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The Editor begs to remind his readers that he is not responsible for the opinions
of his Correspondents.
JOHN KNOX. SIR, -Some years ago I had taken the trouble of dividing the plainer parts of the holy scriptures into 730 portions, for the use of those heads of families who follow the edifying practice of reading a small portion of the Word of God to their assembled households every morning and evening throughout the year. But as the Bishop of Chester, Mr. Girdleston, and others, have by their excellent commentaries superseded the necessity of such a publication, it is not at all probable that what I was then preparing will ever appear in print; I should, therefore, feel much obliged if you will allow me a small space in your Magazine to lay before the public an extract from John Knox, which I had intended to make use of in my Introduction.
It was, more particularly at the time of which I am now speaking, twelve or thirteen years ago, the fashion of the world to adnire every thing which is written in the old Scottish dialect. In the present instance, may the world cleave to its own fashion; and may God grant that the following extract from the great Scottish reformer fail not to excite a fervent desire to practise that Christian duty which it so beautifully, and at the same time so forcibly, recommends.
“ And thairfoir, deir brethrene, yf that ye luke for a lyfe to come, of necessitie it is that ye exercise yourselves in the buke of the Lord your God. Leit na day slip over without sum comfort ressavit fra the mouth of God; opin your earis, and Hie will speik evin pleasing thingis to your hart; clois not your eis, but diligentlie lat thame behald what portioun of substance is left to you within your fatheris Testament; let your toungis learne to prais the gracious gudness of him wha of his meir mercie hath callit you fra darknes to lyght, and fra deth to lyfe. Nether yit may ye do this sa quyetlic that ye will admit na witnessis; nay, brethrene, ye ar ordeynit of God to reule and governe your awn houssis in his trew feir, and according to his halie word. Within your awn houssis, I say, in sum casis ye ar bishopis and kingis, your wyffes, children, and familie, ar your bishoprick and charge; of you it sal be requirit how carefullie and diligentlie ye have instructit thame in Godis trew knavledge, how that ye have studeit in them to plant vertue and to repress vyce. And thairfoir, I say, ye must mak thame par keris in reading, exhortation, and in making commoun prayeris, whilk I wald in everie hous wer usit anis a day at leist. But above all thingis, deir brethren, studie to practis in lyfe that whilk'the Lord commandis; and than, be ye assurit, that ye sall never heir nor reid the same without frute. And this mekill for the exercises within your housis."-Knox's Letter of Instructions to the Protestants of Scotland during his absence. I remain yours truly,
Wm. Riland BEDFORD, Sutton Cold field, Jan. 6.
THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER SERVICE. Sır,-As in courtesy bound, I reply to Dr. Elrington's question, though unable to conceive how an inquiry into the personal conduct of an individual can affect an abstract question of external polity.
I have been in the habit of using the occasional services put forth by the crown, because they have been in my judgment) both inoffensive and desirable in themselves, and have received all the authority which the nature of the cases (sudden, emergent, and temporary) admitted; but I know of no court which can compel the use of them. I do not use the new service for the 5th of November, because it has not all the authority which the nature of the case (neither sudden, emergent, nor temporary) admits; and also because I conceive it to be in itself (so far as it has been altered) both undesirable and offensive; a perversion and abuse of holy offices; an attempt to convert the common worship of our heavenly Father into a touchstone of party opinions, or into a sanction for a doubtful course of worldly politics.
As Dr. Elrington expresses himself at a loss “how to ascertain the state of the case” in respect of his assertion, (founded it appears upon a misconception of a passage in Bishop Gibson,) that the English convocation in 1689 altered the service for the fifth of November, he will not, I hope, think me wanting in respect, if I venture to point out to him the quarter where he may ascertain it. R. Wilkins, in his Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ, has given us an account of that convocation, which assembled on thirteen different days, and an account of their transactions on every one of those thirteen days ; in which not one word or intimation is given of their having been engaged in such a work as the revision of the fifth of November service.-See Wilkins, iv. 619621.
