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calling for neat churches to fill up the measure of their beauty and excellency, and where the support of the ministry is sure, so that our Zion must needs lengthen her cords, and strengthen her stakes. Very different is it with us now, has it been for many years, and will in all probability be, for many years to come. It is only by patient perseverance in well-doing, that we can hope to make advances in the establishment of our Church. Much self-denial, and enduring of hardship, and bounding in labours, and itinerant zeal, and contentedness with a little of this world's goods, on the part of many of our ministers, are indispensable to the growth of the Church in Virginia, much beyond her present attainment. Without these things, she may continue stationary, or even retrograde in some places, during years to come. The want of such ministers, and the pressing demands of our Missionary Societies, and of vacant places in our dioceses, depriving us of a number of our young men, and of some of those more advanced in life, have left us, during the last year or two, with a larger number of destitute places than usual, which I fear will not be supplied during the present year. In addition to these difficulties in the way of our rapid progress, requiring great zeal and self-denial in order to advancement, I should suppress the truth, were I not to say, that recent circumstances in the history of our own and Mother Church have contributed not a little to revive old prejudices and former opposition, which, for the last thirty years, had been gradually and happily subsiding, under the faithful preaching, and peaceable, conciliatory deportment of our ministers. The cry of false doctrine and Romish tendencies has been renewed under circum
stances well calculated to mislead the judgments of many good people, who are not so well qualified to distinguish between the errors of individuals and the positive corruptions of a Church. There are those, who, of course would make use of these circumstances to our injury, the temptation being too strong for poor human nature entirely to resist. And in what spirit, and with what weapons shall we meet and contend with this old enemy, now risen up with renovated strength against us? Surely it becomes us to remember in what manner, and with what success, old prejudices were put down, and former opposition in a measure disarmed. Let us adopt the same method now, when we would overcome a less formidable foe; for it cannot be, that prejudice now exists to same extent as formerly. Making all allowance for honest prejudice, and little regarding any other, let us, in the spirit of Christian kindness and patience, set forth the true doctrines of our Church, as established by the Reformers, and their conformity with Scripture, more emphatically than
Let us avoid as much as possible all contention, not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; and thus, as in former times, commend our Church to the hearts and judgments of the pious and peaceable. I well know the difficulty of this in some places, and under some circumstances, but am not the less persuaded of the duty, because of its difficulty, and the temptations to an opposite
To conclude. In urging you, my brethren, to an adherence to those modes of exhibiting truth, and those means of advancing religion, which, in our Mother Church, and in the Church of
Virginia, have been so blessed of heaven; in warning you against changes in this time of innovation; you will not understand me as intimating that those who were first engaged in the work were incapable of error, and that no improvement could be made, neither that circumstances being changed in the progress of events, there might not be some modifications in the manner of promoting the same object.
I am well aware of the folly of supposing that any one age or generation can be an unerring standard of truth and holiness. I admit the justness of the wise son of Sirach's warning, "say not that the former times were better than these, for thou speakest not wisely concerning this thing." I admit, with readiness and gratitude, a general improvement in the condition of mankind, as to morals and religion, not only since my own recollection and observation, but for a much longer previous period. I dissent entirely from those who can see nothing but deterioration in the history of man, either in our own, or other lands. I see the very reverse of it in all Protestant Christendom, and even in some parts of the corrupt Church of Rome. Nevertheless, I cannot close my eyes to the fact, that some in the Episcopal Church of England and America, in their desires for its rapid extension, and its universal prevalence, and in their haste to attain some ideal perfection of
unity, have embraced exploded errors, and subjected the whole Church to the charge of retracing its steps toward apostate Rome. In this, and in the vigorous and too successful efforts of Romanists to regain some of their lost power, we may perhaps see the approach of that last fearful conflict between truth and error, which is, happily, however, to be of short duration, and to end in a sure victory to the
former. However this may be, my
brethren, and whether we shall see, or be in engaged in this battle or not, one thing is certain, that we cannot be too earnest in our endeavours, each one, after personal holiness. We need not fear, as an innovation or presumption, the attempt to be more holy than any who have gone before us, provided only, that we go by the rule of God's word. Neither can we be too zealous and faithful in preaching according to the law and testimony. If, in anything, any of us find that we have erred, laying too much or too little comparative emphasis on doctrines, duties, ordinances, promises, threatenings, or anything pertaining to the whole council of God; of course it is our duty, by the unerring word, to correct the same, not without a careful regard to the warning and instructive voice of history, which shows how prone some have been to give to the mint, the anise, and cummin of religion, that regard which is due only to the weightier matters of the law.
