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it, which was not infinitely more so. The shortest way, perhaps, would be to class it with these extracts from the prayer book, and thus get rid of all of them at
“ From this specimen of faults in the Liturgy” the Reviewer would have us give up our boast of its excellence. Perhaps, it will be time enough to do so, when the learned and able men, those of them at least, who are living, retract their opinions as already given by us.f We do not believe, however, nor are we acquainted with any who do, in the absolute perfection of our Liturgy. It is a human composition, and therefore not free from the faults which must ever attend upon the labours of men. In the language of the editors of the Christian Observer, we may say that we would not be thought in our struggle for the honour of our Liturgy to be the champions of every expression contained in it. We are its admirers, not its idolators ; and therefore not in love with its blemishes. There are a few parts, which would, perhaps, admit of the knife ; but then we do not see into whose hand it could safely be trusted. We are content, however, to take it as it is, and are rather disposed to wonder it is so good, than to complain it is no better. Every day's experience shews us, it is perfectly competent under the divine blessing to produce, and what is perhaps more, to revive a spiritual religion."
* 56 In one of the prayers in the communion service,” says
the Reviewer, “ God is styled Holy Father. But the rubric orders that on Trinity Sunday this title shall be omitted ;" and he draws an inference from this, which only serves to expose his ignorance, for, if he really had read the book, he would have seen that the same page explained what he chooses to consider as done without adequate motive. The true reason why this term is to be omitted on Trinity Sunday is, because it verbally disagrees with the language of the proper preface, for the day, as it is called; but if another preface, also provided for that day, is used, then the term Holy Father is to be retained, because there is then no disagreement of that nature,
4 See note p. 83.
As the Reviewer admits that our church is not distinguished, though he would have her considered dishonoured, in declaring that she has authority in matters of faith; we do not deem ourselves called upon to defend her in this respect. It is a principle to be found, we believe, more or less plainly expressed in the formularies of all denominations out of the frigid zone. And even there it is virtually assumed, as is evident from the agreement in denouncing Trinitarianism, Calvinism, &c. Mr. Sparks's 66 strain of good sense and eloquence," quoted by the Reviewer, seems to us, to be destitute at the least, of the first, if not of both, these attributed qualities. Is there not, for instance, something superlatively ridiculous in comparing Theology to Astronomy, when the principles of the former were permanently settled by its author eighteen hundred years ago ; while of the latter, we know nothing except by the actual discovery and demonstration of principles, heretofore, and till recently, utterly unknown, and perhaps not even yet fully and permanently settled ? We should have thought a mind regulated by good sense and a sound education, would have scorned to employ such a burlesque upon reasoning. But admitting, for a moment, that there is any thing like sufficiency in such arguments, who or where is the Bacon, or the Copernicus, or the Newton, who is to stand forth, and show us ground upon which we may set our feet, and from which we may see that we dwell not in an immeasurable void, or in a pathless chaos ? Shall we take Mr. Sparks, or Mr. Belsham, or the Reviewer? We doubt, not a little, whether either of these gentlemen have yet found a substantial base for their own feet, notwithstanding their anxiety to spring a mine beneath ours.* Why then should we look to either of them for support, when we have only their assertion that our present footing is unsafe? We are of opinion with Bishop Pearson—that there is no concerning truth in Christianity which is not old, and that whatsoever about it can be proved to be new, is for that reason alone decidedly false.” We hold that creeds are valuable, not as standards independent of scripture, but as summaries collected out of it. This we conceive to be the case with the formularies of the church, and with this belief of their origin, we shall not be prevailed on by pompous diction, or bold assertion, to abandon them : certainly not till those who would dissuade us from them, know themselves what to believe.
*66 Mr. Belsham, in the introduction to his Letters on Arianism, &c. remarks, that having begun to think, he knows not where to stop, as he still professes to seek after knowledge, and is very far from flattering himself that he approaches the confines of discoverable truth." R. Adam's Relig. world, vol. ii. p. 174. Dr. Priestley and others have remarked to the same purport.
| Mr. Sparks's remark about the infallibility of the church, scems to us, to be nearly, if not equally, as applicable to individuals. We are told in the scriptures that we are saved by faith and that he that believeth not shall be damned ; unless every individual be in fallible, then, there can be no certainty of his having the only true faith, and be may even spare himself the trouble, of clairaing the right to have his own particular creed.
That Milton was an admirable poet it would be trea: son against learning and literature to deny ; he was nevertheless but a miserable divine, and a most uncharitable man. We ask the reader to peruse the following invective against the Bishops of the English church, in connection with the Reviewer's quotation from his 66
prose works,” concerning creeds, and he will see some grounds for this opinion : “ But they, that by the impairing and diminution of the true faith, the distresses and servitude of their country, aspire to high dignity, rule and promotion here, after a shameful end in this life, (WHICH GOD GRANT THEM !) shall be thrown down eternally into the darkest and deepest gulph of hell; where, under the despiteful control, the trample and spurn of all the other damned, who in the anguish of their torture, shall have no other ease than to exercise a raving and bestial tyranny over them as their slaves and negroes, they shall remain in that plight forever, the basest, the lowermost, the most dejected, most underfoot, and down-trodden vassals of perdition.”* Is
* Treatise on Reformation, vol. i. p. 274. Quoted by Jones on the church, note to chap. iii. In continuation of the extracts made by the Reviewer from Mr. Sparks's Letters, we find the following parody, as we call it, on a text or two of scripture. “St. Paul enjoins the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty-wherewith Christ had made them free, and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage ;' and to the Corinthians he writes,— We have not dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy, for by faith ye stand. Not by faith in Creeds, for this would be giving up our liberty, taking upon us a yoke of bondage, and submitting to the opinions of others; but by faith in the word of God, which all persons are free to consult,--and this freedom all must be allowed to enjoy before they can be required to believe or obey.” Did not Mr. S. very well know, that in the text from the
it not enough to make the blood run cold in our veins to read such denunciations as these? Is it to be wondered at, if men of such temper as this extract displays, should be the enemies, not of creeds alone, but of every species of human obligation ? With what feelings then, must we be inspired when we see such a writer cited,
epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul was alluding to the attempt made among that people by Judaizing teachers to reduce them under the dominion of the Mosaic law~" to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which” the Jews themselves had not been 66 able to bear ?? Suppose we were to make a similar accomodating use of another text in the same epistle, and say to our readers, 66 there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ ; but though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” We suspect Mr. Sparks would think the application far fetched and somewhat unreasonable. With regard to that other text, we suppose St. Paul's meaning to be, that he had not power to change the faith which he had preached to them, and in which they were now established, and that, though he was coming among them to revive neglected discipline in respect to their practice, yet as respected their faith, he was rather disposed to rejoice with them, for in that they had remained stedfast. Mr. Belsham asserts, that the doctrines of necessity and materialism (though admitted according to Adam, by the most distinguished Unitarians,] have no more to do with their peculiar creed, “ than they have with the mountains in the moon,” As little, we conceive, have the texts quoted by Mr. S. to do with creeds of any sort. We think the strain of Mr. Sparks's reasoning, , generally, as here quoted by the Reviewer, of a deistical tendency; for it proceeds upon the supposition, that the fundamental principles of Christianity have not been revealed to us, but are to be sought out, in the same manner, as the fundamental principles of Astronomy have been discovered. It is the course of an advocate for the religion of nature, a system frigid indeed.