Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

APOSTATICAL SUCCESSION. 137

But Chalmers was a good and a most competent judge of the utter folly of it. Yet well I know that the dupes of that mendacity are not to be taken, even with the fresh salt of the covenant ' The cool atrocity with which they unchurch such men as Chalmers, and millions with him of the best saints and the best denominations and Churches of God that ever lived, is only one of the bitter fruits of their hypocritical and contemptible dogma — antichrist, and vile assumption all! Where is Chalmers now ! In heaven How got he there? Did he open the postern of salvation's castle, and furtively secure an entrance 2 John, 10:1, 7–9. Was it by “uncovenanted mercies,” such as Judas met his doom abusing and possessing 2 If those impudent churchmen ever get to heaven themselves, which demands a doubt, how will they previously repent of their impious wickedness and utter folly in their present insipid ritualism, and schismatical sectarianism, and most unprotestant exclusiveness! Theirs is an organized monopoly. No such spots of the pit appear on Chalmers. Such abomination the Bible only abhors. He went not to the dark ages for his light; nor to paganism for his Christianity; nor to Rome or the British Parliament for his authority; nor to tradition for his certainty; nor to the succession of Hildebrand, Borgia, Bonner, Talleyrand, Archbishop Hughes, or any such rebukable pretenders, for his right to preach the gospel. Glory to God alone. Some may resolve this and all similar expressions into the alleged rigidity of the Scottish theology; and I reply only that truth is rigid and exclusive of all alien or other propositions; and were it otherwise, or apart from this, the English especially, that are wonted to groan or growl at the theology of their North British neighbors, are not the ones exactly to correct it, especially if their donatives offered should find their elements for its correction, in their own diluted theology of semi-papal sympathy and ritualizing pomp. The

138 HEATHEN TRUMPERY-SOUTHWEST.

Scotch would decline their assistance and their favors; and especially would Chalmers act on the principle, * * * * * * Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. I dread these specious patrons and their lifts; Most dread them when they come with special gifts. He touches on this indeed, not ambiguously, in one of his prelections from his official chair to the arrested and confiding circle of ingenuous youth, the students in divinity around him : “About our doctrine, however, at the same time, I feel no intolerance; and have occasionally met with the best of men, especially on the other side of the Tweed, who shrink from it with antipathy almost nervous, and that certainly partakes much more of the sensitive than the rational. There are many, even the saintliest and most devoted among the clergymen of England, who talk with the sincerest horror of our gloomy and repulsive Calvinism. * * * * * “But if there be degeneracy among us, and aught is to arrest it, it will not be, most assuredly, the importation of its theology from England; and as little by a supply from the South of its altars, or its surplices, or its gorgeous candlesticks, even though aided by the mystic charm, either of pulpits with their faces to the southwest, or of ministers performing some unknown evolutions with their backs to the people. Least of all will the figment of apostolical succession be of aught avail against the chilling influences of a jejune and lifeless ministration.” All these human inventions are trumpery and huge impertinence. How much religionizing stupidity it requires in one to imagine that God can be propitiated or pleased with them! Altars indeed, and priests, and sensuous symbols, are all abrogated in the present noble and spiritual dispensation. They are superseded now by their substantial archetypes; and all the appetence that tends to reproduce them is only blunder and degradation, in the nominal worshipers and the genuine

BRITISH ROMANIZING. 139

offenders of the Almighty. Their way is more Judaizing than Christian, more in retrogradation and heathenizing preferences than in the progression of our glorious Christianity, according to the way of the Great Author of all the dispensations, and the Dread Reprover of all the purblind inventions and modifications of our flesh-pleasing and substituted wisdom. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service to them that by nature are no Gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of oyou. Yes, they observe Christmas—though Christ was not born in winter, and God enjoins us to commemorate his death not his birth; and Easter, and a stereotyped legion of human ordinances of the same foolish sort.

ADDENDUM CHALMERI MEMORANDIS.

THE opinion of Chalmers on the subject of slavery may be correctly gathered from what I have already written ; nor can that opinion be regarded with lightness by men of sense and virtue any where. The relations of slavery, and of war, and of government, to the Church of God involve questions of interest to all Christians; and if, in this age, there has existed one man who, above others, might be trusted, as well as selected, to answer them, that one was Chalmers. I have lately met in his published works with some expressions of his views, which I deem it proper here to subjoin. They are those of our own Dwight, Richards, Griffin, Miller, Alexander, Stuart, and others. In a letter to my own excellent and learned friend, the Rev. Thomas Smyth, D.D. of Charleston, South Carolina, dated Edinburgh, September 24, 1844, he writes thus:

“I do not need to assure you how little I sympathize with those who—because slavery happens to prevail in the Southern States of America—would unchristianize that whole region; and who even carry their extravagance so far as to affirm that, so long as it subsists, no fellowship or intercourse of good offices should take place with its churches or its ministers. “As a friend to the universal virtue and liberty of mankind, I rejoice in the prospect of those days when slavery shall be banished from the face of the earth; but, most assuredly, the wholesale style of excommunication contended for by some is not the way to hasten forward this blissful consummation.”

The publication of this letter led to a demand made on

HIS WIEWS OF SLAVERY. 141

Dr. Chalmers by the Anti-slavery Society of Edinburgh, for a disclaimer of the letter, or a fuller expression of opinion. This he gave in a letter on American slaveholding, from which the following extracts are taken : “Our understanding of Christianity is, that it deals not with civil or political institutions, but that it deals with persons and with ecclesiastical institutions, and that the object of these last is to operate directly and proximately with the most wholesome effect on the consciences and character of persons. In conformity with this view, a purely and rightly administered Church will exclude from the ordinances not any man as a slaveholder, but every man, whether slaveholder or not, as licentious, as intemperate, as dishonest. Slavery, like war, is a great evil; but as it does not follow that a soldier can not be a Christian, neither does it follow that there may not be a Christian slave-holder. # # It holds experimentally true that within its limits * * the most exalted specimens of piety and worth are to be found. 3% * # Neither war nor slavery is incompatible with the personal Christianity of those who have actually and personally to do with them. Distinction ought to be made between the character of a system and the character of the persons whom circumstances have implicated therewith. We hope that our Free Church will never deviate to the right or the left of undoubted principles. But we hope, on the other hand, that she will not be frightened from her propriety, or forced by clamor of any sort to outrun her own conviction, so as to adopt, at the bidding of other parties, a new and factitious principle of administration, for which she can see no authority in Scripture, and of which she can gather no trace in the history or practice of the Churches in apostolic times. But I must repeat my conviction that slavery will not be at all shaken—it will be strengthened and stand its ground—if assailed through the medium of that most questionable and ambiguous principle which the Aboli

« ПредишнаНапред »