George Lavington.

The enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists considered online

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treatise in circulation amongst us. Instructed sufficiently in the
Scriptures to be enabled to understand the design of many such pub-
lications, we may observe them examining their Bible with a malicious
eye, rejecting its authority, and finally ripe for every evil work. It
had, indeed, been " better for them not to have known the way of
righteousness, than after they had known it to turn from the holy
commandment" better not to have read (or have been able to read)


the Scripture, than after they had read it " tp wrest it to their own



IN confirmation of my report on this topic, I shall produce some
extracts from " A Country Parson's Address to his Flock." It was
published in 1799. 1 After describing the mischiefs created by seditious
clubs, debating Societies, and itinerant lecturers, the author thus ad-
verts to the Sunday-school : " It only turned the foul stream into a
different channel. The poison has still continued to be conveyed, and
is spreading through a medium perhaps more dangerous, as it deceives
the unwary under a specious form. Schools have been opened by
members from some of those Societies, intruding themselves into dif-
ferent parishes, under the plausible name of Sunday-schools, for in-
structing the children gratis, and Sunday discourses for the young and
old too wherein these itinerant preachers soon begin to unfold prin-
ciples of a seditious tendency."

Since the year 1/99, Sunday-schools have proved, more and more,
the means of detaching the parishioners from their proper ministers.
Even in cases where the ministers have not objected to the Sunday-
schools, laymen and laywomen have so much interfered with our cle-
rical duty, as to reduce the clergyman, in religious matters which he
surely is appointed to conduct, upon a footing with themselves.

1 By F. Wollaston, rector of Chislehurst in Kent. 8vo. Wilkie. See in
particular pp. 2630.




ONE of the most glaring instances of lay-interference that has oc-
curred since the institution of the Sunday-school, was that of Mrs.
Hannah More.

That Mrs. Hannah's attachment to the Church of England is of a
very questionable kind, may be inferred from the attention she has
uniformly paid to unauthorized preachers' from her frequenting, in-
deed, other places of worship than the established Church.

In the case of Sunday-schools, the Blagdon controversy renders it
sufficiently notorious that Mrs. H. More's seminaries* were never, at
any time, under the direction and controul of the officiating clergy-
man, except where that clergyman chanced to cooperate with her in
the same views, or (in other words) was a Gospel-minister. The of-
ficiating clergyman, indeed, was often as ignorant of the business of
the school as any of his parishioners. Mrs. More's institutions, in
fact, were every where instrumental in increasing the influence of the
Methodists ; and the conventicle was erected as an accompaniment to
the school.

I consider the curate of Blagdon as deeply injured by Mrs. More j
insomuch that his own declaration is scarcely too strong, that " her
conduct to him was less venial than even female impurity." Her
assumed superiority, her contemptuous silence at one time, and her
cunning evasions at another, are all beyond endurance. To the laity
the clergy are indebted, I most cheerfully allow, for their assistance

1 See " Daubeny's Letter to Mrs. H. More," 1799. We cannot doubt
Mr. Jay's positive assertion, that Mrs. M. received the sacrament at his hand*
sundry times not merely once by accident, as her sibter stated it.

* On the Mcndip- Hills, &c. &c.


and support but not to such persons as Mrs. More. 1 mean not to
detract from the merit of her writings : but I deprecate the mischiev-
ous effects of her enthusiasm. 1



THAT Mr. Wilberforce is a patron of Sunday-schools is not to be
denied ; but that he prefers Methodists to Churchmen as conductors
of these Schools is an assertion requiring proof. I believe him to be
a wise and a good man : 1 doubt not the conscientiousness of his mo-
tives. It is often to be regretted, that a too fervent zeal is the pre-
dominant feature in the best of Christians ; and that Piety has not
joined hand in hand with Prudence.*



I HAVE already animadverted on the heedless coalition of too many
of the clergy with sectarists in the superintendance of Sunday-schools.
But it behoves us to stand armed at all points against the sectarists ;
particularly against those who, as the disciples of Wesley professing a
regard for the Church-service, have had the art to insinuate themselves

1 See for a copious account of the Blagdon controversy, Anti-Jacob. Rev. ix.
p. 277 296. 391 397. 415 419. xi. p. 416 433. xii. 97 112. 301 308.
428 444. xiv. 221514.

