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ON MR. GRESLEY'S RECENT PAMPHLETS. Sir,—THE gross Jesuitism of the Ninetieth Tract for the Times, and the concurrent defence of a subscription of the Articles in a non-natural sense, have, reasonably enough, excited an universal feeling of disgust and indignation against a Party, which could thus unblushingly advocate rank dishonesty.
I. Somewhat on the principle of a Tu quoque, Mr. Gresley has recently stepped forward to assail those, whom, in the way of scornful vituperation, he thinks fit to denominate Evangelicals or Puritans : the former of these two diligently conjoined appellations, being apparently expressive of the intense hatred of the Doctrines of Grace which characterise the writings of the Tractarian Party; the latter of them, avowedly indicating (with what measure of truth, he seems little to reck) that the so-called Evangelicals (Mr. Gresley and his associates, by the very use of the term, not very creditably proclaiming themselves to be Unevangelicals) symbolise, in principle and design, with those who once pulled down the Church and the Monarchy.1
1. Here, in the judgment of Mr. Gresley, lies The Real danger of the Church of England.
An advocacy of the Ninetieth Tract and of Subscription in a non-natural sense, let the advocates become as numerous and as clamorous as the frogs of the second plague, can never, he judges, do the Church any harm. But “ the Evangelical or Puritan or AntiChurch Party” (Mr. Gresley, indifferently or conjointly, distinguishes them by all these names) ought to be specially distrusted of all honest men and true, inasmuch as they constitute a wellorganised conspiracy to revive the calamities of the great Rebellion in the seventeenth century.
2. On this statement of Mr. Gresley, it is obvious to remark, that, even if it were well founded, it would afford but a sorry exculpation of his own Party. It simply amounts to the retort courteous : If we are dishonest members of the English Church, you are equally so : if we would unprotestantise the Church by a jesuitical introduction of Popery, you would equally endanger it, or more than endanger it, by a regularly concocted plan to pull it down altogether.
· The Real Danger of the Church of England, p. 49.
In such an argument of Mr. Gresley, we have, by its very construction, an acknowledgment of guilt. Habemus confitentem reum. He no where, so far as I can find, repudiates either the Ninetieth Tract or the Non-Natural Sense : he acknowledges, that, “ to a certain extent and before the principles of each were fully “ understood,” those of the Party who have apostatised to Popery, and those who with whatever honest consistency remain nominal members of the Church of England,“ have acted and sympa“ thised together :” and this “certain extent,” as the mischievousness of chronology determines, comprehends the morality both of the Ninetieth Tract and of the Non-Natural Sense. But still be assures us, that the Real Danger of the Church arises from “ the “ Evangelical or Puritan or Anti-Church Party," who, like the Puritans of the seventeenth century, are bent upon pulling it down even to the very ground.
The charge is serious, if true. It is deficient only in one not quite unimportant point: its total want of substantiation.
II. If, however, the charge cannot be distinctly substantiated by any tangible evidence (a charge, be it observed, which is nevertheless rendered highly credible by its including two notorious ringleaders, the Bishops of Chester and Calcutta): it may be fairly established by inductive reasoning.
The Party, with the two Bishops at their head, aided and abetted in the plot by Mr. Chancellor Raikes, the sworn friend and ally of the faitour Prelate of Chester, have, if we may credit the disco. veries of Mr. Gresley, brought even "a mass of heresy” into the sorely endangered Church : and we need but open our eyes to see, “ not only the extreme bitterness, but also the undisguised heresy, " of the Party, by which our most valued institutions are thus in “ danger of being destroyed.”—(pp. 26, 47.)
Such grandiloquence is not a little appalling: and we tremb. lingly ask, what is the damnable heresy which is to effect these wonders of demolition ?
The fearful heresy, which lies at the root of the only Real Danger of the Church, is, as Mr. Gresley assures us, A DENIAL OF BAPTISMAL REGENERATION.
Its simple dishonesty is shewn by an adduction of the Office for Infant Baptism: but, since, in this respect, it is a mere species of the genus Dishonesty, while the tractarian advocacy of Tract Ninety and the Non-Natural Sense is another mere species; we must further view it, inasmuch as it affects the whole current of theological instruction, as clearly indicating a traitorous design to pull down both Church and Monarchy after the most approved model of Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton.—(p. 50.)
That we unfortunately have Prynnes, Bastwicks, and Burtons, in the present day, may be true enough : but this is no very distinct proof of their identity with those, whom it pleases Mr. Gresley to revile under the conjoined names of Evangelicals or Puritans or Antichurchmen.
III. Mr. Gresley is far too practical a man to point out the Real Danger of the Church without suggesting its remedy. The bane and antidote are both before us : and the antidote, it must be confessed, is valuable from its very simplicity.
Let Bishops cease to “take little or no heed of such as hold “ dissenting doctrines :" and let them at once refuse ordination to all, who may, in this respect, be deemed offenders.
For want of this wholesome measure, “ many excellent men," Mr. Gresley assures us, “ are much disheartened:” insomuch that “ some are even disposed to doubt, whether a Communion, in " which Truth is discouraged and Heresy tolerated and suffered to “ proceed unrebuked, can be guided by the Spirit of God.”
If we seek an explanation, Mr. Gresley readily affords it.
“ Men," says he, “ who, once or twice in their lives, sign the “ Articles in a Non-Natural Sense, are stigmatised as disingenuous, “ and pointed at as Jesuits : while those, who, week after week, “ administer the sacrament of Holy Baptism and teach the Cate“chism in a non-natural sense, remain unblamed."-(p. 52.)
The explanation is remarkable, no less for its pregnant morality than for its logical closeness of reasoning.
