Imágenes de páginas

thorough acquaintance with the Aristotelian philosophy the passport to her honours; content for this one object to sacrifice her literary character and her reputation for scholarship; nay, what is infinitely of greater moment, content to hazard the vital truths of Christianity. We repeat it, the University of Oxford is accountable for Mr. Williams's principles, inasmuch as she has imbued his mind with Aristotle, until the subtle poison has weakened his intellectual powers and destroyed his moral perception.

We find Mr. Williams absolutely daring to claim for himself the authority of Scripture, and maintaining that his system-a system which keeps back the knowledge of the Atonement—is to be traced in the epistles of St. Paul.* He has not attempted to prove this paradox, for the best of all reasons, that it was incapable of proof. St. Paul's method was, as we have shewn, to teach christian duties on christian principles; and so far was he from agreeing with Aristotle and Mr. Williams, that in preaching to heathens—to men without any preparatory moral training-he “determined not to know anything, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The subduing power of the cross was in his estimation the distinctive feature of Christianity,—that which made it essentially different from systems of human origin; and this divine truth brought home to the heart by the agency of the Holy Ghost, was regarded by him as the only principle of a new and spiritual life. When, therefore, we see Mr. Williams claiming in his own behalf the example and authority of St. Paul, must we not fear lest that has come to pass respecting him of which St. Paul speaks, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie ?” Must we not fear lest he has wandered among the labyrinths of human systems, until he is unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood- until his weakened vision has become incapable of enduring the light that issues from the throne of God; and those Scriptures, that were given for his guidance, serve only to dazzle and to blind him.

We trust that we do not speak thus through any want of charity. It is not charity, according to our apprehension of the term,“ to call evil good and good evil; to put darkness for light and light for darkness; to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter;" but rather, to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." St. Paul was not wanting in charity, and yet he thus addressed the Church of Galatia—“Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” But is not Mr. Williams's another gospel ? It is another, alto

* See Tract 80, p. 27, el passim.

gether another, in its whole system of moral teaching—another in its suppression of the Atonement, and of the name and work of the Spirit-another in its appeal to the Old Testament, to the law given by Moses, and to the doctrine of repentance as preached by John the Baptist, against the conclusive authority of the Apostolic epistles; whereas we are informed in those epistles, that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," and that it had but “a shadow of good things to come;"_" but the body is of Christ;"—whereas the setting up of the law, as a mode of justification, was the very thing of which St. Paul said, “Let him that does so be accursed, yea though he be an angel from heaven :"whereas our blessed Lord himself has declared respecting the Old Testament saints, that their views of divine truth were necessarily limited in comparison with ours, and of John the Baptist * (evidently as regards his teaching,) that “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Is not Mr. Williams's another gospel ? The Scriptures speak of blasphemy against God,--the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Mr. Williams speaks of “blasphemy against the most holy sacraments.”Is not Mr. Williams's another gospel ? Mr. Williams says, “ Preaching is, to say the least, an instrument which Scripture has never much recommended.” “ Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” “We preach Christ crucified, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Is not Mr. Williams's another gospel ? Must not that be another, which sets up the unscriptural figment of priestly absolution—which declares celibacy to be a higher state of life, to which special mysteries are confided—which asserts, that “ the communion of saints is maintained by saints' days,”—that, "to fast is of itself to bear our own cross,"—that the Church secretly realizes the doctrines of Scripture in the Friday fasts which Scripture has not commanded ; and that “prayer, alms-giving and fasting” are taught by our Saviour, as “the three modes by which power shall be obtained to fulfil his laws ?” Finally, is not that another gospel, which enjoins a principle that ought, if fairly carried out, to have prevented the gospel from being preached at all ? For Mr. Williams would have essential truth suppressed on account of the very great danger which must ever accompany increased responsibility. But this argument, if it be good for

St. Paul says,

* Matthew xii. 17; Luke x. 24. + This most objectionable expression seems to elevate sacraments to a level with the three persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, and certainly insinuates, if it does not assert, that very error which is condemned in the twenty-eighth and thirty-first Articles. We do not quite see how that can be blasphemed (in the ordinary sense of the word) which is not to be worshipped.


anything, must be fairly carried out. The hearing of the gospel cannot fail to bring with it at all times a tremendous responsibility; therefore, in mercy to mankind, it ought never to have been preached at all. This is a necessary deduction from Mr. Williams's own premises. But contrast his teaching once more, in its utter worthlessness, with that of Christ and his Apostles. Our blessed Lord has commanded expressly, “ Preach the gospel to every creature.” Will Mr. Williams question his mercy? Assuredly

But was He blind to consequences ? Hear what He himself says, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin : but now they have no cloke for their sin.” And this very fact, awful as it is that some hear savingly, and some only to seal their final condemnation and to increase their punishment,was one of the causes which made St. Paul, while shrinking under the weight of his ministerial office, exclaim, “We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things ?" We remember to have read of Thomas Linacer, that when his life was now drawing to a close, he called for the New Testament, and began to read it, but on the discovery of its precepts hastily cast it from him, and exclaimed, “Either this is not the gospel, or we are not christians.” We have not cast away Mr. Williams's tracts from us. We have read them carefully again and again ; but our comparison of their contents with the New Testament has brought us to a conclusion somewhat similar to that of Linacer. If this be the gospel, then clearly the New Testament is not.

It is painful to be obliged to pass this sweeping condemnation upon a writer of whose piety* and earnestness we cannot entertain a doubt.

But we acknowledge—Mr. Williams himself will acknowledge—the claims of truth to be paramount; and we rejoice for once to be able to agree with Aristotle, and to adopt as our own the manly sentiment, αμφοίν γαρ όντοιν φίλουν, όσιον προτιμάν την αλήθειαν.

