Page images
PDF
EPUB

over, that American missionaries of non- error and vices of the Oriental Churches, episcopal Churches have laboured in the the episcopal form of government will be regions under review, with a very signal lost in the newly formed Churches. blessing from the Lord. They have mul- The state of these lands is not unlike tiplied their stations in Asia Minor and that of the European kingdoms at the Syria. They have numerous printing- beginning of the Reformation. Shall presses; and are dispensing the Word of the Reformation take the turn which it God and scriptural books in large num- did in England and Sweden, or that bers. Their schools are numerous : al- which it took in Germany and Switzerready a very considerable number of Ar- Jand? menian and Greck Christians have placed I believe that the door is still open themselves under their instruction, and to the Church of England, and to her have formed themselves into Protestant alone, to interpose for the preservation of communities. These and all other Pro- that which we hold to be an apostolic testant communities have been recognised discipline—by persuading the rulers of in a recent firman from the Sultan, and the Oriental Churches to take part in have received ample protection, and have the blessed reformation which has com. officers of government appointed to re- menced. present their interests. This Protestant I would very humbly submit to your movement is daily advancing throughout Lordship and the heads of our own the East. Many appeals have been made Church, whether a new commendatory to our Society by Christian travellers and epistle might not be sent, either through residents in those countries, to send Bishop Gobat, or some other messenger zealous and able missionaries of our of our Church, to the Oriental Ecclesi. Church. Many of the non-episcopal astical Authorities, to forewarn them of missionaries themselves, and some of the danger before them, and to call upon their directors in America, have ex- them, for their own souls' welfare, as well pressed a desire to see the Church of as for the preservation of primitive disEngland taking a more prominent part cipline, to follow the example of the in the scriptural revival of these Churches. Episcopal reformers of our Church, of Is this a time for hindrances and checks blessed memory, and to place themselves to be thrown in the way by faithful mem- at the head of the movement for the "pubers of our own Church? If our mis- rification” of their Churches. sionaries are held back, these alternatives I submit this proposal advisedly, havare before us : one, that Protestant truth ing the means of knowing, from those will be overcome and driven from the best acquainted with the state of things, land, and these Churches will be shut that the measure is feasible, and that the up in their errors and darkness; the missionaries of different denoninations other, that the Bible will prevail in the would not look with an unfriendly eye hands of non-episcopal missionaries, and upon its execution. that, together with the removal of the

HENRY Venn.

TOPICS OF DISCUSSION ON CHURCH SUBJECTS DURING THE

YEAR 1851.

I. THE

CAMBRIDGE MEMORIAL RESPECTING THE BURIAL SERVICE.
GAWTHORN CONTROVERSY RESPECTING CHURCH GOVERNMENT.

II. THE

:

REMARKS ON THE CAMBRIDGE “MEMO- were given in the Christian Guardian,

RIAL RESPECTING THE INDISCRIMI- July No., 1850, pp. 314, &c.) The NATE USE OF THE BURIAL SERVICE. “Memorial" itself (which has now,

in 1851, been presented to the PreA CIRCULAR was widely circulated lates) is as follows: among the clergy, during the year

“ To the Most Reverend the Archbishops 1850, by a Committee of seventeen

and the Right Reverend the Bishops Cambridge Clergymen, requesting sig- of the Provinces of Canterbury and natures to a “Memorial” respecting York. the indiscriminate use of the Burial

“ We the undersigned, clergymen of the service. (The Circular and Memorial Church of England, desire to approach

your Lordships with the feelings of respect and reverence which are due to your sacred office.

"We beg to express our conviction that the almost indiscriminate use of the Order for the Burial of the Dead,' as practically enforced by the existing state of the law, imposes a heavy burden upon the consciences of the clergy, and is the occasion of a grievous scandal to many Christian people.

"We therefore most humbly pray that your Lordships will be pleased to give to the subject now brought under your consideration such attention as the magnitude of these evils appears to require, with the view to the devising of some effectual remedy."

