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pleasant ; but when brought out in writing or public speaking, seemed to have another kind of temper. If you will bear with me, I will suggest that this seems to be the case with the Editor of • The Christian Baptist.' As a man, in private circles, mild, pleasant, and affectionate ; as a writer, rigid and satirical beyond all the bounds of Scripture allowance. I have taken • The Christian Baptist,' now from its beginning—i. e. I have read them from their first publication, and my opinion has been uniformly the same. That, although sensible, and edited with ability, it has been deficient in a very important point-a New Testament spirit. It will not do to say there are hard sayings to be found in the Scriptures. True ; but that is far from being the general tenor of them. These hard expressions are to be found only at the end of long forbearance, and then they are not contrary to the spirit of Christianity. This, may I
is the most serious objection to the · Debate on Baptism. The book exhibits baptism in a most lucid point, sufficient, I should think, to convince every Paido-Baptist that may ever read it; but the bitterness of the expressions uniformly blind their minds with resentment, so as to stop up the entrance to truth. You will say it was but a retort to more bitter things from the other side. I answer, error requires no such defence. Hence the persecutions of every age have been on the side of error; but truth, holy truth, with God on its side, requires no such support. 'Tis a tender plant that dwindles under such rough culture. So much for forbearance, gentleness, &c.
Your opinions on some other points are, I think, dangerous, unless you are misunderstood, such as casting off the Old Testamentexploding experimental religion in its common acceptationdenying the existence of gifts in the present day, commonly believed to exist among all spiritual Christians, such as preaching, &c. Some other of your opinions, though true, are pushed to extremes, such as those upon the use of creeds, confessions, &c. &c. Your views of ministerial support, directed against abuses on that head, would be useful ; but, levelled against all support to ministers, (unless by way of alms,) is so palpably contrary to Scripture and common justice, that I persuade myself that there must be some misunderstanding. In short, your views are generally so contrary to those of Baptists in general, that if a party was to go fully into the practice of your principles, I should say a new sect had sprung up, radically different from the Baptists as they now are. But I have almost gotten through my paper with finding fault-an article, too, that I have not heretofore dealt much in. Shall I close by telling you that we all feel much interest in your welfare personally ?—that your mild and sociable manners, &c., procured among us not respect only, but brotherly love and Christian affection ; and that much of your preaching was admired for its eloquence and excellency; and that, if you would dwell upon these great points chiefly—such as faith, hope, charity, &c., you would be viewed by us as having a special command from Him, whom we hope you love, to feed his lambs and his sheep. By way of apology for you, and a small compliment to our folks, I was really struck, while you were among us, that the acrimonious treatment you had received from others had pushed you to certain severities and singularities, which, if you
dwelt among us, you would relinquish. This letter is designed as a private correspondence ; but if any good should arise from its publication, I should have no objections, provided it came out wholly.
“ Your's affectionately,
“ R. B. S.”
REPLY. “ Very Dear Sir,—Being very sensible that sundry items in your letter are matters of general importance, and of general interest, after due deliberation on its contents, I considered it my duty to lay it before the public; and had it not been that you wished, in case of its publication, that it should wholly appear, I would have suppressed certain complimentary expressions, which, however kind the motives which dictated them, are more flattering on your part than deserving on mine. The benevolent and Christian spirit which appears in every sentence, while it explains and seasons your commendations, gives weight and emphasis to your censures. The latter, however, are those in which I am most concerned, and in which most will agree in opinion with you. To myself, indeed, they are ceptable, having long since learned that the rebukes of a friend are faithful, while the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
" I have no design to plead not guilty to the whole of your corrections—nor do I say that I do not need some of your reproofs and admonitions — but I have some explanations to offer, and misunderstandings to correct, which, I believe, will be as acceptable to you as they are necessary for the sake of others.
“ To pay due regard to the sundry items in your letter, I shall follow the order in which they appear, and, in the first place, you say, “ So far as I can judge by your writings and preaching, you are substantially a Sandemanian, or Haldanite.' This is substantially affirmed of me by many who have never seen nor read one volume of the writings of Sandeman er Haldane ; and with the majority it has great weight, who attach to these names something as heretical and damnable as the tenets of Cerinthus and the Nicolatains. I have not myself ever read all the works of these men, but I have read more of them than I approve, and more of them than they who impute to me their opinions as heresy. I was, some fourteen years ago, a great admirer of the works of John Newton. I read them with great delight--and I still love the author, and admire many of his sentiments. He was not a staunch Episcopalian, though he died in that connexion. In an apology to a friend for his departure from the tenets of that sect in some instances, he said, “Whenever he found a pretty feather in any bird, he endeavoured to attach it to his own plumage ; and, although he had become a very speckled bird—so much so that no one of any one species would altogether own him as belonging to them, he flattered himself that he was the prettiest bird among them. From that day to the present I have been looking for pretty feathers, and I have become more speckled than Newton of Olney ; but whether I have as good taste in the selection, must be decided by connoisseurs in ornithology.
Concerning Sandeman and Haldane, how they can be associated under one species is to me a matter of surprise. The former a Paido-Baptist, the latter a Baptist-the former as keen, as sharp, as censorious, as acrimonious as Juvenal—the latter as mild, as charitable, as condescending as any man this age has produced. As authors I know them well. The one is like the mountain storm that roars among the cliffs--the other like the balmy zephyrs that breathe upon banks of violets. That their views were the same on some points is as true as that Luther, Calvin, and Wesley agreed in many points.
