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consider ? If you are upright, what can you dread from a calm inquiry? Is any thing so precious as truth? Will any thing else so tend to advance the honour of God and the real interests of man? What is it to you as sincere, benevolent, patriotic, just—what is it to you if this compact should prove a grand mistake, and of the essence of that Popery which so alarms? If it be so, why should you be afraid to see and to say that it is so ? Look now with an eye seeking, not arguments in support of it at all events, and how you shall maintain your side but just what is truth. Examine as having a greater interest in ascertaining this, than in maintaining any party. Discriminate while you inquire, and charge against us nothing that we disown. It is not the church established that is condemned, but the legislative establishment of that or any other church. With what may be peculiar to the established church, or deemed objectionable in it, we have now nothing to do. They may be matters for discussion, and some of them possibly for reprobation, but they would not be matters for complaint if the public were not forced to sustain them. The members of the established church have an equal right with others to choose their creed, and ought not to be unkindly taunted with their choice, however it may differ from the choice of others. We raise no question except in the name of that equitable liberty, which cannot be infringed without injury to the common weal. Our only proposition is, that to establish religion by law, (the state determining what it shall be, and appointing its ministers, and allotting their remuneration,) is in principle wrong, and in practice injurious. Popery there is in the bud, and waits only the full sunshine of state favour to become its ripe and ready fruit. Seeing that the principle of Popery, and of all coercive establishments of religion are one, as we have shown, must it not be so? And can you cherish the principle in one case which you condemn in another? If the ascendancy of Popery is to be dreaded, and if the principle of coercion, which is the essence of Popery, is the principle of every state church, as no one will or can deny it is, what can remain, as the clear dictate of heaven and safeguard of our common liberty, but that perfect voluntaryism, under equally protecting laws, for which we contend?
But have you fears? Can you not trust this perfect voluntaryism? Have you some secret misgiving as to its full sufficiency? Some surviving notion of a happy mean? Some midway resting place between it and a sanction of the worst intolerance ? Do you imagine still, that in some way or other, the coercive principle has served the truth? Consider now if what we affirm is not true, when we say whaterer excellent clergymen and laymen in our own establishments, and we might add excellent Roman Catholics in papal states, have done in reclaiming the bad or helping the good, they have done under information, and feelings, and influence in no manner or degree derivable from the circumstance that the church to which they belonged was estab
lished by law. The good that has been done and is doing by such individuals is of pure free will, and would be done by them with equal or greater energy and freer scope were the church to be dissevered from the state. Are Episcopalians in Scotland or America less orthodox, and pious, and benevolent, and active, than those of England ? Or Presbyterians in England and America inferior in character and usefulness to those of Scotland, or exemplary Roman Catholics in Ireland less numerous than where Popery is the law ? Voluntaryism is the field, in fact, within every established church, where good churchmen are reaping a righteous and abundant harvest. Nothing is more irrefutable than that the state arrangement has permitted the population of this country, where that arrangement has been least disturbed, to grow up in brutal ignorance, while, on the other hand, wherever voluntaryism has had a footing, light and morals have advanced. If voluntaryism has not proved adequate to instruct and elevate the people generally, it is unproved that, with a fair field, it is inadequate to do so. Hitherto the rank, and with it the wealth, and glitter, and talent of the country, have been invited to the established church in the names of honour, respectability, fashion, and profit, and repelled from the voluntaries in the names of fanaticism, vulgarity, and ignorance. What honest mind, therefore, on reflection, must not be indignant at the want of candour that charges inadequacy upon a principle that has been denied fair exercise, and that despises as mean what force alone has made so ?
Fellow-countrymen, judge candidly. We plead for no party. We deprecate not your condemnation, if honestly awarded. But beware of hearing or reading only one side, of forming your opinions of the voluntaries and their ministry, with the spirit and practices prevailing amongst them, from the lips or writings of their opponents, however respectable, much less of those whose obvious aim is to bring them into disrepute. Away with all frivolous objections, especially objections that are unjust as well as frivolous, and could not be made if the law were equal, and did not create the matters objected to! It is true that to worship God, as conscience may dictate, if conscience disapprove of the state mode, is to be degraded, to be under odium and suspicion. It is true, most true, alas ! too true; and herein is found one of the strongest objections to a state church, from which, of very necessity, however stringent its verbal guards, or excellent its forms, nothing is so little repelled as hypocrisy, and by which nothing is so little encouraged as honesty.
Whether we look then at the principle or its effects, there is only evil, while from voluntaryism there is not only nothing to fear, but, except it and the constant peril of Popish triumph, there is no alternative. To cherish the principle of a state church is, at best, to cherish a sleeping adder.
Awake, then, fellow-countrymen! and, in the name of truth, in the name of all that is direful in error, in the name of all that is to be found or feared of evil and thraldom in Popery, rest not until this principle shall be repudiated by the same public authority which now sustains it, and may else become its burning brand. Slight the warning, and the members of that same church which is now established, may, ere long, with all except ascendant Papists, be consigned, as all dissentients from that church are now consigned, as schismatics to political degradation, and the good and zealous amongst them obstructed in the labours which they deem, and which are, most honourable to religion, and most useful to men.
Examine then this matter, and finding it to be as we have represented, slumber not until it shall be legislatively recognized, that no sect in the body politic shall be dominant by law.
