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Jesus Christus reverà extiterit, et substiterit, tanquam vera atque unica Patris sui proles, antequam ex Marià matre suâ homo nasceretur; atque adeò ante rerum omnium creationem, idque ita, ut per ipsuin condita fuerint universa, ac proindè Deus ipse fuerit.'--The latter part of this paragraph is summarily given by the Bishop; but that it is the substance of the opinion of Episcopius will be obvious to any one who compares it with the comment on the opening of St. John's Gospel, in the 33d chapter of the Institutes, lib. 4. sect. 2. Notwithstanding this confession, however, Episcopius deserts the consequence which ought to arise from it. If he really believed the doctrine which he thus states, or if he reasoned rightly from his own premises, he must have maintained the necessity of faith in an article so fully taught in the scriptures, and admitted by himself. But unfortunately he took a middle course, and became the father of the modern indifferents. He descended to meet the scruples or the perverseness of the schismatics who denied the divinity of Christ, and finally determined that though the orthodox doctrine were true, it was not necessary to be received as an article of faith essential to salvation! And this strange decision rests on the daugerous and untenable assertion, that our acceptance of this primary and supreme filiation of the Son of God is no where positively required; but that all the expressions of this kind, with which the New Testament abounds, are confined to the other modes; those which relate to the appearance of Christ on earth for the welfare of mankind.
There remains only one more reference to the history of the church. Mr. le Courayer, who professes to argue from the scriptures alone, disclaims the authority of the Fathers : but while he does this, he expressly charges them with having corrupted the genuine practice of the Gospel, and added to the simplicity of the scriptures the incomprehensible dogma of the divinity of Christ.
This is as unfair as it is false; and notwithstanding his disavowal of the Fathers, we have the right of arguing from them in defence of themselves as well as of scripture. And this has been done in the most satisfactory manner by the same great writer who refuted Episcopius. It is in vain, therefore, at this late time to assert (as Mr. le Courayer does in common with our Socinians) that Christ was not supposed to be of the divine nature, till the notion was introduced into the church in the second century. It is now an exploded calumny that the doctrine of his godhead was first communicated through Justin Martyr ; that he was infected with the opi
nions of Simon Magus, and that the source of our orthodox faith · was no other than the Gnostic philosophy.
In the treatise of Bishop Bull--- Primitiva et Apostolica Traditio de Jesu Christi Divinitate,' is a complete exposure of the
ignorance or malevolence of those who gave currency to this notion. Justin is vindicated from the meaning which they have attempted to fasten upon him; and the doctrine of our church is traced back through the fathers who preceded Justin, through Ignatius, Barnabas, and the earliest apologists of the faith to the age of the apostles themselves, and to the very commenceinent of the Christian church. In all these, writings the divinity of Christ was substantially maintained. Many of them (we speak of the apologies) were directed against the Gentiles; and the assertion of the doctrine in question was a necessary and essential part of their argument. The Christians had been upbraided with idolatry. Their reply was, that the charge was founded in ignorance of the true nature of Christ. That they offered divine worship to him they joyfully confessed; and they were ready to die in that confession: but that their worship was idolatrous they constantly denied; for he who had appeared on earth as man had descended from heaven, where, before all ages, he had been in the form of God. This is their regular tone; nor does there appear to have been any difference in this respect between the arguments of Quadratus or Aristides, and the later statements of those who are allowed by all to have maintained the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. If, however, any bosom, uninfluenced by ecclesiastical history, is open to conviction concerning the early opinions of Christianity from the unsuspected testimony of a heathen writer, that testimony is offered, with sufficient plainness, by Pliny. "Affirmabant autem, hanc fuisse summam vel culpæ suæ, vel erroris, quod essent soliti stato die ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo, quasi Deo, dicere secum invicem. Lib. 10. Ep. 87. This evidence of the Christian Fathers, which Mr. le Courayer has disingenuously employed for his own purpose while he professes to disclaim it, terminates in the Gospel itself. There divine worship is claimed for Christ on repeated occasions, and in the most express and pointed mapuer : but there too, Christ himself repeats and enforces the original command, that God alone is to be worshipped. Hence it follows that the worship demanded for Christ is the proof of his divinity. It is in vain that Mr. le Courayer endeavours to reconcile this demand with the admission that Christ did possess a divinity de quelque sort.' Nothing but the deity, properly and distinctly understood, can be the object of legitimate worship. If, therefore, Christ was not of the divine nature, he could not be worshipped without idolatry.
In this attempt against the evidence of the early church, we suspect that Mr. le Courayer was swayed by the corrupt practice of those whom he calls the masters of religion ;' those Romish writers, whose summaries and arbitrary systems had been allowed, by degrees, to supersede the genuine use of the Bible and the
Christian Christian fathers together. How much the cause of both had suffered by this practice, sufficiently appeared at the time of our Reformation. That the application of criticisin to the sacred text might be illuminated and directed by the early history of the church; that the fathers might be employed in fixing the real and original meaning of the inspired writers, was amply shewn, by the learning and courage of those to whom we owe our religious establishment. Had they possessed less knowledge they must have shrunk from an appeal to those authorities on which their antagonists had so long affected to place the principal strength of their cause : but they burst the barriers of darkness and ignorance, which so many ages had contributed to raise, and let in the light of primitive Christianity. The radiance fell upon the pages of the Bible, now once again opened after its long close. Our ancestors began to view it in the sense in which it had been originally understood; and from the time of that happy discovery the appeal to the fathers has been no longer Roman. The illusion is dispersed; and we challenge the severest trial which criticism can institute for the soundness of the assertion, that our faith is that of the early church, as well as of the scripture. The distinguishing mark of that faith is the divinity of Christ; and this we regularly see in the doctrines of all except the declared heretics, during the three centuries which preceded the Council of Nice.- But we restrain ourselves, and will carry the argument no farther. If any thing may yet be allowed to us, it is some short notice of the conscience which is pleaded for a publication of this kind.
