Page images

struct the improvement, and dimi- the Jews, appointed even by God nish the happiness of mankind ; and himself. consequently, that it is no part of But let us attend to the Diffen. the duty of a government to pro. ter's argument. “When a governvide and support such an institu- ment,” says he,“ appoints a body of tion.” To one who reflects, that men in the capacity of what is calin every country where the greatest led a church eltablished, it always improvements have been made, and expressly or in effect,) prescribes where the greatest happiness has to them the promulgation of certain been enjoyed, there have also been doctrines which it decrees to be truth, some sort of religious establish- and restricts the conclusions of their ments, the Dissenter will probably inquiries to a consistency with the find it no easy matter to perform prescribed doctrines.” This is by the task which he has undertaken.

no means, a just account of the In most of the celebrated nations matter. The government, as such, of antiquity, with whofe history we does not decree what doctrines shall are acquainted, it is certain, that be truth; it leaves the decision to there was what may be termed an those who are better qualified for eftablished religion, or a body of the task, those who have made men who were set apart to altend themselves acquainted with the the service of the gods, and who scriptures, which are acknowledged were supported and provided for by protestants, and not denied (at by the government. We know least in express words) by the Dissenthat the Egyptians had their priests ter, to be the only' infallible stanand ministers of religion, and it dard of faith and manners; and will be difficult to show, that their all that givernment in this case inftitution either obstructed the im- does, is only to declare, thatit willsupprovement, or diminished the hap- port and countenance a particular pinefs of the people. The beit ar. body of men, in teaching and illuitrat. gument with regard either to civil ing that system of doctrines, which or religious establilhments, I hold the church has, upon the most mato be not theoretical speculations, ture deliberation, found to be molt hut facts and experience; and the contormable to the word of God. history of the world fliews, that By the war, it may not be impro. where there is no establilled religi. per to obterve, that the Diliinter on, there is no religion at all. I feums all along to entertain a very have always considered religion as contined and improper notion of the principal cause of the improve the province of a teacher of religiment, the civilization, and the hp on Hie fuppofes it to be the whole pinefs of mankind, and feldom in business of such a one, to teach a deed will it be found, that any but certain system of doctrines, in an established religion has been pro other words, merely to tell the ductive of these good effecte. We people what they are to believe. know that among the Greeks and This, however, is very far from Romans also, there was an esta- being the case. A much more erblished religion; and we should tensive and important part of his think, that it would go a great way office is, to instruct the people in to reconcile those who believe in what they are to practise, to remind revelation to religious eltablish them of their duty, and to enforce ments, if they would reflect, that the performance of it. And this is diere was such an institution among a province which will admit of very


great variety, and where the specu. is among a fet lately fprung up, but lations of ingenuity are but little who, as far as I understand, do not restricted by human creeds or fys- call themselves difsenters, I mean

In all Christian churches, the persons who go by the name of the great duties of morality are the Missionaries, whose ministers are fame, and to inculcate these is a paid, sometimes at least, not by task which the teachers of religion their congregations, but out of fome cannot be at too much pains to other funds, the nature of which discharge.

I do not profefs to know. And The Dissenter goes on to confirm yet it is presumed that it will be his assertion by some particular ar- found, that these ministers are hired guments. The first is, that “ the to teach a particular set of doc. influence of an establishment upon trines. And I would only here the appointed teacher is pernicious, beg leave to ask a few plain quesby debaling his own mind, and tions—Is not the minister of every rendering him hurtful to others. separate congregation in this coun. When a man is hired to teach a try paid, either one way or other, particular set of doctrines, he will for what he teaches ? Is he not paid, most frequently teach them, because or hired, as the Dissenter expresses it he is paid; and, therefore, he can for teaching a particular set of doc. feldom be the disinterested admi- trines, namely, those of the feet or rer and indefatigable advocate of . party to which he belongs ? and is truth.” This is indeed a most for. it not possible that a diffenting mimidable argument, but the misfor- nister may at least as frequently as tune is, that if it proves any thing one of the established church, for at all, it will prove a great deal too the sake of hire, teach to others much. When a professor in an uni- what he does not believe himself? versity is appointed to teach the It is well known, that the great Elements of Euclid, and has a fa- body of dissenters adhere with great lary for so doing, he will most fre- ftriétness to their standards which, quently teach them, because he is in general, are the same with that paid, but it will not follow, that he of the established church, and it is himself does not believe the propo- expressly for teaching these docfitions which he demonstrates. In trines, that their respective ministers the same manner, though a clergy. are paid by their people. And man of the established church teach how such a plan can promote the the doctrines of Christianity, be- liberal investigation of truth, any cause he is paid for teaching them, more than the establishment of a still he may be as much convinced national church, I own, I can by of their truth, as if he received no no means discover. Will it for reward for his trouble. Besides, a moment be maintained, that will it make any essential difference the teacher in a dissenting conin this respect, whether the teacher gregation, who is entirely depen. is paid by government, or by his dent on his people, will venture own particular hearers ? Almost all to publish any doctrines as the result the different sects of diffenters in of liberal investigation, which are this country, it is well known, have not ftri&tly conformable to those public teachers or ministers appoint- standards to which he has promised ed to preach in their several con an adherence? Are not free engregations, who are paid by con- quiry, and “ unrestrained speculatributions from their focks. The tions” neither to be expected from only exception of any consequence thofe even who are not dependant