THE humble current of little kindnesses, which though but a creeping streamlet, yet incessant flows; although it glides in silent secrecy within the domestic walls and along the walks of private life, and makes neither appearance nor noise in the
world, pours, in the end, a more copious tribute into the store of human comfort and felicity, than any sudden transient flood of detached bounty, however ample, that may rush into it with a mighty sound.
THOUGHTS IN THE FIELDS.
It was a lovely spring morning, when, with the privileged idleness of an invalid, I was wandering in the fields; and my heart became warmed with joyous and grateful thoughts, as the magnificent scenery around opened upon my view. Oh, how great is God's goodness to fallen man! When we look on the beautiful earth which He has allotted for his dwelling, and from which his many thousand years' iniquity has not been able quite to blot out the traces of Paradise, we cannot but think that surely it must be the abode of some obedient servants of the Supreme, some ready doers of His will, whom He is desirous royally to reward. But no; the inhabitants of this favoured spot are those who have slighted His authority, and disobeyed His laws; and yet their heavenly Father continues mindful of them, and gives them all things richly to enjoy. And from Revelation we learn the reason of this; for there we read that One has interposed on their behalf, and that for His sake these mercies are still continued to them.
As I advanced, I gazed with delight on the wild-flowers which strewed my path. To me these spontaneous offspring of the ground seem to have a grace even beyond that which their more favoured sisters of the garden possess. The latter have about them the marks of human art and care; but the former are dropped, as it were, immediately from the hand of heaven, for the refreshment of the first passer-by. On many of them, perhaps, no human eye will ever dwell; and others, the more enterprising explorer of nature may think produced for his own peculiar grati
fication, since he may be the only intruder into their haunts. Therefore, though others may despise you for your homeliness, O ye gentle children of the field! I will not pass you heedlessly by, while I can gather from you a fresh proof of the tenderness of God.
But my attention was attracted by the music of the lark. From amid the clods rose up the little songster, pouring forth melody, increasing in richness in proportion to the elevation of its flight. My straining eye followed it to the blue vault, which appeared to bend down approvingly to meet it: on towards the sun it pressed, till at length, gilded by the light, it hung amid the sky, a brilliant creature, all radiance and song. And can this golden bird, then, be the same dark-winged animal which a few moments ago I saw take its flight from the dust? How, then, is it thus changed? It has soared upwards to the sky, it has turned its wings to the sun, and therefore its course was attended with gladness, and glory plays around it at the end. Oh, thus, I thought, when I have mused on the lives and writings of men of God, have I remained for a while almost doubtful whether they could have been of the same nature with myself; whether it could have been from a human heart that such sweet strains of gratitude ascended, or whether on a care-worn human brow such a glory could rest.
But Christian experience unveils the mystery, and shows that they were by nature men of like passions with others, but they had been enabled by Divine grace to ascend from earth, to press onwards on faith's unflagging wing to Jesus,
the Sun of Righteousness, and by Him were those thanksgivings inspired; and it was the reflection of His face, beheld in sacred communion, with which their countenances glowed. Let me, then, O Lord! share in this transforming influence. Draw me upwards in faith and
prayer to those heights which bask in thy presence, and then, though but a denizen of earth, I shall be arrayed in a splendour, which even Thyself wilt not refuse complacently to behold. M. N.
To the Editor of the Christian Guardian.
DEAR SIR,-As we are continually reminded that "facts are stubborn things," is it not surprising that our spiritual watchmen, who so confidently appeal to ancient tradition for doctrines, as we usually do to authentic history for facts and occurrences which have taken place, should not try their theory, by what we really admit and are assured of respecting facts and doctrines nearer home, and which therefore we can verify when we please. This would be a far more satisfactory mode of conviction than the wild theories which do little more than bewilder us. The early fathers, we are told, did not at all need to be men of learning in order to hand down apostolic truth; they were men of piety and integrity, and as such could bear testimony, as honest witnesses, to what were the received traditions of apostolic authority in their days. The term "witness," as testifying to the truth of doctrines as the truth of facts, was, I conceive, that invention of Popery by which she deceived mankind out of their personal right to "search the Scriptures" for themselves for so many centuries. We have a remarkable piece of history in our own Church, even since the Reformation, which I conceive will show how vague and useless is the boast that the fathers, as "witnesses," could testify to the truth of the doctrines always held in the Church Catholic; but above all the unquestionable certainty which their united testimony bears to OCTOBER-1845.
the doctrines held by the church Catholic, in their own day specifically.