9 Mr. Wilberforce, it is said, has some share in the management of Mr. Thorn-
ton's fund for the purchase of livings in behalf of " the Gospelers. "Mr. W.,
with all his sagacity, does not perceive, that he is thus encouraging the most dan-
gerous species of schism.


into our good opinion ; insomuch that our benevolence and even our
piety may assist their measures, with a precipitation which our cooler
judgement would disapprove. I recollect an institution at Cambridge,
which took place a few years ago, for the purpose of relieving the di-
stresses of the poor. It was set forth by Dissenters of various deno-
minations. Their motive of charity perhaps was pure. They succeed-
ed, however, through their " Poor-men's fund," in drawing off great
numbers from the established Church, in introducing them to the con-
venticle, and in fixing them there. And, indeed, how could it have
been otherwise ? An act of charity is naturally accompanied with spi-
ritual advice. But suppose it done in silence : they who receive bene-
fits look with pleasure to their benefactors. The result is obvious.
The example of Cambridge should induce caution in other places.



IN the mean time there is a sect from which we have more perhaps to
fear, than even from the Calvinistic Methodists ; a sect characterized
by an excellent prelate, in his " First Principles of Christianity," as
a species of " Deists calling themselves Unitarians." The exertions
which they are making in the spread of their heretical opinions are
almost incredible. And some of their projects have succeeded, I be-
lieve, far beyond their expectations. Among these, the most, perhaps,
to be dreaded, because the most plausible, is that of an education so
contrived as to include within its comprehensive grasp an innumera-
ble congregation of children, and to adapt itself to every description of
Christians ; since, with a spirit of accommodation liberal beyond all
former example, the projector has pledged himself to subtract from
our religion all those doctrines where opinions are at variance, and
to teach Christianity in its genuine simplicity. Nothing, in short, can


afford a more striking specimen of refined policy, than this popular
institution. Nothing can have a fairer aspect of philanthropy in the
projector, than in excluding religious peculiarities, not even to except
his own. But a little reflection will shew us that, in order to effect his
purpose, he must have stripped Christianity of its characteristic rites
and its most essential doctrines. For, as another learned prelate has
observed, " If our governors were inclined to frame a new liturgy
and constitution , according to such a system, we should have a reli-
gion without a Redeemer, without a Sanctifier, and without Grace j
without a Sacrifice, without a Priest, without an Intercessor." Yet
wonderful is it, that many thinking well-disposed and religious persons
are to be found among the patrons of the plan to the secret triumph
of our enemies ! To the mechanical part of Mr. Lancaster's plan 1
have certainly nothing to object : there can be no reasonable objection .
I allow it all the ingenuity which his friends are willing to ascribe to
it. But, whilst his philanthropy is panegyrized by some, his honest
zeal by others, I cannot conceive that such terms as duplicity and
cunning are inapplicable to his designs.



NOTHING can more clearly shew the imposing aspect of the Lan-
casterian -school than the patronage it at first received even from
Majesty itself. But ere long the eyes of the great were opened to
the truth. Among those whose interference contributed to undeceive
the King, was the truly amiable De Luc.

When this veteran philosopher honoured Cornwall with a visit, I
had more than one conversation with him relative to Lancaster.
De Luc was reader, if I recollect rightly, to Her Majesty. And he
told me that, taking advantage of his situation, he had frequently


introduced to their Majesties the subject of Lancaster's school, and
cautioned them (he hoped with good effect) against the sly insinua-
tions -of a person whose speciousness had dazzled "many in high
life" such was De Luc's expression : and he was fearful that the
patronage of Lancaster would become " fashionable." We Concurred
in thinking and saying and lamenting, that " the influence of fashion
was more to be dreaded than any other influence" because it set all
arguments from reason at defiance, and despised every appeal to sen-
sibility. 1



IN marking the causes of the success of sectarism, I mentioned the
flattering doctrines of the Methodist flattering, I mean, to the ima-
gination and the passions.

