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tempted to be founded upon them by the other. When you talk of dishonest shifts, you of course suppose insincerity, and insincerity I am not defending. I have a right to my interpretation of Scripture, as well as you have to yours. We may differ, but it does not follow that I therefore am wrong or you right. Look at the sect called Quakers. They interpret literally many injunctions in which you allow greater latitude. Who is right? How is the thing to be decided? You must say both are right, provided only both are sincere! If a Quaker were to write a book against you, putting into your mouth such arguments as you have assigned to us, and call it “dishonest shifts,” should you allow yourself to be fairly dealt with? The most important enactments are defined and positive, but they generally apply directly, only to principals. Reason, however, bids us include in the spirit, all that in any way contributes to the action. He who commits a crime is condemned by the letter; he who abets it, by the spirit. You accuse us of, at one time standing out for the letter of an injunction, without admitting the spirit ; at another, of admitting the spirit of it only, (p. 146). Of the first, I cannot call to mind one single example. Of the second, you might cite perhaps six out of ten of the injunctions of the New Testament. It is a pity you have not given examples to define the charge you really contemplate. I suspect, however, that it would resolve itself into this, that where you seek to nail us with the letter, we contend for the spirit ; and that where you drop the letter, and preach to us the spirit, we differ from you as to what is the spirit, and refer you to the letter, to shew, not that there is no spirit, but that the interpretation you would impose, is not fairly deducible. But to return to our neglected pleas, (p. 145). The two first assertions you have made for us, viz. “ Whatever is not expressly forbidden, cannot be very criminal;" and, “ Whatever is not positively enjoined, cannot be indispensably necessary;" depend chiefly upon the value to be given to the words, expressly and positively. If these are to be understood to imply in “ totidem verbis,” certainly, whoever used them, was wrong, as I believe, in this sense, the abetting of any crime would not be
expressly forbidden.” For the second, I must also meddle with the word " indispensably;" for the proposition being a sort of converse of the former, if you bind me to the indispensably, I can only answer by the converse, namely, the abstaining from abetting, or from any other crime, not expressly inserted in the Scripture catalogue. Allow me to modify the indispensably, and I may
cite numerous particulars of charity, and other virtues, included
under general heads, and to which you certainly would not object. The third plea, (p. 145), “ if we do not offend against the laws, what more can be expected from us?” I am constrained to reject altogether; it is saying, that Christianity commands no active virtues,—which not being our creed, this consequently cannot be our plea.
The next speech you do us the honour to make for us, (p. 146), is evidently the language of one deprecating what he thinks over-severe censure, but of what, you do not inform us. Although your begging your reader (p. 147) not to mistake this language for that of Christian humiliation, would imply sins of a graver order. If you mean us, in this extenuation, to be answering to a charge of that which is not “ harmless and innocent,” to extenuate adultery, drunkenness, swearing, and obscenity, as I suspect you do, we deny the fact of our designating them under the terms you put into our mouths! At all events, however, the wrong, whatever it be, is admitted, not defended! The question, however, of our degrading religion into a set of statutes, being assumed, you properly enough descant upon the evils arising from such degradation. But surely you are bound to prove so grave a charge! Let it not be forgotten, that you are here throwing this charge upon a large majority of the Church of England, clergy as well as laity ; upon all, in short, who do not happen to belong to your particular sect in the Church. If you have written all this in ignorance of our opinions, such ignorance is not excusable. Allow me to inform you, however, that we, as well as yourself, hold the doctrine that you here so modestly assume as the exclusive property of your own sect, (p. 149). We one and all admit and affirm, that in Christianity,“ external actions derive their whole character and meaning from the motives and dispositions, of which they are the indications.”
After an unobjectionable sermon of four pages, we at last (p. 154) arrive at the grand debateable ground, the subject of Sunday. And here, I fear, I must say much to excite your vehement disapprobation, as it happens to be one of those points in which we differ from the root upwards. You are (strictly speaking) a Sabbatarian ; we are not (strictly speaking) Sabbatarians'. I can only, therefore, ask you, to hear what we have to say for our
1 I could not help smiling to see how very cautiously our Right Rev. Metropolitan has endeavoured to treat this part of his subject, in his “ untoward,” though in many parts excellent, Letter of last summer; where, though he scruples not to talk of “ boats full of well-dressed Sabbath-breakers," he has only said just enough upon the subject of a Sabbath to show his own consciousness of utter want of authority, where reason, analogy, and expediency, are to be abandoned as infra dignitatem.
selves, before you altogether refuse us toleration. You, Sir, are willing to bring forward our supposed delinquencies, regarding Sunday, our not seeming to consider it as a privilege to spend it in your mode, (p. 156), as a proof that religion is not in our hearts. I humbly conceive this sort of judgment to be just what St. Paul means to reprove in Romans xiy. Why are we bound to consider this as a means of serving God, more than you to acknowledge the necessity of Papistical austerities? You say
the services of religion are not agreeable to us; that ours is a constrained, not a willing service; that to us religion bears a gloomy and forbidding aspect. Why does it do so ? only because it is generally mistaken upon such subjects as the one in question. It is not religion, but the dress in which Superstition has clothed her, that bears this aspect; and it is to the distinction between this “ leather and prunella,” and reality, that I wish to draw attention. Before you can draw a fair inference against us, you must prove that we show reluctance, and endeavour to evade an acknowledged and required service; and that it is religion itself, and not antiquated and unnecessary observances, forms, and ceremonies, that is really irksome to
We wish not to deny, that in your questions (p. 155) is described a very pious way of spending Sunday, or any other leisure time. It is equally