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can J. D. suppose for a moment, that Jesus was less moved with compassion than his followers, or that he died with a spark of malevolence in his heart, towards the instigators of his cruel death? I trust J. D. will think again on these things, and hope, that in future, we may both be free from the imputation of error and absurdity. I remain, your's, &c. Stoke Newington, June 1812.
REPLY TO JUVENIS, ON PULPIT PREACHING,
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians Magazine. I DID hope that your Correspondent Juvenis would have
produced (if it were possible to produce them) some sound arguments in favour of pulpit preaching; but his last communication has satisfied me of the weakness of his cause; and to those who are fond of wit and ridicule, I think he has given most ample room to play upon his defence of pulpit preaching, to the great discredit of the trade.
Juvenis in his former communication (contained in your number for February last) makes the following confession-“I am ready to grant that no man at the present day is authorized to preach by any particular command of our lawgiver, or by the precepts and example of Jesus and his Apostles.” And again, he says “I prefer the mode you esteem right, where circumstances are suitable;" and in his last remarks on the practice of one man's teaching to the exclusion of the rest, he observes, that he is not at issue with me on that point, and by his not being at issue with me I understand an acquiescence of opinion.
Now really, Mr. Editor, if Juvenis seriously acknowledges all these points ; if pulpit preaching has no authority in the New Testament, either by command, precept, or example of Jesus or his messengers ; if the plan of instruction adopted by the Freethinking Christians is the most preferable (not to say that it is the precise mode laid down in the New Testament); and if he agrees with me in opinion, as to the impropriety of one man's teaching to the exclusion of the rest; really, Sir, I cannot inform him wherein consists the difference of opinion, or any difference at all, except the incongruity that seems to reign between the preacher and his practice. He does not indeed practise one thing, and contend for another; but while he pursues one practice, he agrees to the propriety of another, which directly opposes it, and declares it to be anti-christian. Here the allurements of the pulpit shew themselves, and display their vain triumph over the mind of Juvenis : unwilling to re
linquish the pleasure of being exalted above the controul of reason and good sense, and of submitting his judgment to be degraded by correction or amendment, he would fain compromise the difference between truth and falsehood, and persuade himself that both might be occasionally right.-Oh! Juvenis, 1 wist not that you were in spirit a priest !
Notwithstanding the repeated appeals to Paul's direction, Juvenis still doubts whether it be at all applicable to the subject. “Does it not appear (continues he) that there were different gifts bestowed on persons forming the Corinthian church? Are all apostles Are all prophets? Are all teachers ? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing, &c. ?” It appears to me there were ; and I would ask, are the directions suitable for such a church-suitable for us?" And I in return would ask Juvenis, why are they not suitable for us? What has the gift of healing, or the gift of tongues, or any other gifts to do with the organization of the Christian church? or by what parity of reasoning does he discover, that because the Deity chose to grant peculiar gifts to peculiar members of his church for peculiar purposes, that the granting of those gifts destroyed the organization of the church, or rendered it unfit for any men but themselves? Surely Juvenis is not silly enough to suppose that the plan of that church which was to shine to all nations like the sun in the firmament," and which had God for its author, was confined to the short space of one age, and rendered totally unfit for any other. If he is, I would call upon him to prove the position, and to show by fair and just reasoning why it is that the mode of instruction pursued by the primitive Christians is not suitable for Chris. tians of the present day.
Juvenis again proceeds thus " the direction (1 Cor. xiv. 31) I do at present apprehend alluded to the prophets (whatever they were) that they might all prophecy one by one ; for though the second person ye" is used, is there not a difficul. ty in supposing the apostle meant the members of the church at large, composed of men and women, when he adds “let your women keep silence in the church,” &c. But by what hapру method is it, Juvenis, that you make the word "“ teach” to signify “ prophecy,” or the word “all” to imply only the prophets? The verse, as it stands in Wakefield's Testament, runs thus" for ye may all teach one by one, that all may learn, and all may be admonished.” Now if this translation be incorrect, shew it to be so; or if it will not agree with its connexion, shew me the disagreement: or if you cannot do either, then point out the rule of logic by which you frame your construction, and the dictionary that gives “ prophecy” as the meaning of the word “teach," and « only” as the meaning of 16 all.” Let a child read the passage as it is given above, and
313 he will understand it; but substitute prophecy for teach, and how will it read then?" For ye may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be admonished.”
Here let the good sense of Juvenis determine whether learning and admonition are not more nearly allied to teaching than to prophecy. That the former was the opinion of Paul is clearly evident throughout the whole of the preceding part of this chapter ; but perhaps Juvenis knows better than Paul, and possibly he can demonstrate, notwithstanding the opinion of that old fashioned man, that admonition and instruction belong to prophecy, and that he who can teach moral truths, delineate the beauties of virtue, mark the deformities of vice, exhort his hearers to the practice of one, warn them from the pursuit of the other, and seal the truth of his doctrines by a life of virtue and integrity, that such a man is far inferior to him who is blest with the gift of prophecy, and who can tell us the events that will take place for a thousand years to come.
With respect to the objection concerning the women, I would observe, it appears perfectly reasonable to conclude that when the apostle said " all” he meant “all,'' and if he made no exceptions himself, I know not who has the delegated authority to make them for him. But it appears that he did make an exception, for he immediately subjoins,“ let women be silent in your assemblies.” This is the only exception I can find, and I should consequently infer, that when he said, Ye may All teach, &c. he meant all but the women.
