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enable Protestant dissenters to worship where they pleased, after giving proper notice to the magistrate ; how their availing themselves of this liberty can be construed into an abuse of the Act, we are at a loss to conceive. This Writer would tolerate Dissenters, but not allow them to propagate their sentiment; ; that is, he would permit them that liberty of thinking which none can restrain, but not of speaking and acting, which are alone subject to the operation of law. .
It is quite of a piece with, the narrow prejudices of such a mari, to complain of it as an intolerable hardship that a mi. nister of the establishment is sometiines in danger, through the undistinguishing spirit of hospitality, of being invited to sit down with religionists of different descriptions; and he avows his manly resolution of going without his dinner, rather than expose himself to such an indigoity. It is certainly a most lamentable thing to reflect, that a regular clergymanmay possibly lose caste, by mixing, at the hospitable board, with some of those who will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, When Burke was informed that Mr. Godwin held gratitude to be a crime, he replied, "I will take care not to be accessory to his committing that crime. We hope the lovers of hospitality will take the hint, and never insult the Author of · Zeal without Innovation' by exposing him to the touch of the ceremonially unclean.
Although we have alreadly trespassed on the patience of our readers, we cannot dismiss this part of the subject without craving their indulgence a little longer. We are much concerned to witness the spirit of intolerance that pervades many recent publications. If the uniform course of experience can prove any thing, it is, that the extension of any particular frame of church government will of itself contribute little to. the interests of vital Christianity. Suppose every inhabitant of the kingdom were to return to the bosom of the establishment to-morrow, what real accession would be gained to the kingdom of Christ? Is there any magic in the change of a name, which can convert careless, profane, irreligious dissenters into devout and pious churchien ? The virtuous part of them do honour to the Christian profession in the situation' they occupy at present; and for the vicious, they could only .. infect and disgrace the community with wbich they proposed to associate. What means this incessant struggle to raise one party on the ruins of another, this assumption of infallibility, and the clamorous demand for the interposition of the legislature which we so often witness? If the writers to whom we allude will honestly tell us they are apprehensive of their craft being in danger, we will give them credit for sincerity ; but to attempt to cover their bigotry under the mask
* of piety, is too gross a deception. Were the measures adopto
ed for which these men are so violent, they would scarcely prove more injurious to religion, than to the interests of the established church; to which the accession of numbers would be no compensation for the loss of that activity and spirit which are kept alive by the neighbourhood of rival sects. She would suffer rapid encroachments from infidelity, and the indolence and secularity too incident to opulent establishments would hasten her downfal. Amidst the increasing degeneracy of the clergy, which must be the inevitable effect of destroying the necessity of vigilance and exertion, the people that now crowd the conventicle, would not repair to the church: they would be scattered and dissipated, like water no longer confined within its banks. In a very short time, we have not the smallest doubt, the attendance at church would be much less than it is now. A religion, which by leaving no choice can produce no attachment, a religion invested with the stern rigour of law, and associated in the public mind, and in public practice, with prisons and pillories and gibbets, would be a noble match, to be sure, for the subtle spirit of impiety, and the enormous and increasing corruption of the times. It is amusing to reflect what ample elbow-room the worthy rector would possess; how freely he might ex patiate in his wide domain, and how much the effect of his denunciations against schism would be heightened by echoing through so large a void.
Hic vasto rex Æolus antro
Imperio premit. The Gallican church, no doubt, looked upon it as a signal triumph, when she prevailed on Louis the Fourteenth to repeal the edict of Nantes, and to suppress the Protestant religion. But what was the consequence? Where shall we look, after this period, for her Fenelons and her Pascals, where for the distinguished monuments of piety and learning which were the glory of her better days? As for piety, she perceived she had no occasion for it, when there was no lustre of Christian holiness surrounding her; nor for learning, when she had no longer any opponents to confute, or any controversies to maintain. She felt herself at liberty to become as ignorant, as secular, as irreligious as she pleased ; and amidst the silence and darkness she had created around her, she drew the curtains and retired to rest. The accession of numbers she gained by suppressing her opponents, was like the small extension of length a body acquires by death; the feeble remains of life were extinguished, and she lay a putrid corpse,
. a public nuisance, filling the air with pestilential exhalations. *
Such, there is every reason to believe, would be the effect of similar measures in England. That union among Chris.. tians, which it is so desirable to recover, must, we are persuaded, be the result of something more heavenly and divine, than legal restraints, or angry controversies. Unless an angel were to descend for that purpose, the spirit of division is a disease which will never be healed by troubling the waters. · We must expect the cure from the increasing prevalence of religion, and from a copious communication of the Spirit to produce that event. A more extensive diffusion of piety among all sects and parties will be the best and only preparation for a cordial union. Christians will then be disposed to appreciate their differences niore equitably, to turn their chief attention to points on which they agree, and, in consequence of loving each other more, to make every concession consistent with a good conscience. Instead of wishing to vanquish others, every one will be desirous of being vanquished by the truth. An awful fear of God, and an exclusive desire of discovering his mind, will hold a torch before them in their inquiries, which will strangely illuminate the path in which they are to tread. In the room of being repelled by mutual antipathy, they will be insensibly drawn nearer to each other by the ties of mutual attachment. A larger measure of the spirit of Christ would prevent them from converting every incidental variation into an impassable boundary, or from condemn. t. ing the most innocent and laudable usages for fear of sym. bolizing with another class of Christiansan odious spirit, with which the Writer under consideration is strongly impregnated. The general prevalence of piety in different communities, would inspire that mutual respect, that heart, felt homage, for the virtues conspicuous in the character of their respective members, which would urge us to ask with astonishment and regret, Why cannot we be one? What is it that obstructs our union? Instead of maintaining the barrier which separates us from each other, and employing ourselves in fortifying the frontiers of hostile communities, we should be anxiously devising the means of narrowing the grounds of dispute, by drawing the attention of all parties to those fundamental and catholic principles, in which they concur.
