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the present argument. The facts of the case are, that there was a national church ; that that church had openly denied and crucified the Son of God; that it persecuted his apostles, and opposed the truth; and yet that those very apostles still continued in communion with it, and taught their fellow Christians to do so too; and that so effectually, that, so long as the Jewish national church existed, the Jewish believers in Christ never dissented. Now, one of two things is possible_either the Jewish national church remained the church of God, or it did not. If the former supposition be adopted, then it will follow that the grossest corruptions, both in doctrine and practice, are not sufficient to unchurch a church, nor to warrant separation. If the latter, then the argument against dissenters is still stronger; for then we have the apostles and the primitive Christians conforming to a national establishment which had ceased to be the church of God, and that under circumstances which required much greater sacrifices than any which dissenters are required to make, in conforming to the church of England. If after the rejection of Christ the Jewish national church was not the church of God, then the Jewish priests were not God's priests; yet to them the primitive Christians paid tithes. The sacrifices were not acceptable to God, and yet they took part in them, and contributed to the expense of furnishing them. The temple was not the house of God, and yet thither they went up to pray ; and for its maintenance they gave of their substance. Circumcision was no longer a divinely appointed sacrament, but a cruel rite, and yet with this, for the sake of conformity, they tortured their children. If it be replied, that they did this in compliance with Jewish prejudice, this reply only adds to the guilt of modern dissenting separation, and more strikingly illustrates the difference between the apostles and dissenters. The dissenters separate from the church; and, as they say, separate in order to preserve the truth of God: the apostles conformed, and, according to this answer, conformed because they thought that by conformity the truth could best be preserved and promoted. Modern nonconformists, therefore, dissent not only from the church, but from the principles and practice of the apostles.
But the dissenting catechism says, that the apostles refused conformity to the national church; and gives, as an instance of their nonconformity, their disobedience to the commands of the high priest and the council. But the dissenters must be in great straits when they cite this as an example of nonconformity. The apostles stood to the high priest and council as prophets, and, as such, filled an office expressly appointed in the constitution of the Jewish church. As prophets, provided with miraculous credentials, it was the duty of the high priest and the council to have obeyed them. And they were no more nonconformists by continuing to preach than was Amos, when the priest of Bethel forbad him; or Jeremiah, when he was forbidden by the men of Anathoth. To establish anything like a parallel case, the dissenters must first give the same proof of a divine mission as that which the apostles had given; but even then they will not be able to prove that the apostles were nonconformists, for, as has been shewn, they conformed to all the rites and ceremonies, and partici
pated in the worship and the sacraments of the Jewish church. On the contrary, this solitary exception to their otherwise universal obedience makes their conformity the more cogent as an argument against dissent. It shews that they were possessed of an authority superior to that of the priests and rulers, and that, therefore, they might lawfully have dissented; but nevertheless, they did not dissent, nor think disobedience necessary or justifiable ; except when, after giving miraculous proof of a divine mission, they were forbidden to preach in the name of Christ. If, therefore, the dissenters have never, under similar circumstances, met with a similar prohibition, their case is not similar to that of the apostles. But this cannot be pretended. The dissenters have never yet given miraculous evidence of their call to an extraordinary mission. The church of England has never yet forbidden men, furnished with miraculous powers, to preach in the name of Christ. Moreover, the dissenters refuse conformity not simply in the act of preaching Christ, but to all the rites, ceremonies, and order of the church. In every other matter the apostles conformed. There is not, therefore, one single point of resemblance between the apostles and the dissenters.
