Слике страница
PDF
ePub

pronounce that his History of Ireland is a very valuable performance, and beyond comparison superior to any other history of that country. It is written, perhaps, with as much variety as the nature of the subject, not always in itself the most advantageous, could well admit. The style is perfpicuous, manly, ftrong, and generally elegant. The few inaccuracies which occur, are capable of an easy amendment.

It would have been an additional recommendation to the work, if there had been running contents in the margin, and if the dates of the year had been placed at the top of the page. The authorities, likewise, might have been referred to with greater precision

K.

[ocr errors]

Arr. XIII. The Apology of Theophilus Lindsey, M. A. on refigning the

Vicarage of Catterick, Porkshire. 8vo. 35. Johnson. 1774.
THE title of this performance cannot fail fo excite the

curiosity of the Public. For à clergyman to resign his living, except from a view to better preferment, or for some other purposes merely of a worldly nature, is indeed an uncommon phænomenon ; and it is natural to enquire what are the causes of so extraordinary a conduct. In the case of Mr. Lind, fey, his only motive appears to have been a principle of integrity. He hath declined to officiate any longer as a minister of the church of England, because he cannot conscientiously use the forms of its worship. Every man of honour and virtue will feel the moral excellence of such a behaviour,

But while justice is done to Mr. Lindsey's 'uprightness, it may still be matter of enquiry, how far the reasons upon which he bath acted will ffand the test of fober examination. We mean his reasons in point of intellectual wisdom and judgement: ;for with regard to that higher species of wisdom which has reference to the approbation of the Supreme Being, and to a future state, the man who, with a mistaken conscience, gives up his all to these great objects, is infinitely wiser than the whole tribe of statesmen, politicians, philosophers, divines, and bishops, who fo readily facrifice their scruples to what they are pleased to call public utility ; which fame public utility is always found to have a remarkable and happy coincidence with their own private emolument. A person's motives may be right, while his opinions are wrong. It was proper, therefore, in Mr. Lindsey to lay his case before the world, that it may be seen how far he has truth, as well as integrity, on his fide.

The Apology is divided into fix chapters. The first contains some ftrictures on the origin of the doctrine of the Trie nity, and the opposition which it met with, to the time of the Reforination. In the second, the state of the unitarian doc

trine, in our own country more especially, from the æra of the Reformation, is particularly considered. The design of the third chapter is to prove, that religious worship is to be offered to the One God, the Father only. The fourth recites the causes of the unhappy defe&tion among Christians from the fimplicity of religious worship prescribed in the Scriptures of the New Testament. In the fifth, it is thewn how an union in God's worship may be attained ; and the sixth gives a description of the Writer's particular case and difficulties.

It is usual with us, in reviewing any treatise, to follow the order of the work itself. But, in the present instance, we fhall reverse that method, and begin with the last chapter ; that we may be able to gratify our Readers, as early as possible, with the Author's account of his own situation and conduct.

As far as my memory goes back, says he, I was impressed from my early youth with a love of truth and virtue, a fear of God, and a desire to approve myself to him, which bave never left me to this hour, though not always equally governed by them, nor improving so great a favour and blessing from God as I ought to have done.

• After the usual time spent at school and in the university, I entered into the ministry of the gospel, out of a free and deliberate choice, with a full persuasion, that it was the best way in which I could serve God, and be useful to man, and with an earnest delire that I might promote these the great ends of it,

Some things in the xxxix articles of our church I always disapproved. And I remember it struck me at the time, as a ftrange unnecessary entanglement, to put young men upon declaring and subscribing their approbation of such a large heterogeneous mass of positions and doctrines as are contained in the liturgy, articles, and homilies; especially, as I had observed, that none but those called Methodists, who were then much spoken of, preached in conformity to them. But I was not under any scruples, or great uneasiness on this account. I had hitherto no doubts; or rather, I had never much thought of, or examined into the doctrine of the Trinity : but supposed all was right there.

Some years after, many doubts concerning that doctrine, which had' (prung up in the mind at different times and from various causes, compelled me to a closer ftudy of the scriptures with regard to it; for the state of suspenie I was in was very uneasy to me. The more I searched, the more I saw the little foundation there was for the doctrine commonly received and interwoven with all the public devotions of the church, and could not but be difturbed at a discovery To ill suiting my situation. For in the end I became fully persuaded, to ule St. Paul's express words, 1 Corinth. viü. 6. that there is but one

God,

God, the Father, and he alone to be worshipped. This apa peared to be the uniform unvaried language and practice of the Bible throughout. And I found the sentiments and practice of Christians in the first and best ages corresponding with it. In a course of time afterwards, in the progress and result of this inquiry, my scruples wrought fo far as to put me upon actually taking some previous steps, with a design to relieve myself by quitting my preferment in the church. What' prevented this resolution from taking place, and being compleated, I go on to relate.

1. Destined early, and educated for the ministry, and my heart engaged in the service, when the moment of determination came, I felt a reluctance at casting myself out of my profeffion and way of usefulness, that quite discouraged me." This was probably heightened by my being alone at the time, having no intimate friend to consult or converse with, and my imagination might be shocked by the strangeness and fingularity of what I was going to do, such subjects then, upwards of fifteen years ago, not having been fo much canvafled or become fo familiarized as they have been since. These apprehensions, I am convinced, had great sway at the time, and not any worldly retrospects or motives, by which I was never much influenced. And beside, I had then a prospect of not being left intirely deltitute of support, if I had gone out of the church.

