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ducts the execution of it, in such a manner, as to assign their due share of importance to the correlative means; and secure the certainty both of means and end, without violating or forcing the intellectual powers of any one rational agent.
I have already scrupled to enrol Mr. Wesley him. self on the list of mussulmen. Some of his tenets, however, are so nearly related to the worst branches of the Mahometan system, that he might very readily be mistaken, at first sight, for a disciple of Hali. Survey the dark side of Mahometism; and you will almost aver, that the portrait was intended for the mufti of Moorfields.
“ The Mahometans would have us believe, that he [viz. Mahomet) was a saint, from the fourth year of his age: for then, say they, the angel Gabriel took him from among his fellows, while at play with them ; and carrying him aside, cut open his breast, and took out his heart, and wrung out of it that black drop of blood, in which (say they) was contained the fomes peccati: so that he had none of it ever after (t).”— So much for Mahomet's sinless perfection.
They hold it unlawful to drink wine; and to play at chess, tables, cards, or such like recreations (u).
“ They esteem good works meritorious of heaven (a).
“ Some will be honoured for their abstinence, in eating and drinking sparingly and seldom. Some profess poverty, and will enjoy no earthly things. Others brag of revelations, visions, and enthusiasms. Some are for traditions, and merits, by which [they suppose] salvation is obtained, and not by grace (y)." How easy would it be, to run the parallel between Mahometans and some other folks!
(t) Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 141.
I must, however, partly acquit Mr. Wesley of Mahometism, on the head of recreations; for, in a certain twopenny extract from somebody else, published in the year 1767, Mr. Wesley recommends the recreating exercise of battle-dore and shuttlecock, together with that of the wooden horse.
Beside the above articles, the Mahometans hold, that there is a third, or middle place, for the reception of some departed souls (z).
They deny the perpetuity of faith : believing, that “ whosoever renounceth it, loseth the merit of all bis good works; and that, during all that time, he can do nothing acceptable to God, until he hath repented: and then he becomes a mussulman, or faithful, again (a).” Their dervises “live a very retired and austere life; going bare-foot, with a leathern girdle round their bodies, full of sharp points, to mortify the flesh (6).”
The Mahometan bigotry is so excessive, that “they esteem themselves only to be wise, valiant, and holy. The rest of the world they look upon to be fools and reprobates; and use them accordingly (o).”
Among the followers of Mahomet, “ Any person may be a priest, that pleases to take the habit and perform the functions; and may lay down his office when he will: there being nothing like ordination amongst them (d).”
By this time the reader may judge, whether the church of England, or Mr. Wesley and his friend Sellon, make the nearest approaches to Mahometism. As to myself in particular, I can give a decisive proof that I am not a Mahometan. It might be better for Mr. Sellon, if I were. For, it is one of the essential commands, enjoined by the Alcoran, that
(z) Great Hist. Dict. Article, Mahometism.
Mahomet's disciples must “never dispute with the ignorant(e).” Consequently, were Mahomet and I master and scholar, the Yorkshire Arminian would have escaped the whole of his present chastisement.
The Judgment of the most eminent English Martyrs,
who suffered for the Gospel, prior to the Settlement of the Reformation.
Having seen “ how the stream goes at Constantinople,” let us weigh anchor, and return to our own more enlightened clime.
When it pleased God to visit this kingdom with a revival of gospel truth, the persons, whose interest it was to keep mankind involved in religious darkness, strained every sinew of secular and ecclesiastical power, to obstruct the progress of a doctrine, which, if not seasonably smothered, would inevitably prove fatal to that golden idol, which the churchmen of those times worshipped. They well knew, that the scheme of free salvation, as it stands simply revealed in scripture, lays the axe, not only to the tree, but to the very root, of popery: which, like Dagon before the ark, cannot but fall, in proportion as the doctrines of gratuitous election and unconditional justification prevail and extend. Hence, the sword of persecution was unsheathed : and they whose eyes God had opened, could sing, with those of old, for thy sake, we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep appointed to be slain.
While the sword was brandished, and while the fires were flaming, protestants went cheerfully to
(e) Voltaire's Essay on Univ. Hist. vol. i. P.
death for the doctrines of Christ. But, now the sword is laid asleep, and the fires are extinguished, the doctrines of Christ are too generally forgotten : nay, what is still more shocking, the very mention of those doctrines seems to frighten some nominal protestants out of their wits. If we have lost the persecutions, we have also in a manner) lost the spirit and faith of our Christian predecessors. This will too plainly appear, so far as the articles now in question are concerned, even from the few following examples.
I. William Sawtree, an early and eminent disciple of Wickliff, was rector or vicar of St. Seithe's parish in London, and the first who had the honour of being burnt for protestantism in England. That this worthy proto-martyr held the doctrine of election, appears, from part of a paper which he wrote and delivered to Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury. In the fulness of his zeal against angel worshipping, he gave the prelate to understand, that, were he bound to worship one or the other, he would, of the two,“ rather worship a man, whom he knew to be predestinated, than worship an angel :” assigning for reason, because “the one is a man of the same nature with the humanity of Christ, which an angel is not (f).” He suffered death, A. D. 1400.
II. Mr. John Claydon, a devout tradesman of London, was burned in Smithfield, A. D. 1415. An English book had been found in his custody, from whence fifteen articles of heresy were extracted, which served as the ground-work of his prosecution and condemnation. Among these articles, was one, concerning election and perseverance, wbich ran thus: “5. That no reprobate is a member of the church, but only such as be elected and predestinate to salvation : seeing the church is no other
(f) Fox's Acts and Mon. vol. i. p. 587.
thing but the congregation of faithful souls, who do and will keep their faith constantly, as well in deed, as in word (9).” This book, it seems, was entitled, “ The Lanthorn of Light(h): and Mr. Claydon confessed, that he “ had got that copy of it transcribed and bound at his own expence.” On which, he was consigned to the flames, as incorrigible.
III. Mr. Thomas Bilney, who had been the instrument of bishop Latimer's conversion, was burned in 1531. Among the articles of his examination before Tonstal, bishop of London, were the following: " Whether he believed the catholic church may err in the faith, or no? And whether he thought the catholic church is only a spiritual church, intelligible and known only to God?” To this double interrogatory, Bilney answered in these words: “ The catholic church” [i. e. the universal church of God's predestinated people,] can by no means err in faith : for it is the whole congregation of the elect; and so known only unto God, who knoweth who are his ().” Two other ensnaring questions were put to this holy man: “ Whether he believed all things, pertaining to salvation and damnation, to come of necessity, and nothing to be in our own wills? And, whether he believed God to be the author of all evil (k)?” He discreetly answered, ,66 God is the author of the punishment only, but not of the offence (1).” He would never have been put to the test of such queries ' as these, if he had not been considered as a known predestinarian.
IV. James Bainham, a gentleman of birth and learning, by profession a lawyer, of the Middle
(9) Fox, i. 727.
(h) Its author was one Mr. John Grime, a Wicklifist. The short extract from it, cited above, may stand as a general specimen of the doctrines with which the writings of the earliest protestants were fraught. (i) Fox, ii. 213.
(1) Ibid. VOL. I.