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THE NEW SCHEME OF EVANGE. LICAL RELIGION.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
A LITTLE work has just issued from the press, labelled on the cover, "The New Scheme of Evangelical Reli. gion," and purporting in its title page to be "a serious Inquiry, addressed to W. Wilberforce Esq., whether the doctrinal, practical, experimental System of the Rev. Legh Richmond is the true, scriptural, evangelical Religion, as it professes to be, while all others are mere assumptions of the title." Mr. Richmond is termed (p. 46) "the author of this system," which is given as follows, in his own words: "Salvation is wholly of faith, from first to last." "The soul that by faith, through grace, is saved without works, obtains an inward principle of love, which must work, cannot but work, and actually does work. The order is thus: First, God loved us; secondly, thence we obtain faith to trust him; thirdly, we are thus saved; fourthly, we therefore love him who first loved us; fifthly, this love produces good thoughts, words, and works, as the fruits, not the root of our salvation." In this statement three serious errors are detected.
Now, sir, I do not desire to fill your pages with controversy; and did I deem it expedient to enter on a lengthened consideration of the writer's mistakes and misconceptions, I should address the public through a different channel: but perhaps it may not be amiss to shew, by two or three brief quotations, that the doctrines of which Mr.Richmond is called the author, even if they be condemned, ought certainly not to be denominated "new."
The first alleged error is in the assertion that "the soul is saved, by faith, through grace, without works," and the prepositions "by" and "without," are conceived to be particularly dangerous. I turn to the
second part of the Homily on Salvation, where I read," St. Ambrose, a Latin author, saith these words: This is the ordinance of God, that they which believe in Christ should be saved without works, by faith only, freely receiving remission of their sins.' Consider diligently these words, without works, by faith only, freely we receive remission of our sins. What can be spoken more plainly, than to say that freely without works, by faith only, we obtain remission of our sins? These, and other like sentences, that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works, we do read ofttimes in the best and most ancient writers." How dreadfully dangerous their works must be! But the Homily soon after adds; and Archbishop Cranmer, I believe, was the writer of it: "This faith the Holy Scripture teacheth us; this is the strong rock and foundation of Christian religion; this, whosoever denieth, is not to be accounted for a Christian man, not for a setter-forth of Christ's glory, but for an adversary to Christ and his Gospel, and for a setter-forth of men's vain-glory."
The next alleged error is found in the statement, that we therefore love God because he, having loved us, has given us faith to trust him, by which we are saved. This implies, says the writer, that we must believe we are saved; a conclusion, he adds, confirmed by Miss Richmond's statement, "The last time my dear father spoke to me on personal religion, he endeavoured to establish my mind in the doctrine of assurance." Miss Richmond's sentence, however, is left unfinish ed; for she proceeds," and he enlarged on its importance, and its tendency to promote both comfort and obedience." She also quotes Archbishop Leighton as "believing that his salvation was safe and settled." Of the Archbishop, however, not a hint is dropped, or simple persons might be inclined to wonder how he could possibly
have known of Legh Richmond's "new system." I turn to the Homily on Faith, like the former the work of Archbishop Cranmer, where I read that faith is not only the common belief of the Articles of our faith, but it is also a true trust and confidence of the mercy of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In the same Archbishop's Catechism of 1548, I read as follows: "By faith we be justified before God (for faith maketh us partakers of the justice of Christ, and planteth us in Christ); and he that by true faith doth receive the promise of grace, to him God giveth the Holy Ghost, by whom charity is spread abroad in our hearts, which performeth all the Commandments. Therefore, he that believeth in Christ, and truly believeth the Gospel, he is just and holy before God, by the justice of Christ, which is imputed and given unto him as Paul saith: We think that man is justified by faith without works. He is also just before the world, because of the love and charity which the Holy Ghost maketh in his heart. Secondly, faith worketh peace and quietness in our hearts and consciences. For by faith we be certain that our sins he forgiven. Therefore, saith St. Paul to the Romans, being justified, we have peace and quietness with God, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Thirdly, this peace bringeth unto us a great and singular joy in our hearts and consciences, and maketh us, for this exceeding benefit of God's mercy and grace towards us, fervently to love him, gladly to laud and praise him, to honour his name, and to profess the same before all the world, evermore to give unto him most hearty thanks, and to be swift and ready to do all things that may please God, and to eschew those things that may displease him." Again, in the same Catechism, "The Holy Ghost doth assure and warrant us that our sins be for given, and that our pardon is signed with God's seal."-One quotation more. Bishop Jewell (Defence of
the Apology, p. 66, fol, edit.) says, "Two other great quarrels Master Harding moveth: the one, of only faith; the other, as he calleth it, of the presumptuous certainty of salvation....Concerning the assurance or certainty of salvation, the Scrip, tures are full....St. Cyprian saith, 'And dost thou stagger, and stand in doubt of thy salvation? That were as much as not to know God; that were as much as, with the sin of unbelief, to offend Christ, the Master of believers, that were as much as being in the church, in the house of faith, to have no faith,' It is most true that St. Paul saith (Phil. ii.), We must work our own salvation with fear and trembling ;' but this fear riseth in consideration of our own weakness and unworthiness; not of any distrust or doubt in God's mercy; but rather the less cause we find to trust in ourselves, the more cause we have to trust in God. Thus Mr. Harding, to be assured of our salvation, St. Augustine saith, It is no arrogant stoutness; it is our faith. It is no pride; it is devotion. It is no presumption; it is God's promise."