To this "Memorial" the signatures of "about 4,000" clergymen have as the subscribers to it are informed by a printed circular-been already obtained; signatures from clergymen of all opinions. It will be observed that their objection relates,-not to the burial service as it stands in the Prayer-Book, with the Rubric at its head, but-only to that practical disregard of its provisions which the circumstances of the times have induced. (Ezek. xxii. 26).* It is undeniable that this service does, in its more obvious and prima facie meaning, seem to assert the salvation of the party interred. Thus, the phrase "of his great mercy, to take unto Himself," if explained by other parts of the Prayer Book, would imply as much. So again, the expression of hearty thanks" for delivering the

66

• See a Sermon "The Burial Service, its legitimate use dependant on Church discipline," by Rev. P. Maitland, (Burns, 1842), and the Christian Guardian, July No., 1850, pp. 314317, and August, 1850, pp. 368, &c. Many a clergyman may be able honestly to subscribe that the service "may lawfully so be used" as it stands in the Prayer-Book under the limitations of the Rubric which is prefixed to it, who yet disapprove of its indiscriminate use, and the practical neglect of the provisions of this Rubric.

deceased "out of the miseries of this sinful world," "-" deliver out of "implying, apparently, an amelioration Luke i. 74; iv. 18; Acts vii. 10)." of condition (see Psalm cvii. 6, 13; Again, "raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; THAT, when we shall depart this life we may rest in him, as our hope is THIS our brother doth."

+ For example, "who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins;" "by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night." Again, "Almighty God, with whom do live the souls of them that depart home in the Lord." (Burial Service).

In this sense, then, the words of the burial service can only be used in the spirit of charitable hope that the deceased is at rest; and the thanksgiving as a "rejoicing in hope" (Rom. xii. 12) of his supposed safety. Now to those clergymen who cannot receive the interpretation of this service which has been sometimes suggested † as at all

Thus in the preceding sentence of the Prayer in which these words occur, we speak of "the souls of the faithful after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh" being "in joy and felicity;" and in the Churching service we give "thanks" to God that he has "vouchsafed to deliver" women" from the great pain and peril of childbirth."

+ The view may thus be briefly stated, viz., That it may always be said at the burial of any one, even the most wicked, that it has pleased God in the general Providential (Matt. x. 29, 30) exercise of "his" great and "tender mercies" which "are over all his works" (Psalm clv. 9) "mercy" if not to the deceased, yet to the survivors (as in Psalm cxxxvi. 15, 17, 18) either directly or indirectly, such as by the removal of a bad example, or as a timely

-in

chastisement-to "take unto himself the soul," in that general sense in which it is spoken of mankind in general (see Job xxxiv. 14; Eccles. xii. 7; iii. 21), and even of the wicked in particular, (see Job xxvii. 8); that is, to summon it into His own more immediate presence-" to take" it into His own hands for due disposal according to its character. In the same general sense, is the deceased termed a "brother," (see Isaiah Ixvi. 5; Acts vii. 2, 5; 1 Cor. v. 11; 2 Thes, iii. 6, 15), and even a "dear brother;" for St. Paul seems to have regarded his unconverted "kinsman according to the flesh" as dear to him (Romans ix. 3). The "sure and certain hope" is the hope (not of his, but) of "the resurrection to eternal life," (i. e. "the resurrection of the just"), the word "the" having been purposely inserted at the last revision: and the word "our"--"our vile body"-refers as it does in Phil. iii. 21, to the bodies of true Christians in general. The expression of "hearty

admissible,* it certainly appears to be a hardship that they should be compelled by law to repeat these words, and to address this thanksgiving to a heart-searching God, who requires his "worship" to be "in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 24), over the remains of those multitudes of whom they are by the Church required to believe that "without doubt" they must "perish everlastingly," and "cannot be saved" (Athanasius' Creed). But the practical difficulty lies in devising a suitable remedy. There can be but three courses open, viz. either (1) The revival of such discipline as would exclude all persons from Christian burial who have not died in full communion with

