Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CHRISTIAN GUARDIAN,

AND

CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.

MARCH, 1851.

THE POLICY AND POSSIBILITY OF RITUAL REFORM. İt is difficult to bring some persons to sions, and shocks of varied intensity, allow even the mooting of questions, not only from contact with positively on which they themselves are either antagonistic forces, but from fierce satisfied, indifferent, or indisposed to and bitter internal contentions and exert an independent course of in- animosities. If these jarring circumquiry and action. It is strange to stances occurred only with the world, notice the way that some people have and with the men of the world, it of coolly setting aside such questions, would be no marvel; we should know and of putting down the questioners and understand that all these natuas troublers of the peace of whatever rally seek their own interests, mainbody, or community, they may not in tain their own opinions, and are careall things see eye to eye with. Even less of the consciences of others; we bring them to listen to your case, to could not expect peace, love, or harhear your arguments, and to bear mony, where the heaven-born element patiently with the most palpable illus- was wanting. But to find perpetual trations in its favour, and you have discord and disagreement, and ungained but little. They may possibly yielding tempers, in the body of the admit the existence of your case, the Christian Church, perplexes the world, cogency of your arguments, and the hinders its conversion; while such a truth of your illustrations; but they state of things reflects dishonour upon just refuse their assent and consent to the Church itself, and keeps back á any movement to obtain a remedy. rich revenue of glory from its Divine

We imagine this to be greatly true Head. of the conduct of the Evangelical As an engine for the evangelization body at large, in this crisis of the of the country, the Church of England history of the Church of England. presents the noblest spectacle in the They stand in a false position, and world; yet the working of her maarising, as we think, from having chinery is much impeded by certain taken a false stand, upon what is difficulties which her best friends termed the fixed and definite condition have been continually pointing out, bequeathed to us by the fathers of but which every one has shrunk from the Reformation. We have ascer- removing. tained from the history of bygone The question of the revision of the years, and with our own eyes of later Ritual, is one in which the Evangeliyears have but too sadly seen, that cal party have not taken that honest the Church has suffered from colli- and consistent course, to which their

MARCH-1851.

[ocr errors]

views and position would seem natu- In parts of our Ritual, we have rally to bind them; and it cannot be been content to leave untouched those wondered at, that ever and anon cir- fibrous roots of Popery which our Recumstances arise which bring their formers were either unable or unwilviews and their course of action into ling utterly to extirpate from the unfortunate and indefensible collision. precious boon they were privileged

It were idle to recapitulate those to bequeath to us, and they have portions of the Liturgy which the ex- sprung up and yielded fearful fruits, perience of almost every year, since in the distraction and ultimate perit was given to us in its present form, version of many of our brethren. have been found to work most preju- Other parts of the Ritual, built upon diciously to the truest interests of the the same unsafe foundation, have not Church itself, and the comfort of the a little misled the ignorant, divided consciences of the most godly minis- brethren who might otherwise have ters and laity, as well within as with- been one, and have in various ways out her pale. To the writer, the con

been the cause of much discussion duct of most of the Evangelical party and perplexity in the Church. in this matter has been always inex

Tractarians and High Churchmen plicable. Sincerely attached to their are satisfied with the ipsissima verba own views by the deepest inmost con- of the baptismal services; the absoluviction, he has most painfully felt tion in the visitation of the sick; and how the maintenance and extension other expressions in the Liturgy which of those views was endangered and give the idea of some exclusive and hindered by the tortuous course of inherent power in the priesthood, and unsatisfactory explanation, by which the offices which they perform; and they satisfied their own consciences they can and do establish a very fair in the retention and use of words case for their doctrines and pretenwhich wound the scripturally tender sions, from what we have before reconsciences of others who are unable marked as being very aptly termed the to adopt the same course; and he has naked verbality of the Prayer-book. lamented that many are content to

The Evangelical body accept the allow the existence of the evils, while language of the Ritual, and harmothey persevere in a timid and tempo- nize, or labour to harmonize, those rizing opposition to every attempt parts which,—taken alone and apart to effect a reformation.

