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of Portugal, has burst, it is said, the last
The recess of parliament for the Easter vacation, has suspended the progress of the various measures under its consideration; but, amidst the dearth of parlia mentary intelligence, there has been one subject of the most momentous public interest, and which has engrossed the attention of the nation, to the exclusion of almost every other topic. We need not say that we allude to the extraordinary change in the administration of the country. Scarcely three months have elapsed since the executive government of this country, as embodied in the various members who composed it, appeared fixed and immoveable beyond, perhaps, all precedent; most of its leading measures were hailed by parliament and the country with acclamation; and scarcely the shadow of a regularly constituted opposition could be said to exist. But the providential visitation which fell upon its leading member, the universally respected Earl of Liverpool, has detached the key stone of the arch, and the whole fabric has suddenly and unexpectedly fallen to the ground. At the meeting of Parliament, in May, we may expect that some official light will be thrown upon the origin and effects of this remarkable disruption; and we therefore postpone offering any remarks which we might be inclined to make upon it, till we have more authoritative data for speculation than the public rumours and ex-parte statements, which are at present afloat on the subject. All that is at present officially known is, that, the king having seen fit to appoint Mr. Canning prime minister, with all the usual powers and privileges attached to that undefined office, most of the other leading members of the cabinet resigned their respective posts; including the
Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Melville, Lord Sidmouth, Earl Bathurst, the Earl of Westmoreland, and Mr. Peel. Their secession was folpersons, not members of the cabinet. lowed by that of various other official The most prominent cause which has led to this crisis is doubtless the question of Catholic emancipation; though it is also well known that there were considerable differences of opinion in the cabinet on various other questions both of foreign and domestic policy; and upon retrospection it appears a more remarkable fact that persons so widely disagreeing in their opinions should so long have publicly coalesced, than that they should at length have separated. The members of the new cabinet have not yet been officially announced, and are understood not to be definitely settled.
filled up was the chief command of the The first appointment that was navy, which is to be given to the Duke of Clarence under the long disused title of Lord High Admiral. The vacant posts will probably be filled by the time of the meeting of parliament; when we may expect an exposition of the sentiments and plans of the new administration; though, upon the whole, we neither hope nor fear, with perhaps one from the course of policy which has of or two exceptions, any great deviation late so wisely characterised our public only express our earnest wishes and measures. In the mean time, we can prayers, in the impressive language of the Liturgy, "that it may please the Author of all mercies to save and defend the king, that under him we may be godly and quietly governed; and to grant unto his whole council, and to all that are put in authority under him, that they may truly and indifferently minister justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of true religion and virtue."
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Received, and under consideration: W. K.; 2; A LAYMAN; Mixgos; E.; W. H.;
The British and Foreign Bible Society has received the second half of the Bank note,
MAY, 1827. [No. 5. Vol. XXVII.
For the Christian Observer.
REPLIES TO B. W. ON CERTAIN DOCTRINES IN M. MALAN'S CONVENTICLE OF ROLLE.
THE replies which we have re
ceived to B. W.'s paper are so numerous, and of such a length, that we must content ourselves with laying before our readers two of them, which comprise nearly the substance of the whole.-We earnestly recommend our correspondents not to forget, in such discussions, the duties of candour, the courtesies of Christian controversy, and the grace of humility, which zealous disputants are sometimes apt to violate. We uniformly reject all papers which are grossly offensive in these respects; but even in others, which are, upon whole, temperate, we occasionally find an unkind or supercilious remark, which we feel it necessary to rescind.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
Before I proceed to make some observations on what B. W. has alleged, in your Number for February, in opposition to some statements in M. Malan's Conyenticle of Rolle, I would remark one singular circumstance; namely, that although he was furnished with a copy of the Conventicle by a lady who had received it in Geneva, all his quotations are made from the English translation; and, unfortunately for his argument, the very expressions which he has selected as being objectionable are among the grossest of many instances in which the translator has completely CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 305.
failed in his attempt to transfuse the author's meaning into this language. For these, of course, M. Malan is not answerable; and it is not fair to criticise the doctrines of any one, as expressed in a translation, when a moderate degree of acquaintance with the original language would have shewn the mistakes into which the translator has fallen; nor is it right to ground objections upon expressions which any one, who knows even a little of the author's sentiments, must perceive to be at variance with the whole tenor of his opinions.
Another thing too I may be permitted to observe: The objector commences with an eulogium on " that bright and shining light, the venerable Reformer of Geneva, John Calvin;" yet I believe that he would not find it easy to point out any one of those positions laid down in the Conventicle, which he afterwards attacks as being unscriptural, which is not to be found expresssed, and maintained as true, in the writings of that eminent divine.