But there exist perhaps more pernicious doctrines, equally flatter-
ing to the reason, or rather to the pride of reason.

Such were those of Lancaster, in a certain degree ; raising human
nature even the lowest orders in society to an elevation to which
even the more cultivated mind has no pretensions has no right to
aspire. The infirmities of man, requiring supernatural aid and inter-
cession, were excluded from his system : and rewards and punish-
ments, appealing to a sense of dignity not recognised by the vulgar,
were held out to the pupils of Lancaster rewards and punishments
bounded by earthly views ; whilst heaven and an hereafter (such as
Christianity promises to our obedience) were shut out from the pro-

In the school of Unitarianism, however, there are professors who

1 See DC Luc's Geo. Travels, vol. iii. pp. 315, 316, 317


have proceeded one step farther In the exaltation of man, and in their
addresses to his reason, as exclusive of human failings and follies and
weaknesses. The Unitarian in this process pulls up Christianity by
the roots. I need not repeat that the doctrines of our Saviour's Di-
vinity and Atonement are the two grand essentials of our faith. They
are features prominent throughout the Scripture : they are discrimi-
nating lines, that have strongly marked our religion through all the
revolutions of the Church. The Arian, though disallowing the Divi-
nity of Christ, yet leaves not the human nature to stand by itself.
He adds another nature to the human ; believing our Saviour to be
an angel-man. But the Unitarian rejects all that the Prophets have
told us. With him, our Saviour was a mere man. To him, the Atone-
ment is an absurdity. And to him, the Trinity is a monstrous fiction.
Thus stripped of its distinguishing characteristics, what is there in
Christianity that could render it a subject worthy of so particular a re-
velation from Heaven of such a series of prophecies from the first
ages of the world to the period of its appearance of such mighty
signs and wonders as were wrought to introduce and establish it ?
Natural religion had long before inculcated into man the morality of
Unitarianism, if not a superior morality. The danger of departing
from the written word of God may be clearly seen in the conduct of
those self-sufficient reasoners those half-believing Christians. We
have too frequently observed that, attempting to try the Scriptures
by the test of his philosophy, the Arian rises into a Unitarian ; and to
complete the triumph of reason, the Unitarian mounts up into a Deist.
This is the regular gradation with the more arrogant ; whilst they
whom I have termed half-believers, either too indolent or not suffi-
ciently at leisure to pursue a train of argumentation, unite in the
pious wish, that, for the sake of Christian harmony, our religion might
be so modified as to suit all parties, and to accommodate, if possible,
even Jews, Turks, Infidels, and heretics ! ! That Priestley or Price,


or Christie or Belsham, (though said to be in the first class of the Uni-
tarian school,) ever adopted so refined a philosophy, I can scarcely
think. Yet, whatever their religious system may be, I cannot but
tremble at their political ! I cannot but tremble at the revolution-
ary disseminator of seeds which have long " since taken root, and are
now growing up to a glorious harvest!" " Slavish governments !
Slavish hierarchies!" (cried one of these reformers) "Ye cannot
now hold the world in darkness !" " Unnatural alliance between the
kingdom of Christ 1 and the kingdoms of this world !" exclaimed an-
other* A third deprecates " all compromises Babylon shall fall !"*

Of this school, too, the Edgeworths have attacked us with the
weapons of ridicule more powerful, perhaps, than most other instru-
ments of warfare. In their Novels, there are some sly strokes : but
the " Practical Education" is full of deadly poison. In that large work*
Religion is passed over with perfect indifference, and even contempt. ,
In their Preface 5 , the Edgeworths say: " With respect to what is
called the Education of the heart, we have endeavoured to suggest
the easiest means of inducing useful and agreeable habits, well-regu-
lated sympathy, and benevolent affections." And " as to Religion
and Politics we have been silent, because we have no ambition to
gain partizans or to make proselytes ; and because we do not address
ourselves exclusively to any sect or to any party."

It is well that the Unitarians are almost confined to towns. The
Methodists assail us in every direction insinuating themselves into

1 Sermon on Anniversary of Revolution. Nov. 4. 1789.

* See Corrupt, of Christianity. Vol. ii.
3 See Christie's Eccles. Establishments.

