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is regeneration, or any thing inseparably connected with it. They would even maintain that the doctrine is antiscriptural and popish: but their object, (at least that of the writers of this article, and some other articles from month to month in that Review,) is to convince their readers, that the church of England is antiscriptural and popish ; and therefore must be removed in order to make way for scriptural Christianity.
Now, in attempting to accomplish this object, they readily perceive (which indeed requires no great sagacity,) that the Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. Mant, and that whole party are, unintentionally indeed, but effectually their coadjutors ; and they gladly hail them as such. Let these learned men but once establish their position, that baptismal regeneration is the only regeneration to be expected, ‘or indeed possible, on earth ;' let the public mind be once fully convinced that this is the real doctrine of the Church of England ; and things are then effectually prepared for carrying the design against the established church, of these Eclectic Reviewers, into full effect. The mine is formed, and all is got ready for the explosion. For, in the present state of society in this country, the public mind will not be brought to believe that this doctrine is scriptural, but the contrary. In proportion as information, scriptural information is communicated to the bulk of the inhabitants in other respects, will, in this case, be the degree of conviction that the church of England is antiscriptural ; and this conviction once generally produced, the rest of the work will soon be com pleted.
But Messrs. Biddulph, Scott, and Bugg, very much stand in the way of this conviction being generally produced ; and their arguments are much more easily misstated, and treated with disdain, than solidly answered. Should these writers prevail, it may yet be found that the church of England is scriptural and evangelical in her doctrine and worship, a grand instrument in the hand of God in promoting spiritual religion in the land, and deserving of the steady support of all the true friends of that best of causes. As a scriptural question, therefore, the Reviewers would most decidedly agree with these writers, that baptism is not regeneration : but, as it is a question concerning the doctrine of the established church, they consider and treat them as their hinderers and opposers; and would have it believed that they must needs labour in vain. Can any man, then, be so blinded by prejudice, as not to see whom the most unfriendly of the dissenters consider as their coadjutors, (“ howbeit these mean not so,") and whom as their opponents ? Can it be doubtful, whose labours tend to subvert, and whose to establish and uphold, the church as by law established?
SIR, The remarks published in your number for last January, on the sermon of a popular preacher concerning ministers being fishers of men, must, I should suppose, fully approve themselves to every one who has duly considered the subject, and has had an adequate opportunity of appreciating the injurious effects actually produced by the style of preaching which is animadverted upon. Yet it is possible some persons may infer, that, because the use made of the similitude, in this sermon, was unwarranted and highly exceptionable, little or nothing of instruction was by our Lord actually intended under that emblem. This, I apprehend, is far from the truth : and with your leave, I will submit a few thoughts on the subject to your readers, and especially to ministers, who are or ought to be “ fishers of men.”
1. A fisherman though of low station in the community, is a man of a peculiar stamp and habits; and, in several respects, a pattern or model for the ministers of Christianity. In order to be a successful fisherman, (I here speak of fishing as a trade and business, and not as an amusement,) he must be inured to self-denial, patiently enduring hardship, and ready to risk much danger, in the pursuit of his main object. This employment also requires great skill and much knowledge, as to the different kinds of fish that may be taken, the seasons and places when and where they may be expected, and the most approved methods of taking them-approved by the experience and observation of the most skilful and successful fishermen who have gone before him. On their plans, indeed, some improvement may be made ; but “the fishers of men ”can never improve on the plans and methods of the apostles of our Lord and Saviour.
2. The fisherman must be “ instant in season, out of season :” he must give himself wholly” to his object (és tétons Tota): he must be ready to go out to fish when others go to rest, and often be without sleep and food for a considerable time together. While the opportunity is afforded, he must seize on it; and, in pursuit of his object, must be often hungry, and thirsty, and weary. And are there not most important lessons, for the true minister of Christ to learn from this part of a fisherman's habits and conduct? He will exhibit the spirit of his Lord, who would not eat or drink when the Samaritans thronged to hear his word, but said, “ I have meat to eat which ye
know not My meat is to do the will of him that “ sent me, and to finish his work."
3. The fisherman, though he has “ toiled all “night, and has taken nothing,” does not give up his hopes, or sit down desponding, or betake himself to other employments or recreations; but he waits for another opportunity, in expectation of better success: he considers what might be the cause or occasion of his former failure, that, if
possible he may obviate it; and, when the opportunity arrives, he seizes it with as much alacrity as before; and this even after repeated disappointments. And, even if he should fail to succeed in
in which other fishermen prosper, he tries some other way; and being thus assiduous and indefatigable, he commonly, to some good degree, is at length successful. Here again the “ fishers “ of men ” may learn many things for their instruction, encouragement, reproof, and warning.
4. Again : The fisherman, when not actually fishing, is generally employed in things belonging to his peculiar business. He is “
He is “ washing his “ nets,” or “ mending his nets ;” or making nets or lines; or fixing hooks ; or procuring baits, &c. If a prudent fisherman, he is seldom unemployed in his own way: he has much leisure from fishing, but little from those things which are connected with it; as his boat, his nets, his lines, &c. He is a man of business; and does not spend his time, or any large portion of it, even between the seasons of actual fishing, in diversions and recreations, in visitings and feastings: if he get into these habits he will scarcely be successful. Surely then the fishers of men should imitate the fisherman in this. The intervals between seasons of preaching should be filled up with studying, learning, devotion, instructive conversation, and things belonging to their most important office. Many things not considered as wrong in others, must be avoided by him who would prosper. He must adopt, in general, Nehemiah's words, “I am doing “a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why “should the work cease, while I leave it, and