Viewing their situation (saye Juvenis) I would ask what stimulus do they receive, when they know that the task of in. struction rests solely with their husbands? To this I can now only reply, that if Juvenis is disposed to question the pro- . priety of Paul's direction, I will willingly enter on the discussion with him at any future time, but at present our question is not the propriety of any regulation found in the New Testament, but of a practice which it is acknowledged is no where therein to be met with.
In my former communication, I put the following question to Juvenis, “ did you ever find a bad man in the habit of doing that which was good ?" which he notices by asking, “would you infer that the practice of pulpit preaching is bad because some bad men have abused it?" No, certainly: I would make no such inference; I do not say that bad men have abused pulpit preaching ; I say they have used it or practised it: and as every practice that is founded in justice and propriety is calculated to do good, I ask if it be likely that a bad man will habitually practise that which promotes virtue, when his object is to gratify vice ? Juvenis doubts if this reasoning be correct; he doubts also if it be correct that the whole system of Christianity, as contained in the New Testament, may be swept away at once, if we doubt whether Paul's direction ought to be considered as a rule for every nation, age, and place. And I should doubt it too, Mr. Editor, were I not satisfied that such reasoning is very incorrect; but where did he get it? It must surely be the chimera of his own brain, for I have neither said nor written any thing that is even like it. It is true, I stated in the conclusion of my last, that Paul's direction was a general rule given to the whole church, without any restrictions or erceptions whatever ; and if we doubted whether such directions were applicable to all Christians, then the whole system of Christianity might be swept away at once, for there is no part of the New Testament from beginning to end which is expressly addressed to the Christian church in England: but this is widely different from sweeping away the whole of Christianity at once, merely because any one chooses to doubt whether Paul's direction was general or particular. I assumed that it was general, and wholly so as it regards the church, and then grounded my hypothesis upon that assumption. If Juvenis doubts the propriety of the assumption, let him shew its fallacy, and I will listen to him with pleasure.
I perfectly agree with Timotheus, (continues he), that nothing ought to be called Christian but what is authorised by Christianity ; but Timotheus would not allow that the publication of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine was antichristian because Jesus never appointed it; neither can I call the public means of instruction by preaching anti-christian, because Christianity does not directly authorise it.” Certainly I would not allow that the publication of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine was anti-christian, merely because Jesus had not appointed it ; but this I would allow, and this would I contend for, that if Jesus or his apostles had appointed any plan for printing and publishing the truths of their religion, then all modes of printing and publishing those truths contrary to that plan would be anti-christian, and so I say with regard to teaching Christianity ; if Jesus or his messengers have appointed the method by which Christianity shall be taught, then all methods contrary to that which they have laid down are anti-christian. Surely, Mr. Editor, I cannot be misunderstood in this particular; but if Juvenis doubts the correctness of the reasoning, I again repeat, let him shew its fallacy, and I will listen to him with pleasure.
That there is a plan of instruction laid down in the New Testament, for the Christian church to act upon, I have already shewn; and that pulpit preaching is not conformable to that plan, Juvenis himself acknowledges. “ The stability of the thing (he says) sufficiently justifies the means.” What thing does he mean? If he would imply that the purity of the preacher's intention sufficiently justifies preaching, then 1 deny the position altogether, and shall be happy, extremely happy, to learn what new principle of morality has graced the sons of gavelkind, by which they can make out that right intentions will justify wrong means.
1fa friend from dear Dublin were to visit Juvenis, and “ for love knock him down,” he certainly could not complain; or if he did, the Hibernian might remind him, that “ the stability of the thing sufficiently justified the means.
Juvenis hopes that both pulpit preaching, and the circula. tion of this magazine, have been and will be instrumental in correcting error, convincing the unbelieving, and reclaiming the vicious. I hope so too ; and I hope also that the despotic government of Buonaparte, the direful calamities of the Spanish war, and the dreadful earthquake at Caraccas, will all have the same tendency; but, what then? Shall I, because I hope, or think, or even believe that they will have this effect--shall I rejoice in the one, and use my best exertions to support the others ? Shall I do evil that good may come? God forbid.
What clear demonstration I require of the moral tendency of pulpit preaching Juvenis does not know. I answer then, any demonstration that it may please you to give me: I care not what it is, so it be a clear demonstration ; for as iny object is to come at the truth, I will follow you thither through any road you like, only be careful that it is a right road; for if it should be otherwise, peradventure 1 may find you out, and then I shall most certainly desert you, and proclaim to our fellow travellers the deception. You think there are thousands who could bear testimony to the value of pulpit preaching, both as it relates to points of doctrine and principles of conduct. All this may be very true, but you have not proved it to be so ; you acknowledge that your thinking: so does not prove it. Here you will rejoice to hear, that with all due deference 1 fully acquiesce in your opinion. lam glad there are some points on which we can agree in opinion, for it is far more pleasing to agree than to differ, particularly with those with whom we wisk to agree.
Juvenis does not deny the probability, that some better plan may be devised to produce general happiness to man ; he only contends (hé says) that pulpit preaching is a good one. Now how is it that it never entered the mind of Juvenis to inquire whether this better plan had not already been devised, and whether the mode adopted by the primitive Christians was not a better plun? Surely the general bappiness of mankind is a subject sufficiently important to set any well disposed man about enquiring into the best method of promoting it. Juveuis tells