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Miss Holmes - - - - • - - .. . . . Part VI. 64
" It is now about twelve months since, I was travelling with an eminent physician, and our copversation turned on the state of religion in the country; and on the evangelical and antievangelical ministers and laity of our own church; when he stated a fact which produced a deep impression on my mind, a he said it had produced a deep impression on his own."
London: PRINTED FOR FRANCIS WESTLEY, 10, STATIONERS
COURT, AND AVE-MARIA LANE,
POPULAR THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS,,,
EXAMINED AND DISCUSSED
“ When such a man takes him to the bed of sickness, and he knows it to be a sickness unto death-when, under all the weight of breathlessness and pain, he listens to the man of God, as he points the way that leadeth to eternity,--what, I would ask, is the kind of gospel that is most fitted to charm the sense of guilt and the anticipations of vengeance away from him? sure we are, that we never in these affecting circumstances-through which you have all to pass -We never saw the man who could maintain a stability, and a hope, from the sense of his own righteousness; but who, if leaning on the righteousness of Christ, could mix a . peace and an elevation with his severest agonies. We never saw the expiring mortal who could look with an undaunted eye on God as his law-giver ; but often has all its languor been lighted up with joy at the name of Christ as his Saviour. We never saw the dying acquaintance who, upon the retrospect of his virtues and of his doings, could prop the tranquillity of his spirit on the expectation of a legal reward.' Oh no! this is not the element which sustains the tranquillity of death-beds. It is the hope of forgiveness. It is a believing sense of the efficacy of the atonement. It is the prayer of faith offered up in the name of him who is the Captain of our salvation. It is a dependance on that power which can alone impart a meetness for the inheritance of the saints, and present the spirit holy, and unreproveable, and unblameable in the sight of God." Dr. Chalmers.
Mr. John Roscoe, whose views of truth were decidedly anti-evangelical, met with a more formidable antagonist in his brother than he expected ; and though he had been foiled in some previous encounters, yet lie again resumed the debate, with a high degree of confidence. He said, that he would wave for the present any reference to the nature of conversion; or the agent by whom it was effected; though he wished it to be understood, that he was not altogether satisfied with the discussion of the preceding evening; and he thep bore an unequivocal testimony against the doctrine of an unconditional salvation, as being not only contrary to the Scripture, but subversive of the morals of 'society.
Mr. John Roscoe. “I cannot, Sir, imagine that you can object to the strictures which the Rev. Mr. Ćmade in his sermon, last Sunday, on the censurable conduct of those clergymen, who declaim against good works, and exalt a dogmatic belief in certain crude opinions, as the only necessary condition on which sinners can obtain the forgiveness of Almighty God.”
Mr. Roscoe. “As I have not been in the habit of hearing the evangelical clergy preach, I certainly cannot say from my own personal knowledge, how far the charge which is alleged against them, is just or un founded. If they do declaim against good works, they are guilty of an awful dereliction of duty, and should not receive the sanction of any wise or good man. I agree with you, that this is not the age in which virtue in any of her forms, or requirements, should be reproached, especially by those who are professedly her ministers. For if they, who ought to defend the passes to evil, turn their weapons of war against the bulwarks of practical righteousness; the common enemy will meet with an ally, where he ought to meet with a foe; and the capital and its dependencies will soon be taken. But though I have not heard any of them preach, I have for a long time been in the habit of reading their published discourses, and I give it as my unqualified opinion, that from the press, they push the claims of practical righteousness, on our attention to such an extreme point, that I have often heard them censured for their excessive strictness; and it is fair to presume that they are not less urgent, when they are in the pulpit. But, if I admit, for the sake of the argument, that they do declain against good works, we know that they practice them: and their hearers, with some few exceptions, will sustain no loss, by à comparison with the most virtuous members of society."*
** The author resides in a town where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached within the pale of the establishment in its simi plicity, and purity; and it is his happiness and his honour to
live on terms of intimacy with many who have received it, as the engrafted word of endless life; and he can appeal with confidence to their Christian deportment, in confirmation of the correctness of his statement, If we were to say, thật they excel all others, in every thing that is lovely, and of good no scoffers, who visit their temples ? No infidels who · commune at their altars? Can they look round on
Mr. John Roscoe. “ Then you will admit, that some of their hearers are not men of virtue? I thank you for this admission, it is rather more than I expected ; it proves all I want, as it demonstrates with a force of evidence, which I presume no one can withstand, that their ministers preach a doctrine, which necessarily leads to licentiousness of conduct.”
Mr. Roscoe. “I am rather astonished, that you should take my concession, as a gratuitous offering which you did not expect to receive. Indeed, I am no advocate for a party, but merely for the truth ; and
such are its attractions in my estimation, that. I prize it - more than silver or gold. This argument which you employ against the moral tendency of evangelical preaching, is liable to two very formidable objections ; it is fallacious,—and it proves too much. It supposes in the first place, that the conduct of a minority is the test. by which the orthodoxy of the preacher is to be decided But why fix on the minority as the test? when their : relative number is a tacit proof, that they are the ex-'. ceptions to the general deportment of his hearers. If a few in a local district are turbulent and factious, and disposed to raise the standard of rebellion ; while the larger proportion of the people are peaceable and submissive, revering the authority of the laws, and cultivating the virtues of social life; would you recommend the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, as though the
entire mass were in a state of revolt? Where would i be the cquity, or the expediency of such a measure ? Why impugn the character of all, because a few are criminal, and involve the innocent and the guilty, in one indiscriminate visitation of punishment ? And would not such an argument apply with equal, if not with stronger force to the anti-evangelical clergy? Have they no immoral hearers? Have they none who set at open defiance the laws of God and man? Have they
report, he might be considered as guilty of the crime of dattery, which he abhors ; but he may say without fear of impeachment,
that they are the ornaments of the church, to which they are ; attached, and justly regarded as some of the most useful members of civil society.