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it, for those good and virtuous men, who have lived in heathen countries, ignorant, unavoidably ignorant of Jesus Christ? Men will be rendered accountable for the talents and privileges they have received, not for those which they never enjoyed.' pp. 54-57. • Making faith, this inward principle, the great test, and the sole test of the christian character, opens many doors to impositions; for it is easy for every profligate to set up pretensions to such attainiments. And people of this character, without any serious principles of religion, may be more positive and clamorous than the sincere and upright christian. Another unhappy consequence arises from this being the sole test, it encourages bad people to cherish their evil dispositions and vices, as having faith, they are satisfied that all is well. Further I have to remark, that this doctrine not only leads to impositions on the world, but it causes men themselves to fall into gross mistakes. It is not easy to make plain and simple people comprehend what is meant by faith; and this class is generally the dupe of such impositions. The act of believing may appear to them no more than giving their assent to such and such articles, as their spiritual guides may dictate, without making the smallest efforts to understand them, or any attempts to examine or enquire into their truth or falsehood. And they are deterred from examining or doubting, by being assured that their eternal salvation hangs upon the belief of such doctrines. A man may be a deceiver and hypocrite, an impostor, dishonest, fraudulent, an oppressor, and domestic tyrant; yet all these may be overlooked, but to be guilty of this kind of heresy can never be forgiven. We hear much of dangerous doctrines, of damnable doctrines, but not so often of damnable actions.' pp. 57, 58.
Upon this passage, so remarkable above all things for inconclusiveness of reasoning, we have to notice, that the Author has completely overlooked the nature of that faith which is defined to be saving, by the theorists whom he endeavours to controvert. We know of no sober Calvinists who wish to separate faith from its effects. They consider its validity as. discoverable only by its effects, and perpetually teach that
faith without works is dead.". Again, with regard to the dilemma to which he thinks he has reduced the advocate for the necessity of faith, we must be permitted to say, that all the consequences he enumerates are equally applicable to the unquestionable import of Scripture, and we transfer them to that authority which says, "The whole world lieth in the wicked one;" and "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
We are not prepared, nor is it necessary for us, to say, how God will deal with those who have had no opportunity of believing the Gospel; but of all those who have, we know it is said, "He that believeth not shall be damned;" and, "If ye "believe not that I am He, ye sbal! die in your sins."
At page 77, on the inutility of dark doctrines, Mr. Watson says,
If this then be the case, what are we to say to those in
structions or doctrines, from which it is impossible to extract any one duty, and which cannot be applied to any good purpose? What good end can be answered by declaiming on original sin, and telling us, that we are liable to be punished for the offence of Adam? How is it possible to reconcile this with equity? Is this the judging the world in righteousness? What should we think of that law, that should subject every man to be punished for the crimes, not of their fathers only, but of their most remote ancestor? Can this be called glad tidings, which is what the gospel offers, and which they, who call themselves gospel preachers, pretend that they alone do publish? What idea can we form of God, if this be his appointment? Will this make him the object of our love? And what practical purpose can we derive from this doctrine?
Another of the favourite and popular doctrines is, that man can, of himself, do nothing which is good; but that he is subjected to condemnation for that wickedness, which it is not in his power to avoid. [See Plain Statement, p. 147, 2d edit.] He is represented as destitute of every good principle, of every good wish and desire, corrupted to the very core. Now this is the situation in which man is placed by his Maker.'—pp. 77, 78.
He here triumphantly asks, alluding to the doctrine of universal and original guilt, "Can this be glad tidings?" We reply, certainly not; it never was so denominated: but we ask, Is the Gospel, in any sense, glad tidings, but in consequence of the truth of this doctrine? Is it worthy, in any sense, of the high authority which has introduced it with so many remarkable accompaniments, if man is not universally exposed to Divine displeasure, and universally depraved by transgression? We are totally at a loss to conceive what sense that is which may be attributed to the words of Scripture, that may redeem the doctrines of Christ, and especially what is in Scripture called the doctrine of the cross, from the charge of preposterous and egregious trifling, if men are denied to be dead in trespasses and in sins; or if the measure of their moral wretchedness did not amount to their being by nature the children of wrath. It appears to us the only reasonable ground for the valedictory injunction of the Saviour to his Apostles: "Go ye into all the "world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.