But it may be argued that the apostles, as the commissioned founders of the Christian church, into which Gentiles, before excluded, were to be received, did by the very act of that foundation dissent from the Jewish church. It may be said, that nothing can be more formal separation than the erection of a new church, and the institution of new terms of communion. But perhaps there is not any one argument which so strongly shews the unlawfulness of dissent as the mode in which the Christian church was founded, or the light in which it is represented in the New Testament. In the first place, it is never represented as a new church, but an extension of that which had already existed. The Gentiles were admitted into that commonwealth of Israel which already existed (Ephes. ii.); they were grafted into the olive tree which had long stood in the garden of the Lord; not a new plantation, but a graft; but when there is a graft, the old tree must continue to stand. (Rom. xi.) The wall of partition was taken away, but no new temple was erected. But, in the second place, the mode in which this extension took place was in strict conformity to the existing laws of the Jewish church. The initiatory rite adopted was one that was already practised, and that was recognised as compatible with the strictest conformity. Baptism was practised by the Jews in the admission of proselytes. John, the son of Zechariah, was never considered as a separatist or schismatic because he baptized. Even the most bigoted sect that existed thought they could receive John's baptism without any danger to their conformity. The admission of the Gentiles was in conformity to a principle laid down in the law of Moses. It provided for the settlement of Gentiles in the land of Israel on certain conditions, without compelling them to be circumcised or to keep the law; and even the Talmudists admitted that Gentiles, though uncircumcised, yet by keeping the seven precepts of the sons of Noah might be saved. In the admission of the Gentiles, the apostles acted strictly upon these principles. They taught those
who were born Jews to observe all the laws of Moses. They exacted from Gentiles only those terms which Moses himself prescribed. When the great question, whether the Gentiles were to observe the law of Moses or not, was discussed, the final determination was—“ It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burthen than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled." And these were, as Spencer shews, the terms already prescribed by Moses. In his dissertation on Acts, xv. 20, he considers the reason why the apostles forbad these four things in one and the same ordinance, and did not leave them to be collected from various portions of their writings, and says, “I think this was done for an important reason; for, by the Mosaic law, these four things were conjointly forbidden to the pious Gentiles sojourning amongst the Israelites." And then, after proving this from the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Leviticus, he adds, “Since, therefore, the Mosaic law interdicted to Jewish proselytes these four things, simultaneously and conjointly; and probably the more reasonable of the Hebrews required from strangers, besides the abstinence from these four things, no other proof of the abdication of idolatry: I think I have good reason for believing that the apostles prohibited, simultaneously and conjointly, all these things to the Gentile converts, in order to signify their readiness to observe the institutions of Moses, so far as they reasonably could, and the injustice of imposing a greater burden on Christian proselytes than had formerly been imposed on Jewish proselytes.”+ Gentiles were, therefore, admitted to the privileges of the gospel, not by setting up a new church, not by dissenting from the Jewish church, but by conforming to its laws and provisions. Not a single command of the Mosaic law was violated—not a single rite or custom neglected—not a shadow of separation or dissent was visible. The terms of communion with the Jewish church were preserved inviolate. The principle on which the Gentiles were admitted had been already laid down in the Mosaic law, but had been obscured by sectarian prejudice. apostles this merciful provision was brought to light and acted upon without in any way interfering with conformity to the Jewish church. The slightest spot or stain of dissent, then, cannot be found upon the apostles. They conformed themselves, and they taught both Jew and Gentile to conform, to the Mosaic constitution, so that their very enemies never accused them of nonconformity, and never were able to apply those severe laws which existed against all presumptuous violations of the ceremonial institutions. The dissenting catechism is
“ Hoc autem non levi de causâ factum censeo ; num hæc quatuor in lege Mosaicâ, piis è Gentibus inter Israelitas commorantibus unà prohibentur." De legibus Heb. edit. Hagæ Comitum. MDCLXXXVI., p. 465.
+ " Cum itaque lex Mosaica, proselytis judaicis hæc quatuor, simul et conjunctim interdicerunt; et Hebræi forte saniores, præter abstinentiam ab hisce quatuor, nullum idololatriæ abdicatæ testimonium ab advenis expectarent; non temere mibi per. suadere videor, apostolos hæc omnia Gentilibus simul et conjunctim inhibuisse, ut innuerent, se Mosis instituta (quà satis ferre poterat) observare paratos, et iniquum esse ut plus oneris proselytis Christianis quam olim Judaicis imponeretur."- Ibid.
Vol. XIII.-Jan. 1838.
therefore guilty of gross misrepresentation, when it says that the apostles refused conformity to the national religion. If they would tread in the footsteps of Christ and his apostles, it must be by renouncing the principles of nonconformity. I ought now to proceed to the second point, but must defer that to another opportunity.
THE CONVERSION OF JOHN THAULER, A DOMINICAN MONK.