• But I did not enough reflect, that when unlawful compliances of any fort are required, the first dictates of conscience, wbich are generally the righteft, are to be attended to, and that the plain road of duty and uprightness, will always be found to lead to the truest good in the end, because it is that which is chalked out by God himself.

" 2. Many worthy perfons, and some of my own acquaintance, whose opinions varied little from mine, could nevertheless satisfy themselves so as to remain in the church and officiate in it. Why then, it often occurred to me, and others did not spare to remonftrate, why must I alone be fo fingularly nice and fcrupulous, as not to comply with what wifer and better men could accommodate themselves to, but disturb others, and diftress myself, by enthufiaftic fancies, purely my own, bred in gloomy folitude, which by time, and the free communication and unfolding of them to others, might be disperfed and removed, and give way to a more chearful and enlarged way of thinking? It was worth the wbile at least to try such a method, and not ralhly to take a step of which I might long repent.

3. It was suggested, that I was not author or contriver of the things imposed and complained of. All I did was minifterial only, in fubmiffion to civil authority; which is, within certain limitations, the authority of God, and which had imposed

there

[ocr errors]

these things only for peace and public good. That I ought not only to leave my benefice, but to go out of the world, if I expected a perfect state of things, in which there was no flaw or hardship.--That if there was a general tendency in what was established to serve the interests of virtue and true religion, I ought to rest satisfied, and wait for a change in other incidental matters that were grievous to me, but not generally felt by others. That in the mean time, I had it in my power to forward the desired work, by preparing men's minds for it, when. ever there hould be a disposition in the state to rectify what was amiss. Therefore, if I could, in any way of interpretation, reconcile the prescribed forms with the scripture in my own mind, and make myself easy, I was not only juftified, but to be commended.

! These considerations all together, were of weight to divert me then from the thought of quitting my station in the church, and brought me in time to remain tolerably quiet and easy in it. Not that I now justify myself therein. Yea, rather I condemn myself. But as I have humble hope of the divine forgiveness, let mot men be too rigid in their censures ; let those only blame and condemn, who know what it is to doubt; to be in perplexity about things of the highest importance; to be in fear of causelessly abandoning a station assigned by providence, and being found idle and unprofitable, when the Great Master came to call for the account of the talent received.'

Mr. Lindsey goes on to relate the farther methods he took to satisfy his own mind; and to persuade himself that he might innocently continue in a church wbere there were many things which he disapproved, and wished to have amended, as he knew not where he might be in any degree alike useful; after which he proceeds as follows :

• Thus I went on in the discharge of my duty, till a few years ago, when from fome providential awakenings, I secretly but firmly resolved to seek an opportunity to relinquilh a situaçion, that was now become not very supportable to me.

• I could not now satisfy myself with Dr. Wallis's and the {ike softenings and qualifications of the Trinitarian forms in the liturgy. I wondered how I had been able to bring myself to imagine, that I was worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth, John iv. 23, 24. whilst I was addressing two other persons, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghof, and imploring favours severally of them in terms that implied their personality and distinct agency, and deity, as much as that of the Father.

• If invocations so particular, language lo express and personal, might be fifted and explained away into prayer to one God only; I might by the like fupposals and interpretation þring myself to deify and pray to the Virgin Mary, taking her,

as

<by him.

as the Papifts do, to be now alive and beatified in heaven, and maintain that I was still only praying to the one God, who was thus invoked in his creature that was so nearly united'to him.

. It appeared to me a blameable duplicity, that whilft I was praying to the one God the Father, the people that heard me, were Jed by the language I used, to address themselves to two other perfons, or distinct intelligent agents ; for they would never subtilize so far, as to fancy the Son and Holy Spirit to be

de merely two modes, or refpe&ts, or relations of God to them. '.'!

• As one great design of Our Saviour's mission was to pro. mote the knowledge and worfhip of the Father, the only true God, as he himself tells us, John xvii. 3. I could not think it allowable or lawful for me, on any imagined profpe&t of doing good, to be instrumental in carrying on a worship, which I believed directly contrary to the mind of Christ, and condemned

* If it be a rule in morals, quod dubitas, ne feceris; it is fill more evident, that we are not to do any thing that we know to be evil, no, not to procure the greatest good, Rom. iii. 8. For God does not want my finful act. It would be impious to fuppore, that he cannot carry on his government, and promote the felicity of his creatures, without it. And although in his providence he may bring good out of my evil, he will not let the doer of it go unpunithed. And if any thing be evil and odious in his fight, prevarication and falsehood is fuch ; and moft of all an habitual courle thereof in the moft solemn act a creature can be engaged in, the worship of him, the holy, all-seeing God.

• It is related in the life of Archbishop Tillotson, that his friend Mr. Nelson having consulted him by letter from the Hague, in the year 1691, with regard to the practice of those Nonjurors, who frequented the churches, and yet profeffed that they did not join in the prayers for their majefties : “ As to the case you put, replied his Grace, I wonder men should be divided in opinion about it. I think it is plain, that no man can join in prayers, in which there is any petition, which he is verily perfuaded is finful. I cannot endure a trick any where, much lefs in

• The Archbishop may be held by some to be too fevere a casuift. But if it was his opinion, that a man who, after the Revolution, continued attached to the late King James, could not consistently or honestly frequent a communion of Chriftians where their Majefties King William and Queen Mary were prayed for : what would he have replied, thought I often with myself, in the case of one, who was not barely prefent, but was the mouth of the congregation in offering up prayers to God, which were believed to be derogatory and inju

religion

« ПретходнаНастави »