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the comment upon holy scripture on which that practice rested." Instead of deriving the customs of the Church from scripture, the customs of the Church are to expound the word ; and so, in fact, the practice of the Church is made to rest on the practice of the Church! He admits also, that “ as to their mode of dealing with penitents there would be difficulty apart from the doctrine and practice of the power of the keys,” i. e. apart from the arbitrary interpretation of his text on the subject, in direct contradiction to the uniform tenor of scripture. He rests, therefore, and desires others to rest satisfied, with that authoritative gloss, and endeavours to turn the mind aside from the untoward desire for proof, and the lamentable want of it.
“So far," he says, "from needing strict or full proof of anything which, through habitual belief or practice, has become part of ourselves, proof is lost in knowledge, and intuitive perception displaces reasoning. We think not of title-deeds, when we are in possession of our inheritance from above."
But this is a poor foundation indeed, for this mighty structure of auricular confession and absolution. 1st. An arbitrary interpretation of a text; 2ndly. an assumption that the entire silence of scripture on the subject proceeds on the amplitude with which it has spoken in the text so arbitrarily interpreted ; 3dly. That, in the absence of scriptural statements, the practice of the Church is to be received as the developement of the mind of God in scripture; and 4thly. that being in possession, by the practice of the Church, of this wonderful privilege, it is needless to look out for title-deeds and proofs! They must indeed be strangely mystified who could receive, on such grounds, this mighty overwhelming system of religion, political agency, and domination, at once so alien to the tenderest sympathies of the soul, so hostile to the “ liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and so fearfully auxiliary to an absolute and unholy tyranny over both body and mind.
As yet it has only been shown that the Romish interpretation of John xx. 21, is not scriptural : because in those other parts of scripture where it would most naturally appear, the idea does not exist. There is, however, good reason for affirming that a different interpretation of the passage is more justifiable.
There are two passages of scripture which may be regarded as parallel, and which are calculated to throw some light on the question before us. The first is in Matt. xviii. 15. It is an instruction as to the conduct of any member of the Christian community or church in case of offence or injury by a brother. There are certain progressive steps appointed to be taken to bring the offender 1846.
to a proper sense of his error. The last is, “ tell it to the congregation or church, and then let him be excluded and separated, as no longer a member of the ekranoia, but a heathen man and publican.” To which our blessed Lord adds, “ Verily I say unto you, whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Now surely this binding and loosing has direct reference to the act here spoken of,—the exercise of discipline, by the Christian body collectively, of excluding or restoring offenders; and it would be difficult to show that even this was exclusively a clerical power or act; for that attempt would limit the subject of offences as applying to evils arising between ministers only,-a limitation manifestly unwarranted. A second passage occurs in Matt. xvi. 18, where the Lord Jesus, having received and approved Peter's confession of faith as the true faith on which he would build his Church securely, says “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven;" (i.e. the gospel kingdom on earth. See Matt. xiii. passim) and “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The former power given was evidently a control over the members of the Church for inconsistent conduct. This is a similar power with reference to unsound doctrine, the right of exclusion for heterodoxy, or of restoration on the renunciation of the heretical opinion. Now these two powers constitute the substance of a proper government within the limits of the community,-an effective control over doctrine and practice to remove or restore offenders in either matter judicially and openly. When therefore our blessed Lord after his resurrection, gives to his apostles their final blessing for their opening ministry, and says, “ Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; and whosesoever sins ye retained, they are retained;” it would seem naturally to imply nothing more than a confirmation of those powers previously intimated, which were necessary to the establishment of an exclusive institution in the earth, to be characterized by certain influential opinions and resulting practice ; that the Church in dealing with its members should possess sufficient power to exclude either for improper opinion or conduct, those who walked in either respect in stubborn inconsistency, and of withdrawing or relaxing that restriction when desirable. This view is consistent with the whole analogy of scripture; the total silence of the apostolic writings as to the Romish notion or practice, affords strong collateral evidence that it is correct; it wears on its face the aspect of propriety, and it would be found all that is really necessary for the healthy government of the body, and infinitely more effective and profitable than
that mysterious and complicated system which the Romish apostacy has so strangely educed from those few simple words; or rather, which having devised and adopted as a system of powerful policy, she endeavours to support by an artful and arbitrary expounding of them in a sense which not another sentence of the word of God corroborates.