(Continued from vol. xii. p. 376.) THAULER. If you have anything more to say, my son, it would give me great pleasure to hear it. I certainly have been extremely pleased with all I have heard. Therefore I again and again beg and intreat of you to remain, and on no account to quit me.
If you have not the means, I will supply them, even if I pawn some one of my books to borrow money on it, if you will but stay.
LAYMAN. May the Lord repay you for your goodness to me. But be assured, that I have no need either of your temporal goods, or any one's else, as the Almighty God has made me his steward, and I have about five thousand pieces of gold, which belong to God, and which I shall freely spend when it is needful, or when God himself would wish them to be expended.
THAULER. You are indeed, it would seem, the steward of an affluent and great master. But what you said just now surprised me, that neither I, nor all the doctors in the world, could teach you, even to the day of judgment, as much as you learnt in one short hour from God. I ask you, then, did not sacred scripture come from the Holy Spirit ?
LAYMAN. Beyond a doubt. For thus the catholic faith believes. But I am quite sorry that, after so much as I have said, you should still talk in so childish a way. Now I will propose you one question, and if you can solve it, out of scripture or without scripture, I will give yon, on God's part, one thousand pieces of gold.
THAULER. What is your question, my son ? LAYMAN. I ask you, master, if you can tell me how I should write a letter to a pagan, living far off in remote parts, in such a language that he can read and understand it, and that the form of it should be such that on reading it he should be converted to the faith ?
THAULER. This I certainly cannot tell you, for such things are the works of the Holy Spirit. But pray tell me if anything of the sort ever happened to you; and that, if you learned anything thence, you would explain to me how it was done, and whether it was you who did this.
LAYMAN. I did it not, master; but the Holy Spirit deigned through me, unworthy as I am, to effect such a thing. Much might be said on the subject, but it would be too long to go into the whole matter. For if I were to write fully all I have to say on it, it would fill a book. But I will mention a few points, from which you may collect the sum of the matter. There was a pagan, an excellent man, and righteous
after his own mode. He often cried to heaven, and earnestly invoked Him who had made himself and all creatures, speaking thus“Oh God, maker of all things, behold, I was born in this land, and this faith. But the Jews have another belief, and so have the Christians. Do thou, oh God, who art above all, shew me, in what thou wilt, if any faith is better than that in which I was born, that I
believe, and I will willingly obey thee, and take thy faith upon
But if thou dost not signify this to me, and I die in this my faith, and in ignorance of the better, it will be a great wrong done to
Such were the pagan's prayers, master; and then it came to pass that I wrote him a letter, on reading which he was converted to Christianity. And he wrote me back a letter, telling me how things had gone with him, which was so written in our common German idiom, that I well understood it. I might say much more, but
you have now what is material.
THAULER. Wonderful, doubtless, is the Lord in his gifts, and the things you have told me are various and rare.
LAYMAN. I am afraid I may have said more than I ought; for I observe that I have said something, considering what you are, which may annoy you. For as I am a layman and a private obscure individual, and you a great doctor of theology, and yet I have said so much to you, as if in the way of teaching, it cannot be but that something must have offended you.
THAULER. If you will not take it ill, I will tell you what displeased me.
LAYMAN. I assuredly will not; speak boldly.
THAULER. My feelings certainly are greatly shocked, and I cannot get over it, by this, that you, as a layman, ought to teach me, a divine and teacher; and then again by your calling me a Pharisee.
LAYMAN. Does anything else in me displease you ?
LAYMAN. May I, with your leave, satisfy you about these two things.
THAULER. Not only may you, but I earnestly wish you to do so.
LAYMAN. Tell me, sir, I beseech you, how it was, or by whom it was brought to pass, that the blessed virgin Catherine, when about eighteen years old, conquered fifty very acute philosophers in words, so that all of them offered themselves willingly to die for Christ. Tell me,
say, who did this, or who spoke these, so that one young maid should conquer such philosophers ?
THAULER. Doubtless, it was the Holy Spirit.
LAYMAN. Do you think that the Holy Spirit has still the same power that he had ?
THAULER. Certainly, I believe so.
LAYMAN. Why then should you think that he may not speak to you by me, though a miserable sinner, when he spoke even by Caiaphas, who was a sinner also ? Certainly, if what I have said is likely to give you so much annoyance, I shall be more cautious in future,