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Review.Inquiry into the Methodist Societies. lics, to whose interests the King's will enable them to judge of the grounds devotion was sufficiently apparent. on which the writer thinks “ an offiBut what display of religious tolerance cial compendium of doctrines," in other or enlightened civil policy could be words, a creed, necessary for the pre. expected from one, surrounded, dur- servation of methodism. They are, ing his exile, by emigrant noblesse, Original Sin, Imputed Righteousness, martyrs to the ancient Régime, and a Justification, Faith, and Regeneration. crowd of priests, whom nothing less After stating, p. 69, that “ Original than the grossest form of popery could Sin, implying the actual propagation satisfy ? With too much truth was of a nature morally corrupt and posiit observed that, in twenty years, the tively evil, comprehending complete Bourbons had forgotten nothing and alicnation from God, a prevailing bias had learned nothing. Will France and propensity to sin, a direct enmity never deserve a better order of things to the nature of holiness, and an in. than such a paternal government? ward association with the powers of
R. darkness, if not an actual participation
in a diabolical nature" is contended Art. III.-- A Candid and Impartial In- for as a first principle by the Metho
quiry into the Present State of the dists, he adds
« But although this doctrine is genelative to their doctrines and disci- rally received in the Methodist congexion, pline are discussed. By a Member yet it is important to know that this is not
There are, both of the Society, 8vo. pp. 512. Bel- among preachers and people, those who fast, printed; sold by Commins, cannot reconcile the popular opinions reLincoln's Inn, London, 1814. specting this point, to their notions, either THIS work contains much import of the wisdom, the goodness, the justice, or
ant information respecting the the truth of God. For denying the neces. state of opinions on some of the most sity of the continuance of a corrupt nature, leading points in theology among the transmitted through the ordinary course of Methodists in Ireland. The author generation, as a foundation of redemption, regards as an evil, the want of unifor. they conteud that this redemption should mity in religious doctrine, which his operate to the extirpation of the principle
of evil from our nature in its initial state, statements prove to exist, and to shew and thereby prove its claim to the glorious itself publicly, among the minis- title it sustains, and exhibit in iufants the ters of his denomination, as well as full accomplishment of the important obamong the people. The object of his jects it is intended to attain. And under book appears to be, to stir up his bre- these impressions, the opposers of the docthren to provide a remedy for this im- trine as above delineated say, it is incomagined evil, by forming “ an official patible with the divine wisdom, to permit compendiun," of the doctrines of the the actual propagation of sin; for, say they, Methodists, “ compiled from the vo. if God really wills the salvation of all men, luminous writings wherein they now
and if holiness be essential to that salvation, Jie scattered, and beariog the stamp and actually unholy in the extreme, have
can the propagation of a nature positively of legitimate authority." P. 348.
any tendency to promote that glorious eud ! That among so numerous a body of Certainly not. On the coutrary, it would Christians as the Methodists now are, be a radical, and in most cases, au effectual a diversity of opinion on a variety of opponent to the hopes of salvation.” P.70. subjects should exist, might naturally The author states in the following be expected; but we were not aware that inquiry had extended itself so far, who reject the doctrine of Original
pages, the reasoning of his brethren or that what is called heterodoxy ex- Sin, assert its inconsistency with the isted to such a degree, as this writer goodness and truth of God, and mainshews to be the case among the socie. tain that neither sin nor holiness are ties in Ireland: not a few of his pages susceptible of propagation. But though are filled with the proofs of this sup; the arguments, many of which are posed departure from the truth, and
strong and pointed, are given as the the discussion of the controverted language of others, he himself seems to points. A statement of the subjects take the heterodox side on this subject. on which the Methodists in Ireland are He says, divided in their opinions will not be oninteresting to our readers, and it “ As our object is not to foster preju
Review.-Inquiry into the Methodist Societies.