The case to which I refer, is the "Lambeth Articles," nine in number, framed in the year 1595; only making a remark or two-1. That if the prevailing opinions at any time be not the right opinions, we gain nothing by their testimony. 2. If the general opinions of one age DIFFER, as we know they do, from the general opinions of another age, we must have some public UNCHANGEABLE DOCUMENTS by which to test them ALL; for truth cannot change with public opinion. Respecting the authors of these Lambeth Articles, the excellent historian Fuller, in his history of those times, observes-" Those learned divines will be taken as witnesses beyond exception, whose testimony is an infallible evidence, what was the general and received doctrine of England in that age, about those controversies."-B. 9, p. 232, No. 28.
The Articles of the Church of England were agreed upon in 1562, and again 1571, just 24 years before the Lambeth Articles were constructed; which periods, being within a quarter of a century of each other, leaves no doubt that there was a perfect recollection of the Established Articles in the minds of those who framed the latter ones at Lambeth. Respecting this grave fact, I would observe
That the Lambeth Articles are substantially in accordance with the 3 L
Established Articles, which (on account of certain disputes occurring at that time) they were intended to explain, or they are not :
1. If they are not, we derive from this fact alone, certain evidence destructive to the so much esteemed testimony of antiquity respecting the ancient fathers, both perfectly understanding and perfectly recording the doctrines transmitted from apostolic authority. For if in one quarter of a century, the leading doctrines of OUR REFORMATION, the most important circumstance that had occurred in the Christian world for more than a thousand years, had been forgotten or substantially laid aside, an appeal to the unanimous opinions of antiquity is a perfect nullity; for half a century or even a quarter, may, on the above supposition, have so changed the phases of the Christian Church, that one could not be recognized from the other. For be it remembered that, as Fuller wisely remarks, the "doctrines" of those Lambeth Articles were the "generally" received doctrines of THAT AGE, and that the testimony of those learned witnesses is" infallible evidence" of the truth of this statement, however far we may assume those doctrines to have been from the doctrines of the Estahlisbed Church.
2. If, however, in order to sustain the character of tradition, it be said that, though the Lambeth Articles, being of a somewhat more stringent and definite texture, were wisely not established and grafted upon the National Creed, yet may still be looked upon, with little modification, as a faithful exposition of the 39 Articles of our Church; may we not, without offence, ask-"Why, then, are they not believed?" For it is perfectly clear, from numerous volumes published on those points, and other indubitable evidence, that not only do our leading authorities not believe the doctrines defined in the Lambeth Articles, but very earnestly contend
against them, as fraught with error of the very worst description.
Let the striking case of the Lambeth Articles be taken which way it will, it affords the strongest possible testimony against appeals to antiquity as veritable authority; and reduces to next to nothing the value of all authority not established.
1. For if the colouring given by those celebrated Articles be erroneous, forasmuch as they were the sentiments of the very highest authorities in our Church, and which were then, as Fuller says, generally embraced, only 24 years after our own Articles were finally established, and while many of their revisers were still living, or only recently dead, of what USE are articles of faith which can be so soON and so generally misinterpreted? Or, of what VALUE is testimony to the sense of articles which (if that testimony be erroneous,) is so fallacious?
2. If, on the other hand, it be maintained that the sense given in those Lambeth Articles is the genuine, or essentially near the genuine, meaning of our Established Articles, what can we say in defence of that GENERAL DEPARTURE from that meaning in the present day? For if at the distance of 270 years (the period we live in,) we at the present time, understand the true sense of our Articles better than those whose distance was only 24, to what purpose do we appeal to the ancient Fathers, as living so much nearer than (even) our Reformers did to the original source of truth, if the Lambeth divines were less informed than we are, who live at more than TEN times their distance from the source of knowledge.
In my mind, dear Mr. EDITOR, tradition must die, or lose its influence, if such cases, so palpable and so demonstrative, are duly brought before the public.
I remain, Rev. Sir,
Very faithfully yours,