We have no wish to press Dr. Bell too closely on a subject in which he has so unfortunately entangled bimself. We must be at liberty to observe, however, that through an upaccountable inadvertence to the proper law of conscience, he appears to have performed one of the minor offices of social life, at the expense of a great and sovereign duty of religion.
We shall explain ourselves. If the doctrine contained in this book be contrary to the scriptures, (and this is our settled persuasion, the publication of it is an evil in the highest degree, and therefore ought, on no account, to have taken place: and if so, it is obvious how impossible it is to plead a respect for the wishes of the deceased author in excuse of the action. It has been already proved, unless we flatter our own decision, that such wishes were not entertained by Mr. le Courayer. Let it be allowed, however, that they were, the foriner conclusion still remains in all its force; since it is evident that no motive, of human authority, can be innocently placed in opposition to the divine will. If, in escape from this conclusion, it be pleaded that the book is not contrary to the doctrine of scripture, we answer that, though such language, however to be lamented, might be permitted to other men, it is wholly intolerable in Dr.
Bell. He is a member of a church which openly maintains the divinity of Christ; and this is so certain that, if he should profess his acquiescence in the opinions which he has allowed himself to publish, he must resign the situation which he holds in it. This, however, Dr. Bell has not done. We must conclude then, that his sentiments are not in agreement with those of the author, and that he deems them contrary to the articles of the Church of England, and to the doctrine of scripture: whence it follows that the offence committed by this publication is of the nature already described. He confesses, indeed, that he has given to the world a treatise, of which the doctrine is widely different from that adopted by the Church of England. And if he believes too, which he obviously must, that the doctrine of the Church of England is also the doctrine of the scripture, he cannot possibly escape from the conclusion which has been drawn.
We sincerely hope that Dr. Bell will excuse what has been said in the discharge of a public duty, and that we shall have no farther occasion to expose the unscriptural opinions of Mr. le Courayer. To this we are encouraged, indeed, (for we are willing to part from him in good humour,) by the remembrance of an assertion in Pindar that the gods distribute to mankind no more than two evils for one blessing
Εν παρ' εσλον, σηματα συν
Aarayabor, ta rara te artes ew.-Pyth. 3. We rest assured, therefore, on this authority, that Dr. Bell has not a third anti-scriptural dissertation in his pocket, to be produced hereafter through some aukward movement of conscience. In this confidence, we will take the liberal advice of the Theban, and turn the fair side outward. Many stronger attempts against the church than those of Mr. le Courayer have failed of their intended effect; and we will venture to hope that Dr. Bell's munificence will cheer the youth of future generations, when his injudicious acts of editorship shall be forgotten.
ART. IV.-The West Indies, and other Poems. By James
Montgomery. 12mo. pp. 160. London. Longman and Co. 1810. The Wanderer of Switzerland, and other Poems. By James
Montgomery. 12mo. pp. 176. Longmani and Co. 1811. ' THE first fruits of a poet's reputation are less to be relied upon
than the promise of an orchard in spring. His immediate
success depends upon so many adventitious circumstances, that the real merit wbich he may display is oftentimes either wholly overlooked, or is the last thing taken into the account. Is he a personal satirist, slandering his neighbour, and labouring to mildew the fair harvest of a well-deserved fame? Every day's experience shews that the wretches who ponder to envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness, are never in want of employment or encouragement. Is he of the philosophy of the brothel? The pupils of that hopeful school commit his verses to memory,--his songs are heard at convivial meetings, and if there be but a transparent veil of sentimentalism thrown over their grossness, they find their way into the drawing-room. Folly and affectation run a career hardly less triumphant than vice; the gossamer of Della Crusca, and the brocade and buckram of Darwin have had their day, like Brunswick bonnets and Corunna shawls. Such indeed is the perversion of public taste, that even our better writers are, in many instances, most known by their worst productions. The Damon and Musidora, the Celadon and Amelia of Thompson, are chosen by extractmakers; Edwin and Angelina is more frequently read and reprinted than the Traveller ; no work of Dryden's is so popular as his. Alexander's Feast ; and even Shakespear himself (a name never to be pronounced without admiration and reverence) owes more of his common fame to Romeo, than to Coriolanus or Timon.
In former times the public opinion was favourably influenced by the rank of an author; if a duke wrote verses, elegance was imputed to his rhymes; and if a footman or a thresher by his attempts at poetry discovered a mind worthy of a better station, public applause and private patronage were liberally bestowed. Those times are past; a titled author is now sure to be assailed with sneers, and a poor one with more cruel reproaches : we are told that it is injudicious and indeed immoral to encourage self-taught poets in their idle pursuit; that milkwomen and shoemakers are useful persons in their vocation, but that there is already too much indifferent poetry in the world. It is not because we are more enlightened than our fathers that this alteration has taken place. If the opinion be examined it will be found to proceed equally from a shallow understanding and an unfeeling heart; for it is false to assert that any harm is done by the publication of common-place verses. They defraud no person of his money, no one being compelled to purchase them; and they rob no one of his time, for no one is bound to read thein, except the professional critic, who has no right to complain because they furnish him with employment in his profession. On the other hand, even the reasoner, whose dim scope of vision never looks beyond the wealth