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attained any idea of the relation between the Persons of the Godhead, who are illimitable to space. Another equally presumptuous fallacy, also adverted to by Dr. M., was the nepixáprors, or circumincessio, by which it was supposed the divine unity was to be explained; a term, in itself at least, as unintelligible as any mystery could be which it was designed to explain. But all such forms of expression were carefully excluded from this creed. It was seen, that they never could explain what was inexplicable, and the very object of the formulary was to repress the spirit of attempting such explananations. Hence the folly of those who object to this creed, on the ground of supposing it an attempt to explain mysteries.
The damnatory clauses are ably defended by Mr. Richardson from the charge of harshness and intolerance. His arguments are deduced, from our Lord's sentence on those who " believe not,” coupled with the form of baptism to which that sentence obviously refers ; from the strong expressions of the apostles against those who deny the divinity of our Saviour; and from many other passages of a more general import. Considerable reference is also made to the sentiments of the Fathers, and of other eminent writers in defence of the truth. (p. 63, et seq.) He does not, as many others have done, attempt to soften down these clauses by limitations and palliatives; and we think, in so doing, shews considerable judgment. The author of the Short Notes, adopts precisely the same view of the matter. (p. 11.)
Dr. Miller mentions the different explanations which have been given in defence of these clauses. Two methods have been adopted; one was to restrain the application of these clauses in regard to individuals dissenting from the creed, the other to moderate it in regard to the articles of the creed itself. Of each examples are cited :---the denunciations have been interpreted by some as applying only to those who obstinately deny the doctrine; by others, to all who do not receive the substance of the Christian faith; by others, “ to perish everlastingly,” is interpreted as meaning to be excluded from the promise of salvation; by others, the main body of the creed is considered merely a proof of its first general proposition; the proof commencing with "for there is one Person," &c. and the inference being " so that in all things, as is aforesaid,” &c.
Dr. Miller contends for a distinction between the Catholic faith in general, and this exposition of it in particular; and maintains, that the strong sentence of condemnation applies only to the former, and the general declaration of its necessity in order to salvation to the latter. He grounds this opinion mainly on a comparison of the clause, ---" he, therefore, that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity,"---with the clauses at the beginning and conclusion; and, upon the whole, he argues,
that the expressions are not damnatory, but simply declaratory. (p. 172)
Dr. Card, in reference to this important part of the subject, considers tliese clauses as admonitory, and disapproves of the term damnatory, as inapplicable, and introduced only as a term of reproach. He therefore understands the admonition to apply to the Christian faith in general; and then, by implication, to this particular statement of it. He grounds the authority of the declaration on our Lord's denunciation, and understands it to apply generally; but, at the same time, allowing the exceptions of involuntary ignorance, &c. (p. 18.)
But let it be conceded that the term damnatory is strictly appropriate.---It will not perhaps be denied by even the most hostile opposers of the obnoxious clauses, that our Saviour and his apostles had a right of expressly pronouncing the sentence of condemnation on those who rejected or perverted the sacred truths they taught. Now though this absolute authority does not appear to have been communicated to the successors of the Apostles, yet the heads of the primitive Church always exercised an unquestioned power of declaring anathemas against those who corrupted and denied the truth ;---that form of doctrine, namely, which was consigned in the apostolic writings ;---and such anathemas as were, in fact, declarations and reiterations of those uttered by our Lord and his apostles. In this sense, we apprehend, are all the anathemas of general councils to be understood; and, in the same manner, those contained in this Creed. What difficulty there can be in understanding these denunciations, as applying, in their full literal extent, to all who deny the exact doctrine of the Athanasian Creed, we cannot perceive. Unless, on the ground of objecting to the doctrine of eternal condemnation altogether, we cannot discover any solid, substantial reason for objecting to this particular application of it. If we supposed that the impugners of the Catholic faith were condemned by the force of the anathemas annexed to the Creed, when pronounced by ourselves, we should then be intruding on ground forbidden to us both by piety and charity. But we suppose no such thing.
Whatever articles of faith God may propound in his holy word, must be implicitly received, when the reception of them is the very condition of our deliverance. And the articles of the Athanasian Creed are nothing more than the simple statement of the literal doctrine of scripture. Had it been made a term of the covenant, that we should comprehend all the articles of the Christian faith, the requisition would indeed have been harsh, and the condemnation inevitable. But our covenant is one of mercy,
“ believe only, and thou shalt be saved.” It is infatuation, then, to reject the offer of mercy in cavilling at the particular requisition laid upon us in order to obtain a participation in it.
Dr. Miller has subjoined an interesting appendix on the present state of the Presbyterians in Ireland; and Mr. Richardson, a similar paper on the reputed sentiments of Archbishop Tillotson respecting the Athanasian Creed. To both these topics we propose recurring, in another place, as points of separate discussion.
I. An Investigation of Mr. Mark Robinson's Observations on the
System of Wesleyan Methodism. By Charles Welcu. 8vo. pp. 68.
Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1825. II. An Apology for the System of Wesleyan Methodism, being a Reply
to Mr. Mark Robinson's Observations on the same subject. By HUMPHRY SANDWITH. 8vo. pp. 84. Baldwin, Cradock, and
Joy, 1825. III. Principles exemplified by Practice, in a Letter to Messrs. A. Atkin
son, fc. the Subscribers to a late Circular, bearing date March 10, 1825. By Thomas GALLAND, M. A. of Queen's College, Cambridge, and Superintendent of the Wesleyan Societies in Beverley and its
Neighbourhood. 8vo. pp. 60. Beverley. IV. Reflections on the Present System of Wesleyan Methodism. 12mo.
pp. 23. Hull, 1825. V. An Address to the Methodist Societies in Beverley and the Vicinity, from the Members of Mr. Robinson's Class, occasioned by the late Attempts to exclude him from the Society, for having published “ Observations on the System of Wesleyan Methodism." With an Appendix. 12mo. pp. 52. Beverley, 1824.
