhall, with the utmoft candour, give him that estimate of his poetical capacity he de. fires. He appears to poffefs a competence of imagination; but we think him fomewhat deficient in tafte and judgment. His harmony is in general pretty full; but there is a weakness, and fometimes a heavinefs, in his melody. He is more than once, likewife, ungrammatical. -If he is a young Writer, we would advife him to withhold his productions for fome years from the public eye; as there is no doubt but he will improve both in tafte, knowlege and judgment, the native rude principles of which he feems to poffefs.-If he is not young, we would recommend it to him, to quit the poetical road, as few improvements fan be made in that art in the decline of life.