from the Articles, the Homilies, and There is nothing in all this of that the known intentions of the Reforcandour and consistency which should mers,—do appear to contradict the pre-eminently mark the conduct of general tenor and effect of the docthose who hold and teach the doc- trines they wish to propagate. Equally trines which are distinguished by the

unsatisfactory are the views of many name of Evangelical ; and it is more

in the latter class, who can satisfy than probable, that on this, as well as

themselves with the language of the on other accounts, God hath vi- baptismal and the burial services, sited our Church with the dread on the ground that they can use and pestilence of Tractarianism, and the appropriate the strong language of now threatening scourge of Papal faith and hope in which they are aggression.

couched; they argue that the service is for believers; and they de- published, drives the question of reprecate the consideration of them in vision home to the conviction of all any other light, and especially with who will see the connexion between reference to their constant and indis- cause and effect. The following porcriminate administration in the cir- tion deserves attentive perusal. cumstances of a national Church.

“Itis, unfortunately, in the Liturgy itself It is not wise to delay or stave off that we discover the real origin of that mothe question of ritual reform, by the

ral malady which now afflicts the Church various pretexts or catalogue of fears, the evils we have so much reason to de

- the primary and prolific source of all with which the efforts of calm and plore. It is but too clear that Anglican

ism, if tested simply by the Prayer-Book temperate advocates of reform are

as it now stands, must always find in its too often discouraged. Nothing rubrics, and, what is of far greater imthat the advocates of things as they portance, in some even of its most 80are have advanced has shaken the

LEMN services, a defensible position upon

which to maintain its ground. This, conviction of the writer, that a work indeed, was demonstrated by the Gorham which was, as a whole, nobly carried case itself. And if the Church had been through at the Reformation, under true to her principles, as set forth in her

Articles, and actuated by the spirit of her difficulties and dangers of incalculable illustrious founders ; she would already weight and variety, may not safely be have set about the good work of Refor.

mation. submitted to revision in times which,

" Now, however, the time has certainly although they may be critical, yet arrived, when such a work ought no offer far greater facilities for getting longer to be deferred. To remove from

our admirable Liturgy, whatever may rid of some few clogs and blemishes,

afford even a pretext for Romanizing than those in which the entire wor

tenets and practices, ought to be hence ship of a nation had to be changed forward the chief endeavour of all truly

Protestant Churchmen. Without this, from one purely Romish, and almost

the suppression of Tractarian observances, altogether erroneous and supersti- however necessary in itself

, can ultimately tious, into a worship purely Protest

avail nothing.

It is sometimes urged, ant, and of comparatively a scriptural excited a state, for the work of revision to

indeed, that men's minds are in too and perfect character. Let us try to

be prudently attempted at the present arrive at some accurate, definite idea time. Such is, in fact, the objection, of the policy and necessity of revi

and the only one-alleged by the Primate

himself. But when, it may be asked sion, and it then becomes a positive with all deference to the opinion of one duty to consider, calmly and without so eminent-when, except in seasons of prejudice, the possibility of attempt tofore accomplished; or, indeed, any

excitement, has any such work been hereing it. Had our Reformers struggled signal blessing whatever been obtained against acting upon the light they for the Church and the world ? Quiet

times are always seasons of listless, unhad received upon the subject of Ro

inquiring, and unprofitable apathy ; unmish error, on the ground of the ex- fitted for any grand and comprehensive isting state of things rendering its undertaking. Those were not such times removal almost hopelessly distant, and substituted for the Romish Mass-book,

which gave us the blessed Reformation, our clergy might now be chanting the Reformed Liturgy of Edward VI.hymns to the Virgin, and our whole

If I am permitted space, I hope population might be still in Papal

to recur to this subject in the next darkness, worshipping at the shrines number.

C. A. of St. Thomas of Canterbury.

By a Member of the Inner Temple, 8vo, A letter to Lord John Russell, lately Groombridge.

Divinity.

THE THINGS UNSEEN.

Whatever assists us in obtaining an sions; these fill the expanse of their accurate and minute account of the contemplation ; and to turn from true christian character, is very valu- them to invisible things, to future able. It is valuable to those who are things, to indefinitely future things, in earnest, both that they may know seems to them a sacrifice of that what they are to seek after and which is certain, for that which, at wherein they fail ; and it is valuable the best, is wildly speculative, obto those who are yet indifferent to the scure, and conjectural. In fact, the subject, as a means of exhibiting to conclusion to which an unprejudiced them the wide and extraordinary dif- visitor from some other sphere must ference existing between them and come to on the conduct of men in the sincere disciples of the Saviour. general, would be this, that maniOne of these important notices we festly the present world is the subfind in the passage of Scripture,- stance, the valued possession ; and “We look not at the things which the future existence, a chimera, a are seen, but at the things which are shadow; or, like a comet, an eccennot seen.” It describes an essential tric intrusion upon the system, that point of the Christian's character; it may or may not come, and, that if speaks specially of the habit of mind looked for, may be looked for in vain. of the Apostle and his fellow labour Here, then, we have a marked disers;