“ I was once much puzzled on the subject of · Hervey's Dialogues'-I mean his Theron and Apasio. I appropriated one winter season for examining this subject. I assembled all the leading writers of the day on these subjects. I laid before me Robert Sandeman, Hervey, Marshall, Bellamy, Glas, Cudworth, and others of minor fame in this controversy. I not only read, but studied, and wrote off in miniature their respective views. I had Paul and Peter, James and John, on the same table : I took nothing upon trust. I did not care for the authority, reputation, or standing of one of the systems a grain of sand. I never weighed the consequences of embracing any one of the systems as affecting my standing or reputation in the world. Truth (not who says it) was my sole object. I found much entertainment in the investigation; and I will not blush, nor do I fear to say, that, in this controversy, Sandeman was like a giant among dwarfs. He was like Samson with the gates
and posts of Gaza on his shoulders. I was the most prejudiced against him, and the most in favour of Hervey, when I commenced this course of reading. Yet I now believe that not one of them was exactly on the track of the Apostles. I have also read · Fuller's Strictures' on Sandemanianism, which I suppose to be the medium of most of the information possessed on that subject in this country. This is the poorest performance Andrew Fuller ever gave to the world. I have not read it for a long time : it is on the shelves of my library—but I will not, at this time, brush the dust off it. If I remember right, he concedes every thing in the first two or three pages which he censures in the rest of his work, except it be the spirit of the system. And the fact is, (which, indeed, he indirectly acknowledges,) that Andrew Fuller was indebted more to John Glas and Robert Sandeman than to any two men in Britain for the best part of his views. I will not here pause to inquire whether he wrote those strictures to save himself from the obloquy of being called a Sandemanian, as some conjecture, or whether he wrote them to give a blow to Archibald M‘Lean, of Edinburgh, who had driven him from the arena some years before, but I will say it is a very poor production, and proves nothing that either Robert Sandeman or Archibald M'Lean felt any concern in opposing.
But, my dear Sir, while I am pretty well acquainted with all this controversy, since John Glas was excommunicated by the High Church of Scotland for preaching that Christ's kingdom is not of this world, which is now more than a century ago—and while I acknowledge myself a debtor to Glas, Sandeman, Hervey, Cudworth, Fuller, and M‘Lean, as much as to Luther, Calvin, and John Wesley-I candidly and unequivocally avow,
that I do not believe that any one of them had clear and consistent views of the Christian religion as a whole. Some of them, no doubt, had clear and correct views of some of its truths—nay, of many of them—but they were impeded in their inquiries by a false philosophy and metaphysics, which fettered their own understanding in some of the plainest things. For instance, with the exception of Fuller and M‘Lean, they all contended for the popish rite of baby baptism or sprinkling. As to James Haldane, I am less indebted to him than most of the others. I was much prejudiced against his views and proceedings when in Scotland, owing to my connexion with those who were engaged in a controversy with his brother Robert, and against the system in general. I have, since my arrival in this country, read some two or three pieces from his pen ; one in favour of infant baptism, and one against it—and some others which I do not recollect. I have heard a great deal of him and his brother Robert, from
members of their connexion, who have emigrated to this country -and, while I do not believe that there lives upon the earth a more godly, pious, primitive Christian than James Haldane, of Edinburgh, and few, if any, more generally intelligent in the Christian Scripture, you express my views of that system generally. Being possessed of a very large estate, and connected by marriage with some of the most illustrious families of North Britain, these two brothers, especially the elder, had much in
From the best information I have gathered, Robert Haldane has expended something like 400,000 dollars in what he deemed to be the cause of the Redeemer, and, no doubt, will have his reward. He now sees and acknowledges that much of this money, though benevolently appropriated, was misapplied. He had at one time a great notion for training poor and pious young men for the gospel ministry'—and I think, in a few years, he had some fifty or sixty educated, boarded, and equipped for the field at his own expense. Many of those, without the spirit of their master, became just such spirited men as you describe. Some of them, too, excellent men, caught the spirit of Robert Sandeman, and became fierce as lions in the garb of lambs—Hyper-Calvinists, Separatists, with whom tenth or ten thousandth broke the chain alike. No matter if an agreement existed in nine hundred and ninety-nine opinions, if in the thousandth there was a difference, the chain was severed, and they were to one another as heathen men and publicans.
“ While I thus acknowledge myself a debtor to those persons, I must say that the debt, in most instances, is a very small one. I am indebted, upon the whole, as much to their errors as to their virtues--for these have been to me as beacons to the mariner, who might otherwise have run upon the rocks and shoals. And although it is a catachrisis to say that a sailor is indebted to those who have fallen upon rocks, on which he might have been wrecked had not others before him been unfortunate in this way, yet I must acknowledge that the largest amount of my debts is of this kind, though, in some instances, I have been edified and instructed by their labours.
" For the last ten years I have not looked into the works of any of these men, and have lost the taste which I once had for controversial reading of this sort. And during this period my inquiries into the Christian religion have been almost exclusively confined to the holy Scriptures. And I can assure you that the Scriptures, when made their own interpreter, and accompanied with earnest desires to the author of these writings, have become, to me, a book entirely new, and unlike what they were when read and consulted as a book of reference. I call no