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Oxford, as the vice-principal ard tutur at Edmund-Hall, as the pastor at Bisley and Chobtain, and at St. John's, Bediord-row, and as the almost andraran oierseer of the clergy and the 60.000 laity of Ilington, and iden, for inteen years, the active and zealous, truth-loving and tru:h-testiying prelate of Calcutta, we love to dwell upon his faithful, consistent, practical witness to the “ truth as it is in Jesus ;” and gratefully to acknowledge that " having obtained help of God, be has continued unto this day.” He has passed through a time of severe ar.d sifting trial. He has adhered distinctly and affectionately to those views which are rightly desig. nated_“ evangelical.” He has seen their victorious power in the field of missions. He has borne, and never shrunk from, their reproach. It was the stigma of his Master. It was “ the offence of the cross.” The whole period of his course has been one of deep interest; nor is that interest diminished. And as his sun is going down, it still remains a question, whether truth-Protestant, Bible, truth-in its present phase in our reformed Church, shall prevail and prosper, or be overborne by the rise of Romish
Our worthy prelate hopes that the crisis is past - that the tide has reached its mark that the ebb is begun. We confess that we do not think so. So many valuable ministers are near the close of their career; so much youth and activity distinguishes the Tractarian party; so little firmness and theological distinctness characterizes the opposition ; there are so many instances of heartless partizanship; and so great and evident is the fear of sacrificing to a bold confession the prospect of substantial preferment in after-life,—that we anticipate with yet more overwhelming force the refluent tide. Gladly should we find ourselves mistaken ; cheerfully should we hail that series of events, which would thoroughly show forth our unfitness for the prophetic vocation. Yet, while the many indications of the spreading evil are what they are ; and while the witness of authority against the evil is so dubious and misty, we see but little reason to anticipate at the present crisis the victory of the truth. Disproved, the whole Tractarian system has long been ; but that disproof does not prevent one large section of the party from proceeding onwards to actual junction with Rome; nor bar the promotion of those who prefer to remain in the Establishment, on the speculation of carrying the Church itself with them, when they take the same step.
THE CHURCH AND CHURCHES; or, the Church of God in
Christ, and the Churches of Christ militant here on Earth. By the Rev. Hugh McNEILE, Honorary Canon of Chester, and Incumbent of St. Jude's, Liverpool. London : Hatchards. 1846.
When statesmen are undermining the foundations of our Church, and clergymen are deserting her communion to join the Church of Rome, we have cause to bless God that such faithful champions of Protestant truth as Mr. McNeile are still to be found among her ministers. His name is so well-known to our readers, that we need not speak to them of his various merits, as one of the first, if not the very first, Christian orator of our day. The graces of his diction, and the power of his stirring eloquence, may however conceal from some eyes those other excellencies, which are of still higher value—the purity and depth of scriptural theology which marks his speeches and writings, and gives them a power that no mere declamation, however brilliant, could possibly attain. We rejoice, then, to see him, in this volume, bear a seasonable testimony against the errors of the day; and though the living voice is wanting, which has so often chained the ears of thousands in breathless attention to his lips, the same spirit of truth, faithfulness, and wisdom, animates these pages, and will make them rich in profit and instruction to every thoughtful reader.
To review a work of six hundred pages, by such a writer, and at such a time, on the Church of Christ, is a perplexing task. The very abundance of materials is embarrassing. We might easily multiply extracts, full of deep interest, and rich in scriptural truth; but where nearly all is so valuable, it would be difficult to choose; and as most of our readers, we hope, will peruse the work, we shall quote very sparingly. No block of the purest Parian marble can serve for the pattern of a Grecian temple. The work before us must be read and judged as a whole. We shall therefore simply follow the author in his general outline, and only add such words of friendly criticism as he has himself invited, to assist his readers in attaining the great object of the work—a consistent, sound, and scriptural view of the Church of Christ.
The Preface itself is rich in thought. Mr. McNeile touches on four distinct but important subjects—the need of controversy, the value of the written word, the notes of a true church, and the painful contrast between the theory and the practice of the
Church of England. The actual result, in his view, is a stealthy and continual advance of the Church of Rome, to recover, if possible, universal supremacy. The practical indifference of our rulers to this danger calls forth an indignant and striking appeal.
Troy's temper was infatuation, and the natural consequence was Troy's ruin."
