« AnteriorContinuar »
paid to Biblical and theological subjects : I have the fullest conviction of your sincerity and desire to promote what you believe to be the great cause of truth and Christianity ; but I feel severely that our minds are not constituted alike; and being totally incapable of entering into that spirit of skepticism which you deem it your duty to inculcate from the pulpit, I should be guilty of hypocrisy if I were any longer to countenance, by a personal attendance on your minisiry, a system which (even admitting it to be right in itself) is, at least, repugnant to my own heart, and my own understanding.
“Without adverting to subjects which have hurt me on former occasions, I now directly allude to various opinions delivered in your very elaborate and, in many respects, excellent sermon of Sunday last; and especially 10 the assertion that it is impossible to demonstrate the existence and attributes of a God; that all who have attempted such demonstrations have only involved themselves in perplexity; and that though a Christian may see enough to satisfy himself upon the subject, from a survey of the works of nature, he never can prove to himself the being and attributes of a God, clearly and free from all doubt.
“I mean merely to repeat what I understood to be the general sense of the proposition; and not to contend that my memory has furnished me with your own words. And here permit me to observe, that I have been so long taught a different creed, not only from the reasonings of St. Paul, Rom. i. 20, and elsewhere, but from many of the best theologians and philosophers of our own country, from Sir I. Newton, Clarke, Barrow, and Locke, that I cannot, without pain, hear what appears to me a principle irrefragably established, treated with skepticism, and especially with such skepticism circulated from a Christian pulpit.
“I have thus, privately, unbosomed my motives to you, because, both as a minister and as a gentleman, you are entitled to them; and because I should be sorry to be thought to have acted without motives, and even without sufficient motives. My esteem and best wishes, however, you will always possess, notwithstanding my secession from the chapel; for I am persuaded of the integrity of your efforts. I am obliged to you for
attention you have shown me, and shall, at all times, be happy to return you any service in my power.
" I remain, Dear Sir,
“ J. M. Good."
“ To JOHN Mason Good, Esq. CAROLINE PLACE.
Jan. 27th, 1807. “ Dear Sir, “I am obliged to you for your polite communication of your intention to withdraw from
chapel, and of your motives for that determination. Having myself exercised to so great an extent the right of private judgment, I would be the last person to object to the exercise of that right in others.
“I cannot, however, help considering myself as peculiarly unfortunate, that after all the pains which I have taken to establish the truth of the
Christian revelation, I should, in the estimation of an intelligent 'and, I would hope, not uncandid herrer, lie open to the charge of inculcating from the pulpit a spirit of skepticism, and that the allusion which I made on Sunday last to the unsatisfactory nature of the exploded à priori demonstration of the Divine existence, should have been understood as a declaration of a deficiency in the proper evidence of the being and attributes of God.
“I certainly would not myself attend the ministry of a preacher who was skeptical either in regard to the Divine existence, or the truth of the Christian revelation. I must, therefore, completely justify you in withdrawing from my ministry while you entertain your present views. I can only regret, that I have expressed myself inadvertently in a manner so liable to be misunderstood; and sincerely wishing you health and happiness,
“I am, Dear Sir,
- Your obedient servant,
" TO THE REVEREND
“ Caroline Place, Jan. 29th, 1807. “Dear Sir, “I am obliged to you for your letter, and add only a word or two, in explanation of a single phrase which you seem to regard as uncandid. The term skepticism I have not used opprobriously, but in the very sense in which you yourself seem to have applied it, in the discourse in question, to the apostle Thomas, by asserting, upon his refusal to admit the evidence of his fellow-disciples, as to our Saviour's resurrection, that it is possible, per. haps, that the skepticism of Thomas may, in this instance, have been carried a little too far.
- I quote your idea, and, I believe, your words. And here, without adverting to other expressions of a similar nature, suffer me to close with asking you, whether I can legitimately draw any other conclusion from such a proposition, than that a skepticism, in some small degree short of that manifested by St. Thomas, is, in the opinion of him who advances that proposition, not only justifiable, but an act of duty ? and that, to a certain extent, he nieans to inculcate the spirit or disposition on which it is founded?
“It only remains that I repeat my sincere wishes for your happiness, and that I am,
* Dear Sir,
“ John Mason Good.”
To this letter Mr. Good received no reply.
Soon after, he surrendered all the characteristics of the Socinian creed, and became a constant attendant upon Divine worship at Temple church; and in a few years afterward, he wrote another essay “ On Happiness,” differing very widely from that to which reference has been made in a former part of this memoir, and furnishing a happy commentary on the advantages he had derived from the evangelical reformation in his creed. It was not, however, until 1815, that Dr. Good distinctly communicated to his friends his cordial persuasion, that the evangelical representation of the doctrines
of Scripture was that which alone accorded with the system of revealed truth, and declared his conviction, “ that there was no intermediate ground upon which a sound reasoner could make a fair stand between that of pure Deisin, and that of moderate orthodoxy, as held by the evangelical classes both of churchmen and dissenters.”
It is but candid to remind the reader, that this great change of sentiment, followed as it was by a correspondent change of practice, took place when its subject was in the vigour of manhood, and the maturity of his intellectual acquirements. And to exhibit this change, as it was, thorough and radical, notwithstanding it has been insinuated otherwise, the following notes in his Bible are inserted, written by himself.