Until this recognition take place, the proud aims of Popery are sanctioned by a voice from throne and bench, and incited by the sanction; and its progress, already sufficiently perceptible, will gather both rapidity and force. In a measure free from trammels that formerly restricted, and with a golden prize in view, its ambition is fired, its hopes revived, its energies quickened, while the forces of its best and ablest opponents are weakened in the way. Then awake and know that all coercion in religion is anti-Christ, for to to coerce there must be this world's power, this world's sword; and Christ has affirmed for the guidance of all who wish to know and do His will, “My kingdom is not of this world—if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight”—then would the sword of civil power enforce its laws, and magistrates now, like the rulers of the dispensation which has “vanished away,” be constituted vindicators of divine authority, and “every transgression and disobedience" of the assumed code of heaven “receive a just recompense of reward.” Then—then !-Ye whose appeal is from earth to heaven, from the servants to the Master, from human tradition to sacred writ-ye who admit the New Testament to be the latest and sufficient summary of divine enactments !--ponder that word
, " THEN !”
A CRITICAL INQUIRY INTO THE MODE OF
CHRISTIAN BAPTISM, Mention is made in many passages of the New Testament of some peculiar benefit bestowed by Jesus Christ on those who trusted in him, which is called the spirit, or the holy spirit. When on one occasion he had invited the multitude of his hearers to come to him, and had promised to those who obeyed, that from within them perennial streams should arise, the Evangelist adds, “ He spake this concerning the spirit, which they who trusted to him would soon receive ; for as yet there was not this holy spirit, because Jesus was not yet raised to glory.” John vii. 39.
It may be asked what was the nature of this
heavenly gift, and in what did it differ from the spiritual blessings, which were commonly received and recognized under the former dispensation? At no period of time have any attained to goodness and piety, without the exercise of a Divine power on their minds, which they felt to be necessary, and sought by prayer. That man cannot rise unaided to the possession and practice of virtue, was acknowledged by the wisest and best of the heathen philosophers. This truth lies at the basis of all piety; for religion can no more have self for its support than it can have self for its object. The first desire of all who awake to a consciousness of what they are, and to a conviction of what they ought to be, is expressed by the language of the Psalmist, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps. li. 10. The very terms employed to represent the special blessing of Christianity occur in the Old Testament, though in a different sense. Thus, in the psalm from which the prayer quoted is taken, we find this also, “Take not thy holy spirit from me.” ver. 11. According to the statement of St. John, this could not be the holy spirit of the Gospel. Before the exaltation of the Saviour, there was the communication of a certain Divine influence to those who in sincerity and uprightness prayed for it; but there was some other and better communication of Divine influence subsequent to his ascension. While the terms holy spirit are used in the Old Testament to designate a Divine influence in general, producing what is good in the minds of men, and making them holy; in the New Testament these terms, when not used for a Divine person, commonly denote that special Divine influence, which produces the peculiar excellence and happiness of the true Christian.
To an attentive reader of the Bible it will be evident, that while there
a perfect harmony between the Old and New Testament, there is yet much difference, in the amount of truth they disclose, in the kind of motives which they most frequently present, and in the character of the piety which they generally exhibit. In the former, the representations of the Divine Being are chiefly such as are fitted to awaken reverence; their own present interest is the consideration most frequently employed to lead men to the performance of what is right; and they who feared the Lord and kept his commandments seem, in no small degree, to have depended on outward circumstances for their peace and happiness. The mission of the Redeemer introduced and established a higher and happier system. When we consider the character of Jesus Christ, we feel that God is love ; we see in his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, that the law we have so often broken is just, and kind, and good ; and from his sufferings we learn, that it is through darkness and sorrow that our pathway lies to realms of unclouded light and endless joy. The importance of these truths is declared by our Lord, when he said, “This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John xvii. 3. But this know
ledge is only the means employed by Christ for effecting the salvation of his followers. His power imparts to the truth its saving efficacy. They who trust to him receive from him the spirit of adoption. He forms their dispositions and characters that they may resemble him. They tread in his footsteps, they have fellowship with him in suffering, they are conformed to his death, and they experience the power of his resurrection. Then, with the spirit of their Lord, they are enabled to regard God with the cheerful and confiding affection of his children; they obey his commands because they love him and his service; they value the simple assurance of his favour more than all outward prosperity ; and they can even exult in their afflictions. They are purified, not only from the sins in which they once indulged, but also from the distrust and despondency, the low motives of fear and interest, which, in some measure, characterized the servants of God under inferior privileges. In the possession of filial faith and love, they evince that the saints of Jesus, they who are consecrated by him and for him, partake of a purifying far more noble and desirable than aught belonging to the former dispensation. “When we were minors, we were as servants, subject to elementary instruction of a worldly nature; but when the appointed season arrived, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born in subjection to the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might become his children. Now because ye are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into your hearts, which calls him, Father, Father! Therefore thou art no longer a servant, but a son.” Gal. iv. 3.
The communication of this holy spirit, and the happy effects thence resulting to the world, were the subjects of prophecy for many hundred years before the coming of our Lord. When John described the work which Jesus would accomplish, contrasting it with the inferior and preparatory work which he himself had to perform, he spoke of this as its great and peculiar excellence, that Christ would, in some manner, change the minds of men by the spirit he communicated to them. It should be observed, that in all his declarations respecting the baptism of the spirit, Jesus Christ is spoken of as the agent. There was a baptism performed by John, and another performed by our Lord himself. The body was the subject of the former baptism, the mind of the latter. The one was effected with water, the other with a holy influence.* The spirit
* While in some passages the terms Spirit and Holy Spirit are used personally, for the other Comforter promised by Jesus Christ, the manifestation of the Divine Being in the minds of men; in other passages it is evident, that these terms are used, not for God, but for that which he bestows. Thus it is in the passage quoted from the Evangelist,“ as yet there was not this holy spirit ;" and in the exhortation of St. Paul, “Quench not the spirit.” &c. The statement that Christ is the agent in the baptism of the spirit, and the association of the spirit with fire and water, together with the use of èv and the absence of the article, prove that aveüua, in connexion with baptism, is to be interpreted for the gift of a holy influence, and not for the giver.