It would be a fruitless and almost an endless task, to follow Mr. Watson through all the forms of error and misconception which he has exhibited. After an unmeaning paragraph, in which he endeavours to distinguish between natural and unnatral vices, he says
But there are other vices, which, upon examination, we shall see it is no easy task to root out: it is not the work of a moment; but requires much perseverance and strenuous efforts, to obtain from them a deliverance. Apply this, for instance, to a covetous disposition. This is a natural vice, and one, the most difficult to be conquered. It mingles with the blood and the vital parts. It is, in some cases, a hereditary vice, and flows in the veins of families. Let a
man try to cure himself of this vice; he will find this not to be the work of a day in spite of all his efforts and resolutions, it will frequently betray its meanness, and very often its injustice; and I believe the instances are few, wherein you have seen a perfect cure.' pp. 82, 83.
The Author differs bere as much from himself as from most moralists. For upon his own principles men are not naturally depraved at all; and we would ask him how that can be a vice, according to his theory, which mingles with the blood and
vital parts,' which is hereditary, and flows in the veins of families? We have generally been accustomed, however, to consider covetousness as much a vice formed by habit, as drunkenness and gluttony. We must confess, we have never yet seen any vices which were incurable, and very few that had been long indulged in, from which it was easy to escape, but certainly none that the power of the Gospel could not overcome. But the object for which the Author made the above remarks, was to shew that sudden conversions could never subdue such natural 'vices' as covetousness, lying, &c. At page 81, he says,
• The doctrine of sudden and instantaneous conversions is another of the popular and fashionable doctrines of the present day; and may #be set down as one of those very common, but gross impositions, that aft ensnare the credulous, and deceive the ignorant; but, in general, procures great credit to those who have the audacity to pass such off upon the world.'
Now, though we are far from maintaining that all conversions are sudden, we should be glad to know what there is either in philosophy or in Scripture, to discredit the belief that a wicked man may receive an effectual conviction of truth, as sudden as the lightning's flash, and as powerful as the voice of thunder? What is then to prevent that Almighty Agent, who says, "The "wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound "thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it "goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit," from effecting those moral changes which are pre-eminently the result of his own power, as suddenly as those physical changes which we continually witness and experience? Has Mr. Watson never met with such conversions? Has he never read, or if he has read, does he mean to deny, narratives so well authenticated, as those of Colonel Gardiner, and the Earl of Rochester?
We shall detain our readers only a little longer with a specimen of Mr. Watson's doctrine upon worldly amusements.
From the preceding part of our Lord's history, and indeed, from his history in general, we may infer that our Lord was no enemy to the innocent recreations of society, and that he does not debar his disciples from such enjoyments. Recreations properly chosen, excite VOL. X. N. S. 2 P
cheerfulness; and cheerfulness is favourable to health, and to some, also, of the most amiable virtues.
My reason for taking up the subject of recreations, is, in the first place, to contribute what I can, to the removal of that gloom, which some professors throw over religion; and, in the second place, to combat those illiberal prejudices, which suppose that inen are guilty of the greatest sin, who countenance the common amusements of society, although among that number, are found many men of the greatest worth, who are not only firm believers in christianity, but scrupulously exact in the performance of its duties: and thirdly, to point out the unhappy consequences of such gloomy principles, thus operating as a discouragement to real religion.
With respect to music, there is no occasion to say much; for this is the least exceptionable of all amusements. This is a delightful exercise and entertainment to many; it enters into the solemn services of religion, and contributes there to exalt our devotion.
