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· We shall take this occasion of bestowing a very
few words more on the Rev. John Scott. Our ' allusion to the venerated name of the Rector of · Aston Sandford has led this gentleman actually 'to drag his excellent father before the public, ' for the purpose of gravely shaking his stick at us.' If
you will give me leave to make a few remarks on this passage, I shall probably not occupy your attention, or that of the public, any more on this business ; as I have more appropriate, and urgent, and agreeable employment in abundance for my few remaining days.
1. My son did not actually drag me before the public; for I gave my most cordial imprimatur to his paper, without which it would not have been sent to you: and volenti non fit injuria. But further, I had fully purposed to write a short paper on the subject, when his remarks came to my hands, and rendered it unnecessary. At any rate, I purposed to avow my most decided disapprobation of the passage on which my son had animadverted.
2. I did not step forth for the purpose of gravely 'shaking my stick' at the Eclectic Reviewers, but merely to drop a hint of caution, both to them and to their readers, on a most important subject, which various circumstances seemed to render seasonable. Verbum sapienti sat est. Had I regarded the Eclectic Reviewers in the light of men that needed menacing, or smiting, as far as they are concerned I should have been silent, being con
See Christian Observer for 1816, pp. 433 and 638.
vinced of two things :—that “a reproof entereth “ more into a wise man, than a hundred stripes “ into a fool;"I and that, if either shaking or using a staff was needful, I could not be the person called to the service. Telum imbelle sine ictu would describe my feeble attempt.
But, however greatly I disapprove many things in that Review, there are others which made me hope, that they, or some of them, and at some times, were wise men, and would profit by a friendly reproof. Nor does the rejoinder make me despair of this yet being the case.
When I open a Review, avowedly conducted by dissenters, and in support of their cause, I by no means expect to meet with all, or most, things coincident with my own views. And if, by experience, I have learned the general outline of their political creed and principles, I do not expect that they should essentially alter these, either as warned by my reproof, awed by my .supposed menace, or in complacency to my feelings. I have no such expectations, whatever I might desire. But I always have chosen and loved to read both sides on every controverted subject; and it is with me no uncommon case, in the Eclectic Review, as well as in other rather unfriendly publications, to meet with passages which greatly inform and please me; even though I am still obliged to dissent from the broad and general conclusions which they deduce from their statements and reasonings; while other papers, where controversy is nearly out of sight, meet with my more unqualified approbation. But then, that one point, on which I remarked, is “ the fly in the pot of ointment, &c.”
| Prov. xvii. 10.
I only would hope, that the conductors of the Eclectic Review will be induced, in their controversial and political discussions, to deal more in discrimination in their observations respecting men and measures, and less in sweeping indiscriminating censures ; more in fair and temperate argument, and less in what I must call invective, for want of a more appropriate word ; that they will endeavour to confine their conclusions, or inductions, within the limits allowed by the premises, and to those things to which they refer ; and that, in affairs which involve the most extensive and important human interests, they will adopt a fairer and more cautious method of communicating their sentiments to the public. In these particulars, from many things which I hear from different quarters, a large proportion of their dissenting brethren would agree with me. My views, if not of politics, yet of the duty of subjects to their civil governors, are before the public. I am conscious that I am not a ministerialist; for I often have had occasion to express disapprobation of some measures of every ministry—for instance, of state lotteries. I am no enemy to the calm investigation of public measures; either those of other countries, or of our own. Yet “ Honour “the king” was given as the command of God, when there were no responsible ministers who
Impartial Statement of the Scripture Doctrine concerning the Duty of Subjects to their Civil Governors.
could shield him from the odium of wicked and foolish measures. It stands on the same footing and authority with “Honour thy father and thy “ mother;" and, in case of a father or a prince exposing himself to disgrace, as Noah once did, I would rather imitate Shem and Japhet, than Canaan, or Ham the father of Canaan.
I am, &c.
Sir, When I wrote the Note on Acts viii. 15–17, quoted by your correspondent, OLD CHURCH, (No. for January, page 7,) I most decidedly thought, that the Samaritans spoken of were regenerated before they were baptized, and not at their baptism: and, after all that has been since written on the subject, I still think so; because the profession made or implied in baptism was such, that unregenerate persons could not make it with sincerity ; they could not “ have the
answer of a good conscience towards God” in this important transaction. I suppose that Philip administered baptism as rightly to Simon Magus as to the other Samaritans; did Simon, then, as a believer, partake of the regenerating, and sanctifying, and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit ?
Even Hooker allows, that' sacraments contain in themselves no vital force or efficacy: they are not physical but moral instruments of salvation, duties of service and worship, which un‘less we perform as the Author of grace requireth, they are unprofitable.' Ecc. Polity. B. v. $ 57.
Bishop Burnet also says; 'We look on all sacramental actions as acceptable to God, only with regard to the temper and the inward acts of the person to whom they are applied, and cannot consider them as medicines or charms, ' which work by a virtue of their own, whether * the person to whom they are applied cooperates ' with them or not.' (Art. xxv.) I cannot but be of opinion that, if your correspondent would prove his point from church writers, he must go back beyond the time of the Reformation, to the church which was 'older' than that era, but not so 'old' as the days of the apostles.
I am, &c.
I meet with some persons who, writing on the friendship of the world, and conformity to the