The third error of Mr. Richmond's invention, is, that "the soul....obtains an inward principle of love, which must work, cannot but work, and actually does work." The Homily on Faith says, "Faith doth not lie dead in the heart, but is lively and fruitful in bring ing forth good works.... As the light cannot be hid, but will shew forth itself at one place or other; so a true faith cannot be kept secret; but when occasion is offered, it will break out and shew itself by good works. And as the living body of a man ever exerciseth such things as belong to a natural and living body, for nourishment and preservation of the same, as it hath need, opportunity, and occasion; even to the soul that hath a lively faith in it, will be doing alway some good work, which shall declare that it is living, and will not be unoccupied."
A multitude of similar passages, Mr. Editor, might be readily ad
duced, I have hastily transcribed only a few of those that first occurred to my recollection. Was, then, Mr. Richmond, the inventor of the doctrines he maintained?-doctrines, which it seems the Reformers, in opposition to the Church of Rome, maintained were the doctrines of the fathers and of the Apostles. If Mr. Richmond invented these, he has been as hardly treated as he, of unlucky memory, who, whenever he said a good thing, was sure to find that those atrocious ancients had been stealing his thoughts.
CRITICAL REMARK ON GAL. ii. 14.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
ST. Paul, when giving to the Galatian Church an account of the reproof, which on one occasion he administered to St. Peter, makes use of an expression, the full force of which appears to me to have escaped the notice of commentators. "When," he says (Gal. ii. 14), "I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter, before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as the Jews?" The offence of St. Peter, as stated in a preceding verse, consisted in withdrawing and separating himself from the Gentiles, and refusing to eat with
them. How can he be said to have, by this conduct, compelled the Gentile converts to Judaize? This question is answered by the commentators generally (such as Grotius, Erasmus, Calvin, &c.), by saying that the word "compel " is used here rather metaphorically than strictly; and means that as far as his example and authority went, he was the cause of their supposing that the ceremonial law of Moses was still in force, and consequently of their seeking to be conformed to it. But surely when reproving an erring brother, the Apostle would take especial care not to use exaggerated language, or appear to magnify the offence. And in truth, there is no reason for lowering the strict import of the word "compel." For by separating himself from the Gentiles, and inducing other Jews to follow his example (v. 13), St. Peter cut them off from Christian communion with the church. If the Gentiles were not allowed to "eat with" the Jews, how could they partake of the Lord's Supper? So that if St. Peter, and the others, had persisted in this line of conduct, they would have positively and really compelled every Gentile convert to Judaize.
I trust that this criticism, though a verbal one, is not unimportant; as it seems to defend St. Paul from the charge of exaggerating St. Peter's offence, and to throw additional light on the necessity which existed for his powerful and earnest remonstrance with his erring brother. Y. S.