We Clerics, I believe, only subscribe the Articles when we receive preferment: and, as the acquisition of preferment is not of quite so frequent recurrence as the administration of Baptism, Mr. Gresley very truly describes subscription as taking place only “ once or twice” in a person's life. Hence he draws the plain conclusion : that a Cleric, who only “ once or twice” in his whole life subscribes the entire body of the Articles in a non-natural or tractarian sense, while, so far from repenting of his misdeeds, he is ready to subscribe them a third time in the same non-natural sense if he can only get any better preferment, ought in no wise to be “ stigmatised as disingenuous and pointed at as a Jesuit;" inasmuch as, in the scale of moral turpitude, he is not to be mentioned in the same day, with the atrocious heretic, who perpetrates the single doctrinal crime of administering, week after week, the sacrament of Holy Baptism, being guilty of what Mr. Gresley calls A Denial of Baptismal Regeneration.
The superstratum of this is equally plain.
Lest “ many excellent men should continue to be much discou“raged,” the Bishops, if they have the Real Danger of the Church before their eyes, must cheerfully grant ordination to those who are detected in purposing only the trifling peccadillo of subscribing the whole body of the Articles in a non-natural sense agreeably to the plan chalked out in Tract Ninety ; while, to those, who are suspected of purposing to baptise infants with a denial (in Mr. Gresley's sense) of Baptismal Regeneration, and who thus offend against morals and orthodoxy in an incalculably higher degree than the tamperers with all the Articles which hit not their fancy, the Bishops, having carefully ascertained their heresy prepense, must steadily refuse ordination. The remedy, in short, recommended by Mr. Gresley, is no other, than the Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas.
By acting under such an adviser as Mr. Gresley, the Bishops, no doubt, would effectually remove the cause why “many excellent “ men,” the Tractarians to wit, “ are much discouraged" and, of course, their frowning upon the heretics would be rather to their praise, than to their dispraise. But still, since Tractarianism seems to be at a discount with the bulk of our Protestant Laity; a fact, incidentally attested by the very querulousness of Mr. Gresley's two angry pamphlets : it may be doubted, whether the one-sided practice, inculcated by that gentleman upon the Bench of Bishops, would very greatly tend to remove real danger from the Church.
IV. In fact, the open apostasy of Mr. Newman, after his now acknowledged twelve years of concealed Papistry, has placed Mr. Gresley and his associates in no very enviable position.
This he evidently feels : and, thence, naturally enough, attempts to extricate himself.
“ To a certain extent,” he tells us, “ and before the principles “ of each were fully understood,” Mr. Newman with his Seceders, and Mr. Gresley with his Remainers, “ acted and sympathised toge“ ther. But now” he goes on to state, “ the difference is marked ; “ and the separation defined, for ever.”——(p. 5.)
Here, I take it, is the pinch.
I never heard, that either Mr. Gresley or his associates started a single objection to the principles of Mr. Newman up to the very moment of his open apostasy : that is to say, I never heard, that they reprobated the principles either of Tract Ninety or of the Non-Natural Sense. At length, Mr. Newman practically tells them, that their hitherto common principles forbid him to remain any longer within the pale of the English Church. The plain moral, therefore, is, that the same principles ought to produce the same results in Mr. Gresley and his associates : and this the rather, because one of the apostates has assured us (quite truly, I believe), that Popery is nothing more than the legitimate logical development of Tractarianism. But no such result 18 produced. What next ? we simply ask. Why, Mr. Gresley thinks to satisfy us by saying, that “ Now the difference is marked, and the separation “ defined, for ever :" adding, that, although “ perhaps some “ Romanists in heart may yet be left behind ;" still, “ to represent “ these as identical in principle with ” (what he amusingly calls) “ the Anglican Body, is an unfair and disingenuous maneuvre, “ unworthy of an honest controversialist.”—(p. 5.)
Under correction, I really can discover no unfairness in the case.
The very same principles are held up to a certain point. That point is the point of divergence. A portion of the Party go over to Rome: and a portion of the Party think it expedient to remain with Canterbury. Here, of course, the difference is marked, and the separation is defined. But the principles, having never (so far as I know) been disavowed by the Remainers, obviously continue the same. The very principles, which led Mr. Newman and his Fellow-Seceders to an open apostasy, PERMIT Mr. Gresley and his Fellow-Remainers to stay behind. I shall not undertake to settle the knotty point of conscience between them: but, as the only perceptible difference to ordinary optics is the fact of Seceding and the fact of Remaining, the principles of the Seceders, all the while, never (I believe) having been disavowed by the Remainers; I cannot much wonder at the soreness exhibited by Mr. Gresley in his present somewhat uneasy seat. “They have gone," says he: " and we yet remain.” But much, he thinks, may be said in ex. tenuation. One leading cause of their apostasy, be inclines to consider “ the offences thrown in their path." What the offences may be, I am unable to divine, unless they be the honest indignation shewn toward Tract Ninety and the Non-natural Sense and the Project of unprotestantising England. At all events, though such offences may, through hopelessness of success, have finally produced the open apostasy of Mr. Newman, I do not perceive what they can possibly have to do with his dissimulation of twelve years for the purpose of aiding the Church of Rome in the garb of the Church of England. If Mr. Gresley deems this a proof of a “far superiority to ourselves in the highest christian “graces," I can only say that there is no accounting for moral tastes.
V. Mr. Gresley, however, describes " the Evangelicals or Puri“ tans or Antichurchmen,” as acting upon a regular system to extend their principles : which principles, in his apprehension, are heretical in doctrine and disloyal in practice.
1. This, no doubt, is very bad, if it be true : but the charge comes with a very odd grace from one, who tells us, with perfect correctness (I admit), that the Tractarians are equally acting upon