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An Address to Methodists and to all other honest Christians,
who conscientiously secede from the Church of England. By the Rev. W. ČOCKBURN, M. A. Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Christian Advocate in that University. 8vo. Pp. 24.
O the merit of good intention the author of this ad
dress may undoubtedly lay a just claim. But while we readily concede thus much, we are unfortunately not able to bestow any further praise. Mr. Cockburn commences his pamphlet with the words of Mr. Hulse the founder of the Institution, to which our Author has been appointed : “ If any error of superstition or enthusiasm, as of Popery or Methodism, either in opinion or practice, shall prevail, it may be necessary for the Christian Advocate to write against the same.
We are, therefore to consider the present address as a compliance with the will of the founder, and as a sort of evidence of Mr. Cockburn's competency to the situation of Christian Advocate.
The preliminary declaration of Mr. Cockburn, how, ever, is very extraordinary, because it is the open avowal of a culpable ignorance of his subject.
“ A few years ago," he says, “ all the many sects who differed from the Church of England were very commonly denominated Methodists: they are now more usually called Dissenters, sometimes Independents, Noncokformists, Separatists, &c. and Methodists are in strict propriety, only one sect of these Dissenters, Since, however, I have been unable to ascertain with accuracy, in what respects they differ from cach other, or what precisely constitutes a Methodist; I shall address myself generally to all those Protestant Christians in this kingdom who separate from the communion of the Church of England, and shall exþort them to weigh well the cause of that separation, most happy if I can prevail on any to return into the bosom of their mother church."
The first assertion is the very reverse of the real fact. Those who were formerly called Dissenters, Noncon: formists, &c. are now generally Methodists. The terms Independents and Separatists are seldom made use of. There are undoubtedly some regular congregations of Dissenters, who are really Independents, as distinguished from the Presbyterian sect, but these are few when com.
pared with the immense shoals of Methodists; and a great number of the most respectable dissenting congre gations have dwindled away and been absorbed in the common vortex of Methodism. Between the Unitarian congregations on the one hand, and the Methodistical on the other, there will be found but few assemblies of Dissenters who had the sound and peaceable tenets of such men as Doddridge, Watts, and Orton. The great est mass of dissentients of the present day, are the Calvinistic and Wesieian Methodists; and this is a fact so generally known, or which might easily have been learnt, that we are surprised how a "Christian Advocate" could sit down to address the various classes of Dissenters without making himself previously acquainted with it.
But it is still more extraordinary that Mr. Cockburn should entitle his pamphlet, " An Address to Methodists and other Dissenters" and yet acknowlege that he has been unable to ascertain with accuracy, in what respects they differ from each other, or what precisely constitutes a Methodist.
It is truly astonishing that any Divine, much more one dignified with the peculiar title of Christian Advocate in a famous University, should be ignorant of the princiciples of the different sectaries, and of the points in which they vary from each other, especially when the sources of informaton are so very common and so very numerous. Nor can we account for Mr. Cockburn's being "unable to ascertain precisely what is a Methodist" since the publications of the Methodists themselves particularly those of their founders, Whitefield and Wesley would have fully satisfied him on that head. If Mr. Cockburn is willing to be further informed on the subject, we would beg leave to recommend to his perusal, Bishop Lavington's "Enthusiasm of the Methodists and Papists compared," and a pamphlet published about two years since, entitled, "A short Vindication of the Established Church; in which the Objections of Methodists and Dissenters are dispassionately considered, by P. Williams, D. D. Archdeacon of Merioneth." [noticed in our fifth volume page 40].
"The three great obstacles to union," says Mr. Cockburn, 46 are our mode of Church government; our using set forms of prayer, instead of extemporaneous effusions; and our forbidding any men to officiate in the Church who have not been regularly
examined and approved and commissioned by those who are in authority."
We are very much mistaken if the discussion of the two former of these points is calculated to produce a proper effect on Methodists. A great number of the Calvinistical part of that body do not openly object either to episcopacy or the liturgy: and in their chapels, as well as in those of the Wesleyan Methodists, the common prayer, though in a garbled form, is made use of. John Wesley himself assumed the episcopal character, and by a strange inconsistency while he continued to profess himself a member of the Church of England, he countenanced a renegado who pretended to be a Greek bishop, and got him to confer the order of priesthood, after a fashion, upon some of his preachers. Nay, Mr. Wesley went so far as to request this Greek, who was called Erasmus, to consecrate him a bishop: which Erasmus refused, alleging that there must be, at least, two other bishops present.
