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industry; "Let our vain philosophers," says Dr. Smith *, (indirectly addressing the Humists, &c.) “allege what they will, there can be no national prosperity, of any permanent duration, without religion, (Prov. xiv, 34,) and there can be no religion without a respectable clergy, nor a respectable clergy without a decent maintenance annexed to the office +.—If this be not granted, the men who should fill the office, will naturally betake themselves to other employments; and their place will be filled by such as ought to have neither lot nor part in this matter," (Acts viii. 21.)—And who, (we may add to this close and convincing reasoning,) will come, and cringe, and crouch to the Presbytery, saying, “Put me, I pray you, into one of the Priest's offices, that I may, literally, eat a morsel of bread!"
Alas! who shall live, when GOD doeth this!
Far be from us, however, the ungenerous, the malignant insinuation, or imputation, that we are croaking alarmists, of the number of those that "trouble Israel," (1 Kings xviii. 17.) Such, indeed, are justly "hated" by the public, for "prophesying not good, but evil," and abhorred by all good citizens. On the contrary, we wish, indeed, "to put down imaginations, and every high and proud thought," adverse to Christian humility, and the common weal; but not to depress the spirits of our well-beloved fellow-citizens in this most awful and tremendous hour of trial now come upon the whole world; when all the foundations of the earth are out of course. We wish rather to build up upon a secure and solid foundation, to edify them that are of the household of faith especially, to stand stedfast without swerving; to strengthen the weak hands; to confirm the feeble knees; to pour wine and oil, and balm into the wounds of our bleeding country; rent, torn, and convulsed by intestine divisions, factions, heresies, and schisms in Church and state, infinitely more ruinous and formidable than all the combined powers of all our foes. We wish to reconcile to the Church, to
See his View of the Agriculture of Argyle, 1798.
+ When the Scottish Clergy were either persuaded, seduced, or intimidated by the rapacious Reformists, into a formal surrendry of their revenues, for stipends to be paid by the state; one old sturdy incumbent, tenacious of his benefice, resolutely maintained it. And we learn from respectable information, that it is now so greatly raised in its value, with the rise of times, as to be proverbially called the Scottish Bishoprick. -A useful memento to the English and Irish Clergy, to resist innovation and commutations of tythes.
the state, and to each other, all parties in religion and politics, and persuade them to lay aside their animosities, from a sense of their common danger; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, and forgetting, by a general amnesty, all past aggressions and grievances, so as cordially to unite against the common enemy in defence of our most holy religion, our most sacred liberties, and all the dear and tender and intermingled charities of genuine patriotism, or love of our country; which still, GOD be thanked, render these fortunate isles, the wonder and the envy of the world; such inestimable blessings, indeed, are scarcely to be found elsewhere, and in many places, can scarcely be conceived.
The foundation upon which we wish to build national piety, charity, and fortitude, is HOLY SCRIPTURE, more correctly rendered and explained from the originals in its doctrines and precepts; and especially those most awful prophecies which have hitherto perplexed and agitated the public mind *, by mystical and fanciful interpretations, highly injurious and dishonourable to the inspired WORD OF GOD, and detrimental to the peace and happiness of society.
Nor is this design, however vast or adventurous, in an humble, unassisted individual, altogether unprecedented. Milton, that prodigy of genius and learning, that zealous advocate for religious and civil liberty, and rational toleration, formed the noble, the god-like plan of reconciling, if possible, all the jarring and discordant sects of Protestants in his days, with the established Church, and with each other; and of uniting them in mutual communion, and against the common enemy, Popery. Supported by his high authority, we earnestly submit to public consideration at large, the following sketch of his masterly argument in his forementioned treatise, reprinted by Baron Maseres presuming, with all due deference to the best-informed judges, that what Milton deemed seasonable, in 1673, will not be fastidiously rejected as unseasonable, in 1811; nor held irrelevant and obtrusive in this Apocalyptic review of the times, similar, indeed, to his, but much more awful and alarming.
* See the advertisement vindicating Joanna Southcote, the prophetess, the vender of seals, from the charge of frightening the inhabitants of Bath, by a prediction that the city would be destroyed on Good Friday; in a foregoing note, p. 372 of this volume.
MILTON ON TOLERATION.
"TRUE RELIGION," as well defined by Milton, "is the true worship and service of GOD, learnt and believed from the WORD OF GOD only. No man or Angel can know how GOD would be worshipped and served, unless GOD reveal it. He hath revealed it to us in the HOLY SCRIPTURES, by inspired [prophets] and ministers; and in THE GOSPEL, by his own SON and his Apostles; with strictest command to reject. all other traditions, or additions whatsoever. According to that of St. Paul; Though we or an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema, or accursed,' Gal. i. 8; Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shalt thou diminish ought from it,' Deut. iv. 2. If any man shall add, &c. if any man shall take away, &c. from the words, &c. Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
"With good and religious reason, therefore, all Protestant Churches, with one consent, and particularly the Church of England in her thirty-nine Articles, Art. VI, xix, xx, xxI, and elsewhere, maintain these two points as the main principles of true religion.
"I. That the rule of true religion is the WORD OF GOD only. "II. And that their faith ought not to be an implicit faith; that is, to believe, though as the Church believes, against, or without express authority of SCRIPTURE.
