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fore the glorious prospects which that man of God opened to the church are false or useless ? Could any one, of sufficient intellect to understand the whole subject of the argument, and with sufficient honesty to be above double-dealing, have broached such an insinuation ? But we forbear.
The next charge is, that we have censured the RELIGIOUS WORLD. They give an enumeration of all the essential characteristics of the true church of Christ; assume that the RELIGIOUS WORLD possesses them all; and therefore very properly blame us for the terms which we have applied to this body. But here we have again our old friend, the fallacy in the middle term. The point at issue between us is, whether that body possesses these characteristics, or not; and this point they assume, as being considerably more easy than to prove.
It is impossible to deny that there is an irreconcileable difference of opinion between the Students of Prophecy and the Religious World itself, upon the merits of this latter body; and the discrepancy arises from the following causes. The Religious World has taken it into its head that it is going to convert the heathen world, Jews, Infidels, and Papists, by means of books, tracts, and missionaries. It has been labouring at this work for above a quarter of a century; and annually prophesies, at all the annual meetings of all its societies, and of all their provincial auxiliaries, its positive certainty of so doing, provided only the people will give them money enough; and that, in the mean time, the world will get better and better every day. The Students of Prophecy have got a very perplexing mode of consulting the word of God as to future events, rather than speakers on platforms; and they have therein found that the world is not to be converted by any such means: that, in the first place, the Papal apostasy is not to be converted by preaching at all, but to be destroyed, by violence, war, and bloodshed : that the Jews, as a nation, are not to be converted till after the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ : that at His advent the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, will be caught up to meet him in the air: and that at that period, instead of the world being better than at any preceding period, it will be worse; and that the worst characteristics of it will be found among those “ having the form of godliness ;” which expression they hold to be synonimous with the modern phrase, “the religious world.”
Believing the fact, then, which God has declared, the Students of Prophecy are bound, as honest men to God and to man, to proclaim the truth of God, and the falsehood of the prophecies which are put forth on the platforms: and when the other party have shewn one single instance of the false prophets mentioned in the Bible taking with meekness the expostulations of the true (and no one in the religious world will, it is presumed, deny that those expostulations were made in the very best possible spirit, since the men who uttered them “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"), then will it be time enough for us to shew that any other method than that which we have pursued would have been as efficacious in awakening the attention of the Lord's people to the flagrant oppugnancy between that which is taught them by the whole Evangelical press, with scarcely above one exception, and that which the word of God declares *.
The practices which have flowed from these different principles have been as opposed as the principles themselves. In order to gain money, the Religious World has never scrupled to represent the great increase of conversions which were going on; the number of missionaries; the multitude of preachers of what they call The Gospel; the millions of Bibles, Tracts, &c., as so many infallible proofs of the correctness of its predictions. On the other hand, the Students of Prophecy, finding in the word of God that the characteristics of the last days were to be found in the religious world, began to look after them in that quarter. Here they found, that, instead of conversions to God, there were very few who cared any thing about God: they care indeed for their own souls, and are therefore anxious about their state, feelings, &c.: they care not for God, as is evident, because they are not anxious about His truth, or His purposes ;—That many of the missionaries were not labouring on the Apostolic model, but pursued that vocation as a mere trade ;-That the few faithful men who did labour in that most noble and most holy calling, were insulted and tyrannized over by the committees at home; rebuked for their faithfulness in telling the wickedness which they found in worthless missionaries who disgraced the cause; and were praised in the Reports only in proportion as they flattered the directors who drew up those Reports ; – That much falsehood was propagated, chiefly by pertinaciously publishing only one side of the truth, and withholding the other;—That, instead of increased preaching of the Gospel at home, there was indeed an increased preaching of a spurious Gospel, composed out of a few texts, on which some frames and feelings were engrafted; and which compound was palmed upon the people for the Gospel: while many of those who profess the Gospel hate the essentials of the Gospel, and the whole revelation of God's mind, as much as those who are professed Infidels: while they have also united with Infidels, Papists, and every species of blasphemers, in ridiculing the idea of Christ's title to be King in this and in every Christian land.
*“ We take in good part our correspondent's advice to us, in regard to the danger of being uncharitable: and in return we beg of him to guard against latitudinarianism: and, as a fit exercise to keep him in the truth, we seriously recommend to him the intelligent and careful study of the Epistle to the Galatians; to settle in his mind the principles and doctrines of those whom the Apostle there declares to be accursed ; to find out their counterparts in the church of the present day; and to inform us whether true charity consists in deceiving such men into a belief that they are in the way of life, or pointing out to them that they are in the way of death. The Bible, were its contents sufficiently known by the great mass of the nominal church, would be deemed the most uncharitable of all books. But what true charity is, is to be learned from the Scriptures alone, and not from the varying views of Christians so called.”— Record Newspaper, Jan. 11, 1830.
When we state these things in general terms, then we are told, by the Christian Observer; “ Well, and what then? there is nothing new in this great discovery of the delinquencies of the religious world : we have said so over and over again : look at our first numbers, and there you will find us saying exactly the same thing.” If this be so, then, worthy friend, be not angry with us for taking a leaf out of your book; but rather be Battered, that we, however unworthy, are your disciples.- If we descend to particulars, and shew that the things enumerated as characteristics of the most religious part of the people in our Lord's days are equally applicable now, then we are charged with censuring God's elect, with smiting the brethren, and with comparing the children of God with those whom he declared could not escape the damnation of hell. Whence it appears, that, so long as we would confine ourselves to a statement which should be as useless, as idle, as insipid, as worthless, to every practical use, as that made twenty years ago by the Christian Observer; or so long as we should only deal in terms so general that nobody should be offended ; so long we should be permitted to say what we please. “The (religious) world cannot hate you ; but Meit hateth, because I testify against it that its deeds are evil.”
