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denied the very existence of Jesus as an historical fact. You then give a long note entering upon the wide field of St. Paul's epistles, from which, as usual, with religionists of your school, you take the liberty to select texts, which, in most instances, as in the present, are rendered unmeaning by the process. You talk of the value of the argument " that a system is never designated but by what constitutes its prime consideration,” &c. (p. 108); quoting the terms“ We preach Christ crucified,”“ we determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Now, Sir, this is an example of the very thing we most object against in your school; this bringing forward detached and darkly-worded sentences from the epistles, to overpower the imaginations, not convince the reason, of your pupils. Do we deny the history of our Saviour ? Do we deny that this history is to be believed ? If we do, tell us how we deny it, as you have not yet ventured to charge us directly with any such denial. You surely cannot mean to imply, that these terms you have quoted from St. Paul, should be taken to have any other interpretation than the words “ we preach the Gospel of Christ”_" we recognize no other system or doctrine than what the crucified Jesus has given to us," would have. Whoever takes
Whoever takes upon him to instruct others in religion, is bound, not only not
wilfully to mislead, but to be specially cautious that he does not mislead, particularly when handling such subjects as you have here undertaken ; and did it never strike you, that there is something, very little, if at all short of impiety, in this sort of (improperly termed pious) fraud upon sanguine temperaments ? That, in practising it, you are trifling with the word of God '? You next allude to various other texts from St. Paul: (p. 109).—First, where he cautions his Roman converts against substi
I cannot but entreat the admirers of Mr. Wilberforce's work, to be upon their guard through this and similar parts of his book, and to give themselves the trouble of examining what is meant, what is insinuated, and what really proved, ere they include the general body of the upper classes of the Established Church in his sweeping condemnation. “ Search the Scriptures, for in them are the words of eternal life !” Worthy reader, bear in mind, that the Scriptures, with this injunction, were not given to the beasts of the field, but to men only. And why? but because God has gifted man with sense and reason to understand them. For the sake of the Giver of the Scriptures, then, do not throw away the means of using them, and from superstitious awe or false humility, however commendable in their sources, suffer yourselves to be led blindfold by any body. Guard your imagination from being led astray by high sounding language, even though it is taken from Scripture itself, for then it is that you are in the greatest danger, because you fancy yourself secure. Search into the meaning, require the reasons, Christianity will bear it all! Fear not, the religion of Jesus is conformable to reason in all its parts, if, with sincere heart and humble faith, you seek to see.
tuting forms, for the realities of Christian practice, and which, you would insinuate, is to your purpose.
Next you take your text from Hebrews, and which, as if in utter forgetfulness that it is nothing to your purpose, you give quite fairly.
You say St. Paul reproved his Jewish converts, for "relying, in part only, upon the merits of their observance of the Mosaic institutions, instead of upon the merits of Christ.” Of course he reproved them; we should do the same! In this reproof, St. Paul shews, plainly to our minds, what are the sort of works he means to caution his pupils against relying upon, but which have been confounded but too often with works of Christian charity and obedience.
To your conclusion of this chapter, I have no other objection than to your assumption, that its doctrine is peculiar to your own sect, and the inference you appear to wish should be drawn from thence. Your language may, it is true, be rather more high-flown than what would be adopted by the generality of our clergy, but the doctrine actually conveyed is the same. What those who are better acquainted with your cypher may understand in it, I cannot say; but as far as any ordinary man of common sense can perceive, there is nothing he may not have heard at any church
or chapel in the united kingdom ; and with it, as far as I understand its meaning, I most cordially agree.
Your obedient servant,
To Mr. WILBERFORCE.
CHAP. IV. § 1. 8vo. edit. p. 112.
On the prevailing inadequate conceptions concerning the nature
and strictness of practical Christianity.
We now, Sir, come to your fourth chapter, in which you profess to treat of our inadequate conceptions of the nature and strictness of practical Christianity. You begin by affirming, that "they who hold the fundamental doctrines of Scripture in their due force, hold also, in its due degree of purity, the practical system which Scripture inculcates. But they who explain away the former, soften down the latter also, and reduce it to the level of their defective scheme.” This is all very plausible as it stands; but what is it that you mean these words to convey ? You have told us what you mean by fundamental doctrines, at least in part. Your assertion, therefore, will stand thus: “It is those only who do not mistake the question of whether holiness be the cause or effect of our justification and reconcilia