1. The frontispiece of M. Malan's Tract is made the subject of the first objection. But, in stating this objection, it appears to me that undue regard is paid to the differences existing among the various sects of professing Christians, as sects. And the concluding sentence, which runs thus: " M. Malan perhaps meant only to say, what is perfectly just, that there are true disciples of Christ to be found among all the denominations of Christians he has specified; and that these constitute the real spiritual temple, as distinguished from 2 L
those which are built on the sandy foundation of human merit," appears to indicate, that the objector was aware, upon re-consideration, of the misconception on which his objection is founded. No one who reads the Conventicle with any degree of attention, can doubt that M. Malan meant the spiritual, not the formal, church, or that his object was to point out that, as in the days of the Apostles there were Jews, Christians, and heathens, all of whom were citizens of Rome; so in the present time those who really belonged to the various denominations specified, and are not merely nominal professors, are all citizens of the commonwealth of Christ. In this view the frontispiece is correct; all these denominations of Christians (in as far as those who form part of them are not mere sectarians, or hypocritical pretenders to Christianity) are built on the rock Christ. They agree in receiving one Lord, though they differ in modes of worship, rites, or ordinances. There is one faith common to them all, the belief that Christ has died for sinners, for such as they know themselves to be. And they all profess one baptism into Christ for the remission of sins, however they may vary, in regard to the external rite, by which they conceive it proper to evidence their profession.
2. The second ground of complaint which B. W. alleges, namely, the want of a definition of faith, does not appear to me to be well founded; for in fact it is the scope of a great part of M. Malan's book to explain its nature, its object, and its effects. The following passage is selected from many of a similar import, as conveying a precise and clear idea of its nature, though perhaps not in the exact form of a logical definition: "L'Eternel n'est il pas vérité? Ce qu'il m'a promis, à moi qui ne suis que poudre, ne tiendra-t-il pas ? Y auroit-il en l'Eternel autre chose que de la fidelité? Et n'est il pas puissant, oui, tout puissant, pour accomplir ce
qu'il a voulu promettre?" (p. 18; or trans. p. 33.) Moreover, in the conversation with the children (p. 58; or trans. p. 101), the following passage occurs: "Croyez vous Dieu? Croyez vous ce qu'il dit dans ce passage, que Christ est mort pour vous; c'est à dire, qu'il a été puni de Dieu a votre place?-(Les Enf.) Oui, monsieur; nous croyons bien cela.-(Min.) Eh bien, cheres enfans, si vous le croyez dans votre cœur, vous avez la foi." With regard to the objection, that the necessity and duty of repentance are not sufficiently urged; and that love to God and Christian obedience are not enough stated as practical duties, I may remark that, in my opinion, it would have been beside M. Malan's purpose to have done so. His object is to exhibit faith in Christ, the Saviour of sinners (consisting not in any undefined series of voluntary acts, nor in any mystical influence on the mind, but in the simple belief that Christ has died in the sinner's room, and thereby atoned for his offences,) as the only foundation on which a real repentance and a willing obedience can be built; and had he enlarged on these as duties, the performance of which, independent of this principle, could be acceptable to God, (if indeed it be possible,) he would have been, just in so far as he did so, annulling the covenant of grace, to re-establish that of works. The concluding part of this objection refers to the use of the word salvation in the first of M. Malan's propositions. (p. 31. trans.) The phrase which M. Malan employs, "Point d'œuvres pour le salut," appears to me to be perfectly correct; though I do not say that it would have been incorrect, but it would certainly have been inadequate, had he used the word justification in this place, as B. W. thinks he should have done. His meaning, as I conceive it, is, that although, as is proved at large afterwards, the salvation which is in Christ Jesus for the believing sin
ner, is a producing cause of the abundant fruit of good works in him; these good works can in no sense be held to be the producing cause of the salvation: nor are they performed by him with any view to purchase salvation, but as the necessary effects of the life-giving principle of faith which animates him, and which alone can enable him to perform them. He does them, in short, not because it is his duty to do them, or because he thinks of deserving any reward for doing them, but because he could as easily live without performing the actions of life as he could believe that God has given him eternal life, without wishing and endeavouring to avoid those things which are opposed to its nature, or without loving and obeying the gracious Bestower of it. And the statements referred to by the objector, such as, "we labour to be accepted," &c. admit of a consistent explanation only on this ground, (for in any other view they would seem to imply that man is in some degree independent of God, which is at variance with the whole tenor of Scripture,) and the text which is quoted in part, "work out your own salvation," can only be understood by taking in the whole of the sentence," for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure;" or perhaps rather, "for it is God that, of his good pleasure, worketh in you both to will and to do."