thanks," &c. has been regarded merely as an expression of humble resignation, and of cheerful acquiescence (Rom. v. 3) in God's righteous though perhaps painful dealings, as in Job i. 21; 1 Thes. v. 18; 1 Sam. iii. 18; Acts xxi. 14. And in the case of the wicked as praising his justice-his "true and righteous" (Rev. xvi. 7, xix. 2) dealing-in "DELIVERING the deceased out of the miseries of THIS sinful world," and removing him from the opportunities of contaminating others by his bad example to that world where "the wicked cease from trou. bling," and their powers for mischief cease. While it has been considered that 1 Cor. iv. 5, and xiii. 7, will warrant the expression of a "hope" of the deceased's salvation, though it may be but one degree removed from despair. On this see Wheatly, c. xii. s. v.; Bishop Mant's Prayer Book. pp. 495-499; The Church of England Magazine for 1847, vol. xxiii. No. 659, p. 106; The Christian Observer, for January, 1849. pp. 1-3.

* For, after all, to this case the words of Dr. M'Neile may, perhaps, be applied: "In order to be useful, words must not only be in the same language which the auditors of them understand, but they must be used in the same sense, which those auditors habitually ascribe to them. If the language be not known, words are absolutely useless? If the language be known, but the sense in which the speaker uses it be not known, words are deceitful and mischievous; so that, finally, it is only when both the language and the sense in which the speaker uses it, are known, that words are useful," (Church and the Churches, c. ix. p. 406). In c. vii. Dr. M'Neile warns us against "human maxims in religion," such as calling" a violation of truth" as "only a slight exaggeration," (p. 318).

the Church.* Or (2) The allowance of a discretionary power to the Officiating Minister, to omit such portions of the service as he may in each particular case think fit. (Wheatly, c. xii. s. v. p. 478).† Or (3) a slight revision of the service itself.

64

As the prefixed rubric was only added in 1661-2, it would seem to supersede the 68th Canon, according to the general axiom laid down by Adn. Sharp (ch. xi. pp. 204-5, and c. xii. p. 212). Taken with its context-" unbaptized, or excommunicate," i. e. out of Communion-it would almost seem to exclude from Christian burial all those who having reached the canonical age of sixteen (Canon 112), are not partakers of the Holy Communion-the two Sacraments being generally necessary unto salvation," (Catechism), and the present service appearing to assume the salvation of the party buried. (Wheatly, p. 478). For the Church as a corporate body cannot take cognizance of the secret operations of Divine grace, but must require an open and Sacramental evidence of them. In the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper there is a profession of that worship of the Trinity, and Faith in Christ, which Athanasius' Creed declares necessary to salvation; a profession of religion which warrants the Church officially to recognize the recipient as a true Christian.

+ Indeed even now a Minister is perhaps morally justified in omitting certain clauses in extreme cases, over the bodies of notorious sinners who have died out of communion" with the Church. For example in omitting "that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful world," and reading it thus: "We give thee hearty thanks for that. . . . beseeching thee,' &c.-using "that" as a pronoun referring to the previous sentence respecting the happiness of departed saints. See the Christian Guardian Aug. 1850, pp. 371-2. For in the cases of persons who have died out of communion with the Church-" excommunicate"-does the Minister break his engagement to "conform to the Liturgy" by omitting a few words, and thus slightly deviating from a service which he has promised to use in its exact form, only in those cases which are not excluded by the prefixed Rubric? The same remark will apply to cases of suicide even when committed in a state of insanity, for which the Rubric makes no allowance. (See Wheatly, pp. 462-3). Clauses in the marriage service are often omitted for no good reason at all. And Rev. W. Goode in the "Appendix" to the second edition of the Vindication

