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the third time!
You now give us about a dozen
pages of pretty fair preachment, take it all in all, upon the subject of regulation of our love of approbation, and how we ought to conduct ourselves; but there are some few passages I must notice.
In the first place, your pupil must take care that your advice in page 181, does not lead him too far in the principles of Jesuitism. Let him make the most of truth, certainly, but let him beware of veiling her face, lest he himself should happen to forget her features! Your recommendation to your disciple, (p. 182), not to assume any affected severity of deportment, or peculiarity of language, I cannot object to; but, if he obeys you, let him be sure to "sit loose to the favour and applause, even of good men," for I fear, you infallibly kick him out of your tabernacle for a nominal, and, then, "How shall he breathe in air less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits!" If, as you say, "a true Christian is sometimes misconstrued," (p. 183), it should make him careful not to misconstrue others! In page 184, you treat us to a piece of philosophy rather beyond the tether of your own spinning, for you say, "it will be matter of no very deep concern to a true Christian, if his endeavours should have been ineffectual." He may have consolation in his concern, but concerned, and deeply, he will be, if he
be perfect. You then tell us that a true Christian "dreads, lest his supreme affections being gratified, it should hereafter be said to him, Remember, thou in thy life receivedst thy good things!" Not, surely, for being gratified! Must we doubt the mercy, and even justice of God, to be true Christians? This, Sir, is a most important misconception on your part. Is it possible you can have adopted the vulgar error in the interpretation of the parable from which you quote? We hold that Christianity by no means forbids us to enjoy the good things which God has given us; but merely reminds us that they are a trust, that he who gives has a right to require, and that when he does so, though it be to the uttermost farthing, we must not, if possible, even wish to withhold. In like manner, those whose whole efforts through life, whether religious or otherwise, have been made for other purposes than the true one, are said "to have had their reward," meaning simply, that having succeeded in the only object they sought, they can have no further claim to reward from God, whom they have not designedly, but only incidentally served, in pursuit of other prizes than those by him advertized.
For your expression, "an indifference to the world's esteem," (p. 189), we must read, an independence of," "a principle beyond," as an
indifference certainly is not " essentially and indispensably required," as you yourself confess in the two following pages. I recommend your advice in page 189, to the special notice of your disciples. Your parting counsel completely establishes how vain have been all your charges, and your long discussions in this section. You must pardon my remarking upon page 191, that it is far too presumptuous. Who are "we and they;" what "our and their." This is lifting up the veil rather carelessly! Indeed, you seem to have been rather disposed to forget your own double entendre in the words "true and real" Christian, throughout this section! Can you boast yourself free from all imperfection in this, or any other respect? Are you so very sure, that even your boasted religion has no aid, directly or indirectly, from love of applause? That, where you condescend to court the esteem of men, it is so very wholly and solely for religion's sake? Remember what you have said in page 188. In comparing your own merits with those of others, by what test will you ascertain your own impartiality?— How "close the door against painful and malignant passion," should the world refuse its sanction to the superiority you thus impartially arrogate to yourself with such cool complacency? You put me in mind of a zealous conjuror, who, even while
purposely explaining to others, how they are deceived, himself half believes in his own miracle all the time. Your own book, Sir, from Preface to Finis, not even excepting your table of contents, is proof that you have not been able to close the door against a painful sense of merit unacknowledged. I will not say malignant, for angry, and unreasonably angry as you sometimes are with us, I must do you the justice to say, that I sincerely believe you mean us well. You forgive, but you cannot forget. You love us as your enemies, but you cannot feel for us as friends.
To Mr. WILBERFORCE.
CHAP. IV. § 4. 8vo. edit. p. 193.
The generally prevailing error of substituting amiable tempers and useful lives in the place of Religion, stated and confuted; with hints to real Christians.
We now begin your fourth section, wherein you attack, what you are pleased to call "the prevailing error of substituting amiable tempers and useful lives, in place of religion." Here, Sir, I must meet you upon the very threshold with a flat denial, as if I once permit your title to pass, I must be instantly ejected from the window. Once prove that we substitute, no matter what, and your battle is won. After two or three round assertions, you, as usual, put a speech into our mouths, but what does it amount to? Do we say, as to justify your assertion we ought, that it is no matter whether men are Christians or Atheists ? Not a word of it! Whoever used this argument (p. 194), evidently assumed Christianity as a point needless