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divinity of our Saviour as a doctrine delivered in this Book, and that, therefore, it was his duty to defend it. But he must, we are sure, have considered the various other doctrines which are contained in the Articles of our Church, “as things delivered in the same Book," and not as “ streams derived from it by the sophistry, or polluted by the passions of men;" otherwise he would not, he could not, have subscribed them. If the principle, therefore, which regulated the performance of his duty as Divinity Professor required him to defend the divinity of our Saviour as a truth delivered in Scripture, the same principle, we conceive, must, if he acted consistently, have made it equally imperative upon him to answer arguments brought against any other doctrines contained in the Articles of the Church of England; for, when he subscribed them, he made to the world, a solemn and unequivocal declaration that he conscientiously believed them to be,
pure, not polluted streams,” derived from the very Fountain of Truth, the oracles of God.
The Bishop's language on this subject reduces us to a most unpleasant dilemma; and should we escape one horn, we must inevitably be pinned on the point of the other. If he did not believe that the doctrines contained in the Articles of the Church of England were “ things delivered in this Book,” we leave it to his admirers to explain to the world by what train of reasoning, a man who arrogates peculiar praise to himself, as being “ of the oak, and not of the willow," could have been prevailed upon to subscribe them: on the other hand, if, believing the doctrines contained in the Articles to be, as he asserted, over and over again, when subscribing them, “things delivered in this Book," he never troubled himself with answering any arguments brought against them, we must charge him with a wilful dereliction of an important public duty, which he had expressly undertaken to perform; and for the discharge of which, he continued to his dying moments, to receive the pecuniary emoluments annexed to his engagement.
Indeed, judging from the tone and temper of the “ life" which the deceased Prelate prepared for posthumous publication, we conceive him to have been perfectly radical in the notions of reform which he entertained. His were not, to use his own expressions, “piddling objections to particular parts of our Ecclesiastical Polity,” which experience might point out as necessary to be reconsidered; but to the very frame and structure of our Church Establishment: the change, or improvement, as he would call it, which he wished to effect, was not the removal of a decayed branch, which might leare
the tree untouched, it was a “root and branch reformation." “ A reformer of Luther's temper and talents, would,” he tells us, “ in five years, persuade the people to compel the parliament to abolish tithes, to extinguish pluralities, to enforce residence, to confine Episcopacy to the overseeing of dioceses, to expunge the Athanasian Creed from the Liturgy, to free Dissenters from Test Acts, and the Ministers of the Establishment from subscription to human articles of faith. These, and other matters respecting the Church, ought to be done. I want not courage to attempt doing, what, I think, onght to be done, and I am not held back by considerations of personal interest; but my temper is peaceable, I dislike contention, and trust that the still small voice of reason will at length be heard."
We cannot help embracing this opportunity of soliciting, in earnest terms, the attention of our readers to the spirit and tendency of this extraordinary passage ; for ourselves we declare that we have in vain tasked our memory to recollect any thing which approaches it, for inconsistency and bold pretension. Such language, however bold, in the mouth of a professed dissenter, would still be consistent; it could hardly excite our surprize, though it might fill us with regret; but coming from an individual, however gifted, who for the longest part of half a century, was not only a member, but a dignitary, and ruler of that establishment, which he asserts ought to be abolished; it cannot, we think, fail to excite in every one who peruses it, feelings of astonishment and reprobation. It was not, it is true, the possession of a bishopric on the shores of the Bristol Channel, which he deigned to visit once in three years, from the banks of Winander-mere-it was not the emoluments of a lucrative professorship, the duties of which, for the last sixteen years of his life, he devolved upon a deputy, that induced him to continue a member of a church of which, by his station, he was a defender and guardian but which, in its principles and practice, he most unequivocally condemns : for we bave his own assurance, that he was not restrained from effecting the overthrow, (for he never doubts, that he possessed the power to do it,) by considerations of self-interest. To what cause, then, must we ascribe his forbearance? Why, forsooth, to the peaceableness of his temper, and to his dislike of contention!
We venture to bint, that neither the lay, nor ecclesiastical members of the Church of England, are by any means aware of the full extent of their obligations to Bishop Watson. When counting up the items of our gratitude to the deceased
с VOL. XVII. JANUARY, 1822.
prelate, we are strongly reminded of a watchmaker, in some play, which we remember to have seen, when we were young, who recommends a fair helpmate to one of the sons of Israel; not by describing the lands, the jewels, and the gold which she would bring him, but by enumerating a long and fearful list of expences, to which she would not put him. In the same manner would we act, were we called upon to make out the Bishop's claims to the gratitude of the public: we should remind our readers, however, not of what he did grant; but of what he did not, which we consider infinitely greater. His positive claims, or wbat he did, stand, we believe, nearly thus—Three admirable tracts, which few, perhaps, could have written so well, and none better ; some chemical essays, which, in the present state of the science, are probably, but little read ; and a few occasional sermons, with two or three party pamphlets.
