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few short fervors, into indifference: an abstracted invisible object, like that which natural religion offers, ceases to move or interest the heart; and something further is wanting to bring it nearer, and render it more present to our view, than merely an intellectual contemplation. On the other hand, when, in order to remedy this inconvenience, recourse is had to instituted forms and ritual injunctions; there is always danger lest men be tempted to rest entirely on these, and persuade themselves that a painful attention to such observances will attone for the want of genuine piety and virtue. Yet surely there is a way of steering safely between these two extremes; of so consulting both the parts of our constitution, that the body and the mind may concur in rendering our religious: services acceptable to God, and at the same time useful to ourselves. And what way can this be, but precisely that which is recommended in the charge; such a cultivation of outward as well as inward religion, that from both may result, what is the point chiefty to be labored after, and at all events to be secured, a correspondent temper and behavior; or, in other words, such an application of the forms of godliness as my be subservient in promoting the power and spirit of it? No man who believes the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and understands what he believes, but must know, that external religion is as much enjoined, and constitutes as real a part of revelation, as that which is internal. The many ceremonies in use among the Jews, in consequence of a divine command; the baptism of water, as an emblem of moral purity; the eating and drinking of bread and wine, as symbols and representations of the body and blood of Christ, r«quired of Christians, are proofs of this. On comparing these two parts of religion together, one, it is immediately seen, is of much greater importance than the other; and, whenever they happen to interfere, is always to be preferred: but does it follow from hence, that therefore that other is of little or no importance, and, in cases where there is no competition, may entirely be neglectedOr rather is not the legitimate conclusion directly the reverse, that nothing is to be looked
is upon as of little importance, which is of any use at all in preserving npon our minds a sense of the Divine Authority, which recals to our remembrance the obligations we are under, and helps to keep us, as the scripture expresses it, in the fear of the Lord all the day long?* If, to adept the instance mentioned in the charge, the sight of a CHURCH should remind a man of some sentiment of piety; if, from the view of a material building dedicated to the service of God, he should be led to regard himself, his own body, as'a living temple of the Holy Ghost,t and therefore no more than the other to be profaned or desecrated by any thing that defileth or is impure; could it be truly said of such a one that he was superstitious, or mistook the means of religion for the end? If, to use another, and what has been thought a more obnoxious instance, taken from the bishop's practice, a Cross, erected in a place of public worship, should cause us to reflect on him who died on a cross for our salvation, and on the necessity of our own dying to sin,s and of crucifying the flesh with its
* Prov. xxiii, 17. $ Rom. vi. 11.
tl Cor, vi. 19.
* See note (A) at the end of this Preface.
affections and lusts;* would any worse consequences follow from such sentiments so excited, than if the same sentiments had been excited by the view of a picture, of the crucifixion suppose, such as is commonly placed, and with this very design, in foreign churches, and indeed in many of our own? Both the instances liere adduced, it is very possible, may be far from being approved, even by those who are under the most sincere convictions of the importance of true religion; and it is easy to conceive how open to scorn and censure they must be from others, who think they have a talent for ridicule, and have accustomed themselves to regard all pretensions to piety as hypocritical or superstitious. But wisdom is justified of her children. Religion is what it is, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear; and whatever in the smallest degree promotes its interests, and assists us in performing its commands, whether that assistance be derived from the medium of the body or the mind, ought to be esteemed of great weight, and deserving of our most serions attention.
