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PARKINSON'S TERCENTENARY DISCOURSES. * The Church of England, a Bulwark between Superstition and Schism; Two Sermons

preached in the Collegiate Church of Christ, in Manchester, on the 4th of October, 1835, being the third centenary of the Reformation. By the Rev, Richard Parkinson,

M. A., Fellow of Christ's College.' MR. PARKINSON'S Discourses are not those rabid effusions of blended ignorance and bigotry, nor those tame and powerless ramblings of authoritative weakness, which too often proceed from English Episcopalian advocates, but the productions of a cultivated, though not a richly endowed mind, and of a heart, as free, perhaps, from the taint of illiberality, as can well be expected in the position which he holds. Persons who are in the enjoyment of the ample revenues which fall to the lot of a • fellow of Christ's College, Manchester,' and at the same time believe that they hold their commission in direct line from Jesus Christ, can scarcely be very tolerant of any diversities which might, even by possibility, tend to peril the perpetuity of their sinecures, or impeach the apostolicity of their vocation.

Mr. Parkinson's object is made sufficiently clear in his title page, · The Church of England is a bulwark between superstition and schism,' or, as he elsewhere expresses his meaning,

between the corruptions of the church of Rome, and the errors of laxity, dissent and schism, (p. 18) between bigotry on the one hand and infidelity on the other.' (p. 31.)

To produce an impression on most minds, there is nothing so potent as a bold assumption. It is far before argument. It bears to argument the relation which reason bears to intuition. Only succeed in fixing on an opponent a bad name, and, actum est, you have gained your cause. This psycological fact Mr. Parkinson has a practical acquaintance with, and therefore, with the skill of a finished disputant, he sets forth as unimpeachable, first, that Catholicism is corruption ; secondly, that Dissent is infidelity; thirdly, that the Episcopal Church is the foe of each : the conclusion ensues, that, beyond a doubt, they are lamentably wrong, and it gloriously right. We only wonder that Mr. Parkinson thought it at all necessary to illustrate the claim he puts in for his church as the bulwark of truth. This was needless. If Catholicism is corruption, and Dissent infidelity, and · Church of Englandism' the object of the attacks of both, standing midway between, and avoiding the errors of, both, doubt there can be none that the said church, if not the pure church of Christ, is vastly superior to its antagonists. Perhaps Mr. Parkinson, had he not been an able rhetorician, would have condescended to advance proofs against the naughty Catholic, and naughtier Dissenter. * As it is, however, much as his assertions may prevail with those who believe that he speaks with the voice of authority,' they will, of course, be regarded as groundless assumptions in every other quarter, and may be allowed, by us, to pass for what they are worth.

We did not proceed far, in reading the second discourse, before we met with a discovery, and as light itself is of no avail if kept under cover, we transcribe it for the irradiation of our readers' minds :

• The rival combatants, forgetting their mutual and irreconcilable differences, have turned their arms, with one consent, against their common peuce-maker (!!) as if she were a common enemy; and the Church of England, instead of being a bye-stander in the quarrel, has not only to defend herself against these attacks from opposite quarters, but to prevent the assailants themselves from falling, as they ultimately would do, with ten-fold fury upon each other. Long may our church maintain this proud position among the various households of Christ ! Long may she be a model of peace within herself, and of charity towards those that are without. Though they curse, yet may she still bless.'— (p. 20.)

