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“There have been so many valuable works on this subject in late years, that it is unnecessary to dwell on the general importance of Christian union. It is the test of real love; it is founded on the command of our Lord Christ; it is a mighty means of influence on the world, which ever finds its chief stumbling-block in the divisions of Christians.
“ Its special seasonableness at this time arises from the vast field of duty now opened to the Church of Christ, and specially requiring combined action that we may enter in and fully cultivate it; from the mighty enemies, nos rising everywhere in their full strength to oppose the Gospel of our Lord; from the manifest disposition which God has largely given to his true people to desire union, and all their yearnings of heart after it; and from the approach of that blessed period, when the union of all the true servants of our Lord of every name will be perfected and completed for ever to the final blessedness of the whole world.
“This subject has also peculiar importance in its bearing on the clergy of our own Church. Their station calls them to be leaders in every work bearing on the true wants and need of the Church of Christ. Their conduct and example is of peculiar weight either as a help or as a hindrance in this matter, and if they make one solemn promise at their ordination to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word,-they make another, to maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in them, quietness, peace, and love among all Christian people, and especially among those committed to their charge.
“How then may the clergy of the Church of England promote at this time the great object of Christian union ?
“We must cherish right views of the true source of this union. Only truth, drawn from the word of God and tried in living experience, can unite the souls of Christians. The more truth they thus receive and hold, the more entire and complete their union. It becomes all who believe that they have the fullest truth, to be specially tolerant of their brethren in those things in which they think they fail of the truth (Rom. xv. 1). The more error mingles with their minds, from whatever source that error is derived, the more there will be of strife and division. Thus to pray for the Spirit of truth, and for growth in the knowledge of God and his word, is the only secret of Christian union. A spurious union, without truth, is but a confederacy of evil; this cannot stand in the conflict, but will soon be broken up like the camp of Midian at the sound of Gideon's trumpets. Thus the first step towards Christian union is to gain more truth in the heart and in the understanding, and for this we need a much more diligent and prayerful study of the word of God, apart from all human writings.
“ The next step to union is to hold truth in its due proportion. All truth is not equally vital. Some things in the Gospel as well as in the Law are weightier, some lighter. This distinction is explicitly made by our Lor himself,
“ We should then first gain deeper and deeper impressions of those truths which most real Christians feel to be the most weighty, and bave received such as the greatness and power, the righteousness and love of God, the reality of his Providence, the grace and glory of Christ our Divine Saviour, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the work of Christ the only foundation of every hope, simple faith the only means of salvation, the need of holiness and its heart-reality, the duty of mutual love, of forbearance to believers, and o compassion to those dead in sins; with the resurrection, the judgment to come, and the life everlasting
“ We should prize every truth as given of God for our use; but subordi nate truth should have a subordinate place in our estimate of its importance. If we entirely give up even lesser truths for union, we poison the very foun: tain of union, which is reverence for all the truth of God. If we distort minion truths and wrest them into undue importance, all union is impossible to Christians are perfect in knowledge. Truth is a sacred trust from our bed
venly Lord, and a faithful and wise servant will give the household this food in due season; guarding equally against folly and unfaithfulness. Everything we believe to be God's truth must be mentioned in its season, but tempered by regard to its own place in the volume of truth, and the clearness, depth, and ripeness of our own convictions. Error can never really have the evidence of truth ; but hasty, dim, and rash conclusions may be confidently held and recklessly maintained, even when union in greater things is at stake and in danger of being sacrificed.
“ It is a great help to Christian union to view things in the light of eternity. This would most materially tend to abate those prejudices under which we are all so apt to regard everything, and which arise from the petty circle in which, while in the flesh, we necessarily move. If we could but look at things more, and estimate them all, in their bearing on the salvation of the precious and never-dying soul, it would mightily diminish in our minds the importance of things for which, losing sight of this as the great end, we often so eagerly contend."-(pp. 133-137.)
into conservatives, a matter, all tiger of the peo proposal slaat
There is a painful interest in this part of the subject, arising from the conviction, that if England shall be,-as appears extremely probable,-entirely unprotestantized, and changed into a State maintaining, indifferently, truth and falsehood,—the visible cause of that sad and fearful declension will be the dissensions existing among Protestants.