But dancing is cried down violently. Indecent dances cannot be censured too severely; and those stage dances have brought the exercise itself under this disgrace. But these are neither encouraged nor practised in our common assemblies, nor in private parties. In such places, all these things are conducted agreeable to the strictest rules of decency; and perhaps there are few entertainments more pure, more chaste and correct in every moral point of view-Some alledge that this exercise excites bad passions; but those must have very impure hearts, who can find such incitements in the common dances. And nothing can be better calculated to produce innocent cheerfulness, particularly in an assembly of young people; and nothing can be more wisely contrived to dissipate melancholy, illtemper, and dissatisfaction, than to witness the grace and elegance of this exercise; and thus you share in the innocent joys of the rising generation. That mind must be of a very stubborn sulkiness, and of a texture not very favourable to virtue, which refuses its assent to the general harmony of such company. This exercise has been countenanced by many wise men, and even rigid moralists. Music and dancing, entered occasionally, into the solemn services of the Jews. David danced before the ark of God, with all his might. We find dancing recommended in the Psalm cxlix. 3.-Let us praise his name in the dance." It was practised by the Jews on occasions of re joicing. The prophet Jeremiah, xxxi. 13, foretelling the restoration of the Jews, and the approach of happier days, says" Then shall the virgins rejoice in the dance." Socrates mentions it often with approbation. The present morose and gloomy temper which hangs over religion, should be counteracted by directing the amusements of young people to what is different from sulkiness, to excite cheerfulness, which may be maintained in perfect consistency with purity and the most correct morals.
• The amusement of the theatre has certainly subjected itself to much censure, by countenancing immorality. Several old plays are highly censurable, on account of the looseness of their morals; and this poison is often conveyed in much wit, which causes the venom to pierce deeper. But to the honour of the present age, and for the
interest of morality, we seldom find any thing of this nature in modern plays. They are, in general, chaste and correct in these points; and the morals which some of them inculcate, are excellent, and calculated to do much more good, and much less harm than many of those declamations which are called sermons, where morality is abused, and the christian virtues treated with contempt.-Amusements regulated by virtuous principles are rational and instructive. The present theatrical representations are, however, in some cases, highly censurable, not for immorality; but for a great deal of nonsense, and sometimes buffoonery, introduced upon the stage.' pp. 174-177.
This will let most of our readers into the secrets of the Rev. Mr. Watson's theology, which to us has a much greater resemblance to those loose, superficial, and contradictory opinions of modern philosophers, which are made up, partly of the affected sensibility of deism, and partly of the maxims of carnal and worldly men, with some slight assistance from the New Testament, than to that sound and sober theory which is the result of a diligent and laborious investigation into the Scriptures. In short, the whole of his system seems to be exactly that which is to be met with in fashionable novels and plays. It affects great respect to the Divine character, and great admiration of the moral precepts of Christ, while its utmost aim is to prune off a few of the most unsocial and gross vices, without knowing any thing of the measure of human guilt on the one hand, or of the vastness of Divine love on the other. By divesting Christianity of the doctrines of grace, it becomes a tamne, useless, uninteresting system, alike cold and fruitless. It is the grace of the Gospel that makes it a Gospel. The testimony of Christ is, that he came "to call sinners to repentance." And never will mankind at large receive the faithful saying, and find it worthy their acceptation, but as it discloses to them the grace of that Saviour, who "came into the world to save sinners." It is evidently very easy for a writer or a preacher, when he has formed a sort of partial survey of the Gospel, and seen much in it about love, and meekness, and forgiveness of injuries, to imagine that in forming a strong conception of the amiable and moral spirit of Christianity, he has in fact seized upon its most prominent feature, or that by which the whole may be fairly epitomized. But we must be allowed to remind such persons, that in selecting out of a complex object, that one feature or quality, which, on account of its pre-eminence, may be used to designate the whole, we must take heed that our partialities for some one of its qualities, do not betray us into an oversight of its most essential and prominent parts. The Apostles of Christ have, we admit, designated the whole of that assemblage of truths, the Gospel, by one principal fact, and one