« VorigeDoorgaan »
plied the want of a perfect rule, while the sacred writings were incomplete: the latter teaches us how to walk by it, now that it is completed. The teaching of the Holy Spirit, we conceive, is that which forms us by the rule, rather than the rule itself.
It has been said by Antinomians, that it is not the moral law, but the Holy Spirit in their hearts, which is a rule to them. Our answer has been, You confound the rule of a holy life with the cause of it. Whatever is a rule to us must be known, or knowable by us; but the Holy Spirit in the heart is a secret spring, of which we can know nothing, but by its effects. It is the source of all spiritual judgment and action; but the rule by which we are to judge and act, is God's revealed will. Whether this answer be just; and if it be, whether it does not apply alike to both cases, we hope will be seriously and candidly considered.
With respect to the question between our author and his opponent, we have no hesitation in saying, That the early Friends would neither have approved nor endured the opinions of Hannah Barnard. It is true, they each set up a rule superior to the scriptures; but that of the one is the reason of the individual; the other, the teachings of the Spirit. By the rule of Hannah Barnard, many parts of the present canon of scripture are rejected as untrue; by theirs, the whole is admitted to be authentic. She rejects the account of the miraculous conception, of the miracles, and of the resurrection of Christ. But Barclay considers it as "damnable unbelief, not to believe all those things to have been certainly transacted, which are recorded in the holy scriptures concerning them."
The seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth chapters contain a Review of the Charges exhibited against Hannah Barnard, with her Answers, &c. The former appear to be worded with great caution, and proved beyond all just contradiction. By her answers, in several instances, she departs from christian ground, and ought to rank as a Deist. The partiality discovered for her cause by Mr.
Evans, in his "Sketch of the Denominations," adds another to the numerous proofs which have gone before, that Socinianism feels a sympathy (as of one that is near akin) with Infidelity.
The sentiments of the Friends on the unlawfulness of war, under the christian dispensation, are well known. Hannah Barnard has advanced a step farther, maintaining that war is in itself wrong; and consequently that the wars of the jews with the seven nations of Canaan, could not have been made with the divine approbation. Were we to judge of the sentiments of the Friends by those of Anthony Benezet, who considers war as having been suffered rather than approved under the old testament, in like manner as men were suffered to put away their wives;' we must acknowledge that we could not perceive their consistency with the commandments of God to Israel to make war on the Canaanites, and his displeasure against those who refused. But as he is not one of the early Friends, and what he has written is considered as only his private opinion; the sentiments of the Society, on this subject, are to be sought elsewhere.
and a tooth for a tooth: but
Their disapprobation of all war appears to be confined to the christian dispensation, and to be founded on such passages as Matt. v. 38, 39. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, I say unto you, that ye resist not evil.' The law, they suppose, warranted a retaliation of injuries; but that the gospel requires forbearance and forgiveness. We do not think it was the design of our Lord, in this passage, to oppose the genius of the gospel dispensation to that of the law, but to rectify the abuses which had been made of the latter by the false glosses of the jews, who perverted the lawful punishments of the magistrate, as allowed in Exod. xxi. 24, to the purposes of revenge and private retaliation. But whatever we may think of this, and of the lawfulness of resisting unjust aggression, or threatened invasion, we see nothing in the principle, as maintained by the Friends, that reflects on the justice of the wars of
Israel, which they consider as founded on divine authority.
Upon the whole, though we differ from the Friends in many important particulars, and have, we hope, with christion candour, stated our objections to some of them; yet there are many things in this work which afford us pleasure. It is gratifying to see so unanimous and decided a stand made against the spirit of Infidelity, under the form of Unitarianism; and to find it conducted with so much calmness and justice. Such cases as those of Hannah Barnard are permitted to try, not only individuals, but societies. It is pleasant also to observe in our author, a familiar acquaintance with the writings of others, besides those of his own denomination. We cannot but from hence entertain a hope, that he, and the Friends in general who may give the foregoing remarks a perusal, will take them in good part, and candidly consider the force of them. It is from such a mutual interchange of sentiments between different denominations, who have been in different habits of thinking, that each is likely to derive advantage. In this way we may be candid, charitable, and liberal, without becoming indifferent to religious principles.
The work itself is elaborate, and fraught with information on the subjects it embraces. It contains much close thinking and conclusive reasoning. We will only add, that though it is natural and proper for a society to vindicate the principles of its first founders, when they are misrepresented; yet in pursuing this object, there is danger of considering their opinions as oracular. "The first of considerations," as this writer allows, "is believed, but what is the truth?"
not who has
REVIEW OF THE REV. CHARLES JERRAM'S LETTERS
ON THE ATONEMENT.
THE many able productions which have appeared in defence of this important doctrine, might seem to render all future vindications of it unnecessary. But while its adversaries write, and labour to exhibit it in a false and exceptionable point of light, its friends must write also, though it be only to restate its evidence, and to correct their misrepresentations.
By the advertisements at the end of these Letters, we learn who was the author of the excellent "Letters to a Universalist," hitherto known by the name of SCRUTATOr. The occasion of both these pieces appears to be nearly the same. The Universalists in the neighbourhood of Mr. Jerram having been very assiduous, it seems, in propagating their principles, he has felt it his duty to vindicate the doctrines which they have attempted to discredit.
But how is this? Do Universalists disown the atonement? It is well known that the adversaries of the atonement have long been friendly to universalism; and Mr. Vidler was warned, at the outset of his career, "to beware of the whirlpool of Socinianism: but is it so, that they have actually formed a junction? The writer opposed in these Letters does not profess to reject the doctrine of atonement, but to give a new explanation of it. Such, we recollect, was the object of a pamphlet published not long since by a Mr. John Simpson of Hackney, entitled "Plain thoughts on the new-testament doctrine of Atonement;" and the explanation given by him amounted to this, namely, The reconciliation of the mind to God, or conversion!
But wherein is the difference between the scheme of these writers, and that of Socinians in general? According to Mr. Simpson, it lies in this: many of the latter, with
Dr. Taylor, make atonement to consist in the reconciliation of our heathen ancestors to christianity, to the superseding of personal conversion in their descendants; and this, he thinks, renders it almost, if not altogether, a nullity. To this we take the liberty of adding, Socinians in general renounce not only the doctrine, but the word atonement, which they are very well aware conveys the idea of satisfaction. But Mr. Simpson, and the Universalists, though they agree with their brethren in rejecting the doctrine, yet seem to think it best to retain the word, and to put their own sense upon it.
Mr. Jerram considers this merely a piece of artifice. "Under pretence of being advocates for the atonement, he says, they have attempted to undermine it, renouncing the doctrine while they retain the name. They have chosen to call this doctrine, as it has for ages been understood by all denominations of christians, any thing but the atonement; and have appropriated the name to a set of notions which bear no more resemblance to the ideas which it has hitherto been accustomed to designate, than the writings of Socinus to the epistles of St. Paul. This artifice has so far succeeded, as sometimes to prevent the alarm which a naked statement of their real sentiments would have occasioned. Persons, who have always been taught to consider the atonement of Christ as the only foundation of a sinner's hope, might have been startled at an avowed opposition to it: but by retaining the name, though the thing be given up, the change they are persuaded to make, appears less formidable. And when such sentiments have been addressed to minds of a speculative turn, and who have never been well grounded in the principles they profess to believe, they have seldom been without effect. At first, they were not disposed to contend for trifles, so long as they conceived the principal doctrine remained unimpeached; and feeling desirous of being ranked among "the candid and liberal enquirers after truth," they next lent a favourable ear to every thing that presented itself under the mask of improvement. To