However, be the danger of superstition what it may, no one was more sensible of that danger, or more earnest in maintaining that external acts of themselves are nothing, and that moral holiness, as distinguished from bodily observances of every kind, is that which constitutes the essence of religion, than Bishop BUTLER. Not only the charge itself, the whole intention of which is plainly nothing more than to enforce the necessity of practical religion, the reality as well as form, is a demonstration of this; but many passages besides, to the same purpose, selected from his other writings. Take the two following as specimens. In his Analogy he observes thus: 66 Though mankind have in all ages, been greatly prone to place their religion in peculiar positive rites, by way of equivalent for obedience to moral precepts; yet, without making any comparison at all between them, the nature of the thing abundantly shews all notions of that kind to be utterly subversive of true religion: as they are, moreover, contrary to the whole general tenor of scripture; and likewise to the most express particular declarations of it, that nothinig can render us acceptable of God, without moral virtue."'S And to the same purpose in his Sermon, preached before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in February, 1738-9. “Indeed amongst creatures naturally formed for religion, yet so much under the power of imagination as men are, superstition is an evil, which can never be out of sight. But even against this, true religion is a great security, and the only one. True religion takes up that place in the mind which superstition would usurp, and so leaves little room for it; and likewise lays us under the strongest obligations to oppose it. On the contrary, the danger of superstition cannot but be increased by the prevalence of irreligion; and by its general prevalence, the evil will be unavoidable. For the common people, wanting a religion, will of course take up with almost any superstition which is
. thrown in their way; and, in process of time, amidst the infinite vicissitudes of the political world, the leaders of parties will certainly be able to serve themselves of that, superstition, whatever it be, which is getting ground; and will not fail to carry it to the utmost length their occasions require. The general nature of the thing shews this; and history and fact confirm it. It is therefore wonderful, those people who seem to think there is but one evil in life, that of superstition, should not see that atheism and profaneness must be the introduction of it."*
* Gal. v. 24.
Matth. xi, 19.
#Ezek: ii, 5.
$ Analogy Part ii. Chap. 1,
He who can think and write in such a manner, can never be said to mistake the nature of real religion: and he, who, after such proofs to the contrary, can persist in asserting of so discreet and learned a person, that he was addicted to superstition, must himself be much a stranger both to truth and charity.
And here it may be worth, our while to observe, that the same ex. cellent prelate, who by one set of men was suspected of superstition, on account of his charge, has by another been represented as leaning to the opposite extreme of enthusiasm, on account of his two discourses On the love of God. But both opinions are equally without foundation. He was neither superstitious nor an enthusiast. His mind was much too strong, and his habits of thinking and reasoning much too strict and severe, to suffer him to descend to the weaknesses of either character. His piety was at once fervent and rational. When, impressed with a generous concern for the declining cause of religion, he labored to revive its dying interests, nothing he judged would be more effectual to that end, among creatures so much engaged with bodily things, and so apt to be affected with whatever strongly solicits the senses as men are, than a religion of such a frame as should in its exercise require the joint exertions of the body and the mind. On the other hand, when penetrated with the dignity and importance of the first and great commandment, Love to God, he set himself to inquire, what those movements of thc heart are, which are due to him, the Author and Cause of all things; he found, in the coolest way of consideration, that God is the natural object of the same affections of gratitude, reverence, fear, desire of approbation, trust, and dependence; the same affections in kind, though doubtless in a very disproportionate degree, which any one would feel from contemplating a perfect character in a creature, in which goodness with wisdom and power are supposed to be the predomi. nant qualities, with the further circumstance that this creature was also his governor and friend. This subject is manifestly a real one; there is nothing in it fanciful or unreasonable. This way of being affected towards God is piety, in the strictest sense; this is religion, considered as a habit of mind; a religion, suited to the nature and condition of man |
. II. From superstition to popery the transition is easy. No wonder then, that, in the progress of detraction, the simple imputation of the forner of these, with which the attack on the character of our author was opened, should be followed by the more aggravated imputation of the latter. Nothing, I think, can fairly be gathered in support of such a suggestion from the charge, in which popery is þarely mentioned, and occasionally only, and in a sentence or two;