The " Practical Education" consists of two large quarto volumes I hare
pleasure in observing that this work is neglected by the public at large, and ab-
horred by all reflecting minds.

* See p. 7.


villages, however remote or obscure. In the western counties, at
least, Unitarianism has made no such efforts ; nor would it be likely
to succeed in country places : it is too philosophical for the multitude.



WE have given views of education as organized by Methodists, by
Quakers, and by Unitarians. In the descending scale we have almost
thrown off Christianity : and the Unitarian school, I fear, may be
too justly assimilated to many of the Infidel seminaries.

There can be little doubt that the French Philosophists had formed a
plan forgetting the direction of schools into their own hands. 1 The same
system was adopted in our metropolis ; and for the use of the pupils
of infidelity cheap editions of the most mischievous tracts were pro-
jected ; such as " Northcote's Life of David" " The Works of Peter
Annet" "The Rights and Duties of Citizenship" "A Moral Dic-
tionary"^" Julian against Christianity." Profane songs also, and
parodies on Scripture were prepared and circulated chiefly amongst
the illiterate. And in numerous reforming societies, Christians were
abused and priests calumniated in a strain of invective, to refined
hearers undoubtedly repulsive. " There cannot be a more awfuller
sight (said one of the club-orators) than to see a bishop rolling about
in his chariot." Another exclaimed : " I am an Atheist !" and hold-
ing up an infant, " Here is a young Atheist!" Another cried:
" What signifies our sitting here ? Let us go and kill all the bloody
priests! 4 "

At this instant the same methods are pursued for the disorganizing

1 See Barruefs Memoires pour servir a 1'Histoire de Jacobinisme.
See Beid's Infidel Societies, &c. 8vo. 18OO.


of Society: and to seduce us from the Church, in particular, parodies
on the Church-service are at sale; nor can the licensed venders of
blasphemy be stopped in their course, though they "flaunt it" in the
face of the magistrate.



THAT amidst those various and portentous heresies, in which is
exhibited on every occasion the most rancorous enmity against the
Church, Dissenters should hold out to Churchmen an invitation to
union in any point of religious import, would be a thing utterly in-
credible, but for the evidence of our senses. Such, however, is the
fact : and the invitation has been accepted ! And the Bible-associa-
tion seems to have brought into one body, Churchmen and Evangelic-
preachers, Methodists and Quakers, Unitarians and Papists, Jews
and Infidels ! ! Yes ! even Infidels are embraced in the fraternizing
arms of this Society. And many worthy members of our Church, re-
penting of the precipitate step which they had taken, in consorting
with such people, have seceded from the Society. Among those, we
observed the rector of St. George's Hanover-square, nephew of th e
late Bishop Porteus, and a character highly respectable and respected.
Alas! there is nothing new under the sun. My readers may recol-
lect a parallel coalition of Calvinists and Papists in the reign of
James I.



ONE of the professed objects of the Bible Society, was the recon-
ciliation of all sects or parties.


But if we examine their proceedings, we shall be at a loss to dis-
cover any symptoms of conciliation. On the contrary (says the Bishop
of Ely) " the acrimonious language which, at the meetings of their
Auxiliary Societies, is commonly used towards those members of our
Establishment who have not joined them, affords too plain an indi-
cation of a very different temper.'" This spirit of malevolence, re-
kindled at almost ever)' meeting, should induce Churchmen to decline
all connexion with the Bible Society.



THAT a Puritanic corresponding faction of former days, acted on a
principle much too comprehensive for its avowed object, will be recol-
lected by many of my readers. And there was certainly an exact re-
semblance between this faction and the Bible Society. The partition
of the kingdom into districts will be remembered : a similar division
has at present taken place. We observe a vast and complicated ma-
chinery : and we may well ask, for what purpose was it established ?
for what end is it kept in action ? For the distribution of the
Bible!!!!!! Ridiculous! That this is a mere pretence, the following
extract from a Report of the Society itself, will prove : " A very in-
teresting part, (it seems,) of the duty of the District Committee, will
be their monthly visits among the poor, who have received their Bibles.
It is of little use to possess a Bible, unless it is read. These monthly-
visits are designed to encourage a perusal of the sacred volume, and
to bring to light the moral benefits of the Institution. Some hours
of the month will be well employed in this service. If large, it will
be advisable to sub-divide the district. If the circumstances of the

