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to be argued, he was speaking in and of a Christian community; arguing, not for a separation of religion and morality, but against your proposed separation of them. It is, in fact, exactly the same question that we argued in the commencement, where you attacked us for saying, "It signifies little what a man believes, look to his practice." There as well as here, we are totally misrepresented. When a Christian of our class talks thus, nothing is less his intention than to undervalue, much more exclude, religion. But he is arguing against some peculiar notion or doctrine you are seeking to enforce, in inculpation of some one possessing the qualities in question; and all the Objector means to say for them is, that the acknowledged possession of these qualities offer the surest test that, whether the creed of the accused be of one Christian sect or another, it contains the real essentials of Christianity. This test, though one of the surest, is certainly not infallible; but still, I contend, we are not wrong in general society, in resting satisfied with such primâ facie evidence. A strict scrutiny into every man's creed would be practically a tenfold evil to any which can result from our non-interference. We suppose every man a Christian until shown to be otherwise; if his outward actions and manner be Christian, we are naturally confirmed in
our supposition. In nothing are men so shy as about their religion, for fear of being thought to presume. I know that I myself have been set down as an absolute infidel scores of times! I am persuaded, however, that in this matter, we err far less often than if we acted upon the contrary supposition, and I am certain we err more like Christians. But, Sir, what is your objection? Why, just what you abused us for so unmercifully, when you put it into our mouths, use and abuse ! We are praising what is real, and by way of censuring our praise, you declaim against what is pretended. We wish to uphold neither weakness nor hypocrisy, nor have we said that Christianity is of no use where the temper is naturally amiable. Your three pages of preachment, therefore, to page 200, are all upon a false text. What you say of "useful lives being so far positively mischievous, as they actually discourage religion," (p. 201), comes little, if at all, short of the common accusation against your sect, of contending "greater sinner greater saint," and recommending sin, "that grace may abound." This were giving religion a monopoly with a vengeance! We hold that good and evil cannot change their nature, and that whether found in Christian or Pagan, every good gift is from God. cannot amalgamate!
Evil may mix with it, but
But in separating your cha
racters from Christianity, you put them altogether beyond our argument; we have no more to do with them than with Mungo Parke's charitable negresses. All that can be said of them is, that they are instances in which the stain of original sin appears more than usually faint. We leave them in humble confidence to the uncovenanted mercy of God. May the light reach them, and
make them perfect!
You next make us contend (p. 202), that half is equal to a whole, that although duty towards God, and duty towards man are commanded, the first is neutralized by the second. You appear to proceed in this and the last section especially, upon the principle of "throw plenty of dirt, some is sure to stick," and never fear, so it will! By constant repetition you so beat your accusations and insinuations into the confused brains of your readers, that an angel from heaven would hardly get them out, much less such a bungler as poor I. Be it known, however, to whomsoever it concerneth, that we, the higher classes of the Church of England, do not contend that our duty towards God is neutralized by our duty towards our neighbour, but merely that it is dependent upon it for proof. As our Saviour says, "He who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen?" You, Sir, deny
our position, and contend that "it is mere selfdeceit and partiality, which prevent our seeing, that he who should attempt to perform the latter without the former, were equally bad as he who should imagine he could perform the first without the second." But begging your pardon, we should be more correct than you in this matter. The son who said, "I will not," and went, is preferred to him who said, "I go, Sir," and went not. The point you give us to defend, however weak, is at worst a positive virtue, whereas yours is a positive sin, whenever the two are separated. You talk of "giving unequal measure to God."— Do you then imagine, that human observances are needful, or even gratifying to God, when unaccompanied by their reality, obedience? What says God, speaking by the Prophet to the Jews, when they had ceased" to do justly and to love mercy,” when they ceased to obey, though not to pray?— "Your sabbaths, your sacrifices, &c. are an abomination to me!" "Can I eat bull's flesh, and drink the blood of goats?" &c. It were better to give no share at all, than such as can only be an insult! An Omniscient sovereign may tolerate the obedient, though neglectful subject, but not the fawning traitor.
You next go on for about a dozen pages, abusing us right and left, for denying what we never
deny, and contending for what we never contend for; arguing with a mere phantom of your own creation, and preaching him, as usual, a very decent sermon, did it not happen to proceed altogether upon false grounds; for it is an oration against us, which has, I hope, been already amply disproved; but if not, we now come to page 214, where, according to custom, you cede to us all we ask; for you there tell us, that amiable tempers and useful lives, "when the external decorums of religion are not violated, form a state, which must be a matter between God and a man's own conscience," and that" we should be liberal in judging of others." This is all we want, all we have from the very commencement contended for! There are many things I might remark upon, but they would be all mere repetitions of what has passed before, redenials to reassumed assertions previously refuted. You then continue your sermon to the end of the section, but it contains little or nothing with which I need meddle, or which I have not already amply noticed. So adieu till next section!
To Mr. WILBERFORCE.