yet even there, it should be remarked, the bishop takes care to describe the peculiar observances required by it, "some as in themselves wrong and superstitious, and others of them as being made subservient to the purposes of superstition.” With respect to his other writings, any one at all conversant with them needs not to be told, that the matters treated of both in his Sermons and his Analogy did, none of them, directly lead him to consider, and much less to combat, the opinions, whether relating to faith or worship, which are peculiar to the church of Rome: it might therefore have happened, yet without any just conclusion arising from thence, of being himself inclined to favor those opinions, that he had never mentioned, so much as incidentally, the subject of popery at all. But fortunately for the reputation of the bishop, and to the eternal disgrace of his calumniators, even this poor resource is wanting to support their malevolence. In his sermon at St. Bride's, before the Lord Mayor, in 1740, after having said that sour laws and whole constitution go more upon supposition of an equality amongst mankind, than the constitution and laws of other countries;" he goes on to observe, that “this plainly requires, that more particular regard should be had to the education of the lower people here, than in places where they are born slaves of power, and to be made slaves of superstition: meaning evidently in this piace by the general term superstition, the particular'errors of the Romanists. This is something; but we have a still plainer indication what his sentiments concerning po. pery really were, from another of his Additional Sermons, I mean that before the House of Lords, on June the 11th, 1947, the anniversary of his late Majesty's accession. The passage alluded to is as follows, and my readers will not be displeased that I give it them at length. “The value of our religious establishment ought to be very much heightened in our esteem. by considering what it is a security from; I mean that great corruption of Christianity, popery, which is ever hard at work to bring us again under its yoke.' Whoever will consider the popish claims to the disposal of the whole earth, as of divine right, to dispense with the most sacred engagements, the claims to supreme absolute authority in religion; in short, the general claims which the Canonists express by the words, plenitude of power--whoever, I say, will consider popery as it is professed at
Rome, may see, that it is manifest, open usurpation of all human and divine authority. But even in those Roman-catholic countries where these monstrous claims are not admitted; and the civil power, does, in many respects, restrain the papal; yet persecution is professed, as it is absolutely enjoined by what is acknowledged to be their highest authority, a general council, so called, with the pope at the head of it; and is practised in all of them, I think, without exception, where it can be done safely. Thus they go on to substitute force instead of argument, and external profession made by force instead of reasonable conviction. And thus corruptions of the grossest sort have been in vogue, for many generations, in many parts of Christendom; and are so still. even where popery obtains in its least absurd form: and their antiquity and wide extent are insisted upon as proofs of their truth; a kind of proof which at best can only be presumptive,
# Serm, XVII. 367.
but which loses all its little weight, in proportion as the long and large prevalence of such corruptions have been obtained by force."* In another part of the same sermon, where he is again speaking of our ecclesiastical constitution, he reminds his audience that it is to be valued, “not because it leaves us at liberty to have as little reli. gion as we please, without being accountable to human judicatories; but because it exhibits to our view, and enforces upon our consciences, genuine Christianity, free from the superstitions with which it is defiled in other countries;" which superstions, he observes, "naturally tend to abate its force.”+ The date of this sermon should bere be attended to. It was preached in June 1747; that is, four years before the delivery and publication of the charge, which was in the year 1751; and exactly five years before the author died, which was in June, 1752. We have then, in the passages now laid before the reader, a clear and unequivocal proof, brought down to within a few years of Bishop BUTLER's death, that popery was held by him in the utmost abhorrence, and that he regarded it in no other light than as the great corruption of Christianity, and a manifest, open usurpation of all human and divine uuthority. The argument is decisive; por will any thing be of force to invalidate it, unless from some afteract during the short remainder of the bishop's life, besides that of delivering and printing his Charye, (which, after what I have said here, and in the Notes added to this Preface and to the Charge, I must have leave to consider as affording no evidence at all of his inclination to papistical doctrines or ceremonies) the contrary shall incontrovertibly appear.
III. One such after-act, however, has been alleged, which would effectually demolish all that we have urged in behalf of our Prelate, were it true, as is pretended, that he died in the communion of the church of Rome. Had a story of this sort been invented and propagated by Papists, the wonder might have been less :
Hoc Ithacus velit, & magno mercentur Atridæ. But to the reproach of protestantism, the fabrication of this calumny, for such we shall find it, originated from among ourselves. It is pretty remarkable, that a circumstance so extraordinary should never have been divulged till the year 1767, fifteen years after the Bishop's de
At that time Dr. Thomas SECKER was Archbishop of CanTERBURY; who of all others was the most likely to know the truth or falshood of the fact asserted, having been educated with our au. thor in his early youth, and having lived in a constant habit of intimacy with him to the very time of his death. The good Archbish. op was not silent on this occasion: with a virtuous indignation he stood forth to protect the posthumous character of his friend; and in a public newspaper, under the signature of Misopseudes, called upon his accuser to support what he had advanced, by whatever proofs he could. No proof, however, nor any thing like a proof, appeared in reply; and every man of sense and candor at that time was perfectly convinced the assertion was entirely groundless. As a further confirmation of the rectitude of this judgment, it may not be amiss to
* Serm XX. p. 410-442. face.
| P. 449.
See note [C], at the end of this Pre