« EelmineJätka »
OF THE ADJUDICATORS.
It cannot be supposed that in adjudging to the following work the Prize offered by Sir Culling EARDLEY Smith, for the best Essay upon Schism, we agreed in every particular opinion with the author, or with each other. To expect this from any three persons dinary intelligence, and of different denominations, on a subject still so much controverted, would be unreasonable. Our sole duty was, to adjudge the Prize to that Essay, which, of the number sent to us, amounting to fifty-one, appeared to us the best : and this we have conscientiously done.
Well-informed, candid, and practical, the following work is calculated to draw the attention of many to the subject; and by enabling those who come to the investigation with a devout and dispassionate mind to perceive what is, in the main, the scriptural view of Schism, its mischievous effects, and its criminality before God, it will tend, as we trust, to unite the disci
ples of Christ, not on the ground of ecclesiastical uniformity, but on the more scriptural ground of their having, notwithstanding various discrepancies in the externals of religion, one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and one God. By this enlightened and spiritual union, also, as we believe, the present divisions in the Church of Christ, which have led to such lamentable estrangement of real Christians from each other, can be moderated, and eventually extinguished.
Baptist W. Noel.
It is probable there may be some, who would be disposed to regard the very title of a book on
SCHISM' as a sufficient caveat against its perusal. Festus viewed the controversy between Paul, the preacher of Christianity, and the Jews, as consisting in certain questions of their own superstition :' yet the chief among those questions was that which related to 'one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.'
The author of the 'Analogy of Religion to the Constitution and Course of Nature, complained that, in his day, it was taken for granted by many, that Christianity was not so much as a subject of inquiry, having at length been discovered to be a fiction: so that it was treated as if this were an agreed point among all people of discernment, and nothing remained but to hold it up to ridicule, ' by way of taking reprisals for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of the world.'
Since that period, Christianity has been almost
continually assailed by direct attack; as well as exposed to all the contingencies arising from the progress of changes in the condition of society, perhaps of unexampled magnitude and extent. Yet the additional storms of a hundred years, and the
a incessant wear of the flux and reflux of the tide, have only proved more signally than ever, that Christianity is not a work framed by the art of man, and based on the alluvial soil of human tradition—but is the lighthouse which a divine hand has fixed as on a rock, and identified, in regard to its duration, with the primitive granite which constitutes the framework of the earth itself.
Christianity has now so far triumphed over mere intellectual opposition, that it is no longer the fashion to be a freethinker. A philosophy falsely so called, has been compelled to retire abashed from the attempt to give law to men's opinions on the subject of morals. Such writers as Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, and Hume, are no longer currently quoted as the sages of modern times. Infidelity in its open form, has met with a reverse of fortune. It has so far descended in the scale of society, as to stoop to vulgar orgies; and to court applause from those who, unhappily, have been left too much without any other instructor. The empire of the philosophers and encyclopadists on the Continent, also, has been shaken; and, it may be hoped, will never more regain its ascendency.
Yet, it is evident that Christianity has great triumphs still to achieve over literature and science. Once in avowed affinity with unbelief, their transition-state is only, as yet, in its commencement. It is with knowledge, as it is with freedom. We see them both rising from the sepulchre of the middle ages along with pure Christianity, and running parallel with her career; though freedom has been longer in putting off the grave-clothes than learning. But the union of these three, has been slow to form : it is still but partial; and they are not yet one. Freedom, is sometimes found deviating into excess, and attaining to no solid and useful objects, for want of the steady and consistent aim which religious principle would tend to produce. Science, still hesitates to enter into a spontaneous, and unbought, and cordial alliance with the wisdom which is not of this world.' It is the union of Religion, Knowledge, and Freedom, that is wanting, to give moral power to the church of Christ. What a lever would then be in her hand to move the world !-to raise it from the dark gulf of sin and misery, from which it has, as yet, but so partially emerged !
It is a painful reflection, that, by means of her Schisms, the christian church has forged the keenest weapon with which the unbeliever can arm himself against her—a weapon which has a double edge-which both slays the convictions of