“ HEBREWS X. 19, 20. The spirit of man is concealed by the veil of the flesh: the spiritual things of the law, the holy of holies, were concealed by the veil of the temple. Christ is the end and sum of the whole; and as the high-priest entered into the holy of holies by the veil of the temple under the law, so we can only enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,' by the veil of his flesh, or incarnation, of which the veil of the temple was a striking type. And never did type and antitype more completely harmonize with each other, and prove their relation : for when Christ exclaimed upon the cross, It is finished,' and gave up the ghost-when the veil of his flesh was rent, the veil of the temple was rent at the same moment, The former entrance into the holy of holies, which was only temporary and typical, then vanished--and the new and living way,' the way everlasting, was then opened; and what under the old dispensation was only open to the high-priest, and that but once a year, was, from that moment, open to us all, and open for all times and all occasions-a consecrated way, in which we are exhorted to enter with all boldness, in full assurance of faith; having our hearts first sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.'”
“Genesis ii. 23, 24. Under the figurative language contained in these two verses is a concealed representation of the whole mystery of the gospel -the union of Christ with the church, the glorious bride, that in the fulness of the times he will present to himself, free from spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish. St. Paul expressly tells us, Eph. v. 30, 31, that this momentous fact is here referred to, and spoken of in veiled or esoteric language. It is the first reference in the Old Testament—the earliest history of man, therefore, opens with it; it was the mystery of Paradise—the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto his own glory.""
“Genesis iii. 7. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig-leaves,” &c.
" It is so in every age and every part of the world. The moment a man becomes consciously guilty, his eyes are opened to the knowledge of evil ;
- he feels himself naked, and seeks a cover or a hiding-place: he is full of shame, and cannot endure to be looked at even by his fellows ;-he endeavours by some flimsy pretext, some apron of fig-leaves, to screen either himself or the deed he has committed from their eyes. But most of all does he feel his nakedness before God, and endeavour to hide from his presence. Happy, indeed, is he, who, with this consciousness of guilt and shame, is able by any means to discern a covering that may conceal the
naked deformity of his person from the penetrating eye of his Maker. One such covering there is, and but one, and blessed is he who is permitted to lay hold of it, and to put it on-it is the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness.”
For the same purpose, we here insert a specimen of his devotional poetry; not so much for its poetic merit, as for the distinct and decided expression of sentiment it contains.
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD ; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD,
AND THE WORD WAS GOD
O WORD! O WISDOM! heaven's high theme !
Where must the theme begin?-
Yet sacrifice for sin !
Thy boldest powers excite ;
And arm thee for the fight.
Of things to sense reveald,
Th’abyss of things concealed.
The sinner's contrite sighs,
Or frankincense to rise.
By logic's nicest plan,
Nor aught divine be man :
Whose fiat formed the sky,
Nor breathe, and groan, and die.
Here learning I despise,
To heavenly minds supplies.
Or rapture and of grief :-
O, help my unbelief.
This devotional effusion furnishes us a satisfactory and conclusive demonstration of the entire revolution which his sentiments had undergone; and the emotions of his heart seemed very frequently to prompt his muse, for a great number of poetical pieces were found among his private papers.
“ For the last seven or eight years of his life, Dr. Good, persuaded of the incalculable benefits, of the highest order, likely to accrue from Bible and Missionary Societies, gave to them his most cordial support ; on many occasions advocating their cause at public meetings, and on others employ
ing his pen in their defence. To the concerns of the Church Missionary Society" especiaily, he devoted himself with the utmost activity and ardour, as a most judicious, learned, and able member of its committee. He suggested some useful plans for the instruction of missionaries, and, in certain cases, of their wives, in the general principles of medical science, the nature and operation of the simpler remedies, and in the safe practical application of such knowledge to numerous cases which may obviously occur among the inhabitants of the dark and uncivilized regions in which Christian missionaries most frequently labour. These suggestions were not merely proposed in general terms, in the committee; but, in many instances, carried into the minutiæ of detail, by instructions which Dr. Good gave personally to the missionaries themselves. Nor was the advice thus given confined to professional topics. The stores of his richly endowed mind were opened to their use on subjects of general literature, biblical criticism, the rules of translation, the principles of geology, botany, zoology, nay, every department of knowledge calculated to fit them thoroughly for their noble and arduous undertaking. Nor, again, were these kind and valuable offices confined to individuals of the Church Missionary Society alone. His soul was ivo liberal and capacious, and his conviction of the paucity of the labourers too deep, to induce him for a moment to wish or to imagine that the glorious object could be accomplished entirely by missionaries of any one persuasion. On different occasions I have introduced to him missionaries and others connected with various religious societies, who were anxious to profit by his advice, on topics respecting which they scarcely knew where else to apply; and, uniformly, the individuals who thus availed themselves of the privilege, have testified in the most lively terms their grateful sense of the affectionate kindness of his demeanour, and the value of his suggestions."
His piety exhibited itself in his intercourse with his patients; for, in prescribing for an intricate disease, he was in the habit of praying for Divine direction; on administering a medicine himself, he was known frequently to utter a short ejaculatory prayer; and, in cases where a fatal issue was inevitable, he most scrupulously avoided the cruel delusion toc common on such occasions, and with the utmost delicacy and feeling, announced his apprehensions.
As an evidence of his devotional character, the following, bearing date July 27th, 1823, is here inserted.
"FORM OF PRAYER,
“Which I purpose to use, among others, every morning, so long as it may please God that I shall continue in the exercise of my profession; and which is here copied out, not so much to assist my own memory, as to give a hint to many who may perhaps feel thankful for it when ) am removed to a state where personal vanity can have no access, and the opinion of the worid can be no longer of any importance. I should wish it to close the subsequent editions of my • Study of Medicine.
“O thou great Bestower of health, strength, and comfort! grant thy blessing upon the professional duties in which this day I may engage. Give me