1 See Bishop of Ely's Charge in 1817.


family be made the subject of tender enquiry, if a chapter of their
B ible be read to them, or turned down for their own reading, and if
the importance of Bible Associations be familiarly explained to them
it would become a source of real personal advantage." *

Here the very ground on which the Society was formed is aban-r
cloned. The Scriptures, it seems, are not only to be distributed, but
to be explained. And by whom explained ? By a Committee, of whom
half are necessarily Dissenters, and the other half professed Church-
men too often the bitterest enemies of the Church.

In the mean time the Penny Societies are highly censurable as a
cruel imposition upon the poor. From the Society for promoting
Christian Knowledge we may procure Bibles as presents to our poorer
brethren " not exacting from them (in order to purchase Bibles) a
pittance of their hard-earned savings those savings which should be
reserved solely for the support of their temporal necessities." 9

At Chacewater, 3 a Collector of the Poor-rate (as himself informed
me) was employed for some time in raising Bible subscriptions among
the poor. And many (he said) who were both hungry and naked
were ready to contribute their pennies for the support of the Bible
Society j whilst they inveighed bitterly against the Overseers and Jus-
tices for starving them to death. He soon dropped what (he was
convinced) was a nefarious business.




As the Puritans attempted to get a footing in the Universities, the
Society in question are now exerting their utmost strength to bring

1 See die South wark Fourth Annual Report, p. 95, 1816.

2 Sec Bishop of Ely's Charge. 3 Near Truro.

Method. (i


Oxford and Cambridge within their grasp. The proposal to intro-
duce into Cambridge an Auxiliary Bible Society, proved a happy cir-
cumstance, as it occasioned an Address to the Senate, which opened
the eyes of many who had before perceived the tendency of these as-
sociations. " The professed object of the modern Bible Society (said
Dr. Marsh now Bishop of LandafF) is to distribute Bibles without
note or comment. ' But were it certain that the present avowed object
would still be retained, we can have no guarantee, that other objects
inimical to the Church will . not in time be associated with the main
object. The Dissenters, however well affected in other respects, can-
not to the Church, or they would not be Dissenters from it. Their
interests, in respect to religion, are different from ours 5 and therefore
must lead them a different way. And though we know from expe-
rience, that they can combine for the purpose of opposing the Church,
it would be contrary both to experience and to the common principles
of human action, to expect their cooperation, if the object in view was
the interest of the Church." " Churchmen should tolerate, not cn^
courage Dissenters : but Churchmen associating with Dissenters
give them a new importance, both political and religious."



THE Puritans owed much of their success to female agency : and
the influence of the ladies is equally recognised at the present day.
" The result of experience has satisfactorily proved, that the executive
duties of Bible Associations are best conducted by FEMALES. Their

1 The Address was presented to the Senate in 1811. We have seen that "the
avowed object" was soon abandoned.


example is powerfully interesting: and their exertions in this good
cause have already been productive of a happy effect." l Thus is fe-
male agency degraded into an engine of fanaticism. It is scarcely
more degraded when we see it the instrument of rebellion. " Female
Reforming Societies," we observe, have been just established at Black-
burn, at Stockport, and at Manchester. At a late meeting of Reformers
at Blackburn, "a most enchanting scene occurred" (so says their
own Oracle) " The Female Committee, making their way through
immense crowds, ascended the hustings ! ' Liberty or death ! ' was
vociferated from every mouth : the tear of sympathy seemed to start
from every eye !" " The banner was lowered, crowned by the cap of
Liberty!" "This noble expression of public sentiment would have
struck Castlereagh dead to the ground!" It is notorious that our Re-
forming Women are, in several places, the-most abandoned of the sex.
Admitting that they are not BO, surely we must see and regret, that
they have deserted their proper station. And their conduct furnishes

Online LibraryGeorge LavingtonThe enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists considered → online text (page 14 of 61)