on the caprice of the multitude; ate into the region of unrestrained and who, provided they do not at- speculation ?" I always understood, tack what the church considers as that among Christians, revelation, the fundamental doctrines of relie and not « fpeculation" was the gion, may publish to the world any source whence all our knowledge peculiar opinions of their own, with. was derived. The poet speaks of a out running the risk of that perfe- religion which its professors seemed cution to which those who have no. to think, thing to support them but the juftice of their cause, will often be ex

was intended posed from the prejudice of narrow For nothing else but to be mended. minds?

Arter all, few of your readers, I If the Dissenter is of this religion, presume, will be disposed to admit I will readily grant, that establishin its full extent, the doctrine of the ments of any kind, are extremely Diffenter, who takes it for granted, unfavourable to his purpose. Nay, “that when a man can say only what if he is one, which, however, I have is prescribed to him, no matter by no right to suppose, who thinks what authority, and when all his that Christianity is merely of human investigations must terminate at a invention, and that a religion might point defined by another, as the ul. be discovered much better adapted timatum of his research, his com. to the circumstances of mankind, I munications must, in many initan will admit, that establishments are ces, be loaded with errors, which by no means favourable to such mislead and render his auditors vi- discovery. But, though the estacious and unhappy.” We all feel blished church were completely othe truth of the maxim, humanum verturned, it would still be true, est errare, but if systems of doctrines “ that a credulous ignorant man on and creeds, compiled by councils the one hand, or a man destitute of and assemblies, muft of necessity be principle on the other (either of loaded with many errors, is it abso. which, he modestly asserts, that a lutely certain, that no individual, churchman must too often be) will when allowed to “ deviate into the be found very inadequate to the talk region of unrestrained specula. of beneficially improving mankind." tion," will be in danger of fall. A person of this character, whether ing into any mistakes? a a churchman or a dillenter, is in. of plain understanding is apt to deed very ill qualified for being a faípe&, that if the collective wisdom teacher of religion, but whether he of a national church, in attempting be credulous or ignorant, or defti. to define the articles of religion, can tute of principle, it would be fully not poflibly avoid numerous errors, as well for those whom he is to inindividuals, if left to their own ipe. struct, that he were restricted to say culations, would not be more in- only what was prescribed to him, fallible. If he who teaches what as that lie were allowed to “ deviate is prescribed to him by another, into the region of unrestrained (pemuit of necessity teach many errors, culation.” is it certain, that he who indulges I have not left room for a partihis own reveries, never can fail in cular examination of the įd arguthe discovery of truth? But is it ne- ment, which, however, as far as I ceifary, in order to discover either can observe, does not differ much religious or moral truths, that the from the former. “A creed, we itacher thould be allowed to “devi. are told, is set up, as the standard of



truth, a considerable obstacle is with such an evil eye as your cortherefore thrown in the way of free respondent. They state these grounds discussion, and unlimited commu. to be the corruptions which they alnication of opinion, which are the lege have crept into the church, most ample stores whence we de. and far from wishing to see it over. rive useful knowledge." Still, re- turned, they only profefs to bear velation is overlooked as the source testimony against its errors, and of religious knowledge, which is to even call themselves the uncorrupt be acquired by “ free discussion,” part of it, and maintain, that their or as formerly, “ by deviating into principles are the same with those the region of unrestrained specula. of the establishment in the times of tion.” The New Testament seems its greatest purity. Nor do I believe, to me to recommend to Christians, that the overthrow of the establishunity of faith ; but, according to ed church would add much to the the Dissenter, the greater variety of flourishing condition of the dissenopinions, so much the better, and ters. On this subject, I would beg if I understand his meaning, it is, leave to call the attention of your that no two congregations should readers to an elegant quotation by agree together, either in articles of Dr Gleig, in your Magazine for faith, or in modes of worship, and October, page 791.

