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faith, “another gospel,' introduced to us ? Surely this is alarming, and should, I think, have led you to have recollected, and acted decidedly upon, the invaluable maxim. Obsta principiis.' How awfully does the history of the church, almost from the time of the Apostles, warn us of what may be the consequence of yielding to an unholy spirit of credulity and a morbid appetency for miracles ! I know nothing of any of the parties; I trust they are all, as you presume them to be, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling; but the narrative discloses to us a scene of serious error, in which they are all more or less concerned. I will remark only upon the case of Mr. Fancourt. I infer from your account, that he is an aged minister of the Gospel, who has been for many years, perhaps, occupied in teaching others to distinguish things which differ : rightly dividing the word of truth, and guiding many along the narrow path of submission and patient waiting for Christ. His house, it appears, has been the resort of fervid religionises-perhaps good men, but seriously deficient with respect to soundness of judgment. Instead of being the instructor of these men, and endeavouring to bring them to a more solid and submissive Christian temper, he suffers them to proceed to diffuse a false spirit of inspiration among the females of his family, till at length his afflicted daughter becomes the subject of a pseudo-miracle, and he then proceeds virtually to proclaim it to the world as a genuine one.
“ Here, then, in my view, is a serious case of guilty error, in which the Christ. Obs. should know no inan after the flesh; but you seem to content yourself with an endeavour to coax the family into an admission that the cure was not miraculous. You ubserve, that the Divine agency is equally acknowledged, and the love and gratitude of the restored person are equally due to Him for his mercy, whether the cure be slow or sudden, and whatever may be the means which he employs or overrules to effect his purposes.' Permit me, sir, to ask you, Have you not here written very unreflectingly? You could not have intended to convey such a sentiment; but what is this but repeating, in other words, the Jesuitical maxim, that a successful end sanctifies the means? Surely, in every case where a benefit has been obtained in a way not accordant with the revealed will of God, the first thing to be called for is penitence, contrition, and interior self-abasement; and then praise. Gratitude may follow, for that the Lord has pardoned the guilt and overruled the evil for good." "Really, sir, unless this family is brought to this, I much fear that the thing will increase unto more ungodliness, till their folly shall be manifest unto all men,as was the case with the French prophets, and is now the case with the miracleworkers in Scotland.
“It is a comparatively trivial question, How did the 'sign or wonder' come to pass? What you have written on this question is doubtless to the honour of your talent and Christian discerument; but I cannot help feeling that it is misplaced ; although, as you have entered so much at large upon the subject, I wish you had referred to a most excellent article, in a former volume of your work, on an alleged miracle at St. Winifred's Well.
I am, &c.
“ AN ARDENT FRIEND OF THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER." We offer no cominent on this letter, except to say, in explanation, that by the phrase
“ whatever means he (God) employs or overrules to effect his purposes,” we did not, of course, mean wicked means, at least on the part of the persons benefited for God may overrule the wicked designs of others for their welfare, as in many cases recorded in Scripture. It is not Jesuitical to say that we ought to be thankful for the Protestant Reformation, though we reprobate the wicked conduct of Henry the Eighth. A man is related to have been cured of an imposthume by a person who struck at him with a dagger to injure him : he might be grateful for his cure, though the action itself was a crime. Mr. G. and Miss Fancourt thought they were both warranted by Scripture in expecting the gift of healing : we think they were wrong ; but we should not view their case as if they had used what they believed to be unlawful means. We may, however, have stated the matter somewhat unguardedly, as possibly Mr. Newnham also has done; but the meaning, we think, is clear. We have now endeavoured to discharge what appeared to us a solemn duty. The
result we leave to the Great Head of his church, for the promotion of his glory and the spiritual interests of those concerned, neither of which can be enhanced by pseudo revelations, miracles, or false interpretations of Scripture. Let us beware, lest, in this day of abounding profession and lax practice, Satan, throwing off his usual garb, advance upon us in the shape of an angel of light. It is not the first time by many that our volumes have borne testimony against the passing errors of the day, and particularly against the popular taste for prodigies. A correspondent has just alluded to the alleged miraculous healings at St. Winifred's Well, in our volume for 1817; but, among the various papers scattered in our volumes, there is one in that for 1804, from which we are teinpted to copy a few remarks, because it happens to have been the production of one of our correspondents now in a better world, the late Mr. Pearson, Miss Fancourt's first medical adviser. We have seen what her other medical advisers, Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Travers, think of the case ; and now, by a remarkable coincidence, we are able to shew what Mr. Pearson also would doubtless have said of it, had he lived to hear it spoken of as miraculous. We recommend the perusal of the whole paper to those who have our early volumes, having space to copy only the following brief passages :
“There exists in human nature an extraordinary love of the marvellous,an insatiable curiosity after new and rare occurrences, and an eager inquisitiveness into futurity, which have too often misled men into the most glaring follies, and sunk them in the most abject superstition.
“ Learning, aided by experience, will greatly abate and moderate that wonder and consternation which new and singular events have a tendency to excite in perverted and undisciplined minds; and will teach them to reflect, to inquire, and to examine, before they characterize phenomena which they do not understand, as the effects of supernatural agency. The sacred Scriptures give no encouragement to divination nor superstition; they are, on the contrary, admirably calculated to restrain and rircumscribe the inordinate sallies of a disordered imagination, which are generally as remote from piety as they are contrary to true wisdom and soundness of mind. But, whatever reason, learning, or religion may have suggested, there has been, and still continues, a strange propensity to discover preternatural effects and miraculous interpositions on the most ordinary occasions; to make every remarkable dream prophetic; to announce the impressions made on disordered bodily organs, or on a disturbed imagination, as visions from God; and to fill the air and the earth with prodigies, omens, and presages. This disease of the human intellect is as extensive as it is pernicious ; since it is not confined to a few individuals of some particular age or nation, but it is the error of the world, and has prevailed in different degrees during every period of time : hence it may be found among Jews and Gentiles, Christians and Mohammedans, ancients and moderns, learned and simple ; there having been almost a general consent to establish this sort of foliy and delusion upon principle."