Dr. Elrington may “not think it of any consequence to the present question" of the legal and conscientious obligation of the new service. But I am persuaded that they who have better weighed the principles of the church of England, as an independent branch of the catholic church of Christ, will take a very different view of the matter: and I cannot but express my astonishment that sound-hearted and wellaffected ministers of the church in Ireland, which has suffered, and is suffering, such cruelties by the unconstitutional usurpation of the civil power upon the ecclesiastical in outward things, should seek to establish and to ratify a similar usurpation in inward things, and to place the public worship to be celebrated in the house of God at the mercy of the fiat of the secretary of state for the home department. “Quos Jupiter vult perdere, dementat prius." Sir, I am, with much respect for Dr. Elrington's general character, but with no approval of his conduct or writings on this point, your obedient servant, ALPHA.
ESSEX MEMORIALS TO THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN
KNOWLEDGE. SIR,- In the last “Eclectic Review” there is a notice of the “ Two Memorials” not long ago laid before the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and recently published, which may make it worth while to draw the attention of your readers to the contents of the Memorials themselves. These papers are full of the most unqualified charges of false doctrine against the Society's tracts, and against the churchmen and clergymen who circulate them; and these charges the reviewers produce with manifest satisfaction, display them in capital letters, and then triumphantly ask, (and it is very evident that this is the sole object of their notice of the Memorials,) Was Mr. Binney right or wrong in saying that the established church destroys more souls than it saves ? “ We assert this.......that churchmen have said, repeated, sustained, surpassed all that could be included in or meant by those few words, which for four years have led them to roar and redden with indignation.” And, I am sorry to say it, the Eclectic reviewers are thus far right; the language used by the memorialists is worthy of Mr. Binney; but “the question is, is it worth more ?” For if the assertions of the memorialists with regard to the tracts of the Society be good for no more than Mr. Binney's with regard to the church are good for, what has the cause of dissent gained by pressing these clergymen into its service in company with Mr. B.? It is, in deed, amusing to see how the reviewers themselves, after having made this use of the memorialists, dispose of their claim to be considered competent authority on the subjects on which they treat.
66 We once intended to enter into the inquiry, whether the memorialists are the men to produce any great effect on the Society. Our opinion is, that they are not. They seem good men, &c. But we cannot say, either that their views themselves on some things are the most correct, or their arguments likely to have weight with others...... Their mode of explaining the atonement, for instance, expels, in our opinion, everything like grace and mercy from the gospel, and reduces it to a system of hard, rigid, rigorous law...... They indulge in much that is intended for reasoning, &c...... We do not think that they are fitted, judging by their memorials, to produce any great effect on the unevangelical members of the Society, many of whom, we suspect, are too strong and too clear-headed not to perceive the confusion and incon. sistency, &c. We much fear that they are quite out of their proper place, in attempting to be the Knoxes and the Luthers of the present age." Now, considering the quarter, as to doctrine, from which these remarks come, and the evident good will with which the writer views the statements of the memorialists, perhaps the value he attaches to their intellectual powers may create in your readers a very small suspicion to commence with, that their objections to the Society's tracts are not likely to prove of a very formidable nature; and this it shall be my endeavour to shew is actually the case.
The first of the “Two Memorials” has been ably treated on most points by a writer in the last “ British Critic;" to which I beg particularly to refer your readers. And I shall, in consequence, content myself with producing a single specimen only from the first memorial of the reasonableness of the memorialists' objections in general. a society for promoting Christian knowledge,” say they, " in the church of England, it would be natural to expect that the very first act of the society would have been to set up a standard of theological truth; and that, the standard of the Reformation ; to adopt for circulation not the Bible only, not merely the Book of Common Prayer, but” other accredited works of the reformers. Now, I ask, did the Society
set up a standard of theological truth in the Bible and Book of Common Prayer, or did it not? If a standard of doctrine was raised in them, the question of the admission or otherwise of any other works of the reformers whatever became merely a question of comparative suitableness for the purposes of the Society. The standard of doctrine in the Bible and Common Prayer would remain the same, whatever other works were admitted or rejected. And with such a standardif I may so use the word—floating over the Society, to complain of the want of the Homilies &c., valuable as they may be, as evidence to the doctrine taught by her, is something extremely like complaining of the absence of candlelight in broad day. The church itself has, in fact, no standard of doctrine but the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, as set forth by authority; but even if that were otherwise, how unreasonable the complaint of the want of a sufficient stan. dard of doctrine in the Society, because she had only these--ONLY the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer!
