« PreviousContinue »
made a national blessing for centu- because of the high fame and reputaries: that in the instance of such a tion of their supporters.
No, we Church, no reason for separation must cease from man; and if the should have been admitted, but such
mystery we speak of admits of soluas either sprang from her own aban- tion, we have it here-that God so donment of her fundamental and permits things to fall out in the constitutional principles of vital truth, Church as well as in the world, as or the interposition of an insuperable will most effectually wean us from barrier in the proclamation of that man, even in his best estate; and by truth at the mouths of her ministers. the most humiliating exhibition of the No prevalence or preponderance of earthen vessel in which the treasure erroneous leaven, even in high quar- is deposited, make it manifest that ters, should affect the question. No the excellency of the power is of God spirit of enmity or persecution should and not of man. have led to such a resolve, so long as And it would be equally dangerous the creed of the Church of Scotland to conclude, that the step which the remained untouched, and her minis- Scotch Seceders have taken is right ters were free to know nothing but because of their present prospects for Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The usefulness and well-doing. We redeadness, and the prejudice, and even joice most heartily in all that we hear the misguided infatuation of large and of their present progress. Now that influential sections of the Church, all the harshness and acrimony conwere no argument for desertion, but nected with their strange and sudden rather for adherence. What, if all transition has subsided, they are the salt be withdrawn, wherewith settling down, we hear, on all sides, shall it be salted? We cannot get rid into a course of Christian devotedness of our convictions: time and thought- and zeal. Both at home, and abroad ful reflection only strengthen them. in the Missionary Settlements, all We blush to give an opinion against promises fair: and thus it is God's the conduct of such eminent fathers prerogative to bring good out of evil. in the Church of Christ, at whose But we are not the less responsible feet we may gladly sit; but the con- for the evil we do, and which God viction of truth must rise superior to overrules for good. And while we all other considerations, and we could thankfully co-operate with God in the weep to see such men so misled.
good which emanates alone from And let no one say that the excellence Him, it becomes us heartily to deof the men is an argument in favour plore and repent of the evil which of the rectitude of their measures. attaches to ourselves. And, no One would gladly cling to such a doubt, our seceding brethren in Scotprinciple. But we have lived long land are thoughtfully, and perhaps in enough to guard against such a con- some respects, sadly “considering clusion. We had our bosom friends their ways.” If no other ground of amongst the seceders from our own
sorrow presents itself, they cannot but Church, some thirty years ago; and flinch under the thought of the many they were amongst the most holy and righteous hearts they have made sad, excellent of the earth. And we knew whom God has not made sad. If and loved and had Christian fellow- there be attachment fully personified ship with
who fell into the fol- any where, it is in the Scotchman to lies of Irvingism; and with some, his Kirk; and what scenes of bewilwho, in their infatuation, followed derment and confusion present themJohanna Southcote: and may we not selves to our imagination! How speak of the holy and the good, even many an elder, and how many an amongst those who are now endan- aged disciple, waiting for the salvation gering the best interests of the Church of God, and coveting a calm and unof England ? It is a mystery that it ruffled sea on which to steal into port, should be so, yet so it is: and we is thus suddenly thrown into dismay must warn our readers against con- and perplexity, clinging to the Church cluding in favour of any measures, of their forefathers, and the Church
which, as â tender mother, had never their public directions and exhortafailed to yield the sincere milk of the tions of suspicion. word for their growth and sustenance, In all humility we suggest this :but now torn from her embrace, and and we thus shew the grounds on driven into a sort of exile. Oh, if it be a which we had almost rather have specified evil and guilt to make the never seen these “ Essays on Christian righteous sad whom the Lord has not Union.” made sad, the sin of a needless schism But we pass from the Scotch view from a pure and spiritual Church of of the question to the English. Christ is very great; for it offends We believe that out of the eight not in scanty measure, and grieves Essays before us only one is of English not a solitary Rachel, but throws the origin, and that by the Rev. J. A. daughters of Jerusalem by wholesale James, of Birmingham. It is a glowinto weeping and lamentation.