To the first of these three courses, it may be not unreasonably objected, That forasmuch as the funeral service is designed for the benefit of the living, rather than of the dead, it would be highly inexpedient thus to altogether deprive the surviving friends of the benefit of a religious service in so very many cases-especially as the general feelings of Society would be opposed to such a course, and would naturally shrink from it. To the second, That it would frequently place both Ministers and people in a very delicate and very trying position. The third course, then, alone remains to revise the service in some such way, as to render it мOST appropriate, indeed, at the graves of real Christians, but yet not so inappropriate at the graves of even the most ungodly, as either to wound the conscience of any Officiating Minister, or to bring any scandal on the Church herself; in other words to modify some of its expressions so as to leave all the sublime beauties of the present service untouched, and at the same time to leave the particular and individual application of its declarations and its hopes, to be supplied by those who know whether or not the lives and deaths of their departed friends have been such as to warrant their indulg ing those hopes. For it would be far better to omit certain clauses at the burial of good men, than to use them indiscriminately at the burial of wicked men. And it would still be possible to make a difference between those who are and who are not in Communion

with the Church, by omitting the Psalms and Lesson in the case of the latter.

of the Defence of the 39 Articles (Hatchards,
1849) at pp.5-9 quotes from a work by Archdeacon
Sparke, published "by public authority" in
1607, and "allowed" by the very King and
Primate who enacted the subscription to the
36th Canon, which touches upon this very
point. Dr. Sparke maintains that in the case
of such as "lived and died most profanely" it
never was the intent of "the authorisers of"
the Prayer-book to bind Ministers to utter all
the words of the service over their remains.
Yet Dr. Sparke very properly adds a caution
against "the rashness and indiscretion of some
Ministers" in their omissions, and clearly refers
to a few extreme cases only.

THE ANGLICAN FORM OF CHURCH
GOVERNMENT.

The Scriptural accuracy and moderation of the Church of England upon this point are very remarkable. In her 23rd Article, she does not dogmatically declare what is to be regarded as a lawful external call to the Ministerial Office; she passes, therefore, no sentence upon the polity of other Churches. But in her 36th Article, by sanctioning the Ordination Services, she plainly declares what polity she deems to be the most Scriptural and most proper, and also practically secures its continuance within her own pale. For in "the Preface" to the Ordination Services, while we are reminded of the Scriptural pattern of the three orders of Ministers,* we also find an assertion of the factbut without any declaration of the absolute necessity of a lineal and personal succession from hand to hand +-that

For we see Timothy and Titus to have been set over the presbyters or bishops-for the two names referred at that time to the same office, Acts xx. 17, 28; Titus i. 5, 7,-and the deacons (see 1 Tim. iii. 1-13; v. 1, 17; Titus i. 5, 6, 7), as chief bishops and in Phil. i. 1, wefind a reference to all three orders together. The whole subject is clearly and concisely stated in Bp. Short's History of the Church of England, s. 460 and 804.

This Mr. Lathbury shows in his History of Convocation, c. vii. pp. 174-5. At the same time the fact of the lineal and personal Episcopal Succession from the Apostles' times" seems to be the most satisfactory view. Thus the Rev. E. Bickerste:h remarks that " 'Episcopal succession is continued amongst us, a fact and a privilege, though by no means of the essence of the Church," (Promised Glory of the Church, c. iv. p. 41). The arguments in support of this fact are most lucidly and concisely stated in Dr. H. M'Neil's Lectures on the Church of England, No. ii. s. 2, pp. 68-71. The true doctrine of our Church upon the subject is ably shown in the two Sermons on "Christ's presence with his Ministers," and "the Apostolic Origin of Episcopacy" in the valuable volume of "Discourses on Tradition and Episcopacy" by Rev. C. Benson, late Master

[ocr errors]