“ To be of no that there should be no common church is dangerous. Religion, of principle to which an appeal should which the reward is distant, and be made.

which is animated only by faith and ESTABLISHMENTS are also charg- hope, will glide by degrees out of ed with hypocrify, which the Diffen- the mind, unless it be invigorated ter says must be a general vice, and and re-impressed by external ordia molt odious vice to be sure it is; nances, by stated calls to worship, but as we have only his own word and by the falutary influence of er. for it, I must be excused if I do not ample." As to what the Dissenter stay to examine the evidence by says of the flourishing state of reliwhich he may choose to support gion, and the great happiness enthis affertion.

joyed in the United States of AmeAs to religious tests and penal rica, I own my information is not statutes of every kind, which the very extensive, but from any thing Dissenter lays hold of, they do not that I have heard, I very much ful. properly belong to the present quef. pect the truth of this flattering piction. I shall neither undertake to ture. But having already extended defend nor condemn them. Free this paper to so great length, I shall toleration, such as the diffenters in not enter upon the confideration of this country enjoy, I consider as one what the Dissenter farther advances of their natural rights, of which I on the subject. If notwithstandshould be very sorry to see them ing the communication of Lælius, deprived. But it may be worthy of you deem the foregoing observa. remark, that the diffenters them- tions worthy of a place in your selves, at least the burgher and anti- Miscellany, your inserting them will burgher Seceders, and

church of Re- very much oblige, Sir, lief, in ftating the grounds of their

Yours, &c &c. separation from the church, do not FIFE,

SINCERUS. feem to look upon eltablishments Nov. 26. 1802.





[ocr errors]

My Dear Henry,

1 16. 1801. what I write can be read, by you, AS I food this morning on one with indifference. But I have rea. of the cliffs which overhang this son to fear, nay, I am almost certown, and stretched my view across 'tain, that you entertain too fanguine the straits to trace the dim outlines expectations of instructive amuseof the opposite coast, I remembered ment from the perufal of my jourthe promises you exacted of me be. nal. It is true, that I


abroad fore I left Scotland, and resolved, at an interesting period, and that by beginning my journal without the exertions of our good W. and delay, to convince you, that I am of our inestimable friend Dr C not disposed to break it. The fact have procured me many valuable is, that, in fulfilling this engage. introductions ; but the peculiar cirment, I shall gratify myself as cumstances under which I travel, much as you. I have so long been may render it highly improper for in the habit of depositing, in your me to avail myself of these advan. bosom, a transcript of all my strong tages as I could wish, and I may emotions, that without your parti- return to England without having cipation, I already find my plea- met with a single character of emisures deficient in relith, and my un nence, either in the mercantile or easy feelings doubly fevere. It is literary world.

I foresee, too, true, that in the companion of my that my observations will often be travels, I have a friend, who is written under circumstances of fa. worthy of confidence and love; tigue and anxiety. However limibut he was not the companion of ted their sphere, therefore, they my boyhood, nor has he been long must of necessity be concife, and the friend of my riper years. may often be incorrectly expref

fed. But what is worse than " Where'er I roam, whatever realms to fee, this, I think it my duty to warn " My heart, untravelled, fondly turns to

you of it thus early, once for all ;

when you find me warm in my “ Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,

commendations, or severe in my “ And drags, at each remove, a lengthen- censure, you may often find it ne. ing chain.

cessary to make allowance for the

feelings under which I wrote, or for It would be the height of affec- the irresistible power of prejudice tation in me to insinuate any fear, which may bias my judgment. I that my letters from the continent promise, however, never wilfully to may prove uninteresting to you. mislead you, and I thall at least I am too well assured of your par. endeavour to be candid.



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »