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sanction, by my presence, those opinions which I believe to be erroneous?"
Mr. John Roscoe. "But though he differ from you on some points of theology, yet there are many on which you agree; and I think you may, like some others who have embraced evangelical principles, still attend a ministry which does not belong to this specific denomination, as you retain the right of rejecting what you disapprove."
Mr. Roscoe. "If the points on which we differ did not involve any essential doctrine of the Christian faith, I should deem it my duty to attend his ministry; but when I consider that he denies those truths which are, in my opinion, the vital parts of Christianity, and preaches what an apostle would call another Gospel, ought I to give him the sanction of my presence? If i sustained no personal moral injury under such a ministry, could I expect to derive any moral advantage? And beside, am I not responsible to God, and to society, for the influence of my example, as well as for my opinions and principles? If so, am I not under a most sacred obligation to be as cautious what I indirectly sanction, as what I recommend? Can I, without sacrificing the dictates of my conscience, recommend a person to believe, that he requires no other regeneration than that which he experienced when he was baptized? Can I recommend a person to believe, that his good deeds will atone for his evil actions? and that he requires no other qualification for heaven than a faithful discharge of his relative dutres on earth? Impossible. If, then, I cannot recommend the adoption of these opinions, ought I to sanction them, by my presence, when they are enforced by others? I believe that men, before they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, live in a state of alienation from God-under the condemning sentence of his holy law-and are justly exposed to future and endless misery. I believe this on the testimony of the Sacred Writers; whose testimony is corroborated by the Articles and Homilies of our Church; and do not the same authorities teach us to believe that the truth, when preached in a pure and faithful manner, is the ordained means of their conversion and salvation? But if the
pure truth of the Gospel becomes corrupted, are we not taught to believe that the people perish? He who corrupts it, either wilfully or through ignorance, will stand responsible at the last day for the awful conséquences of his conduct. But if I give to an anti-evangelical ministry, which I believe to be a corruption of the truth, the sanction of my presence, and the people should perish under it, shall I not be regarded as accessory to their ruin?”
Mr. John Roscoe. "But admitting that an anti-evangelical ministry is a corruption of the Gospel, and that it does not prove the means of the conversion and salvation of those who hear it, yet you must admit that they hear pure evangelical truth from the desk, which answers the same purpose. Hence I have known some who have imbibed the evangelical sentiments, recommend a continuance at their parish church on this account, though the ministry may not exactly accord with their views and taste."
Mr. Roscoe. "Yes, we have the pure Gospel in the desk, even when we have another Gospel in the pulpit; but though I have sat under it for near fifty years, I have never known it produce those moral effects on the people which result from an evangelical ministry. The prayers of our Liturgy are a fine composition, and aid the devotional feelings of a reviewed Christian; but it is the preaching of the truth that God employs as the means of infusing the devotional spirit; and though some may recommend us to attend where the Gospel is confined to the reading desk, yet can we suppose Paul would if he were on earth? Would he, who pronounced that man or angel accursed who dared to preach any other Gospel than that which he and his fellow-apostles preached, urge his friends or his hearers, if he were taking leave of them, to attend a ministry which he believed to be in opposition to the truth? No! impossible. Can we suppose that our Lord, who commanded his disciples to take heed what they heard, would, if he were again to appear on earth, recommend us to attend on a ministry which he believed was subversive of the truth, and the means of misleading the people? Impossible! If we cannot believe that they would recommend us to do it, ought we to recommend
others? Would it be wise to act in opposition to such high authority? would it be safe? would it be in accordance with the will of the Lord Jesus? and could we calculate on receiving his benediction,- Well done, good and faithful servant? Oh no! The mind, when disengaged from its prejudices and its associations, feeling the sacred influence of the truth, and anticipating the solemnities of the last day, trembles at the thought of recommending others to do what the Saviour if he were on earth would not sanction, and which, it done, may lead to a result too affecting to be contemplated but with the deepest mental agony."
Mr. John Roscoe. "But I presume you do not mean, that every one who embraces evangelical sentiments ought to leave his parish church, if those sentiments are not preached there?"
Mr. Roscoe. Most certainly I do."
Mr. John Roscoe. "Indeed! Suppose one member of a family should embrace the evangelical sentiments, while all the rest retain their former belief; would you recommend that one individual to disturb, the peace of his family, by straying to some other church to hear his favourite doctrines."