ing and animated composition; reThen we come to this conclusion: plete with the most powerful and that calls to Christian union come interesting passages, which cannot with an ill grace from those who have but meet with a ready response, one just been inflicting the deepest wound
Christian heart. of schism. We cannot wish them to With respect to the various projects have done with Christian sympathy: which are suggested for visible union, we hope that melancholy and humili- we are scarcely prepared to give an ating experience will deepen and opinion; and in our apprehension they strengthen it. We hope that all the are of far less moment than the instrange and unmeasured outbreak- crease and maintenance of the spirit ings of disunion and separation of of brotherly love amongst all who which they have allowed, with all the name the name of Christ. Let all be railing accusations and vehement got right there, and then, while we words towards those who will not have effected what will bring us to the accompany them, which have stained Scripture standard of true Christian them in their transition, we hope all discipleship, and thus secured the will practically and powerfully tell favour and blessing of the God of them what a good and pleasant thing peace and love for our community, we it is for brethren to dwell together in
shall find the implanted principle of unity; and will induce, for their few love ingenious and inventive in deremaining years, a more vigorous monstrating its reality and its healtheffort than ever to follow after the fulness by visible actions.
We fully things which make for peace. But, agree with Mr. James in all that he for a season at least, would it not be says regarding the blessedness and better to let their sympathies give vent the excellence of the Bible Society and only at the throne of grace ; for a the Religious Tract Society, as affordseason at least, would it not be well ing the most prominent and successful to call to mind the example of Moses, instances of visible and happy union when fleeing into the land of Midian. amongst Christians of various denoHave they not too newly come up
minations. We never cease to feel from the battle, with stained hands the warmest interest in the constituand harassed spirits, to be in a capa- tion as well as the objects of these socity as yet to lift up “holy hands cieties, or to be cheered and refreshed without wrath and doubting?” Had with the thought that Christians have they not better, in deep humiliation agreed in uninterrupted harmony for and secret prayer, be subserving the so long a period, to lay aside their cause which we know they have differences, and co-operate hand and honestly at heart, and be willing to heart in the circulation of the unadul. consider themselves, like Moses, in an terated word of God. And, whatever exiled position, and secluded from is marvellous, and so refreshing with prominent undertakings, and waiting reference to the Bible Society, is still for time, the healing hand of time, to more so when we contemplate an impart a confidence towards them in object apparently more difficult of the minds of others, and thus divest attainment, and think that for the cir
culation of human compositions, self into herself is the only kind of junchas been thus lost sight of, and every tion which would be hearkened to for bias, and every thought has merged in a moment. Regarding all who have the grand object of dispensing truth. seceded from her communion in We have ever regarded such mani- something of the light of rebels, she festations of visible union as these, as disdains to enter into any sort of an oasis in the desert, a quiet blessed negociation with them, and aims to resting-place for the mind, amidst all reduce them all into entire subjecthe storms and conflicts which harass tion.” We do not think that this is and distress us on our way through the language of conciliation, of canthe wilderness. “ What can be con- dour, or of truth. The writer speaks ceived more striking than a society principles ;” but he is not justiwhich, by the united zeal of all deno- fied in determining what her prinminations, has put into circulation ciples really are from the line of connearly four hundred millions of reli- duct pursued by a section of her gious publications, in each one of members. We maintain that there is which vast aggragate, the method of a Catholicity of principle in the Church a sinner's salvation is so stated, that of England which does admit of the if he shall never see another book, or exercise of brotherly love towards all hear another sermon, he shall know who call on the name of the Lord how to flee from the wrath to come; Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours; and yet, in not one of which shall the and as it regards an accordance with minor points which distinguish Chris- the principles of a Church, no one has tians from each other be discovered.” a right to form his judgment by what -p. 175. We have had enough to he sees to be occurring in a party of do with these blessed societies to that Church. There are those, and know that beyond the noble objects they are a goodly number, who sigh of their aim, they have done much, and mourn in secret over the exclunot to damage the Churchman by siveness and bigotry which prevail in any unhallowed contact, but to make some quarters; and who, in contemthe Church of England better under- plating the mischief likely to accrue stood, and to raise it in the estimation from the present unhappy movement, of those who from ignorance were are not the least afraid of this its disprejudiced against it.