but it is so only inasmuch as they tinction between the real Christian are believers in Christ, members of and the man of this world; and it is His mystical body, and acting under a distinction into which we proceed the influence of “the truth as it is in to inquire. We will consider,Jesus.” The habit of which St. Paul First. The objects of the Christian's speaks is not ascribed to them pecu- regard, “the things which are not liarly as Apostles or ministers, but seen.” simply as believers; and experience Secondly. The nature of that rein all after ages shews that the lan- gard, we look at the things which guage used is as truly applicable to are not seen.” the real Christian at any time. He The objects of the Christian's relooks “not at the things which are gard. They are called “the things seen, but at the things which are not which are not seen.” And they are seen." His habit is in this respect called " eternal :". “ The things the contrary of that of other men. which are not seen are eternal.” The They are occupied with the cares, the things, then, at which the Christian business, or the pleasures; with the looks, so as to constitute them the hopes, possessions, and disappoint- great and characteristic subject of his ments of this present world. In these contemplation, are invisible, eternal things is their greatest interest; these things. They are things which have are their realities; these call out their an existence beyond the range of the affections, their energies, their pas- natural sight, and whose duration will continue in perpetuity when the sys- the moral properties of the fountain. tem, and the order, and the individu. And if he has received from extranealities, of this temporary existence, ous sources any turbid or polluting shall have sunk into decay. What addition, he must be purged of them these eternal and invisible realities by a fresh accession from the pure are, we gather from Scripture, and fountain, or be cut off from the from christian experience. They are, source, and dried up, and wasted. the invisible God, and the invisible Now the character of God, as it apworld in which He reigns. A certain pears before the believer's mind, is connexion has been established be that of a just God and a Saviour. It tween them and the spirit of the man, is the extraordinary union of perfect, as an expectant heir of that eternity; inexorable justice, with abounding by which connexion he realizes the grace and mercy. And this estimate existence of such things, and finds a of the character of God is one of the greater interest in them, than in the most powerful tests of the real possesmaterial objects which are spread sion of the religion of Christ. The daily before his natural sight. What self-taught religionist, who speculates that connexion is, we shall endeavour upon the character of God, and who subsequently to consider. Our object frames to himself a philosophical nonow is, in the first place, to notice tion, rather than obtains a realizing successively the unseen objects of the perception of the Divine Being, will Christian's regard.

adhere either to the bare idea of jus1. The invisible God. The exis- tice in God, as the rewarder of His tonce of the Deity spreads before the creatures according to His knowledge true Christian's mind, as a reality, of their circumstances, and will chewith all the importance and interest rish a proud estimate of his own serworthy of the fact; with a reality, and vices; or he will lean the other way, an importance, and an interest, which and take up the idea of indiscriminate once he did not feel. It is to him a

mercy in the Divine mind; and, seenew view, a new experience; but it is ing so much moral evil in the world as certain to him as the broad ex- on every side, he will please himself panse of the ocean, or the dark moun- with the idea that the delight of God tainous mass which throws its giant is to pass by transgression. But he frame across the sky. There is no- whose eyes have been opened on unthing on which his mind rests with seen things, discerns in the Divine more certainty, as an actual exis- character the actual union of perfect tence, than the existence of God.

justice, in an inflexible adherence to The believer sees the character of the law of right, and free remission of God. - The essence of the Divine na- sin, in the eternal happiness of the ture he cannot discover or compre- once guilty transgressor. hend; with that he has nothing to do; among the unseen things an ample but with His moral character he has provision for the establishment of this much to do; because it must be the wonderful truth. It has been exhiregulating standard of his own. He bited in the dispensation of the incarderives from it as a source; if he is to nation, in the entrance of God's etercontinue, he must flow on in confor- nal Son upon this world, as the promity with it, exhibiting as a stream pitiatory victim of God's justice, and

He sees

« PreviousContinue »