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the fiction, we should still have to object to her management of the incident.

Cælebs, the Reverend Cælebs, of whose confessions this narrative consists, is represented as having become a convert to the notion, that a plurality of wives is allowable by the law of God, in consequence of the perusal of a publication in favour of that sentiment; and he had, it seems, also taken up the resolution, owing to his having been once deceived, never to entrust his happiness to the precarious turns of female constancy. The amiable, the excellent Maria, meets with the same publication, avows her approbation of it, and, (will the reader be surprised?) consents to accept the name of Coelebs, un

sanctioned by the legal tie they had both learnt to despise.' Twelve months elapse, at the expiration of which, the lady proposes setting off by herself on a visit to ap aged aunt at a considerable distance, from whence she writes a long letter of contrition to her friend,' representing with what internal suffering she had been struggling all the past year, and declining to return , on the ground that she had ceased to love him and

gradually lost every sentiment of regard amounting higher than the common estimate of friendly esteein.' This chilling paragraph' alarms our hero exceedingly, who resolves immediately on the presentation of his hand in marriage. This offer is made and rejected ; and Maria's fixed purpose is ascribed to strong religious impressions ! Celebs submits, and in the course of the narrative thinks of another love, and Maria's case is represented as singular only its happy termination ! !

Now, without insisting on the tissue of gross improbabilities of which this narrative consists, and which could we believe thein to have had any counter-part in reality, we should still wish consigned to endless oblivion, we must suppose that our Author has attributed to the imaginary Maria, a resolution the very reverse of what her ideas of duty, of decorum, to say nothing of Christian morality, would lead her to recommend to a frail sister under similar circunstances. "Were the pretence of religious motive urged by such a person, as a reason for adding to her crime that of deserting the man she bad received as a husband, the Writer would doubtless, were the facts fairly before her, regard such conduct as only an aggravation of delinquency. It was surely unnecessary to have recourse to, such an incident, as an illustration of practical Antinomianism. Our Author's design was, we doubt not, good; but we are at a loss, in this instance, to comprehend it. There are many excellent remarks in the volumes, to which we should have pleaşure. in adverting, did we consider them in their present form, as a desirable work to be put into the hands of young persous,

We are ready to suspect that the objectionable incident was supplied by another pen : at any rate we are disposed to find some excuse for the Writer, and to think that

When sister-authors go astray,
Their friends are more in fault than they.


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Art. VIII. Nonconformity: a Sermon delivered at White Row Meeting

House, Nov. 6, 1817, at the Monthly Association of Congregational
Ministers; and published at their Request. By Mark Wilks. 8vo.

pp. 119. Price 3s. 1818. MR WILKS complains, that · Conformists, are accustomed

to array themselves in the panoply, and to wield the weapons of satire and ridicule, as though it were exclusively their privilege by act of parliament, to wage with these advan'tages the holy war.'

It is high time,' he proceeds to remark, that this assumption was exposed; and once for all the writer of this note rejects these unequal terms. He has inspected the statutes at large, but, among all the privileges, patents, and grants, which are recorded in favour of the clergy, he cannot discover their title to this monopoly; and like the ancient Romans, without the smallest distrust of the valour or superiority of the legionary troops, he considers himself at liberty to employ auxiliaries, to oppose to the enemy the point and the force

of his own weapons, and to encounter every party with the respective 1 advantage of its own discipline.'

This is a point upon which we must confess we materially differ from Mr. Wilks.' The monopoly he reprobates, is one which we never wish to see converted into an open trade. The abstract right to the privilege le contends for, is such as we care not to establish, and certainly wish never to exercise and that for several reasons.

F'irst, the respective objects of the opposed parties, being essentially different, admit of the use of very different means. The individuals to whom Mr. Wilks alludes, among the clergy, as arrogating to themselves the patent right of ridiculing their opponents, are men, to whom we presume he would not impute any very great concern for the interests of religion, otherwise than in their imagined connexion with the system or party to which they have attached themselves : their objects are mainly secular; their motives such as ordinarily actuate men in the pursuit of their own advantage; their belief is part of their profession, and their profession is their maintenance. Such persons may, without endangering their consistency, without stepping for a moment out of their appropriate character, without yielding to any unusual or irregular motive, call in the aid of detraction, misrepresentation, and invective, or, if they please, of candle, book, and bell, in order to put duron their opponents.

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Truth is not, as Mr. Wilks will be forward to allow, the object of these partisans; Conscience is not the spring and law of their actions. But is this the case with the advocate for Nonconformity? Does it become him thus to “ strive?" Is his object, are his motives political? Can Truth be promoted by the same methods as may serve the ends of party? Can a good cause, and a bad cause, be equally well defended by the same weapons? If not, how can the inequality of terms of which our Author complains, be remedied?