tinctive feature. But while we never fail to rejoice in But there are barriers in the such manifestations of visible union Christian union of a two-fold chaas here present themselves, it is racter; on the one hand presented by chiefly our wish to consider how the Churchmen, and on the other by spirit may best be cultivated which Dissenters; and glad indeed shouldwe will lead to these results. And here be, if by any thing we can say, we we cannot help thinking that our could succeed in weakening their inEssayist, in considering the parties in fluence and producing a better mutual England with whom it may be desired understanding. It cannot be denied and expected that union should be that a spirit of exclusiveness and formed, speaks somewhat disparag- ecclesiastical monopoly is fearfully ingly and incorrectly of the estab- gaining ground amongst the memlished Church. “ 'The prevailing bers of the Church. Would that they body in this country is the Church would calmly consider the origin of of England. It would be considered dissent, and distinguish between those as quite contrary to her principles to who are hereditary dissenters and enter into any kind of association or those who are the wilful and wanton fellowship with the various commu- separatists of the present day. With nities that have separated from her respect to the origin of dissent, who ranks; the absorption of them all will attempt to vindicate the act*
*" In the meanwhile, the convocation had received, and sanctioned, those few alterations in the Common Prayer-book, which it had pleased the bishops to recommend to them. They were unimportant; but one of them marks the character of the prelates of that day; for it was to the openly dissolute Charles II. that they put it into the
by which the non-conformists were fathers, who were originally driven driven out of the pale of the estab- out of the established Church'; and lishment, and formed into separatists? consequently, that all their prejudices And what is the subsequent history and partialities are, as it were, hereof dissent? Can we get rid of the ditary and inveterate, and, may we fact, that the neglect of the Church of not add, such as entitle them to some England has been the grand cause of degree of tender consideration, and dissent; that a rapidly growing popu- at all events not to the rash and unlation, and a stationary provision on feeling abandonment to perdition. We the part of the Church, for religious do honestly think, that in the feelings culture, has driven men into the ne- of Churchmen towards dissenters, a cessity of seeking it elsewhere? What grand difference should be made be then is the present position of dissen- tween those who are dissenters by ters? Why, that they are so by birth inheritance, and those who in these and education; that generations inter- days of light and knowledge separate vene between them and their fore- from the church of their country and
mouth of every officiating minister to apply the title of religious king, an epithet which did not stand in the Common Prayer-book, till they placed it there. **** The house of commons affected to consider the fact, of the Common Prayer-book having been thus revised, as removing all excuse for thinking any part of it objectionable; and therefore now proceeded to pass an act (14 Car. II. c. 4.) by which every minister who should not declare, before the 24th of August, his unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Book of Common-prayer, should be straightway deprived of whatever ecclesiastical preferment he might possess. And whereas the English bishops had been wont to acknowledge, and still do, that a priest who has received ordination from the apostate church of Rome, needs not to be ordained afresh to become a minister of the Church of England; and had also been wont to acknowledge the validity of that ordination, which Dutch or Swiss pastors had received from their presbyterian brethren; it was now declared, by this act, that any incumbent who should have received ordination from the hands of others than bishops, as all admitted into benefices during the usurpation, and under forty years of age, must have done, should be held to be “as utterly disabled” from either retaining his preferment, or officiating in his church, as if he was naturally dead," unless, besides signing the above declaration, he would publicly confess himself to have been hitherto no true priest, by applying to his diocesan to ordain him afresh. In the next place, whereas the ministers who would thus be deprived of their benefices, were likely to seek to earn their bread by preaching to such as valued their ministry, or by turning their acquirements to account as schoolmasters, or as teachers of youth in their parents houses ; this act farther declared, that if any minister, thereby ejected or disabled, should be found preaching any where, any two justices, having due information thereof, should commit him to gaol ; and that no person should undertake to be a teacher of youth, either in schools or under their parents' roof, without obtaining the licence of a bishop, and subscribing the oath and declaration mentioned, in describing a former act, as incompatible with the conscientious opinions of nearly every puritan. **** The 24th of August had, however, been fixed upon, as a day which would, by usage, cut off the outgoing ministers from any claims to the tithe of corn; and as it happened to be the day of St. Bartholomew, the non-conformists, as we are henceforward to call them, gave this act the name of the Bartholomew act, that it might be associated, in men's minds, with the atrocities of popish persecution. In our law books it is called the act for uniformity; but it better deserved to be styled, the act for continuing differences in the church of Christ within this realm, and for giving additional bitterness to our schisms. * * * * * When St. Bartholomew's day arrived, great was the surprise of Charles, and of his unprincipled courtiers, to hear that no less than 2000 of the clergy had preferred quitting their homes, resigning the incomes of their benefices, and subjecting themselves to all the rigorous restrictions of this act, rather than say that of their belief, in a solemn declaration, which they felt it would be falsehood in them to affirm. To fill up so many vacancies at once, in such a manner that the sheep of Christ's fold should be no losers by the change of shepherds, would probably have been impossible, had the deprived ministers been but ordinary men, and this the most flourishing period of the English church. But the non-conformists are allowed by their enemies to have been, generally, a very pains-taking class ; and men who, being confessedly of one mind with our revered reformers in their doctrine, were also such as could resolve to expose themselves to poverty and contempt, rather than declare, what it went against their consciences to affirm, should have been esteemed the glory of their country, and reckoned among God's best gifts to this nation."'---Hist. of England by a Clergyman, p. 480. 1845-APRIL.
