« הקודםהמשך »
plead not guilty, and disprove the charges ; shewing where we are misrepresented or misunderstood, and stating what we do, or do not mantain.
The author of these Remarks, having for above thirty-two years been diligently employed in preparing and publishing works on religious subjects, grounded upon those very principles which his Lordship has undertaken to refute, could not consider the Refutation in any other light, than as tending to sweep away at once the labours of his whole life, by discrediting, or rendering doubtful and uncertain, the grand doctrines which he has maintained, and endeavoured to improve to practical purposes. This consideration must account for his assuming so arduous and perilous a service as the present ; and may serve to excuse what might otherwise be deemed presumptuous.
It could not be supposed that the Refutation would be left unanswered by the whole body whose principles it assails : and, as the author of these Remarks is one of the senior writers of that body, it was not unnatural for him to think that hoary hairs (not to speak of higher sources of meekness and self-government, which either are, or ought to be, found'in “ an old disciple,”) might be attended with some abatement of that eagerness of spirit which is unfavourable to the discussion of such subjects, and to remarking on statements, in which there are many things suited to discompose the mind. In fact he hoped that God would enable him to defend what he doubts not is Christian truth, in a Christian spirit, and without violating the precepts of our holy religion.
How far he has succeeded more impartial judges must determine.
Many perhaps may deem it indecorous in him to stand forth to answer the publication, not only of his superior in the church, but of his own Diocesan. As, however, the main substance of the Refutation was first delivered by his Lordship in charges to his own clergy ; it must be supposed that he had them especially in view, as far as the evangelical clergy are concerned. All the information concerning our body, on which he proceeded, must be derived either from our publications, or from report ; (as he cannot have much opportunity of hearing our sermons ;) and the author is, as far as he knows, the senior writer of this company, in his Lordship's diocese. He therefore felt himself peculiarly called upon “ to give a reason of the hope that is in him ;” and either to retract, or defend the doctrines maintained in his numerous publications. He trusts, however, he has not forgotten that his remarks are made on his superior and his diocesan. Hence he has in numerous places spoken in some measure as an apologist, where in other circumstances he would have taken a higher ground : and he hopes that he has uniformly paid as much respectful deference to the author of the Refutation as he could consistently with faithfulness to divine truth,
even to the word of the truth of the gospel.”
Aston Sandford, Nov. 16. 1811.
· When this work was first published Dr. Tomline, now Bishop of Winchester, was Bishop of Lincoln ; within which diocese Aston Sandford lies.-J. S.
Many circumstances having combined to lead the author into a prolixity and redundancy, in the first edition of this work, unfavourable to its circulation, this, concurring with some things which he had then to learn, on the state of the public mind respecting the controversy, powerfully tended to discourage the attempt to republish his Re marks in any form. And, though in the course of above five years he has bestowed much pains in revision and improvement, to the utmost of his modicum of talent and scanty advantages ; he does not venture on the publication of the present revised, improved, enlarged, and yet greatly contracted work, with sanguine expectations that it will attract much notice, or ever in his life-time, or perhaps at all, repay the expense of printing. But, as the progress of his studies on the subject has, as he thinks, greatly enlarged and consolidated his views of it, and exceedingly added to his unwavering assurance that the cause which he pleads is that of scriptural truth and holiness; he is not willing that the whole should die with him, as might have been the case, had not a new edition been published under his own inspection. But, this having been done, the work, with all the improvements which the author was capable of giving it, will find its way into the hands of some persons, who may discover materials capable of being wrought up by more skilful writers, in a form more attractive to readers in general.
By far the greater part of all beyond the fourth
Book is wholly omitted, as a needless and useless encumbrance : but the first Book has been so enlarged, in various ways, and by sections on topics before slightly touched on, that this, with some collateral reasons, has prevented the author from comprising the whole in a less bulky volume than the present.
He had thoughts of taking some notice of several other opponents of the Calvinists, who have come forward since the Refutation and his Remarks on it were published: but he does not find that any, or all of them, have added any thing very material to the first assault made in the Refutation.
In regard to the controversy concerning baptism and regeneration he would observe, that he considers the argument respecting the doctrine of scripture on that point as by far the most important: though he is fully satisfied that our established church, in her Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies, concurs in the views which he and his coadjutors have given on that subject: and this, not only after all that learned and dignified churchmen have argued to the contrary ; but after all which has been advanced by zealous dissenters and antipædobaptists, to prove that these churchmen successfully demonstrate their doctrine to be that of the establishment; and that consequently the doctrine of the established church is antiscriptural. He will add nothing farther on this unnatural coalition, save that he much doubts whether the dignified and learned churchmen will hail these as good helpers and faithful allies.
He feels however in some respects with Dr. Laurence, when he says; Both sides maintain their
respective opinions by different interpretations of the same passages in scripture. But I do not propose unnecessarily, as it appears to me, to drag scripture into the contest: for the true question at issue is, not what scripture, but what the 'church of England has inculcated on the sub‘ject. Besides, to begin with ascertaining the
precise sense of scripture upon it, is to commence o'with a bias on the mind, which must unavoidably • influence subsequent investigation.'!
The author feels with Dr. Laurence; nay, he thinks that he has, on his principles, acted judiciously : for something plausible (though not convincing) may be advanced in support of his doctrine from the words of our forms, skilfully managed; but the doctrine of scripture can, by no management, be made even plausibly to favour that side of the question.
The table of contents will, at once, shew the variety of topics treated of in this publication, and, when compared with the former edition, what new subjects it comprises. The translation of the genuine articles of the synod of Dort, contrasted with the most unfair abbreviation of them quoted by his Lordship and many others from Heylin will doubtless surprise and interest many readers.
As, after above five years no answer has been attempted, either by his Lordship, or any of the dignitaries or other clergy of the church ; from whom especially an answer might be expected, and to whom that service especially appertained ;