The tracts that are the principal objects of animadversion by the memorialists are, “ Nelson on the Fasts and Festivals," and the “Whole Duty of Man;" and both these works they deliberately charge with setting forth a Christianity unknown both to the Bible and to the church, and as dishonourable to the mercy of God as it is oppressive to the incapacity of man. Let us see:
1. A great portion of the objections urged against Nelson are founded on the language which he holds with regard to repentance; and to prove his views on this point unsound the memorialists give a series of extracts from the Homilies, principally of this kind—“to repent is a good gift of God;" “ they are greatly deceived that preach repentance without Christ;" “ works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not out of faith in Jesus Christ;" “ we have need of a mediator for to bring us and reconcile us unto him;" “the first coming unto God is through faith.” Now, does Nelson say that repentance is not God's gift? or does he preach repentance without Christ? or that men can do much of themselves without Christ? or is the repentance he speaks of a work done before the grace of Christ, and not springing from faith in Christ ? Does Nelson deny the need of a mediator? or that the first coming to God is through faith? The memorialists ought to have known that he does not; but, unless they would have their readers suppose that he does, what is the meaning of this adverse display of extracts from the articles and homilies ? Again, Nelson's doctrine throughout, say the memorialists, is, “ that repentance must first be in man before the blood of Christ can avail him.” Not so; the man Nelson writes for is in Christ by covenant; it is the blood of the covenant that avails him to the acceptance of his repentance. But what says the church on this point—that church which, the memorialists declare, knows not Nelson's Christianity ? “Restore thou them that are penitent, according to thy promises," &c. “O most merciful God, who....... dost so put away the sins of them that truly repent, that thou rememberest them no more," &c. If there be meaning in words, does not the church here teach us that the restora
tion of the simer, the putting away of his sins, waits for his truly re
penting that penitence must be in him first? ::1. "Nelson's doctrine,” continue the memorialists, “plainly is, that we must reconcile ourselves to God by a hearty and sincere repentapce, while the homily expressly states, that, all is of God.....and that repentance is equally a gift of God, as our reconciliation is.'" But is repentance in such a sense a gift, that we are not to speak of it in any sense as man's act and deed? Is it unscriptural language, for instance, to say, “He repents,” &c.? If it be, then I ask who the agent is, in all common-sense understanding of the matter, when seripture speaks of men's repenting, doing works meet for repentance, &c.? if it be not, then I affirm, that our repenting being of God's grace, the power to repent-i.e., his gift-does not destroy it as a condition of salvation. But that Nelson never intended to preach repentance as a substitute for the death on the cross is certain from the whole of the passage in his work, part of which the memorialists extract, the words immediately preceding those extracted being—“ The scripture is clear that our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ laid down his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world; that by his death he reconciled us to God, and by the merit of his sufferings made full satisfaction for us; so that it is for the sake of what Christ endured,” &c. His use of words on the subject of repentance may be less precise than we expect them to be at the present day; but before the memorialists satisfy themselves that they have convicted Nelson of setting forth a Christianity known neither to scripture nor the church, on the strength of the words he uses with regard to repentance, I would refer them, as matter for reflection, first, to the title to the Homily on Repentance ; secondly, to the language used in that Homily relative to the words in Joel, “ Return unto me with all your heart,” &c ; of which returning it is said, that there is NONE OTHER WAY whereby the wrath of God may be PACIFIEN, and His ANGER ASSUAGED, and the fierceness of his fury taken away; and lastly, to an observation of Bishop Kaye's regarding Tertullian—"If, therefore, on other occasions we find him dwelling in strong terms on the efficacy of repentance, we ought IN FAIRNESS to infer, that he did not mean to represent it as of itself possessing this efficacy, but as deriving its reconciling virtue from the sacrifice of Christ."
II. In noticing Nelson's character of a saint, (where the memorialists commence by saying, “ Here is a saint, according to Nelson, saved by his works;" although there is nothing, not even their own quotations from the bomilies, to justify such a charge,) they thus argue :“ Where is such a man to be found upon earth, who conforms his whole life to the precepts of Christianity, who has a sincere regard to God, and another world in all his actions, who abstains from all kind of evil?" Now, St. Paul calls upon us “ to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ;” “ to abstain from all appearance of evil ;" “ to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” And what then have we to do, in order to shew the absurdity of the memorialists' objections against Nelson, but to apply their own question to these exhortations of St.