their forefathers; and the latter are a union which Dissenters have intermere handful compared with the posed. former. And we cannot but think We again and again entreat that that this suggestion is fairly calcu- our Church, and the desires and lated to weaken materially the barrier wishes of her members may not be that stands in the way of Christian judged
of by the exclusive principles union with those who differ from us. of the Tractarian party. We are well How much of the mischief of dissent aware that no discrimination will be is traceable to ourselves. How largely exercised by them, and that if Dishas it been made a necessary evil by senters conducted themselves like our supineness as a Church! We could angels, it would make no difference wish that, as we drove out and shut in their estimation. That they are our doors against the dissenters, we Dissenters at all is the hopeless difficould now open our doors more culty, and not that they are Dissentwidely and hold out greater encou- ers of a bad and unchristian spirit. ragements for their return. We have But happily, as yet at least, it is only seen not only dissenting ministers, a small section of our Church which but their flocks, coming over to the is imbued with this spirit of arrogant establishment, and we long that intolerance. Many--we fain hope, greater facilities should be given for the many—would gladly cultivate the the return of wanderers from our spirit of brotherly love to all who communion. There is, we believe, a love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerrapidly growing disposition to return; ity, by whatever names they are disand if there is any consequence of the tinguished amongst men;
would Tractarian movement that we mourn gladly welcome Christ's image wherover more than another, it is, that it ever they can discern it, and exercise is directly calculated to chill that dis- forbearance and kindness to those position, and to widen the breach of who are apparently doing the Lord's separation.
work, and undermining Satan's, We may be thought chargeable though they follow not with us. with bigotry, in seeming to connect Yet the glow of brotherly love which conformity with union, and Mr.James, would fain work its way towards in no very measured language, sweep- Christians of other communions, too ingly asserts, that the Established often finds itself getting into a chilly Church aims at nothing short of the and ungenial atmosphere, in which it the bending of all who differ under
cannot operate or exist. Mr. James her own domination; but we do not must bear with us, if we are very take to the charge, nor think that it candid and plain-spoken; for we are really attaches, when we express a so, not because we have an unkindly hope for the return to our communion feeling prompting our statements, but of those who originally belonged to but because we wish, as in the us, and who only from untoward sight of God, to remove the barriers circumstances have been separated which interfere with the exercises of from us.
Christian union, and to see a sure and But in the meanwhile, there must solid basis laid for its establishment. be the maintenance of Christian cha- But who has been more vehement, or rity; if we mean not to frighten from more acrimonious in his denunciathe midst of our stormy and troubled tions of the Church of England and community the Dove of Christ's all belonging to her, than Mr. James? Holy Spirit, and tempt Him to leave us, Who has gone greater lengths, or to bite, till we devour and destroy one adopted more unmeasured language another.
And having offered a sug- to express his uncompromising hosgestion for the serious consideration tility towards the Established Church? of churchmen (to which much might Can a Churchman then be blamed, if be added if our limits allowed) we he stand aloof from such an open and proceed to offer a few remarks with inveterate foe? Can it be a matter of reference to the barriers to Christian wonder, if he should be unable to en