M. FELLENBERG, HIS SCHOOLS AND PLANS.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
M. FELLENBERG's name has long been known amongst those who
have entered into the details of philanthropy. Education, which embraces some of the first considerations that should interest humanity, has been his chief study for many years. I have endeavoured to place his experiments in a clear
light, because it appears to me, that he has attended to important particulars that we, in England, have too generally in our practice overlooked. My aim has been to pourtray the excellencies of his system; particularly in its bearings on the moral of education, the development of the character, and the well-being of society. So much has been said in his favour, that had I been disposed to indulge in personal panegyric, my encomia would have been needless. Consistency, however, calls upon me to state what, with all my respect and affection for M. Fellenberg, I must deeply lament, that, according to my views, he has not given to the inculcation of Christian doctrine the vantage ground it should occupy. We must receive the doctrine of Christ as God, as well as order our conduct according to the example of Christ as man. It is true, that "if any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine :" but the will of God is, that we renounce our own wills. In this respect, our adorable Redeemer has set us an example; for, as our Mediator, he declares, that He did not come to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent him. "The wisdom of God," "in whose presence no flesh shall glory," is in a mystery: and the natural repugnance of the unrenewed heart cordially to accept of Jesus Christ as a Saviour from the guilt and power of sin prompts man, when he may not be disposed altogether to reject the authority of inspiration, to set up human works as a meritorious title to an interest in the mercies of the Gospel. Thus, putting what he conceives to be a most reasonable construction upon the text of Scripture, he creates confusion in the whole; for even morality cannot be perfect in its principle without a full submission of the affections and of the understanding to the will of God. Howsoever it may be disguised, our pride and corruption are opposed to the message of salvation, as much as
was the pride of the Jews of old. They were unwilling, as we by nature are, to surrender themselves to the obedience of faith. They were determined not to acknowledge themselves, what all still are, helpless in themselves, and guilty as sinners: "For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
If then, on most essential points, many sincere members of the Church of England, and of the Christian church generally, must, like myself, differ from our amiable and venerable philanthropist, it must be expected that we could not acquiesce in all his arrangements, however highly we might approve of some of his plans. We could not but wish that the Sunday were spent in another manner from what it is at Hofwyl. We should add many books to the libraries, and abstract some. We should have grace said aloud at meals, although, as is objected, a solemn attention might not always be paid to a commonly repeated form." Our decided attachment to the doctrines of the Reformation would also prevent us from supporting a seminary that would be unobjectionable in its regulations to Roman Catholics. A variety of other particulars might be adduced in which we could not conscientiously follow M. Fellenberg: but, in order to avail ourselves of the fruits of his experience, it is by no means necessary that we should think with him on all subjects: and his sentiments will be fairly explained by himself, in a long extract from one of his letters, which I have inserted. It was formerly reported that he was a Deist; and, latterly, that he is a Socinian. These imputations he resists; and he put into my hands a work, in the preface of which it is stated, that he
is a zealous Christian, and conforms to the ceremonies of the Church of Geneva, in which he was
educated." The Judge of all knows precisely in what degree any man may have been blinded by the fatal errors that have crept into that church. But we are forbidden by the apostolic rule of charity to magnify the declensions of those who seem to have imbibed heterodox tenets, by styling them what they will not allow themselves to be. By thus representing them, whether truly or falsely, we widen breaches and prevent appeals to truth from being heard. Let us not "prophecy deceit," and say, "Peace, where there is no peace;" for smooth names will profit nothing in the day of wrath; but let us also be cautious how we apply, to even erring individuals, the stigma of designations with which only the most mistaken and corrupt can be pleased.
I have not, in the sequel, noticed any of the objections that might be raised against M. Fellenberg's plans; neither have his agricultural experiments been referred to, except as they have a connexion with his other efforts. Nor have I hazarded an opinion on the practicability or expediency of forming similar institutions to his in other places; but it must be borne in mind, that he greatly attributes his own success, particularly amongst his indigent scholars, to their being withdrawn from the contamination of vicious example, and to the comparative state of seclusion in which they live.
It is hoped, that these papers may be the medium of conveying some useful hints to those who are professionally engaged in tuition, and to those who are desirous of promoting, from the highest of motives, the welfare of the rising generation of the British empire, including, especially, that of IRELAND. The statistics of Hofwyl have, from time to time, been detailed in various publications in French and German: those which I have seen in English are few, and are out of print.
I shall offer my remarks to your readers under three heads; - the first
referring principally to Hofwyl and its founder; the second, embracing a sketch of his principles of education, illustrated by his practice; and the third, describing Maykirk and the colony of the Linth. Both Hofwyl and Maykirk are situated in the canton of Berne in Switzerland, and belong to M. Fellenberg. The colony of the Linth, where his principles of education have been acted upon, is in the canton of Glarus.
The domain of Hofwyl has been compared, not unaptly, to a landscape in a frame-work of mountains. To its south-east, above a range presenting bold projections, some of the loftiest of the Alps are to be descried. Many leagues apart from, and opposite to, these a chain of the Juras upholds another grand boundary to the view. Between such towering barriers, and nearly encir cled by eminences of comparatively humble altitude, wearing for the most part on their brows a belt of wood, stands, on a gently undulat ing tract, the institution of Hofwyl. Two small lakes, meadows, and a few rural habitations, just shewing themselves amongst their orchards, adorn and diversify its immediate vicinage. Adjoining Hofwyl, is the village of Buchsée, which offers the accommodation of one small inn. Berne, the capital of the canton, is six miles distant.
The climate of Hofwyl is bracing and healthy; and its temperature is not subject to such extremes as are experienced in some parts of Switzerland. The soil, being of dif ferent qualities, is favourable to the illustration of agricultural science. Near the lakes, the land has required much drainage.
In 1799, M. Emanuel de Fellenberg secured the estate for the prosecution of his plans of enlightened benevolence. It consisted, then, of rather less than two hundred acres, on which he found a convenient well-built chateau, or country-house, and the usual erections for a farm.