Our further objections to Mr. Williams's theology may be thus briefly stated. We object to his appeal "to Scripture and the Church " instead of to Scripture only, for this reason ; "that such an appeal implies that the streams of life which flow forth from the healing fountain of eternal love, bear death and poison to the enquirer's mind, unless their effect is rendered salutary, and the waters healed, by their transmission through human channels. It says that the Scriptures “which are given by the inspiration of God, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works ;” do forsooth of themselves teach not truth at all, contain truth by a sort of accident only; nay, may logically lead us to the most deadly errors, even to denying the Lord who bought us, unless they are accompanied by man's authority to guide the bewildered and endangered soul.”* For ourselves we are free to confess that, if the Church is to be exalted into a co-ordinate authority with Scripture, we see no escape from the worst errors of popery, either as to their sanction in past times, or the possibility of their recurrence. The Papist tauntingly demands of the Protestant, Where was your religion before Luther? In the Bible, is our answer. But a very slight acquaintance with ecclesiastical history will convincė us that we cannot say, In the Bible and the Church. We object to the use of the word "altar," unless Mr. Williams be prepared to shew, that the Church of England so designates the Lord's table. We object to the way in which the sacraments are everywhere spoken of. We object very strongly to the following passage :-"Surely men know not what they do, when they define and systematize the ways of God in man's redemption, under expressions such as imputed righteousness, justification, and sanctification, and the like; which words stand in their minds, for some exceeding shallow poor human ideas, for which they vehemently contend, as for the whole of religion :” and we object to it on this ground, that the Church of which Mr. Williams is a minister, has thus " defined and systematized the ways of God in man's redemption, and that these "expressions of exceeding shallow poor human ideas," namely, “imputed righteousness, justification, and sanctification,” have been thought worthy to occupy a very prominent place in her scriptural articles and homilies. We object to many misquotations of Scripture, which have, doubtless, had their origin in the acknowledged | mysticism of the Tractarian school. We object to Mr. Williams's' definition of a Church, as contrary to that

* That piety and earnestness constitute in themselves no effectual safeguard against the worst doctrinal errors, is evident from the case of those Jews who rejected the gospel, and persecuted its teachers through a zeal for God--but a zeal that was “not according to knowledge." See this subject treated at greater length in a sermon preached before the University of Oxford, at St. Mary's Church, on Sunday, December 26, 1841, (being the Feast of St. Stephen the Martyr), by the Rev. G. A. Jacob, M.A. London: J. Hatchard and Son, Piccadilly. 1842.

* Quoted from Mr. Jacob's Sermon. See above.

+ Justification and sanctification are scriptural terms, and not only scriptural but of very frequent occurrence in the New Testament. Ergo–These expressions of exceeding shallow, poor, human ideas, may be traced up to the Holy Spirit of God as their author.

* Mr. Newman, Mr. Sewell, and Dr. Pusey, all agree in considering “ mystery" as the one specific for the wants of the age.

which is given in the nineteenth article. We object to his insinuations respecting sin after baptism, by which the doctrine of the sixteenth article is covertly assailed. We object to the following passage on the ground that it is sheer nonsense, “Holy Scripture should be approached as that which has a sort of sacramental* efficacy about it.” We object to the importance attached to external ceremonies, which are profitable only as means towards an end. † We object to the manner in which evangelical preaching is described, as failing to teach repentance and purity, and to inculcate the love of God and the love of man. Finally, we object to the entire hypothesis on which Mr. Williams has endeavoured to explain away St. Paul's declarations respecting the cross of Christ, as though he preached not Christ's Atonement, but selfmortification. Mr. Williams says, “It may be seen by an attention to the context in all the passages where these expressions occur, that it is a very different view, and in fact the opposite to the modem notion (i. e. that 'by preaching the Atonement, we are preaching Christ crucified') which St. Paul always intends. It is the necessity of our being crucified to the world, it is our humiliation together with him, mortification of the flesh, being made conformable to his sufferings and his death.” We say, on the contrary, that attention to the context will demonstrate the very reverse to be the case; and as Mr. Williams has contented himself with mere assertion, we think it sufficient to reply, as Cicero did to the unsupported charges of Erucius, “Quoniam verbo arguit, verbo satis est negare. Si quid est quod ad testes reservet ; ibi nos quoque, ut in ipsâ causâ paratiores reperiet, quam putabat.”

Such are Mr. Williams's principles! Happily he has not permitted us to remain ignorant of their practical consequences. He tells us that they are opposed to the building of churches, “For," says he, “if churches are to be brought home to all, then are all persons to be brought into churches, and this by human means:”— that they are opposed “to an indiscriminate distribution of bibles and religious publications :”—and thirdly, that they are opposed to

* Surely we may retort his own charge upon Mr. Williams, and say, that the expressions “sacramental," and " sacramentally," do “ stand in his mind for some exceeding shallow, poor, human ideas," and are regarded by him as "the whole of religion." The Bible knows no such terms, and the Church of England knows them not in any such sense as that in which Mr. Williams has used them. She speaks but of two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and leaves to Rome the whole mass of sacramental and quasi-sacramental absurdities.

+ See Tract 87, pp. 86–88, where we are told, inter alia, that “ houses of divine worship, as it were, sacramentally convey spiritual benefit.” In reading this section we were forcibly reminded of Dr. Johnson's exclamation, “Sir, he is a good man, he never passes a church without pulling off his hat." We should feel much obliged to Mr. Wilsiams if he would define what he means by sacramental and sacramentallythat is, if he can, and if he means anything.

« AnteriorContinuar »