Besides : the relative position of the Conformist and the Nonconformist, imposes the necessity of pursuing a different mode of defence. · One party has, it must be recollected, the vantage ground, and from the eminence upon which it has entrenched itsell, may project missiles of various descriptions, which it would not be equally easy to urge upwards with efficient impulse, or without danger of their return. Those who are in the plain, must always have the disadvantage in the attack, unless they bring with them the requisite force to carry the ramparts by storm. Their policy is rather, to draw the enemy into open battle on thie level ground, where both parties may meet in close logical contact, and to present their concentrated strength in the attitude of defence. Mr. Wilks seems to have forgotten, that the assumption he wishes to expose, has a foundation, if not in the reason of the thing, in the circumstances of the case.

The strong may assume a superiority over the weak; the rich man may dare be insolent; power may monopolize: these are not statute rights, but they are assumptions which are held by immemorial tenure. Political superiority gives an amazing advantage to a man who chooses to be satirical, or affects to be contemptuous : it serves to give an air of authority to the dogmatist, and even skreens from impunity the libellist. But in plain Nonconformists, who stand on no such eminence, the attempt to play off a similar style of attack, would, even if attended by impunity, fail of success.

It is not to be disguised, that they have against them, to a great extent, the force of prejudice. They have, therefore, a barder task to perform, than that of making good their arguments, or of repelling the slanders of their opponents. They bave to conciliate the opinions of the neutral multitude of lookers on, who are always disposed to judge of the goodness of a cause, not so much from an examination of its abstract justice, as from the apparent character of the parties. They have to overcome the opposition of ignorance, as well as of malignity; to disarm the suspicions of the timid, as well as to combat the allegations of the self interested. The peculiarity of their religious profession, brings their conduct and character under the jealous scrutiny of those who place their virtue in making no profession, and bless themselves that they are at any rate no hypocrites. There are many eyes fixed upon them, keen to detect any failure of consistency, and if these ultra-religionists, as they are esteemed, are found to symbolize in language, in spirit, or in practice, with the men of the world from whom they presume to separate, an unjust advantage will be taken to represent them as being at heart no better than their neighbours.

A Nonconformist wishes to recommend his cause : he believes it to be, as Dr. Doddridge expresses it," the cause of truth, “honour, and liberty, and in a great measure of serious piety, “ too."

But were he, on this account to suffer himself to be betrayed into undue warmth and asperity, were he . to grow a-'bigot in defence of catholicism,' and load those with reproaches or invective, who have shewn themselves invincible by arguments, he would indeed, as the Doctor remarks, pay a very 'great compliment to his opponents, in supposing the capable ' of knowing and admitting truth, under so disadvantageous a . • disguise,' but it would be a compliment at the expense, in soine measure, of his own character; and certainly in the present instance, a very unmerited compliment.

- And if tbis hope of effecting any beneficial impression on the understandings of his opponents, be avowedly abandoned as chimerical, and all intention of the kind alluded to be disclaimed, to what purpose must a contest be provoked, in which those who are most practised in the weapons of satire and ridicule, are so likely after all to be victors? Would Mr. Wilks, would any Nonconformist enter the lists with persons habituated to the ridicule of extemporaneous prayer, and of the boliest exercises of the Dissenters, and who are restrained by no moral feeling in uttering their coarse invectives and shameful calumnies ? Would the attempt to answer these fools according to their folly, in the language of recrimination, be safe? Would it not be a most unequal warfare, like that of David, in untried armour, opposed to the Philistine, or as if that same David should bave engaged with Shiwei, and sent him back his unhallowed imprecations? Nay, we have a still higher precedent for declining a trial of skill in which the worst must be victor. We read that “ Mi“chael the Archangel, when contending with the devil, durst “ not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, THE " Lord rebuke thee.”

That he may not appear canselessly to be guilty of that vi* vacious habit of crimination of which he complains, Mr. Wilks prefaces his remarks on Nonconformity, with extracts from recent publications of bishops and other dignified clergy, which might certainly justify no ordinary severity of remark, as being in the highest degree disgraceful to the writers. There can be no objection to these citations, but they were not Vol. IX, N.S,

2 Q

requisite as an apology for a dispassionate discourse on the principles of Nonconformity, and we fear that those members of the Establishment, who equally with ourselves, would de. precate these effusions of deplorable bigotry, will think they have reason to complain of the too sweeping and indiscriminate style in which he proceeds to involve the whole body in one vebement condemnation. We refer to such passages as oceur at pp. 72, 3, as being in this point of view justly obnoxious to censure : they are, we apprehend, too much adapted to bring the motives and temper of the Author into undeserved suspicion, and to displease many persons who are not less firmly attached than he is, to the Scriptural principles which constitute the genuine basis of Dissent. It is the more to be regretted that an unmeasured language should be employed in stating what needs only to have been qualified, in order to be just. There are any important remarks and much information in the Sermon, which we should wish to have redeemed from the other materials.

Perhaps, if what will be regarded as the misnomer on the title-page, by which the pamphlet stands announced a sa Sermon, were rectified, its style would appear less offensively pugnacious. If the pulpit must be converted into a battery, we, -wish to see the fire of its artillery pointed in a somewhat different direction.

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