We lately called the attention of our readers to a pamphlet containing some strictures on the government and practice of the Wesleyan Methodists in the present day, from one of their own body, Mr. Mark Robinson. These strictures, it seems, have excited no inconsiderable asperity on the part of his recriminating brethren, both towards Mr. Robinson's person and pamphlet. The former, we find, has been eventually removed out of the Society; the latter has been confronted by counter-statements and arguments, from the pens
of more dutiful sons of the Conference. « Iliacos intra muros peccatur et extra," is a sentiment which the devotees of a party find too severe a trial on their self-complacency to admit without a struggle; and we shall not wonder, therefore, that certain staunch Methodists have felt themselves called upon to vindicate their religious polity against the censures of Mr. Robinson.
Nor do we blame them, at the same time, for coming forward to correct what they conceive to be mistatements of facts, or erroneous constructions of their proceedings: this is not only necessary for the eliciting of the truth, but, as a test of the real veneration and affection which bind them to their Society.
The charges of Mr. Robinson were of so grave a nature, that we must confess we undertook the labour of reading through that quantity of pamphleteering, which appears as the heading of this article, with no little anxiety to find “the Connexion” acquitted, in some measure at least, of the hard things which had been spoken against it. Of any admiration of Conference and its proceedings, or of Methodism, in any of its departments, we are not likely to be suspected. We may, therefore, candidly own, that we consider a profession of piety in itself so far deserving of respect, in whatsoever party it may exist, that it ought to have our good wishes and favourable anticipations, before we know any thing positively against it. As Methodism, accordingly, does make great profession of zeal for the salvation of men's souls, it is of course entitled, à priori, to all the benefit of that equitable consideration which such a claim demands. We were, therefore, well-disposed to hear what Messrs. Welch, Sandwith, and Galland, had to urge in answer to Mr. Robinson's observations. The result of our reading, however, we must confess, has not been satisfactory. We do not find that they have succeeded in removing the weight of those imputations which Mr. R. had brought against their ecclesiastical polity. But, as we gave Mr. R. a hearing, it will be but fair to let his opponents also be heard at the same bar; and, indeed, the pamphlets themselves are deserving of notice, as throwing additional light upon the relations now subsisting between Methodism and the Established Church. We shall proceed, accordingly, to notice some of the arguments which these gentlemen adduce in vindication of themselves, as orthodox Wesleyans, not without hope that a review of them may not be altogether unserviceable to those who yet halt between Church and Conference.
The chief subject of Mr. Robinson's pamphlet was a proposed restoration of original Wesleyanism, by an introduction of delegates from the lay part of the old Methodist Connexion into their “ Conference;" itinerant preachers being, according to the present constitution, the only members admitted into that synod; whilst the hearers, whether local or itinerant, are altogether excluded. This writer urged his opinion in favour of " lay representation” with great candour and explicitness; proving the necessity of a reform in the system of their government by some striking examples of its encroachment on the religious liberty of their people. He particularly adduced a passage from a celebrated law of Conference, in which, under a specious surrender of power into the hands of the people, the whole power was really reserved to the body of itinerant preachers.
His opponents are occupied in endeavouring to shew, that there is no ground for the proposed reform ; that the system
of Methodism works as well as possible as it is; that it is only varied from the Wesleyan model by the natural progress and alteration of circumstances, the preachers having that degree of power which their preeminence over their flocks, as pastors, requires; and that the introduction of lay representatives into their Conference would be both injurious and impracticable.
But to judge rightly of the conduct of the controversy, it is necessary to advert to the proceedings which took place on the publication of the obnoxious “ Observations." These are briefly detailed in the “ Address from the Members of Mr. Robinson's Class," as well as noticed by Mr. R. in his Preface to his second edition, and more fully by Mr. Galland in his “ Principles exemplified by Practice.
It might be almost enough for Mr. Robinson to appeal to the treatment itself which he has experienced from the Methodist authorities, to prove the fact of the exorbitant power vested in the corps spirituel of that body. Immediately on the expression of his opinions, he was cited, it seems, before the Superintendent of the Hull circuit, the Rev.* R. Johnson, to give an account of himself for having thus “ disturbed the peace of the Society.” One would really think, that it was some reforming Papist of whom we were reading, in the times before the Reformation, called upon to answer before his diocesan, or metropolitan, for some infraction of the authority of the Papal Church. For what an anomaly is it, that a religious community, which owes its very existence to a toleration of dissent, should proceed to such an act of summary intolerance against one of its own fraternity for merely canvassing a question of its internal policy ? For, be it remarked, it is no assault upon Methodism, as Methodism, or upon the peculiar views of Christian doctrine professed by the Methodists, of which Mr. R. has been guilty; it is only the machinery of their government upon which he has animadverted, suggesting to the consideration of his brethren a measure by which he conceives that government would be essentially improved. The first meeting before which Mr. R. was summoned, not taking cognizance of the affair, a second meeting was called shortly after by the same Superintendent, when Mr. R. was voted to have “disturbed the peace of the Society," “ by writing various letters, by publishing a pamphlet, and other proceedings ;" upon which, the Superintendent declared him to be “no longer a member of the Methodist Society," and to have no "place
* The assumption of the clerical designation has been introduced amongst other anti-Wesleyan practices, as well as the mode of dignifying the preachinghouses with the name of chapels.“ Warn them likewise," says Wesley, « against despising the prayers of the church; against calling our Society a church, or the church; against calling our preachers ministers, our houses meetinghouses, (call them plain preaching-houses). Do not license them as such.”