To this, we may add, that a more perfect subjection to the authority of the great Head of the Church would restrain men from inventing new terms of communion, from lording it over conscience, or from exacting a scrupulous compliance with things which the word of God has left indifferent. That sense of imperfection we ought ever to cherish, would incline us to be looking up for superior light, and make us think.it
not improbable that, in the long night which has befallen us, we have all more or less mistaken our way, and have much to learn and ouch to correct. The very idea of identifying a particular party with the church would be exploded, the foolish clamour about schism hushed, and no one, bowever mean or inconsiderable, be expected to surrender his conscience to the claims of ecclesiastical dominion. The New Testament is surely not so obscure a book, that, were its contents to fall into the hands of a hundred serious impartial men, it would produce such opposite conclusions as must necessarily issue in their forining two or more separate communions. It is remarkable, indeed, that the chief points about which real Christians are divided, are points on which that volume is silent ; mere human fabrications, which the presumption of men bas attached to the Christian system. A larger communi. cation of the Spirit of Truth would insensibly lead Christians into a similar train of thinking; and being more under the guidance of that infallible Teacher, they would gradually tend to the same point, and settle in the same conclusions. Witb. out such an influence as this, the coalescing into one commu. nion would probably be productive of much mischief: it cer. tainly would do no sort of good, since it would be the mere result of intolerance and pride, acting upon indolence and fear.
During the present disjointed state of things, then, nothing! remains, but for every one, to whom the care of any part of the Church of Christ is entrusted, to exert bimself to the utmost in the promotion of vital religion, in cementing the friendship of the good, and repressing, with a firm and steady hand, the heats and eruptions of party spirit. He will find sufficient employment for his tine and his talents, in incuicating the great truths of the gospel, and endeavouring to 'form Christ in his hearers, without blowing the flames of contention, or widening that breach which is already the disgrace and calanity of the Christian name. Were our efforts uniformly to take this direction, there would be an identity in the impression made by religious instruction; the distortion of party features would gradually disappear, and Christians would every where approach toward that ideal beauty spoken of by painters, which is combined of the finest lines and traits conspicuous in individual forms. Since they have all drank into the same spirit, it is manifest nothing is wanting, but a larger portion of that spirit, to lay the foundation of a solid, cordial union. It is to the immoderate attachment to secular interest, the love of power, and the want of reverence for truth, not to the obscurities of Revelation, we must impute the unhappy contentions among Christians; maladies, which nothing can cor
rect, but deep and genuine piety. The true schismatic is not so properly the person who declines a compliance with what he judges to be wrong, though he may be mistaken in that judgement ; as the man who, like the author before us, sedulously employs every artifice to alienale the affections of good men from each other. . .
(To be continued.) Art. II. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, for
the Year 1808. Part II. 4to. p. iv. 232. Price 155. Nicol. 1808 THIS part of the Royal Society's volume for 1808, contains
eleven distinct memoirs, numbered 12 to 22 inclusive, XI1. Observations of a Comet, made with a view to investigate its Magnitude and the Nature of its Illumination. To which is added, an Account of a new Irregularity lately perceioed. in the apparent Figure of the Planet Saturn. By William Herschel, L.L.D.F.R.S. Read April 7, 1808.
The comet, on which the observations here recorded were made, was that which appeared so plainly to the unassisted eye in the autumn of 1807. They es: ablish three points pretty satisfactorily; (1.) the diameter of the nucleus of the comet, about 538 miles; (2.) the length of the tail on the 18th of October, more than 9 millions of miles; (3.) that the body of the comet is self-luminous. Of these particulars, the first had been thought doubtful by some astronomers whose oliservations were made with telescopes of inferior power; the second is very consistent with observations upon other comets; the third, if the like should be found to obtain with regard to other comets, will constitute a farther distinction between cometary and planetary bodies not before pointed out by as. tronomers. The immense tails of this and many other comets, Dr. Herschel thinks, may be accounted for more satisfactorily, by admitting them to consist of radiant matter, such, for example, as the aurora borealis, than when we unnecessarily as.. cribe their light to a reflection of the sun's illumination throlyn upon vapours supposed to arise from the body of the coinet.
From the second part of this paper we learn, that on the 16th of June 1807, Dr. Herschiel observed a protuberance in the southern polar regions of the planet Saturn, which he is confident had no existence the last time he had examined the planet. The same thing was observed by Dr. Wilson of Hampstead, on being requested by Dr. H. to examine the polar regions of Saturn attentively: and Dr. H.'s “ son John Hers. chel,” observed it also, and, what is more, 56 exactly delineated it upon a slate !" Duly appreciating this important information, we are notwithstanding of opinion, that this part of Dr.