The impression is hourly becoming ‘more universal, and more confirmed, that the attempt to establish a Romish Church in Ire. land, out of crown-lands, land-tax, or some similar fund, will shortly be made. And whenever the question shall once be mooted in the House of Commons, it will, in a very few weeks, be carried into effect. The three great parties in Parliament,—the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the followers of Sir Robert Peel, being quite of one mind in this matter,—all that at present stands in the way, is, a vague apprehension of the anger of the people. But whenever this dread shall have been overcome, and the proposal shall have been made.- it will be warmly pressed, and must, to all appearance, be quickly carried. Of course there would be many of the Conservatives who would oppose it, from their ancient hatred to Popery, and some also of the Liberals, from dislike to the Establishment-principle. But allowing for 150 of the former class, and 50 of the latter, there would still remain more than two-thirds of the House of Commons, including all the leaders of the three main sections, who would be eager to push forward the measure.
Most men are beginning to see this approaching danger; and to talk of ways and means by which the peril may be averted. Yet, strange to say, the only mode of operation which can prove effectual, is just that which all parties seem indisposed to adopt. By one method, and by only one, might the proposition be defeated : and yet, up to the present moment, no disposition has been shown, on either side, to adopt that method.
A cordial union of all the Protestants of the realm,–Churchmen, Methodists, and Dissenters, for the purpose of demanding of all candidates at the ensuing General Election, a satisfactory assurance that no plan of the kind shall receive their support,-would in all probability succeed in preventing the Government from bringing forward the measure. As yet, however, there seems no prospect of the formation of such an union.
Churchmen are everywhere saying, at the present moment,• We can never act with Dissenters in this matter; for they wil “ want us to sign petitions declaring against all Church Establish“ ments whatever.'
Dissenters are in like manner repeating, “We must assert Non“ Establishment principles ;-hence it seems impossible for us to “ operate with Church men.”
And thus both parties are sitting down contentedly, resolving that they must act independently of each other ;—such independent action being certain to terminate in the success of the measure which they both profess to dread!
The difficulty no doubt is a formidable one, of reconciling the opposing views just stated :—but look at the inevitable result of this separate action. The fact of the disunion of Protestants gives such courage to the Pro-Popish party, and such an advantage, also, in the struggle, that this, and this alone, will be ultimately the main cause of the success of the scheme. And thus each party,Churchmen and Dissenters, will have kept its shell, its theory; and the Papist, between the two, will have gained the oyster,-the practical result.
Even on the part of Churchmen there is a great practical miscal. culation. They object to two things,—the overthrow of the Church Establishment, which the Dissenters advocate: and the erection of a new Romish establishment in Ireland, which all our statesmen desire and purpose. Of the first of these two obnoxious plans, there is no prospect whatever. It has not fifty supporters in Parliament, and a Bill to annihilate the monarchy would be almost as feasible a proposition as one to uproot the Church.
But the second of these two plans is very likely to be attempted, and to succeed. It requires the greatest energy and the greatest union, to avert it. Yet Churchmen, from fear of the mere name of the first of these two perils,—which is far distant, and will probably never be more than a name,—are allowing the second of the two to become very imminent, and indeed, almost certain. Can there be a more unpractical line of action ?
The Dissenters are still more irrational in their mode of proceeding. They dislike all national establishments of religion. A
new one is attempted, and will unquestionably be set up, except a strong and commanding opposition to it be raised. To unite with Churchmen in opposing the scheme would be probably effectual. Yet Dissenters prefer remaining apart, in order to be at liberty to declare, “ We oppose this proposition, simply because we dislike all Establishments.” Thus they prefer parading their theory, and being defeated, to being silent on that head, and succeeding. They will continue to shout, “ No State Churches !” though they must know that the consequence of that clamour will be, that they will have to endure two such Establishments, instead of one !