The Episcopal Church of this country a common peace-maker between Catholics and Dissenters, and amiably blessing them while the object of their curses! Genius of history! hast thou on no occasion ventured near the Rev. Richard Parkinson ? Did he never by any chance catch a rumour of burnings, imprisonments, and degradation inflicted by his church on both Catholics and Dissenters? This, in truth, is turning history, not into an old almanack,' as infidels' are said to have done, but into downright fable. Volumes would be occupied by the mere recitation of the acts of parliament which have been passed under the auspices of the Church of England,' to coerce both Catholic and Protestant-volumes would be filled with these, without one word being subjoined of the merciless execution which these acts' received in all manner of social atrocities. But what need is there to refer to the past? Is the Church of England' a 'peace-maker' in the exclusion of Dissenters from the Universities, and in the efforts she makes to prevent them from enjoying the full advantages of a University founded by themselves? Is it peace or war she has stirred up on all our coasts, by the tenacity with which she clings to church-rates ? Was her influence pacific or hostile to the will of the majority of the nation in the last general election ? And, above all, what is her attitude in Ireland ? What was it at Rathcormac? And then, so bland is her disposition, that she is a model of peace within herself!' All her members think alike, are of one mind and of one heart, striving together, not for the loaves and fishes, but for the defence of the gospel; no expulsion from office for venturing to suppose Dissenters admissible to her seats of learning-no evangelism struggling to get into her high places, and no bishops struggling to keep it out--no interchange ous excision, degrading a man from the society of Christians, to that of malignant spirits, for whatever be the trials, sentences, and censures, punishments in society, all, if submitted to, are less evils than excommunication.” It is, in the words of one of our Archbishops of Canterbury, an inhibition from the commerce and communion of the faithful"-or, in the language of Burns, “ an exclusion” (of the proscribed victim) “ from the company of all Christians.” He is further denied permission to enter any church to offer up his prayers; he can no longer make a will, is denied Christian burial, and deprived of many of the rights and privileges common to other subjects of the realm.'

• There is no doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church that has been the subject of more invective and ridicule than that of Transubstantiation. Let those who have been hitherto but superficial readers of ecclesiastical bistory, and have taken upon trust the boisterous clamour of others, pause before they join in the cry; and examine how their own church views the mystery in question. First, then, every child who learns his catechism professes a belief that the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper.' To this we attach a mere spiritual sense ; but might not others be justified in giving them a more literal meaning? Whatever other interpretation may be, and is, put upon these words, there can be no doubt that they might be used to express the Romish belief on the subject. Secondly, the present form of administering the Sacrament contains nothing hostile to, and the original form under Edward the Sixth might be understood as in perfect accordance with the belief that Christ is really present in the elements. And in alluding to these instances, and also to the alteration of the twenty-eighth Article under Queen Elizabeth, in favour of the Roman Catholics, it is to be observed, that either the framers of our Article did not think conciliation a compromise of principle, or that they entertained sentiments at least not hostile to the Romish belief on this point. In the first case, those who are for ever appealing to the glorious example of the English Reformers, would do well to imitate their true Christian and enlightened charity thus displayed. In the second case, they should beware of denouncing with such confident vehemence opinions, to which their own authorities approximate so closely, What was the actual belief of the particular individuals who framed our Liturgy, I will not pause to inquire; but that the majority of the Reformers in the 16th century held the doctrine of Consubstantiation, is a fact too notorious to be denied ; and whatever may be the metaphysical distinction between this doctrine and that of Transubstantiation, it should be remembered, that the evidence of our senses, the inefficiency of a corporeal presence to profit a spiritual soul, and the improbability of a constant interruption of the laws of nature militate equally against one and the other. But further, the passage from the writings of a conscientious and able clergyman of the English Church, must show that even the Articles and Liturgy for which Latimer and Ridley died, can comprehend opinions as strong on the subject of the miraculous effects of the actual elements as any Pope or Council has ever required. “Our Saviour says, he will give us his flesh to eat. How is this done? We do not know. He gives it under the form of bread and wine. But in that real sense, is the consecrated bread his body? It is not told us, we may

ever,

not inquire, we say, indeed spiritually, sacramentally, in a heavenly way, but this is in order to impress on our minds religious and not carnal notions of it. Bread sustains us in this temporal life, the consecrated bread is the means of cternal strength for soul and body. And in the same way, the Supper of the Lord is the means of our living for

We bave no reason for thinking we shall live for ever unless we eat it, no more than we have reason to think our temporal life will be sustained without meat or drink. We eat the sacred bread, and our bodies become sacred—they are not ours, they are Christ's; they are instinct with that flesh which saw not corruption.