There is indeed enough to stir our deep indignation, in the practical treachery which the last year has unfolded to us. Noble lords and honourables compel us, one day, by their votes, to maintain five hundred teachers of idolatry, who shut the Bible out of Ireland, and pronounce God's curse on those who read it; and the next day they preside at meetings of Bible Societies, or tell us pitifully that the priests they have just compelled us to pay for, are starving and cursing the Protestant converts. What folly and madness! We marvel that meetings of Christian men can endure these contradictions; these moral griffins, the patrons, alike, of Bible-cursing Popery, and of Popery-cursed Bible Societies; who compel us to pay for the spread of poison through Ireland, and then describe to us, with sentimental compassion, the symptoms of the plague they have just been spreading, when it has fully seized on its victims. If the Christian honesty of our religious societies does not reject such displays as we have lately witnessed, we may soon be ripe for transubstantiation itself. Let noble lords and honourables purge themselves from the sin of forcing their money from Protestants, to spread abominable falsehoods through Ireland, and then they may come with clean hands to plead in a holier cause. Till then their advocacy, as men, of what they are helping, as legislators, to extinguish, must seem very like a Laodicean abomination in the sight of heaven. These are not the times when personal feeling should outweigh truth and righteousness, or when private virtues should blind us to the awful nature of a public sin. While the priests of Maynooth are cursing the Bible-readers of Ireland, and its missionaries are thwarting Protestant missions in every quarter of the world, let the Bible and Church Missionary Societies consider well their own duty. Let them not build up with one hand what they destroy with the other, and declaim pitifully against the mischiefs of Popery, while they set a Popery-endowing chairman to preside calmly over their eloquent denunciations. Spirituality cannot long flourish, if honesty and consistency be practically cast away. There has been an accursed thing, a Babylonish vote, in the midst of the meetings of our Israel, and we cannot expect the blessing of God to be continued, unless this flagrant and offensive contradiction be removed from the midst
But to return : the work itself consists of two main divisions. The first unfolds the character of the true Church of God in Christ; and the second treats of those ordinances which belong to the Church militant, as a visible institution. This distinction is itself of vital importance. A confusion of thought on this subject is the source of nearly all the superstitions and false doctrines that now threaten us. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. The true Church, in its real and invisible glory, is unknown to him, and hence he confounds it with some one or other of those mixed communions which exist here on earth. His only difficulty is to determine which of these is the true Church. The right answer is, None of them all. The true Church is an object of faith, and can only be spiritually discerned. The pure in heart, who can see God himself, are the only persons who can see God's true people, in those features of spiritual life which distinguish them from others; and even their vision is imperfect, while they dwell here in the land of shadows. Every communion of Christians is a part, more or less pure, of the mixed and visible Church. Some of these may be so corrupt and unsound, that the name of Church can hardly be applied to them: others, though differing in form, may be so balanced in their claims, that even advanced Christians may be in doubt, which of them has the strongest claim on their affection and allegiance. All of them may be justly chargeable with sin, because they are not joined in closer union with each other; and most of them, because they also reject some doctrinal truth, or sacred ordinance, which Christ has revealed and ordained. They are hospitals for immortal souls that are still under the process of cure, and not the assembly of those who are fully redeemed. And here is the true secret of all Popery. It loses sight of spiritual progress, as the one great law of the militant Church, and would replace it by a worldly perfection, that stifles the life of the Spirit, at every turn, under fixed, lifeless, and mechanical forms. The Tractarians began their course by a devout longing for a model diocese. A model diocese!
A model diocese! What a blindness that one expression betrayed to the true ideal of the Church, as a perpetual ingathering of ransomed souls for the pure and perfect fellowship of the kingdom of God!
In the first chapter the way is prepared for a view of the invisible and spiritual Church. All men desire to be happy. True happiness can only be found in the knowledge of God." We can gain this knowledge only by His revealed word. He is there set before us, as the self-existent Being, an absolute sovereign, and full of holy love. True happiness corresponds. It consists in conscious dependence, willing subjection, and grateful love. This
is the state of the holy angels. Man has departed from it.
Aiming at independence, he has jarred against the Mighty One, and recoiled into discord. He is so stunned and stupified that he has lost all car for the heavenly music, and almost lost all consciousness of the discord in which he lives.” How then is he to be recovered ? The letter of the law will not do it; punishment will not do it; and death itself, which removes the screen of the flesh, will not do it. He can be recovered only by the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. For what is the Gospel ? " It is the glad tidings of a Father's heart of love, beneath the Creator's arm
“The atonement by Jesus Christ was made, that a pardoning God might be just; and it is proclaimed, that pardoned man may be sanctified. It was made, that God might invite man; it is proclaimed, that man may answer the invitation and come to God.”
The closing remarks explain the motive for the work :-“Believing that our heavenly Father works by means, and seeing in His providence the mighty power of what is called public opinion -it is my deliberate conviction that it has become the duty of every watchman who sincerely loves our church and nation, however insignificant in himself, however humble his station, however moderate his talents, however small the additional light he may be able to throw on the subject, faithfully and honestly to declare the convictions of his understanding and conscience on the questions involved on this great thesis-THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST-AND THE WHOLE STATE OF Christ's CHURCH MILITANT HERE ON EARTH.
In this opening chapter, full of simple and beautiful thought, there is one sentence which needs, we think, to be more guardedly expressed : “ No man has any real knowledge of God, except he has received it from God himself." This is true, universally true. “ To guess at him by inferences from His works, this is not to know him ; but to hear his own word, and believe what we hear, this is to know him, and this is life eternal.” The statement seems to us incautiously expressed. That we may know something of God by His works, St. Paul clearly tells us; nay, so much as to leave men without excuse in their ignorance, Rom. i. 20. To maintain the dimness and practical insufficiency of natural religion is our duty; but to deny its very existence would undermine revelation itself. The Scripture calls the thunder the voice of God. It calls afflictions the voice of God. And can any voice of our Maker be a mes
essage without a distinct meaning? We can have no knowledge of God, but what we receive from Him. But “ heavenly Father works by means." To convey the knowledge of