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and thankfully do we accord with you in acknowledging, that "that which we are most concerned to know is plain and obvious ;" and also, "in the folly of busying ourselves with what is above our comprehension, to the neglect of what is plain and practical" (p. 47). Oh that you would but bear this in mind, that you had never lost sight of it, what trouble had been spared to both of us! And would that our trouble were the worst consequence of your forgetting it! Had you never forgotten it, your well-meant and really pious book, sent abroad with the high sanction of a name and character deservedly respected, had then been a wholesome balm, like the fresh juice of the toddy-tree, cooling and nutritious, but which, fermented, is the braindisturbing arrack! And such, I fear, has your work proved to too many of those readers, for whose welfare you would naturally feel the greatest concern, I mean the young and religiously enthusiastic, especially of the better, though weaker sex. But, "I must not trifle too." All this foolish prying is insinuated as a charge against us. Is it we-we, the mere ignorant antichristian moralists, who can rarely or never be persuaded to listen to, or converse upon, the subject, that wish to plunge into these unhallowed depths? Surely not! We have resisted with all our might; but you, Sir, have dragged us forward to the very margin of the sea
of doubts, have told us of the paradise beyond, and now warning us of rock, storm, and quicksand, would abandon us with a lecture upon our folly, if we venture to disturb one ripple of the fathomless abyss !
Your humble servant,
To Mr. WILberforce.
CHAP. III. § 1, 2. 8vo. Edit. p. 50.
Inadequate conceptions concerning our Saviour and the Holy Spirit-Chief defects of the religious system of the bulk of professed Christians, in what regards our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit-With a Dissertation concerning the use of the passions in religion.
We now come to your third chapter, wherein you profess to treat of our " inadequate conceptions concerning our Saviour and the Holy Spirit ;" but in the first eight pages, professedly devoted to this subject, not one single inadequate conception or popular notion is even attempted to be pointed out. Your charge seems to resolve itself entirely into a general accusation of negligence and imperfection of conduct, in which, however, you abundantly acquit us of the concluding imputation of your last chapter, I mean, prying beyond our depth. You then lecture us rather severely upon "the in
gratitude hereby evinced!" Now does this mean by the inadequate conceptions of which you profess to be discoursing, or by the negligence and lukewarmness of which you are actually discoursing? If of the former, it is a pity you have forgotten to tell us how it is we are guilty of ingratitude: if of the latter, we are indeed compelled to bow to your charge. It is too true! We are negligent and ungrateful, we never pretend to deny it. But what means this charge against our clergy? -"too many," (p. 55). One traitor were too many in any society! But I will fearlessly contend, that, as a body, the clergy of the Established Church of England, although their modernized language may not please you, do preach in accordance with the Liturgy; they cannot, they dare not, do otherwise! We may be favoured, perhaps, with a more defined charge hereafter; and if so, I promise you I will answer it, argument for argument, assertion for assertion; here, at least, I have no fears.
You then revert again to your charge of igno
1 Vide index, p. 55. Some apology may for descending to notice Mr. W.'s index. vading tone of imputation he has adopted.
be thought necessary My excuse is the per
If he cannot even
keep this out of holes and corners, I, in pursuance of my plan, must visit them there, once at least, if but to direct attention to them...
rance, and can find in our ideas "nothing distinct, nothing specific," &c. &c. (p. 57); in short," they are so confused, that we can scarcely be said to believe any doctrine at all." Pardon me, Sir, but having very carefully perused your book, it is very strange! But barring the "no doctrine at all," this is the very accusation I should bring against yourself. You assert, recant, soften down, and re-assert so often, and mingle your arguments, where you attempt any, so much with preachment, insinuation, and unexplained quotations, that it is impossible, in many instances, to say what it is you do believe; and sometimes it is only by your re-assumption of an hypothesis which you had previously conceded, that one can guess how you would be understood. After all, you may in this matter "be wise in your generation;" for it is really hardly reasonable in me to expect that any body will follow me in the tedious operation of unravelling your tangled skein. In opening this chapter, you profess to give the leading doctrines concerning Christ and the Holy Spirit. You give them, as usual, in actual quotation from Scripture; of course I can have nothing to say against them but in admitting them to be certainly leading doctrines, we must not forget that they are merely unconnected texts, open to my interpretation as well as yours. As