99 dice, but to ascertain and vindicate truth, Sentiments respecting the death of it is highly necessary in the investigation Christ, which alarm him, are enterof any point of doctrine, to turn it on every lained by some of the preachers, side, to look at it in all its bearings, and
" The author has heard from a Metho. with patience and candour to appreciate its real merit by the acknowledged criterions dist pulpit, the doctrine inculcated that the
death of Christ was not essential to the salof orthodoxy. With this view let us put to ourselves the questions which follow. If, vation of mankind, but that God made as is generally supposed, Original Sin choice of that as the most eligible and adpropagated as an active principle in the vantageous mode of reconciling the world
And he has been told by anosoul, be the efficient cause of the universal to himself prevalence of evil, will not this exonerate ther preacher, and one of very distinguish. mankind from much of ihe responsibility ed rank and eminence in the connexion, which would otherwise attach to their dis- that the death of Christ was not a meritori. positions and actions, as moral agents in a ous sacrifice for the sins of the world,
which was a Calvinistic notion; that God state of probation? Por really if our nature be radically evil, or if evil be so closely tend his mercy to men through that medium;
chose indeed to manifest his grace and exinterwoven with its fabric as is generally but that if it had so pleased him, he might believed, it would appear unreasonable to expect any good fruit from so corrupt a tree.
have doue the same through the death of a Yet we find God both expects and demands bullock or any similar medium." P. 365.
Note. it.” (See Jer. ii. 2.- Isa. V. 4.) P. 185. Note.
We are informerl, p. 138. « The Imputed Righteousness. “Upon this most general sentiment in the Methointerestjog subject also," says the au
dist connexion concerning" Justificathor, " there is a considerable diver- tion“ is, that it is perfectly synonysity of opinion in the Methodist con.
mous with the forgiveness of sins; the nexion." P. 95. He acknowledges
removal of guilt, and of the liability to " the popular feeling appears to be ra- punishment which we incur thereby; ther against it;" and though he labours
a mere exoneration from the penalties to prove it by quotations from the to which a breach of the divine law subwritings of Mr. Wesley, he is compelled jects every transgressor.” To this the to admit that the founder of the Me. author objects, though it appears from thodist connexion, if in the
early part ment of the founder of the Methodist
his own account, that it was the sentiof his ministry he maintained, afterwards rejected, and openly opposed societies, and has been from the first the views of the subject for which he the sentiment most generally maincontends. He quotes a passage from tained in those societies. Mr. Wesley, wbich it is impossible to
He makes great complaint of the inreconcile with the notion that Christ's
crease of legality among the Methorighteousness and merits are imputed
dists, because they do not insist on to the sinner.
some popular doctrines which are ge..
nerally termed evangelical, but con“ Again; Mr. Wesley proceeds, least of tinually enforce reformation and good all does justification imply that God is de- works, without directing their hearers ceived in those whom he justifies; that he to depend on the personal righteousthinks them to be in fact what they are not, ness of Christ imputed to them for that he accounts them to be otherwise than their justification, pp. 130—194; and they are. It does by no means imply, that with all his veneration for Mr. Wesley God judges concerning us, contrary to the he hardly acquits him of being too legal. real nature of things, that he esteems us better than we are, or believes us righteous for God, and for the honour of the di
He says, p. 278, “Mr. Wesley's zeal when we are unrigbteous. Surely no. The judgment of the all-wise God is always viue law, carried him with a full tide according to truth; neither can it ever con into the bosom of the strongest Armi. sist with his unerring wisdom to think that nianism." And adds, in a note, “We I am innocent, to judge that I am righteous may here notice an instance of Mr. or boly, because another is so. He can no Wesley's having about that time lost more in this manner confound me with all dread of danger from the introducChrist, than with David or Abraham.” tion of legality into his system of diviP. 168.