Now, with every disposition to acknowledge the great merits of the three tracts which he published in defence of Revelation : and we conceive that his public claims as a literary character, must rest solely and exclusively upon these tracts; it still appears to us not a little singular, that, upon the strength of this alone, he and his friends, whenever be appears, should vociferously blow the trumpet, and command the world to fall down and worship
But, although we will not go as far as some of his admirers, in extolling the merit of what he did, we are persuaded that none of them will go farther than ourselves in acknowledging our obligations to him for what he could have done, for what he asserts, ought to have been done, but what he declined doing: and we call upon all those who feel an interest in the stability of our ecclesiastical institutions to contemplate the full extent of their obligations to the forbearance of the deceased Prelate. They have now a full view of the danger which they have escaped; but till his “ Life" appeared, they were, we presume, but little aware, that a battery lay concealed in the wilds of Westmoreland, which, if unmasked, would have blown them into the air. The political admirers of the Bishop bave the same ends in view, and lament that they do not possess the means of effecting their object; but, we conceive, that their admiration must be considerably diminished when they reflect, that he wickedly neglected to apply the power, which he acknowledges be possessed, of bestowing upon society, the blessings which they so ardently covet. For our own part, we must be permitted to declare, that had we been among the number of his admirers, the mildness and peaceableness of temper which he
attributes to himself, and to which alone he ascribes the safety of the English Church, would have excited in us feelings of bitter regret; we should have been tempted to have exclaimed, in strong terms, against the humble meekness which restrained bim from effecting the destruction of institutions wbich may now exist for ages, simply from the want of those splendid and commanding talents which he neglected to employ for their overthrow. It is hardly possible to conceive a circumstance more cruelly mortifying to the enemies of our establishment, than to learn, that the idol whom they extol, possessed ample means to gratify their most sanguine wishes, but for some unaccountable reason, declined to use them. To feel an ardent desire to effect any object, and at the same time to feel destitute of the power by which it may be accomplished, must be sufficiently galling : but our vexation must rise to the highest pitch, when we discover that the cup has been dashed from our lips by the treachery or supineness of a friend and an associate.
As he cannot now answer for himself, this is a subject which we touch upon with extreme reluctance: but since he left behind him a work for publication, which must convince, we think, the most partial reader, that he was, through life, the lukewarm friend, if not the concealed enemy, of that establishment, in which, for more than thirty years, he filled most important stations, we do not think that we can be justly charged with the imputation of violating the decent consideration which is due to the memory of the dead, by endeavouring, as far as lies in our power, to unbarb the shaft, which, with a refinement of malignity, he aimed at our Ecclesiastical Establishments with his dying hand.
We have devoted so much space to demonstrate the indispensible necessity of requiring subscription to human articles of faith, as the only ground-work on which a national establishment can be permanently secured, that we have but little room to bestow on the second chapter of the publication before us, in which the author proceeds with very minute detail to point out “the means of exciting and maintaining among the members of the Established Church, a spirit of devotion, together with zeal for her honour, stability and influence.” But this we consider less to be regretted, as we have not been able to discover that many of the author's observations on this subject, embrace any novel views calculated to provoke discussion: we cannot say, that any of his observations are either uncommon or profound. The whole chapter is made up of practical hints, for which the reader must be referred to the book itself. We sball, in this place,
subjoin a passage, which may serve as a specimen of the author's style and manner, as well as an illustration of the general view which he takes of this part of his subject.
“ In endeavouring to point out the best specific measures for the attainment of the desired end in immediate reference to our own Church, it may be well to remark, as a preliminary caution, that no novel system of ecclesiastical doctrine or discipline is at all requisite, but only, that the Church as already established, should assume greater efficiency, and avail itself more fully of every due means for increasing its utility. It is not by a few violent efforts that the Church of England is to be preserved or dissent annihilated :
: nor is it by any species of moral magic that devotion is to be fostered, or irreligion quelled. As our disorder has been chronic our recovery must be gradual. The only wise or reasonable plan for increasing devotion and Churchmanship throughout the country is by the systematic combination of all those various means which the Church herself has placed within our reach, under a constant recognition of the divine agency, and with a humble spirit of devotion and dependence upon God's grace and heavenly benediction. The Church asks for no projecting or innovating spirit; the power of renovation is placed under God, in the individual and collective agency of her ministers and members. Our wise and holy reformers have amply provided for casual decays and dilapidations, and have instituted a system, which, if fully acted upon in their own spirit would soon restore the Church of England to that primitive glory which she derived from the blood of her martyrs and the suffrages of an admiring people,” P. 113.
We regret that we are obliged to add that the tone in which the work is written does not appear to us to merit commendation. It savours of a school of divinity on which we can bestow no approbation. We shall feel much pleasure in being undeceived in the opinion which we have formed: but the impression made upon our minds by the perüsal of the whole book, rather than by the tenor of any one passage leads us to suppose that Mr. Wilks wishes to be connected with a party in the Church which modestly arrogates to itself exclusively the claim of being evangelical, and which involves at least indirectly, the great body of the English Clergy in the charge of departing from the tenor of that Gospel which they have undertaken to teach. The disorder of which he speaks in the passage just quoted, and which he describes as being chronic, must, we presume, refer exclusively to the opinions which are held by a very large majority of the English Clergy on some disputed points of speculative and polemical divinity: and the gradual reco