Mr. Roscoe. "I recommend no one to disturb the peace of a family, and I rather think it will be found, when such peace is disturbed, it is owing to the spirit. of resistance which is raised by the opposite party.. Here is, for example, a single individual in the midst of a large circle of gay and fashionable acquaintances, who feels the renewing influence of truth, and makes an open profession of her faith in Christ. She now retires from the follies and vanities of the world, adopts habits which are decidedly religious, and, without infringing on the rights of others, she claims the privilege of attending that place of worship where she can derive most moral improvement. What law, either human or divine, is violated by such a decision? None. But as the profession of faith in Christ, in the midst of such a circle of the gay and the fashionable, is a novel thing, so repugnant to their taste, and considered by many of them so inelegant, and such a near approximation to the habits of the lower orders, she who makes it becomes an object of satire-invective-reproach, and
then is accused as being the cause or all the domestic misery which they originate."
66 But you know, my dear," said Mrs. Roscoe, "that our domestic peace was destroyed as soon as Sophia imbibed her evangelical sentiments, and you know that religion has been the subject of debate between us ever since."
Mr. Roscoe. "But would it ever have been sacrificed if we had not done it? I recollect a sentence in one of her letters* which she addressed to us, that convinced me, at the time, of the injustice of our accusation; but now I look back on that dark period of our life with more pain than any former one. You say,' she remarked, that our peace, as a family, is broken up by the introduction of religion among us. peace is disturbed, I know; but do I disturb it? What have I done? I have felt the truth which you taught me to revere; and I am exemplifying its tendency to produce a conformity between the habits of a Christian and the precepts of the Bible. May I not believe the truth, and obey it, without being considered as the destroyer of domestic peace?' This pointed question convinced me that I ought not to oppose her; and though I regretted at the time that she had embraced views of truth which were different from my own, yet I admired the firmness and constancy which she uniformly displayed when they were assailed; and do not hesitate to say, that he who opposes or persecutes another on account of his religious principles and habits, is treasuring up to himself wrath against the day of wrath.”
Mr. John Roscoe. "I disapprove of persecution as much as you do; it is as impolitic as it is cruel, and seems to be one of those crimes which are left for the more savage and waspish part of our nature to commit. But still if we do not oppose force against a person who has embraced the evangelical principles, we may reason; and as I consider the desertion of a parish church a serious evil, you must permit me to remind you that, if you leave yours, and go to hear Mr. Ingleby, the stability of your character will be shaken. You
The author recommends the letter to which he has now made allusion to the candid attention of the reader. It is contained in No. 18 of this Series.
have been considered as one of the pillars of the congregation-one of its ornaments-your decision has been admired, no less than your benevolence, and all regret that you should fall from your stedfastness, and exchange the religion of your forefathers, which is grown venerable for its antiquity, for a new religion, which has but recently sprung up amongst us."
Mr. Roscoe. "This was one of the very arguments which the church of Rome employed against the Reformers, and if they had yielded to its influence, we should still have been in her communion. I recollect having met, some time since, in the course of my reading, with the following judicious reply to a satirical question which a Catholic bishop proposed to a Protestant,— "Where was your religion, before the days of Luther?” "In the Bible, Sir." The Bible, as bishop Stillingfleet very justly observes, is the religion of Protestants. You say, that I have exchanged an old, for a new religion, but this I deny; I still admire the Liturgy, and I still believe the Articles of the church--I still retain. that religion which you say is venerable for its antiquity; but then I believe it is not to remain a religion of mere forms and ceremonies, but that it is to operate on my heart, and produce within me the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The new religion, as you and others are pleased to term it, is not a corruption of the old, but it is the old religion of our venerable reformers, and the good old bishops and pastors of our church, revived in its primitive simplicity, and life, and power. It is the religion of the Scriptures, which enlightens, and renovates the inner man of the heart which brings us into fellowship with the Holy One; which preserves the broad line of distinction between the real, and the nominal Christian; and by its progressive influence, makes us meet to become partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
Mr. John Roscoe. "But I do not think that you can consistently with your profession as a churchman, leave your parish church, to attend a church in another parish; the rector is the shepherd, whose spiritual jurisdiction extends over the whole parish, and the people arc, ecclesiastically considered, his flock.