nity. In a letter to Miss Bishop, of The author lays the greatest stress Bath, dated November 5, 1770, he on the doctrine of Imputed Righteous- observes :-“I cannot find in my Bible ness, and laments the opposition it any such sin as legality. Truly, we meets with amongst the Methodists. have been often afraid where no fear
Review.-Inquiry into the Methodist Societies. I am not half legal enough, not the spirit of God being always ready enough under the law of love. And (so far as his influence may be neces. again, in a subsequent letter to the sary,) to co-operate with the sioner, same lady, February 16, 1771, he says; and assist him in the work of conver“ Legality, with most who use that sion. But it would appear, from this term, really means tenderness of con- system of doctrine, that by far the science.'' The Methodists have al- greater part of the work rests with the ready done much good, and we have sinner himself
, who, it seems, has it no fear of their usefulness being dimi- completely in his power to become a nished by their preaching becoming saint whenever he pleases; only in more practical.
consideration of the foolish and sinful We are glad to find that rational habits he has long indulged, it will ideas respecting the nature of faith, are necessarily be a work of some time making progress among the Metho. and labour to get liis heart thoroughly dists in Ireland; for which they are converter to the ways of truth and censured by this writer. Complain- holiness. No extraordinary degree of ing of the pharisaism of some of the divine influence, however, is to be expreachers, he says, p. 130, “ faith pected, or is indeed supposed to be according to them, being only a rati. requisite to effect the great work of onal conviction of the great truths of conversion; and accordingly it is a revelation, and its only use to act as a principle held by the favourers of this spur to our endeavours to fulfil the doctrine, • That God, prompted by righteousness of the law, which is to his own goodness, hath already done be our chief passport to heaven." all that he possibly can do, consistentAgain,
ly with his own glory, for the present 6 The advocates for this doctrine (and human creature upon carth; and that
happiness and final salvation of every they are numerous in the Methodist connexiou,) contend that the faith which is consequently no farther interference ordained of God to be the instrument of our of divine power or influence need be salvation, is essentially the same with that expected to effect the conversion of reliance which we repose upon the testi- any individual; although, as the divine mony of a man, in whose integrity we can spirit is omnipresent, and is in fact place implicit confidence; the distinction the primum mobile of all physical, inbetween these consisting only in the diver- tellectual, and moral power in the sity of the objects which they embrace. universe, his aid in a general way canAnd accommodating their language to not be excluded, particularly as it is their principles, they divide faith into hu- admitted, that God is loving to every man and divine: human faith is, accord. ing to them, the assent which we give to his works."” Pp. 177—178.
man, and his tevder mercy is over all human testimony; and divine faith the asgent which we give to divine testimony.
Though this writer asserts, p. 287, And they insinuate, that the one is as much that “ the Methodist societies are well the spontaneous act of the natural powers grounded in the fundamental and im of the human mind as the other.
portant doctrine of a trinity of persons “ The evidence upon which this divine in the Godhead;" it appears from his faith' is required and supposed to rest, is account at large that a dissonance of that which is contained in the oracles of language is found among them respectinspiration. But little or nothing is either ing the divinity of Christ, and that a said or admitted respecting the particular complete uniformity of opinion on the influence of the spirit of God, in applying subject does not exist in their societhe truths of scripture to the conscience, or inspiring a conviction of their reality and ties. He says, p. 288. importance." P. 224.
rality both of preachers and people
seem content with a general, but often The following is the view of Rege- very confused idea of the divinity of neration, which this author states as Christ.” In a note, he adds, “ A entertained by some of his brethren preacher, who certainly has no mean the Methodists, and to be rapidly opinion of his own talents and orthogaining ground among them. They doxy, was delivering a discourse from appear to believe that every man pos- Col. i. 12—18. He admitted that the sesses what may properly be termed terms Jesus Christ applied only to the a natural power to obey the divine manhood of our Lord, and were descommandments, to repent of his sins, criptive of his vicarious character, as and believe the gospel at his pleasure; the Saviour of the world, and the only
“ The gene
Review. Inquiry into the Methodist Societies.
