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Principles of a Methodist,
OCCASIONED BY THE REV, MR. CHURCH'S SECOND LETTER
TO MR. WESLEY,
IN A SECOND LETTER TO THAT GENTLEMAN.
REVEREND SIR, 1. AT the time that I was reading your former letter, I expected to hear from you again. And I was not displeased with the expectation; believing it would give me a fresh opportunity of weighing the sentiments I might have too lightly espoused, and the actions which, perhaps, I had not enough considered. Viewing things in this light, I cannot but esteem you, not an enemy, but a friend; and one, in some respects, better qualified to do me real service than those whom the world accounts so; who may be hindered by their prejudice in my favour, either from observing what is reprovable, or from using that freedom and plainness of speech, which are requisite to convince me of it.
2. It is at least as much with a view to learn myself, as to shew others (what I think) the Truth, that I intend to set down a few reflections on some parts of the Tract you have lately published. I say, some parts; for it is not my design to answer every sentence in this, any more than in the former. Many things I pass over, because I think them true; many more, because I think them not material; and some, because I am determined not to engage in a useless, if not hurtful controversy.
3. Fear indeed is one cause of my declining this: fear (as I said elsewhere *) not of my adversary, but of myself. ' I fear my own spirit, lest “ I fall where many mightier have been slain.”. I never knew one (or but one) man write controversy with what I thought a right spirit. Every disputant seems to think (as every soldier) that he may hurt his opponent as much as he can; nay, that he ought to do his worst to him, or he cannot make the best of his own cause : that so he do not belie, or wilfully misrepresent him, he must expose him as much as he is able. It is enough, we suppose, if we do not shew heat' or passion against our adversary. But, not to despise him, or endeavour to make others do so, is quite a work of supererogation.
4. But ought these things to be so ? (I speak on the Christian scheme.) Ought we not to love our neighbour as ourselves? And does a man cease to be our neighbour, because he is of a different opinion ? Nay, and declares himself to be ? Ought we not, for all this, to do to him as we would he should do to us?, But do we ourselves love to be exposed, or set in the worst light ? Would we willingly be treated with contempt? If not, why do we treat others thus? And yet, who scruples it? Who does not hit every blot he can, however foreign to the merits of the cause? Who, in controversy, casts the mantle of love over the nakedness of his brother? Who keeps steadily and uniformly to the question, without ever striking at the person? Who shews in every sentence, that he loves his brother only less than the truth?
5. I fear neither you nor I have attained to this. I be. lieve brotherly love might have found a better construction than that of unfairness, art, or disingenuity, to have put either on my' not answering every part of your book, (a" thing which never once entered my thoughts,) or on my not
* In the Preface to the Answer to Mr. Tucker.
reciting all the words of those parts which I did answer. I cannot yet perceive any blame herein. I still account it fair and ingenuous, to pass over both what I believe is right, and what I believe is not dangerously wrong. Neither can I see any disingenuity at all, in quoting only that part of any sentence, against which I conceive the objection lies : nor in abridging any part of any treatise to which I reply, whether in the author's, or in my own words.
6. If indeed it were so abridged as to alter the sense, this would be unfdir. And if this were designedly done, it would be artful and disingenuous. But I am not con- . scious of having done this at all; although you speak as if I had done it a thousand times. And yet I cannot undertake now, either to transcribe your whole book, or every page or paragraph, which I answer. But I must generally abridge before I reply: and that not only to save time (of which I have none to spare) but often to make the argument clearer, which is best understood when couched in few words.
7. You complain also, of my mentioning all at once, sentences which you placed at a distance from each other I do so; and I think it quite fair and ingenuous, to lay together what was before scattered abroad. For instance : you now speak of the conditions of justification, in the 18th and following pages : again, from the 89th to the 102d: and yet again, in the 127th page. Now I have not leisure to follow you to and fro. Therefore what I say on one head, I set in one place.
1.1. This premised, I come to the letter itself. I begin; as before, with the case of the Moravians : of whom you say, *“ I collected together the character which you had given of these men; the errors and vices which you had
charged upon them, and the mischiefs--they had done · among your followers. And I proved, that, in several réspects, you had been the occasion of this mischief; and are therefore, in some measure, accountable for it. Let us
wana maana * Mr. Church's words are inserted between inverted commas.
see what answer you give to all this.” Second Letter, page 79. .6 With regard to the denying degrees in faith, you mentioned, that “the Moravian church was cleared from this mistake.' But did you not mention this as one of the tenets of the Moravians ? Do you not sày, that you could not agree with Mr. Spangenberg, that none has any faith, so long as he is liable to any doubt or fear?' Do not you represent Mr. Molther, and other Moravians in England, as teaching the same? In short, I have not charged the Moravian church with any thing; but only repeat after you. And if you have accused them, when you knew them to be guiltless, you must bear the blame.
666 They do use the ordinances of God with reverence and godly fear.'-You have charged Mr. Spangenberg and Mr. Molther with teaching, that we ought to abstain from them. And the same you say in general of the Moravian brethren, in your Letter to them. But Mr. Molther was quickly after recalled into Germany. This might be on other accounts. You do not say it was out of any dislike of his doctrines or proceedings. Nor indeed can you, consistently with your next words: “The great fault of the Moravian church seems to lie, in not openly disclaiming all he had said: which, in all probability, they would have done, had they not leaned to the same opinion. ..
66 You never knew but one of the Moravian church affirm, that a believer does not grow in holiness. But who was this? No less a person than Count Zinzendorf, their great bishop and patron, whose authority is very high, all in all with them, and to whom you think they pay too much regard.”
2. This is the whole of your reply to this part of my answer. I will now consider it, part by part.
First, “ With regard to the denying degrees in faith, you mentioned, that the Moravian church was cleared from this mistake,' But did you not mention this as one of the tenets of the Moravians ?" No; not of the Morávians in general: “ Do you not say, that you could not agree with Mr. Spangenberg, that none has any faith, so long as he is liable to any doubt or fear?'” I do say so still. But Spangenberg is not the Moravian church. “Do you not represent Mr. Molther, and other Moravians in England, as teaching the same?” I do? three or four in all. But neither are these, the Moravian church.—" In short, 1 have not charged the Moravian church with any thing ; but only repeat after you.”—Indeed you have in the very case before us. You charge them with denying degrees in faith. I do not charge them herewith. I openly cleared them from any such charge near six years ago. “If therefore you have accused them when you knew them to be guiltless, you must bear the blame.” In this case, 1 must intreat you to bear it in my stead. For I have not accused them (the Moravian church.) It is you that have accused them. I have again and again declared, they are not guilty..
Secondly, “ They do use the ordinances of God with reverence and godly fear.' You have charged Mr. Spangenberg and Mr. Molther with teaching, that we ought to abstain from them.” That we? No. That unbelievers ought. The assertion relates to them only." And the same you say in general of the Moravian brethren in your letter.” I say, they hold that unbelievers ought to abstain from them.' But yet I know and bear witness, they use them themselves, and that with reverence and godly fear? “«Mr. Molther was quickly after recalled to Germany.'— This might be on other accounts. You do not say, it was out of any dislike of his doctrines or proceedings.” I do not say so; because I am not sure ; but I believe it was out of a dislike to some of his proceedings, if not, of his doctrines too. “Nor indeed can you, consistenly with your next words : The great fault of the Moravian church seems to lie, in not openly disclaiming all he had said' ” (relating to this head.) They did privately disclaim what he had said, of degrees in faith. But I think, that was not enough. And I still believe, they would have done more, had they not leaned themselves to the same opinion,' touching the ordis nances. r