"And if all Protestants, as universally as they hold these two principles, so attentively and religiously would observe them, they would avoid and cut off many debates and contentions, schisms, and persecutions which too oft have been among them, and more firmly unite against the common adversary.
"From hence it directly follows, that no true Protestant can persecute, or not tolerate, his fellow-Protestant, though differing from him in some opinions, but he must flatly deny and renounce these two, his own main principles, whereon true Religion is founded.”
I. But Milton contended that Papists were not proper subjects of toleration, [and we may add from Baron Maseres, nor of endowment with gifts of lands or property in mortmain, for their permanent support; much less of establishment, or public maintenance, by funds provided by authority of the government,
Essays, p. 412--415,] upon the following political and religious considerations.
1. Their intolerance and avowed hostility to the members of all other Christian Churches excepting their own, counting them both heretics and schismatics, excluding them from salvation, and persecuting them, when in their power, with the utmost barbarity; and 2. their mischievous state-activities, (as he quaintly styles their political intrigues) incessantly labouring to undermine and overturn, either covertly or openly, all protestant governments that have been so incautious or imprudent as to give them footing. The Pope, ever since we have shaken off his Babylonish yoke, incessantly endeavouring to destroy the government, and seduce and pervert the people from their allegiance. 3. The idolatrous nature of their worship, such as cannot be exercised publicly without grievous scandal to all conscientious Christians; and neither publicly nor privately, without the most heinous offence to a JEALOUS GOD, who abhors all manner of idolatry in public (Exod. xx. 5,) and in private, (Isa. lxvi. 17, Ezek. vii. 7-16.) Such abominations wherever they are licensed or countenanced by the state, tend, sooner or later, to draw down God's judgments upon that people or nation. [Witness the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, &c.]
II. The following were the methods he proposed for restraining the growth of Popery.
1. To remove the furniture of their idolatry, whether images, or the host, wherein they adore their God under bread and wine. If they say, that by removing their idols, we violate their consciences, he answers, We have no warrant to regard a conscience not grounded in SCRIPTURE. And they themselves confess in their late defences, that they hold not their images necessary to salvation, but only as injoined them by tradition.
2. The next means to prevent the seduction of our flocks, by their ever restless spirit of proselytism, is to circulate the HOLY SCRIPTURES among Protestants, as their best defensive armour. For as among Papists, it is chiefly their ignorance of the Scriptures that upholds Popery, so among Protestant people, the frequent and serious reading of the Scripture, will soonest prevent its growth.
3. The last means to avoid Popery is TO REFORM OUR LIVES. For when a nation becomes generally irreligious and corrupt,
and will not take warning by the sore judgments of fire, sword, famine, and pestilence, designed for their good, for correction in mercy; GOD in his wrath takes up and inflicts his last and severest punishments, hardness of heart, infatuation and idolatry, to their final destruction. Idolatry brought the heathens into heinous transgressions; (Levit. xviii. Rom. i.) and heinous transgressions in turn, often bring the slight or superficial professors of true Religion into gross idolatry. "For this cause, GOD shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; to the end that they might all be judged who believe not THE TRUTH, but have pleasure in unrighteousness," (2 Thess. ii. 11, 12,) and Isaiah thus speaks of idolaters: "They have not known nor understood; for GOD hath shut their eyes that they cannot see, and their hearts that they cannot understand," (Isa. xliv. 18.)
"Let us, therefore," concludes Milton, "using this last means, (last here spoken of, but first to be done) AMEND OUR LIVES WITH ALL SPEED: lest through impenitency we run into that stupidity, which we have heretofore sought by all means so warily to avoid, the worst of superstitions, and the heaviest of all GOD's judgments—POPERY *.”
It may not be amiss to repeat here what was mentioned in a foregoing note, (p. 341 of this volume,) that these strictures on popery, are not dictated by a spirit of controversy," nor (we will add) by the slightest tincture of bigotry; from exclusive attachment to protestantism, or from spleen, ill-will, or hostility to Roman Catholics. Many of his brethren of that description, the author regards and esteems, and lives on terms of familiar and social intercourse with such; and of good will to all descriptions of his flock of every sect. He only fulfils, unwillingly, and with no little reluctance, the ungrateful and thankless task, though necessary and important duty bound upon him at his clerical ordination ;——" To be ready with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's word,”- -but only by God's word, or the sword of the SPIRIT.
This he has humbly and conscientiously endeavoured, in some former Reviews of the errors of Popery, and Inspections of the irregularities of Methodism; considering the one as a most ruinous and destructive heresy from the orthodox faith of the primitive Church; and the other as, at least, an injudicious and lamentable schism from her constitutional discipline. And “his heart's desire," is "if possible, and as much as in him lieth" to conciliate the attention of all parties and sects, so far as to give a cool, dispassionate, and serious perusal to the mysteries and doctrines of THE GOSPEL, here attempted to be unfolded in their pure spirit, from the lively oracles in the originals; and to the constitution and discipline of the Church of CHRIST, as ordered by the Apostles, and established by the primitive Fathers of the three first centuries, before the council of Nice.
These are the leading motives that suggested and conducted this work throughout.— "THE GOD AND FATHER of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS BLESSED FOR EVERMORE, knoweth that I lie not!"