One of the worst signs of the Religious World, is the anger which it has evinced, through those that are its organs, at the censures which have been pronounced upon it. O'Connel does not rage more against the Reformation Society, nor the Jews against the Jews' Society, than does the Religious World against the MORNING Watch. This thing, calling itself the Religious World, is truly more irritable than any poet, artist, placeman, or decaying beauty. It never repelled, in the remotest degree, the flattery and gross adulation which it has been in the constant habit of receiving from all its missionaries, on its platforms, and above all from its foreign correspondents : yet it cannot endure that we should shew, from the word of God, that its expectations are the creatures of its own imagination; that it is holding out hopes to the world in direct contradiction to the statements of Divine truth; that it is deceiving the people, and blinding them from taking warning of the coming dangers.
The last count in the indictment on which we are arraigned, is our “BAD SPIRIT.” It is not easy to know what is meant by
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this; but perhaps we shall gain some insight by remembering the old definitions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy :
“ Orthodoxy; our own opinion: Heterodoxy; the opinion of any one who differs from us.” In like manner good spirit" seems to mean, praising whatever is in fashion in the religious world : “bad spirit," censuring whatever is in fashion in the same. Thus, for example, when Dr. Thomson and Mr. Haldane abused the Apocryphists, then they had a “bad spirit;” and Orme, and Conder, and Grey, had the “good spirit :” but when they abuse the Students of Prophecy, then they have a "good spirit,” and the prophets have the “ bad spirit.
To condemn what is wrong, is as esssential a part of Christian duty as to declare what is right. But every one thinks himself in the right; and at the same time must be imperfectly informed. Hence a wise man, and a just man, and a man who knows something of the various motives which actuate mankind, finds it very difficult, painful, and presumptuous to speak of individuals. The only course, therefore, that is proper, is to speak of systems, but not of men. When we speak against Popery, we can do so with perfect hatred of the system, but with sincere and unaffected love for every Papist. In speaking of the Religious World, we have constantly endeavoured to avoid mentioning individuals. When dared to the proof of what we have advanced, we have referred to public journals, and magazines, rather than published sermons, in order to obviate every appearance of personality. If at any time we have named an individual, it has been as a sample of a class; and we have always taken the most honourable and worthy, to shew that our position was tenable, even in the cases most unfavourable to our argument. For example : We contend that the apparent increase of religion, which has taken place in these latter years, is mainly owing to a spurious Christianity that has been preached : the Religious World asserts that the Gospel is preached in greater purity than ever : and upon this, issue is joined. The onus probandi lies upon us: what proof can we bring, but that of the most widely circulated journals, and the preachers at the most populous chapels? We take the bull by the horn, and begin with the doctrine of justification. When Paul preached it, many who heard it thought he was preaching Antinomianism. The leading Evangelicals avoid this charge now : and why? are they better preachers than Paul ? No; but their doctrine has not the remotest resemblance to Paul's, and therefore they avoid the charge of the other. We are dared to the proof of this : then we produce the report of an annual meeting of a society, in which an Evangelical Clergyman flatly contradicted a statement of justification by faith made by Mr. M'Neile in the very words of the Bible-namely, that “God justifies the ungodly.” To answer a “prophet” is no proof of " bad spirit” at all, with the very same people who accuse " the prophets” of interrupting the harmony of the public meetings.-Will any one say that we select an unfair evidence in the Clergyman above alluded to? they could not desire one more exactly to their taste. He is an individual most amiable and most respectable; and he has been elected to the largest chapel in London, by the most numerous Evangelical church, because they approve of his sentiments. For the same reason we refer to Mr. Daniel Wilson's published sermons; and thence again we deny that justification by faith is held as it was by our Reformers. If we were to quote the opinions of more obscure individuals, the proof would be weaker. We do not cut off these excellent men from Christian fellowship-because there may be a very sound faith in the heart with a very muddled theory in the head, and vice versâ—but we do cut off the majority of their followers, and mean to do so. Unsound doctrine may not destroy the soul of him who preaches it, but it prevents bis adding precious stones to the foundation, although his mass of hay, straw, and stubble will be greatly increased.
In our very first publication respecting the religious world, we declared that we ranked ourselves in it; and that, therefore, in exposing the faults of the system we did so in the full conviction that we were as much liable to its temptations now, and implicated in its delusions formerly, as others. Does any member of the religious world hate all who were born in trespasses and sin, because he was once so himself, and has now escaped from the danger that impended over him? If he do not, what justice is there in his speaking of us, in reference to the professors of religion, in a manner which he would repudiate if applied to himself and his own former associates ?
There are two special grounds for believing that even the best part of the religious world is wrong. The first is, that it has made no advance in the knowledge of God. The only proof which this is capable of, is to be drawn from the recent, compared with the earlier, numbers of the religious periodicals; and from the sermons of the present day, compared with those of Romaine, Newton, and of the preachers who lived at the commencement of the present era of religious excitement. Here we are speaking, not of quantity, but of degree. Non progredi est regredi ; and therefore, the standard of Divine truth not having advanced is proof of its having receded. Remaining " babes, the Apostle says, is the preliminary step to apostasy: and we had rather leave it to the honest convictions of our readers, than go through the detail necessary to make good our position, that there is less knowledge of God's word, and consequently less knowledge of God, in the religious professors of this day, than of any former given period.