We have insisted, several times, on tbe certainty of the prospect, that a divided and disunited opposition to the expected proposition will fail. We fear that this is not so clearly seen as we wish it to be. Let us, then, apply ourselves to this part of the subject, for a few moments.
And, first, we would observe, that the two parties—Conservative and Liberal, in which is included the minor division of Churchmen and Dissenters, have now been doing their utmost against each other for more than ten years, and have gained possession, each of that portion of the Representation which properly belongs to it, and which it is likely to retain. The Tory or Church interest is the strongest in the rural districts,—and the Whig or Liberal in the manufacturing. And if it is observed, that the latter must be the increasing, the former the diminishing party, the history of the last ten years tells a different tale. However, in every county, and every town, the ascendancy has been struggled for, during a dozen years or more, and now it is tolerably ascertained to which party every county or every borough in the main belongs. Fluctuations will take place. The Conservatives advanced at the last election,
-the Whigs will regain some of their lost ground at the next; but the general issue may be pretty well known beforehand.
Now the consequence of this state of things is, that no great change can be looked for, except as the result of some new combination. Supposing parties to remain as they are now,—the Dissenters merged in the larger denomination of Liberals, the Churchmen involved and swept along with the general stream of Conservatives,—the consequence will be, that the general character of the next House of Commons will remain very nearly the same as that of the present House of Commons. Like causes will produce like effects. No material change having taken place in the constituencies, no material change will take place among the representatives. And thus, the general result will be, that as the present House is inclined to establish Popery in Ireland, so will the next be.
An illustration and proof of this, may be drawn from the late !
election at Derby. Churchmen have, we think unreasonably, blamed, exclusively, the Dissenters, for that unhappy affair ;= without taking to themselves that share of the blame which belongs tu their own blunder. The Dissenters of Derby had petitioned against Maynooth, and had expressed a determination never more to support a candidate who had voted for the Maynooth grant. Relying upon this, the Churchmen of the town started Sir D. Mackworth, an excellent man, but a Churchman and a Conservative. Now this was a great mistake. It had the air of an attempt to take advantage of the Dissenters. It seemed to endeavour to entrap them, in a moment of weakness and irritation, to give their support to an advocate of principles to which they had always been opposed. And the result was, to drive them back again into Mr. Strutt's arms. Their only choice seemed to be,-between a man who agreed with them in the main, but disagreed on one point,and a man who differed from them on almost every other question, and only sympathized with them on Maynooth. The result could not have been doubted, by any dispassionate spectator. It was disastrous;- it was far worse than a silent re-election of Mr. Strutt, under protest, would have been.
It seems to us to be essential to the very idea of union, that both the two parties should resolve carefully to abstain, not only from every attempt to take advantage of each other,—but also from every act which might even appear to betoken a wish to take advantage. In the case of Derby, and in all such cases, we should prescribe,
First, and chiefly, a good understanding between Churchmen and Dissenters, to be arrived at long before the day of contest arrives.
Secondly, a determination to keep Whig and Tory politics quite out of sight. So that Conservatives shall not say to Liberals, “ Come over to our party,''-nor Liberals to Conservatives, “ Come over to ours."
Let us take another case. We have heard it said, that at Bath it is very likely that the very same course will be taken, as at Derby. The Dissenters, it is remarked, were very angry with Mr. Roebuck for supporting the Maynooth Bill. Yet, if an election were to occur next week, those same Dissenters would be found supporting Mr. Roebuck against any Conservative candidate that might offer.
We reply, that this is very probable; but that if all this shall happen, it will not be the Dissenters merely that will be to blame. For,
First of all, How can Churchmen expect Dissenters all at once