3. I am unable to discover anything fallacious in the exhibition of faith given by M. Malan, in pp. 18, 19 (translation, p. 33). If a child believes, (but observe, it is not mere acquiescence, if the question were put, but the real principle of belief in the mind of the child, that is intended), that its parent loves it, is anxious for its welfare and comfort, and wishes it to do nothing but what is for its own advantage, this belief will produce in its mind affection towards the parent, willing
obedience to his commands, and poignant sorrow for having at any time offended him; but unless the child be actuated by this belief it cannot love, but will rather dread him, it will obey him from fear only, and will without remorse disobey him, whenever it thinks it can escape punishment for doing so. Now it appears to me, that M. Malan meant to exhibit faith as producing effects similar to these: Obedience to the commands of God is, no doubt, a duty; but duty is a hard word to the man whose love has not been kindled; and this can be effected only by receiving simply and without question, as a child does the kindness of its parent, the free gift of salvation which God has given us in Christ.
B. W.'s expressions, "Faith believes the promise, obeys the precept, and derives comfort and edification from both," are clearly incorrect, and imply some confusion in the objector's mind, as to what faith is. They seem to indicate (what, from other passages also in his critique, is apparently the case), that he supposes it to be something different from the simple belief of what God has said; and he may have been prevented from perceiving that M. Malan uses it in this simple and Scriptural sense, by the incorrect phrase employed by the translator, "Believe in God as Abraham believed" (p. 34). The original expression, "Croyez Dieu comme Abraham le crut," is precisely parallel in meaning, to the words of St. Paul, in Gal. iii. 6, “ Abraham believed God," and ought to have been translated"Believe God as Abraham believed him." He who believes God has faith: it is he only who will, or indeed can, obey the commands of God; and he will be comforted and edified, by resting in firm reliance on the sure word of Him who cannot lie, and by trusting in the strength of the Spirit which enables him, because it inclines him, to obey. But his obedience, his comfort, and
his edification, are no parts of his belief, nor are the affections of which it is susceptible.
4. If it be, as B. W. states, "erroneous and dangerous to believe and apply the promises of the Gospel, as if they were spoken of God absolutely, personally, and individually to ourselves," it appears to me that no one needs trouble himself any more about what these promises are. It signifies not to me, that I read, that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," if, while I feel and acknowledge that I am a sinner, I am forbidden to suppose, that I individually have any interest in the offered salvation. That "Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," gives me no comfort, nor any hope, if I am cautioned against the error and danger of including myself as a part of it. If God's message of mercy to sinners, be not expressly to each individual sinner who will listen to it, it is useless to all; for, as long as the sinner views the threatenings and the pronises of God as relating to some Indefinite class of beings, and so apportioned among them, in some mysterious way, as that some shall, without knowing how or why, endure all the former, while others, in equal ignorance, may enjoy all the latter, they never can be brought home to his own mind. In order that he may be warned by the one, and encouraged by the other, he must be enabled by the Holy Spirit to individualize them, to apply them so to himself, that he may see them ready to fall on his own head, and to be given into his own hand. It is no doubt true that the promises of the Gospel have a general application too; and for this simple reason, that whatever is true of each individual of a class, is true respecting the whole; and therefore what is addressed by God to each individual sinner, must be addressed to all sinners, consequently to all men, and to each individual among them. The power to believe these promises
is itself the gift of God; no less so than repentance, which is one of the effects of this belief; and it is in vain to speak to men of repentance as a duty, (that is a thing which they will do unwillingly, and there fore unprofitably,) unless the principle from which alone it can spring, and which cannot fail to produce it, be first implanted in their minds. The distinction which it is attempted to establish between belief and trust, seems to me to be altogether destitute of foundation; for who can believe a promise, without trusting in its accomplishment? The concluding sentence, in which the assurance of any individual, that the promises of the Gospel refer to him, is made to depend on his consciousness of believing the Scriptures to be the word of God, &c. appears to be founded on a misdirection of the attention to the fruits of faith, instead of its object, which is the atonement of Christ Jesus, and not any frame or feeling of the mind; for although the fruits of faith are essential as evidences to others, and to ourselves also, yet they are not the ground of our hope, nor the seal of our acceptance.
5. M. Malan appears to me to make no improper use of the term "salvation," in the passages which furnish the matter of B. W.'s objection. The first passage quoted by him is however incorrectly given. It is a question coupled with an argument, neither of which are expressed by the manner in which it is quoted. The original is as follows, "Qui de vous la saisit, et dit 'Je suis donc sauvé, car Dieu qui le dit est verité?'" (p. 20; or translation, p. 35). The fourth quotation is also unfairly given; the whole passage standing in connexion thus: "Sais tu, ma chere Petite, que tu as un Sauveur ?-(La Cadette:) Oh, oui, monsieur, je sais bien cela.--(Le Min.) Et le crois tu?-(La Cadette:) Mais je pense bien que oui.-(Le Min.) Tu crois donc que tu es sauvé ?" (p. 56; translation, p. 98.)