We have said thus much, to shew that Mr. Cockburn has not pointed the weapons of argument against the proper objects. The defence of episcopacy and setforms of prayer may be very well against Dissenters of the old stamp, but the Methodists will urge that their scruples are of another kind. Indeed many of the re gular Dissenters themselves have pretty well got over their objections to a prescribed form of public worship; which is proved by the adoption of what has been called a reformed liturgy in many of their congregations.
As to the arguments made use of in this pamphlet, on the three heads above stated, we certainly have nothing to say against them; though we have not perceived in them any thing new, or peculiarly striking. The two first subjects have been much better and more forcibly treated and proved in the " London Cases," or in Dr. Bennet's judicious abridgment of that valuable work. And as to the impropriety of lay-preaching, it has been more clearly stated, and the sin of encouraging it exposed in Mr. Pearson's tract lately published entitled An Admoni tion against Lay-Preaching."
Two Sermons preached in the Cathedral at Winchester, on the General Thanksgiving, December 5, 1805; and on the General Fast, February 26, 1806. By the Reg. EDMUND POULTER, M. A. 8vo. Pp. 57
HESE discourses are inscribed in a pretty long dedication to the Duke of Cumberland, to whom the author professes himself to be under considerable obligations. It appears from this address as if offence had been taken at something or other said by Mr. Poulter at a public meeting, but it is difficult to guess at the subject from what is here stated. Reference is made to his speech in the Hampshire Chronicle, with the Editor of which, or of some other Journal, Mr. Poulter is very angry indeed, though he " admits his general ability, zeal, and energy." For our parts we have not read the paper in question; and, therefore, can form no opinion of the conduct of its manager. But we are apprehensive that the mode adopted by Mr. Poulter of making the Royal Duke an umpireas, as it were, of the dispute, will not be considered as the most decorous. There is besides a considerable degree of ambiguity and obscurity spread over the matter in the representation which is here given of it, so that it is impossible to judge whether it amounts to a satisfactory statement or not.
We now turn to a view of the discourses, the first of which is on Romans xii. 15. "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
This text was certainly very appropriate to the occasion, but the preacher has neither discussed nor applied it in the happiest manner. The language is inflated, and the argument perplexed. Sometimes there is so much confusion as to render the sense difficult to be understood. What for instance can be made of the following?
"It is sufficient to take from exultation in every case of conquest, that from its nature it cannot be obtained without some sacrifice in the contest. Certainly not more than the common share of victims in number have fallen in this instance; but what is not excessive in the quantity, is extreme in the quality of our suf ferance, by our having sustained one particular loss so extensive in every feeling of our hearts and sense of our minds, that as in the immediate pressure of its rapid attack it burst upon our sensations
with the violent impulse of a sudden inundation, so in the continued course of its gradual advance, it still remains to operate upon our reflections with the wide wasting and long-lasting effects of an overwhelming deluge. It forms an exception to the general truth, that what is violent in degree, is not permanent in duration ; and will no doubt continue to be deplored in itself and in its consequences, so long as our recollection of it, that is, so long as our memory itself shall last. Record shall then supply the place of recollection; and so far from the fame, with the fall of that HÉRO and MARTYR, decreasing, it will increase, with advancing time, in the knowledge and admiration of all successive generations ; and future historians shall read with rapture, mixed with regret, the rise and fall of this brilliant luminary of our social world, who at the acmé of meridian glory became eclipsed in his vertical splendour, by the shadow of death; like that too, being darkened rather than obscured by the superficial veil through which it is still discernible; and when that transient shadow of death shall pass away from it, destined also to revive again in all its returning lustre to everlasting light and life !"
This may be all very fine in the author's imagination, and, no doubt it created no small wonder in the ininds of his hearers. But if any one could form a correct idea of what was meant by this strange coalition of remote images, this accumulation of scientific terms, he must have had more than a common understanding.
When will Christian preachers learn to illustrate and recommend religious truth in its own simple, energetic and perspicuous language? When will they cease to have recourse to the barbarous phraseology of schoolmen, and the puerilities of conceited orators ?
The founder of our holy religion, and his immediate followers did not so preach the awakening doctrine of repentance, nor so explain the saving mysteries of the Christian Revelation. They left it to the Scribes and Pharisees to darken “ counsel by words without knowlege,” while they spake to the people in “ demonstration of the spirit and of power."
We have also to find fault with another particular in the discourses before us. And that is the high strain of panegyric in which the gallant hero of Trafalgaris spoken of. The language of adulation and indefinite praise, ill. suits with the pulpit. None of our fellow countrymen can feel greater respect for the rare inerits of Lord Nelson, than we do. But we have been extremely concerned at the excessive adulation which too many of the published discourses on the day of Thanksgiving contain. In