He says,

these orders have existed in the the Episcopal form of Church governChurch of Christ from that time to ment, even that ultra-latitudinarian this._It is further declared, that with- dissenter, Jacob Abbott, in his “Corner out Episcopal ordination “no man Stone,” c. vii. pp. 212—214 (2nd shall be accounted or taken to be a ed. by Wightman) distinctly admits lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in and testifies that “ there is no bigotry the United Church of England and or intolerance in this." Ireland, or suffered to execute any of “If one denomination suppose some the said functions." Here, then, our circumstances in the mode of ordainChurch, having expressed her own ing pastors, or admitting members opinion as to the right and proper to the Churches, or some views of course, firmly and consistently ad- Christian duty, to be essential, while heres to it, so far as relates to minis- they are not so regarded by others, tering in her own Communion ;* while what ought the others to do? Why at the same time, --consistently with simply to allow them to pursue their her doctrine as laid down in the 23rd own course, unmolested and in peace. Article-she passes no sentence what- . . If a class of Christians think ever upon other Communions, or the that a certain mode of ordination is polity of other Churches. (See Hooker the only valid one, or that certain b. iii. c. 11, s. 19, and b. vii. c. 14, views of religious truth are essential, s. 11 and 12). This has been fully they cannot of course include those shown in a Sermon entitled “the who differ from them in these respects Apostolical Succession” preached at in the circle of official ministerial inthe Consecration of the Lord Bishop tercourse. There is no bigotry or inof Chichester (Dr. A. T. Gilbert) by tolerance in this. There is certainly Rev. E. Hawkins, D.D. and published no bigotry or intolerance in a man's at the command of the” late “ Arch- doing what he himself thinks is right, bishop of Canterbury” Dr. W. How- if he does not molest his neighbours, ley, (B. Fellowes, 1842), and in the or prevent, by other means than moChristian Observer, for November, ral ones, their doing what they think 1851, pp. 763—803. The true Spirit right. Nor is there any, in a Church's in which we should regard Ministers confining its official measures, strictly who are not episcopally ordained- to the field which is marked out by viz. according to our Lord's rule in its own views of official duty. The Mark ix. 38, 39, 40,-is well stated in world is wide enough for other Rev. C. Bridges' “Sacramental In- Churches to act freely according to struction” (Seeleys), c. vii. pp. 130- their ideas. No; the intolerance and 133. And as to our refusal of “offi- bigotry is all on the other side. It is cial ministerial intercourse" with those not in the quiet firmness with which Churches which have departed from a Church guards its doors according

to its own conscientious ideas of duty, but it is in loud vociferations of the

crowd which has assembled without, of the Temple, (J. W. Parker, 1840). Also in Rev. J. Venn's "Christian Ministry and Church

demanding admittance as a right.' Membership,” (Hatchards, 1842).

(pp. 212—214).*

a

D. Canon (of 1603-4) we find “the Churches of England, Scotland, and Ireland' to be spoken

• It may not be here out of place just to notice of, although no Bishops were consecrated for Scotland until six years afterwards, viz., in

a specimen of the misrepresentation sometimes

resorted to in discussing this subject. A Mr. 1610. The promise of Christ's continual pre

R. M. Beverley"in a pamphlet entitled “The senre in Matt. xxviii. 19, 20, is contingent upon

Church of England Examined, &c.” thus writes : the teaching of His commandments. It is folly

“the Deacon is directed to say he is (i e, moved therefore to lay claim to the promise of His pre

by the Holy Ghost] : after which, the Bishop sence, without adhering to His doctrine.

gives him authority, to execute the ministration, • The Preface of the American Ordinal is the authority of the Holy Ghost being consiequally stringent with our own in this respect. dered as quite secondary to that of the Bishop," See also the “Christian Observer," Nov, 1851, (p. 33)! Had this writer only turned to Acts p. 787 and 789.

vi. 3, 6, and xiii. 2, 3, we can hardly think that

In the 55th

« PreviousContinue »