101 mediator between God and man. And because although committed against a being he contended strenuously that his per- infinite in his perfections, yet it was the son and character had no kind of ex- transgression of a finite creature who was istence until the formation of the for. incapable of performing an infinite act, mer in the womb of the virgin mother, and it was also the violation of a law insti? and the subsequent developement of that finite creatarc; consequently its terms
tuted for the regulation of the conduct of the latter in the life and death of were suited to the limited capacity of that Christ." Even some of the writer's being, or those beings who were to be its own expressions will be found difficult subjects. Now we argue, that if the fulfilto reconcile with the proper doctrine ment of that law did not demand the exerof the trinity, of which he declares tion of infinite powers, so neither could its “ Athanasius the great oracle." P. violation require an infuite atonement." 295. He represents the notion that P. 299. God died, as the greatest of absurdi He justly censures the following ties.
lines in the Methodist hymns, which he
says, carry their own condemnation “ But is any one annong us woak enough to conclude from this figurative expres
on their face." sion, (Acts 20---28.) that the eternal God “ The immortal God for me hath died!" literally shed his blood for us? This pre
And posterous motion would be incomparably more grossly absurd than the Popish doc
“ I thirst for a life-giving God, trine of transubstantiation.' The idea of a
“A God that on Calvary died !" suffering and expiring Deity is so repug It will be difficult for the author to nant to our enlightened reason, so degrad- reconcile the above passages with his · ing to the divine character, so much at ascribing to the Son of God all the variance with the principles of all theology, essential attributes of Deity, p. 287, and so subversive of every attribute of the for if, as he justly asserts, God could Godhead, that it is beyond measure astonishing how such a notion could ever find neither suffer nor die, it follows that its way into the doctrines of Christianity; he who actually suffered and died was or that any figurative expression of scrip- not God: but Pau) declared, “ It is ture could, by men of sense, be ever lor
Christ that died," and that he was tured into the support of a doctrine so full “ declared to be the Son of God with of absurdity and contradiction. It is deify- power, according to the spirit of holiing the material body of the blessed Jesus, uess, by the resurrection from the and laying the foundation of the grossest dead." Could the author induce the idolatry, in the very person of the imma- Methodists to form a creed, under the culate Son of God. Doubtless the idolatry name of “ An Official Compendium" of the mass originally sprang out of this of Doctrines, it is nut at all likely it absurd notion of a corporeal Deity: whereas we know that "God is a spirit, would produce uniformity, though it whom no man hath seen nor can see and might dissimulation and hypocrisy. they that worship him acceptably must do If creeds when enforced by the civil it in spirit and in truth.” P. 297. power, and fenced by all the terrors Again, he says,
of persecution, never produced uni
formity of opinion, how can it be “ It is very commonly supposed that the thought that one unsupported by the rengeance of God, which was satiated by state and not so fenced would do it? the blood of Christ, was infinite in its extent, and boundless in its demands; and The most probable effect of such a hence it has been concluded that the Deity
measure would be, that no longer perhimself must have participated in the suf mitted to exercise freedom of opinion fering, and have given merit to the alone in the methodist connexion multitudes ment, which otherwise could not have been would leave it, and form separate adequate to the purposes of reconciliation societies where they could freely think upon legal principles. The accuracy of for themselves, and openly declare these sentiments may be justly questioned; their views of divine truth. We trust they appear to be the offspring of a fallaci- the Methodists are too sensible of the ous mode of reasoning, unsupported by value of religious liberty, ever to subdivine authority, and instituted for the mit to the yoke of bondage this writer purpose of accommodating a pre-conceived opinion of an excessive rigour in the divine wishes to see imposed opon them. Is economy, which even transcends the bound- it not enough that the societies are aries of strict justice, and which induced denied the liberty of choosing their God to require an infinite satisfaction for a own ministers; must the preachers finite offence. We call it a finite offence, also be put in fetters by their “per
Review.Cappe's Discourses. fect coincidence in their public capa
“ But veither of these eminent men, nog cities, with the essential doctrines nor all the conferences at which they astherein contained :” that is, in the pro- sisted or presided, had any power to enact posed compendium? The adoption of laws, to establish principles, or institute the author's plan would be a direct regulations, binding upon their successors violation of the rights of conscience, these is a matter of choice, and not com
or their posterity. Our acquiescence in and a gross departure from the prin- pulsion; and we possess the unquestionciples of liberty, which he states as able power of revising, altering, or aboasserted and acted upon by the founder lishing any part of our religious establishof the Methodist connexion. The fol- ment.” P. 340. lowing note deserves the attention of
The length to which this article is every person in that connexion, and already extended, compels us to pass should the plan recommended by this over several things we had intended writer, ever be proposed at Confer. noticing; we conclude our extracts ence, it is hoped some of its members with the following note, p. 231.