“ The greater part of mankind are very incompetent judges of what physical phenomena are natural, and what are preternatural; and they are still less qualified to give an authentic interpretation of the specific intention and design of Divine Pro. vidence in the production of them.
“That state of mind by which men are induced to look for prodigies, and supernatural agency in every new or unusual occurrence, tends powerfully to draw them away from an habitual and sober attention to the word of God; and, by seducing them into superstition or enthusiasm, to conduct them finally into error and apostasy. Let a man once fancy that he is favoured with visions, or is endowed with the faculty of interpreting omens, and he is placed beyond the possibility of rational or Scriptural conviction, for it is vain to press him with arguments who has a prodigy, a miracle, or a revelation, to object against any conclusion that may bear forcibly upon his principles of practice. But the mischief is not always confined to the individual; for fanatics and visionaries carry a principle of contagion along with them: and when a man has got a tale of wonder ready on suitable occasions to communicate to his followers in private or his admirers in public; and when these are mingled with the motives to faith and hope, to fear and repentance; the Gospel of Christ is polluted and degraded by the mixture of these vain conceits; and this false and dangerous measure is substituted for the Scripture standard of truth and error, of
good and evil."-Christian Observer for 1804, p. 673. Such were, twenty-six years ago, the views of Miss Fancourt's first medical adviser ;
but we can refer our readers to a still more apposite testimony from the same pen, in a highly interesting paper on true and false miracles. in our volume for 1815, p. 564, in reference to the alleged miraculous cure of a young lady at Port Royal, of à lachrymal abscess (ibid. p. 498). “In an alleged miraculous cure of disease,” says Mr. Pearson, if there be a well-established proof of the fact, we must admit it; but we are in no wise obliged to receive any interpretation of it which the reason, or fancy, or prejudices of the individual concerned, or his friends and associates may choose to deduce from it.” This is exactly our own opinion in the present case : and, to conclude these professional testimonies, we have just beard, that Miss Fancourt's medical adviser in Devonshire attests, that when he saw her she was just in that state of nervous excitement which predisposed her for such a result as has followed.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE. We have appended the abstract of the Bible Society's Annual Report; the Monthly Extracts for July, omitted in our former Numbers; and the Anti-Slavery Reporter (No. 73), which contains an abstract of correspondence between the colonies and the government which throws much light upon the state of slavery, and the mockery of the pretended colonial attempts to meliorate it.
ESSAYS, SUBJECTS, INTELLIGENCE, OCCURRENCES,
Christian Observer on Unitaria: ism....159
Church, Definition of
.216, 345, 451
Service ....18,524,6112, 603, 660,
747, 751, 794
.87 Codringlon Estates ........64, 186, 697
Communicauts, on rejecting
Conversion, Remarks on...48, 78, 196, 629
......64, 186 Cure of Miss Fancourt ..708,775, 810, 829
..189 Diary of Toplady
670 Edinburgh Sessional Schvols ......437
443 Education, Remarks on...
...151, 222, 296,
348, 409. 437, 481
• 118, 230 Elgin Marbles
in United States...119, 309, 317
.494, 571 Evangelical Religion ..........148, 392
.11, 676 Excuses for not going to Church ......161
Sermons...117, 181, 255 Faith, Illustration, of
573 (see Sabbath)
Supper, on administering ..91
Memoir (see Obituary)
of P. Jolin
of Bishop Heber....459, 575, 589
Memoranda of Calvin, &c. ...071, 75+
Baxter on the .....789
Miracles ........644, 708,775, 810, 829
Instruction . .97, 159, 294, 2 0
..424 Moravian Missions (see United Brethren)
not abulished ....89, 108, 346
441, 503, 56+
.382, 588, 648
Obituary (see Memoir)
of Rev. J. Roberts, .........57
J. Mason, D.D. ....173
Onesimus whether a Slave .489, 618
...274 Parliament, Proceedings in ..126, 193, 258
322, 888, 720
.227 Paul, St. Conversion of
Pentateuch, Veracity of the ....179, 460
.37, 99, 238
....56 Pure-Glasgow Miracles (see Miracles)
Brit. and For. Bible 64, 116, 120,
Brit, and For. School ....324, 388
Church Missionary ..35, 188, 317
for Propagation of the Gospel 35,
64, 185, 697
. 196, 324
Reformation........196, 260, 724
Royal, of Literature
Conversion of Jews
. 433, 517
Moravian Missionary 36, 233, 553
.442 Sunday (see Lord's Day)
.637 Switzerland.. 119, 151, 182, 222, 255, 296,
348, 409, 443, 645, 671,754
.194, 260, 756, 757
...695 Truth independent of Character ..797
. 119, 383
274 Type, Definition of... .....17, 288
.......55 Unitarianism..........162,355, 494, 571
..366 United Brethren 28, 36, 233, 353, 446, 512,
229 United States 54, 57, 63, 98, 119, 123, 127,
445, 448, 515
.50, 257, 668
321 Widows, Burning of, abolished . . 127, 255
INDEX TO THE REVIEWS.