And now we conceive a somewhat strong case has been made out against Dr. Pusey and his sermon; and that it has been shown fairly, and without any artifice or attempt to take undue advantage--that the doctrine taught by him, and which he too evidently avows to be Romish doctrine, is not consistent with the teaching of the Church of England and with the word of God. And if so, we conceive that a very heavy inculpatory charge lies against bim, and one which calls for discipline; in fact, for the exercise of the wholesome “ power of the keys." We are aware of the great laxity of opinion in the present day towards any measure in that direction; but certain questions are vital, and they must be treated as such. If Dr. Pusey's sermon is orthodox, and consistent with his standing amongst us, our reformation has been an error,-our separation from the Rom ish Church is schismatical. If, on the other hand, we rest still satisfied that the doctrinal position of the Reformed Church is sound, and the Protestant testimony against “ Roman doctrine" is consonant with God's holy word, then such teaching can neither be tolerated in the chair of a Protestant University, nor in the pulpit of a Protestant church. Is there or is there not sufficient healthy stamina in our body to throw off this adulterating infusion ? Mystified as we admit the composition to be-a sort of cloudy and vague jumble in many respects, either intentionally or unintentionally, for we will not say which—there is sufficient in it to an accurate Church-of-England theologian of the school of Sherlock and Stillingfleet and Patrick,—to say nothing of the earlier school of the Reformation, which is our true standard,—to deal with and convict the offender, and to bind or to loose him according as he shall persist or repent. If this attempt is allowed to pass, it is too evident that the evil will not there stop. Any man may teach anything in the Church of England, if this man may teach what he has done. Some men, and those in high places, may be disposed to sit still and let this withering simoon pass over us; but they cannot do so with safety. Our authorities may rest assured that our existence as a Church calls in this instance for excision : the most moderate of churchmen, who yet value our scriptural and reformation-stand against Rome, see the necessity of it; the voice of the Protestant community calls for it: the watchful eye of the whole mass of Protestantism looks up for it most anxiously; and if Dr. Pusey will neither “retract his errors" nor voluntarily secede to those with whom he is really in communion, he should be taught, not only by the indignant frown of men in general, but by diocesan authority, that his present position is utterly at variance with the integrity and straitforwardness of a Christian man.
Mr. Gresley, we observe, has endeavoured to turn the public attention another way, and to make men believe, that “the real danger of the Church of England” consists in the existence of the Church Pastoral Aid Society, the Church Extension Fund; and the “ Evangelical party," with which these associations have originated. The attempt, however, is most dishonest and delusive. There is no danger, at the present moment, which threatens the Church of England, which can compare with this ;—that men are still found, and that in considerable numbers, within her pale, who persist in holding, and teaching, “ all Roman doctrine ;” and who nevertheless retain their preferments, and appear to set at nought the public reprobation of nearly all her Bishops. The people naturally ask, Whether such a Church can be supposed to have any discipline, any laws, or, in fact, any government?
IRELAND AND HER CHURCH. By the Very Rev. Richard MURRAY, D.D. Dean of Ardagh. London: Seeleys. 1845.
This very seasonable publication is eminently calculated to dispel the erroneous and mischievous delusions that have unfortunately prevailed in this country to such a lamentable extent, on the subject of the history of the church of Christ in Ireland. It is a work which ought to be in the hands of every Protestant, of every patriot, and of every statesman. Here, by a collection of historical facts which cannot fail to bring conviction to the mind of every impartial and unprejudiced reader, the evils which have brooded over Ireland for so many centuries, are traced to their true source. Every sincere philanthropist will here find ample ground to mourn over the desolation, both spiritual and temporal, brought upon that naturally fine country by the forced introduction of a revolting superstition, and the consequent extinction of religion and learning; and his generous indignation will be further roused by the recital of the secular tyranny and foul misgovernment, inflicted, from that fatal hour to the present, on a land that, in the olden time, formed, in the words of Dr. Johnson," the school of the West, the quiet habitation of sanctity and literature."
In every history of Ireland, civil or ecclesiastical, the name of Patrick necessarily occupies a prominent position, as that of Augustine does in the annals of England. The lives and actions of these remarkable personages have been involved in considerable obscurity, and the Church of Rome has succeeded to a great extent in turning the popular ignorance on this subject to her own account. She has not hesitated to violate historical accuracy, and to distort by crude and childish fables the scanty records relating to them, which have descended to us from the ages in which they respectively flourished. Accordingly, it has been coolly assumed by Romish writers that Patrick, commissioned by the pope, originated Christianity in Ireland, and was the consequent founder of the Church in that country: and that Augustine, deriving his authority from the same source, came to England at a later period, and was the first to plant the religion of Christ in our fatherland. These assumptions are now generally known to be downright fictions, and are therefore driven without ceremony from the precincts of every learned society. But they are still doing their mischief in many of our nurseries and schools, and they are reiterated by the partisans of Rome, despite of their