."* Surely on comparing these passages with the strongest expressions of Romish Divines, the question will be only as to the degree of miraculous operation in the Eucharist, and that is comparatively unimportant; the principle, which is all I contend for, being admitted in both.'

Equally important are Mr. Stanley's statements respecting the success of the government measure of education in Ireland -but we have already exceeded our limits, and must close by referring our readers to the pamphlet itself.

EXETER CONTROVERSY. 'A Vindication of the Unitarian Doctrine concerning the sole Deity of the God and Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ, being Six Lectures delivered in George's Chapel, Escter, in reply to the Rev. Daniel Bagot, M. A., by the Rev. Henry Acton.-London, Hunter.' We are not of those who think that the Unitarian controversy is terminated. It may be true that little novelty is to be expected in the arguments either for or against the Trinity. But we are not sure that Unitarianism itself has ever yet received full and entire exposition—or to express ourselves more to our fancy, that the simple teachings of the gospel have been set forth in the full proportions in which they are found in the New Testament. There may be, for instance, views, no less beautiful and important than true, of the union of Christ with God, and of the consequent dignity of the Saviour, which the hard and negative process through which the teachers of the proper unity of God have been compelled to go, has prevented them from developing and defining. Should this be the case, then one of the combatants in the Trinitarian controversy comes into the field imperfectly equipped. He has a hand bound behind his back, and can neither do justice to his own prowess, nor adequate damage to his antagonist. If the Unitarian is wrong in defect, as well as the Trinitarian in excess, then the data are not given for the solution of the problem. Truth, the whole truth, cannot ensue from the conflict. The option is not between this or that. If, however, we entertain a doubt that Unitarianism may in some

* Newman's Sermons, p. 315, 317.

respects fall short of absolute truth, we are sure, in our own mind, that it is right as against Trinitarianism, right in its denials, if not complete in its affirmations. We are justified, therefore, in welcoming Mr. Acton's lectures, as a powerful battering ram against the now weakened walls of ecclesiastical corruption.

So far from regarding the Unitarian controversy as terminated, we are inclined to affirm that the very first principles of the dispute are yet unsettled. There has, indeed, been much dust and heat, much discussion and bandying of texts. But how far are the respective combatants from being agreed on the principles by which they are to be guided in the interpretation of the Scriptures? Yet without this, how can any definite conclusion be looked for? The proper rules of interpretation involve a preliminary question which must be fully discussed, and on which common positions must be taken, before such a textual warfare is gone into as may prove in the end decisive in favour or in refutation, of the Trinity. Wanting this, the disputants in many cases dispute as those who beat the air, and it would be easy to select many instances in which they hurry from the consideration of a text to the discussion of a principle, and from the discussion of a principle to the consideration of a text, involving themselves and their readers in the dark and confusing medium of a cloud of learned dust.

If the learned have not even begun in a right way, the unlearned cannot have been put into possession of all that is necessary to enable them to judge for themselves. And were the matter in ever so satisfactory a condition in the works and minds of the great controvertists, we see not how any other position can be made good, than that the dispute has yet to be carried on in every town, village, and hamlet of the world. In our opinion, it is hardly begun. True enough, a duel has been fought here and there. David and Goliah have met in other places as well as at Exeter, and a few bystanders may have had the means of deciding which was clothed in the armour' of Christ. But surely it cannot be pretended that any but a very small portion of society know ought of the merits of the controversy. And while the bulk are ignorant, as they now are, even of the very posi

tions which Unitarians maintain, it is not correct to speak of the • dispute being finished. The learned are too apt to imagine that

what is clear to them is clear to all the world beside. But what would have been the result, if Newton and La Place, on having arrived at their conclusions respecting the structure and movements of the universe, had remained satisfied with the enlightenment of their own minds ? There are some points in political economy which may be considered unimpeachable. The disputes once rife respecting them are terminated with the wellinformed. Are they terminated with the mass? Do they acknow

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