It is will move that this note be read.
quoted by the author from the Belfast " It is both interesting and important Monthly Magazine, for March, 1813. here to refer to the minutes of the First « AN EXAMPLE TO MODERN METHOConference, held in June 1744, where we DIST3.-The Rev John Wesley himself bas find the ground of private judgment dis. asserted in his writings, not only that an tinctly laid down as the unalienable privi. Anti-trinitarian may manifest a desire of lege of every Christian; and, at the same escaping future misery, but that he may be time, the boundaries are ascertained at a truly good man. In one of the numbers which a surrender of that judgment is re- of the Arminian Magazine, published a few quired of a Methodist preacher. These years before his death, he inserted an ex. fundamental principles being coeval with tract of the memoir of the life of that emi. the preacher's character as a Christian, and nent Unitarian, Thomas Firmin. In iutrohis admission as a minister of the gospel in ducing this extract, he observed, that be the Methodist connexion, are in full force had been formerly inclined to think, that a at the present day, and must continue so to person who was unsound with respect to the end of time. These therefore must the doctrine of the Trinity, could not be a form the basis of all future regulations, re. converted or good man. But that now he specting the belief and propagation of doc- thought differently, since the subject of the trines in the Methodist societies. They memoir was undoubtedly a pious man, run thus:
though erroneous in the doctrine of the " Question. How far does each of us Trinity, and that there was no arguing agree to submit to the judgment of the ma- against facts.'” jority ?--Answer. In speculative things each can only submit so far as his judg- Art. IV.-Discourses chiefly on prac. ment shall be convinced. In every practical point, each will submit so far as he
tical Subjects, by the late Rev. Newcan without wounding his conscience.
come Cappe. Edited by Catharine « Question. Can a Christian submit any
Cappe, 8vo. pp. 192. York printed, farther than this to any man, or number of
sold by Longman & Co. 128. 1815. men upon earth ?-Answer. It is unde- YO niably certain he cannot, either to Bishop, lieve they are many, who are acConvocation, or General Council. And this is that grand principle of private jndgment on which all the reformers proceeded, by the editor of the Belfast Magazine,
# The extract which follows was taken * Every man must judge for himself, be- from our number for January, 1813, Vol. cause every man must give an account of VIII. From the Belfast Magazine it has himself to God.' It is impossible to read this without admiring it; let it never be been copied into the “Inquiry," and copied forgotten that these principles formed the back by our reviewer into the Monthly Rebasis of the Methodist Conference." P. pository: A striking proof, that when 336.
facts and truths are put into print, it is im
possible to guess how widels, and by what After reading the above, we were
means they may be made known to the pub. ready to ask, can this writer be in lic. The statement concerning John Wescarnest in wishing to have the religious ley, which was the original of these several opinions of the whole body of the Me- On the Methodist Excommunication at thodists fixed hy “ An Official Com. Flashing," under the signature of Sabrinut, pendium?" Most inconsistently with adopted in the former volumes of this work, the plan he recommends, speaking of by the late much-respected Rev. W. Severn, John and Charles Wesley, he sayı, of Hull. ED.